Half term…

 

UAWBE3754

As the rain continues to sluice down my study window, I can’t help but be distracted from my work by guiltily peeking at Rightmove’s properties in the sun. I know that I’ve recently returned from India, but honestly, the weather this winter has been enough to try the most stiff-upper-lipped of Brits. My heart goes out to all those who have had a perilous and soul-destroying time in the floods – we’ve only lost some fence, so I cannot begin to imagine the terror one must feel watching helplessly as one’s home is consumed by floodwater.

This half term then, after a delivery of logs and a welcome week off work, my boys and I, after very wet dog walks, have mostly been cosied up indoors next to the Aga or the wood-burner. We have only ventured out for the essential holiday appointments, hardly any wonder the dentist and optician are chock a block at these times; otherwise I have cooked, caught up on all the latest with our children and snuggled up. I treated our youngest to a day at Lucknam Park -and we sat in the hot tub in the rain, lounged around in dressing gowns, swam by fire light and enjoyed the simple joy of piled high plates of delicious cakes of a (somewhat later) afternoon tea.

My 17-year-old son, on the other hand took me to see the musical Six at Bath’s Theatre Royal (a belated birthday present to me). I’m not sure what either of us was expecting – it’s most certainly an empowering tale of Henry’s six wives letting us know that there was a darned sight more to them than being mentioned in that Divorced, Beheaded, Died mnemonic. The songs were fantastic – each wife singing in a style of a certain popstar. The songs were witty and contemporarily relevant (you must go) and it’s hard to believe that the writers were no more than children when they wrote it at university – I know this because my Goddaughter was there with them. It’s now a sell out on Broadway too. Wow. None of this had any truck with my son, who found the queens in their fishnets and dayglo ruffs rather too provocative.

“I thought that I was in a strip club. They were barely dressed. All that twerking”.

I could have asked him when he was last in a strip club – but I don’t think that would have gone down very well. I think he secretly enjoyed it. Going to see Dolittle with my youngest and his friend the following day was far less controversial!

Just before I went on leave, we were delighted that our newest scent No 25 had gone live on the website. This scent is one that I created last summer for my 25th wedding anniversary. We made a few as a limited edition for Bath Christmas Market and we sold out within the first week. It’s our Baies (pronounced ‘Bay’ berries in French) – sophisticated, warm and one of my favourites to date, grapefruit and blackcurrant on woods. The scent throw is incredible, a 20cl candle fills the whole downstairs of house with scent, everyone comments on it. You can find it here http://www.limelightlimited.com

Hopefully you can find a candle with a scent to compliment your mood. Something perky and Spring-like to remind you that March is only days away – perhaps an all-time classic like our No 1 – lime, basil and mandarin or a zesty No 7, wild mint and lime? Let’s be honest, anything that can help to transcend you from the current forecast. If, like me, you too struggle with the unremitting grey of a British winter, look outside now. I love to see the daffodils blooming in the garden, it’s almost as if they are giving the horticultural finger to the elements and are determined to flourish regardless! Nonetheless, I am today, more than happy to curl up next to the fire, my boys close by, my dogs even closer, No. 25 wafting over us, whilst Rightmove compels me to pour over elaborate and fantastical properties basking in winter sunshine. Nothing like a delicious daydream to gladden an otherwise dampened spirit.

Cathyx

 

 

 

Namaste…

5D4EE482-CB1D-4E9D-9886-D29D117CB970

The new decade started as I hope it will continue -with a lot less stress and darned sight more Namaste. Far from linking hands in a rowdy pub, singing Auld Lang Syne and wiping eager, unwanted kisses from strangers at midnight, on New Years’ Eve this year, I was tucked up in bed. In Kerala.

It has been almost two years since I booked myself onto an Ayurvedic/yoga retreat, and boy, was it evident. The busyness of the Christmas candle season, the season to be jolly and my life in general, had undoubtedly, taken its toll. I needed an antidote and India was just the ticket. The husband was more than happy to let me go, holding the fort on the domestic front, whilst Jean kept the business cogs well-oiled and turning smoothly.

