Category Archives: Books

Introducing Hippomottie

Let me introduce to you Hippomottie – the Out of This World Learn To Dress Toy. Hippomottie is a pioneering space hero and along with her brother, Hippomotto, they love to help aspiring young astronauts learn how to get dressed! Also picture books are being published with exciting stories featuring Hippomottie.  Hippomottie is the creation of Amy Weaver and Pavel Komarov.  Whereas a lot of businesses/brands start in spare bedrooms or garden sheds – Amy & Pavel started their business from a cabin on board  a cruise ship!  Amy & Pavel are cruise ship crew members, working 10 months of the year sailing from Alaska to Aruba, Barcelona to Bermuda.  I was dying to find out how Hippomottie was created and also wondered how it fitted in with life on the ocean waves. So I was chuffed when Amy agreed to be interviewed… hi Amy!

Hi! My name is Amy Weaver and I live and work on a cruise ship for over 10 months of the year. Along with my ship-mate and colleague Pavel Komarov, we’ve created Hippomottie – Out Of This World Learn To Dress Toy, in our “spare time”, in between working 7 days a week!

What was the inspiration behind Hippomottie?

Our story is quite unusual and came about mostly by chance. I was helping Pavel to make a homemade Basic Skills Toy for a special little girl with cerebral palsy, who needed help with her fine motor skills. The rudimentary piece that we cobbled together included a variety of zips, velcro, laces and buttons. It was so well received by our little friend and everybody that saw it, that we were encouraged to start looking into producing them for sale on the open market. Fast forward the best part of a year, and suddenly we were elbow deep in a massive project that included a fact-finding trip to China to visit the factory that we had selected to manufacture our Space Hippo Learn To Dress toys, and culminated in a huge Internet marketing project on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter, where we successfully secured the funding that we needed to get the project off the ground, thanks to the generosity and faith of a lot of intrepid friends and strangers.

What are the benefits, characteristics & features of the Hippomottie toy?

Our Hippomottie and Hippomotto Toys have 12 unique learn to dress characteristics and 15 engrossing features in total, including Shoe Laces, Velcro, Clips, Belt, Zip, Dungaree Buttons, Regular Buttons, Pockets, and a Ribbon Bow, to keep curious young minds at play. Hippomottie aims to engage and educate all youngsters through play, and the sensory nature of our Hippomottie Toys will not just improve the co-ordination and fine motor skills of children, but amuse and entertain young ones for hours, as they discover each unique and educational element. They were created using similar concepts to world renown Montessori Toys, the idea being to help transform little ones into independent dressers, as they pick up and master all basic skills like zipping, buttoning and tying shoe laces. And there’s just as much fun in undoing it all, as there is in doing it all back up again.

 

Congratulations on getting this Kickstarter project successfully financed – how difficult was it to go from the drawing board to organising the manufacturing process? Was it difficult to find a manufacturer? Was it difficult organising the project from the confines of the ship where you both live and work?

The Kickstarter Crowdfunding Project was definitely one of the hardest things that I have ever done in my life! With the prototypes signed off in China, we set a very punishing timescale to get everything ready and go live on the Internet, which was made even harder by the fact that the entire time we were “At Sea” and struggled with basic elements like a good WiFi connection, or even a proper place to work. In between our demanding work schedule that includes twice weekly lifeboat drills, cabin inspections and long arduous shifts, we spent hours cramped on the bottom bunk bed, pouring over our computers, screaming at the internet connection and each other, over which fonts we should use or what the colour scheme be. In hindsight we could’ve saved a lot of time and heartache by outsourcing some of the tasks to professionals and freelancers, but being both stubborn, determined and poor, we did pretty much everything ourselves, the ultimate two-man band! And on the plus side the sense of satisfaction that we’ve designed, created and produced the toys all by ourselves is immense! After the funding was completed on Kickstarter we switched over to Indiegogo (another Crowdfunding website) and added a continuation funding page, to allow anyone who missed the original chance to buy their own Hippomottie Toy, to still secure one before they hit the shops.

In addition to the toy, you have just published a book, “Hippomottie Goes To Space” .. I understand there’s more adventures in the pipeline; so where did you draw your inspiration for storylines from?

With a bit more time on our hands after the major hurdle of Kickstarter was out of the way, we set about creating a way to thank all of our lovely supporters and so wrote the very first Hippomottie book! It was recently published in Ebook form on Kindle and is also available in paperback through Amazon. Writing a book has been another amazing adventure and I think now the only thing left for us to do is actually build a rocket and head into Space like Hippomottie herself does in the book!! We’re currently finishing the publishing of the next Title in the Hippomottie Adventure Series and the third book is under construction at the moment. We hope that it will help to bring the character of our toy to life and enhance children’s enjoyment of our toys. I’ve previously written a blog about my own day to day life living on a cruise ship (www.downtokokomo.wordpress.com) and as I have a very vivid imagination, writing children’s stories is right up my street. It’s the editing and uploading everything in the correct fonts and formats to Kindle that’s the gruelling part, something that Pavel thankfully excels at! We’re also lucky to have had lots of interesting adventures from our own lives to call upon for inspiration, especially with us living in a floating “hotel” travelling the seven seas.

Pavel and yourself are both cruise ship crew members – and have travelled around the world – do you have a favourite port of call? Is there any place left in the world that you have yet to visit that is on your bucket list?

We’ve been to a lot far flung places, from Alaska to Central America and the Caribbean to The Mediterranean. We’ve even crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat a fair few times between us. I have to say that my favourite place that I’ve visited so far is Alaska. It’s so beautiful and peaceful, with stunning scenery and wildlife to boot. I will say that I’ve only been there in the summer though and I’m not sure those long, cold, dark days in the wintertime would be for me. The best “hot” destination that I’ve visited would be Bermuda, a stunning island with the softest pink sand and clearest water imaginable. I’m lucky to have ticked off most of the places on my “bucket list” but Japan still remains the waiting to be checked off one day…

Amy is the rider on the right, in blue sleeves.

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with writing or designing or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

It’s funny how my life has turned out when I look back at it. As a child I was obsessed with becoming a Racehorse Trainer, something that I thankfully achieved at the age of 26. I spent 7 years successfully guiding many horses in to the winner’s enclosure, training winners in the UK, the USA, France and Denmark, before deciding that a slightly less demanding career might be in order for the second part of my life. I’m not sure that I quite succeeded on that front though, as I’ve packed so much into my “Plan B” that most days combining working on a ship whilst simultaneously creating a miniature Toy Empire, makes training a bunch of wild thoroughbreds look easy!

