Saturday, 20 October 2012

What this glum face all about?

Why is Missy looking so glum?

It's time for a walk (it's ALWAYS time for a walk according to Missy!) and all dad is doing is having a cup of tea and the crossword. It's SUNNY out; what are we doing stuck indoors??!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Autumn beads

I was just listing three new sets of beads in my Etsy Bead shop and I realised the colours were all very autumnal. It wasn't entirely deliberate. The russet brown beads to the bottom right were supposed to be a wine red, garnety kind of colour. It's my latest self-devised frit blend, here's what it looks like before I put it on the bead.

Quite a difference! I quite like them so I'll be adding the "recipe" to my notebook but I'll have to try again to see if I can make some wine red frizzle beads.

I've made some of the primrose bubble beads before but the light brown beads at the back are a new colour in the spankle beads range.

Hope you're having a nice Saturday!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Wasn't me!!

Oh mum, look at your market cushions ... what do you think did it? Mice??

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Steep Hill, Lincoln - best street in the WORLD!

Don't forget to come to Lincoln this Saturday, I will have a stall on Castle Square. Here's an absolutely brilliant film telling you a little bit about Lincoln (warning it has a rude word in it so don't watch if you're offended by swearing).

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New venues

I've had to decide, in the wreckage of galleryRAUXA and leaving my stall in Cambridge, where to sell my jewellery. Having made the break with Cambridge, I didn't really want to return though the management very kindly did offer me a pitch. It's not that I haven't enjoyed being there but 2012 was a difficult trading period for whatever reason - fewer customers spending less.

We've been in an economic downturn for 5 years and my sales always held up pretty well up to this year so I'm not quite sure exactly what has changed. Most of the footfall seems to be diverted elsewhere, indoor shopping venues opening up and the free bus has disappeared, I'm not sure if it's been cut altogether or if its route just doesn't take it by All Saints any more.  Either way, this year, Cambridge hasn't been working for me so even though galleryRAUXA is on a back burner for the time being, I won't be returning.

It's time for a new start somewhere else. 

My next craft fair will be in Lincoln, Castle Square on Saturday 6 October 2012. 

After that, I'll be returning to the Fete on the Strait on Saturday 4 November 2012 also in Lincoln. 

They're both outdoor events so wear your jackets and/or coat with optional hats, gloves and scarves according to the temperature!

Watch out for info about December, I'm having to keep my fingers crossed on that one but there may be some big news soon!

One craft fair a month won't really bring me the income I've become used to. I've been adding some more jewellery to my Sooz Jewels Etsy shop today (including the bracelet photographed above), more will follow. 

I had a brainwave to put the locking cabinets that we purchased for galleryRAUXA into shops with my jewellery in it, we've had some encouraging noises being made by a couple of boutiques so I'll keep you posted on that one, too. DH has been photographing the cabinets with my jewellery in it to tout round to some other outlets - if I do say so myself, it looks great and I can't wait to see the photographs (he's editing them as I type!) 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

An appeal for badgers

If you think the plans to shoot badgers to stop the spread of TB is an absolutely rubbish idea like I do, please can I ask that any UK residents reading this sign this HM Government E-petition created by Save Me's Brian May.

It takes seconds to do, it doesn't want to use some weird application to register and you won't get spammed afterwards either, I have signed quite a few on this website. If they get 100,000 e-signatures the subject will be considered for parliamentary debate. We're up to nearly 90,000 but the rate of signatures is slowing slightly so please at least think about it before ignoring my plea.

When you consider the money that is spent out on compensating farmers for infected cows, surely they can give grants for badger-proof fencing or bring forward the licensing of vaccinations. At the very least until vaccination is legal, we should keep the status quo rather than destroy 70% of the badgers in the test areas, many of these will be healthy animals. :-(

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

It's dead, Dave

For Red Dwarf fans, here's a galleryRAUXA reworking of one of the scenes from the very first episode:

Lister: Where is the lease for galleryRAUXA?
Holly: It's dead, Dave.
Lister: What is?
Holly: The Lease for the Strait, Dave.
Lister: What all the paperwork?
Holly: It's dead, Dave.
Lister: What about our Solicitor?
Holly: He says it's dead, Dave.
Lister: What about the Agents?
Holly: They're all as quiet as the dead, the Lease's dead, Dave.
Lister: Sue isn't, is she?
Holly: She says it's dead, Dave.
Lister: Not Missy?
Holly: Gorden Bennet, yes Missy, Sue, everybody, everybody says it's dead, Dave.
Lister: What about you?
Holly: I say it's dead Dave, everybody says it's dead, the Lease is dead, Dave.
Lister: Wait, are you trying to tell me the Lease is dead?
Holly: *slightly under breath* Wish I'd never let him out in the first place!

