Category Archives: Childrenswear/Child & Family Related Posts

An Interview With Grannies Inc

My granny loved to knit! My cousins, sister and I all had some rather colourful pieces every year in our Christmas stocking.  My two boy cousins had fetching tank tops in colours trending at the time – burgundy was a big favourite.  For my cousin Jane, my sister and I, well, we had bright turquoise & white ponchos and white roll neck “ski” jumpers with multicoloured stripes.  My husband’s granny knits pullovers and blankets for our children.  My guest this week, Kai Poldoja of Grannies Inc has a vision of spreading the love of granny-made knitwear throughout the world and by employing talented knitting grannies to produce a range of bespoke knitwear,  they are endeavouring to do just that. Intrigued? I was! So, I caught up with Kai to find out more….

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Hi! Grannies, Inc. was launched in 2009 .Grannies, Inc. strives to connect people who love wearing unique, quality handmade garment with knitters who love knitting. Our knitters are passionate, experienced and most importantly, they love knitting.

What inspired the launch of Grannies Inc?

My grandma was a passionate knitter and I remember all the warm socks she knitted for everyone in the family. Most of the time she knitted more than we could wear and all my friends loved  my grandma’s socks. That made me think that it would be great to establish a website that connects all those grannies like my grandma with all those people that don’t have a grandma like mine.

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If I wanted a particular knitted item design, how do I go about ordering the bespoke item?

Ordering bespoke items is very simple. Just go to www.granniesinc.co.uk and send us some photos of what you want knitted. Our grannies can replicate almost anything from a photo, or they can make your sketch or drawing come to life.

What’s the most unusual or strangest knitted item that has been requested?

We are often asked to knit miniature garments for objects, like bottles. We had a season where we knitted more items for objects than people due to some corporate orders. We once knitted giant socks for a massive statue in the US. But the strangest requests are usually the ones our grannies are asked to knit up: some “special occasion” garments. I won’t share any more details 🙂

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To date, what has been your most popular knitted item ordered?

It’s our fingerless gloves, especially the Norwegian Selbu fingerless gloves. People love them, because they keep their hands warm, yet the fingers free to use their smartphones or type. They are super cute too.

Out of your knitted items, has any item been a bit of a challenge for your knitters?

I remember a 5XL jumper. It was knitted to a very complicated pattern. It was quite heavy due to the size and the knitter was struggling to hold the weight of it whilst knitting. In the end it was so big that when we laid it out flat we had to climb on ladders to take a photo of it as the whole jumper wouldn’t fit on the photo. It was a truly beautiful item however. The customer was over the moon.

Your knitters only use 100% merino wool that has been sourced ethically in South Africa and spun in a yarn mill in Devon. Why did you pick merino wool over other types?

Merino wool is one of the highest quality yarns. It’s suitable for various types of garments as it is very robust, yet warm. Whilst keeping you warm it doesn’t overheat. It’s an absolutely gorgeous fabric, all natural with nothing synthetic. It is sustainable and doesn’t damage the environment. We love it.

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Your company is based in the UK – are your knitted items able to be made to ship to customers overseas?

Yes, we often have orders around the world. We sold to more than 100 countries, from Greenland all the way to the other side of the world, with one item having made it to a South Pole expedition.

The talent of your workforce is clear to see – and they obviously have a passion for knitting. What do you look for when hiring your knitters? 

We look for passion and skill. Our items aren’t the cheapest around, but we like to think they are the best hand knitted items one can buy online.

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

On cold days I like wearing my merino base layer and a nice woollen jumper on top. In my view wool is the best fabric one can choose for clothing.

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

Website: http://www.granniesinc.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/granniesinc

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/granniesinc

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So, dear readers, do you or did you have a granny who loves to knit? What was your favourite knitted item that they made?  Or, perhaps you are a grandma who knits? If so, what do you like knitting? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Grannies Inc.

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An Interview With Maison De Marrakech

I’m being inspired by all things Morocco this week as I explore a London-based interior and fashion design online shop specialising in Bohemian lifestyles and Moroccan charm.  Think kaftans, Argan Oil beauty products, leather poufs, gorgeous colour palettes ..the list is endless!  It was with great excitement that I caught up with  Reina Hagen-Cherquaoui, founder of this paradise online shop – Maison De Marrakech.  Hi Reina!

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Please introduce Maison de Marrakech …

Maison de Marrakech is a bohemian lifestyle company. Our motto is to bring that beautiful, peaceful, elegant, yet simple lifestyle of Morocco into the lives of every woman (or man, of course!). I initially started by creating small numbers of kaftans or tunics that I thought would bring exotic-ness and beauty into the everyday lives of women around the world. Marrakech has a uniqueness that enriches your life, and awakens all your senses, and Maison de Marrakech is a place where you can find products that re-creates that beautiful ambience. Therefore, although we are known for our kaftans, our ultimate goal is to introduce the bohemian ‘lifestyle products’ into people’s lives. Also, as most items are handmade, it creates that feeling of directness, and you can feel the history in each product. Each product of ours has a history, not just anonymous.

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What inspired you to set up Maison de Marrakech?

It was definitely love at first sight. I felt my passion and enthusiasm come alive the moment I stepped into the Medina of Marrakech.
Marrakech, to me, was very mysterious, rustic, elegant, simple, rich, colourful, bohemian, deep, new & old, so much diversity and depth. To me, it felt like, “I had found what I was looking for all my life”. Moroccan design/art/crafts, had every element I looked for in beauty, and gave me that peace of harmony & happiness in life. For me, looking at beauty is pleasing to the eyes, and being surrounded, living in that space, creates happiness. It’s exactly this blissful moment, this happiness and richness that I wanted to share with everyone. This is how I started my company. It’s simply to share what brought me happiness, and to visually share this with the world; as well as to help women feel absolutely beautiful and exotic about themselves, to encourage their self esteem, and to bring out their inner beauty.

