Simon Webb: Hand-turned Pens and Cufflinks

Simon Webb: Hand-turned Pens and Cufflinks

Penning Personal and Historical Stories

Swindon born and Swindon-based Simon Web is carving out a pen-shaped niche for himself creating beautiful, hand turned writing instruments from timbers with historical and/or personal resonances.

To demonstrate the historical:

Back in 2017, Swindon’s Christ Church in Old Town, as part of a renewal project, needed to get rid of some pews. On hearing the news Simon was swift in joining the pew to get hold of one to make pens from it. The pens he made proved popular – many couples that had married in Christ Church contacted Simon to get one of these pens.

Old Technology Makes a Comeback

Those of us of a certain age that remember scratchy nib pens and inkwells in desks and then the later cartridge pens, are forgiven for thinking that the Biro and indeed the text message and e-mail had rendered fountain pens obsolete. But not a bit of it. Back in 2012, the BBC published an article about why fountain pen sales are rising.

‘Sales of ballpoint pens are stable but the fountain pen is a classic story of how an object’s status is affected by waves of new technology.’

bark with pens on it

‘Somehow, the fountain pen became a luxury item and found a niche.

If a president signs a treaty, they don’t do it with a Bic Cristal. ‘

The hand-turned pens with historical resonances began with wood from an ancient walnut tree in Swindon’s Lydiard Park that blew down in the storms of 2013. From there, Simon branched out (see what I did there?) to making pens from the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum and from wood unearthed at the GWR Works that are sold at STEAM museum.

Bespoke Products

Continuing the theme of using historic – and famous – timbers, Simon’s lathe has been well-exercised making pens and cufflinks out of an oak plinth from Bath Abbey. Those products are available both in the Bath Abbey Shop and from Simon himself.

There are cufflinks too from HMS Victory – only small pieces of wood are available so Simon has only been able to make cufflinks.

And now we come to apples. Or to a vary famous apple tree to be precise.

the notion of gravitation… was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood.”
– William Stukeley

I’m of course talking about Isaac Newton and the infamous apple tree at the National Trust property, Woolsthorpe Manor.

Simon is working with them to make pens, cufflinks, and sterling silver pendants and lapel pins with wood from this world famous apple tree. It’s now over 400 years old and still fruiting.

The rhodium plated fountain pen is finished with a gold plated, sterling silver finial with a unique Newton logo. The pen comes in a presentation case with leather carrying case, Diamine ink cartridges, piston adaptor and certificate of authenticity. This will also be available in a rollerball version.

The pen will only be available from Woolsthorpe Manor. They’ll announce price and availability shortly. Says Simon ‘I have been privileged to work with Woolsthorpe Manor on this project. This has to be my “holy grail” of wood.’

Gifts with a difference

Simon has crafted with care, pens from beams in houses, trees from people’s gardens, the staves of a whisky barrel (complete with certificate of authenticity from the distillery) and from old tools. A wonderful example of the latter being the pen you see in the images below.

Simon made this pen made from an old woodworking plane that belonged to the customer’s grandfather. A nice feature is the stamping o the plane with the owner’s name. Simon incorporated that piece in with the presentation box, giving the new owner of the pen a useful and lasting reminder of his grandfather.

How to find Simon and write your own history

On Facebook:

On his website:

And at Bath Artisan market:


Tel: 07834 375628

3D Printing – How it all Began

3D Printing – How it all Began

The amazing world of additive manuacturing – AKA 3D Printing – is all around us, and its growing. Fast.

Over the last year, (2018-19), the Additive Manufacturing Market (that’s the proper name for 3D printing), grew by 21%, as companies and individuals embrace the competitive advantages that 3D Printing gives them.

Yet, 3D Printing isn’t as new as you think – being first developed in 1983, when Charles Hullcreated the first printer capable of printing an actual part. Back then, they called it ‘Rapid Prototyping’ -catchy huh? Rapid prototyping was a machine used to create prototypes of tools for machines used in manufacturing. Rapid Prototyping sped up the prototype process, taking it from 6-8 weeks to mere hours. Inspired, Charles set about marketing and selling his Rapid Prototyping machines. And today? 3D printers are becoming more commonplace. If you can buy one in Argos, then it’s a sure sign that 3D printers will become an essential bit of domestic kit.

The Future with 3D Printing

At the moment, 3D printing is being used to create organic materials. Using cellular material, the first human organs are looking a real possibility. Already, the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, are in the middle of developing a process to 3D print replacement skin for burns patients. 

