A recipe for social media, stardust and a lyrical Welsh witch

I’ve been working with some fantastic businesses over the past few weeks, helping them to get more out of their social media.  This week’s training combined two of my favourite things: arts and cakes!

On Tuesday, I visited Eat Work Art, a community of artists and designers housed together in a converted factory in the gentrified part of Hackney. It was such fun!!  Once I’d finished revamping Louise’s LinkedIn profile she gave me a tour of the studios.  I always love watching artists at work, and there were plenty of them in their hubs that day, sketching, painting, making wonderful creations out of tatty bits of fabric.

The conversion includes an outside market square with a few niche shops and a very cool café.  I’m happy to train my clients anywhere, but spaces that serve chai latte with raspberry and ricotta cheesecake win every time.

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Vanilla Orchid’s gorgeous Vogue cakes

This theme of cakes cakes cakes continued into Thursday, when the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery arrived for her social media training with a freshly baked lemon drizzle just for me!  I’d like to ask for the recipe but it’s always so much nicer to receive as a gift.  And the same day, another client sent me a jar of Nutella – how cool is that to receive through your letterbox?!

But that evening I was sad to read that Alvin has gone to sprinkle his stardust in the heavens above; his black gloves coo-ca-chooing over the mortal world below.  (Or whatever it was that he did in the 70s).  Eating my cake with chocolate spread for dinner cheered me up though.

I grew up in a block of flats where everyone Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingknew everyone, and all the kids played in the gardens and surrounding streets until 11 o’clock each night without fear of being abducted or attacked.  Alvin Stardust’s manager lived two floors above us and, in the summer when a few of us danced and sang Leader of the Pack on a continuous loop, Alvin would come down to join us kicking the football around.  I’ve got hundreds of old photos stored in a huge trunk in my attic but I don’t think there are many from those days.  Unlike today… it’s hard to remember a world without Pinterest or Instagram.

There will be photos this week.  Yes, I’ll be around on Friday night with my witch’s hat and cauldron of spicy pumpkin soup, turning some tricks and dishing out some treats. Maybe I’ll put pics on Facebook.

You might already know that Stevie Nicks is one of my favourite artists.  I wrote about her last year.  Rumours of her links to witchcraft abound, and her beautiful lyrics are copyright of Welsh Witch Music – a company named in recognition of the lady in this song… Do you know her name?  “Would you stay if she promised you heaven?  Will you ever win?  She is like a cat in the dark and then she is the darkness.  She rules her life like a fine skylark and when the sky is starless… All your life you’ve never seen, woman taken by the wind.”

Hopefully wind, rain or thunder won’t take me away on Friday; I’ll still be here: @WeekendWitch.

Beauty of social media, True Heroes & taking lifts from strangers

Murray Hambro lost both feet when he was blown up in Afghanistan.  Four months later he was determinedly back doing what he loved the most: riding a motorbike.  A year later he formed True Heroes Racing, a team especially for injured servicemen, then he surpassed all medical expectations to ride at the British Superbike Championships.  What a hero!!  And I was there!

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI met this inspirational man yesterday at Brands Hatch.  He’s smart, adventurous (and damn good looking!) and proof that anyone can achieve anything by simply refusing to accept personal limits.  I met some other super-fast men too… Luke Smith, Murray’s team mate; Dan Helyer, who raced in the British Super Stock 1000 championship; and a mechanic named Graham who wears the world’s most expensive bionic ankles – £160k and worth every penny.  This is the future of medical technology and it’s amazing to see in action.

I worked with the Soldiering On team to sell raffle tickets and we raised £1200; not too shabby! Assuming I sold tickets to one in ten people that I approached, I guess I must have asked around 6000 people if they’d like to win a motorbike and raise money for wounded soldiers… no wonder my throat is sore again today!!

Here’s the beauty of social media: I mentioned in last week’s blog that I’d be at Brands Hatch… posted the blog on Facebook… someone read it and told me he was going too… I cheekily asked for a ride… I got a lift from a very lovely man who came out of his way to pick me up and drop me home again.

I have known Paul Eldon for about 25 years and we share some mutual friends, but we didn’t know each other well.  I don’t advocate taking lifts from strangers, but he wasn’t strange at all!!  In fact, he’s an extremely charming loss assessor from Essex who I have no hesitation in recommending.  Although I haven’t personally used his services – fortunately!!  He swoops in to help people who’ve suffered a loss through theft, fire or flooding – having spent a few hours with him I can see that his work ethic and commitment to customer care are flawless.  I did say thank you yesterday, but this blog seems a good place to repeat that: thank you Paul. (Hopefully he’ll read it!)

Obviously I get a warm tingly feeling when anyone tells me they read this blog.  So it was lovely at Clayton Coke’s networking party when three separate people I hadn’t seen for over a year said they look forward to reading it on a Monday – then proceeded to recommend it to new contacts.  That was really nice.  The whole evening was fun… Clayton had gathered together a bunch of his clients in a London wine bar to chat and connect over a few bottles of Merlot.  It was a fantastic marketing exercise by him and a brilliant networking evening for us all.

The following day I met up with one of my favourite friends for lunch. He came running along the concourse at Liverpool Street station yelling, “Sorry I’m late! Thought I’d better catch up on your blog first…”  Made me laugh!

I guess some people think I’ll be using Bat out of Hell lyrics again today…  Well I try to be a little less predictable than that. “I gotta be cool, relax, get hip, get on my tracks.  Take a back seat, hitch-hike, and take a long ride on my motor bike.”  Crazy, eh?!  (Thanks Freddie!)  Remember what I said: It’s not ok to take lifts from strangers. But it’s ok to follow… @WeekendWitch.

