Friday, 10 July 2009

Back down to Earth

I'm home again and I've had a good sleep (first time in about 3 weeks). Looking over the last post, sent from the plinth, I'm a bit embarrassed about all the mistakes in such a short post. My only excuse is, it was 8m up with quite a breeze, a new I-phone I don't know how to fully use yet, time running out, cameras pointing and nerves like I can only compare to sitting my driving test. Now you try typing a simple sentence.... It's not as easy as it sounds. I did think I would edit the post to correct my mistake but then that would falsify my time up there so I'm afraid they stay.

Let me get all my emails answered and orders sent out and then I'll give you a proper run down of events (with pictures - whoo hoo).

Thanks for all the support. Buy Barony Soap.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

On the plinth

Hello to you all And thAnks for a the support buy barony soap.

What am I doing here?

I'm nearly there now so better explain what I will be doing.

I will be making some of my Crieff Chranachan bath bombs, containing raspberry and vanilla scents, scots porridge oats and famous grouse whisky.

Weather is fine so hopefully it will go ok.

Waiting to go on the plinth

Very nervous. Plinth staff are lovely. The portacabin is all decked out on red black and white. Just had my photo taken tons of times and im going to get interviewed now. More from me later on the plinth.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Made it to London, and to Trafalgar Square and seen the plinth for the first time.

I have seen a few of the other plinthers in action at various points during the day, who all seemed to have attracted a fair crowd. Had a nice chat with a couple from North London (a writer for The Bill & Midsommer Murders and a sculptress) who had come to see what it is all about.

Also been to the Science Museum (spotted another Antony Gormley sculpture) and for tea at Hard Rock Cafe.

Feeling quite nervous now, less than 12 hours to go and hoping for good weather so I can make the bath bombs. Now in my hotel room
wrapping some soap samples to give away .

Dave had hoped to update our website with details of what I am doing, but alas our web site can't be updated from the i phone. I will put some more details of my master plan on here later, hopefully people will find it and understand what is going on.

Thanks to everyone who has emailed and left blog comments wishing me luck, it's what I need at the moment.

Bloomin' typical!

Well, we are on the train to london but have already faced disaster once this,we didn't sleep in. I woke up at 3:30 and went to have a shower only to find the water scalding hot and no amount of fiddling with the dial would change it. Barony HQ has no running water!!! After a phone call to Scottish Water to report it I managed to find enough cold water in the kettle to get washed and my teeth brushed, thank heavens.

Anyway, i got my new I-phone and I love it (although it has taken from Madderty to Perth to get a reception to even start this blog. I'm away to play with some apps but I'll blog again soon... May even go onto Twitter. Feeling very calm at the moment all things considered. It's sure to change the nearer we get to the Plinth.

Monday, 6 July 2009

One Other Perspective

This post is written from the perspective of a long suffering husband. His identity has been concealed in the interests of his on going well being and to prevent further suffering. I'm sure you will all recognise the scenario described below. The details of your particular situation are almost certainly different but the underlying theme is still there.

It normally starts innocently enough when the female in the relationship, in this tale we will call her "Claire" ,has an idea. This idea is normally sparked off by something in a magazine or on the telly where the outcome is marvellous and ensured to improve your life in some unimaginable way. It is also normally acheived in the blink of an eye for a very reasonable cost. The idea is then discussed with several female friends who agree it is absolutely fantastic and must be carried out straight away.

At this point the male, we will call him "Dave" is "consulted". The idea is presented in an extremely enthusiastic way by "Claire" with the expectation that "Dave" will agree whole heartedly and will immediately set to work on acheiving this fantastic life enriching plan. After all it will only take 5 minutes.

Unfortunately being a man "Dave" does not see the idea in the same light, and attempts to enlighten "Claire" to all of practical aspects of the fantastic idea which have been glossed over by the source article. After some frank exchanges of views "Dave" realises there is no point in arguing and sets about acheiving the impossible for the 3rd time in less than a week.


When "Claire" is basking in the glory of being part of history, having a great time on the plinth, enjoying the whole adventure and relating the whole thing to every one she knows please spare a thought for "Dave".

He will be the one who figures out how to get half a tonne of equipment to London (by carrying it himself), how to make bathbombs in the open air, in any weather, when he has no idea how to do it in a controlled workshop, how to communicate what is going on to the world when he normally doesn't say more than two words to anyone.

That is before we even get to all of the contigency planning for those what if scenarios, like snipers taking a pot shot at your wifes bath bombs. I'm keeping the solution to that one secret for the moment!

