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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

That Was 2020 That Was…

Wow! What a year! So many things have happened… well, two main things but it seems like a lot!

The evening of March 11th 2020 saw extremely high Spring Tides in Tintern resulting in the River Wye, which flows opposite our shop, deciding it was going to overflow its banks and the road, and come into the building and browse our shelves! Prior to this, we did have a flood alert from the Environmental Agency and we had prepared ourselves. The flood boards were in place and books were moved from floor level to shelves to higher up. This we thought would be enough and, anyway, the river was highly unlikely to enter the building - wasn’t it?

In the early morning of March 12th 2020 I received a text from a former colleague, who still lives in the village, informing me that water had been pouring out of the shop as the tide went down… So, at least I was prepared beforehand… but for what? On entering the shop that morning, all seemed ok until closer inspection… The carpets were sodden, the bookcases were wet and the one room we never thought would be affected and in which we had left some books at floor level – well, sadly the books were a write off. The flooring in our Special Bookroom is lino and the water had collected to a depth of about 6” at the back of the room. The water had also reached our computers in the main shop area and had shorted our PDQ machine which we use to take card payments. On the positive side… there was no mud!

We rushed out to Screwfix to buy a Titan wet/dry vacuum in order to suck up the water collected. Quickly we got on the phone to the local builder’s merchant to rent some industrial dehumidifiers which are humungous and very noisy. We kept them for a week before they were returned.

In the meantime, the next day, the morning tide decided it wanted to browse the bookshop again and we were back to bailing out water as fast as we could! Fortunately, it was not as high as it had been the previous evening but still… we were all very wet and bothered by the time the tide turned again. (I wish I could say hot and bothered but that river water is cold).

On March 16th we had a visit from the Loss Adjustor for insurance. A quick decision was made on insurance as….

On March 23rd we entered a National Lockdown due to the Corona Virus! 50% of our staff promptly abandoned us to self-isolate due to personal circumstances. Our weekend staff were drafted in during the week to help with an incredible, never seen before, level of orders! (That’s the benefit of running a bookshop… if you can’t do anything or go anywhere, at least you can read a book.) So, a huge level of orders plus only a skeleton staff equals one very stressed Sonia! Well, a stressed Maria too, I mustn’t forget!

Large numbers of orders continued to flow in and the orders only reduced to more normal levels by the time the weekday staff returned in May, although we were still in lockdown at this point.

So, March 2020 gave us the highest Spring Tides in this area in living memory, as a result of which we needed to replace flooring and wet bookcases. Of course, all the builders and handymen had gone into lockdown as well so we could not press forward at this point with repairs… we could not even get a quote for the work!

Things finally start moving again in July 2020 when we were, at last, able to get a few quotes for building work – the floor needed to be dug up and re-laid, the carpets replaced with lino (no more sodden carpets please) and new bookcases were required. A builder was employed to dig out the old floor by a foot in depth, lay insulation and damp proofing and then build the floor back to the previous level, creating lots of dust along the way.

At the time of writing, it is now late November and the floor is STILL not completed. Unfortunately, things went a bit awry when, back in September, the builder went off to start another job before completing our job. At present, we have a floor of sorts which is cracking and moving beneath our feet. This now needs to be dug up and re-laid as the finishing work has, unfortunately, been poorly done.

In the meantime, the carpenter has made our new bookcases and was hoping to install them. They are now taking up room in his workshop which means they are in his way, preventing him working on other jobs. So, we have agreed to allow him to bring the bookcases in to the shop as flatpacks and store them here. It will most likely be the end of the year before we are ready to have them put into place. Hopefully that is not too optimistic…

So, even though shops are ‘allowed’ to open with Covid-19 policies in place for the public, we remain closed as we have books everywhere making navigation impossible for the public and difficult for us. Please do continue to order from us via our website – we are open for business, just not for visitors.

I wonder what fun happenings 2021 is going to present us with???

Contributed by Sonia

(Published 1st Dec 2020)

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