Blasted ‘Rona…

After months of planning, testing and developing over lockdown, we’ve been in the warehouse organising the photography of our new scented botanical pillar candles. I’m so pleased it’s all just come together. Let’s face it, after the year we’ve had, who doesn’t need a little bit of scented joy at the moment?

As I mentioned last month, we are also busy planning our chalet for ‘Bath at Christmas’ on Abbeygate Street, which is planned to run, restrictions permitting, from (erm) Friday 27th November to Sunday 20th December. Whilst the award-winning Christmas Market will not take place in its usual form this year, hopefully there may still be 12 festive chalets dotted around the city streets, with all the atmosphere and magic of Bath at Christmas time, albeit without the crowds. I understand there are plans for some of Bath’s iconic buildings to be brought to life with magical illuminations. Fingers crossed.

Before our David Bailey sessions with pillar candles, we stole a few days away and, as all plans for foreign travel are now a wistful dream, delegated to Sunday mornings over coffee and the Travel section of the Sunday Times my husband, youngest son and I went on another staycation, or, as my mother would argue, “a holiday”. 

“Your father and I spent years with you, your brother and sister camping when you were tiny. Devon and Cornwall held wonders for you all. You didn’t need passports, visas and inoculations then. Just a thermos, a cagoule and stout shoes”. 

I took her word for it, and we had a very soggy few days in Daphne Du Maurier country in Cornwall. Why is it that one’s mother is always right? Cagoules may have been replaced by Gortex, but once sheathed in waterproofs we were immune to the elements, although this time we did not return to a bunkhouse as previously booked by Hubby for our break in Devon. On the contrary, I was in charge of the itinerary and lodgings so that the hotel that welcomed us back at the end of a day’s wet adventure was everything a damp and clammy family could ask for. For instance, nothing like a fabulous hot tub overlooking an inky black and menacing sea, followed by a sumptuous bed to soothe one’s chilled bones. My feet however stayed on terra firma, soaked by a pedicurist’s foot spa, rather than Cornish rain in which our youngest enjoyed zipping high above the Eden Project on the longest zip wire in the country. Apart from my feet, the only other liquid involved, was the Negroni which slipped down my throat oh, so mercifully. 

Back to life, back to reality. It is so easy to forget the misery wreaked on our planet when one has the privilege to escape it, albeit momentarily. The ‘Rona’ as it is referred to in our house, sadly shows no signs of abatement. India, one of my most favourite places in the world has one of the highest rates of infection in the world. It is heart-breaking. And in America, where my god-daughter’s brother lives with his young family, and who have been cut off from all British family members unable to visit, watch the news each day as more and more Americans are slayed by the virus. My daughter’s recent encounter with a very small child at the school that she works in is a reminder that even the little ones are also struggling with this unfamiliar life.

“Bloody ‘Rona”, the little boy cried, tears squirting “Halloween’s cancelled and I can’t go trick or treating”. My daughter kindly overlooked the bad language and comforted the child. She feels his pain, having, like so many thousands of others, had her plans scuppered. The little boy cried for his loss of sweets, my daughter to go to New York next year to do a Master’s degree. Young and old, everyone is impacted by this terrible pandemic and my thoughts are very much with those ill or alone and those facing the toughest restrictions watching their businesses or jobs disappear through absolutely no fault of their own. 

So who knows what Christmas holds this year? I can only thank you, once again for your support and your orders and if allowed and you do decide to venture out for some festive shopping and mulled wine, we shall be delighted to see you in our little chalet on Abbeygate Street. Fingers crossed…

Keep safe x

Bubble trouble…

I’ve said time again: Autumn is my favourite time of year. In the past I’ve found snuggling in front of wood fires in pyjamas with box-sets and flickering candles irresistible, but not this year. We’ve all watched every box set known to humanity, downloaded every drama on Netflix and caught up with all and sundry on catch-up tv. Apart from The Crown, there is nothing left to entertain us through these next few months. Films and television just haven’t been made, well, apart from Bake Off and those contestants seem to have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of cake, giving up their families for seven whole weeks as they isolated as a baking bubble; other than those who were kicked out in the first couple of weeks. And let’s be honest, a fortnight away from family is just a holiday after all. After that you might start to miss them. Even after six months of enforced family time.

