Scottish Grand Tour

I’m sorry for not posting last week but the Scottish schools were on October Half Term and so we attempted our own version of a grand tour.

One sunny saturday morning we (1x stressed husband, 1x bored 11 year old girl, 2x excited toddlers and me) piled into the car and headed north. The plan was to drive between Glasgow (home) along the scenic roads to Fort William, then along Loch Ness to Inverness, then wind down through Banffshire to Dundee and then home again.

We can only attempt such an outing because we have recently upgraded our car. We now drive an extremely un-eco friendly diesel guzzling american tank – a Chrysler Grand Voyager with 7 seats and more space than our current kitchen.  We love it, the toddlers love it because they have so much room and can’t touch each other no matter how hard they try, and the 11 year old adores it because she has her own sound system, storage areas and is relieved of having to attend to her sisters bad behaviour. We would never have tried to drive 500 miles with the three girls sitting side-by-side in the previous car.

So, out and north along the “bonny bonny banks of Loch Lomond…” We stopped for some lunch at the village of Luss at The Coach House, our favourite lunch stop within an hour of home. Even the bored 11 year old cheered up at the idea of warm food and maybe some cake.

By evening we had arrived at Fort William, which is rather beautifully situated with Ben Nevis in the background. The road takes you through Glen Coe, but sadly the mist and rain had caught up with us so we just photographed from the safety and comfort of the car. Our travelodge was just opened and were modern – the dvd player we had brought from home would not plug into the too new technology and so we were forced to talk to each other… This was the view from the hotel, across Loch Linnhe to Camusnagaul. The toddlers fancied taking the ferry but mean Daddy said we had to start driving towards Inverness.

We explored Fort George, a historical site I highly recommend for a visit. It seemed the perfect all family entertainment from grumpy husbands to excited toddlers and then picniced on the beach. In October. 

All in all a very nice road trip with some quite nice weather (remembering that this is Scotland in late Autumn.) We may have to do some more of this driving stuff now our children do not need threatened with eviction from the car for bad behaviour.  I shall tell you about our drive south and home on another blog.

Now back to more regular business. The October Giveaway was won by Anna F – and I’ve already been in contact to send her the lovely Onyx Bracelet. I’ll try and run another giveaway before christmas.

I have been making some jewellery since we returned, mostly earrings for the many many craft fairs I have booked for the next few weeks. I may need another holiday by the time christmas is over… I’ll get the new pieces photographed and post them here during the week.

So, enjoy your October Break – I know that lots of the English schools are on holiday this week, and enjoy the last days of Autumn. Here in Scotland it feels like winter is coming very very fast.  I’m heading to Handmade Harbour to try and get some crafting tips. x

October Giveaway

I’m really enjoying this blogging lark. It’s been 7 weeks since I started – the toddler monsters are happily settled into nursery every week day morning, and I feel as though I have a life back.

So I thought I should celebrate with all the new friends and followers that I have gathered since August 21st. I’m going to run a giveaway and let one lucky person win my Black Onyx Bracelet.

Black Onyx is a gemstone I adore and love working with, so dark and moody and yet such a powerful stone. Onyx is associated with strength, stamina, courage and self-control, all things that I would definitively benefit from in my life! The bracelet is 7″ or 18cm long and is fastened with a sterling silver S clasp.

For complicated reasons I can’t seem to run this from my blog. Sorry. This is the first time I’ve done this and I am no doubt missing some crucial stage. However, it is up and running on the facebook page so if you would be so kind to scoot over there to tweet, follow, like or comment and you can collect entries. One entry per action. The raffle will run until Tuesday 16th October 1pm.  Any questions just let me know.

Facebook –

A Foggy Day in London Town.

My eldest daughter and I were lucky enough to be in London during the Olympics this summer. My parents are in Sussex, Scotland was cold and wet and there was still a few weeks until the Scottish schools went back. I have siblings who live in London so on the pretense of going to lunch with them eldest darling and I set off on the commuter train to the big smoke.

