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Living the dream

Growing up, I always had a dream job - it's just that the dream changed every year or so. Now I'm all grown up - and by a spectacularly circuitous route, some of those childhood dreams are starting to surface.

I must concede that, on reflection, my earliest career ambitions seemed modest... The first I can remember was to be a gift wrapper. Every year mum and dad took my brother and me to London. We'd pile into the Volvo in the middle of the night and drive straight to Harrods where we'd park up for the day and head in for breakfast. What a massive treat!

It was on one of these annual pilgrimages that I watched in awe as the gift wrapping service turned surprises, apologies, marriage proposals, peace offerings and all myriad of things into even lovelier things in a flourish of paper, ribbons and bows (think Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually). And ever since then I have loved presenting things stylishly.

Another dream job was inspired by years of craft projects and more trips to London. Taught to knit and sew as a child, I could follow patterns and knock off garments at a reasonably young age and I always had multiple projects on the go - much to everyone's despair! From macrame, to cross stitch, knitting, sketching and dressmaking - I just loved embarking on something new. One project, a hand-sewn patchwork quilt, involved squares of Liberty Print fabric, so the next trip to the capital took in a visit to the iconic home of these pretty patterns, Liberty's of London. There I fell even more in love with beautiful things, and the idea that it was someone's job to find them and bring them together in one place really captured my imagination. So my next dream job was very specific, I would become a buyer for Liberty's of London.

Then somewhere deep in my sub-conscience were the stories my dad told us when were were young. In his 20s he'd travelled to and worked his way around The States and the American attitude to customer service had blown him away. Inspired by his travels, as my own geographical horizons broadened, so did my range of ambitions. A couple of trips to New York in my 20s left me spellbound by the city's amazing cafe delis. Dean and Deluca was the one I remembered most. I loved its elegant, simple quality and style. One day I would have my very own New York style cafe deli.

Drinking in these experiences and taking a bit of each of them with me - through a career in financial services - they started to resurface in 2014 when a friend and I took on a weekend enterprise, selling home baking and coffee from a Citroen H van in the Yorkshire Dales village where I live.

Next came Riverbank. Since 2016 this little enterprise has changed beyond recognition and it was just becoming established in its Thursday-Sunday opening groove, plus workshops and wood fired pizza evenings when Coronavirus hit and everyone's world changed.

So here I am. Unable to open my cafe and with time on my hands like never before. Time then to work on something new. Welcome to the very beginnings of GIFTANDCRAFTSHOP.COM

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