27 Feb 2016

Ryantown - Columbia Road

Have you ever been to Ryantown the wonderful shop of artist Rob Ryan? If you haven't you better get in quick! After over 7 years on Columbia Road they are closing their doors for good tomorrow so this will be your last chance to experience it in its full glory! I have visited many times before and it has always been a pleasure, the staff are lovely and the stock is divine.




On my visit to the Columbia Road Flower Market I popped in knowing that it would be my last time. I LOVE Rob's work, his style is instantly recognisable from intricate paper cuts to beautiful screen prints full of detail and personality. His birds, figures and patterns are accompanied by pieces of writing. One of my favourites being 'you can still do a lot with a small brain' as featured on the hand painted tiled mural in the shop (shown opposite). Inside the white walls give the shop a gallery feel, almost like you are viewing an exhibition rather than shopping inside a retail outlet.

I would love to own an original Rob Ryan screen print however I'm not going to lie my wall space has been completely maxed out. I don't have any spare space left on my wall, they are covered with prints and art galore that I have collected over the years. All of which have their own story and all fill my heart with joy and my home with happiness. When I next move it is my mission to get a piece from Rob to adorn my living room wall. One day fingers crossed!


I've got my beady eye on this piece here.

Alongside paper cuts and screen prints the shops hosts a collection of textiles, ceramics, stationary and  much more.




I was lucky enough to meet Rob back in November last year at a talk he did at the Baltic in Gateshead. It was such a great event he was so humble and funny. I was left inspired and motivated to push forward in my own business and design work. Below is a photo of me meeting Rob as you can see I'm not great at doing a 'serious' pose! 


Tomorrow is also the last day of the  Ryantoon pop-up shop at the Baltic. It is situated in their event space on the ground floor. Here you will find a collection of his artwork and wares, all black and white in theme in homage to the 'toon'.


That's it just one more day get yourself down to have a look before its gone!

Have you ever been to Ryantown?






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19 Feb 2016

Small Business Spotlight - The Treasured

As you may know I am passionate about promoting and championing small independent businesses. It's important to support the little people, the hardworking individuals, the risk takers that follow their dreams and that put themselves out there. Running your own business is hard but so rewarding and such an adventure! Today I would like to introduce you to Laura Booth the girl behind the fantastic and stylish online shop The Treasured. Laura set up The Treasured last year and I am proud to say that she stocks Dizzy Miss James  alongside other beautiful and unique products. 

I asked Laura about her business journey and running her own online shop ..


Q1: How did you come up with the idea for The Treasured?

I absolutely love discovering unique products and supporting independent designers/makers, particularly those from the UK, particularly when it comes to giving gifts. I spend hours and hours scouring the likes of Etsy and Not on the High Street trying to find the perfect present but as they grew astronomically I found it more of a struggle. 

Essentially, I created The Treasured as a way to showcase some of my favourite brands so that other people like me could find them easier. I launched in November 2015 with nine brands and more will be joining very soon. 

Q2: Do you run your business full or part-time?

As much as I’d love to run The Treasured full time, at the moment it’s my 5pm – 9pm job. From 9am – 5pm you’ll find me in the marketing team for a college, though I try to make time throughout the day to keep on top of social media.

Laura Booth - The Treasured

Q3: What does an average day look like for you?

A typical day for me starts with an alarm at 6.40am. I have some cereal and fruit juice whilst catching up on Twitter and Instagram before heading off to my day job. The college I work at is in the middle of the countryside, so I’m very lucky to see a beautiful sunrise on the way, and there’s a Post Office round the corner for me to drop off any orders.

My boyfriend and I have a rule that whoever’s home first gets dinner started, but that is increasingly me, so you’ll usually find me in the kitchen first off… Then it’s back to the shop! For the rest of the evening I wrap up pretty purple parcels, deal with admin and do my best to raise awareness of The Treasured.

Q4: What are your interests outside of The Treasured?

