Tuesday, 21 January 2020

POP UP SHOP space coming soon to Seaton

As many of you will know i own 30 Queen Street, Seaton an arts, crafts & hobbies shop. After a couple of years of poor health, trying to juggle being a mum, a university student and a shop owner i have finally decided what i want and need to do.

Thanks to the support of the Seaton community and lovely visitors i was able to keep my shop going from 2014 through to now in 2020 and despite a worrying time in 2019 which all high street shop owners face i was even able to re-invest into the shop by having a wall removed (thanks to local building firm The Clarke Brothers) to open the space up fully making it a wonderful open space that so many of you have said was a really positive step. The conservatory space was built on (Thanks to local firm Regency windows) and we have a lovely little courtyard too. The shop front is going to be re-painted very soon to give it a fresh new look.

I have made the decision to take a step back towards the end of 2020 and into 2021 so that i can focus on my health (i'm aware it has been frustrating for some that i have had to close the shop a number of times for hospital appointments, doctors appointments & days i'm physically unable to work) and also on my second year of my Masters Degree studies and hopefully progress onto a PhD something i have always wanted to achieve. I plan to continue working as an artist as this is something i enjoy in my spare time and with the help of Jon i will continue a small part at the rear of the shop area as an art supplies store so noone will miss out on the fantastic range of quality art supplies we offer here in Seaton. There will also be a gallery wall and artwork on display in the conservatory and garden through the summer to continue supporting local artists.

The front of 30 Queen Street i plan to offer as a 'POP UP SHOP' a space where those who would like to test out running a little shop can set up. It would obviously suit any creative businesses for example artists who want to combine a studio space with a display space, makers who want to make and sell on site, clothing designers to showcase their products or giftware makers as our main customer base who regularly visit us already know 30 Queen Street for this but i am happy to discuss with any prospective shop owners if you are thinking of opening a shop in Seaton but want to test the waters first this would be a great opportunity. I'm not going to pretend that up here on Queen Street you are going to instantly get a fantastic footfall, anyone who lives in Seaton will know it takes hard work to bring in customers but if i can do it, anyone can! Combine your pop up shop with time spend on online marketing and letting the community know about you and i'm sure they will support you as much as they have me!

If you are interested in finding out more about this 'Pop up shop' opportunity starting soon in Seaton please get in contact with me kabriggs@hotmail.co.uk or pop in to see me and i can show you the space that will soon be on offer!

I hope that the Seaton community will get behind this idea too, i'm sure they will. Seaton has the most wonderful community and i'm so proud to call this place home!

Kerri-Ann Briggs & family x

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Tea Time Bookshop subscription box review

I came across this subscription box on Instagram whilst browsing around on my book focused account, I'm bettybriggslovesbooks if you want to follow me.

It had a selection of book options to go for including crime, vintage, books in the charts etc. I opted for the vintage box to try something different. Once you've chosen the book style you choose the number of books, 1, 2 3 or 4. I went for 4 and the 3 month plan. I wanted to give it a good go before deciding if it's worth it. Next you opt for if you want tea or coffee and biscuits or not.

On arrival I was excited to open it, so much so I forgot to video an unboxing for my you tube! Oops.

Unfortunately my excitement was short lived, I was disappointed with the book choices and the quality of the books. I know they were second hand and considered 'vintage' but the ones I received in my opinion were very well used, with names & scribbles written in. Overly creased and not very well loved.

Lesson learnt, is what I quickly came to think. I wanted something different and I got it. I must be more greatful!

I did get one great book though, 'The last battle' It brought back memories of my childhood because I loved the Narnia series.

The other 3 books are very far from what I'd usually go for but I will give them a good try.

I'm looking forward to seeing what I get in my next box.

The Last Battle by C. S Lewis : Book Review

The Last Battle by C S Lewis

I'm pretty sure i read this one when I was younger, I know I enjoyed the rest of the Narnia chronicles. I have a large book which I think contains the full series somewhere on my bookshelf.

This very old edition came as part of my Tea Time Bookshop subscription, in my first ever box. I subscribed for 3 boxes and went for the 'Vintage' box, you can read more about that here.

