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Merryn Magazine Because everyone needs a l it t l e joy in t heir l if e!

Ever want ed t o st ay in a t ree house on hol iday?

Incl uded in t his issue... Mil k Monst er: keeping baby mil k saf e

Do you l ike Thai f ood? Do you l ike pies? Meet Thai in a Pie!

Fancy some al cohol ic l ol l ies? We have t he perf ect pl ace t o get t hem!

VISIT MERRYNMAGAZINE.COM * SUMMER 2016 * ISSUE 2


On our wishl ist ...

Here are things we're loving from around the internet (click on the product to go straight to the product's webpage*) * all prices correct at the time of inclusion

OUR FAVOURITE JEWELLERY

'Pink Unicorn Neckl ace'

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£16.00 from Stami Studios

'Bambi Neckl ace'

'Bl ackcurrant Cheesecake Bracel et '

'# charmgang Rose Gol d Cryst al Bangl e'

£14.99 from Mixed Up Dolly

£28.00 from My Flash Trash

'Gol d Leaf Earrings'

'Fl amingo Pendant Neckl ace'

£14.99 from Zohrie

£6.00 from Ink Accessories

£8.00 from Brokendoll Jewellery


On our wishl ist ... OUR FAVOURITE CHILDREN'S ITEMS 'Toot h Fairy Pouches'

'Bendies Sil icone Teet hing Toy'

£7.00 from Ellie's Beautiful Mess

£12.00 from Lilith Loves Henry

'Personal ised Wooden Name Train'

'Fel t Wal l Rul er ? Pink'

from £10.99 from I Just Love It

£35.00 from My 1st Years

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'Vil ac Wooden Guit ar by Nat al ie L'et e'

'Drum Pl aymat '

£24.99 from Wooden Toy Shop

£29.99 from Bright Minds


O ne of our favourite online shops is Two Little Boys. We caught up with Sarah Watts to find out more... You set up Two Lit t l e Boys in 2002. How did it al l come about ? I managed to give birth to three babies in a year in 1999 and having spent three years of ?baby wrangling?. I had three toddlers who needed entertaining constantly. I had already tried to find certain products on the market to help with the logistics of bringing up babies to no avail. For instance, one of my first products was a ?medication diary?where I could write down which baby had been given which medicine at what time - because when one of them was down with a fever or teething, the others would soon follow and in the ?twilight zone?of the first years, I genuinely couldn?t remember which child I?d given Calpol to at 2am. So it was scraps of paper outside their room and I just felt a book for each child would have made my life a lot easier and theirs a lot safer. By the time they were toddlers, I was playing snap with them using the most hideously designed set of cards I?d bought and I was sick to death of looking at the same awful illustrations! So I had a photograph of the backs of my identical twins? heads that I thought would make an excellent logo showed the photo to my husband and asked him what he saw. Being a very literal man, he said ?Two Little Boys? and that was that.

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You've been short l ist ed in t he annual Gif t of t he Year Awards many t imes. How did it f eel when you won in 2009? Funny you should ask that question. We?ve been ?highly commended?in the Gift of the Year awards quite a few times too and each time, it has been a shock and an honour to be recognised in an incredibly competitive industry. The awards were always at some swanky do in London and then everything changed and the only year that we actually won, there was no ceremony whatsoever - we were just given the award at our stand at a trade show! Since then, the awards are now a ceremony at the Spring Fair at the NEC. I hope, one day, I will get my moment on the stage! Strangely enough, we entered my favourite product of all time the year before we won and it wasn?t even shortlisted, so I don?t take it all TOO seriously. The judging panel changes annually, so I accept that personal taste comes into what makes the cut.

