Category Archives: Music/Entertainment

An Interview With Lifestyle Entrepreneur Cato Hoeben

The term “Lifestyle Entrepreneur” was first coined in 2013 by ex American footballer, Lewis Howes, to describe an individual that creates a business with the purpose of altering their personal lifestyle and not for the sole purpose of making profits – focusing more on the rewards that enhance enjoyment and passion. To find out more, I caught up with the talented composer and lifestyle entrepreneur, Cato Hoeben, who has recently co written with his mother a book entitled The Lifestyle Entrepreneur… Hi Cato!

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Hi! My name is Cato Hoeben and I am a composer who writes music for film, adverts, games and documentaries and I have also released a number albums that you can find on my website.  In addition to composing, I also do voice over work and have a varied history of working in science journalism-related work as well as working as a web developer. I live in London, but spend a number of months in Seville where my wife is from. Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve become what’s known as a ‘lifestyle entrepreneur’ which, in a nutshell, is an approach to making a living that allows you to shape a lifestyle the way you want by earning through multiple revenue streams.

Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur, you are co-author of the book “The Lifestyle Entrepreneur” – a step by step guide for people of all ages looking in depth at what is actually entailed in becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur. Having worked in London at a media production company where you created online GCSE science modules, what made you give up your belief that the key to financial security & future happiness was stable employment?

When you look at the ‘single job’ approach objectively, it’s pretty illogical. While it’s true that there is a hierarchy in place in many organisations that you can wrestle your way through, today’s work environment is much more hostile and less stable than it was a few decades ago. Once you lose that line of income, you’re back in line to find a replacement, and usually you’ll need to do it fast if you have a mortgage, family and bills. So, in my opinion, there is no ‘job for life’. You can easily be dropped by your boss, replaced by someone (locally or even remotely now) or the company just goes bust and in fact I have seen this happen a couple of times in previous jobs. When that happens, you suddenly have no income which blows the ‘financial security’ argument out of the water. Obviously, if you’re happy in your job and have the free time to do all the things you want to do, then that’s fantastic. But I’ve come across many instances with friends, colleagues and other contacts saying they are tired of the often tense employer-employee relationship in their jobs, the lack of time for family, friends and the limited salaries they receive to believe that the antiquated work model we’re told we have to follow is the path to happiness. Being more entrepreneurial seems to me a much more exciting, empowering (although I hate that word) and potential lucrative way of bringing in an income and shaping how you live your life.

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What are the differences between being a lifestyle entrepreneur and being a freelancer?

Good question and one I’m asked a lot. One of the principle aims of being a lifestyle entrepreneur is that you build a ‘buffer’ for your earnings so that you don’t fall into the typical employer-employee model. As a freelancer, you work to commission i.e. you are employed to do a specific job for a client and then it’s usually over. I call that type of income ‘active earning’ as you dedicate time to actively doing the work on a contractual basis. In contrast, ‘passive earning’ would be the equivalent of setting up an investment of some kind and is often much slower to build up but can turn into a regular income stream. In my case, my albums and the royalties I get from licensing my music for film, adverts and other productions are ‘passive’ income streams. I put the work into creating the product and then it continues to earn me an income stream in the future. Freelance work is almost always purely an ‘active’ income stream as you will usually earn no more in the future from that work. It’s essential to have both of these types of income when becoming a lifestyle entrepreneur as it will allow you some important benefits like having income streams you can fall back and shape the day as you want. I discuss both of these approaches to earning in The Lifestyle Entrepreneur and how you can approach a healthy balance between the two.

What do you love most about being a lifestyle entrepreneur? Is there a downside?

It has to be the flexibility of how, when and where I work. Those three things hold so much value when I realise the extent to which I can move work around to fit my needs or simply free time up to work on the things that require intense periods of attention (like a feature film…or my wife!). Even though it’s totally possible to earn a lot of money working this way, for me, it’s much more important to build a lifestyle that makes you happy. Once you realise you’re covering your basic costs like a mortgage, bills and supporting your family, there’s not much more that I find I want in life. In terms of the downsides, getting going as a lifestyle entrepreneur can be difficult and frustrating like in any entrepreneurial endeavour. There are ups and downs based on how your income streams / businesses fare, but a lot of the downsides can be flipped on their head by looking at the negatives or lack of interest in what you’re offering as something you can improve upon. The Americans are great at this and use something like a drop in sales as an opportunity to analyse what is ‘going wrong’ with their business. It can lead to all sorts of things to try out like advertising to a different demographic, modifying your product or service or even realising you’re offering something that has no demand so you either need to create that demand or try something different. Do I get tired sometimes with the workload? Yes, absolutely. But the energy I get from doing things I’m passionate about helps enormously as the division between work and play is thoroughly blurred for me.

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Your book goes into depth about lifestyle entrepreneurism – but what is your main piece of advice to anybody who may be unhappy with their work/life balance at the moment? What should their first steps be?

As I’ve been in the same place, I know very well what it is like to feel trapped in a job you’re unhappy in and all the doubts that go through your mind as to whether you’ll be able to make ends meet if you give that job up. And it’s unrealistic to expect someone to drop everything at once if you’re dependant on that income. So, my approach to making the transition was a gradual one and is primarily what I recommend to those who are more risk-averse. I began experimenting with things I wanted to sell online and built up some income streams related to music (my passion) all while I worked as a web editor at a mental health charity. As these passive income streams grew, I started taking on the occasional freelance commission outside of my primary job to help bolster my income. Time is always an issue when you’re in a full-time job, but these mini ‘businesses’ can take as little as a few hours a week to maintain depending on what you choose to do. Once I knew I could pay my basic living costs, I decided to take the plunge on a more permanent basis which freed up my time to find new clients and develop my income streams further. And don’t be misled by the fact some income streams bring in small amounts, $80 a month from various streams can build up fast.

Is your book available to purchase outside the UK?

Absolutely. It’s available as a physical book in stores like Waterstones and online via Amazon as a physical book and an ebook. There’s a link on our website too.

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

Yes, although I’m still exploring those ideas. Something I think would be useful would be looking in depth at how the Lifestyle Entrepreneur approach can be employed in specific industries as it can be daunting trying to figure out how to make money from multiple strands in certain sectors. Some initial topics I’m considering are science journalism and music as I have experience in those areas. But any area that is that competitive and difficult to work in would make good topics to investigate as if you can make a living in a tough niche, you should be able to do it in any industry.

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

As the son of a journalist, I’m a poor example of a bookworm! As dry as it sounds, I tend to read more for ‘function’ than ‘fun’ as it feels like wasted time otherwise, so you’ll find lots of self-development and practical books on my shelf rather than Nietzsche and Goethe. Feel free to label me a philistine. That said, I am a fan of great stories and my childhood was full of Greek Legends, books like Moby Dick and Robin Hood. I particularly enjoyed A Portrait of Dorian Gray and science-fiction books like Brave New World. In all honesty though, I get much more out of film than I do books because of the interplay between music and picture.

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Apart from being a lifestyle entrepreneur and author, you are also a talented composer, composing music for films etc. Growing up, did you aspire to have a musical career or were your aspirations quite different?

Since the age of seven I’ve been playing piano, so I’ve always had an interest in music. But I was firmly en route to becoming a science journalist having studied chemistry and biology at A-level, biology at Sussex University and then doing a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial. However, as any composer will tell you, there are a lot of parallels between maths and music so in a funny way I guess all those years molecular biology calculations and breaking my brain over molar masses was actually feeding my inner musician!

