Category Archives: Interview

Spotlight on NABAS

Party season is fast approaching and if you are looking to decorate your party room with balloons and other event accessories then who better to give advice than NABAS – The Balloon And Party Professionals Association – the only registered trade association for the balloon and party industry in the UK. I caught up with current chairman, George Oustayiannis… hello George and welcome…

Hello! I’m George Oustayiannis and the current Chairman of NABAS, and Director at GO International, the UK’s leading importer and wholesaler for everything party!

What is the story behind setting up of NABAS?

NABAS was set up almost 35 years ago (2022 will be our 35th Anniversary). All the leading manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and decorators came together to form a non-profit association, run for the members, for the members, with a number of benefits. It was created to be a voice for the industry.

What would you say are the pros of hiring, say a balloon professional that is a registered member of NABAS?

 Without doubt, the knowledge that a NABAS member is insured, and that they have a network of over 650 members willing and able to help and support them.

What perks does being a NABAS member offer a balloon and party specialist?

The ability to network with your peers, as well as having access to leading manufacturers, wholesalers and balloon decorators. We also have dedicated team of NABAS approved instructors, as well as the most comprehensive insurance on the market.

Apart from being Chairman of NABAS, what specialist balloon & party profession are you in?

I’m also on the Board of Directors for The Impact Group – an invitation only organisation of the UK’s leading wholesalers.

Have you always wanted a career in the balloon/party professional spectrum or did you have other aspirations?

As the eldest son of a very traditional Greek family, I had two choices. I could be a lawyer or a doctor.  But if I wasn’t that bright, they’d settle for accountant. I actually started in law, and became a city broker, and was the youngest divisional director for one of the city’s leading firms. But my wife decided I didn’t want to be a broker anymore! I’m afraid I took away my parents “Church Bragging Rights” with the “What does you son do for a living?” question.

What advice would you give to anybody thinking of starting up as a balloon and party  professional?

Join NABAS! The wealth of knowledge and support is unparalleled.


Personal now, what outfits/footwear would you normally wear when in “party mode”?

As casual as the host allows. I spent far too many of my earlier years in a suit and tie. I try and avoid fancy dress, and only ever looked remotely acceptable as Batman, because I could hide my true identity behind a mask!

Boots Or Shoes?

Shoes, as a Piscean, I hate any kind of footwear and  can’t wait to go barefoot! Shoes are so much easier to kick off, or quickly put on when need be!

For Pinning Later

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

www.nabas.co.uk  

www.gointernational.co.uk 

Thank you George for chatting to us today. Let’s hope the parties can go ahead as safely and as healthy as possible this year!

Linda x

All photographs (apart from the Pinterest and header pic ) have been published with kind permission of NABAS.

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An Interview With Author Paul Ver Bruggen

I am so pleased to welcome author Paul Ver Bruggen onto my blog tonight. Every now and then, you come across a book that totally blows you away ; a book that has you totally engrossed from start to finish; a book that you could read again and again and never get tired of it. I would rate The Gaming Room by Paul Ver Bruggen, as one of the best books I have read this year. In fact, if I had to name my top 10 all time favourite books it would definitely be on the list along with classics such as Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca”, F Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and D H Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”.

BOOK REVIEW

The Gaming Room is a fusion of history, romance and psychological thriller. There are two intertwining stories – one set in the 21st century; the other 18th century – both separate stories yet linked . In the 18th century we meet John Law, gambler extraordinaire, who aspires to become banker for the French monarchy….. and then, in the 21st century we meet his descendent, Theo Law, who also takes a gamble as he launders money via on the Dark Web for the Russian Mafia as well as the Vatican. And a trip to Venice they both take … 11/10 for me 😊

INTERVIEW

Hello Paul and welcome!

Hi. I’m Paul and I’m that unusual person: I live in London and I’m actually from London.

I’ve been happily married for many years to Carin, an American, originally from Detroit, Michigan, and we have one daughter, Skyler. 

I work as a freelance video producer/director and a writer of fiction.

I love singing, cinema, cycling, reading, playing tennis and baking bread.

“The Gaming Room” is my first published novel.

Who or what inspired you to write your excellent book “ The Gaming Room”? 

I was first inspired by the extraordinary real life of John Law, a gambler and financier in the early 18th century, who killed a man in a duel and was forced to flee London. He became the most powerful man in France, made and lost a vast fortune and spent his final daysin a notorious gaming room in Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal. 

I then decided to interweave his story with that of a fictional moneyman, his 21st century descendant, Theo Law, an investment banker turned major money launderer for the Russian mafia. 

Then came the biggest inspiration of all – I had them haunt each other across the centuries.

I really enjoyed reading your book, “The Gaming Room”.  I loved the way the modern day chapters featuring Theo Law entwined with the 18th century John Law and although both were distinctly different “stories” it was surprisingly easy to immerse yourself into both centuries equally! I loved the characters equally too – John and Theo and surprisingly, Maggie!  Which character was the hardest to write about?

Theo was actually the hardest. Almost all the others were either based on historical figures or someone I knew or had met, including Maggie. (An ex-girlfriend’s alcoholic mother, from the East End.)

Also, Theo speaks in the first person – you hear most of what’s going on inside his head and he has to carry that whole section of the book.  He’s a tricky combination. He’s behaves badly, but he also has to be redeemable, and to some extent likeable, so that you care enough about him to want to stick with the story.

Were there any aspects of writing The Gaming Room or indeed, writing about any of the characters, that surprised you, pleasantly or otherwise?

One of the things that surprised me was the way the two stories seemed to echo each other quite naturally, without my having to force things. And then there was the decision for the two main characters to haunt each other and eventually meet in a kind of parallel universe. Like so many decisions in writing fiction, theyseem to be taken for you, as if your unconscious is at workthroughout.

In terms of characters, John Law’s partner Catherine really took me by surprise. My wife, Carin read an early draft of the novel and thought the women were all too passive. I set about making Catherine a rival to Law as much as his advisor. Suddenly she took off as a very strong character and, indeed, seemed to take over the whole story! She was so real to me that I was actually in tears when I wrote her final letter to the dying Law.

What era of the story did you enjoy researching or writing about the most – the 18th century John Law or the 21st century Theo Law?

As regards research, the 18th century story was obviously the hardest. It was a mountain of stuff, not just on the macro, political level, but on the more micro and every day – what did they wear? what did they eat and drink? what card games did they play? Exhaustive and exhausting!

