Category Archives: News

Time, Time, Time.

It’s been a really long time since I posted and mostly that’s because things have changed. (A bit more about that in a minute).

Time, though has been very much on my mind of late as I’ve reached a landmark year in my life. I don’t feel the need to say which one, but to help, I’ll give you some facts from my birth year: An Iconic Beatles album was released, it had been a year since England won the World Cup, the UK’s first Shopping Mall was built, and Noel Gallagher, Mark Llamarr, and Davina McCall were born (so I’m in good company).

Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

It’s been a real thinking time, though. I have days when I’ve been less warrior and more worrier, and my overthinking brain has taken over, so getting to at least half-way in my life had given me plenty of food for thought (too much). By the time I got to my birthday, though, after an amazing, funny, dance and laughter filled party with those closest to me, I shook my head and made some decisions:

  1. Living fully hasn’t passed me by, and there are loads of fun times to be had yet.
  2. Life is too short to waste angsting about how short life is.
  3. If I care so much about how long I have, I’d probably better look after the body I inhabit.

I feel I’m over it, at least for the next 10 years.

So – time.. Now a good amount of time has passed since we last conversed. It’s a year since I last posted (God, how could that…. Stop right there! That’s how you got into the angsty time thing mentioned above) Anyway it has, and I’m sure you’ve all been having as much fun as me, and I have certainly had some serious life changes:

We bought a house, my son left home and went to Uni, I left my shop.

We’ll skip past the first one quickly  – So I’ve now got an amazing Edwardian town house in the lovely Guisborough. I’ve filled it with colour already, and I’m so chuffed with it it’s probably worthy of it’s own post.

The Grand Arcade, Leeds

My son is doing Music Tech at Uni in Leeds. Like his Sister and Dad, he has the music gene, except he also has a good dollop of my techy nerdiness, so this is a good thing. He’s been there a year, has a fab house now and loves the whole Leeds vibe. Yet another post I think, especially on Leeds where I spend more time now than I expected to! I absolutely went through the whole empty nest thing, and I have to admit it took a real effort to get used to not having him around (especially our cups of tea and chat late on when his dad and sister have gone to bed) but he’s doing brilliantly and I’m chuffed for him.

And then I left the shop I shared with the 4 other wonderful ladies in Guisborough, and it’s simply about time…

So, for those who don’t know, most of my days are spent in my work as Projects Officer for an arts charity, so I’m there 4 days, and it’s an amazing role, bringing me in touch with some of the most fantastic interesting people. On top of that there are markets and shops to work with; No.30 Westgate in Guisborough now stocking a blend I madewith them as well as Preston Park Museum who I’ve developed new Teesmade teas with in collaboration with River Tees Rediscovered.

Crafts in the Pen, Skipton

There are workshops and bigger events  – The Festival of Thrift on the horizon, and even Christmas Markets to think about. I’ve been accepted for Crafts in the Pen too, and I couldn’t be happier. There are lots of things to make and do!

I get asked constantly how I fit it all in and I honestly don’t know, but I do know that trying to manage everything with a Chronic Pain illness, mean things don’t always get done as they should, and when that happens, something has to give.

So it was a hard decision to leave the fabulous Maison Belle and my fellow Belles there, and I wish the ladies all the love and luck in the world, but I’m off to packet up some tea…

It’s all about time….


Making Stuff Happen, a Change on Tea Corner.

Making Stuff Happen.

So  – if you know me, you’ll know that I am always up to something or other. I find that throwing myself into a challenge is the best sort of therapy there is (I have some experience of therapy, I know these things).

I’m a pragmatic person, and don’t believe that your luck is made by, well, luck as it goes! I personally think it’s a combination of continuing to work at it, seeing everything as an opportunity, and being able to adapt when things don’t work out.

Now I can’t say that that has made me a multi millionaire, but the age I am now, I’m quite clear about what I want in life and what makes me happy, and though being a multi-millionaire in its-self is, I’m sure, a great goal for some it’s not mine. What I’ve searched for in life are a few things.

