Category Archives: People I Meet

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Eco Warrior

Culture: the beliefs and traditions we hold and pass down to future generations. Generations that evolve and develop, their beliefs influenced by their environment. That is what Amit Gandhi of Handy DIY Store is using to create a new culture in a beautiful Crowthorne village and its surrounding areas. He has devised a way of drawing residents into the 21st century using 20th century techniques. He has developed an eco-store.

In the wake of another successful protest in the city of Bristol by the well-known eco warrior, Greta Thunberg, objecting against the sluggish response of politicians and large corporations to reducing waste that will impact climate change,  Amit’s response might seem small in comparison to what these oligarchs could achieve, but his revolutionary methods of improving his business whilst reducing the carbon footprint of his customers do not fall short of inspired. As the world plays catch up, he is celebrating a year of selling eco friendly products and offering a refilling station for household cleaning supplies that encourage customers to reuse their old detergent bottles instead of adding them to the overflowing landfills in our towns and villages.118131cf-db39-4c60-8f3d-96b913696926

Speaking to the eco warrior about his decision to supply products that promote environmental change, he told me that over a year ago, he was approached by the organisation, Crowthorne Reduce Our Waste (CROW), which was set up by Georgie Morris in early 2018 after she became frustrated with the amount of single-use plastic from a weekly shop. The organisation has accomplished Plastic Free Community Status for the Crowthorne village, a status established and awarded by the Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to towns and cities who fight to reduce their plastic waste.  The organisation called on local business owners to champion their cause to reduce single use plastics from everyday shopping. Following his own passion for change, Amit decided to research products that had a lesser impact on the environment and began restructuring his local shop to accommodate products with a lower carbon footprint, replacing the everyday detergents and utensils we buy in supermarkets with biodegradable alternatives. ac0f8f5f-137f-4c39-8aec-3904e9a90d45557010e7-195a-4060-a6e9-f7a3c3583bc6-1A year on, he is still on the hunt for more alternatives, never tiring in his search to provide his customers with eco-friendly options.

 

“I am originally from Kenya where, even today, we go to the shops to get refills on certain products. Bottles are collected and returned to be reused. That is how we have always lived. Some residents here remember doing the same thing.”

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What drives a business owner like Amit Gandhi to make that change? He believes that we all have a part to play in reducing our carbon footprint, but his passion goes further than that. Through conversations with local residents who have lived long enough to see the change in our consumerist culture, he recognises a parallel to his own childhood. “I am originally from Kenya where, even today, we go to the shops to get refills on certain products. Bottles are collected and returned to be reused. That is how we have always lived. Some residents here remember doing the same thing.” Amit’s belief that our older ideals should not be dismissed or thrown own with modernisation highlights the throw away culture that has developed with the excess in supply and demand of goods in our modernised culture. The Department of Environmental Food and Rural Affairs produced a report in February 2019, stating: “The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH; including IBA metal) was 45.7% in 2017, increasing from 45.2% in 2016. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.” If communities are to reach that target, more households need to embrace change.

“The UK recycling rate for Waste from Households (WfH; including IBA metal) was 45.7% in 2017, increasing from 45.2% in 2016. There is an EU target for the UK to recycle at least 50% of household waste by 2020.”

So, while the world sluggishly engages with a cultural change that existed before the turn of the century, Amit is spearheading the change needed to encourage shoppers to reuse their plastic bottles and purchase goods that won’t sit in landfills for centuries to come. 5e39744d-ed85-49ae-826b-fbee8f5dbfb4674fbd50-6460-44c6-9c63-6b8339659ef9From biodegradable kitchen foil and dog poo bags, to bees wax food wrappers and bamboo kitchen utensils, as well as eco-friendly cleaning products, his shop is in the forefront of fighting waste. Products such as Ecoleaf Washing up liquid, liquid hand wash, toilet cleaner, fabric conditioner and laundry liquid are available to purchase, and dispensers are in place for convenient refills.

“Just a conversation with him, he tells me he’s on a boat for days and sees plastic straws floating around.”

