Category Archives: Interview

An Interview With DJ China L’One

Today would have been my dad’s birthday and as my dad was a great music fan, I think he would have loved reading about my guest on the blog this week.  The utterly gorgeous DJ China L’One is gracing my blog – she is a top international female DJ as well as being CEO/Founder of London’s 1st All Female DJ agency.  Did I mention she is drop dead gorgeous too?! I couldn’t wait to ask the stylish diva some questions…. Hi China !

Hi! My name is DJ China L’One, I am an International Female DJ, and the Founder and CEO of London based No1 all female dj agency “We Run The World Female DJ Agency”.

What inspired you to become a DJ and also, what inspired you to start London’s first all female DJ agency, “We Run The World Female DJ Agency”?

It all began when I was unexpectedly invited to take the DJ position at a friend’s birthday party in 2000. The crowd just loved the music and the vibe my presence gave that I was inspired to take DJing up as a way of earning money. Since then my profile became more public but I soon realised there was not an agency that catered for solely female DJ’s like myself. And so I began to build up my own agency, independent  and hard-working as I am!

The music you play includes funk, R & B, hip hop, house, remixes, classic commercial sounds –  but do you have a favourite music genre?

I grew up listening to POP music, so I don’t have a favourite music genre per se. If the music is “popping” it’s a big tune! Hehehe.

You have performed at many of London’s top clubs such as the Ministry of Sound, Pacha, No 5 Cavendish Square – to name a few – do you stick rigidly to a set playlist or are you able to ascertain the mood of an audience and adapt accordingly? 

I never set a playlist, I play accordingly to the crowd and audience.  I read the crowd, based on their age, and the type of event.

What are the highs and lows about being a DJ?

The highs are getting to DJ for super cool brands, events, venues and travelling to different locations in the world. The lows have been when business is quiet and you are just waiting for gigs. .

Growing up, have you always wanted to be a DJ or did you have other aspirations?

Growing up, I wanted to become a singer, actress or dancer. I want to the famous Itali Conti Theatre school when I was 16 years old. I have recorded a few songs and have featured on other artist songs in the past. I did go to acting school as a teenager.

You have DJ’d in Norway, Sweden, Germany, Ibiza, Italy, India & on luxury cruise ships! Do you have a favourite party destination?  Is there any place in the world where you’d love to DJ but haven’t done yet?

I would  love to Dj in Las Vegas one day.

We all have our favourites…but what music genre are you not so keen on? 

I am not so keen on Trance music.

Apart from being a DJ, you published an e-book called “You Are What You Think” – a book about the importance of confidence and going after your dreams. You have certainly had the confidence to go after your dreams. What advice would you give to young aspiring female DJs?

Be single minded.

There are no rules to the game. Do it your way and with your own style.

Understand that some people will like and love you and others will not, and that is fine.

Do not change who you are as a person, your personality is very important as a whole.

Know your music. Knowing your music is more important then being able to beat-match a song to keep your guests dancing.

Don’t try to be like any other DJ, just be you!

Work hard and the right people will find you!

Although you are based in London, do you and your agency accept jobs worldwide? 

We are based in London, but work with clients worldwide, hence why we are named, “We Run The World Female DJ Agency”  hahaha!

Tell us a bit more about your clothing line. What inspired you to launch your own brand?

I wanted to create something where people can be confident about what they are about. For example, my t-shirts bear quotations that portray power-thinking messages. It was a venture that led me to sell products on-line.

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

I am super feminine so you will always catch me wearing a colourful dress, skirt or event shorts. I love wearing bright colours like red, yellow, and orange. I also love wearing different types of hats, together with jewellery and fashion accessories.

I love wearing heels, got to have a bit of heels at least, and of-course colourful shoes. I try to get away from wearing black if I can help it.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I do love Boohoo online, they do have some amazing colourful clothes and super cool accessories. You can also catch me at charity shops. You would be amazed at some of the coolest hats or bags, that you’d never see elsewhere. .

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

Errmm, I want to buy some pink, and orange open toes shoes, and a white hand-bag. I do like wearing white but its hard to find really pretty white shoes or a stylish white bag – you have to look hard to find them.

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes!  Shoes makes me feel sexy and slightly taller ha ha!

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.femaledjagency.com

https://www.facebook.com/Djchinalone/

https://www.instagram.com/djchinalone/

https://twitter.com/djchinalone

Thanks for sharing an insight into your DJ life and I love that you adore wearing bright coloured clothes too! I try to avoid black although I have to wear black for work.  I prefer navy blue if I have to wear a dark colour.  Keep on spinning those discs China! 🙂

Linda x

All photos are published with kind permission from China L’One.