Aside from reading and binge watching series on Netflix, the only thing I’ve ever really stuck at is Yoga. I moved to East Yorkshire to be with other half two and a half years ago and the instructor at my local yoga studio took me under her wing straightaway. Not only is she lovely but she makes it so much fun and it eases the aches and pains I get from slouching at a computer too much. 

We brought a house at the end of 2014 and a radiator promptly burst soaking every room with water. Not only does this mean it is not ideal for Instagram photos but it also takes a great deal of my time. I have become a little bit obsessed with interiors and spend as much time as I can organising tradesmen and pinning my favourite home inspiration onto a multitude of Pinterest boards.
The Make Arcade - The Treasured
Pygmy Cloud - The Treasured



Laura packing orders
Q5: How do you keep yourself motivated?

I love running The Treasured, from selecting the products to wrapping them up, and seem to spend every spare moment I have doing something for it. As a brand new shop with limited funds for marketing, I don’t have piles of orders every day and it can get quite disheartening. 

I’ve always wanted my own shop, though as a pre-Internet child I imagined it to be made of bricks and mortar not code, and I remind myself on a daily basis that this was my dream. Nothing worth having comes easy and when I get a sale I’m reminded why it’s worth it… I do a little dance each and every time to celebrate. 



Q6: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to set up their own business?

If you want to start a business to get rich, don’t bother. If you want to start a business because it’s what you really want, get going! Do your research, make a plan, organise your finances and give it a try…




Do you have a favourite independent or small businesses?





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16 Feb 2016

Columbia Road Flower Market

A little while back I headed down South with my lovely friend (and partner in creative related exploring) Lisa for a whirlwind tour of London. We headed straight to Columbia Road to check out the weekly Sunday Flower Market. We have visited London quite a few times within the last year and it had been our intention to visit Columbia Road. However we kept getting distracted by the bright lights and experiences that London had on offer. As a result we ended up leaving it too late in the day and completely missed it. Open from 8am till 3pm-ish Columbia Road hosts a collection of 60 independent shops. From antiques, art galleries and food each quirky and completely different to the next. The market is situated in the East End of London and with Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Spitalfileds nearby there was plenty for us to do and explore. Many moons ago I visited Columbia Road and I absolutely loved it so I was very much looking forward to my return.


On our arrival to the street we were instantly drawn to towards the beautiful shop of Jessie Chorley. Jessie is a Designer/Maker specializing in embroidery and applique. You can see a strong vintage influence within her work and her passion for using 'found' materials makes her pieces that little bit more special. Each holds it's own bit of history. Her shop is a treasure trove full of loveliness, fantastic keepsakes for yourself or a gift for a loved one.  


The Flower Market itself is a sight to be seen, colourful, vibrant and full of life. Bursting at the seams full of floral delights roses, thistles, tulips and many more. Posies have been elegantly selected and bunched together  to compliment it's neighbour. It's a street full of colour, texture and full of beautiful aromas. There is so much to be seen and so much to buy but how do you chose?


If your not too hot with crowds I would probably give Columbia Road a miss on a Sunday. You will find yourself body against body trying to make your way from one end of the market to the other. You become part of a heard desperately trying to move forward and it can slightly tarnish the whole experience. I lost Lisa along the way however we were reunited once I had successfully navigated to the other end. Flowers in hand we then explored the variety of shops along the road. I love a bit of vintage and was glad to find a great selection of shops available. And of course I had to check out the wonderful Ryan Town (I'll be writing a separate post on this). After a bit of shopping we then headed to The Old George for a well deserved sit down and top notch Sunday lunch. A great way to finish off our Columbia Road Experience.


Have you ever been to the Columbia Road Flower Market?





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12 Feb 2016

Turtle Bay Newcastle VIP Launch

On Thursday 4th February I was invited to the *VIP Launch of Turtle Bay Restaurant Newcastle. I was one of 40 diners made up of Bloggers and Press that had the pleasure to share the full Turtle Bay experience ahead of their grand opening on 9th February. Turtle Bay offers a colourful, vibrant and fiery Caribbean menu with 50+ dishes served within the quirky surrounds of the Old Co-op building on Newgate Street. This is their first venue in the North East and I couldn't wait to try them out!


