Category Archives: Interview

An Interview With Coral Turner Couture

“Don’t change to fit fashion, change the fashion to fit you” –  this fashion quote resonates strongly with my guest this week.  I’m chatting to Coral of Coral Turner Couture, an unique British label which caters for the discerning woman. Coral doesn’t believe in “throwaway fashion” and is an avid collector of fabrics – her designs are truly distinctive and I was privileged to interview this lovely lady who is championing the artisan craft of sewing … hi Coral…

Hi, I am Coral, and thank you Linda for inviting me to have this conversation with you and your audience.

What inspired you to become a couture designer and set up your own unique label, Coral Turner Couture?

The need for individuality expressed through clothes is definitely top of the list as to inspiration; then my private bespoke clients encouraged me to set up the one-of-kind ready-to-wear label so other women could have access to exclusive garments you wouldn’t find on the high street.

I love the “Truly Blue” Jersey Swing Dress –  totally gorgeous!  As your clothes are  unique investment pieces, what clothing items are most popular with your customers?

Thank you, that’s really kind of you.  It’s an interesting question, however, as each garment is exclusive in its own right, it’s not about one garment being more popular than other, the women who wear my designs love the unusual fabric designs, coupled with the shaping of the garments.

Out of all the outfits you’ve made, do you have any favourites?

All the outfits I have made and make are my favourites as they each have their own personality.

Have you always wanted to be a designer & dressmaker, or did you have other career aspirations?

I was a freelance PA for a number of years when I moved from my home town of Manchester to London; however my sewing was always in the background.  I always knew that one day I would have to follow my passion, my love of fabrics, making patterns, the creative craft of sewing, and designing my own clothes, I call it heaven at a sewing machine!  

Hypothetically speaking, if anybody could be the “face” of Coral Turner Couture, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I have a great admiration for an African-American designer called Ann Lowe who dressed society women from all over the USA, as well as designing and making the wedding dress for Jacqueline Bouvier (Kennedy). This talented dress designer forged a path for herself despite obstacles, one of which being not being recognised by the fashion industry due to her being a woman of colour.

I hear you are an avid collector of fabrics – what do you look for when buying/collecting fabrics? 

How long have you got… I’m drawn to colour, textures and unusual patterns, however what is paramount is how the fabric feels and drapes.

If you could pick any place in the world to shop for fabrics, where would you go to shop until you drop?

That is such a hard question to answer as I am always searching out fabric shops on my travels, when I went to Paris for example I found a boutique fabric shop and it was so hard to pull me away, plus there are so many places I have yet to visit!

Bespoke dressmaking – if I wanted an outfit for a special occasion, what would I expect from a consultation?

First I would need to know what the occasion is, then your role, are you for example attending as a guest, or will you be involved? There are a myriad of circumstances that I have to take into consideration, all of which are integral to the design. We would talk about the colours you like, the style of dress you currently wear, shapes and silhouettes these are a few examples; meanwhile I am creating a mental picture of shapes that will complement and enhance your look.

As you are based in London, are your outfits available to purchase online worldwide? 

The garments on the website are available to purchase online, and yes they do travel worldwide; clients also visit me at my studio in East Greenwich which is by appointment,they can try on and purchase the garments there also.

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

Whereas the chameleon changes colour to suit its environment, my outfits do the same. I can be found wearing a Swing Dress with boots for my ‘Rock Chick’ look, my Multi Coloured Fleece Top with 1920’s style collar and trousers, Column Style Dress with band hem, ruffled collar and Tailored Jacket and heels.  I don’t have a set uniform; I like to mix things up.

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

Wordery, next to fabrics, I love books and reading.

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

I’m a fan of kitten heeled shoes, I think they are so chic and are a timeless classic.

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots or Shoes, what about Boots and Shoes!  Definitely both, they can do wonders for adding the finishing touch to an outfit.

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

This has been such fun, thank you; the website is www.coralturner.com, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/coralturnercouture or watch the videos on my YouTube channel Coral Turner Couture  https://youtu.be/LREiVZzWEhw

It’s been a pleasure to feature you on my blog Coral … I’m pleased to hear you are a fan of kitten heel shoes and books  … I simply adore them both too!  Your designs are just beautiful – thank you for allowing me to showcase them on my blog.

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Coral Turner Couture.

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An Interview With Daisy Mae

If you enjoyed “Sex In The City” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary”, then you’ll definitely will enjoy “Dating Daisy” by author-doctor-blogger-book reviewer- agony aunt columnist Daisy Mae.   I caught up with the bubbly Daisy to find out more about her chick-lit novel, her writing, her doctoring, and her love of dancing! Hiya Daisy!

Boo! – now that I have your attention! – I’m Daisy Mae, doctor, author and writer. In fact Daisy Mae is my pen name. I have kept my real doctor’s name a secret to help maintain patient confidentiality etc… I’ve been a Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare specialist for far too many years! – prior to this I was a GP. My special interest is Menopause (take a look at my Dr Daisy Blog at www.menopausematters.co.uk).

What was the inspiration behind your novel “Dating Daisy”?
I started writing my first novel Dating Daisy in 2014, and it took 3 years to finish.  Although it’s a fiction book, it’s based on my own internet dating experiences. Most people say they read and laugh at the internet dating scenarios, and then laugh  again at my tales of working as a doctor in a sexual health clinic.  That’s so good – as I love to laugh – don’t you? I did change all the details in my book – names, times, places etc… and embroidered the story of course – so the only person who knows the real truth– is me! So it’s a humorous fiction book, but with a difference! There are emails, jokes, limericks, poems and even a recipe for love! Don’t miss dating Daisys’ Kissing Tips and Anti-snoring Tips! One of my reviewers wrote “YOU COULD DIE LAUGHING READING THIS BOOK!” yes – in capital letters! Thank you Mahiraj!  https://www.datingdaisy.net/mahirajjajedareviewofdatingdaisy

In fact, there are numerous “Dating Daisy” book reviews on my website –https://www.datingdaisy.net/chicklitreviewsofdatingdaisy “Dating Daisy,” has been described as a cross between Bridget Jones’ Diary and Sex in the City, for example!

Congratulations on being self-published – how does it feel to get control over your book sales, etc? What was your main highlight and what proved most frustrating?

In 2014, aged 52, I found myself divorced after a 27 year marriage. Both my parents also died quite suddenly around the same time. It was a very low point in my life. We had been a close, and I thought happy family. Suddenly all my hopes, dreams and memories were shattered. I was completely devastated. However … being me, I managed somehow to pick up the pieces. Life is very much for the living. There are no dress rehearsals. I was already 52. I decided to turn my life around –took the plunge and started internet dating. I hadn’t had to think about dating for nearly three decades. I wasn’t confident even about how to use the computer! Things like writing a profile and uploading a photo seemed monumentally difficult. I had to get over the embarrassment of people seeing me on a dating site! Grim! – But the things that then happened to me were so unique and so funny, I felt I had to write them down! So Dating Daisy was created – a diary of my life events at the time.

I chose to pay for a publishing deal. This is because aged 52, I did not have time to sit around and wait for the inevitable rejections which all authors have. I wanted to be a writer, and I needed to see my work in print, and fast. I also knew nothing about the publishing industry. This seemed the quickest and most straight forward way to seeing my book for sale in a book shop. I never sent my book to any traditional publishers so I have no idea whether it would have been published or not. I do dislike the snobbery about authors and publishing and I wish other writers would realise that “vanity” publishing is not always a last resort – it may be a very positive choice. I am now however publishing by myself on Amazon KDP and I have parted from my original publishers. I had been pleased, especially with the publicity they organised for me. However eventually, I wanted to be in control of my book sales, advertising, book promotions etc ... Publishing by myself gives me so much more choice and flexibility.

“Dating Daisy” has been described as a cross between “Sex In The City” & “Bridget Jones’s Diary” – about a middle age woman who starts online dating who also happens to be a doctor in a sexual health clinic. Being a regular blogger yourself on Huffington Post & on your own blog, writing articles about internet dating & sexual healthcare interspersed with book reviews – did you find writing your novel harder or easier than you expected compared to your serious factual articles?