Tweeting, misbehaving and hot ladies in (not much) lace

It’s been over 20 years since Gill and I got told off in Stringfellows for helping ourselves to dinner before the giant gong announced that the buffet was open!  We still laugh about it, but I never ventured back to the glamorous nightclub.  So visiting on Saturday night was quite something.  Firstly, it’s no longer the disco I remember so vividly; it’s now a ‘gentleman’s club.’  I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say, the decadent Victorian furnishings and gilt angels didn’t distract from the fact there were ladies cavorting around the brass poles.

I don’t usually spend my weekends in lap dancing clubs!! I’d been invited by the Soldiering On Through Life Trust – the fantastic charity that raises awareness of inspirational people from within the military family.  I tweeted the evening away for the charity – managing to do so without covering myself in red wine like I did when I was with them at the Invictus Games.

Although my only personal, tenuous link to military is through my late grandfather, the friends I’ve made through Soldiering On have created a new little family that I’m proud to support.  So Saturday night’s party was to celebrate the launch of a calendar created by the Hotties: wives and girlfriends of serving soldiers, sailors and air force personnel.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingTwelve brave girls got their kits off to produce a beautiful, tasteful calendar with a sensual centenary theme.  I have to say, the paid Stringfellows’ dancers couldn’t hold a candle to these lovely young women dressed elegantly in satin and lace.  Eneshia – you’ve done an outstanding job of fundraising with your brilliant idea!  (The calendars are for sale here, and all proceeds go to Soldiering On and Mission Motorsport.)

We went on to Sway in Covent Garden for the after-party where champagne continued to flow, the dance floor flashed and the charity was able to raise awareness to a new cohort of supporters.  All in a day’s work…

The rest of my week was squidged into three days following a flu jab that left me with the flu.  Delivering a four-hour training session on social media, content marketing and blogging wasn’t easy with a husky voice that vanished every now and then, but the feedback was still strong, thankfully!

On the plus side, spending extra time at home gave me the chance to pen some new poetry.  If you’re in the Redruth area this month, five of my poems are on display in the Misbehaviour Exhibition at CMR Gallery: “50 artists from Britain and beyond transgressing the norm.”  In other words… misbehaving!! I won’t be uploading them to my website.

I had hoped to visit the gallery next weekend but I’ll be at Brands Hatch instead, selling the Hotties’ calendars (and raffle tickets to win a motorbike).  Helping my new military family.  Mark Knopfler made perfect sense when he said ‘It’s written in starlight and every line on your palm.  We’re fools to make war on our brothers in arms.’

I’ll be tweeting from Brands Hatch.  If you need help to get your business up and running on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media site, let me know; I’m offering half price social media set-up packages through November.  Drop me an email, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

British designs, a promiscuous man and Dark Knight Rising over London

Attending the opera is one of the cultural highlights of my year.  Drapers’ Hall must surely be one of the most beautiful secrets in London; its plush avante-garde décor and sparkling crystal chandeliers providing an elegance that I attempt to uphold.  So I’m pleased to report that I managed to get through the evening without dropping a canapé down my bra, like last time. Didn’t even trip down the stairs, get celebrity stalky or anything like that. [Read more...]

Tweeting in Corrie, Lowry’s obsession and chocolate naughtiness

We all have guilty pleasures; whether or not we admit to them in public is another story.  So here I am, standing up and publicly confirming – I love Coronation Street.  At least I don’t hover by the door pretending I’m not watching, like some people I know.  So what a fantastic treat to have been taken to the studio as an early birthday treat. [Read more...]

A hair-raising business, London Fashion Week and the full Toni & Guy experience

I don’t generally find myself being pampered; simply don’t have the time for such sweet indulgence.  You’ll never find me being wrapped in seaweed at a fancy spa, for example – or enjoying a manicure at a posh nail bar.  No, a bright pink splash of varnish that sweeps accidentally over my car’s dashboard is the norm there.  And if I’m ever wrapped in seaweed I’m not sure I’d be telling you here… [Read more...]

Invictus Games, nearly a princess and being completely stupid

‘One day your prince will come.’  Really?  Actually, yes.  Mine came!! When I announced that I’d be supporting the Soldiering On charity at the Invictus Games, the first question most people asked was “Will you meet Prince Harry?”  Having met Prince William without make-up and hair in a scrunchie (me, not him), I was somewhat hoping to make a better impression on his brother.  After all, this could be my last chance to marry a prince…. [Read more...]

Hats off to social media, aiming high and sunrise over the ocean

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI love love love Vegas!! There are no two ways about it, and advising one of the stores in a premier shopping mall on social media issues was almost a dream come true… The fact that Hattitude is a hat shop made it an actual dream come true!  (Watch out – its new super-jazzy website is launching soon!!) [Read more...]

Managing time, opening doors and a shiny red Ferrari

The Monty Hall Problem is something that’s taken up an awful lot of time in our house this year.  Some people just don’t get it.  I’m one of them.  The theory is this:  Imagine you’re a contestant on a game show.  You’re presented with three closed doors and you can keep the prize that you choose when you open a door. [Read more...]

A London pub tour, social media storm and dancing in the rain

Every year the free concerts at Canary Wharf get better – and more packed.  People squidged into every inch of Canada Square until not a blade of grass is evident beneath the picnic mats, rugs, beach towels, discarded plastic wine glasses and feet. And this year…. brollies.  For most of the first half the sun shone, perhaps not brightly, but pleasantly enough for an outside venue.  Then suddenly, before the drummer could even change his beat, the sky turned black with menacing clouds drifting atop the silvery glassed structures.  [Read more...]