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As you were born in Japan, what attracted you to Marrakech?

Marrakech gave me every element I was looking for in beauty. Its richness, simplicity, complexity, colours, passion, harmony, and elegance was hard to resist. What’s really surprising is that, Marrakech (or Morocco in general) could have 2 completely different elements, but they blend so well together, eg.  rich, yet simple; passionate yet calming. I loved the Japanese traditional arts, and have seen much beauty around the world, but for me, Moroccan art gave me a feeling of ‘coming home’. This is what attracted me to Marrakech, and still does.

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I love the Turquoise Leather Pouf – it’s gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

Our popular items are definitely the ‘one size’ Marrakech Resort Kaftan series, the tan Moroccan poufs, and some more trendy kaftans we are creating such as the ‘zigzag Zahara kaftan’.

Out of all the outfits, accessories, beauty & boho interior products in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I must say, I do agree with my clients, in that my favourite will be the same as my customers: the one size Marrakech kaftans, our new boho style kaftans & the Moroccan leather poufs.

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Your travels around the world have left you with a profound appreciation of arts & culture – this is evident through your love of Marrakech. So, what place is now on the top of your travel bucket list?

I love travelling to places where the ambience is beautiful and peaceful – somewhere you could have gone 100 years ago and would have still been the same as today. For this reason, I’d love to travel to places like: Florence in Italy and Rajasthan in India.

Your shop specialises in promoting Bohemian lifestyles – which famous lady and man would you love to see as the “faces” of Maison de Marrakech?

It would have to be a type of person who has the gorgeous exotic look that could pull off a simple kaftan and make it look absolutely stunning, and also lives a kind of bohemian lifestyle: Kate Moss.

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Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016, what new items will you be introducing?

AW2016 will be quite exciting for us, as we will be creating new boho-style Moro inspired jackets, and create a new look, where we’ll be creating new tunics, that you can layer with a turtle neck, or with any winter clothing. We will also introduce more of the accessories, bags and Beni Ouirain types of rugs to keep your home nice and cosy for the coming winter season.

As you are based in London (& Morocco), are your products available to purchase overseas?

Yes, we are an online based company. All products could be purchased via online , shipped to anywhere around the world.

When designing outfits to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?

I do incorporate a bit of the trend, customers taste, but I always am loyal to what I believe and use the Moro traditional charm as my base of design.

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

I used to wear only high heels from Karen Miller, Anne Klein and Jimmy Choo, but now with raising children and juggling work, I tend to wear sandals from Tory Burch (they do have beautiful elegant sandals!)

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

Yes. I love the boho vibe of Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie.

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

I’d love to get one of those gladiator sandals, they look fab and bring a flair of glamour to any outfit but especially with short skirts/shorts. Or a pair of tan boots (with heels ). I would also love a golden bling Jimmy Choo type of party high heels, just to keep myself feeling feminine!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots are always great for a walk in the woods or for picking up kids –  you could wear them anytime, anywhere (except for holiday beaches). You just pop them on, and they’re so practical. So, I love boots!

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

You can find us on :
www.maisondemarrakech.com
www.etsy.com/shop/maisonmarrakech
www.maisonmarrakech.com
www.instagram.com/maisondemarrakech
https://www.facebook.com/Maison-Marrakech-135621059788738/

Thank you Reina for chatting on the blog today and I absolutely adore your products – oh the colours!  I love your travel ideas of going to  places virtually untouched by the modern world…. I visited once a village called Greffeil in  the foothills of the French Pyrenees … some houses still had hay in the basement/ground floor to house their goats overnight, the goat herders still shepherded as they had always done for years … It was like stepping back 100 years.  Have any of you, dear readers, visited places that have remained virtually unchanged? Do tell, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Reina Hagen – Cherquaoui / Maison De Marrakech

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An Interview With Merrimaking

I’m feeling playful this week – and it is just as well as I’m going to be talking about clothes inspired by playful ideas! Grabbing attention at festivals from 2009 with their handmade animal hoods, my guest this week – Meg from Merrimaking – has since branched out to include a playful range of glittery jumpers, tropical bumbags and gender-free slogan t-shirts.  I caught up with Meg recently to find out more about this fun loving brand…. Hi Meg….

Hi, I’m Meg, co-founder of Merrimaking. I live in Brighton with my wife, 4 dogs and a hamster called Sally. And I love to rollerskate.

What inspired you to set up your clothing company, Merrimaking?

Being self employed and running a creative company was always going to suit me, but setting Merrimaking up was actually a bit of a happy accident! It was nearing the end of summer, Harri and I had just graduated and we really wanted to go to the Green Man Festival to see Bon Iver, but we’d spent the summer going to various festivals and we’d run out of money! At uni I’d been making Animal Hoods for parties and just generally life, and that summer at Secret Garden Party they started to get a lot of attention. Harri and I thought that if we made some extra, we could take them to sell them on site at the Green Man Festival and cover costs of being there plus a train home. So we made 30, cycled to Wales and we sold them all! They even had their on stage debut with Molotov Jukebox. So, with Bestival left to go, we decided to try it again… and then we started getting invited to make them at various events (including at the Tate, which was so exciting!). It wasn’t long before Selfridges bought 200, and then it really kicked off! What started as a label that hand-made faux fur Animal Hoods, Merrimaking now hosts an entire wardrobe of playful ideas.

Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion and sewing?

I’ve always been making things, ever since I was young. I think my brain very much works in 3D, so creating pattern pieces, for example, comes quite naturally. My degree was in Fine Art, and my practice involved a lot of costume-making, and the hoods led on from that really… I’m very visual and I think looking back through photos, I experimented a lot with my clothing! Identity really interests me, and clothing plays a big part in that.

