Monday, 24 March 2014

Tips from Susie Freeman from Susie Freeman Travel, specialists in travel to Mauritius

Susie Freeman knows a thing or two about air travel. The founder of Susie Freeman Travel specialises in top-quality holidays to Mauritius and makes the journey herself every few weeks.

Here are some of her tips to make long-haul flights more enjoyable:

"The best thing is to step off a plane feeling rested and refreshed. If you can persuade your company to upgrade you to Business Class or First Class this would of course be ideal in terms of comfort although if you are paying yourself then this may just be a remote fantasy. I would highly recommend joining an airline loyalty programme to benefit from their perks such as pre seating, upgrade possibilities and access to their airline lounges.

• It’s well known that many passengers pick up colds and germs as the air just circulates. Take a small bottle of Olbas oil to sniff or spray with Silver Spray as this kills germs.

• If you are travelling economy at check in always ask how full the flight is and ask if it is possible to have an empty seat next to you.. sometimes on long haul flights if you are lucky you can nab a row of seats and stretch out and sleep all night!

• Wear loose clothing as I find that I expand on a long haul flights and ensure that your shoes are not too tight. Sandals are ideal. If you take shoes off during the flight you may find that you cannot get them back on again on leaving the aircraft! Air quality is very dry in the cabins so I always take out my contact lenses and wear glasses instead.

• Limit alcohol consumption and drink at least 2 litres of water on a long haul fight. I try and avoid bread or any foods that will blow me up.. Often I will buy my water once I have cleared customs as airlines will only provide small glasses of water or small bottles in economy.

• always put my watch onto the time of the destination as soon as I board the aircraft. It seems to help with jet lag. On long haul flights I always travel with my own snuggly pillow from home as it seems to help me to sleep. A large soft pashmina is a godsend. So many airlines give you flimsy ‘blankets’ that that seem to impart very little warmth whatsoever. Before going to sleep I always put on my safety belt to avoid being woken when there is turbulence to strap up.

• From years of experience with luggage going missing I always pack in my hand luggage items that I may need on arrival.. medication, spare contact lenses, a swimming costume, a spare set of clothes and any important documents must never be placed in the checked in luggage.

• If you are travelling Premium class you will be given a bag with a few toiletries. If you are travelling in economy it’s a good idea to take your own bag with an eye mask, ear plugs, wet wipes, a small tube of moisturizing cream, a toothbrush and toothpaste. If you get really bothered by noise then noise cancelling headphones are great as they cut out the noise of crying babies and engine noise.

• Entertainment- If you are travelling on a non UK airline it is advisable to take reading material.. a kindle , paperbacks.. magazines etc. An Ipad with pre-loaded films in case the airline selection is poor or in another language.

• It’s essential to move around and stretch as much as possible and many airlines suggest an exercise programme for passengers flying long-haul.

Bon Voyage!
Susie from Susie Freeman Travel"

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Pics from Sparkling Ginger's revamp workshop

Jo Marshall from Sparkling Ginger is a creative genius and her workshop flew by. What an exciting day! I am terrible at sewing, yet came away with great ideas and buckets of inspiration with which to tackle my wardrobe I even went home with a dress that became a skirt, a top that became a tunic and a skirt that became a scarf!

This was a t-shirt moments earlier

The group at work....

Jo casts a creative eye over my summer dress

Victoria from Victoria's Wardrobe and the Say no to New campaign with her creation

Victoria and Jo

Sharon with her transformation

Victoria brought this lovely Boden top that had a hole in it, cut the hole out and made the top more layered and interesting!

Newbury Weekly News photographer Geoff gets pics of our newly revamped clothes.

Victoria upcycles a lovely skirt

Friday, 21 March 2014


What keeps you awake at night?”

That’s the question that businesswomen in the Athena Network will be discussing in their meetings this month, as well as hearing advice from expert speakers.

India travel expert Jane Points of Points South will be discussing how to differentiate your business by focusing on customer service at the Newbury North meeting on Wednesday, 9th April. The group will be meeting at La Tasca in Newbury this month.