On the plus side, there was a real historical story that I could base my own narrative on.  Sometimes it felt like I was channelling the spirit of John Law and that was very enjoyable.

Overall, I derived a real sense enjoyment from how and where the book was written. It was mostly in long hand, on trains, buses and station platforms, or at lunchtimes, in local cafes. There’s somethingoddly satisfying about scribbling a scene at the court of Louis XIV in Versailles or some steamy lovemaking with a courtesan in Venice, whilst travelling on a very crowded tube train between Queen’s Park and Oxford Circus!

Growing up, did you have aspirations to become a writer or did your career hopes lie elsewhere?

I really wanted to be a novelist from my mid-twenties and wrote a couple of duds, as you do. Gradually, as my career as a Producer/Director took off, I set fiction to one side, and didn’t return to it for over 20 years. I then had to write another couple of duds before I got to The Gaming Room. It’s been a long journey.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

Now that I write more, I’m less bookish – I just don’t have time to read as much as I used to and I usually only manage to read our book group choice, or something that’s part of my research for the current novel. 

I think The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is probably as perfect as a novel gets. 

I must be getting younger instead of older, because I used to be a stickler for actual books and now I usually read them off my phone. Help

 Is “The Gaming Room” available to purchase worldwide?

It’s available on Amazon UK and US in Kindle and paperback.

If you could visit any place in the world to give you inspiration for your next book, where would you go and why?

The novel I’m working on is set in Italy during the Renaissance. My first ports of call would be the Arena Chapel in Padua and the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, both of which are important locations in the story. 

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing? What’s lurking your wardrobe? Boots Or Shoes

If I do say so myself, I’m a snappy dresser. When I was travelling regularly into Soho and the West End, I put a lot of money and thought into it, especially the colour palette. Now I put less money, but just as much thought.

Then, my wardrobe ranged from anything Italian to the Jermyn Street shirt merchants – T.M Lewin, Charles Tyrwhitt, Pink etc. – to the smart casuals like Ben Sherman and Banana Republic. These, together with the odd foray into TK Max, particularly for shoes –suede Chelsea and Chukka boots – and the posher charity shop and stalls in Notting Hill and Portobello, for cashmere woollies and tweedy coats. 

Now, it tends to be ‘vintage’/charity shops for everything – and they’re not always so posh. And it’s not always cashmere.

Sadly, the Ben Sherman shops folded a few years back, but for personal, biographical reasons, they were my true favourites. Along with a mohair suit and sharp pair of brogues – even now, I have many pairs – a Ben Sherman shirt was de rigeur for a smart, trendy young geezer growing up in East London in the ‘60s. 

But there’s also another side to my fashion sense. No, I’m not a cross-dresser, but I do cross the Atlantic.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the US down the years – hey, I married one – and I take a shine to that Western look that includes vintage Levis, suede waistcoats,cowboy shirts and fancy cowboy boots. (I leave off the spurs – although I am a supporter…) At one point, after I’d spent some time on a filming job in Texas and Louisiana, the Western style almost took over my whole wardrobe. YeeHaw!!! I had to work hard to haul it back towards the classic English preppy and it now remains a mellow blend of the two

For Pinning Later

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

https://www.facebook.com/BruggenVer

Twitter: @Bruggenver

https://www.instagram.com/bruggenpaul/

Thank you so much for agreeing to be interviewed today; thank you for the copy of your book The Gaming Room for reviewing; and thank you to Ben Cameron for introducing me to you and your writing!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Paul Ver Bruggen

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An Interview With Meee

Not an interview with me but an interview with Sid Madge, founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) ! To date, Meee has transformed the lives of over 20,000 people, from leaders of PLCs and SMEs to parents, teachers, students, carers, the unemployed and prison inmates. That is a lot of people! I caught up to Sid to find out more about Meee ….Hi Sid and welcome 😊

Hi, my name is Sid Madge. 


What made you decide to launch Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise)?

I started the Meee program after I was giving a talk in a school in Wales to a group of young teenagers. I asked them to describe themselves using one word. 

The first lad I asked answered “weirdo”. I smiled and said well what a great word, so creative. And he said, “No I’m bullied, I don’t like being at school, don’t see the point in education and don’t like learning”. I was horrified. I went round the rest of the class andothers used words such as freak, misfit and weirdo.

That session had a profound effect on me, so I did some research on young people and mental health. I started running workshops in schools with teachers and then worked with the unemployed and people in prison. I did a Tedx Talk and wrote my first book and followed up with two more.

My belief that this really could work, grew.

We started working with businesses and we’ve had tens of thousands of people through our programmes. We’re developing specific tools for personal development, and professional development around leadership, around culture. It’s been an amazing journey and I’m very grateful.

I guess your job isn’t an easy one as some people’s aversion to change is not that easy to solve! What sort of reasons hinder their adaptability?

Yes, people have multiple barriers to change. There’s a great saying is there no one likes change, except a wet baby!

Too often we see the process of change as negative and that’s what makes it so hard. We have to accept the situation we’re in and then create change – think of those amazing people who have got through extraordinary adversity, for example, Helen Keller, John Wilson who started sightseers International. It’s those people who have determination and the ability to regard change as positive. Others include Kobe Bryant who sadly died last year, Michael Jordan Ariana Huffington. They embrace change and that’s what Meee does. 

What approach do you tend to use to help people believe in themselves?

It’s best to start in safe conversation, exploring values and where our thinking comes from.We’ve got a great programme called Fuel and that’s all about Feelings and Understanding Emotions and Logic and Learning. I think once you start having those conversations around values, purpose and your own performance goals people start to change. They realise that they are their own instruments of change. They may have developed negative beliefs but a process like this can help them change their internal script, and help them change their lives. 

What is it about your job (& Meee) do you enjoy or gives you the most satisfaction? The downside?

I love what working both with young people and adults and taking them through a process of change. People of all ages have change their lives, but they do the changing and we’re there to guide and support.

When you listen to the stories of what they’re achieving for themselves, for their families, for their friends, for their communities there is no greater gift. 

The downside? I want more people to do the programme but finding the money is often challenging. But we’re getting more corporations involved so that we can then subsidise the education work and work in prisons. 

You are also an author of “Meee in Minute” series of books which each offer 60 ways to change your life – work or family – in 60 seconds.  What are 5 of your top tips?

• Words matter – think about the words that you use and how they impact others

• Never stop learning – there is so much to learn from yourself, from other people from going places, from doing things e.g., reading, writing, watching films etc, exploring the world. There is learning in everything that we do.

