Category Archives: Interview

An Interview With Vitamin Coffee

Coffee. For a lot of us, we can’t seem to function without a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  Trying to go on a health kick, and struggling to forego that daily wake up routine?  What if I told you that there’s a coffee available that is tasty AND contains our daily vitamin intake?  Sounds good, doesn’t it? I thought so, so I caught up with Vitamin Coffee founder, Bryn Ray, to find out what is so special about his coffee….hi Bryn…

Hi! I’m Bryn Ray – fitness and coffee enthusiast, turned entrepreneur to blend those enthusiasms.

What was the inspiration behind the setting up of Vitamin Coffee?

A software designer by trade, when I worked in the city I found myself coming in rather groggy after some of the nights before. The old solution used to be a mug of coffee and a glass of some horrible effervescent fizz, so I thought there must be a way to blend the effect of both things. That’s where the Complete and Defence version of Vitamin Coffee were born, the Energy blend then followed when I started reading ingredients list of pre-workout drinks.

You currently offer 2 coffees – medium & dark with a choice of 3 vitamin blends (Medium, Energy, Defence). The coffees all contain the full daily requirement of 14 essential  vitamins and minerals – so what is the difference between the blends on offer?

All three blends are based on the same set of vitamins. The Complete offers 100% of what you need of each per day. The defence is then hyper-dosed with extra vitamin C and D which has positive effect on the immune system. The energy is higher in B-vitamins which are particularly useful for people who are very active, it also has added caffeine (on top of the standard amount in the coffee).

Early days yet I know, but what coffee blends are proving most popular amongst your customers so far? Have you got a favourite blend?

Medium Defence seems to be the superstar, but it is winter. My personal favourite is the Dark Energy, I drink it before every workout.

Where do you source your coffee beans from?

The Medium blend sources from Asia and Africa – it’s a little unconventional, but it’s based on Monsoon Malabar beans that give it an incredibly smooth and creamy taste. The Dark blend is a brighter and fruiter pairing Central and South American single-origins with Ethiopian Mocha Djimmah beans for boldness.

Can the coffee be purchased as a one off or is the coffee available on a subscription basis only?

Coffee can be a one off or as a subscription at your chosen interval. The bags each contain 14 daily servings so with most customers being daily drinker a two week subscription is the standard.

As you are based in the UK, is your coffee available to customers abroad?

Currently we don’t ship abroad, but we’re actively looking into distributing around Europe.

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

Generally, i’m a monochromatic man. Black Levi 511, black leather Janoski and a long sleeve sweatshirt.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Most of my tops come from Reiss, Cos or Arket. Recently started to use Farfetch online though which I like.

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

A new coat is next on the shopping list – all suggestions welcome.

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots – I think they give a cleaner line to a silhouette.

Links you would like to share:

www.vitamincoffee.co.uk
www.instagram.com/vitcoffee
www.facebook.com/vitcoffee
www.twitter.com/vitcoffee

New coat, eh Bryn?… I think a black leather coat would look good especially as the styles of the 70s & 80s are trending at the moment. For a more classic look, a black wool pea coat always looks stylish and you can wear a suit under it although it equally looks good with those black Levi’s you favour 🙂  Thank you for introducing us to your coffee and it’s great to know that we can still have our coffee with the health kick included.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Bryn Ray/ Vitamin Coffee

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An Interview With Artist Ben Riley

Over the years I have interviewed people who have made bags out of old books, old vinyl records …. and I have interviewed musicians, music producers…. and I have interviewed sculptors, painters, doodlers…. AND this week it gives me great pleasure to interview somebody that is a combination of all 3.  A bit cryptic I know, but my guest is the accomplished British artist Ben Riley, whose art features icons of music throughout the ages using the medium of broken and ground down pieces of vinyl records on canvas.  Intrigued?  Hi Ben & welcome…

Hi, I’m international artist, Ben Riley.

What inspired you to specialise in artwork out of broken & ground down pieces of vinyl on canvas? Why vinyl?

It is easy to fade into the background and do what everyone else is doing. I believe as an artist, you should strive to create your own methods, styles and diversity. I have a huge love of music and art so I bridge the two. The idea behind my work is creating portraits of music icons of the past and present using the music itself, eliminating the use of conventional mediums such as paint, pencils and charcoals, thus creating my own method.

