Candles: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival 2017

Candles: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Last week, I attended the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate.  It’s a huge event, made up of many producers and even more retailers looking to add new lines to their sites, stores and stalls in the autumn.

As with previous events trade events I’ve attended, my goal was to seek out those makers with an eco, ethical or sustainable tale to tell.  I thus set off on the organised ‘Eco Trail’ but I was defeated by the size of the show, covering only around two-thirds of it.

Even so, I met some awesome brands that I’m excited to tell you about!  

Having realised how mammoth my earlier ethical round-up was, I decided to break this summary up somewhat.  There are five parts: beauty & skincare on Monday, accessories & jewellery on Tuesday, and gifts, greetings cards & stationery last night.  There will also be a collated post on Saturday.  Phew!

I hope that you find some new companies to consciously shop with.  Let me know what purchases you make!

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Candles: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Light Me Bio-oil Candle

Did you know that 4.3 million people die every year from indoor air pollution?  It was this statistic which inspired the creators of the Light Me Bio-Oil Candle to create their product.  Their alternative maintains the ambience of regular candles but are clean burning, without the soot and melted wax.  They also self-extinguish if knocked over.

From £10.99.

 

 

Candles: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Melt

For almost twenty years, Melt have been making hand-poured candles with scents that differ from the usual perfumed options.  From Angel and Aubergine to Verbena and Clary Sage, Violet and Black Pepper, there are many distinctive perfumes available in two jar sizes and three freestanding options.  Furthermore, more than 94% of their ingredients come from the county of Lancashire, where they are based – supporting local business while keeping their carbon footprint to a minimum.

From £8.95.

 

The Recycled Candle Company

You know how there’s wax leftover whenever you’ve finished burning a candle?  Well the clever chaps at The Recycled Candle Company go round collecting this seeming waste product from London churches, pubs and hotels then they recycle all the bits into beautiful new ones.  Isn’t this the greatest recycling story that you’ve ever heard?!

From £6.00.

 

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival 2017

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017
Artist Hannah Longmuir at work during the show

Last week, I attended the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate.  It’s a huge event, made up of many producers and even more retailers looking to add new lines to their sites, stores and stalls in the autumn.

As with previous events trade events I’ve attended, my goal was to seek out those makers with an eco, ethical or sustainable tale to tell.  I thus set off on the organised ‘Eco Trail’ but I was defeated by the size of the show, covering only around two-thirds of it.

Even so, I met some awesome brands that I’m excited to tell you about!  

Having realised how mammoth my earlier ethical round-up was, I decided to break this summary up somewhat.  There are five parts, beginning with beauty & skincare on Monday and accessories & jewellery last night, plus a collated post on Saturday.

I hope that you find some new companies to consciously shop with.  Let me know what purchases you make!

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Claire Vaughan Designs

Claire’s free-hand artwork is inspired by the garden, the countryside and coast.  These designs then appear cards, coasters, stationery, prints, bottles, homeware and ceramics.  The vast majority of goods are handmade or hand-finished and come from the finest independent UK sources.  I was immediately drawn to the mugs as I’d never seen such beautiful examples; I was unsurprised to learn that these are from The Potteries, Stoke.

From £1.95.

 

Hannah Longmuir

Hannah is a countryside artist whose mainly pencilled drawings record the beauty of hedgerows, woodlands and fields.  These images become cards and stationery that really are works of art.  I don’t need to describe them; the images speak for themselves.

From £2.00.

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Seasonal Soul

Inspired by owner Rhianydd’s own quest for more connection and wellbeing, Seasonal Soul offers small homeware products, stationery and greetings cards designed to help users to relish the season and rekindle their soul.  Designed and made in the UK, the prints, colours and slogans reflect different times of the year, from the ‘For Someone Who’s Just Blooming Fabulous’ summertime card in hot pink to the seasonal journal kit in autumnal greens and oranges.

From £2.00.

