Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Mean Streets

I found the riots in London and other parts of the UK this week truly terrifying and my heart goes out to all those innocent families who have lost homes and businesses. I didn't sleep well Monday night, there was a feeling of menace in the air even though I was tucked up safely some 30 miles from any danger and that is because I have a secret horror of this kind of breakdown of civilization. To me it was reminiscent of films such as The Road, Legend and 28 Days Later where some catastrophic event has lead to sectors of the population becoming 'infected' or displaced, leading to violence and a hunted existence for those unaffected. I find myself dwelling on the possibility of this situation, some mutated virus resistant to antibiotics, a natural disaster caused by global warming, nuclear war, but now another ugly possibility has raised it's head, the underbelly of society, anarchists, angry youths, whoever they are, seeking to destroy, with no soul or conscience.

I recently read Sue Palmer's book Toxic Childhood and she sets out quite clearly the reasons, in her opinion, that children become feral: lack of adult guidance, attention and role modelling; poor diet, too much sugar and additives; too little sleep; too much TV and computer games, which dissociates the child from reality, leads to poor concentration and focus, a need for instant gratification and a poor grasp of reality; plus the nature of TV these days, full of reality shows, teaches children that you can achieve success apparently by doing very little, winning x factor, going on big brother, dating someone famous. Of course the reality is that many of these people, despite appearances are very disciplined and hard working. Many young people seem to think it is their right to have material success without actually doing the hard slog necessary to obtain it.
The other problem with TV is the aggressive marketing that children are exposed to, steering them towards inappropriate clothing and toys. It is a seriously depressing situation and I don't know how we are going to set about changing things.
Many people during these riots have been shocked at the young age of some of the looters, 'Where are their parents?' has been a universal cry, but that is the problem, mainly they either have parents who aren't that concerned where they are, or who have lost control. Sue Palmer talks about visiting run down inner city areas, where children are becoming increasingly feral. 'Many of the children don't have children's faces-they're pinched and angry with dead eyes. For them violence is a fact of daily life. Their parents- deprived, uneducated, often scarcely more than children themselves-are often junkies, alcoholics, involved in crime.'
Obviously not all the rioters fit into this category, it turns out some had good jobs and were 'respectable' citizens, who saw an opportunity to loot and steal or get involved in the thrill of the violence and drama.
As a parent, I try and spend time with my kids, give them positive attention, feed them well, send them to bed on time, ensure they get plenty of exercise and fresh air and spend time in natural environments, limit TV and teach them values which I consider important. It's hard work, sometimes boring, unpaid of course, which is probably why a lot of parents would rather stick them in front of a TV or computer. Plus society has devalued the role of motherhood, so that you almost feel lazy for not working outside the home. But society begins in the home, the values you need to be a good member of the community are taught and modelled in the home, just as social skills and table manners are picked up during family meal times and conversations. We need to concentrate on the next generation of young families and make sure that these kids are being taught more humanitarian skills. As Sue Palmer predicted in 2006 'Children are our most significant investment for the future, and the toxic cocktail is already undermining the social, emotional and intellectual development of an unacceptable number. Even if your own offspring have escaped unscathed, the world they're growing up in is full of others who've been less fortunate. As more children become distractable, impulsive and lacking in empathy, antisocial behaviour will increase. If toxic childhood syndrome is not stemmed, it will pose an increasing threat to social cohesion.'

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Fair Trade Summer Goodies

Just arrived today, a box of Fair Trade items perfect for summer...

Great accessories for your look, these beautiful, brightly coloured bangles, handpainted in the style of Kashmir. Vibrant ethnic jewellery, sure to compliment any outfit.


Cotton knit headbands, perfect for keeping your hair under control on a windy beach, camping or chilling out at a festival.

Fun beaded felt dreadlock scrunchies

For days out at the beach we have these extremely pretty and roomy beach bags with floral prints inspired by Himalayan flowers...

...and bright, lively cotton sarongs in a bag, can be worn over a swimsuit or as a dress, soft and comfortable.

