Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Christmas Rush

It's been a hectic few weeks for us in the run up to Christmas. We have done 17 days of craft fairs, markets and events since the end of November. This works out at 4.25 days every week, but most done on Saturdays and Sundays with Dave and I doing separate events on the same day. This of course means lots of time spent in the workshop making things for the next show and not much time for anything else. This is why there have not been many posts but I will try to catch up with all that has been happening in the next few days.

Our last show was on Sunday at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh and we were both looking forward to having a bit of time to relax. Sleep has been an item on my whiteboard 'To-Do-List' all week, and the only Christmas present Dave has asked for is a day off! However, since Sunday I have made 52 wedding favours, a rush order of 50 bars for Jamesfield Farm Shop, done all of my Christmas shopping and written all of my Christmas cards. We will deliver these tomorrow, using our 'Just In Time' management principles again! Maybe next year I will be organised! So it is safe to say we are still looking forward to some time to relax.

Soundtrack to work this last month has been: The Wombats - Is this Christmas?, Vampire Weekend - A-Punk (great tune at 2am to keep your spirits high). Anything Christmassy, from good ol' Bing to The Waitresses, including Mariah Carey - All I Want For Christmas Is You (I mean, for goodness sake!). And for the record... always Jeff Buckley, never Alexandra! You all know what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

It Never Rains But It Pours

Our central heating boiler packed in about a month ago. Now usually we'd find the money somehow and get it fixed but this time it died a death and it's never to be switched on again. So a new system for our wee cottage is now going to cost around £800 just to get the boiler, nevermind the gas conection charge. Finding the type of system and the money is the the easy bit sorted out (we'll not the money side, so much) we now need to find the time for David to install it. The run up to Christmas is our busiest time and we really never have a moment to spare. Dave and I have managed to heat ourselves by our open fire (which badly needs swept) in the living room and a wee electric fan heater in the bedroom (I woke up the other day and the room thermostat flashed 7 degrees. It flashes under 10 degrees to warn you there's a hypothermia risk!). So we've been coping and trying not to mump too much, I just keep thinking about how my grandparents managed to lived without double glazing and central heating. I must admit that I love wearing my fantastic 'Icebreaker' thermals - Don't laugh. They were bought for our travels to Spitsbergen and I now wear them as an extra layer at our Winter markets. My Icebreakers are the best thing since sliced bread, especially the boxer-shorts.
On Sunday the washing machine went wizz, bang, wallop, FLASH while I was standing looking at it wondering why it was making a funny scrapping, gurgling, static noise. Bloomin' fireworks came out of the top as it came to a grinding halt. You've never seen me jump so high! So I've been through my whole wardrobe of clean clothes and I'm now on to the bizarre mix'n'match of clothes that really shouldn't be seen out in public together.
On top of that my cooker (inherited when we bought the house has decided to only allow me to use the smallest ring and half heat one of the large pot rings. The oven thermostate burst many months ago so I haven't baked for ages.
So, the new washing machine is getting delivered tomorrow, the cooker has been ordered and the boiler, well it been ordered and I hope that we will find some time before Christmas to get it fitted. I now have to go out and sell a hell of a lot of soap to pay for it all.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

Bbrrrrrr! Minus 4.5 on the way home
from Gloagburn Farm Shop

The temperature reached -7.5 on the way out to our craft fairs today. There's a spot on our road on the way to Perth that's always the coldest. Dave clocked it at -7.5 (on the way to Edinburgh at 09:30) this morning and my in-car temp gauge read -6 at 10:15. Although the roads were scary slippy and covered in frost & ice the landscape was a wonderful sight. I didn't have time to stop on the way to take pics and it was getting dark on the way home so I stopped and took the picture above. It's all so Christmassy. The tune on the CD player is a mash-up of several recordings of White Christmas including Louie Armstrong, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Diana Ross and The Supremes. Very Cool Yule.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Barony Open Day

Wow. It's taken me till to day to get my feet back on the ground after the excitement of Sunday's Open Day. It's only now I can review everything that happened and sum it all up.
At 7am on Sunday morning I looked outside to find an unspoilt fairytale land of peace and quite, glistening whiteness (lovely) with a marquee about to collapse under the weight of snow on its roof (arrrggghh!). I'd managed to pick the only day a freak snow storm rolled into town. It was also the coldest day, I'm sure! However with a silver cloud attitude, it did make my little grotto look all festive and hid the weeds in the garden.