 Dating Daisy flew out of my head and onto the paper! It was easy and in fact I became addicted to writing and couldn’t stop! I made myself laugh all the time. And when something happened I couldn’t wait to get home and write it down! I used to tell my dates I was writing a book about internet dating and wait for the reaction! It was all quite hilarious at the time.

Writing as a blogger is more difficult than writing a novel, because you do still need a “voice, but a different kind of voice. Even though you are imparting information, it’s not the same as a text book piece. It’s more of an opinion piece, but also it needs to be engaging and factually correct. I don’t feel I always get this right.

I also write web content for a medical online agency, and this is different again – I have to stand in the shoes of the person who has just clicked online,  andwho may be worried or frightened. This means explaining medical conditions in everyday language. I try very hard to write empathetically. (Do contact me if I can help you as I am always looking for more web writing options.)

For each role, I have to wear a very different hat!

You are a NHS doctor working in the field of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare, specialising in Women’s Health & the Menopause. Do you feel that writing factually about a condition or symptom in a novel helps spread awareness, eg sexual diseases & associated consequences?

 am passionate about sexual health, contraception and menopause. In “Dating Daisy,” as this has been my major interest for nearly 30 years!, I just couldn’t help myself write one whole chapter on contraception, and one whole chapter on Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s).  In a way, this may seem strange as this is a fiction book, but in it, there are two text book-ish chapters. However, as it’s my book, I decided that I could put in whatever I liked! This may be the first novel/text book cross breed! I rather hoped that anyone reading it, might decide to go and see their GP and make some good womens’ health choices. If they do, then I will have achieved something really worthwhile – through publishing a novel.
Growing up, did you always hope to have a career connected with writing or the medical field or were your dreams directed elsewhere?

My parents were huge believers in a good education, and they sent me toboarding school for seven years, just because they honestly thought this was best for me. I wasn’t so sure. However, I did well at school and got into medical school. As a young person, I always thought that I wanted to be a doctor. However, languages were naturally my strongest subjects and I was sorely tempted by English, French and possibly journalism. I do have regrets as medicine is not the sort of career most people might imagine it to be. Now, I am lucky to be able to combine both medicine and writing.

 

Apart from your medical articles , you also write a lot of book reviews. 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?

Reading is a fantastic pastime. I marvel at other writers creativity and powers of  expression. I love to read, and my favourite novels are always the humorous ones! I have just read “A Man called Ove,” by Fredrik Backman, and it was hilarious. https://www.datingdaisy.net/bookreviewamancalledove

One of my other most favourite genres are psychological thrillers – for example by author Barbara Vine. I have read all her books and adore them. It’s the chilling feeling in the spine that I love as something happens in the plot that’s often quite macabre. You will hear me say time and time again, that I just love a good story well told, and some of all time favourites are The Book Thief,” by Marcus Zusak, “A Thousand Splendid Sons,” by Khaled Husseini, and “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett. If you don’t read these books, you will be hugely missing out. They are incredible. I enjoy doing Daisys’ Book Reviews on my website.  I run “The Fabuloous Book Club” with 7 girl friends, and then post reviews on my site. Its super fun. I do review other books as well.

Have you seen one of my latest book reviews – it’s about the new best seller – “Little Miss Shy Goes Internet Dating,” by Roger Hargreaves!!  Do read it, both the book and my review!  Hilarious!

https://www.datingdaisy.net/littlemissshygoesinternetdatingrevi

Hmm … I do prefer to hold a real book in my hands, however, I am so busy now reading and reviewing, I use the kindle on my phone. This means I can read while I am queuing in the supermarket or on the train for example – I don’t need to waste a minute!  I usually read before bed time. I also listen to audiobooks while out walking. I love this! Audiobooks are such a great invention for busy people. I can’t recommend this highly enough. I do save books up to take on holiday and adore my holiday reading. I have a stash by my bed, one of which is the new Ken Follett, “A Column of Fire.” I will be reading this on my cruise to St Petersburg!

Where can people purchase “Dating Daisy”?  Is there worldwide availability?

My novel “Dating Daisy,”  is now only for sale on Amazon, as an ebook, paperback and an audiobook. It is on Amazon.co.uk, and Amazon.com. The iBook is in process.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Daisy-Mae/dp/1911525751/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523283284&sr=8-1&keywords=Dating+Daisy

https://www.amazon.com/Dating-Daisy-Mae-ebook/dp/B07BCK6J9H/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?ie=UTF8&qid=1523287156&sr=8-1-spons&keywords=Dating+Daisy&psc=1

When you are not reading, writing or working, I hear you are a bit of a dance fan! I love watching the Argentine Tango on Strictly Come Dancing. What types of dancing do you enjoy?

Dancing is absolutely my most favourite pastime in the world! I used to dance with Voldemort – my ex-husband – but when we split up, I lost my dance partner and didn’t dance for a few years. When I met Edward, we started together again from the beginning – as he had never danced a step!  It  has given us such incredible fun and joy to dance together. We have done all our medals: social dance, bronze, silver and gold and now we are doing gold bar one – in Ballroom and Latin. Our favourite dances are Foxtrot and Quickstep, although Edward is mad on Argentine Tango. I also love sequence dancing. I have written about dancing in Dating Daisy and in my new book, “Daisys’ Love Secrets” – due for publication any day soon. My poem “Learning to Dance,” has caused a lot of laughs at the dance school. – Yes, it’s in my new book!

We dance regularly, being part of a dance school (DM Dance Centre).We have made fabulous friends through dancing, and not only have group nights and private lessons, but we go to dinner dances, on dance holidays and to watch dance competitions. It’s given us so much to do together. Our highlight was doing the Viennese Waltz at The Johann Strauss  Viennese Ball in Vienna in 2016! Next on the agenda is an Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires! … watch this space. I always do what I set out to do!… and I’m looking!

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

Fashion is an issue for all women. You can’t get away from it. I suppose I have my own style?! On an average day working from home I will be in jeans or leggings and a T shirt/round necked top – usually I like bright colours like fuschia pink or red.  Over the top I wear a variety of comfy sloppy jumpers. In the winter I usually wear slouchy boots – black or grey suede. I prefer plain colours to floral prints. I often stick my hair up to get it our of the way. I like to think I have vaguely Goldie Hawn sort of look – but probably not! However, I love getting dressed up for a black tie event or a Ball. I have some beautiful long dance dresses and a fabulous array of sparkly  dance shoes. Edward and I always try to be colour  coordinated! I love the fact that I am now 56, and have a lovely lifestyle with lots of champagne  type events – at a time when I might have been having cocoa and slippers!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

 I am quite a traditional shopper. With clothes I do always prefer to try them on and rarely buy clothes on line. I tend to go to John Lewis if I’m looking for something special. It’s hard to find nice dance dresses and I have a tailoress who I go to who will adjust the length for me in my dance shoes. My favourite dress is a full length, evening dress in bright red, satin from Damsel in a Dress. I have a favourite Cha Cha Cha dress that actually I bought having hired it first, in a fancy dress shop! I have a beautiful Hobbs, long black dress, with nude, embroidered back panel, and it’s gorgeous. There is a taffeta underskirt so the skirt swirls out when you are walking or dancing. I adore it.

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

We are off on a cruise for our summer holiday to St Petersburg – Yikes!  – so I will be getting busy soon compiling a cruise wardrobe. This is exciting as there several black tie formal nights at sea, and it a great excuse for a few, new long dresses!  I love putting together the colours and the bling! On a cruise ship – the more bling the better! Of course its also important  to have nice day wear and sightseeing clothes etc… so I will be looking for thin, light weight summer tops and shorts/dresses. I always love bright colours. You can usually see me coming! Then in September we are going on our dance school holiday to Portugal – so  another week of dance clothes will be required …. so much shopping … so little time! Accessories are more difficult. I love earrings and bracelets, but for some reason I find necklaces difficult. I like my neck bare. Rubies are my favourite jewels, and Edward bought me a beautiful ruby ring last year. I don’t know if nails and hair are accessories but I regard them as such! I always have my nails done – acrylics and shellac. For women, beautiful hands are essential. I have had hair extensions for the past two years, and loved them, but I recently had to have them out for a while to give my scalp a rest. Actually they were really good for my own hair and helped the condition of my hair enormously. Instead I have a clip in pony tail which is great fun. My friends and I have started a habit of giving scarves to each other for birthdays, so I now have quite a collection, all bright colours of course! I love snoods, for the winter. And fake-fur wraps for my ball dresses.
Boots Or Shoes?