Anyway, I'm sure it will be fantastic and worth the effort, especially as "Claire" can no longer look at me like "that" for being so stupid when I buy another drum kit or mountain bike, or finally get round to building a hot rod!


Barony Reaches New Heights (8m high to be precise)

Oh ,What Have I Done?
I've really excelled in my stupidity. Yup, I've really done it this time. A couple of months back I was watching the news on Channel 4 and on came an item on Anthony Gormley's new project about using the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square as a living art installation and calling it 'One & Other'. (click on the link to watch the Internet stream live, 24 hours a day)
Well, I thought I'll enter and show my support for the whole project (maybe get a couple of update emails, a link to a blog page, yadda yadda ya) never thinking for a second that out of the so many thousands that would enter I would be picked.
Darn 'n' Blast it, bloomin' random generator computers...I WAS PICKED! (OMG, I now have that butterfly in the stomach, slightly sickie and cold wobbly feeling all over me then on flip side I've a beaming smile from ear to ear, that's making my cheeks ache) and in the first week, only 4 days into the 100 days.
This week, Thursday 9th July 9:00am - 10:00, I will be standing on top of the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. I've had the confirmation email and the short phone interview (well it went on for about 40 mins - short, huh?). And the fear of God put in me by the interviewer - 'Now you know you will be part of history here? And as you are taking part only 4 days into the 100 days the world media will still be very interested. I hope you are not going to back out and let everyone down' Oh, the pressure!
Then... He wanted to know what I'll be doing on the Plinth. I said 'Oh, I don't know... nothing, possibly? There was a lot of discussion about the possibility of soap making on the plinth - not possible as I need electricity so I decided that I could make Bath Bombs (weather permitting! Don't know what I'll do if it's raining).
I'll be making my Crieff Cranachan Bath Bombs and will be taking all the ingredients from Perthshire. Bit worried about taking Bicarbonate of Soda and Citric Acid and whisky in a backpack down to London. Dodgy Looking Couple + Rucksack + White powder + London Underground = A police investigation if ever I've heard one. It's bad enough worrying about the scary amount of Sodium Hydroxide for soap making in my workshop. I'm just waiting to be asked to explain myself (he he).
I've now watched a bit of the live streaming of the event and at the moment a lady is releasing sponsored balloons for charity.
Things worrying me about the whole thing
  • The trains: late, cancelled... crash (if it's going to happen to anyone it's going to be me!)
  • The sudden realisation I have vertigo once lifted onto the 4.4m x 1.7m, 8m high Plinth for an hour.
  • The weather - Bath Bombs fizz when wet, my professional reputation is in the balance here.
  • Pigeon Poo! (nuf said)
  • Away out on left field but has been worrying Dave a lot, a mad gunman taking pot shots at me on a very exposed platform in the middle of a big city. Now I'm worrying.

Feel free to add to my neuroses or give me some ideas as how to fill the hour.

I'm hoping to get an I-Phone before Thursday so I can take some photo and blog to you lot while I'm up there. Dave will be videoing it all. More soon....

Claire 'now look what you've done' Robertson

P.s I'm secretly really, really excited and really chuffed to be part of it all.

Award Winning Barony

Hi All

As always, I've been busy. Here's a quick update of all the things I been doing under the 'Work' banner over the last month... Perthshire Showcase at Perth Racecourse (NEVER AGAIN - last year was well organised and and everything ran very smoothly... This year was a very different story (don't get me started on this one, I'm still fizzing). Talking of fizzing...Bath Bomb making with Buclyvie Primary School as part of their Eco Fair. I absolutely loved, loved, loved getting covered in bath bomb dust with the kids, so much so, I'm doing all again with the Auchterarder Library later this month.
Ok, Ok, I've held out for a whole paragraph before I had to blurt out...
'We've Won GOLD at the Royal Highland Show'.
Wow, talk about gobsmacked. The Judges were mystery shoppers on the morning of the first day (and the stall was looking full and fresh). The award was not only for my stall set up but also for my products, vision for my company's future (more info on that later this month...!?!?) and my customer service.

And we've just got back from the Scone Game Fair. A huge apology to everyone who came along to the stall to get their little stash of Barony Goodies only to find I'd sold out of a few of the favourites. I promise to have lots of my Lemongrass & Lime Hand & Body Lotion at Crieff Market on Saturday 11th July. I've been so busy attending shows that I haven't had anytime in the workshop to replenish stocks. I also have to return lots of emails, answerphone messages and send out orders (both individuals and stockists) that have come in during this week. Arrrgh, Monday morning is going to be hectic.

wee note: All of a sudden everyone is wanting Barony lip balms and my supplier of the cute wee aluminium tins is out of stock. As soon as I get the tins I'll have them back on the stall.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Mud Pack for Cars?