Jennifer Devine of Kosen will be discussing the role your attitude plays in personal and business performance at the Thatcham meeting on Tuesday, 15th April at the Regency Park Hotel. Claire Burdett of The Media Marketing Co will be talking about the “digital skills gap “ and how you can bridge that gap to get a winning advantage at the Hungerford group meeting at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 11th April.

The Newbury south meeting also takes place at La Tasca. Elaine Given of Protect and Invest will be talking to the group about how to protect themselves and their business from unforeseen circumstances. Elaine will be talking to the group on Wednesday 16th April about minimising exposure to business challenges, while maximising benefits.

Debbie Miles, regional director for the West Berkshire Athena Network said: “As well as lunch, networking and support, we also offer our members network strategy training. This month we’ll be brainstorming those business challenges that keep you awake at night. We all have them and they can be daunting for a small business owner. However, it’s amazing that when you tell others about what keeps you awake at night, that most people have advice and assistance to share.”

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm. For more information, please email


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

What does PR have to do with finding a soulmate?

Have you ever tried to write a dating profile for yourself? Was it easy? Was it successful? Did it sound stilted? Did it sell YOU as a person?

When it comes to writing about yourself, the aim is to your profile stand out from the crowd. It should be different enough to make your prospects want to take you out for a coffee, yet emphasise your good points too much and you can sound insufferable.

That’s why they all seem to say “kind person with GSOH seeks similar”. By the way, is there really anyone out there who doesn’t think they have a GSOH?

This is why Sarah Beeny’s website My Single Friend is a brilliant place to meet singletons. Instead of writing your own profile, you ask someone who knows you to pen it. They can list your good points and highlight things you’d perhaps not thought about.

It’s the same with PR. If you’ve got a story to tell, why not ask someone else to write it? Sometimes when you’ve been working on a project, it’s impossible to stand back and to write objectively about it. It can help to get a fresh set of eyes who can see what the benefit of your product or service is to the customer.

They might just be able to hook you up in a LTR with a news editor.

*Before I did PR, I spent a few months running my own dating business, successfully bringing together lots of couples across Dorset and Somerset, including at least one wedding! However, I still don’t know what “OHAC” means?

Monday, 17 March 2014

Don't stagnate, innovate!

Creativity is the theme for the latest briefing sessions for entrepreneurs run by Benham Hill-based motivational coaching firm Bigger Brighter Bolder.

The sessions take place on Wednesdays 19th March and 2nd April both from 7pm to 9.30pm and will be run by George Swift, coach and director of Bigger Brighter Bolder. He believes that entrepreneurs need to evolve their businesses creatively in order to stay ahead of the competition and will be showing attendees how to do this.

He said: “Don’t confuse being creative with being artistic. Being artistic is a skill but creativity is a brain function which means you have it in you to be more creative than you thought possible. Studies say that 98% of us are born with extreme creativity and yet by the age of seven, that figure is less than 10%. It’s literally conditioned out of us.

“This workshop is a must for every business owner as it will show you how to flirt with new business opportunities and ideas.”
Places cost £25 each and must be booked in advance.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Intergenerational charity “From Generation to Generation” launches in London on 30th April

From Generation to Generation, a new charity aiming to bridge the generation gap between youngsters and older people, is launching in April.

The charity has been set up by Professor Norma Raynes and will support projects that encourage interaction between young people and older people. Passionate about providing opportunities for intergenerational activities, Norma set up a pilot project called ‘Intergen’ three years ago. The pioneering organisation comprised 12 schools and enabled schoolchildren to benefit from the knowledge and experience of older people.

Professor Norma Raynes

From Generation to Generation will incorporate Intergen and it’s hoped that there will be more than 100 schools involved by the end of the year. However, From Generation to Generation will have a wider remit and will aim to improve life chances, learning and well-being for all ages, as well as increasing the opportunities for interaction between younger and older people in their communities.