Before the conkers started to fall, and the nights had drawn in, Hubby, my youngest son and I set off on what I considered to be, an intrepid few days of walking along the South West Coastal Path, in the South Hams. Now this is old stomping ground for a recently retired Royal Naval captain and didn’t we know it. My husband booked the accommodation and it’s a good job that I wasn’t expecting a luxury spa hotel in Salcombe or I might have wept. Britannia Naval College circa 1932 was more like it. Hubby was very pleased with himself.

“Very good value. Excellent”, said he as he showed us around the bunk house, and then, before I had time to protest, he sat us down with several maps and outlined his plans for the next few days. The length of the walks, about 12 miles a day, up and down cliffs and onto beaches seemed rather arduous.

“We aren’t preparing for Normandy landings, darling” I protested.

Hubby looked dismayed, but the following day, my youngest son and I giggled conspiratorially as we emerged from a beachside café having grabbed much-needed hot coffee/chocolate, as Hubby was impatiently tapping his watch, before taking up the lead again with a commanding: “Guard by the right, band by the left, quick march….” Whilst our youngest didn’t bat an eyelid, I reminded his lordship once again that I wasn’t a recruit and this wasn’t about securing a mission objective.

Yet, whilst we had storms with lashing rain, high winds and a picnic of crab sandwiches in a steamy car overlooking a dark, swirling sea, we did also have hot summer sun, and enjoyed the very best of what the Devon has to offer – a lovely lunch at the Pigs Nose at Prawle, fish and chips on the beach, clotted cream tea with old friends and stuffing our faces with our body weight in fudge.  

And now here we are, back to life, back to reality. So far, the return to school has been smooth aside from the morning panic locating a clean face mask. We are trying to do our bit, avoiding anything that might compromise the school bubble, albeit I do wonder who came up with the language that we are all now using; bubbles are temporary aren’t they, easily popped? Fragile. But, that said I am not sure what would be better.

Despite all the restrictions, we did manage a fully compliant 14th birthday party for our youngest son with just four of his school friends. However, the night before we had an unscheduled, five-hour, Friday evening trip in A&E. A wee in the wild by the birthday boy and a brush with some kind of hogweed had left him with blistery bubbles on his wrist and leg. The teasing by his siblings of what else he could have damaged, will, I suspect make him more attentive to the flora should he be caught short again! 

As we waited at the hospital, I doused our hands regularly with our 70% alcohol hand sanitiser and a lovely lady, who looked as though she too had been in the wars, remarked on how nice the smell was. Her sense of smell clearly hadn’t been impacted by the mask she had over her face and I would have given her the sanitiser had we been allowed to share. As it was I managed to impart, “We’re at the Bath Christmas market”, before it was our turn to be seen.

That’s not entirely true. There is no Bath Christmas Market this year because like much of 2020, it has been cancelled. Instead, there is to be a newly named, Bath at Christmas and we are delighted to be one of only twelve chalets that will be setting up stall there. You will find us near M&S in Bath from 27th November to the 20th December. It may look different but it will still be beautiful and twinkly but with all the additional safety measures that we’ve come to recognise. We have some special things planned and for those who can’t join us we will also be part of the online event, being organised by the Bath Christmas Market team.

I’ll write with more news before that, but until then, stay safe…

Cathy x

Cliff edge…

‘Pandemic, social distancing, face coverings, social bubbles, Covid-19, quarantine, self-isolation, new normal, and hand sanitiser’ are just some of the words that have quickly entered our lexicon in the past few months and which we use several times daily. Air-bridge is another one. Whilst so many friends have had their holiday plans cancelled at the last minute due to the list of countries being on it and off it like a toddler on the naughty step, Hubby and I silently kept out fingers crossed that a Greek Island would remain a relatively safe option. I was in two, three, four and five minds about whether we should go. We hardly needed the Vitamin D and sunshine as there has been a mini heatwave here but, it was booked and paid for and, having sat for months at the kitchen table, I thought our boys would benefit from a change of scenery.