Totes Adore

The Adore-A-Bottle range showcases stylish upcycling by recrafting empty alcohol bottles into beautiful new products.  There are chopping boards, lights, candles, nibble bowls and drizzle bottles.  The bottle lights would look great on an outdoor table or nestled on a cocktail bar, while the bespoke option means that you can sentimental bottles (such as champagne from your wedding) converted into a candle with a matching scent.

From £15.00.

Wraptious

Wraptious regularly run competitions to find new artists to contribute to their animal and nature inspired lines of products.  They offer a broad range of designs on items such as greetings cards, notebooks, coasters, placemats, clocks, mugs, cushions and prints.  All are made in the UK.

Retail prices from £2.50.

Gifts, greetings cards & stationery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

YooJoo Cards

YooJoo’s Monster Cards have a second life as a bookmark: you simply tear the perforations when you’ve finished displaying it.  If that weren’t ingenious enough, owner and illustrator Julie has now added the Plectrum range.  She collects used store cards from shops then makes plectrums from the plastic, adding them to her drawings of acoustic and electric guitars.  Again these can be kept when the card is recycled.

From £2.75

Accessories & Jewellery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival 2017

Fashion Accessories: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Last week, I attended the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate.  It’s a huge event, made up of many producers and even more retailers looking to add new lines to their sites, stores and stalls in the autumn.

As with previous events trade events I’ve attended, my goal was to seek out those makers with an eco, ethical or sustainable tale to tell.  I thus set off on the organised ‘Eco Trail’ but I was defeated by the size of the show, covering only around two-thirds of it.

Even so, I met some awesome brands that I’m excited to tell you about!  

Having realised how mammoth my earlier ethical round-up was, I decided to break this summary up somewhat.  There are five parts, the first being beauty and skincare last night, plus a collated post on Saturday.

 

I hope that you find some new companies to consciously shop with.  Let me know what purchases you make!

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Earth Squared

Scarves, hats, gloves, bags, purses: Earth Squared offer them all under the slogan ‘fair trade and fabulous’.  They certainly are both!  A member of BAFTS (the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers), they work with fair trade accredited producers.  Among their huge selection of products, there will be something for everyone but my personal favourites were the tweed purses, velvet scarves and knitted bobble hats – although I also have my eye on a navy wool sling bag 🙂

From £5.99.

EnviroTrend

EnviroTrend sell a variety of bags that are designed to eliminate the use of plastic bags.  They are all lightweight yet strong, and the SAKitToMe™ shopping bags fold up into a size that you can attach to your key-ring – so you never caught out at the checkout without a reusable bag again!

They have also created the INside OUT Umbrella™.  This looks like a regular umbrella and opens the same, but will stand up on its own when down.  It also turns inside out as it is closed, so that the water drains on the inside, meaning no more soaking the side of your leg when walking round with a used brolly!

RRP from £6.00 for the bags; the umbrella £25.00.

Mowgs

Mowgs founder Michal stumbled upon villagers making beautiful baskets while travelling around Myanmar.  Locals produce them when the rainy season prevents farming, using generations old weaving techniques but plastic strapping recycled from used materials around them – meaning each one is unique.  Michal now works closely with the same villagers, bringing a limited number to the retail market.  Unsurprisingly they sell out fast!

RRP from £19.99 to £45.99.

Accessories & Jewellery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Old Willow

Scottish jewellery firm Two Skies source old pieces of the iconic blue-and-white willow pattern china and porcelain then upcycle the pottery into hand crafted, one-of-a-kind pieces.  This includes rings, earrings and necklaces that feature either a bird, a bridge or another part of the classic scene.

Their publicity even tells the ancient love story behind the pattern:

Accessories & Jewellery: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

‘A peasant boy and a princess were in love but her father, the king, would not let them marry.  He built a large fence around the palace and arranged a suitable marriage with a duke.  Arriving by boat, the Duke found that the couple had already escaped to an island where the gods had taken pity on them and transformed them into immortal doves’.

Starting at £24.50.