Anyway, this set us back time wise (it took Dave nearly an hour to clear snow from the marquee and fix the roof) and we were very surprised when the first customers came over at 10:10, bright and early. I felt so bad for the first couple of people to look around as I was not as set up as I would've liked to have been. The snow seemed to have everyone talking so it wasn't too bad.
The day was VERY busy and even though I had help from my friend Anne I still could have done with a few more pairs of hands to help out. Dave held the stall as I did wee tours of the workshop but as soon as someone needed a gift box I would be called into action. Anne kept the nibbles stocked up. The nibbles included mulled wine, brie & chutney on French bread and homemade lemon & ginger biscuits made by my friend Linda (gee, they were really good).

Boozy Mulled Wine &
Heavenly Non-Alco Glogg
Linda's Yummy Homemade
Lemon & Ginger Biscuits
I didn't manage to take any pictures during the day as I was so busy but once the last customer went I wizzed round to take some of the aftermath. I should have one of those official observers to take my blog photos. I'm finding that I'm too busy doing something to stop and take an interesting picture for the blog or I think I should have taken a different photo so it ties in with what I want to talk about.


As a first attempt at an Open Day I think it went well but there is now a long list of 'what not to do/must remember to' for the next one. I'm now in the middle of making up all the gift box orders taken on the day. Dave will have to get back into his workshop and make more of our handmade gift boxes for me to fill.
Our next stall is at Tullibannocher on Thursday night and I'm sure our Christmas soaps will go quickly. I can't keep up with the demand for our Tipsy Auntie and Candy Cane. If only I could employ some of Santa's elves to help!

Candy Cane (Pepermint Strawberry & Vanilla)

Tipsy Auntie (Mulled Wine)
Thank you to everyone who was able to brave the weather and make it over to Barony, especially those who came from further afield. I hope you managed to tick a few christmas presents off the list. If you couldn't manage over then there'll be plenty more opportunities to catch us before christmas. Or... give me a call and make an appointment to do your gift buying at a time that suits you.

Finally I want to say a huge THANK YOU to David, Linda, Anne & Peter for all the help.

Friday, 21 November 2008

It's A Sign

We are slowly getting there with prep for the open day.

Signs are now up on the approaches. They are bright green with arrows on them so should be easy to spot and hopefully easier to follow than in the pic!

We've also stocked up on wine and nibbles, with fingers crossed we have enough.

Still lots to do, making more stock tonight so I can spend tomorrow decorating the marquee, once Dave has put it up of course.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

CSTA AGM (and how to avoid eye contact)

Tonight Dave and I attended the Crieff & Strathearn Tourist Association AGM in the Drawing Room of Crieff Hydro Hotel.

Barony joined the CSTA last year mainly because members received a discount on their market stall at the Crieff Monthly Market but we also thought it was an ideal way to keep up to date with what is happening in the area and since Crieff is our nearest market we wanted to become a regular stall holder, we have attended every market (come rain or shine, but mostly rain!) since our first one in July 2007. This had been noticed by the CSTA commitee and mention at a meeting we attended last month. As the AGM was looming large there was a call put out for new commitee members to join the board. Tonight the Chair asked for new board members, and always at these sort of things, all of a sudden the carpet pattern seemed really interesting for most of the room or the more daring delegates nominated other people to get the attention away from themselves. I gazed at the swirls!

I thought I got away with it pretty well until our track record was mentioned and all of a sudden I found myself being nominated to help in a working group to suggest ways the monthly market could move forward and improve (as I've seen it from the side of a stall holder and not the market organisers). I was shocked but secretly quite excited. I hope I've time to do my duty to the best I can. Still quite glad I'm not on a commitee.