Having worked without a break for several months, I was on a mission to get back my mojo. For those of you that know me will know I subscribe to the Ayurvedic approach. No sooner had I dropped my bags and sipped from my first fresh coconut, than I had my consultation to work out what would be most uniquely beneficial for me. First up was a very strict treatment plan to detoxify and cleanse the system (Panchakarma). For the uninitiated, this involves taking disgusting medicated ghee every day whilst a very strict diet is followed. Activity, other than morning yoga/meditation is kept to a minimum so the days stretched out with two hours of Ayurvedic treatments each afternoon. After a week of steamed vegetables, I was then given some medication to cleanse the system. I later discovered from the apocryphal stories of people who had done it before was that this was known as ‘The Purge’.

For the most unsavoury of reasons, the less said about the purge the better but, having done it, I felt fantastic and had lost an unbelievable, 4 kilos. After the purge, normal activity can recommence and finally, I could swim in the sea and wallow in the pool, BUT, the next part of the Ayuervedic treatment process takes place. This is dependent on your health issues or concerns – for me it was about  rejuvenation so a rigid treatment plan was put in place and the next 7 days was spent going for it. And I treated it like a job. The results were worth it and even if I don’t look it, I feel several years younger – my innards most certainly do.

It wasn’t all austere and disciplined as I was travelling with a lovely Limelight customer and she and I were lucky to make some new friends. We had a fascinating weekend in Cochin, wandering, seeing the sights, dining at some lovely restaurants and messing about on boats in Alleppey, including the most luxuriously, amazing houseboat. The women I met, ranging in age from 32-80, were extraordinary and intrepid and had travelled on their own for treatment, I found them inspiring and I very much hope to see them again.

It was a good job that I returned home refreshed and rejuvenated as no sooner had I washed my smalls than I was invited to ski for a couple of days in France at the Royal Navy Ski Championships (the Husband is one of the sponsors). My newly found mojo did not disappoint and I just about kept up in one of the faster groups. In fact, I was one of a handful left skiing to the end, chasing the last lift!

It was all still gloriously Christmassy and the trees were still up in our hotel in Tignes le Lac. The French obviously do not strictly observe Twelfth Night and the superstition of bad luck if the decorations are up past that point; however, I have heard that the Queen doesn’t take her tree down in Sandringham until February so they are in good company.

Alas, now that I’m back in my domestic/business routine, yoga and skiing already seem out of grasp – I have a son who is learning to drive and who is driving us to and from school in the morning. Note, if you see a very yellow little car with ‘L plates ‘on the front, please be patient and don’t honk your horn – the mother in the passenger seat is trying very hard to remember what she learned in India and transcend the fear of a teenager learning to drive in rush hour. I am also getting ready for Spring Fair at NEC in Birmingham next week; it’s a first for us, so naturally I’m a little anxious that it is a success. Thankfully, I have a terrific team, so I’m very well supported.

All that is left to be said is to wish you all, my much-appreciated customers, a very happy New Year. If nothing else, I can help you make sure that 2020 is a fragrant one!

Cathy x

Twinkling…

pexels-photo-704219 xmas tree

Last week, for one last time, our cosy chalet dazzled and twinkled and then, blink, the fabulous Bath Christmas Market was over for another year. For the third year running, our customers returned to us and it was such a pleasure to see you again. It even got emotional when you told us you’d come back again to the market just to see us, in many cases driving very long distances. I’m always staggered at how indefatigable you are – no matter how ghastly and torrential the weather, still you come. One gentleman had come from Kent with a shopping list from his wife, but unfortunately, by the time he arrived at the chalet, the list had long gone – all he could remember that somewhere on it was written, ‘No.9’. Hopefully he wasn’t in too much trouble when he got home!

We couldn’t even offer him, our new, special edition candle as it proved so popular that we sold out completely within days and, we have had e-mail requests for more already! They have been made and will be ready very soon and before you think that we have been kicking back and relaxing after the vigours of 18 days on the trot, let me tell you that I have yet to relax in my PJs, have a duvet day nor a blow dry and my nails done – mores the pity as the latter two are very much needed. Indeed, we were straight back to the wax face this week working on getting out hundreds of candles and diffusers for two of our bespoke brands, boxing and packing and getting these on pallets and out before Christmas. It’s been a herculean effort.

Nonetheless, we have made sure that we’ve taken time out to enjoy the Bath Artisan Market Christmas Party this week – a lovely low-key affair (thank God given my frizzy hair and navvy like hands). We are so lucky to have such a talented wonderful market team and creatives, many of whom have become friends. It all began at Bath Artisan  in September 2016, just over three years ago and I’ll always be grateful for the support and encouragement I had and continue to receive (you know who you are) thank you all so much.

