21st March 2016
Hello listeners. Following on from my recent post on the subject of shopping locally and the tented market traders – if you missed it you can read it here – what we have here is a quick shout out about a family fun day on: Saturday the 2nd April.
“19 Mar 2016 — We are inviting all our supporters as well as people who have never visited the Tented Market to join us on Saturday 2nd April. We will be hosting over 30 shops, bouncy castle, face painting, food tasting, activities and music cafe to promote what the Tented Market could be like if it was given a chance to continue by rejecting the Planning Application to demolish the Tented Market and replace it with 4 restaurants and a cafe. Hope to see you all there!”
19th March 2016
Hello dear listeners. In case you somehow haven’t noticed – and if you’re as chaotic as me it’s entirely forgivable – this year marks the 175th anniversary of Swindon’s birth as a railway town. And in celebration of that a wide array of most marvellous ‘stuff’ is happening throughout the year.
As part of this fabness Eastcott Community organisation hopes to bring the thrills and spills of a Victorian-themed circus to Eastcott, Swindon, on Sunday 5th June 2016 with the help of Faldings Fandango: https://www.facebook.com/faldingsfandangos/?fref=ts
And to bring that dream to life Eastcott Community group are seeking financial contributions from Swindon’s business community. This doesn’t need to be a huge amount. They already have some funds so are trying to get money to top that up. They aren’t talking about hundreds of pounds but about tens of pounds.
The group doesn’t expect something for nothing. Read more about the actual event and what’s in it for you in this sponsorship proposal: http://www.aaedits.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Eastcott170116.pdf
Any amount at all you might be able to spare would be welcomed and hugely appreciated.
For any further information contact: Caroline Davies-Khan/Anna Smart
Eastcott Community Organisation: email@example.com
18th March 2016
This post can also be seen on my AA Editorial Services business blog: My first foray into public speaking. There’s more photos on that post. I’ve only included a couple on here.
The story of how I made my first venture into public speaking is quite a long one. So if you’re sitting comfortably – then I’ll begin:
I set up my AA Editorial Services business late in 2014. So the start of 2015 saw me still on the nursery slopes of being a small-business owner. Unfortunately that period also saw me hit with a series of health and domestic issues that sent me flying off-piste in spectacular fashion. By the time I’d got myself regrouped 2015 was half over.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, as a result of all those difficulties, I’d rather lost my business focus. So, with the last quarter of the year approaching, I took the decision to employ the services of a business mentor: Rob Moody of Insight Sales & Business Mentoring. I’d known Rob for nigh on two years at this point so felt confident about investing money in his services.
The AA Editorial Services Strategic Plan or ‘why’
Already well-known in Swindon for my Born again Swindonian blog, Rob came up with a number of ideas to help me build on that personal profile and to join up the dots between that and my business persona.
Rob is a great ideas person – and that was fabulous for me because I’m not. You could say that I’m more of a finisher than a problem solver.
Over the course of several meetings Rob came up with a whole host of ideas and then we worked out which ones I’d put into practice first. And one of these ideas was public speaking – giving a talk. Being far more in touch with popular culture than I am Rob came up with what I thought was a cracking talk title: ‘I wrote a blog and I liked it’ –with the not so snappy subheading ‘What I learned about Swindon by blogging about it, how that blogging built me a public profile and how blogging could do the same for you too.’
Now I won’t lie – it was with trepidation that I agreed to put public speaking into my strategy. But I could see that, if absolutely nothing else, it would be good personal development. So, along with writing articles, developing my website and assorted other tactics and sales tips, we agreed I’d give a talk.
The how and the where
So having agreed that there was a valid ‘why do this’ to the talk the next things to consider were writing the thing and finding and audience.
The latter of those – the ‘where’ was straightforward. I’ve recently become involved with Swindon Civic Voice and they very kindly agreed to give me a forum at one of their monthly public meetings – they regularly have speakers at these events. And I thank them for their support and co-operation.
Now to the ‘how’. Rob mentored me every step of the way with this – even to attending the talk to give me moral support and to take some photographs. Which was wonderful – plus, if I really dried up, he could do the talk himself!
