I recently got approached by Vileda. They wanted to tell me about the Windomatic – a very cool little gadget to help you clean windows. 

Now, you might think that cleaning windows is actually pretty dull but you’d be WRONG. This is a perfect example of why I love blogging, and life generally to be honest, because anything can be turned into something fun if you put your mind to it. (Except maybe really horrendous things, like severe food poisoning.)

So first up I’m going to tell you a bit about the Windomatic as it is genuinely very cool and normally I’m rubbish at cleaning my windows. Then I’m going to show you a video I made all about my favourite views in Somerset. Because ultimately we don’t clean our windows because we have some kind of deep respect for the glass, we do it so we can look through the window at the view, without just seeing grubby fingerprints and smears, and feeling generally ashamed of our housekeeping skills.

So stay tuned. It’s going to be awesome.

First up then, the Windomatic. To set the scene, it’s essentially like one of those hand held vacuum cleaners, only wet. With me so far?

You charge it up and when you’re ready to clean your windows you just start as normal – warm water or spray or whatever you might use. Then instead of using a squeegee (never written that word before, very cool) or a bit of old newspaper, you use the Windomatic. It has a squeegee end (still a funny word), but at the same time it sucks excess water or cleaning products up, leaving your windows dry and streak free.

Vileda Windomatic View Post

Okay, I know I normally do short rants, but there is just so much to say on the subject of flexible working isn’t there? Plus I want to talk to you about the Hire Me My Way campaign for more part-time and flexible jobs, and I have a personal story from another blogger to share, so all in all it’s a pretty jam-packed post.

You lucky things!

When you stop to think about ‘work’ as a concept, it’s crazy really. Let’s take your basic office job. A 9am start maybe? An hour for lunch, and then home in time for Pointless and some fish fingers and chips. For starters, the whole idea of everyone going to work and going home at the same time is madness. It’s not wonder we have traffic problems is it?! I mean, who came up with that?! ‘Oh yeah, I know, it would be GREAT if we had everyone try to travel to and from work at the same time everyday! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?’

No, it’s not awesome.

And then you’ve got the whole productivity issue. All of the research, like this, says that flexible working increases productivity, that when we trust our staff to work from home, or to work compressed hours, or whatever it might be, that we get more out of them. So why are so many employers still so scared to embrace flexible working?

Do they not trust us? Do they imagine that the minute they’re not looking, everyone will just be at home playing on Facebook? Because I hate to break it to you bosses, but there are plenty of people sat at their desks right now sneaking a look at Facebook – keeping them locked in an office for set hours every day isn’t going to solve that.

flexible working campaign hire me my way View Post

One of Belle’s favourite teddies is a rather strange looking creature named Frogmal.

I made Frogmal myself as a Christmas present after a visit to Camp Bestival one summer about six or so years ago. There was a vintage caravan there, selling these home made stuffed toys that were deliberately a bit quirky and wonky looking. They had parcel tags tied around their necks with unusual names on them. I’m sure you can picture the scene.

‘I want one of those for Christmas!’ said a small at the time Belle.

‘Pah!’ said me, also probably a little smaller, waist wise, ‘I could make you one of those!’

I remember Belle looking sceptical. She doesn’t forget though, bless her, so for the next six months I had weekly reminders about the toy I had promised her. Christmas got closer, and the toy remained unmade, until I was forced, probably on around December 23rd, to scrabble around for bit of fabric and a needle. I found an old dress of Bee’s and got stitching. I didn’t have a sewing machine and it took bloody ages.

The end result wasn’t exactly the artisan craft we’d seen at the festival, but Belle seemed to like it. Petplan insurance View Post

I like gin as much as the next self-employed mother of two. It’s ace. Some ice, a good splash of decent tonic water. Boom. Job done. Some gins might taste a little nicer than others; personally I find it hard to tell the difference unless it’s Asda basics or something like that. Gin is gin. 