When we arrived it was more dystopian than even Bristol’s desolate lounge. Staff, in the blistering heat of the arrivals lounge, were dressed head to toe in the kind of PPE that one sees in an intensive care unit. And, although we knew that one member of the household would be tested, it was Hubby that got the short straw. Swabbed and swiped, we were soon on our way, or so we had hoped, but Hubby, forever thrifty had hired a Fiat Panda – and whilst no doubt nippy in a city surrounds, a Greek donkey would have done a more efficient job of hauling us up the sheer cliff edge to our villa. More than once did we have to get out and walk from the bottom because the weight was too much. It was soon replaced.

At last we arrived at our mountain idyll and, floating in our pool, away from the sweltering heat of the day and the molten wax in my kitchen, it was easy to forget there was a global pandemic as we barely saw a soul thereafter. Hot summer sunshine, family time, endless games of Cheat and languorous hours spent reading was just the tonic the four of us needed. Greek salads, honey ice-creams and the coldest Mythos beer also helped enormously. The youngest son, removed from computer gaming found wonder in the nature on the mountain, bringing back the to villa five cats who had seen better days, a local and loquacious goat and several small lizards, all of which had to be shooed away on a daily basis. They knew a soft touch when they met one. As I placed myself twixt broom and protesting goat, I thought fondly of Louisa Durrell. What an extraordinary woman!

Once home, animal husbandry continued apace. Daphne, our miniature dachshund, had started her first season and quickly became rather, needy. Personally, I think all the lockdown attention has resulted in canine separation anxiety rather than the hormones, but whatever it is, it has resulted in her following me around the house like a little shadow and then, much to the boys’ disgust, Dutchy, ever sympathetic, came on her season too and so we are desperately trying to keep any amorous hounds at bay (including the rather amorous Michael the miniature poodle yesterday). I shall have to use the newly adopted broom method to shoo them away. Penny Pink (Daphne’s sister) is staying with us this week and I’m hoping we won’t get a third sympathetic menstruation, although it’s good for the boys to learn about the female reproductive system, albeit in dog terms.

The phone has also been ringing off the hook – (an odd expression given we all have smartphones – but you know what I mean) after the fiasco with A levels. Several friends have children in the same boat and I have to spoken to them at length regarding the distress their children are going through. As if the last few months hasn’t been bad enough for them. It hardly inspires much confidence about what awaits my son who is to be taking his A levels next Summer. Hopefully, brutal lessons have been learned, but nothing can make up for the crushing disappointment those 18 year olds felt when they opened their envelopes and, as far as they were concerned, believed their future plans to be in ruins. Although many grades have now been reinstated and places at Universities honoured, that sense of jubilation was stolen from them.

Dogs, cats, and exams aside, no sooner was back from hols I went straight into making thousands of candles for one of our clients (for John Lewis no less). As ever, these projects are weeks in the planning and so it was lovely to finally get the order completed. We do not take any of our orders for granted and still whoop and do a little dance of delight as every pallet of our precious candles heads out of the warehouse. The lovely driver from our local haulage company rolls his eyes – no doubt he thinks we are bonkers! Our youngest son, prised form the fauna of the Greek mountain, has been putting his energies into the business, especially once he realised that his parents weren’t going to oblige with his expansive  and expensive list of September birthday presents. Rayban Aviators I notice, have not made the cut. Funny that.

Schooliform (as it is called in this house, a hangover from those sadly long lost Charlie & Lola days) has been tried on and abandoned. Another job. And how is Clarke’s going to work this year? My friend, who also has four children, told me that this year will be the first time in 25 years where she doesn’t have to sit among screaming, snotty children and moody teenagers for hours on end, waiting their turn to try on black school shoes, that her daughter will invariably detest.

“And now, knowing others are going through that God awful experience, well, it has been stolen from me. Bloody Covid!”