The new organisation will be launched on 30th April at the Rothschild Bank and the evening event will incorporate an Intergener teaching guests a new skill. There will be other surprises for guests at the event. A second launch will take place for the Manchester area on 15th May at Kingsway School in Stockport where this time, an Intergener will teach guests how to do origami.

From Generation to Generation will hold an Intergenerational European Film Festival in the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley in June and will continue to work in Europe with partner organisations such as Amt für Gesundheit (Department of Health) in Frankfurt. Other plans include intergenerational museum visits, a closed online forum for grandparents to share ideas, and sharing allotment and bee-keeping expertise.

Intergen was originally set up by the 74-year-old after being inspired by the mutually-beneficial interaction between her father and her young daughter. Norma is an advocate of ensuring equality for all ages and sees that helping the young and older people find opportunities to assist each other.

From Generation to Generation’s vision is to “promote knowledge and wellbeing through cooperation between the generations" and to create a society where older people and schools work in partnership to contribute to the positive development of young people and the local community.

Norma said: “I decided to find ways to bring the generations together after doing research about older people, social exclusion and the quality of their lives. At that time, I was also a school governor and saw the need for younger people to have interaction with older people. For example, I met a man who was resident in a care home who had previously been a photographer. He showed me his wonderful black and white photos and as we put them away I realised that no one would probably ever see them again let alone give him the chance to share his skills and knowledge with younger people.

“Since then, Intergen has grown enormously and we’re so proud to be involved with a scheme that brings so much to so many people of all ages. There is more need than ever before to expand the opportunities for intergenerational interaction and we’re thrilled to launch From Generation to Generation. We’d like to hear from anyone who would like to get involved in our varied projects.”


Notes to editor:



From Generation to generation: A charity designed to promote knowledge and wellbeing through cooperation between the generations.


A country in which older and younger people share time together, having fun, and learning

from each other.


FG2 promotes knowledge and wellbeing through cooperation between the generations.

We achieve this mission by supporting:

• Intergen

• European Intergenerational Film Festival (EIFF)

• Developing other intergenerational programmes

Strategic Objectives

To improve and promote:

• Life chances for people of all ages

• Learning for all ages

• Wellbeing for all ages

• Learning as fun

• Positive views of older and younger people in the communities in which they live.

The Charity Objects

(a) to advance the education of pupils in schools by the sharing of information and knowledge between, and by providing access to, older people in the community;

(b) to promote equality and diversity for the public benefit by advancing education and

raising awareness in equality and diversity and promoting activities to foster understanding

between people from diverse backgrounds;

(c) to promote social inclusion for the public benefit by preventing people from becoming

socially excluded, relieving the needs of those people who are socially excluded and assisting them to integrate into society (For the purposes of this clause, “socially excluded” means excluded from society or parts of society as a result of youth or old age).

Contact information: For more information about From Generation to Generation or to arrange an interview with Professor Norma Raynes, please contact Margaret McDonnell on 07930 274667 or

Monday, 3 March 2014

Say no to new!

The brilliant campaign to encourage people to buy used clothes is featured in this month's Good Housekeeping Magazine! You read it here first!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Turn those unwanted clothes into new gems with Sparkling Ginger revamping classes

How often have you come across a garment in your wardrobe that you have fallen out of love with? You could put it on eBay or you could donate it to a charity shop, but have you ever thought about giving it a new lease of life?
Even if you’re no whizz with a sewing machine, Joanna Marshall from Sparkling Ginger can help. She’s a creative mastermind who loves to restore clothes and furniture and is now bringing her vintage touch to a series of workshops at the Wellbeing Centre in Pound Street, Newbury on Saturday, 15th March from 9.30am to 12pm; Saturday, 12th April from 2pm to 4.30pm; Saturday, 10th May from 2pm to 4.30pm and Saturday 21st June from 10am to 12.30pm.

