Category Archives: Books

Spotlight On Pharmacy Movement And Krumping

So what has dance and pharmacy got in common?  Well, my interview guest this week, Professor Arun Nadarasa, has an aim to close the gap between the health and well being component of patient care enhancing the use of social prescriptions. The Professor has written a book “Pharmacy Movement”, with the message that medication is not always the answer to every disease. Where does the “Krumping” come into it?  Well, this professor also happens to be a Krump Performance coach too…. Hi Arun!

Hi! My name is Arun and I am a pharmacist by trade where I started working since February 2013. I did my degree at the University of Bath from 2006 till 2011. My passion is Krump dance which I started in April 2008. I was born in France and I moved to UK in 2002 with my parents and my two younger sisters. My ethnicity is Srilankan Tamil.

What inspired you to write your book “Pharmacy Movement”?

The inspiration started when I came across the NHS Five Year Forward View at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Annual Conference in September 2016. The speaker talked about bridging the gap between health and wellbeing. This then made me reflect on Pharmacy being Health and Dance being Wellbeing. I was then trying to come up with a cool name for the combination of both like Dance Pharmacist, Creative Pharmacist but Movement Pharmacist stuck with me since movement is the basis of dance.

What is Social and Digital Prescribing?

Social Prescribing involve recommending non-medicinal activities (like dance, music & singing) to patients to improve their social connectedness since social isolation is the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Even a Minister of Loneliness was appointed in UK to tackle this national problem. In contrast, digital prescribing involve recommending mobile apps to patients leveraging their daily usage for empowerment of their habits and mindset. For instance, Headspace is great to learn meditation and others include the number of calories consumed daily as well as quality of sleep.

Although you studied Pharmacy at the University of Bath & you are a community pharmacist; dance features quite heavily in your life, especially Krump dance. Now, I must admit I had to google “Krumping” … can you explain what Krump dance is?

Krump is a street dance which combing both ballet and boxing. It was created in 2001 by Tight Eyez and Big Mijo in Los Angeles as an outlet to express their frustrations and escape gang culture. It stands for Kingdom Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise as it was commonly used as a praise dance in churches. It is now present in 95 countries and European Buck Session (EBS) is the World Championship of Krump Dance held in Germany annually since 2008.

What attracted you to “krumping”?

The energy it gave off. I started Judo at the age of 7 and I gained my black belt at the age of 18 under the mentoring of Basil Dawkins from Moberly Judo Club in London. Since I have loose ligaments, I kept getting knee injuries whilst at University as I was training with the judo team there. It was the same of Breaking (also referred as Breakdancing) which I started in 2006, since it focus heavily on legs, I was getting injured frequently whereas Krump is predominantly upper body based so I made the complete switch in December 2009.

What are the benefits of “krumping”? Could the same results be applied to other forms of dance?

It is very therapeutic since it requires lots of stamina and grit, your body become toned very quickly and improve your stamina considerably. It is also useful in releasing not useful emotions through dance which lead me to set up a charity called “Krump Save Lives”. Yes, dance is recognised to have rejuvenating properties and increase longevity for practitioners along with music and smiling.

You spent 16 months, invested over £10,000 and interviewed 24 world experts on getting your unique book out there – are you pleased with how the book, Pharmacy Movement” turned out? Was being an author harder than you expected? Would you consider writing more books?

Yes definitely, the UK Prime Minister has a signed copy of my book and the Queen of England acknowledged my book. It also lead me to give a speech in Paris about the benefits of Social Prescribing within the medical sector. It was definitely a learning curve, the beginning was the hardest for sure but thanks to my family and friends’ encouragement, I kept going. Yes, I have 6 more books planned within the Krump industry.

Is Krump Dance therapy suitable for everybody?

Yes, Krump dance is universal, as long the dancer don’t have a medical contra-indication like osteoporosis or a heart condition, then it’s fine. I did my first Krump dance class with Parkinson patients back in June 2017 which was an amazing experience. Children as young as 2 years old can start Krumping. The oldest Krumper in the world is Old Skool in USA who is over 70 years old.

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

Yes, it is available on Amazon as a hard copy as well as a Kindle edition.