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I love the cake sweatshirt and the woven patches! What styles are proving popular amongst your customers this season?

The ‘cake sweatshirt’ is one of my favourites! Popular this season… Watermelons have been selling well, the Cloud Jumpers/tees and the Bumbags too, and our ‘Over It’ Rainbow Beanies.

Out of all the outfits/accessories in your collection, do you have a favourite?

The hoods will always have their place, just because that’s where it all started. And obviously our ‘Dog Party’ sweatshirt because it features my 4 dogs! Saying that, I most often wear the ‘Cake’ sweatshirt, or the ‘Disco’.

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Your brand is influenced by playful ideas and the festival scene – have you a favourite festival? If you could go to any festival anywhere in the world to get inspiration for a new collection, where would you go?

I grew up at festivals, and having revolved pretty much every summer of my life around them, I’m actually taking a year off! I know… though I did say this last year and then I found myself at Secret Garden Party! (…and I did go to Love Saves The Day festival a few weekends ago…). For inspiration… I’d probably hop between Dreamland in Margate, and Ocean Drive / Miami Beach. I watched The Birdcage recently and I loved it! All the architecture and the rollerskates and the queens!

Your clothes have already been worn by celebrities such as Ellie Goulding, Zoe Ball, Rizzle Kicks and Rob Da Bank. However, which famous lady/ gent would you love to see as the “face(s)” of Merrimaking?

I’ve always really liked Lily Allen, M.I.A and Sia, in fact I met Sia and gave her a hood, but in the end her drummer wore it. Still made my night though, it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. Also, can I go back in time to the 90’s and say a spice girl?

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Your Summer 2016 collection included the themes of clouds, glitter, fruit, and a clear love of pastels. Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – will you be adding more styles and/or colours?

The short answer is yes! I’ve lots in the pipeline…. but whether I can wait to launch them in Autumn is another question! I get excited once they’re complete, and I really want to put them out there! I can never force myself to come up with new work, so I have to seize the moment when I’m feeling inspired, meaning I create new collections on a very adhoc basis and they’re often very current. Fortunately, because all of our pieces are made in the UK, and mostly made/assembled by us, it does mean that once we have a new design, it can be finalised and added to our website within just a few weeks (sometimes even less). This isn’t very helpful when press releases often need to be sent out 6 months in advance!

As you are based in UK, are your outfits available to purchase overseas?

Yes absolutely! I love sending our pieces far and wide. For the first few years we plotted on a map each time we sent a parcel to a new country, and we’ve spread ourselves pretty far now 🙂

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When designing and making outfits to add to your collection – do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, or bits of all those?

I try to design pieces that either I, or a specific couple of my friends would want to wear. I never sit and trawl through the internet, or look at fashion forecasting, it never holds my attention. My own personal interests come into it hugely, I’m noticing that the clothes I’m drawn to are increasingly more camp and I’m enjoying exploring that through Merrimaking. If a design goes down really well, I try to give our audience more of what they like by creating variations or working with the same theme.

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

Right now I’m wearing leggings, a t-shirt with a high neck and a ridiculously good pendant that Harri made me, which features my dogs Tomboy and Dexter!I have this pink fluffy bomber jacket that I made out of a huge teddy bear, it has a dogs head instead of a hood and I literally love wearing it! But that one only comes out for flamboyant occasions… and when I can be bothered to spend the evening being stroked by passers by!

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Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)

I struggle with Etsy as I can’t quite shake-off finding it a bit too craft-based and ‘twee’ over all, but I’m starting to find it more exciting and there are some really great finds on there by amazingly talented, independent designers! I shop in American Apparel a lot too. I love that you can tell one of their pieces a mile off, but it’s never smothered in their logo. I’m not always opposed to brands,for instance,  I love the three stripes on Adidas Originals!

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

I have fallen completely in love with an Alexander Mcqueen fur-trimmed bomber jacket, but it’s real fur and I won’t go anywhere near real fur. I’m so gutted though!

Boots or Shoes? 

… do Rollerboots count? 🙂 I otherwise only ever wear trainers. Even wore them on my wedding day with my dress!

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

Website: www.merrimaking.co.uk

Facebook: www.facebook.com/merrimakingofficial

Instagram: www.instagram.com/merrimaking

Twitter: www.twitter.com/merrimaking

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/merrimaking

Thank you Meg for chatting to us on the blog today and I really do love your fun attitude!  So dear readers, a bit of a fun question for you – Meg does a variety of animal hoods but if she did a hood of an animal or other mythical creature that depicts you, your personality or just your favourite beast – what would it be?  I love the book, The Girl  With A Dragon Tattoo – I wanted a dragon tattoo but have got a sort of lightening bird pattern instead – so I would pick a dragon 🙂 I look forward to finding out what beasts you all are!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Merrimaking.

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An Interview With Club Hub UK

If you have children and live in the UK then you may be interested in a free app that has just been launched in July 2016 – Club Hub UK.  This app helps to locate children’s clubs and activities around the UK, covering a wide range of interests, ages and locations. I caught up with founder, Tessa Robinson, to find out more … Hi Tessa…

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Hiya!  I’m Tessa and I’ve created an app called Club Hub UK – a free app to locate children’s clubs and activities around the UK.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of Club Hub UK?

What inspired me to create Club Hub U.K ? Well I guess it was creating my own kids club. I found it difficult to advertise it in the local community as local magazines had high rates of publishing and I just didn’t have the income at the time to pay for it.

There are quite a few websites about advertising various children’s activities, so what makes the Club Hub UK app so appealing?

