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  1. The events are coming and going with amazing speed at the moment.

    After Coventry Frankie did a coffee morning for the Redditch Inner Wheel and as last year her goods were very well received and she was able to make a healthy donation to their charity account. That was on the Tuesday morning and on Thursday we went to King Eds 5 Ways school concert. This is a bit of a manic evening. We set up and sell about 45 minutes before the Christmas concert starts. Then there is a lull for the same time while the first half is in progress amd then we have another manic 45 minutes during the interval then while the second half is on we pack up and have gone by the time the concert finishes. We always do well here and this year was no exception. The only difference was the rain as it was torrential the whole evening. Fortunately we were able to park close to the building and the stock stayed dry.

    The following night Frankie and Laura went to St Josephs First School Christmas fair in Droitwich. Again a repeat of last years event and well worth doing but its a bit unfortunate that its sandwiched between two very busy days.

    The second busy days being the Christmas Extravaganza at Upton on Severn (and nearly Upton in Severn!). The torrential rain from Thursday had continued but had stopped by Saturday morning. In fact before leaving we had to scrape the ice off the windscreen. Got to Upton for set up at 8am and the Fair opened at 10am. All went well for the first couple of hours with a steady flow of buyers on a cold and grey, but dry morning. Carols were being sung and although some of the other events had been cancelled (the donkey and nativity tour for instance) all seemed well. Unfortunately at about midday the rain started and came down with a vengeance. There were still a fair number of visitors that braved the weather but these were measured in their '00's rather than the '000's expected. We kept a brave face and ended up with one of our best days ever but about 4pm the organisers came round and said that some of the roads out of Upton could be closing. That obviously made everyones mind up and the event effectively ended then. Shame really as although we had a good day we were still left with a feeling of what might have been. As we drove out of Upton we could see the river shooting up 6-9" high out of the drains and although we didn't see any floods in Kempsey it didn't surprise us when we heard the next day there was extensive flooding in the area.

    Anyway onward and upward. Sunday was spent making up a nice order of 8 wreaths off the website and listing a few types on ebay. We've had a sale from the latter within 48 hours of listing.

    We are now getting ready for the Warwick Victorian Fare on Thursday when the town switches its Christmas lights on - but not sure about the Victorian dressing up bit though. Saturday we are at Bewdleys Christmas lights festival and Sunday we are Redditch's Victorian market at the Bordesley Abbey and Needle Museum visitor centre. We almost sold out at that event last year I just hope we have enough stock for these three events. 

    Where did the year go to?


  2. Coventry Transport Museum event turned out to be a really good weekend. On Saturday it tied in with an event remembering the Coventry blitz. Very atmospheric with sanbags all over the place, staff all dressed up in WWII uniforms and lots of 2nd World War music. Mind you this latter wore a bit thin towards the late afternoon as it was very loud and there is only so much of Vera Lynn. George Formby etc one can take. Especially as it was interspersed with full blown air raid sirens going off every now and then. Didn't put the sales off and we were very pleased with what was achieved. It was our first time there and every one else told us Sunday would be quieter. Well it was noise wise but sales were even better than the saturday. This time they had an event featuring Vespa's and VW campervans and that brought in a lot of people as well. Overall it was a good weekend with a wide selection of sales across the board.

    We now have a very busy period but firstly it seems that the website and emarketing is beginning to pay off. We have our daughter home and her tinkering with the website and Facebook (panachegifts) pages has coincided with a rise in sales and interest from those quarters. She has also set us up with a twitter account (@Panache Gifts) and although we have a number of followers already its difficult finding the time keeping all these pages up to date.

    We are also listing some of the wreaths on ebay as that was successful for us last year and it seems to be having positive results already.

    Frankie was out today doing a stall at the local Inner Wheel coffee moring with the table fee (a % of the sales) going towards its charity. Then Thursday we are at King Edwards Five Ways christmas concert. Both of these event are repeats of last year so we know what to expect but on Saturday we are at Upton on Severn's Christmas Extravaganza. Forecast is for a cold sunny day but as long as it keeps dry we are hopeful of a good day. It'll be a long one from 10am- 6pm but we've just had the stand info through and we seem to be in a good position in New Street, just off the High Street.

