Posted in British gifts, countryside, gifts, gifts for him, independent retail

Gift ideas for him

I find buying for men particularly difficult and quite often there isn’t much inspiration on the high street or the wholesalers.

I hope to give you some ideas and inspiration which might give you some edge against other gift givers.

British wildlife might be a source of inspiration.

There are a plethora of British designers and artists who offer stationery, prints, mugs and homwares inspired by British wildlife and countryside. I think pheasants, birds of prey and other British wildlife animals are a suitable subject matter for men who have a love for country living.

I like this geometric dinosaur egg cup.

Take this egg cup . It’s a bit of fun and on trend right now. Useful too.

Socks are Cliche but these are a bit of fun and super soft.

Powder UK produce some unique designs with beautiful packaging. Their bamboo socks are super soft and kind to feet.

Hip flask Aspinal London

Aspinal’s Hunter 6oz Leather Hip Flasks are expertly handcrafted for the whiskey connoisseur who likes to share a drop with friends. The stainless steel body is bound in premium leather and comes complete with two cups that fit snugly into the secure stud close lid. Each flask is embossed with their signature logo and may be personalised by their master engravers to create a touching and unique gift. Available in rich amazon brown, smooth cognac or sleek black with a striking cobalt contrast.

Grab a bargain at TK maxx

TK maxx is an excellent source for bargain luxury goods. Take this leather case from Jaeger at £129. Dramatically reduced from it’s original price.

molton brown

Molton Brown is a prestigious company who provide skin care products and home fragrance. Brilliant in the bath or shower and will infuse your home with truly decadent fragrance. Black pepper is popular with men and women. A warm, spicy fragrance with skin benefits to alleviate aches and pains .

I like birds homewares

I love ” I like birds ” for their quirky , retro designs. Great for the man who likes modern designs. They have a great range of goods .

Heyland and whittle skin care

Using the unique Heyland & Whittle recipe, only the purest ingredients, including a vast array of essential oils, herbs and spices, are blended to create this handmade soap.

Amber Oakmoss, a rich, woody, warm fragrance for the Gents in a comprehensive collection of bath and body products for a complete washing experience.

Fossil frames

These Fossil frames are a bargain at £14.99 , again from TK Maxx.

Fox cushion by wraptious

Stand out from the crowd with Valerie de Rozarieux’s stunning cushion. All the cushions are digitally printed onto super soft vegan faux suede – the sort of velvety material that makes you go ‘ooooh’ when you feel it. 

Choose from 45x45cm, 60x60cm or the awesome 95cm floor cushions, these pillows are just the right size to snuggle to on your sofa (or floor!), and are handmade in the UK. Comes complete with your choice of fibre or duck-feather insert, or opt for the cover only.

These are just a few ideas for gifts for him. Keep an eye on our shop , you might find the ideal gift for him.

Posted in British gifts, gifts, wedding, wedding gifts on a budget

Small wedding gifts on a budget

There are times when we don’t have a great deal to spend on wedding gifts. As a retailer in these times of austerity we are mindful of this fact. So we also source the tasteful and affordable. Good gifts don’t have to cost the earth. We hope to give you a few ideas for stand alone gifts or combined gifts.

affordable wedding gifts.
We will explore possible gift options for that all important wedding when the purse strings are tight.

Albums and picture frames are useul post wedding and a pain to buy for the couple when their photos arrive. It would be nice for the newly weds to show off their photos in a frame selected by a close friend or family member. We have a selection of gift bags, frames and albums for weddings.

small affordable wedding gifts under £10
This lovely frame is only

This is a weighty little frame, nicely put together and we sellthis for £5.00. The beautiful gift bag is £3.00. So there you have a lovely small gift for eight pounds.

You can add this sweet little wedding album for £4.00

This is a sweet little album for her to carry in her handbag to show off a selection of her wedding photos . It could also be used by the couple to give to an absent friend or family member on the big day. Photographs are so precious and what better gift could there be to a helpful assistant organiser or a brides maid.

Another wedding frame at a very affordable price, clean and modern at £5.00

Prints and homewares are also an alternative to the gifts we have already mentioned. We have a selection of prints designed in the UK at all price points.

A very sweet handmade print By Penny lindop
Another adorable print by Penny Lindop

A gift doesn’t have to be excessively large or expensive. It just needs to demonstrate you have put some love and thought into your gift buying whatever you select.

wedding gift, home fragrance
Home fragrance is very popular . I love this company based inYork
wedding gifts
Heart and home produce some lovely candles , beautifully packaged.
pop up wedding cards
The Art File produce some lovely 3D pop up cards

The unusual can have more impact than gifts you buy from the high street. Take a look around our gift shop. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Posted in British gifts, ceramics, countryside, independent retail, interior design, small businesses, support uk

British ceramics

More recently I have come across some great small British designers. One of the advantages of being an independent Retailer is that you look for the unique and unusual

Portmeirion is one of our longstanding designers who have had great success. They have kept their older botanical designers and devised the new which is sensible.