  1. To be able to work with vulnerable people (I knew this from working with children as a Primary School Teacher) I am able to do through my role at Tees Valley Arts, and the workshops I do too.
  2. Have opportunities and outlets for being creative. This sounds more simple than it is. I have what I have heard called a ‘portfolio career’ so I make my way in life with some paid work from different sources, from some selling, some workshops and whatever else comes up. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for the creative stuff, so any time I have to make is precious.
  3. Having freedom (see above). I am really fortunate – I do have some days which I’m tied to in the week, but have loads of wriggle room, and I try to keep a day I can use for me/swapping/workshops, which works really well. Having freedom is a vital part of what I do, and as I am a long term Fibromyalgia sufferer, means if I need to I can use that one day to recharge – sometimes that means a day in bed.
  4. Working with and helping others. I love working in out team at the shop. It means the world to me, likewise our market and Saltburn Farmers’ Market. I am part of these mini-communities, and within each one are people who inspire, support and are brilliant fun! At TVA I’ve recently written research on how we can support our local Arts and Makers communities, so more on that as it progresses.

There’s always something happening. You have to talk to lots of people, keep your eyes open, separate the real opportunities from those which will distract you from where you want to go (I have learned that not every opportunity is worth seeking further.) Some, however do seem to have dropped in your lap from who knows where… Keeping your eyes open and the conversations gong sometimes really pays off.

A Change at Tea Corner

All this talk of opportunity, and I can’t yet tell you about the one that really has been dropped at my lap, but can say that something exciting is in the offing, and it’s where my teas and a major local tourist attraction meet…. I’ll leave that with you for now.

So, there will be some changes. I made a decision a while ago, based on where the tea sales were going and who was buying my tea, to have a bit of a shake up.

The main changes I made were based on the buying demographic. Many of my buyers are men, yet I sell a brand of tea labelled in what I consider to be a somewhat female manner, and have wanted to make a change to this for some time.

I didn’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but have decided to rename the tea brand, away from Ruby and Blue. So it will very soon be called Taaadaaadaaaaa…..

Whole Lot Of Rosie Teas. 

I love the song ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ by AC-DC. I suppose I identify with the lyrics. It’s sort of  flattering in a round about sledgehammer way, written in 1977 when feminism played no part in rock music but tells of a love of an ample lady (such as me!)

Wanna tell you storya whole lotta rosie
About woman I know
When it comes to lovin’
She steals the show
She ain’t exactly pretty
Ain’t exactly small
Fourt’two thirt’ninefiftysix
You could say she’s got it all

Labels will change too  – less of the flowers and more of the plain cups of tea.. still hand-drawn by me. I won’t be taking away my personal touch. The new website and FB pages will have less of a female lilt. I’m going for a mid-century feel.

Watch this space…




The Maison Belles, Tea and Thriftfest

I start this post with some fantastic news ..

After successfully selling some little bits and bobs in gorgeous Guisborough shop Maison Belle, I’ve been asked by the wonderful owner Laura to have a more substantial presence there.

So, from 11th Oct I’ll be one of the ‘Maison Belles’ The four artists maison belleshe has asked to join her in the shop. Not only will we be retailing alongside Laura’s own stock and work, you might just find us in there holding the fort!

With me and Laura will be my best friend Geraldine of ‘Bean Creative’ (with whom you’ll often see me sharing a stall or doing a workshop ), Abi of ‘Oh Abigail‘ … another wonderful friend and painter of the most amazing handmade signs, and by no means least my friend of 30+ years since we were at Art College together, Kim from ‘Daisy Bloom‘, purveyor of the most stunning bags, scarves and jewellery.

Allowing us to sell and help in the shop allows Laura to concentrate on her new project, the prettiest little cottage literally doors away from me! Couldn’t be more excited.

