Monday, 6 January 2014


I hope everyone of you had a good Christmas and New Year and I wish all my readers a very Happy 2014.

Today I wanted to talk about life and its changes.  As I have grown older I have realised that life never stands still, no matter how much you may want it to.  When my grown up children were little I used to wish desperately that time would stand still and just let me hang onto those precious moments with them but it doesn't and the only way to keep moments is in a photograph or your memory.  I watched them grow into young women and head out along their own paths which is only right and proper and I am fiercely proud of the people they have become but oh how I do miss them even now.

My two older daughters are 30 and 28 now.  The younger of the two is married with a family of her own but it is still a physical wrench when I leave them in their own homes or say goodbye to them when they have come to visit.  I want in my heart, to talk to them every day, I don't because I know they are busy and have their own lives to lead without mum chipping in every five minutes.

I used to feel somewhat bemused at my own mother worrying about me even after I had left home, it seemed a chore to have to ring her and we didn't always see eye to eye.  Now I am older it is different.  I miss my mum and I do feel regret at having felt that way towards my parents when I was younger.  Now I understand how she feels.  Even though I am 51 and she is 79!

I realise now that you never stop being a parent, never stop worrying that your child is happy, warm, safe, not hungry, not short of money, not tired.  I realise that my daughter who is married has her husband to share life with now and her children and that it is to him she will turn if she has a problem and not me, again as it should be.  I have to say that the day she got married I really grieved afterwards.  Whilst half of me was overjoyed that she had found love and happiness as I had when I married her stepfather, the other half of me was so upset that she was moving further away from me. 

My older daughter still comes to stay with me for weekends and we talk more often because she is still single and has more time.  They are both a big help to me when I need it which is wonderful.

This Christmas seems to have brought home to me so much more that I am missing my daughters.  Im unsure as to why this year should be so much harder but I just wanted to gather them up and keep them with me.  Its not always easy to spend time with my married daughter as we are both so busy, she works part time, I work full time and the children have such a social whirl of activities despite being very young. 

In turn I don't get to see my own mum as often as I would like, (dad passed away a few years ago now). 

These are what I call shifting sands, life constantly changing with time, nothing stays the same forever.  How I wish when I see parents in the street screaming at their children and pulling them along that I could show them a time when they will regret their actions, although maybe for some of them there wont be any regrets!

Things have changed for us, they are growing further apart as are my two younger daughters, now 14 and 12, their lives are moving onwards, the older one only having 18 months or so left at school.  I suddenly feel lately as though I am standing alone on a path and everyone is moving away from me, I suppose in reality we are all walking alone in life but sometimes alongside others for a while.  Its the chance to see things from the bigger picture, from above perhaps and not in the midst of,  I hope Im making sense here. 

My late husband used to say that if you didn't know what to do about something the best thing was to stand still and the answer would come, things would happen and then it would be sorted.  He was quite wise in some ways and I do try now to do this.  I feel that I am at a point in my life this year where things are changing I need to stand still for a while.  Im hoping the answers will come.

In the meantime I wish you all well and hope you are dealing with your shifting sands.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

There is No Such Thing as the Perfect Christmas

As you can see from the title today, I wanted to talk about Christmas.  The whole event seems to start a lot earlier than it did when I was younger, but then maybe Im just turning into a grumpy old woman (no comments on that score from my nearest and dearest please).  From a commercial point of view I totally get that the need to buy in your stock, materials and do your advertising is a must in order to make those extra sales which will tide you over what I call the dark time in January and February until Valentines Day arrives when hopefully sales will, for some of us, take off again. 

However, from a personal point of view the pressure on all of us to be "happy" at Christmas is so awful.  There are lots of adverts on television showing the "perfect" Christmas meal, the perfect day, tree, family, presents.  In reality this is never the case. 

