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Sunday, 13 November 2016

IZZY, WHIZZY, LET'S GET BUSY

Hello everyone

I am notorious for leaving everything until the last minute.  I have somehow managed to create a wonderfully organised personality, which is quite untrue.  I tell myself that my best work is produced 'last minute' but I know that is incorrect, because often it is thrown together in a very unprofessional way.  However, I would like to assure anyone who has purchased work from me or taken (and taking) part in my events that where they are concerned, I am very organised.  Disorganisation happens when I arrive home and shut the door on the world!  Then chaos reigns.

The reason for the title of my post is that life is hectic at the moment and the days/weeks are not long enough.  A long time ago, I posted the question on here asking can I organise craft fairs and still take part in craft fairs organised by others; the questions still remains completely unanswered and having taken part in two fairs recently as a seller, I am still unsure.  The silly thing is that I excuse my self forgetting to take things to a craft fair on the basis that I am too busy!  Er, yes, so is everyone else.  I forget that I owe it to the organiser to do the very best I can by dressing my stall attractively, having a nice range of work to sell, following their terms & conditions and giving myself over to enjoying my time spent at the event (and all the time worrying about the million and one things I have not done).  Oh dear.

I took part in a craft fair in North Camp, Farnborough yesterday.  The weather was atrocious and this affected footfall, which was low.  However, the event was well organised, I met lots of lovely stallholders and I was pleased with my sales - I covered all costs and made a profit so left the event as a happy bunny.  A couple of pics of bags sold at yesterday's event:




My only niggles were my left and right side stallholders - lovely people, but......  If terms & conditions say don't put boxes, shelves, items, etc in the gap between tables, why do some stallholders think it includes 'but you can if you want to' on their information sheet?  To my left was a very big space, which was great because I  moved my table several times to escape the ever-growing pile of display material the stallholders on my right were adding to the gap!  I placed one of my bags on the door to my left only to have the daughter of the stallholder plonk herself down in front of it and lean on it - despite there being a very large space to park her backside elsewhere!  How unfair of me I can hear people say, but come on we are all there to display and sell our work, enjoy the company of others and look back on a successful event - not have annoying memories.  As I said, lots of lovely stallholders, but just a plea for some to remember they are not the only ones in the room.

When I take part in fairs, I take along work to do because even at busy events, there can be time to catch up on making.  I was able to complete a bit of work yesterday, but also had the time to look around me with my organiser's hat on; someone recently suggested I email photographs of a good stall set-up to my stallholders.  I have seen some really well set-up stalls, ones that look beautiful and others that look as though the stallholder walked into the room, threw their things onto the table and left.  One yesterday was a good example (or rather bad example).  No table cover and all storage boxes on display under their table; the table top display was poor too.  Why?  A table cover can be a bed-sheet - clean and ironed it can look very smart.  I suppose this is a little niggle about sellers who complain that they haven't sold anything, nobody went to their stall, etc, etc - come on you lot, you are a shop as far as the world is concerned so if you want to sell, please dress your 'shop window', lay out your goods beautifully and don't have all your boxes, bags, etc on show.  It makes such a big difference and your fellow stallholders will like it too.  Don't let event visitors remember you for the wrong reason.

I digress, I was supposed to be explaining why the post is called Izzy, Whizzy, Let's Get Busy because I must get busy.  A two-day event in two weeks time at the Medicine Garden in Cobham followed by my final event of the year as the organiser, closely followed by a hospital admission to have my knee sorted out.  An early Christmas present?  Fingers crossed.  In between these are lots of Christmas lunches and evenings out with friends and family and getting ready for Christmas at home - mobility will be limited so I will be able to get Richard to do all of the preparation and shopping. As if.

Have a good week everyone - see you soon.