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

When it comes to Krump, I like wearing Jordans which is common within the Krump culture. Krumpers tends to wear black t-shirts which can have Krump designs and normally I wear black jeans. For professional networking events, I normally wear either my blue, red or black suits to maintain my brand.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I normally buy directly from the Krump Clothes designers when I travel to support the Krump economy. I am a massive fan of Starbucks as it boosts my creativity on what I can do for the Krump and pharmacy sector. Amazon is another website I normally use to buy personal development books.

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

I would love to wear smart clothes, those which can measure your heart rate and related health metrics. For shoe, I envision that there will be a dedicated Krump brand for shoes which will elevate the Krump economy by fellow entrepreneurs.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes since it is easier to dance with them especially when it comes to Krump footwork which can be very fast so weight plays an important part. The sole needs to be thick enough to absorb the impact of the stomp. It needs a fine balance between the two.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can learn more about Pharmacy Movement & Krumping 🙂

www.pharmacymovement.com

www.udemy.com/moolkrump

www.arunnadarasa.com

@ArunNadarasa for Instagram

@MovementPharma for Twitter

“Professor Arun Nadarasa” for YouTube

You certainly kept me entertained Arun, although I’m not sure I can Krump, I can certainly appreciate how dance/movement in general can help maintain our health, especially as we get older.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Arun Nadarasa.

Video link from YouTube, as recommended by Arun Nadarasa

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An Interview With Donnie Rust

There’s more to my guest this week than meets the eye – and it’s not just the fact that he is 6ft 6 inches tall!  Donnie Rust is co founder, Editorial & Creative Director, & talented Travel Writer with the business and travel site, The Lost Executive.  He came to England in 2003 from Durban, South Africa and since his arrival he has caused a whirlwind … wowed audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with his guitar and stage presence; dabbled in the world of timeshares in Tenerife; fulfilled his writing dreams as an author with some fantasy books under his belt; co-founded a successful business & travel site…    so I just couldn’t wait to invite him onto my blog! Hi Donnie…..

Hi! I’m Donnie Rust, co-founder, editorial and creative director of The Lost Executive business and travel site. I am the show off of the team and responsible for much of the creative planning and getting us both into trouble.

Growing up in Durban, South Africa, you arrived in the UK in 2003 & have had some interesting jobs since then including being a timeshare salesman in Tenerife, a naked busker starring in your own show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2011, an author of occult-noir genre books and travel writer & co-founder of the website magazine Lost Executive. What made you decide to launch Lost Executive?

My co-founder and I wanted to highlight the importance of bridging the gap between business and leisure while providing a real value to businesses seeking content creation and promotion. Also, it put me in touch with some places offering really good suits. (I love my suits.) I am also a writer by trade and enjoy using words to create something special and useful. Most importantly though, is I love to travel. I love being exposed and plunged into new cultures and social surroundings. Seeing new places. It helps remind me how big the world is and how small my role in it.

I was a geography geek as a child (still am) with my head in an atlas or in a guidebook – I’m quite happy being an armchair traveller (reading & watching TV programmes) as well as exploring the world for myself. Did you have a fascination with countries as a small child?

I was very much a geek myself as a child. Having grown up in South Africa I was quite outdoorsy, but preferred to be sitting down either drawing, reading or writing. I wrote my first novel when I was 9 and a half wanting to be published before I was 10, however this was the days of DOS and one glitch on the computer lost everything. I did a great deal of martial arts growing up so I did pay a lot of attention to the orient, I was also very interested in mythology, theology and fiction. Always been bookie I guess. So that covers Greece, Egypt, Rome, Africa and Asia.  Also, South Africa is a young country, it’s a very old place but a young country, it doesn’t have the same sort of heavy history that you find in Europe or the UK. I was fascinated by the idea of castles and ruins that had been up for centuries because all the buildings in SA were new. Culture wise, you won’t find a more diverse country. Being a saffa you’re exposed to the cultural differences from a young age: I had friends who were Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Indian and white, all with their own backgrounds and beliefs.

You grew up in Durban,South Africa – so apart from your own country, what was the first country you visited?

I suppose that would be Lesotho, but I don’t think that has to count. Officially it would be Britain, England.

Have you got any favourite destinations and why are they specifically at the top of your list?