When I got started I didn't recognise the story line so thought maybe I hadn't read it, I really enjoyed being taken back into the fantasy land though. I realised it is years since I read any fantasy I have mostly been reading more realistic crime and thrillers.

I found that I struggled to draw up the images in my mind the way I used to, when I was younger imagining was easy, it seems now it is harder. Though once I really got into the story I found it became easier and off I went into the fantastical land of Narnia. I didn't come out till midnight the same day i started, when the book came to an end!

I am aware there is a dark underline message and that this book could be considered racist and sexist but I chose to ignore all that, to not analise it and simply enjoy the fantastical story rather than read into its secret messages. I will admit the very end was a little harsh and felt rushed but I can forgive that.

It was fantastic, I loved it. Full 5 stars from me. Everyone needs to read this classic!

I'm now going to try getting back into a book I started earlier in the year and gave up on, hopefully I can progress with it this time. I hate giving up on books.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins : Book Review

The Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins
Available here 

I found this book at my local bookshop, I'd heard of it before but couldn't remember why. I took a quick look at the blurb and it sounded like my sort of book so I gave it a go.

Synopsis from Paula Hawkins website reads:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

I read this book over 4 - 5 days around Christmas, it was a different style of read to what I'm used to but a comfortable read. Written in first person switching from different characters points of view, the three female characters Rachel, Anna and Megan in a diary entry sort of style. It got me after just a few pages and had me wanting to read on. 

I particularly enjoyed Rachel's point a view. An alcoholic divorcee going through a rough time who watches out the window on her train journeys. She was an interesting character who I wanted to find out more about and I liked the character progression of. 

The story rolled along well with some great twists and turns, I wasn't particularly a fan of the very end. I feel that could have been better, it does leave an opening for a follow up though. 

I'd definitely recommend it and gave it a 4 star rating on Goodreads. 

I realised after reading it that I own other books by this author, in fact she wrote one of the books I read and reviewed earlier this year. Find out more here. 

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Toxic by Jacqui Rose : Book Review

By Jacqui Rose 

I started this one earlier in the week and I'll be honest when I say I nearly gave up on it at first. The grittyness of the characters and the style of story wasn't something I usually like. I mean I love crime, thrillers and horror but this was based more on disgusting gangsters, especially the opening pages. They were not very nice to read at first. When I got my head around how different the story was going to be from what I normally read I carried on.

I kept going with it though and I began to get interested in the storyline. There were a lot of characters to get to know and most I didn't like the sound of and couldn't relate to but one character, Bree, I felt sorry for and I guess it was her story that I read on for.

I took the book everywhere with me just incase I had a few moments spare to read and in the end I got quite into it and quite enjoyed the read. Proved to me not to give up on books that don't grab me straight away.

The writing is definitely gritty and full of horrible nasty things you wouldn't in most people's day to day lives want to think about let alone live through but it's worth reading if you can stomach it.

It ended with a few unanswered questions so I'm guessing there is or will be a sequel!

I think I would give it 4 out of 5 star rating. Just because of its opening not grabbing me and the vast amount of characters to have to get my head around.

You can find out more about the book here.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie : Book Review

After finishing Girl, Missing  I went to my bookshelf and was surprised to find another book by Sophie McKenzie so I thought I'd give it a go. (I pick up second hand books from the local bookshop and often simply go by the blurb I rarely even look at the authors name!)

This one, Blood Ties, appeared to be aimed at adults rather than younger readers. It was longer and more in-depth characters.

Again this book was in first person alternating between the two main characters (Theo & Rachel) This style of writing I felt suited the story well. I was captured from the beginning and keen to keep reading.

I really felt like I was starting to like the two main characters too, so I will be looking to see if there are any follow up books to see where life takes them. (Update: there is a sequel for me to try and get my hands on so hopefully these two characters will be in it!)

Find Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie here. 