Shoes can make or break an outfit and are actually very important. I am tall – 5ft 9, but so is Edward, so when we are together I can still wear heels, and often do, as I’m often wearing wearing dance shoes. Putting on a beautiful shoe does something to your insides doesn’t it? It’s a Cinderella feeling!  However, I am sensible! If we have a day out for example in London, I will be in my flatties! I like to wear close fitting straight trousers, sometimes with a stirrup and little flat suede shoes in a contrasting colour. I have two pairs of suede boots that are old friends! I only wear them however with trousers, never with skirts or dresses. I’m very fussy about shoes – they have to be comfortable, fashionable enough not to be square, but not outlandish – I don’t like wedges, trainers or anything clumpy. I like shoes in plain colours – my favourite pair for going in at present, are bright red! Yes – I do try to match the handbag don’t worry!                         

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Get in Touch with Daisy Mae


Dating Daisy at AmazonKindle, paperback and audiobook – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dating-Daisy-Mae-ebook/dp/B07BCK6J9H/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521122874&sr=8-1&keywords=Dating+Da

Dating Daisy websitehttp://www.datingdaisy.net

Email daisy.sharer@gmail.com

Dr Daisy Blog at Menopause Matters https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/daisyblog.php

Facebook – Daisy Mae – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100018895352743

Instagram – datingdaisy – https://www.instagram.com/datingdaisy/?hl=en

Twitter- Daisy Mae – https://twitter.com/daisy_sharer

Oh Daisy, I have so enjoyed having you on my blog – it was such fun to have a giggle with you! I love your book Dating Daisy – and I’m sure a lot of my blog readers will enjoy it too! 

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Daisy Mae.

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An Interview With Author Owen Jones

I am a big book nerd, as regular readers to this blog already know, and I read a variety of genres. It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to interview an author whose variety of books have kept me entertained for a few years.  Welsh author Owen Jones  and his Thai wife currently live in Fuengirola in Spain, but his books richly detail places where he has resided over the years – from Thailand (Behind The Smile: The Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya); from Spain (The Ghouls Of Calle Goya); from Wales (A  Night In Annan) … among others. I especially enjoyed Dead Centre I & 2 … but having written over 50 novels, I was looking forward to finding out about his writing inspirations and his latest audiobook project.  Hi Owen!

Hi! My name is Owen Jones. I am a writer from Barry, in South Wales.

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career as a full time author?

I can’t say that anyone inspired me to become an author. In fact, my friends and relatives from my hometown have all been decidedly lukewarm about it, but I have had such wonderful support from people I have never met, that I keep going.

You have written 50+ novels & 130 “How To “ niche manuals …that is pretty impressive! I have read a handful of them… and enjoyed them too! Your largest collection is the Megan series, consisting of around 23 novellas – Megan is a 13 year old with psychic powers (unacknowledged by the rest of her family) & her huge companion, a Siberian tiger called Grrr. The series is different from your first collection “Behind The Smile: The Story of Lek, a Bar Girl in Pattaya”. A lot of your books can be standalone novels in their own right, however, what do you enjoy most about writing a series of novellas? Do you find it difficult to not write a sequel to a book?

 

There are at least two reasons why a writer would produce a sequel, let alone a series. My second novel was a sequel to my first, because the heroine of the story dictated her story to me, although she was ‘only in my head’. I had done some research, and had discovered that a (first) novel ‘should not be longer than 120,000 words’, and mine was running past that, although Lek was still not finished. It was such an easy trilogy to write. Later, Lek came back to me and ‘we’ wrote four more novels in the series, although I was also greatly encouraged by fans. The same could be said of the Megan Series, although I had an idea of who Megan is or was – depending on your beliefs. The second reason why an author would want to write a sequel is because it is popular and the publisher or the public are asking for more.

What has been the most popular publication so far?

‘Behind The Smile: Daddy’s Hobby’ has been my most popular so far, but I think that that was inevitable because Orientals and Westerners have such a different outlook on life, and so do men and women, and most of the readers of this series are men, although women love it too. I have never met a Western woman in Thailand, who did not have respect for how Thai women deal with their lot in life.

What has been your favourite book that you’ve written, to date?

This is a very difficult question, because I get so involved with all my books and the characters in them. It would be very easy for me tho say ‘Behind The Smile’, because of Lek, but I like Megan a lot, and Wayne, Heng, Lily and Daisy (a new book). I like Dead Centre too, because I could imagine soldiers setting something like that up to help their distressed colleagues.

What is your latest novel, Owen?

It is called ‘Daisy’s Chain’ and is about a spoilt, rich girl living with her parents in Marbella on the Costa del Sol.

Let’s talk about the niche “How to.. “ manuals – which topic was, perhaps, the hardest to explain in manual form for you?

The ‘How to…’ series did not have its origin in inspiration as the novels did. Each of the them was once a website that I constructed because the title was a top key-phrase on Google. For example, I would check out the top key phrases of the day, and then write twenty articles around that phrase and bundle them into a website. One year, I discovered that I had written 1,200,000 words that year, and decided to try writing novels instead. I had already started writing about Lek at this point, but it gave me the impetus to put more effort into novels, and change the direction of my work. I had 145 websites in those days, now I have about twenty. The most difficult of them was probably on cancer, because I am not a doctor, and so had to be extremely careful with what I wrote.

Originally from Wales, and after living in The Netherlands, Thailand & currently in Spain, are your books available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, and not quite 🙂 They are available on Amazon, iTunes and Kobo in English worldwide, but strangely, it was only this year that I decided to get into translations. No Thai people have ever suggested that they wanted to read my books, but since I have been in Spain, friends of half-a-dozen nationalities have expressed such a desire, so I am trying to get my books translated. I currently have thirty-seven translations underway and four already completed.

You are currently getting 13 of your books narrated as audiobooks & translated into other languages other than English. The first audiobook, “A Night In Annwn” has just been produced, narrated by Andrew McGuirk. How did it feel listening to your book? Did you get involved in the production side/choosing the narrator?

Yes, it is quite amazing when I think about it… Andrew has a lovely voice and puts so much into the story. When I started getting involved with narration, I had no idea what it involved, but to the company that produces the audiobooks, my role as author, is secondary. I am the Director to them, and the narrator is the Producer. It is the Director’s job to choose a Producer and supply a set of guidelines so that he or she can get on with their job. I had to carry out interviews, choose the sex of the narrator, the speed of reading, the intonation and everything else including proofing and having bits re-read where necessary (not in Andrew’ case). In a way, I suppose, the author switches from being the scriptwriter to being the Director – just like in the films, but without a camera 🙂 I find audiobooks a fascinating medium… somewhere between a book and a film, because the narrator lends added atmosphere, but the listener still has to use his or her imagination to ‘complete the picture’.

Do you have any more ideas for your audiobooks?

Yes, several, but the one I would like to emphasise at the moment is a closed Facebook Club of readers and listeners to whom I can give free copies of my (audio)books, in exchange for an honest review. Please go here to register: https://www.facebook.com/groups/megansfreeaudiobooks/

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

Sixteen years ago, I would usually have been ‘well-dressed’ in a jacket and collared shirt, but fourteen years in a remote Thai farming village changed all that. I wore shirts and shorts in Thailand – three items of clothing, except to weddings and funerals when I had to wear long trousers, but no socks. I haven’t worn socks for sixteen years, but that still fits in with southern Spain, where I live now 🙂

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

No, not really… Amazon, I suppose at a push, since I spend more money on books that anything else. My wife tends to replace my clothes when she won’t be seen with me wearing them any longer.