Yes I know there are lots of competition in this area but I have heard from parents that it can still be a confusing and long process that can be made a lot simpler. Also is available to the whole of the U.K rather than just London.

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So how can a company or club register their interest in appearing on the app?

A company or club is able to simply enter their details into the app and with admin permission become live on the app within 24 hours.

What type of clubs/activities are featured?

All clubs and activities are featured – anything that will help people to venture their children away from their tablets and gaming devices.

As you are based in the UK, have you any plans to extend globally in the future?

Yes I am based in the U.K but I really do hope the app will become successful and help people around the world in the future.

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You run your own club – “Tessa’s Jazz Hands” – what was the inspiration behind setting up your own club? What do you enjoy most about running a children’s club?

I trained at a drama school in Beckenham studying musical theatre. When I graduated I found I had a lot of time on my hands, not getting as much acting work as I had hoped for. I always loved working with kids so when I turned twenty one,  I was able to hire a local hall out and start my musical theatre club. I enjoy helping children gain confidence: many of the children that come are very timid and shy but after about a month they are able to sing a solo and perform to their parents without feeling self conscious.

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

Outfits ummmm something comfortable as I do end up dancing if I hear music. Probably leggings and a flowing top with high top trainers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Favourite shop would have to be H&M, although I do like to get a nice top or dress from Miss Selfridge or River Island.

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

Dresses, every time! I had to get a new wardrobe recently as I was buying too many dresses. Oops!

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, definitely!  High tops trainers are my favourite though, as they are the easiest to dance in. Although I do have a lovely pair of high heel boots I wear out to every party.

Links you would like to share so that readers can find out more about Club Hub UK

E-mail: tessarobinson@club-hub-app.co.uk
Twitter: www.twitter.com/clubhubuk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/clubhubapp/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/clubhubuk
Website: http://clubhubuk.co.uk

Thank you for chatting to us and I wish you much success with the app – it’s a fab idea and I’m sure it will be popular.  Dear readers, what activities do your children/ grandchildren enjoy away from the computer/gaming world?  My young sons enjoy den building, skateboarding, cycling – and recently my youngest son has been enjoying the delights of rock climbing/climbing walls/abseiling …. his hero is Bear Grylls.

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Tessa Robinson.

 

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Pot Luck

Author Jennifer Bell is under the spotlight this week, telling the tale of leaving her life in London to go west to Cornwall to set up a pottery venture.  Not just any pottery venture. Her and her husband’s pots were so successful they were sold beyond the UK to Europe, USA, Japan, Australia and South Africa.  Now retired and living in a riverside cottage, I caught up with Jennifer to talk about her books, her pots and her love of Cornwall…

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Hello! I’m Jennifer.  I am well retired – to the point of not counting birthdays anymore. Living beside a river on the south coast of Cornwall and still, compulsively, it might be said, obsessively, writing stories for children.

“Pot Luck” is the tale of your move from London to the wilds of Cornwall, where you had set up an internationally successful pottery company. So what gave you the inspiration to move from the city to deepest Cornwall and to write a book about it?

From childhood, growing up in a Manchester suburb, I dreamed of a country cottage and a rural life-style – you know the idea, an orchard, chickens, rosy- cheeked children ….I was fortunate to meet a man who shared my dream and who had also studied pottery at Oxford Art School before going on to do music at the R.C.M. We both knew Cornwall slightly from childhood. It really is a different country. You feel it as soon as you cross the Tamar. It’s an ancient landscape, somehow history is nearer the surface, evident in the windswept cliffs, deep lanes, Celtic saint names, old stone crosses ….

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You originally trained as a nurse – so how come you decided to get involved in running a pottery company?

I enjoyed nursing very much – looking after people, ill and often apprehensive – and I liked being able to make a difference but the lure of taking charge of your own life, living to the full, experiencing both excitements and disasters was irresistable. No cheque at the end of the month but many adventures. I think our two sons also benefitted from seeing the self-discipline needed in running your own business and both have successful careers.

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You’ve also just written a delightful children’s story “Jem The Fowey Pirate”, set in the Cornish town of Fowey. How fun was it to write a children’s story? What was the inspiration behind this tale?

Our granddaughters love coming down to Cornwall (from London) and have a special song that they sing when crossing the Tamar bridge – this can cause a little surprise when travelling by train. We live by a river ( Kenneth Graham’s inspiration for ‘The Wind in the Willows). The girls love walking and making camps in the old, oak woods and are always asking for a story ….

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

I’ve always written and love setting myself challenges – a short story starting and finishing with the same sentence, another – a bleak railway halt and the most unlikely person to alight from a train ( it turnes out to be a London prostitute!). Most of all though, I love telling stories to children – seeing the world through their eyes.

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

I was lucky as a child that my grandparents lived in Snowdonia – very beautiful but wet, wet, wet! On those days I would hide in my grandfather’s study, behind his tatty, leather armchair and read to exhaustion. He didn’t have any children’s books beyond a complete set of Arthur Mee’s Children’s encyclopaedias – but he had Shakespeare’s plays which I was lucky to read before anyone told me they were difficult.  He also had bound copies of Punch through the 1920s and 30s. Fascinating! Nowadays, I particularly enjoy 19th century Russians. I have just watched  the TV drama ‘War and Peace’ – lovely Sunday evening stuff – but that novel has always been my default holiday reading so now the story is spoilt! I may have to find something else. I love the quirkiness of Annie le Proux and have just enjoyed ( and always enjoy) Anne Tyler’s ‘A Spool of Blue Thread’.

