Category: Life

Indie Shop Love: 7th Sea Bristol

Photo collage of views of 7th Sea

This is the second in my series of posts about wonderful independent shops, you can read the first about Portabella here.

7th Sea

Address: 198 Cheltenham Road, Bristol, BS6 5QZ
Twitter: @7th_Sea_Bristol
Facebook: 7th Sea

Photo collage of Christmas decorations at 7th Sea

7th Sea is a little treasure-trove of hand-made goodies made in Bristol by local designers and crafty types. At the moment it is brimming with Christmas decorations and gifts. The shop is just a couple of doors up from Portabella and Cox and Baloney on Cheltenham Road – so its really worth making a visit to this corner of Bristol to take all three shops in.

Photo collage of things for sale in 7th Sea

7th Sea sell lots of different hand-made items, including jewellery, cute softies, clothes and art work. Most of the the things they sell would make perfect gifts. Some of the soft toys they have are just BEYOND CUTE – like the owls and the little monsters. Who wouldn’t want to have one of these little chaps in their lives?!

Photo collage of items for sale at 7th Sea

They also sell some very sweet hand-made clothes. I especially love the skirts and shirt collars they have in pretty retro fabrics. They have a range of t-shirts that are hand-printed too. I’ve picked up a lovely grey t-shirt with an amazing print on it:

Photo of a grey tshirt with a drawing of a yeti and a bigfoot o  it
This t-shirt is hand printed by Katy Christianson Illustration. Isn’t it awesome?!

Have you been to 7th Sea? What did you buy?


I have spent a large proportion of my adult life suffering from depression. It has caused me many difficulties and at times it has been unbearable. After a particularly bad bout of depression last year I made a decision, one that may sound silly, but one that has helped me enormously: I chose to be happy. I’ve only started to feel better since I started to talk about depression and stop feeling so embarrassed about it. Depression affects so many people, yet its something we don’t talk about openly.

At least one person in every six becomes depressed in the course of their lives. One in 20 is clinically depressed. Figures suggest that it is women more than men who become depressed, but men may find it harder to admit to or talk about their experience. All age groups can be affected, and it’s important to take symptoms seriously and not to dismiss them as an inevitable part of growing up or growing old. By recognising and treating the symptoms and getting help, it’s possible to overcome depression, and prevent it coming back.
Source: Mind

Deciding to be happy does not mean it just happens, it is something I have to work on every day. It does work though. I want to share some of the things I have learnt over the past year or so, and hopefully they will help people. I can’t claim to be an expert in this field, but everything I suggest has helped me in some way.

Ten tips for happiness

These ten tips come from the wonderful and inspiring Action for Happiness. The Action for Happiness site gathers together lots of information about happiness and how to become happier. These tips have made a difference to me because they help remind me about how I should approach problems and stressful times.
Picture with ten tips for happiness written over the sea

Find out what makes you happy

This may sound obvious, but for me, I had a revelation. It turns out that the things that make me happiest are not the things I thought.

I was given some wonderful advice: “Find out what makes you happy and do more of it”. Yeh great, I’m stinking-depressed and I hate everything is what I felt like. However, I took part in a little project to do with habit creation run by BJ Fogg (a very talented chap who runs the persuasive technology lab at Stanford). He was asking people to try his technique for learning new behaviour using baby steps. All you had to do was choose three new actions to do each day for a week and monitor their success. One of my three things was to write down at least three things that had made me happy in the day. I did this for well over a month and it completely changed the way I understood myself.

Once I knew what was making me happy, I was able to see how I could do more of those things instead of other more negative stuff. Simple, but very effective for me.

Don’t stick your feelings in a bucket

A powerful lesson I learned was to stop grouping all my feelings into one knotty mess, and instead force myself to think of them individually. A big jumble of emotions is much harder to deal with compared to smaller individual ones, plus the negative ones seem to be louder in groups too… yeh, I may sound mad, but what I am trying to get at is that unless you consider things on their individual merit you can’t look at them objectively.

I have a diagram to illustrate this:

Diagram showing a capital letter I made of lower case i's

If you only focus on the big feeling (represented by the capital letter ‘I’) you don’t see all the smaller feelings (the lower case i’s). Not all of those smaller things are bad – there will always be something good in there, but you have to look to see it.

Talk to people

Talking really is the best thing you can do. Verbalising problems make them seem more real initially, which can be terrifying, but once they are made real, they can be solved. If they are stuck in your head upsetting you, you’ll struggle to be able to see them and start getting rid of them. Talking to people and being open can be very liberating, for you and the ones that love you and worry about you.

So, I hope that if you have (or are) experiencing depression that in some way my ramblings have helped. It is a really difficult and challenging problem to face, but it is worth facing and I wish you all the best on the journey to feeling happier. Oh yes, and I’m not a hippy, I just think being happy is really bloody brilliant and we all should be happier.


Winter Fun at Center Parcs

Photo of trees with sunlight shining through them
A few weeks ago I went to Center Parcs for a lovely relaxing long weekend. I went with three of my friends: Martina, Robb and Hugh, and we had a wonderful time. It was the fourth time I’ve been to Longleat Center Parcs, and my sixth or seventh stay at Center Parcs – so you can tell there is something special about the place that keeps drawing me back!