I think you can tell from the above, we're not upset, we're pragmatic (and making plans). More soon!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

So what now?

Last Sunday was dreadful, awful and so we decided to just get away from everything and let the Landlord and his Agents spin.  We got a last minute booking at a self-catering cottage in our favouritest place - Bamburgh in Northumberland. We left on Monday and got back on Friday evening. Here's a picture of Missy next to the beach at White Sands just up the road

We also had a quick visit into Scotland (an hour's drive) to celebrate Andy Murray's achievement, he won his first Grand Slam tournament in the US Open whilst we were away. (I couldn't watch it on TV so I listened to it on 5Live). Here's a few pictures of the harbour and town at Dunbar (not Dunblane, I know but it was the furthest we wanted to go!) Very very lovely ladies public loos, I wish I'd taken a photograph - they're all decked out with fresh flowers, by far and away the nicest public lavatory I've ever visited!

There were TWO galleries in the town, this one Bass Rock Framing which does framing on the premises and sells mainly framed fine art artwork, they also stock bought in Scottish/seaside themed items. The second was called the Found Gallery, which was selling framed and unframed prints (don't think they do it themselves) and a wonderful mix of British made artisan created goods. If you combine the two businesses together, taking out any mass produced items, this is what we want to do with galleryRAUXA ... but oh, yes, I was forgetting, we have no premises!

We left it with our lawyer that he would e-mail DH if he heard anything but just to wait for the other side to get back to us (if ever). We were adamant we would not agree to any changes to the original Heads of Agreement.

DH can pick up e-mails on his Blueberry phone (it's a Blackberry really, he just calls it that). Reception is intermittent though so we only turned it on once a day when we were in areas where we knew we could receive e-mails

Thoughts of the disappointment were never too far away and we tried to formalise what we were going to do in the future, lots of ideas cropped up, the more wine we had, the crazier they got ...!

Checking his phone when we stopped for lunch on the way back on Friday, we heard that the Landlord had had a change of heart and decided that the Heads of Agreement could stay where they were, they signed the lease last Wednesday and want to complete as soon as possible now.

It's quite a big shift to go back into it, we've lost over a week and we have messed around our workmen to the point that I'm quite surprised they took our phone calls asking if they were free for yet another revised start date. As well as that, there's the issue of whether we trust the Landlords and their Agents.

The previous tenant tells us he never had any problems with the Landlords at all, pay the rent and they totally leave you to it until he told them he was vacating. A similar tale has been told to us by one of the neighbouring shops who has the same Landlord, pay the rent to the Agents and you never hear anything from them, she's only had one inspection in 10 years.

Apparently it's a religious holiday for the Landlord and their solicitors on Monday and Tuesday so we're aiming for a Wednesday completion ... we're both hoping all this fuss wasn't the universe hinting that we shouldn't go ahead with it! We've made the decision that we will carry on with our plans for a picture framing Gallery today and there's a new moon, so we're taking that as a sign that a new beginning will be kindly looked upon.


Thank you for the kind messages received here, e-mail, phone calls and on my Facebook page, it makes all the difference to be reminded that the majority of people are really really lovely!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Lincoln steampunk weekend

Lincoln was buzzing yesterday with the steampunk weekend that is held in the City every year. Lovely weather and lots of people about. This was taken in Castle Square which is the bit at the top of Steep Hill inbetween the Cathedral and the Castle.

It's encouraging for the business community that there always seems to be something on to draw people into the City. DH and I had a stall at the Fete on the Strait just a couple of weeks ago, I forgot my camera that day (duh!) but it was a really lovely occasion some pictures at this link from this is Lincolnshire

Here's a picture of my sister, Sharon with her fiance Martin manning their steampunk stall yesterday selling Impossible Fossils, jewellery and stamps.

I wish I had taken more photographs of all the outfits that the people dressing up had on, they're all very elaborate and authentic. I wasn't feeling very sociable and it would've meant being pleasant to people and asking them to pose - really not on the agenda at the moment!