When you’re not writing, web designing or composing what hobbies/past times do you enjoy?

I love travelling abroad, exploring new places to eat in and play basketball regularly. Both Seville and London are fantastic places for food, the former being considerably cheaper of course, but some of the most amazing places I’ve eaten in have been in Japan. I’m also interested in sampling unusual sounds that I can transform into virtual instruments for use in my music, so you’ll often find me recording things like pots and pans, bowing strange objects with a violin bow, etc.

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

I’m a fan of Aldo shoes which is a chain that can be found throughout London, but also Grenson’s do some great shoes that I’m always drooling over when I pass by their shop. In terms of fashion, if you ask my brother, I’m the anthesis of stylish and he accuses me of wearing Cornish pasty-style shoes, but I like to think that hidden underneath my inner science geek there is someone incredibly stylish who is ahead of his time. My outfits are usually smart casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I spend quite a lot of time on the sites where I offer my services and products to gauge how I’m doing and seeing what other opportunities are out there, but in terms of keeping up with news, I tend to follow the BBC website, Guardian, Lifehacker and TechCrunch. I’m not much of a shopper, but I do have an unhealthy tendency to spend lots on virtual instruments to use in my music that often needs taming.

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

I want to replace my pseudo-leather jacket that is starting to peel and show me up in public. But that could take some time as I need to find something that has a cut I like and long enough arms (the bane of my life).

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes as I find them more comfortable and less cowboy-ish. That said, I’m starting to try the boot look since a friend of mine convinced me to get some leather boots from Valverde de Camino – a small village in the province of Huelva, Spain that is renowned for having some of the best leather products in Europe. Since I bought them, I’ve worn them twice, so the adjustment is taking its time.

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

The site for The Lifestyle Entrepreneur is http://bit.ly/lifestyle-entrepreneur you can also buy the book and read more about it at http://www.lifestyle-entrepreneur.net. We also have a FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/lifestyleentrepreneurnet/ and our Twitter page to follow is https://twitter.com/TheLifestyleEnt. For music-related stuff and info about my composing work, visit http://www.catohoeben.com.

Music from my album Vulnerable Beauty, here’s a soundcloud link:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/vulnerable-beauty-montage

Or there’s my new album Flaming Flamenco:
https://soundcloud.com/catohoeben/flaming-flamenco

Thank you Cato for enlightening me, and hopefully my readers too, as to what being a lifestyle entrepreneur is all about.  I also loved knowing about your music too – the idea of recording virtual instruments sounds fun to me!  Pots & pans make great drums, and I made a virtual guitar once using a shoebox and elastic bands…. Dear readers, have you any virtual musical instrument stories to tell? Does being a lifestyle entrepreneur appeal to you?  Like always, I love to know so don’t be shy, drop me a line….

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Cato Hoeben.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An Interview With Melody Carr

Nu-Soul/ blues-pop sound is well and truly alive and kicking in the English Midlands, inspired by  great singers such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and Dusty Springfield, with the gutsy vibes of gospel, rock and jazz added into the mix.  With the name and sound to go far, my singer/songwriter guest, Melody Carr, epitomises that new sound Midlands scene.  I caught up with bubbly Melody to talk about her passion for singing and shoes…. image

Hi! I’m Melody Carr, a 25 year old singer/songwriter.

Congratulations on getting your debut single out there & what a smashing single it is too! When did you realise you had a passion for singing? What made you take the plunge to choose singing as a career?

Thank you! Since I can remember I have always loved singing. I was lucky enough to be brought up in a musical family. So whether it watching my uncle perform in his rock band, singing along with my nan on the piano at home or sat in the studio while my Mum was recording, singing was something I just felt like I was meant to do.  Even before I realised I wanted to give singing my all,  my family would constantly encourage me to sing  – then it just got to a point that I decided I was ready!

“Turn Back The Hurt”, written & produced by Youngheart, is a Nu-Soul sound with, I feel a touch of the soulful blues in it too. You are also a songwriter in your own right. Who are your musical influences?

As cheesy as it may seem, my mother is my main influence. I had a lot of musical interests growing up but seeing the process of what it takes to write a song, record a track, add harmonies etc… I learnt that all from her. I am also inspired by artists who try create something new within the music industry, breaking the mould.

What do you love most about being a singer?

Simply the fact that I’m able to do something I absolutely love.

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Is there any song that you really enjoy belting out, either on stage or in the privacy of your car?

One of my favourite ‘go to’ songs to sing is Amy Winehouse – “You Sent Me Flying” – the passion and emotion she sang with is inspiring!

What music genre do you enjoy listening to?

I have an ecelctic mix of music interest so I couldn’t actually specify one specific genre. I obviously love a bit of old school Motown but I find inspiration from all genres of music – so everything really!

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If you had the chance to sing a duet with anybody in the world, dead or alive, who would be your partner and what song would you sing?

Very hard question! A random selection but as I like to mix things up I would actually like to sing one of my favourite songs ‘Master Blaster’ by Stevie Wonder with another one if my favourite artists, Ed Sheeran.

Hypothetically speaking, if you had to perform a song that was not Nu-Soul or Gospel … what song or genre would you pick?

I would choose Jazz. I love the real emotions portrayed when listening to live/ open mic Jazz music especially.

How do you try to keep your voice limbered up and ready for performing? How do you avoid the dreaded sore throat/croaky voice etc?

Hot water, all day everyday. From previous experiences when having to perform a lot, hot water got me through it! I also hum  first then have a couple of warm up songs.

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

I’ve never really been one to stick to fashion rules. I pretty much wear whatever I think looks good or what I like the look of.  My wardrobe is full of bright colours and patterns (mainly floral);  on stage,  I tend to stick to bold/ block colours with lots of jewellery!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I’ve recently come across Justfab.com – so many shoes in one place.. I love! Boohoo.com is also a go to. High Street shops:  I like River Island, TopShop and also Forever21… can always bag a bargain there.

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

A pair of floral Doc Martens!

Boots or Shoes?

Well I love both but if I had to choose I would say Shoes… (heeled of course). They go with more outfits and well,  they take up less room in my wardrobe so I can fit more in!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career.

www.facebook.com/melodycarrmusic
www.twitter.com/melodycarrmusic
Instagram @melodycarr

I love your shoe wardrobe logic Melody!  Thank you for telling us about your passions and I look forward to following what will be, I’m sure, your glittering music career! So, dear readers, with Melody belting out Amy Winehouse in her car; me belting out cheesy tunes of the 80s – what songs do you belt out whilst driving?  Don’t be shy, do tell!

Linda x

All photos and video have been published with kind permission from Melody Carr.

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An Interview With The Blackout Projecto

Preston, UK – the town may not be known as the centre of film making but this year a collaborative, independent feature film is being not only filmed in Preston, but it is based in Preston using creative and enthusiastic people from that area.  Called “The Blackout”, the film centres around 6 characters going about their everyday lives when there is a total power blackout…. a modern-day apocalypse almost…it sounds intriguing anyway! I caught up with the lovely Su Moffat, who is heading The Blackout Project, to find out more…image

Hi! My name is Su Moffat and I’m a freelance screenwriter based in Preston, Lancashire. I’m currently working on a feature film project here in Preston, The Blackout.

What was the inspiration behind the project?

The project is the brainchild of our Coordinating Director Alan Livesey. Alan has a great deal of experience in short film making, but was keen to move into feature films. Features, however, are notoriously huge beasts to wrangle and incredibly costly, so The Blackout Film Project is Alan’s way to approach this challenge. By building several production crews, each responsible for producing a short story within The Blackout, we are sharing the workload and producing our feature film in a fraction of the time, and for a fraction of the cost, of an ordinary independent feature film.