Oh, and the oatcakes & cheese were lovely too.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

My brother-in-law is the Stig!

It's been another busy weekend at Barony with the Lanark Christmas Market and The Angus Craft Association Craft Fair in the Perth Concert Hall both on.
This gave us a bit of a logistics problem. Lanark is nearly 2hrs away meaning a 6am start for Dave (who gets all the good jobs). There was no option to set up in Perth on Friday leaving me with two problems. Although I can manage smaller shows in my wee 2-seater car taking all of the kit needed for bigger shows is impossible, and given that our backing is 7 feet tall and I'm not setting it all up is also impossible on my own (why else do you think I married 6' 2" Dave!). Luckily Dave has a brother, Sandy, with a big 4x4 to fit all the stuff into and tall enough to build the stand.
Due to the lack of parking at the concert hall everyone was given an offloading time, ours was 7:40. When we arrived it was the usual pandamonium with cars and vans parked everywhere. Not that this bothered Sandy, who without a second thought reversed his 4x4 (which has no rear window) through the abandoned vehicles, using his mirrors and only one hand, right up to the loading bay. I was very impressed, especially as I had a lot less carrying to do than expected.
If you are still wondering about the title of this post... I was watching TopGear (Ok, I'm a BIT of a Richard Hammond fan) tonight where the Stig used the exact same reversing technique as Sandy had used. I'm sure Sandy is the Stig!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Don't Blame Us...

We were at a 3D2D craft fair in Glasgow this weekend with some of our new Christmas range.
We had quite a bit of interest in our new candles in pots and mugs made by the award winning potter John Maguire, but by far the biggest hit was our Typsie Auntie soap. This has a lovely mulled wine fragrance, but judging by the giggles and titters heard around the stall I think the name had a lot to do with it's popularity. Most bars were intended as presents for friends or relatives who could associate with the name, so if you receive one in your stocking this Christmas please don't be offended and remember we only thought of the name, not of you!!!!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Cash Flow Woes

I find this time of year such a worry. I know that I need to start building up my stock for the Christmas craft fairs and I've worked hard up to now to make sure that we are booked into craft fairs every weekend right up to 20th December but I have little money to actually buy supplies to make everything. We've recently joined the Federation of Small Businesses and the membership and joining fee is nearing on £200. Product and Public Liability insurance costs a fortune & there're many more hidden payments that the customer never see. I'm really excited about my Christmas range of soaps and new candles, I just hope that I can somehow manage to buy all the essential oils needed. The list includes litres of Cinnamon Oil, Sweet Orange Oil, Clove Oil and our Tipsy Auntie fragrance. The first big show of the season is on Saturday and Sunday at the Glasgow Concert Hall and at the moment I'm trying to design my Christmas-ified stall as well as finding enough space on the table for all the new Christmas products I have. I'll post the photos next week. Until then here is a photo of me in the workshop batch numbering my soap (excuse the dodgy hair net and lab coat!).

Monday, 3 November 2008

Trick or Treat



Once Upon A Midnight Dreary...

Quoth the Raven 'Nevermore.'
It's been a busy weekend and not soap making. David & I decided not to do any shows on the weekend of Halloween. We LOVE Halloween and are quite well known around these parts for putting on a show for the kids in the village.
Friday night at 7pm (sharp) there was a rapping at the door and the first of the kids presented their costumes and did their little turns. As the second lad (a F1 driver in liveried boiler suit with a bandaged bloody head and 'missing' arm) started his joke when the door went again - 3 more kids. The door goes again - even more kids. Turns out we're the prefered starting point.

I'll explain... David does a convincing Grim Reaper complete with scythe, Dave also rigs up the front door to open 'on it's own' and kids have to cross the smoking skull & severed dragons head to get to the booty. I've been told that all the children from Madderty talk about coming to our Halloween house.