 • Remember that we all matter. Every single person matters. We’re all in this together and everybody can make a huge contribution to this wonderful world when you find your purpose and your passion.

• Think about the energy that you have – it’s a finite amount that we get every day so spend it wisely, 

• Honour your negative feelings. We all have them in a regardless of who we are. What’simportant is to acknowledge them but not to feed them. If you’re in a bad mood find out why, and what you can do to move the dial and put yourself in a better mood.

Growing up, did you always want a “People related” career or did you want to pursue a completely different direction?

At one point I wanted to be a vet, but I thought I wasn’t clever enough! I discovered the world of branding and design which has been great to work in, but it was never truly fulfilling. When that young lad said the word weirdo that changed everything.

Do you think the COVID pandemic has made a difference in the people’s mindset regarding change and life in general?

I think Covid has changed a lot of things. It has made some people more fearful but it’s made some more optimistic. It’s made us question things and what is truly important. I hope we’velearned that we’re not invincible and need to look after each other and this wonderful planet.

As you are based in the UK, are your services available worldwide too?

We are based in the UK but we deliver worldwide

©Linda Hobden. – Jeffrey West store in Piccadilly, London

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

Trainers shorts and T-shirts mainly. I love being casual but also love dressing up smart too for the right occasions. 

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love John Lewis and Fortnum & Mason. For convenience Amazon is useful – although I don’t think they aren’t doing the retail world a huge favour at the moment.

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

My clothing Wish List is more about the children. I have three young children and I like buying clothes for them. I also like finding second-hand clothes. Recycled cool stuff is good for me especially as since the start of Covid I haven’t had any in-person meetings.

Boots or Shoes?

I used to wear a lot of Jeffrey West boots love love love his boots but now it’s trainers, it’s shoes and I love my slippers.

For More Information:

For Pinning Later. Lincoln’s Lego Exhibition 2019. ©Linda Hobden

Web: www.meee.global

Web: www.meeebooks.com

Twitter twitter.com/Meee_HQ
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MeeeHQ/
Instagram www.instagram.com/meeehq
YouTube https://youtu.be/fISupZWZMQc 
TEDx https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR3Cyjs62c8

Photographs have been published with kind permission of Meee (apart from header, Pinterest photo, and Jeffrey West shop – ©Linda Hobden)

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Spotlight On The Andalusian Mystery Series

In the UK, the nights are drawing in and what can be nicer than cosy nights by a roaring fire, curled up in an armchair with a hot chocolate toddy and a good book? Even better when the books are mysteries based in the sunnier climate of Andalusia in Spain. Author Paul S Bradley has written 5 books in the series so far, and I was fortunate to receive his first book in the series to review: Darkness In Málaga.

MY REVIEW OF DARKNESS IN MALAGA

Darkness in Málaga is a crime mystery set in Spain and a story of many parts expertly woven into one. It is a book inspired by a true murder and a dedication is made at the front of the book to the memory of Cecilia Natalia Coria Olivares who was murdered in Nerva on September 8, 2008. So where do I start? It begins with a young girl being abducted; a group of African refugees fleeing Africa to reach Spain; a corrupt official; a wily detective, Leon Prado, who fears he may have lost his way as he tries to solve the abductions; then there is Phillip, who was in the British Intelligence Corps, who retired in Spain to lick his emotional wounds after his acrimonious divorce from his gorgeous Russian wife; Juliet, a beautiful British waitress, half Phillip’s age, but somebody he would love to know better; Amanda, the CNN film maker, following the refugee story. When Juliet goes missing, Phillip helps Detective Leon Prado, to piece together the kidnaps, along with Amanda. But that is only the start of it….things get darker, much darker. I loved it! It had enough suspense to keep me interested, some romance and light hearted moments too…

So, I just had to invite author Paul Bradley onto my blog about his writing, his life in Spain and his fashion choices, of course! Hi Paul and welcome:

How does one describe a person who lives in a quaint village by the beautiful blue Mediterranean, and travels, pandemics permitting, around the Iberian Peninsula with small groups of North American Alumni showing them the fascinating mix of ancient and modern Spain? Fortunate, one could say, but as it is me, I will go a step further. I have not lived and worked in Spain for over thirty years by accident. Coming here was a deliberate and planned attempt to redesign my life away from the London rat race. I had always dreamed of loving what I do and not just work because I needed to earn money. I risked all, and thankfully it paid off. It was dodgy restaurant translations that opened the door. When I informed the beach restaurant owner that he was offering me Ironed Squid instead of grilled squid, I was immediately pressed into service to fix his poor communications materials. Then the restaurant next door wanted the same and I was in business. That evolved into property and lifestyle magazines, guidebooks, and travelogues. Pre-Google, someone had to physically gather material about this marvelous country and happily that fell into my lap. As I grew older, and some kindly Governments started sending me money every month for not doing much, it gave me the opportunity to switch to writing novels, something I can do until the wooden box beckons.

“Darkness in Málaga” is the first in the series of 5 books of the Andalusian Mystery Series. The others are: Darkness in Ronda; Darkness in Vélez-Málaga; Darkness in Granada; Darkness in Córdoba. What inspired the book series?  Are they stand alone books or best read in numerical order?

According to Mark Twain, one of the key ingredients to good writing is; write what you know. I’ve always admired JK Rowling for her ability to conjure up imaginary worlds from nowhere, although I suspect that the smoky gothic spires of Edinburgh contributed much to her fantasies as she gazed out of the window of the café where she started writing Harry Potter books. After all these years, I know Spain better than most Spaniards, so it seemed logical to set my books in my adopted homeland. Agatha Christie stories have endured many treatments over the years, and I love them all. Around the time that I was thinking about starting to write fiction novels, I happened to be escorting a group around Northern England. We stayed for a few days at the Old White Swan in Harrogate where during the winter of 1926,the enigmatic crime writer stayed to escape the madding crowd. She posed as Mrs. Teresa Neele until after ten days the banjo player recognized her. It prompted me to write crime mysteries set in Spain from where emerged the Andalusian Mystery Series. The first four cases can be read alone but are linked together. Darkness in Córdoba, which is currently a work in progress, is a stand-alone case but involving the main characters.