What is the goal of the project?

The goal of the project is to produce a multi-narrative (think Love Actually) feature film, from scratch, in 12 months. We’re relying on our crew and cast to contribute their time and we’re pulling resources from our wider community.

It is quite a costly and time-consuming challenge – how do you hope to achieve your goal?

Our writers and crew have given their time for free to get us to this point in pre-production. We’re raising funds to pay towards transport, locations and catering for our actors by holding monthly film screenings here in Preston (check out Facebook or Twitter for details BlackoutFilmProject, @FilmBlackout). This gives us a small monthly income without which we would have no budget at all.

Can you tell us a little bit about the film, The Blackout?

The story of The Blackout revolves around the first 12 hours of a complete power blackout; no electricity; no motorized transport; no telephones, and how the people of a small city will cope without the luxuries of modern living. The film concentrates on six individual stories and shows us how dependent we’ve become on technology and how little we’re prepared to live without them.

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Any particular reason why the film and project are based around Preston? Has the support you’ve received so far exceeded your expectation?

The film itself is located around Preston because this is where most of the crew live and where most of our resources are. We set out to show that this kind of film doesn’t need to be all ‘government conspiracy and military intervention’ – if The Blackout happened in real life, people in smaller areas will simply have to get on with it alone. And that’s where we think the more interesting stories lie. We’ve had an overwhelming response from our community towards this project. We’ve had offers of help from junior football teams, scout troops, dancers, catering companies… the list goes on… and it’s really humbling to hear so many people excited to get involved. We’ve had tremendous support from local bloggers, ‘Blog Preston’, coverage in the Lancashire Evening Post and radio coverage from BBC Radio Lancashire and Preston FM. It’s an amazing project to be involved in and I’m so pleased I got involved at the beginning!

When do you hope the film will be finished & released?

We’re shooting the film in sections over June and July, then the post-production editing will happen over the summer. We’ll then be holding a red-carpet preview screening in November in Preston before the film heads over to the film festival circuit.

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

Hmm, outfits and shoes… I’d love to throw some designer names around, but I’m a jeans and Uggs/Converse girl really. I do like Radley bags though and I once bought a pair of Kurt Geiger boots that I love but have never worn!

When you get a chance, what genre of films do you like to watch? Any favourites?

I don’t think I have a specific genre of film that I enjoy. As a writer I’m all about the story, but I’m learning to appreciate film from an aesthetic point of view now too. I don’t honestly think I could choose a favourite but we recently watched ‘Birdman’ – at our first fundraising evening – it’s fabulously bonkers, I love the dialogue and it’s beautiful to look at, so that’s probably one I’d recommend.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Despite living in Preston we regularly go shopping in Newcastle and my favourite department store up there is Fenwicks. They have an outstanding selection of everything, from shoes to food! It’s shopping heaven! I also like Hollister, even though it’s too dark to see anything, but it smells great!

What’s next on your clothes/shoes/bag wishlist?

I’m after a pair of white Converse for the summer and I’m expanding my skirts wardrobe – I really like that maxi length skirts are back in. I also need another cross-body bag from Radley – anything in blue – hint, hint!

Boots Or Shoes?

Boots September – April, shoes/bare feet May-August. Why? ‘Cos I always have done?!

For further information:
@FilmBlackout

 Thanks so much Su for taking time out to talk to us and I look forward to seeing the film once it’s released.  It’s quite exciting watching a film being made – the BBC filmed the opening scenes of their TV film Great Expectations around my village and surrounding marshes. It was great fun sitting on the sea wall watching the film being acted then watching it evolve months later as a finished film on TV.  Have any readers got any film stories they’d like to share? Do tell!

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission from Su Moffat and The Blackout Project.

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An Interview With Natalka Design

The newly elected children’s laureate, author and illustrator Chris Riddell, has recently stated that he wants to encourage children to indulge in drawing every day as well as reading.  It is an ethos most likely shared by my blog guest this week, Natalia Talkowska of Natalka Design.  She describes herself as being not only the Founder of Natalka Design but “Chief Visual Storyteller”… and she’s inspiring enough to be chosen by Microsoft to illustrate the benefits of the Microsoft Surface Pro in their recent advertising campaign (to watch the video, press HERE).  I caught up with Natalia recently to find out about her business plans, the Microsoft campaign, her drawing ethos and I got doodled too…. Join us….Hi Natalia!…image

Hi! I’m Natalia. I run Natalka Design and Doodleledo. The first is all about giving businesses more personality, playing with visual communication, refreshing consulting and show ways to liven events and meetings. Doodleledo is fun drawing get togethers for anyone that says ‘ I can’t draw’.

You have an unique business and one that you certainly excel in! When did you first discover your talent for drawing & doodling?

Since I was a kid I have always been drawing. My mum would say: give her a pen and a paper and she’s happy. Whilst studying I realised more that I can easily record real time conversations and ideas through pictures, not even knowing this could start my business one day. I just loved expressing my ideas as well as others through visuals. I remembered it much more than just text. I cry when I see an excel sheet, my brain can’t grasp it!

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You founded Natalka Design/Doodle-le-Do. Where did you get the inspiration from to start the companies?

Inspiration can hit anywhere and anytime. Anyone that’s very visual knows what I’m talking about. Natalka Design was born at the right time after years of not really loving my jobs to finally standing my own ground and using my skills to help others grow and communicate easier. Now we’re a full service agency working on several projects at a time globally. Our ethos #resisttheusual is something we all treat with care and respect. There are enough approaches and ways of making things happen the same way. We wanted to be different and always be surprising. That’s how Doodleledo was born…a new, different idea out of my observations on how people network in the same boring way and how they often tell me they can’t draw….Doodleledo is for small fun gatherings with drinks and nibbles for anyone that says ‘I can’t draw’. The idea is to leave with a bunch of new friends, not business cards. I must have done something right as now we’re a growing community – launching in 10 cities across the globe with partners and press behind us. We’ve got exciting plans for the future, so watch this space and come to one!

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Congratulations on being chosen by Microsoft to illustrate the benefits of the Microsoft Surface Pro in their YouTube video/advert. The video, apart from showing the tablet & its benefits, also showed ways that visual techniques could be used for events, team meetings and brainstorming. Was it a fun project to embark on?

Oh yes! Totally different fun experience, we had so many laughs and a great time filming in different locations. When the Microsoft team approached us, we knew it will be a great new adventure to embark on. The idea to film me working in natural environment came naturally after first meeting. We knew it would be a great way to showcase some inspiring new ways of working better and faster. Hopefully that came across.

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Powered by Natalka Design, Doodle-le-Do parties were started in London in 2014 and have since spread further afield to Dublin, Poland, Dordrecht, Milwaukee, Nairobi, Toronto, Atlanta, New York and Paris. In fact, more cities are being added as we speak! They sound great fun – can you describe a typical party?

This video will hopefully give you the best feel of it. To really experience it from within, come and join us in London or any other city from where they’re run. If there’s no Doodleledo in your city and you’d like to run your own, get in touch, let’s make it happen, it naturally grows from word of mouth and people seeing it’s a new, fun relaxing and creative way of meeting new friends. Best of all, you get to draw again, like when you were a kid, without thinking too much about it, just enjoying yourself!

Have you got any drawing/doodling tips?