The village hall committee had a Halloween party on the Saturday night some people missed the guising on Friday night so asked to see our house after the party. That turned into nearly everyone coming around to our house (I think the parents wanted to see for themselves what the fuss was about). An impromtu fancy dress halloween party took place by candlelight with lots of high spirits.
Graveyard at the front of the house

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Christmas gets earlier every year, ba humbug.

Well, it's been a long time since I last blogged. I've been busy making stock, ill (just a bad cold), very busy making stock, lots of fairs & markets, very, very busy making stock and... phew!
You won't hear me complain though, but if you do... just remind me of my old desk job. That's enough to boost my enery levels. I did think working from home would mean that I would have plenty of time to make wonderful homemade gourmet dishes everynight for my husband's dinner, homebakes for the girls coming around for the odd morning coffee and lots of jams and pies to give as gifts. Huh, so much for that idea, I'm lucky if I can get a sandwich for lunch and at busy times poor Dave usually ends up with boring homemade soup for his dinner.
Anyway, this week I'll be making my new Christmas Range including Tipsy Auntie (mulled wine), Chocolate Orange, Deck The Halls (holly & mistletoe). Along with some of the old favourites, Three Wise Men gift pack, Candy Cane, Christmas Cracker, Let it Snow & Winter Wonderland.
This weekend is the first of our Christmas Fairs (it's not even Halloween yet!)

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Air today

Attended the Leuchars Airshow yesterday as part of their Scottish Fair.
It was a bit of an eventful day overall, 1st was the 5am start to travel to Leuchars to be on site and ready to trade by 8am. This was a bit of a shock to the system as mornings are not really my thing. It was also a bit strange getting up when it was still dark.

Part of the reason for the early start is the need for security checks before you can enter the airbase. I've never had the car searched by a sniffer dog on the way to a show before (or any other time for that matter).

This was a bit nerve racking as our soap contains a lot of glycerine, but luckily not nitro glycerine. Our Stop Kidding Around soap contains almond oil. Semtex smells of almonds, not sure why I know this as I have never smelt semtex. it must be one of those useless fact you pick up just so you can remember it when a sniffer dog reaches your boot!

Just to top things off I had a large number of bombs in the boot......., well bath bombs anyway. I was very careful to refer to them as bath fizz during the day.
Tick, Tick, Tick......., Tick Booomm!
Anyway the sniffer dog was satisfied that none of our products could be used in the pursuit of evil so I was allowed entry.

The show was very busy all day but due to the weather a lot of the flying displays did not take place which was a bit of a disapointment for the visitors.

Being in an aircraft hanger meant I couldn't see a lot of what was happening but did catch a glimpse of one or two planes including a Spitfire. I was a bit disappointed not to be able to see the Vulcan Bomber (grounded due to low cloud) as I remember these flying over my house when I was a kid. Yes I am that old!

Worryingly it was dark again by the time I got home, the nights are fair drawing in as my dad always says.


Saturday, 13 September 2008

Barony Crafts Mentioned in Homes & Interiors

Oooh, I'm so grateful to Lisa at Primrose Hill Interiors. Lisa's studio and shop has been featured in the September/October edition of Homes & Interiors Scotland, in their Nooks & Crannies section. As part of the article Lisa mentioned some local crafts stocked in her shop, one of which is Barony Crafts Soap. My heart skipped a beat when I was reading about Lisa's success and there before me was my wee company mentioned in this very posh mag. Have a read for yourself...

Friday, 12 September 2008

Website Updates

It's about time I overhaul my website. For a start, not all my soaps I have on my stall are available to buy online. I have lots more products now including Liquid Handsoap, Hand & Body Lotion & Shower Gels. I have to admit that I've been so busy with my shows over the summer period I haven't had time to 'spring clean' the website.
The major prompt to do this is the festive season is nearing and my trade stockists are starting to ask about this years Christmas range. So, it time to sit down and charge at it like heading down the Lilliehammer Bobsliegh Run (have I mentioned I've done this!) once it starts there's no stopping it until it comes to an end somewhere miles from where you started.

just before the bobsleigh run
You may find that the words UNDER CONSTRUCTION are peppered over the website for the next couple weeks but you will still be able to buy as usuall. Hopefuly it will result in an easier to use and more pleasing to the eye Barony Crafts website. If you have any suggestions to help or any ideas of things you would like to see... drop me a post.