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One In Eight Men

Prostate Cancer.  Did you know that in the UK, about 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives? It is the most common form of cancer in men in the UK.  Prostate Cancer is killing more men than breast cancer in the UK, according to latest 2018 figures published in February. Women have screening for breast cancer and this is one reason why mortality rates for prostate cancer are now higher than breast cancer – there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer and research into prostate cancer lags about 20 years behind that for breast cancer.

What is the prostate?  Basically it is a gland about the size and shape of a walnut, sitting underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra. It’s main job is to help make semen.

Unfortunately it is often symptomless at first – in later stages it can cause pain, difficulty in urination, sexual intercourse problems & erectile dysfunction.  The cancer cells can spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes.

The average age for men to be diagnosed is between 65 & 69. Men under 50 can get it, but it isn’t that common.  Risk factors include: being male; aged over 50; having a father/brother who has had prostate cancer; having a mother/sister who has had breast cancer; if you are black – 1 in 4 black men are at risk, although the reasons why has not been discovered as yet but it may be connected to genes.

Prostate Cancer UK is the UK national charity looking to spread awareness about this cancer and this year my husband Adam is doing bike rides on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, trying to raise money and awareness.  I interviewed Adam to find out more…

Adam, on June 23rd 2018 you are taking part in cycling the first stage of the Tour De France , on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK. What made you decide to take part?

I’m a man of a certain age and Prostate Cancer worries me. If I can do something to help those who are suffering or will be suffering in the future by pursuing a hobby I enjoy, then I’m more than willing to take part. I’m an avid Tour de France fan and having the opportunity to ride a stage of the Tour de France which my cycling heroes will be racing a week later, is a worthwhile challenge and a chance to make a bit of a difference.

Also on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK, you are riding in the Prudential London Ride 100, at the end of July, which you have ridden before. What are the toughest parts of the course?

Leith Hill. Absolutely Leith Hill. It is a very narrow and steep section of the road and it gets congested with people walking and pushing their bikes instead of riding, so it does become a challenge to maintain enough momentum to stay upright.

How are you preparing for the rides?

By riding lots. It’s all about hours in the saddle and the miles. Training up to 75% of both distances up to the events and lowering the mileage a week before.

Have you got other rides on your bucket list for the future?

If I tell you that  you won’t let me go! LOL! I quite fancy the Granfondo Campagnolo Roma ….darling! 😉 Maybe one day a mountain stage of the Tour de France rather than a flat stage, but I would need to lose a few pounds first!

What do you enjoy most about cycling?

I enjoy the exercise, my cycling companions, the noticeable fitness improvements, sense of achievement after finishing long rides, being outside & enjoying the environment.  I don’t enjoy busy roads and close passes.

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

Besides tight figure hugging Lycra …. cargo shorts, t shirts and trainers.  However, I do wear a 3 piece suit and Jeffrey West boots on occasions!

Favourite Shops/Online Sites:

Wiggle (online);  Cycle Evolution, a local bike shop in Colchester.

Boots or Shoes?

Trainers generally; flip flops in the summer; boots when I’m poshing up!

Links you wish to share:

http://adamhobden.com

 

Linda x

Photos: Linda & Adam Hobden

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An Interview With Lina Usma

I’m pleased to welcome onto my blog, the lovely Lina Usma, who runs the largest newspaper in London for the Spanish speaking Latin American community.  Originally from Colombia, Lina has lived in London for over 20 years and has been active in the local community. I wanted to ask Lina some questions about her newspaper and her career as a journalist … as well as her fashion tastes! Hi Lina and welcome!

Hi! I am  Lina Usma (short version of Lina Maria Ospina Usma) I was born in Colombia, in the beautiful city of Manizales, I am wife  ( not much a housewife!) a mother and a professional working woman.

What was it like growing up in Colombia?

I grew up in a matriarchal family with 3 mothers:  My mum, my auntie and my cousin all full of love, passion, hardworking and warm hearts.  Although there was no paternal figure in my house I have an uncle, but my mum was the dominant role in the household.  She passed away in 2012 and even in the last days of her illness, she was so strong and wise. I married quite young, to a great guy, who is very passionate about life. We have a beautiful daughter who is my proudest achievement – maybe all mothers say that, but for me personally she represents all that my mothers taught me about being a woman:  strong, professional, independent with a good heart and determination to do something good with her life.

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

In 1996 we travelled to the UK, looking for a better opportunities for our family. We were a young couple with a baby. At the beginning it was quite difficult, adapting to the new city especially the weather and the society, as we come from a place where you can talk with someone in  the street without any prejudice, but here  even approaching someone to ask for directions was so difficult (remember 20 years ago there was not google maps). But as time passed and we worked our way through life, like many other people doing different jobs that we have never done in our lives:  like a waitress, cleaners, shop assistants etc.

