Well he’s finally done it! Denis Jordan, our independent retailer in the County Durham village of Trimdon, has taken a holiday. Jordan admitted he succumbed to the combined pressure of pleading from his wife Joyce and constant questioning from The Grocer and took off for the island of Tenerife in September for a week’s break with Joyce.

“It was great,” he said. “We were eating, drinking and relaxing and I discovered that doing nothing can actually be quite tiring.”

The holiday is certainly a change to Jordan’s usual routine of “work, work, work”. He failed to take a holiday at all last year and is now planning to continue slogging away for six-and-a-half days a week up to Christmas, with just one exception - a long weekend at Butlins, Skegness, where he will compete with the Trimdon Concert Brass Band in the Mineworkers Brass Band Festival. After that he plans to shut up shop for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day only.

The festive season should bring an uplift in sales. Boosted by an increase in alcohol sales - QC Sherry and Harveys Bristol Cream usually jump off the shelf - the 30 members of his Christmas club will come in to spend their savings and a special confectionery Christmas display with items such as boxed chocolates and selection boxes should sell well.

Sales of chilled ready meals, one of Jordan’s success stories in the summer, have continued to soar.

He believed summer sales were spurred by customers who didn’t want to “slave over a hot stove” in the heatwave. But to his surprise, when he spoke to customers he discovered the sales spurt was because the meals have become a popular alternative to meals-on-wheels for the pensioners in the village. “We’ve had to install extra chiller space as customers are buying them in their sixes, eights and tens,” says Jordan.

But what Jordan is particularly excited about is the visit next week of US president George Bush to Britain.

According to media reports he will be visiting prime minister Tony Blair at his home near Trimdon.

“We may get some extra sandwich orders from the policemen,” says Jordan. And if the president should pop into the village store, Jordan has promised to take a photo and send it in to The Grocer.