Just do it – get a pencil and pen and observe things – start drawing. It’s like any muscle, it takes practice to develop it. I wasn’t straight away drawing as I do now. It’s such a great thing for your brain to keep it young, energised and on creative mode.

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You’ve worked in a variety of places from 10 Downing Street drawing the Prime Minister to a 5 Star hotel in Miami Beach speed drawing at a tech conference for 3,000 people. What has been your favourite assignment?

I don’t have one favourite as sometimes the most initmate work like visualising private thoughts by a CEO of a company and drawing their stories feels so inspiring, special and private, like they’re sharing a piece of themselves with you is way cooler than speed drawing at huge conference. So I’ve got a lot of favourites that we can’t show results of to the public as it’s just for the internal communication but one of my most favourite assignments would be connected with travelling to new places. That’s always an exciting  learning experience.

You have many fans of your artwork, including celebs such as Khloe Kardashian and Jonathan Ross. Is there any famous person (dead or alive) that you would love to meet to doodle?

Stephen Fry…we would definitely have a cool conversation. It may be possible though that I wouldn’t have enough paper to cover his thoughts! I wouldn’t mind meeting Beyonce and draw whilst she sings haha.

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

I think it depends on my mood. For meetings or events you’ll see me wearing something comfy yet classy, a black nice jacket with a splash of colour underneath is always a yes but for everyday I like casual, chic, city girl kind of style.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

The list is long but I love Anthropologie, Revolve, Goodnight Macaroon, Asos and Free People for fashion; Other Stories for beauty products; and Intimissimi for underwear.

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

Oh, this is hard! So many!! I’m definitely a shoes person… so shoes and cute dresses are on my list.

Boots or Shoes?

Both…depends when and what’s the occasion!

Links you would like to share

Here you go:
Website:Natalka Design & Doodleledo
Twitter: @Natalka_Design #resisttheusual @Doodleledo #doodleledo
Instagram: @natalkadesign @doodleledo
Fb pages: Natalka Design Doodleledo

You can catch me here:
@NatiTal
hello@natalkadesign.com

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Wow, thanks for chatting to us Natalia -and I absolutely adore my doodle.  I love to doodle – especially pictures of shoes – but faces are not my forte!  Have I got any artistic doodler blog readers?  What do you love to doodle pictures of?  Do you think doodling could make your company meetings more entertaining? I love to hear your views so please get in touch & comment!

Linda x

All photos and videos  have been published with kind permission of Natalka Designs.

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An Interview With Yasmin Boland – Cosmic Person

I’m heading Down Under this week for a truly cosmic interview with the lovely Oz cosmic person Yasmin Boland. Her website, www.moonology.com ,is one of the most popular astrology sites in Australia. She has astrology and New Age columns in publications such as the Sunday Telegraph; as well as being an author of several books about astrology plus she has written a couple of novels too.  Astrology fascinates alot of people and being a nosy Gemini myself (actually I’m on the cusp of Taurus/Gemini) I couldn’t wait to find out about Yasmin’s passion that has turned into her profession…and her ballet flats passion too… Hi Yasmin ….image

Hi! I’m Yasmin Boland, cosmic person!

You are an author, journalist and astrologer. When did you realise that your passion for astrology could be turned into your profession?

It happened very slowly. In my role as a journalist, I interviewed Jonathan Cainer who – after learning of my love of astrology – let me to do some writing for him on his site. After a few years of that, it so happened Jonathan was offered a contract with then-new Closer magazine in the UK. He couldn’t do it because of contracts elsewhere so – fatefully – he handed it over to me… That was in 2002, and it was the first professional column I wrote. Back then it paid something that’s now unthinkable-a-week (I won’t go into details but it was a LOT – it was before the recession bit!) It was actually enough for me to live on, especially as back then, I was single and living off the smell of an oily rag! So I let other work straight journalism commitments slip away to focus on that first astro column, and then another followed, and another and another… Then my site www.moonology.com and books and …

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How old were you when you started to get interested in astrology? Did you guess people’s star signs correctly just by observing their traits? (I’m Gemini, Aquarius moon & Libra rising – if you haven’t already guessed!)

I was interested when I was at school and in fact, some of my friends mentioned at my wedding about how I used to go around with an astrology book someone had given me and tell them all about their star signs. At Uni I met an astrologer who became a friend and at one point, gave me all her old astrology books after doing a feng shui clear-out – after that I became obsessed! As for guessing peoples’ sign, I do often guess them when I meet them, but I think that when it happens, it’s more clairvoyance than astrology. The thing is, you have to know someone quite well to see their Star sign – when you first meet someone, what you usually encounter is their Rising Sign. The Rising Sign is the ‘mask’ that people wear, so you see that before you see their Star sign, which is the real them!

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Your website is one of the most popular astrology sites in Australia. I like the idea of the daily horoscopes adjusted to take in account the different time zones around the world, so that if you are in the USA , for example, you can actually read Monday’s stars on a Monday. What is the most popular feature or service on your website?

It’s between the Daily and Weekly Stars, the daily Moon Meditations and a little thing called the Nirvana Cards – here

Apart from having astrology columns in publications such as the Sunday Telegraph, Cleo and New Idea, Spirit and Destiny and Chat It’s Fate; plus writing the daily Stars for Yahoo! Australia and New Zealand; you have also appeared commenting on astrology on Australian TV and radio. What are the most popular/most requested astrology topics you’ve spoken about?

I give talks about The New Moon and the Law of Attraction – always fun – and one about Medusa and the Fixed Star Algol… Also end of year wrap ups and New Year ones too.

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You are an author too (such a busy bee!) of several books – two novels, a non fiction and a series of astrology based books published in UK, Australia and India and distributed internationally. Do you find writing therapeutic? What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I live to write, basically. I am one of those people who, if I had to choose what to take with my on a desert island, would take a pen and paper (though I might choose my iPhone these days – can still write on it and I have a little Blackberry-like add-on keyboard for it, so I could go even faster!) My favourite genre to read is spiritual or autobiographical – Deepak Chopra’s Unconditional Life and Doreen Virtue’s The Lightworker’s Way really moved me. Right now I am reading Arianna Huffington’s Thrive and the Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, and really enjoying both. I also love reading easy business books like The Curve by Nicholas Lovell, which is about working on the internet, which I do a lot of. Would love any more recommendations. Basically I am into non-fiction so it’s amazing I wrote two novels!

You were born in Germany of Maltese/English heritage and grew up in Tasmania before living and working in Sydney, London and Paris. How did you cope moving from a relatively quiet, rural place as Tasmania to 3 of the world’s most bustling cities? What were the main differences for you?

When I lived in Tassie, I would sit at the port and watch the big ships leaving for the “mainland” and plot and scheme and dream about how to make my own exit! I love Tassie – it’s a really beautiful and amazing place, but I always wanted to live in a big city. Always. My parents are from Europe so we travelled the world every year, to see their families, so I grew up with a world view, even living in Tassie.

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Hypothetically speaking, if you were given the chance to visit/work in any location in the world, what destination would be number one on your list and why?

Anywhere very hot and sunny with a iPhone connection, a swimming pool, fresh food and comfy place for my family and I to sleep! I’m thinking either a tropical island or maybe LA? 🙂 But I also truly love working in London. I find it so inspiring as a city, both in terms of the media there and also just talking to people and see the shows, exhibitions etc. And I love working in Bondi in Sydney as well, going to cafes with my netbook and writing away with a cafe latte. Right now I am in Paris and it’s also lovely! Have done a lot of work today and am about to go out for a walk to enjoy the place.

