Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Totally Treehouse

Just received this lovely pic from my creative colleagues Ang and Ash enjoying a well earned break in the North of England. They thought Jim would love the treehouse! Well, who wouldn't?

Despite being a native north easterner myself I've never made it up to Alnwick Castle to see the tremendous work Jane Northumberland has done with the garden and grounds for the arts, for children, for the community and clearly for posterity.

The Alnwick Garden website say 'everyone should spend a day in the garden' and I intend to...although I expect it might not be long enough!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Perfect Day

I have just spent the most fabulous 24 hour holiday in North Norfolk. Alfresco lunch at The Hoste in Burnham Market. The garden room is so exotic it reminds me of eating dinner at Biras Creek on Virgin Gorda - only without the Caribbean view. The weather was totally BVI, as I went on to shop in Holt for dresses, deli and diamonds. My budget took in 2 lovely halternecks and a great Pork dinner from Byfords, but sadly didn't stretch to the ring I really liked in Webbs - but a huge thank you to the really nice lady who let me try it on.

Then back along the coast to Lord and Lady Coke's lovely shabby chic boutique hotel: The Victoria at Holkham Hall. Check in is delightfully informal and keys are doshed out to make your way through the park, to the resplendent Triumphal Arch. We popped our Sandhams' pink champagne in the ground floor fridge (yes there's one upstairs too - those stone spirals can be tiresome after a while), oohed and aahed at the amazing bedroom/lounge/bathroom of the West Wing and hit the beach at 6pm to glorious sunshine, olives, Italian sausage and bread. We had the golden sands to ourselves, save for a couple of Oyster Catchers and thousands of tiny razor shells.

By 7.30 I was soaking in a lovely hot tub whilst Jim popped down to the well equipped kitchen to rustle up an amazing dinner. Sipping my chilled pink champagne, whilst opening cards and pressies, I felt truly blessed for such a perfect day. And even more so for my own mother, who made a 4-hour round trip the previous day, to ensure my daughter had a gift to give me for my birthday.

Mulberry Space

If you've followed a link from my copywriting website you'll know this is the May Bond Street for Mulberry Space created by one of London’s most exclusive florists McQueen’s. The inspiration came from the Mulberry tree. The tree was “in bloom” each week - using English grown, seasonal flowers in the colours of the Spring/Summer 2008 collection. It's just one of the innovative Mulberry Space initiatives that sees the brand collaborate with different creative companies and organisations to create a gallery space in its shop window.

The original florist's sketch actually became the concept for the spring summer Mulberry in Bloom home page and the brilliant piece of email marketing that enticed me in. Like you, I'm busy and cynical so it takes a lot. Something this fresh can't fail to grab the imagination and delight the senses.

So you can reach for your PDA, iPhone or Blackberry. I will happily use a pen in my 10 year old Mulberry Planner. Like what's happening in Mulberry Space, I enjoy its reassuring weight and real world presence. And although I haven't seen the Bond Street window, I enjoyed the experience online. Isn't that what web brand synergy is all about?

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Green & Gold Goddess

I love vintage so I love the 50s inspired look of this pink and green choker by London designer Gemma Lister. Her work has been featured in Cosmo, Marie Claire, New Woman and The Telegraph's Stella magazine. Fashion stylists love her quirky British vibe and so do I. This piece is perfect with summer's goddessy dresses and strappy metallic sandals or just as a statement piece with a little vest, jeans and colour-rich peeptoes.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Lincolnshire's extra pair of hands

Friends Judi Rudolph and Claire Clark have recently set up this innovative business providing the extra pair of hands you need to enhance your home life.

I was thrilled with the pots they planted up outside my office. They've cleaned a colleague's stainless steel oven, given a busy career mum's home a thorough spring clean whilst she was on holiday. Their list of 'can-do's is endless. So many of my city-based copywriting clients would cut off a limb for such a service, but I'm sorry guys, these smart girls are re-locators. They've moved up from the south, leaving incredibly hectic jobs in business to enjoy some family time and fresh Lincolnshire air as they redress the work life balance.

