Renee

Seven ways to plan ahead for your Christmas social media

Getting ready for Christmas? With the holiday season looming, it’s worth thinking about how you’ll handle your social media over the festive period.

Plan ahead

You need to be an organised person to plan ahead!  Staying active on social media will ensure your business doesn’t stagnate if you’re too full of mince pies and brandy butter to post anything. Remember that you can schedule stuff with Hootsuite or a similar “dashboard” in advance: create posts, upload photos, generally be prepared; this will keep your audience engaged during the festivities.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

1. Showcase seasonal products

If you’re selling anything Christmassy, you should have already started with a festive social media marketing campaign.  If you haven’t, now’s the time to get a move on…!! Promote your products or services across all relevant social media channels. Did you know that you can create a “Facebook Offer” if you’re running a specific promotion? It will send interested people a reminder to claim the discount (or whatever the offer is) before it ends. A carousel photo post is also a lovely way to show off a few items in one go.

2. Get into the festive spirit

This is a brilliant time to connect with your audience on a personal level.  Even the most serious business people tend to relax at this time of year.  Post a cheery seasonal message that will make people smile. If you’ve put up a Christmas tree or other festive season decorations, pop a pic on Facebook or Instagram! LinkedIn is the most professional platform but there’s nothing wrong with an engaging seasonal post on there too!

3. Show your appreciation.

Say thank you to your clients and followers for staying with you during the year. This can be a simple photo post or beautifully designed graphic – or just a few words straight from the heart!

4. Keep your business info up to date

Don’t forget to tell your clients when you’ll be open and closed over the holidays. This is also a good opportunity to update any other business information on your social media profiles that may be out of date. Don’t forget to include keywords in your profiles to help people find your business in searches.

5. Manage reactive responses

How quickly do you reply to tweets and messages on Facebook? You can set an auto-reply that responds immediately to direct Facebook messages, but you shouldn’t leave customers dangling for days. Keep an eye on your social media for exactly this reason – or post a clear message that you won’t be around. Of course, if your clients rely on you for an emergency service, for example if you’re a plumber, think about outsourcing your social media maintenance while you’re busy partying.

6. Get ready for the new year!

Think it’s too soon to worry about 2019? It’s definitely not. Prepare a mailshot now so that you don’t have to think about it over the holidays. Then you can get the year off to a highly motivated, stress-free start by being in touch with your clients, customers, potential clients and customers and anyone else who you want to remind about your business!

7. Bring in some extra help

If you’re too busy festooning the office with fairy lights to keep an eye on your social media, you might benefit from taking on a temp or a virtual assistant to help with social tasks. Don’t you find that in our dynamic digital age it’s really nice to receive something in the post? Even having someone to write your Christmas card envelopes is a help.

Here’s a reminder of easy ways to schedule your social media, and do feel free to let me know if you need some help.

Nine tips for scheduling your social media

If you’re running a business, you’ll know that there’s not always time to stop what you’re doing to tweet or post on LinkedIn.  That’s why there are various tools available to help schedule your social media, ensuring your continued presence whatever you’re doing and wherever you are!

Hootsuite is my preferred platform – I like the easy-to-navigate dashboard and its straightforward scheduling system.  Other popular social media platforms include Tweetdeck, Buffer, Hubspot and SproutSocial – all have their pros and cons, and varying price plans, so it boils down to whichever one you feel most comfortable working with.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