Cape Town is still one of my favourite places in the world. I know I’m supposed to say Durban, and Durban is beautiful but there is something majestic and trendy about Cape Town. I love it because of it’s energy and its buzz and the breathtaking scenery is free to everyone.

I lived in Tenerife for a while, so I like the Canaries. Not a fan of them as a holiday destination because it’s very “all inclusive”, but living and working there was fun, for what I can remember of it.

I like to travel to the Highlands of Scotland whenever I am able, Foyers on the shores of Loch Ness is one of my favourite places. There’s a bnb there calld Foyers House which has a view of the forests and the mists that are absolutely singular. Good place to go for a respite. Especially as last time I went the owner confiscated my phone.

What place is your least favourite and why?

Very difficult question to answer as I try to focus on the good bits. Also any bad experiences usually make the best stories afterwards. To be honest this question has stumped me a little bit. I’m not a fan of Luton if that helps?

Donnie with The Lost Executive crew

We all have preconceived ideas of what a country will be like – what country totally took you by surprise and was totally opposite of what you thought it would be?

Norway. Bergen. I went there earlier this year. I’ve never seen a city so clean, so technology intelligent (everywhere took card payments even on top of a mountain), everyone was friendly. The city of Bergen is also very, very energy aware, so at night time the city is dark. So dark that when I arrived by tram (trams are everywhere there), I thought I was in the middle of nowhere. I could see the odd light in a room here and there but otherwise nothing. The next morning I discovered I was in the middle of a gigantic city and that its just that if a light doesn’t need to be on it doesn’t go on. They’ve got a completely different mentality over there, a beautifully intelligent, forward thinking and logical approach based on facts and not speculation.

Also Venice. I went to Venice last year. The touristy parts were what I expected, but my girlfriend and I went off the beaten track a lot and wandered into an artist’s studio and a gigantic modern art display. I was surprised by how many islands there are there that are not inhabited because they can’t be reached without special boats- so you don’t have vandals or graffiti because it would be too much effort and the results are these small islands with these ruins on them that are untouched and unspoiled right in the middle of one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.

I love travelling & flying but I hate airports! What’s your favourite and least favourite airports?

Norway, Oslo Airport, mostly because they give staff scooters to get around faster. Again, there’s that thinking that everyone needs to be responsible for themselves.

The worst airport was Ljubljana in Slovenia. It was tiny, small, the shops didn’t open at certain times of the day and we had a 4 hour wait for our flight.

Do you have a favourite mode of travel?

I won’t lie, I am a bit of a reluctant flier. I would prefer to drive or even better, a luxury cabin in a train.

You are an author of 3 books in the fantasy/occult-noir genre – I have read your working title series books – with the raunchy titles of “That Time I Did A Favour For God And Was Almost Buggered To Death By A Demon Dog: (A Working Title) Volume 1” and “The Case Of The Woman Who Killed Monsters With Her Bitey Vagina: A Working Title, Volume 2”. As a reviewer of your books stated recently, that you are “bringing all the characters from your childhood nightmares to life”! What do you enjoy most about writing your novels? Where do you get your ideas from?

Some of the ideas are from actual folklore. Others are just pareidolic. I dislike any character to be conveniently talented, one of my first books was “Godhunter” and it explored the price of great power. Real costs in terms of physical, emotional value. My characters suffer their powers and their abilities- like telepathy- 1. You wouldn’t read minds like spoken sentences, they’d be mishmashes of shapes, smells, random thoughts, emotions and images and 2. Why would you automatically be able to control it? So before I look at what makes my character different I look at the costs of that uniqueness and reverse engineer it from there.

Oh and all my characters are heavily flawed.

Donnie as The Naked Busker

Let’s talk Naked. The Naked Busker idea was certainly different. How come you embarked on the act in the first place?

I was a stand up comedian and looking for a gimmick and my girlfriend at the time suggested I get naked because it always made her laugh. It became an onstage act, I’d get up, strip down, do an animated comedic show with just a pair of boots and a guitar, sing songs that were particularly rude and purile. I was semi professional for a little while actually but now the only thing about that is an alarming number of pictures of me on google images.

Starring in your show at the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was it all plain sailing or do you have any memorable disasters? Do you still indulge in the music scene?