Love & Marriage

On Monday I had a bride-to-be pick up her 110 Barony soap favours ready for her wedding on Saturday 13th September. A couple of weeks previously Vicki & her mother came out to my workshop to talk over colours, scents and wording of the labels. I think I enjoyed the experience as much as the Bride. I remember for our wedding day we had Dave's sporran made to his specifications by a sporran maker to the stars!!! We visited Marcus Eagleton's workshop and was fascinated by it all. I was really chuffed when I recogised the same buzz from my guests as I showed off my workshop. I think is great to support talented craftsmen and seek out individual items to make you big day extra special.
matching bridesmaids fabric

Lots To Tell

This past week (and a bit) has been very hectic and full of ups and downs. On Monday last week I gave a talk about Barony to Logiealmond WRI. I was asked to be a speaker a few months back and all of a sudden there I was infront of a room full of people (isn't it funny how quickly time passes when you are worried about something). Well, I have to say a huge thank you to eveyone for making me feel at ease. It was a great night and I may have spoken for a bit too long once I got into it. Afterwards we had tea, sandwiches and homemade cakes, lovely. A special thank you to Helen for keeping calm before the talk.

Logiealmond WRI

That weekend, over Friday 5th to Sunday 7th, David and I had a couple of large shows as well as supplying a table for a charity fundraiser in Bridge of Allan.

On Friday 5th I set up shop at the Dundee Flower & Food Festival. It was a bit of a slow day (Fridays usually are at these 3 day shows) but by sheer luck I was placed beside Jo Cound, a photographer friend from Crieff Market. Jo's work is mainly of the natural world. Some of her pictures have appeared on magazine covers and loo roll packaging! Don't tell Dave but I did spend much of the day looking through Jo's stall and chatting away. The picture below is one of my favourites and I've told Dave I'd be very pleased with Santa if I found it under the Christmas tree this year...
Bell Cap by Jo Cound
David tended to the stall in Dundee for the rest of the weekend. I wasn't at Dundee on Sat & Sun, I had a stall at Glamis Game Fair and Countryside Festival at Glamis Castle with 3D/2D. What a great time I had & nearly sold out of all my stock. Now that sounds great but I have a view that if I'm running out of stock then I've not made enough! It's great when I have regular customers come up and say 'I was hoping you'd be at this show'.

To add to this busy weekend we had 'Crafty' friends staying over on the Saturday night. Sean & Gillian are known as Hamilton Taylor and are very talented glass workers. Instead of me telling you all about what they do you can visit their webpage. Sean & Gillian live in Glasgow and it's a bit of a trek for them to drive home and come back to Glamis the next day so we offered them a bed for the night. After a long day at Glamis we all headed off to have dinner out (no way was I able to make a 3 course meal in the middle of a show weekend!) and what a joy it was.

My African Delta trinket box and handmade glass beads by Hamilton Taylor

Sunday, 31 August 2008

New Stockist - Jamesfield Organic Farm

Today Jamesfield Organic Farm became our newest stockist. I love Jamesfield Farm Shop, it's got a really cool vibe about it, it's very 'family friendly' which, oddly, gives it a real community centre/local pub buzz about it and it's always busy when I'm there. Then there's the restaurant... it's what I would call relaxed posh! It feels like a treat but not so much that you have to sit up straight and elbows off the table type stuffy. I enjoy watching the adorable little chickens bobbing about out of the restaurant windows. Anyway, here's a photo of the first delivery... soon to be follow by Shower Gels, Liquid Handsoaps, Lip Balms and Bath Bombs.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Loofah Mum & Ladies Who Lunch

