It’s a story inspired by reading about the famous ‘ghost train’ and is set in the Victorian era. You can listen to it (with captions) on Youtube below.
I recently had two stories, Crow Girl and Masquerade, selected to be included in an anthology, The Abyss Within, by new UK publishers SmashBear Publishing. They specialise in fantasy and horror fiction and all profits from this anthology will be donated to Women’s Aid, the national charity working to end domestic abuse against women and children. I’m proud to be part of this exciting new venture.
If you’d like to support this charity, have a look at The Abyss Within on Amazon (affiliate link).
Good Energy, Wind TurbineIf you want to make a lasting impact on both your children and the world, going green is the way to do it. Transforming your household into a “no-waste” zone as well as reinforcing the importance of an environmentally sound way of life is a change that could benefit your family for generations to come. Are you wondering how you can get on the green train and then bring your family onboard? Keep reading to find out.
Going green: the basics
The great thing about making the decision to live a green lifestyle is that it is now so easy to do. Going green may mean more than separating your aluminium from plastic, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a hassle. Here’s where to start.
1. Energy-proof your home. The best place to start when going green is saving energy at home. Make small and inexpensive instalments such as fluorescent light bulbs, low-flow shower heads that save water, and a programmable thermostat that automatically shuts of the heating and cooling. These changes take only minutes to do but could bring your energy bills down significantly over time. There’s no better investment for your time or your money!
2. Start cycling to work. If you use a bicycle as your main mode of transportation, you can cut your carbon emissions to just a fraction of what they were before. You may also save on doctor’s bills; people who get regular exercise have fewer health issues and experience less sick days over the course of their careers. Cycling can also become a fun family activity that the kids can involved with when they are old enough. Plus, it’s free entertainment.
3. Switch to green electricity. Using renewable, sustainable power sources is one of the greatest impacts you can make to reduce your family’s carbon footprint. Luckily, green energy doesn’t have to entail installing solar panels or wind turbines on your family’s property anymore. You can go green (and stay on the grid) with a simple phone call to your energy provider to tell them that you want to switch. Research some renewable energy companies such as Good Energy, and then make your move.
4. Hydrate from the tap. Instead of throwing away thousands of pounds each year on bottled water, get your hydration from filtered tap water. Not only does this save you time and energy (no more driving to the supermarket to pick up a new case of water), but it also reduces plastic waste that takes generations to break down.
5. Eat green. If you come from a family of meat lovers, consider reducing your animal intake to just once or twice a week. This will give you the chance to try out some new and interesting recipes as well as the opportunity to infuse your family’s diet with more vegetables, fruits, and grains. For these items, consider shopping at local farmer’s markets so that you have the benefit of knowing exactly where your food is coming from and how it was raised. Eating local also cuts down on the carbon emissions that it takes to transport foods across vast distances.
6. Hold off on that upgrade. With a newer, faster version of every smart phone and personal computer released every month, it can be tempting to want the latest and greatest. But if you keep your electronics for longer periods of time, you can cut the amount of harmful chemicals that go into the trash along with them.
At its very core, green living is all about keeping it simple, which is a principal that works well for families. These tips are just the beginning, so find more ways to live green as you embrace the lifestyle!
Sponsored post by Leo Fisher
I recently read about creating Google search stories on Twitter (thanks @Eleesha) and decided to investigate to see if this was something worth doing for my business. I have occasionally seen little videos showing how a search on Google could lead to life changes (the most famous example is the Parisian Love story).
It’s Recycle Week in the UK and it’s a great time to revisit ways to help the environment and put a bit less strain on it by reducing, reusing and recycling. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I’ve been doing and plan to do this week, and some tips and ideas to help you cut down on waste.
I’ve been recycling batteries at my local Tesco; there are so many more places where you can do this now and it’s only a five minute walk for me to drop them off! The other thing I could do is cut down on the amount of batteries I use in the first place, I am thinking about buying a battery recharger and rechargeable batteries to reduce my impact on the environment.
I’m going to make a final decision about whether to get a wormery or a composter this week and buy one. My local council subsidises both so it’s really a question of whether I can face up to wriggly worms or whether it’s better to have a composter, even though my garden is very small. The council used to pick up my food waste from my previous address, but sadly does not provide this service where I live now.