Unusual bags, light, cotton banana shaped bag in flower prints, roomy with a zip opening and a cotton hippy sun design ethnic shoulder bag with metallic embroidery

Sunday, 22 May 2011

New Shoots

I have been unusually quiet of late, been making a few changes in both my business and personal life. Firstly I have been spending more time in my garden, trying to grow more vegetables and become more self sufficient this year. I read a very inspiring book called 'Animal,Vegetable,Miracle' by Barbara Kingsolver about her family's attempts to eat only local, seasonal food for a year. She's a very witty and interesting writer, plus she knows an awful lot about the history and politics of food production, scary reading at times! This has encouraged me to attempt to grow heritage tomatoes from seed, heritage being older, scarcer varieties which are in danger of being lost if people don't grow them, tastier too I hope. So far they are coming on well, my new babies! Every morning the first thing I do is check on them and give them a quick spritz. I'm also keen to get some chickens, but that will need more thought and planning, so maybe next year.

Secondly I've also taken on the role of secretary for the school PTA, I'll be joining the WI next! It's the first time in my life I've got involved in any committee or group, so quite a departure for me, plus I'm not used to airing my opinions, so it will be good experience for me.

So as you can imagine I've been spreading myself rather thinly and something had to give and that turned out to be my ebay shop. I'd had a week of very busy orders and a few problems with items missing in the post and was feeling quite stressed, then I had a rude and  unreasonable email from a French customer, which was the final straw.I realized I had no choice but to comply with her demands, or I would receive negative feedback and no doubt ebay would side with her anyway. I was also doing my accounts and could see that although I had a very healthy turnover on ebay, my profit margins were 'razor thin' as they say. Coupled with the constant threat of negative feedback, low dsr's and loss of top rated status, I suddenly realized this is no way to earn a living, financially or spiritually, especially given the type of products I am selling. I know most sellers don't particularly enjoy selling on ebay, but nowhere else, apart from maybe amazon, gives you so much exposure and brings in so many customers. So it could be business suicide to jump ship. But really I felt like I was pushed, by unreasonable customers, and a system weighted towards them. And over 1 month on I am still here, sometimes you have to be brave and follow your heart and I would have rather shut up shop completely than carry on working in that way. I also thought I'll take some of the advice given by the authors I sell, make a positive change and believe that good things will come from that. And I have been happier, had more time and probably because I've also had more time to spend on my website, I've seen visitor numbers and sales increase, plus I'm still selling on amazon, so my bank balance is healthier too. Ebay kept my shop for me for 1 month, in case I changed my mind, but there's no going back now!

Thursday, 31 March 2011

New Arrivals

Another week nearly over and thank goodness things have picked up a little bit sales wise, although my mood hasn't improved much. A difficult pilates class on monday trying to balance on a silly little ball and hold impossibly painful positions set my temperament to irritated. This has been compounded by potty training an extremely stubborn and wily daughter, so I've not been at my happiest yet again. Never mind I'm hoping for a break on Mothers Day.

This week I've taken delivery of some new tealight holders, an extremely pretty and shabby chic stylie lotus and a ceramic owl.

I've also got some tumblestone crystals, all of which are connected with angelic healing: seraphinite, celestite, prehnite, iolite, tanzanite, they are larger than average and great quality. Will hopefully have time to put them on the site tomorrow.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

An Off Week

What a beautiful day it's been today, in fact what a fabulous week. We actually sat out in the garden most of the day, enjoying lunch and tea al fresco, amazing for March. My lovely son got a Respect Award from school which is great, however when I asked him what it was for, he said 'Respect' in such a scornful and belligerent manner, I'm thinking of handing it back to his teacher!

Despite the gorgeous weather, I've been feeling quite cynical and pessimistic this week which is unlike me.   I'm reading a book recommended by my son's head called 'Toxic Childhood' by Sue Palmer, in fact I bought 3 of her books in an amazon bundle and it makes scary reading, if you've got kids I'd really recommend it! I think coupled with the worrying subject of my bedtime reading, the horrors unfolding in Japan, the unrest in the Middle East and the general depressing news, I've also had a slow week business wise. It's scary how sales can drop dramatically for no apparent reason, leaving me feeling that I've been switched off. Plus I've had a run of items go missing in the post, arriving damaged and a couple of people who I suspect are trying to pull a fast one, oh and 2 low dsr's on ebay for postage charges. (Those of you who are top rated sellers on ebay, will know how much that strikes fear into the heart). I have seriously considered giving it up as a bad job. But after a good night's sleep, I decided to make the majority of my ebay listings free postage to avoid low dsr's on postage charges and to stop shipping to USA. Not only have a high number of packages gone missing, Americans are by far the most demanding customers, expecting their item to arrive yesterday, and quite stroppy if things don't go to plan. I had the strangest email the other day in response to a feedback request which was quite hostile but gave me no clue as to why they were unhappy with their purchase. Another lady who had an item that hadn't arrived, said she 'would have to ban international sellers'! Doesn't the buyer have the power to choose who they shop with? I don't recall twisting your arm! My children have learned some choice swear words this week ! There's a great sense of power and freedom which comes with the ability to say no, I can choose who I trade with. Sorry to offend any Americans, but enough is enough!