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere? Do you prefer hardback, paperback or kindle?

When I do get some downtime (???) I do enjoy curling up with a good book and I’ve really enjoyed doing a lot of what I’ve labeled “research” lately, checking out a variety of other authors books. It’s taken me a while to convert to e-reading but even though I’m a late adopter of the phenomenon, I’m a fully signed up disciple now and love the fact that I can now take with me a mini bookcase of novels wherever I go and it won’t take up an ounce of my limited luggage allowance. Being that my favourite place to read is in bed. I also love that I don’t lose my place when I fall asleep, or get woken up when the book crashes to the floor after my tired hands finally relinquish the book to gravity.

Where can people purchase your Hippomottie toy and/or book? Are they available worldwide?

For anybody that would like to immerse themselves in our Hippomottie craze, the toys are still available worldwide to pre-order via Indiegogo for a limited time https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/hippomottie-out-of-this-world-learn-to-dress-toy-kids#/ and are scheduled to be delivered in November (just in time for Christmas!). The Ebook is avaliable on Kindle https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0752WDJPX/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_IT-Vzb8MPKPES
and the paperback version is on Amazon
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1549572709/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_FU-VzbF09577A
you can also just Google Hippomottie and you should find our website www.hippomottie.com with all our latest news and views.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I have to confess that fashion definitely takes a back seat as far as I’m concerned. I have many outfits in my wardrobe that could well be classed as antique in a few more years, I’ve had them that long. It’s a standing joke between my friends that I’ve the worst fashion sense in history and they always joke “What will Weaver be wearing?” before I turn up at any function. Owing to the fact that most of the time the ship is based somewhere hot, shorts and t-shirt would be the most likely outfit you’d see me in outside of work, but given a choice I’m a jeans and sweater kind of girl.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Thankfully I have to wear a uniform at work, but with a lot of help from my very trendy friends, I have been getting a bit better over the years and quite like Hobbs if I’m looking for something a bit more classy. For basics you can’t beat Primark for value and comfort. I like to shop online quite a bit these days, but I’m also lucky enough to visit some quite varied places during the ports of call, so can pick up some unique and wacky pieces to keep my friends entertained, if nothing else.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

I’m currently saving up for a nice winter jacket as my next vacation from the ship will be in November, when I’m sure it will be very cold in Europe. Oh, and a hat and some gloves to go with it would be nice too…

Boots or Shoes?

I also love boots of any description, long, short, cowboy, I’ve got them all. And I’m sucker for a nice pair of heels, even though I can’t walk in them to save my life due to too many riding accidents in my younger days. One of my friends likes to say that I walk like a transvestite in heels, but that’s definitely doing a great injustice to cross dressers! Still they look pretty in my wardrobe and on my feet when I’m sitting down!!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Hippomottie.

Well that’s pretty much my entire life story. If there’s anything that you now don’t know about me, you can always follow me virtually anywhere on social media via the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/amy.weaver.1485
https://www.facebook.com/Hippomottie/
https://twitter.com/Hippomottie
https://www.instagram.com/hippomottie/
www.downtokokomo.wordpress.com

Wow Amy! Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed and I, as well as I’m sure my readers, are wishing your Hippomottie venture all the very best! The books look very colourful and appealing too! There could be so many Hippomottie adventures… Hippomottie goes camel riding, Hippomottie goes sandboarding, Cruising with Hippomottie …dear readers, what Hippomottie adventures could you imagine?! Do share, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Amy Weaver. 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Interview With Oscar Francis

My guest this week is qualified architect, Sarah Evans, who established her London based studio “Oscar Francis” in 2013. Sarah has a passion for architecture – using that passion and her creative flair, she has diversified into producing architecturally inspired prints and textiles.  I caught up with Sarah recently to find out more about her business, her passion and her forthcoming book too…. welcome Sarah!

My name is Sarah Evans. I live and work in London with my partner sand two children. I am an architect turned artist/illustrator. I started my own business in 2013 creating hand drawn artwork and digital prints almost entirely inspired by modernist architecture.

What inspired you to establish your studio, Oscar Francis?

The idea for the company grew over a period of time and was born out of a series of events, which prompted me to strike out on my own. The London office that I had worked in for 6 years closed due to the loss of a very large project and we all found ourselves out of a job. I was pregnant with twins and about to go on maternity leave so I knew then that I would need to find a new job in a new office and cover the childcare costs for two. I had always wanted to be my own boss so I began to work on what I called my “alternative” plan. If I didn’t go back to a new job could I set up my own company? So I began putting together a plan of what I wanted to do, of what I would like to do. I had a clear idea early on that I wanted to create an art label inspired by my love of architecture, but I had to figure out the ‘how’. I worked on it for 18 months before I launched the website.

Why did you settle on calling your studio, Oscar Francis?

When I decided to set up my company I initially came up with the name “Pattern Architecture”. I then realised that this could be limiting if I wanted to reach beyond the urban environment and explore other subjects. So I had a dilemma, I wanted to use a name that meant something to me but that also gave me enough room to move in another direction if I so wished. I felt that my name was too ‘ordinary’. My twin boys are called Oscar and Francis…and it just felt right!

The majority of your current collection focuses on post war modernist architecture from the 50s to the 70s. The range of products available varies from prints to wash bags, mugs to tote bags, cushion covers to tea towels. What products/prints are most popular with your clients?

When I started out I assumed that the printed textiles would be the lead product and the direction the company would go but the giclee art prints are the most popular by far – which I am really pleased about!

Do you have a particular favourite product or print from your range?

It’s hard to pick a favourite. Oddly the most popular, best selling prints become the ones you like the least because you see so much of them! I suppose it’s like a band with a hit song that they have to keep singing over and over again. My favourite work is usually the most recent I have produced so at the moment its my latest collection ‘Landmark’. These are all inspired by modern cultural buildings from all over the world. It’s the first mixed international collection I have produced. I am very proud of it.

On October 15th 2017 (November 15th for the US), your book “Modernist London” – 22 posters of inspirational architecture – will be released. As you have a passion for architecture & city/housing types, have you got a favourite place/poster?

My favourite piece from the new poster book has to be Croydon No.1. It made the front cover, and rightly so. It’s really striking and I enjoyed creating it immensely. The hand drawing I produced prior to the digital work took a ridiculously long time, but it was worth it.

People have travel bucket lists, but I would like to know, if you could travel anywhere in the world to view a building/housing/cityscape, what place would be top of your bucket list?

