There is nothing like a bit of rain to freshen things up after a long, hot summer and clear the air a little. Our air must be terribly clear by now. I think we can probably stop with the rain. This weekend, more than ever before, the rain has been an issue. There were others, most notably no where near the promised 18,000 food festival visitors and a pitch that was mysteriously not where we had agreed, but the rain certainly didn’t help.

Sunset on the M40 NorthboundIt battered the Beast for most of Saturday, on and off, and left us with most of a van-load of toasties and a grim, sinking feeling. Thankfully we weren’t camping, and once the festival closed we scuttled off back to Leamington Spa in the Stilo, leaving the Beast to the dark nights of Oxford.

Stevo the Stilo has recently developed an interesting whine, which begins a few miles into the journey and then lasts until you stop. Luckily I’ve developed a workaround called “turning the radio right up”. It seems to have fixed it.

Saturday evening was spend in the bath, feeling sorry for myself and idly trying to calculate how many toasties we would need to sell to still break even. I should point out that the August Bank Holiday is, in outdoor catering terms, our version of Christmas. The pickings are abundant and we could have booked the Jabberwocky 4 times over, but here we were, in the bath, flicking bubbles at the taps and facing the prospect of having to sell 500 toasties the following day to still be on target.

Spontaneous maths: 500 toasties over 8 hours is just over one a minute for the entire day.

Sunday was sunny. Not emphatically so, but enough to get people out into Oxford. The queue was impressively long on the gate, and trade was instantly consistently better than the previous day. We had not expected to serve 500 toasties, and were not disappointed. A slew of double-negatives later and we were back on the M40, heading home with slightly less grim prospects, but revised estimates of how much we wanted to make that weekend. Anything but a loss and we would consider it a success.

A sheet of rain crawling up the hill of south park towards us.When the heavens once more bestowed bountiful rain upon us on Monday, we revised it down to “not too much of a loss”. We stood in the Beast and watched the brave folk of Oxford race between the beer tent and the cider tent, and hatched plans for toastie delivery schemes. The system was simple: I run over there, ask patrons if they would like a toastie without having to brave the weather, and then run back, cook the toastie, and deliver it.

It was effective, but the rain had already driven away most of our potential customers, so trade was still disappointing and the eventual loss unavoidable. It opens some interesting scope for refinement needed in the field of toastie delivery though, to combat future bad weather. We need to find a way for me tell Barny the order at a distance, to reduce journeys and speed up service. I imagine there is an app for that, but Barny has just dismantled his phone, in a vague attempt to replace the screen, so I’m thinking we should go Old Skool. This may be the motivation I have always needed to learn how to whistle properly. Research is ongoing.