Jill

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

ON A COLD AND FROSTY MORNING

Hello everyone

Boy, is it cold today!  Is it because we had mild weather in October that the recent cold and frost makes me think we have a bad winter on the way?  Snow is already forecast for the midlands - is it earlier than usual?  I like snow and it is lovely to wake up to find everything covered in the garden - especially if I don't have to go out in it.  Being a clumsy idiot who manages to fall over when there is just a sprinkle on the ground, I would prefer it to fall and then disappear pretty soon after.

I held my second event in the Wilfrid Noyce Centre on Saturday and although it would have been great to have several thousand visitors, the stlalhodlers entered into the spirit of the occasion and created a really lovely busy, buzzy atmosphere.  As always a big thank you to everyone who took part.  Our next event is on 3 December, my last one as organiser for this year and as always I am looking for attractions to encourage and retain visitors.  However, I always say I work hard to get people into the venue, then it is down to the stallholders to turn visitors into customers - even better if they are ones who came back again and again because they are pleased with what they have bought.  Here are a few photographs of some of the work that was on sale at Saturday's event and more can be found on the A Fair to Remember Facebook page:







Like everyone in this country I moan and alternatively congratulate the NHS, but I am always pleased that we have them on our side.  I developed problems with my right knee earlier this year and following several GP appointments, x-rays, hospital visits and an MRI it was identified that the cartilage in my right knee had gone 'mushy' and I was referred to a knee surgeon at the Royal Surrey Hospital.  My appt letter arrived early last week with an appointment for 4 January - then out of the blue on Thursday I received a call saying that as a new consultant was on board, appointments were being offered for this week.  I was offered yesterday afternoon and it meant a tricky day as I was due to be at a funeral in the morning in Bristol and I really didn't want to miss it.  I made both with time to spare, thank goodness and was advised by the knee surgeon that keyhole surgery will be carried out to repair the torn meniscus and it will possibly be in appx six weeks time.  Thank you NHS, I am so pleased that I don't have to suffer for a long time with a very painful knee and, being selfish, hope the operation takes place after my remaining events this year.

I am taking part in three events (two as a seller one as organiser/seller) and have a lot of work to do: bags to decorate with new and popular designs, candles to make and wreaths to make - if time permits.

Have a great week everyone - see you next week.

Jill

Monday, 31 October 2016

A FOGGY DAY IN CHRISTMAS PIE

Hello everyone

It's a little bit foggy here, but still very mild.  Many of the trees around here still have all of their leaves, although they have changed to beautiful golds and reds.  The colours at this time of year are so gorgeous and almost a pity that they signal the real end of summer for the year, but there is always spring to look forward to and we have planted some more bulbs this year.  Every year I tell myself to photograph the places I have planted bulbs, so that I know where to put new ones - every year I forget.

I took part in the Woking Cats Protection Christmas Fayre on Saturday and it was great to meet up with the branch's team members as well as fellow stallholders (some I have met before and new ones as well).  The event was a great success for CP and I was a very pleased stallholder as my bags were popular and sold well.  The favourites always seem to be the ones decorated with butterflies and I sold out of those, so it's back to making more for the next few events I am taking part in, but the quirky new design ones were popular too.





In addition to selling my bags at the events I organise, I will be taking part, with my Christmas Pie Crafts hat on, in the two-day Christmas Market at the Medicine Garden on 26 and 27 November.  Making will be 24-hours a day form now until then as also need to make new wreaths and Christmas scented candles.  Looking forward to this event as I really do prefer to do two or three day ones - I think it is being able to walk away on day one (often the most tiring because of setting up, etc) without having to pack-up.

My sister and I had a return visit to Prawn on the Lawn in Islington on Friday.  This is a 'to die for' fish and seafood restaurant that at first glance you think it is just a fishmongers.  They have an excellent menu and wine list and it's a great way dine away a couple of hours at lunch time. Their homemade Taramasolata is soooooo good we bought some to take home with us (as well as some jumbo prawns and truffle oil).  Already planning our next trip.


Back to candle-making, wreath-producing and bag-decorating but I will be back next week with details about the 5 November A Fair to Remember event in the Wilfrid Noyce Centre and how it went.  Have a great week everyone.

