Tuesday, 8 November 2016

photoshoot fun

We were delighted to be invited to join in a recent photoshoot with emerging talent from Plymouth College of Art's photography course.  The students had been set the task of taking the brief for, and then running, a commercial photo shoot based around a selection of different products.  Most of the photographs on our website are taken within 5 minutes' trotting distance of our workshop in Chulmleigh and we don't have access to studio backdrops or lighting, so it was exciting to pack up a selection of bags and send them off to the city with course tutor Gem Pope (an amazing photographer in her own right - you should see her degree show portfolio). 

As anyone who has flicked through a glossy fashion mag will realise, a fashion story image should be so much more than a 'nice' picture - it needs to reach out to its target audience and to affect them in some way (in our case they should be left thinking 'I love that aspirational handbag and I am powerless to resist').

Part of the process therefore, involved writing a brief for the students - putting into words what we wanted to see in the pictures.

When faced with what is effectively a blank canvas and an oyster's worth of choice it takes a bit of thought - we decided that we would like a clean urban look (given that most of our local locations are muddy and rural). 

It was also a great opportunity to allow the students to come up with their own ideas, including choosing models, outfits and backdrops, allowing them to practice all aspects of a commercial shoot.

The result was a very professionial, quirky selection of studio images - thanks so much guys - hope it was great fun!  

...and in another studio across the corridor some of Susan's hats were being shot too - we LOVE the lighting on these - amazing!

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

it's bespoke week

The workshop's been busy with some exciting bespoke orders this week.  First there was the laptop bag with reinforced strap details that will be winging its way to an office in Bristol shortly (as modelled by the slightly bemused Josh who was working nearby until we accosted him with our camera).

Josh and his man-bag
And then there was the chef's knife-roll for Max.  We love this piece - elasticated sections for each knife in his collection with protective suede covers all rolled up in a gorgeous thick chestnut hide with brass buckles.  Yum! (and thanks go to chef Keith and his team at the Red Lion for allowing us to invade their kitchen just as they were prepping for the lunchtime service.  These arty types don't half pick their moments).

Yes chef!

And then right in the middle of all of this we turned on the TV to catch the news only to see Susan and Helen in a repeat of their Bargain Hunt performance.  

Mortifying. But very, very funny (for everyone else at least)!
aaaahhha ha ha ha!

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

it's been a while!

Yes, we know it's a clichĂ©, but where has the summer gone?  It only seems like yesterday that we were filming Escape to the Country (to be broadcast soon - we'll keep you posted) but that was in May and a whole season has been and gone since then (not for nothing is our blog's sub-title 'our seasonal country life'). 

the best honey in the world - ever!
harvest part one
us with hangovers
the view from the start line at the Carfest Time Tunnel - screeeeam!
In the style of the Horrible Histories Kings & Queens song (but without the outfits and dancing unfortunately) we've had (deep breath): Exeter Craft Fair, harvest, a pop-up-pub, bees, camping 1, hangovers, Chulmleigh Old Fair (five days of fun which have happened every single year since 1253), more harvest, Chagford Show, (yep, you've guessed it) harvest again, camping 2, sunburn...pause for recovery...North Devon Show, camping 3, Carfest (yes, yes, nothing at all to do with our life here - or handbags - but it was amazing and Rick Astley's new album is spectacular and we got to ride in the Time Tunnel and everything) plus horse-rides, surfing, hedgerows, sunsets, proseccio (as my dad calls it), swallows and housemartins, barbecues, stars, stubble fields at dusk, owls, fallow deer at sunrise, warm summer rain, cars full of sand, ice creams, tired kids staying up late, a firepit and a chilled out play-list...our perfect North Devon summer.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

BBC1's Escape to the Country comes to Chulmleigh

The sky is a clear Prussian blue and the greens in the hedges and trees are so bright that if you painted them you'd never believe the colours were true.  Birdsong is the soundtrack of the day and a cheeky spring breeze is tickling the leaves into a merry merengue.  It's one of those May days in Devon where the whole landscape comes alive and there's a depth to the beauty that takes your breath away.

the team arrives
If we didn't already live here we'd probably want to escape to the country.  Which is exactly what the lovely couple Sally and Colin who came to visit us today are planning to do (now they've finished making their purses).