Your pictures feature icons of music throughout the ages – do you have a favourite?

My favourite icon that I have created is Jimi Hendrix as his music and fashion style was very unique and unconventional like my work. I feel that it’s the perfect match.

Do you have any other favourite artwork mediums?

I love pencil and pen studies, particularly shading between light and dark. That’s what I also like most about my work, creating complete darkness, extreme highlights and all the gradients in between, it’s very dramatic.

Growing up, have you always wanted to be an artist or did you have other aspirations?

At one point I wanted to be a photographer, I have had a few different career paths, I can’t quite remember many of them :/ I think I was put here to create art, it’s not by any means an easy or stable career, but it’s the path that I’ve been put on by fate.

As your artwork features music icons, I gather you are a big music fan yourself. What genre do you enjoy? Any favourites?

Yes, I’m also a singer/songwriter. I have a big love for bands from the 60’s including The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience to The Rolling Stones, and more recent artists including Amy Winehouse, I believe that she was ‘the’ icon of this generation.

Your artwork is full of detail & expression? Do you work from photos, sketches or from sitting studio sessions?

I start by doing a sketch, roughly get it drawn on the canvas then start building it up with large pieces of broken records, then I work on the details from dark to light. As I work with them flat on a table, it’s not until it’s finished that I get the chance to step back and look at the piece.

I’m sure every artist has some form of art theme that they just cannot master as well as other themes – some avoid drawing people, others animals etc. What theme of artwork do you find hardest to recreate?

I’d say landscapes, they just aren’t my thing.

Your work has been exhibited throughout the world – have you got a favourite venue or exhibition?

I love exhibiting in London, it’s one of my favourite cities. Some of my favourite shows have been in the US, I particularly like LA.

Although you are based in Staffordshire, do accept commissions worldwide?

Yes, I think it’s important not to be restricted to the UK.

What music icon pictures will you be working on in 2018?

I mainly work on a commission basis, so it’s whoever comes in I guess..

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

I love vintage clothes, they are generally better made, more individual and your less likely to pass someone on the street with the same thing. Shoes, I like brogues, and Chelsea Boots. Also love vintage hats!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

eBay is pretty good, if you have an idea what your after, you can find some hidden gems on there.

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

No idea.. Erm a nice pair of jeans maybe..

Boots or Shoes?

Ankle boots, I don’t know why, I just prefer them, maybe just less formal.

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

www.benrileyart.com
www.facebook.com/benrileyart
Insta @benrileyart

I love all your artwork Ben, but I think my favourite out of the photos I’ve published is the one of Mick Jagger – I love the facial expression and how you’ve captured it to a T.  Dear readers, What do you think of this art medium? Which of Ben’s artwork do you like best & why?  Do share your views!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Ben Riley. Photographer: Ben Riley.

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An Interview With A Healing Spirit

Originally from Rochester, New York – now residing in San Jose, California – my guest this week is Carol Cassara whose business, A Healing Spirit, opened its doors in April 2017.  A Healing Spirit provides loving support for healing of all kinds.  Loving support including everything from products such as journals, tapes , through to  hypnotherapy sessions, past life regressions and between life regressions.  Her kind words have been appreciated  and given comfort to many, including myself.  She’s a healing spirit indeed … and I am honoured to welcome Carol onto the blog. Hi Carol!

Hi! I’m Carol. I’m a writer, a former corporate exec and consultant and a free spirit who goes through any door that opens. Or at least peeks in!

What inspired you to open your business, A Healing Spirit?

My closest friend battled cancer for 6 years. During one of her hospitalizations I put together a crude little box of affirmations. She loved them and told me outright I needed to make and market them. After she died, in her honor I developed two decks of beautiful affirmations and two supportive guided journals to help people who are battling disease and trying to heal and those who are grieving. She is with me every step of the way from the other side.

What are the main objectives & benefits of A Healing Spirit?