Jill

Sunday, 23 October 2016

WHERE OH WHERE HAD MY BLOG GONE?

Hello everyone

My blog disappeared!  I have spent many weeks trying to locate it, on my own, with the help of Blogger/Google and have been tempted many times to throw my computer out of the window - I am sure many of you understand this feeling?  However, I am the first to admit that computers are not to blame, it is we humans who do most of the damage.  It turned out to be a different email address I had opened and for some crazy reason had used it to access my blog - er, why?  I really don't know, but I am so pleased that I have now solved the problem and can access my old blog posts.  I know the authors hoping to win next year's Booker Prize have nothing to worry about, but not being able to access the blog meant I could not update any information about events, layout, etc.  You can probably hear the sigh of relief and feel the warmth from my very red face.  I am now one happy blogger.

Since my last blog post, which must have been, oh years and years ago, I have had an event at a new venue: the Wilfrid Noyce Centre (WNC) in Godalming.  A lovely venue that was refurbished earlier this year and now has two great halls; the main one has lots of light and plenty of room.  It has a very smart brand new kitchen, which makes setting up our pop-up cafe very easy.  We have a great caretaker who helps us set up and pack away - what more could we ask for in a venue?

Our next event in the WNC is on 5 November.  I have been trying to arrange a Best Guy competition to take place during the event, but the response has been disappointing.  I put a couple of posts out asking for local Godalming businesses to support the event, but sadly, nothing.  My plan is for it to be on a quid pro quo basis of mutual benefit to everyone involved, so Godalming businesses if you are interested please do get in touch.  Just a small gift, promotion for the event and plenty of advertising from me both before and after the event.

In addition to new venues, it has been a very sad time here in Christmas Pie.  One of our neighbours, who would have celebrated her 101st birthday next month, died last week.  This was closely followed by the loss of a distant family member and as we were thinking that unhappy events tends to go in threes, we received the very sad news that a favourite uncle passed away on Friday.

This time of year is always busy for me, both on the organising of events side as well as the taking part in events side.  On Saturday, 29 October I am taking part in the Woking Cats Protection Christmas Fayre in the New Haw Community Centre, Woodham Lane, Addlestone, KT15 3ND.  If you are free on that day, why not come along and buy some of the goodies there will be for sale in support of our kittens and cats.  There will be lots of lovely stalls selling gorgeous things, a chocolate tombola and I understand there will be bacon sandwiches.

Have a great week everyone - I will definitely be back next week because I now know how to get into my blog.

Jill

Sunday, 10 July 2016

A LOVELY SUNNY DAY

Hello everyone

What a gorgeous couple of days it has been - please Mr Weather Forecaster, don't suddenly change your mind and tell us rain is on the way?

Since my last blog, which was, embarrassingly, several weeks ago, I have completed my last craft event this side of summer.  I made the decision a couple of years ago not to hold events between late May and September; I found that people coming into the town centre were there mainly to quickly get their BBQ goodies and their week's shopping and either nip back home to their garden, off to the beach or to buy supplies for their holiday travel.  As both a stallholder and an event organiser, I know how disheartening it is when footfall is low.  However, that doesn't mean to say work has stopped for the summer in the A Fair to Remember office - requests to take part in the autumn and winter events are coming in every day and I am still on the lookout for venues I can use that are in a busy town centre or (impossible I know) guaranteed to attract a high footfall.

What else have I been doing?  Catching up with friends, lots of gardening, visiting Wisley to see their plans for improvements and changes, spending a day at the Chelsea Flower Show; not sure I agreed with the choice of Best in Show or the Peoples Choice Best in Show, but hey that's what Chelsea does, creates controversy and talking points and we wouldn't really want it any other way, would we?  Of course, almost needless to say, a big talking point was Diarmuid Gavin's garden with its spinning trees, roof rising up and down and flower beds spinning around the building - great fun and he can be relied on to do something very, very different.

