Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: February 28th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Offers and competitions, Press coverage | Comments Off
We are running a competition with Prizes Galore to win one of our lovely Pamper Boxes. A lovely gift for Mothers Day, this high quality gift box with magnetic fastener contains angora bed socks from The Wool Company, Weekend Pamper Gift set from Green People and one of our signature doubled handed mugs from Reckless Designs.
If you order by phone on 0845 680 8038, we can add a handwritten gift tag from the Rachel Goodchild range.
Posted: February 26th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft, Miscellaneous | 2 Comments »
I have been thinking about death. Not, as is increasingly popular, in the context of a one-way flight to Switzerland but rather along the lines of making sensible arrangements for disposal. It began about a year ago when I revised my will – asset disposal. This was a straightforward process, even fun, and made easier by the fact that here in rural North Yorkshire solicitors make house calls in the way GPs used to do. The “letter of wishes” attached to the will was the most fun and has the potential for future satisfaction because it can easily be changed without calling the lawyer back, allowing for frequent cost-free revisions. If one of the children buys me a cheesey Christmas present it will be the work of a moment to alter the “wish” so that the Mont Blanc fountain pen goes instead to an unpopular member of the family. If a barmaid winks at me in a promising way, why – she shall have that little watercolour so much admired by those who seem to visit me more frequently as the years roll on. You get the picture. Or rather you don’t.
Then there is the other disposal, that of remains. A grimmer prospect. I have always assumed that I would be cremated, the cleaner, greener option, perhaps in a coffin made of reeds and this is reflected in earlier versions of my will. I have changed my mind; burial is now my choice, in a sturdy coffin fashioned from expensive English oak, none of your MDF rubbish. This morning I sprang into action to keep a nine o’clock appointment with the sexton at Old Malton cemetery to pick my spot. There was the view to consider. In one direction the A64 by-pass is in sight, not an especially pleasing prospect it has to be said but if the climate change zealots are proved right, an unlikely eventuality in my opinion it could become a sea-view. But the other way caught my eye at once – a couple of hundred yards away The Royal Oak
public house is plainly visible, with Settrington Wold beyond. Perfect. I confirmed my decision with the sexton, a cheerful man who clearly has a relaxed and affectionate relationship with his charges, and there I am – or there I shall be. And what a bargain – £210 for a 99 year lease, or £420 if you are unlucky enough to live outside the parish, and if I had opted for York it would have been nearer £800.
It’s important I think to find a pleasant resting place, not only for one’s own comfort but also for delight of the steady stream of the distraught trudging along on significant anniversaries with small bunches of flowers inexpensively purchased at petrol stations, those that is who were not disappointed by the will. Deeply wailing, in the words of the hymn, will be the order of the day.
Greatly cheered by my morning’s work, I hurried off to the supermarket where I found ahead of me at the checkout Marion, the landlady of The Royal Oak, with whom I shared news of my purchase, telling her that I expected her every Thursday evening at seven (my pie night commitment) to look across the graveyard and give a little wave. In due course that is. She and the girl at the checkout responded with gales of laughter, thinking I was making this stuff up, but once I convinced them that I was serious they were horrified. What their attitude amounted to was that it is to them unthinkable to make a purchase in anticipation of an eventuality one does not much care to contemplate, but what sort of an attitude is that? If we were to be guided by this principle we would never buy toilet rolls, which I couldn’t help noticing Marion was doing as we spoke.
The sexton congratulated me on my wisdom and foresight, adding that if one were to leave one’s wishes unclear a part of the family would start making arrangements and then someone would “pop up” (his very words) and say “Oh no. It’s not what he wanted at all!”. When a sexton refers to people popping up you need to seek clarification.
Next task is to plan the funeral, not a small task. There’s the guest list to think about, the venue for lunch, the seating plan, the choice of hymns – music to drive even the indifferent into paroxysms of grief. I don’t want anyone coming away looking consoled.
Posted: February 24th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | No Comments »
I don’t know about you but I am watching more and more programmes on my computer as opposed to the TV. The time must surely be coming soon when we all will have screens in every room which we can use as computers, televisions, video telephones, video players, DVDs, IPODs …It would be great to get rid of all that unsightly cabling as much as anything.
