Wednesday, 12 December 2012

The window at night

As I typed the subject headline then I was reminded of the late Patrick Moore who sadly passed away this weekend (may he Rest in Peace - his enthusiasm has created many an amateur (and no doubt professional) astronomer or 2 in his lifetime). 
 
Just like the stars and planets he so loved to study, our window also comes to life at night. I will admit it is the only time I am not so keen on our (tucked round the corner) position. Sadly it doesn't get seen by as many people as it could; but those that have been passed at night have made the effort to pop in and say how well it glows; one or 2 have said it has helped them to feel a bit more festive too, which is a truly lovely compliment. 

Last night one of the guys in the office was kind enough to come up and try to capture some pics from outside the front looking in (rather than the ones I take from the inside looking out). He said it was too cold to fiddle about too much, but he managed to capture a shot so you can get some idea of how it looks. There is a decorated tree at the back in the middle that you cannot see that also has a set of lights on it; as well as some snowy baubles and some thick white tinsel. 


 
I know it's not that easy to see all the flowers that are in the window from this shot, but I can assure you there are flowers in there; one thing I really don't like is a florist that doesn't have any kind of flowers in their window. I just don't get that. 

 


As you can see from the photo directly above that I took from inside the shop the other day (and I only used my iphone; I don't have one of those fancy SLR thingies with all the lens's and bits and bobs) during the day it looks like a jumble of lights; but at night it just seems to glow. The fairy lights then add that little bit of sparkle to it. Had we got all the snow the met office were forecasting we would get, I think it would almost have looked as if the outside and inside had merged; alas we are now going back to dismal rain, but even so I hope it spreads a little christmas cheer, and brings a smile to the faces of anyone passing by during the evening.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmas Opening times

Time flies by so quickly these days which is why I have only just realised I've not shared our Xmas opening times with you all; hard to believe that 2 weeks today will be Christmas Day.
 
So we will be open all day on Saturday 22nd and up until 12noon on Sunday 23rd December (we will actually still be working on the Sunday afternoon but will be closing the doors at 12 so we have time to get ourselves sorted and ready for Christmas Eve).  We will then be open from 8.30 as normal on Xmas Eve but we will be closing at 12 noon (and not a second later; if you haven't collected your orders by then it sadly be too late for you; our reason for this is because we have families too and have to get ourselves organised for Christmas just like the rest of you) .
 
We will NOT be open then until Wednesday 2nd January. This is partly down to the flower markets. Although they will be operating during the Christmas and New Year periods the flowers that they will have on offer will be those left over from the Christmas stock. As you know we pride ourselves on the freshness and quality of the flowers we supply, and while we know the supermarkets (and sadly some other florists) are happy to supply and stock week old flowers, we would rather close down for the week and start fresh again in the New Year. Our apologies if this causes problems for you, but we know you understand our reasoning for it.
 
If we don't get the opportunity between now and then we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year and thank you so much for your custom throughout 2012. Without you we wouldn't be here.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like..

you guessed it? Winter :)   Oh ok. Christmas it is

Against my better judgement I put the Christmas window display in on Monday (those of you that know me and have been using the shop for the past 7 years - 7years; where has the time gone) will know that I never normally allow anything Christmas into the shop until the 13th (I'm a strong  believer in the 12 days; that's 12 before and 12 after). This year I only relented because I asked Clive if he would get up in the loft (I don't do lofts; all those cobwebs and other creepy crawlies - shiver) not expecting him to want to get up there until the weekend at the earliest (normally I have to ask several times before finally telling him it needs to be done). This time as soon as I asked he said "Right; let's get it all out now". The next thing there was box, upon box, upon box of Christmas bits and pieces and nowhere to move in the workroom (shop, kitchen or bathroom) without sorting it all; so I relented, and the tree is up; the window is decorated.  Again I've had to take the photo from the back due to the reflection from outside (but do have a photographer coming up to take one from the front for me).



I had already planned on a white/snowy theme for the window so amazed myself that I stuck to it too (yes I have added some blue lights but they're just to give it more of a wintery/snowy feel). What I didn't plan on was putting a tree up in the shop; and I definitely didn't plan on decorating that in traditional reds/golds with multi coloured lights, but that's exactly what I did, so we have a little bit of festiveness.  I've not really over-done it this year though which is no bad thing, as it means I can go crazy next year :) 
 


Now it's all systems go getting ready for the big day. We have some holly wreaths coming in tomorrow for those of you that have wanted early orders because you are not going to be here; the rest will come in dribs and drabs over the next couple of weeks; you know how we like to make sure are always fresh for you? The worst thing with having a batch too early is that they could have been made at the end of the October; at least I know leaving it so late, all of ours will now have only been made within the past few days, as they original (and early batches) will have already been sold to shops; so although some of you have moaned at me (you know who you are :) ) at least you do know when you get your order it's going to last.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

It's that time of year again

The time that I used to look forward to in the shop; but it's now the time that holds no excitement any more. What am I talking about? Christmas of course.
 
To me it just starts way too early these days, that the whole festive period and season gets lost in a sea of adverts, tinsel and fairy lights. These things are great and everything that sums up Christmas, but to see them now just seems so wrong. It's not even the middle of November and shops are already putting trees up.  I know of several florists that already have their Christmas window displays in. You will NEVER find me putting anything christmassy in the shop (or window) before December. In fact this year the plan is to put our window display in the weekend of the 8th.
 
A window display is a great selling point for any business, but if people are driving past every day for 7 weeks seeing the same thing in that window they are soon going to get bored, and the last thing anyone wants is a bored customer. Someone bored is most likely to try a competitor.  Christmas is already rammed at us from every angle thanks to television; do we really need it in local/small shops too? I don't think we do.
 
Maybe I am stuck in the 70's, but I think the Americans actually have it right on this score. They rarely (yes you do still get the odd few) put their decorations up until after Thanksgiving, which as we all know is the end of November. I was lucky enough to be stateside from mid November to December a few years back, and it was great, because there wasn't a strand of tinsel to be seen until the beginning of December. I'd left the UK full of anything and everything Christmas and arrived there to nothing, so by the time they did start to get their decorations up the timing was just about right.
 
