Renee

Ethical business, death by syllable and sailing too close to the wind

I am now a sailor. Having spent five hours aboard a sailing boat I am familiar with all the nautical terms that relate to a boat capsizing. Fortunately we didn’t, but there were a couple of close shaves. Philip forgot to pull the blah-de-blah from the blib-de-blob that resulted in the boat tilting at an 89 degree angle, but he righted it in the fraction of a millisecond between going over or retaining an upright, almost dry position tossing about on the waves.

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Not the best photo, but all that could be done in the 5 seconds it seemed safe enough to get the phone out the dry-bag.

Getting into my new wetsuit was the first challenge. Then I couldn’t even get into the boat. “Jump in!” he yelled, which of course I wasn’t able to. Suddenly two hefty arms around my waist lifted me up and over, literally chucking me headfirst into the boat! Bum in the air, face on deck, very elegant.

Disentangling myself from the numerous ropes that need constant pulling and tugging, tacking and securing, untangling, knotting, twisting, moving… (I don’t actually know what I’m talking about) I could hear him mumbling sarcastically about the grace of a gazelle….

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe idioms I have been familiar with my whole life – and have used in business practice – now have a whole new meaning.  Sailing close to the wind, taking the helm, man overboard… Wasn’t there a to-do a few years ago about the term Man Overboard…? During my Plain English Business Writing sessions I’ve had corporate clients who have set internal guidelines for using gender-neutral terms, and we’ve laughed about the extremes some people go to to avoid using the word ‘man.’

They can no longer say ‘manning the phones’ or ‘manpower,’ for example. And it occurred to me yesterday that if I’d taken a solid feminist stance and insisted on using ‘woman overboard,‘ that extra syllable could have killed me. Well, I doubt I’d have actually been killed or damaged on the beautiful lake at Rutland Water, but you know what I mean. Syllables save lives!  Now there’s a campaign for the new government if ever I heard of one!

I haven’t done any Plain English sessions lately but this week I began a series of one-to-one training dates on various aspects of social media. Coincidentally, three of the companies I’ve worked with have been ethical businesses. One, Change Please, provides barista training to homeless people. It involves carts of delicious, high quality, perfectly roasted coffee being sold in trendy locations around the city, from Borough to Canary Wharf, with proceeds going to the charity and homeless people being given the skills and resources to earn a living.

I gave up coffee seven years ago, but the smell of a good mugful and the temptation of creamy froth sparkling up at me still makes me yearn for a bar of galaxy to dip in and indulge… But I don’t submit! I’ll stick to green teas and mint infusions for the time being. Or a nice glass of cool wine on a warm summer evening.

We had a bottle of wine at the Canary Wharf concert on Tuesday, kicking off the picnic season with the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing sedately. I think this week will be more of a singing, dancing night – feel free to join us – we’re there most Tuesday evenings from 6pm.

Mark and I loved this in the 80s and we both still play the High Land Hard Rain album all these years later. “Get me back on board, pull me up with grace. Get me back on board; let me be embraced.” If you’ve gone overboard, or you feel you’re bobbing along and your business could do with a marketing push, give me a call.  Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Raising money, pregnant at 50 and LinkedIn pages for kings and dogs

Square Mile Salute is a charity set up by my friend and colleague Anne, with the aim of delivering a night of fun and laughter that celebrates all that’s great in the city while raising money for some worthwhile causes that support our servicemen and servicewomen. The sumptuous banquet she organised jointly with CSARN at the Honourable Artillery Company was fantastic with amazing food, gorgeous flowers and incredibly interesting people.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingAt the beautifully dressed and perfectly laid table, Ben looked to his left to greet his dinner partner, only to be faced with… a dog!  (No, I’m not being bitchy about anyone.) We had the pleasure of Allen Parton’s company along with his assistance dog EJ (Ben’s new friend) and another lovely creature who is deemed to be the cleverest dog in the military family! As well as the standard jobs these dogs do, such as loading the washing machine, using a cashpoint and getting their owners into the recovery position, this canine lady can sense Cancer and pregnancy, and makes a fuss of the relevant person. Fortunately she didn’t fuss around me.  The woman who went out of Masterchef last week was saying she has one daughter of 35 and another of 2 – born when she was 50…. Just imagine that!!!