We just had to torture ourselves and walk down Steep Hill. Here's the Estate Agent's sign above the premises we were supposed to be leasing from last Friday - "Letting Agreed" - yeah, yeah, that's what we though too!

I'm afraid it didn't do much to cheer us up, we went on the hunt for other commercial premises in the area but we had been looking for so long before we found this one, we didn't hold out much hope. The only lettings we could see were for units that are too small.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Shattered dreams

So, Geoff signs the lease for the galleryRAUXA premises on Thursday afternoon, we transfer 3 months rent and insurance to our solicitor's client account. We expect completion on Friday and we'll be able to pick up the keys ... ?! Yes?!

NO. On Thursday evening, we get an e-mail from the landlord's agents saying the landlord wants to change the break clause from 3 years to 5, the Agents office isn't open on Friday (what?! he prepared the completion statement saying Friday for completion) but he'll be monitoring his e-mails "what are your thoughts?" A 3 year break clause has been part of the Heads of Terms since we started negotiations two months ago. "Sorry about the short notice" he says. The Agents office was shut all day yesterday apparently for a member of staff's funeral. We e-mailed back immediately and left a message on his mobile phone with no response. We have to spend the weekend not knowing what is happening.

The other side's solicitors said yesterday they were urgently seeking instructions, up til Thursday afternoon, they too were expecting to complete on Friday. We suspect that a charity shop (who put in a smaller offer at the same time as us) has spotted the fact that the premises have been empty for the last couple of weeks (while the legals go through their machinations) and put in a better offer. It could all be speculation but it looks like we are being gazumped and our dreams are shattered.

Our solicitor says it's unprecendented in all his years of negotiating leases for the other side to attempt to change the Heads of Terms the day before completion. It happens all the time in domestic house purchasing before exchange of contracts but not with commercial leases.  A three year break clause is pretty standard for a new lease and most landlords expect it.

If they want to renegotiate the terms of the lease at this late stage, then so do we, we'd like to decrease the rent by £1,000 a year, please - sorry about the short notice!

A little levity to break up the miserable nature of this posting but in reality we are beyond upset, we are beyond angry. It could all be a misunderstanding but it would've happened yesterday if the landlords intended to proceed with us, three months of rent were just waiting to be transferred and they don't appear to want it. We are left with two wasted months, alot of time and money expended, a cluttered up home and no income.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Why am I so tired?!

Might have something to do with this little madam demanding breakfast and her walk at 6am. Dogs do not understand the concept of a Sunday lie in!

Friday, 31 August 2012

Happy blue moon!

Happy blue moon! Today's full moon is the second in a calender month and many refer to it as a blue one. Apparently a blue moon's original definition was the third moon where there were four occurring in an agricultural season (which is three months). 65 years ago a magazine erroneously said it was where there were two in a month and even though it printed a retraction it stuck! The next blue moon by the old definition will be on 21 August 2013 - I'll have another celebration then I think, just to be sure I'm not offending anyone! (Any excuse!!)

The above print is one that I have purchased from Elizabeth Chambers' Etsy shop. Isn't it gorgeous?! Geoff has been busy buying artwork from several different British artists for the gallery but I'm keeping this one myself. I'm sure he'll frame it for me if I ask nicely! Elizabeth's work is beautiful and if the quality of the print is OK (I'm sure it will be), then it could well be that galleryRAUXA will be buying more from her.

Speaking of which, everything is going ahead but we're a week behind schedule. Our lawyer is on a fixed fee and apparently he thinks this means he doesn't have to do any work on it until we chase him. We instructed him and he wrote to the other side's lawyer for a draft lease and then we heard nothing for weeks. The Landlord was really slow in getting back to the Letting Agent after we put our offer in so we just assumed they were being just as slow on the legals but when we rang our lawyer to ask if everything was going ahead he said "Oh yes, the lease is here, I'll send it to you". How long had it been hanging around on his desk ... we have no idea! Then he went on holiday for a week.

We saw him exactly two weeks ago. We sent him our notes and queries in advance of the meeting. When we got there, he hadn't read them. We stated at that meeting that we wanted to get in on Monday 3 September and we were getting anxious as we had tradesman booked to do the fit out. He seemed to think if he got his letter off to the other side early the next week it would be tight but doable. But he didn't send it til the following Friday (after we rang to see what was happening). We got a reply from the other side yesterday. They are agreeable to all our amendments to the lease except for a couple of points that we're happy to let go.

