Interiors: Heart-centred design

#whatkatydidUK, Amy Kirkwood, beach house designLeigh-on-Sea’s Amy Kirkwood is one half of Beech House Property Renovation (www.beechhousedesign.co.uk.) She reveals why it’s important to get to know your home, how to speedily update your living space and reveals what inspires her…

Q How did you get into interior design and property renovation?
A I am first and foremost an artist and designer, with a passion for colour and pattern. But, I have always carried a flame for beautiful interiors, and more so after travelling extensively and owning my own properties that I have renovated as well. It seemed only natural, when the time was right, to revisit my love for interior design and fuse it, now, with my studio practice and our family property renovation business. I also make bespoke lampshades and create abstract paintings for interiors.

Q What’s the biggest project you’ve ever taken on?
A I have project managed a new build home, with Dave building it, where I worked with the client to design and style the interior. We are currently planning, designing and project managing the total overhaul of a Thirties’ bungalow on the coast of Essex into a two-storey beach house. Continue reading

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‘I’ve been called a madam for running a promo model agency!’

Laura McBride, #whatkatydidUK, hostess

Flo Promotions founder: Laura McBride

The work of hostesses has been thrust into the spotlight, after claims of groping at a controversial men-only charity gala at London’s Dorchester Hotel last week.
I chatted to mum-of-one LAURA MCBRIDE, founder of Flo Promotions, an Essex-based agency supplying promo models – including hostesses – to events across the country.
Here Laura, who still works as a promo model herself, reveals how insults usually come from other women, protective security teams and who a typical hostess actually is…  

Q What work do your promo models actually do?

A Different roles. Models assist with store launches, corporate events such as waiting on guests, taking coats, grid girling at events such as BSB (British Superbikes), leafleting, ring card models at fight shows, hostessing at events, working on stands at exhibitions, food sampling, product sampling, entertainment acts such as stilt walkers, fire breathers, character lookalikes and appearances and more!

Q What has been your experience of working as a promo model?

A I have done it for about eight years now and I love it. It gave me a new-found confidence, especially after having my little girl. Some jobs are really well paid and the friends you make along the journey is amazing. Continue reading

New clinic set to make IVF easier for mamas-to-be in south Essex

Bourn Hall, Wickford, Essex, #whatkatydidUK

Opening soon: Bourn Hall’s new purpose-built IVF clinic in Wickford

Sonny Jim was conceived thanks to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) at Barts Hospital, in London.

We were living in Leigh-on-Sea (in Essex) while undergoing the process. And while I think I would have travelled to Scotland three times a week, if it meant the treatment would be a success, there is no doubt the commute to the clinic did take a bit of a toll.

Juggling a job on a regional newspaper, with the newsroom based in Basildon, but travelling into London to undergo internal scans (always a joy!) and blood tests and egg collection and embryo implantation was not exactly easy. A lot of the appointments were mere minutes long… but the round trip meant it was at least a 3-hour plus process. Which was not simple to slip in before work. It meant I had to tell my boss I was having IVF – and while he was very understanding and good about helping me work shifts around it, I would still have rather not have had to tell him. Continue reading

The #blessed mamas are only perfect in your mind…

Katy Pearson, #whatkatydidUK, Sonny Jim, WFHmum

WFH reality – when the only place the toddler will sleep is on top of you

Sonny Jim has been proper under the weather this week. Snuffling and spluttering and not exactly sleeping.

It’s coincided with my husband doing his back in.

And to be honest, I’m not sure who has felt the most sorry for themselves. The little dude has even – between sneezes – started doing a bit of an impression of his daddy’s back-related groans.

But anyway. When your toddler is poorly, in the winter, you kind of end up housebound. You can’t really take them to playgroups and share the germs around. It’s not fair to take them to their usual classes or soft play when their nose will. Not. Stop. Running. And when it keeps on raining you can’t even take them for a walk. Or to the park. Continue reading

Interiors: Bright ideas in the home

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingFrom renovated sofas to bright colours on your wall, Leigh-based House of Lovely Stuff’s Jo Bolter tells why it pays to be bold when it comes to interior design…

Q How did House of Lovely Stuff come about?

A I grew up in a house sewing, designing, drawing, cooking, making and creating. But like most families I had no idea that normal people did this as a job, so I left school and started working in a local bank. I met my husband who was a graphic designer and art director and we’ve always enjoyed a shared interest in photography, going to the cinema, gigs, galleries and decorating (the designing bit) our home.

House of Lovely Stuff, Essex LivingBut the catalyst came one day when our youngest daughter came in from school moaning about her homework. It was Eighties week and she had to design an Eighties outfit. I happily explained to her that when I was her age (in the Eighties) I spent hours and hours designing clothes and occasionally making them for fun. My husband said, “Really? You designed and made your own clothes? Why did you stop?”

The answer was sad but simple. The school system/syllabus doesn’t value creativity so when it came to choosing my options I could only choose one creative subject. I loved cooking and I loved textiles. I chose home economics and then as I concentrated on passing my exams.

A couple of weeks later my mum decided to buy a new sewing machine. She asked if I wanted her old one, it was a bit tired but could do a job. I made a cushion. It went okay. I made another one. I started to match fabrics together, playing about with angles, prints and textures. I was happiest experimenting and making. Friends started to take notice. Then I was asked if my cushions were for sale. Sure, I said. And before I knew it a few more friends and friends of friends were interested. Continue reading

Motherhood has given me a confidence I faked before

Katy Pearson, underwear, #whatkatydidUK

Pre-baby: Outwardly confident

Confidence is a funny thing.

Often the people that seem the most outwardly confident are actually the ones who, on the inside, feel a bit of an impostor.

Pre-Sonny Jim, I’m pretty sure I fell into this category.

I bagged a job on a national newspaper at 20 years old and seemingly held my own in a tabloid news room for the next seven years.

I was a cheerleader for a bit and had no problem dancing at football stadiums in hotpants.

I even had a couple of modelling jobs – where I was totally happy to pose in just some underwear.

And yet. Continue reading

Review: Cambridge Satchel Company 15 inch bag

Cambridge Satchel Company, Sonny Jim, #whatkatydidUK

Little fan: Sonny Jim seems to approve of my new Cambridge Satchel Company number

Sonny Jim is only a few months away from turning two – and my changing bag is even closer to reaching that milestone.

I bought it when my due date was looming and I had no idea of what I would actually need in a changing bag, but I liked the fact it didn’t look too mumsy, was leather and it had decent straps.

And in fairness, my Mothercare number has more than delivered. It’s seen me through the newborn days, epic walks with a tiny tot who would only sleep in the buggy. Trips to the beach. Picnics. Our first family holiday. Leaking bottles. Forgotten bananas. Poonami nappies.

It’s only now that the inside sections have ripped that I’m kind of over it. And I didn’t really want to go buying another “changing” bag, when the amount of gear I need to cart around for Sonny Jim isn’t really in the newborn baby league anymore. Especially now he’s got his own (super cute bumblebee!) rucksack/reins for his snacks.

So, I needed a new bag. A less mummy, more me bag. But that would still be able to fit a few nappies, a beaker, an emergency toddler vest/trousers in. It needed to be practical. But stylish. And good quality. Something classic. But not boring. And a decent size.

And, this was when I discovered the Cambridge Satchel Company (www.cambridgesatchel.com)

Continue reading