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A Christmas Thought

Posted 24/12/2020

I think we can safely say this Christmas is very different from last Christmas, but is it a bad Christmas? 

For some people this year has been horrendous, losing their job or being a front line worker-working long tiring hours, losing a love one- not necessarily to covid, but still having to have a small funeral without hugging their family and friends. Businesses like ours have struggled and many have decided to call it a day not having the money or energy to fight any more, no one has gone untouched by the disease that didn't even have a name this time last year. Now to cap it all many of us won't be able to spend Christmas with our loved ones, we can't pop to the pub, or have Christmas gatherings with work mates, friends, family and then other family. I for one, am really missing my sisters family who live in Japan, my nieces are 2 and 5 years old and they visit every Christmas, but this year I won't be able to hug them, be woken by them at 5am, I won't get to hear the wisdom of young minds and the true unencumbered laugh of a small person. 

So we have every reason to feel sad, angry, depressed and fed up.

However I've just spent 20 mins on face time with my nieces as they get ready for bedOrigami SantaOrigami Santa and I'm eating breakfast. The 5 year old talked me through making an origami Santa, the 2 year old showed me her princess dress and there were tried tears as the excitement over flowed, and the kids cried as well!

I am so lucky to be able to video call them, to talk as if they are only in the next house, to see how they have grown. 

Instead of feeding 9 this Christmas, me and my husband will cook just for ourselves, but we are blessed with a full cupboard of food and a warm house, we will have door step chats with our parents and phone calls to my 96 year old Nan who has a whole care home keeping her safe, well fed and loved while we can't visit. So this Christmas is different, but its not bad, and it'll make next Christmas feel all the more special when we can be together again and I'm sure the last year will be a distance memory. 

This year focus on to the good times, they are still here, even if they are smaller and less of them, look for the good it is all around you if you want to find it. Think about all the wonderful things to come in the New Year, we know for definite that the days will get longer and warmer again, but isn't anything possible if we want it enough? Jo

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Clay Capers

Posted 15/11/2020

I spent the second week of our lockdown in Wales cutting flat Christmas shapes out of clay, and I have to say I rather enjoyed myself.

Clay shapes dryingClay shapes drying

I set up my slab roller on the kitchen table, then wedged and rolled clay slab after clay slab. Using cookie cutters I cut out nearly 300 tree, angels, holly leaves, bells and snowmen. Each shape had a small hole punched in to be able to hang it, and I then spent hours turning each one so they dried evenly.

 

Loading the kilnLoading the kiln

Clay has be completely dry before it goes in the kiln for firing, so now a week later I was able to load the kiln, but not before spending 2 hours sanding each shape so there was no rough edges. The kiln is about 3 hours into its 13.5 hour fire, it will reach 1063 degrees centigrade then slowly start to cool, this will take a further 15 hours. Once done the flat Christmas shapes will be ready to sell in the shop for customers to paint. Its a long process, so I'm glad its only once a year! Jo.

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Christmas is coming!

Posted 8/11/2020

Yesterday the Christmas decorations went up in the shop! Yes its far too early,

Pottery Christmas Tree lampsPottery Christmas Tree lamps

but we wanted to cheer the shop up for re-opening and besides its hard to do it when the shops open. Once the outdoor tree arrives, we can arrange our Christmas light switch on, and for the first time Zoom with Santa! 


Santa has kindly agreed to chat to the kids over the internet, while an elf will come along to the shop to help make sure the presents get to the children. I do enjoy organising the events, I think its the anticipation of everyone having a good time. Of course these days the events are a lot more subtle then before covid. Now we have to encourage customers to book ahead of time, we have to work out how long customers will be using their table for and we seem to constantly be asking them to put masks on, stay 2 meters apart, only one household per table and to stay at their table as much as possible. Gone are the times customers could drop in to an event at the spear of the moment, gone are the times we could be packed full of happy faces, excited children and the lovely sound of people talking and laughing. 