Whichever you choose to use, these basic tips will help you get going…

  • A good social media dashboard will allow you to post simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook (business pages and personal profiles), LinkedIn (including business pages), Google+ and Instagram. Hootsuite does.
    .
  • Think about your wording before you share everywhere – what’s snappy on Twitter may be unprofessional for LinkedIn or not explanatory enough for Facebook.
    .
  • Allow yourself time to plan your content. On Hootsuite you can schedule a couple of hundred messages over the next few weeks; make yourself a coffee and spend time at the start creating a CSV spreadsheet, then update it regularly – and relatively quickly – to provide fresh content.
    .
  • Plan your timing; if you’re trying to attract clients from abroad, make sure your posts are going out in their working hours rather than yours.
    .
  • Your social feeds should include a mix of images, text, soft sales content that links back to your website, video – if you produce any, and topical news that’s relevant to your business and will interest your audience. Keep the salesy stuff to a minimum – aim to inform and educate rather than constantly bombarding people with a hard sell.
    .
  • You can repeat tweets on different days and at varying times, but I advise against repeating identical content on LinkedIn or Facebook. You can, however, refresh and re-use old content. It’s a good idea to make it relevant to something that’s going on in the news now.
    .
  • Review your social activity to see which posts people like the most, and schedule more of those. Hootsuite’s analytics are very clear and user-friendly.
    .
  • Don’t rely on pre-planned, scheduled posts; deliver a good mix of current and industry news too.
    .
  • Even if you’re scheduling in advance, stay engaged regularly in order to reply to other people’s queries or comments, and thank them for retweeting. And remember that all platforms are social – even LinkedIn – so retweet, like, share and comment on other people’s news too!

I’m here if you have any queries or need help to plan your social media. Happy scheduling!

My three favourite tools to boost your social media

Five days into the new year and it hardly seems new any more; everyone’s immersed back into work mode.  Yet, as always, it thrusts itself upon us, sprinkling around its confetti-like multitude of good intentions and promises to do better. Well, confetti is pretty when it’s chucked randomly in the air but leaves a terrible, unfocused mess… Likewise, resolutions seem marvellous and full of hope when we formulate them, but actually transferring them to reality and getting things done is a different story.

These are a few of my favourite things...If one of your business resolutions is to up your game on the social media front, here are three of my favourite tools to help you on your way. They’ll give you a kick-start to achieving your goal in a smooth and easy-to-maintain way. In each case, there’s a free version as well as a paid option that gives you more features.

Hootsuite
This ‘social media dashboard’ allows you to post information quickly and easily to various social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can schedule posts in advance, include graphics and get your social presence well organised and streamlined. www.hootsuite.com

Canva
Canva’s brilliant graphic-editing facility lets you create attractive posts for your various social media image needs. Options include correctly-sized headers and cover pics, presentations, ebook and CD covers and beautiful brochures. www.canva.com

Mailchimp
This popular email marketing service puts you in control of your mailshots. You can send professionally branded newsletters to keep in touch with your whole community, or you can select target groups within your contact list to approach for different reasons. It also provides detailed statistics to show who read your mail. (So I’ll know you did, thank you!) www.mailchimp.com

I hope you’ll find these links useful!

If you’re committed to being better at social media marketing but don’t have the time to do it yourself, let’s chat about ways in which I can help you. You’re welcome to call me on 07875 059540 or email me at info@imaginativetraining.com.

Wishing you a happy, successful and prosperous 2018 – the best year yet!

Gatsby, Annie and dancing over Instagram

I’ve developed an unprecedented craving for pickled cucumber. No, before you ask, I’m not pregnant.  Although the time clock is ticking on that one. If I wanted another baby I’d better get a move on. I don’t though – a phrase that various members of my family will be relieved to read. It’s enough taking care of Charlie who, at the time of writing, is giving me the gift of a pigeon – delivered one feather at a time through his high-tech cat flap.  Anyway, I have two wonderful sons who will probably make me a grandmother one day soon. Aargh!! Quick!! Turn back the clock!

22290666_10155807902531255_1616715340_oTime definitely turned back this week when I took a couple of lovely teenage girls to Gatsby’s Drugstore in Borough for an immersive evening of interactive theatre. Gatsby, Daisy and Myrtle acted out their sorry story to an audience that learned to Charleston – a dance that’s close to my heart, as my grandparents were world champions!! If only they’d had Facebook and Instagram back then! They were very photogenic anyway, so with a few heel twists and swings the social media activity would have been through the roof.

aaaaaaaaaaaaTime also stood still at a performance of Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre on Thursday. Annie is the first west end show I remember seeing, aged about ten. My newly- found cousins Harry and Dorothy visited from Florida and took us for a treat. I’ve written about Harry before in this blog – he was an incredible man who led the army in to liberate Auschwitz. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. That knowledge came much later, when Adey donated the war correspondence his wife had saved, to the Washington Holocaust Museum. That theatre trip was with my dance champion grandparents too! I have one special photo from around that time; it sits on the bookcase overlooking my desk where Charlie likes to lie as I work.

