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Boyd Takes Flight

Written by : Posted on July 18, 2014 : Comments Off on Boyd Takes Flight

Just moments ago Boyd the bird – a swift – took flight and left us. We both feel he’s left something of a hole in our lives.

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10th Anniversary Gift

Written by : Posted on May 24, 2014 : Comments Off on 10th Anniversary Gift

For our 10th anniversary ~ 10 years since we moved to live in France ~ it’s time to celebrate!

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Windsurfing Paradise

Written by : Posted on February 21, 2011 : 2 Comments

Sailing on the lake in France

Watersports. Embracing the Elements and Exhilaration.

The Sea

I love the sea. I feel so free when I’m near it.

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Open, Closed or Discovered?

Written by : Posted on February 17, 2011 : 2 Comments
Studded wooden door

Ancient door in Lagrasse, France.

Open Doors

Yesterday, I saw these photographs of French doors; a small window onto my friend Jennifer’s amazing collection.

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Being in the Moment and All That Jazz

Written by : Posted on February 5, 2011 : 7 Comments
Silver compass necklace

Silver Compass Pendant: Choosing a New Direction …

I can’t wait!

I want to take my puppy to the beach. I can’t wait for his first walk; to see him enjoying everything new. I look forward to taking him on little trips out, for him to be included as my companion.

Oh, how my mind races ahead to things that haven’t happened yet!

Being in the Moment

Anticipation can be a tremendous part of the journey to wherever it is you’re going. Knowing that you’re on your way to getting a new job, moving to a new country or getting fitter is a large part of the experience.

But there’s still today. The here and now. This very moment.

In truth, there are days when I find posts about “being in the moment” more than a little irritating. They can seem pesky, smug even; as if I’m doing something wrong if I’m not being in the moment.

But, today was different. Being in the moment happens often when I’m in the workshop, but in everyday life too much of me wants to speed ahead to the next idea, the next … thing.

The Journey

Life’s a journey and there’s a right time for everyone to feel in the moment.

Yes, there are ideas that we can talk about that make sense in some dimension – but without any particular connection to the idea, without a meeting of minds on the concept.

And that’s OK. It’s just not the right time for us. There are times when I come back to an experience and re-experience it in a whole new way. And I feel myself doing it, I become aware of the change. I smile inside.

When it comes to choosing, changing or re-discovering our direction I reckon we sometimes just need to give ourselves a bit more slack. Don’t you?

The Truth about Speaking Jewellery

Written by : Posted on January 29, 2011 : 3 Comments
Gold Necklace with Pink Tourmaline

Pink Tourmaline with powers of attraction…

The idea that jewellery speaks to you is what it’s all about.  Something happens between you and the creation; an inexplicable attraction.

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Understanding the Carat

Written by : Posted on January 26, 2011 : 4 Comments

Unique Gold Compass Pendant with Hallmark

Yellow and White Gold Compass Pendant (photo: Kiff Backhouse)


Since antiquity, the Carat (ct) has been a unit of measurement for precious stones. The term is derived from the kernel of the carob bean (from Greek keration). As such, the Carat – and therefore the price – of the stone being sold depended on the size of bean the vendor was using as his counterbalance!

These days, the Carat has gone metric and is now equivalent to 0.2g.

Beware, however, the folks boasting a large Carat gemstone; some stones may weigh a fair bit but have a lot of bulk just to boost the Carat. For example, a dark gemstone with steep sides may have an impressive Carat, but only the polished surface can be appreciated once it’s set into jewellery.


Karat is a term used by the goldsmith as a measure of quality.

It has no relation to the actual weight of the gold. Instead, it refers to the proportion of pure gold in the piece of jewellery. For example, 18 Karat gold is 75% pure gold and 9 Karat gold is 37.5% pure gold.

My jewellery creations are tested for purity at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London so you can always be assured of the quality of the metals used.


And now to the Carrot. This is a crunchy, orange vegetable that can evoke ghastly memories of school dinners and coleslaw.

Personally, I find it makes excellent soup!

Three Things I’ve Learned About Change

Written by : Posted on January 23, 2011 : 22 Comments
Jasper in the Garden.  Explorer, Adventurer and Puppy.  (Age: 9 weeks)

Jasper in the Garden. Explorer, Adventurer and Puppy. (Age: 9 weeks)

Change Happens

Jasper, my puppy, is already a companion in the workshop. Yesterday he heard me using the jeweller’s saw and didn’t much like the sound. The steel saw blade rasping against silver; a harsh, grating sound. A new experience.

