I already knew that I kind of dislike chain stores, but this week sealed the deal. I bought some noodles at Wasabi and felt like I was an inconvenience on their conveyor belt of customers. No niceties, no hellos, just “this till!” “take your card!” “next!”

You come away from these places feeling stressed out!

Then Nando’s. We get a discount at a particular one my 9-5 place of work, so I went with a friend and even though there were (fake) pleasantries we felt like we were being harangued to free up the table. “Are you having any more of this sauce?” The servers seemed to be constantly checking if we were done yet because there was a queue of students waiting to be seated.

Costa Coffee is another conveyor belt type service that seems to be absolutely everywhere.

What I love about independents is that they tend to be friendly, helpful, flexible, interesting, unique, will give you a bit more for your money and they treat you like a human being. My favourite cafés are not national chains and they don’t have websites or Facebook pages, but they have a loyal customer base (even some celebrity visitors) because they are run by real people for real people  and you can’t beat word of mouth.

Ageing grace

I was at home sick one day last week and so I was on the sofa under a blanket watching daytime television. I was getting more and more irritated at the adverts aimed at women:
“worried about the sagging skin on your neck?”
“target those wrinkles with product x”
“discover the truth about ageing”
“wrinkles and dark spots, take double action… ”
“it’s not a razor; it’s not a laser!”

Argh! These beauty companies just play on insecurities or point out and create insecurities that you never actually had, just to sell their product. They have convinced people that they are not good enough as they are, that they are ageing (well yes, we’re all ageing) and that this is a bad thing so they should do whatever (and pay whatever) it takes to fight it.
But that is what advertising does; it makes us discontent. You should be driving a better car, you need a better phone, you should be slimmer, you should have a hairless body, you should wear this brand of outdoor clothing, you should look eternally young with airbrushed flawless skin..If it was never pointed out, we really wouldn’t be bothered!

A Real Gem

At the end of last year, we were a bit unsure whether it was financially viable to continue to rent shelf space at Rebel Pebble in Watford, but we have managed to  negotiate a better fee, occupying less shelf space, so we are still there!

I’m really pleased, because I want to support the shop as it’s a real gem in a town centre full of chains, plus it’s somewhere creative, fun and different. It reminds me a bit of the Craft Kiln in Charlestown, near St Austell in Cornwall, which sells items made by local people, such as hand painted glass, natural skin care, hand sewn homewares, art pieces and much more, except Rebel Pebble has the added extra of a large downstairs gallery/workshop space. Do pop in and check it out!

Rebel Pebble, 98 The Parade, High Street, Watford WD17 1AW

Opening Times:

Tues – Wed: 09:00–17:30

Thurs: 10:00–18:30

Fri – Sat: 09:00–17:30

Sun: 11:00–16:00


Soap Snobbery

Here at the Soap Cabin, we craft our soaps using a vegetable glycerin soap base. I first got into Soap making because I happened to purchase one of these kits in Cornwall and enjoyed that I could customise the soap base as I wished, and could do crazy things with it, like stacking up layers to create different colour stripes, or have an opaque shape suspended within a clear bar, and that I could experiment in a small space without the threat of chemical burns!????????????????????????

I am hoping to book onto a Cold Process Soap Making workshop at G Baldwin & Co this year (London’s Oldest Apothecary) because I really want to learn how to make it from scratch, but I get slightly irritated with the Cold Process snobs who believe that using a soap base is a cop-out and claim that there is no skill or effort involved. I met such a snob at the Queen’s Road Summer Market in Watford a few years back who was selling other products, but had a small collection of cold process soaps. When I explained that mine were not, she seemed to peer at me with great suspicion. Working out of a small flat was no excuse, because she made hers in an even smaller flat. There was no thought that I might actually enjoy my craft! Besides that, we make all our other skin products from scratch.

Although I have purchased cold processed soap bars in the past (and do every now and then) my skin actually prefers the texture of glycerin soap and I love the vast range of looks we can create with melt & pour…which is why we make them. There is also the fact that nearly all of the soap makers I come across make Cold Process soaps, and I find it hard to see a unique selling point between them (not that I don’t appreciate the art and creativity that goes into them). There are also some fairly large soap makers who only do glycerin soaps and do very well. Perhaps the different types appeal to different markets.cropped-mango-passionfruit.jpg

Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t like to do what everyone else is doing!