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Amit’s decision to supply products that promote an environmental change is a small step to improving the world and hopefully impacting climate change. Surrounding himself with a belief system to sustain and supply, he might not be as well-known as Greta Thunberg, but he is still an eco-warrior to those that know him. With a friendly, down to earth attitude, he shares a story about his friend who goes diving around the world to explain just how far the impact of waste affects the environment. “Just a conversation with him, he tells me he’s on a boat for days and sees plastic straws floating around.” Amit shakes his head and points out that we must do something to stop this from happening. His attitude and those of societies such as CROW and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) campaign for a better world for all of us. Maybe it’s time we take a page out of the own of  Handy DIY Store in Crowthorne so that we too can become part of the cultural change.

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Sources:
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/784263/UK_Statistics_on_Waste_statistical_notice_March_2019_rev_FINAL.pdf
https://www.greenredeem.co.uk/greener-living/lifestyle/how-to-work-towards-plastic-free-in-your-community–crow-
https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/meet-the-first-community-to-go-plastic-free-in-berkshire/
https://www.sas.org.uk/plastic-free-communities/

 

 

 

Waking Up

It has been a very long time since I’ve been woken by erratic words racing through my head, waiting to be caught in a net and sorted to make some semblance of order. Last night was one of those nights. Continue reading

Monday Coffee

Good morning. It’s the first Monday of the school holidays and that thrill of excitement is running through my veins: no work! So, grab your coffee cup and let’s get a refill and catch up. Continue reading

Bloggers Bash 2019

Good morning readers. Today, I’m taking you on a journey to London to meet the blogging family. Nerves are jingling and I’m tingling because I haven’t travelled by train since my last trip to the Bash a few years ago.

As the day progresses I will send you photos and updates and hopefully catch up with you along the way.

I’m on my way to Victoria station in London and the sights have been relaxing so far. Peaceful, rolling hills with wild flowers swept past my window and horses grazing near streams reflecting the morning light kept my fears of travel at bay.

Only a few more stops left before I get to see familiar faces I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing for years. Not long now!

We’re early but the committee are already here and prepared. It’s wonderful to see the old venue and bright smiling faces welcoming us.

Some of our speakers are stuck on trains but that’s not going to stop the day. With a shuffle and a jiggle we will get to them once they arrive and the guests who are approaching but can’t quite get here yet.

Now, Susie has announced the best writing blog and the winner is…

Head full of dreams.

Best entertainment blog is

Just Another Blog from A Woman.

For those not here but have won a prize, your certificate will be in the post.

The presentation for the blogging competition is next.

Hugh is giving us a breakdown on the competition entries and how incredibly good they were.

Gareth, one of the judges, is about to announce the winners…

The lovely Samantha Smith has won!

Laura from Full to the Brum takes us on an delicious adventure into her blogging life. With her love of burgers and what she was searching for in a blog, she gives us the scoop on the tone of her foodie blog that doesn’t follow the pretentious palate of mainstream food reviewers.

Adam is about to present the best food blog…

The Tennis Foodie

Best lifestyle blog is…

Invisibly Me.

Jemma Todd presents: a talk on how she got into writing and landed a deal with a big publisher.

Find her blog here.

A quick break for lunch and we will be back to business soon.

Back late so I’ve missed some of the awards unfortunately. We have now reached the exciting part of the afternoon with the Q&A panel who will be answering questions from the audience.

First question asks whether receiving an award like the Sunshine Blogger’s award. The panel agree that it’s a great way to be motivated to write more and a way to show appreciation for blogs you love but don’t hold a lot of value compared to, say an award from the Times.

Is there a place for blogging with the new types of social media presence available for followers, such as podcasts?

Comments from the panel agree that there has been a change in media but people might be looking for something more personal such as newsletters. Blogging will still have a place even if podcasts or vlogging take over social media because it is personable, easily accessible, cheap and flexible. You get a sense of the writers as there more is more an intimate contact through mail or blogs rather than the commercial click bait showcasing perfect lives on social media.

Should a blogger be focused on a specific area or well rounded?

If you’re a lifestyle blogger you might dip into different things whereas if it’s a type specific blog the audience will be attracted to those blogs that focus on the topic they want answered. It can help to help to define your blog but you’re best served to write on what you’re passionate about, even if it is a mixed bag.

Do people still sign up for mail shots if they are getting updates on blogs about their books or being inundated with newsletters on selling books?

There are great mail shots delivering information that conveys a letter style of information with various topics or upcoming events which adds value to the mail shot as well as selling the latest products.

That personal element of a mail shot gives authors a chance to reveal extra special give aways such as Sacha’s mailshots which contain marketing tips as well as more info on her books. It proves as a great way to connect with your audience.