I am still a one-day-a-week potter - I love the course, feel I sometimes move one or two steps forwards only to fall three steps back, but it is great fun. My fellow potters are friendly and some of them are incredibly talented and I am not too sure why they are not selling their work for hundreds (if not thousands) of pounds.  I still have the 'what I see in my mind's eye, doesn't match what I produce' problem, but I can't be talented at everything (as if), can I?

I am looking to take part in events (as a stallholder) in the winter months and prefer to do two or three day ones.  The first day is always hectic and it is great to be able to walk away at the end of the day and arrive the next day knowing all I need to do is uncover, tidy and begin selling.  The Farnham Maltings Christmas event is open for applications and I will have a go.  I was disappointed not to get in last year, but was very surprised that this year they are showing a video on their website from the 2014 event which has some of my work!

I am on a bit of a go-slow at the moment as I have damaged ligaments around my right knee.  I have dodgy knees and weak ankles so it doesn't take much to give me mobility issues.  However, I have no idea how I damaged the ligaments - I have racked my brains as to when and how it happened and I really don't know.  On anti-inflammatory medication and about to start physiotherapy, so hopefully it should soon be better - although one week on and it is still pretty painful.  It is easy for doctor's to say 'rest', but in real life that is almost impossible.

So embarrassing, I wrote this post and didn't publish it - er, not too sure why.  However, I think an update is needed.  I didn't get my application for the Farnham Maltings completed in time, so sadly I won't be taking part this year.  My knee is still giving me trouble - turned out to not be ligaments, but physio doesn't know exactly what it is so a return to the doc's this week is on my list of 'to-do's'.  My
pottery course has now finished until September - lots of plans on what to make next term, but I am possibly going to return to making my face pots, which I enjoy and they seem to work out fairly well.

Richard and I went to Jersey for a few days this week - the weather was a mix of cloudy and sunny.  We lovely Jersey and it was nice to go back to places we knew and also to stay in our favourite hotel.

More or less up-to-date - nearly forgot have just watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon.  A great match and a great player.

Have a great week everyone.  Now for my 100 lines: I must regularly update my blog, I must regularly update my blog.

Jill

Monday, 18 April 2016

PARKINSON'S AWARENESS WEEK

Hi everyone

What a beautiful day it was yesterday in Christmas Pie land and it looks as though today will be just as lovely (although the sun has just popped in).  Wall-to-wall sunshine after a very frosty start which didn't seem to do any damage to tender plants in the garden.  The temptation when it is sunny is to bring everything out of the greenhouse, plant up pots and baskets and think 'yipee, summer's here'.  Sadly we can still have frosty weather for several more weeks and having carefully looked after many tender plants throughout the winter, I would hate to lose them now.

This week is Parkinson's Awareness Week.  Some of you may know that my sister was diagnosed with this early last year; it was a shock to her family and friends, although she had been feeling it was a possibility for sometime.  Apart from being a get-up-and-go and rarely sit-down-person, she used to be the amazing front-of-house person at my events in Godalming and was a great help in increasing the footfall throughout last year.  Sadly, she is not able to do this for me now as she becomes tired easily and a busy day can often mean two or three slow and painful days to recover.

My sister is a third generation family member to have Parkinson's and we, as yet, do not know if the next generation has or will be similarly affected.

She has been busily posting on Facebook and Twitter today to get peoples attention about this week and I have been sharing, liking and re-tweeting her posts and those from Parkinson's associations.  I have posted separately on Facebook and asked my followers to share, like and visit the various Parkinson's Facebook pages to share, like and help raise awareness, and I hope my blog followers will show their support too.





Jill

Thursday, 31 March 2016

THE SUN HAS DEFINITELY GOT HIS HAT ON, BUT STILL NEEDS TO WEAR A WOOLLY JUMPER

Hello everyone

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Christmas Pie - how about where you are?  I hope you didn't have any problems from Katie?  She was in a pretty bad mood around here - internal doors were rattling, but as with all bad weather, our cats didn't move a whisker!  The bottom of our garden flooded, but it does that frequently - apart from wheelie bins falling over, everything stayed in place.

My most recent A Fair to Remember event was on 19 March; bitterly cold weather, an empty town centre and rugby on the television meant numbers were not as good as hoped for, but we kept on smiling and had a big pre-Easter warm welcome for our visitors.  Photographs of the beautiful work that was on sale can be found here on the A Fair to Remember Facebook page.  Our next event is on 7 May and many of the stallhodlers who took part in the March event will be there too as well as lots of lovely new makers/sellers.

Earlier this month we went to Gozo for a week - the weather wasn't great all of the time, but we did have a couple of days when the temperature hit 22c.  It was fairly quiet where we stayed (Xlendi), particularly in the evenings but as we had planned a lazy and loungey holiday, we didn't mind the peace and quiet.  We had a fantastic view from our balcony:


A gorgeous sunny day-time view


A lovely night-time sun-setting view



The local 'stray' cats wander in and out of the restaurant and are well fed.  This fellow, we named him George, jumped onto my lap and settled down for a long snooze.  The majority of cats we met had been tipped, neutered and returned, so there is clearly a good network of cat carers in Malta and Gozo.

I like Gozo very much and feel I could happily live there - a long way to travel back for my craft fairs though, so perhaps have to think about moving there some time in the future.

I went to the Squirrel in Hurtmore last week for lunch with a couple of friends (Lesley and Dawn), apparently it has just been re-decorated and it does look good - very country-cottage style.  Good food and a great host too.  After pottery on Thursday met up with another friend (Linda) in the Watts Gallery coffee shop - gorgeous cake: one was beetroot and pumpkin seeds.  Very tasty.

This month has been spent catching up with friends, work and the million and one other things that seem to keep falling off of my mental To-Do list.  My To-Do list is a bit like a revolving door, just keeps returning to me expecting to be moved.

It's back-to-work time, so have a good weekend everyone.  Sadly not a four-day one this time around, but another Bank Holiday is on its way.

Jill

Monday, 1 February 2016

A BELATED FAREWELL TO A NOT SO GOOD YEAR

Hello everyone

Sitting here putting the final touches to Saturday's event and reading the posts on a couple of blogs that I follow, made me realise that it really is about time I pulled my finger out and blogged.  I have often said that I love blogging, yet it is five months since my last post.  Five months!

I am glad 2015 has been put to bed - it was not a good year.  Early in the year my sister was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease (PD).  Although she had a feeling for some time that it was a possibility, we were hoping she was wrong.  Although we have been told it is not hereditary, that is not always correct: our grandmother had it and an uncle has it, so it has travelled through three generations.  It has been very hard to watch someone who was full of beans, here, there and everywhere, become someone that has had the stuffing knocked out of them.  Life for her has by necessity become calmer and slower; like all PD sufferers she has good days and bad ones, in fact she can have a good hour, followed by a bad one.  If she has a good day and does too much because she feels well, she will pay for it with one possible two or three bad days.  How cruel is that?

 A few months after this a good friend had a stroke - it was a minor one, but enough to make her
and us realise how something can just kick you in the teeth when you are least expecting it and cause you to make major life-changes.  She is healthy, plays golf two or three times a week, gardens whenever possible and the very last person we would have expected this to happen to.  How do you plan if you cannot see what is around the corner?

My turn next.  I, like lots of people, have IBS (apparently 1 in 5 people suffer from this) and at the beginning of the year it was particularly bad, but I put it down to life being very stressful at the time.  Around mid-year it became so painful that I had to go to the docs's.  Tests were carried out, one of which threw up something that prompted a speedy colonoscopy (oh, boy, a never to be repeated 'exercise' - I hope).  The diagnosis was (is) Diverticulitis - thankfully not as bad as we had originally thought, but not great.   Interesting really because apparently I still have IBS and one requires a high fibre diet but the other requires a low fibre diet - very challenging.  (Research tells me that diverticular disease is very common and most people have no symptoms).  I know people will wonder why I am writing about something relating to 'that part of the body', but, hey, we all go to the loo and if I meet you and suddenly have to run off, it's nothing personal, I just have to go.