Having lived in Nerja, Spain since 1992 , are your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced ? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

Following on from my preferences to write what I know, readers may be interested to discover that all the characters in my books are loosely based on people that I have met on my travels. I change their namesand personal details, but their physical descriptions and behaviours are recognizable. I often use the threat of including my travel clients in my book if they complain too much. If they are particularly bad, they are likely to be the antagonist. I can’t say it encourages people to behave any differently, but it raises a titter and helps with sales. Without a doubt the hardest characters to invent are politicians. I say this becausethe motivations of policemen and criminals are pretty much the same the world over, but politicians are a breed of their own. Trying to keep them well grounded in any plot is difficult because they are always trying to self-promote, or make a point, and I’m often tempted to let them to the detriment of the storyline.

Were there any aspects of writing your book series that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected?

Writing experts, particularly my editor, bang on about showing not telling. This was a difficult transition for me as a travel writer because I was used to describing what I saw and weaving those visual memoriesaround historical facts gleaned from guides, brochures, or libraries. Fictional stories need real characters that actually think, speak, eat, sleep and dream. The story is revealed through their thoughts, dialogue, and deeds. It took quite a while to develop the required experience to do that with any level of competence.

As you not only live in Spain, but have also travelled extensively around the Iberian Peninsula, what are your top 5 favourite places that you recommend visiting whilst in Spain.

Spain is one of the most diverse countries I have ever been to. It is more mountainous than Switzerland, and the landscapes vary from emerald-green to dusty desert the further south you go. It’s the gateway to Africa. Travelers from all over the dark continent have been crossing to her shores since time began looking to trade or discover a better life, and continue to do so. It has abundant agriculture of almost everything imaginable. It’s safe, affordable and has an unbeatable climate. Wine lovers could spend years exploring the vineyards of La Rioja or Ribera del Duero. Historians can drool over the wealth ofmonuments and there are so many archeological discoveries, they now tend to photograph them and carry on with whatever building project revealed them. Numerous languages are spoken, and every town has a beautiful church or cathedral packed with religious artefacts. But it is the people that set this country aside. They are the warmest, kindest, and most considerate that I have ever had the pleasure to have known. The consequence of this is that everywhere you go, is a memorable treasure. You would have to waterboard me to extract five preferences so assuming you have, here goes. San Sebastian is for the gourmet; Toledo is unbeatable for religious history and dramatic location. Ronda for bullfighting fans,bandits and so much more, Barcelona for the young and dynamic, Madrid attracts the elegant and discerning.

Have you always wanted to have a career in writing or did you have other aspirations?

Writing was the only subject I was good at during my school years. Regrettably, I didn’t recognize the importance of that at the time and no one pushed me in that direction. I recall doing homework at the military boarding school I was sent to sitting next to several boys who knew exactly what they wanted to do. I could never work out if this were true or if their parents had told them what to aim for. My father was keen for me to join the army but polishing boots and being shouted at for six years deterred me from more of the same. Like most lost souls of limited academic achievements, I launched myself on a voyage of discovery trying numerous jobs eventually ending up in sales and then running my own business. The writing of proposals was all I excelled at which prompted me to enter a writing contest for the Sunday Telegraph. I came second and won two hundred pounds. This minor event was the spur that changed my life. For the first time I felt I had accomplished something and built on that, eventually coming to Spainand putting it into practice.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book?

I grew up in Market Harborough, Leicestershire where my mother was an infant teacher. She took me and my sister to the library every week. I love everything about books. From the browsing experience to the final choice, to the thrill of opening the first page. I don’t mind ebooks, but I do prefer an actual book.

Are your Andalusian series of books available to purchase worldwide?

The Andalusian Mystery Series is available globally in ebook and Print format in most major online bookstores and can be ordered by your local bookshop.

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

I’m a jeans, shirt and V neck pullover person in the short Spanish winters, and because I love hikingalong the beach or in the mountains, I’m well provided with Mephisto walking shoes. In the warmer months, like most of the year, it’s shorts, short sleeve shirts and Mephisto sandals with a rather weird Australian paper hat to keep my scalp from frying.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love playing virtual golf on wgt.com and occasionally browse Facebook to see what my daughters and grandchildren are up to. However, as I spend most of my days in front of a screen, I try and avoid them in the evenings. With the outdoor life in Spain, that is not too difficult.

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

Even after, thirty years away from the UK, I still haven’t changed the Marks and Spencer’s socks and underwear habit. With such a long lockdown marooning me here in Nerja, stocks are starting to dwindle.

Boots or Shoes? 

Believe me, after six years spitting and polishing boots at a military boarding school, it’s no contest. Shoes every time.

For Pinning Later

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

www.paulbradley.eu

www.facebook.com/PaulBradleyinNerja/

Thank you very much Paul for taking the time to chat on the blog, for the copy of Darkness in Málaga… I am eagerly working my way through the other books in the series 😊

Linda x

All photographs (apart from Pinterest & header) have been published with kind permission of Paul S Bradley.

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An Interview With Perfino

What do you get when you cross essential oil scents with jewellery? Perfino, of course! Perfino is an innovative natural scent jewellery brand that combines expertly blended, 100% natural pure essential oils with exquisite jewellery. Intrigued? I caught up with founder Kim Brookes to find out more. Hi Kim and welcome…

Hello! My name is Kim, founder of Perfino natural scent jewellery and a natural fragrance obsessive. It’s on the gentler end of addiction but I find it hard to walk past a flower without putting my nose in it and just love the smells of nature.

What inspired the setting up of “Perfino”?

I was always a big fan of perfume until I realised how harmful it can be. 

Most perfumes are made of mass-produced synthetic chemicals. It may call itself rose but it won’t have any rose in it. In fact, you won’t know what is in it as ingredients are not disclosed. It seems strange that we are so careful what we put in our bodies but pay little attention to the synthetic chemicals we put on our bodies, some of which can be absorbed into the bloodstream.

So, I looked for a new way to wear natural fragrance so we could still enjoy great scents without compromising our bodies. I worked with some incredible jewellery artisans to find the perfect way to encapsulate natural essential oil blends into jewellery in a sustainable way,and immersed myself in the blending of natural essential oils, until I found the solution, which is Perfino.

I love the idea of natural scent jewellery – wearing scent all day without chemicals touching your skin!  Let’s get down to the basics – what does the jewellery set comprise of and where do you put the essential oils? 

The set includes a recycled solid silver or gold vermeil necklace, six super absorbent lava stones straight from mother earth, and 10ml of pure natural essential oil which has been blended to provide a fabulous scent. You simply add a drop of the oil to the stone which sits inside the necklace, close it, and wear it. Our essential oil blends give out a much gentler and natural fragrance than perfume, and one that can last all day long. The scent is gentle, discreet, and for the wearer’s own personal enjoyment.