The day started with a walk down to the river followed by a chat on the bridge.  

Hilary being wired up
The scenery really sold itself - the dappled water meandering through the theatre of the steep valley.  

After a brisk climb back up to Chulmleigh followed by tea and biscuits it was time for the practical as Hilary showed Sally and 
Colin how to make a beautiful purse each. 

Everyone had a lot of fun - and it turned out that Sally and Colin were absolute whizzes on Hilary's massive industrial machine.

All too soon the crew were packed up and ready to take the couple to see the three houses; one of which may become their new home in the not too distant future, fingers crossed.  

And we were left with a very tidy shop, homemade biscuits and some great memories.  

busy glueing

Life's always fun and a bit unexpected in this little corner of North Devon!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Rosamund's transatlantic adventure begins

Some might say if you're going to live in Devon, surely you'd choose to live in a bit near an edge - a watery edge; one with sand, seagulls, cliffs, waves etc.  It's a fair point, and one Susan's husband heard quite a lot shortly after he persuaded her to live on a farm as far away from the sea as it's possible to get in Devon six years ago.

But North Devon is one of those places full of hidden treasures both on the coast and inland, and the gorgeous rolling hills, meandering rivers, otters, kingfishers and acres of bridlepaths and woodland to explore right on your doorstep have a funny way of taking your mind off the lack of a sea view.

And then for those moments when you do miss the sea a bit you can either jump in the car to the coast (we know, we are very lucky), or, FAR more excitingly, talk to Rosamund about her trip next year SAILING ACROSS THE ATLANTIC!

Not only is Rosamund an unbelievable professional musician, Hilary's right-hand sewing elf and general good egg she is also a pretty nifty sailor and is involved with the Rona Sailing Project charity.  

This fantastic organisation teaches young people responsibility, resourcefulness and teamwork through the medium of sail-training and has changed the direction of many disadvantaged young people's lives for the better.  So next year Rosamund will be training young people and then crewing the Rona II as it takes part in the Transatlantic Tall Ships Race 2017.  Amazing.

Rosamund has kickstarted her fundraising by making 200 gorgeous leather sailing boat keyrings.

They're selling like hotcakes at £5 each, so if you'd like one before they all sail away, please visit her facebook page and say hello.  Or you can pop in and see us in our Chulmleigh workshop.

(Now, just where did we put our copy of the Howard's Way soundtrack...)

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

soggy Brizzle

Well, the May Fair at Redland Green in Bristol was a teensy bit wet (ok, there was a deluge and the earthworms started panicking) but that really didn't matter as everyone soldiered on and had a great time as always.

Not ones for letting a bit of rain dampen their spirits, Hilary and Rosamund spent the day chatting with old friends (including Susan's sister Jenny who had her stall next door) as well as meeting some lovely new people who will be coming to visit us in Chulmleigh for a workshop.

All in all it was a wonderful day - and one where rain definitely didn't stop play.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Bristol's Redland May Fair here we come!

We had such a brilliant time last year we are going again this year - we're looking forward to catching up with our Bristol friends from 1pm - 5pm at Redland Green on Monday 2nd May.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

seasonal positivity!

It's been a busy few weeks on top of our windy hill in North Devon.  Easter came and went in a flurry of angry clouds and hail but luckily the Easter Bunny wasn't put off and left a lovely stash of chocolate eggs (although if we're being honest, the sight of anything even slightly ovoid in shape makes us feel a bit sick now). Hilary's been finishing off some bespoke projects - including this magic carpet mini-traveller which will shortly be off on its travels to its new home. And lambing is still in full swing amongst the daffodils so Susan's utility room remains full of bags of colostrum powder and recycled baby bottles.  Added to that we've been camping with friends, fossil hunting in Charmouth and practised our quicksteps at a wartime tea-dance plus there have been lots of lovely horse walks in the spring lanes (despite the usual weather).  We love springtime in Devon!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

There's definitely something fishy going on

We're very proud of Oz this week - he passed his obedience course with flying colours and received his first certificate.  