What are some of your f avourit e product s? I have to admit that I have one absolute favourite product? . the one that I show with pride! I remember the night I came up with the idea and I thought the idea was so brilliant that I couldn?t trust myself to take on the design. I commissioned a very talented friend of mine to design the Christmas Yearbook (we were both cooking shepherds pie at the time her at home in Scotland and me in London) whilst I was describing to her my idea. Being very time poor at the time, I wanted something to keep memories alive without a huge amount of effort. So, the Christmas Yearbook is handed around the dinner table on Christmas Day and everyone write something about their year - your 4 year old scribbles their name and everyone else writes a sentence or two about holidays or work or dreams realised from the year before.


Children with Cancer is a non profit charity set up by Freddy Stratton to raise much needed funds for Children's Cancer Research Freddy was partially paralysed down his left side due to an inflammation in his spine, which left him unable to return to full time driving. He instead became a full time carer for a lady called Joan Hyde, but sadly Joan died of cancer in 2014. Although Freddy had already been donating to Cancer Research regularly, he felt that he needed to do more, so he set up a donat ion page on the Cancer Research UK website to try and raise more funds. Freddy had always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument so in 2013, he chose keyboard and started teaching himself how to play and found that composing came naturally to him. He then sent out a request to singers, songwriters and bands asking if they would like to donate a song, which could be used to raise funds for Children's Cancer Research. Today, there are over 70 dif f erent art ist s who have donated songs to Freddy's campaign. All proceeds of sales of the songs go to Children's Cancer Research. Each song is $0.99 to buy and download. Children's Cancer Research receives $0.66 of each individual song sold after PayPal deduction. If you are an artist and you would like to donate a song to help raise much needed funds for Children's Cancer Research, you can find out more here.

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We love shopping for funny greetings cards, and they don't come much funnier than the cards at Awkward Illustration. We asked Sydonia Aitken-Ballard to tell us more... How did you come t o st art up Awkward Il l ust rat ion and how did you t hink of t he name? Awkward Illustration evolved at a snail's pace over a few years. It started off as a crazy scheme called 'big eye stuff' which was a collection of silly, mad characters drawn with one large eye as a kind of trademark and so people recognised my drawings straight away. Unfortunately Big Eye Stuff never really took off and was put on hold for a bit. I kept sketching and doodling in the meantime while working at a full time job that wasn't for me. Eventually I left to have my son and thought that this was a really great opportunity to get something going with all these rough illustrations. So I took my bulging sketchbook, as well as the basic Big eye concept and started Awkward focusing on humorous greetings cards and quirky prints. The Awkward Illustration name came about because I'm totally an awkward person in every way. Social situations are awkward, my sense of humor is awkward. I sometimes wondered if people get it, get me. The more I looked around I realised there were a lot of people that have that same discomfort and humour and they could relate to the word awkward and possibly my crazy drawings. So Awkward Illustration was born and unleashed on the world.

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What are some of your f avorit e product s? Oh my! It's hard to choose favourite products but I do completely love the 'forking eat me' birthday cake and the 'cup cats' print. I know! Both involve cake, cake is my weakness. I love the 'forking eat me' card because not only does the cake have a goofy jammy face, it's edgy, cheeky and rude too but also at the same time it isn't. I had an awesome review recently from a customer saying the card was great for her foul mouthed friend but also suitable to have around the house with the children in the family. I love it for that. The 'cup cats' print combines two of my favourite things cupcakes and cats so that has to be a winner for me. It's also completely fun, vibrant and really cheerful. You cant help smile when you see it.


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Whenever 1st January comes around, we always promise ourselves faithfully that we'll change our ways and exercise, but it never lasts! Emily Watson is our new inspiration to getting healthy. How did you come t o st art Bunny Hop Dance and Fit ness?

You al so run KITZ cl asses in t he school hol idays, can you t el l us more about t hat ?

You combine t oning and f it ness int o your cl asses, which are your f avourit e t ypes of exercise and why?

My friend asked if I wanted to go to a new class with her. I went along and immediately was hooked. The music was awesome, the atmosphere friendly, the instructor fantastic and the only reason I knew I'd worked out rather than just had an awesome dance was the sweat!!!

