Review: Trendhim

Men’s jewellery is enjoying a bit of a revival, especially when it comes to bracelets. In the past, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, gold curb and rope chain necklaces and bracelets were in vogue. Chunkier the better, and yellow gold was the colour. I remember shopping in Corfu Town in 1992 and there were jewellery shops selling gold rope and curb chains by the length. Pop icons such as Wham enhanced this fashion for men. Spring forward to 2020 and men’s jewellery is enjoying popularity again but with a more subtle approach – beads and leather bracelets in blacks, browns, and other shades are worn either on their own or in a stack – teenagers, businessmen, musicians, young, old, bikers, cyclists… you get the drift. It’s a trend that you can wear on any occasion too. Having the chance to review a bracelet for Trendhim, a company based in Denmark – my husband Adam, a fan of leather bracelets, was pleased to take part, of course!

Disclosure: I was gifted the “Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet ” in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are entirely my ownand Adam’s imput too!

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SO WHO ARE TRENDHIM?

Trendhim are a menswear/accessory brand founded in late 2007 by Sebastian and Mikkel. Their products are designed in Denmark and they currently offer 13 unique house brands and they launch several collections a year. In 2014, Trendhim expanded into Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. At the end of February 2016, they had further expanded into 11 new countries, hired 43 translators as all 3000 of their products and website had to be translated into 8 different languages! In 2017, Trendhim became the 10th fastest growing company in Denmark. In 2018 Trendhim has opened up in 12 new countries including Australia, Singapore, South Africa, Canada, NewZealand and the USA.

THE WEBSITE

https://www.trendhim.co.uk/

https://www.trendhim.com

Apart from the main Trendhim website, there are also dedicated websites for both the UK and USA. I looked at both the USA & UK websites and found them to be very slick, informative, good selection of products, easy to navigate and reasonable prices too. The pictures on the website are pretty much what you get. For the bracelets, selecting your size was pretty simple: you need to measure your own wrist – my husband’s was just under 7.5 inches. The sizes then go by wrist size and whether you want a tight fit or a loose fit. My husband opted for a loose fit, and it was true to size.

Showing the fit of the Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet, in large (7.5 inches) loose fit.

PACKAGING & DELIVERY

There were two options of delivery available – standard delivery quoted as being 3 – 5 working days; and next day delivery by DHL. I did feel that the next day delivery charge to the UK was a bit steep at £12. The standard option was £4 ( in some cases free). If you are a regular reader of my reviews then you’ll know that I do have a wee browse in the reviews of brands left by customers. I am pleased to report that the majority of customers were very satisfied, but those that did have a grumble wasn’t anything to do with the products but delivery times. It was being reported of waiting up to 10 working days for items – it was around Christmas time so that might have disturbed the apple cart. My experience – I opted for the standard delivery; I received tracking details. I could see that the company had processed and despatched my order within 24 hours. And then Brexit happened. Things slowed down somewhere between Denmark & UK . I am not going to lie – I did get anxious. When it comes to deliveries I do like a quick service… but I waited 5 days…. the parcel came on working day 6. Not too horrendously late. Trendhim are working to try and improve delivery times, but unfortunately they are tied by the efficiency (or non efficiency) of the courier companies. My advice? Learn to chill! If you are ordering for a special occasion, order 2 weeks in advance or go for the next day service. The bracelet came in a strong “climate controlled Jiffy- type bag envelopealong with 2 yummy sherbet lemon sweets (gratefully devoured after the photo was taken). The bracelet was not in a box or pouch – there are available extras: personalised engraving, gift box, wrapping & gift tags, wooden jewellery stand – details on website.

Inside the package
The Envelope

THE BRACELET

Our chosen bracelet was the Trendhim brand Lucleon Pleated Black Leather Bracelet. As my husband Adam is a Leo, the brand’s lion logo instantly appealed. The bracelet is double thickness plait design – he already has a Pandora leather single plaited bracelet, so Trendhim’s bracelet compliments his “stack”. The clasp is magnetic, which is unusual – there is no locking mechanism although it is highly unlikely that the bracelet will come undone . The workmanship of the bracelet is really good – the leather is good quality and it is visually stunning.

Close up of the plaited design
The logo
Magnetic clasp

MY VERDICT

Trendhim’s website and newsletters contain a wealth of information regarding how to care for your jewellery, how to wear bracelets, how to create your perfect stack, how to wear your bracelet with your watch…. signing up to the newsletter would also give you the chance to get free gifts with your orders such as socks etc .

Adam has given the bracelet a score of 8/10 – it is very well made but his only fear was the clasp coming undone, although his fear might be unfounded.

My thanks goes to Trendhim for gifting the beautiful bracelet for this review.

Linda x

All photographs are copyright © Linda Hobden




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An Interview With Pepper Sq

I do so love watching those house makeover/interior design type TV programmes – the ones where whole houses have been renovated room by room. I love seeing how the clever use of colour, design, and furniture can transform a room. Even shifting furniture around a room could make a big difference in helping to accentuate the size of a room. I’ve come across a “one -stop online interior designer and furniture shopping destination” that really impressed me – Pepper Sq. Pepper Sq offer “Ready to Buy” Room sets – you can discover the best furniture for your space, estimate the total cost, assess the dimensions and visualise the room design. I caught up with Oxana, co-founder of Pepper Sq, to find out more about her brand, and her personal design loves. Hi Oxana!

Hello, my name is Oxana Yanushkovskaya, I am a CEO and Co-Founder of Pepper Sq.(www.peppersq.com) – which is an online resource for room-by-room makeovers, setting out interior ideas and offering carefully curated furniture.

What inspired the founding of Pepper Sq?

Pepper Sq. was launched in autumn 2018 with a mission to make ‘spacemaking’ simple and efficient. Following our own experiences of online furniture shopping, we noticed a gap in the market for a new entrant – one which provides vast yet considered furniture selection, digital ‘interior design’ tools and smart curation to foster better customer experiences. Our aim is to revolutionise the furniture retail, by creating unique customer experience and simplifying the purchasing decision making process. While a lot of people want to design their perfect homes, they find it extremely time consuming to shop in-store or search through thousands of portals on the Internet. Needless to say, many people don’t feel overly confident choosing furniture, as it involves dealing with sizing, colour and style matching issues and thus, money and time are wasted on sorting returns. This is where Pepper Sq changes everything, reduces noise that’s out there and lets customers hone in on precisely what they are after.

Simple 1.0 room set

I absolutely love the idea of the “Ready-To-Buy-Room” sets and the way your website offers the solution to visualise your room space, discovering the best furniture options for that space, and the cost of an entire room. How can customers utilise this facility? 

The platform features a new concept of complete room designs, which can be tailored by customers to suit their spaces and budget. The room ‘spacemaking’ function offer also comes with price reductions compared to buying individual items. All of the items featured within the room designs are also available separately. 

You can follow three simple steps: 

Discover – Browse our impressive collection of room designs, compare styles and find your favourite.

Design – Customise your favourite room designs, check dimensions, match colours, choose patterns or find alternatives.

Enjoy – Turn that space into a thriving reality. Click and buy – you’ll soon enjoy your new room design.

Every look comes with a visual reference so you can imagine how it might look in your own home, and you can see the actual budget.  Last but not least, you can find recommendations on finishes and décor, or get in touch with an interior designer who created the room you like in case you are looking for something bespoke and different.

Which room do you find is the hardest to makeover? 

There are three areas that give an emotional ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the house.  In my experience, these are often dining area, living space and master bedroom. It’s the heart of the home and really transforms the rest of the interiors, so it should capture your lifestyle, taste and vision. And it’s most critical to have it done right.

What room set is the most popular?

Oh! It’s a good question… Depends on a season. New rooms are always getting more attention. Last year there were a few rooms that were probably most ‘wanted’ by consumers and journalists (appeared in press): Simple 1.0, Sakura Dreams, Stone Island, Pastel Explosion, Eggnog Throff…  (our Christmas edition) .