Hi all, again I'm going to start a post with... I really should be making soap but...today I had lunch at Gloagburn with Brenda, my lovely Mother-in-law. I have been supplying my soap to Gloagburn for just over a month and already a second order was required. So, to kill two birds with one stone (that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) I delivered my stock and then settled down to a cheese board with oatcakes (Dave's mum had a very tasty bowl of soup). Well, over at the next table was my neighbours-but-one, Isobel & Charles who are great gardeners. Isobel is growing her own loofah plants (we use loofah in all our Foot Scrubbies) and I've been extremely interested in how the little 'uns are doing. When I got home there was a ickle loofah plant on my doorstep! I'm a loofah mum! I will try my hardest to ensure that Mavis (yes, I've named it) is watered, fed and generally made comfortable ('more than what you do for me' says Dave). If all goes well I'll be using Madderty grown loofahs in my soaps. I'll let you know how it goes... fingers crossed.

Mavis the loofah plant

Anyway, I picked up Gloagburn's monthly newsletter on the way out and I was chuffed to bits to see Barony got a little mention in the local produce section. If you click on the photo to see the newsletter larger, we're mentioned in the second last line.

Gloagburn Newsletter Aug '08

Saturday, 23 August 2008

New Stockists

I'm really pleased to announce that Barony Soaps can now be purchased at Crieff Hydro Hotel Boutique, Crieff and soon to be at Jamesfield Organic Farm, Abernethy. Vicky, Boutique Manager at Crieff Hydro, sampled some of my soap when I was there two weeks ago. I've Got A Lovely Bar of Coconut is her favourite!

Barony Retail Stands

I was invited to have a stall at the Jamesfield open farm day about a month back and as a result I was asked to fill a display there of approximately 7ft x 7ft (yes, you read correctly). Well, I'm a one man band (with the help of Dave) so at that time I couldn't fulfil this amount as well as continue my monthly markets, bigger shows such as Scone Game Fair and private buyers. A couple of weeks passed and then Julien emailed me to chat about how to get Barony Soap into Jamesfield (again customer and staff were asking for us by name - how great is that?) so after a lovely visit out there this morning we've decided to start with one of the 7ft shelves with 20 different types of our soaps, 6 type of shower gels, bath bombs, lip balms and gift boxes, oh, and our soy wax candles. Phew, that's still a lot of stock. Saturday 30th August is delivery day. From then on we'll be able to slowly add to this range and as Christmas nears... gosh, I have to think start thinking about this years Christmas Range. I'm sure the very popular Three Wise Men gift packs are set to make a comeback.

Friday, 22 August 2008

As Promised...

As Promised... The Workshop

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Wrapped & Packed

I told you all on Friday that my task for the day was to wrap and pack all the soap for the weekends stall. Well, here it is...wrapped & packed.
I love the sight of it all ready to go, all neat and in order. This box is holding approx 24kg of fine handmade Barony Soap. We usually take 2 or 3 boxes like this to market, more if it's a large show. This doesn't include all the stall build up stuff (stall table, cordless drill, duck tape, strong clamps, string etc).
I was a delicate little flower before I started having to humf this lot around (who am I kidding?). I probably got a very good training for lifting huge, heavy, ungainly boxes from my time working in the Virgin record store in Perth (oh, my yoof!). A tray-box full of CDs is not so heavy when you just lift it but by the time you have carried it from the stock room, down two flights of stairs, through a shop full of people and deliver it to its destination... now that's heavy. It's much the same with soap. I don't have rock hard biceps but I can fairly tackle a stuck top on a jar of pickles!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Dave's 1st Post

The Spider T (Humber Sloop) & The Reaper (Fifie)
at the Arbroath Seafest 2008
Claire has made me write this blog using the excuse that my name is on the signature too. I'm sure it's just that she can't think of anything to write today, not something that happens often.
Spent the weekend at the Arbroath Seafest which didn't get off to a very good start. Somehow the organiser thought we didn't want them to provide a market stall, leaving me with nowhere to display our wares for the day. Thankfully I'm better at improvising than I am at blogging so after a whistlestop tour of a local DIY store I managed to make a stall which got me through the day. Luckily it didn't rain, but I did suffer a bit of sunburn. Sunday was much less stressful being armed with our usual kit, there is a lot to be said for self sufficiency. And just as well as the sun from Saturday was replaced with clouds all day and rain later in the afternoon making me glad to be under cover.
The pic above is of the boats in Arbroath Harbour on Sunday, we were too busy to take a closer look.
Claire will resume normal blog service soon, she's never lost for words for too long, and it will take me weeks to think of anything interesting to write.