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

Sorry but mainly black… I know it’s not meant to be a good thing – spiritual people seem to frown on it – but I feel most comfy in it…

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Probably ASOS – I love their filters and they always have something new. I also love to flick through Net-a-Porter. I’m very mainstream, I guess! I like really work-a-day clothes and often buy two or three of something at a time, if I like it. Right now I am going through a black dress with leggings and boots phase. Though I have a friend who sells jewellery so I do jazz things up with earrings or a necklace!

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

Well right now in Paris I have only got two pairs of boots with me – ankle boots and some Chelsea boots – but it’s quite warm and am wishing I had some flats I could wear without socks. So am thinking they are next on my list. I actually want to buy a pair of black Chanel ballet flats – I can’t help it, I just want a pair. Actually two pairs. One in black and one is some kind of very pale brown trans-seasonal fabric (have seen a pair like this but not as yet ‘invested’, much to hubby’s relief I am sure!)

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots every day in winter and ballet flats in summer… I wore thongs (flip flops) every single day while pregnant and for about five years after my son was born. He is now 8. It horrified my French husband’s family, I am sure, but I just couldn’t shake the habit. I had them in all kids of colours. Finally, at some point, I started to realise it was outrageous to wear thongs non-stop and got some proper shoes. I started with some flat espadrilles from France in various colours, and slowly progressed to more and more civilised shoes, and as I say, the dream is some Chanel flats!

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers of the blog can follow you and your words of wisdom.

www.moonology.com
twitter.com/yasminboland
facebook.com/yasminboland
facebook.com/yasminbolandsmoonology

Thanks for sharing your cosmic world with us Yasmin and those Chanel flats sound a real good investment – I hope you manage to get a pair soon.  I wonder if fashion choices are governed by horoscopes too – being a Gemini, the ying & yang of the zodiac my fashion choices are either jeans, tee & leather jacket OR dressy dress, stockings etc – one extreme to the other!  Do you think your fashion/wardrobe choices reflect your sun sign in a fun way? Do let me know what you think!!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission from Yasmin Boland. 

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An Interview With Hollie Kamel (Wedding Singer)

With less than a fortnight to go before Santa does his rounds over the world’s rooftops, I felt that my guest this week should be someone who is a bit Christmassy yet a bit sazzy …. someone like the dropdead gorgeous Hollie Kamel, with her seasonal name, her angelic voice, and her sazziness!  Hollie is a popular wedding, party and event singer – and I caught up with her recently to chat about music, her wedding business and her passion for fashion too .. welcome Hollie…image

Hi – I am Hollie Kamel and I am a Professional Singer and UKA Salsa Dance Instructor & proud mummy to a gorgeous little 5 year old called Jasmine Lila.

You’re a professional wedding, party & event singer. When did you realise you had a passion for singing?  What made you take the plunge to pursue wedding singing as a career?

I first started singing as a child, as I come from quite a musical family (my brother has had a few top 40 download chart hits!). To begin with I was in the school musicals and then went on to perform on radio and at about 16 started to train classically to give me a strong foundation of technique and skill to perform from. However, my career took a very corporate path, in media, marketing and sales and my singing and dancing was always a part time profession. This all changed once I had my little girl, as part time corporate doesn’t really exist, so I took the leap of faith to launch myself as ‘Hollie your Wedding Singer’, perfect for Weddings, Parties & Corporate Events!! 😉

imageYou offer an excellent range of bespoke entertainment including solo singer, duo, and a mini function band.  What tends to be the most popular package?

I provide Solo Singer, Party Duo & Themed Show packages and to be totally honest, they are all really popular and different in their own right. Where everything I do is bespoke, I always tailor make the package to meet and exceed the client’s needs and depending on their event, the service they choose will reflect this. (I do find that Vintage/American Songbook/Jazz is hugely popular & of course, Party Singer!!).

What do you love most about being a wedding singer?

What I love most about being a wedding singer, is that you are blessed to share and be a huge part of their wedding day and all the love, celebration and emotion that surrounds it.

imageYou have a vast range of songs in your songlist portfolio. What are the most popular songs requested for the wedding ceremony, wedding breakfast/reception, and for the evening do?

Most popular Wedding Ceremony songs include:
• How Long Will I Love You
• At Last

Most popular Breakfast/Champagne Reception songs include:
• Let There Be Love
• All of Me

Most popular Evening Reception songs include:
• The Shoop Shoop Song (in his kiss)
• All about the Bass
• Dance with Me Tonight

imageIs there any song on your list that you really enjoy belting out? Any song on the list that makes you groan?

Songs I love to sing:
• Somewhere over the Rainbow
• At Last
• Rather Be

Songs I could live without singing for a while
• Wind Beneath My Wings
• I Will Survive

What music genre do you enjoy listening to?

Where do I start with the genres I like listening to…..I love SO many kinds of music and it really depends on my mood. I love vocal based music like Eva Cassidy and the Carpenters, James Taylor etc, but I also love R&B and of course Salsa!! I have a HUGE passion for West End Musicals!

imageIf you had the chance to sing a duet with anybody in the world, dead or alive, who would be your partner and what song would you sing?

If I could duet with one singer (dead or alive) in the whole world then I would love to choose to sing with Jessie J (as I think she is vocal Viagra) but her range is SO huge that I wouldn’t be able to – so instead I choose to sing Somewhere over the Rainbow with Eva Cassidy !

Have you had any unusual song requests?

I have had some very strange requests in my time including ‘Gilbert O’Sullivan’ numbers and Copacabana!

Singing all year round at weddings, parties and events must be a strain on your voicebox. How do you try to keep your voice limbered up and ready for performing? How do you avoid the dreaded sore throat/croaky voice etc?

As a Singer it is really important to continually look after your voice, so I always do the following before a performance:
• Warm up
• Avoid dairy
• Take Vocalzone
• Drink lots of water

As a cure for a ‘sad’ voice I do the following:
• Take Singers Throat mix (the most evil tasting liquid in the WORLD)
• Drink Honey and Lemon (Hot)
• Steam
• Hum
• Vocal REST!!

imagePersonal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing on and off stage?

On stage you will find me wearing very glamorous evening dresses or ‘themed’ attire (such as Vintage) with ridiculously high heels and accessories and ALL my hair and make up intact!! Lol!
Off stage you will normally find me in skinny jeans, ugg boots with a skinny rib t-shirt in the summer and a trendy jumper or hoody in the winter!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

As far as retailers go Amazon is amazing for costumes and accessories. I love QUIZ at Lakeside/Westfields for glamorous party wear and Ali Express for every kind of costume, dress or outfit (but it takes about 8 weeks to arrive but is CRAZY cheap!!)

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

My next purchase needs to be another shorter style, sparkly or sequinned party dress for xmas season (more laid back events).

Boots or Shoes?

For me, boots or shoes is hard, because boots at home and shoes at work nearly always!

Links you would like to share eg website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career

https://www.facebook.com/holliekamelsinger
https://twitter.com/holliekamel
https://www.youtube.com/user/holliekamelsinger
http://uk.linkedin.com/in/hollieyourweddingsinger
http://www.pinterest.com/holliekamel/

Many thanks for chatting to us today – I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous, Fun  & Eventful New Year! For those readers in the UK who are looking for some fabulous entertainment then Hollie is your girl – she’s simply divine! My wedding song was Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – what was yours? Please do tell!

Linda x

All photos were published with kind permission of Hollie Kamel.