Anyway, the evening was a roaring success, raising over £50,000 for four very worthy charities, including Soldiering On Awards.  Comedian Tom Binns was exceptionally funny, providing the entertainment in character and keeping the hall giggling throughout.  The champagne helped with that too…

I’ve walked past the Honourable Artillery many times, and wondered what was going on as I peered through the wrought iron gates.  Soldiers in uniform playing cricket in the heart of the city, a fairground (!!) and some very impressive architecture.  Now I know.  This magnificent Georgian house set in a five-acre garden houses a charity set up by Henry VIII to support the Regiment which bears its name. It’s a lovely estate and it was certainly one amazing night!

The venue can be hired for private functions and I’m thinking about running a social media workshop there.  I’ll need to be organised though, I’m guessing that everything there runs to military precision.  I ran a social media training session recently for businesses based around Liverpool Street and Shoreditch. Although it didn’t start until 9 I like to leave home very early to get parked at the station and beat the crush of morning commuters. So I arrived an hour early and, it turned out, without any make-up, without my hairbrush and without reading glasses (an item that is becoming more of a prerequisite as each year passes).

I’m running a series of 121 sessions this week – hopefully a bit more pulled together!  I’ll be all over London, from Spitalfields to Westfield to a barn on a river by the A10.  It’ll be fun.  I love working closely with businesses to help them generate more activity on social media.  I’d have quite liked to have worked with Henry VIII to help promote his artillery too, although probably best to have steered clear on that one. (I can fire in a fairly straight line as it happens.)  He’d have had an interesting LinkedIn page, that’s for sure. As would EJ the dog…

Wise man Tom Bailey said, “Diamond rings, and all those things – they never sparkle like your smile. And as for fame, it’s just a name that only satisfies you for a while.”  Sparkle online – and keep smiling – ask me about it here: @WeekendWitch.

(Thanks to Roy Strutt for the lovely photos.)

Tea and knickers, Brexit and a sign of the times

It’s a quick blog today as I spent far too long watching politics and wandering around country houses this weekend and not enough time working. But that’s ok, right?

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe undressing exhibition at the V&A was interesting, but lacked some of the pieces Debra and I would have liked to have seen. Not that we’re serial underwear-watchers, but – as she pointed out, Madonna’s pointy bra would have made a good point.  A lot of the exhibits were from previous centuries and it’s hard to know whether to marvel at the fact women could actually wear them, or feel sorry for pain they must surely have suffered. Probably both, actually.  They were certainly keener to present themselves as slaves to fashion than I would be.

Some of the stuff was very lovely, with examples of bras from the 50s to the 90s still elegant, sexy and beautiful, even by today’s standards.

As it happens, I preferred the Botticelli exhibition.  Reimagined images of his most famous artworks in various media are displayed in a gallery alongside the 15th century master’s original works.  I love love loved a Dolce and Gabbana dress which was slated by the Independent.  (No photos allowed, but there a pic of it on the V&A website’s home page.) It Looks a bit similar to my Jean Paul Gaultier dress and spurred me on towards a brief diet so that it fits me again….

The diet ended an hour later when we stopped off in Covent Garden for a traditional English cream tea.  Oh well, art often depicts curvier women so an extra few pounds can’t hurt.

(As I’m writing this, I have a vague recollection of seeing Madonna’s bra once – possibly at the Rock Café in London a couple of years ago. Did I – or has time made me imagine weird underwear things??)

If you’re surprised I haven’t discussed Brexit on social media, it’s because I think there’s been enough posted to drive all five living generations crazy.  Never before have I seen such divisive comments on Facebook – friends turning against friends, people insulting those who disagree with them, heated arguments, slagging offs…  Whether you voted in, voted out or voted out and then regretted it, all we can hope for now is a common sense, compassionate outcome with a government that genuinely wants the best for all of us – and a community that works to create a better world for our children and their children.  Am I optimistic? Not particularly.  It’s uncharacteristic for me but there you have it; based on what I’ve seen and read since Thursday I think it may be a tough ride ahead for England.  But we’ll see….

As the Belle Stars said, back in the days when I voted for the trendiest party rather than paying attention to the issues, “You say you love me but want success, I say you’re lying, nothing has changed. This is the sign of the times, piece of more to come… This is the sign of the times, time to be alone.”  Hmmmm – read into that what you will.  But no one needs to be alone. England, Britain, Europe, Earth – wherever I am, I’ll still be here: @WeekendWitch.

