Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Why the Pretty Good Life

Well, people always try to typecast you. I had a somewhat disastrous relationship with a PR agency - who after taking loads of my money said that unless Kate Moss designed a dress for my business I was doomed to failure and that I should give up. One of the random things that she did do was write a press release tangentially about the business that talked about me living the good life. I had to rewrite it when one magazine editor mentioned that she liked it but that the English was appalling and misleading. So here is that article that I rewrote as intro to my life. While you read it I'll take the dog for a walk and plot how I am going to complete the first workshop assignment.

Hurray its spring time! In my old life the seasons just passed in a blur as I rushed between the tube, the office and the pub or restaurants – now Spring has real meaning. It has been a gradual transition, Vogue and Elle Deco magazines of old have made way for ABC Magazine and seed catalogues.

Like many of my contemporaries we moved out of London to offer our planned family a better lifestyle – and we have embraced it with open arms. Remember the Good Life? It lives on in our tiny seventeenth century cottage by suburban Berkshire, with our rescue chickens roaming around the fruit trees, the terraced kitchen garden and herb beds.

Sarita loves the garden – she chatters to the chickens and collects the eggs with real pride. Not only can I make the perfect herb omelet when we have forgotten to do the shopping but Sarita can toddle off to harvest her own herbs, keeping her from under my feet in the pre-meal flourish while simultaneously giving the satisfaction of contributing. Home harvested vegetables are so much more appealing than their standard store bought equivalent; leafy vegetables become covetable 'chard-from-the-garden' and peas straight from the bush are a favourite summer snack. It is great to see her taking her friends to see 'her' vegetable patch, and watching the wide eyed appreciation of the sight of a cauliflower that is ready to be picked.

Everyday has been a game as we discover what Berkshire has to offer. We are not brave enough to go the whole hog and keep pigs, but we still do our bit to link farming with the table. We have found the most amazing farm shop in Arborfield with a children's petting farm. We can say hello to the Shetland pony, feed the greedy Pygmy goats and marvel at the size of the sows, all for free, before popping into the shop for our Sunday roast.

Living the ‘Good life’ has not come easy. When we moved in back in 2002 there was no heating, no hot water and no inside toilet. When our daughter, Sarita, was born we had no proper flooring and the kitchen was only half finished. We had a mammoth task to make the cottage comfortable especially when money has been tight,especially after I was made redundant To overcome the doom and gloom outlook I bought a border collie pup called Aston (when the aspirational Aston Martin disappeared off the shopping list we thought laterally).’ As the renovation work took over we even resorted to buying an old red Routemaster Bus for our garden to store our furniture and to give us extra living space.

If home is where the heart is, I was going to work from home doing something I could be passionate about. When Sarita was little I had made the most amazingly useful over sized poncho, or Rockin Hood, to counter the struggles of getting coats on and off. If I had made a great product when I could not find what I wanted how many Mums had similar inspiration, I wondered? By the same rationale, if I could turn waste ground into a terraced veg patch how difficult could it be to set up a website selling only great products by Mums, ideas that really work? The answer to that it VERY difficult – but a year later and I have set up (or for short) with over 25 Mums (including myself) selling great products from the Wean Machine to a fantastic bag that doubles as a baby carrier and many, many things in between.

The site is aimed at inspirational Mums – not just those who want to shop but those who want to share our vision. The Good Life permeates the site. We have seasonal recipes, inspired by the garden and a range of free ideas for entertaining little ones. Often Sarita and I try out new recipes together for the site, or on a rainy day find out how to make our own play dough or modelling sand – turning a simple activity into an afternoon's worth of fun and sharing. After all, what do you remember about The Good Life? Laughter! That is what it all about.

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