22154353_10155272772033423_3738147764438839508_nOn the other side of the family, crazy cute Stephen appeared via Facebook five years ago. He’s here for a visit now, and we braved the forecast gales on Sunday to admire the cityscape from the Sky Garden. London is phenomenal from the sky, and 35 floors up you get a fabulous view of the eclectic mix of architecture and the sheer scale of the best city in the world. We’re taking time out to visit another of my favourites this week: Paris. No doubt we’ll be tweeting!

This may be twee, but I don’t know any Charleston song lyrics and it’s too early for anything Parisian. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow; bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun. Just thinking about tomorrow scares away the cobwebs and the sorrow ’til there’s none.” Hopefully the sun will be shining right across Europe this week! So, you’ll find me for the rest of this week either back at ground level in London or hanging over the Eiffel Tower in France. Or here, as usual: @WeekendWitch.

Tradition, looking up and Morgan vs Farage: an editor’s delight

I’m writing this blog at the National Gallery, one of my favourite London haunts. Aside from the fabulous collection of artworks, obviously – including my number one painting – the actual building is an architectural delight with beautifully mosaic floors and splendid arched and domed ceilings that I’m sure many people miss because we don’t look up enough. Also, the café is very lovely with an array of cakes immediately as you enter, always a winner as far as I’m concerned. The wifi’s good too, and the leather couches situated all along the galleries are comfortable and perfect for sitting, gazing, people-watching, reading, tweeting or blogging! One man nearby is asleep. He has earphones in but his mouth is drooped open. He’s not dribbling, fortunately.

16443476_10154998990331255_1731324406_n (1)I came here for a meeting, then spent a bit of time wandering around until I settled in this nice spot. It’s a wonderful gallery – but then so is the much smaller, teeny little gallery where I’ll be exhibiting my latest poem from Thursday (until the 19th).  I’d love to exhibit somewhere like this, of course, but the Mile End Art Pavilion is equally as exciting. And I’m making the cakes on Thursday – which I’m sharing for free if you’re able to pop along.

traditions-poster-3_orig (1)They’re traditional Jewish honey cakes, in line with the nature of the exhibition – which is called Traditions – and my poetry, which is about traditional Jewish food.  Ironic really, as I’m not kosher and bacon and prawns form the backbone of my diet.  No, that’s not quite true – chocolate does that, so maybe bacon is a rib – if you see where I’m going with this train of thought.

Anyway, it’s always an honour to be included with this illustrious group of artists and the show will be fantastic, so please do come along if you’re free on Feb 2nd, between 6.30 and 8.30pm. (Here’s my poem if you’d prefer to read it online, without the cake.)

Keeping with this traditions theme, I visited the Jewish museum for the first time this week.  It’s a remarkable place in the heart of Camden, tracing Jewish history in the UK from 1066 to present day. I thought I knew a fair bit about the religion, but I picked up some interesting facts, quirky trivia and a few disturbing revelations that reflect a notable parallel to today’s immigration issues.  Being a light-hearted blog I won’t discuss them here but, if you’re in London with a couple of hours to spare, the museum is definitely worth a visit. And if you’re wondering what the parallels might be, here’s a clue…

On Friday night, Gill and I went to the TV studios on Southbank to watch Piers Morgan (who we like) interview Nigel Farage (who we don’t). It was a hell of an interview. It went an hour overtime – giving three hours of solid chat-time for a 42-minute show. The meaty topics didn’t begin until almost two hours had passed, and we believe it was to ensure ITV had enough material to make a programme if Mr F got uppity and walked out when the questions began that he refused to answer. Philip and Hayley think that’s nonsense; for one thing, whatever his views and politics, he is a professional and wouldn’t have an on-air tantrum – and for another, the producer probably planned it that way.  Whatever, it’s going to be very interesting to see how they edit the show, which is being broadcast within the next three weeks.

