I was 14 years old and had just finished my work experience. I was wandering around a lovely little town called Wetherby when I thought I would give this little shop a whirl and ask if there were any Saturday jobs going. Lone behold there was and I could start the following Saturday. My hours were 9-5 and I got paid £23 for the joy. The shop was called Academy Flowers which is no longer in Wetherby but I do know their is a branch still in a lovely little place called Otley. I would turn up at 9 either by bus or courtesy of my lovely pops and start filling the buckets with fresh water ready for the day’s trading. We would lay the plants out all nice and neatly and I would check the stems for freshness and make sure everything was just so. If Hayley had been to the wholesalers that morning we would collectively unwrap the flowers, cutting the stems diagnally and placing in some fresh water with a little flower food to allow them to hydrate.
We often started with a brew- I think it was hear that I properly got used to drinking tea. The shop was so cold that we often needed a little something to warm our hands. We would collectively look at the orders and gather the flowers from the buckets and start prepping them for customers. Orders both over the phone and through the fax machine would start coming through. My regular job which (I’m not going to lie didn’t enjoy that much) was cleaning all the glass vases! I felt like I was always going to drop them and they were heavy and had quite hefty price tags on.
Lunchtime would come and Hayley would send me out for some grub. This was usually either a sausage roll and caramel slice from The Oven Door or a chicken salad from former bakery Ainsleys. I would often try and sneak a cheeky chat with a Couple of my friends Katie and Faye who also worked in Wetherby. We would have a little pow wow about how our days were gong and what we were up to that night then I would get back to work.
Afternoons were usually spent making ribbons for bouquets, taking orders, making the stock outside look attractive, walking with the pre-orders to local businesses, sweeping up off cuts, salvaging random little bursts of colours simply just to place on the desk and admire. However my favourite part of Saturday’s was listening in on the wonderful conversations that Hayley would have with Brides to be. They would come in with pictures from magazines and the big wedding portfolio would come down off the shelf and we would coo and ahh over the stunning colours and incredible designs. I would often break off to serve a customers advise them of what looked good wth what, what they could get for £20, £40 etc all the while dying to get back to the wedding flowers conversation.
4.30 would arrive and I would begin topping buckets up and bringing stock in from outside. Hayley would pop random stems to the side in a pile, ones that she knew would be no of come Monday, not fit for sale. I could tell she took great pride in ensuring customers got only the very best in quality. I would then get paid my £23 guard it with my life then Hayley would pass me the selection of stems and wish me a nice weekend. I never expected that little treat but I always appreciated taking them home, passing them on to my Mumford her hallway or maybe a friend in need or a neighbour. I worked here for a further 6 months until a new job cropped up paying £3.25 an hour and unfortunately I moved on. I’ve always looked back on that period with a huge about of fondness. I love the vibe, the creativity, the simple life at the time even at just short of 15 I moved where the money was but in hindsight I had a little gem of a job their and one that has undoubtedly influenced my choices in life now 12 years on. Y