Do you thinking using polls and asking for feedback from your followers adds value to a blogger or author?

Yes! It helps the rest of the audience too as they might be on a different part of the journey to writing. Engaging your audience is a great way to share information and help others as well as yourself as a blogger.

What advice would you give to a blogger who doesn’t get much feedback or interaction on their blog? How would you encourage them to stay motivated?

Shelley and the rest of the panel advise that when you’re doing it for a business, plan. Have a key word or a theme that will stimulate new ideas. If something comes in the news that’s relevant, that might be a way to keep your content fresh and relevant to your audience. Have a bit of banter with fellow bloggers and spend time visiting other blogs and leave comments. It’s a great way to get other bloggers to read your work and it could stimulate new ideas for your blog after reading their content.

It’s also good to bear in mind that a lack of comments does not necessarily mean your blog is not being read depending on which platform it has been accessed from.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Participate in events or competitions on other bloggers accounts too to promote your blog.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made when blogging and what’s the best piece of advice for bloggers?

Expect your first few blog posts to be rubbish! It takes time to find your voice and the only way to get started is to make mistakes and keep going. Work our the values of your blog too.

The worst thing was really terrible photos posted on a blog and saying yes to lots of events which clashed with personal events.

Esther advises not to make your blog posts too long or wordy as the audience tends to disengage.

Her worst post was posting a pic that offended a reader and having to deal with the aftermath.

Shelley advises a new blogger to know what’s available in terms of platforms. If it feels too stressful or like slogging, figure out why and change it so that it’s an enjoyable experience.

What do you do with a follower who becomes incessant after reposting your blogs and now expects favours in return?

Copy the url of the blog site and paste it to the option to block a blog page in your dashboard which will stop that blog from making comments on your blog.

The Q&A is now over and the event will move on now to a flatlay workshop.

The final awards will be straight after.

Geoff is presenting the best travel blog…

Lisa Dorenfest.

The best book blog is…

But I Smile Anyway

Sacha is closing the event with a big thank you to everyone who attended, the fest speakers and judges.

A huge thank you to the committee for a wonderful event.

Saturday

It’s the start of the bank holiday weekend and all I can think of is work!

With all the little fires burning in my head proclaiming their importance in the grand scheme of things, it’s very hard to switch off. Only two weeks are left till my final exam for my first year of uni to be complete and in that time I could be writing or illustrating my books. So, you see the dilemma: study or keep working at those time sensitive manuscripts. Not any easy choice.

This week, I had the pleasure of meeting various authors at a special event hosted by the Bracknell Library. We were invited to an author visit from David Barker, a Cli-fi (climate fiction) writer with a set of crime thrillers called the Gaia trilogy (Blue Gold, Rose Gold and White Gold). The stories are based on the effects of climate change and how the greatest commodity on earth (far more valuable than any precious metal) would become a source of temptation for cunning countries and super villains to steal. His books are set in the future and follow the theme of a high action thriller as two detectives try to uncover who is stealing what everyone needs to survive: water!

David spoke about climate change and how little we know about the impact of losing our most valuable resource, which got me thinking about how much water we all waste on a daily basis. Though his books are only fiction, his professional knowledge and the further research gathered whilst writing his trilogy make them all the more believable and worth the read. That will be my treat once my exams are over. I can’t wait!

Apart from meeting David and his lovely wife, Fiona (a children’s author), I also had the fortune of meeting another crime fiction writer, Harry Dunn, who is the author of Smile of the Viper and Forever Evil. Needless to say, my summer holidays are going to be very busy with all these fantastic thrillers and crime novels added to my reading list.

The bank holiday weekend may be a working one and a wash out but it will definitely be worth it once all the work is done and I get a chance to free read again.

Happy weekend to you all.

If you’d like to read David Barker’s thrilling trilogy, click on the link below:

What is beautiful to you?

What is beauty to you? Is it the soft curves of a woman’s form or the visions of humanity and its gods captured on canvas or in stone? Or is it the natural beauty you find in the world around us? Continue reading

Interview with an MDC Leader

As a freelance reporter, scooping a good story in a timely fashion was pretty difficult. After all, I had to hold down a proper job to pay my bills.  Luckily, my boss was very flexible and encouraged my ridiculous requests to have an afternoon off to catch the frequent riots occurring outside our ten story building in the middle of Harare City Centre.