It is their understanding of business that makes them so good at what they do. Their standards are as exacting as your own. Both are smart, professional, incredibly confidential and totally dedicated.

Whether it's planning a dinner party, restyling your property for sale or a regular clean, they have a few slots available. If you're within 10 miles of LN8, I would book them whilst you still can. Click the link for contact details.

I'm loving the Logo so lose the Litter

As a copywriter in the countryside, this is close to my heart. Every time I take a bike or horse over the Wolds, I'm staggered by the huge amount of litter and fly-tipping here in Lincolnshire. Despite the nearest McDonalds being around 17 miles away, people save their congealed fat soaked bags to chuck away when they reach the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Take it home with you. Better still, eat a piece of fruit, it'll enrich as it rots. So, I was delighted to see the CPRE's strong campaign. Especially, as I've always adored the the simple impact of their logo. It is a pleasure to say I'm loving it on my copywriting blog.

Creative Inspiration

Another lovely image to share with you from my friend Bev who is now in New Zealand and inspiring us with her picturesque postcards home via email imagery. This is a place called Milford Sound which, according to Wikipedia, Rudyard Kipling called the eight wonder of the world. Doesn't it look amazing? One for my must-see one day list.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Lincolnshire Treehouse

As a child reading Secret Seven I longed for a treehouse like this but we didn't have a suitable tree and my Dad was not that way inclined. Luckily for my daughter, Daddy is a tree surgeon and very clever with making and carving things in wood.

And how fortunate we are, you might think, to have a tree like that in just the right spot? Actually no. Jim has been on the look out for the right kind of tree that he could fell all in one go. He dug a huge hole and 'replanted' the tree to create the base. Our talented carpenter Rick, from Silverbrook of Lincolnshire, made the base and framework with a little trapdoor so you have to climb the tree to get inside. Such fun and much safer than ladders! Jim did the rest with rustic timber from Jonny Waterman's Woodyard at Nettleton Gap and put in a woodchip base to tidy it all up. He even added lovely old ropes for swings and climbing practice.

Best of all, my daughter loves it. And so do I. It's solid, safe, rustic, tasteful and fits perfectly in our riverside garden without a hint of nasty coloured plastic in sight!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Copywriters love Macs

When I set up my copywriting business back in 1994 I bought a tiny little black Apple Mac laptop with a roller ball mouse in the centre. I can't remember how much if cost m or what it was called but to me it was priceless. I had previous worked on a PC with no pictures, no pretty icons just coloured type and a black screen. It amazes me now looking back. Although copywriters deal in words, as commercial visual thinkers we like graphics too. Since then I've had iMacs, Powerbooks and an iBook. And loved them all.

Over the last couple of years I've discovered KRCS. The guys at HQ in Nottingham have been so helpful. They gave me great prices for a whole load of new kit in 2006, set it all up for me out here and continue to provide me with very reasonable (and incredibly patient) technical support over the phone (thanks guys)! Anyway my Mac Mini was slow - always had been - so off I went to Leeds (multi-tasking with a hair cut!) to get some extra memory fitted. One email prior to going to deputy manager Robert Hull confirmed it would be a doddle. And it was. Not only are Macs friendly and efficient, Mac people are very friendly and efficient too and the KRCS Mac people are a delight to deal with across every aspect of the business. Well done.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

A Thousand Words

The great thing about creatives is that we have skills that can be swapped. It's how art directors and copywriters have worked for years. Write me this and I'll sketch you that.

In fact it's how I've secured a few nice canvases in recent years by bartering creative skills with designers and artists. In the case of this stunning Autumn Leaves oil painting, I traded gig tickets rather than writing, but I wanted to blog it because of its beauty.

I want to remind us all that when you employ the services of a truly good graphic designer, or a commercial writer, you're tapping into an incredible talent and depth of creative vision. Plus a way of thinking that rarely gets noticed in today's web fueled digital marketplace.