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Having run your own businesses – pottery, a B & B establishment and a smallholding on a wilder part of Dartmoor – you are now retired and an author – so, when you are not writing what other hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

Our garden is part of The National Garden Scheme which raises money for charity, so it’s a fairly full time job keeping our acre up to a good standard for visitors. I do have an escape clause though, in a phrase that I have adopted from Prince Charles. I heard him describe Highgrove once as ‘ never weed free but exuberantly planted’. A good description of a garden. I also love dress- making both for myself and for my granddaughters. We also have a small motor boat which we pootle around in. Malcolm fishes and we sometimes, when tide and a lovely evening coincide, go down river for supper in Fowey and Golant.

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

I would love to say that I am “au fait” with the latest designers, but I’m afraid our uniform down here is mainly Barbours and wellies. For special occasions though we have two really interesting shops – casual clothing in beautiful, natural fabrics – Bridget Foley in Tavistock and Mount’s Bay Trading in Truro. I also have a pair of black, knee-length boots, bought in Italy, which I cherish.

“Pot Luck” is published by Jennifer Bell in conjunction with WRITERSWORLD, and is produced entirely in the UK. It is available to order from most bookshops in the United Kingdom, and is also globally available via UK based Internet book retailers.

It was so lovely to have you on the blog, Jennifer. Your grandfather’s study sounds delightful – I’m a bookworm and my idea of a heavenly room is a snug room lined with books and a big comfortable armchair to curl up in.   Dear readers, what would be your ideal room? Would it be a walled garden, a verandah overlooking a river bank, an airy conservatory, or a walk in wardrobe?  Do share your views – I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Jennifer Bell.

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Nightmares Are Made Of This

Adults should never underestimate the power of a child’s imagination – from clowns to parental lies about bogeymen or monsters who live under the bed in an effort to get your child to behave – these figments of imagination run riot in tiny minds!  Exploring the topic of parental lying, Singaporean author/illustrator Trivia Goh, has got together and published a collection of local lies commonly heard in Singapore and presented them in a book of gorgeous illustrations and light hearted rhymes.  Nightmares are never far from anybody’s mind during spooky Halloween week, so I caught up with the delightful Trivia to find out more …… 

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Hi! I’m Trivia Goh, a 24-year-old artist, illustrator and designer based in Singapore. I studied at the School of Art Design and Media at Nanyang Technological University, majoring in Visual  Communications. Currently, I’m working towards my dream of living off my art.

Congratulations on publishing your book, “Nightmares Are Made Of This” – a children’s book for adults, touching upon the topic of parental lying; the lies parents tell their children to get them to behave as desired! Where did you get inspiration from to write this passionate book?

Thank you very much! The inspiration stemmed from the culture here in Singapore, where, every so often you’ll catch wind of a parent telling scary lies to their kids to get them to stop crying, to stop running, to stop talking…it is all very instrumental and the stories they come up with are incredible. (I have to give them that!). Some stories are passed down for generations while others are just made up on the spot to instill that momentary fear. I like my works to be meaningful so I decided to illustrate these dark stories for parents to better see what kind of imagery they are putting into their childrens’ head and henceforth be more mindful of their words.

 

 

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As well as being published author, you are also an accomplished illustrator too. Growing up, were your career aspirations writing or art based or did your dreams follow a different path?

When I was growing up I thought I’d be an artist. But somewhere along the way I got caught up with all the expectations to get a “real” job. So I allowed myself to go down a more commercial path of a designer. But I think I’m back on track now!

Your book contains a collection of local lies that are commonly heard in Singapore, presented with illustrations and light hearted rhymes. What was the lie most used on you as a youngster growing up in Singapore? What’s the funniest, oddest or your favourite “lie” in the book?

The one about the watermelon seeds! My mum used to tell me not to eat watermelon seeds otherwise they’d grow a watermelon in my tummy. I always thought to myself that the seeds are germinating in the tummies of those who ate the seeds. The oddest lie in the book has got to be the one where parents tell their children not to pick their nose because there’s a fanged worm in there and it will bite their finger if they do. It took a while to figure out how the illustration would be like if they do and the whole time I was thinking that is such an odd thing to say!

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Your book though is meant to be educational for adults – to make parents aware and be mindful of their interactions with the young ones and not to under estimate the power of a child’s imagination. Although you are based in Singapore, is your book available to purchase overseas? Do you offer a digital format (eg Kindle) as well as the giant sized book and smaller sized version?

Yes the small sized graphic novel ( 20mmx 80mm) is currently available online on my website, at My Imagination Kingdom (an independent bookstore) and soon it will be up on the shelves of Kinokuniya. I felt the need to get this out there to the world and not just in Singapore. The giant book is making an appearance again at My Imagination Kingdom at a meet the author session and I’m looking to make it available for sale in future.

If you had to write a book in a different genre from “Nightmares Are Made Of This”, what genre would you pick?

I’d pick children fiction and fantasy. Those books are precious precious gems. I once read a children’s picture book about picking stars and I learnt a whole lot more on how to grow as a human being from that book than any adult self-help book I’ve ever read. When we create the impossible things, we inspire people to do the impossible.

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

I’m looking at a part 2 for Nightmares Are Made of This, and this time with contribution of parental lies from people all over the world. (I’ll make an announcement on my Facebook page  when this will be in time). For now, I’m focusing on illustrating and I will be compiling my works into little books on a regular basis. I’d like to cover topics that seem very trivial but matter a lot. It is how it is with little things.

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

I like reading fantasy and fiction. My current favourite is The North Star by Peter H Reynolds. My usual reads include JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series and Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you some book/illustration inspiration, which place would you love to venture to & why?

Gruyères, Switzerland! To visit the Giger Museum! H.R Giger, Tim Burton and Edward Gorey are great inspirations I live by.

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When you’re not writing and illustrating, what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I like to watch movies. The romantic comedies, fantasy films and animations provide a very good form of momentary escapism and that really brings fresh perspective to things.