Well, last weekend was a bit of a washout... Did you see the weather, huh? Our new tent was brilliant, though. It kept us dry through the downpours while others got drenched. At least 3 other traders asked us for the tent manufacturer's details. 
So as you can imagine the ground was sodden and quickly churned up into a quagmire. Lots of cars, vans and even 4X4s at the mercy of the towing carts, everyone waiting patiently to be saved.
I looked after the stall on Saturday and when I returned home, in my wee car caked in mud, Dave made a few mocking comments about women drivers and being pulled out of the field by a tractor. I was none too pleased as I thought I'd done particularly well compared to others who were stuck fast as soon as they tried to pull off.
Sunday's weather was a bit sunnier (still with the all too frequent passing downpours!) and a bit busier. Dave helped to man the stall so to cheer myself up I went to get some sinful dark chocolate fudge from Laura's Chocolates  and did a bit of Welly Watching!
And lastly, my pair! I love my lime green wellies

At around 5pm I packed away the stall and Dave dismantled the tent. The car was loaded up and we tried to set off. Dave pulled away with a smug grin and all was going well until we got to the bit I needed to get towed out of.... yep, Dave got stuck too. I didn't say anything, just enjoyed the moment! 

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Loitering within tent

It's nearly summer, which means lots of outdoor shows on the way. Normally we make use of the tents/stalls supplied by the organisers or use our little green garden gazebo.

Renting stalls can be expensive but not everywhere let's you use a bog-standard garden gazebo (and they tend not to be great in poor weather!).

So... we have bought ourselves a brand spanking new tent which...

  • complies with the British Standard for fire resistance (as required by some show organisers)
  • is built with really sturdy poles and less likely to blow over in high winds (been there - not funny!)
  • keeps out the rain when it's chucking it down throughout our Scottish Summers.
We're using it for the first time next week when we are at the BASC Fair so gave it a trial run in the garden today. Dave swore lots about the lack of instructions, not sure why as he never reads them anyway. We just need to get a sign with our name on the front of it now.

If you're at BASC drop by and I'll give you the guided tour.

(I've just noticed Dave does a mean impression of
'Wilson the neighbour' from Home Improvements!)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Civic Duty?

Barony 4 Bar Gift Boxes

Dave has been busy over the last few days making 12 of our handmade wooden gift boxes. These are to be used as gifts for dignitaries visiting Perth & Kinross Council. I'm not sure where they will all go to but the first one was needed today for a visitor from France. I'm quite chuffed they chose Barony as it is recognition that my products are good enough to represent Perthshire around the world (wow, little ol' me?). I love all the bows lined up, don't they look so pretty?

This is the second time we have done this type of thing. Back in January we supplied VisitScotland with some of my Scottish themed bars to go into press packs for journalists attending Homecoming presentations throughout Europe. I still can't quite get my head around my soap is being used to give journalists a flavour (or scent) of Scotland to encourage them to publicise Scotland and attract visitors here. I'm not so great at self promotion and I'm still a very small company so when I get order like the ones above I still pinch myself and then spent a few minutes daydreaming about which country my products will end up in. My soap is definitely wider travelled than me!

VisitScotland - Homecoming branded soap

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

You're fired!

Just watched The Apprentice which this week had the two teams making soap and was absolutely facinating from the perspective of a soapmaker.

Everything they had to do was instantly recognisable as we've been through every single one many times over. It was also interesting that a lot of essential parts of the process were missed out, but I suppose that's TV and back up from a huge manufacturer, e.g. there was no sign of product certification being carried out.

I must admit that I was encouraged by the many disasters which befell the teams, it gave a bit of perspective to the difficulties we have to go through to get everything to come together.

I won't relive the whole programme but the best bits from the perspective of a soapmaker were.

*One team marketing their soap as 'in touch with nature' but stamping on crabs while collecting seaweed to put in it.
*The other team thinking a lump of honeycomb with the honey dripping out makes a nice addition to a bar of soap.
*Costing products without including the cost of your employees, large factory etc.
*Agressive selling is as ugly on TV as it is in the real world, - and that's why we don't do it.
*Essential oils are expensive, some are very expensive! You need to know that before you add them to your product.

