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Self employment – the importance of getting out of the workroom

As much as self employment is liberating, it is also hard work!  There are so many positive aspects to starting your own business: the chance to do what you love, learn along the way, progress and reach your personal goals, but there are downsides too.  One of these, and it is often talked about, is the feeling of isolation – those get up from your desk for a catch up in the coffee room with fellow workers kind of situations are missing when you work from home.  Social media can be a fantastic way to chat with others from so many walks of life, but many of us still need face to face contact that can be absent in the world of self employment.

indieroller meet up stamford oct 2018

Last Saturday I had the opportunity of meeting a wonderful bunch of local indie business owners and found it was the perfect time out solution.

indie 9

Organised through the Facebook Group The Indie Rollercoaster by Kate of Clumsy Kate and Small Biz Straight Talk, I had the pleasure of also meeting Beci of From Little Greenwoods, Rudy of Roodles Runique and Hannah, together with her adorable son, of Apples and Pips and Budding Smiles blog.

indie 8
Colourful vinyl sticker by Rudy.

We met at Cosy Club in Stamford (Lincolnshire) and got to know each other over a delicious lunch (or in my case a cooked breakfast).  As each of us is at a different point on our business path it made for an enjoyable, interesting and informative few hours where we could pick up tips (so many tips), bounce around ideas and get inspired to continue keeping our businesses ticking along.

After lunch we headed off to The Meadows, a large green area positioned alongside the River Welland. It was a warm and sunny day so the perfect opportunity to take a few product shots surrounded by picturesque scenery.

“BEAUTIFUL” framed print by Beci, t-shirt by Kate and pin brooches by Elaine (oh, that’s me!)

It will be fabulous to get together with these ladies again in the near future and hopefully encourage the group to grow so we can begin to support each other on a regular basis.
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King’s Lynn craft fair – kick start to Christmas

Belles at St. Nick's craft fair
Ellie’s Treasures kicked started the run up to Christmas with our first fair of the year on 9th September organised by Creative Orchard Events at St. Nicholas Chapel in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.  It was a most beautiful venue and although small, the Belles at St. Nick’s event with its friendly and welcoming stall holders was the ideal market to find that unique perfect treat or gift.  With stalls selling vintage goods, jewellery, pottery, jams and chutneys, leather ware and garden ornaments, I was thrilled to be part of it selling my accessories and artwork.

This was my view for the day – stunning don’t you think?
Craft fair at St. Nicholas Chapel King's Lynn
A little history.  According to the ‘net, St. Nicholas, built as a chapel of ease for nearby St. Margaret’s, is the largest chapel in England (200 feet long).  With the stone tower dating back to c.1225 and the spire being a 19th Century replacement, history dates the original chapel, probably made of wood, as being built between 1146 and 1175.  The amazing stain glass window shown in my photo is just one of many delights.  The late medieval oak vaulting and carved angels, engraved stone fonts and a memorial dedicated to “Robinson Crusoe” are just a few of the many features worth viewing .  My stall was pitched to the side of a set of benches erected to form a medieval church court where the Archdeacon would have the say on divorces and marriage issues!

Ellie's Treasures at St. Nicholas Chapel King's Lynn
We had flurries of customers throughout the day but by early afternoon things dried up a little so the stall holders were invited to learn about the chapel bells (a peel of 8 that are still in use), and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to help ring them!
St. Nicholas Chapel bellsTo top the day off nicely, a gentleman came into the chapel and began belting out tunes on the Willis organ – that was quite something!

If you are ever in King’s Lynn, a town steeped in history, do try and pay a visit St. Nicholas’ Chapel to marvel at the architecture and learn more about its history.  Although still consecrated, the chapel is cared for by the Churches Conservation Trust with events taking place throughout the year including the Jingle Belles Christmas Fair in early December.