TEA !   …. If you know me, you’ll know I totally love my specialist teas. I’m not talking fruit teas here (unless you mean Cherry blossom green tea), I mean real leaf teas…

My obsession with tea started as a child, and as a young adult was soon exposed to the delights of Earl Grey. I have passed this on to at least one of my children, with my son drinking Earl Grey with lemon from the age of 8, and seeking out the tea section in Harrods the last time we visited.

Running a teashop I could totally indulge in my love of tea and helped by Carly the owner of The Old Young Teahouse I filled the shelves with all manner of interesting brews… a year on from my exit from the shop and I am missing being around the stuff , so after a great conversation with Rockwood & Hoot’s Jane , I’ve decided to sell teas!

I’ll be selling under my own Ruby & Blue brand and you’ll be able to buy soon at Maision Belle as well as order here. Crack out the china teacups!


What an amazing time we had at The Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point in Darlington .. 20,000+ people came on day 1 and more on day 2 … It was buzzing!

On top of that we got the most amazing feedback from the festival organisers for both my ‘Kitchen Cupboard Books’ class and for our stall…

The stallholders, food , entertainment and classes were all superb and Geraldine and I had an absolute ball (if a tiring one!) The photos tell the story (and you can see my Ruby van in the last one). Totally booking for next year!


A Welsh Hug & a Fab Festival


Our morning view of Fishguard

I wanted to start off this blog with the view from the window of our caravan . Completely untouched by Instagram or Photoshop, this was how we woke every morning during our week away, to the view of Fishguard harbour, perfectly framed by the curtains.

We went to Wales for the first week in August, and as our first ‘holiday’ day was my birthday, I chose to visit one of my all-time favourite places, Slova. Solva is one of the most beautiful little enclaves along the Pembrokeshire coast, and for a tiny place still boasts the most idyllic unspolt homes and some wonderful little galleries . I couldn’t help but do a watercolour of the harbour, which I gave to Liz and Pete, my gorgeous in-laws as a thankSolva by Cedric Lockwiood Morris you for spending lots of time with us and feeding us on most evenings.  While we were there, I learned a new word … cwtch. It means to cuddle in Welsh but also to protect and (oddly it may seem) it describes the cupboard under the stairs!  – Not sure Harry Potter would like the word, but I suddenly spotted it everywhere, and adopted it as my new word of choice, and managed to get Liz a gift of a cwtch heart hand embroidered and made from up-cycled Welsh blankets.


This moves me on nicely to our weekend at Galtres festival. Having told my friend and fellow maker Geraldine about the word ‘Cwtch’ she kindly made me some fused glass pieces, featuring the word as she was making fused glass for our stall. All ready with our handmade wares, our new huge Gala tent and bags of wool roving for our felting classes, Geraldine and I  set off with my teenagers, George and Sadie in our camper, Ruby.

We spent a hugely rewarding but really tiring weekend in a field in North Yorkshire. We met ‘Haley’ from Coronation Street (the lovely, and extremely cool Julie Hesmondhalgh) whose daughter bought one of Sadie’s tie died t-shirts, we danced along to The Human Leaugue, The Levellers, Morcheeba, Bellowhead and Tricky, and tried not to be driven mad by the music from the fair directly opposite us! There was fun on the dodgems, the odd fish finger and cheese sandwich from the ‘Fish FInger Heaven‘ stall and lots of fun all round with the most wonderful set of people. We’re all signed up for next year.

More workshops, festivals and markets to look forward to until Christmas so it’ s a mega-busy time . Look forward to seeing you there!

Thriftfest and Pot Dogs


What brilliant news we had this week that Geraldine and I have been accepted to have a stall at the Festival of Thrift at Lingfield Point in Darlington, this September.