I provide products and services that lovingly support those who are healing. Many scientific studies show that we do better when we feed our mind positives and also when we express our feelings about our situation. For example, one study showed that breast cancer patients who wrote about their feelings about heir disease had about 35 % fewer symptoms and cancer-related doctor visits. Other studies on expressive writing had similar results. I based my products on that scientific research. But some people don’t like to write or don’t know how. That’s why each page of the journals has a prompt or an activity. Something to respond to or to do. And instead of writing, you can draw, collage, paint—whatever. One day I believe this kind of activity will be prescribed by doctors—maybe not in my lifetime, but in time, as more and more studies begin to show and understand the way the mind can help the body heal.

 

You are also a hypnotherapist – available via Skype or in person if you happen to live in the San Jose area. Could you describe a typical Skype hypnotherapist session? What could a customer expect?

Hypnotherapy can be an effective way to address anxiety, flight phobias, chronic pain, prep for surgery and even to support chemotherapy. There’s no magic about it—it’s simply a form of guided imagery and it helps us turn off our conscious mind so that we can communicate with our subconscious. The idea is to repattern thinking to support healing. Skype is very effective because hypnosis is all about following the hypnotherapist’s voice. With earbuds in, there is absolutely no way to not follow the voice. It can be even more effective than in person, actually. The client doesn’t even need to see me but I need to see them waist up to monitor their breathing and eye movement. Actually, I plan to be in London this summer and could see Londoners one on one! 😉

I love the pre recorded downloadable audio tapes available to give support to cancer patients as they endure chemotherapy; to help those in chronic pain to manage their pain; to give guided imagery to those suffering from grief; and even support for those suffering from anxiety or insomnia. What are the benefits of the audio treatment?

It’s similar to hypnotherapy, only not customized. Still quite helpful and effective. You can download on your device and listen any time. The chemo support audio is particularly good to use during any kind of treatment to help your mind support your body’s healing. It’s an extra step that those in treatment can do in addition to their chemo or radiation. A few months ago I worked with a hynptherapy client who was to have a painful surgery. He not only went into surgery anxiety-free but emerged pain-free! The doctor kept pushing opiods on him and he kept telling the doctor “But I have no pain.” The topper was that he healed so quickly that the doc released him from care early, saying he was healed already. The mind is powerful and hypnosis is an effective way to put it to work to support health and well being.

Tell me about your guided journals, “A Guided Journal For Healing” and “A Guided Journal through Grief”

Both of the guided journals like workbooks with writing prompts and activities—the Guided Journal for Healing is for those battling a big disease or condition. It helps them express their feelings about their disease in a private way and it also contains helpful activities, ideas and meditations. The Guided Journal through Grief is for those who have lost a loved one. It allows you to say the things you might not have said and to remember the beautiful things. Customers find them helpful and that reaffirms my commitment to supporting those who are healing from anything.

Out of all the services you offer on A Healing Spirit, what services are most popular?

The beautiful, thoughtful gift packages. I offer two sizes of supportive condolence gifts and two sizes of gifts for those who are healing. They’re beautiful, helpfull, different and affordable. I offer free US shipping and discount shipping to most other countries, including most in Europe. I’ve had positive feedback from customers who have given them as gifts—the recipients have had great things to say. I have some testimonials at the bottom of AHealingSpirit.org A close second is hypnotherapy, especially fear of flying, fibromyalgia pain/chronic pain and anxiety. I’d love to work with more chronic pain and chemo patients anywhere in the world— hypnotherapy can be a big help in supporting treatment.

You have worked in corporate businesses in the heart of Silicon Valley, as well as being trained in hypnotherapy and being a successful blogger/writer; but growing up though, did you inspire to follow your eventual career path or did you have other ambitions?

I really wanted to be a journalist! And that was my original college major. Then I wanted to teach college. I ended up on the corporate side but did freelance journalism and I have taught at the university and college level on and off since grad school. The best of all worlds.My career has been varied and interesting. Joan Rivers once said “I was smart enough to go through any door that opened” and I think I’ve done the same.

 

Although you are based in the USA, are your products & sessions available overseas?

Yes absolutely. Skype is perfect for hypnotherapy and I discount product shipping to many countries.

I know that you are a lover of travel & that you have been to many exotic locations around the world. Where has been your favourite location so far? Least favourite/ most disappointing? What place is number one on your current bucket list?