PS – my best friend turns 50 this week!  Happy birthday Gill, have a wonderful day, week, year and forever! Thank you for being my friend XXX

A sixties icon, fathers and dancing goddesses

Cat Stevens’ voice hasn’t changed.  His sultry tones are still emotionally raw and the audience cheered when everyone realised Tuesday’s concert was simply, as promised, a fundraiser for Syrian children and not an opportunity to talk about Islam.

13466198_10154267066881255_1388867276007582269_nHe’s an incredibly engaging performer, down to earth and natural; his easy-going personality shone through his smiles. Converting to Islam in 1979 meant he stopped recording, but his return a few years ago bridged the gap over a whole generation, albeit without some of his best work. (His wife won’t let him play any of the stuff he wrote for ex-girlfriend Patti D’Arbanville, apparently.)  Now known as Yusuf, this concert was billed under both names, but the playlist was mainly pre-musical-break – as the audience had hoped.

When we got the tickets I wasn’t sure how many songs I’d know – Father and Son has long since been one of my favourites, but I tended to mix him up a bit with Bob Dylan.  So it was a nice surprise that I knew most of them and was able to join in, in my lovely, tone-deaf harmony that sounds pleasant to me and my cat, but sends everyone else running for cover.

The week took me back to London the following day for a members’ viewing of the new Tate Modern extension.  Well, the building has an abundance of wonderful space and I’m an art lover, so of course I enjoyed the evening… The layout is interesting, the work was mostly creative and the hot chocolate in the members’ café was smooth and creamy.

13493019_10154279481886255_1999541311_nThe subtext here is that Martyn and I were more impressed with the building than a lot of the artworks. Some were hugely creative and impressive but others less so – however, kudos to the artists for originality in marketing their art so well that the largest gallery of modern art in London accepted it for display.  Neither Martyn nor I haven’t achieved that…

I’m writing this on Fathers’ Day.  Although this celebratory day is rumoured to have begun in America at the turn of the 20th century, it only became official in America in 1972. Presumably the UK copied, and my guess is that the greetings card industry pounced on an opportunity.

By contrast, Mothers’ Day dates back to ancient annual spring festivals the Greeks and Romans both dedicated to maternal goddesses.  A Christian festival on the fourth Sunday of Lent honours the Virgin Mary, and in sixteenth century England the holiday was expanded to include all mothers and named Mothering Sunday.  Not being Christian, Greek or Roman, I still – obviously – enjoy the attention on Mothers’ Day, without the religious connotations or dancing around naked to goddess chanting. (Although I think some of my friends might indulge…….!!)

13237635_10154219615981255_5084423832331039728_nAnyway, I’m spending this Fathers’ Day morning ploughing through my son’s washing, as he returned from university last night with a year’s worth of dirty clothes. He also came home with a huge smile and a 2:1 degree from Cambridge – so this a very proud mummy signing off and wishing all the dads, step-dads, grandads, foster dads, common-law dads, like-a-father dads, uncles and fathers-in-law a happy day and a wonderful year ahead.  I’ll be thinking about my daddy in heaven, as I do most days.

I did post these lyrics on Facebook recently, but couldn’t miss them off today. ‘Take your time, think a lot, think of everything you’ve got – you will still be here tomorrow, though your dreams may not.’

Your dreams will… Make them your reality.  Ask me how: @WeekendWitch.

Kinky footwear, dead poets and flickering candles in Spitalfields

Dennis Severs’ House at 18 Folgate Street is an absolute treasure. Hidden in the depths of Spitalfields beyond the trendy market and restaurants, it’s a time capsule, a true step back through the centuries. The house was occupied from 1724 by Huguenot silk weavers and, wandering the wooden-beamed rooms in candlelight, there’s an eerie sense of them having just stepped out for a moment, leaving the minutia of their lives exposed.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingEach room painstakingly recreates a moment in time, capturing the feel of life in London from the Huguenots’ breakfast table to the dawn of the 20th century – and the house is hauntingly atmospheric. We wandered around in silence, as is the rule (Sshhhh), careful of the candles flickering as we gingerly stepped around the beautiful furnishings and objects that were once somebody’s belongings. Fittingly, I wore a silk skirt – not Huguenot-weaved: Phase Eight – but the sentiment was there. Its floaty edges weren’t ideal for the narrow wooden staircase that reach four storeys into a bygone world, making me wonder how the women managed in their glorious brocade dresses. Definitely worth a visit if you have an hour to spare in London!