It's a fantastic way to get children and young people having fun AND getting healthy!

The best bit about BH is that we combine cardiovascular and functional training exercises but disguise them! So for example, in a BH Dance class it's disguised as dance moves. So you feel like you're just dancing away but are actually burning calories and using every muscle in your body! I love the cardio tracks because I get to jump around like a crazy person! But I love the functional training tracks because that's where you feel you're using your muscles!

I asked the instructor Emma how she's got into it and she told me it was her company. She was growing it and did I want to audition? Umm yeah! At that time I was training to be a psychologist in the prison service and whilst I loved my job, I felt bullied and unsupported. That was in 2010 and I've never looked back. I became an instructor in 2011 and then a franchisee in 2013. Now BH fitness, I own 3 franchises and am trained in all the current programmes BH Dance, KITZ (the children's dance achievement programme), PT (personal training), Bites (the nutrition programme) and BH Combat (combining cardio and functional training with boxing methods).

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KITZ is the BH children's dance achievement programme and it's so diverse it can be run in schools as part of the PE curriculum, for after school clubs, parent/ guardian/ child holiday activities and even parties. I love running KITZ classes because the children 'let go' quicker than adults. You can get them to forget their inhibitions and express themselves freely! They're so good at choreographing their own things and pick up moves and routines quickly. I love doing parent or guardian and children sessions because it allows quality time whilst being active. It's a fantastic way to introduce my passionate message of loving your body as it is and being healthy and happy to children.


O ur editor Jenny went vegan at the start of the year, and it seems that a lot of people also went vegan recently. There can be a lot of confusion and misinformation out there so we had a chat with V-Curious founder Rowena Humphreys to find out more. Pl ease can you t el l us more about V-Curious and how it came t o be st art ed? My name?s Rowena and I?m the Founder of V-Curious. As a wellness coach I empower people with the information and skills to transition to a whole-foods plant-based diet. Working on a 1-2-1 basis, I coach people to shift to a plant-based diet or simply eat more plants, and by plants I mean vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. I thrive on helping people refine their food choices and become healthier, happier and more energised. V-Curious started a few years ago, it began with a supper club. I was keen to show people the variety and decadence that plant-based food can offer. I love to cook and I realised quickly that by introducing people to delicious food in a lovely setting I could help shift attitudes around food choices and even influence behaviours. The majority of our supper club guests are meat-eaters intrigued to try something different, keen to get ideas and open their minds to a new way of eating and dining. The response has been phenomenal, we always sell out and the brilliant reviews keep on coming. You can book a supper club via my website here ? we?ve recently started one exclusively for female entrepreneurs too! Since starting the supper club I was increasingly asked by guests to work with them on an individual basis helping them to shift ideas and habits around food, showing them how to cook, shop and dine-out. Many of my clients have, as a result, lost weight, sleep better, noticed an increase in their energy levels and reduced their dependency upon medication. As you can imagine helping people to change their lives in this way is an amazing feeling and I love what I do. Can you t el l us how t o get suf f icient prot ein int o a vegan diet ? Whilst this is something I get asked a lot this isn?t something I think about much. There are so many sources of protein yet we are taught to think of meat as the primary, and somehow most superior, source. You can get protein from vegetables, lentils, beans, soy, tofu, nuts, seeds, non-dairy milk, the list is endless. I always ask where did the cow get their protein from? They are only eating plants so why not skip the middle-man (or middle cow in this case!) and go straight to the plants and eat what cows eat? (which is plants of course). For the average person, the amount of protein you need is around 0.5g-0.8g per kilo that you weigh. For me weighing about 62kg I need between 31g-50g per day. That?s in fact not that much ? that?s one cup of soy beans (17g), one cup of lentils (18g) and a good handful of cashew nuts (7g), not to mention all the other food that I eat that also has protein so you can see how easy it is to get more than you actually need. The truth is that unless you?re in starvation mode or seriously limiting your calorific intake then it?s seriously unlikely you are not getting enough protein, and if you do take on less than you need, your body becomes very efficient at recycling amino acids, which is what protein is made of. I?d like to see us shift the debate away from protein and towards ?how do you get your fibre??- the majority of the UK population are still not eating their ?5-a-day? and this is a more pressing issue for society as this lowers the risk of serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. What are your f avourit e vegan f oods and recipes? Well this is a tough one! I am a big fan of simply eating whole foods and I love to make my own cashew cheese (find the recipe here) and on occasion I love to make my own egg-free meringue! Yes, it?s possible so see the link here.