So for those of you wondering why we currently have a window of pretty creams, yellows, blues and pinks, and not full of Reds and Golds (a colour scheme we will NOT be using) now you know why. It's just way to early.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Somewhere

over the rainbow :)

I (and the other guys here) had heard talk about a rose known as a rainbow rose; we have seen photographs of such a rose, but until today I had never seen one in the flesh.  Being the bright, vibrant person I am, I think they are great; one of the guys thinks they are awful (the jury is out on the others). However one thing I am not convinced about is whether the dye used in them will run or not.  As the colour is taken up through the stem (check out this wikipedia link for how they apparently colour the petals - although don't 100% trust what's said as it's a given that wikipedia is known to not always be correct).  The reason I mention the colour running is because after de-thorning them all (there were an awful lot of thorns on the things too) I noticed my hands were covered in coloured *grime*.  I can only assume this grime has come from the leaves that are also coloured (although not in the same way the flower itself is).  I can only assume if this dye was to get wet and drip, there could be many a table cloth, or carpet that would be ruined. I am hopeful this won't be the case as I would dearly love to offer them for sale in the shop, but until I know for sure they will remain a one-off. We were specifically asked to get them in for a lady that has had them before, so should hopefully know how the colour is on them.  I do know a lot of shops sell them, but they also sell the dyed oak and eucalyptus leaves (which I personally think are beautiful) but refuse to send out in orders as I have myself experienced how the dye runs and ruins things. It's a shame as they are sold to us with the promise the colours have been stabalized but sadly this is not the case. There must be florists out there that have been sued by customers; of that I am certain. This is why I won't use them in orders.

So back to the rainbow rose. It's created quite a stir in the shop that's for sure, and even though it's not out for sale, and is in fact tucked round the corner, everyone that has been in has noticed them (must be the colours). What do you all think?










Take one of the above ivory roses.... add someone who thinks outside the box... add them a pot or 2 of coloured dye and you get....


 



A rainbow rose (or 8 as there are in the photograph above). 

Aren't they just fab? I love how each one is different. You could honestly say to someone if you were to buy them a bouquet of these, that each is unique. No 2 will ever be the same.  But then I guess you can say that about anything. While some may look similar there will never be anything identical. The difference with these roses is nobody knows what colour is going to affect which petal; whether it will stay a true colour, or if it will blend with another to give something completely different.

I am sure they are just a novelty for now that will quite possibly fade out in a year or 2, but for now I hope they stick around a while. What better way to brighten up a dull, dismal day than with a vaseful of these bright beauties?



Saturday, 27 October 2012

Floral design brochures.

I had a delightful bride in earlier this week. We're quite lucky I must admit with our brides; it's very unusual for us to have a Bridezilla. We did have a bride not so long ago though,  that throughout the whole consultation kept checking her phone and looking around. I ended up dealing with her Mum as it was obvious she just couldn't be bothered, and I felt as though I was wasting her time, rather than the fact she was wasting mine.  Her wedding wasn't until 11 months further down the line, but she was informed that we will only accept so many bookings for one day. Not a word was heard and so I assumed she had gone elsewhere (we were about the 10th shop she had visited for a consultation). Then 5 weeks before the wedding she came in to verify everything and book us. By this time we were already fully booked and you should have heard how she huffed, puffed and kicked off at me because I hadn't held the day for her.  You just can't win them all.
 
Anyway; I digress.  Our bride this week came in armed with photographs of flowers she had downloaded from all over the internet. I love brides when they do this as it really does give me an insight into the styles and colours they would like (although some can be so diverse it's obvious the bride just likes a certain colour, rather than a particular style).  As we were chatting she mentioned that another florist she had visited had produced this massive professional wedding guide of varying styles for brides to look through. She asked if I had anything like this. The answer to that question is a big NO.
 
My reasons for not purchasing these books and guides are because the work in them is not mine; it hasn't been made by me or anyone working with me. Anyone (from a great aunt down the street; to an office worker who needs something to do at the weekend) can buy these guides. However, just because they have this gorgeous bound catalogue, a large comfy sofa in their shop/studio (or even their lounge) doesn't mean they are capable of making any of the bouquets in said book. I actually know of 2 women that did 6 courses at a local night school on flower arranging, who then decided they were florists, so bought a shop that was for sale. They turned it into a designer paradise; they bought every exclusive bridal floral guide going. They talked brides through different flowers from a calla lily to a phalaenopsis; they talked the talked brilliantly. What they couldn't do was produce the work the brides were then ordering. They had no idea where to start, or the skills to construct the bouquets they were talking their brides in to; this left some very upset brides on their wedding morning.
 
This is the reason I will never purchase one of these books. I have photographs of the designs I have made (one day they will be printed in a professional looking book) and I will only ever show a bride photographs of my work. This way I can guarantee to them that I am capable of making they design they want for the most important day of their life. They know they can book me with absolute confidence.  I am sure I have lost out on wedding orders in the past because I didn't have the sofa and brochure, but at least I know every wedding we have booked, the brides have left the shop confident in the knowledge that I am more than capable of making the bouquet of their dreams.
 
It's the same with costs; I know I have lost out on orders because I don't charge the extortionate prices these other shops (the ones with the brochures and sofas) charge. I find this sad because we all use the same wholesalers so it doesn't mean I am cheaper because I am buying a lower grade flower; I just don't see the point in out-pricing myself. In fact I know of some shops who charge 3 (maybe 4) times more than I do that actually buy a lower grade flower than the ones I buy (I will only buy the top grade, best quality); when I've pulled these other shops up on it the response has been "Well they only need to last a day". They may be charging £120 where I would charge £45 and yet their attitude is "they only need to last a day". I find this shocking.
 
I guess it's like everything in life; it's not always about looks. Something can look totally amazing but be of the lowest grade you could ever find; something else may be a bit more relaxed but will give you exactly what you are looking for.
 
The old saying works perfectly for this "Never judge a book by it's cover".
 
 

Monday, 22 October 2012

Wear your poppy with pride

It's that time of year again. The time when poppies are in the shops (ours are on the main serving counter in front of the cards if anyone wants one). A time for us all to remember; not only those brave men and women that fought in the 1st and 2nd world war; during 1982 and the Falklands conflict, or the 1991 Gulf war (and many more in between), but also our brave military personnel deployed overseas fighting on distant shores as I type.