Hopefully, my own preparations for our family Christmas at home will soon start to take shape. One enormous twelve foot tree is now up in our kitchen, but the rest of the house has yet to be ‘trimmed’. Christmas shopping needs to done in earnest although some was done at Bath Christmas Market as we were happily situated directly opposite the exquisite Cashmere of Scotland chalet and so M and I were well catered for. The chaps kept us smiling– thank you guys – for the chocolate, the cashmere and the ‘bants’ (just don’t mention M’s special offers ever again).

On the subject of thank you – here goes, I have many people to give thanks for – Jean, for whom thank you doesn’t seem enough. She keeps everything going including me and despite some challenges keeps laughing. Megan for her wonderful help and loyal friendship – I couldn’t have done it without her either, and to Georgie, Tilda, Beth and Olly and last, but not least to the Husband and family for keeping the show (at home) on the road for the last two weeks. And, to my lovely mum for bringing in homemade soup or lunch almost every single day, what’s a girl to do without her mum? But most importantly, thank you all out there, our much-appreciated customers, for supporting us over the last three years  and without whom none of this would even be possible.

May the Christmas season be a scented one, full of love and happiness. Here’s to 2020 and all the adventures that lie therein.

With love,

Cathy x

 

 

Cramming…

 

erda-estremera-sxNt9g77PE0-unsplash (1)

This house in the last few weeks has been a crammer school for dogs. So infuriated have I been by the Dog trainer casting ever more haughty aspersions towards my puppy’s abilities to succeed and, much like the dyslexic child who sticks it to his doubters by getting straight As, Daphne and I have crammed and practised for hours upon end, resulting in top notch video footage, proving to the trainer that I had actually managed to get Daphne to walk on a lead and, compliantly come to the recall command. The video was unnecessary. Our last puppy training session last week was an unmitigated success.

Picture if you will, our trainer calling each puppy and their owner to come out to the front to show the group their dog’s heel command and then the recall. Off they trotted and performed brilliantly. When it was Daphne’s turn the trainer said,

“Well, there’s no point asking Daphne to do that because, let’s face it, she’ll head straight back to the chair” laughing so much at his joke, that he almost fell off his own chair. Given that this is exactly what has happened on the previous two weeks and combined with the fact that she hid behind my legs for the duration only to emerge to do a steaming No 2 on the floor of Lansdown Village Hall then, odds on he’d be right. But, hell hath no fury than a dachshund owner scorned. A red mist descended and I quickly leapt to my feet and suggested it was a bit soon to be writing off my dog and that although he may well be quite right, we were jolly well going to give it a go. And so, armed not only with determination but the very finest handmade, artisan, apple and black pudding Scotch egg from Bath Farmers Market, not only did Daphne follow me, walking beautifully beside me on her lead, but she came straightaway on the recall and did not divert back to the chair.

Cheering, was my friend, Mabel’s mum (Mabel is Daphne’s sister who has behaved impeccably throughout training, impressing everyone with her grasp of the down commend) as Daphne and I returned to our chair, victorious. The trainer was incredulous, even suggesting that this puppy was not Daphne but an imposter. How very dare he. I’ve met a few teachers like this in my time – another salutary reminder to never, ever to write anyone off.

Buoyed by the notion that if you give attention to the things you love that they will flourish, I felt it time to provide a similar devotion that I had lavished on a very small dog, onto my rather large second son. No, I did not start training him to do as he was told (that ship sailed years ago), instead, I took him with me to help me at Widcombe Christmas Market – and he was brilliant, a natural on the card machine and picked it all up very quickly. When there was a bit of a lull at lunchtime, he said he thought he might not be as approachable as me and might put people off, but sensing that he was well up to the task but just needed a little more confidence, I nipped off for a short break. When I returned he was surrounded by lovely customers and was regaling them with how lovely our house smells. (Errm he also told them he was very pleased that I had finally moved all the candle paraphernalia and stock from the house after two years). But to think, I hadn’t even had to bribe him with a posh, Scotch egg.