Oz's story began for us in an RSPCA rehoming centre near Weston-Super-Mare; he was a loving but bouncy, energetic dog who needed more space than his previous owners could give him - reluctantly they had put him up for adoption.  In a parallel universe 100 miles away in Devon, Hilary and Nish had begun to look for a new companion for Bill and the other animal residents at Oakwood after their beloved Pearly died.  As if it was written in the stars, their path took them to Oz (via Banksy's Dismaland rather bizarrely - see September's posts for more of that) and a new chapter began in all their lives.

Which leads us to the fish. Not the obvious choice for a dog retrieve toy admittedly, but when you think about it, they are just the right shape.  And we do have an abundance of rivers round here, teeming with the real life versions which must have been in Hilary's subconscious when she created her own little shoal.  They're stuffed with scrap leather so are unbelievably good for chewing and tugging and generally throwing around as Bill and Oz will tell you.  We also think they look rather lovely just plonked in a basket.

As for Oz, his new found confidence and transferable skills have led to a promotion at work - here he is making a few amendments to the website.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Cheesecake heaven

Regular visitors will be expecting some kind of rain-related issue in this week's blog post.  Not wanting to disappoint, we can confirm that we did indeed get wet dashing over the road to the florist to take our Mother's Day photo.  Not only that, the lovely Liz of Changing Blooms was just about to whizz off to the wholesalers, so in true hjh style we only had about 2 minutes to take the picture.

Anyway, it was an easy task as the flowers were gorgeous and we even had time to choose our fantasy bouquets for when someone realises that they absolutely must buy us a bunch.

Back in the workshop Nish delivered the most spectacular baked lemon cheesecake which we all pretty much inhaled straight down.

empty tupperware!
They say time and tide waits for no man but here in Chulmleigh Nish's cheesecake definitely waits for no woman as yet again it disappeared before the camera had a chance to come out.

We may not have a PrĂȘt or an M&S foodhall handy but we have something so much yummier - surely we can persuade him to audition for The Great British Bake Off - we hear there are a lot of practice bakes required...

Unsurprisingly, we're all quite full now.  

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Happy despite the never ending rain

It's STILL raining!! How is that possible? We are, however, extremely happy in our workshop because a) we have the Archers on, b) the bakery hadn't run out of sausage rolls after all and c) we are not running around in the freezing rain on the next windy hilltop like the farming husband doing ovine midwifery.  Yes, it's that time of year again and lambing has started.  Welcome to the world tibby lambs!

No photos of them yet due to the monumental amount of mud/horizontal rain between the yard gate and the shed but we can report that they are very cute and are all doing well.

So instead here's Hilary and Rosamund busy and happy with some fabulous new silver leather shortly to appear in the shop in the guise of gorgeous totes.  We quite like January after all! 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Oz's modelling debut

Oz: "I won't get out of my basket for less than 10,000 bonios"

Oh the glamour. Being January it's been raining and is still raining, it's the kids' first day back at school so Susan hasn't had time to do any kind of a blow-dry (although given the above it's probably just as well) or polish her boots and Hilary needs to post the backpack to Sweden in about 10 minutes.  And our ever-glamorous cabin-crew friend Helen is in Mole Valley trying to buy sander belts and so isn't around to don her fabulous Toast coat and jump elegantly in puddles for us.

And then Oz wanders in, the rain stops for 30 seconds and Hilary makes it to the Post Office in time.  We're sure it's just like this at Mulberry!

Happy new year everyone - 2016's going to be a lot of fun!

the finished homepage!