I love the Hoxton Corner Sofa and the Yeux Rug. What’s your most favourite item(s)in your furniture/rugs collection?

The cane bentwood combo takes our heart this season. Rounded shapes and sinuous lines are known for giving a softer and more welcoming feel. We have a vast collection of bentwood and cane furniture, that’s extremely popular among our customers. Madrid and Lucien are my favourites. 

Janson is a statement sofa and is utterly elegant, you will be surprised with the level of comfort it provides. When I say you can sink into your sofa, I mean it. It can be complimented by an oversized Janson Armchair, that is designed to switch off from the outside world with a book or a movie, stunning and spacious.

Our transforming multipurpose furniture collection, that is perfect for a smaller space, includes Barbican and Levante coffee-turn-dining tables, Origami Folding Table or Flap Console-turn-Dining Table. My current favourite is Schasta that was recently added to our catalogue.

Malibu Console/Dressing table – beautiful in its minimal design, it functions as a hallway table, dressing table or a desk. 

The Vaquero Cowhide parquet rug that combines modern style and elegance, with it’stextured tones of calf hair that add subtle untamed luxury to any living space.

Flap Convertible Table

When picking items to add to your collections, do you select by what has proved popular in the past, current trends, customer requests, personal preferences or all of those things?

We love to be a trend setter, and every product added is hand-picked by our team members. The beauty is that we have very different life styles and cultural backgrounds, thus the tastes that make up our collections are broad, and (hopefully) attractive for many people.

There are two criterias we never compromise – quality and design. Our team hand-picks European furniture that is confident on its own, as well as part of our bespoke room design concepts.

Are you a big fan of the “feature wall” or do you think all walls should be papered or painted? 

I do not have personal preference, a space will dictate the rules…

Colour accent walls can add depth and dimension to a room, and make a room seem bigger, warmer, or brighter. If a room is small, a light colour accent wall can make the room seem more spacious. If room is too long, a dark colour accent wall can make the room appear more welcoming, and optically change proportions. 

On the other hand, you can use walls as a foundation … with single colour paint or same pattern paper, and go wild with wall décor. The benefits – you can change décor elements more often to create a new look .    

Have you got a favourite paint colour? 

I love Green colour, all shades of green really. My favourite paint is from Farrow & Ball collection – Mizzle 266. 

As Pepper Sq is based in the UK, are your products available to purchase and order worldwide?

The UK market is our primary focus for the next two years. It’s important to get it right. We are aiming to launch our service in a few other countries in 2022.

Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to visit any place in the world to get inspiration for a new design collection, where would you go and why?

I have been lucky enough to explore the world. I was born and raised in Russia, lived in Far East for a few years, and worked across many countries and continents. 

Two countries stand out the most for me … 

Peru, with the myth and mist shrouded Inca citadel and it’s breath-taking landmarks, is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. It’s the place to re-connect with the Universe, absorb wild colours of nature, and Inca’s most colourful civilisation too.    

China, with it’s calm balanced environment (natural and cultural)  – order and creation of harmony.

Caleido Cream

Have you always wanted a career in interior design, or did you have ambitions elsewhere?

I studied arts for 8 years, and had a few personal exhibitions in the meantime.  By irony of faith, being a creative soul throughout, I didn’t apply my skills and passion in full until starting this company. I chose to pursue the career in the commercial world (though within the creative industries) and never regretted it and all the opportunities that came with it. 

Prior to founding Pepper Sq, I worked for 10 years with Discovery Communications Inc., where I led commercial strategy and business development teams across several networks and continents.  Before Discovery I was in homeware & DIY wholesale businesses, working closely with the largest European retail groups, in addition to European and Far East manufacturers.

So, getting back to design space, it’s almost getting back to my roots. 

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

I almost have dual personality now!

I love designer clothes, and even more, shoes! My favourite shoe brands are Jacquemus and Nikolaos Kirkwood. 

However, nowadays, you can find me in quirky t-shirts, jeans and sneakers more often than not. There is no better outfit to run a start up!

Madrid Lifestyle


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

I have been converted into ‘digital shopper’ many years ago, just never had time to visit physical shops. I still love to wonder through little boutiques shops when I travel, though. I am also a big fun of flea markets. My favourites are Place du Jeu Balle in Brussels, Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt in Paris, Grande Foire à la Brocante de Pézenas.

My favourite online shop is Pepper Sq. (of course)! 

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

More shoes from Jacquemus!

Boots or Shoes? 

Always stylish shoes ! Do I mention sneakers again? (Easier to style)

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

Site: https://www.peppersq.com/

Instagram: @peppersqcom

Facebook: @peppersqcom

Pinterest: @peppersq.com

Definitely food for thought – thank you Oxana. I do share your love of the colour green – all shades of green – my previous homes have been green colour based. Currently though, I’m attracted to pale colours for my interior walls (lemon, lilac, cream, white, baby blue); then I can go to town with bright colours such as yellow and orange accessories in the kitchen and bathroom. I absolutely adore Pepper Sq’s room set idea – it is great to be able to virtually visualise a makeover and have access to the ideal furniture all on one site. I hope you agree, dear readers!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Pepper Sq.

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Review: Prestige Flowers

Roses. Who doesn’t love to receive some luscious red roses? Roses just happen to be my favourite flowers so when Prestige Flowers asked me to review their luxury red rose bouquets for the forthcoming Valentines/Mother’s Day season, it was more than a pleasure – it was a delight. Prestige Flowers are an online florist based in the UK but deal with orders from the UK and international clients.

Disclosure: I was gifted the “Valentine’s 12 Luxury Roses + chocolates” in exchange for an honest review; all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

The Website


https://www.prestigeflowers.co.uk/valentines-day-flowers

Easy to navigate and a great variety of bouquets on offer. The site does offer Next Day Delivery – but there are exceptions according to where you live. Delivery of my flowers was prompt and was by Royal Mail 24 hour tracked delivery. The roses were delivered in a substantial cardboard box and was handled carefully. I was very impressed with the whole packaging. I always check out the website reviews – this website has a mixed bunch of reviews (which is always healthy!): Negatives were mainly delivery times (next day not always being available); the positives about the standard of the flowers.

The Package I Received

Inside this gorgeous box I received the “Valentine’s 12 Luxury Red Rose Bouquet” plus a box of 12 delicious luxury chocolates. The bouquet consisted of 12 large red Rhodos roses, copper ruscus foliage, bear grass. Plant Food. The roses were well packaged with a wet cotton wool like envelope at the end to keep the roses moist whilst in transit.

The Roses

There are over 20,000 varieties of rose and red roses symbolise love. “Freedom” red roses have traditionally been the most popular red rose for florists to use in Valentine bouquets – these are bright red roses with thorns. In recent years, new varieties have crept into the red rose Valentine arena – including the Rhodos rose, from the slopes of Mount Kenya.

The Rhodos rose is a darker red in colour than the “Freedom” rose, with a distinctive dark edge around its petals. Almost velvety in touch, the Rhodos rose is a slow opening rose bud, has a fatter thornless stem and is fast becoming a Valentine favourite.

This bouquet of red Rhodos roses has been complimented with the copper ruscus – my husband feels the copper, green foliage and the darker red of the roses gives the bouquet a “classy look”; I personally love the velvety darker look of the roses.

Looking After The Roses

My bouquet came with a handy flower guide with hints and tips on how to look after your roses. Tips such as keeping the roses out of direct sunlight, keeping them in a cool room would help the roses to last longer, removIng the outer discoloured petals as these are “guard petals”, and how to revive drooping rose heads … by placing newly cut stems in an inch of boiling water for 30 seconds before placing in the vase.