I loved Morocco and had a love/hate experience in India. I am definitely a Europhile and could live in London. I did spend a month living in Rome once. It was amazing. And my trip to Paris last year—maybe my sixth or seventh, I’ve lost count– was the best! I am always up for going somewhere new but the temptation is to go back to old favorites that I love. Australia and New Zealand are on my list for ’19.

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

That’s hilarious because I work at home 75% of the time. So leggings or jeans and a tunic top are my go to outfits. Sometimes, like now, I’m actually in my PJs. 😉 I love a calf length skirt and boots or leggings if I’m going out to speak.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

None in particular but I do haunt your site all the time and admire the shoes and boots!

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

I would like a really cool duster, calf length. I don’t really have many wishes I haven’t been able to fulfill. My California life is so casual!

Boots or Shoes?

I adore boots. I just like how they look! But my feet have become more like bricks at this age so fit is always an issue.

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

My products and services can be found at AHealingSpirit.org and there I have a blog (see the BLOG tab up top), too, with interesting guest bloggers and supportive posts. Subscribers to my every-so-often newsletter get exclusive discounts and gifts –see the home page subscription button. I don’t believe in bombarding subscribers with emails—just every so often.

Also: I am happy to offer your readers a discount on any Skype hypnotherapy. Or past life regressions, which we haven’t talked about and can also be a healing modality. Anyone interested in learning more about any of it can mention your blog when they contact me if they want the discount: carol@ahealingspirit.org

Oh Carol, thank you so much for offering blog readers a discount! You’re so kind and I hope to catch up with you when you are in London.  I really like the idea of keeping a journal or doing some artwork to aid healing or to help overcome grief. I know people who embark on “projects” to help in the grieving process …. dear readers, what would you pursue to help aid healing? Do share your thoughts!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Carol Cassara, apart from the last photo (for Pinterest) which was taken by Linda Hobden.

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An Interview With Rufus Publications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has been the most popular publication so far?

AC/DC followed by Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

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

What has been your favourite book to date?

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

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

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

A spread from the forthcoming Peter Green book

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jeans, t-shirts and converse boots.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

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

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. They’re chunkier!

Links to follow & discover Rufus Publications:

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

For pinning later

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

Linda x

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

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

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An Interview With Little Bits Of Bling

Time for a bit of bling this week on the blog and I’m so pleased to welcome Allie of Little Bits of Bling.  I came across Allie and her wonderful Etsy shop via Twitter a while ago. I was mesmerised by her range of lockets and aromatherapy jewellery. As usual I wanted to know more about the jewellery and Allie agreed to spill the beans…

Hi, my name is Allie , I live in the South West with my hubby and son and I am the owner and designer at Little Bits of Bling.

What was behind your choice to concentrate on floating locket & aromatherapy jewellery?

I love how versatile the floating lockets are and the fact you can swap charms around really appealed to me, oh and I’m a bit of a magpie too, so the fact they were very sparkly helped! The aromatherapy lockets came later whilst looking for new floating lockets – I came across these and thought they would make a great addition whilst keeping the locket theme.

I love the “Locket Bracelet” and the “Oil Diffuser Stainless steel Incense Lockets”. To date, what has been your most popular jewellery item?

My most popular item is actually my photo charm. I can shrink down your photos and make them into a floating charm which people seem to love, especially pet owners, I’ve done more animals than humans!

What’s your most favourite item in your collection?

My favourite is the cuff bangle, I’m wearing that with Christmas charms in at the moment.

Each piece is so lovely, yet fragile – have you any tips on how best you can look after your floating locket jewellery pieces?

They do have a glass front, so for keyrings I do advise not to use with bunches of keys so as not to break the front. They can also show up fingerprints from opening and swapping charms so a quick wipe with a micro fibre cloth works great.

How do you go about ordering a floating locket? Can the lockets be personalised?

I have a website, www.littlebitsofbling.co.uk. They can be personalised as far as the charms you add to the locket, I currently have over 300 on the website, I can also personalise the backgrounds that sit behind the charms with words or a picture of your choice.

As Little Bits of Bling is based in England, are your pieces available to purchase worldwide?

Yes I offer international shipping on all of my lockets.

Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a different career path whilst growing up?

