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    West Midlands Blogger Meet


    A few weeks ago I went to a West Midlands Bloggers Meet, organised by Adele and Kirsty of Pretty Lovely Bloggers, held at the Rainbow in Digbeth.

    Over the years I’ve been to a few bloggers meet ups and it’s always interesting to see the variations in them – some are like workshops, others are just a catch up and some are blogging conferences.  Having been focusing on Full to the Brum, and food blogging developing a bit of a scene in Birmingham, most of the other bloggers I’ve met recently have been either food, or food and lifestyle bloggers.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but what surprised me about this was I knew very few of the bloggers in attendance – which made me a little nervous, but I chatted to some lovely people.

    The afternoon started off with us all generally mingling about, photographing and chatting to some of the reps from various products – I spoke to Sarah from Earlybird, which is a subscription box a little like Graze but combines music, food and art under the motto ‘Eat well. Play more’.  There were also plenty of samples to try and after grabbing a drink, we all sat down to listen to Elizabeth from Rosalillium to tell us more about getting the best out of Pinterest and another blogger (who’s name I’ve forgotten – sorry!) who talked about how to interact with brands.

    During the session Adele and Kirsty were selling raffle tickets to raise money for Mind.  I rarely win anything at raffles but Mind is a great charity so I bought a couple of tickets – and only went and won a Degustabox box!  Actually two of my tickets got pulled out but one prize was enough for me…although there were some great prizes on offer.  After that it was time to pick up our ridiculously generous goodie bags and struggle off home (I caved and got a taxi).  Due to a general back-log of blogging stuff I haven’t sorted through all the goodie bag, but I’ll post about it when I do.

    They’re organising another blogger meet in Birmingham in November, which #PLBSantasGrotto and sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun!


    Smiggle opens in The Bullring

    When I was about eight years old I collected erasers – or rubbers as we knew them.  I had two favourites; a rectangular purple rubber with gold Cadburys writing on it that rubbed-out well but could still be counted in my extensive collection and three horse rubbers about the size of your little fingernail with red, green and yellow tips that obviously couldn’t be used.  20-ish years on and my love of stationery hasn’t abated: I still have more notepads than I can use; coloured pens, markers and pencils; a collection of greetings cards and notelets for any occasion; and a bag full of stationery related craft stuff.


    And then Smiggle opened in the Bullring last week.

    As I stood wide-eyed in the shop, looking at the adorable erasers shaped like macaroons and ice cream cones, pencil cases with clickable compartments, colourful character festooned notepads and a collection of keyrings, I was immediately eight years-old again and in paradise.  Current-me was also pretty star-struck.

    DSC_0670An international stationery brand selling bright, colourful and quirky items, Smiggle was born in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 and made its way to the UK this year.    It’s nice to see a sense of inclusion amongst the stationery, which doesn’t just label ‘blue for boys, pink for girls’ but is more varied.  The current theme in stores when the Bullring branch opened was ‘konnichiwa’, with pandas and ninjas amongst the characters, giving an element of education as well as fun characters.

    A member of staff also mentioned that a lot of the items are designed to be tactile, with pencil cases having raised designs to help children learn.

    Frankly I’m not the right person to be giving you a grown-up’s view of this place.  I’m a big kid at heart and my inner-child was clearly in awe of Smiggle.  But what I liked about the store was the great sense of fun.  Sure, it’s very bright and colourful and this might not be to everyone’s tastes, but there’s some fun things in there for most people.  Perhaps it’s just my sense of humour, but I loved the large erasers for ‘Big Mistakes’ and have bought a couple for friends’ emergency kits.  That’s one of the good things about Smiggle’ for a shop solely dedicated to stationery they haven’t hiked up the prices and you can get a number of things for your pocket money – ideal at this time of year for stocking fillers.

    I’m already planning my next visit and taking my stationery-loving friends along for moral support (for our purses)…

    Disclosure: I was invited down to Smiggle as part of a bloggers event and given a goodie bag. I wasn’t required to say anything nice and they definitely weren’t expecting an insight into eight year-old me’s obsessive rubber/eraser collection. I also may have bought another notebook (please don’t tell my mum). All photos are my own, please don’t use them without permission.


    Lush Christmas

    Screen shot 2014-11-23 at 12.54.51It seems Christmas is everywhere, but back at the beginning of October I had the pleasure of being invited to Lush in Solihull for a preview of their festive offerings.

    This year Lush have gone a sort of Frozen meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with some Nordic Pop influences thrown in for good measure.  That’s to say there’s a nice mix of tradition with some more modern influences.  I particularly liked the idea of the 12 Days of Christmas, with a lovely Lush treat to take you through to the epiphany.

    But for me Lush is all about bath bombs/bars/melts.  Ordinarily, I’m more of a shower person, but sometimes life calls for a bath and when it does I always think there should be some bubbles.  I was particularly taken with a couple of the non-Christmas range; the sparkling pumpkin bubble bar with all its glitter and a swirling cylinder which let out an array of colours – just like a firework!  But there’s plenty of adorable Christmas bath bombs, bars and melts too; snowmen, penguins, mini-drums and even one present shaped with a little gift inside.  I admitted to not really understanding the bubble bars (I throw a bath bomb in and wait for bubbles) and one of the lovely ladies at Lush Solihull took pity on me and gave me a demo on how they worked – turns out some of the bars can be broken up and used a few times.

    Snow fairy, the delicious Christmas-only shower gel is back too, as are some lovely festive soap.  I picked up some of the Yog Nog which had a lovely creamy feel and smell and a delicious rich red soap both of which I’m looking forward to using.

    The lovely ladies and gents of Lush Solihull were great hosts; they took us through the range, taking time to explain the products’ inspirations and development.  I even got a free massage and left with a very glittery arm, which was mighty fun on the bus home.

    Roll on Christmas!

    Disclosure: I was invited down to the bloggers event and given free samples to take home, however I wasn’t required to say anything nice abut the event of products.  I also spend far too much of my own money that evening, because I’m a big fan of the bath bombs.