There are so many! If I had to name a couple they would be the Church of Light by Tadao Ando in Osaka, Japan and the National Assembly Building by Louis Kahn in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I will get there, I will.

Oscar Francis designs and products have been featured in a number of magazines such as Grand Designs, Elle Deco & Good Homes. Your products are also sold in a number of UK based boutiques and gallery shops. As you are based in London, are your products available overseas?

The shop is online only but we ship all over the world. We are building up the stockist list outside of the UK so its best to check in the ‘Where to buy’ section on the website. Here you will be able to see the latest information on stores near you that sell my products.

Growing up, what were your career aspirations? Have you always wanted to be an architect?

I wanted to be an artist. I had huge respect for the discipline of architecture, but I loved drawing and painting and thought I would study fine art. However, when I was considering further education and university I decided to try architecture. The argument being that this route was just as creative but might also open up a wider range of job opportunities. My late father was an architect and he was, of course, an influence in this decision. I had been helping out in his practice since I was 15 years old.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

It depends what I am doing. This time of year, day to day, I am in fitted trousers or dark jeans and a jumper or blouse with heeled boots. I prefer classic and unfussy. I save my creative energy for my work.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I have a go to list of sites and blogs for everything from going out in London to cool homewares and interiors. Here’s a selection of my favourites: London on the Inside; The Nudge; Such and Such – interiors and homewares; An Artful Life; Laura Lea Design; We Built This City; RIBA – Royal Institute of British Architects; Design Milk Blog; London Design Festival; Indie Wire; Little White Lies.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

A stylish raincoat. It rains a lot here this time of year.

Boots or Shoes?

Usually boots. London is only warm about three months of the year so boots of all shapes and sizes are preferred.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Oscar Francis

Web:
https://oscarfrancis.co.uk
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/oscarfrancisprints
Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/oscar_francis/
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/OFrancisLondon

Thank you Sarah and I love the fact that you named your studio after your twin boys!  My mum named her house years ago “Carlin” after my sister Carol & myself! Dear readers, have you ever named a business, house or boat after your offspring?  Have you got on your bucket list a building or other structure that you’d love to visit? I think the Taj Mahal is one building I’d love to see.  Share your views in the comments below, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Sarah Evans.

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An Interview With Bagsy Me First

A few years ago I interviewed Tink from Bedhead Boutique who made bags out of old vinyl records. This year I have discovered another lady who makes bags but this time out of books! My love of books and bags first attracted me to Kate Lowe’s website, Bagsy Me First.  In  June 2016, Kate was awarded #WOW Winner (Women In Business) and the award is well deserved too.These handbags are exquisite, and being inquisitive, I had to interview Kate to find out more. Welcome Kate…

Hello! I’m Kate, and I make purses, wallets and all kinds of bags out of books. (I do love books and I am very gentle with them, I promise. But if you shudder at the very thought of a folded page corner, look away now.)

What inspired you to launch Bagsy Me First!?

As a bookworm and inveterate ‘maker of things’ I was inspired by celebrity book clutches to evolve my own recipe for turning real books into bags. When people realise your bag is made out of an actual, for-real book… *Big smile!*

Where do you find the books to use to turn into handbags? Where do you source the fabric used for the lining?

I find books online and in second-hand bookshops/charity shops. Very occasionally a customer will supply a book. The fabric is from a local shop; sometimes online. It’s best to see/feel fabric up-close and personal.

You have an online shop and cater for custom orders. Have you had any unusual requests?

I’ve had custom orders for bags constructed out of gig posters and a ‘Goosebumps’ book handbag that lit up, for a stage show.

What are the most popular titles/authors requested/sold?

All the classics. And Harry Potter, of course.

What book are you turning into a bag at the moment?

Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ is on my sewing table right now and it’ll be a handbag tomorrow.

To start a company like this, you must have a love of books! What genre of books do you like reading? Any favourite book or author? Have you got a favourite book bag?

I have a weakness for vintage green Penguin paperbacks. My own wallet is made out of a 50 year old green Penguin paperback by John Dickson Carr (I collect his books) and using it daily gives me joy.

Do you read the books before they are turned into bags?

No, but I made it a mission to read some of them afterwards. If a customer wants a bag made out of a particular book then it must be special! I have a long list of handbags that I’ve now read, that I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with books or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

Driving a mobile library around villages is something I’d love to have a go at. My ‘proper’ job is a graphic designer.

Where do you prefer to read – in bed, in a comfy chair, in a library surrounded by books or elsewhere?

Over breakfast with a cup of tea.

You are based in the UK, do you ship overseas too?

Yes; I have customers using my items in 30 countries (so far!) which feels pretty cool.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Mostly thrift-store dresses of varying vintage, and DM’s or pumps.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Vintage/thrift shops and second-hand book shops make me go ‘Oooh’ quite a lot.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?

A pair of trail shoes for X-country. Going to give it a go this season.

Boots or Shoes?

Can’t beat boots for comfort (and stomping!)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Bagsy Me First.

Oh, do come say ‘hi!’ Help yourself to a good ol’ rummage in my shop and if you fancy something made out of a particular book, just ask. The kettle’s on, and we have Hobnobs; welcome to Bag End!
http://www.bagsymefirst.com
https://www.facebook.com/bagsymefirst/
https://www.instagram.com/kate_bagsymefirst
https://twitter.com/Bagsymefirst

Did someone say “hobnobs”? Thank you very much Kate for joining us on the blog! I am having a hard time trying to think which book I would love to have as a bag… The Alchemist is a contender … and Lady Chatterley’s Lover … or perhaps, The Great Gatsby… dear readers, which books would you pick? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Kate Lowe, except for the black & white pin later photo which is by Linda Hobden

 

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Lilac Invasion

Spring is nearly here in the Northern Hemisphere!  This Spring THE pastel colour to be seen in is shades of lilac ( I do include hues of lavender, violet, mauve, iris blue, cyclamen, hyacinth and purple here). For UK at any rate, Mothering Sunday will be here on the 26 March, and as my own mum is rather partial to all things lilac, this post includes lilac gift ideas too.

Flowers  –  a traditional good gift.  Instead of a traditional bunch of multi coloured flowers why not look at pots of hyacinths or plants for the garden. Talking of gardens, do you colour co-ordinate your plants or do you mix colours? The photo below is taken from my mum’s garden – she has green fingers and finds gardening therapeutic.