    A new development at Coventry was our first sale with the izettle. This is an attachment to my phone which allows us to take credit cards, particularly Mastercard. It certainly got us at least one sale we might otherwise have lost and got an increased level of sale on another occasion. Be interesting to see how it goes.

    Lots of stock to make this week as we don't know what to expect at Upton on Saturday - might be a mega sale might be a total washout but if it is the latter we have Warwick Victorian Fair the following Thursday and we have been told to expct 000's of people to attend that one.

    Don't forget to check our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on twitter!

  3. Just getting over a busy weekend. Friday evening we went to the witches cauldron at Badsey and although the event had a fairly light footfall we had a good response with the dried fruit christmas decorations really taking off. The Pot Pourri was very well received on its first outing.

    Got home at about 10.30pm and left the house again at 7.30am to go to the Pumpkin Day at Bewdley. We took two cars this time as we wanted to take the spare stock in anticipation of the Christmas period starting. Lovely spot on Severnside North by the river but unfortunately the closeness of the buildings meant that we were in the shade for most of the day and it was VERY cold! A north wind coming off the river didnt help but fortunately our gazebo held its own and acted as a good wind break. Good response from the local populace and although we were pleased to pack up at 4pm it was a very good day with sales of the Pot Pourri really beginning to gather pace. We even had someone wanting to buy as we were loading the car as she had seen someone else walking round the town carrying one of our wreaths.

    We were also pleased with the way the new hand made scented candles were proving popular. We actually buy these in from a social project that employs people with learning and physical disabilities. I was actually at the factory last week and met some of the workers and we feel that the candles are not only unusual and attractive in themselves but we are helping this project as well. These will be listed on the website over the next few days as we feel they will go well for Christmas.

    Well we're having a couple of weeks now without events as next weekend seems to be more firework events than anything else and the following week we are off to a family wedding. We return back to the business the following week with a two day event at Coventry Motor Museum. Its the first time we have been there but everyone tells us its always very good so we are looking forward to it.  

  4. Warwick turned out to be one of the best days of our year so far. Lovely event. Hill Close Gardens is an area next to Warwick racecourse and in Victorian times it was divided into a number of gardens and allotments and used by local business owners as weekend retreats from living 'over the shop'. There are currently about 4 acres of these allotments left divided into about 18 gardens (I think! but that number may actually be greater) some of which are grass gardens, some with varying degrees of vegetation and others as allotments. A lot of them have lovely brick built summerhouses. There is a great visitor centre and its not very expensive entance fee either.

    It was a great sunny day, there were only half a dozen stalls or so but hundreds of people! The christmas wreaths, garlands and dangles were popular and the newly launched christmas tree decorations were really popular. Some lines sold out on the day and a sign that the festive season is fast approaching.

    The candles were well received, so much so that we had to put in a new order. We had the last weekend off so I went to Wales for a short break and on the way there called in at the social project that manufacures them to pick up the order. Had an interesting few minutes looking round the manufacturing plant in a small market town seeing how the candles are hand made and meeting some of the employees who have learning and physical disabilities. Great to feel that whilst running our own business we are also supporting this worthwhile project.

    Whilst down in Pembrokeshire I also did some driftwood collecting and after the recent storms there was lots of interesting pieces in the cove below our cottage. Whilst gathering the wood I also found a small beacon cast into the sea as part of an arts project by the Cillrialaig Arts Centre in Kerry, Ireland. Apparently a number were cast into the sea in September in the hope that they would end up on the east coast of America. Apparently this is the second one found in Pembrokeshire in the last few days! Collected lots of driftwood and have started drying it so we can produce some new mirrors and dangles, and possibly other decorations, over the winter to put on our stall and website in 2013.