The interview covered a lot of personal stuff – outweighing political discussion 2:1 and showing the more human side of the man.  I felt sympathy at times with regard to personal trauma and health issues, and I respect his determination to keep his family clear of politics and paparazzi; but my overall opinion didn’t change.  One thing impressed me though – he knows the difference between less and fewer!

As the interview overran we had no time for dinner before heading home.  Feeling hungry often makes me think of this song – it used to be one of my favourite love songs, in a weird kind of way. It’s amusing, although you can’t tell that from the lyrics I’ve chosen. Watch the video on Pinterest for a greater insight into the Jewish tradition of food and dating! “Four in the morning. (What’ll you have?) Well, I’m in the mood for a corned beef on rye. With a tomato and some coleslaw on the side.” See, nothing romantic there but it’s Dean Friedman at his best.

Tweeting about dinner isn’t a great business move unless you’re an eaterie or food critic.  If you’d like advice on what’s appropriate and effective to tweet for your own business, give me a call on 020 8551 7077. Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Landmarks, cocktails and hidden Parisian pleasure

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingGill and I like to hop around Europe every October to mark the end of sunny summer, the start of a crisp autumn, and our birthdays. This year, we chose the close proximity of Paris for our mini holiday – the aforementioned hop, plus a skip and a jump, a quick ride on Eurostar and there we were, in the city of love, culture and impressionist art.

If either Philip or Alison are reading this blog, stop now! You don’t need to know what follows…

Having spent the first evening dining in Saint Germain, the quintessentially Parisian quarter close to our hotel on Rive Gauche, we popped in to a gorgeous patisserie and chocolatier to pick up some gifts. Each having friends who love salted caramel, we bought some of the gooey stuff, beautifully presented in glass gift jars with tiny silver spoons. A couple of enormous gift bags later, satisfied with our culinary purchases, we had the sparkling idea of climbing to the top of the Eiffle Tower for a midnight hot chocolate while the on-the-hour lights glittered around us.

Throughout Paris, security is comfortingly visible. Gendarmes parade the streets with their Ruger (not so) Mini rifles clearly at the ready, and every public building requires an airport-style security check. I’ve been stopped at the airport before when an underwired bra has made a spectacle of itself, but entering a tourist attraction is generally unremarkable.  Not this time though.

“Qu’est-ce que c’est?” enquired the bemused security guard holding up the little jars, obviously hoping for the final hour of her night shift to pass without complication.

“Salted caramel sauce, obviously…”

“Hmmmmmm. Non.”

Despite our protestations, the sticky caramel intended for ice cream embellishment was a horrible security threat to the French capital, and there was no way we were being allowed onto the landmark with the scary sauces.  So what to do? We’d travelled there by taxi, it was close to midnight and we really wanted to go up.  I’m not sure now whose idea it was to hide the caramel, but that’s what we decided to do.

Laughingly, we bypassed the many street traders hawking their neon-flashing wares and walked to the darkness of some nearby bushes, growing inconspicuously between street lamps and men with ‘best price selfie-sticks.’ Glancing around to see if we were being watched, we chucked the small jars under a bush and hoped for the best.  Would they still be there when we returned? (We certainly didn’t share that information on Facebook.)

The Tower is amazing at night, with spectacular views across the city. And when we descended an hour later, we found, to our surprise and intense pleasure…. The two jars still lying beneath the bush. Not sure whether any tramps had peed on them, or drug dealers injected them with any sort of illegal substances, but we took the chance that they hadn’t and chose to ignore all possibilities of salted caramel sabotage. Nice gifts, eh?!

The holiday was wonderful, with lots of lovely French cuisine, hot chocolate, cocktails that I think cost more than Eurostar, open top bus rides, a scenic cruise, three art galleries, three churches (where I lit candles for little Joey – and thank you to everyone who sent condolences; very much appreciated). We also managed to visit all the major tourist attractions plus a couple of beautiful lesser-known ones.