Ah, the Ed Fringe 2011. I was doing a nightly set at the City Café and someone stole my clothes and I spent the last evening wandering around the city trying to find them. It ended up being a pretty good night because it was the Edinburgh Fringe, nobody even batted an eyelid when a naked guy in a pair of boots and a guitar came traipsing along. I love playing my guitar and singing, but aside from a couple of local open mic nights at some of my friend’s joints I don’t really get involved on stage. I do my bit supporting some of my friends who are far better musicians than I. The likes of Will How and Pirate Joe… I do love being on stage though.

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

I love wearing suits. I get my suits from a local store named Slaters. I’m a fan of waist coats and coats with double buttons that have to be tailored to fit my size. I also often wear jeans a lot and a denim jacket. I like to mix it up.

Do you go shopping for clothes/accessories whilst travelling? If so, which country was shopping a pleasant or otherwise experience?

Cape Town was superb. Generally whenever I go back to South Africa I’ll fly over with an empty bag and just the clothes I’m wearing and will come back with it filled with clothes. They have a summerly fashion sense there because it’s never really winter, so you can pick up some really cool clothes for less than half the price of UK. They also make clothes to fit big guys. I’m 6ft 6 with shoulders which makes me about average size for a South African and so I find clothes no problem. Also, it’s an awesome place to buy sunglasses and hats.

What items of clothing/footwear/accessories are your “essentials” when travelling?

A hoody. A pair of loose fitting jeans. A breathable pair of socks and a Handycosy neck pillow. Boxers never briefs.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots if I’m going out for a night. Shoes if I’m wearing a suit.
Boots last longer, they don’t let water in and if you have to do any sudden running with them or freestyle parkour you know your ankles will at least be protected. Shoes with a suit because it makes you feel cooler and also because the boots I wear don’t work well with suits.

For pinning later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can follow you & Lost Executive.

twitter.com/lostexecutive
twitter.com/donnierust
https://www.facebook.com/ourdonnierust/
facebook.com/thelostexecutive
instagram.com/Donnie_rust
instagram.com/thelostexecutive

I agree with you, Donnie, about the luxury train travel option … certainly a fantastic way to travel – 5 course meal, wine and sitting a luxurious armchair whilst admiring the landscape out of the picture windows – absolutely heavenly.  I was lucky to have had that experience a couple of times – once on my honeymoon and several shorter trips on the British Pullman and Northern Belle trains. Many thanks for agreeing to be interviewed! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Donnie Rust.

 

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An Interview With Rufus Publications

If you are passionate about music, books and publishing, there is no career finer than the job that my guest, Mark Smith, does! Mark is a publisher with the independent publishing house, Rufus Publications, that specialises in creating and distributing high end coffee table books about bands and music.  Working directly with artistes and bands, the books and the photography bring to life some iconic concerts.  I’m thrilled to welcome Mark on the blog, to find out more…

Hi! I am Mark Smith, a 52 year old publisher from Newbury Berkshire. Married (30 years) with three sons, a daughter and a plethora of grandchildren based in the UK and South Africa.

Mark (left) & David Coverdale at his studio in Reno

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in publishing?

I have worked for myself since I was 19. I ran a design and marketing company until 2007, stopping after having a small stroke (probably stress induced). I have always loved books, music and films so I decided to start a business that would encompass these passions in 2010.

Rufus Publications specialise in creating & distributing high end coffee table books about bands & music. What were the reasons why you decided to stick with bands & music?

Well, I’m starting with the music I know and love. The biggest surprise is how long it takes to pull a book together. I thought it would take 4 months but really it’s a year or more.

What has been the most popular publication so far?

AC/DC followed by Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

David Coverdale on stage – photo taken by Mark for the new Purple book)

What has been your favourite book to date?

We are just launching a Whitesnake book and we worked directly with David Coverdale and his producer MIchael McIntyre, following the band on an arena tour of the UK and taking many of the shots used in the book. This time we haven’t licensed other people’s work so we have more freedom. They have been fun and professional to work with and we got to visit the band’s studio in Reno. Good fun. We are also working with legendary guitarist Peter Green on a forthcoming title. He’s amazing to work with and it will be quite some book.