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

Nothing… but if I am to be practical, we are moving back to the UK this year because of Brexit, so I will need a coat… and socks.

Boots or Shoes? 

I have only worn sandals for sixteen years, but in the UK, it will be shoes.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

http://meganthemisconception.com

http://twitter.com/owen_author

http://facebook.com/OwenJonesWriter

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00502ANBO

http://behind-the-smile.org

I hope your audiobook project is a success, Owen. I look forward to reading “Daisy’s Chain”  and I’m sure it’ll be just as good as your other books I have read.

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Owen Jones.

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An Interview With Gearhooks

Ever since I have considered putting my house up for sale and downsizing, I have begun to fully realise the need to declutter and keep things tidy – both in the house and garage – so when I came across Gearhooks and their tagline: Make Space. Save Time. Do More. – I was more than intrigued.   Born out of a need to store mountain bikes, founder Luis devised a brand new storage system designed to tidy up clutter, keep gear safe, tidy, clean and dry in the minimum amount of space.  I caught up with Luis to find out more…

Hi! My name is Luis Prtak. My dad is Austrian but I think the name is Czech. I studied Engineering at Leeds Polytechnic back in the ‘80s (when there still were Polytechnics) and since then have been a Production Engineer, Salesman, Sales Director, Commercial Director, started my own business, sold it, been a house husband (happy days), volunteer with SCOPE, Teaching Assistant, mainstream primary and secondary school teacher and currently a part time SEN teacher in a children’s home whilst getting GearHooks off the ground. Oh and I’ve also helped my wife, Fran, bring up Nick and Emily (Engineer and Archaeologist). The best bit was being a Dad and I’d do it all over again at the drop of hat. Fran won’t!

What inspired the setting up of Gearhooks?

Compulsive tidiness! All 4 of us go mountain biking and Nick does downhill racing too. We also like to ski, I play a bit of golf and I keep buying guitars to see if one will improve my playing. None of them have,by the way. It was the bikes that started GearHooks. Whenever I bought a new bike I couldn’t bring myself to part with the old one. Over the years, I had bought separate hooks to get them off the garage floor and got sick of drilling holes and moving them to accommodate new bikes. I bought a load of steel channels, threaded bar and bits and pieces to make a system where I could move the hooks around without drilling more holes. Friends saw it, liked it and asked me if I could make them one. After a couple of years of designing, 3D modelling, CAD drawings and prototypes we ended up with the bikes racks. It wasn’t long before I realised that I could use the same system, with a few special hooks, to store our skis, golf bags and guitars too.

What are the advantages of the Gearhooks?

Well, it keeps all my gear in one place so I know where it is. It’s off the floor where it’s clean and dry and I’m not falling over it all the time. It uses wall space which is otherwise not used. It makes it all look really smart, especially the guitars and it makes me feel calm.

Building shelf modules is the non glamorous part of my job as a retail merchandiser – and, I find, it is hassle most of the time – so, how easy is it to install Gearhooks?

You need some really basic DIY skills. One of the main things about the system is that you only ever need to drill 3 holes to fit the rail. Once that’s on the wall you can add more hooks, move them around with just an Allen key – the kind of thing you put IKEA furniture together with.

You have a variety of storage systems to store bikes, golfing gear, skis, snowboards, fishing gear, musical instruments … have you got other plans in the pipeline?

Yes. Most of them are all designed and ready to go. I just need to find the stuff to put on the hooks and take some photos for the web site. There are hooks and racks for gardening tools, DIY tools, tennis rackets and other sports gear, archery and target sports, water sports like diving and snorkelling, water skiing, wakeboarding, kite surfing, canoeing and kayaking. The list goes on.

My favourite is the gardening gear rack. There are a few around but none like ours. Most other racks hang everything next to each other, one item deep on the wall. Before you know it the wall is full. I know that I have at least 3 shovels, one of which I use all the time and a couple as spares for family or friends to use when they come to help. Ha ha! Anyway, with the GearHooks, each hook will hold 4 or 5 implements. That could be a hook for shovels or you could have a shovel, spade, fork, edger and so on all on the same hook. They are strong enough to hold sledge hammers, axes, chain saws and leaf blowers as well. If the rail is mounted high on the wall, you can store several rakes and brooms on a hook too. On a 1M long rail you could get up to 8 hooks and adjust them up and down to avoid everything clashing. That would mean around 40 different things in just 1M of wall space.

I love the photo of a row of guitars being stored via Gearhooks. Have you come across any unusual uses for your Gearhooks or any strange requests?

No but I’m hoping we do. I’m sure people must work in jobs where stuff needs to be stored so it’s out of the way but easy to get to. Maybe there are applications in hospitals or factories. We can design and make any type of hook to hold just about anything. Maybe we should run a competition and give away a rack to the winner?

Although you are based in North Wales, are your Gearhooks available worldwide?

We’ve already shipped to the Netherlands and can ship to anywhere in Europe including Greece, Romania and Serbia! No problem. We use DPD for next day delivery in the UK and its 2 or 3 days to most other places.

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

I’m lucky. I’m 6’ and slim (even though I’m a pie and beer monster) but I’m no fashionista. My son Nick is though, but he lives in Liverpool so there are a few more trendy shops around. Bear in mind this is North Wales. You’ll usually find me in scruffs for chopping logs or chasing sheep out of the garden or in Goretex biking gear.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I hate shopping in person. It just takes too long picking things up and trying them on. Half way through a shopping spree I feel guilty and worry that the grass needs cutting. I tend to buy most of my clothes on line. The problem is I send most of it back so I might need to re-think my strategy.

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

I’d really like to relax enough to go to a personal shopper and get them to choose things that I wouldn’t. I love tapered jeans and slim fit shirts. I’d really like a sharp black, wool suit but know I’d never get to wear it.

Boots or Shoes? 

I wear leather boots most of the time because I think narrow trousers sit better on a nice pair of boots. I’ve got a lovely pair of Loake shoes that look great but are a bit tight (I bought them on-line).

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

We have a fairly new Twitter and Facebook pages but its best to look at GearHooks.com to see the full range.

Thanks Luis .. such a great solution to keeping the garage/storage area uncluttered!

Talking of bikes … my husband is riding the first stage of the Tour de France in Western France at the end of June in aid of Prostate Cancer – for info of the route, the story, the video, the charity – please check out the website: http://adamhobden.com

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Gearhooks. 

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An Interview With The English Cream Tea Company

There’s nothing quite like an English Cream Tea – it’s an indulgence that is worth every penny and an experience that I recommend everybody to try at least once.   My guest today, Jane, epitomises the spirit of the traditional English Cream Tea – and through her company, she has extended the experience into people’s own homes, picnics and even overseas.  Grab a cup of tea and settle down whilst I introduce Jane to the blog… hi Jane!

Hello – I’m Jane Malyon. My husband Roger and I are the parents of 2 amazingly spirited lads, one of whom is an ‘advertising creative’ in Toronto, Canada and the other has the exciting job title of Cirquador. That means he travels the world as a team member of Cirque du Soleil. It also means we travel in his wake, trying to catch up for hugs, in between visits to Toronto. I’ll go a long way for my hugs you understand!

The English Cream Tea Company is a brilliant idea – what inspired you to concentrate on promoting the quintessential English afternoon cream tea and picnic hampers?

Roger and I have run an outside catering company for 35 years, with ancient (Tudor) Pledgdon Barn as our venue near the Essex/Herts border. I have also been an NLP coach helping people to get on better and communicate well…and a balloon artist, pianist, author of 2 books and public speaker (including a TEDx talk). However, in 2011, I had a chance meeting with an elderly lady who loved afternoon tea (like I do!) but could no longer travel to great hotels for her favourite treat. Suddenly the mental lightbulb went off and The English Cream Tea Company was born. My thinking was that if this lady could no longer travel to The Ritz or The Savoy, could the afternoon tea experience travel to her instead? I contacted the companies who move human organs around the UK for transplants and asked about their technology for keeping it all safe, in perfect condition and chilled – and then copied it! We now send indulgent and authentic fresh afternoon tea and English picnic hamper boxess UK wide – and have an ambient (shelf-stable) range of products, gifts, corporate gifts, teas and jams for retail, post and export. It’s been an absolute adventure bringing all this to life and every day the roller coaster continues (with downs as well as ups, of course).

do love an English Cream Tea.  I love clotted cream & strawberry jam on my scone. I did read about a man on Twitter who loved his scones with cream & lemon curd (I must try that out one day!) Do you have any personal favourites when it comes to a cream tea?

