Following on from my previous post, the Giggly grannies (aka Lyn Blackledge thats me- Giggly Granny 1 and Julie Jordan – Giggly Granny 2) continued to giggle together as our friendship grew. There was so much that made us giggle. We went to a Mexican evening complete with Mexican hats and moustaches!!! Sadly I cant find that picture.
We dressed in red white and blue for the jubilee and various celebrations our church held.
We had so much fun. Then in October 2011, my van broke down and required over a thousand pounds worth of work. It was money I didn’t have. What I did have was a bus pass and so I decided to get rid of the van and travel FREE on the buses. I thought it would be fun to write the diary of an eco granny but not long into this new way of travelling, I began to lose the will to live!! So many of my journeys ended up stressing me out that I started to tweet @SouthernVectis. I wasn’t rude but used more of a jokey way to alert them that all was not well – for example @Southernvectis I think the number 9 driver is late for his tea etc. The bus drivers drove too fast, shut doors in my face, drove past me at the stop, didn’t stop when I rang the bell and shouted at me. Not only was I unhappy about this for myself but for others and for our holiday Island! This wouldn’t do much for our tourist industry if families without cars experienced the same as I had. Why on earth would they return? After a short while, my tweets got a response and Matt Kitchin, the general manager of Southern Vectis invited me to come in and have a chat., He was very keen to hear my story and see what could be done. By this time, my Giggly Granny friend (though on some occasions not so giggly granny) had shared some of her scary stories on the bus with me. Well, having been welcomed by Matt and explaining some of the issues, I decided the Giggly Grannies could go on the buses and report back and thus we became officially The Giggly Grannies. I then went to tell Julie as I thought it would be good if she was party to this news!! The idea appealed to her as much as to me and we have been out on several journeys since although I have since been given a car by my son. We havestarted to report back the good and the bad. We are always keen to share the good stories and make sure we always get the drivers name where possible. We carry chocolate smiles with us (available from Thorntons ) For grumpy drivers we give them a smile as they don’t have their own and for smiley drivers we reward them Having thus created the Giggly Grannies officially now, we decided that we should use it for more than just reporting back to the general manager of Southern Vectis and so we now use the brand for several purposes. 3 years ago I set up a networking group, Wightbuzz on the Isle of Wight and it has gone from strength to strength.Julie is an honorary member. The Giggly Grannies have been visiting some of them and making mad wacky videos and loaded them to you tube They can be seen on my your tube channel (Lyn Blackledge).This kind of marketing won’t be suitable for everyone but it works for some and gets the word out. In September, when our wacky rev (WE worship at Ryde Methodist Church) was attacked by silly jealous people, we got involved. Rev Marie had been inspired to set up the Open Arms Project and worked with Father Anthony and the Churches together in Ryde to help feed the hungry and homeless. It is staffed entirely by volunteers and funds are raised locally to support it. Whilst we knew the work went on,m we hadn’t actually been to see for ourselves. As the silly petty people who caused the problem are what I call Sunday Christians, ie they like to be seen in church on Sunday but the very idea of people in need coming into our church on a Sunday for a hot meal and some tins and packets of food is quite something else. Their attitude of “not in our back yard” is appalling and quite the opposite of Jesus teachings. The Giggly Grannies were so humbled by the work going on that we chose to use our skills to add to the work that the volunteers had been doing and build on their good work. Social media is one of my skills and gossiping the gospel is one of Julie’s so together we set to to help. The response has been amazing. People we don’t know, have been offering us food and bedding and clothing via social media. Other folks generosity has been incredible. So many of us realise we are only one step from being homeless. There are some really sad stories but together pulling as a team we CAN make a difference. We branded as The Giggly Grannies with a facebook page and a twitter feed and we are about to start podcasting too. One of our wightbuzz members, Adam of Adam’s Dezine Shop has created a logo and another member, Paul Rolfe embroidered tshirts for us that say the Giggly Grannies gossip the gospel.
The local branch of Barclays has allowed us two awareness days and what a difference that has made. Wightbuzz members Bjarne of IOW carpet cleaners and Dave Henderson ,Rely on Andy and Do it all Dave sponsored the leaflets. Susan of Smart in Design, designed the posters and created the flyers. Wightbuzz member Sean, of A1 Garage Doors provided the turkey for the Open Arms Christmas lunch and many others donated items. Vicky Chilcott of Victoria Sponge made the Christmas cakes.Louise of Chessell Pottery, donated cakes to be sold (even after we caused a riot in the pottery when we went to make Christmas decorations!!!!)
People have offered us vouchers to get free items in the supermarkets for which we are so grateful. Others have donated tin openers, razors , soap etc and goodies to make up Christmas gift bags. One lovely couple stopped us in Morrisons when we were using funds raised to convert to tinned food (also using vouchers we had been given) They wanted to know what we were doing as they were shopping to give to others. Julie did such a wonderful presentation in the middle of the store that they donated their trolley load of shopping to the Open arms. Not only that, they helped us load the car in the pouring rain and have also been to open arms last week and donated biscuits and sweets they had left from Christmas. Julie had tears rolling down her cheeks – we were so humbled by their generosity – a far cry from the silly, jealous folk who attacked Rev Marie for introducing the Open Arms project!! The work continues because of a fantastic team of volunteers. Working together, so much can be and is being achieved.
On Friday 13th December, the Wacky rev and the Giggly Grannies went out for a day together. The wacky rev’s “MUM” said it shouldn’t be allowed!!!! We had such fun. Our first stop was Busy Bees where we went in the snow globe just for fun
We made such an impact whilst having fun that when Rev Marie returned the other day (not wearing her dog collar) they recognised her as being the rev with the giggly grannies! (and they didnt ban her from the store!!!) We then caught the bus to Brading where we got off with our dolley trolleys and gathered some groceries from Jane.
We then caught a bus to Ventnor where we popped into see Abigail of Random remnants, a wightbuzz member. Lots of fun and laughter ensued. We had to collect the Christmas cake and as the distance was too far and the bus didnt go to the right place, we hopped in a taxi which had only just enough time to whizz us there and back before collecting its next fair. We collected the Christmas cakes, popped them into our dolley trolleys and back to town where we were delighted that Lesley of the Ventnorian, donated more food to the cause and we bought super Christmas pressies from her shop.
We finished our mad day at Mrs Jones Tea depot in East Cowes.
A superb end to a rather manic day. What a brilliant reception we got. Mrs Jones saw us coming and greeted us with You must be the Giggly Grannies!! She has now decided to join Wightbuzz and we have just arranged a network meeting in the tea depot the week after next!! Julie has been amazing. She is such a good friend and such a giggler. She is selfless and although terminally ill, she always puts others first. I am so pleased that she came into my life. She is a total inspiration and such fun to be with.