But something very very strange had happened. People were talking to each other. The normal frosty atmosphere of London (which to a visiting Scot is amusing but not something I would like to experience frequently) was replaced by kindness and conversation. On the train into London we thought this is nice, but won’t last. We were heading to Swiss Cottage on the Saturday following the opening ceremony. All the news had been about avoiding London and traffic chaos  so we had low expectations and had allowed lots of extra traveling. Many hours discussion had taken place about the best way across London and which stations could not be alighted at.

Everything was much smoother than we had expected, and so after some negotiation (I think it involved chocolate) daughter and I got off close enough to walk to the British Museum. Apart from lots of over friendly “games makers” the streets of London were deserted and quiet.

We felt as though we had London to ourselves. It was hot and sunny and wonderful. Strangers – the few we met on the route – were walking in the middle of the road and smiling. I began to fear we had arrived in some alien city and that the film music was about to play. We discovered later that the men’s marathon route was all around us and that was why the roads were closed to traffic.

But we arrived at the British Museum without problem and walked in the main entrance. To those that know this amazing museum I hope you can understand our surprise when we arrived in the main foyer and instead of hordes of visitors we found that tourists were outnumbered by staff. My first thought was that they had just evacuated the whole building for a fire drill and that any moment thousands of people would rush back in. We rushed to our favourite gallery, the Egyptian galleries on the upper floors (darling daughter is 11) and a gallery that on many previous visits we have been unable to get past the doors into due to huge numbers of visitors. This time we had the whole floor to ourselves. Drunken with excitement we ran around for about an hour until we understood that floods of people were not about to join us.  We explored the whole museum, spent time in front of some favorites and discovered rooms we had never seen before.

One of our discoveries was a display of ammonite fossils and I was struck by how beautiful and simple they were. I had a pendant made of an ammonite surrounded in silver in my jewellery box, waiting for inspiration to strike, so I combined it with freshwater pearls and smoky quartz and the finished necklace is one I am very proud of. So proud that I may have difficulty actually parting with it. I have listed it for sale today, but it might appear on my own Christmas list instead!

This song does not reflect the sunshine or pleasure we felt at the British Museum, which could never “lose it’s charm” but it is a nice reflection of most of my London experiences and I thought it would add a nice touch to this post. Never miss a chance to reference Billie Holiday…enjoy x

Billie Holiday – A Foggy Day

A foggy day in London Town
Had me low and had me down
I viewed the morning with alarm
The British Museum had lost its charm
How long, I wondered, could this thing last?
But the age of miracles hadn’t passed,
For, suddenly, I saw you there
And through foggy London Town
The sun was shining everywhere.

Christmas Preparations.

I’m in the middle of the panic month for Christmas  In my diary I have seven craft fair type events between now and mid December.

I think I need to get organised and work on my presentation  The children and I went hunting in the park for a suitable branch to be “planted” in plaster of paris in a large plant pot, in order that I can hang necklaces from the branches. I’m rather pleased with the end result and think it should really help with the appearance of my stall. I trialed it at a local Macmillan coffee morning and it was commented on kindly.

I need to work on some signs. The space hanging from the front of my stall is currently wasted so I shall fill that with a good clear explanation of who I am and what I do.

The ceramic bowls are black with turquoise inside, so they are great for children’s wooden bracelets or mobile phone charms for the teenagers. I should take a full length mirror so that customers can try on my work and see how it looks.

I’d like to have some way that customers could pay by credit or debit card and have heard of a fancy app that allows a smartphone or tablet to serve this purpose, so I’ve tasked my darling husband with this.

One of the events is a two day extravaganza so I’m planning to take my crafting desk and tools so I can work during the day. I’m hoping it will generate some interest, and of course I can make alterations to suit a client needs.

So I’m going to be very very busy. Please wish me luck. I think the temptation to hide under the covers is going to get stronger as we get nearer to Christmas.

I’m off to Handmade Monday to get some advice from the other crafty people who are no doubt better organised that I am.

Bad Blogger

I’ve committed that most serious of new blogger mistakes. I stopped blogging.