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My Verdict

I was very impressed with this bouquet from Prestige Flowers – the roses are absolutely gorgeous and they looked like their picture on the website. I particularly liked how they were presented – a lot of care and attention had been given to the packaging to ensure the flowers arrived in a pristine condition. I loved the copper & foliage that accompanied the roses too. A lovely touch. My score: 8/10

My thanks goes to Prestige Flowers for sending me the lovely roses to review – it was an absolute pleasure to receive them. My score is based on my experience with the company and the product received. I did not order or pay for next day delivery so I can’t comment on the next day delivery service.

Linda x

All photographs are by © Linda Hobden

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An Interview With Lucy Jade Sylvester Botanical Jewellery

If you are a big fan of nature then you are going to adore the botanical jewellery by Lucy Jade Sylvester. Inspired by her love of the British countryside and coastline, Lucy makes each piece by hand – beachcombing for shells, scouring the countryside for plants and grasses and insects such as flies and moths. Her wedding jewellery is simply stunning too. I caught up with the lovely Lucy to find out more… hi, Lucy!

Hi! I’m Lucy. I’m a countryside living jeweller, mum of two cheeky boys Archie and Alfie. Vegetarian for 32 years, lover of discovering new places, Chilli, log fires and strong cups of tea (I don’t take the tea bag out.) I have bee, butterfly, beetle and forget-me-not tattoos on my feet and around my ankle bone. I’ve always been a nature lover, on walks as a child my pockets would be filled with snail shells and leaves.

What’s your jewellery design background?

After a college Foundation Art course, I studied jewellery at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery, on completion I worked on my own pieces alongside teaching jewellery at a local college. A few years later I went back to University to take an MA in jewellery and metal work, this is where I focused and developed using nature in my work.

I started working on a website while I was teaching, so doing both on a part time basis. The college changed dramatically and asked staff who wanted to take voluntary redundancy, which I did, it gave me the push to leave my safety net and work for myself full time. This was the first time I applied and got accepted to have a stand at London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

What inspired you to specialise in botanical jewellery?

Nature has the most beautiful lines and textures, so I use it as directly as possible.

I take moulds from delicate woodland finds, dead insects, twigs, fallen leaves, and cast into the cavity they leave, this process allows me to create exact replicas of life in solid silver and gold that retain the finest details.

My insect based jewellery designs are all made from naturally deceased specimens, found by me or sent to me by people who know my work.

I give the specimens a new life in solid silver or gold, modern day fossils of the wildlife we have today.

These natural forms with beautiful textures would decay into the ground and be gone forever, with direct casting from them I’ve created something that will now be here forever, to be worn for a lifetime.

I love the Netted Dog Whelk Shell Pendant and the botanical wedding rings – very beautiful indeed. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

The most recent collection is the coastal collection, the shells and sea urchin shells have the most incredible textures, I can’t wait to add more to the collection in 2020.

Living in Oxfordshire means we have to plan trips to the coast, the coastal pieces have evolved after family trips to stunning beaches on the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Cornwall and Wales.

The Coastal collection is currently silver, but we will be creating it in gold too, with many barnacle covered mussels and limpets set with diamonds, sapphires and rubies.

The coastal work is perfect for the summer, so now compliments the leaves and seed heads that can feel autumnal or wintery.

Acorn pendants are very popular, bought to mark a birthday, new job, new adventure or to remember a loved one, I can make them to enclose ashes.

Simple twig rings are bought as wedding bands, they also work well as stacking rings.

The designs for the botanical bridal and woodland wedding collections are growing, engagement rings from twisted twigs and leaves are created from grass, leaves and twigs that wrap around to form rings, the fragile veins and stems clearly visible with a scattering of diamonds.

Set with brilliant cut, rose cut or uncut diamonds these engagement rings can be paired with woven grass, leaf vein or lichen textured bands providing a timeless alternative for countryside lovers.

And moths are popular, too.

What are your favourite pieces?

My wardrobe essential is the Stag beetle necklace, I wear him or a long or short chain depending on what I’m wearing.

He is a lovely weight, his smooth wing casing makes him extremely tactile. He always creates a reaction from people, most love him, some aren’t sure, but I love that.

The stag beetle necklace is versatile, I wear him with jeans in the day or out for the evening.

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

All our jewellery is inspired by, and made in the UK, but we ship all around the world.

We use a tracked and insured postal service.

I’m very jealous of some of the destinations we’ve posted jewellery to!

You must have come across some interesting finds whilst beachcombing and countryside walking. Do you go out with an idea to look for something specific or do you fill your pockets at will every time you venture out?

My studio is filled with skip salvaged science jars filled with woodland and beach finds.

I love just coming across new inspiration, it could be a leaf on a path while on the school run.

Some finds I save to use at a later date, some finds I keep just to marvel at the magic of nature.

Wasp nests with the coloured stripes from different woods, bird nests blown from trees entwined with feathers, twine, grass and sheep wool, such incredible feats from these small creatures.

My mouse nibbled hazel nut pendant came from my garden when we moved house.

I’d seen a mouse occasionally run along a wall in our garden, under some tiles I discovered a stash of nut and seed husks, including the hazel nut shell, now in solid silver.

This necklace was created after buying a collection of Australian boulder opals, I set them with silver and 18ct gold twigs, hawthorn leaves, snails, bees and a stag beetle set with a round brilliant cut diamond. 

What was the hardest or most unusual piece you’ve created so far?

Technically the flies were the one of the most challenging to make, getting the wings and legs to stay intact took some time.

I occasionally create larger one off necklaces, usually after buying stones.

Have you always wanted to be a jewellery designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

I originally wanted to print fabrics, I loved using screens and squeegees.

It was during a college course that I discovered saws and blow torches and changed what path I would take at University.

I recently discovered cyanotypes, very different to metalwork, but I loved it.

Your Hawk moth and poppy seed head ring was chosen by costume designer Michele Clapton to be worn by Sansa Stark in the hit medieval TV series Game of Thrones. Did it feel strange seeing your jewellery being worn on TV?

Michele’s love of craftsmanship can be seen in all her costume designs, the detailing is amazing, a huge honour to be involved with such an iconic programme.

The Hawk moth ring and the matching necklaces are very popular, many have flown across the sea around the world, especially to America.

My jewellery is owned by some incredibly inspiring people, I have a letter from David Attenborough and wonderful card from Dame Judi Dench. I’m not sure my work could be in better hands, both have such a love for the amazing world we live in

What recommendations would you give to help look after and maintain your botanical jewellery?

Our jewellery just needs a occasional rub over with a jewellery polishing cloth, we recommend taking it off before bricklaying or anything to rough!

For pinning later

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

I love flip flops, I’ll wear them for as long as possible but in the studio I have a pair of Timberland  Nellie pull on boots.

I also love converse, I have 2 pairs red, and leopard print.

I tend to wear jeans, with a simple black or khaki top. I accessorize with my short Hawk Moth or  Stag beetle necklaces

My latest buy was a gold leather bag from Clarkes shoes. 

I tend to use Ebay for much of my shopping or re buy things from the marketplace on Facebook, you can pick up vintage or new, and it comes straight to your door through the post.

What’s next on your clothes/shoes wishlist?

I’ve just discovered a hole in my Joules Bumble bee wellies, I guess these need to be my next buy!

Find out more about Lucy Jade Sylvester Botanical Jewellery:

https://www.lucysylvester.co.uk/

https://lovefromengland.tumblr.com/

https://www.instagram.com/lovefromengland/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lucy-sylvester-aa192416/

https://facebook.com/LucyJadeSylvesterJewellery

https://pinterest.co.uk/lovefromengland/

https://twitter.com/lucy_sylvester

Fabulous talking to you Lucy – it’s amazing what you can find when beachcombing or countryside rambling and I find it even more amazing at your talent to be able to make stunning jewellery out of the moths, shells, leaves…. I once found a fish head on Chesil Beach, Dorset camouflaged against the shingle and shells!

My gruesome beachcombing discovery!! © Linda Hobden

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Lucy Jade Sylvester (apart from my fish head pic!)