Here are my top 3 favourites at the moment:
1. BBC iplayer
Great for TV programmes but also radio. How many times have you caught the end of a piece on Today or heard a piece of music and wanted to hear more? The only downside is that you have to be quick – as programmes don’t stay on iplayer for long, making it doubly disappointing if you missed it the first time. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/
I have only just been introduced to TED, which delivers “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”. This is like designing your own seminar programme using some of the best speakers on the planet. And the best bit is that you can stop the speaker half way through if you lose interest (unlikely, in my experience) and you don’t need to “network” afterwards! Topics include the opportunity of adversity, a greener future, how the mind works, bold predictions and stern warnings.http://www.ted.com/
3. “How to..” videos
Want to know how to wire a plug, start a company or do your makeup? People are queuing up online to tell you how. See for example http://www.videojug.com/
Any other suggestions?
Posted: February 20th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | Comments Off
Forget the flowers this year, buy your mother something that she will use every day and think of you.
Set of 3 shopping bags – be green and stylish at the same time with these 3 re-useable shopping bags in colourful prints which fold into their own pouch when not in use.
Our signature handmade double handled mugs have loads of personality and solve that age old problem of how you pass a hot cup of tea to another person without one of you burning their hands!
KTWO Travel Notes are perfect for the keen traveller – a lovely present for mothers who are dreaming of that trip of a lifetime.
For the keen golfer, Bionic golf gloves are as good as they get.
The KTWO Garden Journal is perfect for planning this year’s planting scheme.
Or how about something from our Green People organic skincare range? Our Nourishing Spa Wash or Hydrating Body Lotion both smell and feel great.
Healthy Back Bag in beautiful purple microfiber – yes, it’s good for your back and makes it easier to find your keys but it is also original and very stylish
Natural Dot Shopping Trolley by Typhoon – shopping trolleys have come a long way in the last couple of years as wheeled luggage has become the norm. This stunning number from Typhoon won’t disappoint.
£50 and over
How is it that as we get older everything gets harder to see, particularly when we change to those energy saving lightbulbs? Our range of Alex lights are eco friendly as well as being the best reading lights we have ever experienced. If your mother is a keen reader, crossword puzzler or hobbiest, this is the ultimate present.
Don’t forget the card and wrapping paper. Our lovely range from artist Rachel Goodchild will make sure your gift stands out.
Posted: February 19th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Miscellaneous | No Comments »
Many of us have had some sort of career counselling in our lives from the careers advisor at school (nun or nurse? was our choice) to full blown life coaching. Now the United States, quick to pick up on the issues presented by an ageing population, brings us family transition coaches.
These coaches aim to guide their clients through life changing transitions when, for example, children take on the care of elderly parents whether the family is planning in advance or, as is so often the case, dealing with a transition as it is unfolding. As an objective third party, the coach aims to bring to bear their experience with others who have gone through similar transitions. They can also help to faciliate difficult conversations within families, particularly where siblings disagree.
Coaching is not therapy or counselling. The role of the coach is to empower, encourage, and motivate and help clients to plan ahead, anticipate situations, and solve problems.
This seems to me an excellent idea. These sort of life changing situations are very difficult to navigate for all concerned and any help is welcome. But whilst we are happy to undergo coaching for career issues, we are generally more reluctant than our North Americans counterparts to accept help in our personal lives. And I do wonder whether family transition coaches will take off here.
Posted: February 19th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | No Comments »
I have just renewed my contents insurance and, in tune with these more cautious financial times, used a price comparison site. It turns out that the insurance company with which I have been automatically renewing for the past 9 years had rewarded my loyalty by charging me about £100 more than their competitors. Interesting. Anyhow, I happened upon Swinton and paid on line. Ten minutes later I got a phone call.
“Hi, we are ringing from Swinton insurance about the policy you just took out on line ”
“I am just ringing to say thank you.”
And he was, just saying thank you. How nice is that? I thought they deserved a mention on the blog. I might also tweet it.
Posted: February 18th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: About retirement - Howard Croft, Product reviews | Comments Off
“I had seen this device in cookery shops before being asked to test drive one, but never paid much attention because I suspected that, as with so many devices, it would not work. I was wrong, it is extremely effective. Gone are the days when I would trap the lid between the jamb and the hinge edge of the door, grip tight and turn, a strategy that frequently deposits broken glass and branston pickle on the carpet. The handle is fat and easy to grip, and made of non-slip rubber.