I never really had a career in mind when I left school so because of that I have had many different jobs. At the moment Little Bits of Bling is something I do between my day job and looking after my son. I have always had a love for the sparkly things in life so jewellery seemed the obvious choice.

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

Oh I’m definitely a jeans and trainers kind of girl.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I tend to stick to the high street and usually shop in Next, New Look and Matalan.

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

A complete new outfit for my hubby’s Christmas party next month.

Boots or Shoes?

Oh trainers and my sketchers for sure, I love to be comfy and can’t really do heels!

 

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Little Bits Of Bling.

www.littlebitsofbling.co.uk
www.facebook.com/blinglittlebits
www.instagram.com/littlebitsofbling

Thank you Allie – your little bits of bling are truly delightful.  It is interesting to note that animal photos for the photo charms are more popular than the humans! Interesting but not surprising! My youngest son is always taking photos of our cats and he prints them off and proudly displays them in his room! I have a habit of always photographing mountains/scenery … dear readers, what do you tend to photograph most? Selfies? Bling? Family? Pets? I’d be interested to know so do drop me a comment …

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission of Little Bits Of Bling.

 

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Introducing Boomer On The Ledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which Boomer On The Ledge antic is your personal favourite?

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

What do you hope your readers get from this book?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

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

Boots or Shoes?

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

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

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

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

Linda x

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

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An Interview With Akosee

Whilst the  days in the northern hemisphere in November are getting colder, those countries that straddle the tropics and those countries south of the Equator are welcoming the sun – so now seems to be a perfect time to introduce onto my blog the Singapore based resortwear brand, Akosee. Ana, the founder, hails from Australia  and she has designed a range of resortwear that draws inspiration from the beaches of Australia, Maldives, St Tropez & Goa.   Launching her latest collection this week, “The Elements”, Ana has once again produced a stunning collection that can be worn all year round, both on holiday and in everyday life. I managed to catch up with the busy lady to find out more about her latest collection… hi Ana!

Hi! I’m Ana, the head designer and founder of luxury resort wear brand Akosée.

What inspired you to set up Akosée?

My travels have been a huge inspiration in the creation of the brand, but starting a new life chapter has been my main inspiration. Enrolling in a Diploma of Fashion Design and Technology was the start of a dream becoming a reality. The thrill of learning something new was a huge motivation and from there, the first Akosée collection was born.

Have you always had a passion for fashion, or did you have other career aspirations when you were younger?

When I was younger I wanted to work in travel mainly because of a desire to travel, so I’ve been lucky enough to travel for pleasure as much as I have. But yes, I’ve always had a love and appreciation of beautiful, effortless clothes and that’s exactly why I created Akosée.

I love the Kaftanna green Paisley dress & the leather tie belt! What items are proving popular amongst your customers?

Our dresses and kaftans are always really popular as they are versatile, throw-on pieces that can easily be worn by the pool, beach or bar so there’s endless styling options. The most popular items from our first collection have been the Blue Mosaic Kaftanna and the Pink Mosaic BeachLyd.

Tell me about your new collection 🙂

Our new collection, The Elements, has been designed with comfort and style in mind and to be more versatile so we aren’t just limited to beachwear but rather offering a summer style element so that the garments can also be used for every day wear. The Elements should be seen as a capsule collection of everything you would need on a holiday, relaxed beach cover ups, casual shorts and top sets, no-iron travelling clothes and smarter dresses for evening and lunches. There’s plenty of mix and match separates that are great for different occasions, from a weekend brunch to easy everyday wear.

Out of all the outfits in your collection, do you have any favourites?

I can’t possibly say a favourite! We’ve got some amazing new styles coming soon in our latest collection so there’s always lots of new styles to get excited about.

Your travels around the world have left you with plenty of inspiration for your collections – Australia, Maldives, St Tropez & Goa – as well as pop up shops in glam spots such as Monaco and Singapore. So, what place is on the top of your travel bucket list?

I’d love to go to Machu Picchu in Peru and see something totally different. I haven’t been that far afield yet.

Which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of Akosee?

I have always loved Nicole Richie’s style, elegant with a touch of cool. She’s probably busy being the face of her own label though!

What new items are in the pipeline?

We have recently produced some luxury hand printed beach bags, made exclusively for Akosée in Bali, a beautiful matching tweed shorts and jacket set as well as dresses for day and evening, shorts, skirts, tops and more!