Yes I blogged about Remembrance Day last year; I will be blogging about it this year (as you're reading now). I will continue to blog about it for as long as the shop is running and I am in charge of it. Whether we agree with our troops being stationed overseas; whether we think they should be home protecting our own shores; whether you think it's "out of sight, so out of mind" remember these brave men and women are fighting on our behalf. They're fighting so that we can remain free to have our own voices; our own ideas and opinions. If it wasn't for those brave souls that have fought (and died) in wars fighting for us our freedom, or those currently deployed we could be living in a country of tyranny; a country where having a difference of opinion could get you shot; or thrown into a rat infested prison cell for the rest of your lives. It was their sacrifices that gave us what we have now.


I am sure some of you believe that we might have better off had we not won the wars; but we did win them. We won them with great sacrifice and massive loss of life. Those souls gave their lives for us to have the freedom to question whether we are better off or not. How can we repay them? By wearing our poppy with pride of course. By educating our children and future generations about why we have poppies to wear in the first place. Our children lead charmed lives in this day and age, because of their forefathers sacrifice. They (and all of us) should be reminded of this. 

"Lest we forget" is the slogan used by the Royal British Legion on their remembrance day advertising; and so true. We must never forget how our brave troops are dying and being maimed for us to have our freedom. We must never forget that without them our world would be so different. These veterans; their families and all future vets deserve our respect; so pop into a shop, pop a pound or 2 (less if you can't afford it; more if you can) into the poppy collection tins, and Wear your poppy with pride. 
 
I am lucky enough to be traveling over to France exactly a fortnight from today, to visit Dunkerque; the Normandy beaches, The Somme and many places in between. I will be there for the week before Remembrance Sunday (I come home on the Sunday itself). While there I will visit the cemetery where my great uncle Frank is laid to rest. He was 18 when he was killed in the first world war. He lied about his age to enlist; this deception cost him his life. I will be wearing my poppy with pride the whole time I am there. I hope back here you will be wearing yours too. 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

and Instagram

We bit the bullet (as they say) this morning, and have set ourselves up with Instagram (well Sarah set it up and pretty much spent all day playing with it trying to link it to Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else it is possible to share things). No wonder she has to work so late in the evenings and start so early in the mornings, to get all our floristry jobs completed.  Have to admit it's quite lucky she is able to work her way round these things though (including this blog) as the internet and social media are such big business these days, it seems the only way to go. While we will never deny the more chances we have of reaching out to potential new customers is a great thing for any business (but especially for a small one like ourselves) we also find it quite scary just how the world is moving, and what an impact social media has made on peoples lives. We do feel sorry for anyone that hasn't got the technology know how to keep up with all the different streaming things there are; it will be a shame for them to get caught out and left behind. 

Anyway; below is a copy of our first offering. A nice, smiley happy photo we thought (and not bad for a close up taken on a phone - not a proper camera - and also of an artificial flower).




If you have instagram and want to follow us just do a search for Moonstones Florist to find us.  We will also be uploading the photos to an album in Picasa (and we think we may have a flikr account somewhere too). There should be a link on the main blog page to our picasa albums, so if you don't have instagram but want to keep up with the photos we are sharing you can find them on there, or on our new Facebook page (we need friends on this one so feel free to add us). 

Smiley Sunflowers

and Instagram

We bit the bullet (as they say) this morning, and have set ourselves up with Instagram (well Sarah set it up and pretty much spent all day playing with it trying to link it to Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else it is possible to share things). No wonder she has to work so late in the evenings and start so early in the mornings, to get all our floristry jobs completed.  Have to admit it's quite lucky she is able to work her way round these things though (including this blog) as the internet and social media are such big business these days, it seems the only way to go. While we will never deny the more chances we have of reaching out to potential new customers is a great thing for any business (but especially for a small one like ourselves) we also find it quite scary just how the world is moving, and what an impact social media has made on peoples lives. We do feel sorry for anyone that hasn't got the technology know how to keep up with all the different streaming things there are; it will be a shame for them to get caught out and left behind. 

Anyway; below is a copy of our first offering. A nice, smiley happy photo we thought (and not bad for a close up taken on a phone - not a proper camera - and also of an artificial flower).




If you have instagram and want to follow us just do a search for Moonstones Florist to find us.  We will also be uploading the photos to an album in Picasa (and we think we may have a flikr account somewhere too). There should be a link on the main blog page to our picasa albums, so if you don't have instagram but want to keep up with the photos we are sharing you can find them on there, or on our new Facebook page (we need friends on this one so feel free to add us). 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Re-make

Over the weekend, one of our customers who is on the committee for one of the local Moto X groups, came in to us with 3 Artificial Laurel Chaplets, that had definitely seen better days.   For those of you that don't follow motor sports of any kind, it is an old tradition to hang a chaplet (normally of laurel leaves) around the neck of the victors in the race.  In most sports this has been replaced by shiny trophies and champagne, but I believe a few races still keep to the tradition (don't quote me on this though as I had a google search to see if I could information on the whole history of the laurel wreath, in the hope I might impress you all and I can't seem to find a thing)
Now the ones that were bought in to us hadn't been made that long ago, but I think you can see they have surely taken quite a bashing.  Bits half hanging off them, and the moss showing through which is a big no-no; they also had no backing whatsoever (those poor riders hanging one round their necks would have had bits of moss and all kinds of other stuff all over them).
 



The photo on the left is how they came in to us (if you open the picture up you can see how there are massive gaps showing the moss base.  
The photo on the right is them all brand spanking new and shiny




There wasn't a whole heap we could do to them that would make them too different (the shape and range of foliage limited us greatly) but we hope you will agree our versions are a vast improvement on how they were looking?

Not only did we neaten them up, we also backed everything so there is now no loose moss (or anything else) that can fly up the noses of the riders.  Rather than wire the leaves in bunches onto the frame (which makes it a lot easier for them to come loose giving the moss base chance to show through) we glued each and every single leaf individually to the binding we used to cover all the loose materials.Yes this did take longer, but when it comes to getting a neater finish and helping to keep them robust enough to last a good few years, we felt it was worth it. We also swapped the dowdy ribbon twisted round them, for a nice shiny bow, and coloured leaves to match.