    This weekend sees Halloween events. On Friday evening we are at the Witches Cauldron event at Badsey Village Hall, Worcs between 7pm and 10pm. Despite the late finish we will be up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to return to Severnside, Bewdley for the pumpkin day event under the gazebo by the River Severn. Forecast is for a cold but sunny day so it will be on with the thermals and hopefully lots of sales to keep us busy.

    We are also booking up our final events of the year so keep an eye on our calendar page to check out where we will be. 

  5. Hartlebury turned out to be better than expected with quite a few sales in the last 30 mins. Can't understand why some stall holders pack up early even if things have been slow while there are potential customers about it pays to stay open. We have often made sales while we have been packing up after closing time so can't understand why some people go early. I think we've only been the first to pack up once and that was when we were in the gazebo at Evesham when a thunderstorm effectively finished the event and would have damaged our stock.

    Anyway off me soapbox and onward this weekend to Warwick. We are going to Hill Close allotments' apple day. Never been there before but apparently its a set of allotment gardens established in Victorian times on the then outskirts of Warwick and was used by shopkeepers etc who lived over the shop but wanted some outside space. Apparently they've been restablished as working allotments and often sell older varities of plants etc. There is lots going on apparently and we are looking forward to the cider tasting .... and making lots of sales of course!

    A new service we have introduced is the virtual party plan or eparty. We have been invited to a number of events this year run by charities which have conflicted with other events already in the diary. In this case we have offered the organiser the opportunity to have a group sale from the website (excluding the calligraphy cards) and have 20% of the proceeds to the charity. This replaces the table fee we would have paid if we had gone to their event. Anyone who is interested in having an eparty should email us for further details as we have a factsheet we can email out. We would point out that as the order will be handmade on receipt we have a cut off of 30th November for anything required before Christmas so anyone interested should contact us sooner rather than later.

  6. Well where did September go to. Peopleton village fete turned out to be a really lovely event in good weather with lots of customers. It was a really traditional event Kids races, tug of war between the village pubs, wi marquee, gardening and art competition, and lots of vintage cars. There even WW1 bi and tri planes over flying at various times. We followed that up a couple of weeks later by going to the Soroptomists Fun in the Park in Solihull. Again the weather was good and the event was a pleasure to be at. We started displaying the christmas tree decs and had some success with them. The only off putting was some of the local bands playing the stage perhaps should have a bit of voice training - there again others were very good and I'm not one to speak as I can't sing a single note let alone get up in front of other people and do it.

    Last weekend we spent two days at the Belbroughton Scarecrow Festival. Two contrasting days weatherwise but that didnt affect us as we were in the school buildings. Fabulous turnout of people and the village really does go to town. It was our first event where we had the scented candles available and they really went well. The different shapes all had their supporters and it won't be too long before we have to re-order! With the onset of autumn thoughts of christmas are in many peoples minds and we did well on the dried fruit decorations. The candle and fruit table decorations sold out and we had our first order for the garland design that we are selling by the half metre length (commission for 1.3 mteres!). So a really good two days there and Frankie went to Stirchley Market last night where the dried fruit decorations again proved to be a great hit. Not only that other event organisers were so impressed that we had invitations to go to other events - not sure if we'll be able to accommodate everybody but we'll see.

    This weekend we are off to the 'countryside' event at Hartlebury Castle on Sunday. Although we are inside again we are hoping for good weather as the event needs that to draw in the crowds. The following Sunday we are outside again at Warwick at the Victorian allotments by the Racecourse so we are hoping for a fine autumnal day. See our events diary for more details. 

  7. Well what a difference a week makes.

    We went to the Autumn Fair on Monday at the NEC and loved some scented candles handmade by an organisation that employs people with learning difficulties and mental health challenges. We should be taking our first delivery in a couple of weeks or so and we'll be uploading them to the website soon after.

    Tuesday afternoon and evening we went to Stirchley market with the gazebo. Lovely sunny afternoon and evening which drew the customers out. Very positive event and looking forward to following up the positive comments about the dried fruit products for Christmas.