I must have had 100 interviews since starting the company, including the BBC a few times – and the two questions I am most asked are: is it pronounced ‘ scone ‘ or ‘scon’ …and is it cream or jam first. Only the TV crew from Russia surprised me by asking: “Jane, what is builder’s tea?” !!

Our best sellers are our Fresh Afternoon Tea for Two hamper delivered to your door (Best. Gift. Ever!) and our award winning Double Chocolate Brownie. However, out of our range of absolutely delicious preserves (truly lovely – I kid you not), our Lemon Curd with Passionfruit is actually the best seller – and lots of people enjoy it with clotted cream and scones – though Strawberry is the nation’s favourite with English Cream Tea. My own favourite is our Raspberry and Blackberry Jam (with clotted cream too) – and as I’m an Essex girl, I can apply the cream/jam in any order I like. It’s only in Devon/Cornwall where you might be escorted from the county for doing it the ‘wrong’ way round (hint, jam first for Cornwall, jam second for Devon!). We actually gained the Guinness World Record for the largest English Cream Tea party (featured in the 2013 album) – but Devon were not happy at all that the record went to Essex!

Sandwiches feature in an English afternoon tea & hampers – I do so love an interesting filling – but what fillings tend to be most popular amongst your customers?

When selecting our main range of sandwich fillings, we felt it was important to have Smoked Salmon with lemon (classic and delicious) and of course Cucumber (with cream cheese). The cucumber sandwich has represented wealth since Victorian times because only the rich could have the hothouses and teams of gardeners to produce them! They are quintessentially associated with an elegant teatime array and we couldn’t leave them out. After that, we chose a cheese and relish sandwich and an egg mayonnaise with cress – because they’re both vegetarian. Our range fits with many Indian and Jewish customers as well, whereas adding Ham sandwiches or other meat based options, changes that. However – we do get special requests which we try to meet and we also occasionally offer ‘special edition’ hampers with other cake and sandwich options (including Coronation Chicken). We’ll be offering a new Royal Wedding hamper soon with different treats inside! Keep an eye out on our site. We also run competitions on our Facebook page, one of which was to invent a new sandwich – and the winner’s was made and delivered to them. (In case you’re wondering it was Turkey, Goats Cheese, Watercress and Cranberry Sauce – yum!)

Your scones are delicious and I do love the idea of the xscone mixes so those who are not quite so clever at baking scones from scratch can have a go (especially the chocolate version)! What inspired you to produce the mixes? You also have a range of jams & chutneys – have you plans to introduce new flavours in the future? 

Creating new ideas and products is my favourite part of running the business BUT I have to keep myself in check. Developing any new line is actually very costly by the time the packaging, labelling, bar codes etc are added. Having said that, there will be new hampers for the corporate and gift market this year plus two new Tea Blender’s Kits…oh, and the Royal Wedding hamper….but I really must restrain from adding too many new lines. Sigh 😀

As you are based in the UK, are you able to ship products overseas? 


After launching in 2011 via that Facebook page initially, on the very first day we received enquiries from 5 other countries all asking if they could have Fresh Afternoon Tea hampers delivered too. We were shocked and er, no – we can’t quite get our freshly made scones, clotted cream, cakes, sandwiches, shortbread, brownies etc all the way down to Australia within 24 hours. So we developed gift tins embodying the treats of cream tea without the cream (but including our own Scone Mix) to be able to send out this beloved traditional treat in some form at least, world wide. English Heritage stocked our Festive Scone Bake Kit last Christmas (that came with marzipan holly and berries to go on top of your completed scones!).


We also include etiquette tips with most of our products, keeping the British traditional teatime manners going! I have videos on YouTube and Instagram etc about that aspect (and answering the Scone/Scon question) – and these seem to attract a worldwide audience (not to mention Trolls!). Indeed, every time there’s a Royal event here or Downton Abbey is aired, there’s more interest still. Apparently Nelson Mandela said that Afternoon Tea is Britain’s greatest export. Well said Sir!

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

In terms of clothes, I wear trousers almost 100% of the time. Actually take out the ‘almost’. I like winter clothes best eg jackets with structure – and still mourn the waning of the padded shoulder (but perhaps it’s making a come-back!). Love a bit of colour too and am known for wearing red, which is our main corporate colour.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

Location-wise, I do most of my shopping in Toronto. That sounds so much more jet-set/international than the reality. When I’m in the UK I almost never get the chance to do personal shopping – so it’s only when we’re visiting our son in Canada that I’ll get that chance. I head to the Hudson’s Bay Co (a little like John Lewis) and lose myself in the trying-on process. Bliss.

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

My next purchase (though really, I probably already have outfits that would quite suffice) could be an evening jacket as hubby and I celebrate our Ruby Wedding Anniversary this year and plan on enjoying a very special dinner out. Yay. That 40 year anniversary bit obviously also demonstrates that I had my lightbulb idea about starting The English Cream Tea Company, somewhat late in the day. But never say never, ladies! I didn’t know anything at all about retail/export/packaging/distribution or trying to build an iconic brand. However, I was certain I’d be very, very cross with myself for not giving it my best shot, so it simply had to be! With the loveliest team of Scone Gnomes, designer, web guru and more, the adventure continues….except now you’ll know that inside my oversized boots, there are little wide feet trying to keep me grounded!

Boots or Shoes? 

I absolutely love boots but possibly not for the usual reasons. I have spectacularly wide and short feet and most shoes won’t stay on – but boots are the solution. This is because I often buy 2.5 whole sizes too big to accommodate what nature gave me foot-wise. My feet would come out of shoes that were way too big but boots are more forgiving. One of our darling sons has offered to have a ‘last’ made for me so I can have made-to-measure shoes…which sounds amazing! Bless.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about The English Cream Tea Company.


Jane’s top ten tips on English Cream Tea etiquette!


(AND someone made a spoof of that last video – hilarious: Spoof videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVXVdPBxipk)

Mmmm..simply delicious! Thank you Jane for making our mouths water!  Your business is simply delightful …and as far as Scone or Scon goes….I say “Scone” ….

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Jane Malyon & The English Cream Tea Company

 

 

 

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An Interview With Sewport

This week I’m delving behind the scenes in the fashion industry to find out all about garment production from an idea through to a production run.  As a person who loves the end product, I was intrigued to find out what processes were involved and just how easy (or how hard) was it to get a sketched idea  manufactured. Luckily enough, my guest this week, Boris, founder of Sewport, was able to provide the answers for me …. Hi Boris!

Thank you for letting me share this with your audience, Linda. I’m  Boris Hodakel, 31, founder of Sewport. I’ve been doing different things in my life but my heart settled years ago when I started working in the fashion industry. I mean, in garment production. Especially living in London, which is a mecca for certain styles and fashion of its own, you get to see so much more than lies on the surface. Sewport started off as a full cycle production service 3 years ago with our own factory working with emerging brands and start-up. It felt like we needed to move on to something bigger. Built a platform to become something else. We used to turn down a lot of people because what they needed was not quite our profile. By thinking that we would still like to help them find what they are looking for, we became an online place where hundreds of clothing brands and garment manufacturers connect with each other. Why should we stand in the way of progress? Our idea is to allow people find more than one option at a time and in one single place. Finding services and companies to launch a product is extremely hard, now there is a one-stop show for everything but with many more possibilities.

What inspired you to launch your business, Sewport?

I was inspired by the Internet of Things and the digitisation of everything. Technology is all around us. We need to allow it to assist or even drive our everyday activities. And then, if we can, bring technology and innovation to industries and areas where it has never been before, we should. Luckily, living in a tipping point era of everything digital, it is so easy to imagine how an online service can improve a certain area of our life or business.

