The World is Your Oyster

The World is Your Oyster

Written by : Posted on October 21, 2010 : 3 Comments
oysters with lemon

The World is Your Oyster

Your Oyster

There are numerous ways to interpret “The World is Your Oyster”. Some definitions suggest it means that if you have enough money, then you can have whatever you want. Others focus more on beauty, fame or youth as the keys that open doors to happiness.

However, this definition is the one I choose: “When the World is Your Oyster, you are getting everything you want from life”.

Impromptu Adventure

I recently made an impromptu trip from France to Holland and back. An opportunity presented itself and my husband, Chris, and I decided to take it. It was one piece in the puzzle making up the dream of where we’re going in the future. We grabbed some overnight things plus basics for picnics en route. My compass pendant was, as always, around my neck and ready for adventure!

The Warmth of Human Kindness

Throughout the journey, we met several lovely people. It was a heartwarming experience. Yes, I know, there are lovely people everywhere, but this felt extra special. On this journey people have helped us in so many ways, given us their time and made us feel welcome.

It has been a pleasure to share our joy with them and to hear their stories.

Thank you to all those individuals out there who made this trip so special. It was a pleasure to meet you.

Cycling in Southern France

Written by : Posted on October 14, 2010 : 1 Comment
mountain bike

My Marvellous Mountain Bike (including gadgets and stuff)

Sunny Explorations

I now live in a part of the world where it’s bright and sunny for a remarkably large part of the year. One of my favourite ways to exercise is to go exploring on my bike. Since I’m the master of my own jewellery workshop, I can choose to get out a-pedalling when the weather is irresistibly enticing!

Following a recent journey around these parts on two wheels, here’s a list of ideas for those intending to cycle in the area.

Top Tips for Cyclists

  1. Take plenty of water.
  2. Remember to drink the water you’ve taken. Have regular gulps and glugs to keep you hydrated.
  3. Take a mobile phone.
  4. Wear a cycle helmet. If you fall off your bike and bump your head, the cycle helmet is going to increase your chances of being able to remember  (a) where you put the mobile phone and (b) what you’re supposed to do with it when you find it.
  5. Breathe Out. Breathing in comes very naturally, it’s automatic. However, when you’re a bit puffed, concentrating on breathing out every last drop of air in your lungs means your next in-breath is enormous. Do it several times.
  6. Use your gears. High and low gears make the ride so much more comfortable and pleasurable.  If you don’t know how to use your gears – learn!
  7. Hunting here is rampant. Wear a luminous yellow jacket or some such – anything that clearly differentiates you from say, a wild boar. Why a wild boar would be riding a bike is anybody’s guess, but why risk it, eh?
  8. Enjoy the view. It’s amazing how much more of your surroundings you notice when on a bike instead of in the car.

And Finally

Bask in the glorious feeling of having had a great bike ride.

Push-Up Bras and Go-Faster Stripes

Written by : Posted on October 12, 2010 : 5 Comments
Tourmaline Gold Compass Pendant

Tourmaline - Inspiration, Courage & Confidence (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

The Packaging

Each of us wants to be the best we can be; to present ourselves in the best possible light.  However you achieve this, be it a push-up bra or go-faster stripes, it’s a kind of marketing. Being your best self.

Whilst there is a time for the push-up bra – and yes, I believe there is! – I reckon it’s the person inside that really matters. The person beyond the packaging.

The Individual

What sorts of things appeal to you? How do these things reflect the individual that you are?

In terms of trucks, I’m the kind of girl who wants a diff lock for good traction control. You can’t see it, but it’s there and ready when you need it. I go for reliability, performance and quality.

In terms of boots, I want a charming mix of elegance and practicality. You can read more about my thing with boots here.

In terms of jewellery, I want something that works as easily with an evening dress as it does with jeans and a t-shirt. Something distinctive yet sophisticated.

In terms of life, I want to live it. Really live it.

The Adventurer

Lift and separate yourself from the masses!

Express the real you.

Beauty. A Definition.

Written by : Posted on October 6, 2010 : 3 Comments

Spinel: Lots of Inner Sparkle

My husband, Chris, recently did a portrait photo shoot which made me think about beauty. Actually, it served to remind me that I’m something of an expert on the subject!

To this end, packed into this post are some top tips on being beautiful.

And here they are. Ready?

First Beauty Tip

You. Are. Already. Beautiful.

No, don’t go.  There’s more.

Second Beauty Tip

In the words of Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)”

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Third Beauty Tip

This one’s a bit longer but is really a continuation of the First Beauty Tip.