I had been rather disciplined and was very carefully writing a little every day, storing up ready to publish posts and gathering images as I went along.  However, it went a little off. So I’m sorry. Real life seemed to catch up with me. I’ll do better from now on.

I have got lots and lots to tell you all about though. Let me show you the commissions that I finished today, just before I package them up for a trip to the post office. (In the pouring rain, sob.)


First we have a triple strung grey mix necklace made with Labradoite, silver freshwater pearls, black onyx, hematite  rose quartz, striped jasper and moonstone.


Second a monochrome necklace made from white and peacock freshwater pearls and faceted black onyx, with earrings made of the black onyx.



Lastly some stunning white Biwa pearls strung with Labradoite.


All of these were bespoke for my client, but I could create something similar if required.

I’m off to the post office after I find my waders. x



Armfuls of bracelets.

In the next few weeks I have several coffee morning or school shopping night events booked. These events are really good fun and I always say yes if I am free to attend. They are excellent sources of cake and personal shopping (I will hope to stock the dreaded Christmas List from such events and in the process help and support other crafters.) I like meeting and networking with other small businesses in my local area and there is also normally a charity to raise funds for, the great good that we are all gathered together.


However, these are not events at which I expect to sell my reasonably expensive sterling silver jewellery. This is not always the case – one memorable summer I sold £250 of necklaces and earrings in a few hours, from an event that I hoped to make my pitch back from and have a nice sociable afternoon far removed from my children.

I learned a while back that coffee morning events are more successful in hard cash terms if I arrive with lots of pretty (read cheap) sparkly pieces. So I take a large basket of bracelets priced under £8 which can be more easily explained to grumpy husbands at evening time.

Reasoning that my stock of said bracelets and key charms was depleted I have spent today on this project. It is always rather good fun as I look at my box of odd beads, the leftover groups of 3 or 5 beads from a completed project, or the rejected beads from a selection that were somehow too large or too small for the necklace they were bought for. I’m rather pleased with lots of these. I’m hoping that my coffee morning ladies are too. I’m off to Handmade Harbour. to see what the other crafters have been doing this week. I’ll let you all know how the cakes at the coffee morning rate. I may even have to take some photos and blog all about it! Joanna x


My Turquoise Honeymoon.

I think it’s about time that I explained myself. I love Turquoise. Since I was little it was my stone of choice. I wear it all the time. I had to name my jewellery business with turquoise somewhere in the title.

We honeymooned in Marrakech. As a modern western women I struggled with the male dominated culture. “What will your lady like to drink?” I had just finished organizing a wedding for 160 guests, while working full time, while helping our daughter settle into her first year at school. I was a whirlwind kinda gal and the sudden change of responsibility took me a while to adjust to.

But I came to like this different approach. My new husband and I, giddy with love and the novelty of honeymoon (you need the honeymoon after the headache of planning a wedding) would wander through the souk. From every doorway we would hear shouts and heckles, inviting “the beautiful lady…”  to examine their stalls. I would express interest in an item, a coffee set perhaps or a chess board. I learnt over many hours that the stall holders would not or could not negotiate with me. Even though my French is better than his.

Finally my husband and I came to an understanding. I would glance around the shop, using subtle eye movements to indicate which things I liked most, and then I would step out of the small booth and said Husband and stall holder would open bartering. Which could take some time. And involved mint tea. Camels were often discussed. Sometimes husband would exit the shop at speed with no explanation, while the seller shouted lower and lower numbers until we turned and resumed the banter. The “patter” as they say in Glasgow was good fun. Noisy, confusing and fun.

At some point nearing the end, but not always, money was exchanged and a parcel would be presented. After dinner when we returned to our exquisite hotel I would examine and open the parcels, never sure what had or had not been bought. Prices were never discussed.

This turquoise bracelet was such a parcel. Seven long links with six round connecting links. Blue turquoise with pale brown markings I wore it every day for a year. It is my turquoise honeymoon bracelet and I love it. And him.

I’m off to Handmade Harbour to see what the other bloggers have been up to. Then I’m going to open my bead box and spend the week making turquoise bracelets.

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