References
http://www.stnicholaskingslynn.org.uk/index.html
https://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=4090
http://www.norfolkchurches.co.uk/lynnnicholas/lynnnicholas.htm

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Black Cat Appreciation Day (but all cats are adorably lovely)

black cat

Cats have been in our family since forever and so I can declare that I, and hubs, are big feline lovers.  Although I don’t remember Winkie (the first cat on my side of the family), according to old cine-film of me as a baby, he was around from the day I was born – a super cuddly, rather chunky ginger puss.  There have been so many others after him: Misty, Tandy, Checkie, Sandy, Titus, Kuching … the list goes on … in fact I can’t remember there ever being a time when a cat hasn’t been in our lives.

As a couple, we bought our first cat Jasper soon after moving in to our first flat.  He was a one in a million medium/long haired black and white moggy rescue from the Blue Cross in London.  I still miss him, he made a big impact on our lives and those of our close friends and he is still talked about many years after he moved over to cat heaven.

black cat appreciation day

Our current puss is Pepper.  Although not exactly a rescue, he was an unwanted kitten from an unexpected litter and as we’d just moved in to our current home we felt he’d be the perfect lucky black cat for us.  He guards his patch, as many do, but he is such a wimp too!  He scoots off to hide behind the washing machine when people visit and leaps off the windowsill if something scares him outside.  He loves a lap in the evenings and is picky with his food (his tastes change from day to day, so you can’t stock up on one type of cat food!).  The funniest things about Pepper are his disdainful looks and changeable attitude towards Poppy, the dog (friendly one minute and lashing out the next) – you get the picture I’m sure.  We adore him, as we’ve adored all the others before him and all those that are to come in the future.

fish eye lens black cat
one of Pepper’s “looks” as seen through a fish eye lens

So, today being Black Cat Appreciation Day, we are celebrating all black cats around the world, including our lovely Pepper.  I know some countries believe black cats to be unlucky – if they cross your path bad luck will follow.  For me, I have always seen them as lucky mascots, especially if on runs across the road within my sight.  My son and I used to share a private joke as I’d drive him to and from collage – it seemed every black cat we saw running across the road would result in a “kerching” on my phone meaning an Etsy sale.  We had quite a long run of this happening, but I can only assume the black cats have gone away for their Summer holidays these last two months as this weird and wonderful phenomenon sadly seems to have stopped.
hand sewn black cat keyring
Cats also inspire my creations.  I have quite a collection of different cat themed charms and am always on the look out for new ones to add to my supplies as I know I am not alone in loving felines, black ones or otherwise.  Below is a photo of Oliver with a commissioned cat themed bag charm which he seems to appreciate as much as his owner (the perfect charm to replicate Oliver himself)*.

hand sewn cat bag charm
gorgeous Oliver with his owner’s cat bag charm

Just by browsing the social media sites you can see how much we love our cats … but are they more popular than dogs?  Who knows

thank you for letting me share this super photo “L”.

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In search of gin in North Norfolk

The Gin Trap Inn, Ringstead, Norfolk

Back at the beginning of the year, during one of our Sunday drives with Boris the Defender, we took a detour to Hunstanton passing The Gin Trap Inn in Ringstead, Norfolk.  One of those spur of the moment, “let’s book a short break” thoughts happened (trust me, those moments don’t happen often) and so a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves staying at said Inn for a couple of nights, eager to sample a tiny number of the 120 gins that are available as well as explore a little bit of our favourite county.

Having not really touched gin since the 80s and reading about Norfolk’s recent love affair with gin (and most probably many other places too), I ordered my first g&t a hour or so after check in.  The Gin Trap Inn certainly know their gins and suggested a refreshing Edinburgh Pomegranate and Rose for my re-introduction to the tipple – it went down very well and now, thanks to The Gin Trap Inn, I am a gin convert!