Beauty & Skincare: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival 2017

Beauty & Skincare: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

Last week, I attended the Home & Gift Buyers’ Festival in Harrogate.  It’s a huge event, made up of many producers and even more retailers looking to add new lines to their sites, stores and stalls in the autumn.

As with previous events trade events I’ve attended, my goal was to seek out those makers with an eco, ethical or sustainable tale to tell.  I thus set off on the organised ‘Eco Trail’ but I was defeated by the size of the show, covering only around two-thirds of it.

Even so, I met some awesome brands that I’m excited to tell you about!  

Having realised how mammoth my earlier ethical round-up was, I decided to break this summary up somewhat.  There will be five parts going out each night Monday to Thursday, followed by a collated post next Saturday.

I hope that you find some new companies to consciously shop with.  Let me know what purchases you make!

You can comment below or on social media.  And if you’ve enjoyed reading this post, then please do share – it really does make a huge difference!

Thank you for reading 🙂

Big Green Tree

Big Green Tree is a family owned business that designs and manufacturers its natural skincare products on the edge of the Peak District National Park in Derbyshire.  They offer a broad range of paraben and SLS free products, along with a diffusion line of men’s skincare items such as shaving soap and post-shave balm.  As well as the friendliness and knowledge of owner Helen, what impressed me was that when they do use plastic bottles, they are recyclable.  Good to know for certain!

Starting from around £12.00.

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures from this stall!  

Beauty & Skincare: Following the Eco Trail at Home & Gift Buyers' Festival 2017

MOA

The Magic Organic Apothecary was established in 2010, creating natural skincare products with close links to old folklore.  Their key ingredient is herb yarrow (Achillea millefolium), commonly found in English hedgerows.  MOA grow their own in Somerset, where they plant seeds by hand!  The products combine yarrow with other herbs and essential oils, such as tea tree and damask rose.  The original multi-purpose balm has now been joined by a cleanser, bath potion and facial oil.

Prices from £4.00.

 

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#35at35quest : The first update

Who’d have guessed that on the day I told the world that I wanted to try a pickled egg, I’d also visit the Sarson’s factory & be given a vat of pickling vinegar?  

I may only be 35 years and one day, but I’m already blown away by the response to the #35at35quest that I posted about yesterday.

The concept of setting a number of goals related to the year of your age has gone global, having been taken up in Australia as well as being considered by some readers nearer to my home in UK.

I’ve also received offers of help in completing the tasks, and doors have opened with others too – so here is my first update on progress:

  1. Read Middlemarch.  I’ll use the book token received for my birthday to buy my own copy.
  2. Try colonic irrigation.  Because why not?
  3. Try craniosacral therapy.  Ditto.
  4. Visit Paris alone.  The Eurostar is a birthday gift from my partner.
  5. Visit a Greek island. Holiday already booked 🙂
  6. Hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. Ticket already booked 🙂
  7. Watch The First Monday In May. Hardly a film classic but hey, this is my list!
  8. Go to St. Ives in Cornwall.  People have recommended the Minack Theatre and St Michael’s Mount while I’m down there.
  9. Travel to Stockholm.  Family friend is moving there in August.  How useful of her!
  10. Try African food.
  11. Revisit Warwick Castle for the first time since 1990.
  12. Swing across monkey bars. This is the most likely not to be achieved.
  13. Drive a sports car.  Next week I’m testing an Abarth 595, although I’m not restricting my goal to this one car!
  14. Get a Margaret Dabbs pedicure.
  15. Get a photo at Land’s End. Ties in nicely with number eight!
  16. Visit Bristol.
  17. Make a Christmas cake using my grandad’s recipe.
  18. Learn some German.
  19. Go up the Shard.
  20. Visit the British Museum for the first time since 1997. Shocking, I know.
  21. See Stonehenge.
  22. Learn to make Florentines.  A friend who is a great baker has offered to show me how.
  23. Read a book on Korean history.
  24. Master a song on the guitar. Possibly Take Me Home Country Roads as this was the first song I learnt on it when I was a teenager.
  25. Rebuild my emergency savings pot.
  26. Try a pickled egg.  A friend’s husband may be able to supply the goods, &/or I could make my own using the pickling vinegar that Sarson’s kindly gave me during my birthday press trip!
  27. Learn the proper names for clouds.
  28. Come off all my mental health medication.
  29. Visit a Japanese garden in autumn.  The family friend conveniently moving to Stockholm has bought me two tickets for this very thing!
  30. Go to a fun fair.  There’s one in my home town this weekend!
  31. Learn to use a sewing machine.  An IG friend has offered to teach me – and I can combine a visit to her with my trip to Bristol.
  32. Visit the Lake District for the first time in twenty years.
  33. Have a day out in Leicester.
  34. Clear out Google Photos.  I’ve already started on this!
  35. Get a ninety minute massage.