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

Denim shorts and baggy shirt with plain black flats – they go with everything! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yep! I frequent postsecret.com & iwrotethisforyou.me – to feel human.

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

A blue grey bridesmaid dress. A friend of mine is getting married in November!

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Adds a little edginess!

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 Website : www.trivialities.com.sg

My fb page : https://www.facebook.com/trivialities.sg

Meet the author session event pg:
https://www.facebook.com/events/ 82549393434355 /

My instagram : @trivialities

Thank you Trivia for taking time out to chat to us about your wonderful book and illustrations. A lot of people I know find clowns scary, but for me it’s the humble cow … no particular reason why… so what gives you goosebumps dear readers? Do share your secrets!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Trivia Goh.

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An Interview With Really Color

For children and adults alike, colouring can be a calming past time – even some family restaurants give children colouring pencils and colouring pages to amuse them whilst awaiting for their burger and fries.  My guest this week has taken this simple idea to the next level – his idea is to turn your existing personal photos into colouring pages.  I caught up with Dieter of Really Color to find out more …image

Hi there! My name is Dieter Marlovics and I’m the founder of ReallyColor.com. I’m 39 years old and have a 7-year-old daughter who tells me what to do…and I do it.

The idea of ReallyColor is to turn photos into colouring pages. What inspired you to start the business?

The idea for ReallyColor was sparked during a Friday night pizza party. My daughter was 4 years old at the time and in a goofy mood. Fully aware that I’m a neat freak, she was finding art supplies (among other things) and throwing them on the floor in front of me laughing and running away before I could catch her. She started pretending to use her crayons and markers on tables, chairs, floors, clothes, walls, my hair, her friend’s dog (but he got away), her shoes, and then explaining how she simply wanted to change the color of…well…everything! She then pretended to start drawing on the wall, and I dove in head first to stop her. Not wanting to stifle her artistic development, and needing some peace to finish cooking dinner, I took a picture of the wall, printed it out, and told her that she could go ahead and draw on the wall, but only on the piece of paper with the printed image. I thought to myself how cool it would be for her to be able to color real things instead of the constant barrage of fictional cartoon characters. There were a few nervous sleepless nights spent staring at the ceiling, which ended in the morning with my laughing little girl jumping on me cannon ball style. SHE may have been laughing, but that wasn’t the sound coming out of MY mouth! After some time researching and collaborating with my colleagues, I decided to fund the building of our first prototype to see if coloring real photos could even be done well enough for at least my daughter and her friends to have fun with. The rest, as they say, is history.

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My children enjoy downloading colouring pages and I noticed on your website you do offer a range of free downloadable colouring pages. Turning your own photos into colouring pages makes it a lot of fun. What other uses can ReallyColor offer?

Our customers are doing things with ReallyColor that we never imagined when first starting the company. For example, teachers have created ReallyColoring pages from photos of various flags around the world, different well-known landmarks, or famous individuals now and in history, and used them as teaching aids in the classroom. Parents have used them as a unique way to share memories, as birthday party favors, or to create their own calendars. Brides and grooms have created ReallyColoring pages from their wedding photos and included them in their thank you cards. ReallyColoring pages are even being used as an early intervention tool to help treat autism, to aid in speech therapy, and even to help treat Alzheimer’s patients.

What is the cost of converting photos to colouring pages? Although you are based in Chicago, do you accept other currencies, eg the £ and Euro?

ReallyColor sells photo credits and each photo credit is used to download one completed coloring page, which is also then sent to a user’s email inbox. Physical ReallyColor gift cards will soon be for sale in retail outlets and other venues. On our web site, we sell three packages:

Single one-time-only coloring page downloads: $1.49
10 Photo Credits: $3.99
50 Photo Credits: $14.99

We are a U.S. company so our currency is in U.S. dollars, but we accept payment from any credit card or PayPal account. We have sold ReallyColor Photo Credits in the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Mexico, Poland, Netherlands, France, South Africa, Australia and many more. Basically, you can pay us with pretty much any currency and from any country on planet Earth.

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Once photos are downloaded to be changed into colouring pages, do they remain stored on your system?

We do not store our users’ coloring pages. Once our customers have their pages, they own them and can do with them whatever they want. We also don’t store payment information once the transaction is completed. Our users’ privacy is a huge thing for us.

Have you got any tips on how to get the best colouring page results?

Like anything in life, you get what you give. The same applies with ReallyColoring pages. The larger, brighter, and more crisp your original photo is, the better your coloring page will turn out. We have built an editor, which allows you to easily erase things you don’t want to see in your coloring page and draw in things you do. Our customers can spend as little or as much time with the editor in order to make each page as perfect as he or she wants to.
What we are most excited about is our Photo Quality Scoring Tool, built by our Chief Scientist, which automatically analyzes uploaded photos across multiple dimensions and assigns each a quality score (1-100). This has turned out to be an amazing guide that is helping our users choose great photos.

Is ReallyColor available as a mobile app?

Not yet, but we are obsessing about this! A significant percentage of ReallyColor users create their coloring pages using the mobile browser on their tablet or smartphone with great results. So, even without a ReallyColor mobile app, there is nothing stopping anybody from watching their kids’ soccer games, recitals, or sitting at a café on the beach overlooking the water, and creating a ReallyColoring page from the amazing family photo just taken.

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Your career revolves around technology, photography and art – but as a child, what were your career aspirations?

Oh boy…as a child I had many ideas of what I wanted to be when I grew up. Let’s see…scientist, astronaut, professional tennis player, Superman, racecar driver (I’m still going for this one every single day), Indiana Jones, and a rock star wearing big aviator sunglasses.