Speaking totally from the heart my happiest Christmases were those when my husband was alive.  The lead up to Christmas was so good, when we could share the shopping, the card writing, present wrapping and the day itself.  I still love to see the children open their presents and spend time with my family and friends but there is always an empty space.  I am sure this is the same for anyone who has lost someone they care about. 

So because I don't find Christmas easy without my husband I decided not long after he died that I was going to accept that it wouldn't be "perfect" for me, instead I just made it another day but one to spend with family.  Accepting this has made it easier for me to deal with the whole process because time doesn't change the feelings of loss, time just makes you learn to live with that loss.  In a way I look on grief as similar to post traumatic stress, you relive events in your mind, have flashbacks and memories and then slowly learn to put the pieces back together again.

Then there are those who suffer with mental health issues, cancer, disease of any kind that too impacts upon the time of year, for some it can be a living hell to have to be surrounded by too many people, its too much to cope with.  I wish for them a peaceful time and the courage to face the day in their own way and to do whatever it takes for them to say this is how I look at Christmas and it doesn't matter that its not how everyone thinks you should look at it. 

And of course, there are our own families, those relatives you don't really want to see, who drive you up the wall, who always drink too much or who complain loudly about everything (mental note to self, stop being a grumpy old woman).  Those whose children don't possess good manners and constantly whinge and whine, Im sure we all have some of those in our family, its like the old saying goes, "You can choose your friends but you cant choose your family!"

Also there is the cost of presents, food, cards, postage, the list goes on.  If, like us, you don't have a great deal of spare cash, then it can greatly add to the stress of everyday living to have to find the extra money for all of these things.  I have never been the parent who buys their child the latest toy, I have a budget and stick to that.  Rather I buy several small presents, more to open under the tree and more to do if they get bored, not that my girls ever seem to.  We still do stockings and as time has gone on the gifts are changing, this year it will be make up, nail varnish, toiletries.  Again, lots of little things that I can pick up throughout the year.

More and more I am trying to make this time of year a time for family and friends, not for money and waste.  I feel very strongly that losing my husband made me value my family all the more for who knows how long any of us is going to be here.  I want to be able to look back and say I gave time to my family, for me that is the best gift there is, spending time with the people who make up the structure of our lives, even if they do drive us up the wall sometimes!!

Have a lovely time whatever and however you choose to do it and I wish you peace and happiness for the year ahead.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


Ive talked about craft fairs before on this blog.  Some are good and some are brilliant and some are just a plain washout, its just part of the game.  You win some you lose some, however when people invite you to a craft fair that is supposedly going to be a big event, especially near to Christmas and then it gets cancelled with about a fortnight's notice that is something that really annoys me and its happened not once, but twice now with the same organisers.

I am using the term "organisers" loosely here as it seems there is one spokesperson for a team of people in our local town who just don't seem to be able to get themselves sorted out, neither do they seem to be able to realise that for those of us who run a business its not the simplest thing to just find another venue or to make up the loss of potential earnings at such short notice. 

I think the problem is that most of the people involved in these events do not actually run business' themselves so have little idea of what is involved in the process. 

I do feel like a bit of a yo yo when this occurs though, I post on my page that Im going to be attending such and such event and then Im having to say its cancelled. 

It will also mean that many of us will no longer wish to be bothered with these organisers as we will all doubt whether the actual events are going to go ahead after all.

So now I am left with the problem again of trying to find another venue at VERY short notice to replace the lost one in order to make sure I can make up my lost earnings so we can have a Christmas.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013


Im sat here wrestling with a bit of a problem.  For a little while now I have had the feeling that a couple of other people on Facebook have been imitating my work.  Now I know that, like the title of this blog says Imitation is supposed to be a form of flattery, in other words, copying something you like is supposed to be a compliment to the original designer, however, I am getting a little bit fed up with providing ideas for my competitors.

Why can they not come up with their own designs??  I have been doing a lot of hard work on the internet, late hours and long ones, researching Egyptian, Celtic and Art Deco styles of jewellery and coming up with some original pieces as a result. 