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An Interview With Miss Brazil & Miss England 2014

It’s Saturday lunchtime and I’m sitting here chatting to two of the world’s most beautiful women, Julia Gama aka  Miss Brazil 2014 and Carina Tyrrell aka Miss England 2014, just 2 out of 120 beautiful ladies hoping to win the title of Miss World 2014 on December 14th 2014, being held back in London (the last time the competition was in London was the very first Miss World  63 years ago).

The girls have just had their interview process in the “Beauty With A Purpose” part of the competition. Since this ethos was introduced into the Miss World competition, the contestants have raised millions of pounds and have endured countless hours of hard work to make a difference and bring about positive changes to communities in need worldwide.  Both girls agreed enthusiastically that the “Beauty With A Purpose” part of the competition was their overall favourite part, with Carina commenting how heartwarming it was listening to the interviews of her fellow contestants describing the various projects they’re involved in worldwide and how fantastic it was that these young ladies are so committed to the various causes. So, girls, what are your “Beauty With A Purpose “projects?

Miss Brazil: My project is the Fight Against Leprosy.image

Miss England: My project is to help the homeless in Cambridge – it was the charitable side of the Miss World competition that attracted me to enter in the first place.

Miss Brazil: Yes, that reason attracted me too.

What is your current occupation?

Miss B: I’m a student of chemical engineering in my 3rd year at university and a model too.

Miss E: I’m a student doctor in Cambridge.

How have you got on walking in heels on stage? Has it taken lots of practice?

Miss B : Do you know, before the competition I had never worn make up or heels! Honestly! But I have been really good, I think!  And I’ve enjoyed the experience!

Miss E: It does take practice and I’ve had lots although I think heels shouldn’t be too high.

Have you had any embarrassing moments so far?

Miss B: One time, in the hair and make-up room, there was a plate of cakes with bright pink icing for us to eat. I had one, so delicious, but I realised just before being interviewed that the pink dye was around my mouth and teeth.  I had to scrub my face really hard to get rid of it!

Miss E: No, nothing embarrassing … although at a charity party for the homeless project, I did lose one of my contact lens and almost stumbled as I made an entrance!

What outfits/shoes would you normally be found wearing when not in competition mode?

Miss B: Comfy, sportswear type of clothes. I am very casual. As I said earlier, entering this competition was the first time I wore heels and make up. I have enjoyed the heels and make up experience though.

Miss E: I like wearing smart trousers and skirts and elegant jackets – more chic wear rather than casual.

imageAny favourite shopping haunts?

Miss B: Garancedore.fr

Miss E: Debenhams – love the vast range of clothes, especially the pencil skirts and bolero jackets. I’m so pleased that Debenhams is sponsoring my Miss World wardrobe. I rather like Guess too…

Boots Or Shoes?

Miss B: Shoes? As in..heels? Erm.. that is difficult.. I’d say both.. as long as they’re comfortable!

Miss E: Shoes. Most definitely.

Thank you ladies for spending some of your lunch break  chatting to me. I wish you both the best of luck in the competition.  To follow the lovely Julia and Carina and their fellow contestants in their bid to become Miss World 2014,  download the Miss World 2014 app featuring Miss World TV with its live and scheduled broadcasts from key events including the Miss World final.

Linda x

All photos have been published with kind permission of Miss World organisation.

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An Interview With Buckso Dhillon Woolley

My blog guest this evening is the very bubbly and gorgeous actress and singer Buckso Dhillon Woolley.  You may have spotted Buckso in UK BBC shows such as the soap Doctors, Waterloo Road and Coronation Street- she’s also in Iceland’s latest advertisement alongside the scrumptious Peter Andre: 

http://www.iceland.co.uk/thats-why-peter-andre-goes-to-iceland/watch-the-tv-ads/tv-ad-2/

This lady can not only act but she has the most fantastic voice too  –  she adds a delightful jazzy twist to well known songs … well, just listen for yourself and get blown away!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HugLs2JpeQ8

So you’ve watched the ad, immersed yourself into her performance and now it’s time to say hello to the lovely lady herself … welcome Buckso:image

Hi! I’m Buckso, mother to 12 yr old twins and wifey to Nic who lives in Derbyshire, that has a passion for all things of beauty and having a chance to express oneself through singing and acting. I started late in the world of acting, only pursuing it about 7 yrs ago realising that “I really couldn’t do anything else”.

You’re an actress, voice over artist and singer that has just got into the entertainment industry “proper” since you turned 35. When did you realise you had a passion for acting and singing? What made you take the plunge to pursue acting as a career at a later age than most?

I knew there was “something” there the moment I sang the theme tune to a well-known kids programme from the 80s called “Why Don’t You?” until that moment I never knew I had a singing voice and the feelings I got thereafter were too difficult to ignore. I took the plunge when after having twins, when I realised that I would not manage the day job anymore as it was shift work. So after completing a beauty course in 2005 (another passion of mine) I joined an agency for background artists, thinking that would be the only way I’d ever get a chance go on TV, and things started from there in 2007.

You are currently the envy of many women – appearing with the gorgeous Peter Andre in the latest Iceland advert! Was he fun to work with?

LOL!! I forget that fact you know!!? I was also one of those women that drooled over him whenever he appeared on TV but in his company, all that went away! I just saw him as just another colleague whom happens to be VERY well known, and he’s very pleasant to speak to, even going out of his way to shake hands with the background artists which I’ve not seen happen before, and having “been there” myself I totally loved that about him.

imageYou have appeared in quite a few TV shows including the BBC soap Doctors, Coronation Street, Waterloo Road, Law And Order UK, and Hollyoaks. What do you love most about the world of TV?

I love the fact that A) if you make a mistake you can do it again! B) The camera is pretty close-up on the face so it doesn’t take much to capture a facial expression and I think that can be challenging at times, which I love, but the fact it goes out to the masses in such a short space of time is an element I like.

You have a part in a new series by Caitlin Moran to be aired next year called Raised By Wolves – which sounds very interesting. When you are relaxing at home, what sort of TV programmes/films do you like watching?

To be honest I hardly watch any TV, and I certainly don’t like watching myself back!! But when I do it’s films, films, films….. I LOVE watching films, I will often go the cinema alone in the day (or evening) to watch a film I fancy, but I do tend to use Netflix a fair bit and I love watching things like Homeland, Breaking Bad etc. The fact you don’t have to wait another week to watch the next episode is AMAZING!! I’m also guilty of LOVING the shopping channels, namely QVC! I could watch it AAALLLL day. (Me too Buckso… I’ve bought plenty of Pout foundation from QVC !)

Is there any style of presenting or TV role or job that you would like to try that you haven’t yet experienced?

As mentioned in previous question, I LOVE QVC, and went for an audition workshop to become one of their presenters but ALAS I didn’t quite cut the mustard with them, but that was back in 2007 when I was a little green around the gills, now I’m sure it’d be a different kettle of fish!! So I’d love to present on there as well as doing something in the style of Oprah and Louis Theroux. A supporting role in a feature film wouldn’t go amiss either.

I love your singing voice, especially your jazzed up version of “Valerie” THANKS!– and I know that you enjoy singing jazz and big ballads. Growing up, was that the type of music you listened to or was it more that the song styles suited your voice? What music genre do you enjoy listening to? What type of songs would you belt out whilst driving along in your car? (Or is it just me that does that? LOL!)