I am going to recycle some clothes (too knackered for the charity shop) and a broken electric kettle. RecycleNow has a great list of retailers who will recycle old small electrical appliances but none of them are near me so I will be making a trip to my local recycling centre.
I recently recycled two mobile phones and was paid £45 for them – it’s so worthwhile. Mobile phones that go into landfill are toxic and are also a waste of the expensive hi-tech components that are used to make them. Recycle yours, donate them to charity or get money for them – it’s a really good idea! There are plenty of sites out there which will help you get your old mobile phones recycled, try this tool from Money Saving Expert to compare them.
I’m also using a Kindle to read books. This is great for the book club I attend as I don’t have to run around book stores looking for books at the last minute, I’m finding it hard to kick my newspaper habit though, even if I can read a newspaper online it doesn’t feel quite the same. If I do buy a paper, I recycle it (of course!) but cutting down on my newspaper and magazine purchasing is going to be hard. I’m also going to donate some books to a local charity to clear some space.
There is lots more information about how you can help the environment during Recycle Week at their website Recycle Now. You can also use the widget below to find out more tips about recycling in your area!
New online Daily News Service for Schools Links the Classroom with the Wider World – Guest Post from The Day
An online daily news service linked to different parts of the curriculum that helps teachers bring the daily news alive, has been launched by national newspaper journalists.
The Day aims to highlight the debates behind current affairs and issues discussed in the media and connect them to different parts of the curriculum. It turns current news stories into lively issues, helping teachers engage pupils during form time and in their subjects through the medium of current events, as well as saving time for the teachers themselves.
It is already being used in more than 250 secondary schools across the country as part of a trial.
Editors at The Day choose three stories for every edition, providing a balance of UK news, international, sport, the environment and the dilemmas and issues of the day. It also includes talking points, less obvious stories and a very popular weekly news quiz. The mix is designed to cater for the whole 11 – 18 age range and to include material for a range of abilities.
Schools receive links to the three stories on an e-mail every evening, taking them to The Day’s website where a pdf of each story can be downloaded. A longer online version ideal for use on classroom whiteboards is also available. Subscribers have access to the archive of stories, sorted by curriculum subjects and key words.
The chosen stories are connected to curriculum subjects and The Day’s own graphics department provides drawings, information-rich graphics and cartoons to accompany the stories. There are suggested related activities, debating options, a Q and A, and video links to further information for each one.
Stephen Adcock, who teaches Politics and History at Burlington Danes Academy, says of The Day: “It’s proving a great way to enable students to access relevant stories about current affairs, which also saves teachers from having to sift through thousands of articles themselves to find interesting ones, appropriately written.
“We want our students, many from a tough inner city environment, to have confidence about the wider world, which they often don’t have. The Day meets that need and is going down very well. It is accessible no matter what the age group or background of students.”
Professor Richard Andrews from the Department of Learning, Curriculum and Communication in the Faculty of Children and Learning at the Institute of Education, has also welcomed The Day.
“Debating is vital, and news is a catalyst for discussion that people can relate to,” he says. “It is important to recognise that at the heart of each school subject is a series of debates. History, for example, is in many ways about the process of digging down to the point of dispute. That is how you open up being critical and thoughtful”
Recent editions have covered the floods in Queensland, the turmoil in Egypt and a campaign by poets to recover St George as an emblem away from the political far right. Each story is distilled and given context to aid discussion and debate. Exceptional unfolding stories, like the protests in Egypt, will be given special live coverage: an Egypt special, free to non-subscribers, is running at the moment.
“Teachers know they can click on an email and reliably get interesting and accessible stories, and that the language will be appropriate for young inquiring minds,” says Philippa Nunn, Headteacher of Waldegrave School for girls.
Waldegrave, which has 1,000 pupils, was last year named top state secondary school without a sixth form in the UK in The Sunday Times Parent Power list of best schools.
“The immediacy of The Day saves busy teachers a lot of research time. It gives kids instant access to news stories to promote discussion about current events, which is very helpful for tutor time. We work hard to broaden the school experience and for that The Day is really appreciated.”
The Day is valuable for promoting the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) development of pupils required in all curriculum subjects. It also directly informs the PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education) curriculum which runs though all years of the secondary curriculum.