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Knights At Warwick Castle

One evening last July, whilst watching television, an advertisement was aired that immediately caught my family’s attention. It was talking about the “Dragon Slayer” Light & Show extravaganza at Warwick Castle. Apart from the stunning light show & fireworks, the Castle looked magnificent and there was a plethora of medieval activities going on. We thought it looked good & having not visited Warwick Castle before, decided to book an impromptu weekend away in August. Having sons in their early teens, Warwick Castle looked as though it was fun enough for them as well as mum & dad!

Glamping section of the Knights Village

Having looked on the website, we decided to book a Woodland Lodge in the “hotel” Knights Village, located in the grounds of the Warwick Castle Estate. The lodges were semi detached wood lodges consisting of a double bedroom with the usual tea making facilities; a twin bedroom with bunk beds; and en suite shower and toilet facilities. My sons found their bunk beds slightly uncomfortable – possibly because they are designed to accommodate younger children. Being that the lodges were semi detached, I was worried that the walls might be paper thin – but they were totally soundproofed and a peaceful night was had by all.

Our bedroom. Woodland Lodge, Knights Village.

The Medieval Banqueting Hall was the main restaurant where dinner and breakfast was served. A buffet breakfast featuring both continental and cooked traditional food. Breakfast was included in the cost of the lodge – there was plenty on offer. We had also purchased a dinner and “Dragon Slayer” show package – Hot buffet style 3 course dinner with free soft drinks. I had a delicious homemade steak pie but I found the salad starters rather bland and unappetising; and desserts consisted of mini doughnuts with a plethora of toppings or a fresh fruit salad. The children liked the doughnuts, of course! I suppose, in keeping with food in medieval times, it was more focused on hale and hearty meat dishes with an array of delicious seasonal vegetables. I can’t remember if there were any vegetarian/vegan options. If you are an adult, and you are not a fan of drinking water, cola, lemonade, tea or coffee with your dinner – there is a bar where you can purchase wine and beer. Beware, the price for a small glass of wine and a bottle of lager is expensive! We stuck to tea & coffee for the rest of the evening. If you do enjoy a glass of wine in the evening, I would suggest bringing your own tipple to consume on your lodge decking. The Medieval Banquet Hall, of course, was decked out like it would have been in the Middle Ages – long trestle tables, low ceiling, light was from candless dotted around – it was really well done BUT it was August, it was hot outside, there was no ventilation apart from the entrance doors, no air conditioning (of course) so it was stiflingly hot inside, and the restaurant was full of diners. You had to wait to be seated, and I’m glad that we were positioned both days near the doors! It was slightly claustrophobic so we did not linger over our meal.

Medieval Banqueting Hall

We travelled to Warwick in torrential rain, but by the time we arrived mid afternoon the rain had cleared. Check in time is 4pm but when we arrived, just after 2.30pm our lodge had already been cleaned and was ready for arrival, so we were handed our keys. After a quick freshen up & a mug of hot tea we were ready to explore. The castle closing time is 5pm, so we decided to spend the last hour and a half in the castle grounds – we had a whole day pass for the next day too and as the weather forecast was hot and sunny we decided that was the day to spend in and out of the castle itself. Not forgetting the “Dragon Slayer” show later in the evening….

We made our way to the jousting field just in time to catch the final Wars Of The Roses Jousting show. There was adequate seating and standing room on both sides of the field – and an area dedicated to wheelchairs. To be honest, most people were standing and if you were seated on the benches you probably wouldn’t have seen a thing! Each stand represented either the House of York or the House of Lancaster – audience participation in the form of cheering and booing your “knight” was very much encouraged. The horsemanship was brilliant.

Audience Participation
The winner!

After the show, which was more enjoyable than I had imagined we headed over to the Birds of Prey field which overlooked the river. My youngest son likes watching Birds of Prey shows and we have been to many over the years. This was slightly different. As we perched upon the benches, with coffees in polystyrene cups in our hands, we were warned to keep as still as possible. There was a good reason for this because as the show progressed with displays from owls, kestrels, vultures, eagles and other rare birds of prey – not only did they perform in front of us but they expertly glided between the benches and over our heads with only inches to spare. The finale: all the birds swooped in a display literally inches above our heads. It was hard to take a picture!

Archery lessons

Back at the Knights Village, once the castle is closed, entertainment for the family is provided in the riverside field, free of charge – Lessons in archery, learning to be a knight, learning to be a princess and handling birds of prey. These activities are available in the castle grounds, during the day, but at a cost. As you can imagine, the knights and princess lessons were not of interest to my boys – but the classes were packed with excitable 5 and 6 year old boys and girls in long dresses and tiaras, both sexes brandishing foam swords! My sons opted for the archery lessons instead.

Dragon Slayer Show part 1

We didn’t spend too long in the entertainment field as it was time to venture back into the castle for the main Dragon Slayer Show. First half was taking place back in the jousting field, where the Wars of the Roses show had taken place that afternoon. The show is about the brave knight, Guy of Warwick. As legend has it, Guy of Warwick was a 10th-century English hero who travelled the world on a series of daring adventures in order to impress the Earl of Warwick’s daughter – Lady Felice – and win her hand in marriage. Sir Guy’s daring exploits include slaying a dragon, fighting a giant and battling in holy wars. In this part of the show, the legend unravelled using fire eaters, daring deeds on horseback and a lot of audience cheering & even a unicorn ….

It was soon time for Part 2 – the slaying of the dragon, which took place inside the castle walls, in the central courtyard. The castle walls were the screens as in front of our eyes, the dragon came alive, with a spectacular light show with flames that kept the audience absolutely mesmerising. It was the most dramatic light show I have ever seen – absolutely brilliant. There was a lot of standing, approximately 3 hours, but it was absolutely worth it. Unfortunately, I was so mesmerised watching the show that I didn’t take a photo or video. Yes, it was one of those wow moments. There are plenty of videos on YouTube though of the show.

Warwick Castle

Day 2 – Warwick Castle itself. Blazing sunshine and warm temperatures greeted us this morning – just right for visiting Warwick Castle itself. The terrain is pretty hilly – so make sure you’re wearing comfy shoes, trainers or walking boots. There are sweeping pathways suitable for wheelchairs & pushchairs – however, apart from the grounds, the state rooms, main castle cafe, dungeons and ramparts are not. Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from a wooden fort, originally built by William the Conqueror during 1068. I loved looking around the Great Hall, State Rooms and Chapel. The Great Hall was first constructed in the 14th century, rebuilt in the 17th century and restored again in 1871 after being badly damaged by fire. various suits of armour line the Hall. The State Rooms are lovingly recreated with wax figures depicting the various centuries. The Queen Anne Bedroom has her actual bed that she died in, in 1774. The 1st Earl of Warwick, Francis Grenville was given Queen Anne’s furniture by King George III, along with some gorgeous Delft tapestries, dating from 1604.

The Castle Dungeon Tour is where the ghoulish history of Warwick Castle comes alive with the help of some talented actors and special effects, including smells. I’m a bit squeamish so I baled out of the tour, relaxing with an ice cream in the castle courtyard instead, whilst my husband and sons merrily explored the depths learning about the days of the Plague to the tale of Moll Bloxham.

If you have a head for heights, and mobile, then climbing up the towers and ramparts is a must. The views from the top are astounding. There is a strict one way system in place as the stairways up to the ramparts are so narrow, so the only way is up! Caesar’s Tower is the tallest tower at the castle, standing at an impressive 44.8m tall. It was built on the orders of Thomas de Beauchamp in the 14th century. The lowest chamber of Caesar’s Tower is the Gaol – the original dungeon. You can still see graffiti from prisoners 100s of years ago on the prison walls.

A big surprise was the beautiful gardens, 64 acres of rolling landscaped gardens with peacocks strutting around. The gardens were transformed in the 1750s, under one of Britain’s greatest landscape gardeners, Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. It is believed that Warwick Castle was Brown’s first independent castle commission. There are over 20 peacocks and peahens running around the garden. The Peacock Garden was designed by the Victorian landscape gardener Robert Marnock and consists of topiary peacocks, manicured hedges, pond and fountain.