Widcombe market was the first Christmas market of the season and we had another Christmas market last weekend and it was lovely to see so many of our lovely retuning customers again, thank you so, so  much. Our new, room mist product proved popular and received a lot of love and positive feedback – we are only hoping that we have made enough! Also flying off the shelves are our new gift sets of a silk eye mask, bath oil and candle – I am so pleased that you love these as much as I do.

With a day to go until we open our little shed at Bath Christmas Markets, the final preparations are most definitely underway. After winning Best Dressed Chalet last year, the pressure is on to make the shed look even more gorgeous this year and we have a few new things planned. I very much appreciate the fact that some of you travel miles to come and see us and we love chatting to you and hope that you love our displays as much as we have loved creating them.

As is usual though my work/life balance is forever challenged by unexpected interruptions and, whilst we were putting the final touches to the sparkle and glitter to produce the perfect ambiance, our youngest son who, so pleased to have been asked to play rugby for the A team at his school, was injured in his first game on and is now sporting a huge new ankle boot and pair of crutches. I was the mother dashing to A&E with a hobbling son on one arm, a garland of Christmas lights on the other. No doubt, had he seen me, Daphne’s trainer would have muttered, “Typical” (eye roll)….

Cathy x

 

elBI+nInSHK6G1pjaTrnfg

Humiliation…

Cathy_Biggs_Personal_Brand_PS_84 (2)

Like a child picked to play the Archangel Gabriel in the school nativity and then struck dumb on the night, no matter how many times you’ve practised the line, “and lo, unto us a King is born”, so to our puppy has humiliated us. Resolute in her defiance, she refused point blank to cooperate, nay even engage in the training class. No amount of dog biscuit coercion could get Daphne to budge even a centimetre, and the recall “come” command that we have practised over and over just like mother and infant school archangel, i.e. which she always does perfectly for me when there’s no audience, she repudiated. Not even a homemade Scotch Egg could entice her. As the other angelic puppies were praised and patted as they left the village hall after a triumphant performance, Daphne and I slunk out and drove home in silence.

“Maybe it’s the clocks going back that’s sent her out of kilter”, suggested the Husband as I regaled him with the sorry tale.

“Gin?” he added, shaking a bottle of turquoise Mermaid Gin in front of my eyes. I looked at him askance and filled the kettle up instead. That extra, precious hour in bed was a god send for me as we’d been to a dinner party the night before but the clocks going back also heralds only one thing – the month of November. And with it, a rising tide of panic at the very long list of things that still need my urgent attention.

Preparations are however underway for our chalet at Bath Christmas Market – new units are being built as I write to showcase new products. Unfortunately, the shelves have had to be moved (they were 3mm out) and subsequently the dogs and I had to take cover in the study as the swear words were almost as loud as the noise the drill was making in the kitchen. On a more serene note, we have made more candles and diffusers than we have ever made before and we are also launching some new products at Bath Christmas Market.

Our long-awaited room mists for instance, will be making an appearance as will some gorgeous eye masks that we have had specially made for us to our design. If you haven’t used an eye mask before, you must–  made with 100 % pure ivory silk and they are so comfortable, soothing you straight to the land of nod and naturally anti-ageing -so NO MORE sleep lines.  For you silk connoisseurs, they are the finest 19 momme pure Mulberry silk and they also have a silk band so, NO MORE bed hair!! We have a very limited number of our first batch, a perfect pressie teamed with a bath oil and candle -so get there quick to avoid disappointed.

Talking of bed hair, I am getting to grips with the supersonic hair wrap from Dyson, a very kind gift from the Husband, and, like most initial attempts with new-fangled gadgets, my Dyson has made me look something like Bridget Jones when she got out of Hugh Grant’s sports car, and although practice is making slightly it less imperfect– there’s a way to go, so I will still have a hat at the ready at the Christmas market just in case of surprise visits from the Mayor or the BBC or even Hugh Grant for that matter. Praise be. But, before that Bonfire Night and birthdays. I’m glossing over Halloween as it is not my favourite celebration, all that plastic, non-recyclable orange coloured tat in the supermarkets makes my heart sink.  Reduce, recycle, reuse is part of our ethos –and I’m delighted we’ll be using some completely compostable and biodegradable packaging at Bath Christmas Market. Plus, our glasses can always be re-used or re-filled. One customer uses the glass from her candles as whisky tumblers for her husband.

“It’s the gift that keeps on giving”, she told me.