The Day founder Richard Addis, who has five children, said: “I believe that news makes learning exciting. If you can use your History, Science, Maths and English in conversation it acquires a whole new glamour. You are interesting, informed, opinionated. People listen. And it will help you get into university or get a job”.
The Day also helps schools to encourage pupil interest in English, Maths, Science, History and Geography, as well as offering a topical source for discussion and translation in Modern Foreign Languages, which education Secretary Michael Gove wants to put at the heart of the curriculum. It gives the subjects relevance.
Note to Editors.
The Day costs between £500 to £1,000 a year for a school. Each online edition is sent out in the evening of every school day, ready for teachers and pupils the following morning before classes. There is no advertising.
Partner organisations include Teach First, the English Speaking Union and SSAT
It is edited by Miranda Green, former education correspondent for the Financial Times. Richard Addis is a former newspaper editor (Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, The Globe and Mail).
For further information, please contact: Richard Addis – Richard@theday.co.uk, (07899 968427 or Miranda Green – Miranda@theday.co.uk
I just wanted to report back on the Mumpreneurs Meetup which I organised for the Tower Hamlets Mums Business Club. It was hosted by the excellent Ping Pong Dim Sum in Appold Street, who as usual gave us their lovely Private Dining Room ( I can’t sing their praises enough, they provided lovely flower teas for the mumpreneurs and they really do their best to help groups like ours).
Our first speaker was Leanne dal Santo from Smartbags. Leanne gave up a safe corporate career as an accountant to start her business after being inspired by a visit to Australia where she found out about eco friendly non woven polypropylene bags. These are made using much less toxic processes than normal plastic bags and are reusable and fully recyclable. Leanne approached the company who were importing them in Australia and set up a handshake deal to start up her own site in the UK and import the bags from the manufacturers in China (who work from an independently audited factory and ship rather than using air freight). As she had manufacturers and designs all ready to go, Leanne’s start up costs were low. Leanne works with her husband, who focuses on sales, giving her time to concentrate on PR, strategy and design. She also has two children, and has to juggle a lot! She has lots of tips for mumpreneurs wanting to follow in her footsteps:
- Know your competitors
- Focus on sales and target your audience
- Being green is not always enough, you need to look at cost as well
- Packaging is really important for your products: make sure it’s sustainable
- Communicate with your customers: don’t forget to stay in touch!
- At some point you are going to have to pick up your phone and ring potential customers! Don’t be shy!
- Outsource the things you can’t do well to give you time on the things you do do well
- It makes life easier if you don’t hold stock!
Our second speaker was Hannah McHalick from Oh Baby London. Hannah was a graphic designer for 15 years but was on maternity leave without pay when she had the idea for Oh Baby London. She designed her babygrows (including the fabulous “Inside for 9 Months”) and came up with the company name – and designed the catalogue – while pregnant. Hannah didn’t get start up funding and just went for her idea, getting samples made up and taking them around baby shops to get whole sale orders. Her brother-in-law designed her website and she started taking orders – and getting press – right away. She was offered her shop premises two years later through the workshop where Hannah was based. However, her shop and website weren’t initially Hannah’s main priority, she was focused on wholesale orders. After a near-disaster where an order wasn’t produced in time for a big wholesale customer, Hannah realised it was time to grow the retail side of her business and switched to retailing. Her turnover was the same, but her profit was much larger. It also meant she has more than one route to market.
Hannah’s tips for mumpreneurs:
- Have some money before you start, so you don’t run out in a crisis!
- Constantly monitor everything you are doing
- If something goes wrong, try to see the positive side
- It’s really important to believe in what you are doing, and keep your eye on the prize
- Know where you are going and how to get there
- Wear blinkers: be aware of your own route and don’t spend too much time looking sideways at your competitors
- Don’t ignore scary stuff; learn to love spreadsheets and profit and loss forecasts and be aware of your cashflow
- Remember to relax and look after your health and your mind: yoga and running are both recommended by Hannah
- Switch off when it’s time to pick up the kids
We had some great mumpreneurs attending the talks, including Jennifer Robertson from Scamp Baby Gifts, who makes gorgeous embroidered and personalised pictures for babies (you can follow her on Twitter too ), and Samantha McCulloch from Virtually Optimized, who offers virtual PA services for stressed mumpreneurs like me! We also had several lovely ladies who are thinking over ideas for their new businesses (including one with a nine month old baby, and one with an eight week old baby, our youngest networker yet!) and hope to add their links when they launch. All agreed that it was an inspirational event, and we hope to meet again during Business Mum Week with advice about PR, SEO and social media.