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O ne thing we love at Merryn Magazine is pies. So, we were very excited to hear about a brand new pie company: Thai in a Pie. We caught up with founders and talented pie-makers Robyn and Michelle to find out more... Pl ease can you t el l us more about you bot h and how Thai in a Pie came t o be? We both coincidentally grew up in Asia which I guess kick-started our obsession with spicy, fragrant flavours. A few years ago we ended up working together and bonded over our love for chilli and general greediness. When you meet a kindred spirit who has a bottle of hot sauce on their desk and in their bag, you know you're onto a good thing. We're both keen cooks and even though we were working in a pretty corporate environment, we would often chat and day dream about starting a food business together. Robyn's parents still live in Thailand and she had just returned from a visit when we finally bit the bullet. All great ideas start in a pub and that's where Thai in a Pie really came into fruition - over several bottles of (quite bad) red wine and (even worse) bar snacks. London is an incredibly exciting place for street food at the moment. From Indian burritos to sushi burgers there's never been a better time for a good multi-cultural mash-up! We knew we were onto a good thing and locked down the name pretty quickly. The rest is history! Where can peopl e f ind you and your pies? We have a popup at The Common E2 in Bethnal Green on Thursday 7th July (ht t ps:/ / www.f acebook.com/ event s/ 1056742037733989/ ). It's a cool, cosy venue which is an architectural studio and cafe by day and popup venue by night. They're super supportive of local entrepreneurs and the East London community. We met the owner Mark through a mutual friend and everything kind of fell into place. We're also peddling our more "picnic' style wares - Chiang Mai (sai oua) sausage rolls and Thai salads at the Soho Village Fete on Sunday 17th July (ht t p:/ / prideinl ondon.org/ event s/ 2016/ 07/ 17/ soho-societ y). Charity and social enterprise is very important to us and we met Lisa (the organiser) through Twitter. It's a fantastic family event which supports the Soho Society - a fabulous venture, and one close to our hearts having spent a good chunk of our working lives in the Soho area. We're constantly chatting to event organisers, markets and breweries so there's lots of good stuff in the pipeline. We encourage pie-lovers to head to our website where they can find details of all upcoming events. ht t p:/ / www.t haiinapie.co.uk

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O ne in 10 new food products launched in 2014 were gluten-free, it is a market which is constantly growing. We spoke to Sara O sborne to find out more about Glutopia. How did Gl ut opia begin and how did you come up wit h t he name? I've been a part of the baking industry now for over 6 years and during this time I have seen the market change and evolve. My recipes have all been constructed and developed through personal experience and listening to what my customers want. Gluten free products have become a key and integral part of this. The reason the name Glutopia was born and why its so memorable is in its simplicity, its the Utopia for Gluten free.

What was t he f irst t hing you creat ed when you st art ed Gl ut opia? We started with the introduction of a few gluten free flavours of cupcakes, and now we offer muffins, brownies, freshly baked loaves of bread, freshly made sandwiches, quiche options and gluten free muesli.

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We love houmous and falafel, we can't get enough of it! O ne of our favourite producers is Me Too! Foods. We had a chat with founder Ramona Hazan to find out more about how Me Too! Foods got started. Pl ease can you t el l us how Me Too! Foods st art ed and where t he name came f rom? My father had food manufacturing companies in South Africa when I was growing up and so when I wanted to start my own business it was very natural for me to have a company that dealt with food. I grew up in a family that shared food and loved the Mediterranean cuisine that flowed from my Turkish grandparents and Egyptian father. Delicious mezze food to share with friends and family was something I was happy to share with everyone..