The Horrible Histories Maze is also in the castle grounds and it is quite fun, whatever your age! Due to uneven flooring, pushchairs and the wearing of high heels are banned – although the maze is wheelchair accessible.

For pinning later

My Verdict

Weather is very important. If the weather is dry then this is a fantastic castle to visit as apart from The State Rooms & Great Hall, everything else takes place in the open air. For an estate of this size, there isn’t a lot of seating but plenty of grassy areas for sitting on the ground. There is a lot of walking, and a lot of standing (especially for the shows) . There is a castle cafe, which we didn’t visit, and plenty of food stands selling everything from pulled pork rolls to ice cream, tea & coffee to soft drinks. There is a lot to do, activity wise, for all the family – some activities have an added cost eg the archery, Dungeon tour, Knight training – but the jousting and birds of prey are included in your castle entrance fee. Young children will adore the knights and princesses; adults will appreciate the castle, gardens and everybody will love the jousting!

Warwick Castle itself 8/10

Knights Village. 4/10


Linda x

All photographs © Linda Hobden


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An Interview With The Image Tree

As the colour of the year has just been announced – Classic Blue – it has left me mourning the loss of the Coral palette that I have adored. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the bold blue, it’s just that the coral hue, I felt, suited my colouring more. I doubt if I will be totally rejecting my coral faves this Spring/Summer and no doubt a few classic blue pieces will be creeping into my wardrobe too. Sometimes it is hard to know what style of outfit would flatter – neckline, hemline, slim fitting or full skirt – as well as deciding on colour. I bought an evening dress, in classic blue actually, with a Bardot style neckline. It looked gorgeous online model. On me, the neckline wouldn’t sit right and gaped – it made my breasts look distorted. I swapped the dress for a v neck one in a red colour. The new dress neckline fitted like a dream and the colour was perfect. Sometimes we need some guidance when it comes to our wardrobes…. boost of confidence, change of image, decluttering our wardrobes, steering us in the right direction to avoid making expensive mistakes …. sometimes we need someone like my guest this week, Sara from The Image Tree! Welcome Sara!


Hi, my name is Sara Marsden-Shreeve, I’m currently 43 years young writing this but as a Chrimbo baby I’ll be 44 when this goes out. I’m married with two children Francesca 14, Jake 10 currently based just south of Derby but a Yorkshire bird through and through. Moved to Derby with my family when I was 11 years old.  Love to laugh, likes cheese and have too many coats and probably never enough boots.  I’m passionate about changing women’s mindsets around a better body image, promoting self care and a healthier relationship around clothes. You have to learn to rock what you’ve already got . So, Love Your Body, Wear Your Happy are my mottos which probably people get sick of hearing but I don’t care. I’m from a civil engineering background, have a BA Hons in Applied Social Sciences (which is basically psychology with a bit of sociology) Coventry University 1993-95, NLP accredited , various FIPI recognised Image Consulting qualifications acquired from First Impressions Ltd in Warwick. I’ve written articles for “Henpicked.net”, guest blogged, won various awards such as Theo Paphitis #SBS, Jacqueline Gold #WOW and worked with corporate clients at Canary Wharf. I love collaborations and have worked with brands such as Dandi Patch as well as other brands and small businesses with similar ethos around well being and self confidence.  I currently also co-run a Wellbeing Inspiration Network in Derby for women who have an interest in increasing their work life balance with well being and other holistic practices relevant to healthier mindsets and supportive business concepts.

Having worked in the civil engineering/corporate insurance sector, what made you decide to branch out and form the The Image Tree? 

I have to say this was genuinely some sort of Eureka moment after having the realisation that I’d suffered stuff in the past (failed pregnancies, bullying at school – Sticks & Stones built my business blog post – ) but had many skills and passions that potentially could help others in some way. After having happily worked for around 10 years in Civil Engineering sector I initially left (2005) to have my first child and didn’t really have any initial thoughts about going solopreneur. Prior to having Francesca we’d had gone through miscarriages and a harrowing termination on the advice of specialists. Needless to say my body image and self confidence was rock bottom. I hated my body for letting me down and had unhealthy feelings of being unfit to produce children at the time. I blamed myself and drowned in feelings of harrowing guilt. I later had counselling for this. So you can imagine when we had Franc I was determined to stay at home with her as much as possible.
I did return a few times over a few years on temporary contracts in alignment with child care and finances, which was super helpful but then after the birth of my second child Jake (2009), whilst I was still there, I decided that I wanted to concentrate on getting back to my dormant psychology roots and love of people.  
It’s no joke that I literally woke up one morning with the thoughts of mixing my love of colour and fashion with psychology. Whether I’d been whispered to in the night by an angel or had a Eureka moment in my dreams after months of soul searching to find my calling,  I’ll never know…  I was scared but I decide to do it anyway (2011)..   
Fast forward a year later and I was completing my training to be an Image Consultant when my son had turned two and freed up some time whilst he was at preschool. I started to research the arena and built my very own website in 6 months. I worked loosely, around kids, for the next 2 years under my name and then decided to brand up and create The Image Tree in 2014. Time to get serious!
From then on I have organically made Image Consulting more niche and merged it further with the advocacy of promoting Body Positivity and self care throughout all of my work. Largely through listening to what my clients were saying about themselves whilst looking in the mirror, hearing them share their negative image experiences and generally beating themselves with the ugly stick. Not on my watch…. Been there done that got the tshirt!
Hence my investment in NLP training, using effective coaching techniques and surrounding myself with Holistic practitioners and Wellbeing specialists I’ve met and collaborated with on the way. Image starts from the inside and isn’t just about one’s outside appearance.  Clothes, colour, fabrics and accessories are a powerful tool that help women relate to their assets and gorgeousness no matter their size and shape. We are not, after all, living in a society that is receiving of the naked form in public so clothes are an essential part of our everyday….and so too is a healthy mindset around self image- especially in a world that throws so many stones. Hence the merge of style and psychology!

Your image consultancy is very holistic in its approach with a heavy focus on body positivity.  Apart from your services & packages, you hold workshops encouraging body positivity too. What would I expect from attending a workshop? Would the workshops benefit trainee image consultants or the client?

My Love Your Body, Wear Your Happy workshops were a direct result of a partnership with a good friend and Metawellbeing coach (Susan Gardner) who gave me a kick up the arse to share my message of clothes and body love and introduce our combined passions of positive mindset and tools to a larger audience. They were small groups though to encourage a safe and judgement free environment.   They were aimed at women who wanted to get on to the path of liking their bodies a bit more and finding out how to use clothes to adorn their natural form and personality but didn’t know how or where to start?  So we gave them 6 useful steps to work through and identify on the day so that they could go away and make a few easy and simple tweaks to their mind, body (embracing it not changing it) and wardrobe.  The workshops are not available at the moment because we are currently converting the workshop to an online platform so we can release it as a course to the world in the Spring. Making it more accessible to women who want to achieve the same results from the comfort of their own home. 

You have many delightful services and packages including colour confidence, body confidence, wardrobe confidence, shopping confidence, style review… What service/package seems to be the most popular amongst your clients?

I would say that the main two roots of The Image Tree services, so the Colour and Body Confidence services are probably the most popular ones jointly because they are great starting points and get happier results quickly. Who doesn’t love learning about wearing flattering colours or dressing your shape in one session?

Which service/package do you really enjoy the most (or gives you most satisfaction) when helping a client?

 Ooh that’s a tricky one, I love them all.  If I had to pinpoint one… then it would have to be the New Beginnings package as it takes the client on a Style journey working through colour, body and your wardrobe in 3 flexible sessions with bespoke positive coaching support throughout the duration. I love afterwards too when the realisation sinks in and the magic happens

Nottingham family photographer

I love the sound of the service you offer called “The Secret Stylist” … what does that entail? 