Your company is registered in Singapore, are your products available to purchase worldwide?

Yes, all styles on www.akosee.com can be shipped worldwide within 2 days of receiving the order. The delivery time depends on the courier company though! We offer free shipping in Singapore too.

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

Our collections are constantly being developed to cater to our audience around the world and the luxurious fabrics we source mean that our customers can enjoy wearing something that is unique, relaxed and comfortable whilst looking stylish too! We always welcome feedback from our customers so this information often gives us some direction when creating new collections.

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

Silk shorts, I love tailored silk shorts.

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

I enjoy shopping on Net-a-Porter and FarFetch for designer pieces and I also like looking for bespoke vintage pieces such as accessories to mix my outfits up a little.

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

Red Velvet Yves St Laurent boots for winter!

Boots or Shoes?

Living in Singapore, the only way to go is sandals! That said, for evening I’ll wear heeled espadrilles, wedges or high heels from Jimmy Choo. I’m a fan of white trainers for day time too.

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

To shop the Akosée collection you can visit www.akosee.com or follow us on our social media channels here:

Facebook @akoseethreads – https://www.facebook.com/Akoseethreads/

Instagram @akoseethreads – https://www.instagram.com/Akoseethreads/

Twitter @akoseethreads – https://twitter.com/Akoseethreads

I hope your new collection is a success, Ana! I love the idea of a capsule holiday wardrobe – however I do tend to overpack still.  I found on holiday this year my most useful and worn item were my pink sparkly espadrilles – for beach through to bar at night! I nearly left them at home but decided to pack them at the last minute! Dear readers, what item of footwear or clothing did you find most versatile on holiday?  Did you pack anything that you didn’t wear or use? Do share your stories, I’d love to know.

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Akosee.

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Spotlight On PEMF Therapy

Pain. How do you relieve pain?  After an operation, how do you cope with the pain that comes with healing? Do you use medicinal drugs or mind over matter or do you use PEMF ( Pulse Electro Magnetic Field) Therapy? New Med Ltd is a subsidiary of Bedfont Scientific Limited, a company established in Harrietsham, Kent, in 1976 that specialises in exhaled breath and gas monitors  for use in the medical industry. The New Med Division  deals primarily with its hugely successful range of PEMF therapy systems as well as focusing on increasing awareness of PEMF Theory.  The New Med division was introduced by Andy Smith in 2014 after he discovered first-hand the benefits of PEMF therapy. I caught up with Andy, who is Head of Sales, to find out more about PEMF Therapy….

Hi Andy …please introduce NewMed Ltd 🙂

NewMed is the UK’s one-stop-shop for Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy devices. It is our mission to promote the benefits of PEMF’s through independent and unbiased advice. Our vision is to improve quality of life through safe and effective, drug-free pain relief.

What attracted NewMed to concentrate on PEMF therapy systems?

I  had heard about PEMF therapy from my father. After suffering from sudden unbearable stomach pain, I was diagnosed with a hernia and also umbilical abscess (an infection from an ingrown hair). 2 days later, I underwent stomach surgery but the surgery led to further complications. Left with an open wound that became infected, I was still in pain despite taking strong pain medication. I was prescribed antibiotics to fight the infection however I was on a cocktail of medication which in turn only led to more stomach pain and cramps. After using PEMF therapy, I  couldn’t believe how quickly  I started to see and feel results. The wound started to clear up and heal properly and the pain was less every day. Within a week I was off the antibiotics and painkillers.  I continued PEMF therapy for weeks and when I went to my final follow up meeting with the surgeon, they looked at the scar and told me that they were not expecting to see what I had showed them. They told me that following the infection, they were worried about more medical intervention to clean the wound properly if the infection did not clear, but instead they were looking at a completely healed scar that looked like it was done a year ago – not 2 months! After such a positive experience using PEMF therapy, I thought there would be no better advocate for it in the UK and that’s how NewMed began.

Wow, so Andy, what is PEMF therapy?