We can already 3d Print metal, creating 3D printed seats in planes – and that makes a plane up to 50% lighter. And 3D printing a house for a mere £8000 is reality. Which leads one to wonder why it’s not happening?!

In the future customisation will become a key part of 3D printing. Shoes that actually fit you and only you! 3D printing food in your kitchen? The company Chocedgealready 3D print in chocolate, creating unique gifts and solutions to confectioners around the world.

So you’re excited by all this? You’re feeling you want to rush out and buy a 3D printer? Well before you do, space considerations aside, would you know what to do with one if you got it? Do you, for instance, have the CAD skills to create the designs to print? No? Fear not! There’s someone who does.

Meet SED Developments

Swindon based Jo and Richard Rigden, together are SED Developments – and they’re immersed in the adventurous world of 3D Printing, design and baking. Yes, you heard that right – baking!

They created their company in 2017, and since then have printed all manner of stuff. In the main, cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes are what come off their printer. But they’re not limited to that. They also design and print bespoke, individual 3D printed items. To that end they’ve worked with vintage car enthusiasts, ceramic artists, model airplane builders and artists, to name but a few. The range of items they’ve developed includes: miniature Lewis gun cartridge for model airplane, bone zippers for washbags, missing vintage car insignia badges, customised fondant and cookie cutters and jewellery. 

While they don’t 3D print the cookies –  yet – they do have six 3D printers. That gives them the capacity and the knowledge, to design and print, in collaboration with you.

Baked Goods

I mentioned baking earlier? SED Developments hold over 300 cookie cutter designs, and develop new ones every day, because there’s always a new shape to bake! Their range runs from the bog-standard rectangle or heart to the unusual, but top selling, cow face.  Which is moos to me! They also have a great range of icing/coffee stencils with which to lift up your latte or decorate your cake.

They’re a clever pair for sure. Last year, when I released my book Secret Swindon, I set them the task of creating biscuit cutters in the shape of some of Swindon’s iconic buildings. This is what they came up with. Aren’t they great?

Now, I’ve got them at it again. But bookmarks this time to go with my second book, Swindon in 50 Buildings.  

As you can see – if you can imagine it then they can print it. If you’d like a cookie cutter created, email them over a picture and discuss with them what you’re looking for. Or  contact them for a chat about your design.

Check their Instagram and Facebook pages, to see what they’re up to. And why not have a root around their E-Bay shop? You don’t know what you might find. 


Expanding Law and accountancy firm Optimum move into new Swindon headquarters

Expanding Law and accountancy firm Optimum move into new Swindon headquarters

Expanding Law and accountancy firm Optimum move into new Swindon headquarters - the optimum team

Groundbreaking law and accountancy firm Optimum Professional Services has relocated to new offices in Swindon as part of ambitious expansion plans.

The company was created in 2017, uniquely combining legal services with accountancy services under one roof. Initially based in serviced offices in Regus, West Swindon, the firm has now moved to its own premises in Stratton.

The team of fifteen have taken on the previously empty Vicarage Court in Ermin Street. They have a three-storey building, offering space to grow, as well as a large boardroom area for hosting networking events, workshops and seminars.

Richard Mathews, CEO of Optimum – a contender in this year’s Wiltshire Business Awards for Start-up Business of the Year – said moving from serviced offices into their own building was a great boost to the team.

‘We are delighted with our new premises which better reflect us as a company,’ he said. ‘They are in a great location, and have the facilities we have been looking for to allow us to expand and also to run events which support the local business community.’

Optimum was the first professional services firm in the Swindon area to break away from the traditional mould by offering a suite of services under one roof

The Legal Team at Optimum

The legal team, headed by Iain Mason, deals in all areas of commercial and domestic property law, wills and probate. The accountancy team’s services include personal and business tax planning, business development and exit planning, as well as bookkeeping and payroll. The team are heavily focused on ensuring their business clients are ready for HMRC’s new Making Tax Digital regime, which is being rolled out from April.

Richard added: ‘We have already run an event here for clients to talk them through the implications of Making Tax Digital. We are also planning to run one for landlords on the changes affecting the lettings sector. Adding value to the service we offer to clients and local businesses is central to the ethos we have here at Optimum.’

For more information about Optimum Professional Services visit, email or call 01793 538 198.

Pleased to note that Optimum have an excellent reading choice in their office! 😉

Secret Swindon of course!

Choosing your event stylist

Choosing your event stylist

Choosing your event stylist - table set ready to dine

Let’s first establish the difference between a wedding planner and a wedding and event stylist.