Upon arrival I was greeted at the door by their very friendly and enthusiastic staff each a delight to meet and they are passionate and knowledgeable about the food and drink on offer. I wouldn't expect anything less from employees that are asked to Limbo as part of the interview process! Heading inside I was pleased to be surrounded by the sounds and smells of the Caribbean, I knew then I was in for a great night!

If I'm being honest I was a little unsure of what to expect in regards to the d├ęcor, I had it in my head it would be kitsch palm tress, flower garlands and umbrellas in your cocktails. However the interiors have been sophisticatedly designed to combine both the colourful pops of soulful Caribbean style with a modern industrial look. This gives the space a fresh urban feel thats both appealing and atmospheric. The perfect setting for Rum Reggae & Jerk! 


You can't visit Turtle Bay without trying some of their Legendary Rum Cocktails, stocking over 40 rums sourced from across the Caribbean there is a drink to suite every taste. With 2 for 1 cocktails available everyday during happy hour 11.30am-7pm then again at 10pm and all at the same price... what's stopping you? I was lucky enough to try quite a few cocktails over the course of the evening. I was even reluctantly given a Beachcombers Zombie (the one with absinthe in) but that was kind of my own fault as I asked the bar staff to make me a cocktail of their choice, (totally worth it). All drinks were truly a taste of the Caribbean, delicious and each delightfully different to the next and all spectacularly moreish.


After a few cocktails and a bit of smoozing with fellow bloggers we all headed to our tables to begin our feast of authentic Caribbean cuisine. And what a feast it was! We were treated to dishes, sharing platters and deserts filled of flavour, spice and full of zest. I had the vegetarian option of sweetcorn fritters which were AMAZING I could eat them all day everyday, followed by their one pot Rastafari Run Down, then a selection platter of their puddings. I always worry when ordering the veggie option that it will lack spice, it happens quite often when eating out however I was not disappointed. Each course was jammed packed full of favour and they do not shy away when it comes to spice levels, a tastetastic explosion in your mouth.


On their opening day on Tuesday 9th February, diners were only asked to pay whatever they thought their food was worth. The amount each table decided to pay was then matched by Turtle Bay. The total amount collected at the end of their opening day was then donated to the Sunshine Fund a charity that raises funds to help disabled and seriously ill children in the North East. A lovely way to raise money for a great cause. 

On a whole I had a wonderful evening, delicious food, drink and fun atmosphere, all the ingredients needed for a great night out. I got to catch up with friends and meet some shiny new people. And any restaurant that has my favourite hot sauce Encona on the table is a winner for me! I also got to discover my now 2nd favourite hot sauce Ant May's Bajan Pepper Sauce (available to buy at Turtle Bay).

If you going out with family, friends or on a date with a loved one Turtle Bay is defiantly worth a visit. And don't forget this Sunday 14th February is Valentines Day so why not have a gander at their special Valentines menu.


Turtle Bay is a fantastic new kind of dining and drinking experience in the heat of Newcastle city centre!






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4 Feb 2016

Big Garden Birdwatch

On Sunday I took part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. Now this might not seem fun to most or how you would like to spend your time but you know what I really enjoyed it! I took an hour out of my day to sit by the window with a cup of tea, a selection of biscuits and the watch birds. I'm quite lucky to have a selection of birds visit my feeder daily. My Papa Blue Tit and Mr Nuts Red Squirrel designs are based on guys that have actually visited my garden. I love nature and wildlife that's no secret, after all my business is built on me putting animal faces onto products but I don't spend enough time appreciating it. In that single hour I saw 8 different species of bird and it was just so peaceful and revitalising.
I need to get outside more, fill my lungs with fresh air and enjoy the wildlife and nature around me. Working for yourself is great, hard work but great and sometimes you can get lost in it all and forget to rest, take a minute and appreciate what's around you. I'm going to take more time out like this even if its just for an hour. Time out from work, time out from the stresses of everyday life and enjoy the little things.

Why not take some time out of your day and enjoy a bit of nature?




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