No doubt I’ll explain more about my reasoning as I chart my success (or otherwise) across the year – but feel free to ask if you’re particularly intrigued by any of them!  And I’d love to hear if you have any burning ambitions of a similar scale.  Where have you always wanted to visit?  What have you always wanted to learn?  Is there any food that you fancy trying?

Here’s to the rest of the year progressing so well!

Deadline for completion: 19th July 2018

Thirty Five at Thirty Five: The Quest 

More amusing pictures from in my thirties

Today I am thirty five.  As I commented in Monday’s blog post about signs of ageing, getting older doesn’t particularly bother me but I feel surprised that this is now my age.

There are lots of things that I thought I’d have done by now.  I’m not talking about major life events but smaller activities that just seem to have slipped by, like finally getting round to finishing Middlemarch (I’ve read the first hundred pages two or three times).

IMG_20150307_212947~2

I’ve decided that this is the year I’m going to address these niggling qualms.  Inspired by Catherine at Midlands Minimalist telling me about her husband’s fiftieth birthday resolution to do fifty things, I’ve set myself a quest: thirty five at thirty five.

Here, in the order that I thought of them, is my list of thirty five slightly random and entirely idiosyncratic goals that I plan to achieve before 19th July 2018:

 

  1. Read Middlemarch. See above.
  2. Try colonic irrigation.  Because why not?
  3. Try craniosacral therapy.  Ditto.
  4. Visit Paris alone.
  5. Visit a Greek island. Holiday already booked 🙂
  6. Hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. Ticket already booked 🙂
  7. Watch The First Monday In May. Hardly a film classic but hey, this is my list!
  8. Go to St. Ives in Cornwall.
  9. Travel to Stockholm.
  10. Try African food.
  11. Revisit Warwick Castle for the first time since 1990.
  12. Swing across monkey bars. This is the most likely not to be achieved.
  13. Drive a sports car.
  14. Get a Margaret Dabbs pedicure.
  15. Get a photo at Land’s End. Ties in nicely with number eight!
  16. Visit Bristol.
  17. Make a Christmas cake using my grandad’s recipe.
  18. Learn some German.
  19. Go up the Shard.
  20. Visit the British Museum for the first time since 1997. Shocking, I know.
  21. See Stonehenge.
  22. Learn to make Florentines.
  23. Read a book on Korean history.
  24. Master a song on the guitar. Possibly Take Me Home Country Roads as this was the first song I learnt on it when I was a teenager.
  25. Rebuild my emergency savings pot.
  26. Try a pickled egg.
  27. Learn the proper names for clouds.
  28. Come off all my mental health medication.
  29. Visit a Japanese garden in autumn.
  30. Go to a fun fair.
  31. Learn to use a sewing machine.
  32. Visit the Lake District for the first time in twenty years.
  33. Have a day out in Leicester.
  34. Clear out Google Photos.
  35. Get a ninety minute massage.

No doubt I’ll explain more about my reasoning as I chart my success (or otherwise) across the year – but feel free to ask if you’re particularly intrigued by any of them!  And I’d love to hear if you have any burning ambitions of a similar scale.  Where have you always wanted to visit?  What have you always wanted to learn?  Is there any food that you fancy trying?