I also spend a lot of time networking and promoting my page only to find that the same person is trotting along behind me the next day posting similar things about their work and themselves.  Not nice!!!

So if any of them happen to come along and read this blog, and you will know who you are,  just stop it please, make your business grow because of yourself, not because you are hanging off the back of someone else, don't be lazy and use your own imaginations to come up with your OWN designs not mine!!

That's that off my chest.  And now I am off to the workroom to finish some pieces off for the new retail outlet in Weymouth which I am looking forward to visiting next week.  The new owner sounds lovely, we have spoken on the phone and I think we are going to get on very well together.

So a brief blog, but necessary as I cant always say these things on my page as it doesn't look professional but I can rant on here.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

New Beginnings

Yesterday I reached a bit of a milestone.  I know I have talked before about finances and how we all struggle to make ends meet.  Well a lot of you probably don't know that I had, for five years, been making regular monthly payments into an IVA or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement.  Its a form of insolvency but one that was brought in some years ago to prevent the person undertaking the agreement from losing their home and all their assets. 

When I remarried in 1999 I hadn't realised that my late husband had so much personal debt.  It wasn't something that had been revealed to me, he wasn't very good at money, as simple as that and had a lot of debt that had built up from his first marriage.  So because he wasn't very good at sums, handling money etc, most of his cards, accounts etc were put in joint names with me so that I could talk to the creditors and try to make some sense of everything and put payment arrangements in place.  So, consequently when he died they came after me for the lot.

I struggled with this for four years after his death and eventually I couldn't deal with it any longer, both financially and emotionally so I decided to declare myself bankrupt and if I lost the house well so be it because I just didn't care anymore by that stage.  You see it doesn't seem to matter if someone is left on their own to these people, and by that I mean banks, credit card companies, no matter what the circumstances they just assume you must have run the debts up yourself and you are judged quite harshly in some cases, there is no sympathy, no compassion.  I watched a programme on t.v. once about personal debt and how it happened and they were interviewing one poor man who had lost his business, his wife and kids and his home all because his business went bust due to the economic downturn.  They asked him how it was that he thought he had got into this "mess"  and he replied all because of circumstances beyond my control.

And its true, I fell in love with someone who owed money, not that I was aware of that of course, had I been and had he been more prepared to face reality and deal with his situation it could have been changed.  But that's just the type of person he was and no one of us is perfect, we all have flaws and that was his.  So when that man died very suddenly, without life insurance, leaving me with £26,000 of debt (and that was half of what it had been) what was I to do. 

So as I said, I decided to declare myself bankrupt.  I googled firms that would deal with these issues and came across a firm called Baines and Ernst.  Now I was familiar with these people having dealt with them in cases of firms going out of business when working with a brick merchant during the time that a lot of the small building firms went to the wall. 

I rang them and got talking to a really nice guy, explained how things were, what had caused me to get on this road and said I needed help.  He in turn explained to me about the IVA and I opted to take that route.  When they told me to go into town the next day, change my bank account and just stop paying everything I was very scared.  No seriously, obviously not your mortgage, insurances, the important things, gas, electric bills but go and stop paying all the creditors. 

So I did, took a deep breath and just did it.  The relief was indescribable at that point.  I really felt as though a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  And really to be honest, it wasn't my debt but the debt from my late husband and his first wife and where was she?  Sitting pretty having walked away from their marriage and left him to pick up the pieces.  I really do feel resentful about that one.  Maybe there is some Karma in there somewhere that I had to take responsibility for the mess they made.  It will take time for me not to be cross on that score.  Im working on it.

Obviously there was paperwork to be filled in, and a county court hearing, not that I was required to attend but to be honest I felt really ashamed and have done so for five years, ashamed that I had to do that, ashamed that I hadn't been able to manage and pay for everything, but why should I have  felt like that when it wasn't my fault.  Why should I have been ashamed to hold my head up in front of my friends and my family and even my own children, what is it about our society that makes people feel this way when something happens beyond their control.  I think others are far too quick to judge and to come to conclusions without knowing the full situation.  I also think that the call handlers at the credit card companies and the banks should be trained to be more compassionate and sympathetic towards people in these situations.