What was t he f irst product you produced? The first products were falafel and houmous and they were (and still are) always going to be the main core of the business. I remember giving some to my friends to taste and they said ?this is terrible! Stick with your current career and don?t be crazy?. I carried on developing the recipes and the day my friends ate a full loaf of bread with my houmous was the day I knew my recipe was good. I do the same with my recipe development to this day. I am still in charge of recipe development and I know a product is right when the people tasting it just keep coming back for more and more.

You won t wo Qual it y Food Awards f or your Houmous in 2015, how did t hat f eel ? It was an enormous honour for me. The first Quality Food Award was our Original Houmous and there are quite a few on the market so I was genuinely not expecting it to win so it was so exciting. The second was for a more quirky, innovative houmous which is our Seaweed Houmous. I really didn?t know how it would be taken at judging. We were really proud of it because it was a great way to add the massive nutritional benefits of seaweed into a product that so many people are eating anyway. We were really unsure we would win when there was tables and tables of massive conglomerates like Tesco, Aldi, M&S etc at the tables around us who were winning awards after awards. Companies with armies of New Product Development teams when for us, it?s just me. But we won and it was such an honour and super exciting!

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Marvellous Superfood produce high quality, all natural food, drink and superfood. We caught up with them to find out more. Pl ease can you t el l us how Marvel l ous Superf ood came t o be st art ed? Marvellous Superfood was started by Dixey Brooks in 2008. Dixey is mum to six children whose was raising with a focus on optimum nutrition. She believed in the importance of algae and greens to cellular health but struggled to get a decent blend at an affordable price. She found most to be expensive or bulked out with fillers. So she decided to create her own nourishing and detoxing blend. After thorough research she chose seven nutrient-rich, easily absorbed ingredients and blended them together - this recipe is now what we call Wel l being Bl end. Dixey gave the blend to her family in smoothies and offered to friends at cost price. The word soon got around that she had a great product and so Marvellous Superfood was born. We use the exact same recipe and ratios, that Dixey developed, to make the blend to this day. In 2015, you were a Free From Food Award winner in t he Raw and Super Foods cat egory, how did t hat f eel ? It felt great! We've always believed in our products but getting that formal recognition, from specialists in the field gave us a real confidence boost and spurred us on to further increase our range of high quality, organic superfood blends.