Now it’s back to work in still-sunny (at the time of writing!) Angleterre, creating client blogs, ensuring people’s social media accounts are well managed and pumpkin carving.

The only French song I can think of right now is the possibly-inappropriate Lady Marmalade… Oh, oh – as I typed that another tune popped into my head!! “Flash is fast, flash is cool, Francois sais pas, Flashe no deux.” Okay, maybe that’s pushing it a bit, but I’m still in holiday mode.

Enjoy your Halloween week! And don’t forget I’m always happy to retweet your scary pics: @WeekendWitch.

Meeting my Twitter friend, sailing the high seas and losing a musical hero

I first ‘met’ Jo in 2011, through Twitter. Although I’d had the training business for many years I’d only recently branched into social media and was keen to follow some leaders in the field. Having recently moved to France and set up a similar social media management company, Jo was a couple of months ahead of me. She seemed to be doing similar projects, tweeting similar stuff and had a similar work ethos to me, so we connected and shared info online.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingAfter a while we became friends on Facebook, sharing more personal stuff than on Twitter – and on LinkedIn, where it tends to stay work-related. Then when Jo expanded into ebook formatting, she created my ebook (and will be doing another three for me this year). But, as is often the case with social media, we hadn’t connected in the real world. Until now.

With the Biz Matters event taking place in London, Jo popped over for a couple of days – and at last we met! In the sumptuous surrounding of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel we enjoyed a lavish breakfast before she caught the Eurostar back to Paris for her trip home to the lovely French countryside, where her two dogs and cat were keeping her laptop warm. It was brilliant!!

I missed Biz Matters. The London Boat Show was calling instead – this was a first!! Being a Scorpio it’s normal that I have an affinity with water. I drink three litres a day, wander along the beach in all extremes of weather and love nothing better than lazing on the bank of a meandering river writing poetry and watching the boats (and swans) sail by. Yet I’ve never had an urge to sail, until now. It’s funny how someone else’s passion can rub off on you, and a trip to the Channel Islands handling our own rudder and boom is now on the agenda for this year. (Actually there are some things I love more than the riverbank…)

With feet firmly back on terra firma, Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingyesterday’s afternoon tea at The Langham was both elegant and delicious. High Tea in the Palm Court consists of not just the usual melt-in-your-mouth scones with clotted cream and jam, to-die-for sandwich and broche selection and dainty, artwork cakes and pastries… it includes a rather large course in the middle – mine was a flaky tart (such as I have once or twice been described myself!) filled with spinach and mushroom in a creamy sauce, a poached egg balanced atop with a certain degree of flair.

One of the marks of a truly classy eaterie is its policy to offer more and more food and, in this, The Langham excels. The waiters constantly proffered more, filling my stomach to the point where I expected a Violet Beauregarde incident, somewhat like I had witnessed at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory last week at the Theatre Royal.

Travelling home on the underground from The Langham I read an outstanding article in The Sunday Times written by Mary Finnigan, one-time landlady and lover of David Bowie. She’s published her memoirs, and I said at the time that I would be buying that today. Waking up to the shattering news that one of my all-time music heroes has left this earth has upset me tremendously, and my Facebook feed was filled with shock and sadness at his untimely exit. The show may be over, but Bowie’s legacy will outlive us all.

“I, I wish you could swim like the dolphins, like dolphins can swim. Though nothing, nothing will keep us together… we can beat them, for ever and ever.” Goodnight Starman, sleep well. X

 

Setting goals, being kind & harmonising the middle east (with brunch)

Two statements currently run hand-in-hand: happy new year – and have you made any resolutions?  Well, I wish you a new year that’s happy, healthy, prosperous and successful – and not just for January either, but for the whole twelve months.

I’m not asking about your resolutions.  After all, aren’t they just a humorous means of reminding ourselves and our friends of previous shortcomings?  On new year’s day I could have told you with absolute certainty that I would be opening my mail every day, remembering to take my vitamins and cutting back on the chocolate overload.  In less than a week I can’t quite quote those determined statements with an absolute degree of honesty, nor would I want to.  I know my chocolate willpower’s not stable enough to make it a thing, and I refuse to set myself up to fail.