Decopatch Christmas itemsDecopatch Christmas itemsOn the plus side we still have our business, so many Paint your own Potteries have already fallen victim to covid, with not enough customers and not enough financial help, then all too often there's nothing else that can be done but close for good.

So I guess that's another reason I enjoy the events, every one of them reminds me how wonderful our community is, they come out and support us, and the charities we raise money for, we truly are blessed to be part of this amazing community.Jo

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October Lockdown

Posted 27/10/2020

So the second lockdown (in Monmouthshire) is upon us. We're not able to sell crafts even as take aways, apparently they're not essential (I beg to differ) so me and Deb are coming up with ideas for people to still do crafts at home. Trying to think of things to make

Debs Decoupage on slate and glassDebs Decoupage on slate and glass

from what you may already have in the house isn't easy, luckily

we should only be in lockdown for 2 weeks so we shouldn't have to tax our brains to much!

Its also been a useful time to update our online shop on Etsy with our handmade things. I couldn't believe how much we already had between us, then of course we get talking about things we could make to sell, and suddenly the lockdown doesn't seem long enough! 

Jos hand thrown potsJos hand thrown potsIn all seriousness though, this week is half term, and while we're missing a huge chunk of our revenue with not being able to open, its the atmosphere during the busy times I miss. The work is hard when you're on your feet all day, running here, there and everywhere, one minute making coffees, the next chatting about crafts with customers, but its so rewarding! The children laughing, the parents smiling because their children are happy (or maybe it was because they got a hot cuppa for a change!) either way people are happy.

Morgan and Meg dressed up for work Halloween 2019Morgan and Meg dressed up for work Halloween 2019Our staff are forever staying late on these occasions, and instead of grumbling, they offer to stay even longer, or they might have popped in as customers themselves and without being asked start clearing tables and helping others with their pottery. The ladybird team really is a special breed you know, the kind that's hard to find! Jo

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The day after...

Posted 18/10/2020

Its safe to say our first Hedgehog Day went well! The staff worked so hard, the tables were full, Carol from Hedgehog helpline did 4 talks andPart of the fund raising stallPart of the fund raising stall

we had 4 craft and fund raising stalls outside. We raised £99 on the raffle and £173.80 on the fund raising stall outside. I have to say I'm a little disappointed the sewing table on eBay still hasn't had any bids placed, despite it having over 700 views, well hopefully people are waiting until the last few hours! 

 

PaulinePauline


It was, of course, a bitter sweet day. The idea of the event came about as we were selling some of Pauline's creations, she would have been so excited that we were hosting a whole day just about hedgehogs, she would have spent the entire time talking about Hedgehogs, talking to the children and she wouldn't have stopped smiling! 

I think Pauline was with us yesterday, I think she's with us always. Jo 

 

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Getting ready for Hedgehog Day

Posted 13/10/2020

 

We're now just 3 full days away from Hedgehog Day 2020 and its safe to say the staff are getting really excited! This event came about after Paulines death, her family offered us the 

Hedgehog HotelHedgehog Hotel

glassware that Pauline had decoupaged, to sell and the money to go to a charity of our choice. It was easy to chose a charity, Pauline had loved hedgehogs so much and fed visitors to her garden throughout the year, each year she was so excited to welcome more and more 'hedgies' as she called them. But I didn't want to put a table in the corner of the shop, taking a pound or two and not really getting anywhere, so Hedgehog day was born! All the staff got on board immediately, offering to donate raffle prizes, run activities and staff the fund raising stalls. We have been humbled with donations of knitted hedgehogs to sell, really good quality nearly new items to raise funds and offers of help on the day from members of the public.Decoupage Slate and JarDecoupage Slate and Jar

We have a hedgehog expert who will give talks to the children, activity bags with info leaflets for the kids, hedgehog cakes, craft stalls, an amazing raffle including 2 hedgehog hotels! and of course the decoupage that Pauline created. Who could of guessed her painted vases and napkin cats would inspire a whole days event! Jo 

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New opening hours.