"Blood Ties
An explosive thriller series featuring two teenagers, Theo and Rachel, who uncover a human cloning project. With chapters alternately narrated by both characters, Blood Ties and sequel Blood Ransom follow their quest to uncover the truth as they find themselves in increasing danger among criminals intent on causing them harm"
Information from https://www.sophiemckenziebooks.com/blood-ties-series

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

'My cousin is a time traveller' by David Solomons

We love visiting our local bookshops, we recently went to 'Owl & Pyrimid' a childrens bookshop is Seaton where Reuben chose a book by an author he learnt about in school.

He was so excited to get this new book that he got started on it as soon as he got home. Updates on what he thought of it to follow soon!

Girl, Missing by Sophie McKenzie : Book Review

Girl, Missing
By Sophie McKenzie
Available here

Possibly the first time I have read a book in less than 24hrs! (it was a quiet day at work so I had extra time to read)

This is the first time I have read anything by this author and I didn't know anything about her, I just picked up the book second hand locally.

The blurb read
Girl, Missing
Lauren has always known she was adopted but when a little research turns up the possibility that she was snatched from an American family as a baby, suddenly Lauren’s life seems like a sham. How can she find her biological parents? And are her adoptive parents really responsible for kidnapping her? She manages to persuade her family to take a trip across the Atlantic where she runs away to try and find the truth. But the circumstances of her disappearance are murky and Lauren’s kidnappers are still at large and willing to do anything to keep her silent..."
Information from www.sophiemckenzie.net 

It reads as I imagine most 14/15 year olds would write which makes sense given it was written in the first person.

The story captured me from the beginning, it kept me wanting to read on. I was able to guess quite a few of the plot twists but that's only because I have read so many books that not much surprises me anymore!

I did really enjoy the book though, it was an easy and quick read. I didn't know it was designed for you g adults though when I picked it up! That probably explains why I was able to read it so quickly. 30 is still young though, right? Ha.

Since researching this author further I've found more of her books I'd like to read including a sequel to this one so I'll be on the look out for that next.

Now I best get back to my Master's reading, Plato's Meno is calling me!

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Encouraging kids to read by creating a reading corner

Anyone that knows me or my son's will know we all love reading. We are book-aholics.

I have created a few different reading spaces in our home over the years but this one has to be the most successful!

We have a space under the stairs which I managed to fit a couple of old bookcases and an old recliner chair into.

Took our daylight lamp to it and ta-da! A fantastic reading corner.

I originally designed this space for me to escape to as the boys already had a reading space in their room but it has quickly been taken over by two little bookworms! 

Currently Reuben (age 9) is really into books by David Solomon's. We went to our local bookshop where he selected his most recent book. Read more about it in my upcoming post.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Festive Feeling

The tree is up and we are starting to feel festive here at 32.

This is going to be a difficult Christmas for a number of reasons but mostly because it is going to be the first year without my nanna who passed away in August. Nanna practically brought me up all my life and took me on full time to live with her from around 13 so I owe her everything.

It has been a very difficult few months trying to keep going with work, mum life, Master student studies, house chores and everything else whilst feeling like an emotional wreak. Even the slightest things set me off.

It's 4am as I write this, I'm not sleeping much lately. Once I wake I just can't seem to settle back down.

I have been very lucky though because my Dad's side of the family have been so supportive. Nanna brought us together and she has been using her positive powers to keep us together, looking out for each other.

Nanna's house was my home, my family home and everything in it reminded me of her. The thought of her not being there anymore or it no longer being my family home anymore hurts, a lot. My Dad has been amazing and let me take home a few things of Nannas to keep me going, a crock pot that we used to make stew in, some of the photo frames and photos I created for her over the years and my favourite being her old Tigger tea towel that was always over her shoulder.

Thanks to Nanna and to my Dad those few things that I have brought to my house have transformed the way I look at it here at 32. I've gone from looking at it as a temporary pile of bricks that I struggled to enjoy living in to a home, a home that I can see me staying in now.

A very old ottoman that nanna painted purple, her favourite colour now lives in my guest room. It was upcycled by Nanna using paint and old carpet on the top. It probably looks strange to some people but I LOVE it. When I'm feeling low and missing her I go sit next to it (not on it, I always sat next to it as a child) and ask her for advice. She has a way of sending me signs to help me push on.