I’ve had a very cultural couple of weeks, what with our trip to Burghley House, another lived-in stately home, grand and very luxurious with whippets racing and alpacas sort-of-smiling – and a day out with Sharon and the twins to Westminster Abbey.  I loved that!! Not sure it was two 13-year-old boys’ idea of fun, but the landmark is so steeped in history you can almost hear the monks shuffling along the cloisters.  As you may already know, I do love an ancient gravestone and the Abbey didn’t disappoint.  With some of the most celebrated brains (now bones) in English history, from Isaac Newton to Charles Dickens, and Kings and Queens lying in peace close to artists, poets (including some of my favourites) and, errr, a plumber…. I could have stayed all day but the café soon tempted us away with creamy fish pies!

A few days later the twins came along to Oli’s 21st birthday party.  How blessed we are to have had five generations together in one kitchen.  Well. Four and a half really, but who’s counting. (Only the person in charge of the tequila jelly-shots!)

My week closed with another trip to London – Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre.  Such a fantastic show – as well as being flamboyant with brilliant choreography, costumes and sets, the story is true, making it all the more special.  This tale of a business owner with a flagging firm and fewer customers each year is heart-warming and funny.  He befriends drag queen Lola and, together, they create a range of sought-after, thigh high, glittery fashion boots for cross-dressing men – and business booms!

The musical score by Cyndi Lauper is fab – particularly if you were her fan back in the 80s. (I was.) As she would say, “Sometimes you picture me – I’m walking too far ahead. You’re calling to me; I can’t hear what you’ve said. Then you say, ‘go slow,’ I fall behind. The second hand unwinds.”

If you call me I promise I’ll hear (possibly not if you whisper). To be sure, get in touch here or here, as usual: @WeekendWitch.

Sandwiches, dinner and a little ukulele

When I was at school, a sandwich shop opened by the roundabout that offered a whole cabinet full of fillings.  It was quite innovative for the eighties.  Every day I’d pick up my banana and corned beef sandwich to eat with my friends on the park bench next to the school – from where we’d forget to go back for afternoon lessons.  This is on the days I went to school of course, those being art and social science days, as opposed to maths and PE which I generally skipped.  Don’t remember an awful lot about what we learned (except cumulus and cumulo nimbus clouds, and Latin verb formations) – but I remember the weird sandwiches….  What does that mean?

Working at Principles, my days were so busy buying jewellery and lingerie that there was barely time to eat lunch.  Someone would do a sandwich run and we’d sit at our desks shovelling in the food.  I think the café there was called Harry Masons – not exactly sure now but it was definitely Harry Something.  I had a chicken and stuffing sandwich every day, unless being wined and dined by suppliers. In Venice the sandwiches were memorable because they looked like their fillings had been ice-cream-scooped into the bread.

I’m mentioning this because I don’t eat sandwiches now.  The bread no longer likes me and I’m quite strict.  Giving a presentation on social media recently on the 23rd floor of the Shard, the lunch provided was a superb mix of…. Sandwiches.  Various breads, buns and wraps adorned the table, but I settled for a plate of black grapes and a mint tea.  It wasn’t my best business lunch.   So in years to come I’ll remember little of the presentation and who was there, but my strangely selective memory will recall the mix of sandwiches laid out before me.  (I’m writing this late at night again… can you tell?)

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingHad dinner in a lovely little Moroccan restaurant recently with my friend Mark who runs a business hub in Southend.  I’ve run social media training courses for him in the past, when he was based closer to London.  Then he took me to a tiny bar, the size of someone’s front room, where the D’Ukes entertained us with their ukuleles!!  European headliners at the ukulele festival, they were actually fantastic!  Playing an eclectic set that encompassed Amy Winehouse, the Pretenders, Neil Diamond and – erm, Hava Nagila, we clapped and joined in the choruses of everything from the 60s to Stereophonics.

Mark mentioned that the group were all probably someone’s grandads, and we laughed about that because it seemed funny that grandpas would be doing a gig.  I say this while listening to Fleetwood mac on the iPad and having spent last night chatting about the Rolling Stones exhibition.

