Posted in British gifts, British travel, ceramics, countrylife, countryside, gifts, gifts for her, gifts for him, historic places uk, independent retail, stationery, wedding

Laura Ashley

Laura Ashley is another iconic British brand , known for fashion , interiors and accessories. It’s a company which has been on a knife’s edge financially for many years but still it has a high street presence.

Although Laura Ashley might not be to everyone’s taste and boy does it have competition, I feel there is still room in our hearts for this brand.

You might think now this dress is damn right ridiculous but in the day her designs were sought after and contemporary.

Laura Ashley (7 September 1925 – 17 September 1985) was a Welshfashion designer and businesswoman. She originally made furnishing materials in the 1950s, expanding the business into clothing design and manufacture in the 1960s. The Laura Ashley style is characterised by Romantic English designs — often with a 19th-century rural feel — and the use of natural fabrics.

While working as a secretary and raising her first two children, Ashley undertook some development work for the Women’s Institute on quilting. Revisiting the craft she had learnt with her grandmother, she began designing headscarves, napkins, table mats and tea-towels which Bernard printed on a machine he had designed in their attic flat at 83 Cambridge Street, Pimlico.[2]

The couple had invested £10 in wood for the screen frame, dyes and a few yards of linen. Ashley’s inspiration to start producing printed fabric came from a Women’s Institute display of traditional handicrafts at the Victoria & Albert Museum. When Ashley looked for small patches carrying Victorian designs to help her make patchworks, she found no such thing existed. Here was an opportunity, and she started to print Victorian style headscarves in 1953.

The scarves quickly became successful – retailing both via mail order and at high street chains such as John Lewis – and Bernard left his City job to print fabrics full-time.[3] The company was originally registered as Ashley Mountney (Laura’s maiden name), but Bernard changed the name to Laura Ashley because he felt a woman’s name was more appropriate for the type of products they were producing. The new company moved to Kent in 1955, but when the third of their four children was born, the family moved to Wales in 1960.[4]

Laura Ashley’s first shop was opened at 35 Maengwyn Street, MachynllethMontgomeryshire, in 1961.[5] The Laura Ashley association is commemorated by a small plaque. The shop sold locally produced honey, walking sticks as well as the couple’s own products. Here Laura worked with a seamstress to introduce their first forays into fashion, producing smock like shirts and gardening smocks. The family lived above the shop until moving to CarnoMontgomeryshire. They first set up in the vacant social club, but moved in 1967 to the local railway station, which had been closed two years earlier.[4]

Laura Ashley has slumped to an annual loss of more than £14m after a collapse in demand for its signature floral home furnishings.

The retailer said Brexit concerns had hit consumer confidence and stopped shoppers from making big-ticket purchases or starting big DIY projects.

At the same time, the housing market has slowed and house moves are key to the health of specialist retailers like Laura Ashley. As a result, like-for-like furniture sales were down 9% and demand for its decorating products, which include curtains and wallpaper, was down nearly 14%.

It is a great shame that this company was sold to Malaysian Holdings and shop closures are anticipated with further job losses.

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Liberty London

Libertys has to be one of my favourite shops in london. It optimises style , elegance resilience in an ever changing economic climate. It has stood the test of time

For me personally Liberty’s is more iconic than selfridges or harrods. Many might disagree , but whatever your views or preference it’s great to support British and the iconic brands which are recognised throughout the world and are synonymous with this country.

The shop opened during 1875 selling ornaments, fabric and objets d’artfrom Japan and the East. Within eighteen months, he had repaid the loan and acquired the second half of 218 Regent Street. As the business grew, neighbouring properties were bought and added.

InNovember 1885, Liberty brought forty-two villagers from India to stage a living village of Indian artisans. Liberty’s specialised in Oriental goods, in particular imported Indian silks, and the aim of the display was to generate both publicity and sales for the store.

During the 1890s, Liberty built strong relationships with many English designers. Many of these designers, including Archibald Knox, practised the artistic styles known as Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau, and Liberty helped develop Art Nouveau through his encouragement of such designers. The company became associated with this new style, to the extent that in Italy, Art Nouveau became known as the Stile Liberty, after the London shop.