Friday, 15 August 2008

This Weekend's Sales!

Barony Soap Logs waiting to be sliced and wrapped

This weekend Barony will be at the Arbroath Seafest (Saturday & Sunday) and The Fayre in the Square as part of the Crieff Highland Games celebrations (Saturday). I'll be at Crieff and Dave will be at Arbroath. The soap logs in the photo above will make 240 bars as well as 5 more logs setting that didn't make it in time for the photo. My task for today is to get them all wrapped, divided into two lots and packed ready for Saturday. What am I doing writting this blog? I should be in the workshop in a blur of activity.

Todays soundtrack to soapmaking

I'm a huge fan of Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) and his dulcet tones will see me through the days work today. I think I will start with the newest album, The Slip, and work my way back through the albums. I've been a fan for nearly 20 years now, that makes me sound really old. I suppose the type of music you listen to through your teens stays with you. Dave is still a fan of Iron Maiden... nuf said! I often have to tell Dave 'I'm not naming a soap after any heavy metal bands'. His most recent suggestion was Back in Black for a blackcurrant bar, I mean, really, I don't know. In saying all that about Dave's soap naming, to his credit, he did come up with All Along The Foreshore for our Kelp soap. Many customers have commented on how the name takes them to a favourite beach, a romantic stroll. Dave then told me the name was a variation of All Along The Watchtower... by Jimi Hendrix/Bob Dylan. He wins.

from left to right: Lemongrass & Lime, Starry Starry Night, Sparkling Lemonade, Glittering Seas, Tea Tree Scrubbie and Pass The Soap, Sweet Pea!

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Lucky Dust on my path

Last night I was at a bit of a loss as what to do with my Sunday, seeing that the Perth Highland Games trade stalls were cancelled. I suppose I’ll start with telling you about how lucky I was yesterday and how I ended up having a great day selling my soap today.

It was Crieff’s Monthly Market on Saturday and it was a complete and utter washout. The first stall packed up at 11am then more & more slinked off until only the (fool) hardy were left, until around 3pm. We all then decide it was a loosing battle and packed up.

Due to the early finish, I had time to pop into Perth for some bits ‘n’ pieces for the workshop at around 4:30pm. Now, I really grudge paying for a full hour’s parking to nip into a shop for 5 mins but then again I don’t want to park somewhere it’ll get in the way/parking fine/car scratched so I usually swear at the poor ticket machine and pay my hard earned pennies. However, yesterday I parked up and the little boy from the car next door chapped on my window and presented a parking ticket. His father shouted across the seat ‘There’s 15 mins left on his ticket, would that be enough?’ Perfect and perfect timing too! (I know you’re not really allowed to transfer parking tickets but I’m sure everyone does it).

Next, I needed to get some brilliant 'Lock & Lock' storage boxes from Lakeland so I drove to a car park nearer to the shop (really bulky shopping, honest). As I hop-skipped to the penny guzzler, and just before I fed the thing, I heard a car horn peep. I turned around and again a man shouted at me ‘Will quarter past five do you?’ What’s the chance of that happening twice in one day?

I bought a Perthshire Advertiser and a lottery ticket (first time for me, never seen the point before) on the way home. Well, after all the excitement I only got one number, oh well, the lucky streak had run out, or so I thought…

Perthshire Advertiser Friday 8th July 2008
This is the first time I’d heard of the market. I made a wee cheeky phone call to the Hydro at 9:30pm. After a quick chat to the organiser of the event I had a stall for the day.

Crieff Hydro Hotel Summer Market Sunday 10th August 2008

It was mainly dry with a couple of showers but it still made for a really profitable day. I really do think someone sprinkled some ‘lucky dust’ on my path this weekend.