But great sucess stories are also followed by new and bold ideas. The big names give us inspiration to take that bold move and risk going into business for ourselves. I admire the designer who has an idea and runs with it. Success or failure.

The owelry print

For me ceramics, handbags, shoes and bedlinen are my compulsions. I love looking in shops for bargains. Tk maxx being one of my favourites.

I love the scandi designs, such as I like birds and martha and hepsie. Both relatively new designers.

I like Birds Owl Mug. Adorable.
Matching milk jug. Great gifts for him.

On my search for the new and bold I discovered Bird a great designer local to myself in Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire. A really fortunate find and so good for us as a company to support local as well as British.

In addition to mugs Bird produce prints and cards which are just exquisite.
Meg Hawkins is another of my favourite designers, also from Shropshire.
Her mugs come beautifully boxed.

Meg’s drawings are just beautiful. I have some of her homewares in my kitchen and they are a joy to have on show.

Even if you are not an artist yourself it is possible to express yourself through what you buy and put together.

Sara Miller another favourite of mine.

I love the decadence of Sara Miller. Bold and rich in design. Luxurious and special.

Another beautiful design from Sara Miller.

Design plays an important role in our everyday lives. Enjoy and embrace it.

Posted in British gifts, gifts

I love unusual gifts

Sometimes we like the unusual that stands apart from the high street. This is one of the advantages the independent retailer has over the big boys.

Your independent will painstakingly trawl various suppliers looking for the unusual and unique to offer an enjoyable shopping experience.

Unique British designs
A unique house jar design to decorate your home

Flamingo design
This is a lovely flamingo design on a hip flask.

Unique gifts
Hedgehog trinket dish

Ceramic novelty spoons
Family of ceramic spoons

House of disaster
Unique designed cup

Daschund pencil case
Super cute Daschund pencil case

Pussycat notebook,  unique stationery
Pussycat notebook

Gifts for cat lovers
Unique cat egg cup

Novel egg cup
Old man egg cup

Loveable penguin hotwater bottle
Loveable penguin hotwater bottle

Flamingo purse, unique gifts
Super cool flamingo purse

Flamingo gifts
Flamingo compact mirror

Unique planter
Unique house design planter

Geometric dinosaur
Geometric dinosaur egg cup

Owl hip flask
Beautiful hip flask for the owl lover

Unique tea tray
Pastel shade bird tray

Seaside mugs
Helter skelter stacking mugs

Owl clips unique gift
Owl paper clips

Swan spoons
Ceramic swan spoons

Posted in British gifts, gifts

Storm in a tea cup

We are all familiar with that phrase ” a storm in a tea cup ” But where did it come from and what does it mean?

Fox teacup from House of Disaster

A storm in a teacup. If you say that a situation is a storm in a teacup, you mean people are very upset or annoyed about something that is not at all important and will soon be forgotten. Parnell said that he thought the whole matter a storm in a teacup, and that it would pass quickly. Note: The usual American expression is a tempest in a teapot.

Decorative Teddy tea cup

tempest in a teapot is a small problem or event that has been blown out of proportion. A tempest in a teapot is an American idiom, the British equivalent is a storm in a teacup. Other languages have similar idioms, including the French une tempete dans un verre d’eau, or a storm in a glass of water. The basic sentiment of a tempest in a teapotand a storm in a teacup seems to have originated in 52 B.C.E. in the writings of Cicero, in a phrase that translates as stirring up billows in a ladle. The Duke of Ormand, in a letter written in 1678, refers to something that is but a storm in a cream bowl. Both of the idioms a tempest in a teapot and a storm in a teacup seem to have originated in Scotland in the early half of the 1800s.

Gorgeous toadstool spoons

Tea, that most quintessential of English drinks, is a relative latecomer to British shores. Although the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China, it was not until the mid 17th century that the beverage first appeared in England.

The use of tea spread slowly from its Asian homeland, reaching Europe by way of Venice around 1560, although Portuguese trading ships may have made contact with the Chinese as early as 1515.

It was the Portuguese and Dutch traders who first imported tea to Europe, with regular shipments by 1610. England was a latecomer to the tea trade, as the East India Company did not capitalise on tea’s popularity until the mid-18th century.

Reading tea leaves.

At one time it was common practice to profess to read the future through tea leaves. I had a great grandmother who claimed to do so. She would swoosh the leaves around and look at them intently. As a child I was beguiled by this magical art but obviously now I know it to be untrue.

British designers,  british gifts
The unusual and quirky designs of House of Disaster

Traditionally, the tea leaves are read starting at the handle and moving clockwise around the cup. Any tea leaf shapes or groups that are close to the handle describe things presently effecting the person having thereading. It might indicate something on the person’s mind or events they are experiencing.

Tasseography is a divination or fortune-telling method that interprets patterns in tea leaves, coffee grounds, or wine sediments. The terms derive from the French word tasse, which in turn derives from the Arabic loan-word into French tassa, and the Greek suffixes -graph, -logy, and -mancy. Wikipedia

British designers,  British printed

Tea is the reach to drink at times of crisis and stress for most English people.