So the Secret Stylist is a quicker, more affordable version of what I do in bite size chunks for women who need specific foibles sorting.  I’m currently changing it to make it solely virtual, so speaking to clients via zoom, skype or whatsapp video for ease and convenience for clients when they need me most.  So from the changing room, outfit advice via their phone or photos they send, 30 mins of coaching before an interview or date, or maybe they need me to find them a pair of jeans that they know will fit? Every client gets their very own Pinterest board for all clothing inspirations anyway so I can just pin stuff and they buy it.  It was based on a subscription before and I used a points system for clients to choose what they needed but it was a bit hard for me to keep track of let alone my clients. So streamlining it now to be neat and marketed clearly. 

I’m currently drawn to burgundy/black/coral/red colours for this winter season; is it    difficult when shopping with a client not to be attracted to your favourite colours rather than theirs?

I totally love colour and I know what works for me but that doesn’t mean it would work for them. As I’m trained in Colour analysis and have 7 years experience I can easily separate myself.  I’m not the colour police though and totally respect that some ladies can’t let go of colours they love even though they might not be as flattering as others on them…(black being the main culprit) You should always wear your happy and it’s just a case of mixing them into your outfits effectively.  

Working magic on flattering body parts and hiding less amenable parts is a job and a half!  What are the common “mistakes” that ladies make and what do you suggest they should try instead?

I would say the most common mistake that women make is to focus on the parts they don’t like and forget about everything else, due to years of staring at them and berating themselves with negative self talk.  So my advice would be to ask yourself “What do I like about my body”? It’s a toughy because we don’t do it naturally!!  Be honest or ask someone you love and trust for their input.  It’s not vain nor is it egotistical, it’s merely giving yourself some love and validation, we ALL have the good stuff and we ALL have assets!!!!  Once you’ve identified at least one good aspect, think about what you could wear to make the most of it..  Good legs, wear a skirt, nice tights or fab shoes. Like your bum, find a good pair of jeans or trousers to hug those buns. The parts that give you the most sighs can be lovingly cared for with the right cut, shape fabric, hem or waistband. Distraction is a stylists main tool, so by wearing embellishment or interesting details or fabrics elsewhere can shift your gaze and show off your best bits whilst matt fabrics, darker colours and simple clever tailoring can totally make a difference.  Anything too tight or too big is never a good look. Skimming is the key word.
Another mistake I see is that women often presume that their bra size remains the same for every brand, style and shop out there since they got measured 12 years ago. I always recommend to my clients that they get measured more often (if they can) and get measured for the right bra style dependant on their breast tissue and shape, some work better than others for support and shape.  They are your under armour after all and provide the basis of your silhouette and can make a massive difference when trying on clothes and getting a better fit. So wear your best fitting one. 

As you are based in Derby, England, are your services available just locally or UK/ worldwide too?

Have car will travel… hahaha.  I have had clients all over England and only ask they cover my fuel on top of their service. Once the course goes online we’ll be able to reach further. 

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

I’m very eclectic and always dress mindfully to suit my mood or schedule, but mostly I will usually wear one quirky piece teamed with a classic separate. So think  skinny jeans, bold jewellery, tshirt and bright blazer or maybe a snake print pussy bow blouse with a leather pencil skirt. Shoes blimey.. I love em all but currently sporting a white flat-form trainer, metallic heels or a rock chick boot. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Hmm favourite shops, if I can go small I will and I love a charity shop or local boutique.  But online, I like Joanie for funky tops, SilkFred for dresses and for jeans it has to be NYDJ because fit is key, so investment and cost per wear in staples is savvy on the purse strings.   Despite this my secret crush is probably TKMaxx though because I love a rummage for designer discounted gems. 

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

Next on my clothes wish list is a sequin or sparkly blazer come tuxedo for christmas parties. Currently looking for one that has a bit of a semi fit rather than drapey. If this goes out next year then I’m after a new trench coat probably in Navy or a Dark Grey.

Boots or Shoes?

Nooo … that’s like choosing wine or cheese?  Hmm, going with boots if I have to then, though I do own a pair of shoe boots which would tick both boxes. hahaha/ Why boots… because I love Autumn and Winter and being snuggly and smug when its cold. Paired with a gorgeous wool coat and funky scarf you just can’t beat the polished look an ankle boot or knee high gives with jeans. 

For Pinning Later

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

www.facebook.com/WinDerby (ladies group)

www.the-imagetree.co.uk
Why not become a Special Subscriber and receive monthly exclusive updates, tips and offers? Or come follow me now on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn or Pinterest… 

Great chatting to you, Sara – such great downtown earth advice! And, I definitely think “Shoe-Boots” are worthy competitors when it comes to my boots or shoes question! I love that style too!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Sara from The Image Tree ( apart from the Pinterest photo which is of me!)

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An Interview With Mosaico Jewellery

Brightening up the dullest day, the colourful & fun designs of gemstone jewellery designed by Mosaico Jewellery have been inspired by the combined Brazilian/South African/British heritages of the two lovely ladies whose designs and expertise are behind the brand. I caught up with the bubbly ladies, Paula and Jenny, to find out more about their designs and what lurks in their wardrobes… Hi ladies, please introduce yourselves 🙂

P: Hi! I’m Paula. I’m a married mum of two boys, and live in Maidenhead, Berkshire. My best friend Jenny and I co-founded Mosaico Jewellery. We met while working in a jewellery boutique about 15 years ago and we clicked right away, Jenny was even bridesmaid at my wedding. Needless to say, we absolutely love natural stones and jewellery!

J: I’m Jenny and I live with my fiancé in East Molesey. Paula and I did absolutely click when we met! We were even told off a couple of times for chatting too much on the job 😊 Now, our brand offers semi-precious gemstone jewellery that is luxurious, yet affordable. Designed and handmade in-house which means they are very unique and exclusive.


What inspired the setting up of “Mosaico Jewellery”?

P: I had the idea for the company for many years, but had always been busy building my career and then starting a family. I got to a point that my job was causing a great strain on me emotionally and physically, and I was no longer enjoying the work, the long hours away from my son and flexible work was apparently not an option. So I quit my job and after I had my second son, I did a post-graduation in Digital Marketing. I felt that somehow gave me a bit of a boost in confidence. I think that sometimes you can find yourself in some sort of inertia and lacking maybe the confidence to go ahead to pursue your dreams. Any change is scary as it comes with a great share of uncertainty. I kind of knew that it would be challenging, but I just felt that it would be better to try than keeping myself wondering “what if?…”. I had also done my research, I knew it was a great idea that had a chance. I then invited my friend Jenny who is so creative and talented to join me on this idea, and without much hesitation, she said yes to it. We work really well together and that reflects on our brand.

Specialising in jewellery crafted from sustainable sourced top grade gemstones & metals, I do so love your range of colourful jewellery, obviously, but my personal favourite is the Lava -Carnelian, Jet Crystal & Agate Lariat  – very beautiful indeed. What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?

J: Oh the Lava Lariat is gorgeous. It is definitely one of our most popular ones too. Lariats are so great as you literally buy multiple necklaces in one purchase, and you style as you like, like you do with a scarf. It is all about you and how you like to wear it. Our gorgeous Esther necklace, ocean jasper beads threaded in an overlapping pattern is always eye catching at fairs we attend. Our Leaf earrings, Constellation and  Vivien necklaces are also some of our bestsellers, together with our Flor-de-lis necklace. I think often it’s the unusual that stops people in their tracks. The variety we are able to bring to the collections mean there is really something for everyone, which is great.

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

P: This is a hard question for us. One of my favourite pieces is the Aurora necklace. It is a long Amethyst necklace featuring one large stone at the end, with such particular markings! On top of that, Amethyst is my birthstone… so I just love that piece. I’m a big fan of earrings too, so I also love the Marigold, Alyssia, Caroline and Arabella earrings.