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

When it comes to men’s fashion, I am pretty much a moron, so I like to keep it simple. If I could, I would walk around in khaki shorts and Birkenstock sandals every single day. Given that I live in the entrepreneurial world, I stick to jeans anytime it’s not too warm for pants. I have a tall, slender, athletic build with very long legs, so finding jeans that don’t look too baggy or too tight (not very manly in my opinion) is sometimes a challenge. The brands I like are Kastle, Seven, and Joe’s. I prefer boot-cut jeans, but am being informed that this is out of style now?! In Summer, I usually wear Polo golf shirts. Recently, I’ve also discovered Henley brand shirts, but they only look good if I go to the gym often enough. In winter, I prefer comfortable sweaters. When I do have to dress up a bit, I usually throw on a Hugo Boss button down shirt and dress pants. Sometimes I will add a sport coat, but only if I’m feeling dangerous. As far as shoes go, I prefer anything without laces (other than my gym shoes). In my closet, you will find one pair of brown loafers, one pair of black loafers, one pair of gym shoes, and of course, one pair of Birkenstock sandals. In winter, I add a pair of leather boots and a pair of serious snow boots that I wear in the mountains during ski season. I don’t have more room anyway, since the girls in my life (little and tall) take up the rest of the closet space.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I don’t spend much time shopping for fashion, but I usually buy gym shoes at TennisWarehouse.com. When I shop for clothes offline, it’s always a purposeful visit where I know what I need, I walk in, ask for it, maybe try it on, pay for it, and leave. There isn’t one store I prefer over another and usually depends on what it is they sell and if there is a good deal to be had.

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

My Seven jeans are starting to wear out and yesterday my daughter snuck up behind me and tickled me through a hole in the upper back leg of my jeans. I decided that this is a problem I should probably solve. So…I’m going to go buy a new pair of Joe’s or maybe a pair of Kastles.

Boots or Shoes?

I prefer my leather boots in Fall, Winter, and early Spring. Why? I think it’s because they are bigger and make the shape of my lower legs look more substantial while still looking like leather shoes when covered with pants. Once the weather gets too warm, though, I stick to shoes. That reminds me…I do need some flip-flops that I can get wet when going to the pool. I’ll probably buy a pair of those if I’m feeling fashionably ambitious one day this summer.

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

The best way to get to know ReallyColor is our web site and our Facebook page. We are thankful to all our customers and grateful that we can have this much fun following our dreams and our passion for changing the world with goodness. Finally, we’d like to give a big thank you to Boots, Shoes & Fashion for the chance to tell the ReallyColor story.

ReallyColor Web Site: http://www.ReallyColor.com

ReallyColor Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ReallyColor

It has been real fun talking to you Dieter and I wish your company continued success.  I love helping my children do colouring and they are very enthusiastic about art.  I find it therapeutic, do you?

Linda x

Photos have been published with kind permission of Really Color.

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Spotlight on East Shopping Centre

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Saturday 14th March 2015 sees the grand opening of not only London’s latest shopping centre but it is Europe’s first purpose-built boutique Asian shopping centre, East Shopping Centre, based in Green Street, London E7 – not far from West Ham’s football ground and Newham’s other recently built shopping centre, Westfield Stratford. Following its successful soft launch on January 24th 2015, East Shopping Centre has generated around 200 jobs for the local area as well as injecting much needed enthusiasm for shopping locally. Built on the one acre site of the former bus depot, the centre has retained its original facade but has incorporated the latest eco friendly touches such as solar panels, water flow restrictors, and carefully resourced building materials – protecting resources and saving money too. Green Street has always had an important trade and cultural heritage – my own mother bought her wedding dress from a Green Street dressmaker back in 1962 – and East Shopping Centre hope to build upon and become part of that heritage too.

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So, what’s inside the shopping centre? Major Asian fashion outlets are represented including Zarkan of London, Andaaz Fashion, Memsaab, Imaani London…plus other non fashion companies including Urban Chocolatier and Coffee Republic too. There is a “souk” comprising of smaller, local stores selling everything from costume jewellery to mobile phones – menswear, shoes, bags…

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Overlooking the shopping centre is a spectacular food court where you’ll find food delights such as Piri Piri Chicken from the Roosters chain, desserts and mocktails galore from Lost Asia, American-style burgers from Brioche Burgers… getting hungry?

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Being indoors, the centre is ideal as an all year round shopping venue and with its late night closing time, your shopping pleasure is not hurried.

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So, as I was saying, Saturday 14th March is the official opening day and from 12pm West Ham MP Lyn Brown will be cutting the ribbon. There will be lots going on – the centre will be creating a mela atmosphere with music, dhol players, face painting and much more. East Shopping Centre is also offering raffle tickets giving one lucky winner the chance to win a luxury weekend holiday for two in Dubai, £1000 gift voucher to spend at East Shopping Centre and two iPad Mini 3’s. The first 100 people to arrive on Saturday will receive vouchers to the food court worth £10. All proceeds raised from the raffle will be donated to Masoom, a locally based charity that supports vulnerable women and children around the world.

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East Shopping Centre can be found at 232-236 Green Street, London E7 8LE.

For more information, you can follow East Shopping Centre via their website – www.eastshoppingcentre.com – or via Twitter @EastShopping; Facebook: East Shopping Centre; Instagram: EastShopping

Hope to see you all there! Happy Shopping!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Puja Vedi

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An Interview With Ringzie

This week I’m bringing you a story from the USA of a father who has watched his three beautiful daughters indulge in their love of all things girly – trinkets, princesses, etc.  This particular father is also a dab hand at designing and at the start of 2014, he designed Ringzie for his daughters and all little girls worldwide. I interviewed that father to find out more… welcome Justin:

Hello, I’m Justin Greenough, creator and owner of Ringzie.