Most of the time I went in blind; that is, I didn’t know what the riots were about and had to strike up conversations with people running from the military police in order to get the scoop.

In 1997, such a day occurred. University students had been staging riots across Harare city centre, striking against new taxes being introduced to pay for war benefits for war veterans who had fought in the struggle for independence over seventeen years earlier. In the midst of the ruckus, I bumped into the Bank Worker’s Union leader. He and I happened to share a space within a group of strangers watching the chaos from a street corner outside Greatermans department store. We were deciding whether to run down the road like the frightened crowds around us or wait. Most of those standing with us were shop workers trying to find a safe way home. As we paused amidst the screaming, running mob, conversation sparked.

When he heard that I was a reporter, he offered me the opportunity to interview him to get the bank workers’ perspective on the behaviour of the Zimbabwean government. A date was made for the next day before a military jeep interrupted our discourse. A tear gas cannister barely missed my head and shot past the rest of the group, ending up bouncing across the street to a shop aptly called Reflections.

Escape became our main priority and I lost sight of my news source in the choking cloud enveloping us.

To be continued…

Book Tuesday with Marje

Hello and welcome to Book Tuesday.

curse of the timeToday, I would like to introduce you to a fellow author, Majorie Mallon, whom I was fortunate enough to meet at the Bloggers Bash in London this year. Marje has been very busy with her new book, The Curse of Time – Book One – Bloodstone, and it is with great pleasure that I get to share her work with you.

Before we get to your book, please tell my readers a little bit about yourself.

 

I am a debut author who has been blogging for three years: https://mjmallon.com. My interests include writing, photography, poetry, and alternative therapies. I write Fantasy YA, middle grade fiction and micro poetry – haiku and tanka. I love to read and have written over 100 reviews: https://mjmallon.com/2015/09/28/a-z-of-my-book-reviews/

marje mallonAs a teenager I travelled to many far-flung destinations to visit my abacus wielding wayfarer dad. It’s rumoured that I now live in the Venice of Cambridge, with my six foot hunk of a Rock God husband, and my two enchanted daughters. After such an upbringing my author’s mind has taken total leave of its senses! When I’m not writing, I eat exotic delicacies while belly dancing, or surf to the far reaches of the moon. To chill out, I practise Tai Chi. If the mood takes me I snorkel with mermaids, or sign up for idyllic holidays with the Chinese Unicorn, whose magnificent voice sings like a thousand wind chimes.

Now tell us about your new book, The Curse of Time – Book One – Bloodstone. What is it all about?

It is a YA/middle grade fantasy set in Cambridge, England exploring various themes/aspects: Light, darkness, time, shadows, a curse, magic, deception, crystals, art, poetry, friendships, teen relationships, eating disorders, self-harm, anxiety, depression, family, puzzles, mystery, a black cat, music, a mix of sadness, counterbalanced by a touch of humour.

Here is the synopsis of the story.

On Amelina Scott’s thirteenth birthday, her father disappears under mysterious circumstances. Saddened by this traumatic event, she pieces together details of a curse that has stricken the heart and soul of her family.

Amelina longs for someone to confide in. Her once carefree mother has become angry and despondent. One day a strange black cat and a young girl, named Esme appear. Immediately, Esme becomes the sister Amelina never had. The only catch is that Esme must remain a prisoner, living within the mirrors of Amelina’s house.

Dreams and a puzzling invitation convince Amelina the answer to her family’s troubles lies within the walls of the illusive Crystal Cottage. Undaunted by her mother’s warnings, Amelina searches for the cottage on an isolated Cambridgeshire pathway where she encounters a charismatic young man, named Ryder. At the right moment, he steps out of the shadows, rescuing her from the unwanted attention of two male troublemakers.

With the help of an enchanted paint set, Amelina meets the eccentric owner of the cottage, Leanne, who instructs her in the art of crystal magic. In time, she earns the right to use three wizard stones. The first awakens her spirit to discover a time of legends, and later, leads her to the Bloodstone, the supreme cleansing crystal which has the power to restore the balance of time. Will Amelina find the power to set her family free?
curse of the time

Marjorie has provided me with an exerpt from her new book, The Curse of Time – Book One – Bloodstone, to tantalise your reading taste buds! Enjoy.