I spoke to him, reassuringly. He settled down. I continued.

It’s all about learning. Learning what’s OK and what’s not.

He’s also growing – a type of change that just happens. He’s learning that he can reach further and leap higher. He’s learning that he can no longer fit underneath the unit that he could last week! He’s learning his place in the pack with our other dogs.

Belief Precedes Change

He also appears to believe that he’s invincible!

There are three small steps down into our garden. After only a moment’s hesitation, Jasper leapt from the top step – an excited, confident leap that would take him to another world.

He tumbled, rolled, picked himself up and had a shake. Sorted.

“Right, now what’s here for me to explore…?”

Next time, the steps were easier. He’d believed he could do it, tried it out, tumbled a little – but learned a lot.

We Grow with Change

In my experience, committing to change sometimes needs a leap of faith.

Acting on the decision to become a Goldsmith, to live in France, to do the things I’m doing – all this meant leaving various chunks of the future to chance. I didn’t feel completely ready, but have ended up discovering so much more than I’d ever imagined. I’ve dealt with some situations better than others, don’t we all?! I’ve felt more alive than ever before. I’ve grown.

Life is an adventure. For Jasper and for me!

House Warming with a Twist

Written by : Posted on January 5, 2011 : 11 Comments
jewellery workshop bench

Workshop Refit in Progress. Spirit level, masonry bits and tools still there!

Cold to Cosy

Our cold kitchen was made warm and cosy this morning by a lengthy session of making homemade muesli.   The aroma of grilled honey coated cereal and nuts wafting around the house is still being savoured!

It also made me think that, with the advent of my new workshop, perhaps I need to throw a house warming party!

Warming the Workshop

Actually, it will be more of a jewellery workshop warming party…

Given that the workshop has been designed around being a compact space for me to work in, I’m going to need to limit my numbers. To this end, I’m considering inviting the following lovely folk to join me.

Firstly, my husband, Kiff Backhouse, who is responsible for each and every photograph of my creations in my jewellery gallery. Extremely talented and patient, eh?! He’s also generally lovely but I think I’ve already said that elsewhere!

Next, my good friend Jennifer Greco who blogs beautifully about a taste of life in the South of France. She’s also a chef and cheese expert (addict?!), and I’m rather hoping she’ll bring something sensationally smelly along for the event!!

Although I’ve not yet met Katie Zeller, I’m enjoying Tweeting with her. She’s an American expat, restoring an old farmhouse in France; cooking, shopping, stumbling thru French life. Oh, and running a menu planning service for healthy eating! Anyway, she’s in France and she would be very welcome to join the workshop warming!

The Warmth of Friendship

There are many more of you I’d like to invite but my workshop space is limited! How about I work on a virtual tour of this special place for you in the future…?

Keep Warm.

Thinking Big

Written by : Posted on January 4, 2011 : 4 Comments
Green Tourmaline Earrings

Silver and Gold Earrings with Green Tourmaline (photo Kiff Backhouse)

How Big?

I’ve recently been working on a project around 100 times bigger than usual.

Instead of unique and intricate jewellery designs, I’ve been redesigning and rebuilding my workshop! Instead of using silver, gold and gemstones, I’ve been using wood, brackets, drills and a spirit level.

It’s been a great opportunity to take a fresh look at the workshop; a way to step back and see the bigger picture.

Actions Make a Difference

The way we think about our lives and the world we live in has a huge effect on how we feel. How we feel – happy, grumpy, motivated, sad – then influences our actions. Whether we like it or not, our actions are what make the difference between achieving what we’re striving for, and staying just as we are.

While all this appears to make sense, it seems that we need to work at maintaining a healthy attitude if we’re going to get where we want to be. Thankfully, there are talented professionals out there to inspire us…

Jim Connolly suggests that you are almost certainly more talented, admired and loved than you think you are. How about that for a great start to improving any element of your life or business?!

Julie Walraven describes how easy it is to get caught up in how the world seems to us at the minute, and how to avoid letting this get in the way of your job search.

These are just two examples of people who can clearly Think Big.

Bigger and Better

To me, Thinking Big is just one way to look at things differently, to spot improvements that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. To contemplate the ideas of others and consider alternatives.

My jewellery workshop is now even better than I’d originally imagined, too!