Out of all your essential oils collection, do you have any favourites? What are the popular scents amongst your customers? 

My personal favourite is “…and breathe” as it is led by rose absolute, a gorgeous but very precious oil. It takes around 10,000 roses to produce a teaspoon of rose absolute, which I have blended with ingredients which compliment this incredible fragrance.

My customers really love “…deep love”, possibly as it has some wonderful neroli oil in there making it quite romantic and dreamy. It’s very popular as a gift for loved ones as it says it all.

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

Yes, we are based in the Somerset but we sell all over the world and have had orders from San Francisco to the Seychelles as there’s really nothing quite like Perfino out there.

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

That’s a tricky one as the essential oils come from all over the world, often in very exotic sounding locations but ones where the harvesting provides badly needed fair trade income to the agricultural workers or pickers. I would love to go to deepest darkest Brazil where they continue to discover new plants and fragrances, and where there is a growing appreciation of how these should be protected.

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

 Well, like Perfino she’d have to have a cool and subtle style and be a force for good …so I’d pick the Emma Watson, a truly fragrant woman of substance.

Growing up, did you always want to be a jewellery designer or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere? 

As a child I loved fabrics and in my dream other life I might have been a fashion or textile designer. I made clothes for my teddy, then myself, and then my kids, but for jewellery design I have been able to spot talent in others rather than being the talent myself!

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

I have a mania for natural fabrics particularly linens and silks, and comfort – so anything that hangs well with a pop of colour, and a lovely scented necklace of course! As for shoes, I just adore Superga, but cannot resist a rubber fleece lined Tretorn Chelsea boot, whatever the weather.

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

I am a big fan of Ebay as it is such a great way to recycle, and many items are brand new. I enjoy Sezanefor great French style, and am in heaven immersed in any far away market.

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

A huge warm coat for immersing myself in after wild swimming which I am dabbling in but not yet convinced…and a new pair of Tretorns.

Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?) 

Shoes – boots make me think of winter and I am definitely a summer person

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

https://www.perfino.co.uk 

Instagram @perfinouk

Facebook @perfinouk 

Fabulous chatting to you about a fabulous product, Kim! I love it ❤️

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kim Brookes/Perfino

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An Interview With Author Shaun Hand

During lockdown I read a book that was sent to me to review by book publicity agent Ben Cameron – a book which made me laugh, cry and pine for a night down at my local pub to “people watch”! This book was called “The Sadness of The King George “ by author & musician, Shaun Hand. It was a book that was laugh out loud funny; the characters were absolutely believable; and, as it says in the book blurb, “unflinchingly honest”. The story is set in a local, rundown pub “The King George” in the West Midlands – an old style pub that has sticky carpets and tables, soggy bar towels, regular customers who sit or stand in the same places exchanging the same words of wisdom; the Saturday night aggro; run by the pub landlord, the Gaffer, who no one sees; the mouthy barmaid, Siobahn, who runs the place like clockwork although no one really appreciates her; the pompous barman; the young 20 year old barman who wonders if there is more to life than pulling pints, pondering over love and looking forward to the next fag break; and Amy, the new young barmaid – full of hope and object of desire. Written from the viewpoint of the 20 year old barman as he tries to find his way through life especially when it comes to love, work and being cool. So, it was with great pleasure that I was able to catch up with the author Shaun … Hi Shaun & welcome…

Hello, I’m Shaun Hand. A life-sized writer, musician, charity shopper, and amateur gardener from Birmingham (the UK one).

“The Sadness of the King George” is a refreshing modern tale of life from the old pub – a young 20 year old unconfident lad who serves the locals, the confident barmaid, the landlord, the characters who frequent the local on a daily basis –   What made you decide to write “The Sadness of The King George”?

Thanks! I wanted to write it ‘cos that’s the world I lived in from the time I was 18 to 35, pretty much half my life! It’s a world that’s dying as the 21st century establishes itself, and so I wanted to capture it realistically, good and bad.

The book characters are all absolutely believable and probably found in most pubs in the UK – as you worked in pubs and bars in your twenties too, were your characters based on observations of people you’ve come across in the past and incidents you’ve experienced ? Who were the hardest characters to portray?

Totally — although some were exaggerated or embellished for effect. The hardest one to portray was probably the narrator because although he was partly based on me at 20, he was also based on about four other people, and so I had to be careful sometimes not to just make him do or think what I would do in real life.

Copyright © LindaHobden

Your first book was “Pop Art Poems: The Music Of The Jam”  – vastly different genre to “The Sadness Of The King George”. Were there any aspects of writing your book that surprised you, either by being harder or easier to write about than you expected? 

It was the first time I’d ever written a long-form piece of fiction, and I think the biggest, most pleasant surprise for me was a point pretty early on where one of the characters started telling me what they should say and where the story should go rather than the other way round — I realised that they’d come to life and that it was becoming more of a novel than an idea.

Hypothetically speaking, if you could go anywhere in the world to get inspiration for another book, where would you go and why? 

I don’t think I’d need to go anywhere specific, really. I tend to write about smalltown, suburban England, so maybe somewhere to escape that! I’ve got a romantic notion of going off to a B&B in Llandudno or somewhere for a week and just writing.

Have you always wanted to have a career in writing or did you have other aspirations? 

I always wanted to be a professional musician, but having tasted the reality of the work involved to barely make ends meet (leaving your family for months on end to go touring etc)and some of the darker side of it, I think I’m happier and more fulfilled being a writer who does books, music, poetry, whatever takes my fancy. Right now, that feels more liberating to me than any amount of distance I could travel to play to four people for no money (or even no people for four money).

Copyright © LindaHobden

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors? Kindle or actual book? 

I am, and I read more and more avidly as I get older, but I don’t have a favourite genre. I love anything with a good story and vivid characters, but then I also love a good music or author biography (I’ve just finished Billy Bragg’s book about skiffle, which was brilliant). The only author I’ve read everything by (even the bad stuff) is George Orwell. My wife put me on to Sarah Waters, and I’ve really got into her; Fingersmith is a brilliant book. Also slowly working my way through David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books list, although some of it’s a little too dry for me.

And books, absolutely, every time. I can’t walk past a charity shop without having a nose. Kindles just don’t have that magic, or the smell.

 Is “The Sadness Of The King George ” available to purchase worldwide?

Yes. You can either line Jeff’s Bezos’ pockets or contact your local indie bookseller. It’s orderable through Waterstones too.

You are also a musician with your band FABRIK – what instrument do you play? What music genre?