Books – many garden centres, stately homes, and public gardens have gift sections/shops where other gifts can be purchased other than plants.  How about a book about flowers?  I bought this book from a National Trust property … 

Toiletries –  from body lotions to foam baths and shower gels to soaps; there is a vast range of lavender based colours and smells all set to entice you to relax and breathe in that lavender scent reminicescent to Southern France in summer.  I quite like the Tesco lavender bath foam – plenty of bubbles –  and the new shower gel scents from Avon. I just love jasmine perfume.

Make Up – lilac colours have been around since time began but I do so love the new eye colour and lip glosses from Body Shop…

Eye shadow can be so versatile – in this photo I’ve used the eye shadow as an eye liner too.  Avon do nice eyeliners in purple hued colours too. This particular eyeshadow is by Sarah G Cosmetics.

Sometimes I like to buy a perfume based on its bottle and this perfume by Vera Wang not only smells divine it looks good too.  So pretty to have on your dressing table!

When it comes to slippers, these lilac polka dot slippers by Avon caught my eye.

And there are some pretty canvas shoes and sandals about too!

Dear readers, are you ready to embrace the lilac invasion? Have you dyed your hair lilac?  Do you like the lilac pastel hues or have other pastel colours caught your eye? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

Photo credits: Linda Hobden

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The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book

I love colouring.  I love fashion. I love art. I love the latest fad for adult colouring books. And I love “The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book” by fashion designer Natasha Itzcovitz.  “The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book” features 100 hand drawn fashion illustrations, showcasing her own unique designs as well as her interpretation of fashion styles of previous decades.  I just had to interview the talented lady that has created through this book a chance for us all to be budding fashionistas, designers and artists in our own wacky colouring world. Please welcome onto the blog Natasha….

Hello! I’m Natasha Itzcovitz, a fashion stylist/ author/ illustrator from London 🙂

“The Whimsical Fashion Colouring Book” is a fabulous adult colouring book that showcases your designs. So what was the inspiration behind compiling this book?

I was working in a retail shop that was selling patterned colouring books and felt inspired to make one in my own fashion style. I had already been drawing colouring pages for my cousins for years but never thought to make it into a book until then!

There are 100 hand-drawn illustrations that follow fashion through the ages – from famous fashionistas including Marie Antoinette and Jane Austen, to more contemporary styles eg boho chic and hipster street styles. Where did the inspiration for each colouring page come from – your own fashion designs, historical designs, fashion magazines, your own wardrobe?

The colouring pages are a mix of clothes I’ve made, some I wish I could make, clothes I own and fun characters in my head! I looked to fashion photoshoots for poses as well as manga and vintage fashion for historical inspiration and my cat may feature in a few pages.

Do you have a particular favourite colouring page? What fashion style is easy to recreate? Which fashion style was hard to capture?

My favourite page in my book is the drawing of the girl made of wool that’s knitting herself – it’s just so mad! I’ve drawn a lot of street style and the men’s wear especially, can be recreated. Also, if you head to a costume shop, I’m sure you’d find Mary Antionette’s dress and wig! The historic fashion eras which I found hard to capture were not included in the book – only the best for my readers.

Although you are based in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, my book is available on Amazon worldwide and if you search the title on google, you’ll find that it is on book related websites from many different countries!

Have you any plans to expand your range of colouring books in the future?

I’d love to illustrate more books and do more with my art in the future – look forward to it!

What do you do when you are not drawing?

I’m currently a freelance stylist so I assist on photoshoots and when I get down time, I like to watch anime, ballroom dance and play the guitar.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

A typical Natasha look would be a fun printed dress, over-the-knee socks, grungy boots, a choker, chunky knit and maybe a cheeky bandanna – I’ve gotten into those recently (try and spot one in the book).

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

High-street shops are my favourites, I find different ones are good for different things. Topshop, New Look, Forever 21 and asos are pretty good to me and recently I’ve fallen in love with Zara’s Kidswear.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I went into Zara kids for a styling job and wanted to buy things for myself – think my next purchase will be a dress from there. I’m also planning on getting summer shoes as soon as it brightens up!

Boots or Shoes?

Both boots and shoes suit different occasions so it’s hard to pick one or another. I personally love boots and would wear them all year long since I love how they grunge up a feminine look and are comfy at the same time but you can wear shoes for all occasions and in any season so shoes win on practicality.

Links you would like to share:

Check out my Instagram @itzdrawings for regular artwork! My twitter is @natashaitz and my website is www.itzfashion.uk if you’d like to see some of the clothes and accessories I hand-sew.

Thank you very much Natasha!  I find colouring therapeutic – I loved art as a child and my children do too. Dear readers, do you find colouring therapeutic?  What sort of illustrations would appeal to you?  Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Natasha Itzcovitz

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Slim Mind

Keeping healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is not an easy feat, but it is not impossible to do  –  I believe you really just need to be in the right frame of mind, otherwise your attempts to exercise and/or eat the right foods will just fritter away.  I was really pleased to come across a book called “Slim Mind” which helped to reinforce my “mind over matter” belief as its aims are to develop the reader’s long term skills & motivation to think, act and stay slim; therefore liberating you from weighing scales, low fat foods and yo yo dieting.  The author, health psychologist Dr Catherine Sykes, has spent a long time researching health behaviour change and I was lucky enough to interview Catherine about her work and her book.  Hi Catherine…

Hi! I’m Dr Catherine Sykes, a psychologist who develops mindsets that promote life-long success, health and happiness. I do this through therapy, coaching and consultancy. I’m a working mother of 2 children.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Slim Mind”. What inspired you to put pen to paper?

I’ve worked with lots of people who want to lose weight and one thing that struck me was that people wanted quick and easy methods to lose weight and had tried so many methods in the process. These methods were always contrary to what the evidence in psychological research found was needed. Firstly, weight lost is not quick and easy and the overuse of willpower does not work, in fact it backfires, keeping people in a pattern of yo-yo dieting pattern and self blame. I wanted to bring the psychological evidence to a wider audience and to simplify the techniques as much as possible so that people could try them in a self-help format.

The book is a series of psychological techniques, including cognitive behaviour therapy, to help you understand your eating behaviours, helps you to develop long term skills and motivation to think, act and stay slim. Written from your own private practice experiences and scientific world discoveries – what is the main objectives of the book?

The main objective is to inform people that weight loss is not quick and easy. It takes a long-term sustained approach. This book aims to empower people to take control of their weight loss journey without self-blame and with realistic expectations of what is needed to lose weight.