For any of you who are in driving distance and didn’t go last year this is an unmissable weekend with loads of handmade and upcycled loveliness for sale, delicious and diverse food, and fabulous events and workshops (we loved the hula-hoop lessons). It’s a real honour and we hope to rub shoulders with the likes of Wayne Hemingway and Max McMurdo, a fab upcycler who’s appeared on both Kirsty Allsop programmes and ‘Small Spaces’, both of whom were there last year!

So, bringing myself down to earth and thinking of new recycled projects I have been looking at ceramics for inspiration, having come across some iconic Staffordshire pottery dogs whilst perusing Ebay. Looking a bit further it seems I’m by no means the first to be inspired by these lovely objects, and I found examples of updated versions by Rob Ryan (whose work I have long had a love for) and Donna Wilson…


For my own version I have used a quilting method and 2 layers of thrifted sweatshirt fabric to create some dog and cat brooches, but there’ll be lots more to come.

Don’t forget to book your workshop if you want to come, we’re planning water-colour, free stitching, crochet and pattern-making after this round too! See the Facebook page to keep updated! Book a current workshop HERE and see below for details!…

See you on the flip side!

hub workshops apr 14 photo



Tweeting along

On Monday I spent the morning optimising my use of twitter with the wonderful G who I do lots of markets and art sessions with, so all you little tweeters can follow. I’m at @rubynblue if you fancy following my exploits on there. It was run by Mark of @BestDadICanBe . He writes a funny blog about his exploits as a father and is great fun to have as a tutor. Something I always think about when I am running sessions… Who wouldn’t want to have some fun while learning?

The posters for the new courses are ready, and we’re enjoying the process of booking people in, don’t forget you can book them on Eventbrite and all the details are here.


Monday night I spent with the little gang at Totally Locally Guisborough , the shop local scheme I co-run. We have the meetings at a gorgeous rustic little pub at the edge of the town; The Anchor. What a great place, with open fires and photos of sports teams (many of whom are still in the pub, but a bit older). We’re in the final stretch of the Spring market planning and it’s really exciting, with a ‘maypole’ theme of bright colours and flowers, the market is going to be a real spectacle, so we can’t wait. Alongside this, we’re running a ‘Magic Tenner’ campaign , which highlights the positive effect it has on our community if every adult just spends an extra tenner with a local independent business.. all good stuff!


The basics of both the markets and the courses are now ready so I’m back to some making, at the moment I’m onto some cheeky embroidery tweaks, taking old embroidered images and updating them.. Take a look below.

These will soon be making their way to a market stall of shop, so I’m off to continue with them. Keep on with the craftiness all you makers.. Miki


Creativity by the seaside..

Whenever you open up a new set of workshops.. matter how successful your previous ones have been , there’s always that trepidation that no-one will turn up.. always, but especially when those workshops are in a new format and at a new venue . This is  what keeps you on your toes. So, to the new art workshops I have planned with the lovely G; we had bookings before we had even advertised , which is always a great and it’s been lovely to see the support we’ve been given so far. If you want to know more about workshops, click here.

The new venue just happens to be on the Seafront on the North East coast at Redcar, and after a recent ‘creative retreat’ by the sea, where I got to rekindle my love Redcar-content-headerof water-colour, I already have ideas to include a water-colour class for the next round of workshops, and happily have people interested in taking the workshops up… That view is too good to waste!

CREATIVE BRAIN…Untitled picture

What is a surprise is when you find out on where on the internet your work or your workshops have appeared. .. This week there was a little link to our workshops on the blog ‘Creative Brain’ .Lots of articles about creativity, with a decidedly intelligent twist..

I only discovered our link because of a Twitter post , but it’s great to see other people appreciating what you’re up to and as I have a real fascination with how the brain works , having done my thesis of ‘creative thinking in underachieving boys’ this blog was of great interest..

If you’re interested in the ways of the brain, a great book to read is ‘Frames of Mind’ by Howard Gardner, all about multiple intelligences and how we’re all intelligent, but in different ways…(one of the many reasons I love creativity, is it’s accessible by everyone) I’ll leave you with that and with my favourite quote: