It’s October already (where has this year gone?) and here at ButtonChops we’re definitely feeling the nip in the air. We’ve dug out the jumpers, the logs for the fire
have been delivered and carefully piled up in the log shed (thanks OH) and, after much nagging from teen daughter, the heating has finally been switched ON (double thanks OH)…
We’ve also been preparing for Halloween (and even …. shhh, whispers…. Christmas! Too soon?) Teen daughter loves Halloween. Hmm…whenever did that sweet little girl who used to dance around in fairy wings turn into a zombie, vampirette with attitude? Does this transformation come free with every adolescent gene purchased?
We know a lot of kids love to dress up at this time of the year and Halloween is becoming bigger than ever over here in the UK. So we’ve come up with some cute(ish)Fancy Dress Award badges for different costumes. They can also be customised with your own message or mix and matched at no extra cost – just let us know. At 3” (77mm) diameter they are the biggest badge we do and we think they’ll make a great addition to any Halloween Party.
ButtonChops had a good summer. Alright, it might have felt like it had been pouring down for the first three quarters of it, but then we dusted the cobwebs off our swimsuits, bought some sunscreen (there were tons left in the shops – it had been raining constantly in Suffolk since the beginning of July) and headed off to Southern Italy and the WARM WEATHER.
It was dark by the time we first arrived in Sorrento; our taxi had been stuck in a traffic jam in the tunnel for nearly an hour and our first view of the town was hordes of people and Vespas coming at us from every direction (including the pavement). This wasn’t good I thought, we’ve made a terrible mistake – everyone we had spoken to back home had told us how wonderful this place was – but it just looked like Oxford Street at Christmas during a Scooter convention. Weary travellers, we collapsed in our hotel room, there was nothing for it, we were here now – we’d just make the most of it. At least it was warmer than Good Old Blighty. And it wasn’t raining.
So the next morning, we pulled back the curtains of our hotel room, looked out over the balcony and saw this…..
And everything was different.
Of course, it isn’t perfect. This is no Nirvana. The difference between North and Southern Italy quickly became quite apparent. For one, the North seemed much more prosperous – the poverty in neighbouring Naples is heartbreaking. Also, the environment: here Mother Nature is never far away with her pursed lips. During our short stay, planes and helicopters were constantly dumping water on the hillsides trying to dampen down bush fires (a recent large fire had burned on the side of Vesuvius for 10 days – a large blackened, scorched scar stamped into it’s side). A guide told us they hadn’t seen rain for so long that the olive industry could be under threat. On the nearby island of Ischia, one person died during an earthquake and there, dominating the skyline, Vesuvius – sleeping…. only sleeping….
Then there is the social infrastructure: here cash is definitely king, which is a surprise to many tourists who are advised not to carry a lot of money on them. We visited a museum and restaurant on Capri, only to be told “no cards – cash only” – even our hotel would only accept cash to pay for pre-booked taxis and excursions. It was also certainly more expensive than our last stay in northern Italy (although that may be more to do with the poor exchange rate – thanks Brexit). And I came to the conclusion that a lot of locals were definitely looking out for No 1 rather than working together as a whole community – tour guides think nothing of openly criticising restaurants or boat trips in favour of others.
The crowds were phenomenal (though to be honest, it was the busiest time of the year) and as for the driving, well that can only be described as absolutely nuts. Stuck in a traffic jam in the middle of a 3km long tunnel? – no sweat, just do a 3-point turn and go back. Stop signs? – hmm, they’re merely a ‘suggestion’. Car horns? – an essential form of communication. Every few minutes in fact. Family of 3 but only one Vespa? No problem, just put the kid in the middle….
Why would anyone want to go there I hear you ask? Because oh my goodness: the place is like no other. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. The town is beautiful, the people are beautiful, the food is beautiful, the sea is beautiful, the boats are beautiful, the wine is beautiful, the weather is beautiful, the sunsets are beauti…. well, you get the idea.
There are lemons everywhere. They can, and will stick a lemon on any and everything. And Lemoncello. And shops. The shops smell of lemons. Or leather, or wood. All beautiful smells. And Art. The artists selling their wares, the churches, the statues. And restaurants. The food is like no other. Italians enjoy their food and it shows. Even the most basic restaurant showed us a pride and care in describing the ‘special dish of the day’ and were concerned that everything was exactly right with our meal. And at night, there is music. Ok, much of it may be catered towards the tourist – Volare and Oh Sole Mio whilst you are eating your arrabiata, but who cares? It wasn’t screaming at you; no-one was shouting to be heard. People were enjoying themselves, the food, the atmosphere – just being there. This was something I felt we had lost back home – sometimes the noise level in UK restaurant are off the scale. What with piped music and people shouting over one another, nobody takes the time just to “be”.
On the Saturday we saw a local wedding: the newlywed couple walked along the street with the all the guests dressed up to the nines, following behind, throwing rice. Absolute strangers from all around the world had stopped to watch, some were even taking photos, although they had no idea who the bride and groom were. The couple rewarded the crowd with a kiss and the crowd rewarded them with cheers and applause. People were smiling. People were happy. For a moment, I think many of them had forgotten what was going on back home – and maybe that is what a holiday is supposed to do.
NOT REGISTERED ON ETSY? NO PROBLEM… With the new guest checkout feature at Etsy, anyone can browse, add items to the cart, and make purchases on Etsy without creating an account. It’s a piece of cake…
The festival season is upon us in the UK. The sun is shining, the music is playing and for a short time we can escape and enjoy the moment. Who cares about getting the tent down or the queues for the loo – we can worry about fighting our way out of the car-park later…..
I love music, it’s constantly with me, at home working, in the car or just walking about – it’s power is phenomenal. It can make you cry, make you roar like a drunkard, bring you peace, wind you up, soothe your soul and make the hairs on your arms stand up on end. You can remember a song from when you were a child. You associate it with a special occasion – good or bad. A song can put into words everything you couldn’t.
In the sunshine, everything seems so much better. So if you can mix the two things together – well, I’m in 7th Heaven. So lets dig out our Boho dresses and flares, stick on a floppy hat, add the essential badge and embrace the inner flower child. Now bring on the summer… and please don’t stop the music, it makes us stardust, it makes us golden (with thanks to Joni Mitchell)
I was going to post a blog this week – a flippant, whimsical little piece about the eccentricities of the British people and how our humour is always there, even when the world around seems a little cranky.
But today’s horrific fire in Grenfell Tower on top of the terrorist attacks in London and Manchester makes all that feel totally lost. My thoughts instead are with the people so affected by what has happened. Not only for those who lost their lives, but for the families they left behind, those who were injured and the police, firefighters, ambulance service, as well as the members of public and medics who all fought to save those in trouble.
And I will hold my daughter extra tight tonight and be thankful for what I have today, for I don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No… it’s probably just dad, doing dad-dancing to some cheesy old pop song on the radio.
Although he doesn’t wear a cape or anything (I’m pretty sure mum wouldn’t let him out in public like that) my dad is definitely a Super Shed Man – the garden shed is his second home. Whenever I visit my parents it’s: “Hi mum, where’s dad?” Answer: “in the shed, he’s been in there since lunchtime”. Dad knows where everything is in that shed, and believe me – there is a whole lot of stuff crammed in there (mostly stuff they probably don’t even make anymore, but he thinks might come in useful one day). Even the spiders camping out in the corners are a bit impressed. But it’s his happy place – and if there’s junk and spiders – so be it.
My husband, on the other hand, now he is more of a Gadget Man. If it’s electronic, whizzy and preferably with a screen – then he’s straight there. Still, when the laptop stubbornly refuses to boot up or “Wrong password” shouts back at you for the zillionth time, it always amazes me how he only seems to have to look at the thing and it suddenly works. Now how does he do that?
They may not all be perfect – but here’s to all the amazing Dads out there. Your invisible capes make you the super guys you are.
Everyone loves buttons and badges – but some people seem to wear them with more panache than others. So, just for fun…. who wears it better?
Jacob Rees-Mogg – seen here at a recent hustings in a rather flamboyant rosette and centre button.
To wear a badge of this size, you certainly need the self-confidence to match.
Bit showy for our liking, but it does grab the attention, so we guess it does the job.
Lady Constance Bulwer-Lytton, a.k.a Jane Warton, Suffragette and campaigner – protesting in Liverpool 1910.
Posing as a seamstress (Jane Warton) – the badge and enamel pins fit in well with the outfit.
Not too over-elaborate, but just enough to show alliance and call attention to the cause.
We think that Lady Constance pulls it off here. She shows just how to wear a badge with flair and class. Sorry Jacob – you forgot the first rule of button wearing: only wear a badge as big as your face if you are under 10 years old.
WINNER: Lady Constance
WOODEN SPOON BADGE: JACOB REES-MOGG**
**We don’t actually have a wooden badge for Mr Rees-Mogg – but we CAN recommend one of these:
A lot of people may not know this, but today is National Endangered Species Day (19th May 2017). And as I have watched the goings-on in the world news this week, it got me thinking – if we don’t begin to pull our socks up soon – OUR species will be in danger, just as much as the humpback whale or the grey wolf. So maybe we should send a message to a few world leaders and tell them all to pipe down a bit.
So, put down your mother of all bombs and pick up your mother of all teapots. You know it makes sense…..
** You can find out more about Endangered Species Day and what we can do to help HERE**
This week saw the teen’s 15th birthday. Now, how on earth did that happen? One minute she’s dancing carefree and barefoot around in her fairy outfit – now she’s almost as tall as me, fused to a pair of headphones and stressing over school exams. Chemistry formulae and electromagnetism have taken over from the fantasy worlds and where she was once covered in chocolate cake smudges, there is now ‘experimental’ makeup. The hair is never ever right (headbands and hair bobbles have long been replaced by the straighteners) and if they held an Olympic event for dramatic sighing – well, that Gold medal would be handed straight over, no problem.
So the dreams may have changed, but I hope they will continue to be as big as the magical kingdoms she once danced through. And anyway, some things remain the same….she still likes chocolate cake. Oh, and her room is still an absolute tip.
Today’s badge has been inspired by the superwoman that is Serena Williams. Her brilliant reply to racist remarks made about her pregnancy was just as formidable as her performance on the tennis courts.
Well, this has been a looooong week. Juggling home stuff and badge stuff – supporting teenager meltdown over school vaccinations, getting orders out to Australia and USA, preparing for fast- approaching teenager birthday (assuming her arm doesn’t fall off from the vaccination – joke), designing, making and photographing new stuff, hospital appointments, 2 school trips to the theatre (luckily teen’s arm is still intact), fulfilling orders to Germany and Belgium….
STOP. I need a coffee. Probably more than one. Tell you what, just line them up, I’ll tell you when…