Friday, 7 December 2012

Fruity Festive Frugality

Jam-making isn't exactly a typical summer activity; you wouldn't pair the smell of freshly-cut grass with the Christmassy smells of fruity, syrupy conserves. But in the middle of summer this year I spent hours in the kitchen boiling pears, apples, plums and blackberries to make jam and chutney as Christmas presents for my friends and family. Talk about early preparation!

Of course I've been told I’m mad to plan so far ahead, but I’m the one getting the last laugh: I hear people moaning left right and centre that they haven’t got the dreaded Christmas shopping done, and how they wish they’d done it weeks ago instead of leaving it until the last minute to buy gifts. And don’t you just know when those presents have been bought in the last 48 hours: “Thanks for the... err... lovely electric pencil-sharpener, Aunty”, and it gets put on the shelf where it collects dust for the next decade.

For me, Christmas is about putting that extra bit of thought and feeling into creating something different; my jam has certainly gained a reputation among my friends and family, and I love the thought of people actually looking forward to my gifts.

The best part is I spend a lot less money instead of shelling out each Christmas – I reckon I saved about £500 a year since I began making my gifts, which has certainly been helpful during the recession.

I’m always on the look-out for ways to save money, rifling through the Christmas cards and wrapping paper during the January sales (at about a quarter of their pre-January price!), and then stashing them away for the following year.

I also make my own decorations – and I’m not talking cut-out snowflakes. I spotted some pine-cones while I was out walking my dog, so I went back the next day, collected a bagful, and then picked up some glitter and glue from an arts-and-crafts store on my way home. After covering the pine cones with a layer of sparkly Christmas frosting, I strung them up around my home with some thread to create some authentic-looking decorations. I must say, you don’t half get a feeling of satisfaction dodging all those ridiculous £5 price-tags on department store baubles.

Of course all of this thriftiness does require a bit of forward-thinking. I've been saving up used jars all year for making my Christmas jam, and if you are going to make treats for family and friends, you need to check how long it takes to make them – chutneys can take about three months to mature. Plus, if you can remember to get out a pair of scissors before ripping into your Christmas presents, cutting them open makes it a lot easier to recycle wrapping paper for next year.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Better living through sustainability

I have recently been quoted in Communicate magazine on Corporate Social Responsibility.

Hope you find it of interest!

Once upon a time, a brand that demonstrated CSR could stand apart from its peers. But has the market become too crowded? We ask the experts:

Sara Tye, founder, redheadPR

“Of course there is still advantage in displaying CSR, but it’s not about CSR washing or PR (although this is important), it’s about running your business or organisation better and ensuring CSR is integral.

It’s about the best use of resources and not abusing your power on any level. It’s about sustainability. CSR, if environmental, will be intrinsically linked to Human Rights, whether that be the workforce or the people that are affected by the organisation and its actions. McDonalds is a good example.

In any sensible business, the board should be helping to drive CSR. It affects the bottom line if done correctly. Charity support motivates, thinking about the local community will help recruitment, the environment makes things sustainable and giving the consumer a better choice will in the end supply a known demand, which can be seen in action with fair trade and organic brands such as Green & Black’s.

I can’t see how there’s any such thing as a ‘less authentically responsible’ brand: companies and organisations that lie will be found out, and companies that only act sustainably for reputation’s sake are still making a difference. But you can use great PR, integration with other marketing activities, direct consumer engagement, and of course word of mouth and social networking to distinguish your CSR activities from others.

The brands that really stand out in CSR are those that make sure it’s integral to their business. In The Body Shop it ran through every activity; Green & Black’s changed the chocolate bar industry; People Tree put ethical fashion on the map; and even utilities businesses such as Thames Water have changed the way we think about water. But it takes a long time.”
For the full article click below

Thursday, 23 June 2011

MORE THAN £2,000 was raised for local charities at the annual Swindon Ladies’ Luncheon

Mayor of Swindon, Cllr Ray Ballman, was among a packed gathering of over 100 women at Bushwackers in Fleet Street for the lavish three course lunch.

Guests heard a fascinating talk from Philip Weeks, a world renowned expert on natural medicine, a master herbalist and acupuncturist who, in his talk, described the ancient Chinese art of Face Reading – and how a face can tell a thousand words!

Former editor of the Swindon Advertiser, Dave King, talked about autism in the county and the introduction earlier this year of an autism alert card in conjunction with Wiltshire Police.

This was the second staging of the ladies’ luncheon and organiser, Sara Tye, from redheadPR, said:

“We sold out very quickly and everyone had a magnificent time at this year’s Ladies Luncheon. The day went fantastically! There was a delicious 3 course meal and the service from the staff at Bushwackers was incredible and The event was a spectacular success."

Among the charities benefiting from the event which was held on Friday, June 17th, are Christ Church in Old Town, the Willows Counselling Service and the Swindon branch of the National Autistic Society. A donation was also made to the Mayor’s Charity Appeal.


Sara Tye, Phillip Weeks, Cllr Ray Ballman, Craig Pinches, Dave King

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

London Fashion Week - Bryce Aime

On Saturday 19th February, Camitz Sparkling Vodka provided Camitz Sparkling Woo Woos for Bryce Aime’s A/W 2011 fashion show after-party, held in the Amarillo Suite of The May Fair Hotel.

This season Bryce Aime has returned to his signature roots and once again created a collection that truly reflects his individual style, focusing on a strong, modern look with distinctive and unique graphic prints. The inspiration behind his A/W 2011 collection revolves around the militaristic features of an army barracks. An array of structure, classic tailoring and androgynous silhouettes ensures the authoritative, edgy theme remains pivotal throughout.

Lavish refreshments in the form of Camitz Sparkling Vodka Woo Woo cocktails were provided at the party.

Amongst the guests was the designer himself, Bryce Aime, Amir Layouni from Christian Dior and many up and coming designers, all of whom were seen enjoying the luxurious 100% all natural and refreshing Camitz Sparkling Vodka.

Find out more at and

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Pattaya Orphanage Thailand

Today we had a wonderful experience we visited the Pattaya Orphanage.

We were shown around by Alun Evans a young man who has decided to use his gap year to volunteer and help children. There are nearly 200 children at the Pattaya Orphange and each one has a little personality and individual needs. The staff managed by Khun Toy work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to meet the needs of the children who might have been left on the street or worse.

There is a wonderful caring atmosphere which is felt the moment you walk through the door. There is a deaf school within the facility where not only the children’s welfare is looked after but they are also taught sign language. There is no sign language in Thailand – they use the American system.

The Pattaya Orphanage has been in existence for 36 years and a lot of the original children have gone on to get degrees and move around the world.

Long must this work continue.