Things have picked up over the weekend again, so hopefully next week will be busier, I have some new stock arriving, although after 2 years, I'm still no nearer predicting with any confidence, which items will be good sellers. Retail's a funny old business, I have to constantly alter my strategies, a bit like bringing up kids I suppose, something works for a while, then you have to do an about turn- toxic kids, toxic customers !! Hopefully I'll be back to my usual sunny self next week....

Friday, 11 March 2011

Religion: Holistic

Like everyone else,we have just received our 2011 census and I've come to a complete standstill at the question of religion. I am most definitely not any of the religions listed and yet I'm balking at ticking no religion, as neither am I an atheist, I am indeed a very spiritual person. I was just debating whether to put Humanist, when I suddenly remembered an article I read in the latest edition of Kindred Spirit. William Bloom recommends that those of us who are into 'things that are weird and wonderful, psychic and angelic, global and shamanic, healing and transformative' use the word 'Holistic' to encompass all these various spiritualities. If everyone who has these beliefs uses the same word to describe them, Bloom believes that the statistics will then show that there 'really is a dynamically new kind of spirituality in the United Kingdom', which in turn may lead to it being taken more seriously in terms of being allowed to be talked about in schools, hospitals etc.

In past censuses people have either ignored the question or put something silly such as 'Jedi', this is actually a sad waste of a very interesting source of information for future generations, as well as for the present government. My mother is heavily into family history and has copies of many censuses from days long gone, and they are fascinating slices of history, especially when you compare several of the same place: you can see how quickly families grew, how many children died, how people moved around or stayed put for years. We discovered for example that there was an old gypsy caravan in our road for many years and that a lot of the houses are older than we realized and had some interesting families living in them. So I think it is a great idea to try and be as informative and honest as possible: reading that someone in your house or street was a 'jedi' might make you laugh, but wouldn't tell you much about that person other than they were a joker (or a twit!), but to read that someone was 'Holistic' would give you much more insight into the way they lived their life.

For more information visit

Saturday, 2 October 2010

See You Jimmy!

Week 5 of the new school year and already we've reached the moment I've been dreading since my kids were born, 'creating an outfit', in this case for 'international day'. I can't sew and hate it anyway, have no bits of material, buttons or trimmings hanging around like my mother and to make matters worse I only have the weekend to make it, as the fact that they were dressing up mysteriously passed me by, despite avidly reading newsletters and curriculum updates.

As my dad pointed out, everyone dresses the same these days, so we're really looking at traditional or stereotypical ideas of foreign dress, which could be a bit of a minefield. A friend has loaned us a scottish tartan hat, which is great as I'm Scottish by birth, but it comes attached to a mad See U Jimmy style ginger wig (remember Russ Abbott?). So I risk offending genuine Scots by suggesting they're all ginger and crazy and the redheads in the class by suggesting that redheads are usually Scottish nutcases. Not helped by the fact that as soon as my son dons the tartan cap, he starts reeling around in a drunken manner trying to do a scottish accent. Not at all pc!

The dilemma now is how far do I take it, how much effort should I go to? Leave it at the hat and risk looking like we couldn't be bothered or go the whole hog and risk looking like we tried too hard and possibly make him the laughing stock of the school? I have found a red kilt in a charity shop which he says he doesn't mind wearing and I can cut a sporran out of a furry bag I bought (see I can be creative) but I have a terrible fear of making him look silly. Mind you if anyone can carry it off, he can, he loves dressing up and he'd probably make everyone laugh clowning around. One thing's for sure, by the end of the day, the whole school will know who he is and me by default. Are we brave (heart) enough? After all Sean Connery looks his most masculine and hunky in a kilt...and if anyone takes the mick I can give them a Glaswegian kiss!