Business, on the other hand, certainly does benefit from a written list of resolutions.  And I say written, as it’s well proven that the goals we set in writing are far more achievable than those we say, however true we intend to be to our convictions.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingSo, have you set your intentions for this year?  Are your business goals (and life ones for that matter) realistic?  Is it reasonable to believe you can achieve them during 2016?  Have you set end dates for each task you wish to complete?  Silly to say, perhaps, but isn’t a goal without a date just a dream?  Qualify your aims into long- and short-term timescales, keep them specific and set time limits.  I’m happy to help if you’re finding it hard to focus.

As expected, my lead up to new year involved a lot of lovely food.  One brunch worth mentioning was at the trendy new branch of Ottolenghi in Spitalfields – and not simply for the delicious food.  Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner Sami Tamimi shared their childhoods in Jerusalem, and create works of ‘edible anthropology’ using recipes from both Palestinian and Jewish cultures.   These talented chefs represent the two halves of Jerusalem, one raised in the west by Jewish parents; the other born and bred on the east side, living within a large Arab family.  Both grew up amidst good home cooking and brought their love of excellent food and creative recipes to London.

What a fantastic example of two waring cultures joining together in harmony for the hedonistic pleasure of feeding the discerning public.  Food unifies, it provides nourishment and makes people happy.  If only Ottolenghi and Tamimi could transfer the philosophy of their business model into a political manifesto, the world might become a better place.

At the opposite end of the London food scene, my friend Andrew spent nine days feeding homeless people at Crisis.  A hot meal, a warm bed, a safe and secure environment to spend the holiday season – luxuries that most of us take for granted.   Let’s hope that 2016 is a safer, kinder place for everyone. Live happily, fulfil your potential and achieve your dreams.

Ralph McTell wrote these words over 40 years ago.  While everything’s changed, in some respects nothing’s changed.  ‘How can you tell me you’re lonely, and say for you that the sun don’t shine?  Well let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London; I’ll show you something to make you change your mind.’

I spend an awful lot of time in London and love love love its dynamic, cosmopolitan atmosphere and eclectic mix of architecture, galleries, walks and restaurants.  There’s too much that’s fantastic to end the first blog of the year pondering Ralph McTell’s sadly enduring words.  But let’s not forget them, and – hopefully – 2016 will be kind to everyone.

‘People so busy, makes me feel dizzy, taxi light shines so bright.  But I don’t need no friends… As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset I am in paradise.’  We all need friends – make yours here.  Or here: @WeekendWitch.

Fashion week, reminiscing with Jeff Banks and being in the spotlight

It was so hot at the Graduate Fashion Week in every sense of the word.  It was especially hot sitting at the front of the catwalk!  While the spotlights were trained on the models and Gok Wan, they managed to encompass us too.  Luckily our goody bags included a bottle of cold chocolate milk; unluckily (for those sitting around us) I cooled down by taking off my dress… Aubergine silk is far too warm against skin under the glare of the super-troupers.

It was an awesome show with fashion graduates from around the country presenting their capsule collections in the hope of securing a £10,000 prize and – better still – a plum job in the fashion industry.  I love being there! The energy level is so high and the students’ excitement rubs off on everyone.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe champagne is always flowing in the VIP suite, but this year was the added bonus of a delicious looking buffet.  It was so nice I tweeted it. Being the first person to greedily help myself to a plate of perfectly pink, cold roast lamb and a beautiful pale green salad of avocado, asparagus, peas and edamame, I thought it polite to take a restrained portion initially then creep back for seconds after other people had eaten.  Only that didn’t happen.

Within seconds of sitting back down, two official and very cross looking waitresses marched in with a large trolley and methodically removed the platters with lightning speed.  As they prepared to march back out, one reported into her walkie-talkie, “This buffet was taken to the VIP suite by mistake instead of to the judges’ room.  We’re on our way!!”  And off they scooted, glaring at my half-filled plate with unbridled annoyance.  It was like Stringfellows all over again – only this time I didn’t put the food back.  (Didn’t tweet that!)