Posted 4/10/2020

This is a strange time we now live in, with Covid 19 seeming to rule our lives. At every turn we have to remember to wear a mask, or consider if we'll need to queue to get into a shop, or remind ourselves to keep 

Debs DecoupageDebs Decoupage

2 meters part from others, things that were alien to us only a few months ago.

With the local lockdowns popping up in many towns and cities now and advise being given to avoid travel, its not a surprize that customers numbers are again falling. So me and Deb sat down and came up with a plan, we'll reduce the opening hours of the shop to help concentrate visitors into the popular hours and therefore not be paying staff to do nothing, mean while we'll focus our downtime on making our popular items. Debs with her glass and slate decoupage in collections of Hedgehogs, Poppies, Highland cows, Cats and Butterflies, and me with slip trailing on pottery. This is a technique of piping liquid clay onto greenware (unfired pottery) to make patterns and designs that are usually then painted. This is the technique used by the Moorcroft pottery to achieve their revolutionary designs. Mine are by no means as good as Moorcroft pottery 

Jos slip wareJos slip ware

which sells from £95 per item, but I love this technique and by using my own designs I hope that one day I might be known for the way I use the slip trailing on my pottery.

So keep an eye out for our work going on sale in the next couple of weeks, we'll be posting to mainland UK addresses (and possibility further). Why not kick start your Christmas shopping with some beautiful and unique craftwork. Jo

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Road Closed.

Ladybirds Log

 

Sunday 9th October 2016

It's so exciting to finally have something to update the public about the new shop in Caldicot. It's just a shame the update is that we're still waiting!

On Thursday I thought I would pop an update on my Fb page and it was received well :) So today I thought I would write in a little more depth about how we got this far.

In May I signed up to the website Startuploans.co.uk- they put me in touch with a company that would help me apply for a start up loan. Craig was assigned to me as my mentor and gave me templates and advise and sent me off to write my business plan. And then re-write my business plan. Then tweak my business plan. Then add a couple more bits to my business plan. And a cash flow forecast needed filling in for 2 years- well I still don't totally understand a cash flow, but I put numbers in boxes and somehow got it done.

Craig then asks "What evidence do you have to show that Caldicot wants this?"

Enjoying drinks and cakes outside Donnies Cafe, MagorEnjoying drinks and cakes outside Donnies Cafe, Magor

So I created a 10 question survey and with the super powers of Facebook I got 248 completed surveys in just a couple of days. Me and my husband had the hardship of visiting coffee shops and cafes in Chepstow, Caldicot and Magor to see what the competition was like and all this new info was added to my business plan and cash flow forecast.

By now it was the end of June and Craig advised me I had to apply for the Start up loan before my business turned 2 years old at the start of September.

Time was against me and it felt like everything else was against me as well. After filling in the application form for the loan Craig went on holiday and wanted to be back to work before the application went in as the process includes his company reviewing the application and Craig was needed to field any questions they had. Once the application was in some questions did come back and it involved me tweaking the business plan again. I then decided I needed a holiday- Well it had been booked 2 years previous and the timing now couldn't have been worse. I spent the week leading up to the holiday on the phone to Craig or the estate agent , sorting the Tintern shop ready for me to leave it in other peoples very capable hands and serving the Tintern customers as we were now in the first 2 weeks of the school holidays.

When I couldn't think straight anymore we went on holiday, and I did manage to relax and not think about the application for a while.

The day after we returned Craig phoned me and said my application had been accepted and the money would be in my account in the next few days. I said "Thank you". I'm not sure if it was the shock, the jet lag or the thought that now things are going to get very real, very quickly, but Thank you was all I could manage with no enthusiasm at all.

Craft Coffee LeafletCraft Coffee Leaflet

A couple of weeks later, overflowing with enthusiasm, I made the finally decide on which unit on Caldicot High Street I was going to have and handed my notice in to my well paid care job.

Well that's the story as far. I'm petrified! .....and still waiting to get access to the unit- the landlords lawyers are doing ....something or other (probably nothing to do with my unit!) but it's them I'm waiting for.

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Ladybird Log- keep watching this space for the most up to date info on our Caldicot and Tintern adventures. 

 

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