Clearly I wrote the talk myself but not after input from Rob about how to structure the talk, at what points to bring it back to the audience and so on. We revised it together until we’d decided we’d got a good talk and then it was down to me to practice it. Gulp.
He also gave me tons of useful pointers about the delivery of the talk – not just the content itself.
So how did it go?
Twenty or more people turned out and paid to listen to me – and they weren’t even all people that I knew.
Once I got going with it – I actually quite enjoyed it. It helped that I had a friendly audience and knowing that nothing important was hinging on it.
So I’m very glad I did it. More people now are aware of my business persona but more importantly doing it has boosted my confidence no end.
And at risk of sounding like the Rob Moody Fan Club – I really couldn’t have done it and felt so comfortable about it without his help. https://www.facebook.com/Insight-Sales-Business-Mentoring-368100366717829/?fref=ts
While on the subject of thanking people I must mention fellow Women Mean Biz member Julie Nicholls of Body-Mind Coaching who was also a huge help with her EMDR: http://body-mind-coaching.co.uk/?s=emdr
Guitar Strings for Lupus
I’m putting this out on Born again Swindonian on behalf of my friend and fellow business owner Sandra Trusty of the Fab Gift Boutique.
While The St Thomas’s Lupus Trust and their current fund raising initiative are not directly related to Swindon – Sandra and her business are – and with her sister being a lupus sufferer they have personal experience of the disease. Hence any opportunity to raise a little lupus awareness is not to be ignored.
So back in October, on her business blog, Sandra posted about lupus awareness month and the POP for October campaign: https://www.thefabgiftboutique.com/blog/popforlupus/
What is Lupus?
If you missed the previous blog post you can read it again here to find out more about lupus and its causes. But in very simple terms lupus is a disease that makes your immune system malfunction and become overactive. The disease can affect any organ in your body and displays a wide variety of symptoms that include fatigue, rashes, allergies, depression and kidney failure.
Strings for Lupus
With not a bum note in earshot the latest fund-raising scheme allows star-struck rock fans to get their hands on bracelets made from guitar strings twanged by legends of the British music industry.
This article on ‘Look to the stars.org’ explains more:
‘Guitarists are donating used strings from their guitars which will then be made into very cool bracelets and auctioned off to raise funds for the St. Thomas’ Lupus Trust.
The auctions will take place on a specific date and will run for ten days.
These are one off bracelets handcrafted to your specific size. If you would like to learn more about A&D Guitar String Bracelets you can visit their website here.’
Obviously there’s also information about this initiative on the St Thomas’ Lupus Trust website:
“This is exciting! Guitarists are donating used strings from their guitars, which will then be made into very cool bracelets (that suit males or females…) and auctioned off to raise funds for our lupus research.
The auctions will take place on our eBay page. We will also list the names of the guitarists and the date of their auction here and on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StringsforLupus/?fref=ts
The auctions will take place on a specific date and will run for ten days. Once the auction has ended the highest bidder will have 3 working days to pay…”
The trust then goes on the thank A&D Guitar String Bracelets for creating this fantastic series of very special bracelets.
Our thanks go to everyone involved in getting this fabulous initiative off the ground.
To everyone that will be bidding in the auctions for bracelets borne of their particular rock hero’s music – we wish you good luck and thank you for supporting the research into lupus and the support given to its sufferers.
9th March 2016
Taking a new look at nutrition and weight control
“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.”
― Drew Carey. Think about it …
I’ve been trying to get around to blogging about what follows for a couple of weeks now – but hey good things are worth weighting for – did y’see what I did there? Okay… I’ll get on with it.
So a couple of weeks ago I attended a talk put on by a couple of business buddies of mine, Julie Nicholls and Bonny Prim – both of whom have a different approach to the issue of diet/weight control that are, far from being at odds with each other, totally complementary to each other.
A brief bio of the two
UK college personal development logo
Bonny Prim: Bonny is a health and wellbeing coach. After years of Yo-Yo dieting Bonny was fortunate to find a supportive GP and then set about educating herself after hitting an all-time personal low.