J:I love the Melissa necklace as you can see the work done in between the Tourmalines, it is so artistic! And I also love the Dahlia and Papillon earrings –  definitely personal favourites.

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

P: Yes they are. We ship worldwide. Although we have focused on the UK market so far in terms of advertising, we have already sent pieces as far as Hong Kong, Thailand and Canada. We have customers all around Europe too. We offer free global delivery and complimentary gift wrapping in our premium signature boxes to everyone.

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

J: We do have a bit of personal taste taken into account, and we both have a look at upcoming trends (such as upcoming shades for that year). We also take into consideration requests and popular stones from previous collections. However, this doesn’t dictate the collection to come. We look for stones that are unusual by shape, markings and/or colours, and then build the designs from there. We want people to express their individuality through colours and designs that are as unique as they are. So trends won’t help us with that. 

You do a bespoke jewellery service – what was the hardest or most unusual request you have had? 

P: We had a request for one bead. One nice interesting bead that would have great properties and energy attached to it. This was a gift to be given in a Blessingway ceremony. It was great to source that as the ceremony is historically a beautiful and unique way to honour a mother-to-be, to instil her with confidence and strength. We weren’t aware of these kind of ceremonies before but we loved sourcing the bead, which would be so full of meaning and part of such a heart-warming gift. That was super special.

A couple of hypothetical questions now!  Firstly, if you could go anywhere in the world for inspiration to create a new collection, where would you go and why?

P: Jenny and I pick the stones together and exchange ideas, but ultimately, she puts the designs together and I make the business tick. If we had to go somewhere for inspiration, it would probably be from our heritages – Brazil and South Africa. For me in particular, it would be the beautiful island I was born on, called Florianopolis, just off the South-East coast of Brazil. Jenny is British but has family in multiple places in South Africa. They are stunning places with dozens of beaches and nature. People are outgoing, fun and colourful in every sense of the word in both of these places, so you can’t help but be inspired by how people live and the style they express.  

J: In one of our first magazine reviews, the editor described our jewellery as ‘not for shrinking violets’, and that made us smile, as it sums up how expressive both cultures are and the inspiration we want to reflect in our pieces.

Secondly, which famous lady would you pick to be the “Face” Of Mosaico Jewellery and why?

P: Sofia Vergara! We would love her to be the Face of Mosaico. She has the perfect mix of bold, elegant, fun and colourful which is with our brand stands for. We are all unique and we want our jewellery to reflect this uniqueness in you. Sofia Vergara does that beautifully.   

J: Oh yes, that would be great!

10.  What recommendations would you give to help look after and maintain your gemstone jewellery?

P: We believe you just need to use your common sense and if the jewellery is well made, that should be enough. To clean it, you can use a soft cloth after you have worn it, and place them in your jewellery box, maybe inside a jewellery pouch or in a place where it won’t get tangled. 

J: Also, don’t ever wash them, instead you can use an old toothbrush and some lukewarm water and scrub very gently behind the stone, where dust can collect. Each of our pieces come with care instructions, and a card that outlines the properties of the main stone of the design. We are also introducing jewellery pouches, so if you buy a necklace, you don’t need to keep the box, instead you will have a pouch to store your necklace securely.

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

P: You will find me wearing jeans and long, sometimes baggy tops. Another reason we like jewellery is that it can just take any outfit from simple to trendy. 

J: We do believe it is all about the way you accessorise. I vary my outfits a bit, but weekends you will most likely find me in jeans and a nice top too.

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

P: Most shopping I do nowadays is for kids! Jojo Mama Bebe is fantastic. I also love this brand for kids clothing called Bluezoo. I am a big fan of online. It is just so easy to browse in the evening, when the kids have gone to sleep. If I need anything for myself I tend to go to the House of Fraser website at the moment as some of my favourite brands are available there.

J: I do quite a bit of shopping online too nowadays, but when I go on a shopping spree you may find me in Zara, or in womenswear at Selfridges.

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

P: I need to buy a pair of jeans. I am that kind of person that goes shopping for (needed) trousers and end up buying more (not needed) tops 😊

J: Boots, I just need a new pair of boots at the moment.

Boots or Shoes?

P: Nowadays I say boots! A good pair of comfy Boots! I’ve lived in the UK for 15 years now, but my South American side still needs to be wrapped up warm, particularly between October and March! A good pair of boots and I’m good to go in all weathers.

J: I guess you know now what I will say….. Boots it is! For similar reason, just comfortable and they go with everything.

For Pinning Later

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

www.mosaicojewellery.co.uk

Instagram: @mosaicojewellery

Facebook: /mosaicojewellery

Sofia Vergara, if you’re reading this, you know where to contact the ladies!! Thank you Paula and Jenny it has been great chatting to you, and I wish you continued success in 2020.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Mosaico Jewellery.

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An Interview With Radical Tea Towel Co

I’m being decidedly topical this week – the impending General Election in the UK next week, the current strikes in France, the ongoing criticism of Donald Trump in the USA…. what could be better than interviewing a homeware & giftware brand that has been inspired by radical thinkers throughout global history? Designing tea towels, aprons and other paraphernalia on topics such as democracy, the NHS, the Welfare State, Free Speech, Free Love, Votes for Women…. in fact, every topic done designed for those radical left and liberal minded people to proudly display their political and social beliefs. To find out more, I caught up with co-founder Bea of The Radical Tea Towel Company …..Hi Bea…

Hi! I’m Beatrice and I am a co-founder of The Radical Tea Towel Company.

Who or what inspired you to create the Radical Tea Towel Company?

It was May 2011 and I was looking for a birthday present for an elderly relative who was into left-wing and radical politics. His sight was poor so a book was not an option. I decided something practical like a tea towel with a political message on would be a great idea but, despite googling for over an hour, I simply couldn’t find one anywhere.

History & Politics abound in your range of Radical Tea Towels – how do you pick your design topics – do get ideas from customers, from what’s trending on social media?

It’s a combination of those things: customers do make suggestions all the time and we add the best ones to a list which we review each January. We also think about topics that are in the news, for example in 2015, when the refugee crisis was at its height, we produced our Refugee tea towel with the quotation by Emma Lazarus from the Statue of Liberty. 

Which topic/ tea towel has attracted the most attention so far? Have you got a personal favourite?

It’s probably the ‘Women’s March’ design.  It was based on a design by Margaret Morris for the song sheet of Ethel Smyth’s suffragette anthem “The March of the Women”. 

My personal favourite is the  ‘Rosa Parks’ design which shows her sitting on the bus in the run up to the Montgomery bus boycott just before refusing to give up her seat. What an inspirational woman! 

Although you are based in South Wales, are your tea towels available overseas?

Yes! We have websites in the US and Canada. but we get orders from all over the world! 

 Radical Tea Towel US

Obviously the tea towels can be used as tea towels, but some people have had them framed like works of art and even some have used them as ready made banners for activists at rallies. Where was the most unexpected place you’ve spotted your tea towels? 

I have 3 great examples!

A customer sent in a brilliant image of our ‘Women’s March apron’ hanging on a balcony in Galicia on International Women’s Day as part of a defiant protest for women’s rights. It’s a tradition in Spain to show you are on strike! 

Another one sent in an ‘LGBTQ tea towel’ from the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The temperature was minus 40! 

And then Jeremy Corbyn brought out a ‘Tony Benn tea towel’ and read out the quote about hope on it at a speech he made to his supporters at the Sanctuary Pub following his September 2015 leadership victory!

Have you always had a career or a hobby in the homeware/giftware sector in the field of designing, marketing etc? 

No! I was a languages teacher for most of my working life! This business was a completely new departure for me! 

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

Jeans and stripy tops with a gilet and leather ankle boots.


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

Yes, Boden for tops, M & S for footwear & jeans.

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

Some dark brown, calf length leather boots.

Boots or Shoes?