When you choose your direction in life, that is, when you decide to be yourself, then you will be well on your way to a life of fulfilment and integrity. Putting this really simply:

Fulfilment means that you’re doing stuff you enjoy.

Integrity means your doing what you believe in, or as one dictionary definition suggests, you’re in “a state of being whole or undivided”.

So, when you’ve got those two things going on, when you have the fulfilment and integrity side of things licked, chances are you’re going to be one fairly happy bunny.  It can start right from the time you decide to be yourself.  An inescapable happiness.

Being truly happy usually means there’s a smile, a sort of inner sparkle, emanating from your very being. It’s the sort of thing that hangs around even when you’re having a bad hair day, too.

Now that’s what I call beautiful.

Bury Your Feet in the Sand

Written by : Posted on October 4, 2010 : 4 Comments
sand, beach, mediterranean

Sand to Bury Your Feet In, Southern France. Heavenly.

The Beach

The last few fabulous days have been spent with friends who came to visit us here in France. The seasons are changing, but we were easily able to spend a day on the beach, walk along the water’s edge, barbecue sausages and enjoy the warm sunshine. I also buried my feet in the sand. It was all part of a keeping-very-still thing.

In my world, much needs to be done right now. With big chunks of change and amidst various projects, in the workshop and out, time for rest and exercise has been squished. I know I’m going in the right direction. There are also times when it’s all about getting on with what needs to be done. However, having spent some time with my feet buried in the sand, I also know that, from time to time, I need to … just stop.

Bury Your Head?  Or your Feet!

Some people bury their heads in the sand. They avoid dealing with situations that need attention, and refuse even to think about them. However, in my opinion, burying your feet in the sand is the way to go. Burying my feet in the sand meant time to think. It meant keeping still, enjoying the company of my friends, the perfect weather, the special moments. It also inspired some creative thinking about next steps on my journey, my adventure.


One of my friends was hoping that I might be quiet for a bit, too. You know – actually stop talking. Didn’t happen.

A Day in the Life of This Goldsmith

Written by : Posted on September 28, 2010 : 1 Comment
goldsmith, workbench

My Jewellery Workbench (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)


Yesterday I finished working on a sizeable project.  Here’s my workbench … including a plate of Marmite on toast with grilled cheese, brought to me by my husband. He’s a good man.

This Morning

Whilst talking to the cleaner** this morning, she and I arrived at the conclusion that, much as I love what I do, I needed a break and a change of scene. Of course, she was right, but there was more work to do, and I needed to go shopping, too.

“It’s a beautiful, sunny day in southern France and your project is finished. Why not combine the shopping trip with a lunch out in Narbonne?” said the cleaner. She comes up with some fabulous ideas, you know.


So, today I had a sensational salad lunch at Le Bistrot. Goat’s cheese wrapped in bacon served on slices of toasted baguette, smothered in onion confit. All this amidst a mound of lettuce, a fan of sliced apple, black olives, walnuts, tomatoes, cucumber and prettily chiselled pieces of carrot. There I sat, a stone’s throw from the Canal de la Robine, lapping up the sunshine, eating this heavenly dish.

I also managed to splatter an olive oil dressing over myself, my handbag, the bench and the wall. A little too much vigour in trying to get the balsamicky-mustard sludge in the bottom of the bottle to mix in with the olive oil! Still, I think the episode went unnoticed. Er, maybe I shouldn’t have told you that part…


A gentle stroll back to the car and then shopping. Much better to shop when not hungry, too.

Here and Now

Reflecting on how lovely it’s been doing something different today. “Doing Lunch” every day isn’t an option, it’s an occasional treat. I relish the flexibility of being able to choose what I do, when and where.

** I am also my own cleaner.

Captivating and Curvy Change

Written by : Posted on September 24, 2010 : 1 Comment
Curvy change, Life's a Journey

A curvy path on the journey of life...

Just for a Change

Every so often, I sit before the piano and play; it’s a rarity, these days. This evening, just for a change, I played Perpetual Motion by Strauss. My husband, Chris, goes into stealth mode on these occasions in the hope that I’ll continue uninterrupted. He loves it when I play, even when I practise. The title, Perpetual Motion, struck a chord with me.

I savour change. Change plays a major role in my life. Some changes are more significant than others, but there is always some sort of change going on. You could say it’s a perpetual thing. It’s become a bit of a joke that, if Chris goes away for a night or two, he’ll take a last glance at the living room in the knowledge that it’ll probably look different when he returns. It’ll still be home, but with a degree of rearrangement or change. I like to keep him on his toes.