Although Hubby is punching the air at the prospect, and, if I’m honest, I am looking forward to having the kitchen table back and, I know that they need to return to the classroom and the playing fields, it has been, to coin another phrase of the Covid era, an ‘unprecedented time’. I will really miss them, feels like yet another cliff edge…

Stay sane (and safe)

Cathy x

A Summer like no other…

Just as my sanity and any patience for home schooling was on the wane – the summer holidays have arrived just in the nick of time. Strapping, strapping teenagers to the kitchen table for five months was jolly tough going – I cannot even contemplate a second spike more than I can countenance further maths. Adjacent maths was more than enough. Ultimately though, my youngest child seems to have flourished by learning at home – school, after all is about so much more than academics. Our daughter too, who sat her University finals at home, got superlative results in her degree, first class honours, what a superstar!

As I reflect on the last few months I must remind myself of the positives – such as having all four children under one roof (even if at times, it was rather trying). Also, Hubby and I have been so lucky to be able to work from home and it has been wonderful having him here and not be in a perpetual state of anxiety as he traverses the motorways, constantly travelling the breadth of the country. The dogs too are in their element and will no doubt suffer separation anxiety once we all return to work and school.

The lows are simultaneous though, such as the continuing worry of this awful virus and the impact on our children; the juggling, keeping everyone motivated on a forward trajectory, the endless shopping and cooking of meals and snacks. Seems silly now, but I suppose I thought that once we had done lockdown, then that would be it, we would be able to get back to normality. A V shaped exit. I have come to dislike the expression ‘new normal’ or the fact that we will be living like this for a while. We are so lucky to be just grieving for the pre Covid life, and not to be actually grieving for loved ones. Nothing – and everything, has changed.

I am also fortunate that I have thriving business that encourages me to be creative and this enforced lockdown has allowed me to work on further product development. My team and I pulled out all the stops with our new hand sanitiser – no longer will you smell like a brewery. Although it contains 70% alcohol (to kill the nasties) it is also made with aloe-vera –  the result of which is a non-drying, non sticky formula, made for us here in the UK.  I am also delighted to announce that we have new line of botanical pillar candles coming out soon which I’m sure will be very popular. Finally, having had the time to render beeswax from the honeycomb given to us by a local beekeeper, we have also launched a little sister company for Limelight, called Artisansat If you, or someone you know wants to get creative, then at Artisansat you can order candle making sets and, beeswax/ candelilla wax wrap making sets. Take it from me, it’s an excellent, relaxing, scented and calming way to while away the hours!  I’ve so enjoyed being back in the warehouse reunited in our small team doing exactly that. We are so lucky to do what we love.

Once again, thank you so much to everyone that has ordered from us – you have kept us going over the last few months. These, no doubt, are challenging times, especially for small independent businesses– and your support means so much to all of us, thank you.

Enjoy the summer holidays x

Identity Crisis..

Summer is having an identity crisis. Last week saw me attempting to waft in 31 degrees in a silk sarong and flip flops, accessorised by a picnic hamper filled with Waitrose’s finest 3 for 2 antipasti offers, posh crisps and myriad dips. In fact, we’ve eaten al fresco so often that it has prompted Hubby to comment, somewhat archly, that the very expensive wicker hamper is now demonstrating a return on its investment. He has had to concur however that it’s been wonderful to finally be able to get out and take long walks, kayak along the river and simply sit out late into the evening but, now that the calendar is on the cusp of July, the mercury has dropped and, far from being Mediterranean outside, it is this morning, pouring with bloody rain and a mere 14 degrees. The only time I find grey remotely appealing is when it’s in a Farrow and Ball colour chart card.

It’s just typical that now it’s almost the school summer holidays, that the weather is a damp drip. Plus ca change. And although the children will be glad not to have to sit, plugged in at the kitchen table for hours, we’ve learned much as a family – from the wonder of Wordsworth and the indomitable spirit of the Chartists and Suffragists, not to mention pie r something to baking and building a garden shed. Our youngest son seems to have collected more merits whilst on lockdown than he did in a whole year of school.