Bonny is trained as a nutritionist specialising in weight loss and is an accredited Life Coach through the Association of Coaching.
Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Bonnyprimhealthcoach/?fref=ts and
Julie Nicholls: Since 1993 Julie has been helping people just like you to relax and feel well again. Julie is trained in both conventional (qualified nurse) and complementary therapies and counselling.
Having had some sessions with Julie I particularly like her unique approach to what she does. ‘Unique’ is a somewhat over-used word these days but in Julie’s case, in terms of her work, it’s entirely applicable and in its best sense too. Find out more about Julie and her business here: http://body-mind-coaching.co.uk/about-me/ She’s also on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/BMChealth/?fref=ts
And YouTubers out there – check out this: https://www.youtube.com/user/BodyMindCoachingJKN
About the talk
It would really take me hours to write about everything that was covered in this most interesting and informative session so I’ll just pick out some interesting snippets. If after that you want to know more then I’d urge you to speak to Bonny or Julie – depending on which approach most appeals to you – or even both as they’ve both got lots to offer.
They are both super fab ladies and are both are super knowledgeable.
Individually or between them they can help you unravel the unhelpful patterns that sabotage your attempts to eat sensibly and healthily. BUT: you have to WANT to make that change.
“…the reward centers of the brain–where the pleasure of those high-calorie foods registers–also respond to other substances that bring about pleasure….But those reward centers also respond to other gratifying things, like watching a sunset or experiencing a loving touch…So while you may not be able to change the wiring in your brain, you can “feed” those reward centers other pleasures…Biology isn’t destiny when you have effective strategies…”
― Bob Greene, The Life You Want: Get Motivated, Lose Weight, and Be Happy
- Did you know that many of us will ‘diet’ for something like 17 years of our lives, lose our entire bodyweight in the process – but mostly put it back on – and spend £53,000 across a lifetime?!
- ‘On a diet’ – worrying words
- Myth: spot reducing on certain parts of the body is NOT possible.
- Myth: The Paleo diet – no-one really knows what our ancestors ate.
- In many people the relationship they had/have with their mother can determine the healthiness – or otherwise – of their relationship with food.
Indeed I can give an example. And when I say ‘a friend’ – I mean a friend. 🙂 This person is a great comfort eater – not something I do at all. In fact if I’m upset or worried I’m more likely to go off my food. In conversation this friend commented that, as a child, when she fell over or was upset her mum would make her ‘feel better’ with sweets and cake etc. Consequently she now comfort eats and struggles with her weight.
And it’s that sort of sub-conscious behaviour that creates the self-sabotage referred to above.
- Most people with a healthy weight are not obsessed with either calories or food-types. They simply know the right foods to eat & in what quantities to maintain balanced levels.
- Repeating and endorsing Bonny – you have to deal with the underlying reasons behind what you eat and why you eat it.
Julie’s Eight top tips
- Change your language and your mindset and you can shed your surplus weight. Without the mindset change can lose the weight but then your mind may somehow seek it out again. A bit like if you lost your keys.
- Remember the 80/20 rule – the Pareto principle. Put another way: Focus on eating well/healthily 80% of the time and you don’t need to beat yourself up when it goes to pot or you have some treats for 20% of the time. The Pareto Principle applies to all areas of your life including exercise. If – for 20% of the time – you don’t exercise there’s no need to get all angst about it. That only causes the sort of stress that makes you want to eat more – but rather than filling your emotional tank it depletes it.
- Drink plenty. Dehydration will make you feel hungry.
- Take a 20 minute break between eating your main course and moving onto dessert. Your body needs time to know it’s been fed and feel full.
- Aim to have longer fasting times between meals.
- Fill any emotional ’emptiness’ with other pleasant things that aren’t food.
- Work on changing how you perceive yourself.