Work this week is a funny mix of meetings and blogging, with plenty of time for lunch.  So if you’re in Zone 1 and fancy a sandwich (without bread!) and a chat about social media, give me a shout.  (When I read back to edit this, I noticed I’d written ‘give me a shot’ – that also would be nice – Baileys, preferably!)

Let’s try this…  Hava neranenah, hava neranenah, hava neranenah ve-nismeḥa!  (Let’s sing, let’s sing, let’s sing and be happy!)  And why not? I’m off now to find my pink ukelele – I think it’s in the attic…. time to start learning to play? Enjoy your lunch – and your week!! @WeekendWitch.

Wonderful winners, a walk through London & bubbles in a bottle of fizz

What a week! It’s been a whirlwind of business-related celebrations – and a huge amount of fun!

Firstly, the most enormous congratulations go out to my clients Nordens, winners of the ICAEW Accountancy Firm of the Year.  They thoroughly deserve the recognition for providing business services that go way beyond mere number-crunching. I could sing their praises all day, but it’s probably best if you’re interested that you see for yourself, so here’s their website.

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And yes, before the grammar police handcuff me, that last paragraph should have been written in the singular, as Nordens is one client and ‘it’ won the award.  However, I work individually with many of its 32 members of the team, so I prefer to say ‘they’ – anyway, isn’t the whole point that it’s the people who make a business fantastic?!  These are certainly amazing people, and it’s an incredible achievement that they have awards for best accountancy practice in London and Essex – as well as a whole host of other, shiny, sparkly, crystal engraved awards.

I write all their award nominations, so they credit me with helping to gain these trophies.  They sent me an enormous, beautiful bouquet on Saturday which was a lovely surprise – thank you Nordens; it’s a pleasure working with you!

13268186_1095635363834136_7909119860883937164_oHuge congratulations also to my other award-winning clients, J E Putney & Sons, winner of the business awards category for Growing Business of the Year.  Writing their award application introduced me a team of passionate and dedicated people, whose business is traditional lime plastering.  They use ancient techniques to restore historic properties in and around London, Essex and wherever there’s a need for their specialist handiwork. They’ve worked behind the scenes in some amazing places – you can find out more about what they’ve done to restore London’s heritage right here.  (Well done guys – it’s been wonderful working with you!)

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Congratulations also go to my friend Francesca who launched the seventh book in her series of London Step Outside Guides this week.  At a glittering party to celebrate the book launch, I discovered that Frannie can whistle like one of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five heroines!  One loud toot and the room fell spellbound, while she and her partner Margie presented their latest publication and thanked the relevant people for helping them along the way.

Margie ended their speech with an amazing metaphor: ‘I could say we are a small fish in a big pond.  But I prefer to say we are a small bubble in the publishing glass of Prosecco… But with your support we will carry on fizzing!’  Love it!!

I own a couple of the books – they’re guides to walking tours of London written with the aim of kids leading a day out in the capital.  Absolutely suitable for adults too, as they’re full of quirky titbits of info, facts and fun.  One of the books even gives free entry into Westminster Abbey, saving a family of four around forty quid. Not bad, eh?  They’re brilliant gifts for anyone who loves London (which I do!!).

I’m back in London this weekend for a visit to Somerset House’s latest art exhibition and brunch overlooking the river, then at the television recording studios near Waterloo on Monday.  As my friend Sue’s friend Ray says, “Millions of people swarming like flies ’round Waterloo underground. But Terry and Julie cross over the river where they feel safe and sound. And they don’t, need no friends…”

We all need friends… because we’re all tiny bubbles fizzing away in the Prosecco bottle, bouncing off each other!  If we’re not already friends on Facebook, feel free to pop by and give the page a like. Thank you.  And of course you can follow me here: @WeekendWitch.

Exhibitionism, ageless misbehaviour and my first studio TV appearance

What an amazing afternoon I spent with Martyn the Artist at the brilliantly presented Exhibitionism – The Rolling Stones! Without doubt the best exhibition I’ve seen since Bowie at the V&A.  Also the most expensive – possibly Mick Jagger’s economics background coming into play.  The Saatchi gallery is usually free, so I assume it’s the band making the money? Anyway, so worth it…

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingIt turns out that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, childhood friends who’d lost touch, bumped into each other at Dartford train station, each carrying LPs of blues bands.  What a serendipitous day in music history that turned out to be.  Coincidence? Fate?  Of course it would be all so different today with school friends keeping in touch on social media.  Facebook highlights everyone’s musical tastes, fashion disasters and likes/dislikes, so it’s easy to find things in common with potential multi-million-pound-rockstar-partners.