One bit of advice I gained from the book is “Eat when you are hungry, not when you have a craving”. If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

Restricting certain foods with willpower does not work. Evidence suggests that if we suppress thoughts about certain things then we are more likely to think about it. So if you tell yourself not to think about the chocolate cake in the fridge, you are actually increasing the likelihood that you will think about it and eventually reach for it.

Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes, it can be purchased on Amazon.com

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Slim Mind is the first book in the Zenitude Coaching series which aims to bring easy to follow solutions to promote life long success, happiness and health. Other books to come:
The Juggling Act. Returning to Work Following Maternity Leave.
Zestful Ageing.
Confidence at Work
Positive to Return to Work Following and Illness

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I love reading lots of genres including mystery and espionage, history and bibliography, suspense, travel. I can always read an Ian McEwan book.

You are a health psychologist. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the medical world or did you have other ambitions?

I had other ambitions. I’ve always been increased in jobs that relate to promoting a better society. When I was young, my mum’s friend was studying sociology. I picked up one of her books and could not put it down. Although, I did not know exactly what it was but back then, I wanted to be a sociologist.

You are particularly concerned about the global growing obesity epidemic. What do you feel are the reasons behind this epidemic?

Availability of unhealthy foods.
Sedentary lifestyles.
Emotional eating and inability to understand and name one’s emotions.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Cooking and eating with friends, reading, country walks.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

For work, I tend to go for comfortable elegant clothes. At the weekends, I can be found in Sweaty Betty gear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do love clothes from Joseph. I love the fabrics and style. I also like Reiss.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’m looking for an elegant winter dress.

Boots or Shoes?

Both – depends what I’m wearing. Currently I seem to be wearing my Russell and Bromley black suede ankle boots with everything.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

twitter – drcsykes1
Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/drslimmind (on mobile device)
https://facebook.com/drslimmind (on pc)

Lovely to talk to you Catherine and I personally found your book very inspirational.  Funnily enough, I studied sociology at school and at college – I loved the subject as well!  Well, dear readers, do you have a slim mind?  How do you get into a healthy mindset?  Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know,

Linda x

All photographs have been  published with kind permission of Dr Catherine Sykes.

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The Mystery Of You

Revealing the mystery of you – my guest this week is engineer, entrepreneur, personal trainer and author, John Ferris, who has just written a potentially life-changing book “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”.  Written from John’s own life and discoveries, plus merging spirituality and science; John attempts to guide the reader to reveal their uniqueness and to start building the life of their dreams.   John also has a passion for personal training and sport, even using his engineering capabilities to design and manufacture his own home gym equipment.  I caught up with John recently to find out more …. Hi John …

Hi, my name is John and I was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland at the beginning of the troubles. My initial experiences were groomed on a Belfast estate later moving to the suburbs. I left school with little qualifications, but under my mother’s influence I attended college and then university, graduating in mechanical engineering. I initially worked in the aerospace industry, but from the outset I knew for me, fulfilment would always be out of reach; being such a small cog in a big wheel. In conjunction with my full-time job, I set up a small part-time business manufacturing my own unique exercise equipment. Alas it transpired I was probably a decade too early, at least here in the U.K. Either that or my ideas were rubbish! In saying that it acted as a stepping stone, turning my hobby as a fitness enthusiast into my current profession as a Personal Trainer. I opened Northern Ireland’s first personal training studio and was very content with my life through my fortieth year.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “The Yo(u)niverse Paradox: Revealing The Mystery Of You”. What was the catalyst that in effect changed your life?

Thank you. Just prior to my forty-first birthday my mother passed away. Terrible times most of us have to endure, but inevitable in the general sequence of events. What happened next brought me face to face with my worst nightmare. Three weeks after my mother’s passing on my 41st birthday, my wife and I were informed our six-year-old daughter Robyn had an incurable brain tumour (from western medical point of view). That moment changed everything. It was the catalyst for my spiritual awakening. The beginning of seeing the world through new eyes. The gradual removing of the veils that hide the truth. Everything I thought I knew about the world was turned upside down, back to front and inside out.

The book promotes a model of reality using the fundamental principle of nature overlooked by the mainstream view which merges science and spirituality into an all-inclusive model -allowing for everything, omitting nothing. Written from your own life experiences and discoveries – What inspired you to put pen to paper?

A catalyst is easily definable. Inspiration on the other hand can quite often come from numerous experiences. I guess after seven years of reading, researching and most importantly meditating on the question of “when you die is that it or is there anything I can do to in my lifetime to change the past and experience my daughter growing up?” I amassed an incredible amount of information and felt the urge to put pen to paper to create some space in my mind. As I was writing I could see a repeatable pattern that combined the inner self with the outer experience of the world. I applied the latest scientific discoveries with the esoteric wisdom (spirituality) hidden within every religion to show a pattern that connects everything. This pattern is the key to reality. At times I was blown away by the clarity that was evolving. I was writing off the cuff and didn’t follow any writing protocols or techniques especially since I had never written a book before, but to my surprise it all seemed to fall into place. I realised so much throughout the process. It is a very liberating experience!

If you have to pass on one piece of wisdom or advice to a person, what would be that pearl of wisdom?

You are not an insignificant being living on an insignificant speck in an infinite universe. You are imbued with the most powerful gift of the universe – the power of choice! Use it wisely by letting go of being the victim and take full responsibility.

Although you live in the UK, is your book available to purchase overseas?

Yes,  my book is published by Balboa press based in the States so can be purchased through their or my website (revealthemystery.com) and also around the world on Amazon.com.

Are you looking at writing other books in the future? What topics would you like to cover?

Yes,  I would imagine myself writing some more. Probably similar in nature, but also might link into the health and fitness industry from a functional everyday perspective.

What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I don’t think it will come as any surprise that’s its books based on ‘What is reality?’  Conversations with God book 1 by Neale Donald Walsh was a mind blower. Various books by Deepak Chopra, Gregg Braden and Bruce Lipton on the relationship of science and spirituality. Fred Alan Wolf’s Mind into Matter and The Yoga Of Time Travel are very good and of course The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. In the distant past I would have mainly read sporting autobiographies.

You are an engineer and entrepreneur by trade – you have designed and manufactured home gym equipment. Growing up though, did you inspire to go into the engineering field or did you have other ambitions?

Not at all. I ended up in the engineering sector purely as a result of the U.K. educational system and like most teenagers feeling somewhat lost on where my future lay. I, like a lot of kids, liked the idea of being a fireman until I remembered I had a fear of heights. When I was 17 and learning to drive, on one of the few occasions my mother braved a lesson, I do remember she asked me what my ambitions were for making a living. I told her one day I’d like to own a gym. Months earlier I had purchased a home gym barbell set which initially ignited my passion. Ironically the advice I recently gave my son was to ‘find his passion and put it into action’ because you are a long time working.