My main instrument is the guitar, but I also play piano and bass and make drum loops for us to write songs over. We’re pretty trip-hoppy but a bit weirder. If you like stuff like Portisheadand Massive Attack, then we’re probably your kind of thing.

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

I flit between two extremes: trackies and trainers if I’m round the house, just nipping out, or just want to be comfortable. If I’m going out, DJing, gigging, or just want to look good, then it’s a suit with some nice loafers or these black-and-white 1920s-style shoes I got from one of those “4 shiny suits for £10” kind of shops years back.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?

For clothes? Probably H&M. I live in Wolverhampton and everywhere else decent has shut down. Increasingly, I’m getting stuff from charity shops; I don’t like buying clothes online really.

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

I’ve got me brother-in-law’s wedding coming up, and I’d really like to get a decent dark blue, fitted double-breasted suit for it, but I can’t find one that wouldn’t make me look like an early ‘90s Tory MP. Beyond that, I’ve got a few suit jackets from charity shops that need taking in.

Shoe-wise, I’d love some decent brogues and could do with some boots — trainers with jeans limits the kind of top you can carry off, and loafers with jeans can be dangerous territory. I need some new wellies too for me gardening.

 Boots or Shoes? ( & Why?)

Shoes because I like wearing brightly coloured socks (teddy-boy style, not ones with novelty patterns).

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

Buy book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sadness-King-George-Shaun-Hand/dp/1916084575/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Instagram: @shaunpatrickhand

Twitter: @shaunhandauthor

FABRIK: https://www.fabriktheband.co.uk/

Thanks very much for the nostalgia trip – I really enjoyed the book and the customer antics! Thank you Ben Cameron for sending me the book to read and review in the first place.

Linda x

The photographs of Shaun have been published with kind permission of Shaun Hand; the other photographs were taken by LindaHobden.

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An Interview With Njori

I’m talking about cooking utensils this week – namely the Njori Tempo, the first pack-away smart induction cooker. The Njori Tempo is the brainchild of Jack Raison and Nick Orme. The Njori brand designs and develops innovative kitchenware and its prestigious clients include TV chef Jamie Oliver. I caught up with co founder Jack Raison to find out more about his products and cooking passions … Hi Jack, welcome 😊

Hello, my name is Jack Raison and I’m one of the founders of Njori.

What inspired the setting up of your brand Njori and the introduction of the first pack -away smart cooker?

Nick (the other co-founder) and I are both design engineers and have been working together, designing/making products for other people for years. During this time, we obsessively talked about food and cooking and came up with a few concepts and business ideas together. When we first came up with the idea for the Tempo, we both agreed that if it existed, we both would have bought one already.

What are the attributes of the Njori Tempo?

The Tempo is a versatile precision induction cooker. We wanted to create a device that gives people accurate control over the exact temperature they are cooking at to help refine recipes and perfect their technique. We found that the sensors and systems required for this can easily be applied to a whole range of different techniques, so it can also be used as:

An exact pan temperature regulated cooking surface,

A water circulated sous vide cooker,

A temperature regulated deep fryer,

A slow cooker with the option of using an external temperature probe to monitor internal temperatures of what you are cooking,

It has built in scales so you can measure your ingredients straight into the pot,

The scale functionality can also be used to ‘reduce by weight’ for exact reductions.

Have you got a favourite recipe/food that you would highly recommend making using the Njori Tempo?

Fried chicken has always been a passion of ours. We’ve spent years perfecting a sous vide fried chicken recipe which is incredible. The Tempo obviously has you covered on the sous vide front, but also the exact control over the oil temperature is ideal for really perfecting your technique. With most deep fryers, the temperature of the oil isn’t very accurate and drops a lot when cold food is added. The Tempo counters this change and brings it back to temperature straight away.

What are the benefits of using the Njori Tempo as opposed to using conventional cooking facilities or camping stoves?

Conventional cookers are normally set to 9 different levels and are basically just ‘power output’ levels. This means that whatever level you set it to, a pan will get hotter and hotter over time. It’s up to you to be able to tell when our pan is at the right temperature for what you’re cooking and to keep it at the right temperature while it’s in use, often resulting in burnt food. The Tempo can be set to an exact temperature, so no matter what you’re doing, you know the pan temperature is what it’s supposed to be. This is especially important for more adventurous things like sugar work, tempering chocolate, sauce making, etc.

As you are based in the UK, is the Njori Tempo available to purchase internationally?

Yep. We’ve recently closed a Kickstarter campaign in which we had backers from many different countries ordering them. We have developed two different power systems to work on the different international voltages.

What are the dos and don’ts when it comes to caring for your Njori Tempo?

Nothing that isn’t quite obvious. The nature of induction cooking and the smart systems make it a very safe device. It’s obviously an electrical device, so I guess the only ‘don’t’ is don’t put it in the dishwasher.

Have you always wanted to design innovative kitchenware or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere?

Generally, yes. We’ve more recently been making all sorts of random things for other people, but we both started out designing for clients like Joseph Joseph and Jamie Oliver. It hasn’t been that intentional, but we both always end up working on kitchenware.

Hypothetically speaking, if you could create your ideal 3 course meal what would you cook & eat?

That’s a big question, and the answer would probably change from day-to-day. Right now, I’d say sous vide and grilled spanish style pulpo (octopus), then our signature sous vide fried chicken, and for dessert – I would probably just have more chicken.

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

I’m quite into overshirts at the moment. And I recently got a pair of Adidas Ultraboost 20’s, which I love. They are so comfortable I barely take them off.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Er, not really. I recently found Everpress which is a great website for people to sell their own t-shirt designs. It’s almost like crowdfunding for t-shirts.

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

More ultraboosts!

Boots or Shoes?

I do love a good boot, but they are harder to find the perfect one, and are pretty seasonal, so I guess I’m a shoe guy!

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

www.kickstarter.com/projects/njori/njori-tempo-the-smart-cooker-for-adventurous-chefs

njori.com

.instagram.com/njoricooking

Thanks for the chat, Jack. I think the Njori Tempo looks super cool yet practical.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Jack Raison & Nick Orme.

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An Interview With Judy Piatkus

I’m excited to introduce my guest this week – entrepreneur, publisher and business coach Judy Piatkus! Judy founded Piatkus Books in 1979 and in April 2021 she released her first full-length book & memoir “Ahead Of Her Time: How A One-Woman Start Up Became A Global Publishing Brand”. Without further ado, let’s say Hi to Judy …

Hello! My name is Judy Piatkus and I am an entrepreneur and former publisher, wife and mother.