The Gin Trap Inn Norfolk accommodation
A fantastic place to stay, our room was cozy, romantic and extremely comfortable with a spacious en-suite housing a luxurious deep Victorian bath (with a sky light above to view the stars) as well as roomy separate shower cubicle, we couldn’t ask for a lovelier place to stay.  The restaurant meal was superb, and the “gin tasting boards” the following evening, where we picked three gins each from a catalogue of the current selection, accompanied by two Fever Tree tonics, made for a relaxing evening spent in the outdoor garden at the back of the Inn.
The Gin Trap Inn Norfolk gin
Apart from drinking gin, our other aim  was to drive the North Norfolk coast road from Hunstanton to Great Yarmouth in one day.
mixed media hand sewn canvas pictures
We started out well stopping off at some delightful places like Thornham (the deli is amazing, perfect for presents, eats and great coffee, there’s even an outdoor gym in the playing fields), Brancaster (fantastic for leisurely beach walks), Cley (pronounced: Clie, like Pie), Stiffkey (a pretty General Stores that’s full of wonderful finds) and Holt (a lovely small town with plenty of unique shops).  By the time we’d reached Mundesley, ready for a (very) late lunch and finding no-where open to serve us, we gave up and headed back, via Sheringham.  Our next mini break will be in Suffolk, so we can drive the Great Yarmouth to Mundesley stretch to complete the journey.

panoramic view Cley-next-the-Sea Norfolk
view towards Cley-next-the-Sea

The following day we headed out to Burnham Market, a place we’ve often visited briefly or driven through, and stayed for a tiny shopping spree and wonderful lunch at The Hoste before heading back home.

Of course I couldn’t come away without bring a little bit of sewing to do.  This time, something to clip to my own bag – a lucky black cat bag charm, it’ll help me remember our lovely Norfolk holiday.
Ellie's Treasures black cat bag charm

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Commissions, local shopping and cream teas!

Commissions are always a joy to complete and this month has seen quite a few coming my way (thank you all so much).  One in particular put a big smile on my face, a bi-fold fabric wallet – an item I haven’t sewn for quite a long time.  It was good to get the batiks out of the fabric drawer and start the long hours of cutting, pressing and hand sewing.  There’s a tiny chance I may start making these again for the shop as they have always been popular due to the striking colour schemes and handy size – we’ll see 😉

hand sewn batik and upcycled fabric wallet purse

I can’t believe our luck with this long run of glorious warm weather (I’ve done it now, it’ll probably rain tomorrow).  The garden is coping well and the vast majority are sturdy enough to not need a good dosing of water, just those that are potted need a little help every other day.  I think it’s the first time in the 11 years we’ve been here that the water butt has been drained dry so I’m trying to be as economical as possible with water from the tap.  Flowers are so beautiful to have around the house too so I pick a little posy each week to display near my desk.  The small glass jar is one of a pair we found buried in the garden when we first  moved in … I do love hidden treasures of history.

picked from the garden summer posy

In a mission to step away from the PC and sewing basket for a short while and spend some time with friends, we recently headed out to the small market town of Long Sutton.  As it was market day we had a little mooch around the stalls and picked up a few bargain pot plants and dainty lace.  We also discovered a little haberdashery squeezed in among the other shops – so teeny tiny you could probably only fit 4 people in there at one time, but it was crammed full of colourful fabrics, felt, wool and all the embellishments you could possibly need.  I would never have know it was there, right on my doorstep, if I hadn’t ventured out to explored my local area and this started me thinking how I have slipped a little into becoming a slave to internet shopping.  Yes it has its positives, as in prices are often cheaper, but there’s also many downsides, most notably the lack of face to face contact, those friendly exchanges between customer and shop owner/assistant that can easily lead to a beneficial relationship for both of you.  Popping out to the local shops to support them and help keep them running is vitally important in this day and age where so many small businesses are struggling to make a livelihood.

shop local haberdashery

Before heading home we popped into another small business – Mal’s Vintage Tea Shop – a treasure trove of vintage and handmade items surrounded us as we sipped tea and coffee from pretty mismatched china and enjoyed the delights of perfectly baked scones, butter, cream, strawberry and blackcurrant jams. This tea shop is a real find and I’m planning on returning with hubs in tow.

Lincolnshire cream tea

Enjoy the sunshine everyone! I hope your month has been a good one – stop by and let me know what you’ve been doing.
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