Hypothetically speaking, if I was a fashion designer with just an idea & looking to develop the idea further, what stages would I need to go through to make the finished garment a reality? What services would you be able to offer me?

A fail-safe experience is to have the idea finalised first. You will need to push yourself to as much extent as you feel you are capable of to describe and maybe even draw it technically. It is ok if you can’t  draw that well though, as anything goes and the “Idea”  stage. Sometimes when people build their idea they forget the more important details like pockets, buttons, zips, lining etc. If you feel you can’t do it or the idea is vague or the design is not complete you can always choose to work with a Designer / Technical Specialist freelancer who can help you get that idea production ready. We have plenty of such specialists on our platform preparing documentation, drawings and size specs for brands. A clothing manufacturer will ask certain questions about the design to understand all details anyway. And its good that you will have some of these answers already put down on paper. So, we are done the “Idea” stage … now it gets simpler. You will need to have a sample made. You can do this either with a small sampling studio or get it done with a manufacturer before bulk production. There are factories who can take care of all the details: fabric, trims, printing, embroidery, labels for you. Once a sample is approved and you are happy with the fit, you are ready to go. Sewport has an array of companies, freelancers and service providers for just about anything that might be required on route from Idea to completed product.

Out of all the services you offer, what ones seem to be most popular amongst your clients?

Tech Pack (for those reading who do not know what this is, it’s a Blueprint for your design) making by Freelance designers. Only because it’s the first step, the first tier. As with emerging designers or generally start-ups they might find that they want to change the idea completely, or they trial different designs and pick the best ones. Also, some people never go ahead with bulk production as they find out it’s not as cheap as they thought it would be. But for any garment manufacturer to give a more or less accurate quote, a tech pack is needed.

One of your core goals is to help provide affordable manufacturing services. Why is there is a high minimum order quantity imposed by most manufacturers, and how are you able to offer a more reasonable minimum quantity run?

Good question. The reason that most companies have high MOQ lays in the process of manufacturing. A lot of preparations and procedures which can make production in low quantities either too expensive per piece or unprofitable for the manufacturer. That is why when a manufacturer offers production minimums they just try to make it mutually beneficial and in a quantity, that will make sense to both parties involved. What is different about companies on our platform is that some of them are also small businesses who understand the ways or emerging brands and are ready for their small orders, as they do not need to maintain a workforce of hundreds of workers and tens of different departments. Also, servicing companies on Sewport know that most of the brands want lower quantities. Above all, brands write what sort of quantity they are looking for, and manufacturers write the same in their profile so we are matchmaking them for a better success rate.

Searching for the right fabrics to highlight the designs is a task in itself. Does Sewport offer help and expertise in sourcing fabrics?

We have fabric agents, fabric mills, and factories who will be able to help with this step too. We do encourage people to participate in this, as it’s important to feel the fabric, get to know the fabric so one can not neglect fabric shows and fabric shops – unfortunately having the ability to touch fabric through a computer screen is not something we will see in the nearest future.

You have had many years of experience in the fashion industry. What do you enjoy most about your career?

It is just so rewarding to work alongside creative people who have imminence drive and passion for what they do. It’s never routine or mundane as fashion changes very quickly and there are always new things to learn and explore. And it’s not just me, some colleagues we work with are  experienced veterans and even they would from time to time say “we have not tried this yet, but let us see how it goes”.

Growing up, what career aspirations did you have?

Something serious, corporate, suits. I’m so grateful for the opportunity in life and my wife who supported me to escape the formal office life of the 9 to 5. If you don’t wake up excited and go to sleep anxious that tomorrow is another day in the rat race, you definitely need to shout stop and think where your life is taking you as obviously, you are not taking your life to where you should, if you know what I mean.

As you are based in London, are you able to help designers that are not based in the UK?

Definitely. We have people from all around the globe. It does not matter where you are located. We have customers from Australia working with specialists from the USA. Our goal is to provide really thought through tools to help them facilitate this relationship, and by the location of these deals, people close on our platform – seems like we are doing a really good job.

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

Working in garment production has really changed the way I dress. Buying clothes has become sort of complicated. If you know production you start to look at all the threads hanging out, if seams are dense and straight, the type of fabric, the composition of the fabric is very important. I’m not a big fan of fast fashion, as I believe slow fashion is the way to go. Someone told me once “I’m not rich enough to wear fast-fashion garments”. You end up buying and buying and in the end, you spend more than you would on a good piece of clothing that will last for years. Some people support a really bad trend of buying cheap low quality but trendy clothes and as these garments become quite shabby after a couple of wears and washes they just throw them out. These shopping habits are the reason behind low work standards at factories, use of child labor, sweatshops and that some clothing manufacturing companies in the UK and Europe close down under required price production pressure. Most of the larger brands do not care about these things as they only chase higher margins and they are not concerned with where it takes them. And then, there is the fact that you better know what sort of margins these are. How would you feel buying a shirt for 50 when you know it costs 10 to make. But then there are marketing costs, shop space rental costs… I choose simple designs, natural fabrics and preferably EU/UK made.

Do you have any favorite shops or online sites?

I shop the same brands, mainly online.  Some items I get as perks from working in the industry from suppliers and other manufacturing companies I keep good relationships with. I don’t want to advertise. Certain brands tend to capture the fit of one’s body shape better than the others.

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

Just some loafers for the summer.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. Never know where my life takes me, so better stay comfortable.

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

https://sewport.com

https://facebook.com/sewport

Twitter: @sewport

Thanks Boris for such a detailed and interesting response.  I never realised before how being involved in the garment industry, like you are, could affect the way you dress and pick outfits – but it does stand to reason.  Your enthusiasm for Sewport shines through, Boris,  and I hope it continues to do so – you have a gem of a company there 🙂

Linda x

All photos/pictures ( apart from the photo for pinning) have been published with kind permission from Boris Hodakel of Sewport.

The photo for pinning is by Linda Hobden.

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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 Leslie Brooks

From Australia last week to the USA this week, and I’m pleased to welcome onto my blog the vivacious Leslie Brooks, US model, TV & Radio personality, social media influencer, Shatterproof Ambassador and mother of 3!  This lady has tons of energy, very smiley and very stylish …. and I had tons of questions to ask her! Hi Leslie!

 

Photo by David Sigal

Hi! My name is Leslie Brooks. I currently live in Columbus, OH. I grew up in Dayton, OH and went to college at Ohio University where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Spanish. After graduating I was discovered by a modeling agent in Louisville, KY and began my modeling career. I consider myself a semi-retired model now taking jobs in print work, commercial work and tv hosting. I am also a mom of 3 (my favorite job ever 😉). I am a social media influencer on Twitter with over 145k followers. I also work as an Ambassador with the nonprofit Shatterproof organization.

What does the charity Shatterproof do and what does being an ambassador entail?

Shatterproof is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the devastation addiction causes families. As an Ambassador I am part of a national network of volunteer peer leaders, educating and empowering others to learn about and support Shatterproof’s mission. Ambassadors are committed to promoting the Shatterproof vision and representing the organization. This is a very personal mission to me. Sadly I lost my only brother to addiction when he was only 32, and in 2013 my father committed suicide after years of struggling with the disease.

You have been modelling for over 20 years. What inspired you to become a model? Has their been any noticeable changes in the field of modelling since you first started?

Growing up I was always a tall, skinny girl. But with big hair and braces, I never quite felt attractive. However in 1997, an agent named MJ Kaufman approached me about modeling. I guess being tall and skinny was actually a blessing 😉. So much has changed over the years of modeling but most notible is the introduction of Social Media. Now men and women who may never have had an opportunity to model are being discovered via Instagram and Snapchat.

Being a social media influencer, you need to have regular interaction on social media. What social media outlet is your personal favourite? What is your least favourite & why?

My favorite social media outlet is Twitter. A few years ago an agent from LA recommended I use Twitter to build a brand and following. I started out with about 200 followers. I quickly learned how much fun Twitter is and began to gain a large following. I love being creative and telling jokes so this has been a great forum for me to be connected to thousands of people all across the world. My least favorite outlet is Snapchat. I just can’t quite get into it. Although my preteen daughters are pros. Ha!  