We've e-mailed him yesterday with a couple of queries and stressing the urgency. No reply yet, I know Fridays are busy for property-oriented lawyers with completions and so it doesn't look like it's going to happen on Monday. We really need to be in by the following Monday as we've re-arranged our electrician and joiner (and the follow up decorator). I wouldn't like to have to mess our tradesmen around by re-arranging again. Oh well, I suppose it's always the way when dealing with solicitors. So far, this has been by far the most stressful bit! We are going to have to be very assertive next week and talk to him every day to keep on top of him, if you leave him to it, he just does nothing.

We've got our corporate identity fixed with a new logo designed by the very talented Rick of Richard F Illustration who I worked with for many years back in the days when I had a proper job! He's now in business for himself too.

Rauxa is a Catalan word for "Creative Chaos" and we wanted something that reflected that as well as being friendly and approachable - we don't want the type of gallery that people are intimidated to walk into. The domain name is reserved for our new picture framing gallery and an outline of the website has been uploaded.

We saw the printers yesterday, artwork on our stationery should be back in proof form next Tuesday - we're going ahead with a small print run to begin with as we can't get a telephone number til we move in, there's no way of reserving one in advance apparently (Geoff's mobile will have to do).

We still need to sort out insurances and arrange for window display and sign writing.

We also still need a counter and low level display units. The low level units won't be ordered til we've moved in as we want them delivering directly to the premises - I can't get any more cluttered up here with stuff! It's all over the place! The counter will be an Ebay job I think and probably after we get the keys, that way it will only need moving once.

We still need loads of stock too ... Geoff and I have been visiting lots of artists and it's been lovely to see them, we just started taking delivery of our orders. This cheeky chappy is the first original watercolour we've framed for galleryRAUXA. Painted by Alison Fennell of "Eastwitching", we have another of her originals and some brilliant prints of her wonderful wildlife waiting to be framed.

We're going to Cambridge's Art & Craft market tomorrow but I won't be having a stall - I don't have to get up at 5.45am to get there in time to be all set up ... that is going to be weird. We're picking up boxes of stock from various artists which we ordered a while ago - it might be an expensive day! It will make a change to be buying instead of selling!

Enjoy the blue moon and have a good weekend everyone!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bye bye Cambridge

Last Saturday was my last on All Saints Arts & Craft Market. It was smashing weather and I did quite well sales wise. Many times when customers are just looking, they ask how often you're at the market so they can come back (sometimes for Christmas gifts) or a birthday that's coming up. In the past, I've just had to confess I'm there every week and hope they came back but this time I had a killer sales close in that I was able to say "well, if you don't buy it now, it won't be here again!" so I think that helped a bit!

Here's a photo taken of me and Chris Nunn the market manager. He is also leaving this month, next week will be his last week as he's retiring (no-one knows how long he has been doing it, certainly much longer than my nine years) so if you want some of his exquisite hand turned bowls, you'll have to go along this Saturday!

Sarah Jane who makes brilliant bags and jewellery will be taking over and I'm sure she'll do a great job, though Chris is a tough act to follow!

Just as I was packing up, there was an announcement by Sarah Jane (she has a very loud voice!) saying DH and I were leaving the market and everyone wished us well in our new venture. We got a lovely bunch of flowers and a card signed by everyone. It was most unexpected and a huge surprise, most people just leave the market without any fuss or bother. I got quite choked up at that point, I must confess!

So far this week, it doesn't feel like I've left really. I am doing an Art & Craft market this Saturday but it is in Lincoln very close to where galleryRAUXA will be situated. It's called the Fete on the Strait. So I'm doing all the usual things that I do during the week, making beads, making more jewellery to replace what I sold last week and that all important bit .... watching the weather forecast with increasing hope and anxiety!

Hope to see lots of people in Lincoln this Saturday, happy August bank holiday weekend everyone!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Sunny Friday in Cambridge - photos of my stall/booth

I've often been asked to put some photographs of my stall (or booth as my transatlantic friends call it) where I sell my jewellery every Saturday in Cambridge. As I'll soon be giving up my stall after nine years, I thought I'd better get round to it before the opportunity is gone! The Art & Craft market is open on Fridays too during the summer. There are usually fewer stallholders there as it's a bit quieter so last Friday, I took my camera along and took a few snaps. I've posted them as a Facebook album but for non-Facebookers, here are a few of the bestest ones

This is my view looking to the left

From outside looking in

Peeking round the side to the left. In bad weather I have tarpaulins keeping out the rain on the sides of the stall as well as on the top. That's the side of Trinity College in the background. The tower in the middle of All Saints Garden is a memorial to the founders who raised the money to build the church that once occupied this site. The church has gone but the memorial (and some gravestones) are still here ...