PEMF (Pulsed ElectroMagnetic Field) therapy replicates and uses the Earth’s magnetic fields in a concentrated manner to provide non-invasive and drug-free pain relief. PEMF therapy stimulates cellular repair to improve your body’s overall performance and has many benefits such as improving recovery time, pain-relief and sleep. PEMF may sound like a new technology but it has been safely and effectively used throughout Europe for more than 50 years. Thousands of studies including those by NASA and King’s College London have proven the benefits of PEMF therapy; it is widely used for improved health and enhanced performance of people and animals around the world.

Could you describe a typical therapy session?

A typical therapy session starts off by switching the PEMF therapy device on and either lying on the PEMF therapy mat or placing the device on the area you wish to treat, depending on the device you have. You would then select the desired program to suit your needs and sit back and relax for 30 minutes. Again this all depends on the device you are using as some devices are portable so you can carry on with your day to day activities whilst the therapy is on, and different devices and program times vary.

What are the benefits of PEMF therapy?

– Pain Relief
– Sleep Management
– Mental Sharpness
– Relaxation

Having experienced PEMF therapy and discovered its benefits first-hand, which product from NewMed Ltd  do you feel was most beneficial?

When I first discovered PEMF therapy  I used the Magnetovital PEMF therapy mat, and  I still use this every night before I go to sleep. I have also used the FlexPulse for sporting injuries and found this to be as beneficial.

What advice would you give to somebody considering PEMF therapy?

Purchasing a PEMF device for yourself or your family is an important investment in your health, but determining which system may be best for your individual needs can seem overwhelming. We have a variety of devices, to try and meet peoples need. We suggest that you contact us so we can discuss what would work best for you.

Is PEMF therapy suitable for everybody?

PEMF therapy is drug-free and non-invasive. It has been safely and effectively used throughout Europe for more than 50 years, an exception to this is if you use a pacemaker or similar device, as PEMF devices could interfere with them.

Although you are based in the UK, is PEMF therapy available overseas?

Yes PEMF therapy is available overseas – it is already well established in Germany and America. We work very closely with Dr William Pawluk, MD, MSc, a Board-Certified Family Physician and a leading voice on PEMF in the US.

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

I enjoy boxing and going to the gym. I am currently training for the 2018 London Marathon.

Boots Or Shoes?

Shoes, most definitely shoes – I don’t own any boots!

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

www.newmedltd.co.uk
https://twitter.com/NewMedLtd
https://www.instagram.com/newmedltd/
https://www.facebook.com/newmedltd/

Thank you Andy – I wasn’t 100% familiar with PEMF Therapy but your results speak wonders for the therapy and I am happy to know of alternatives to manage pain that work!  I wish you lots of luck with the London Marathon too! My only real experience of operations was, like Andy, an umbilical hernia at the age of 18 months (scar still visible after 50 years) and a Caesarian section 10 years ago (scar barely visible!) Advancement in medicines and operation procedures have certainly changed vastly over the years.  So, dear readers, have you ever had the need to use PEMF therapy? What are your thoughts about medical advancements? Do share your thoughts, I would love to know!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Andy Smith & New Med Ltd.

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An Interview With Author Simon J Stephens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

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

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

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

Boots Or Shoes?

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

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

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

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

Linda x

All photos published with kind permission of Simon J Stephens.

 

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An Interview With Canine Chic

In the past I have interviewed and been wowed by many jewellery designers – from pearls to silicone; silver to diamonds – we’ve read them all!  This week though we are talking about our lovable pooches and their jewellery needs  – yes, that’s right – jewellery for dogs!  My guest, Sarah Eyton is a designer and creative director of “Canine Chic of London”  specialising in pug pendants – luxurious and stylish identity pendants for dogs (and their owners).  I caught up with Sarah to find out more…. hi Sarah!

Hi! My name is Sarah Eyton (pronounced Eye Ton). I am a jewellery and fashion accessories designer from London.

What was the inspiration behind your choice to make pug pendants?

The idea came to me about a year ago, due to clients requests and realising a gap in the market. Within my profession as a jewellery designer, I had often been asked if I could work to varying types of commission. Several customers were asking if I could design and make personalised identity discs for their dogs’ collars. They were asking because they had searched everywhere for beautiful and stylish ID discs to adorn their loved ones’ necks but the search for them had not been fruitful. They’d looked and they couldn’t find anything that came close to what they were searching for – unique designer pendants that complimented or expressed their sartorial aspirations for their four legged friends. Equally important, they often wanted matching ones to wear themselves. They are called PugPendants because my first client was a Pug owner – the name just seemed sweet and appropriate.

