The last few weeks have been difficult but I’m now focusing on June to get some presence in my office, says Thompson Travel owner Sharon Thompson.

As I pick up some wood stain for my garden furniture, I admire the shed. It looks immaculate. Everything is in its place. Until a few weeks ago, it was the spot into which I threw anything that wasn’t really needed but might be some day.

Well, this is ‘some day’. All those half‑used tins of paint have come in very handy. The ‘treasures’ I have found in there this last month have kept me occupied for many evenings and weekends. I don’t think my garden, plants or patio have ever looked so good.

It’s only been two months since my last trip away or family gathering, but it feels like a lifetime. My home has become a place of tranquillity . . . where I am secretly going mad. I think most of us could cope better if we could have those we love around and other freedoms resumed, within the social distancing guidelines, of course.

It’s all so draining…

I’ve cut down on watching the news to once a day. The confusion is mentally draining. To be honest, Netflix has taken over. Money Heist was worth a watch and the fact it went on for ever didn’t really matter.

Webex and other video chat software are my communication with the outside world after my ear has been glued to the phone, Monday to Friday, listening to the expertise of customers advising me what should happen with their holidays. I think if I hear the words ‘refund’, ‘credit notes’, ‘vouchers’ or ‘when do you think we can fly?’ again, I will head to the hills.

“I’m focusing on June to get some presence in my office, but the five-point plan for Northern Ireland could say different than the English version.”

So, where do we go from here? While I ‘relax’ and ‘distract’ myself with the things I never had time to do, a constant thought is that my business is falling into the twilight zone. It’s all about how long we want to wait, how long we can wait and how much we just want to wake up and for this nightmare to be over. I’m focusing on June to get some presence in my office, but hey, the five-point plan for Northern Ireland could say different than the English version, and will we even understand it?

I am grateful that our customer confidence has been good on the whole. Eight out of 10 of our customers have a grasp that things aren’t normal out there, and understand they need to be patient. A lot are happy to rebook and can’t wait to get on holidays next year, as long as they don’t listen to too many versions of the current news.

…But I’m planning ahead

Now on to my second coat of wood stain, I’ve started thinking about new ways of working, be it new plans for the office, how to utilise furlough best, how to market properly again and how to regain customer confidence.

There are good days and bad days but I’ve always said I love what I do and, therefore, why would I change, unless I’m forced to?

“I’ve started thinking about new ways of working, be it plans for the office, how to utilise furlough best, how to market properly and how to regain customer confidence.”

Those who have read this column before will know I love Mark Twain’s quotes, so I will leave you with two in particular that have had quite some influence in the last few weeks.

He said: ‘Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.’

And: ‘The best way to get ahead is to get started.’


Sharon-Thompson-paint

I love a bit of paint therapy 

Now is the time when you find those old tins of garden paint in the shed. You know, the ones you bought enthusiastically because you were going to restore gates, seats and anything else that doesn’t move some day.

Well, I’ve just found those tins, and I must say I did pick some fabulous colours for the little country haven I moved into – even though that was almost nine years ago.

Still, it’s never too late, and now, after a bit of work on a few tree stumps, voilà – new seats for my garden!

OK, I’m losing the plot, but hey, the therapeutic benefits put it all into perspective. Look out, I may start looking for fairies in the garden next!

21MayBanner