Nonetheless, whilst I have enjoyed much of the above, our children need to get back to school. They miss it. They miss their friends and their teachers, their lessons and most of all, the competitive sport. They also miss the routine, the discipline and the downtime. It is therefore with horror that I look at the images from Bournemouth beach. Leicester is already back in lockdown. Most of us have done the right thing. We have stayed home and saved lives. How truly horrendous would it be if that mass gatherings, like those on the beach, mean that our children will not be able to go back to school in September. How do we start to explain to them? – that it’s OK to go to the beach on a school day, go shopping, go to a restaurant, go to the pub, go to the cinema but yet not to school? And when they do go back, what will it look like? Queuing outside, called by a number, sitting feet apart, few friends in the same class, escorted along corridors, eating in a bubble? It all sounds very Orwellian and I feel deeply for this generation of young people with several years of schooling ahead of them. Meanwhile I know some of my friends’ children are anxiously awaiting results from public exams that they worked towards for years, but didn’t sit. Abstract results that will shape their futures. The opportunity for them to soar at the eleventh hour, stymied. I sincerely hope that media reports that their grades will be downgraded are erroneous.

In the meantime, we are on tenterhooks about No 1 daughter’s degree results (her graduation has been postponed for a year) and we have No 1 son’s birthday, then Daphne’s first birthday party next week. We are getting all five puppies and mummy and Daddy on Zoom for a birthday party. How mad is that? Strange times, this new normal.

Lockdown has been the bonkers juxtaposition between my domestic and professional self – the weather is not the only thing with an identity crisis, but just occasionally I’ve succeeded in marrying the two – for instance, I have had the time to finally render some beeswax from honeycomb given to us by a local beekeeper and I’ve made beeswax food wraps as a lockdown project with our youngest (more about that to follow, it’s definitely something we want to share). We have also – in the spirit of a chemistry lesson, made gin (or rather infused gin, it’s illegal to actually distil it). The results of that were sadly not as good – think, more nasty, Cinzano rather than juniper infused gin, more practice required, in the meantime, as my son advised:

“You’d better stick with the Tanqueray, mum”.

Yes, well, quite…

I was more than happy therefore to leave the young whippersnapper behind at the weekend and go ‘out’ to work! It was truly wonderful to be back at our market at Bath Farmers Market, Green Park for the first time in over 3 months and fantastic to see and chat to our customers – so many of whom have become friends over the last few years and, although we have had to do things differently – no more picking up and smelling testers, instead spritzing scents onto scented cards –and strict social distancing and hand sanistising, it lacked none of the intimacy. One customer was keen to tell me that her diffuser which she opened at Christmas, had just finished – not bad for six months. It seems that there is nothing like running out of one of our diffusers to force you out of hibernation, that, along with all the home schooling – my customers are kindred spirits! Thank you to everyone who came, it truly meant the world.


Cathy x

Silver linings…


Whilst the clatter of the Cummings and Goings saga unfolds at Westminster, a new hush has descended upon our house. A sort of lockdown acceptance, if you will. Now that my daughter has returned home, I’m not the only woman in a house of four men and I really appreciate having a female ally. She has been at university for four years and spent one year of that in Mexico – so it is a real treat to have her to myself. We have taken the dogs on long country walks and had the sort of chats that open minded mothers and daughters have with each other. Not the sort of conversations any of the men of the family would want any part of. Heaven forfend! We have cooked together and she has introduced me to a variety of baked, vegan delights. Yes, they do exist, I’ve had to tell the Husband. More than once.

Our long, large family kitchen table has seen its fair share of bickering over the many hundreds  (thousands?) of meals that have been shared over it, but in recent weeks is has become the nerve centre of our house. A fulcrum of ideas. A normal day sees our youngest at one end at his home school station, our daughter at the other end studying hard for her finals and me in the middle on my laptop, my brain trying to be as productive as those I’m flanked by. Unsurprisingly, when snacks, teas, coffees, cakes, lunch and dinner are required, I’m the chief cook and bottle washer, but because the slower pace of life means that there is so much time to do it all in and, because I know that soon enough, we’ll be scattered once again, I’m savouring tending to them all; like some glorious belated maternity leave albeit without the cracked nipples and sleepless nights. The dogs too are in their element having all their favourite people as constant companions and of course they have to be walked regularly and isn’t the unfolding of Spring perpetually remarkable? The burgeoning of life is a constant metaphor of renewal and hope (this picture was taken yesterday). Thank the good lord that we are not in lockdown in November – I may not be waxing quite as lyrical then!