Exhibitionism showcases not only the band’s talent, but their lifestyle over the past five and a half decades. Their logo pretty much sums it up: the sticking out tongue – an image representing ageless misbehaviour, childish anarchy and sexual decadence of a group of slowly aging men.  Martyn told me an interesting story about this branding; the intellectual property rights for the tongue still belong to the designer. He retained ownership apparently, and earns a nice little pot from the famous psychedelic lips.  A good day’s work, eh?

Aside from the music itself – soundbites, sound installations and handwritten, scribbled lyrics – the Saatchi Gallery displays their fantastically flamboyant fashions, set design, album cover artwork and videos in an encompassing microcosm of British pop. And it’s rude.  Videos of naked girls falling about drunkenly on tour buses. Like the band, these women are probably also grandparents now; it made us laugh.

In the eighties, Gill’s company were doing the PR for the Stones’ film ‘Let’s spend the night together.’  She brought home a huge bagful of badges with those words, and we traipsed around pubs and clubs throughout London distributing them to boys we fancied!  (Don’t do that now…)

The exhibition ended with a 3D concert: what a fabulous way to close the show! So my afternoon ended in a studio – strange, as it had started in one too…

Dr Anne Gordon and I were interviewed live on breakfast TV to talk about childhood stroke.  I tweeted a photo from the Green Room!  We both felt terribly important sitting in there, waiting patiently for the floor manager to organise us. When she came, a pretty young lady called Jennifer, we thought she was taking us into hair and make-up.  How funny – we were so wrong!  Three steps through the busy office and we were in the actual studio, sitting behind a desk waiting for Luke Blackall, the show’s charismatic presenter.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingAnne is extremely eloquent, and described her work with the survivors of childhood stroke. I spoke briefly about my experience – seven years to the day of Oli being admitted into the Royal London Hospital.  As I said on TV, it’s a shock that hits so hard it’s very difficult to move on. But move forward we do.

This weekend I facilitated a support day in London for families of childhood stroke survivors, where four medical experts gave presentations and the parents who attended could see that they’re not alone.  It was a Stroke Association event, and donations and support from the public made it possible. Thanks to the team, and also to KAO for donating their lovely office space for the day.

Aside from the fun of this week, it’s been emotionally draining for me, but music usually cheers me up.  My enduring memory of Mick Jagger is the night of Live Aid, where he danced around in a green silk shirt with David Bowie, just two friends having fun in the wasteland that is now Docklands. “It doesn’t matter what you wear just as long as you are there. So come on, every guy, grab a girl, everywhere around the world…”

There might not always be swinging, swaying and records playing, but there’s always social media.  If you need help with yours, call me – or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Votes for women, healing a broken heart and a happy story about a cow

The strangest thing happened last week.  I was being kayaked (is that a verb?) along the Cam, feeling a little like the Lady of Shalott, when a cow fell into the water!  It was a spot where the bank was built up on concrete, so impossible for her to climb straight back out.  I’m not sure I’d ever seen a cow so close up, but as she swam past the little rickety boat her face looked serene and lovely – focused on swimming past the panicking rowers (me included!), intent on finding a safe place to exit.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe people on the riverbank looked terrified too.  I don’t know whether anyone had called the fire brigade – or whoever one might call to rescue a drowning cow, but a burly man with a strict-ish voice instructed us to scare the cow across the river to the opposite bank, where escape looked easier.   I thought the shock of me scaring her with a kayak oar might finish her off completely. Fortunately, she ignored all the people and a dipped bank about 200 feet along gave her the foothold she needed to waddle out.

Once back in the sunshine and munching a blade of grass, the cow gave an almighty moo – matched swiftly by her mother, who ran towards her, the herd close behind.  We watched as they gathered around and nuzzled her – it really was so sweet to see.

As you may have noticed, I’ve done little work for the past couple of weeks while my broken hand has been healing itself.  And, it turns out, my broken rib.  You see lots of posts popping up on Facebook about healing a broken heart, but very few about broken hands.  Or ribs.  So this week has been playing catch-up. I’ve created several blogs, PowerPoint presentations and a website for clients, leaving hardly any time to go out for lunch!