You are currently involved in an unique global soccer initiative called Circular Soccer. Could you explain a bit about that project?

About 4 years ago a retired client (the father of Mr. Grey himself – Jamie Dornan) told me of the idea he first had 50 years previous, when he was a teenage boy, playing one versus one football around a central goal (hence circular) which removed the need for a goalkeeper. As young kids few want to play as the goalkeeper. He asked me to go away and develop it. I came back with the idea of a pop up three-sided triangular net which we named the tri-goal, a no play zone and cones for restarting game. Rules were drawn up and after years of prototypes and a number of FIFA trials conducted in Japan, Barbados and at the FIFA headquarters in Switzerland we finally got to market. There are five core members of the team who have worked extremely hard to get this far and time will tell how successful Circular Soccer will become. The game itself has expanded and can cater for up to 10 players and is being used at numerous football clubs to develop players skill set, but can also be purchased for kids to play in the street, back garden or park. Our website is circularsoccer.com.

When you’re not working, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I still play football most Sundays and still get the same thrill scoring a goal as I did when I was a kid. We men never grow up! I love the Marvel movies which bring me back to my childhood reading the comics. I also enjoy eating out in nice restaurants and occasionally have been known to partake in the Belfast pub culture. My body is a temple, but only for part of the week and there are those who would say my body reflects that! I firmly believe life is about balance. Did I mention coffee shops?

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

My daywear reflects my job so no interest there. I love Ant and Dec bomber style jackets. I call them that as during each year watching the television programme – “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here” – I drive my wife crazy pointing out all the bomber jackets that look cool. My “go to” look I guess would be a nice crisp white shirt with black or denim jeans transported on a Ted Baker brogue.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Not particularly, but thinking about it I do seem to have accumulated a fair amount of Ted Baker/Guess labels and the odd Primark.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

A new white shirt……seriously!

Boots or Shoes?

Back in the day it was definitely boots. They ranged from Dr Martens to Chelsea boots with the Cowboy boots or ‘Cowbs’ as they affectionately became known somewhere in the mix. I still have them in the hope that one day they will come back into fashion. My wife has just informed me they never were in fashion!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about you and your book.

My book webpage is revealthemystery.com
On Facebook my book page is also revealthemystery
Also check out circularsoccer.com

Great chatting to you John – it has been a pleasure to have you on the blog.  Your book is  certainly interesting and you’re truly an inspiration.  I love the advice you gave your son: find your passion, put it into action.  That’s the kind of advice I offer my children too. Dear readers, what was the best advice you’ve received?  What advice have you given to your offspring? As always, do share  – I’d love to know your thoughts…

Linda x

Photos published with kind permission of John Ferris.

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An Interview With Mo Endfield

Being the wife of a celebrated film director (Cy Endfield – who directed Zulu, amongst others) and a model in her own right, I’m so excited to welcome onto my blog Mo Endfield.  I wanted  to know all about her new book about being a film director’s wife, her uber glam life as a model in 1950s, her marriage to Cy and what her fashion tastes are like today …. And I’m sure you’d love to find out too! Hi Mo & welcome!

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Hi!  I’m Mo Endfield.  My interests now are my family, friends, films, theatre (especially musicals) long walks and reading. Also I must start exercising more. A few things that happened in my life I would change – wouldn’t we all?

I was lucky enough to read a preview copy, thank you, of your book, “The Film Director’s Wife” – a tell-all autobiography of your life, how you and Cy met, and your life together.  What attracted you most about Cy?

I met Cy in January 1952 because he was dating my best friend Peggy Priest for several months. Through Cy I met Jack Berry and Chan Canasta. We didn’t “get together” until1954. Cy fascinated me
because he was like a guy from another planet. ( ” The Film Director’s Wife” p46:  ‘I had never met someone like him. I had never met such a sophisticated charmer. He made me feel very, very nervous and tongue-tied. I instructed Priest, “Don’t ever leave me alone in a room with him.” I was bewildered by his sneaky verbal assaults and sly digs. He laughed at my acquired Roedean accent. Cy liked to lounge on my bed with Priest, and goad me, smiling his silly smile.)

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Although your parents refused to attend your wedding to Cy, you had a happy 40 year partnership.  Did your parents decision make your early married years difficult? Did they accept Cy in the end?

My father died just 2 weeks after we returned from our honeymoon in France and Italy – a brain tumour, he was only 54. My mother had lost both her daughter and her husband. I remained close to her, she lived with us for the last 10 years of her life. Her relationship with Cy was always politely cool. Dying aged 87 she said to Cy, “Take care of her for me, Cy” which was the closest she came to acceptance.

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As a child what books did you enjoy reading? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

My favourite book was Dombey and Son, everything by Charles Dickens. Also Snow White, when I was 11 I tried to set up a play (with me playing Snow White) but it proved a bit difficult to find 7 dwarfs in Menston. I have belonged to a book club since 2007, we meet once a month for several hours, all contributing hot food
and wine (very lively!) We choose a book in turn, the last two were Little Boy Lost by Marghanita Laski and a memoir of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter – both great reads.

As a former model you rubbed shoulders with many celebrities including Christian Dior, Terence Stamp, Jean Shrimpton and Michael Caine. Who was your style icon at the time?

My style icon was the American model Suzy Parker (my daughter Suzannah was named after her.) Also meeting the model Barbara Goalen ( foot size 2 ) and Fiona Campbell-Walter.

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Out of all the things you’ve experienced as a wife of a film director – what experience did you enjoy the most and what was a nightmare experience?

My most enjoyable experience – when Cy received the accolades he deserved after ZULU :
“Three times I’ve had to remake my life,” declared Cy Endfield, who’s now on top of the heap as director of Zulu, one of the biggest grossers in British film history.” New York Herald Tribune.
A nightmare experience – Cy struggling to find work in England 1952/62 – as he was unable to make films as America would
not accept any film directed by anyone named on the Blacklist.

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Hypothetically speaking, if “The Film Director’s Wife” was made into a film, what actors would you pick to be the main characters playing yourself and your husband?

Peter Sellers and Anouk Aimee.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I’m happiest in trousers and loafers, Adidas and Nike. Like to get tarted up occasionally in a posh frock. I love shoes – currently I’m wearing Chanel, Ferragamo, Cardin, Russell and Bromley and Prada. Never heels.