LOL!! Oh no, I do that too! Growing up I only became interested in music from the age of about 10 when I’d hear my elder sister playing Pointer Sisters and Blondie, but when I heard her playing Elvis Presley my interest reeeeally piqued! I have loved that man since that day forward. Then I started listening to stuff from the 60’s realising I was most affected by the likes of Barbra Striesand, Dionne Warwick, Shirley Bassey etc when they sang with such feeling, it touched me and that for me is the essence of why I love singing the songs I do now, because they’re emotive. Jazz was something I have gotten into more so over the last 6 years or so, when my vocal tutor, used to have a Sunday night session called “song sung jazz” and he would steer me towards singing those sort of songs, I suppose he knew that’s where my voice sat at its best. I enjoy listening to any type of music that has a good/catchy beat and isn’t anything to do with thrash metal and the like!!! My mood depicts the songs I listen to…..if I want to get somewhere quick in my car I’ll play upbeat dance stuff, or if I’m chilling along like I’m driving Miss Daisy I’ll have classical on..:)

imageIf you had the chance to sing a duet with anybody in the world, dead or alive, who would be your partner and what song would you sing?

It would HAVE to Elvis Presley! The fact they can superimpose themselves onto videos with him nowadays like Celine and Barbra have done is amazing!! I’d be singing Can’t Help Falling in Love.

Have you got any future plans lined up for 2015 that you can tell us about?

Nothing firm, but I am hoping to put together a Bond themed set, where I would sing most of the songs from the films with a view to doing more corporate work, unless I get picked to appear in the West End production of “Bend it like Beckham” then it changes ALL my plans!! (I featured in their latest workshop back in April this year as one of the aunties)

If you were given the chance to be the voice-over character for a major film such as Shrek, what film would take your fancy, what character and why?

Well seeing as I’ve got quite a low, deep voice I’d like to have a go at the Witch in Snow White and bring a little sexiness to the tone, because I think they make them look really hot nowadays, so why not have the voice to match!? 😉

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing when not on TV?

Oohh casual aaaalll the way! Good old Primark for me I’m afraid, I make more of an effort when I’m out for lunch with friends/shopping and then it’s more a case of just putting on makeup I’m VERY low maintenance I am. The way I see it is you can’t make a silk purse out of a pigs ear, you either got it or you aint..;0)

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

LOVE Primark and I tend to buy from QVC as their designer brands are from the States and aren’t available in shops here like Ronni Nicole/Nina Leonard/Centigrade/Dennis Basso etc, so invariably I never get seen in the same outfit as anyone else!

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

I don’t tend to have my “eye” on things, I’m very much a “see it I’ll buy it” type of gal….that way I NEVER have a moment where I “don’t know what to wear.”

Boots or Shoes?

LOVE boots, as I feel so much more secure in them, and they finish off a trouser/jean much better and that’s what I tend to wear most of as opposed to dresses.

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can follow you and your career.

You can follow me on @bucksodw or go to my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/bucksodw

It’s been brilliant having you on the blog Buckso and I look forward to seeing you on telly in 2015.  As I’ve already said I like singing along to the radio in my car to upbeat tunes from pop to rock… Valerie is one of my favourite singalong  songs and the 80s classic “Somebody Else’s Guy” is another. Do let me know what songs tickle your fancy whilst driving and entices you to singalong! 

Linda x

All photos and the youtube video were published with kind permission of Buckso Dhillon Woolley.  The Iceland advert was published courtesy of Iceland Foods Ltd.

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An Interview With Sally Morgan

Embarking on her Autumn UK tour,  I managed to catch up with Sally Morgan, better known as TV’s Psychic Sally… you may have seen the lovely, bubbly Sally  in her TV series “Star Psychic, in Psychic Sally Big Fat Operation, in Sky Living’s Psychic Sally On The Road, as well as appearances on Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me Halloween Special and Big Brother’s Bit On the Side with Rylan Clark.  Sally has a big passion for fa shion too, so a big warm welcome to the blog….image

Hi, I am Sally Morgan aka Psychic Sally. I am often referred to as an ordinary woman with an extraordinary gift…I believe that I can connect with people on the other side. I am currently touring theatres in the UK with my interactive show Psychic Sally On The Road, I am also the star of several TV shows and an author. When I am not working my most favourite hobby is shopping! Shoes and bags are my biggest obsession!

Congratulations on being recognised as one of the top 5 psychics in the world after being tested by Professor Gary Schwartz, a Harvard University Ph D graduate. What sort of tests did you go through as part of his experiment?

There were lots of different tests often referred to as ‘blind on blind’ wheimagere I give information about a person that I have not met. It was a fascinating project to be involved in and I think I left a lot of people speechless with the information I gave. The validation given would have been difficult for even the biggest skeptic to pull apart.

You had your first psychic experience with an appearance of a ghost at around the age of 4. Were you not frightened at such a tender age? When did you first realise you had this psychic ability?

My ability has always been something that is just within me, I have never known any different. When I was 4 I had no idea what it was. I just remember one day being told off at nursery when I asked if my grandad could stay. The teachers said no and I pointed at another older gentleman in the room and shouted that it wasn’t fair that another little girl could have her Grandad there. What I didn’t realise is that this man did not exist in real life. Only I could see him!

In your 20s you used your psychic abilities as a sort of party piece but soon your excellent reputation attracted an extensive client list including celebrities and royalty – reading for Princess Diana for 4 years. Did you realise that your psychic abilities would shape your career or as a child did you yearn to follow a different career path?

imageIf I am honest I had no idea that I would end up working as a medium full time. (I use the word medium as someone who is in touch with spirit but a more generic term is psychic.) When I was about 15 my mother took me to a spiritualist church where a very famous psychic of that time told me that I would go on to do great things with my ability. I honestly had no idea at that time that I would use it as any more then a party piece. I got a job as a dental nurse in my 20’s which I loved but outside of work I was starting to build up a client base. I had people from all different walks of life wanting to see me, and soon people started coming to my house for readings. It grew very organically, at one point I was known as ‘London’s best-kept secret’. In my early 30’s I realised that I had enough demand to work as a medium full time and so that is what I did. I set up my own practice at my home and took bookings all day long. I haven’t looked back since! If I hadn’t of developed naturally into working as a full time medium my dream job would have been to be a fashion or interior designer. I have a real eye and passion for fabrics, textures and colours.

imageLaunching in the TV spotlight in 2007 with your TV series Star Psychic, you went on to star in other TV programmes & documentaries such as Psychic Sally Big Fat Operation, a fly on the wall documentary showing your life changing weight loss operation. What were the main differences you noticed, other than weight loss obviously, after the operation compared to Sally before the op? Did people’s attitudes change or have you more stamina to get through your gruelling tour schedule?

The biggest change for me was that at the end of a 2-hour show I could still stand! Seriously, before the operation my feet and ankles use to swell and I would be in agony at the end of an evening. This may sound silly but it was something really simple that really made me stop and recognise the change. I was walking down my stairs at home and when I got to the bottom step I sprung off it, like I was as light as a feather. I hadn’t done that for years! I know wear clothes that I never thought I would, jeans, dresses etc. People are often staggered at my weight loss, when you compare pictures of my before and after, it is like looking at someone different. Like anything in life you have to take the bad with the good. Most people are very supportive but there are always those they feel you have changed as a person because you are thinner and perhaps put more value on how you look. But the truth is I am still the same old Sally. Even when I was bigger I still loved fashion – I always dressed in bright colours and wanted the latest trends. It really was a health decisions. After suffering a mild heart attack I was told by the doctors that I had to lose weight – it was literally a life or death decision.

imageYour successful Sky Living series Psychic Sally on the Road provided an unique insight on your hectic tour schedule and home life. You have toured the UK for over 7 years performing over 120 shows a year – and are just about to tour the UK again ( I will be putting your tour dates in the article) You have also taken your interactive show to Australia, with a hope to tour there again in 2015. What do you most enjoy about touring? Any secrets on how you keep your stamina going that you can share?