A wedding planner is the person responsible for every organisational aspect of your occasion. Depending on the level of service you’re paying them for, a wedding planner will, for instance, as this article in The Knot points out, help you with:

  • Setting a realistic budget for your wedding or party
  • Come up with a master plan to map out all the small details – from your music choices to your favours
  • Source venues/locations that fit your brief and budget
  • Fitting your budget, find great florists, photographers, caterers, bands and DJs and … wedding/event stylists …

… and a great deal more besides.

The Event Stylist

An event stylist  is the person that gives your venue the WOW factor. You know – that thing that makes your guests take a sharp intake of delighted breath when they walk into the room. But how to choose such a person?

NB: I’ve made a point of mentioning the word event because of course venue stylists are not only for weddings. From hatch to match and despatch – life is full of occasions that call for celebration, for rolling out the metaphorical red carpet. 

Choosing an event stylist

A wedding stylist can work absolute wonders for you. They’ll bring your vision to life in every detail of your ceremony and reception, liaising with your wedding planner should you have one, to create a cohesive story. 

Close your eyes and picture your party or wedding reception. Whatever your dream might be, from vintage tea party to winter wonderland, your event stylist will bring your vision to life.

To get your search started, Google is your friend. Browse for event styling services in your area. Check out social media too. Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are all great places to find event stylists and to get some visuals on what they can do. Not forgetting, if it’s a wedding you want styling, wedding fairs.

Once you’ve shortlisted some stylists that pique your interest check out their websites for their portfolio and costings. When you’re satisfied on those points all that’s left then is to make appointments to see them in person. As you start to discuss with them what you have in mind, you’ll quickly be able to gauge if they ‘feel’ right to you. It’s vital that you feel confident in them and comfortable with them.

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK

Fabulous Functions UK:

Where It’s All About You

Before returning to the UK, Fabulous Functions UK enhanced the events with their flair and imagination in the Caribbean, Middle East and the rest of Europe. Drawing on that experience, they now offer a tailor-made service to Swindon, to Wiltshire and much of the south-west that is gaining bouquets at every turn.

choosing your event stylist - Bridebook Uk silver award

Proving that point, January 2019 saw Bride Book UK award Fabulous Functions UK a silver certificate of excellence.

In addition, they’ve been featured in Your Glos & Wilts Wedding magazine. 

Making the Mundane Marvellous

With well-chosen accessories, complementing your chosen colour scheme, Fabulous Functions UK will transform your venue and make your vision manifest. They have an ever-growing range of venue accessories for you to hire, of which the crème de la crème are their two fabulous flower walls.

So delay no more. For a celebration to remember call them now for a no-obligation chat. Telephone: 00 44 7511 842 451 or email

Check out their testimonials

From Tom Falding of Falding’s Fandangoes:

And from some jolly happy clients:

Fabulous functions logo - choosing your event stylist

Fabulous Functions on Social Media:



Get Business fit with Business Village

Get Business fit with Business Village

29 December 2018

Get Business fit with Business Village

Free event will help businesses and their owners get fit for 2019

Getting fit for 2019, in personal and business life, will be the focus of a free event kicking off the New Year for breakfast networking group Swindon Business Village.

Ian Locke and Shirley Hensher will jointly deliver a presentation: ‘Fit for business: achieving personal wellbeing is key to your business success’ on Thursday January 10.

Get business fit for business village

Ian is a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He runs Thrive Personal Training, helping people move, eat and live in ways which improve their health and wellbeing. Shirley, under her business banner The Change Agent, enables corporate professionals and business owners to shape working lives which fit with their values and aspirations.

Shirley said: “The presentation is aimed at helping business owners who want to manage their health and fitness with the same level of energy and focus with which they manage their business. In other words, business owners who need motivation or support to create the opportunities for more ‘me time’ in their working week.”

Ian added: “For many of us, we are the most valuable asset our business has but we often ignore our own wellbeing in favour of the needs of the business. At the heart of our presentation is the question, your business needs you, but are you fit for business?”

The event, on Thursday January 10, is the first after the group’s Christmas break, and is free to anyone wanting to attend, as well as Business Village regulars.

It runs from 7.30-9am at The Campanile, West Swindon, and includes networking, one-minute introductions and breakfast. The usual charge for each weekly, Thursday meeting is £10 for booking online in advance (£9 early bird) or £12 on the door. The group charges no membership fee.

For more information and to book for the presentation, and other events on the Swindon Business Village calendar, visit

In their separate businesses, Ian and Shirley both work with corporate executives and business owners seeking personal transformation.

For more information about The Change Agent visit and for Thrive Personal Training visit

You really never know!

You really never know!

29th December 2018

You really never know!