The choices the teams made for their products was also interesting as they were similar to some we make at Barony, although ours are far superior even if I do say so myself.

Our Soothing Honey and Oatmeal bar has the honey thoroughly mixed in so that it doesn't drip on the floor and is soothing on the skin. Although we don't collect our own honey we do get it from a local beekeeper.

Our Soothing Honey & Oatmeal Soap

We also have a bar containing seaweed (All Along The Foreshore) which has lots of minerals which are good for the skin.

Our All Along The Foreshore - Seaweed Soap

Our Sandalwood Soap contains a sandalwood fragrance rather than essential oil. One reason is the cost as highlighted in the show. The other is that good quality sandalwood essential oil is extracted from trees that are at least 50 - 80 years old and concerns have been raised that over extraction to meet demand is badly damaging a lot of trees. Why would anyone want to contribute to damaging these trees when you can choose a cosmetic copy and get the same scent?

I won't be seeking any business advice from the apprentices any time soon, but I am considering applying for next years show ;)

Monday, 13 April 2009

The Information Soaper Highway

(Hello World)

We have just made a huge technological step forward at Barony Crafts.

We've had a wireless network for a while now so that I can use my laptop anywhere in the house which is great. However I've never been able to use it in my workshop as it is too far from the house - the signal was too weak.

Dave has now laid a network cable between the house and the workshop so I can finally access everything in the workshop too. This is great as it mean no more running back 'n' forth from the workshop to the house every time I need access to a file or order supplies on the internet AND... no more swapping of memory sticks (it's a nightmare trying to remember which one has the most up to date version of everything). This should improve productivity hugely, or so Dave tells me anyway! But the absolute best bit is being able to access my huge iTunes library while working, perhaps not quite so good for productivity!

Soundtrack to work at the moment: Alabama 3, White Lies, Muse & Carter Burwell's Twilight Score. Also really like Zero by Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs and In For The Kill by La Roux.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

My Newt

Last night while getting ready for todays Crieff Market (despite having no shows for weeks we still needed to work til midnight to be ready) I found this outside the workshop door.

It was a bit of a shock as I have never seen anything like it before. We both stopped and spent a few minutes watching and photographing it and trying to guess what it might be.

Our options were

1. A Komodo Dragon
2. A dinosaur
3. An extra from Primeval

Some research on the internet today has helped narrow down the field a bit.
Komodo Dragons only live in Indonesia so that was ruled out.
It appears that dinosaurs are extinct, so not that.
No sparkly anomalies nearby so not Primeval either.

A bit more reasearch has revealed that it is most probably a smooth newt. It is very rare to see one in your garden never mind on your doorstep, but probably more likely than finding any of our original options.

We have now registered our sighting on a website which records where amphibians are spotted to help identify populations and habitats.

Good Crieff

Had our first monthly Crieff Market of the year today. We hadn't been looking forward to it as the weather forcast was not looking good. The forecast did improve as time went on and we were a bit more optimistic and spent the last two days with our fingers crossed.

This must have worked as this morning we woke up to a nice sunny day which thankfully continued for the whole day although it was a bit breezy at times.

The good weather and the easter holidays meant it was a really busy day with one of the most successful Crieff markets we have ever had. As usual Crieff Cranachan and Lemongrass and Lime were the best sellers but our one off Easter Bunny went well too.

Also selling well were our new range of Hand and Body Lotions which proved very popular. These will be on the website as soon as I take some photos.

So all in all a good day, and my fingers are now crossed that all of this years shows will go as well. After all it worked with the weather this week!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

2009 The year ahead

It's been a long time since my last post, I just haven't gotten round to writing anything. Anyway I will update some of the things I have been up to.
I expected January to be a very quite month, especially compared to December. It was thankfully a lot quieter than December but not as quite as I expected. I have made favours for several weddings, I had no idea January was so popular for getting married. I've also been making bars for VisitScotland to take to several events in Europe promoting Homecoming. This is a series of events throughout the year to encourage people to visit Scotland. My soap complete with Homecoming logo have been included in goodie-bags for the journalists and travel writers at the events (photos to be posted at a later date)
This week I have been planning my calender of events for the year ahead. It's already looking like a busy year, with events pencilled in all the way to December already. I will be starting to return booking forms this week so look out for updates on the website soon.
Also attended our first event this week, a Ladies Pamper Evening in Stirling. It did take a bit of time to remember exactly how to do everything but once into the swing of it everything fell into place.
Anyway, here's to the year ahead, and more regular posts, I promise.