Missy is usually snuggled down on her "stall bed" which is brought specially for her and it's underneath the table behind me. When it's sunny, we put her bed in the sunshine as she loves sunning herself. She has a water bowl which is kept topped up all the time. Often people notice her (rather than my jewellery!!) In colder weather, she has blankets to keep her warm. Sometimes she jumps up onto my lap and tries to charm my customers into buying something! Her eye looks a bit runny in this picture, she's got a case of conjunctivitis. We're treating it with antibiotic eyedrops twice a day but its on the mend! Whilst I'm setting up (takes about an hour and a half) she gets a long walk down by the backs and the river with her Daddy, that tends to tire her out for most of the rest of the day!

And here's a picture of the whole thing from a short distance, I put the top tarpaulin is on even in good weather as there are often pigeons in the trees ....!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Bargains on Ebay

This magnificient display unit was purchased yesterday from a very posh jewellery shop in Derby that has a refit. We got it on Ebay for £10.50! Mind you, the van to collect it was another £65 plus fuel. To get the most out of the van hire, DH did a lot of driving yesterday, he went to Sudbury in Suffolk too and picked up three double fronted lockable cabinets also purchased from Ebay. galleryRAUXA loves Ebay!

The unit is taking up quite a bit of space in the dining room, we can only get to one side of the dining table now (3 places instead of 6, adding the extender leaf taking it up to 8 which we do occasionally is out of the question for the time being!) So we can only dine with one guest til this moves to galleryRAUXA's premises on the Strait in Lincoln (hopefully early September). However, more importantly, access to the wine rack has been judiciously preserved! :-)

Friday, 20 July 2012

Empty nest

Rutland Water is just up the road (about 8 miles) from where we live now, I've taken a very active interest in one of their webcams which has been trained on a pair of nesting of Ospreys in Manton Bay. I've watched these chicks grow up from just a couple of days after hatching (27 May)

They grow so fast, here they are on 12 July ...

... just a week later and here they are with both parents looking almost as big as them! The youngsters have got the brown and white feathers on their bodies, the adults are a more uniform brown.

The second of the two have fledged today leaving an empty nest :-)

Just after fledging is quite a hazardous time, early flights can see them crash landing on the ground and if they land in vegetation they often can't take off again if it's too dense. The team at Rutland have already rescued a youngster that they saw land on the ground, fortunately they found him and returned him to his nest. Another went missing overnight and they feared it had been preyed on by a fox but the nest day it turned up looking muddy but otherwise none-the-worse. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that "mine" will make it. The team will keep me updated via their blog.

In just a few weeks time they'll be ready to migrate to West Africa with their parents. Good luck little ones!

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Auspicious times

The New Moon is an auspicious time for new beginnings and it's time now to share DH and I's future plans with everyone in bloggerland. Geoff and I have been looking for premises for some time to set up a business which combines both of our talents.

galleryRAUXA will be opening in Lincoln very soon. Our legal team (sounds better than "solicitor"!) is in negotiations concerning leasing the above premises at 3-4 The Strait in Lincoln, just at the bottom of the world famous Steep Hill in the Cathedral quarter of the city. It's beginning to cost money so it's looking seriously like it's happening!

There is already a galleryRAUXA Facebook page, there will be a website too when we get our branding graphics sorted out. There is EVEN an @galleryRAUXA Twitter account but I don't know yet whether we'll be using that, Twitter and I never really saw eye to eye when I had an account before, I don't think I'm any good at twattering, I need more words all the time! (You know how I like to burble on!)

galleryRAUXA will be a picture framing gallery run by myself and DH. We will be offering picture framing services and also showcasing British Artists' work. Original artwork and prints will be available and periodic shows spotlighting artists will be a regular feature. My handmade lampwork beaded jewellery (of course!) as well as silver and copper items will be for sale and we are currently sourcing stock from other artisans such as ceramics, fused glass and sculpture.

It is time for me to come in from the cold and I will be giving up my stall in Cambridge's Art & Craft market when we open. We are taking the premises with effect from 1 September and there'll be a short period of fitting out, moving things around etc and then we'll be opening!