Liberty, during the 1950s, continued its tradition for fashionable and eclectic design. All departments in the shop had a collection of both contemporary and traditional designs. New designers were promoted and often included those still representing the Liberty tradition for handcrafted work.

In 1955, Liberty began opening several regional stores in other UK cities; the first of these was in Manchester.[4] Subsequent shops opened in BathBrightonChesterYorkExeter and Norwich.

During the 1960s, extravagant and Eastern influences once again became fashionable, as well as the Art Deco style, and Liberty adapted its furnishing designs from its archive.

Liberty has a history of collaborative projects – from William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the nineteenth century to Yves Saint Laurent and Dame Vivienne Westwood in the twentieth. Recent collaborations include brands such as Scott HenshallNikeDr. MartensHello KittyBarbourHouse of HackneyVansOniaManolo BlahnikUniqloSupergaT. M. Lewin, Drew Pritchard of Salvage Hunters and antique lighting specialist Fritz Fryer.

Perhaps the success of Liberty’s lies with it’s progressive ideas and more recently collaborations with other big brands. Liberty prints are still very popular today. Their designs are beautiful, intricate and timeless.

Posted in British gifts, British travel, gifts, gifts for her, small businesses, stationery, support uk

Caroline Gardner

West London based Caroline Gardner is best known as one of the UK’s leading stationery and gift designers. Her signature look is an ever evolving modern classic, set apart by a distinctive and playful blend of modern hues and scale. A portfolio drawn together by Caroline’s distinctive design handprint of quirky use of colour and placement.

Caroline Gardner is to moving towards ‘naked’ cards by using an InFold, invented by the company, that holds the card and envelope together while protecting the corner. The branded paper InFold is affixed to the envelope using a plastic-free peelable label.

Caroline Gardner

Caroline Gardner is to moving towards ‘naked’ cards by using an InFold, invented by the company, that holds the card and envelope together while protecting the corner. The branded paper InFold is affixed to the envelope using a plastic-free peelable label.

The InFold design, for which the publisher has applied for a patent on, also provides the opportunity for the company’s branding.

“We feel strongly about reducing the amount of single use cellobags and so set about creating a way of keeping the envelope with the card,” explained Luca Bridges, marketing and independent sales manager of Caroline Gardner.

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Penny lindop designs

ABOUT PENNY LINDOP DESIGNS

A veritable Noah’s Ark of fluffy woolly animals. Quirky art to make you smile.

“Hello, I’m Penny, the artist behind Penny Lindop Designs.

We are a tiny team creating cards, stationery and art work in our rural garden studio on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. We love animals, and it would seem that you do too. Our animal designs are all hand finished with our signature finishing touch of real sheep’s wool. These are distinctive creations which simply make people smile.

We are passionate about our raw materials and where they come from. Handmade papers, made as part of a Water Aid project, are used for most of our artwork; we love these papers, and that their production is sustaining a whole community in India where they are made. Much of our wool comes from small holders across the UK, often from rare or ancient breeds of sheep.

Whether you are looking for a simple card, a special gift or a little treat for yourself, our work is full of joy and offers something just a little bit different.”

Posted in British gifts, countrylife, countryside, gifts, gifts for her, gifts for him, independent retail, small businesses, stationery

The importance of greeting cards.

Is there a future for greeting cards in this age of e-mail and instant messaging? Think about picking up your mail, there’s a bright card envelope among the bills, and instantly your day is brighter. It brings the knowledge that someone cares enough about you to take the time to pick out and mail a special message to you. Whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or the annual holiday card, it is sure to bring a smile to your face. E-mail would be difficult to create the same emotional response.

The birthday card with it’s tradition of sentiment and goodwill can lift your employee’s morale just knowing you cared enough to remember. The sincerity and comfort of a sympathy card can express feelings you may have difficulty expressing verbally. An annual holiday greeting card sent to family and friends allows you to keep in touch and reminds everyone that you are thinking of them.