I hope yours was just as good.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Can't think of a witty title

I received a phone call today to say that the Perth Highland Games have had to relocate to Perth Racecourse on Sunday instead of its usual home of Perth’s South Inch. I take it’s because the Inch is waterlogged…again. So I’m afraid that due to relocation there won’t be any space for Trade Stands, one of which was Barony. Oh well, outside events are such a hit or miss in Scotland.

After our usual stall at Crieff’s Monthly Market tomorrow, our next outing is the Arbroath Seafest at, you’ve guessed it, Arbroath Harbour on Saturday 16th. This will be our second year attending. Last year was two days of glorious sunshine, fresh sea breeze and good company. I hope it’ll be the same again this year.

As you will probably know from previous posts we are trying to ‘do-up’ the workshop up a bit. There’s nothing wrong with it as such, it just when you spend 8 hours a day in your workplace you need it to be somewhere you want to spend time in, am I right? I’ve decide to paint one of the walls a warm brown and hang a couple multicoloured polka dot pictures to add a bit of colour. I’m also considering having some stained glass art put into the bottom panes of the new door. Anyway, running between the house and the workshop (the cordless phone does ring in the workshop but the reception is rubbish) I caught a glimpse of my lavender patch and although it’s a common sight I though I’d say hello to my little garden visitors.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Learning to Blog - Old News

I think I'm getting better at this blogging thing. So, I've moved a wee report about the Royal Highland Show from the news page on the website to here. After reading it again I did chuckle. They often say 'you'll laugh about it one day'... so true, so true!
We've just come back from the Royal Highland Show...
and we're exhausted!
Claire at RHS 19th-22nd June 2008
This has been the largest show David & I have exhibited at to date and a very steep learning curve on how much preparation is needed for such an event. I don't think I saw my pillow until 3am throughout. You see, we sold out of our 4 most popular bars twice over, which was great. Just when I thought I had enough, someone would buy 5 bars of one type to ensure they had enough until the next time they saw us. (note: you can order online at anytime and we'll post them out to you)

We did have a few 'character building' hiccups along the way...
Our cash box fell off our sack barrow into a big, wet, mud puddle, and yes we did have to fish pennies from the depths!
The night before show-day I decided our stall looked awful. So after a few heated words between Dave and myself, we spent a fortune in a rather famous Swedish store to rectify the stall staging problems.
And we constantly ran out of pound coins for change (extra special thanks to my good friend and erm, 'Marketing Manger' Gill who is now on first name terms with the ladies maning the Bank of Scotland branch at the show - Gill also helped man the stand on the Saturday and I owe her a slap up meal for her help)

All in all, though, we had a super time meeting everyone and chatting about different scents evoking childhood memories, finding the right soap bar for Great Aunt Meg, which teacher was going to receive the raspberry or lemongrass & lime bath fizz and I even christened a new bar.... Monkey Business - soon to be on these pages.

So, The Perthshire Showcase is the next show you will be able to visit us at. Do you think we'll be better prepared for that one? me, neither!

Calling Trinny & Susannah...

It's about time Barony HQ got a much deserved makeover. Originally a garage at the front and a workshop at the rear (made for the previous owner, a golf professional, to repair and customise clubs) it's now been converted into a soapery at the front and David's wooden gift box/stall display making workshop at the rear (big dividing partition seperating the two).

I'll start by showing you the outside. First, we're getting rid of the dodgy up'n'over brown garage door and replacing it with much more suitable wooden double doors.

From this...

Old door

To this...

Dave hard at work on the new door

Not finished yet, but you can start to see where we're going with this. I'm so excited about it all. We will be painting it a warm brown (nicer than the old door). We're then going to add a couple of plant pots each side of the door and hanging baskets. Next step will be to get a sign made for above the door.

As Dave was busy hanging the garage doors I went for a wander down to the bottom of our garden and saw this...

Double rainbow from the bottom of the garden 04/08/08

I'll post the finished frontage as soon as it's done. Oh, and some photos of the inside.