Back soon,

Cathy x

Shop now

Photo by Nick Cole 

 

Ch ch ch changes…

Cathy_Biggs_Personal_Brand_PS_57As I write it’s bucketing with rain outside, and blowing a gale and you have to dodge the conkers falling on your head as soon as you set foot outside onto the drive. This unsettled weather after the balmy summer feels abrupt and reflects my mood after the departure of the last of our puppies to go; not only that but with the children back at school and university, the house really is too quiet and I am in a sort of mourning.  My mood is not helped by the political shenanigans in Westminster, the demise of yet another company that is a household name and by the fact that my youngest, beloved son has become a teenager. I’m convinced that 13 was conceived to be an unlucky number from the experience of generations of parents’ who have watched their darling 12 year olds go to bed before their 13th birthdays only to transform overnight into a fully-fledged swaggering adolescent with all that that entails. Having been through it three times before, it’s made me want to run for the hills – but the weather is too tempestuous, so I’m taking refuge at my desk instead.

It’s cosy here. And although torrents of rain fall down the window pane, David Bowie and a small, delicately fragranced candle are soothing my soul and for company, I have two little dachshunds at my feet too who are resolutely refusing to step outside in this weather. Daphne is most unimpressed at the prospect of doing her ablutions in the torrential rain. The husband was not best pleased at my suggestion to erect a gazebo so that they can have a square of dry grass on which to squat their canine cheeks.

“They’re not the bloody royal corgis Cathy! They can cock their legs with the best of them”

“They’re girls”, I replied, spikily, “They have nothing with which to cock” and I handed the husband a large, golfing umbrella instead. I had to smile. He looked like Mr Carson from Downton Abbey out there, standing tall under the umbrella, two little dogs running around his legs – implacable under duress.

Regardless of the occasional downpour, Autumn remains one of my favourite seasons – cosy jumpers, darker evenings, drawing the curtains, cuddling under blankets, wood burner blazing and the gentle, welcoming, cosy candle light. Ok, so finding the sunny gap in the day and heading out with the dogs might be more of a challenge, but coming home soaked is the perfect excuse for an early hot bath and slipping into warmed up pyjamas.

In my study now, I’m writing lists of the things that I have to do over the next few weeks. I was hoping to do some fruit picking, soaking and pickling, ready for the winter festivities ahead – but, whilst I love the idea of being a domestic goddess, I may just fall short with the fruit thing as I haven’t even picked the apples in the garden yet, let alone the further afield foraging of blackberry bushes.

Besides, this seasonal shift means that candle season has definitely started – and we have been busy in the warehouse making No. 9 Pomander. The scent it gives off of orange, cloves and cinnamon is making us feel a little festive already and Pomander is definitely one of our favourites  – Jean calls it her happy scent and I agree, no winter weekend is complete without one. We have also been busy making some divine new candles and diffusers for UBIETY which will be launching very soon. Before the launch however,  I shall be giving a candle making masterclass at Whatley Manor on the 9th of October. The day starts at 10am with tea and coffee and includes my masterclass and a two course lunch and a glass of wine, coffee and a treat. I can’t wait to meet you burgeoning master candle makers!

Until then, I’m holed up in my study trying not agonise over the political uncertainty of this country, nor of the absolute certainty of my Kevin and Perry son. I’m trying to take succour in the words of Bowie who encourages me to “Turn and face the strange, ch-ch changes…”

Back soon,

Cathy x

Image by Nick Cole

Nessun dorma…

noah-silliman-vhInzGLpnyI-unsplash

There has been too little sleep here over the last 7 weeks – on the one hand great joy -the puppies arrival, our daughter is home, safe and sound from her year in Mexico, Guatemala and Columbia having had the most wonderful time and is at pains to keep me up to date with all her adventures chatting late into the night (i.e after 10pm!!) – but a tumour growing inside our second son’s right tibia was just about enough to finish me off. There has been much toing and froing between medical appointments, various X-rays, MRI and CT scans and trips to Oxford to see specialists. Eventually, an operation and the news, as Woody Allen once quipped, “The best three little words in the English Language? ‘It is benign’”. With indebted thanks to the medical team in Oxford, our son is now back in the gym, fit and well and in possession of a remarkable set of GCSE results – although exams and Sixth Form are inconsequential when pulling up outside the Sarcoma Centre. The whole horrendous experience is a sober reminder to stick to your guns when something doesn’t feel right and never to be fobbed off or put anything down to just ‘growing pains’ with adolescents, particularly if any pain is worse at night time or when resting. I have spent a long time since thinking of the young people that we met when on our appointments and sincerely hope that they had the same outcome as our son.