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?  Do you have a clothes/shoes wishlist?

Never. I don’t want to be tempted ! When I was a model, I was often given clothes, or at much reduced prices. The result is I cannot pay full price for anything. For years I would trudge around sales, now I tend to buy from catalogues – current favourites WALL, PURE and ARTIGIANO.

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots in winter, shoes all year. I am wearing Emma Hope and Robert Clergerie. My favourite ankle boots I bought a long time ago in the Harrods sale. They cost me £3 ! I don’t like the current fashion for clumpy boots with short skirts, but I guess that’s an age thing.

Links you would like to share:

Copies of The Film Director’s Wife can be purchased from The Book Guild, here: http://www.bookguild.co.uk/bookshop-collection/biography/film-directors-wife/
The book is also available from any good bookshop.

It’s been fabulous chatting to you Mo and like you, I do like a good bargain – ankle boots from Harrods at £3! – one of my favourite bargains was a brand new NEXT dress that was handed in to a local jumble sale, tags intact, for sale for 50p – I was so pleased it was my size.  I had seen the dress in NEXT a week or so prior to the sale priced up at £40 or so!  Dear readers, have you got any bargains you’ve picked up over the years in your wardrobes?  Do share!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Mo Endfield.

 

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An Interview With Afrika Presents

On the blog today is Mara Menzies, Kenyan-Scottish storyteller and founder of Afrika Presents.  Afrika Presents draws inspiration from Africa’s rich stories and vibrant cultures when designing its products.  I was particularly drawn to their “The African Fashion Design Sketchbook”, a book that combines the history and beauty of African fashion textiles to children, with the aim of inspiring children to want to learn more about the amazing continent. I caught up with Mara recently to find out more…. Hi Mara and welcome….

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Hi, I’m Mara, a storyteller, founder of Afrika Presents, mother of 2 incredible children, dreamer, dancer, reader and traveller.

“The African Fashion Design Sketchbook” is a book that brings together the incredible history & beauty of fashion textiles from Africa to children. So what was the inspiration behind writing & compiling this book?

I returned home from Kenya and wanted a gift for my daughter and bought a fashion book where she could design a model and I found myself wishing that there was an African version of that so she could create, imagine and explore the things she loved but learn about her African heritage at the same time. Then I thought I’m going to do that and I did! African fashions and textiles are so beautiful and their histories are so intertwined with other cultures around the world but we never hear about that so I took the approach to make sure it was fun but informative too.

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You are a Kenyan Scottish storyteller – so how come you decided to start up your company, Afrika Presents?

Once the idea of the fashion book was born, there was so much else to explore that it made sense to form the company and think of what direction it could go. Being a storyteller is a real privilege as you share some very personal moments with small groups of people. I felt that there were so many stories to be told, so many other ways to explore such a vast and vibrant continent that it was impossible to do it just by myself. Through Afrika Presents, I have been able to work with a wider range of people – artists, designers, people experienced with the business side of things, and so many more.

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Africa has many rich stories – do you have a particular favourite tale?

There are so many to choose from but I do love an Ethiopian story about a woman who innocently throws a bone out of the window which is fought over by 2 dogs, which results in 2 boys fighting, then 2 women fighting, then 2 men fighting, then 2 villages fighting until suddenly the whole thing has spiralled out of control. Finally they realise that everyone involved could have stopped it before it reached that terrible point. Sacrifices are made and peace does return but the moral is that we must always think before throwing our bones out of the window. Of course the bone is symbolic of so many things in our lives but I love sharing this story because everyone gets caught up in the ruckus without realising where the story is heading and then suddenly BAM, they get it, and it is a wonderful feeling to take people on that rollercoaster.

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You are currently developing an app that will bring the pages of the book alive. That project sounds totally awesome, I must say. What parts of the app do you think will particularly grab a child’s attention in more ways than the book?

Yes, we’re really excited about it. There are videos, games and quizzes and we plan to continually upgrade the content too. I think the children (and adults) will really like the interactive elements as they can then test themselves and we live in a digital age so it is amazing to able to fuse pen, paper and the digital world.

What books did you enjoy reading as a child? What genre of books do you enjoy reading now?

I grew up in Kenya and my diet consisted of Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, The Famous Five, The Nancy Drew mysteries, a series of books about twins from various cultures, and we always had National Geographic magazines around the house. I also loved the books where you had to choose which page to go to to change the path of the story. Nowadays, we are lucky to have access to authors from all over the world. I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Muthoni Garland as well as random books that I stumble upon, often with a traditional folktale structure. I’m currently reading The Book of Lost Things which turns folktales on their heads and is hugely enjoyable and thought provoking and I love books about Scottish mythology and mystical creatures. Scotland tells a great story.

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I have been to Kenya myself and was captivated by the beauty of the country – Mt Kilimanjaro was a particular favourite spot of mine. Have you got a favourite part of Africa? Any part of Africa you haven’t yet visited but is on your bucket list?

One of my favourite memories was at our farm in Kenya which is on the side of a valley. there was a silver river snaking its way at the bottom and quartz in the ground always twinkled at sunset. On one evening, somebody somewhere was playing a reed flute and it was just so beautiful. That is now my favourite place. I’d love to visit Botswana and Namibia and I love Malian music so will hopefully get there too.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am seasonal in the sense that winter I close shop and wear boots, jeans and thick chunky jumpers and go for comfort over fashion. But in the summer I adore bright colours and patterns. I like shoes with small  heels. I can’t wear very high heels but I’ve always loved the grandeur of Victorian fashion and so the shorter, curvier heels make me feel part of that!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love raiding the charity shops and then tweaking what I find at home. I also find treasures in vintage shops. I do visit Zanjoo.com every now and again as they have some fantastic skirts and often match colours successfully that really shouldn’t work but always do. As I go to Kenya every year, I always find stunning fabrics and I have a tailor who makes beautiful clothes so I go with a wishlist. Otherwise I buy basics on the high street.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

Now we’re heading for winter, it’s time for my annual boot splurge. I would love to own good quality boots in a vibrant red but they are hard to find! I sometimes find incredible boots for my 9 year old that I want in my size!

Boots or Shoes?

Flat boots for everyday comfort and lovely shoes or high heeled boots when I’m trying to impress:)

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Afrika Presents.