I’ve never before bothered to write a reflective blog. Largely because I’m usually too busy, in my AA Editorial Services arm, writing them on behalf of clients to think about it. Besides which, I’ve not felt I’ve had much to reflect on. Or maybe I simply haven’t bothered? Be all that as it may, 2018 is a different ball game altogether – in respect of me having something to reflect on. As ever, my clients still keep me busy enough. Phew! Blessed relief there – Champagne to buy and all that.

Here, courtesy of the exquisite Eight Interactive, is a bite sized, You-Tube shaped summation of my super nova 2018.

you really never know

2018 saw me enjoy a range of unprecedented personal – yet business related achievements – that I couldn’t leave behind without recording. And anyway, as Fiona Scott asked of us in her own end of year blog, New Year, New You? New Business? New Goals? : ‘Do we all reflect in business too? I don’t think we all do if we’re really honest.’ I’ve been remiss there for sure. 

Four Full Financial Years

2018 marks my fourth full financial year as a small business owner. I think too, it’s taken me this long to reach a point where I’ve felt I’ve made enough progress to let me step back and look at what I can do differently now. Or at least try too. I’m not big on goal setting. Chiefly because life has leapt up and bitten me on the bum a few too many times now – I am quite old. And, I won’t lie, the thought of it all makes me tired! 🙂 Nevertheless, as Fiona also says, ‘If your business goal is to ‘maintain’ (and that’s one of mine) that’s a goal like any other.’  So – I’m reflecting! 

And what I’m largely reflecting on – and as cheesy and clichéd as it sounds – is that one really, really never knows where a thing might go, what a thing might lead to. That’s my big learning from 2018. I’ve said it and thought it often enough. But late 2017/July 2018 saw that particular cliché turned into solid paperback, book-form proof. 

Some recent book/blog feedback

All of which leads, in a roundabout way, to my big learning/takeaway of 2018: that of never knowing what something might lead to.

Born Again Swindonian – and how you never know where a thing might lead

I started writing this blog around five years ago now – when I was still at the University of the West of England studying for a joint English Hons degree. It began as a means to an end: to provide material for a travel writing module. But as I wrote, I fell head over heels in love with Swindon and so continued writing about Swindon. In particular, when the odious Katie Hopkins decided to join the long and tedious list of people to take a pop at Swindon. Where oh where do these misconceptions about Swindon arise? It mystifies me. That’s something I’ve worked hard on this blog to dispel. And ditto in Secret Swindon. I appear to have had some success in that.

Review left on Amberley website

Katiegate then (about 4 yrs back) prompted BBC Wilts to invite me into the studio in defence of Swindon. As I went in, I crossed paths with someone on her way out. She’d also been on air in defence of Swindon with an A-Z of fab things about Swindon shed written for the Swindon Advertiser. That someone was – well she still is – Carole Bent. I and this blog were unknown to her at that time and she took the trouble to seek me out – something she’s jolly good at – and we became friends. And I carried on writing about Swindon and giving shout-outs where ever and whenever warranted. Which, it delights me to say, is often!

So, when I had the book launch for Secret Swindon – and what a wonderful, joyous event that was, Carole was kind and generous enough to say that I had bothered to keep writing about Swindon when others might not have. And that I had bothered to speak up when some others didn’t.  Until that moment I hadn’t looked at it that way. But she was right. I did.  I did it out of love for this town and its people. And such joy both it and the ensuing book have brought to me.

I had no way of knowing of course, that a commissioning editor from Amberley Books would one day chance upon this blog via our old friend Google. Then, having found it, make contact apropos writing an addition to their series of local history books ‘Secret XXXXX’ – Secret Swindon. The key words in all that are one day – because this was no overnight success. FIVE long years of blogging to get to this point!

Yet that wasn’t a stroke of happy chance. No, no, no. This particular stroke of serendipity came about through several years of slog at the blog. I write on it regularly. Because I write on it on a regular basis the blog’s reach is pretty big and its SEO credentials strong. It’s those two factors which, when the man from Amberley did a Google search on Swindon, put this blog in front of him. He then saw the variety of the content and that I can construct a decent enough sentence. Thus the approach  came.

I had no plans to write a book – it hadn’t entered my head. It all came as a big surprise to me I can tell you. There’s more of all that below. And it all goes to show that you really never know. I sure as heck didn’t foresee becoming a first-time-published-author in 2018.

 Secret Swindon has done well and my winter project is writing ‘Swindon in 50  Buildings’ – a further commission from Amberley. So 2019 will see me published for the second time! Yay!

On that note – the best of wishes for 2019 from Born again Swindonian.

Secret Swindon Book

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