Given all we’ve been through, how fitting then that Nessun Dorma (No-one Sleeps) should be playing in the car as we returned from a trip to the vets after the puppies’ first immunisations. As if to remind me, at the end of the song, Lucy, one of the five, eight-week-old little dachshund puppies even gave a standing ovation in her crate in the car.

Dutchy, as I’ve written before, is a fantastic mum to all the girls, only momentarily forgetting them when her tennis ball appears. Daddy dachshund has been to visit his girls too and was a little bemused, he wasn’t quite sure what all the fuss was about and retired to his study after a bit, where he was quite at his leisure – it brought to mind Mr Bennett from Pride and Prejudice -especially as they are five sisters. We ought to call them Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Lydia and Kitty, but then it would be even harder to part with them and as it is, I am only allowed to keep one. I would love to call her Daffodil, but I’ve been outvoted in favour of Daphne – which Hubby has truncated in that Royal Navy fashion (some habits die hard) and so the little, dainty, exquisite thing is now referred to as Daffers.

One of my biggest concerns around having puppies was how Dutchy would feel when it is time for the other four to leave. Having done the research I am reasonably reassured that she will be OK – happily all are going to great homes and two are not going to be far away (Penny is going to my sister, Mabel is going to our youngest child’s great school friend whereas Lucy and Vivi are going together to Yorkshire to two friends).  Dutchy will still have Daffers to attend to and they will be coming to work with me, and she will regular contact with Mabel and Penny and, on high days and holidays, Lucy and Vivi. In meantime there’s always the Puppy Mummies WhatsApp group to keep abreast of dachshund development!

A shout out must be made for Jean, who whilst all of the above was ageing me by the moment, has done a marvellous job in keeping production going in the warehouse and the orders going out. I also worked a lovely long weekend at Gatcombe Park, made more lovely by the fact that our stand was next to Pinkster Gin; it was most diverting to enjoy great gin, fabulous weather and meet and greet so many returning customers from the last three years. Simultaneously, we have produced lots of lovely diffusers for UBIETY (they smell incredible and if you are looking for a natural essential oil blend to calm, this is for you) and we’ve been hard at work producing some lovely candles for the fabulous Lucknam Park too. It’s all go and therefore, I feel a tad reluctant to mention (I’ll whisper it), ‘Christmas’ in August, but suffice to say planning for that starts early in the candle world and production is well underway.

I am glad for it, for the hard work, the dogs, the daughter, my lovely sons – I am grateful and am counting every blessing.

Enjoy the rest of the summer hols… (it’ll soon be crisp and conker coloured).

Cathy x

 

 

Pongo…

Cathy_Biggs_Personal_Brand_PS_26_2

Do you remember that fabulous classic, The 101 Dalmatians? And more specifically, the bit where an expectant Roger, puffing on his pipe and a pacing Pongo sit nervously awaiting the puppies arrival? And then suddenly the kitchen door swings open and nanny announces their births? One and then another and then another and then another, and in our case, yet another!

Darling Dutchy the dachshund had FIVE GIRLS – two had defied all ultrasound scans and lay completely undetected. Like the best birthing partner, I was with her throughout her long, 17-hour labour. I lay next to her on a blow-up camp bed next to her chosen spot in front of the chest of drawers in our hall, next to where her whelping box had speedily been relocated. She hopped onto the rubber bed beside me and scratched away – aside from the fact that it could have deflated at any point, it was clear neither of us were sleeping that night and so I spent the midnight hours massaging her back by candlelight. I woke Hubby at around 4 am as the pace was starting to quicken and the first puppy, named Una was born at 6.15 that morning. The fifth and the last, named Quinta was born shortly before 3pm the next afternoon as Hubby snoozed (he didn’t feel the need for a pipe unlike Walt Disney’s Roger). The candle was quite literally burning for over 12 hours so the scent of Dutchy’s labour was a combination of rose absolute with mint. For any of you out you out there about to give birth, either to a baby, or a puppy, I recommend it!