A greeting card expresses all the human emotions, joy, thanks, sympathy, humor, love and admiration. It allows us to connect on an emotional level with the people who have touched our lives. Sending personalized greeting cards allows us a vast variety of sentiments that allow us to express our caring to family, friends, customers, clients and employees.

Select a card that has nothing on the inside, and take a few moments to express your thoughts …”Just thought we’d send a quick note to say we love you and wish you the best on your birthday:)….love Mom and Dad”. The person receiving the card will appreciate it that much more!

So the next time you are debating shooting off a quick e-mail or sending an actual greeting card, you may want to ask yourself which one conveys the kind of message you wish to send.

Posted in British gifts, gifts, stationery

Benefits of the notebook.

7 Brilliant Reasons to Carry a Notebook With You

With the right apps, a smartphone can do almost anything, but it’s also useful to occasionally ditch your phone in favor of a trusty notebook. Here are seven reasons to carry a physical paper notebook around with you.

Switching from relying on your phone in every aspect of your life to using a physical notebook can be beneficial for more than just your handwriting. You can’t check social networks on your notebook, for one. Committing to using a notebook for certain aspects of your life—say, your to-do list—can help wean you from your smartphone
Notebooks trump apps when it comes to versatility. They aren’t just for journaling, though they’re great for that, too. A notebook can be a repository for all the odds and ends you want to remember, from your monthly budget to your grocery list to your list of all the great restaurants you’ve visited or coffees you’ve enjoyed drinking. Nor do you need to use it solely for writing. It’s also a great place for your sketches, doodles, and diagrams.


Writing by hand has numerous advantages compared to typing, and keeping a notebook on hand is a great way to keep your script skills sharp. Studies find that writing by hand helps you process information better, remember more, and think faster compared to typing. Plus, it improves your spelling. Since you likely don’t spend a lot of time writing out information longhand at work, your handwriting skills have probably atrophied since you left school. Occasionally jotting down thoughts in a notebook is a handy way to reinvigorate the parts of your brain (and hand) that don’t get a workout when you type on a computer or a smartphone.


A notebook is the perfect place to jot down a quick thought before you forget it. While you may think in the moment that the memory will stick with you, chances are, that little tidbit of information or spark of an idea won’t stick. Not only is memory fleeting, but it’s incredibly fallible. Eyewitness testimony in court cases has been found to be highly unreliable, and researchers have found that even people with so-called Highly Superior Autobiographical Memories—super-memory skills that allow them to remember just about every detail from their lives—are susceptible to false memories. Even when we believe we remember events

Carrying pen and paper makes it easy to write down information on the fly, providing a more accurate snapshot of the day when you go back to your notebook. Writing down events and thoughts during the day is a good way to bolster your memory, but a notebook can be used for less lofty purposes, too, like writing down where you got that amazing slice of pizza.

MENTAL HEALTH.

Journaling is an established technique doctors recommend to combat mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Keeping some sort of diary helps people express inner thoughts and fears, identify negative thought patterns, and track symptoms. Even if you don’t have anxiety, keeping a journal can help you clarify your feelings and get to know yourself. You may think you don’t have time to dedicate to writing every day, but if you carry around a notebook, your diary will always be on hand to write in while you’re killing time during your daily life

YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN INSPIRATION WILL STRIKE …

Carrying a notebook has been an essential part of the creative process for centuries. Ludwig van Beethoven didn’t go anywhere without one, just in case inspiration struck while he was out. Benjamin Franklin carried a pocket notebook to chart his moral progress on his “13 virtues” character development plan. Mark Twain took notebooks with him wherever he traveled to write down observations and book ideas. The same goes for today. Modern authors and artists know that their best ideas probably won’t come to them when they’re sitting down at their desks, ready to work.


Digital planners and apps are convenient and useful—until your phone goes dead. Paper and pen don’t require any charging and are always ready to use. Even if you use your phone or computer for most writing tasks, it’s great to keep a notebook on hand for when your digital devices run out of juice. Even if your phone isn’t yet dead, using a notebook can help you save that battery life for something more important, like getting directions or playing games.