Photo by Jackie Goudy

You are a mom to 2 girls and a boy – would they like to follow in your footsteps and become models/TV personalities or have they got other plans? What do you like best about being “mom”?

My daughters are 12 and 11. My oldest would love to follow in my footsteps and either model or act. I also have a son who is 7. Currently his career goals are to be a male model and then a zoo keeper. Ha ha! Being a mother has been my most challenging yet most rewarding job ever. I always wanted to be of service to others, it just so happens I get to be of service to my own children. Helping them navigate their way in the world. If I can raise kind, happy and brave children then I will feel my work has been done.

Let’s talk food… what is your favourite meal? What food genre is your favourite when eating out?

My absolute favorite food is crab legs. I also love French fries. My husband and I are quite adventurous with food so we love going out to try different cuisines.

You have travelled to some seriously cool places.If you could visit any place in the world, money no object, where would you go & why?

I’ve been blessed to travel a lot especially in the last few years. In the past 18 months, I’ve been to Hawaii, Grand Caymans, Southern California, Jamaica, Mexico, Iceland and the Dominican Republic. In June I’ll be traveling to Costa Rica. If money and time were no object, my dream trip would be to Australia.

Personal Photo of Leslie and her husband, Troy

Out of the places you’ve travelled too – where was your favourite place? Which place left you disappointed? Favourite family location?

My very favorite place I’ve traveled to so far has been Grand Caymans. The water is the most spectacular blue I have ever seen. The people of Jamaica have been the most kind. And Iceland is so spectacular. A landscape I’ve never seen before. Many times I travel with my husband for his work. But we also try to take a few family trips as well. We are taking the kids on a Disney Cruise next month. I’ve heard great things about it and I can’t wait to experience it with the kids.

Have you got a favourite style icon, past or present?

I like to think of my style as classic glamour. Jackie Kennedy Onassis was the epitome of this style.

I like dresses from the 1950s; tunic dresses of the 1960s; the hippy styles of the 1970s; the colours of the 1980s… what decade of fashion are you drawn towards? Which popular styles of any decade didn’t/don’t float your boat?

I always love how in fashion what goes around comes around. I’ve enjoyed when the fashion from the 70s came back. Flowy dresses, bell bottoms. But I tend to stay with classic styles that don’t follow a trend. Fitted dresses, classic colors, and pumps.

My favourite colour is green although glancing at my wardrobe most of my clothes are shades of blue! And I love red for nights out! What is your favourite colour?

Of course all black can be stunning. However I love a splash of color. I also love the current look of prints and floral patterns. My favorite color is red.

I have a passion for music – I listen to most styles – what genre floats your boat?

My personal playlist is quite eclectic. Everything from Kids Bop lol, to 90s R&B. My all time favorite artist is Prince. I really do believe he was a musical genius.

Describe your perfect day.

While I do enjoy a night out at a fabulous restaurant, I’ve really become a homebody. A perfect night would be with my family at home. Watching a movie or playing a board game.

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

During the week I tend to dress more comfortably. Fitted jeans and a tee or blazer. Nights out I love to wear dresses. Summertime is my favorite time for fashion. Lots of sundresses and white denim is a constant staple.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love Saks Fifth Avenue. But also do a lot of shopping online. I love Intermix and Forward.

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

I’ve recently become obsessed with Balmain blazers. I recently purchased my first. It is a beautiful fitted red double blazer with gold buttons. Because they are such a classic staple, I’d love to add a black and navy to my collection. My favorite brand of shoes is Christian Louboutin. In fact I just picked up a fabulous red t-strap stiletto yesterday. There is something very sexy about that red bottomed sole.

Boots or Shoes? 

I like boots in the winter months. Especially ankle booties. The summertime I live in flip flops and heeled sandals at night.

Links you would like to share e.g. Blog/facebook/twitter/etc

You can find me in Twitter at www.twitter.com/leslie_annie

Instagram at www.instagram.com/leslieannebrooks

Fabulous chatting to you Leslie! Shatterproof is such a worthy cause although I am sorry to hear of your personal bereavements, I’m sure your personal experience has and will help those who find themselves in a similar situation.  On a brighter note, red T- strap Louboutin stilettos sound exquisite … and yes, very sexy! Love it! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Leslie Brooks.  The photographers are David Sigal, Jackie Goudy & Leslie Brooks.

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An Interview With Mandala Dream Co

I’m talking HEMP this week with Jul from Mandala Dream Co.  Jul lives, breathes and talks hemp.  From bed linen and fashions to beauty and skincare…. in fact, over 30,000 products can be made from industrial crop.  Hemp is eco friendly, ethical, sustainable and kinder to both people and the planet.  I caught up with Jul to find out more about this versatile crop and why she is so passionate about hemp…

Hi! I’m Jul from Mandala Dream Co, living & working in Kobble Creek, Queensland, Australia. A beautiful little pocket of the planet, living & loving life, my family & my role as the one man band for Mandala Dream Co. (In truth I do now have the luxury of having a seamstress & pattern maker who work with me & make my life soooooo much more manageable). Nonetheless I’m the blessed being who sows & cultivates our plants for our eco dyeing, harvests & ferments the hand eco dyes, dyes, designs our range, formulates our skincare, along with chief of photography, marketing, blogging, newsletters, website upkeep & all the fun things that make my life full, joyous & satisfying.

What was behind your choice to concentrate on hemp?

Bring on the Green Revolution including all things Hemp I say 😊
My first love was textile art, specifically hand eco dyeing utilising natures botanicals (plants, barks, roots, leaves, kino etc) specifically using organic & sustainable fabrics. After using all manner of fabrics including peace silk, organic cotton, bamboo & hemp I simply could not bring myself to advocate for anything other than humble hemp. It’s impossible once learning about the growing, the water wastage & the manufacturing of other fibres to use anything else in all good conscience. 

The natural beauty we can create with this textile is inspiring, as a little cottage organic hemp creator of bedlinen, eco fashion & skincare I’m proud of our pioneering movement even on this small scale, the fabrics are so very beautiful, becoming softer with each use, heirloom fabrics that last a lifetime and are also resistant to stains, odours, mildew & mould, highest UV factor of all natural fibres, naturally antibacterial.

No pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are needed to successfully grow hemp (unlike the chemically laden crops we currently grow in Australia & on our beloved planet) you could grow it yourself easily. The plants dense roots stave off weeds, and the growing process improves the soil’s nitrogen, making the soil even better for other crops in the future, a perfect rotational crop for farmers and the health of our soils, which are incredibly sour here in Australia. The growth cycle of hemp is generally only four months, so the option to harvest two times in one year would create a huge relief for struggling farmers. Research states that just one acre of hemp produces more oxygen from CO2 and methane than 25 acres of forest, not to mention the water savings (we save 9000 litres of water (compared to traditional cotton bedlinen) with just one sheet 😊

More about my favoured Hemp:

Hemp Biodiesel can replace our need for fossil fuels.
Hemp seeds & cold pressed oils are superfoods containing essential amino acids & easily digested protein. High in the omegas with a naturally perfect ratio. It’s so nutritionally superior you can survive on hemp seeds alone for a long period, can you imagine what this could do to those in famine around the world?

Its oils are used in our Skincare –  it plumps up dry skin & even helps your skin to retain more moisture over time with its use.

Nil petrochemicals from plastics are produced with hemp plastics, from plastic wraps for food, bottles and everyday items all the way through to auto parts, with no harmful BPA. Hemp plastics are not only heat resistant and durable they are 100% biodegradable.
Housing construction materials (such as hempcrete) made from hemp fibres have been found to be far superior to most materials used in housing construction in our era. Inexpensive hemp can be made into a huge variety of building materials, hempcrete, insulation, blocks, plastics, board, even carpets, whilst being so much stronger and will last soooo much longer than what’s being utilised now. Did I mention they are also fire resistant? mould & mildew resistant? rot free? totally non toxic? & good for us and our planet-and totally natural! Have you any idea how many toxic chemicals and compounds are in our newly built housing? So much of the materials used are processed with toxic chemicals that are released into our living areas (with our loved ones) for years and years. In essence anything wood pulp can do, hemp fibres do far better. 70% of our worlds forests have already been eliminated…and yet we pretend we don’t know why our existence is threatened. Hemp paper can be recycled 8 times, whilst from our beautiful century old trees it’s only 3 to 4 times.