Found time to go to the polling station though.  It really irritates me when people don’t vote, then complain when the country – or city – isn’t run how they would like.  Especially women and, yes, I know that’s sexist in itself.  But women gave their lives so that we can vote, and there are still women today in other parts of the world for whom that entitlement is curtailed.  So what right do we have to abuse the privilege?

I think I’ve said before that I would have been a suffragette had I been born a century earlier, and not just for the beautiful jewellery: ‘Give Women the Vote’ – GWV – green, white, violet.  I’ve seen some gorgeous pieces in antique shops yet never treated myself to a piece, but I might…

One of the PowerPoint presentations I’ve been preparing today is for a social media talk I’m giving at the Shard.  It will be the first one I’ve done for a few weeks due to my injuries, so I’m looking forward to sharing some valuable tips on social media marketing for financial businesses.  The session kicks off the start of a busy couple of weeks work-wise, with meetings with potential global clients, a gallery visit, fashion networking and an open day at Birkbeck College – can I find the time to do a PhD between meetings and afternoon tea?

I’ve been doing most things using only my left hand and it’s reminded me of an album I played on a constant loop when Ben was a toddler – until he pointed out, ‘That’s a rude word, mummy!’ No rude lines in this one though: “I’m high but I’m grounded, I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed. I’m lost but I’m hopeful, baby.  What it all comes down to, is that everything’s gonna be fine fine fine. Cause I’ve got one hand in my pocket and the other one is giving a high five!”

Well my hand is out of my pocket now (or rather, out the splint – most of the time anyway).  If you’d like to high five, catch up with some social media marketing tips, email me, message me on Facebook or tweet me here: @WeekendWitch.

Lustrous glazes, made up words and a mining opportunity in Botswana

Last Wednesday was interesting.  I’d been invited to a presentation about copper mining in Botswana.  The invitation was related to the possibility of me investing in a mine – something that’s not likely to happen.  However, Wilbur Smith has been one of my favourite authors for over 30 years, so the romantic impression he’s created in my mind of bounty-hunters in the Kalahari led me to the basement of a St Paul’s wine bar to listen and learn.

It was good networking.  I sat next to one of the key investors, who invited me to join him for a fact-finding mission in Thailand. I’m not going.  He told me people often mistake him for (a younger) Hugh Laurie, although his behaviour was more Hugh Grant.  He held my glass of Merlot while I checked my phone, as he had no signal on his… and he sipped a bit!

Didn’t stay for the sausage and mash buffet; we had dinner instead at the beautiful St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.  I’ll be interested to watch the share prices of the mines though – both in Botswana and Thailand – it’s something different.

Having studied linguistics, I should probably have been more excited about the weekend’s celebrations of Shakespeare’s death.  I haven’t actually read much Shakespeare but I like knowing which words he made up, like barefaced and dwindle.  He’s also to thank for some commonly used phrases, such as ‘all that glitters isn’t gold,’ ‘break the ice’ and ‘in a pickle.’  All of which applied to me at some point this week!

We had planned to attend a Shakespearian poetry recital at Elizabethan Hatfield House on Sunday, but decided to scrap that idea in favour of supporting a street festival in Whetstone, in north London.  Wandering along, warming my broken hand with a paper cup of frothy hot chocolate, the most inspiring stall was a collection of works by local artists.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingPhilip owns a number of pieces by one of the ceramicists who was there. She was proudly displaying her wares despite the bitter cold of late afternoon. Karen Cohen specialises mainly in one-off organic inspired pots, taking a particular interest in the texture and surface of the piece. She works with Raku fired pieces, experimenting with shape and the lustrous glazes typical of this type of firing.

It’s a wonderful thing when someone can create a business from their hobby.  To be passionate about your work is one of the most satisfying ways to live.

This may be a very tenuous link to the Bard, but it’s the best I can come up with on this chilly Monday morning.  “You can fall for chains of silver, you can fall for chains of gold.  You can fall for pretty strangers and the promises they hold.”  I didn’t really appreciate Mark Knopfler back in the day, but this has been one of my favourite songs for two decades, and Ben plays it beautifully on his Zebrawood guitar.  (Gill, you don’t like Dire Straits, do you…?!)

“I’ll promise you anything, I’ll promise you thick and thin…”  Actually, I don’t promise anything I can’t deliver.   Tell me what you need and I’ll tell you how I can make it happen – ask me here: @WeekendWitch.