Mind you, its opened my eyes to the world as it is.  I have become quite hardened at fighting companies on the phone.  To turn around and tell the local council that they have a choice over whether I pay my council tax or feed my children as I have done in the past is not something I would have done five years ago.  To have to say to the electricity company, your prices are too high that's why I cannot afford to pay my bill in full and don't start ranting at me because its only going to give you a headache, you cant cut me off when Ive got children and I will pay when I have the money and not when you tell me I have to pay, again is not something I would have done before but desperation does strange things to people.

So yesterday was the last ever payment, in a few months all the ends will be tied up and I can finally move on and walk away from the mess that became my second marriage.  Yes I loved him, I probably always will but I cant forgive him for what he did to me and our children and there in lies a difference.  I may sound like a bitter woman, Im not really, I have a lot of love and compassion for the people in this world, my heart goes out to anyone struggling as I know so many of you are at the moment but please be aware that you don't have to have the latest gadgets for your children, they will survive without them and bring them up to understand that the most important things in this life are a loving family and being kind to others.  Those are the things that mark us as human beings, not how many computers, tablets, I phones etc that we possess.  It needs to change out there and I for one will be working hard with my own children to make them aware of this. 

There are two sayings which I have tried to work to all my adult life, I will leave these with you in the hope that they will help and offer you some guidance.

"Do as you would be done by"  and "Life is mostly froth and bubble, two things stand like stone, kindness in another's trouble, courage in your own".


Saturday, 19 October 2013

Not Enough Hours in the Day!!!! In other words OMG ITS CHRISTMAS!!

This is Saturday evening and the girls have gone to bed.  I had to go and collect No 3 from her friends' house where they had been having a get together for someone's birthday.  They are all growing up so fast and soooo tall.  No 3 has grown again and is now a good inch and a half taller than me :(  Not Good!  Nos 1 and 2 didn't gain my height of 5ft 6 ins but No 3 is now about 5ft 7 and a half.

No 4 has grown as well and will soon be leaving me behind I fear. 

So, if you are a regular visitor to my Facebook page you will have probably seen that I was very excited this morning to announce that as from the middle of November I will have a retail outlet at Trinity Road in Weymouth, right alongside the harbour.  Ive Google mapped it and looked at the street view (love that I can do this) and have decided its well worth a day out so when its time for me to take in my first lot of jewellery I am going to drive down, will take me about an hour (according to google) and go to visit the shop in person.  I am only going to hire one small shelf in a locked cabinet for now but its in a good place just inside the door so easy to see from the window and will have good lighting I hope.  This will be the third retail outlet I have now and I feel really excited.

As a consequence I am going to have to visit the other two outlets now and do a stocktake as I have got to ensure that I know whats where, if you get my drift. 

As I have five craft fairs now booked before Christmas and am still making stock for those it occurred to me somewhere in the early hours of the morning as most of my daft ideas do, that I needed to make some more stock for this new outlet.  So I have had some designs sitting in my sketchbook for a while which I decided to put into action this afternoon.  You can see these pieces on my facebook page but I will post them here as well