You have worked with bands in the past such as AC/DC and Deep Purple, however, if you were given the chance, who would you love to publish a book about?

We would love to do Metallica and perhaps some of the more obscure American blues artistes. We are also considering some classic film books.

A spread from the forthcoming Peter Green book

Most of your books are designed, printed & bound in the UK. Are they available to purchase outside the UK?

We ship anywhere in the world. We are passionate about UK production because we have lost so much to China and England used to be a major centre for book production.

I have seen AC/DC a couple of times, including the concert  where Axl Rose was the lead singer. My last concert was to see Paul Rodgers. What was the last music concert you went to?

The Iron Maidens and Bernie Marsden a few weeks ago and The Darkness next week.

A shot of Meatloaf and Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) confronting each other backstage at the Monsters of Rock in 1983 (from the forthcoming history of the festival). Photo by PG Brunelli

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

Jeans, t-shirts and converse boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Amazon because I can’t buy music in Newbury but the internet has taken the fun out of the high street.

A classic guitar photographed in the Rufus Publications studio, from a forthcoming book on rare & unusual guitars belonging to Bernie Marsden. Photographed by the Rufus Team

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

A decent striped jacket, if I can find one that fits.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. They’re chunkier!

Links to follow & discover Rufus Publications:

www.rufuspublications.com
www.facebook.com/rufuspublications

For pinning later

I do hope you enjoy seeing The Darkness next week – I saw them live in 2004! I really enjoy seeing bands that put on a show – like Metallica, Alice Cooper, Kiss, AC/DC, David Bowie and Whitesnake – to name a few that I’ve seen.  Dear readers, do you like seeing live bands? Any favourites? Do share your stories…

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the Pinterest photo) have been published with kind permission from Rufus Publications and the photographers have been credited in the article.

The Pinterest photo was taken by myself,  Linda Hobden, at a Status Quo concert held at Newmarket Race Course in July 2015

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Introducing Boomer On The Ledge

You may have heard of the traditional American Christmas Elf on the Shelf – but I am going to introduce you to something even cuter – “Boomer On The Ledge”!  The book & toy “Boomer On The Ledge” was created by author Molly Stevens, whose blog “Shallow Reflections” just happens to be one of my favourites.  Having just been published this November,  I couldn’t wait to buy a copy of the book and I wasn’t disappointed – it was packed full of sketches that reflect Molly’s fun sense of humour!  I couldn’t wait to ask Molly about “Boomer” …. Hi Molly!

Hi! My name is Molly Stevens, and I live in central Maine. When I’m not writing, working or rummaging around in the middle of the night looking for a snack, I love to spend time with my husband, Patrick, and our son, daughter-in-law and two perfect grandsons. This is my first book.

What was the inspiration behind On Boomer The Ledge™ or BOTL™ (Humoroutcasts Press,2017)?

I watched my grandsons get excited about finding an elf posed each morning that monitors their behavior leading up to Christmas and thought my generation was missing something fun. I felt like we were invisible with no one watching us unless looking for signs of dementia. My mother left me a little vintage doll, and I started photographing it in different poses and it made me laugh. I brainstormed ideas with my husband, Patrick, and The Boomer on the Ledge concept was born. I waited for a year before I published it as a blog post, then decided I needed to expand it into a book with a new doll. I designed my vision of the doll, and worked with a fantastic seamstress, Brenda DeRoche, to make the doll come to life with a unique personality. The more we worked on the prototype, the more she looked like me, especially when I first get up in the morning.

Congratulations on being published – how does it feel to finally get your idea published and off the ground? What was your main highlight and what proved most frustrating?

Having this book published feels like giving birth, and this is not something I ever imagined at age sixty-four! The most frustrating part was meeting my deadlines while working fulltime.  Also, I shot the pictures during the height of summer, and in Maine, that means endless hours of bright sunlight. I used an umbrella, a blanket and even did a few photos in the bathroom with the shade pulled to improve the lighting. The highlight was selling the first book, hearing the buyer laugh and say, “Everyone will love it as much as I do!”

I certainly love the book and did have a giggle at some of the positions she got herself into – hard to pick favourites, but I did particularly like the “roasting pantyhose on an open fire” and “ drinking out of the dog bowl thinking it was gin” – so where did you draw your inspiration for the Boomer antics from?