I persuaded my mother-in-law to give it a try and (after I found a jar in the cupboard that was not cross-threaded) she whipped off the lid of a jar of maraschino cherries in the twinkle of an eye. She declined to have another go on a bottle of pickled onions, which tells only that she prefers a champagne cocktail to a ploughman’s lunch, and nothing at all about the OXO device. I am no mechanical engineer, nor a metallurgist, to these wise old eyes it seems a robust implement that will put up with a good deal of use before it fails, if ever. She did not return the opener.
My only cavil, and it is a small point, is that the sticker indicating the direction of rotation is on the face that meets the lid and so is not visible when operating the opener. I thought I was smart and with some difficulty peeled off the instruction and re-sited it on the visible surface. But then the arrows were pointing in the wrong direction, so tightening the lid. So – not so smart. For most of us, which way to turn a standard screw is pretty intuitive but I have come across people who know the way to turn on a tap is by trial and error.
I strongly recommend this utensil.”
Posted: February 15th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Miscellaneous | Comments Off
The Telegraph reported last week that natural burials are becoming more popular as the more eco conscious baby boomers start to think about death. According to the Ministry of Justice more than 220 woodland cemeteries have been established in Britain in the last 16 years and are increasingly seen as an alternative to cremation or burial in a municipal churchyard. And the reason for this? People born between 1946 and 1964 are generally recognised as the first major generational group to take environmental issues seriously on a wide scale and they are now at the stage of life when they lose their parents or partners or plan their own funerals.
So what is a natural burial? The goal of a natural burial is to return the body to the earth in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition and allows the body to recycle naturally. It is intended as an environmentally sustainable alternative to existing funeral practices which often involve the use of formaldehyde in embalming, stone for memorials or scarce wood in coffins.
Natural burial grounds are cemeteries managed along ecologically-sound principles to create informal, nature-rich sites. Often there are no traditional headstones; instead graves might be planted with a tree or wild flowers to create a natural memorial. Generally, burial sites welcome any religion or belief. with individual graves being consecrated as desired.
I wonder whether it is just the eco credentials which are making these sites popular. Owners of these sites claim that the simple, natural surroundings of the burial grounds help with the grieving process and it is easy to imagine how leaving your loved one in such a place might make the process more bearable. Another choice to consider rather than the usual – cremation or burial?
Post script : Following this posting, I have been asked for further information. A good place to start is The Natural Death Centre
Posted: February 11th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Miscellaneous, Press coverage | Comments Off
News of our competition workshop has been picked up by The Food & Drink Innovation Network who will also be featuring it in their newsletter. The Network is a cross between a best practice club and a trade association. http://www.fdin.org.uk/
Their slogan is… Sharing innovation best practice in the food & drink industry. So it’s about “sharing,” “innovation,” “best practice” and … “the food & drink industry.” It’s about Total Innovation, not just Product Innovation.
Good to see industry interest in inclusive and innovative design.
Posted: February 10th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Miscellaneous | Comments Off
On Monday I went down to Brighton to meet up with some of the students who will be entering our competition. The competition, called “Designing for the Future” asks entrants to design a product which addresses one or more of the challenges of ageing. The workshop was led by Nick Gant, principal lecturer and Marc Owens, lead tutor. Gretel Jones, consumer markets policy adviser at Age Concern/Help the Aged, who is one of the judges, also joined us for what turned out to be a very interesting afternoon.
The competition is being used by the University as a “live” brief for one of the modules in its 3D Design undergraduate course about Subject Object Relationships. Why for example is it that some objects are cherished and adored for decades, whilst others are simply cast aside like spent cigarettes, just months after purchase? Why are landfill sites full of discarded but still operational technology? What characterises a successful relationship and are these emotionally durable characteristics designable?
We considered some products currently on the market that are functional and help, for example with the problems of bad backs and weak wrists that affect many of us as we get older but that are clinical and dull in design. We all concluded that however useful, these products were simply not desirable and we would certainly not want them in our homes for any longer than we needed them, if at all. We contrasted these with products such as the OXO Good Grips swivel peeler which is attractive and stylish but also comfortable to use and not just for people with arthritis but for everyone. And this, we think, is the key. There is a good quote on this from Bernard Isaacs, founding director of the Birmingham Centre for Applied Gerontology :
“Design for the young and you exclude the old; design for the old and you include the young”.
Another interesting debate is around who “the old” are. As Gretel pointed out, “older people” are generally anyone older than you. And with the number of people over 65 set to comprise half the population by 2020, we were keen to impress on the students that they should be careful not to stereotype. In fact, our experience is that people get more, rather than less, diverse as they get older.
We are awaiting the next stages of the competition eagerly.