What made you decide to write your memoir ahead of Her Time: How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand?

Throughout my working life, women have asked me how I grew my company alongside bringing up my family as a single mother. I wanted to share my story now to help women who want or need to start up on their own.

You founded Piatkus Books in 1979 from your spare bedroom. What inspired you to start your own business?

I had a dream of starting my own business and being my own boss and I built my first business with a partner. When that business relationship didn’t work out, I started again on my own.

Were there any aspects of writing your memoir that surprised you either by being harder or easier to relate than you expected?

The book tells the story in a linear way. However, I wrote the chapters that I found easiest first and then put the whole story together.  

As well as being a keynote speaker, you are also a coach/mentor to business startups. What main parts of your management style and experience from owning Piatkus Books do you try to impart to other budding entrepreneurs?

I believe that every one of us wants to have the opportunity to do good work. The onus is upon the leader of an organisation to create a culture in the workplace that empowers and inspires people to give of their best. This requires the leaders and the managers to understand themselves well and to treat their workforce with respect and in the way they themselves would like to be treated. 

Have you always wanted to have a career in the book/ publishing industry or did you have other aspirations?

From a young age I was an avid reader and I could think of nothing better than working with books all day long. I always felt very lucky that I was able to work in publishing and read and publish novels that people enjoyed and non-fiction that opened their minds to new ways of thinking about their lives.

Are you a bookworm? What is your favourite genre and/or authors. Kindle or actual book?

After I sold the company I thought I would read more than I do. Like so many of us, I get distracted by reading articles on the internet. However, I always read a lot on holiday. The topics I still enjoy most are the genres we published – popular fiction especially crime novels and books about relationships – and interesting new books about personal growth and spiritual development. I always prefer to read a printed book and avoid another screen but kindle has its uses.

Is Ahead of Her Time: How a One-Woman Startup Became a Global Publishing Brand available to purchase worldwide?

Watkins, my publishers, have sold copies of the book all over the world. You can buy the printed book, download it onto your kindle or buy the audio version and listen to it.

What do you enjoy most about speaking to audiences?

Speaking is an opportunity to inspire people to follow their dreams. I like to find out about the audience before I speak so I can target my talk to what I think will be of interest.  Publishing is a very complex industry but it’s one that everyone can understand. I am usually asked many questions about becoming an entrepreneur or how to get a book published and that keeps me on my toes.  

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

I like to look smart but I am a lazy dresser. Throughout my publishing career I got up every morning and put on a black top and black trousers and I had a variety of different jackets to go over the black top. That way I didn’t have to spend too much time thinking about what to wear. My favourite designers are Armani and Max Mara but I could only afford 5 outfits – one for each day of the week – and when one wore out, I replaced it. I usually wore comfortable but smart Russell and Bromley boots so I didn’t have to think about footwear either.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Large department stores such as Selfridges, Harrods or Harvey Nicholls always excite me. I also like individual carefully-curated small boutiques especially in towns outside of London.Its been such a tough time for the retail industry and I do hope that many of these shops are able to survive. Now I don’t have to go to an office every day I buy a lot of clothes in Gerard Darel as I like the variety and the cut. I much prefer trying before buying so that I can choose clothes that fit well.

Aside from clothes stores, I am unable to walk past a bookshop without popping in. I try and buy as many books as I can in bookshops because if we don’t support them, we won’t have the luxury of browsing and discovering unexpected treasures.  

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wishlist?

I want to have exciting places to go to where I can wear some of the clothes in my wardrobe that haven’t had much of an outing in the last eighteen months. Yesterday I was walking down the street and a very elegant woman came out of a block of flats nearby. She looked amazing and it reminded me how we have all got used to dressing-down. I want to dress up again.

Boots or shoes? (& Why?).

I have always been a boot person. I want life to be easy and I have always found it more comfortable to walk around town in boots rather than shoes. Wearing my favourite pair of boots with heels, I always feel I can conquer the world!

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Links you would like to share.

www.amazon.co.uk

www.bookdepository,com

www.judypiatkus.com

www.consciouscafe..com

Twitter: @Judypiatkus.com  

Instagram: Judypiatkus

Fabulous to “meet” you Judy and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. I am so with you on the dressing down issue … I can’t wait to start dressing up again and visiting exciting places! 😊

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Judy Piatkus.

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An Interview With Nasslor Health Drinks

Have you ever been foraging? Picking wild berries, snuffling out truffles, scouting the coastline for seaweed … what about nettles? According to Roy Lamb, co founder of Nasslor Health Drinks, nettles are a superfood and he should know being a pharmacist by trade and having a great grandfather who was a Welsh herbalist who used to forage for nettles to make a “cure all drink”. Roy is like a walking “nettles” encyclopaedia so I caught up with him recently to find out more! Hi Roy & welcome..

Hi, my name is Roy Lamb and along with Nasir Isaji we are the co- founders of UK-based Nasslor Health drinks Ltd makers of the Emunity drink range

We are both pharmacists with a passion for helping people stay healthy and we want to let the world know about the benefits of nettle – the forgotten herb.

What inspired the development of your health drink, Emunity?

In 2016, my Locum company was engaged to help support professional services to the pharmacist manager at Thornton Health Centre on the Fylde coast . This is where Nas and I began working together and,over lunch one day, we were discussing the health benefits of herbal teas .

I told Nas about Moses Bellis my great grandfather who was a herbalist that foraged for nettles to make his famous “nettle cure-all tea”. 

The trouble was my grandmother said that she had to put 2 spoons of honey with it to make it palatable.

Our light bulb moment was to decide to create a great tasting, refreshing nettle drink blended with fruits and English garden herbs in a still spring water all in a ready-to-drink slim can.

We wanted it to be 100% natural with no artificial ingredients, low in calories and suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Emunity comes in two varieties – Gooseberry and Wild Strawberry. Which variety is the most popular?

In terms of sales, the varieties are equal at moment as buyers are trying both!

On a more personal level, I love to drink the Nettle Dandelion Gooseberry Rosemary and Thyme combo as it gives me a mental lift and leaves me refreshed and invigorated.

Nasir loves the Nettle Chamomile Wild Strawberry Meadowsweet and Cucumber combo in the evening when he gets home from a long day at the surgery as he finds the drink refreshing and helps him to unwind and relax.

What are the main benefits attributed to nettles? 