This is last nights macaroni cheese, plus some sustainably sourced scampi that needed to be eaten by tomorrow. Not many veggies today but they have had some grapes!
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (20th of February 2010)
TABITHA POTTS OF MIMIMYNE SHORTLISTED AS A LEADING WOMAN IN HER FIELD
Although women-owned businesses are on the increase there still aren’t enough female role models, is the claim of the leading women’s organisation, Women on Their Way.
Most people still think that the majority of businesses are run by men due to the stereotypical images that we see all around us. That’s why Tabitha Potts is delighted to be short-listed for the prestigious National Women on Their Way Awards 2010 in the Online Business Award category.
Women are equally qualified to run businesses as men but also need more opportunities to connect and do business together.
The competition this year has been particularly tough so it’s a huge honour for Tabitha Potts to be short-listed. Tabitha is a mother of two very interested in the environment and good design. When she started looking online for products for her children and realised that there were not many websites aimed at families which combined a strong design ethos and environmental awareness, she came up with the idea of creating an online shop to do just that. She started her company Mimimyne, showcasing the best in UK and European eco design for kids, in September 2008, and it has been expanding its range and developing a loyal customer base ever since. Tabitha has run the business single-handed while caring full-time for her two sons (aged 7 and 5) and doing a part time job alongside it.
Since her company started trading, Tabitha has been a Runner-up for the Mum-Entrepreneur of the Year 2009 and a Finalist in the Archant Environmental Awards and the Thames Business Gateway Awards. She has been featured in the Daily Express and the Sunday Times Business section as well as in various well-regarded design blogs. She has presented a session on selling online at the Everywoman conference (www.everywoman.com) and also runs a regular ‘Mumpreneurs Meetup’ for fellow entrepreneurs in East London which is sponsored by BT Tradespace. One of the products she helps to promote, the Splat Chair by Spinifex, has been exhibited in the V&A Museum of Childhood!
There are four short-listed candidates for each award and the winner will be announced on Friday 19th March at the Women on Their Way Annual Awards Lunch taking place at Aston Villa Football Club, Birmingham from 11.00 to 15.00.
The awards event is in its second year and aims to connect women through the UK, to inspire and to increase their self belief.
The Women on Their Way Awards is the brainchild of former Apprentice Candidate Jo Cameron and her Co-Director Lisa Ibbotson.
Jo Cameron added “we are delighted that Tabitha Potts has been shortlisted. There are so many amazing women in the UK who don’t always recognise the impact they have made and it is my absolute privilege to be inspired by so many incredible women. We are very much looking forward to announcing the winners in a few weeks time”
This year the judges include Gill Fielding and Caroline Marsh of TV’s Secret Millionaire and other esteemed women from both the public and private sectors. They will be judging the shortlisted candidates over the coming weeks.
There are twelve awards this year including Start Up and High Growth Businesses, Online Business, Woman in Finance, Law, Transportation, Construction/Engineering, Woman in The Community, Public office, The outstanding contribution to Women’s Learning and Development, Young Woman in Business, Outstanding New Product and Woman’s Advocate. This year the coveted prize for the overall Woman on her Way is a weekend away for two included flights and accommodation to Milan.
Tickets are priced £65+VAT each or £600 +VAT for a table of ten places. With up to 500 guests it provides opportunities for networking and to meet other leading and aspiring women.
Last year’s winner of the Legal Award, Laura Kearesley added ““I was thrilled to win the Women in Law award last year; it was a real honour. It was a fabulous day, where I made some really good contacts. Since winning the award and the subsequent publicity I have also been approached by other potential business partners, so it has been really positive for me personally and for business!”
– ENDS –
Press Contact for Tabitha Potts/Mimimyne
Tabitha Potts, Director (Me Me Mine Ltd trading as Mimimyne)
Phone 0208 133 0961
For more information on the Women on Their Way Awards please contact Women on Their Way press office + 44 (0) 870 2626 555 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lisa Ibbotson on Tel: 07968 368630 email email@example.com
Photo of Tabitha Potts courtesy of Ian Billinghurst