Puzzle Piece 1: The Invitation

 Opportunity,

An unexpected invite,

Such a mystery,

To explore and discover,

A hidden cottage of light.

 I found it to be a mystifying situation. An unnatural stillness seemed to linger after many days of storms. Today, the sky reminded me of a painting. It appeared too perfect, too bright, too still, a picture landscape with no beginning or end. Instead, the vault of heaven spread out toward an endless grey forever, as if seeping around the edges of an untamed watercolour bleeding into the rest of the day. Even so, the sight filled my heart with promise, a ray of hope in an otherwise dull morning.

The quietness of my contemplation came to an abrupt end. I heard the sound of an envelope crashing through the mail box. I jumped at the clatter. The letter landed on the floor as the sound of a thousand crystal chandeliers echoed throughout the house. I rushed to retrieve the envelope and turned it this way and that. I couldn’t find an address label and wondered if the note had been hand-delivered. Who could this message be for?

I stood puzzling over this peculiar circumstance when out of nowhere my name: Amelina Scott appeared in bold writing. I watched wide-eyed as the final character of my surname was spelled out in a delicate font. I tore the dispatch open and inside I discovered a card printed on the finest paper with gilt edges and embossed calligraphy. There were few details, just an instruction to visit:

Crystal Cottage, River Walk, Cambridge, and the following added at the bottom as an afterthought: R.S.V.P – Not required. We promise to be welcoming when you arrive. When you’re ready, you’ll discover us…..

I shook my head in disbelief.  Nothing good ever happens to the Scott’s so this invitation might look magical, but surely it must be nonsense. Weird messages from unknown sources count as dubious junk mail, the way I look at it.

I grabbed the envelope and attempted to rip it into pieces, but it wouldn’t tear. With a mind of its own the envelope curled its edges in protest. I searched in a drawer until I found scissors and tried to cut the invite. That didn’t work either. My hand ached, but the invitation endured intact as if mocking me.

Frustrated, I tried to cut the invitation again. A sputtered cursing sound filled the room even though I was alone. On my third attempt, I tore into the card with success. (I think it let me.) And once again, I perceived a noise, an angry murmur, and then nothing. Quiet descended in the room, so I threw the torn parts into the bin.

Finally satisfied that the annoying issue with the strange invite would no longer plague me, I brushed my hands together, and picked an apple out of the bowl on the kitchen counter, polished it on my jumper and then took a bite. In no time my hunger had abated, and as I chucked the core towards the bin, I registered a chuckle. I stopped, my feet rooted to the ground as a feeling of certainty filled my soul. I knew what to expect. I have no idea how I did, but I could see the image in my mind, the invitation had reformed. The invitation was playing games with me! I peered in the rubbish, and there I saw the envelope, connected in one perfect, unblemished piece. What the heck?

Marjorie Mallon’s book, The Curse of Time – Book One – Bloodstone, is available now from Amazon. Links are listed below.

My Amazon UK Author Page

My Amazon US Author Page

My Amazon Canada Author Page

marje mallonMy blog – for information about new releases, photos of main characters/character interviews, book reviews and inspiration: https://mjmallon.com

My New Facebook Group #ABRSC: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club on Facebook:

Instagram: Instagram:

Twitter: @Marjorie_Mallon and Twitter: @curseof_time

Facebook: Facebook: m j mallon author

Tumblr: Tumblr: mjmallonauthor

I have devoted the past few years to writing over 100 reviews on My Goodreads Review Account, and on my blog to help support traditional and indie writers.

Thank you for joining me today and finding out about Marjorie’s book, The Curse of Time. As always, please leave a review for the author as it helps us to find more readers who enjoy our work.

Have a great day!

curse of the time

 

Tell Me a Story Eloise DeSousa

A huge thank you to Annette for taking the time to interview me. What a fantastic opportunity to catch up with her about life, love and the power of books.

Annette Rochelle Aben

What can reading books teach us, at any age?  Pull up the podcast of Eloise DeSousa today on Tell Me a Story and find out.

Eloise DeSousa blogs, raises 4 children, is a wife and holds down a full time job. So, when would she ever find time to write and publish books….   AND she manages to blend things like life lessons, romance and horror into neat, tidy packages.  Yeah, you’ll want to check this out!

Be sure to FOLLOW her on her Author Central Page and how kind, that you would leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads once you have gotten her books.

* all podcasts are posted in alphabetical order 

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