The highlights:

  • Going to the spa on Friday evening for a moonlight experience. Sheer bliss. Fell asleep on a waterbed.
  • Going on all of the water slides, even the outdoor ‘rapids’ for the first time!
  • Pottery painting with Tina. Painted a mug with my favourite trees on it: silver birch.
  • Eating lots of delicious food, including toasting marshmallows on our fire.
  • Eating pic’n’mix while watching WWE Wrestling, curled up under a duvet!
  • Feeding the ducks!
  • Watching a firework display then eating roast pork dinner courtesy of Mr Robb!

Here are some photos from our trip. I only had my iPhone with me, so the quality isn’t great, but I hope you get an idea of how much fun we had.

Photo of Hugh, Robb and Tina
Hugh, Robb and Tina. Smashing companions.

Collage of photos of winter scenes

Photo of Robb and Hugh playing crazy golf

Photo of Robb and Hugh by the lake

Photo of Robb and Hugh feeding ducks

Photo of a pack of giant marshmallows

Photo of a disgracefully large waffle with ice cream

Photo of Tina at Center Parcs

Photo of Robb giving some reindeers the thumbs up


I cant wait to go again! Next year – who’s in?!

I’m on Pinterest

Like everyone else and their grandmothers, I’m also on Pinterest, so lets share pins and neat stuff yeah?

>> Follow me on Pinterest here

Here is a taster of some of my favourite boards:

Inspiring Nails board

Screenshot of a pinterest board of nail art pictures

Felt board

Screen shot of Pinterest board with felt crafts

Fabric Wonderland board

Screen shot of pinterest board featuring fabric

I’ve been really enjoying browsing all the great stuff people find and share, especially the craft projects and nail art. There are some seriously talented people out there on the internet!

What are the best things you’ve found on Pinterest?

Money Saving Tips

Illustration with pound signs

I’ve recently discovered Extreme Couponing, an American TV show that showcases the amazing efforts coupon addicts go to in order to save money on their shopping. They make really serious savings, so big, that they amazed me. For instance, in the first season, people are buying $600+ on products, but actually only spending less than $10. For everything. And its legal. This has made me question how blindly I spend my money, and made me excited to see how much I can save just by being a bit more savvy.

This post is all about collecting together some of the sites and apps I have found so far that help me save money. I hope it helps you, and if you have any tips you can share with me, I’d love to hear them!


Money Saving Expert

I am sure you’ll already know about this fantastic site, but no post about saving money can go without mentioning it, or it would be negligent!

The weekly email’s are essential reading as they gather together a great roundup of the best savings that the MSE team has found. I never think of them as inbox-spam either, they are one email I really look forward to getting!

MSE have a great tool for finding bargains on Amazon, The Amazon Discount Finder.

Screen shot of discount finder interface

The discount finder lets you set really specific search criteria, so that you find the absolute best deals on the site. Of course, these deals are not necessarily for things you may want or need, but, I think its worth stalking certain categories to find really great deals, especially for gifts/Christmas stuff.

Here are two examples of products with big price reductions I found this evening:

Screen shot of Calvin Klein lip collection
Calvin Klein Lip Collection: Was £51 Now £8.08 Saving £42.92! With free delivery.

Screen shot of a Betty Jackson bag
Betty Jackson Collette bag: Was £310 Now £37.58 Saving £281.42! With free delivery.

Hot UK Deals

This site needs to be picked through to find the best deals and it can take a while. I managed to find a couple of good ones though: one for a free Chanel lipstick sample pack and a coupon for £2 off a £12 spend at Poundland (in my head I’m thinking that’s two free Revlon nail polishes of course!).

Magic Freebies UK

Again, this site takes a bit of work to find the good stuff, but there are still some things worth doing/trying on here. I’d really recommend creating a separate email address for registering for any of the offers, as I suspect a lot of the providers will sell your details and you’ll be inundated with spam…

When I looked at the site this evening I found several vouchers that got free snacks like this one for Bear ‘Yo Yo’ fruit nibbles.


A horrible name, and a horribly designed site, however, I have received about £100 from this site over the years, paid directly into my bank account. The site lists deals and cashback offers when you follow their links and complete purchases. Be wary of sharing your email address with any of the sites that are linked to from GreasyPalm as you’ll get a lot of spam – so again, use a dedicated email account for this!
Screen shot of Greasy Palm's Direct Cosmetics deal
You can save money shopping at Direct Cosmetics and get cash back too!


I have an iPhone, so these are all iOS apps, however I’m sure most will have Android versions.

O2 Priority Moments

Screen shot of O2 priority moments
This is exclusively available to O2 customers. Although this is just ‘another’ voucher based phone app, this one has some exclusive deals that are brilliant. This week I got myself a totally free phone case and four free cookies from Millies!

They usually have good money off deals for quite a good selection of high street shops like M&S, and like most of the other apps, they have a lot of restaurant deals. Some of the deals are the same as other apps, but some are exclusive, and these tend to be the best ones.

