45 - Talking to... Baker and Bell

Thursday, September 26, 2013





The (reasonable) camping season is coming to a close for this year sadly. As I'm already daydreaming of next years adventures and creating a wish list the length of my arm of camping gear for our adventures, I want to kick off my new series "Talking to..." with Andrea Stannah of Baker and Bell, a one stop shop for boutique camping.

About business...
What did life look like before your business and what inspired you to take the leap into being an entrepreneur?
Formerly in web development, I had always wanted to start my own web based business having helped lots of clients to do the same. Also, as mother of 3 young children I needed to find something that I could fit around them and do from home.

Describe your future vision...
Future plans include launching my own range of stylish camping kit starting with enamelware which can be sold as a brand through other retailers. I am also planning on repositioning the brand to cover stylish outdoor goods and gifts in general to make it less seasonal so will be adding sections such as sailing, skiing and other outdoor activities

Your glory moment...
Originally storing stock in our box room and a storage facility and posting out orders myself I realised within a matter of weeks that the number of orders had far exceeded my expectations and I was going to have to quickly outsource order processing to a great fulfillment company. After a few teething problems and ironing out processes it was a huge relief to have this part of the business taken care of.

Words of wisdom or advice to entrepreneurs starting out on a new business venture...
Outsource the things that you can't do well or don't like doing - it's often quicker and cheaper to pay an expert than use more of your precious and valuable time.

A couple of last questions...
Favourite camping product and why...
My lovely large vintage enamel teapot. It's always great on those chilly early mornings being able to provide tea to the whole camp.

Advice to family campers venturing out for the first time...
If you can, have a practice putting up your tent in the garden before you go so you can get it done more quickly on arrival. Take snacks and activities for the kids to keep them busy while you set up camp and it's also a great idea to prepare at home and take along first night dinner such as a stew that can be quickly warmed up and served.

Thanks again to Andrea. If you like what you see above then you should head over to Baker and Bell.

44 - North Wales Roundup

Monday, September 23, 2013

Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - The Beach
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Sailing Adventures
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Enchanted Tree
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Tram
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Natural Terrarium
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Moments of Discovery
Alfies Studio - North Wales Roundup - Hills, mountains, sea

A few final images from our North Wales trip in the summer.

The beach.
Sailing adventures.
An enchanted tree.
A tram to town.
Natural stone terrariums found on a ramble.
Moments of discovery.
Hills, mountains, sea.

43 - Growing The Sorting Office

Hello there. Again its been a while since my last post. I'm trying something new you see. I realised that I am in charge. I've forgotten that a lot over the past couple of years (when I've been up til 2am for a self imposed personal project deadline and up again at 7 with the small ones) but I keep reminding myself now that I set the pace and its no longer a race. I'm spending time enjoying the journey of what I'm trying to do rather than race on to the destination and miss the scenery on the way. I'll be posting a roundup of the summer holiday trip rather than a few more posts as its September now and that was July (if only August hadn't been spent being poorly mostly...). First I want to tell you about something I've been working on.

For a while I've been wanting to better my blog. Make it more interesting and serve a little more as a resource and wider reading rather than a retrospective. I'm battling the time demons so I'm still not promising to post every day as I'm starting to realise that rather than getting easier when the boy started school, theres actually more work to be done. At the age of 4 he's already bringing homework back and reading as well as the rounds of play dates and birthdays starting a fresh. I digress... However, I have come up with a couple of labels/categories and already have a couple of posts written and ready to go!

Talking to...  - Other entrepreneurs mostly but lets see shall we?
Take a look  - This is where my jaw drops at something and then I share it with you.
Soul Matters  - Kind words. We all need them sometimes, even if they are from a stranger. Bring an open heart and mind for some occasional philosophical discussion too.
Kiddos - Their world and everything in it.
Word - What it says on the tin. Sharing origins and oddities of the written language.
Real Life - Because sometimes its good to share a bad day and help others realise, that in this blogosphere of perfection and crafted imagery sometimes things are actually a bit crap. Literally when you have kids - a nappy with an exploda-poo that is still exiting your babies bottom, both feet are kicking in it and you have no free hands that aren't already covered and guess what - you're out of wipes. Yes. I've been there. If it helps you to know, then I don't mind sharing.
Wear - Honestly, I don't prioritise what I look like on the school run in the mornings as much as I'd like to. Whilst I'm working late in to the evenings (nights) I'm pretty lax about getting up early enough to pretty up. Have I lost my sense of style? No way, I just defer the time to execute it to extra time in bed.
Make - If you are itching to get started on something to make head on over to my Makes board on Pinterest. I'll be posting my own attempts at some of those projects as well as some new ideas here.

Sound good? Stay tuned.

42 - Conwy Castle / Catch-up

Monday, September 02, 2013





We visited Conwy Castle on our second day of holiday. It is both vast and perfectly placed and in many ways, quite humbling. The second image is taken from high up in the castle, what a beautiful vista to look out on.

I've been a bit lax lately on catching up on blog posts. Truth be told I've been a bit lax on lots of things business/work-life side and have enjoyed time out and spending summer holidays with my family.

Since Dominic turned up I've juggled babies and pregnancy and work to the point of finishing invites the week before having a baby in one case and having my foot bouncing a baby in a rocker whilst I'm working at my computer amongst others. I've been having a bit of a re-jig lately and am not too sure what my new life and business formula will look like as yet (we are looking at the feasibility of throwing it all in to run an eco indie camp site / venue and outdoors learning centre) but I'm enjoying the flexibility of both being my own boss (being able to take time out as it suits to count my beans and collect what I have together to evaluate it) and having had the foresight to decide to lead a moderate life to be able to take time out. I miss foreign holidays and travelling and nipping out to buy a new pair of shoes or splurge on cd's, I miss eating out more frequently than we do now and the freedom of two sturdy incomes but this past six weeks I've been pretty happy about making do with what we have and having a whole lot of family time and freedom. I've stopped trying to both have and do it all and where life is by no means perfect or without stress, it certainly feels good to not be trying so hard to live a double (sometimes triple) life all the time.

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