It’s quite a juxtaposition then that on the one hand we in are awe at the wonder of the natural world whilst absorbing technology with equal fervour. It has meant that the Husband has been able to work from home – and, although he is glued to his laptop and phone all day, it is quite a load off my mind knowing that he is not on yet another motorway, travelling. Technology has also meant that my youngest children’s education has not been compromised. We are so lucky that our teachers are doing their very best to keep our children inspired. I have been so impressed that mine have – almost without exception –  been at their desks, headphones on at the start of each day, ready for learning. Whilst they really miss the social contact with their friends, I think they could get used to four hours of school each day and munching on a Fab ice lolly whilst in tutor time, besides, normal rules about no Playstation/ X-Box on a school day have been relaxed. I know how much they miss their friends and now that they cannot ‘hang out’ together, technology has enabled them to continue to play and chat with each other.

Besides, how could I tell them not to play on their computers when it’s been a godsend to me? Three months ago I hadn’t even heard of Zoom, and now we are in our 9th week of a regular Tuesday evening pub quiz with my parents and all our children and partners. I also actually workout on Zoom with some of the mums from school. In the privacy of my garden! It’s bliss. Zoom coffee mornings are also surprisingly enjoyable.

And thank all the gods and those wonderful nerdy brains that invented internet shopping. It means that our loyal customer base can still order what they need which means that, even though our trade orders to shops are down, our online business has grown. As a thank you, and because your orders mean the world, you can currently receive a 15% discount plus free standard shipping, if you use the code: silverlinings

Stay alert, stay home – or whatever it is that’s expected of us – the main thing is to stay safe and keep well. Being surrounded by my beloved family has made me very mindful that not everyone is as lucky and my heart goes out to the pain and sacrifices families have endured in this strangest of times. I sincerely hope that the day comes soon when we are all able to meet and embrace each other once again.


Cathy x



The new normal is so abnormal. Vacillating between some sort of idyll where I am surrounded by three of my four children, husband and dogs to – hell on earth (AKA remote school learning), where I am surrounded by children, husband and dogs. We run the gamut of emotions daily – my daughter has returned home and my heart goes out to her as she prepares to take her finals remotely. After four years of studying hard at University this was hardly the denouement that she had in mind (she is coping brilliantly). If I’m feeling blissed out by gazing at the faces of three of my munchkins back in my nest, it’s not long before this is interrupted by one of them scowling, understandably fed up with being stuck at home. These are unprecedented times, none of us knows quite how to behave.  Some people wear masks and gloves, some don’t. Visiting the supermarket is the biggest social activity of the week, where conversations in the queue can be struck up with perfect strangers, yet others, those kitted out in home made HAZMAT suits, glare at you for having the temerity to talk at all. One can return from shopping for groceries buoyed by friendly connection or equally, crushed by hostile condemnation. It’s no wonder our emotions are discombobulated.

As I write I am sitting at the kitchen table alongside our youngest son. His headphones are attached to his head as he tries to focus on his remote learning (our middle son is doing the same in the study, my daughter in the snug). Everyone has had to hone their skills. Teachers having to scramble together in a last-minute panic to teach on line – when they are so used to fielding questions and chatter in a lively classroom with all the support for them there. Now these poor children are having to adapt, to learn in a totally different way, knowing that they will face examinations that will determine their futures before too long. What started as a holiday, is now very much not. Some young people, I seem to remind my lot daily, do not have the support of family and some do not have access to tech such as computers, endless laptops and good wifi. They are not able to stroll into glorious countryside from the door. Young people’s mental health was fragile before this lockdown, who knows what the toll will eventually be.