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New independent online baby and child swimwear retailer Baby Swimming Shop launched in January 2016. We asked them to tell us more. The brainchild of baby and child swimming experts, who have spent ten years teaching children to swim, the Baby Swimming Shop is already the UK?s go-to online store for baby and child swimwear and accessories from new-borns through to 14 years old. Stocking only the world?s most reputable brands, www.babyswimmingshop.co.uk sells premium products at the most competitive prices through a user-friendly website and offers reliable service. Baby Swimming Shop not only aims to provide the best possible retail experience but is also on hand to provide baby and child swimming advice and assistance ? making parents lives that little bit easier! To celebrate its first summer season, www.babyswimmingshop.co.uk has written a guide for Merryn readers all about? . 5 KEY WATER DANGERS TO LOOK OUT FOR ON HOLIDAY By Alison Short from www.babyswimmingshop.co.uk who is a mum to two boys. You?ve booked it, you?ve packed for it and at long last, you?re off on your well-deserved family holiday! A family holiday should first and foremost be all about having fun and quality time together but it?s worth bearing in mind that there are several water dangers which can pose significant threats to your children?s safety. Some are more obvious than others, so we?ve listed the five most prevalent water dangers you need to look out for when on holiday with your little ones: 1.Swimming Pool s The most obvious water danger is, of course, the omnipresent holiday swimming pool; afirm favourite with the kids. According to RoSPA, 30 children under 10 years old have drowned in holiday swimming pools abroad over the last 6 years, and these tragedies could have been prevented. Whilst they may seem relatively safe, hotel and resort swimming pools can often be very deep and some are not lifeguarded, so it?s essential you make sure your children are closely supervised while playing in and around the water. Most private villa pools or smaller complexes' pools are highly unlikely to have a lifeguard present and we'd advise checking out that there are water safety rings on hand, or other emergency floatation aides, should you need. Ensure your mobile phone is working and take a note down of the local emergency services telephone number. If your child is not yet a competent swimmer, think about using a f l oat suit or a swim jacket to provide them some added buoyancy. For younger ones, try a baby swim seat which provides them some security to reduce the risk of them falling through the ring. If you are staying in the UK, the same rules apply to leisure centre swimming pools or pools at hotels and holiday parks. Always supervise your children. Slippery surfaces also pose injury hazards as children often run around whilst playing, so it is advised that your children wear jelly shoes or pool socks to prevent slipping around the pool edge. 2.The Beach Another prime location for water accidents is the beach. The sea is great fun to play in, however, strong underwater currents, cold temperatures, and rapidly changing tides can pose a great threat to even the strongest swimmers, so you need to make sure kids are closely watched at all times. Parent s - try not to get involved in daredevil activities that your little ones might try and copy! Do pay attention to any flags and notices along the beach which will warn you about tidal activity and other hazards. You should also make sure that your children are wearing suitable floatation suits or aids as a precaution against strong currents which could cause the onset of fatigue. One last thing to be wary of is allowing your children to jump into the sea from higher points; there can often be rocks concealed beneath the surface of the water which can cause serious injury.

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Milk Monster is a new product which helps parents and carers know just how long baby milk has been out, and whether it is safe for baby to drink. We caught up with Victoria to find out more about Milk Monster and how it came about. Pl ease can you t el l us more about Mil k Monst er and how it was st art ed? Milk Monster was born in a small country village; Shamley Green. My husband and I have 3 little girls and when each of them were babies we couldn?t keep track of active milk bottles and how old the bottles were day or night time! We are sure we have unknowingly given dangerous milk to them and know we have also wasted vast amounts of milk over the bottle feeding years from throwing away milk when unsure how long it had been out; which is particularly heartbreaking when it is expressed breast milk. We couldn?t find anything on the market to solve this problem and furthermore discovered we weren?t alone with a vast amount of chat on the internet with people having the same problem or worse asking for advice after their baby had unwittingly been given old milk and become sick as a result. We decided to do something about this safety issue and came up with the concept of Milk Monster. The brand Milk Monster came from an endearing name we had for all of our girls during the bottle feeding stage, each of them loved their milk so much so that it was hard to wean them onto food. We referred to each of them endearingly as the milk monster! In summary, both breast and formula milk can decrease in nutritional value if they?re left for too long ? and this can also lead to an increase in harmful bacteria. Milk Monster is a simple timer which allows the parents or carers to see when the feed starts to deteriorate and therefore when it should be discarded. Simple, yet effective, the timer can be attached to bottles of any size, and has a multitude of features to ensure it is child-friendly and baby-proof. The glow-in-the-dark feature and the backlit screen allow parents to easily locate the bottle and read the timer in the dark, and the splash-proof, dishwasher-friendly design also means that Milk Monster can withstand anything baby throws at it ? literally! Milk Monster can also prove to be an essential safety addition when there is more than one child such as multiple births or nurseries by attaching different character Milk Monsters to different bottles.