I was having a browse through a Christmas gift guide in a newspaper at the weekend though, and saw at advert for Silent Pool gin. I’ve never had it before and I’m sure it’s very delicious, so apologies to Silent Pool as this is nothing personal.

BUT.

There was something on the bottle that really wound me up. This gin is not just any old gin you see, this gin is ‘intricately realised’ and distilled from grain ‘precisely crafted’ in England.

Ooooh!

silent pool gin

Jesus Christ.

Intricately realised?? What does that mean? It was complicated to make?! You took a bit of care over your ingredients? Good! I didn’t expect gin would be easy to knock together, or we’d all be making our own wouldn’t we?!

It seems there is a trend that has developed over the last year or two for all of the best things to be hand crafted, by authentic, artisan makers, who live just to make the very best whatever it is that they can possibly make. At the weekends they retreat to the woods to carve spoons and nibble their hand crafted, organic quinoa biscuits because they are just so bloody precious they can’t just eat a Jaffa cake and watch TV like a normal person. View Post

win Christmas competition HiHouse

When I say ‘Christmas survival kit’, I’m not talking here about Kendal mint cake, stout boots or water purification tablets, I’m talking about the things you need to survive Christmas, like foil, ibuprofen, and emergency gifts for the people you’d forgotten were coming over.

(Not that that ever happens to me.)

This particular survival kit has been generously put together for us by a retailer called HiHouse. HiHouse sells all of those non-glamorous but nonetheless essential things like bin liners and kitchen cleaners – the kind of thing you try to remember to go to a town centre discount shop for, but never quite get round to because you can’t be bothered to lug it all home.

HiHouse offers an alternative – great value prices on essentials, but delivered to your door, so that you don’t have to drag a nine pack of toilet paper around town with you.

(Not a sexy look.)

HiHouse has written some fun product descriptions too, which goes a long way to making boring shopping more fun. It’s worth having a browse just for those. View Post

This is a little shout out for my friend Kirsten Butler, aka Little Wedding Helper, who runs something called The Wedding Sessions. The Wedding Sessions are interactive workshops, aimed at anyone in the wedding industry looking to meet other creative types and get some inspiration to help them move their business forward. It doesn’t matter if you’re just you, at your kitchen table, drawing invitations, or a big business with a huge turnover – there is something for everyone at the Wedding Sessions.

At the last workshop, back in September at The Forge in Bristol (a lovely space, where I’ll be hosting a social media workshop on February 1st, should you fancy it), I was honoured to be asked to co-host with Kirsten. It was really lovely to be involved and to experience the passion of so many talented individuals working in the wedding industry. We chatted about issues and opportunities, shared stories and advice, ate yummy food, and of course, posted lots of pictures to Instagram. You can see lots of snaps from the day below, (courtesy of Evoke Pictures), which hopefully will inspire you to come along for yourself to a 2017 session.

Find out more at The Wedding Sessions.

(And sign up to The Forge newsletter if you’d like a reminder about my social media workshop!)

Bristol wedding sessions little wedding helper View Post

When I was 19 years old, I moved into my first home of my own. I lived there with Bee, then about two years old, and her dad. It was a new build – a teeny tiny thing with a living room, small kitchen and two small bedrooms. We were renting it, obviously, and the landlord was clearly not looking to splash out on the fixtures and fittings.

I imagine him having a conversation with the builders along these lines:

‘Here are the carpet swatches we’ve got,’ says the builder in my head, ‘what do you want to go for?’

‘Hmmm…’ says the landlord, ‘they’re all a little bit carpety. A bit warm and cosy looking. Do you have something cheaper? Something a bit more like the sort of mat you wipe your feet on as you come into a supermarket?’

‘Well,’ says the builder, ‘we have this really scratchy, brown cord, but it’s pretty nasty. We’d normally only put that in prison visiting rooms.’

‘It’s perfect!’ says the landlord, ‘let’s have that in the whole house!’

It wasn’t nice. View Post