 I love the gold coloured hemp cushion covers/bed linen. To date, what has been your most popular hemp item?

The gold colours are infused on the fabrics utilising onion skins, chamomile, turmeric, calendula petals & marigolds (or whatever I have available in our storage & ferments at the time) – I generally harvest our plant dyes all year round. Our most popular items currently are our Natural indigo dyed hemp wrap pants & our Meraki skincare & beauty range.

 

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

For me it’s the bedlinen, we are so in love with ours (one set for life) we take them to hotels when we travel. They start off their life a little stiff (like a good old fashioned linen in your grandmother’s  cupboard), but over time they soften up  & ‘wear in’ becoming at one with your bed & its occupants. They stay fresher for longer (meaning we only wash them every 2nd week) and as they are stain & odour resistant they just make everyday life that little bit more comfortable. They have a far superior wicking factor meaning they are highly absorbent & climate reactive keeping us warm in the cooler months here in Kobble Creek; dry, cool & fresh in our hot summer months. We guarantee our bedlinen for a lifetime, it will last that long, & market them as one set for life.

I’m impressed with the gorgeous colours – and the fact that each colour is organic, free from pesticides, treatments or chemicals. Where do you source the ingredients and what ingredients make up the rich colour tones?

Generally if it grows & is non toxic. I have at least attempted to eco dye with it 😊 Most of our ingredients are grown right here on our 5 acres, though I do have a regular supply of onion skins from our 2 local organic fruit & vegetable producers…which is just as well as we use a lot of those. We collect bloodwood kino (sap) on our family walks from our local trees when they naturally produce; grow our own indigofera, turmeric, berries, cherries, moringa & neem.

I use hemp hand cream daily as it is the only product that keeps my hands soft and crack free. What other hemp based beauty products do you sell? What are the advantages of using hemp beauty products?

Our Meraki range (which is a Greek word meaning created with love & devotion…a little piece of our souls in every formulation) currently includes Hempseed Oil based- Face Serum, Body/Hair Butter, Bath Salts/Soak, Pit Potion Deodorant, Toothypaste, Fragrance, Hair Serum & Dream Mist. We are currently working & trialling a new range which includes Hemp CBD oil, which will be a specific anti ageing range. Hemp seed oil is a little miracle (both topically & nutritionally) with the perfect ratio of Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids it’s vital for skin health. The high presence of Vitamin A, D & E ensures repair & rejuvenation of cells, whilst the gamma linolenic acid is a powerful anti inflammatory reducing redness & soreness. Hemp seed oil increases elasticity, is ideal for eczema, psoriasis, rosacea & acne breakouts by naturally balancing the skins oil production, the natural wonder of hemp seed oil teaches our skin how to stay hydrated for longer with every use. Top all that off with how good Hemp is for our planet & you start to feel why I’m such an advocate 😊

Are you introducing any new hemp items to add to your collection into for 2018?

Yes as above (re the new Meraki range). We are also hard at work designing an ethical wardrobe capsule starter kit which will be created using a lightweight Hemp knit blend which will be a lovely easy option for travellers also: 7  initial pieces which can all be worn in different ways (a jacket that doubles as a wrap shirt, a pencil skirt that can be worn comfortably at different lengths etc). We’ve always been a ‘low waste’ business very aware of our environmental footprint (which is why we hold little stock & create to order), using our fabric remnants for a long time in our labelling, hand stamped business cards etc, & are now starting to produce eco wraps (similar to the beeswax eco wraps used in place of single use plastics, sandwich bags etc) but with a twist. The average eco wrap is non organic cotton, dyed with synthetic dyes & uses bees wax & jojoba oil in the coating. Ours will be 100% vegan using our remnants, organic hemp, botanical eco dyes (leftovers, which are also thickened with soy powder to use as block print inks) & candelilla wax (a plant wax) & hemp seed oil creating a far superior wrap which is vegan for the conscious mums packing their beloveds lunches & snacks. (p.s. our youngest attends a Steiner school so I certainly have a ready made market right there) 😊… This photo is of a hemp canvas backpack we recently made for our youngest Kingston, along with hemp drawstring pants for our little people.

As Mandala Dream Co is based in Australia, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes absolutely my biggest market at the moment is Canada (which are hemp early adopters…and just ‘get it’) I’ve also created for clients in the UK, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, Mexico, Cuba, Alaska & even a marines barracks in Fort Benning USA. Delighted to offer to anyone it really speaks to.

Choosing brand names can be a hard task at times, especially when you are trying to pick a name to encapsulate the essence of the brand. What made you decide to pick the name “Mandala Dream Co”?

It was a very personal choice for me & though it doesn’t shout out ‘hemp’, it represents what this little cottage industry meant for me. Mandala Dream Co was born out of me finally finding the calm amidst the chaos., though it took more than a few knocks on my skull before I woke to it. A separation of old wants & new needs really. The Mandala represents the oneness of the psyche with the cosmos, & for me that’s exactly where I found myself in ‘oneness’.
The Mandala is a sacred symbol laying down a map for finding our own way to our self, it represents our connection with our earth. My dream was to renew eco sustainable practices & ancient eco dye practices, whilst delivering humble hemp into every household…..& of course The Co. is you, the company we keep…our clients who we wish to heal body, mind & spirit. With eco, sustainable, organic hemp bed linens & bed sheets, slow fashion, skincare & beauty creations, made by hand with love & devotion to enhance your health, wellbeing, sleep & beauty.  So…for me it’s the essence of the brand, the ethos, the ethics we follow in our business & our every day life, leaving things better than we found them & attracting what’s needed & letting go of things that no longer serve.

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

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now I’m a bit of a ‘hippie’, a tree hugger, a greenie? Generally you’ll find me wearing something casual & comfortable & usually one of our creations, certainly a lot of hemp clothing, samples we’ve made for photography, marketing etc, failed attempts at eco dyeing that had to be reworked etc. Many days it’s just torn jeans & a blouse or a hemp tshirt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Oh yes indeed, during the week I wear lots of hemp tshirts from www.superegoclothiers.com : wonderful quality & cool (perfect for when I’m working with the dye vat at 60 degrees). My favourite is in one of the photo below worn by our eldest (Sahara) which has the caption ‘Cut From a Different Cloth’ #cfadc, which of course is the different cloth …Hemp. I adore this brand it’s very ‘urban’ with lots of street cred & will one day be collaborating with Tommie T Lark founder of this wonderful brand. Of course I occasionally get dressed up for a ‘date night’ with my gorgeous Jamaican husband Kaleel & then I’ll go all out & wear something I treasure from either an upcycled vintage op shop buy, usually inspired by the wonder Fashion Hound that is Faye Delanty, or a piece that I simply couldn’t live without buying.

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

Honestly I have no wish list, I’m one of those people who don’t usually purchase for ‘occasions’ as have collected & curated so much over the years I generally have all that I’ll ever need. In fact I’m whittling my wardrobe down to a ethical capsule wardrobe with just a few extra special pieces that I must keep for my sanity.

Boots or Shoes?

Oh if I could every single day it would be boots as I think they just give an entire outfit a better line & are so comfortable, but alas it’s often so hot here flat sandals are usually my go to.

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

Website: www.mandaladreamco.com.au
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mandaladreamco/
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/mandaladreamco/

Oh Jul, it’s great to hear you are a boots girl – even if it is in spirit only! :). Kobble Creek sounds idyllic, your farm sounds lovely, your children are adorable and your passion for hemp is uplifting – thank you so much for sharing your knowledge 🙂

Linda x

All photos were taken by Julie Grant and published with kind permission.

Models: Sahara & Kingston

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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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