Nettle contains a significant concentration of biologically active compounds particularly carotenoids and polyphenols that benefit the body. It is known to lower blood pressure due to its mild diuretic action. Clinical studies in Iran have found a mild lowering effect on blood sugars when nettle is administered in trials. Nettle also reduces the effects of skin photoaging and has been shown to be able to boost the immune system.

Nettle has antibacterial properties and has been trialled in animal feeds to various species to improve the welfare of the animals. And nettle helps fight the symptoms of hay fever.

Nettles are known as a “superfood” – is it possible to forage for wild nettle leaves? Any tips?

Nettles grow abundantly in all types of soil and hence they appear in every garden, hedgerow and woodland in the UK.

A ready supply of nettles for foraging is, therefore, in easy reach for most people. However, always wear thick gloves to protect your skin from potential stings from the leaves. To remove the stings from your gathered nettles the easiest and quickest way is to drop them into a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes. To retain the bright green colour plunge your boiled nettles into a bowl of ice water then leave them to drain and dry. The nettles can be safely frozen after this process or left to completely dry out. When using dried nettle, steep in water to rehydrate before adding to your recipes.

Have you got any favourite drink or food recipes that contain nettles? 

There are various recipes are readily available on the internet such as: Nettle pesto, nettle soup, nettle spanakopita, nettle and blue cheese rarebit.

There are also nettle infusions – dried nettles can be easily made into tea. Chop your nettles finely, add boiling water, leave for 5 minutes and strain. Unfortunately, nettle tea on its own isn’t delicious despite the health benefits. Instead try a ready-prepared infusion such as Emunity.

As you are currently based in the UK, is “Emunity” available to purchase worldwide? 

Emunity can be purchased direct from our website at Emunity.co.uk or from specialist health food wholesalers (list provided on website and social media). It’s currently only available in the UK.

Is Emunity suitable for everyone ( eg vegan, gluten free, sugar content etc) or are there any exceptions/recommendations? 

Emunity is suitable for vegans and vegetarians and is gluten-free. The total fructose content per 100g serving is 11.2 grams, so it is low in sugar.

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

Clark’s shoes  – I may need therapy as I now have over 40 pairs!

Next and M&S suits – I’m too embarrassed to say how many .


Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? 

Cheshire Oaks outlet and Next online.

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

UGG slippers. 

Boots or Shoes? 

Shoes for work, boots for gardening and rambling andtrainers for sports and play!

For Pinning Later

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

Website and shop: https://emunity.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/emunitydrinks

Instagram: @emunitydrinks

Facebook: ‘Emunity Drinks’ – https://www.facebook.com/Emunity-Drinks-101222345096132/

Wow, I’ll treat the humble nettle with more respect next time….

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Nasslor Health Drinks

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An Interview With Gipsy Hill Hardware

Door knockers and House Numbers are the topics of this week’s interview! I’m chatting to Rebecca, owner of Gipsy Hill Hardware – her background is in fashion but currently her attention is on the humble door knocker. She has some fabulous designs for door hardware made from recycled brass – and I caught up with Rebecca recently to find out more about her company and her designs. Hi Rebecca and Welcome!

Hi! I’m Rebecca OKeefe, the owner of Gipsy Hill Hardware. We design unique and characterful door knockers and house numbers that are handmade in UK foundries from solid recycled brass. 

What inspired you to launch Gipsy Hill Hardware?

When renovating our home, I struggled to find hardware I loved and it occurred to me that just because an item is an everyday functional item, why can it not be joyful and even a touch whimsical? Through researching how to create my own door knocker, designing it, and finding a way to get it made, the idea for the GHH was born (although it took many years to go from that first thought to launching!).       

You have designed a range of unique door furniture  – I particularly am fond of the Apex Style house numbers, the Amphibia Door Knocker and the Padlock Heart Door Knocker you recently unveiled on your Facebook page  – what are your most popular products?

Our ‘Knock Knock’ is our most popular door knocker to date and the Apex house numbers sell very well. However, the Padlock Heart and our Amphibia Frog Knocker launched in June and August and the response to the sneak peaks has been incredible, so they may well overtake Knock Knock! 

On finishes, the unlacquered raw brass finish is definitely the most popular across all pieces.  

Have you got a favourite product out of everything you have designed?

Amphibia is my nemesis but also my baby! It was the design that sparked the idea for the business, and it has taken 5 years to develop. If I knew back then, what I know now in terms of technicalities, I would never have designed it! However, I refused to give up on him and the response he has received has made it all worthwhile.  

When designing products to add to your collection, do you consider current trends, product use, customer requests, your own ideas or bits of all those? 

My background is in fashion and trend so I do try to stay ahead of the trends and foresee what emerging themes will appeal to our customers. This inspiration comes from many areas – including fashion, jewellery and interiors. However, the aim is always for longevity and creating pieces that will be loved for a lifetime, so I try to maintain a timeless quality.      

Have you any other new products in the pipeline to add to your range for 2021/2022?

Yes! We have so many ideas and plan to add consistently to the door knocker range as well as expanding into other door related items including letterboxes, centre door pulls, coat hooks and door stops. Watch this space!  

Have you always been interested in designing gadgets or did your career aspirations lie elsewhere? 

I was a fashion Buyer for many years but originally studied design and love creating something that resonates with people. 

However, this is my first-time designing hardware and while the process of taking an idea and turning it into a saleable product is something I’m used to, working with metal casting is a whole new ball game! It’s been very exciting and fulfilling though – plus, I get to work with amazing craftsmen and highlight this wonderful age-old casting industry we have in the UK.  

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

Yes. We ship Worldwide and love getting orders from abroad. 


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

I’d love to say something more glamorous but since working from home, I’ve been living in Birkenstock Amsterdams, Oversized Skater Tees and leggings. I tell myself that I’m trying to channel the Olsen twins but really its all about comfort!    

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

Liberty homeware is really gorgeous right now. It was my first post-lockdown real life shop visit and it’s got a very uplifting mix of product. Otherwise, it’s trawling ebay for vintage clothes and a sneaky browse on Net-A-Porter.  

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

Arket have a lovely pair of flatform thong sandals which are calling me. 

Boots or Shoes?

Shoes – and they need to be flats as I have 3 kids and heels are just not an option these days.  

For Pinning Later

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

www.gipsyhillhardware.com

Instagram: @gipsy_hill_hardware

Facebook: @gipsy_hill_hardware 

My thanks to Rebecca for chatting to me about her range of delightful door hardware.

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Gipsy Hill Hardware.

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