Boots. I find them very comfortable and they keep my feet and legs warm and dry in wet Welsh weather!

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

www.radicalteatowel.co.uk

https://facebook.com/radicalteatowel

https://twitter.com/radicalteatowel

Thank you Bea! There you go readers, if you’re stuck for ideas for gifts, for whatever the occasion, for that radical person in your life …. or if you yourself are a loud and proud radical, why not get yourself a tea towel or two!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of The Radical Tea Towel Company

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Spotlight On Workout Shoes

If you are looking for a pair of trainers (sneakers), there are so many styles, brands, soles, prices, those that are dull looking and those that are very bright; that choosing a pair can be quite daunting. It really isn’t as simple as it seems. Trainers are made in different ways and styles according to what they are used for – and it is important too to differentiate between a workout/gym shoe and a running shoe. Although both are similar in design and style, the running shoe has been made to support forward movements and are generally more cushioned to absorb the shock from each footfall; the workout shoe/cross trainer is designed for the gym and is sturdy enough to withstand an intense bout of high intensity interval training. There are Workout Shoes for those who want to do weightlifting; some cross-trainers have the capability to accommodate short distance running, weight training, cycling, HIIT; others are more lightweight and have been created for indoor/studio use eg dance, cardio, aerobics. Don’t pick a workout shoe designed for weightlifting if your normal workouts involve jumping jacks and sprints.

The price of the trainers differ greatly. I came across an interesting study conducted by Nick Rizzo, Fitness Research Director at RunRepeat, the largest athletic footwear review company in the world. Nick is an elite level power lifter too, so he knows his stuff! Nick published a new study analysing 323,776 reviews and prices of 336 workout shoes representing 20 different brands. What I was amazed at was that one of the key findings indicated that the cheaper a workout shoe, the higher the ratings and user satisfaction. The top 10 most expensive workout shoes cost 183.05% more and have a 2.3% lower rating on average than the cheapest workout shoes. I was pleased that my favourite brand, Skechers rated highly; my teenage sons and husband wear Nike and Asics, which scored favourably too. To read Nick’s full report: https://RunRepeat.com/affordable-workout-shoes-better

Copyright ©Nick Rizzo, RunRepeat

According to Nick’s study:

3 Worst Workout Brands: Merrell; Vivobarefoot; The North Face

3 Best Workout Brands: NoBull; Skechers; Jordan

3 Cheapest Workout Brands: Avia; Skechers; Ryka

3 Most Expensive Workout Brands: Vivobarefoot; NoBull; Inov-8

Copyright ©Nick Rizzo, RunRepeat.com

So having sorted out the brand in the price bracket you’re happy with, what should you look for in a workout shoe?

  1. Think about your workout/gym routine. Look for a workout shoe designed for the purpose – weightlifting, cross training, aerobics, Pilates….
  2. Comfort. Workout shoes are supposed to feel comfortable and sturdy as soon as you put them on. Unlike normal shoes, there shouldn’t be a breaking in period …. Firm cushioning rather than soft to provide a stable base.
  3. Support. The workout shoe should be able to provide a complete foot support – especially solid support in the side panels and heels. A supportive ankle bar is a necessity for during sprints and interval training.
  4. Fit Well. Too loose can hinder performance and can even cause accidents. The shoe should have a secure lacing system, a padded tongue and collar.
  5. Breathable.
  6. Sole. A good workout trainer should have a relatively flat sole, especially at the heel where it should also be wide. For indoor/studio use, a smooth rubber outsole with minimal or no treads is ideal.
Copyright ©Linda Hobden. For Pinning Later

Your workout shoe should also be durable. How long your shoe lasts does depend on how often you use them, but with a bit of due care and attention you should be looking at least 6 months wear plus. Replace when the support is no longer there and visible signs of wear and tear have set in. Always keep your trainers dry and well ventilated. Avoid wearing them outside of your workout eg walking on pavements.

Finding the right workout shoe is like navigating through a minefield, but with perseverance you’ll find the right shoe. Remember, the best workout/gym shoe should offer improved grip and support so you can workout more safely and with greater effectiveness.

Linda x

My thanks to Nick Rizzo Of RunRepeat.com for introducing me to his research.

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5 Reasons To Choose Wool

There are so many textiles in the world, and when you pick out garments for your wardrobe, do you really think about the material? After reading the reports by clothing brand, Celtic & Co, about the impact that microplastics have on polluting our waterways and that every time we wash our synthetic made clothes thousands upon thousands are released into our waterways via the humble washing machine; I began to look into the benefits of natural textiles such as cotton and, as it is currently winter in the UK, wool. You can read my blogpost about Celtic & Co’s report HERE. There is certainly more to wool than meets the eye – and here are my 5 reasons to choose wool:


Photo::Linda Hobden

WOOL IS A NATURAL PRODUCT. Wool is renewable. Wool obviously comes from sheep, but also wool is obtained from other animals including alpaca, llama, camel, goat, yak, beaver, otter, rabbit…. Wool has many eco-advantages over synthetic materials, such as polyester, acrylic and nylon: synthetic fibres all derive from plastic and wool, unlike synthetic materials, is naturally flame retardant. It is the flame retardant properties that makes wool the choice material for garments made for firefighters and soldiers – also wool is a natural insulator and is breathable. Have you noticed that wool carpets are used on trains and planes too?

WOOL IS RENEWABLE AND RECYCLABLE. When wool is disposed of, it naturally decomposes releasing valuable nitrogen-based nutrients into the ground. Recycled Wool is made by cutting or tearing apart existing wool fabric and then respinning the fibres, sometimes adding raw wool – this process was invented in West Yorkshire. It makes absolute sense to me to unravel old woollen items and respin or knit …

Photo: Celtic & Co

WOOL IS ODOUR RESISTANT. Wool clothing doesn’t smell, it doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria and is stain resistant too! Good news if you do perspire a lot, especially as wool is breathable so you don’t feel clammy. Wool doesn’t need to be washed as often as synthetic clothes – saving water, power, and you’re not releasing those microplastics into the environment either via your washing machine. Superwash wool ( or washable wool) technology first appeared in the early 1970s – this is wool that has been especially treated so that it is machine washable and may be tumble dried. So wool is even more convenient. According to Wikipedia, in 2007, a new wool suit was developed and sold in Japan that can be washed in the shower, dries off ready to wear within hours with no ironing required. The suit was developed using Australian Merino wool.

WOOL LASTS. Fashions come and go, but wool garments are usually very classical in style. My navy blue wool coat has been in my wardrobe for well over 20 years, might even be nudging 30 years old – it is a classic style that hasn’t dated, it is still immaculate, it still fits and it is still very warm indeed. Wool garments may be more expensive than their synthetic counterparts, but they do tend to last longer.

Wool clothing by Celtic & Co: Toscana Gilet, Flecked Funnel Neck Jumper; Aran Cable Beanie. https://celticandco.com

WOOL IS MICRO-CLIMATIC. Wool is amazing! Wool can keep you warm in winter, and can actually keep you cool in summer! Wool has a natural high level of UV protection. That is why desert peoples, such as the Bedouins and Tuaregs, use wool clothes for their insulation properties. Wool fabrics have a greater bulk than other textiles, and they hold air, which in turn causes the fabric to retain heat. Weather and geographical locations do influence wool in terms of quality and type of fleece – for example, Welsh Mountain Sheep have fleeces that are strong and robust – as the animals have to endure harsh weather; Lowland sheep have fleece that is often softer and finer, which is perfect for blankets. Sheep are resilient animals and can thrive in the hardiest of places where other livestock struggle to survive and crops can’t be grown. No wonder wool is one of the oldest textiles in the world!

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Thanks to Celtic & Co for their report on Synthetic v Wool; Wikipedia & MakeitBritish.co.uk for the facts about wool.
Photographs are by Linda Hobden apart from the Celtic & Co photos that have been marked as such in the article

Linda x

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