    Hopefully the sun will continue to shine for thw Peopleton Village Fete on Saturday (see events page). Looks like it'll be a shorts and T shirt event so we'll be taking the gazebo and full display. I understand there is going to be vintage cars etc there (look out the events website for more details so we are looking forward to a lovely day.

  8. Well we did the scarecrow day which covered costs and not much else but just got back from The Blue Cross Fete at Catshill which was a completely different kettle of fish. In the 'craft' marquee with loads of space. If I'd known could have taken an extra table but had to make do with the boxes. Fortunately had covers with me so the display looked fine. Cracking day with '000's people there. Only open for four hours but certainly a hectic day.

    We're off to the NEC on Monday to the Autumn show to pick up some ideas not only of possible products but marketing and display aids.

    Tuesday we make a return to the Stirchley community market. Weather forecast is fine so we are looking forward to a good event.

  9. After the event at Hallow we ordered a new gazebo from Gala and it arroved within 48 hours so we had it in time for the vintage gathering on the 4/5 August by the river under the trees at Evesham. Had an initial bit of difficulty putting up the new frame but got there in the end. Bit of a slow day on Saturday as nothing much was happening in the ring and weather was a bit inclement. Left the gazebo up overnight and de-camped home to watch the Golden Night at the olympics. Well done Jess (aka Laura Tyrrell!!!), Mo and Greg. Sunday dawned clear and we had a good sunday morning. People attending, vehicles and events in the ring and a steady flow of sales. Then about 1pm a flash across the tent - was that a reflection of the sun off the windscreen? The crash of thunder said it wasnt. Never seen a field clear so quickly and within a few minutes there was a torrential rain storm for about 45 mins. The good news was that although the atmosphere got damp the gazebo didn't let in a drop of rain! Unfortunately the storm killed the event so as not to damage any stock we packed and departed early. The gazebo spent the night hanging from the rafters in the garage.

    Fortunately it dried very quickly as we were back out on Tuesday 7th at the Stirchle Community market. From 4pm to 8pm on the car park of Stirchley United wm club. An interesting event and a positive start so we'll be hoping to go back there again next month. Watch the diary for details.

    August 12th saw us at Far Forest Countryside Show just outside Bewdley. Thousands of people there but sales a bit slow to begin with, not helped by a couple of storms - the first one at 10am just as the gates opened. Weather improved after lunch and sales improved but the real bonus was afterwards as during the event we had an enquiry about a trade order. We heard nothing further but yesterday after an exchange of emails we had an order confirmed for 22 chilli decorations to be delivered next week. Sometimes standing in a field in pouring rain can be worth it!

    We've got a family celebration this weeked - ANOTHER birthday - so we are staying in but the following weekend we are at Redditch Scarecrow day at the Bordesley Abbey centre. At least we'll be inside here and not under the gazebo.

    We are hoping to get the new stock ordered soon so once thats here we can get the Christmas web pages published as we've had a number of enquiries already.

  10. As it says in the title but this is a charity raising funds to pay for hair pieces for children affected by cancer treat. Hall village hall, just outside Worcester on Sunday 11 till 3. Hoping for a good turnout  and that the good weather continues.

    Well the good weather continued in between the showers! A heavy shower just as the event opened at 11am drove a lot of the uncovered stallholders inside but left a few of us outside. Once the rain stopped and the sun shone it was quite warm and despite another shower about 1pm we ended up having a good day and Girls Wana Have Fun raised enough to buy a couple more wigs for affected children (we are told they cost £200 each).

    Onward and upward and despite a poor forecast we revisit the Vintage scene this weekend with the 2 day event at Corporation Meadow, Evesham - by the river again (hopefully not in it!). Its the Evesham Riverside Steam & Vintage Gathering and our previous experience of this type of event has been most enjoyable. Hoping to have the new orange and white gazebo as our existing one is suffering from some structural failures after the trials of this summer.

    Away from the events we've already had a couple of enquiries about Christmas stock so we aim to have our new Christmas section in the shop online in the next 2-3 weeks.