She said: “We all have something at the back of the wardrobe that could be revamped. Why not bring it to one of our workshops and learn how to recreate it into something new. Don’t worry, you don’t need any sewing skills at all, but feel free to bring along any trimmings, buttons, clothes, lace or ribbon you'd like to use.”
Examples of projects that have been successful in previous workshops include adding detailing to a plain cardigan to make it look more expensive; a shirt that looked completely different with new buttons; a dress converted into a top; a jumper into an iPad bag; a scarf into a halterneck top and gorgeous beaded pockets being added to a plain dress.

“We will be showing the group a no-sewing project so I normally suggest people bring along a mixture of items of clothing such as old clothes, things that are the right colours but perhaps don’t fit; a plain top or cardigan, any fabric, buttons, ribbon that you might have and would like to use. It might be a shirt that you don’t wear as it no longer fits or perhaps it’s your favourite t-shirt that you’ve spilt something on and you can’t bear to throw it away. By the end of the class, you’ll know how to revamp an old t-shirt to make something unique that you can take home and wear with pride!
“As well as being great fun, revamping is great for the environment and means you can create unique pieces without spending money on new clothes.”
Jo is well-placed to offer advice on how to add value to old clothes having been a fan of everything vintage from a young age. She added: “I’m not a modern shopping mall kind of girl and much prefer individual small shops – usually with a complaining husband in tow - and love anything vintage or dotty and spotty!”

Jo studied fashion at college before completing a first-class degree in textiles specialising in print design. She then worked as a freelance print designer with clients such Speedo and Calvin Klein before working for Lucinda Bell dealing with luxury woven product. She also spent time working as a technician at Basingstoke College working in their print department. Having also worked at Marks and Spencer for a year doing visual merchandising, she decided to start her own business in 2009.

She created Sparkling Ginger alongside her full-time admin job, initially running workshops on jewellery where customers were invited to bring along their unwanted and broken jewellery and turn it into something new. Sparkling Ginger was put on the backburner while Jo concentrated on her main career, but after joining a local motivational coaching firm and experiencing increased demand for her services, she decided to give it another go.

“I’m a member of the Bigger Brighter Bolder Success Groups run by Tracey Miller and George Swift. These groups have helped me gain the confidence to kick-start Sparkling Ginger and expand into revamping clothing and furniture.

“I love seeing what other people come up with, what ideas to have and seeing them learn a new skill and creating their own things. I have a passion for teaching others and bringing out their creative side and love that fact that everyone brings something different, meaning that you end up with something completely bespoke to them.
“I’d love to take the classes into colleges or even schools and work on a revamping project with students. I really feel that we should encourage creative minds and especially in schools, they may not want to draw a picture with a pen and pencil but they may be amazing if we allowed them to create that picture in a graphics package or as a graffiti piece.”
Places must be booked in advance. Tickets cost £30 per class and can be booked via or
For more information, click onto or

Saturday, 1 March 2014

March at the Athena Network, West Berkshire

Small business owners are invited to find out more about getting noticed, among other talks at this month’s Athena Network meetings.

Ros Martin from Kingdom Signs will be speaking on ‘Increasing Visibility- getting your customers to come to you’ at the Newbury meeting at the Donnington Valley Hotel on Wednesday, 12th March while Sue Jackson of Working Numbers will present 'Effective Pricing in Your Business' at the Hungerford meeting at Audley Inglewood on Friday, 14th March, focusing on the need to have an effective pricing strategy in place.

Jacqueline Sandford of Flare Telecom will speak on “Sales for Non-sales People” at the Thatcham meeting at the Regency Park Hotel on Tuesday, March 18th while Emily Turberville-Tully of Inspiration Inc will be discussing social media at the Newbury South meeting at La Tasca on Wednesday, 19th March. She will explain the most important elements to consider when deciding a social media strategy.

Debbie Miles, regional director of the West Berkshire Athena Network said: “As ever, our businesswomen have a varied menu of business topics to complement their networking. We’re always delighted to welcome new members, so please get in touch if you’d like to try it out.”

All meetings take place from 12pm to 2pm. For more information, contact Debbie Miles via