Here’s to the year ahead and the thirty five at thirty five challenge!

Twenty Signs of Ageing

Photographs of me in the first half of my thirties that made me laugh

It’s my birthday this week.  I’ll be 35.  It’s a scary thought, not because I particularly dread getting older but simply because I cannot believe that’s my age.  Surely I’m really still only seventeen… 25… 32?

Over the years, I’ve blogged about signs of ageing that I’ve observed along the way.  Having spotted another only last weekend, I thought I’d collate all of them here.  If nothing else, it’s helped me to realise how much my tech skills have improved; back in 2011 I still pasted entire web addresses in brackets after the text; had I not heard of hyperlinks?!

Hope you enjoy – and let me know which resonate with you!  Are there any that I’ve missed?  When did you first become aware of the passing years in your life?

Observed at 34 years and eleven months:

1 Folding picnic chairs seem like a perfectly reasonable item to own.

Went to a music festival and commented to my partner that we should have bought folding picnic chairs.

20 signs of ageing: me in my thirties

Observed aged 28 years and eight days:

2) You & a friend discuss whether to get the bottle of wine or just two glasses. 

While on holiday, I met up with an old uni friend & we went for dinner.  We both wanted white wine.  And we genuinely debated whether ordering two glasses warranted purchasing the whole bottle.  In the end, we did buy the bottle, but only after consideration.  Clearly the days of ‘buy two glasses get the rest of the bottle free’ are no longer such an allure.

3) Fruit & nut is considered a reasonable choice of chocolate bar. 

As a child, fruit & nut seemed an outrage: why ruin chocolate with other stuff?  Especially vaguely ‘healthy’ things?  Then lo, twenty years on, I find myself thinking ‘Umm, fruit & nut – yummy’.  When & why did this happen?!

4) Going to see the Dutch tulip fields sounds like a lovely mini-break option. 

My grandparents once went on a trip to see the tulips in bloom in the Netherlands.  At the time, this seemed liked the most ridiculous holiday I had ever heard.  The Netherlands?!  On holiday?! (to be said in a Peter Kay ‘Garlic bread?’ tone).  By my mid-teens, the Netherlands seemed far more alluring – well, Amsterdam came calling – but still the tulip fields remained off my holiday radar.  Then the other week I found myself in all seriousness uttering the phrase: ‘I’d really like to see the Dutch tulip fields in bloom’.  The implications of this are profound: I am clearly now more interested in gardening & flowers than sex & drugs.

5) You know your own underwear limitations.

Some time ago, my friend & I vowed that we would give up trying to haul our breasts into strapless bras.  We were in ‘French Connection’ in Birmingham’s Bull Ring at the time.  The ‘hoik wriggle’ move every few minutes, we decided, was a) a pain & b) simply not alluring.  So sufficient have I been in my resolve to ban strapless bras, my brain now simply edits out any items requiring anything other than a standard bra before I even enter the changing room.  The saddest part of all this is that I don’t even miss such skimpy tops, halterneck & boob tube-esque numbers.

Twenty signs of ageing: me in my thirties

6) Social arrangements regularly involve breakfast & always require a diary.

I’m not exactly sure when exactly this moment occurred, but at some point in the last couple of years, breakfast has suddenly become a reasonable time of day to meet up with people.  Hangovers &/or new boyfriends no longer rule any time before 12pm on a Saturday or Sunday out of the equation for when to get together.

Around the same time as ‘breakfast = feasible time for socialising’ occurred, the diary phenomena also emerged.  Even with closest friends, diaries are required to figure out when the next meeting can be arranged.  If you haven’t got your diary with you then you dare not make any definite plans.  Want to meet up on a weekday evening?  A slot about three weeks later can usually be found.  Want to meet up on a weekend?  This requires around three months of planning – & even then it’s likely to be for breakfast.

7) The only current hits you know are familiar thanks to secondary activities.

Despite vowing to never be like our parents & become totally unfamiliar with the music charts, it seems that after a certain point, we only know current songs because we have heard them through some secondary means.  Ie, we stop saying ‘Oh yes, I heard it on MTV/Top of the Pops/the Chart Show’ & start saying ‘Oh, I think I’ve heard this in the gym/at my exercise class/in a shop/in the dentist’s chair’.

8) ‘Last time around’ includes clothing you can remember wearing.

This moment was truly frightening.  Topshop, Saturday afternoon: I spy some oversize shirts.  First thought: ‘Ooo, they’re lovely.  I could wear them with leggings’.  Second thought: ‘Oh ****, I wore them with leggings circa 1990’.  Third thought: ‘Oh **** & double ****, no-one else within a five-metre radius of me was even born in 1990’.

On the bright side, I dug out my 1990 oversize shirt (complete with ruffle, just like some of the Topshop new season collection).  I have changed the buttons & it’s ready to wear.

Advantage *1 of ageing: you no longer have to always buy vintage, you can just dig it out of the back of your own wardrobe.

Observed aged 29 years and two months, on the eve of attending the first thirtieth birthday party for someone in my school year:

9) You start to forget events in your own life. 

This isn’t just about forgetting general stuff, or specific dates, but forgetting things that you have either done or experienced.  See post below for an example of it.  I don’t know whether it’s because as you get older, more stuff has happened in your life or whether it’s because there’s a greater time/distance between some of those events and the present.  Or maybe it’s just increased forgetfulness.

20160506_195359

10) You no longer think about money in Tens and Units. 

When you’re younger, spending projections are along the lines of ‘£5 for x, £20 for y’, with maybe the occasional large expense such as a car thrown in.  Somewhere along the line, your budgetary parameters shift and everything becomes Hundreds and Thousands (at this point I suspect that describing sums in this way – units, tens, hundreds and thousands – does as much to mark my age as carbon dating does for archaeological remains, clearly linking me to a specific phase in the National Curriculum for maths).

11) You bump into people you know in supermarkets, not nightclubs.

[As had happened to me the previous Thursday]

12) More than one person offers to drive on a night out. 

This happened today in relation to Saturday’s thirtieth party; I text friend saying ‘I’ll drive if you like’, she replies saying ‘I don’t mind driving’.  Gone are the days when said friend used to smear kebab across my dad’s ‘taxi’ at 2pm on a Friday and Saturday night.

14) You’re no longer shocked when a friend says they’re having a baby. 

When babies first start appearing among contemporaries, my initial reaction was shock (‘OMG, they’re pregnant/going to be a dad!  How can this be?  What do their parents think?  How will they cope?) followed by a dose of reality (‘We are in our twenties/they are married/own a house with their partner/this is a perfectly acceptable age to be having a child’).  I am now sufficiently old that the shock element has subsided.  News of pregnancy is now met with an instant reaction of ‘Ah, how lovely – great news!’.  Even babies that are a bit of a surprise to all involved are not the shock that they once were.  But that is no bad thing.  One of the most enjoyable nights I’ve had recently was with some old friends, playing with one of them’s new baby and discussing the imminent arrival of another’s.  She joined the world yesterday afternoon and I am very excited about meeting her, maybe even at this Saturday’s thirtieth. [Which friend was this, I’m now wondering].

Twenty signs of ageing: me in my thirties

Observed aged 29 years and three months, while out celebrating a school friend’s engagement:

15. It becomes increasing likely that more than one person in the group won’t be drinking because they’re breast feeding.

16. You are all amazed at how busy pubs get.

17. Booty calls become “How are the kids?” calls.

18. You’re really glad you wore flat shoes.

19. You no longer even humour the strange blokes that magically appear among you when you’re dancing.

20. You think they’ve made a mistake and played the same song twice in quick succession until you realise that you’re so out of touch with current music that you just think all the songs sound same.