- Watch out for fat and sugar combined. In laboratory tests, rats given fat and sugar combined could not control the munchies and got fat. Yet – when fed either fat or sugar alone they only ate until they felt full and so didn’t get fat. The fat/sugar combination found in so many processed foods does not occur naturally. Thus our body and brains don’t recognise it as food and can’t ‘cope’ with it as they should.
Oh – and a final thought: If you can cut out or at least reduce saccharine and/or aspartame.
5th March 2016
Shopping locally – and the Tented Market Traders
The benefits of shopping locally
The benefits brought to our local economies by small businesses of every kind are well documented.
This excellent 2013 article by The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/dec/06/shop-locally-small-business-saturday-seven-reasons) lists seven such benefits. It’s a message that underpins the Small Business Saturday movement. (https://www.smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com)
Number 1 on this list is this: “Research on spending by local authorities shows that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business.”
You have to ask yourself why a local council or local regeneration developer wouldn’t want that? Unless, as is indicated in the article quoted below, and as seen in many a TV cartoon, the pupils in their eyes have been usurped by £ signs.
The damage done by national chains and on-line mega stores in gaining market and pushing independent businesses to the brink and beyond is not restricted to Swindon or even to the UK. It’s a worldwide issue.
As this article from across the pond points out: “The disappearance of local businesses leaves a social and economic void that is palpable and real — even when it goes unmeasured. And a community’s quality of life changes in ways that macroeconomics is slow to measure, or ignores completely.”
(Content Source: http://www.amiba.net/benefits-local-business/)
I don’t think there’s any arguing with that really. Over there or over here – it’s equally applicable.
The same article then goes on to posit this: “Local officials often fall for the seductions and political appeal of national chains and may even use public funds or tax rebates to lure them. They’re baited with promises of jobs and tax revenue, but they often fail to consider the greater losses that occur when the local business base is undermined.”
Swindon’s tented market
And it’s really pretty hard not to feel that current moves to demolish Swindon’s tented market – a move that (with the situation as it is at the moment) will render a number of independent businesses minus premises, minus businesses and minus jobs – is not a result of just such a seduction and an attack of myopia of epic proportions on someone’s part.
Swindon already has the new Regent Circus development of cinema and national chain restaurants – and some units there are still empty. There’s also a new food court coming to the Brunel Centre. Not to mention the plans for Old Town and all the other restaurants the town already has.
How many Costa outlets does one town need?
Do we REALLY need more places offering the same old, same old homogenized fare – I hesitate to use the word ‘food’ because I’m not sure it is. These places don’t have chefs – they have assembly workers constructing this ‘fare’ to a formula and sticking it in a microwave. That’s not food – that’ simply fuel.
All of which, as interesting as it may be, is not even the main point.
The Vox Pop
If there’s one constant cry emanating from the people of Swindon it’s the lack of independent shops. Well – there are lots of reasons why that’s so and they aren’t necessarily unique to Swindon.
An outdated system of business rates is one. And it’s strangling high streets up and down the land. The Guardian again in 2014: “… said that the property tax is no longer fit for purpose, and called for it to be reviewed. Committee chairman Adrian Bailey said that business rates are among the single biggest threat to the survival of the high street.”
The rise and rise of online shopping is another. And, I won’t lie, I do sometimes wonder if some of those that shout the loudest about the number of pound shops in our towns don’t, when it comes to the crunch, eschew the independents and go for the bargain basement online warehouses. Well – y’pays your money and you takes your choice y’know?
Okay – we may not have chic boutiques and funky gift shops in Swindon. But we do have some great independent businesses of various kinds.
To highlight just a few of them we have:
Paolo’s, a wonderful independent Italian deli on Commercial Rd offering excellent wines, Italian olives and cheeses and fantastic coffee – among many other things.
There’s a wide range of independent coffee shops across the town. There’s the Polski Skleps and the fabulous offerings down Manchester Road. And then there are the traders in the tented market. All of them working hard to make a living and in some cases employing other people – and doing that brilliant and vital thing of keeping money in the local economy.