So a year of life-changing events all round.  These together with the dishwasher packing up, swiftly followed by the washing machine doing the same and then one oven on our 'just out of guarantee' range deciding to join them, meant an interesting end to 2015 and an expensive start to 2016.

Well, 'they' say everything goes in three's so three health events and three kitchen disasters must mean we have had our quote for a long time - please.

Lots more to write about, but time to get back to finalising Saturday's event.

Have a good week everyone.

Jill

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

NOW, WHERE WAS I?

Hello everyone

I love blogging, I really enjoy it as it is a great way to keep in touch with followers, visitors and friends and family who I may not see as often as I would like to.  Recently it seems to be getting harder and harder to blog regularly.  I feel guilty because there are the occasional (very, very rare) days when I look back and can't see what I have done - although I feel I am on the go all of the time.  I was chatting with a friend yesterday about this and we both agreed that despite having so many 'time-saving' gadgets, wonderful technology, etc there really is no time saved, just more time spent on pressing all of the buttons to make the gadgets work!

It is hard to believe that we are approaching the last Bank Holiday of the year before Christmas - frightening and judging by the weather and the state of the trees around here, autumn is well and truly here!  Friends of ours flew off to Australia a couple of weeks ago and are missing this wonderful wet weather - I am sure they are so disappointed.  However, looking at the forecast, I have sneaky feeling that they might just be lucky enough to experience some wet weather when they arrive back in September.

So what have I been doing recently?  Working on my events – lots to do and the first one is less than two months away.  I am still looking for Event Assistants.  I have one person signed up, but really want a team so that I have back-ups if someone is unwell on the day of an event.  I find it very hard to believe that nobody wants or needs work around here – no commitment, just one day (or event) at a time.  I know Surrey is an affluent area, but on social media sites there are people asking for work in this locality, just not interested in my work - perhaps because they have to be self-employed?  Oh well, perhpas nearer the time of the events, people will being to think some extra money would be welcome.

I recently helped my pottery tutor create her website and someone contacted her asking if they could be put in touch with the website designer (er, me?).  Could this be a whole new career?  I don’t think so, but it is proving interesting recommending/agreeing designs, photographs, etc, but not really something I would like to do on a permanent basis - adding another string to my already buckling bow is not on my To-Do list.

Not quite up-to-date in my blog-land, but sort of-ish.  Have a good Bank Holiday weekend everyone, fingers crossed the sun shines for some of the time.

Jill

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

MILLY'S DIARY

Hello everyone

Not much sunshine today, so I am spending time inside - snoozing!  It's something we cats do pretty well, need no training for, can do at the drop of a whisker and, it has been said, something we do for about 17 hours a day.  Not me though, too much to do outside.

However, I haven't been outside much for the last couple of days because the 'visiting cat' is scary!  Yes, I know I don't scare easily and I normally take no notice of other cats, but he keeps chasing me and because he is about 6 times bigger than I am I have spent a lot of time recently hiding behind sofas, under chairs and in cupboards.  This is not the image I like to project!  I may be small, but I think big!  He argues with Jazz, but doesn't seem too bothered with Daisy, Coco or Poppy.  He sometimes nips into our neighbour's garden and rolls in her cat mint - probably high as a kite when he chases me!

Scary Cat hasn't been in our garden today, so it might be safe for me to go outside for a while.  Have to keep my eyes open though because he does sometimes curl up and sleep in one of the flower beds - ready to chase me as I wander by.

A mini post today, I am going to give the big outside world (my garden that is) another reccie - come back next week to see how I am managing my life with Scary Cat.

Milly