There are some shops that refuse to re-make items for their customers; we are obviously one of those, and where possible, we try to re-use as much of the original material as possible. This not only keeps your costs down, but means less rubbish in our bins and consequently less land fill (which can only be a good thing for this wonderful planet of ours)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Wowsers

I actually logged on to share something else with you (that I will still do so further down the page) but when I opened up the blogs page and settings, I noticed that this month alone we have had 3453 people view our pages. In 11 days? That's phenomenal. I knew we were reaching out all over the world and that people do stop by the pages (how many of them actually read what we have to say I'm not sure - although I have had customers tell me on the phone different bits and pieces they have read on the blog) but even so; if people aren't reading they are stopping by, which means not only are we easy to find on this big World Wide Web of ours, but people are making the effort to click onto whatever link they find us from, to have a nose around. That is more than any business could ask for. Normally we average around the 2500 visitors Per Month mark but we still have so much of the month left. I wonder just how far we could go? I am totally amazed and completely astonished by it. 

What I actually logged on for was to share a photo that I took this morning. I had a customer that came in for some flowers ( I know; fancy coming in to us for them - although you'd be amazed how many people come in to us when they want either the chip shop or barbers either side of us - you'd think the mass of flowers outside and in would give the game away but it appears not). Anyway this gentleman said the lady he was sending the flowers too loves pink and black. He then said "but I guess you'll never be able to do black so we'll go for pink". Well now hold on a minute. While we can dye or spray paint flowers back (something we don't really like to do on bouquets as there may be chemicals that the recipient is allergic too, or the colours may run onto someones table cloth or carpet), we are not still stumped when it comes to blacking something up. This is where the magic of cellophone, organza, tissue and birch twigs come into the fore. As you can see from the photograph we were able to make up and deliver a bouquet in pink and black for our customer, so please don't ever think that something is not possible. There are always ways round things.



Whilst we love the pink with the black, can you imagine how dramatic this could look with white, green or red flowers? The possibilities of what can be made up, are only governed by your imagination. While some things may seem impossible (and at times some things genuinely are) there are always ways to get round things and find something that will fit the bill.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thank You

There's not really much more I/We can say except Thank you. To each and every single one of you. Past, Present and Future; you really the reason we do this and keep going. You are also the reason we have just had our best year EVER.

To know that during these troubled/hard times we are holding our own, and going from strength to strength each and every year helps to make up for all those early morning, late nights and long, long, loooong weekends we all work. We see more of the shop and our lovely customers, than we do our own homes and family at times.   It wouldn't be possible without any of you though. It's your continued support of us and what we do that has enabled us to pay all the bills this year.  Don't go thinking it's all plain sailing. There are still many sleepless nights, and nobody knows what the future holds for any of us, but since we opened our doors in July 2009 this little business of ours has improved year on year. Knowing other small business owners that have had to close their shops down this year due to the economy (and through no fault of their own) makes us realise just how important it is to keep trying, and just how important each and every single one of you are. You are the reason we are still here; it's because of you we can pay our bills (hopefully one day we'll pay ourselves too :O)  ) Mind you we haven't had the accountants bill in yet; that could soon put a dampener on how well we've done. :)

As you know your feedback is also very important to us, and we'd like to thank you for taking the time out to send us emails, messages and popping in personally to share your feedback and ideas with us.  Some of the great ideas we've tried - and succeeded with -  have been because of you, so again Thank You.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Vlad and The Window

Last night we were lucky enough to have someone with a decent camera come up the shop to photograph the window for us; as you can see it's very blue.  When the slideshow that runs in the window was set up, we went for the black/white theme; now having seen the window at night we are going to see if we change it to blue (fingers crossed). If not it will have to stay as it is because we just don't have the time to sit and fiddle with it all.


The photographer  also had access to the shop, so he photographed our Vlad as well (he does have his own blog as well but I've not been able to keep that up to date since we set it up this time last year - there just aren't enough hours in the day but I will see if I can get him up and running again). 

 
 
 I also drove by the shop myself last night and was amazed at how brightly it stands out (I'm very disappointed - in one way - that we are tucked away round the corner and not on a main road for it to be seen by more people). I do love our little shop  but it would be nice at certain times of year for it to get more viewing.
 
In other news we will definitely be closing for a week in November. We will be closing at 12 noon on Saturday 3rd Novemeber and will not re-open until 8.30am on Monday 12th November. I do apologise if this causes any inconvenience, but contrary to popular belief I am not a machine and do need to have some time to recuperate so that I am able to get through the busy Christmas, Valentines and Mothers Day peak periods.
 
On another note entirely, can I please ask if you want flowers delivered, could you please let us have some warning. I have just had a call from someone wanting flowers delivered within the next hour; my driver is currently off in a totally different direction so I have had to turn the order down as it's just not possible to get it there in time. I had someone ring last night at 4.30 asking for delivery to Portsmouth by 5. Now while I am quite adept at miracles, the impossible I do tend to struggle with, so please take note and if at all possible give us some kind of warning.


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Halloween

has well and truly arrived in the shop. October 1st could not come quick enough for Sarah; she absolutely loves halloween (we wonder why?) and so being able to play yesterday bought a huge smile to her face.
This year we've moved away from the traditional orange (not that we've ever really stuck to that) and have gone for a Black and White theme; if it wasn't black or white then it wasn't going in the window. The reason for this was to do with the UV lighting; Sarah wanted it to show off it's full potential (we've not actually had the chance to see how it looks when the skies are pitch black outside, but have been told this morning that the whole window glows quite eerily - just what we wanted). 

I managed to capture some of the UV effect looking into the window from behind

 We haven't gone for a horror style theme either this year; Sarah wanted to try and keep it light hearted which is why you find several happy looking ghosts as well as the legs in the cauldron (this has drawn a few chuckles from people walking by this morning).

You can just see a leg :o)

The nice thing is that it looks just as good in daylight which is not something we are always lucky enough to have happen, where the glass is smoked to keep out the heat full sun we get from about 11am until it sets; the glass was in before we took over, but to be honest if we were to change it we'd end up losing all our stock in one easy go as it does help to keep the heat out, so we won't be changing it. The UV lights are on during the day, but they just pick out the couple of odd flowers that are in their direct line; at night the glow from them where there is no other light pollution to affect it gives it the look we were hoping for. Someone with a proper camera is coming up to photograph it for us tomorrow night, so I will post those pics for those of you that are unable to get here to see if for yourself. 