I had the good fortune to bump into fashion designer Jeff Banks, whose clothes graced my wardrobe throughout the eighties.  There was a branch of Warehouse at Oxford Circus that I had to pass to get to the station, and the knitwear collection had a habit of calling me in.  In the nineties he worked with my mum, creating the Thomas Burberry collection.  Marion remembers him sending my mum a huge bouquet but I’d forgotten that.  He remembered though!

Congratulations to all the Graduate Fashion Week participants, finalists and, of course, the winners – especially the winner of the George Gold Prize!  That talented lady, Hannah Wallace, wins a nice wad of cash and will have her collection on sale later this year in Asda.  (Thank you Mark, for the invitation.  (See, I can spell your name right!))

Another talented lady who deserves a mention this week is Oli’s friend Rebekah Miron Clayton.  An emerging scriptwriter and poet, Rebekah’s work has been selected by a panel including Quentin Blake to be published in The Mays Anthology 2015!  It’s a huge achievement for a university student with a packed timetable, especially during exam season!

Agnetha said, “I was sick and tired of everything when I called you last night from Glasgow.  All I do is eat and sleep and sing, wishing every show was the last show.” I sometimes feel like that’s all I do too, but replace eat with work for a more accurate scenario, and make it ‘sing badly’ for complete authenticity.  And I always crave the next show.  (So nothing like that at all, really…)

I have no plans to visit Glasgow but I’ll be working in Edinburgh this week, then staying with Marion in the beautiful Scottish Borders.  If you’re north of Hadrian’s Wall you might see me there.  Or, as always, you can see me here: @WeekendWitch.

Three awards, a pool party and strawberry daiquiris in the purple rain

One of the best things about my job is sharing in celebrations with happy clients!  So Thursday night’s award ceremony for Nordens was quite amazing.  Where most accountants are still stereotyped as boring number-crunchers with grey suits and sensible shoes, the team at Nordens are such fun.  It’s a dynamic firm with a bunch of funny, brilliant people who thoroughly deserve their accolades.

I wrote three award nominations for the company and they waltzed off with… three awards!!  When the first was announced – training firm of the year – Sharon, the practice manager, scooped me up and took me on stage with the team to collect the trophy.  It was tempting to sing; we have karaoked together in the past and our history of Billy, don’t be a hero predates our working relationship!  (Yes, yes, I know karaoke is not a verb, but it should be!)

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThe company has been highly commended repeatedly, and Joe – a very cute accountant – added yet another winner’s trophy to his collection for outstanding young accountant of the year.  (No, I’m not on commission…)  I spent a lot of the evening posting on Facebook and tweeting – that’s what social media’s there for, right?!

We carried on celebrating at the weekend with a fantastic pool party.  Pleased to say I didn’t fall in, even when dancing pretty close to the edge.  Again, no karaoke (to everyone’s relief) but lots of singing along with the band.  It had been a long time since I’d drunk strawberry daiquiris so I was very excited to see the barman whizzing up a pink mush in his blender.  The glass was freezing; quite different to my first one, which I still remember clearly…

I was 15 then, and staying with cousins in Florida.  They ordered my first daiquiri, then my second – and maybe a third, I can’t remember all the details.  But several (!!) years later it remains a drink that brings back precious memories. (Although I’m sure it was creamier back then?)

I haven’t seen those cousins for a while, but the crazy Vegas boy has been in London for a flying visit.  (The cousin I met on facebook.)  We spent the day in Cambridge, eating pasties and clotted cream (not together), finding spooky artworks and wandering through the filtered sunshine.  Surprisingly, he avoided splashing into the water on Saturday night.  He left before I started dancing too, taking his Hawaiian garland and English accent back to America.  (Bye bye Stephen, see you in November!)

The band finished their set with a song that holds lots of memories too (not of underage drinking): “I only wanted one time to see you laughing.  I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain.”  Laugh, celebrate, have fun, win things.  Then tell people about it on social media! If you need help with any of this, give me a call.  Or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.