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We've all been to wedding receptions and parties where there were cool props to pose with, but where do those props come from? We caught up with Carmen Croxall from The Prop Factory to find out more! Back in 2011, while founder Carmen Croxall was studying for a degree in illustration, The Very Vintage Hire Company began. While in her second year, she started making handmade cake stands at markets and craft fairs with her friend Alex Harris. They created a website, business cards and leaflets and called themselves "Cake Stand Stall". After they had created a Facebook page, a couple contacted them who wanted to buy lots of cake stands for their wedding. It was at this time that Alex found out about Bristol Vintage, who are a china hire company, and they had an idea to collect china for event hire. During this busy time of running Cake Stand Stall, Carmen and Alex were both juggling life as mums, while Alex also worked as a nurse full time and Carmen was a full-time student! They advertised in local press and got bookings for weddings. They also spent time in thrift shops and antiques centres, as well as looking through Ebay, searching for more vintage china to add to their ever growing collection. Their first wedding booking was in September 2011. By this point, Carmen had converted her degree to Graphic Design and then created a business brand and concept that was based on china hire. In December 2011, The Very Vintage Hire Company started. As well as hiring out items, they started to sell them too, this money providing the means to buy more hire china. In February 2012, Carmen spent her student loan on an ice cream tricycle, this being a sideline to china hire. They used this tricycle to sell ice cream on the Tarka Trail. Unfortunately, their new business started to make a loss and so after two months, they had to stop. They continued to receive hire queries, and they carried on buying stock. However, later in 2012, Alex left the business to move back to her hometown with her children, leaving Carmen to run the business. She decided to relocate to just outside Exeter. While growing her collection of items, she had to rent a storage lock up, moving to Dawlish. Carmen bought a company van and her dad started helping her out as a delivery driver. Enquiries for 2013 events were coming in and people wanted to view Carmen's collection of stock but she had no showroom. Carmen was able to acquire showroom space at the end of 2012 as a friend had space available so she decided to share the space and rent. By this point, Carmen was running the business with her friend Adam Michael, and in March 2013, Carmen asked Adam if he would like to become her business partner and buy into the business. By April, they had so much stock, they took on the whole shop. Since then, their stock has continued to grow to the collection they have today. Hi Carmen, what are t he most popul ar it ems t hat peopl e hire f rom you? People really like our giant deckchairs and peep boards! We have a lot of these. They are so popular we even sell them too!

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O ne place we would love to go on holiday is Blackberry Wood, especially to stay in their new Tree House! We asked owners Eva and Tim to tell us more. Pl ease can you t el l our readers about Bl ackberry Wood campsit e and t he dif f erent accommodat ion t ypes you have? Blackberry Wood was started in 2004 by husband and wife Tim Johnson and Eva Olsson who, inspired by places like Sweden and New Zealand, created a unique campsite where pitches are set in woodland, in ?private? little clearings, each with its own fire pit. Part of the original site was a static caravan park and the pair then started the process of sourcing alternative, quirky accommodation options to replace the old static caravans. The first to come along was the Holiday Bus, a 1964 London Double-decker bus which was then converted for holiday accommodation. Next came the Gypsy Caravan, followed by the Holicopter (a converted Wessex Sea and Rescue helicopter) and the more luxurious Curvy Cabin.

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We l ove t he new Tree House! How l ong did it t ake t o buil d? The latest addition, the Tree House, has been a long process (about 2½ years...) but it is completely bespoke and built to our own design and to a very high standard, following stringent building regulations. It has the comforts of a complete kitchen, a bespoke copper-clad bathroom and comfortable beds, but still retains the feel of rusticity and ?going back to nature? which we believe are so important in our modern world.

Do you have any pl ans t o add any new accommodat ion t ypes? We have one more Tree House in the making, but the second one will be quite different to the first one, in style, size and lay-out. It will also provide disabled access. We are very much hoping that the second one will be ready for the 2017 season. After that, we?ll take a break on the ?new accommodation?front, but if anyone has something unique and quirky to offer us, we?re open to suggestions!