What was the inspiration behind Ringzie Ring Kit?

I’ve always had a mind for inventing but never really had the right kind of inspiration that really kicks off a great idea. That was until I had three beautiful daughters, watching them learn to draw, then later build and eventually design. Seeing them design bracelets and necklaces ignited that creative spark and I began designing a way for them to make their own rings.image

Describe the Ringzie Ring Kit.

It’s relatively simple – it’s a series of ring pieces that can connect together to make a complete ring. This way you can choose your own colors, designs and lengths to create a ring 100% unique to you.

How difficult was it to find a manufacturer that could take your design & vision and make it a reality?

Finding a manufacturer turned out to be a difficult task. The ones I was finding on my own either seemed unable to handle the small task of making a piece of plastic or they were very mysterious, not wanting to divulge any information unless I gave them everything I had first (which I was not about to do). It wasn’t until just recently I made a connection with a fellow inventor who already went through the process and had a manufacturer to recommend.

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What do your daughters think of your creation? Have they helped in giving you ideas regarding colours, styles etc?

My daughters were all for it. It was exciting to show them the prototypes and let them know their father had created a one of a kind invention. They were even more thrilled when they found out they could wear it! They have helped me with every aspect of designs and colors. Each one of my daughters brings their own style, Chloe likes Greek mythology, Ava is our little ballerina and Keely is into rainbows and animals. I have a never ending supply of ideas.

imageIf your Kickstarter project takes off, do you have any plans to introduce other items too, like bracelets, necklaces etc?

Rings is my primary goal, after the Kickstarter campaign (if funded, fingers crossed) I have a bunch of other ideas to Ringzie that will set it apart from all other rings.

So apart from the USA, will they be available to purchase in the UK, Europe and Australia too?

Ringzie will be available online and will be shipped to anyone who buys it from any part of the world.

Is this the first design idea that you’ve had or have you dabbled in other ideas in the past?

This is my first official design idea that I have openly pursued.image

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

I am all about comfort, living in Florida and all. I’m usually in a t-shirt, shorts and sandals.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’m still a huge fan of ebay, It’s very addicting to just think of something, anything and find it on  ebay. I’ll probably put some Ringzies up for sale there.

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

I’ll take a new pair of Vans any day.

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes, for style, flexibility and simplicity.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that my readers can follow the progress of Ringzie Ring Kit and start creating their own unique rings

http://www.ringzie.com
http://www.facebook.com/ringzie
http://www.twitter.com/ringzie
http://www.instagram.com/ringzie

Thank you Justin and I hope that your Kickstarter campaign becomes a success! I can imagine lots of little girls around the world loving the Ringzie! Readers, let me know what your young daughters or granddaughters think – are they into pink & glitzy, horses, budding ballerinas?

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Justin Greenough (Ringzie)

 

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Doing The Blog Hop

imageThis week I’m talking “blog hopping”!  Blog Hopping? I hear you ask!  Let me tell you, it was a question on my lips when the lovely Eve from the Feel Better Every Day Consultancy nominated me to take part.  I’ve never done this kind of thing before, but I was willing to have go!   The idea is pretty simple : I have to answer 4 questions on my blog, then pass the “baton” to two other writers.  So, here goes… bear with as I step up to the mastermind chair….

1. What Am I Working On?

Currently I’m preparing interviews to appear on my blog in the next couple of months …I won’t say the “C” word but it is looming!  I have a great line up already in place this Autumn – I’ve interviewed models, authors, bag designers, shoe designers, start ups, jewellers, beauty product companies, fashion houses, TV psychics….

2. How Does My Work Differ From Others In This Genre?

Probably the interview style blogposts I would say, as I don’t do an awful lot of photographing myself in various outfits! I try to concentrate more on interviewing interesting and inspirational people and companies from all corners of the globe, some connected with the fashion industry , others not – but all linked with personal fashion and footwear tastes at the end of the interview.  Another factor is that I’m a lot older than the average fashion blogger.

3. Why Do I Write What I Do?

I enjoy it.  I enjoy chatting to different people and I have a wide variety of interests and I have a passion for writing and reading that matches my passion for fashion and boots!  As I’m a bit older (just a tad!) than your average fashion and shoe blogger I hope, through my blog, to pass on the message that as you get older you can continue to dress fashionably without looking like “mutton dressed as lamb” or resorting to looking like a frump! As mum to a trendy and glam 21 year old daughter, I am pretty much kept in check if something I wear is OTT or frumpy!

4. How Does My Writing Process Work?

My blogposts differ each week and I enjoy chatting and getting to know the people I’m about to interview. Most interviewees I either know personally or have got to know and followed via social media for a long time. Others have been introduced to me at events, via PR agents, others approach me direct and some I email direct asking to interview them.Some interviews are done in person but most are online. I do a lot of research before I do an interview so as I can really understand and get interested in the person or company. I tend to work in advance, so “interviews” are often held about 6 weeks prior to the publishing date.

Thank you Eve for nominating me, it was fun!  I’m passing the baton onto two completely different but equally as fab writers…. author Carol E Wyer who has just published her 7th humorous book, Three Little Birds ( read Carol’s interview with me HERE) imageand to fellow blogger, Hosiery For Men, whose knowledge about hosiery has no limits and regardless of gender, his hosiery reviews and opinions are most highly regarded….image I look forward to reading their blog hops…..

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos published with kind permission of Carol E Wyer; Hosiery For Men; Linda Hobden

STOP PRESS …. the lovely people at Wear Eponymous have awarded me their blogger award and I now proudly display the award badge on my blog!  I interviewed Wear Eponymous last year and I’m pleased to say that their stylish outfits are continuing to wow!  To read my interview with Wear Eponymous, press HERE.

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