Coincidentally, I also had rose absolute in labour –luckily for me there was a fantastic midwife who was a trained aromatherapist on the ward at the hospital when I delivered my daughter – 21 years ago almost to the day! It is no wonder that I need puppies to nurture when my beautiful girl has flown the nest and is celebrating her 21st  thousands of miles away in Colombia doing what my nerves cannot bear to wonder.

Anyway, it’s quite incredible to think all that time ago, that I had made the necessary arrangements for my confinement and made sure that I was as prepared as I could possibly be with birth preparation classes, yoga not to mention breastfeeding gurus – Dutchy on the other hand just got on with it stoically (I don’t think that she went to NCT classes) and all went to plan. Ish. When the first puppy arrived, she wasn’t quite sure what had happened or what to do and tried to cover it under a mound of blankets. It was a nail-biting minute or so waiting for her to open the sac, my heart was racing.

“Come on”, I implored her, “Come on Dutchy. Lick it. Lick it!”

I could see the little puppy in its sac of amniotic fluid at risk of drowning at any second – and then it became obvious that Dutchy had not only forgone the NCT classes – she hadn’t even read the text books and she was therefore uninformed as to what to do next. I leapt into action like a canine, Call the Midwife and with zero squeamishness, tore at that sac, exposing the puppy, which Dutchy, thankfully looked at and finally, licked.

Dutchy, although being red and having been squired by a red, only had one red puppy, the rest were black and tan. Hubby scratched his head and cast aspersions on the puppies lineage. I had to explain recessive genetics to him and assure him say that the puppies are all Bud’s and that she was, up until that point, chaste. Bud’s father was a very fine well-bred dachshund named Beau and he was black and tan, and rather a character I gather (the fact that he was nick named ASBO is something I have rather glossed over).

I’m happy to report that after those tentative few hours, Dutchy is a natural mum – attentive; feeding and licking each pup carefully – but oh boy, is she high maintenance. I think that she’s under the impression that she’s checked into the Lindo Wing, such are her demands as she refuses all, as she sees it, NHS dog food in favour of omelettes, fish, chicken and steak. It’s a situation, along with her desire to hop out of the whelping box for some ‘me’ time with her tennis ball, that requires some management.

I’ve really missed her now my puppy leave is over and I’m back in the warehouse but, it’s a busy month, one of our busiest and I’ve already been up to Harrogate for a trade fair helping UBIETY with whom we are collaborating.

In the meantime, schools out and if you are off on your well-deserved hols, I hope that you have a wonderful time.

Cathy x

Zanzibar…

 

RT1%+ZJ3Qhi%+jN5crhFow

With the 3rd child’s GCSEs safely (I am quietly confident and crossing all digits) under his belt, I was able to receive Hubby’s silver wedding anniversary gift with the fervour it deserved – a weeks holiday, just the two of us, to that mystical sounding island, the one made famous because the fabulous Freddie Mercury came from there – Zanzibar.

Just as one would expect from its name, which evokes exoticism and beauty, it most certainly did not disappoint, with its turquoise seas and the scent of frangipani and wood smoke hanging in the air, this tiny island, just off the coast of Tanzania and overlooked by Mount Kilimajaro – is paradise. Hubby and I behaved like honeymooners, strolling hand in hand on coral beaches with the softest sand which was as fine and white as icing sugar. We stayed in a Zanzibari beach banda (think thatched hut made with woven palm leaves) complete with open air ‘under the stars’ bathroom. Hubby said that it was a rarity to sit on the loo whilst watching Arabian dhows bobbing on the Indian Ocean!  On a more romantic note, we were soothed to sleep each night with the sound of the crash of the waves on that beautiful beach. Bliss.

Zanzibar is known as the Spice Island and it no misnomer– it’s an absolute assault on the olfactory senses. We toured a few of the spice plantations and enjoyed a scent tour. I loved the heady aromatic scents from the island- coumarin and the highly aromatic red aril casing of nutmeg (mace but not English mace) and clove, pictured below. The African is blended with Arabian Persian and Indian influences. Oudh is one of my favourite scents and although not native to the island, I bought some much prized woodchips at Stonetown – Hubby thought it would be rather good to chuck some onto the hot plate of the Aga – he still has a lot to learn! Our explorations extended to visiting a tiny home-based artisan pottery with some interesting ideas for scenting a home, Swahili style. I have returned inspired by some unusual scent combinations with the desire to learn much more and a long to-do list!