There are two main things I love about touring 1. Is meeting so many amazing people all with an interest in the afterlife and 2. Learning more about spirit and how they interact. Since being on tour I have taken my understanding of  the spirit world to the next level, really developing my knowledge of what happens when we pass, the signs spirit give us and how they interact with one another. You will often hear me say that ‘spirit orchestrates the evening’, this is completely true. I never know what is going to happen on any night, I put all my trust in spirit and that the messages will get to the right people. I have always been a bubbly and energetic person and I am lucky to have a great support network around me, which makes life on the road much easier. I always stock up on bananas for energy and make sure I drink plenty of fluids…and of course the odd cup of tea!

You are an author too of 4 books – My Psychic Life, Healing Spirits, Life After Death, My Heavenly Truth, and you are currently writing your 5th book, Call Me Psychic, due out early 2015. Do you find writing therapeutic? What sort of book genre do you like reading? Favourite books or authors?

I love reading  motivational books and one of my favourite authors has to be Deepak Chopra. I have always enjoyed writing and it was always a dream of mine to write a book. I can’t believe I am now writing my 5th! It is very therapeutic and for me, taking the time to reflect on my life and work is very rewarding to me.

imageYou won Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me Halloween Special, beating various celebs including Robert Englund (aka Freddie Kreuger). Did you enjoy the experience?

We had so much fun making the show. I am a bit of an entertainer so I put a lot of effort into the evening – hiring a local dance school to perform their version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I also had a couple of friends dressed as Zombies, which certainly gave the neighbours a fright! I really tried to push the boundaries and created completely new recipes for the night…this could have been a disaster but luckily the food turned out brilliantly. I was gobsmacked when they announced me as the winner but it was great being able to give the winnings to my chose charity.

You also appeared on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side With Rylan Clark, sharing your views on the Big Brother 2014 housemates. Did you enjoy that experience? Did you get any psychic experiences relating to the housemates?

I love Rylan, he is such a down-to-earth person with lots of endearing qualities. We have become quite good friends since, as he has always been a big fan of mine. The 2014 Big Brother housemates were certainly unique…I picked up on their true characteristics straight away…I think I will leave that there!! Ha ha

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

On stage I always wear heels, normally from Russell & Bromley as they are so comfy! I wear black trousers and then either a bright or sparkly jacket, which I get specially made. I love a bit of glitz and glamour!  In the day I will often be seen in M&S jeans, flats and a t-shirt or jumper…very casual.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love high street brands Zara, Whistles and Weekend Max Mara.
I also love asos.com for online shopping. So much selection and quick delivery – very convenient!

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

I have my eye on a pair of brogues from Russell and Bromley. I would also really love a Burberry Mac!! Ha ha

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – I find it hard to get boots that fit me as I have big calves so I definitely have more shoes then boots.

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

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sallymorgantv
Twitter: @SallyMorganTV
Website: www.sallymorgan.tv

Thank you very much Sally for taking time out of your busy schedule for a chat – I hope your tour continues to be a success.  So, dear readers, for the list of tour dates for the rest of October and November, press HERE. So if Sally’s in your town , why not pop along and say hello… she may have a message for you! How fab would that be?

Linda x

Photo Credits: All photos have been published with kind permission from Sally Morgan

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An Interview With Must Love Festivals

We are currently in the middle of festival season – music, the arts, lazy hazy summer days – although I don’t go a-bundle on the camping aspect! Europe is buzzing with festivals and so I’m delighted to get an interview this week with  Abi who is one of the people involved in the fantastic digital storytelling project, Must Love Festivals, that is covering Europe’s 40 most unique festivals spanning 11 countries…. a big, warm welcome Abi…image

Hi, I’m Abi. I’m a travel writer and photographer with a love for all things digital and in my past life I used to work as a hospital doctor.

The “Must Love Festivals” project is the brainchild of Kash Bhattacharya, the award winning creator of the Budget Traveller Website. So what is the project exactly?

“Must Love Festivals” takes 16 bloggers (or digital storytellers as the phrase is now) and spreads them out across Europe this summer to cover some of the continent’s quirkiest festivals. We’ll be taking on 40 festivals in 11 countries, reporting back in real time and then spending some time huddled behind a screen to write up articles, photo essays and videos.

How did you first become involved in this project yourself? What Festival will you be covering?

Ah, well my secret confession is that I first said no since I did think that most festivals were all about mud, crowds and music. And while I like the third of those, I’ve never been such a fan of the first two. Kash convinced me to open my eyes and give it a go since Europe has such a range of festivals – from folk to fashion to food…and even to things that don’t begin with F 😉

I’m lucky to be covering a few. I’ll kick off with Bardentreffen in Nuremberg. It’s awash with music but as this year’s festival coincides with the 100 year declaration of war by Germany in WWI, they’ve chosen the theme of War and Peace to mark the occasion. Performers from around the world will use their music to explore the theme of reconciliation and dealing with conflict. Next up will be a colourful folk festival in Italy’s sunny Puglia. I head to Barcelona for the Festival de Gracia, a free street festival of decorations, food and art. Then it’s to Dublin to catch up with some books and fashion and finally I’ll travel to the islands of Malta to soak up their Birgu candle festival.

imageFestivals are not all about music, mud and fashion – as the project hopes to show – so what is the most unusual festival you’ve been to?

In my youth, I went to the Tomatina in Spain where the world descends on a picturesque hamlet one day to pelt rotten tomatoes at one another. It sounded harmless at first but those flying pips and pelted pulp really can sting after a while…Plus, they get everywhere.

What has been your favourite Festival to date?

Ah, that’s tricky. I think one of the best is one that’s actually close to home: the Bristol balloon festival. There’s something so hauntingly beautiful about seeing so many hot air balloons hovering in the air at once.

If you were given the chance, what Festival would you love to attend that you haven’t been to?

I’d love to visit the Midnight Sun Festival In Finland. It’s just gone and one of our team made a beautiful video about it.

imagePersonal now – what outfits would you be packing for your Festival expedition?

Ah, now. Well, Spain and Italy don’t have quite the casual dress code we have here so I’m looking for long cotton trousers and skirts with some smart but lightweight tops. The aim is to look polished but not overheat or burn! And there’s not much place for a big floppy hat in a crowd unfortunately!

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I love the bright colours and designs of Desigual. And for accessories, I always check out Etsy to see if there’s anything handmade and original that suits.

What footwear do you favour when attending festivals?

You need something casual but resilient as you could be on your feet all day long…I have a pair of black Fit Flops that I love as the sole is so thick that those atmospheric cobblestones don’t bother me. Yet,
they have a hint of sparkle too which is perfect for when the sun goes down.

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

You can find all the Must Love Festival goings on at http://mustlovefestivals.com/ and across Twitter and Facebook through the hashtag #MustLoveFestivals. As for me, I blog over at Inside the Travel Lab (www.insidethetravellab.com) and will be covering my summer of festivals across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Hope to see you there!

Links for the social media networks mentioned above:

http://www.facebook.com/InsidetheTravelLab
http://twitter.com/Insidetravellab

http://instagram.com/insidetravellab

Wow! Thanks Abi for taking the time to chat to us about what seems to me, at any rate, an exciting project.  I wish you safe journeys and I look forward to readings your blogs!

Linda x

Photo Credits:  All photographs have been published with kind permission of Abigail King.

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