We had never heard of Sling Swing, so we were excited to learn more. We asked Carly to tell us all about it. Can you t el l us more about Sl ing Swing and how it came t o be st art ed? I have been babywearing since my first son was born in September 2012 - he was a typical breast fed baby and liked to feed lots and wasn't keen on being put in his moses basket - instead preferring lots of cuddles so I began to look for sling options when he was around 5 days old. It was love - I bought a ring sling initially and then a mei tai and so it continued - I was hooked! A sling for every occasion and eventuality! Sling Swing was born in June 2013 when I was dancing with my 9 month old baby in a sling one night - he was teething terribly and could not settle so into the sling he went. 5 minutes of gentle moving later and he was fast asleep! I can remember saying to my husband why does nobody offer this as a class bingo! Idea is there I'd better set it up! I popped a post up on my local babywearing facebook group to see who would be interested (lots of mummies) and set about preparing for it. After lots of preparation in post and pre natal care, research and choreography preparation, we launched in August 2013 with around 30 local parents coming along to join in.

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What is t he minimum age t hat t he baby shoul d be t o t ake part in Sl ing Swing?

How can someone become a Sl ing Swing f ranchisee?

6 weeks absolute minimum if mum is fit and well, baby has had 6 week check and mum is confident to come along. In the case of a C section we recommend 12 weeks and sometimes recommend mums wait a little longer if there are any doubts about mum or baby readiness. If there are any issues then we always refer to the mum and baby's healthcare provider first. New mums are encouraged to stand at the front near the instructor so that an extra close eye can be upon them and any help can be given easily.

We are always looking for new franchisees - ideal applicants are people with a dance background, people who are passionate about babywearing and working/ supporting new parents and their babies and who are confident and like working with other adults in a social situation. We love happy people who will bring positivity to our 30 strong team. Email inf o@sl ingswing.co.uk for further information.


We love live music so we were excited to meet The Miss Fortunes!

Hel l o Miss Fort unes! Pl ease can you t el l us more about you, how you met and how did you come up wit h t he band name? Rian Harris (Miss Fire) and I, Jen Lali (aka Miss Chief) met while we were doing a teaching degree at Wolverhampton University in 2007. Our love of music brought us together and saw us watching many a live band, or jamming with fellow musician friends and family at various house parties. We found ourselves harmonising naturally along to songs and enjoyed venturing out to karaoke nights. A visit to the Embraced Burlesque show at Newhampton Arts Centre, Wolverhampton gave us the inspiration to start a vintage inspired vocal trio a modern sound with a vintage twist. The band name also had to stay true to the theme, hence Miss Fortunes was chosen, mainly for the play on words and the double entendre of being naughty and nice! At the beginning of this year, we had a position for a new 'Miss' to join us - an unconventional, easy-going songstress to complement the existing two oddballs and voila! Miss Fit (Amy Groom), was welcomed into the sisterhood! Our musical career has taken some twists and turns in its path and has seen us sing at a variety of venues and occasions. We've performed at dedicated 1940's nights and events; motown evenings and parties; and vintage themed weddings - all of which we thoroughly enjoy. We love the challenge of learning new songs for our sets and putting our own Miss Fortunes stamp on them, as well as developing our own arrangement of requested First Dance songs in a vintage style, lovingly created by Roley Martin (Jen's fiance).

Any f unny st ories surrounding your l ive perf ormances? Rian: It's always hilarious when people get up to sing with us and steal the limelight by upstaging us with their dance moves. But my all time favourite was when an OAP dropped her zimmer frame and began twerking whilst we sang! Jen: Ha! That's one of my highlights too! There was once an occasion when I got the giggles - I couldn't stop laughing yet I had no idea what was funny! Amy: Up until I joined Miss Fortunes, my live performances were limited, but I once remember being harassed by my friend to take part in an open mic at a local pub. I was so nervous when I got up to sing that I couldn't look anyone in the eye. Afterwards, everyone that approached me found it necessary to tap me on the shoulder or touch my arm before speaking to me - turns out they thought I was blind! Fortunately, I'm over that hurdle now though!

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Merryn Magazine - issue 2  

UK quarterly FREE digital magazine supporting independents, unsigned artists, charities and events.

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