Thursday, 27 September 2012

4 weddings

oh yes; I have just agreed to add a 4th wedding to Friday 21st December this year. I am now thinking that we are totally bonkers in this shop. Normally we will only take 3 on any one day but the bride was so lovely (and thankfully she's not having a massive wedding) that I just couldn't say no to her. Looks like we won't be getting any sleep during the night of the 20th. Still we have the week after Xmas off to get over things. 

I will get back to you with specific closing dates for after the Xmas/begging New Year period but as it stands at the moment the plan is to close at 1pm on Christmas Eve and not re-open until Wednesday 2nd Jan. There will be flowers in the country during this period but a lot of them will be left over from the growers xmas stock; as we pride ourselves on quality we would rather close the shop fully for a week, than risk having sub-standard flowers in the shop. This could change nearer the time if it's what you - the customers - really want, but I am sure you will agree with us that quality/longevity is far more important. 

On the subject of closing we will be closed for the week commencing Monday 5th November. Sarah has the opportunity to travel over to France to visit the sites and battlefields of the 1st and 2nd world war; she feels this is too important for her to miss as it is something she has never done before. I can report she is really looking forward to it. 


Now back to this week.  We got asked to do something we've never done before - that's what makes this job so great; there is always something new to make. For a sad occasion - as most of the unusual bits we are asked to make are for - we had to incorporate a plasterers trowel into a pillow tribute. We did discuss with the customer making the whole trowel out of flowers, but we decided there was a chance the shape could be lost slightly if we did, so as a compromise we placed the trowel in the centre of the pillow and worked the rest of the tribute around it. 
.



Monday, 3 September 2012

Once in a blue moon

seems to be very apt indeed as the day we did have a blue moon, was the day I arrived at work and realised that for once (once in a blue moon) I was actually able to take a photograph of the shops window display from outside; if only we had more of those magic moons. 
 
I'm sure I've explained many times that due to us being in full sun from pretty much mid-morning, until the sun sets each night, we have to have smoked glass. Not just to keep the heat out (the shop often hits temperatures of nearly 40'c - inside as it is) but also to help eliminate any fresh flowers we may use in the display from wilting before we get round to changing things; as well as to stop any artificial we use from fading. As a result of this glass our window really only comes in to it's own once the sun has gone down; so to be able to see it on a Friday morning (in daylight) was lovely. 
  
The right hand side



No theme to this newest window display; other than I wanted something cheerful, which is why I went for the yellows and creams. The touch of blue was just to break things up a bit.  It is hard to keep coming up with different themes so if you any of you have any ideas, then feel free to email them over to us. Please bare in mind though that props and  bits can be expensive, so nothing too extravagant would be great. :o)   I do have some fab plans for the halloween one this year; if I can source the bits I want at a sensible price (it is only for a few weeks so not worth splashing out loads on) and if I can get an idea I've had to work, I think this will be my best window display yet. Watch this space :o) 
The left hand side (sorry it's a bit blurry).  

Aside from being happy at finally getting window pics, we also had a phenomenal Saturday that has put a huge smile on our faces. We had 2 brides booked in for appointments, but then had another 2 turn up without (we'd prefer it if you didn't just turn up as sometimes we are unable to spend the time required with you). Thankfully on Saturday everyone staggered themselves and yay us; another 4 weddings booked in for later in the year. Was a squeeze to fit one of the brides in (please don't leave it to the last minute to book us for your weddings as we will normally only do 3 weddings on one day) but this bride was so desperate to have us make her flowers, and she is having something a little bit different, that I didn't have the heart to tell her I couldn't fit her in. It may not always be possible to do this so I really can't emphasize enough how important it is to get us booked sooner; rather than later.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

well Done

Massive, HUGE, Enormous CONGRATULATIONS  today go out to our Beckys Dad Simon. Along with 3 others this crazy man has just cycled over 1000 miles to raise money for Brain Tumour Research. To say we in the shop admire him (all of them) would be an understatement. They began their journey 12 days ago in a very wet and windy Cornwall, and today arrived at their Scottish destination. 

Simon started this journey to raise money for Brain Tumour research. It is one of the most common cancers in people under 40 with only 1% of all funding going into it's research. Simons (and our) attention was bought to this when he learned his best friend was diagnosed with un-treatable brain cancer; thankfully his friend is still here to see what has been achieved. I can only begin to imagine how proud he must be right now. As I know his wife, son and daughter will be. Heck anyone that knows him will be/is proud of him.

With an original plan to raise enough to keep the local brain tumour research centre open for a day, he has so far raised enough to keep it open for 2 days (potentially 3) as hopefully more money will pour in now they have completed the journey. So sad that in this day and age individual people have to raise the money to fund research to keep people alive, but that's all politics and not something for us to be getting in to right now. 

If any of you would like to dig deep you can still sponsor him via his Just Giving page (I know every penny raised will be greatly appreciated)  http://www.justgiving.com/Simon-Tier?fb_action_ids=4288377094835&fb_action_types=jgdonation:donate&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=223377124391847
 
Can you believe though that some low life lawyers (who are fairly local) copied the evening news article word for word on their website to try and drum up business for themselves. How low are some people prepared to stoop?. The piece has now been removed and they made a token donation (hardly worth mentioning but every amount makes a difference).
Once again guys. WELL DONE. So proud of you all


The lads arriving at John O'groats

Friday, 24 August 2012

Wasn't expecting that

when I arrived this morning. What am I on about? Check out the photo below for a clue.
I leave the guys in the office alone for an afternoon, so I can sneak off and spend a few hours with my little old Mum whose birthday it was yesterday; this is what I came round the corner to find outside the shop where my paved area is this morning.

It turns out we had a power cut about 3.30 yesterday afternoon; thinking it was an all round one they left the office to go and see if our neighbours were in darkness. It turned out they weren't; it was just our shop. Several calls to the electric people; then several more to other numbers they gave for them to ring, finally, at 8 last evening someone finally arrived. The plan was to find the fault, fix it and get all back to normal before we open this morning; as you can see it hasn't quite worked out that way. As with these things, one person said one thing; another said another. When the fault was found and repaired, they managed to damage a gas pipe, so then the gas board had to come out (I know I'm showing my age calling them the gas board, but what should they be called these days?). Once they had done their bit so it should have been a case of putting it all back together.