Visit the website at www.afrikapresents.com and we’re at https://www.facebook.com/Afrikapresents

Thank you Mara for introducing your fab company! I have always been fascinated with the continent of Africa and my youngest son has the continent in the number one slot of his bucket travel list – he loves animals and the vast outdoors.  Like you I grew up with the stories of Raold Dahl and Enid Blyton; I read the National Geographic Magazine from cover to cover – and my children have grown up surrounded by the same … along with modern technology.  One African story I liked was about the baobab tree that I heard whilst in Kenya – it is known as the upside down tree as its branches don’t have leaves and they look like tree roots!  Dear readers, are you fascinated by Africa? Would you like to visit? Or have you travelled there already? Do you have an African story to tell? As always, do share – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mara Menzies.

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Revisiting Buckso Dhillon Woolley

Way back, almost exactly 2 years ago, on 7 November 2014, I interviewed actress/singer Buckso Dhillon Woolley (read original interview HERE) who had just starred in a UK countrywide advert for frozen food company, Iceland, alongside heart throb Peter Andre.  Buckso was looking forward to auditioning for a part in the West End stage show, Bend It Like Beckham.  So now, two years on, did Buckso  get a role in Bend It Like Beckham?  Is she still singing? I caught up with Buckso recently to find the answers to those questions and more…. Welcome back onto the blog Buckso!

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Hi there! I’m Buckso DHILLON-WOOLLEY and I’m an actor/speaker just finalising my 1st eBook on RESILIENCE as I make a segway into the speaking arena!

I was fortunate enough to interview you in November 2014 …. so, what made you want to become an actress in the first place?

Yes you did! And my what a journey these last few months have been! I’d say the very first time I knew the entertainment industry was the only way for me, was after I’d discovered I had a voice singing the theme tune to Why Don’t You back when I was a young teen. After that, I as bitten by the bug!

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Congratulations on your appearance in the West End production of “Bend It Like Beckham” as Auntiji ( Aunty G) for the 2015 run! Being picked for a West End show is such an achievement in itself… and a role you was hoping to get when I last interviewed you too! What was it like being in such a fabulous West End production? Any memorable moments that stand out?

Yes, it was something I finally nailed after auditioning for it 3yrs on the trot, and it was such a relief to get a yes! The thrill of a live audience was fantastic as I’d never experienced theatre before so wasn’t sure what to expect, which was good in some ways as I was going in with no expectations and I have to say it was phenomenal to be in such a well received show..with 5 star ratings and brilliant reviews I was a tad spoilt you might say! Most memorable moment would be the press night party..seeing something like that in such a scale was lovely and the fact my sister and husband had the chance to share it with me made it even more special considering I’d been mugged at gunpoint the night before. Maybe that’s the most memorable part actually!

As you revealed in 2014, you have a love for films … So I was dead chuffed to hear that you’ve been filming a new feature film written & directed by Andrew Hulme called “The Devil Outside”. Can you reveal what the film is about and the part that you play?

Oh yes I’m a big fan of films and SO pleased my first one was based and filmed in and around an area I live near. In short, I play the mum to the young lad and it’s a sort of coming of age film, set in Nottingham about religion, madness and repressed sexuality, and that’s all I can say! You have a lot to look forward to as Andrew Hulme has a great eye for shots and capturing a story with ability for fine detail.

In 2014, you met THE man himself, Peter Andre, whilst filming the Iceland advert. So as you’ve forayed since then into the world of theatre and movies, who have you encountered that have made a lasting impression on you?

You know I’ve yet to meet someone who has had a lasting impression on me as I’m really not that in awe of anyone as such. It’s more about how a person makes me feel by what they say after they’ve gone. If I’m still pondering what they’ve said more than 24hrs later then I know they’ve left their mark.

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In 2014, you hoped to release an album or set of songs based on the Bond films… depending on whether you got the “Bend It Like Beckham” role or not! As we all know, you did get the role – but did you manage to do a Bond set or is it still on the back burner? Do you still get to do any singing?

Ah I’m still waiting to do that! It’s on the back burner right now but most definitely something I want to do in my life. I’ve sang at a couple of charity dos this October but there was a point after the show finished where I thought I’d never sing again as my voice totally decided to leave me for a few months! At that point I realised just how important it is for me to sing, whether it’s paid or not, as it feeds my soul.

Looking ahead to 2017 – any plans in the pipeline that you can reveal to us?

Well one thing I can definitely say is happening will be the release of my new ebook which should be out at the end of November. I’m booking now for talks and speaking gigs for networking groups and schools so should be rolling that out next year alongside my acting etc. The book itself is called “The Resilience Queen: 7.5 Steps to finding your own”. It gives motivation and guidance to finding and maintaining your resilience in times of adversity and uncertainty. This is with a view to following it up with another book that talks more in depth about each chapter with examples of times in my life I’ve had to be resilient and continue to overcome any and all obstacles! Also recently started to work with a fantastic new skincare and cosmetics company, MAELLE, which launched in October and you can visit my website below for more info or email me direct.

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Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

Weellll,  I’m a die-hard Primark fan but even I’ve noticed lately I’m choosing more of the Marks and Spencer gear – it’s actually quite appealing to me and I’m shocked! I guess my taste is becoming more refined as I age but I’ve always maintained I’d never do designer stuff and I stand by that still. I’m not knocking those who do, I just choose to spend my dollar elsewhere. Shoes wise,  I’m again going for the comfy foot glove range from Marks & Spencer. More so because, since April this year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis which thankfully is under control now, but if my feet are squished in a shoe, they ain’t happy!

Do you have any favourite designers?

Not as such but when I buy from QVC (yep still a big fan!) I do love Dennis Basso for coats and Nina Leonard, Attitudes by Renee, Anything Design, Chelsea Muse and BIBA for clothes, as they’re so unique!

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

I’m now on a bit of a mission to get some gorge autumn/winter boots that are faux fur lined, like the EMU boots range that come in a host of fabulous colours.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots win hands down!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more you & follow your career.

Instagram : @buckso_
Twitter : @bucksodw
Facebook : https://m.facebook.com/bucksodw
www.myelle.co.uk
www.resiliencequeen.com

It has been fantastic to catch up with you, Buckso, and am so glad you have so many things in the pipeline and plenty for us to look forward to! Glad your auditioning perseverance on stage with Bend It Like Beckham paid off, although being mugged at gunpoint is not an experience I would like to have! So, dear readers,  Buckso has admitted that her shopping preferences have changed as she’s got older – finding herself being attracted to M & S whereas previously Primark was her main go to shop –  have you found yourself drifting away from your favourite shop as you’ve got older? Drop me a comment… I’d love to know…

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Buckso Dhillon-Woolley.

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