One such trader is Jo Heavens of the Emporium of Loveliness. Jo has been particularly vocal and active in the cause of saving the tented market. https://www.facebook.com/EmporiumLoveliness/?fref=ts
Or – and what’s more important to my mind – saving the livelihoods of the traders that currently operation in there. Because, as it is, they appear to be nowhere on anyone’s agenda – and that’s really quite shocking.
Eggelicious’ Ash Mistry holding a Tim Carroll painting of the Tented Market
Another is Ash Mistry of the very well known and successful Eggelicious – an establishment that does serve ‘food’ as opposed to fuel: slow food fast! Read more about Eggelicious here.
A building past its sell-by date
There’s really no escaping that the tented market is reaching the end of its useful life. It was built with a 25-year lifespan and it’s approaching that now.
Swindon’s number 1 fan that I am I can’t pretend that I’ve ever particularly cared for the structure. So, on a personal level, I have no issue with the basic notion of demolishing the wretched thing. HOWEVER – I do have an issue with a whole host of things surrounding this move to demolish it:
The way it’s been handled – by whoever it is that’s handling it:
The traders in the market were not given official notification of these plans – they found out about it on social media.
New traders were allowed to come in and spend THOUSANDS setting up their unit and their business in the full knowledge of these plans.
The traders are facing the demolition of their premises with no provision in place to relocate, to compensate or include them in the new plans.
As a result FORTY people will be put out of work. With no offering of suitable premises in the town centre the face the loss of their business.
Jo Heavens has additionally put forth an argument about the history of the market:
“…with the demolition of the market, this development would destroy the 757 year history of Swindon holding a market since 1259. Swindon was known formerly as Chipping Swindon (Market Swindon) and was granted a charter to hold a market by Charles 1 in 1626. This charter was transferred to the New Swindon Local Board in 1890 along with a plot of land sold by Major Rolleston subject to it being used for a market only. The traders are currently taking legal advice on this covenant land.”
That is all as it maybe. I don’t know and I make no comment on it.
For me personally what’s wrong on every level about this whole ‘thing’ is that – in simple terms – these plans will not only see the market demolished but people’s livelihoods too.
Ash Mistry of Eggelicious told me how, as someone who puts a lot into being a caring employer, distressed he is at the prospect of having to lose valued staff.
Like all the other traders in the market he agrees that the place is shabby and needs investment or rebuilding. And, like the other traders, he wants to be consulted and included.
He’s as frustrated as everyone by the lack of:
- Clear communications from the council – feeling very strongly that there needs to be much more of it.
- Offers of alternative sites in the town at a suitable rate/rent level
- The lack of suitable space in general for small businesses to get started in and to have the space to employ someone ‘properly’. By which he means be able to pay someone a decent wage – rather than being throttled by an out-moded business rates system.
I’ll conclude by returning to No 5 in The Guardian article –You can help build communities:
” Bookshops, cafes and craft shops often drum up custom by hosting events, from book groups to knitting clubs and children’s events. If the businesses are not supported, the local groups tend to disappear too.
Markets also often give space to community groups and social enterprises, says Ellie Gill, campaign manager at Love Your Local Market. “Markets can have a community value, as there is often a social purpose to stalls – they can be public spaces as well as retail outlets.”
A sentiment echoed in one of Jo Heaven’s communications on this issue:
“They have unanimously voted to be included in a revised plan for the site to include a market on the footprint of the site, with a smaller scale restaurant development and possibly flats above this.
Potentially themed market days such as Antiques and Vintage Fairs, Farmers Markets or table top sales could be held in a central area with the traders in units around the outside. This would add to the regeneration of the town centre and provide a unique indoor shopping experience that is not being offered by our neighbouring shopping towns. “
Swindon has already lost the battle with Bristol – with Cabot Circus & Cribbs Causeway. We can’t compete with that now so it’s time to move on and make Swindon different and build on its many strengths.
And a good place to start would be by working WITH the traders in the market rather than trying to obliterate them. As appears to be in intention. I’m not saying it IS – but it looks that way.
So the council, Forward Swindon or whoever the heck else it is needs to start thinking outside the box.
As my mother would have said: Buck your ideas up!