As you can see; this really didn't happen. It turns out that rather then fix the gas leak problem, they just clamped it up. The electric guys needed to do something that required heat which could have had fatal consequences if they went ahead and started doing what they had to, before the gas leak was fixed proper and so there we were; fenced off railings outside; men sat around doing nothing in vans, until the gas people sorted their bit out.

That finally happened around 2pm; this then meant the power had to be cut for over an hour before all was restored to normal. When I say all I mean the power. Apparently it will be next week some time before they are able to get the hole filled and new tarmac down. Sadly this may not sit well with some neighbours, as one of the electric men came in to apologise to us about it not being finished. Told him not to be daft; at the end of the day I'd rather it was done properly so they don't have to dig up again (even if that does take a week or so). The reason he said sorry was because he thought I had complained. I've no idea who did, but sadly it seems one of our neighbours complained. Such a shame when that happens. We didn't ask for the cables to break, or for our front to be dug up but it really affected nobody other than us, so I'm not sure the reasoning for it. I guess some people just like to moan about things.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Four weddings

on Saturday; 2 on the Friday before, 1 on the Sunday after, and sadly a big funeral today. 

Yet again it's been all go in the shop; we do wonder some times if we should have our sanity checked (who in their right mind takes on so many weddings over a weekend? Having said that I am thinking back to a time when I worked for someone and we had 8 on one day (for 2 weekends running). Now that was madness, which is why I have set a limit of taking on only 3 for one day; yes I know we did 4 on Saturday but 2 of them were smaller weddings, so they almost counted as just one; it's so hard to say no to brides as well. 

All the brides this weekend went down the traditional routes so I won't be bombarding you with photos of all of them, but one bride on Friday had pomanders for her bridesmaids (stupidly I forgot to take any photos of them so you will have to wait until she gets back off her honeymoon and shares some of hers with us). I worked out it was back in 1991 - 21 years ago - that I last made (or got asked to make) a pomander so it was a real delight to get stuck in to something different. Back then the one I made was for a friends wedding; she had a ribboned pomander with just a spray of flowers on top; our bride this weekend had a fully flowered one (we used all white single Xant and I have to say they did look very impressive). For her bouquet we used a mix of pink calla lilies with deep cerise roses and germini, with a touch of pink/white lisianthus.  Our other Friday bride had purple bridesmaids (a very popular colour for the past couple of years) so had all the lilac and purple shades. 


Saturday saw us making a pink shades shower bouquet, that we had to add a touch of baby blue too; for this we used some organza ribbon as it is light, gives the colour effect wanted but doesn't take over from the other flowers in a way that a satin ribbon could do. This was one of the smaller weddings for the day. Although there were 5 bridesmaids, 2 of them were younger girls who had small wands. The reception for this wedding was already catered for so we only had to decorate the church, along with the main bridal flowers.   


We also found ourselves with 2 more purple themed weddings. Both of these were taking place in hotels so we had the added bonus of decorating the whole reception, from tables to fireplaces; cakes to pedestals. Our last wedding on Saturday had a dark red theme (which gave us the chance to work with grand prix ~ a rose we love ~ alongside the gorgeous white rose Norma Jean - that smells divine).

Sunday again had the whole lilac, white and purple theme, but this time the 4 bridesmaids were wearing lilac dresses. Again held in a hotel, we only had to provide the bridal party with their flowers, along with some thank you bouquets for the Mums, so it wasn't a massive one (thankfully as by then I was beginning to flag - especially with it being so hot over the weekend).

Then today we had the sad occasion of a funeral. The gentleman that passed away was a massive Manchester United supporter, so the whole ceremony was themed around that; everything we made had to be Red, White and Black. 


The only exception to this was the actual crest that we had to make, as this is Red and Yellow. I took a photo of it when I first made it up last night but forgot to take one this morning before it went out so please forgive the messy-ness look of it; I did clean/neaten it up before it was delivered.And yes I do know that I could have done what most people do; I could have printed the actual crest out, laminated it and stuck it on to the base; but where's the challenge in that? Anyone can do that.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Country House Wedding

Well it wasn't a country house in the sense of Highclere or Sandringham; but Rownhams House in (oddly enough) Rownhams, is an absolute gem of a property if you're getting married. Considering how close it is to us, my first ever visit there was this past Saturday; many thanks to our lovely bride Kim for choosing it as her wedding venue; without her I would have known nothing about it. The owner was great too and gave us a little tour of the property once we had sorted our flowery bits and pieces. I can only say if you're looking for somewhere with that little something special for your wedding ceremony, you can't go wrong paying them a visit. Sadly after October this year they won't be hiring their rooms out for the wedding breakfast and evening reception (not all guests shall we say have behaved in the past and have caused much damage) but you can still get married there. You're also guaranteed some beautiful back drops for photos.

Many thanks to Glen Jevon @ Glen Jevon Photography for allowing us to copy this photo.


I digress. I'm not here to sing the praises of a wedding venue; but to congratulate the lovely Kim and her new husband Brian on their wedding on Saturday. Every once in a while a bride will come along with similar tastes to myself; Kim was that bride. I would have gone for different colours (and a different shaped bouquet), but when it came to her choice of flowers for everyone and everything else, I was with her all the way. While Kim herself had a shower bouquet (with just a hint of a trail) she chose natural tied bouquets for her bridesmaids using Pacific Blue roses, lilac freesia and dark purple double lisianthus. Gorgeous flowers that work well together to give any bouquet that natural look.

This theme was carried throughout with the flowers; the table's had fishbowls with Lilac spray roses: single headed roses in lilac: lilac stocks: ivory hydrangeas: ivory & lilac freesia: purple lisianthus; they were finished with ivy and bear grass. Rather than arrange them loose in the vase, these were made as little tied bouquets, which were then sat in the vases; doing this meant guests got to take home a little bouquet at the end of the evening. As you can see by the photograph below, the fire place was also made up of 5 separate arrangements, instead of one long one. This again meant guests got to take some flowers home to enjoy for a few more weeks to come.