So this is BIG news, I think that's enough of a shock for you all to be going on with, more news as and when but I'm really excited about this new venture, DH and I are really relishing the new challenges.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Rainy afternoon in Cambridge

Most times, I have lots of lovely people to talk to on a Saturday but you know how SOME DAYS are just bad - bad - bad and you shouldn't get out of bed? I knew light rain was forecast for most of the afternoon which usually means showers. Quite often in Cambridge when we get that kind of forecast, we are often lucky and miss them altogether so I decided to go ahead and do my day on the Craft Market. I had a ton of new items I was excited to show off and with the prospect at least of a dry morning, I set off with happy thoughts.

After assembling my stall and displaying my jewellery, my reward is my first cup of tea of the working day. I was called back to my stall from the man in the van with the tea (lovely guy called Julian if you're ever in Cambridge and want a beverage on a Saturday, go see him!) Anyway, there was a lady asking if she could buy a clasp from me (but not the jewellery). I sell JEWELLERY, not clasps, sorry and with that I try to get back to my cup of tea which I like weak; I'm eyeing it from afar as it gets stronger and stronger. She starts to explain about why she needs a clasp (I am NOT interested, I want my tea!) I say I don't bring just clasps with me to the stall, but perhaps (if she will go away SOON) I could make her one separately and bring one on another day but it will cost about £12 for the sterling silver one. She looks aghast at the price and so I have to explain why it costs this much (cost of silver plus the time it take me soldering the links together, filing away any excess solder, hammering, sanding and polishing). Julian, being an absolute sweetheart, and knowing I like weak tea, shouts over shall he take out the teabag? What a hero "Yes please" I smile at the lady and start walking back to the van. She then goes on to tell me that Sally, who sells knitted items in the market, doesn't charge that much for her time considering how long it takes her to make every item. I really want to get away before I lose the will to live, she isn't going to buy anything, and all I want is my tea. I don't want to be rude and so I continue to chat whilst making it perfectly clear that I won't make her a clasp for less than I think it is worth. My tea is cold by the time I get to it.

Two more customers arrive and are sighing over my jewellery, admiring and trying it on so I'm thinking I may get a sale here. When people are being so nice about my work, it's the real fun bit about my job, I love answering questions about how it's made etc. During the week, I only get to talk to DH and the dog so this is a part of my week I really enjoy. At the end of a really lovely twenty minutes, they both walk away saying "I could spend a fortune at your stall" ... without parting with a penny ...

Then I got someone who picks up three pendants as if she wanted them all, she proceeded to get the chains all knotted together as she examined them. Fine chains get tangled at the slightest provocation, it took a long time for me to sort them out which I attempted to do in good humour (in case she really did want them all). In the end she had the good grace to buy one but by then it was raining. She then decided to make it my problem that she didn't have an umbrella and wanted to know where she could get one. I wear hooded raincoats myself when there's rain forecast on my market days, I can't be bothered with fiddling around with brollies! Anyway, I just couldn't think of anywhere that sells them that's very close. If I had had one with me, I would've given it to her to get rid of her! My sister Sharon, whose stall is next to mine, on rainy days gives one away free with every purchase so I sent her there but then she came back to tell me she didn't like anything on Sharon's stall, Sharon wouldn't sell one to her (traitorous child!) and so she still didn't have an umbrella ... (sigh) Maybe she saw Sharon's sign and thought everyone in England gave away free umbrellas with a purchase - I . DON'T . HAVE . ONE!

A bit later, the guy who has a stall opposite, Ian, wasn't about when my VERY bestest spending regular customer was with me. Someone barged over from his stall, interrupted us without apology and in an irritated sounding voice demanded to know where he was. To be helpful to another stallholder (and fellow sufferer of bad weather) I ask my customer to hold a tick whilst I had a glance around to see if he was anywhere nearby. Not a trace of him anywhere "I'm sorry I don't know". A second customer joins her from across the way and also complains to me that there was no-one on his stall. So I politely say, "I'm with one of my customers at the moment, I don't know where he is, sorry". "Well can you take my money, I want to buy something." "NO, I can't I'm with one of my own customers, bog off!" OK, so I didn't say that exactly, I do have SOME manners, but I did have to be very assertive and make it clear that they needed to PLEASE ask someone who wasn't busy.