Voucher Cloud

Screen shot of Voucher Cloud
The best deals on here are for restaurants – its really worth checking which venue has the best deal on, but you can usually find deals for 25% off the total bill. The screen shot on the right shows a current offer for £10 off a £40 spend at BHS – not a bad saving, especially as you could pick up quite a few good Christmas presents with this!

I’ve used this app to get 25% off the total bill at The Slug and Lettuce for eight people having lunch. The bill came to nearly £100, so as a group we saved a combined £25!


Screen shot of Quidco app
Quidco is my latest app-crush! Quidco gives you cash for visiting shops with no spend required! Shops like Tesco, H&M, GAP and Dorothy Perkins pay between 5p and 20p when you check in. It doesn’t take long to start collecting money if you visit somewhere like Cribbs Causeway in Bristol and it’s possible to collect about £2 on a shopping trip. Not bad for doing nothing! You can also get deals for the shops featured on the site too, which can also be worth a look, as you can be paid cash back based on what you spend in store as the app links your debit cards to your account.

The Quidco website has deals too, check out the current offers at the Body Shop below:

Screen shot showing current offers at the body shop

Good luck saving money!

I hope you’ve found this post useful, if there is anything I have missed though, please let me know and I’ll happily update it!

Hello again

Illustrated otter saying 'hello again'

I am tentatively returning to blogging again, after, well, lets just say an extended summer holiday. I plan to broaden what I write about, and use this space as a place to share what I am doing, seeing and experiencing.

It’s good to be back!

Beginnings and endings


It’s been an epic few days, weeks, months and couple of years for me and my family. Following ill health, my parents needed to sell their farm and the home I’ve grown up in, and downsize to a bungalow.

It’s been a very stressful and upsetting process and it reached its crescendo this weekend when we finally moved from the farm, gave the keys back and collected the new ones.

The trauma and upset of the past few years dealing with illness and family drama has taken its toll on me and has soured some relationships. Going through such a tricky period has taught me many things I would have preferred to wait to know until I’m older, but I am trying to find a silver lining.

It’s emotionally exhausting living in a state of worry and I urge you, if you have friends going through such stresses with their families, please be patient with them. To my sadness I have discovered how short sighted many people are, and how little they are able to grasp quite how upsetting it is to gradually loose a parent.

I’ve gone through periods of very dark depression on this journey and many people around me did not know what was happening to me. I’ve learnt that there will always be help from friends but not necessarily where I expect it to be. Time knowing someone does not equal their care or ability to help, which is one of the hardest things I’ve had to accept.

I have found help in surprising places and from unexpected people, and I will always treasure this. Those that can love you when you’re at your weakest and most vulnerable are truly special. Those that can’t are not.

I have come to realise how lucky I am to have a wonderful network of people that care about me. This has helped me come to terms with the things I have lost and the people that I need to move away from.

To those of you that have passed judgements on my family or simply upset me further about my situation, I think it best we part company. Life is so fleeting it doesn’t make sense to spend time like this. I do wish you well and hope that you never experience what I have as nobody deserves it.

To those of you that have helped me in my dark times, thank you. I hope you realise how much you have helped and how much I do appreciate you. X

Off to Amsterdam

Amsterdam illustration
This is just a quick post to say that I am off to Amsterdam today to attend a nerdy mobile development conference, yay! I spent a week or two (I can’t recall right now) in Amsterdam last spring, so the city is familiar to me.

I am hoping to cram in a visit to De Bijenkorf (the Beehive) on Dam Square which is a massive department store right in the city centre. I also want to visit HEMA which is a more upmarket version of Wilkinsons I guess, as they have a neat range of craft products and stationary. If I get the chance I will also take a look at the Make Up Store but I’m sceptical I will get the chance between the nerding-it-up at the conference and then drinking-the-free-beer at the bar in the evening. Oh what a chore!

Introducing ‘Hi Street’

Hi Street logo

Those of you that know me personally will already know that I have been working with the team behind the Hi Street app since autumn last year. For those of you that don’t know me, you probably wont have heard of the app, so I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you all what a great app Hi Street is, and how we aim to support independent retailers.

So, where to start?! Hi Street is a new iPhone app that aims to connect people to the independent shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs around them. Shop keepers and venue owners are able to post special messages to potential customers to help them get their message out, and share any special deals or new products they have.

I don’t know about you, but I find chain stores and supermarkets to be very boring places indeed. For me, I would much rather shop locally at independents, and keep money in the local economy than give it to a chain that will take the money out of the local area. Don’t get me wrong, I do use chain stores and supermarkets – but they don’t excite me in the way smaller shops do.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy as we prepare to launch the new website and then launch the app in Bristol! I’m really looking forward to working on the Hi Street blog and sharing all the brilliant independents that we are lucky to have in Bristol. Please follow @hi_street and join in the tweeting about what great independents you like in Bristol (or further afield!) and if you have an iPhone, keep an eye out for our app as you’ll be able to find some real gems with it!