From my own personal experience tea can have a therapeutic effect and I wondered if there was any evidence behind this. There is no doubt that tea is a British constitution but I believe there are reasons why.

Painted mason chair British crafts

Tea has long been a natural remedy to reduce stress and unwind after a long day. The act of pouring a hot steamy cup of tea and sipping while enjoying your favorite novel or lounging in a comfy chair helps to boost mood and decrease stress. Scientific research also shows that tea contains powerful ingredients that can target stress and depression on a chemical level.

Play tea set, tin, British design

When you’re feeling frazzled, a cup of tea can soothe those ragged nerves – and with good reason. Research on the many health-boosting powers of tea shows that not only does a daily cuppa (or more) boost your immune system, reduce inflammation and even keep your memory sharp, many kinds of tea – and even the comforting rituals of preparing it – can reduce stress, calm anxiety and improve mood. The best teas for stress are herbal teas made from plants from around the world.

Gift ideas, British designed

The overall health benefits of “standard” tea, especially the less processed green and white varieties – have been well documented. The catechins in tea leaves help to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and support the immune system, which indirectly supports the body in times of stress.

British tea. British designed gifts

So when we say ” storm in a teacup ” offer a cup of tea to help alleviate the cause of that storm. It may sound cliche but I think it actually does work.

Posted in Uncategorized

Magical mice

The Tale of Two Bad Mice is a children’s book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, and published by Frederick Warne & Co. in September 1904. Potter took inspiration for the tale from two mice caught in a cage-trap in her cousin’s home and a doll’s house being constructed by her editor and publisher Norman Warne as a Christmas gift for his niece Winifred. While the tale was being developed, Potter and Warne fell in love and became engaged, much to the annoyance of Potter’s parents, who were grooming their daughter to be a permanent resident and housekeeper in their London home.

The tale is about two mice who vandalize a doll’s house. After finding the food on the dining room table made of plaster, they smash the dishes, throw the doll clothing out the window, tear the bolster, and carry off a number of articles to their mouse-hole. When the little girl who owns the doll’s house discovers the destruction, she positions a policeman doll outside the front door to ward off any future depredation. The two mice atone for their crime spree by putting a crooked sixpence in the doll’s stocking on Christmas Eve and sweeping the house every morning with a dust-pan and broom.

The tale’s themes of rebellion, insurrection, and individualism reflect not only Potter’s desire to free herself of her domineering parents and build a home of her own.

A tailor in Gloucester sends his cat Simpkin to buy food and a twist of cherry-coloured silk to complete a waistcoat commissioned by the mayor for his wedding on Christmas morning. Whilst Simpkin is gone, the tailor finds mice the cat has imprisoned under teacups. The mice are released and scamper away. When Simpkin returns and finds his mice gone, he hides the twist in anger.

The tailor falls ill and is unable to complete the waistcoat, but, upon returning to his shop, he is surprised to find the waistcoat finished. The work has been done by the grateful mice. However, one buttonhole remains unfinished because there was “no more twist!” Simpkin gives the tailor the twist to complete the work and the success of the waistcoat makes the tailor’s fortune.

It may be small, furry and too fond by far of the contents of our cupboards, but the humble mouse has great things going for it. It now transpires that Mus musculus is remarkably similar to Homo sapiens. Indeed, each of us shares 99 per cent of our genes with it.

Not only are mouse genes like ours, so are the development of their embryos, their patterns of disease and even their behavioural problems. Mice get stressed, too.

These similarities are about to be exploited by the scientific community. Mice are to become researchers’ main vehicles for unravelling humanity’s genetic secrets.

The first mouse to grace our screens was Mickey Mouse who first featured in the black and white movies Plane Crazy and Steamboat Willie in 1928. His white gloves were added later because the black of his hands weren’t clearly visible against his body. Originally called Mortimer mouse, Mickey is a global phenomenon and his face is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world. His character has been shaped into everything from a bunker on a golf course to birthday cakes. Mickey is currently the main character in the Disney Channel’s Playhouse Disney series “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”.

The irony of Mickey Mouse’s creation is that Walt Disney was in fact scared of mice. However, he pictured mice as sympathetic creatures, despite people being scared of them

These are soap mice but in the uk we have a tradition of sugar mice at xmas.

The German Wotan feast was a mixture of sacrifice and fertility festivals during and around the midwinter feasts. The lads and lassies of the Germanic tribes prayed in those early times for a partner. The presents from Sinterklaas were also in the form of lovers made from speculatius or other cakes. Also, presents were of animals in the form of sugar mice and pigs, to substitute for the real animal sacrifices. 

In Victorian England, sugar mice were an eagerly anticipated part of the Christmas holidays. Children who accompanied their parents to holiday parties were given the mouse-shaped lollipops; Santa could be counted on to leave one peeking out of their stockings.

If you happen to be walking through the Swedish city of Malmö, make sure to pay attention to the little details.If you take a look down you may notice something amazing inside a basement window in the neighborhood of Möllevången. Tiny businesses — a bakery and a “cheese and cracker” shop — just the right size for mice.