There is of course a darker side to this beautiful island- one could not help but be very aware of its history – in Stonetown in particular, where over a million African lives were traded. That something so barbaric could happen on an island of such breath-taking beauty is chilling.

Alas, spices, sea, sand and snogging ended abruptly when I returned to a busy warehouse and an expectant Dutchy – as I write she has a week to go until she is due to have her puppies. She’s still coming with me to the warehouse most mornings and there is a sweepstake on the number of puppies we think she is having given her increased size – she has gained 12cm around her previously dainty abdomen and there is some concern she may lose all ground clearance on her belly before she goes into labour. I made need to make some makeshift stilts or doggy high-heels for her! So far, she seems to be fit as a fiddle and it seems to have been the textbook pregnancy. The very fine whelping box however (hand-made by Hubby and decorated with one of my niece’s beautiful colourings and which has been in situ for two weeks now, has been given a stiff ignoring– she’s yet to show any interest in it or indeed in nesting at all. Fingers crossed her maternal instincts for her precious pups will kick in at some point soon or canine social services will be called in…

Cathy x

Summer Breeze…

 

paul-jarvis-14-unsplash (1)

Great blog excitement for the Limelight team this month as we have been asked to guest blog for the UBIETY team. Regular readers may remember that we were asked to produce candles for this lifestyle brand who provide an income stream to support the charity, Dorothy House Hospice Care. Their ethos is similar to ours in that they too are passionate about holistic wellbeing.

I write about how I find my own special space to be tranquil and transcend the normal of what is most of our lives – family, friends and work commitments. I use the word frenetic, which pretty much sums up my life at present – the hopeful conception of puppies, the vigilance of attending to my GCSE taking son’s needs, the care and consideration of all the other people- family, friends, employees and others who depend on me and of course, last but most definitely not least, my beloved and much put-upon husband. We are both going great guns with the Alcohol Experiment at the moment and are five weeks in. It hasn’t been easy, not after years of ‘treating’ oneself to something long and cold at the end of a particularly strenuous day. Luckily for me, Hubby has thrown himself into the role of virgin mixologist – and is producing fine, grown up cocktails sans alcohol, so neither of us is deprived of a nice glass in our hand, and are feeling the benefits of being sprightly after a far better sleep. His recipe for the ultimate virgin mojito will be shared on the UBIETY blog so watch that space…

In writing the guest blog I was also reminded of the absolute necessity to take time out to breathe correctly. It sounds so simple and straightforward and rather silly when you think that our bodies do it for us – sadly, it is not until we find ourselves overwhelmed by life and suffering from anxiety and, for some, literally shaking with lack of quality oxygen that we realise that we aren’t in fact breathing properly. Just ten minutes of regular, rhythmic breathing, of being conscious of the breaths we take, is equal to four hours good sleep. We really ought to put alarms on our phones as reminders.

I also wrote of my diet – don’t get me wrong – my working week often sees me subsist on grabbed lunch, coffee and occasionally cake – but I am genuinely passionate about the Ayurvedic approach to holistic whole body wellness (I’ve been to India to learn from the best) and the Ayurvedic diet is an excellent way in which to reset our guts and heal ourselves through mindful nourishment and, much as I love the odd brownie, detoxing, and a week of following an Ayurvedic diet works wonders (again, recipes to be shared on the UBIETY blog). If you are feeling a little frazzled and want to get back your glow, maybe give it a try?

This early summer is rocketing on apace – we are busy, busy, busy. So many events planned and we’ll be at one of our favourites – The Festival of Polo which takes place on this year on the 8th and 9th of June at the Beaufort Polo Club in Tetbury. Picnic, Pimms, Polo and er, candles, what’s not to like?! We are also regulars at Bath Artisan Market in Queen Square and the GPS Market – Green Park Station. This is the former railway station for Bath which is now packed with unique independent shops, cafes and restaurants.

Hopefully you’ll be able to smell us as our scented candles waft delicately on a summer breeze – which makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine and neroli of my mind (with apologies to Seals and Crofts).

When next I write I hope to give news of Dutchy’s fruitful womb (everything is crossed) and of an already hot summer month. Here’s hoping…

Love,

Cathy x