What made you decide to launch Extra International?

I studied business management in Colombia, but here in London my profession focuses around media; together with my husband William we started a magazine as a business investment, since then we have run other publications and other related projects such  as Extra International newspaper which is now the most popular publication in the Spanish speaking communities in London.  I am an editor and journalist, and as my mother always said never stop learning”, and as a way of respect with the profession and colleagues,  I studied Media and Journalism in East London University, to learn and be able to do my job in a more efficient way.  

What do you enjoy most about running a newspaper?

One of the most interesting things about working in media is the opportunity to meet interesting people and talk to them on a level of closeness, where they can feel confident to talk and open up for more questions. I had the opportunity to interview figures like Shakira, Celia Cruz, Michael Schumacher ex F1 driver, Boris Johnson former Mayor of London, some presidents such as Juan Manuel Santos from Colombia.  I met  Hugo Chavez; writers  like  Isabel Allende and Vargas Llosa; Cressida Dick,head of Scotland Yard Police; also so many other important and relevant  personalities, which is a privilege in this profession.  Running a newspaper is challenging, especially in the world we are living now with the multimedia. I was very much into writing and editing writing articles – not so much visually;  but  today journalists need to have a digital presence so I am still learning how to deal with the cameras and lights, but it is interesting and you learn every day something new, especially when working with new technologies and devices.

Another string to your bow is your radio station. How did that come about?

To be able to reach other audiences and create an online presence, I started a radio show called “Mujeres al Dia“  (Women Today) which also has its own blog/website.   The aim of the show is to give voice to all fantastic women doing great things out there. I believe everyone has something to tell and that is why I am so happy to host this radio-show.

You are involved in many projects, apart from your job. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Besides my job, I have been involved in many projects related to our Latin communities, migrants and women. I  am a trustee member for Su Mano Amigo  ONG  providing support for victims of domestic violence in the UK,  also I am a trustee in FUNDAV an ONG  giving support for people suffering rare diseases in Colombia.

And in the last local elections in London,  I was a candidate with the Green Party. We came second in our ward, which was a great experience for me and put a frame to ideas and projects I have supported all my life.

Talking about myself is not easy, as usually I am the one asking questions but this interview has to help me a lot to review what  I have done in life!   

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

I wear a lot red and black. My daughter is trying to sort my clothes with different colours! 

Do you have any favourite shops or online stores?  

London is a city where you can find lots of different trends and the most importantly,  is that you can wear whatever you like! I am not a fan yet of buying online – I prefer to go to shops wandering around, trying before I buy.  

Boots or Shoes?

Forever shoes! I am always in high heels and for me, it is just a basic in my wardrobe. I can’t get used to walking in trainers, and I leave boots just for very cold winter days.

Want to know more?

If you would like to know more about me and my work you can follow us

www.extramedia1.com

www.mujeresaldia.co.uk

Thank you for answering my questions Lina … I hope it wasn’t too bad an experience! 🙂

Linda x

All photographs published with kind permission of Lina Usma.

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An Interview With Questlog

When I was younger, I used to collect pamphlets, tickets, postcards and all other paraphernalia, along with photographs, to stick in a photo album/scrapbook – memories of a holiday.  Nowadays, the urge to collect memories is still there … but the time to lovingly make up a photo album is not.  That is why I’m thrilled to welcome onto my blog, Frederic… he makes innovative storage memory boxes to keep your travel trip memorabilia in one place and they look more stylish than a row of photo albums taking up space in the loft! Hi Frederic!…

Hi, I’m Frederic,  I’m 29 and originally from the beautiful Black Forest in southwest Germany, where I am also producing the Questlogs. Some days of the week however, I live, study and work in Munich where I also got my business degree.

What exactly is a Questlog?

Functionally speaking, Questlogs are storage boxes for keepsakes collected while travelling. All those tickets, bottlecaps, leaflets, seashells and other souvenirs can find a place in a Questlog. However, on another level, Questlogs are instruments for preserving, enriching and sharing intercultural travel experience. They direct attention on the connection of geography, culture, experience as well as their anchors and manifestationsin the physical world.

What inspired you to start your company, Questlog?