I truely believe that my Nanna is looking down on us, that she is doing her best to keep us all going. I miss her so much, but I know she would want me to give my boys the best festive time I can.

So I am going to try my best to turn this house into a home, to make Christmas a fun and festive one for the boys and to do my best to be as good a mum as Nanna was to all the family.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Seaton Crazy Golf Course - Review from 26/07/19

Today I took the boys and our friends to Seaton's crazy golf course. Emily who is 6 joined Reu age nearly 9 and Fin age 7. The course is dino themed and looks fantastic with all the big sculptures of Dino eggs. It is extra beautiful at the moment with all the wildflowers surrounding it too.

It cost £2.60 per child (more for adults but I chose to watch)

Each part is different with different challenging elements. The kids had lots of fun.

They managed to get a hole in one on the one pictured below (after lots of 'practice' shots) 

Even though I was just watching it was a lovely afternoon activity I enjoyed walking around with them as they had lots of fun.

A top tip though would be to avoid the final one if you want to go around the course more than once as in the final one it keeps your ball.

The children all had a great time, we spent just over an hour going around twice. I'd definitely recommend it as a family activity for anyone living in or visiting Seaton.

If you want to see a short video of them playing see their You Tube channel here.

Find out more here on the LED website

There is so much to do in and around Seaton over the holidays and hopefully I'll be able to share more ideas with you all soon.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

The Colour Wheel with Ready, Steady, Paint!

As soon as we got home afterschool today the boys knew what they wanted to do....
Ready, Steady, Paint!

Our first box arrived recently and the boys couldn't wait to get started.

We found the 'bonus activity' of the colour wheel in the 'clubhouse' login and the boys wanted to find out more.

Interestingly they hadn't learnt about the colour wheel at school yet and when I asked they hadn't even discussed primary and secondary colours at school before. Reu is year 3 and Finley Year 2. (They have at home with me though so had a rough idea before we started)

They chose to draw their own circle using a small plate and ruler rather than trace as in the video but it still looked great. They watched the video and paused it at relevent intervals to give them time to catch up.

They loved seeing the 'magic' of the watercolour blends and enjoyed having their own quality pallette of paints to use.

Overall they loved this activity so it is a big thumbs up from us! 

Thanks to Ali & the team. 

This is just one of the activities as part of month 1 with the Ready, Steady, Paint magazine. Check out their website to find out more. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Top tips to encourage children to enjoy reading and writing at home

As a mum i often find myself worrying if i am doing enough to encourage my boys to love reading and writing. Notice there i say 'to love' NOT 'to do'. This i find is the key. If you can find a way to encourage them to fall in love with reading and writing then they will want to do it for themselves. You won't need to force them to do it. 

In a time when it is so very easy to stick them in front of the TV or a computer (which of course i do sometimes, i'm not perfect!) i do however try to make time for a variety of activities after school and at weekends. Keeping to a routine isn't easy for us so instead we have a list of different things we could do and we choose which suits us depending on how we all feel. 

Writing short stories has become a popular choice for my boys, they love to invent characters, to take them on fun filled journeys and to try and make me laugh with cheeky descriptive words and silly characters getting up to mischief.

You may not think they look very happy here in these photos but they are, these are their concentration faces. They are working hard on short stories to share with me. When they are writing their stories i often hear them chuckle to themselves.

The stories they came up with were wonderful and they had great fun telling them giving each character different voices. They keep their stories in their own little writing books and will often go back and read their old stories to themselves.

My top tips for encouraging children to enjoy reading and writing:

1. Give them their own little book and pen to keep.
2. Write short stories with them, get involved and share your short story with them first.
3. Don't fuss about spelling and handwriting when first starting, encourage the process of writing first then help improve their spelling and handwriting once they already enjoy the activity.
4. Never force them to do the activity, make sure they are not over tired.
5. Have drinks and snacks to enjoy together whilst writing and reading. Fruit platters & popcorn are one of our favorites.