The fireplace and top table also had exactly the same flowers in them so that everything matched. As with most wedding venues, the room itself is beautiful; the tables were laid up lovely; the chair covers and sashes a perfect match; but those few flowers in the table centres and on the fire place just gave the whole room a lift. There was nothing huge or over the top; just simple, traditional elegance. It was a real treat for me as the florist to get the opportunity to arrange the flowers, and even more so as I actually got out of the shop for a change and was able to go along to the reception venue and set up. So often I end up stuck back in the shop; to be able to visit was a real treat.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

We did it

Our window display to celebrate the big athletic event that is taking place in the next few weeks; yes, we sadly do need to be that cryptic due to all this rubbish about sponsors suing people, fining them and also having them sent to jail for using certain words, logos and symbols. While we think having the event happening here is good for raising the countries profile (let's face it, it's not good for the road networks, local people or the economy) we do think that selling out big time to sponsors is not really what the event was intended for in the first place. But then that's life and sport in general these days; it's not about the competing any more; it's all about how much money can be made. 


Still we've managed to dedicate our window to it without impeaching any rules, and we've managed to update our FB and Twitter accounts without using words we could get fined for so we're feeling pretty pleased with ourselves; regardless of what we think about the politics of the whole event, we are behind our countries sports men and women 100% and hope to see them standing atop many a podium in the next few weeks. 





As usual the window has had to be photographed from behind the window (even more so with the sun beating on it all day at the moment) but we think it does what we need it to do. The photo on the left came about as we wanted to have a play with some kind of head piece; hence we ended up with our very own swimming champ :) 


Along with the window we've also had a busy few days in general with the every day running of the shop, but we were afforded the opportunity of making a Superman logo yesterday, which we think turned out quite well in the end. We'll admit it got changed a couple of times, as the template we draw the shape out from had a lot more black lines on it than the logo itself; drawn on the design sheet it was fine, but once flowered the S (which let's face it is the most important bit) was lost, so we had to take it apart, go back to the drawing board and start over. Thankfully it turned out ok in the end which is the most important part; it also goes to show that we don't always get it right first time, but we make sure we keep trying until we do.



Friday, 20 July 2012

Full of hot air?

no; that would be helium :) And plenty of it as this morning we (that means Sarah) had to blow up 200 balloons by 8am (202 were blown up in the end due to one popping - not the nicest thing at 6am - and the other had a minute hole in it and was hovering rather than floating).  Due to the latex being breathable there is no way the balloons can be blown up the night before, so that meant an early morning start (something Sarah is really not good at - she's a definite night owl).   Still as you can see they were all done in time, and made the shops workroom ceiling look a riot of colour.

Balloons everywhere
Add to these balloons, the 3 weddings (yes that's 3 on a Friday - most unusual) along with 175 individually wrapped gerbera for a local school; plus all the normal every day orders and you could say it's been a slightly busy day. Just how we love it.

The first wedding to go out today was an artifical one (our second in recent months) although this was actually for a renewal of vows, rather than a full on wedding. The couple are celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary, but the bride is wearing purple, so we chose to mix the 2 colours (reds and purples) and we think you'll agree they actually go really well together.

As you can see we made the bride a bouquet and the groom a buttonhole to match.


Our 2nd wedding today was for an equally lovely couple who were getting wed for the first time.  For this one we used fresh flowers.  Vendela roses, with yellow and lilac freesia, with some different foliages to tone and bring it all together.  Have to admit after using the vendela with those beautiful amnesia the other week, and not being sure they would go together, we had doubts about then using them with lilac and yellow, but yet again they have proved us wrong; there seems to be no colour they don't work with.

Tied bouquet of Vendela Roses with Lilac and Yellow Freesia
Our final wedding for today was something a little different to the norm as it consisted of Purple and Ivory calla lilies. We often use callas for a wedding but it's unusual for a bride to want to mix 2 different colours together. They either choose callas with roses or gerbera, in the same tones, or just a single colour.  The bridesmaid material was a shade of purple; not a cadbury purple though; it had an almost plum tone to it as well. The original plan was to use a black calla as these are one of the best to use when blendig with purple; then a trip to the wholesalers the other week produced a purple calla that the growers are now working and hoping to mass produce (grow but you know what we mean). At one time if we asked for purple they would have laughed at us (maybe there is hope yet for the brides that want lilac ones).  The colour isn't quite perfected as some were more purple than others, but they toned beautifully with the material swatch we had to match, and worked well with the Ivory ones too (even though being different sizes caused the air to turn blue a few times where they wanted to go in totally different directions to where Sarah wanted them to go). Thankfully they looked lovely in the end, and luckily for us the whole day has gone off without a hitch.  Let's hope our brides days have too.

Brides bouquet


Registrars/Top Table Arrangemnt

Monday, 16 July 2012

Credit Card Safety

I got asked a really good question this morning about credit card payments, and how we go about keeping someones card details safe. This is something there has been a big problem with in the floristry world up north in recent months; non-honest people up in Leeds have been breaking into florists, looking through order pads for customer details (including card details). As it is illegal for us to keep your security numbers on file, these people have then phoned the customer to say there is a problem with their card and they need to re-check on the security number; once they have this they are free to shop wherever they fancy before getting caught. Having been caught ourselves in the past with Credit Card fraud, we have always taken keeping your details safe a high priority. How we do this is actually very simple. 

When we take your order over the telephone, your credit card number is not written next to your order (or below it). It is in fact written on a previous page (wherever a space may be) so that if someone did even manage to come across any numbers, they wouldn't be able to tie it up with the ordering customer. 

The minute we hang up the phone, your card details are processed via the pdq machine ( we would do this at the time we have you on the phone, but the pdq shares the phone line with the telephone so we have to wait until we have ended the call). As soon as the slip of paper pops out of the pdq we scrub out any numbers (except the amount spent)  that are visible on it; we then pop our own code on the bottom along with the date of delivery so that is there a point of reference if our customer has an issue. This way if someone was to break in (they'd have to get through 2 alarms and countless locked doors first) then even if they found an order and could tie the credit card slip to that order, they wouldn't find a single number on there that would be of any use to them.
This is how they look once we've got our hands on them


Each days slips are kept together in the safe for 6 weeks; by that time if someone had an issue it would have shown up on their statement and we would have dealt with it for them.  At the end of the 6 weeks the slips are destroyed.  Now; rather than spend forever shredding tiny bits of paper (let's face it that would be an all day job), so instead we tear them into shreds ourselves, where they are then popped into a pot of water and left to soak for several days. 

Beginning to soak up the water

Once fully soaked they pretty much resemble a pot of sludge. We then tip the water out of the pot by passing it through a sieve. The remaining sludge then goes to one our houses, where it is placed into our compost bins in much the same way normal shredded paper is. 