Then a couple of Italian language students were flicking through photographs on their i-phones in front of my stall, they weren't looking at the jewellery at all. There wasn't anyone else around (by then it was really chucking it down) so I didn't really mind, they weren't blocking any genuine customers from seeing my wares otherwise I might've asked them to have their show and tell session somewhere else. Bored, I listened in to their conversation "This is my cousin, this is my sister, my other cousin, this is my .... um ... cousin's mother .. how do you say that in English?" His companion shrugged and they both looked at me expectantly "Old Bat" ... I was tempted to say but no, I smiled sweetly and said "Auntie".

After they'd moved on a large group of their compatriots pile up at my stall, they picked up a heavy plastic star which I use to weigh down my business cards "Can you write on it?" They ask. I really don't understand why they want me to write on it. I look puzzled and say "Pardon?" "Can you write on it?" they repeat, I heard them right the first time. I just don't know how to answer them when I suddenly realise they think it's for sale and are wondering what it's for. "No, it's just a paperweight to stop my cards blowing away. It's not for sale." ... they wander off to annoy someone else.

It's very odd and unusual to get such an annoying succession of people all in one day! Most days, I get really lovely people coming to my stall and it's the exception to get anyone at all who is in the slightest bit irritating. But maybe it was just the weather affecting my mood and I misinterpreted them, you can see from the state of my trousers how wet everything got! The spattering is the result of poking the puddles of water that gather on my roof tarpaulin which then (if it doesn't go down your arm) runs down the outside onto the gravelled ground and forms a series of small lakes ... the life of an outdoor craft marketeer - what fun! The spotty pattern looks quite cool now it's dried, I'm thinking of selling the design ... they'll all be wearing trousers like mine in Milan next Spring!

All that aside and behind me now, I'm looking forward to watching the tennis this afternoon - come on Andy!

Monday, 25 June 2012

Passing of a generation

I was sad to hear the news today that Lonesome George has died, the last of his sub-species. It was reported by the BBC yesterday and you can read a summary of his story on the link.

To mark the passing of a sub-species before our very eyes, I'm publishing a picture of my own, very much alive tortoise, Spike. Here he is enjoying a supper of plantains, clover, buttercups, hawkbit and dandilions in this evening's sunshine. Spike has been our attack tortoise for the last 30 years, he has guarded all of the gardens we have had in that time. If there was a dangerous tortoise act, Spike would be at the top of the Council's most wanted list. If the temperature is high enough and he's feeling peckish, he can sprint across the lawn in a surprising amount of time and you'd best be wearing trainers or sturdy shoes - any burglars or up-to-no-goods anywhere near our house wearing sandals or flip flops will be punished with bitten toes! (A tortoise bite makes a nasty blood blister - they don't have teeth, just very very hard gums!)

But seriously, I do hope the world wakes up to how many species are being lost and how many more may be lost if we don't do something to curb the excesses of our appetite for cheap food and fuel. Foremost in my mind is the fact that we may lose orang-utans to palm oil within my lifetime. :-(

RIP George, I think the world is a much poorer planet with you no longer on it.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tipsy beads

I'm always trying to photograph my beads in a different way, one that still represents them accurately to a prospective buyer but also looks more interesting than the way I usually do it. Rather chuffed with this one where the angle is a bit askew and the end beads have fallen over! (Must've had a sniff of wine ...!)

Available to purchase in my SoozBeads Etsy shop :-)

Friday, 18 May 2012

Making jewellery out of recycled pagan wine bottle beads

This is a bottle of one of my most favourite red wines of all time. As well as being really great to drink (particularly with lamb dishes), the story on the bottle is really compelling to me:

My family has been tending our vineyards overlooked by the Saracosa hill since the early 1940s and legend has it that the hill was a sacred pagan site, where people gathered to worship the sun and the moon. Much of those original vineyards remain, producing low yields of high quality, concentrated grapes from which we selected to make this wine. 

I love the idea that I'm drinking wine produced from an ancient pagan site where rituals (so long as no animal sacrifice was involved) and magic were performed. Wow!

Anyway, here are some photographs of the jewellery set I've made from the beads which will be for sale tomorrow in Cambridge on my stall at All Saints Art & Craft market.

Hope to see you there! Whatever you're doing this Saturday, have a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sooz Jewels now available on Folksy

Find Me On Folksy
Click on the image above to go straight to my new Folksy shop. It's only got two items on there but I've got a bit tired this evening so I'll be adding to the inventory soon :-)

Folksy is quite similar to Etsy where I sell my lampwork beads (see link to the right) but it's all UK crafts people selling their items. Gosh two British based postings on the trot, God Save the Queen!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Calling all patriots

We have two events this year in Great Britain that I'm particularly happy to celebrate as they're great for bringing in tourists. As I do business in a city that welcomes many visitors from abroad, I think you'll understand why I am busily celebrating them.

