Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Maybe Day 4 will meet my expectations

A four day entrepreneur conference boasting ‘the biggest business and entrepreneurial event of 2012’.  Ive seen the list of speakers and it looks impressive.  Well with a couple annual leave days left to use up before Christmas what could I possiblly have to lose?

No agenda had been provided prior to the first day, but hey that’s not unusual, it will be provided upon registration.  Surely?

So I arrive bright and early on Tuesday morning and join the crowds waiting to enter this monumental event.  Hungry, and in need of a nice cup of tea, I decide to wait until im settled since I dont want to lose my place and everyone else looks parched too.  Ah, we are allowed in.  Oh a massive big room with loads of chairs.  No hot drinks allowed.  Hmmm.  Marvellous.

My plan was to check when those very important people I wanted to see were speaking so i could work it around my ‘working from home’ commitments.  Plan fail.  And I wasn’t the only one up in arms with this clever little strategy of theirs.   Well, clever in that you feel as though you have to stay just a little bit longer in the mere hope that someone inspirational will appear anytime soon, whilst simultaneously making the large room look full (ish).  But perhaps stupid in the fact that no one will return next year.

So out comes the MC (Master of Ceremonies) a bloody yank, an annoying, loud yank as it turns out (no surprises there).  No i don’t want to shout out your name RAYMOND, or holler YEAH!, or any of that stuff.  Roll on the first speaker.

Ah Andy Harrington ‘the world’s leading public speaking expert’ - an hour drags by whilst he witters on with his ‘motivational speech’, it’s tolerable though cos Raymond said everyone was on for an hour.  Oh, Andy then informs us that he has another 2 hours left!  Right, that’s it I’m off, i have to be at work in the afternoon, and since Im actually there, I’m already ‘motivated’.

Day 2 (today) - I go for the afternoon - surely there will be someone who will instill me with some wisdom?  Ah, Marco Kozlowski (yes him!) another yank, a multi-millionaire who proceeds to pitch his $7k training course for 1.5 hours with loads of ‘YEAHs’, ‘hands-up guys’.  Claiming he could change our lives but of course he doesn’t inform us of this slight catch until the end, so we wait in vain hope for a little gem which doesn’t happen.  Followed by Jeff from the Industry Rockstars (also a yank) also pitching for 1.5 hours claiming that they too could make us millions if only we signed up for their course.   FFS.  I left.

So, Im giving tomorrow a miss.  But Friday, they claim is the day, the day the world erupts, the day the worlds elite, including President Clinton will bestow their knowledge upon us eager delegates.  With panel debates and everything!  I have high hopes and I’m sure they won’t be dashed.

The people who might return next year, are the minority who paid loads for their front row seats (I got my 4 day ticket for £17), shouted RAYMOND, YEAH!, ran up to the stage, jumped up and down, and will probably invest in a course which will make them millions.  Its lucky everyone isn’t as cynical and miserable I am.

Saturday, 10 November 2012


After many frustrating months my website is finally finished, well as much as it’s going to be anytime soon.  Ive heard many people say that launching a website is easy peasy, especially when you use WordPress.  But I vehemently disagree!  This is not, I think because I am more mentally challenged than your average person (heaven forbid!) but because this ideological view is based upon the assumption that the perfect ‘theme’ will be ready and waiting for you at your local friendly ‘theme site’.

Unfortunately for me, this was not the case as my requirements were not matched by ANY theme, and goodness me did I search!.  I attempted 3 themes, all of which ended in frustration when it became apparent that my requirements were not in agreement with the protocol.  Well, if you take a look at my website, you will notice that it isn’t exactly the most complex and extensive site in the world.  The main problem derived from one issue: that every theme designer has decided all images must be landscape.  Without fail.  Now, as much as I tried, I could not make a portrait mirror landscape, and so the tribulations continued.

So what are the options if you need to customise a theme that doesn’t exactly fit your requirements?  Hacking.  And yes you are correct, hacking is a highly skilled activity - and hackers come in all shapes and sizes.  So finding one who is able to effectively weedle their way around the WordPress theme’s code is not an easy task.  Most people I spoke to shuddered at the mere prospect.

So, after doing some of it myself, getting some terrible advice from some apparent ‘experts’, outsourcing it to a guy in Macedonia who then gave up, my friend Rachid Belaid who is a top notch developer finished the task.  This whole process took months, but now it is done.  And I am very relieved.

The other option of course is to spend thousands on employing a web designer and developer.  You need both because generally developers cant design and designers cant develop (you can spot the sites which have been built by one skillset). Being a lowly start-up, my pockets weren’t deep enough for this option - so I did it the long and hard way.

The only advice I can give you to help ensure you don’t face the problem I did is to only take landscape photos, or make sofas, or bikes perhaps.  Definitely not ladders, giraffes or full length mirrors.

Monday, 2 July 2012

preparing the wood

i kept away from that machine

tyre cutting is heavy work!

skate rink venue

Furniture Jam

Last weekend, Cottoncreates took part in an ethical furniture workshop.  It was run by Electric Pedals on behalf of the London Festival of Architecture and the aim was to create ethical seating solutions from discarded stuff like old furniture, motor and bike parts, wood, metal.   Upcycling in it’s element. The seats were to be used in the evening for a bicycle powered cinema experience in the White’s Grounds Skate Park under the nearby arches - unfortunately i had to leave before then so missed seeing the finished seats in use.

Dressed down as much as I know how  - in new shorts, tights and top (clearly not quite as suitable as others who turned up in their old jeans),  I didn’t know quite what to expect but rocked up at 11am to find a concrete area, empty aside from a couple of the guys from Re-fuze along with a multitude of machinery, tools and random scrap materials.  The workshop filled up as the day went on, and attendees, many of which were trainee architects got stuck in designing their own uniquw seats.  I didn’t think it wise to attempt the generator powered saw so stuck to de-nailing bits of wood, and cutting the metal wire out of tyres.  I’ve become a big fan of the electric screwdriver so i’ll definitely be investing in one of those for my projects!

Charlotte from Electric Pedals did a great job of keeping the day together and I would definitely go back to other workshops they run.

i wasnt allowed to take him home

'let them eat cake'

the personalised touch

my mum probaly had one of these

Anyone for cheese?

Vintage Glastonbury Wedding of the Year

I had the pleasure of attending my good friends’ Stu and Lou’s wedding in Sheffield on Saturday and it wasn’t just any old wedding.  Being avid visitors of Glastonbury and taking advantage of it’s year off, they opted to celebrate their wedding on the same weekend and the weather did not let us down with the frequent showers and the inevitable mud!

This wedding oozed creativity with a vintage and festival theme and the photos depict only a fraction of the event’s charm.

Quaint gatherings of worn leather sofas,  vintage dressers, family photos, and lanterns were scattered around the grounds of the Botanical Gardens.  An extensive marquee which housed 150 guests was decorated with bunting, fairy lights and yet more vintage delights.  Table centre pieces included badgers, typewriters and suitcases.  And not forgetting the cheese table complete with gramaphone and cake stall with copious cupcakes and other offerings. The bride, bridegroom and bridesmaids looked perfect in 50’s style.

Music from the last 4 decades and live band topped off the perfect ambience.

Lou runs and