Your pug pendants have been promoted by UK based celebrity dogs, including Marcel LeCorgi, Miss Marple, Monty the Frenchie & Coco the Frenchie. I’m fascinated by the Zodiac discs! To date, what has been your most popular pug pendant style?

Yes, I’m very fortunate to have attracted the support from some of the most famous dogs in the U.K! So far the most popular PugPendants are the individual star sign discs – most people know their Dog’s birthday and many owners are getting their own specific zodiac pendant to match. They make a lovely gift, as they come with a little printed scroll depicting the Personality traits of that particular Star sign.

Each piece is so lovely and unique – available in 24K yellow or rose gold plate with a crystal colour choice – where do you find inspiration from for the range of dog tag designs?

I am inspired by sacred geometry. The ‘Oracle’ and ‘Starburst’ PugPendant designs are both derived from this. Then I have fun with the colours of the crystals. Swarovski have such an amazing colour range.

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

All PugPendants are shipped worldwide which is included in the purchase price.

Do you own a dog (or any other pet)?

I have a lovely cat called Eden! It may seem strange to design for dogs when I don’t have one but the truth is if I had my own – he would have been my model and my Muse, so I would never have met all these wonderful dogs and their Humans. They guide me a lot in the creative process by identifying what (in an ideal world) they would want for their furry friends and I can remain (slightly) objective.

You are also a “human” jewellery designer. Have you always been interested in jewellery or did you hope to follow a different career path whilst growing up?

I was a Professional Actress from the age of 14 till 26.
I thought that I would always do that, however in my mid twenties, my circumstances changed. I decided to do a Art foundation, which led to a BA Hons in 3 dimensional design and silversmithing at Brighton University. I consider myself fortunate to have been very involved in many aspects of design, from interiors to furniture and homewares. However, the last 8 years have been focussed on designing jewellery and fashion accessories, including handbags – and now dog apparel!

Your jewellery collection features a lot of Perspex bangles as well as other materials such as aluminium, precious metals, silver & gold. Why do you enjoy using Perspex, over other materials?

I love Perspex! The colours and its versatility. When I first started there wasn’t many fashion people designing with it and laser engraving was in its infancy. I felt like a pioneer and wanted to explore this arena. I wanted to change the impression people had of plastics being seen as landfill – obviously some is and that is a real problem! However, branded Perspex is about 3 x the price of glass, so I consider it a luxury material and treat it as such. As they are handmade, none of my pieces are mass produced.

Are there other canine chic pieces in the pipeline for the future?

So many ideas, so little time! I have a whole new range of products for dogs (and occasionally their humans) in production, mainly to be released in time for Christmas and next year.

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

I love heels but they have to be comfortable. I’m better with quite tailored clothes and have to look fairly smart for meetings etc but am more casual at home.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I pick up most pieces in the High Street stores like TopShop and Zara etc but occasionally get a versatile designer piece to dress things up.

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

I really need some smart winter day boots to walk around town in.

Boots or Shoes?

I’m afraid it has to be both. It’s a London weather thing…boots in winter and shoes during our short and unpredictable summer…
I like ankle boots to wear with jeans etc and higher boots with skirts.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Canine Chic and your own jewellery collection.

Canine Chic of London is on www.caninechicoflondon.co.uk also please follow on Instagram, as that’s where the day to day stuff happens @caninechicoflondon 

My Perspex jewellery and handbags is at www.saraheytondesigns.co.uk and on Instagram I am @saraheyton

Thank you Sarah! I’m fascinated by the zodiac pendants for dogs! I wonder if pets exhibit the same characteristics as humans born under the same star sign?! I don’t have dogs but I do have 2 cats who were both born at the end of July, making them Leos. You certainly know they are there, they enjoy being made a fuss of and they love being brushed …. hmm.. just like my Leo born husband and son! What star sign are your pets? Do they show any characteristics usually linked with that star sign? Do share your opinions, I’d love to know!

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission from Sarah Eyton/ Canine Chic of London.

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