The top one is a hand forged Copper pendant with shell disc bead hanging from the inside top of the pendant and the bottom piece is hand forged pendant with freshwater pearls on a chain of hand forged links.  This is silver plated wire but I would love to make one from sterling silver, sadly this will have to wait until someone orders one because the outlay is too high at the moment.
I think it will probably hit me, most likely at 3 in the morning again very soon that I have an enormous amount of work to do.  Its a good job I have patient friends and children, friends because they are most likely not going to see me between now and January and children because only the basics are getting done and the dinners are slightly singed around the edges because Im in and out of the workroom whilst trying to cook dinner at the same time, juggling customers, orders and stock.
However I have to admit I wouldn't have it any other way.  I love working for myself, still get a buzz when someone falls in love with a piece of my jewellery and buys it.  Really love getting those "likes" under my pictures knowing Ive given someone some pleasure.  And selling at the fairs is brilliant, I love meeting my customers face to face.  I have met some amazing people and loads of great crafters as well in the other stallholders I come across.  I never cease to be amazed at people's skill and ideas in what they make.
During this year that I have been selling through Facebook and building up my business I have also done a little bit of shopping for myself through some of these people who I have found through Hike Those Likes, so I buy jewellery supplies, have my business cards made, and have more recently been ordering Christmas presents.  Facebook is a great community and speaking as someone who is the only adult in our house, its good to have some company in the lonely evenings as well when the girls have gone to bed.  Many of you I have never met in person but still feel as though you are my friends.
And enough hours in the day, no certainly not, and if I don't get much time to be posting between now and Christmas, I hope you have a good one!!!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Virtual Money

This very soggy morning I had to go into our next town and visit my bank.  It brought to mind how when I was a single parent for the first time, over 20 years ago now, I was on benefits and found it much easier to manage my money because everything was paid at the post office in cash.  I didn't have a bank account  until I started working and needed one to pay my wages into.  I was on benefits for a while until I got some work and towards the end of my time as a single parent was again on benefits as I had found working full time with a very unpleasant woman boss was not something I could cope with, the woman almost drove me to a nervous breakdown and life is far too short for that!!

Anyhow getting of my ranty box the point I was trying to make is that I used to go to the local village post office, cash my benefits, child benefit used to be paid weekly if you were a single parent and my little bit of income support and then come home and divide up the money.  I had a little wooden box with envelopes in, each one labelled for each household bill (council tax wasn't paid then if you were on income support), electric, water rates, telephone, food, and I used to put a certain amount into each envelope.  Then when the bill came due I had the money to pay it.

Today its a whole different story, finding myself a single parent again after my husband's death ten years ago.  The day after he died I rang the benefits agency and asked them what I had to do and what was I entitled to as being a full time mum of 2 and 4 year old children with no other means of income as my husband was self employed and had died leaving us with nothing.  So I had an interview and was helped to fill in various forms and then was given a very generous amount to pay for his funeral and allotted Bereavement benefit which will last until the girls are 17 based on my late husbands National Insurance payments.  This helps a lot, together with my widows pensions from his earlier career as a headteacher we get by.  But do I actually ever get to hold any of that money in my hand?  No!! 

Money is virtual today, all payments are made over the internet or using my debit card.  Rarely do I draw the money out of my bank account and go and buy things with it.  I still have to allow so much for each bill but most is now done on monthly direct debit so there are my little envelopes I suppose, but where is the satisfaction of knowing I have saved up for my bills as I cant see the money in front of me and the only people who benefit are the companies who are making huge amounts of interest on our money going in each month. 

I would be so happy to go back to having my money in my hand and choosing where it goes rather than being told you must pay us this amount each month by all the companies.  Yes my bills were always paid but now I must admit I find it difficult to budget each month with money being taken for all my bills each month there is very little spare for other things like clothes!!  Its all too easy for people to borrow money on credit cards because they cant see the money.

If I have ten pounds in my hand I know that I will have to use that carefully and its such a good feeling to hold real money but give someone a credit card and they can go out and spend money in ridiculous amounts and get themselves into trouble.

So Im wishing for money to go back to what it used to be when I was in control of it and I could hold it in my hand and feel good about my bills and have a sense of pride.

Other things we could used to do was to visit the electricity showroom and buy savings stamps towards our bills, where are all those gone now?  We could buy stamps at the post office to save towards our car tax etc, now no longer available, why?  What caused all the companies to stop doing these things?

Id be interested to know how many other people feel the same way.  Cash in hand as opposed to plastic and virtual banking!!