Her antics come from my own life – balancing work and family, pursuing creative endeavors, trying to stay healthy, looking stylish while staying comfortable, planning for retirement, and some days not wanting to get out of bed.

Which Boomer On The Ledge antic is your personal favourite?

My favorite is cover photo, the doll hanging on the ledge, because this is symbolic of my life stage – hanging precariously between danger and adventure. When you are younger, it is a shock if an illness or injury strikes someone you know, but in your sixties, a disaster can be right around the corner. Conversely, I have found this age to be a fabulous time of self-discovery, creativity, and adventure.

What do you hope your readers get from this book?

I hope my readers can relate to the Boomer on the Ledge and have a lighthearted moment in a world that is often sad and scary. If I can give one person a moment of escape from this madness, I will have achieved my goal. I believe humor is the emollient that smoothes life’s rough patches and I want to show boomers how hilarious aging can be.

 

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

I dreamed of a career in the arts – music and literature were my favorite subjects. I grew up in a time when a teacher, nurse, or secretary were the most common career pathways for a girl. I chose a career in nursing and I have no regrets but I’m grateful my dream to be a writer ignited at sixty years old, and now I consider it my passion.

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? Favourite genre?

I do most of my reading in bed but if I can’t sleep I settle into my swivel rocking chair. I read a mixture of hardback/paperback and kindle books, usually several at a time, which can get confusing. I have read a lot of non-fiction the past few years, but am getting back into fiction, which is my first love. I enjoy variety and will read about anything as long as it is well written, having no tolerance for dull concepts and shoddy writing.

Where can people purchase Boomer On The Ledge? Is there worldwide availability?

Boomer on the Ledge book is available on Amazon worldwide. The Boomer on the Ledge doll is available in the United States, made to order and available on my website at www.shallowreflections.com, (sold only with the book).

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

I love skinny jeans and flowing tops that leave plenty of room for me to eat a plate of nachos without revealing any bulges.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I like J. Jill clothing line for its style and comfort. Did I mention I like comfortable clothes?

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

I’m always cold and I want to take trip to mid-coast Maine to buy a warm, cozy alpaca sweater.

Boots or Shoes?

This time of year nothing but boots, short ones with my jeans, tall ones with my leggings/tops.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about you and Boomer On The Ledge.

http://www.shallowreflections.com
https://www.facebook.com/shallowreflections/
https://www.facebook.com/BoomerOTL/
https://twitter.com/ShallRef
https://www.pinterest.com/mstevens1953/shallow-reflections/
https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MollyStevensPerham/posts
https://www.instagram.com/mstevens1983/

Good golly Miss Molly, I sure do love your sense of humour and the Boomer doll is so cute! So, dear readers, what mischievous poses would you put your Boomer doll in?  In honour of Molly, I would opt for Boomer to be immersed in a bowl of Nachos …. ! 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Molly Stevens.

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An Interview With Author Simon J Stephens

Thrillers are my favourite book genre and I have read a good variety over the years.  One thriller that I have read recently is “Righteous Correction?” by Simon J Stephens. Without giving too much away, it is a crime fiction that takes place on the English canals, one that raises questions about justice and vigilantism – and their relationship to the official justice system. Apart from the main storyline, the book describes the canals with such vividness that you could close your eyes and imagine being by the canal side, pint in hand!  So it will come as no surprise that the author, Simon Stephens, lives aboard a canal narrowboat in Staffordshire.  I caught up recently with Simon to find out more about his writing and his life on the waterways. Hi Simon..

Hello! My name is Simon J Stephens and I am an aspiring author who lives on a narrowboat with my wife and three dogs. As the boat is only 15 metres long, we are definitely at full capacity just now, although if another rescue hound comes our way, I guess I’ll be camping on the towpath! We’ve lived on a boat for five years, prior to which I’d spent my working life in retail, driving 40,000 miles a year, looking after up to 70 stores, taking phone calls 24/7, and loving every minute of it …until I didn’t. I suddenly decided that life was too short and that I was stuck on a roller coaster, so, I jumped off, and we’ve never looked back. I still have to work but I just do a few nights in a hotel which is a nice, stress free way to earn just enough.