As this is how paper is recycled we are currently looking in to ways of turning this mulch, back in to handmade paper, but the process is not as easy as it sounds. Maybe one of you out there might want to start up your own paper business? That way we could supply you with our mulch, and you could turn it into recycled hand made paper. Now there's an idea. 
Turning in to sludge
Until someone local comes up with their own paper making business then we will continue to pop it in to our compost bins, where it will help our gorgeous roses (and other flowers) to continue with their phenomenal growth.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Imitation and copyright

Wow; who would have thought the BT directory being delivered over the weekend could have got us so many calls and emails? We don't even advertise in the thing (and never will). What was the cause of all this contact? Well it transpires that another florist (who only deals with weddings) in a nearby town has a logo so very similar to ours, a lot of you thought she had pinched our one. We've actually come across her before and a quick check let us know that Yes it is almost identical, she has in fact used a different variety of gerbera to us. The one we used has a black centre and I myself took the photograph to turn into the logo; her one has a yellow centre (I've no idea if she took the photo herself or downloaded it) but it's not our one. I'm sure dotted about the country (world) there are other shops with similar if not the same logo. It's bound to happen. We did research before we designed ours to make sure we couldn't find anyone with the same (purely from the point of view that we didn't want to get mistaken for someone else ~ they may not have been such good florists as us) but also because we wanted to have our own identity. Not everyone thinks that way so it is bound to happen somewhere along the line. At the end of the day they do say that *imitation is the highest form of flattery*. 

Aside from all the calls from our concerned customers, we have also had a lot of calls to order flowers today. Sadly a couple of calls we had to let the people down. They wanted us to personally deliver to Mid Wales, Surrey, Suffolk and Derbyshire. As lovely as it would be to be able to say yes, we just can't afford to run the risk of trusting a courier with our flowers, so we had to say no to the orders. We hate to say no to anyone but do any of you know of any couriers/postal services that can be trusted 100%? We don't and the quality we send out for all occasions is of paramount importance to us. 

One call we did have was from one of our regular customers whose exact words were "There's £70; do me one of those water bunches. Use whatever you want". Now to some florists this would the opportunity for them to go out and buy really exotic flowers that cost a fortune. Beautiful as they are when a customer spends that amount of money with us we really want them to have something that looks like they've spent well on it. If they asked for the exotics that wouldn't be a problem, but 99% of our customers would be devastated if we sent out 3 strelitzias, a stem of orchid and maybe a couple of roses (one big company ~ no names mentioned ~ are charging £150 for an arrangement that is just 1 stem of orchid, 1 heliconia, 4 gerbera, 2 hydrangea, 3 mini pineapple and a couple of leaves ~ for £150?? no wonder florists get such a bad rep). Don't get me wrong; the bouquet we made included roses, lisianthus, lilies and anthuriums, which as not your cheap run of the mill flowers, but we think we still made it look worth the money spent on it. 


Sadly the photo (as always) doesn't do it justice on the size, but I can tell you it was almost 3ft wide and the same in height. The colours also haven't come out as well as I would have hoped, but it was all varying shades of pink, pink, creams and reds. Not colours we would have chosen to put together as a rule, but a trip to the wholesalers found us a wrap of mixed avalanche roses, that we beautiful; purchasing these for this order the dictated the rest of the colours needed to be used. 
As you can see from the photo above the pink rose was quite a bright shade, whereas the anthuriums were a great mix of pinky green. The other rose in the picture was a white avalanche rose. The red you can see behind the pink rose is a stem of astilbe. 
Above is the pink lisianthus used along with the cream avalanche rose. The green on the back of the anthuriums can also be seen in this photo. 

Such beautiful spring, delicate and pastel shades that worked beautifully together. 

Thursday, 5 July 2012

It's prom time

Since we have now adopted the American idea of Prom, we've noticed more and more Girls and Boys are buying corsages (for wrists mainly) and buttonholes for their dates. I believe this is also an American idea that we have taken on (back in my school days we had a teacher with a record player in the sports hall). In fact ours were just called Leavers Do's and we pretty much did exactly that. Arrived, saw Mr ?? doing his best at playing songs we all enjoyed, and left again to head off to the local pub (that was when you could get away with being served under age).

Every year we are presented with the challenge of sourcing flowers that will match the outfit of the corsage recipient, and I will admit, every year it gets a lot harder. There are so many different options of material these days, in all manner of colours it can get a bit tricky at times. Just today we've had 2 girls with 2 tone material. If you tilt it one way you can get a colour to match; tilt it the other way and the colour you've chosen doesn't match at all.  Thankfully we've managed to find something that will complement regardless of which way you tilt.
The corsage above is a prime example of colours not matching both tones.  The pieces of material among the flowers are pieces left over from the dress (the lady wanted to pick up the colours in the corsage). As you can see looking at it there's a distinct purple tint to it. What you can't see if that if you tilt it the other way there is a really bright turquoise blue. Thankfully; oddly enough, the lilac roses worked well with both; hence why it has been made.

As most of the corsages are presented to whoever will be wearing them, we make a point of ensuring every single one that leaves the shop is in a presentation box. These are only a clear plastic, that we pop a few strands of ribbon but it seems to go down really well with everyone when we do, so we will continue to always send them out in this way. The reaction we get when the person that ordered the corsage comes in to collect is great. It's like we've really put ourselves out for them and it's nice that they appreciate the little touches. That's what this job is all about. The little touches and the personal service.



There are times though, I will admit, when I question the sanity of boxing them all (or maybe it's the fact we don't charge £20 each for them), as today I have wired, taped, put together and boxed up 49 (yes that's 49) of the things, in various flowers, colours, shapes and sizes. I know some shops buy the specific corsage bracelets (these are actually all attached to pearly corsage bracelets) and then proceed to just glue every flower on. How they can do this beyond me. A) I would NEVER trust the glue enough for the flowers not to fall off, and B) surely the glue burns the flowers? I've used it before to maybe stick a leaf down, and the leaf has then proceeded to turn brown. Not for us. It may be fiddly; it may take longer, but every single flower head and leaf in one of our corsages has been wired, and taped by hand.

The great thing is? We get to do it all again on Monday as the other school local to us has their prom Monday evening. We don't have 49 for that one though (which my fingers are very grateful for).

A small selection still waiting for collection