In an effort to lead by example and not just vegetate in our own world of apathy and anxiety, we have had lots of family walks, bike rides, cooked together, made fires and have even CAMPED in the garden. We have also downloaded Zoom. We have had several pub quizzes and more recently, a dinner party via Zoom too. It was great fun. Essentially, a menu is devised, you decide between you who cooks what course and then, you cook it and leave it on your friends’ doorstep and they do the same for you. This is marvellous in many ways: a) you don’t have to clean the house beforehand b) you can wear pyjama bottoms and slippers c) if you drink too much you can ‘leave’ the party and blame your disappearance on technical issues.

It is hard work staying upbeat and positive and it is perfectly reasonable to expect to feel, every now and then, in need of a lift. In times such as these it is good to remember that we are still open for business and that our product, whilst by no means essential in these very testing times, can at least bring a little comfort and joy to your home. A flickering, beautifully scented candle can provide a place for meditation and reflection, helping us transcend, if only for a short while, the brutal truth of what is happening in the world. Google informs me that candle gazing can revitalize our energy, reduce anxiety and stress, promote relaxation and induce quality sleep.

We are trying to accommodate our orders in the safest way possible to help bring this little piece of calm to your homes. There is only one person in the warehouse at any time and we are using a contactless drop off system for deliveries. If you’d like to order, please use the code stayathome  and we will give you the extra benefit of 15% off everything on the website. Just bear with us as deliveries are taking a few days longer than usual.

Do take care of yourselves. We’re in this together.

Cathy x

Hope & kindness…


I have never been more grateful for our small village – a COVID support group has set up and a true sense of community prevails – with leaflets through doors naming volunteers and helpers. Kindness is everywhere in fact, including rainbows in windows. Thankfully there is also plenty of space around us where we can exercise ourselves and our dogs –albeit only once a day.

This virus is just awful and the scenes unfolding across the country and Europe are chilling. I can hardly bear to read the news – the pervasive presence of social media means that one cannot escape any headlines and they all seem to foretell the grimmest of predictions and yet, without it, we would not be informed, nor occasionally lifted by some ridiculous meme or other.

The most daunting thing is effectively home schooling my youngest child. Don’t get me wrong, I know the theory and hold a PGHCE qualification but, trying to convince a 13-year-old boy that we aren’t on holiday and that his education must continue is far easier in theory than practice, not only that but trying to convince a 17-year-old boy that he must continue with his daily routine, when life has changed exponentially for him is nigh on impossible. The boys’ school has written a two-page document setting out the expectations for virtual learning, insisting that there is to be no sitting in bedrooms in PJs and that we must stick to a school timetable at home – but in light of the global crisis, my protestations seem rather trivial. Given the circumstances, we will do what we can is the best school of thought. Besides, my daughter, after working her socks off for years is in her final year of her four- year degree at Uni. She doesn’t yet know how she will be assessed or when she will graduate. My heart goes out to her and to all those doing A levels and GCSEs who have been tested and tested since the age of four to be in the best possible position to take their public examinations. Never again will young people believe that exams are the ‘b all and end all’ of everything.

Obviously, health is the most important thing but already we can see some of the other consequences this dreadful virus is having –businesses closing, staff being let go, weddings plans scuppered. It has affected everyone. Many people cannot go to work and don’t have the luxury of being able to work from home. How will they cope? Rather ironic that only weeks ago, those unskilled workers were not of much value as far as the government was concerned, but now those restocking our supermarket shelves and turning up for work day in day out, are among our heroes.

Our work is very much on the back burner for now as educating my boys and looking after my family takes priority and I know I am very fortunate to be in this position. There will obviously be no markets/ events and our warehouse shop is closed for the foreseeable (the online business is still open). Customers have said that with everyone under the same roof for an extended time – there has been no better time than to hide oneself in some small part of the house, light a candle and attempt to transcend the horror of the hourly news.

Nature  now heralds the Spring and with it, hope. Thank you for your continued support -keep well, stay safe and thank you to all those working for our wonderful NHS for your sterling work.

See you soon,

Cathy x

Half term…



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

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.







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