“Righteous Correction” is your latest crime thriller that raises questions about justice and vigilantism – and their relationship to the official justice system. The main character, Zipoly, lives on a canal narrowboat and to all intents and purposes is an ordinary chap – but not all is as it seems as he is an agent for an ancient secret order. So, having worked in the retail sector for most of your working life, what was behind the inspiration to turn author and write a thriller?

Writing has always been a key part of my life and, interestingly, played a part in my retail career with training manuals and weekly newsletters being a part of the job that was most satisfying. I wrote my first full-length children’s books when I was seventeen, have written another half-dozen novels whilst in-between jobs and, for the last fourteen years have written hymns every day (just about to hit the 10,000 mark!). With moving onto the boat, I found myself both time-rich and with the opportunity to write about a world and a lifestyle that is very English and very special. Along came ‘Righteous Correction?’ and, for the first time, I really felt that it was of sufficient standard that it should be published. Since then, I have written two sequels to that and a very different thriller which I’m seeking an agent for. The canals are incredibly inspiring, but Righteous Correction? was also inspired by a desire to find a way to make a living off the boat and by ideas that come when you have time to stop and think about big issues like justice and futuristic concepts such as drones. There’s a bit of all that in the novel.

Living on a canal narrowboat yourself and cruising the waterways of Staffordshire and the Midlands, you are able to bring your book to life in your detailed and vivid descriptions of canal life – which I feel is important and immerses you into Zipoly’s world. If you could visit any place in the world to write another thriller (money no object!), where would you go and why?

I know that this sounds really odd, but nowhere in the world can match the canals and there isn’t anywhere I’d hanker to visit. I was able to travel the world a little in my retail career and I’ve seen more than enough of airports. That said, if money were no object, I’d spend five years covering the inland waterways network of Britain.

If “Righteous Correction” was made into a film, which actor (dead or alive) would you cast as Zipoly?

The main character in Righteous Correction? undergoes a physical transformation as he progresses in his role, and I can see Jason Statham as the perfect actor to play the transformed part. Can I also request Guy Ritchie to direct please?

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

As a child I progressed from Paddington Bear to the Hardy Boys, with Dr Zeuss in there and lots of factual books. Now, I read anything I can get my hands on and am lucky to be able to get through two or three a week. Any mainstream thriller is a nice snack for me, but I love picking up unusual factual books on any subject at all. Ken Follett is a firm favourite and I’ve just finished the third Kingsbridge novel which came out last month.

As much as you like writing thrillers, is there any genre you would like to dabble in that you haven’t yet tried?

I’ve just done a children’s book which was fun- ‘Alf, the Bear’ is a retelling of the Prodigal Son story, written for adults to read to children. I’d like to do more like that. I’m also planning to write a comedy, but that’s brewing at the moment and it looks like the next one will be a thriller again.

When you’re not writing what hobbies/past times do you participate in?

I’ve discovered this great hobby called ‘living’! When I’m not writing, I’m reading, taking the dogs for a walk, relaxing in the pub or cruising the boat. What else could I ask for?

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

It never changes – T-shirt, jeans and rigger boots or trainers – I’m a child of the Eighties and coming back on trend just now!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I am a great fan of Amazon as an online business (tax affairs aside). As to bricks and mortar shops, I don’t venture out too often but when I do it’s to the big new discount sheds – I love to browse away in B&M and Home Bargains! My favourite retailer, although I don’t use them often, would be Timpsons – just a great, ethical business.

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

Think I need to upgrade the Wickes rigger boots to a decent pair of Timberlands.

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots. Safer, dryer, longer-lasting, better looking and nobody can see if your socks don’t match!

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 books.

I’m not a big social network person so just the website – www.righteouscorrection.com

Life on the narrowboat certainly sounds idyllic and is a dream that some members of my family also hope to pursue in the near future.  Thank you for chatting with me – I loved the book, Simon, and I’m sure your crime writing will continue to flourish. I’m really amazed at your hymn writing – bizarrely enough, I always think of hymns being written by people in the 19th century – a pleasant surprise! So, dear readers, do you love thrillers? Do you live on a narrowboat or have a dream to do so?  Do share your thoughts, don’t be shy, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Simon J Stephens.

 

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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 and  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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