Before I went to Taiwan for an exchange semester in 2013, I was looking for a good gift to bring that had some connection to Germany. Unfortunately, most stuff I could find were products that represented shallow stereotypes or were plain ugly souvenirs. Speaking of, many times when I came back from a trip and wanted to bring some gifts for friends, family and myself, I was staggered by the amounts of plasticky-miniature-landmark-keychain-scrap on display in tourist locations and airports. At the same time, I realized that “the best” souvenirs by definition were all those small items like tickets, bottlecaps etc. and that there was a lack of some attractive way to present them.  Combine those thoughts with the observation that people (me included) seemed to like collecting Starbucks cups, Hard-Rock Café shirts and similar universally designed object with local variations and voilà the basic idea for Questlog was born.

What is the Questlog made of?

Questlogs are laser cut from FSC certified Finnish birch plywood. Sanding, gluing, treatment with linseed oil and final touches are all done by hand.

When you buy a Questlog what do you get in the package?

Each Questlog comes with a small notebook that features some background texts on traveling, collecting souvenirs and reflecting on travel experience. Also included is a nail for hanging the Questlog on a wall and some information about the campaign we are doing in cooperation with Experiment e.V. to foster intercultural exchange of students.

What sort of “keepsakes” can you keep in a Questlog? Have you heard of any unusual items collected?

Questlogs are big enough for common formats of city maps and flyers. You can put printouts of pictures, handwritten notes, postcards, leftover cash or basically anything that would go in a photo album into your Questlog. On top of that, they provide that extra bit of space, which allows you to put more three-dimensional objects inside.  The most unusual collection I have heard of so far was from an old man at a market I went to. With gleaming eyes, he held a Questlog of Bavaria and said this would be the perfect box for collecting live beetles because they would get enough air 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 definitively spent many hours looking at maps and spinning globes, amazed about the size of it all compared to the tininess of the area that I had set foot on and seen with my own eyes. I remember virtually “flying” from city to city on google maps when it was first released. My dad travelled a lot for business and would always bring back seemingly mundane things like chewing gum and I was fascinated by the differences even in those everyday objects.

What was the first country you visited?

Growing up just ten minutes from the border to France and Switzerland, one of those was probably the first country I went to. The first long distance trip I have somewhat of memories of was to the US in 1995 when I was 7. My parents made amazing photo albums from our trips, which are some of the most precious items to me.  

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

Taiwan is for sure one of my favorite places, maybe because I was able to spend almost a year in Taipei as an exchange student. The country has a unique mix of bustling cities, beautiful nature and an extraordinary mix of Chinese, Japanese and indigenous culture. People are extremely friendly, and the food is beyond description. I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t been there to go and bring plenty of appetite.

What place is your least favourite and why?

In every place there are some areas and aspects I find more likeable than others, but so far, I haven’t been anywhere that I wouldn’t love to return to and spend more time at. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough time to do the exploration in every place that it deserves.

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?

The biggest surprise was probably also Taiwan. Biased by the “Made in Taiwan” image of cheaply produced electronics, I had put it in a bucket with China, Vietnam and the like. When I arrived at the airport, I expected busy street merchants and taxi drivers trying to rip off tourists. I was instantly blown away by the friendliness, discipline and modernity of the country and people.

What place are you looking forward to visiting the most & cross it off your bucket list?

The UK is definitively in my top five. I have been to London twice and next time I really want to see and explore the countryside and other cities that are laced with monuments of the country’s rich history and epic myths that were some of the first stories I heard as a kid.

As Questlog is based in Germany, are your products available to order worldwide?

Questlogs are shipped to all European countries and also worldwide although the shipping gets quite expensive. However, I am planning to set up manufacturing in other big markets in order to reduce shipping distances.

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

I wish I had some fancy answer to this question, but truth is that I have never been the most fashionable person and usually resort to jeans, sneakers and whatever the weather dictates to keep my torso at working temperature.

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

A comfy pair of shoes is the obvious essential but beyond that I have learned to love the benefits of light fabric shorts. And by shorts I mean shorts of a length I would probably not wear in Germany. Especially in humid climates I now feel miserable without them. An accessory I have learned to appreciate is a small foldable extra backpack for short overnight trips out of a major city, so I don’t need to carry my entire gear with me.

Boots or Shoes?

I vouch for shoes because they are just the lighter option but maybe that’s just my practicality and lack of sense for fashion.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog find out more about Questlog.

www.questlog.eu – For information and the shop.

https://www.instagram.com/qulog/ – For pictures of how Questlogs are made and used

Fabulous Frederic – thank you for joining me on my blog!  I am honoured that the British countryside is on your travel bucket list.  I think it is beautiful – but then, I am biased!  I was enthralled by the Black Forest & Lake Titisee when I visited a few years ago – the stories by the Brothers Grimm really came to life 🙂 Travel memories are so precious – and I think your Questlogs really help preserve them.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Frederic (Questlog)

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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.

For Pinning later

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!                         

For Pinning Later
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

Link’dIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/borhod/

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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