Come on. Ask more. Give more. And recognise talent.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Catalogue creative goes wild!

With over 15 years as a freelance copywriter, I've met hundreds of creative types in the mail order business. Lots of the very best are still my clients (and friends) to this day. It's a tough industry - crazy deadlines, demanding briefs and long, long hours. So that's why it's always spirit-lifting to hear of the one that got away. My lovely, talented friend Bev, through being as clever with property as she is with catalogue design, has earned a well earned career break with her husband. Here they are having fun in the snow. Jealous? Moi? Actually no. Just really happy for someone who has genuinely earned it.

A bit like all of us diehard catalogue creatives though, I suspect she'll be back and seeking a new challenge before the year is out. It'll be a very lucky company, client or agency, that secures her talents. I'm already registering interest for her whilst she's away!

A copywriter's way with knobs

Having found the fabulous cabinet knobs mentioned below at Willow and Stone I have been inspired to create other pieces of furniture painted in Farrow & Ball's London Stone. The subtle and chic colour shows the cream off a treat. This bathroom cupboard was made by Silverbrook of Lincolnshire, another of my businesses specialising in property improvement and maintenance. Tongue and groove work is topped with a piece of reclaimed Elm from my partner's tree surgery business, inset with a Savoy basin from Bathstore.com. I'm hoping to create a website for Silverbrook of Lincolnshire soon to reach a wider market and showcase some of our Farrow & Ball painted furniture and accessories online. Watch this space!

Home shopping with knobs on

Strong, accurate and clever SEO copywriting is the secret of driving customers who want to buy to your website. I love it when I search for something on Google and it's the copy on the site that delivers the result I want. In this case it was knobs. Potentially tricky I'm sure you'll agree! But I was delighted to discover the wonderful emporium of Willow & Stone, full of fabulous details for the period home and garden. Thanks to clear, concise title tags and a very detailed navigation I could locate exactly what I needed - antique style cream ceramic door knobs in a choice of 3 sizes. And the best bit of all - I ordered the wrong size, had to swap and every email was met with sensational, personal service to back up a great e-commerce site. Best practice in every way.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Epicentre of the Earthquake Market Rasen

Copywriter OK! Thank you so much to all my friends and copywriting clients who have contacted me this morning to check we're all OK here in sleepy, sunny and now famous Market Rasen. I leapt out of bed just before 1am this morning, as the windows rattled and whole house shook, convinced there had been a train crash or a vehicle had hit the house. I dashed downstairs to find half my neighbours in the street, dogs barking, alarms going off, people hanging out of windows but miraculously no damage! So huge debts of gratitude to my gang of builders (you know who you are) and top chimney man. Thank you! I've read that Charles Dickens once wrote of Market Rasen as the sleepiest town in England and this morning proved it. The other half of my street, including my daughter, slept right through 5.2 on the richter scale. It takes more than an earthquake to wake us up the 'shire!

Friday, 11 January 2008

A beautifully written email

Yesterday I received a lovely personal email from Selina Scott thanking me for choosing her mohair socks as my current favourite GIFT under copywriter's favourites on my professional copywriting website. It was truly my pleasure as there's no pay for play. I simply choose things I really like and try to share them with others who want to find great product and service quickly and easily. I'm a mini Wikia, before it's even begun! It also made me love her brand more, it is truly personal, small, low key and special - and the sale is still on - so if you're quick you can get these deliciously cosy kid mohair bedsocks half price.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

The Copywriter's Bible

I carry a permanent link on my professional copywriting website to the Guardian Style Guide. I love it and use it constantly. I was delighted to receive an email from author David Marsh telling me the new edition is available in print. It's an invaluable reference for any writer or marketer, offering clear and easy clarification on how to use copy, words, phrases, spellings and above all the context of usage. If you read nothing else, click on C and cruise down to 'capitals' to discover how the preference for leading caps is finally diminishing and lower case rules - hooray! But not everywhere which is why you need this guide to help you get your copy right. If you want a copy at a discounted price please email me, I'm cooking up a deal!


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