The first is the Queen's diamond jubilee, followed shortly by the Olympics coming to London. In an unashamed and unapologetic effort to cash in, here is a sample of the jubilee jewellery (later to become Olympic jewellery) which will be for sale on my stall in Cambridge this Saturday

There is also a necklace, pendant and a double-stranded bracelet but they weren't finished before the light went for photography so you'll just have to pop along to Cambridge to see those. We have a terrific weekend forecast (THAT makes a change) so hope to see you there ... whatever you're up to, I hope all my readers have a great weekend.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Meet Cadee

This is Cadee, the moon gazing hare. My family clubbed together and bought her for me as a present for my 50th birthday. Isn't she just gorgeous? She's made of bronze by Paul Jenkins and stands a little over a foot tall! I've placed her in the lounge window sill where she can look out at the sky as I very rarely draw the back curtains as we're not really overlooked from the garden.

I'm a little late in receiving her as due to us being away when I had my actual birthday and various illnesses just before that, we didn't have my party (at my mum and dad's house) til last Saturday evening but well worth the wait I think! Lovely buffet and birthday cake made by mum and sister, Sandy.  I scoffed the last piece of cake yesterday, ta Sandy! :-) x

I've delayed posting her on my blog as I've been trying to think of a good name for her. Things kind of let you know what they want to be called I think, nothing was coming immediately to mind but when I was reviewing my Amazon Recommendations list yesterday, it suggested a novel called "Maybe the Moon", the main character in it is called Cadence and it just seemed right (Cadee for short). 

It was an inspired gift, we gave my other sister, Sharon a similar hare for her 40th birthday last year, I was so-o-o-o-o envious, I guess they picked up on the fact that I really wanted to keep it for myself and getting one that was moon gazing (something I like to do myself), was really, really brilliant to personalise it for me - one of the best gifts I have ever received - thanks everyone! xxxxxxxxx

I got lots of nice cards but I'm picking out the one that Sandy and Chris sent me in particular, it's made up like a newspaper front page ... it has a picture of Sandy doing the inevitable tongue poking out and also another one of gorgeous Anthony Head, the text reads as follows:

Half a century and half expecting a letter from the queen 
THE BIG 5-0 
Exclusive by Sandy Cannings. 
Although turning 50 is considered a milestone, Sue Doran is intent on seeing the lighter side of reaching the big 50. "I am still hot" she tells The News, "it's just that it comes in hot flushes". Now is the time to make your mark on the world and take on exciting new challenges. Fix up a dinner date with the gorgeous Anthony Head. Sue says "I will do something wild and shocking today, straight after my afternoon nap"! The News says: You go girl!

Hilarious! :-)

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Tiger spankles

I just posted a photograph of my newest spankle beads on the Sooz Jewels Facebook page and they got 3 comments within a few minutes! They're now for sale in my Etsy shop and I think I'll also be making some more to make jewellery with for my stall in Cambridge too.

The colours are really warm. Today is the first day of summer and it's raining (again!) so I think we need warming up. Overall the beads remind me of tigers, I've got "Tiger Feet" by Mud stuck in my head (yes I am old enough to remember it when it was in the charts, I even bought the single!) It's when I start doing the dance that we need to get worried!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Back to work

Back to work after a week off, we've been in Northumberland and had a lovely time. Everyone I've spoken to, blogs I've been catching up on, e-mails from family and Facebook friends have all been complaining about the rain you had in the Midlands/South of England. Up in the top right hand corner of England, the weather was pretty good. We had a dry week, lots of sunny intervals, the only time it rained was evening on Wednesday up to lunchtime on Thursday, from what everyone says, it was definitely the best place in England to be!

Interested parties can view my holiday snaps on Facebook:

Look at the camera!
Holiday in Northumberland 2012

This photograph is of me back to work today melting a shard from a broken Bombay Sapphire gin bottle making beads that will be turned into jewellery very soon.

Happy Beltane!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Arty photos!

I like the perspective I've managed to get on these photographs of my latest beads, I thought I'd share them with my blog readers, both sets are for sale in my Etsy SoozBeads shop!