Change is Curvy … and Captivating

Through acting on a decision to change, I am here in my life. Living where I live, with the man (and dogs) that I live with, spending my days creating in my jewellery workshop.

Did I get to this particular place in one straight forward, big step? No.

Did I arrive at this juncture by following a direct route? Er, nope.

Did I always have it in mind that I’d end up where I am right now? No.

Is that it now? Have a got where I’m going? Certainly not!

The Deliciousness of Change

The way I see it, once you’ve chosen to change even a tiny bit of your life, and acted on that decision, futher change is both inevitable and delicious. As a result of making that one change, you discover something new which inspires further change; something that taking that first step showed you.

The unfolding of the change, and all that it brings, is delicious. It’s what makes life an adventure.

These Boots Were Made for Walking

Written by : Posted on September 22, 2010 : 7 Comments
Walking Boots, Elegant Boots

These Boots were made for Walking

Low Maintenance

I love shoes. I especially love boots. I have approximately, mumble, pairs of boots. Not just walking boots either, all sorts of boots.

Well, when I say “all sorts of boots” that’s not quite true. They all, pretty much, come under the heading of Everyday All Terrain boots. Whilst you’re not necessarily going to find that term in a drop-down box of styles on an on-line boot store, I hope you can imagine what I’m talking about.

My husband agrees, without coercion I might add, that I’m a low-maintenance woman. The only time he really gets nervous about me spending is when I’m shopping for gemstones. Thankfully, on these occasions, I can reassure him. Without enough, or the right, gemstones, how can I possibly create beautiful compass jewellery?! Et voilà, problem solved.

Fit For Purpose

So, back to my boots. The common thread is that, whichever pair of boots I wear, I’m prepared for almost any eventuality. As Nancy Sinatra put it so eloquently, “These boots were made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do”.

If I need to walk the last mile of the road to drop the dogs off at boarding kennels in blizzard conditions because it’s more than the car can handle? I’m ready. By the way, that did happen!

If we decide to eat at a restaurant one evening and an element of style is required? I’m ready.

If we’re going through the vineyards for a sunset ride on the motorbike? I’m ready.

Style, Elegance and Practicality

Life is an adventure and I prefer being ready for it with a charming mix of style, elegance and practicality.  This is also what I have in mind when designing my compass jewellery.

Are you ready, boots? Start walking!

Turquoise Talisman for Change

Written by : Posted on September 17, 2010 : 2 Comments
Gold Compass Pendant, Turquoise Compass Pendant

9ct Gold Compass Pendant with Turquoise (Photo by: Kiff Backhouse) Turquoise: A Talisman in Times of Change

Change; a bit about what it might mean

Change can involve moving from one place to another. Change can mean swapping one thing for another. Change can mean replacing something that doesn’t work with something that does.

A change in direction.

Change; a personal note

You are an individual. The nature, significance and magnitude of your change is unique and personal to you.

Maybe there’s something in your life that you would quite like to change. Maybe there’s an aspect of your life that really needs to change urgently, pressing for your attention right now. Maybe it feels as if change is looming and unavoidable.

Often, a very small change can make a huge difference. A change that you might think is imperceptible to the outside world can actually be very noticeable. What I mean is, if you change something in your life for the better, your sparkle will be that little bit brighter than before.

Change and Choice

Change is an option for everyone. Whether it’s something teeny or humungous, it’s still change.  Even the smallest of changes can lead to adventure.

Me? Well, today I’ve decided to wear make-up in my jewellery workshop. Yes, I’m alone in there but it makes me feel extra fabulous! And feeling extra fabulous whilst creating compass jewellery has got to be good.

Do share your ideas for small changes that spring to mind …

Reaping the Rewards of Adventure

Written by : Posted on September 16, 2010 : Comments Off on Reaping the Rewards of Adventure
Vineyards in the Languedoc, grapes

Harvest Time in the Languedoc (Photo: Kiff Backhouse)

The Harvest has Begun

The results of all the hard work and effort tending the vineyards are now being rewarded. Crops of grapes are being gathered in by the vignerons.

Tractors rumble past my jewellery workshop window pulling trailers laden to the brim with grapes; the glass panes rattle to the rhythm in their window frames. I’ve begun to renovate the windows in our home, but the one in the workshop awaits my attention. Each involves taking the window out, smashing out the ultra thin glass and stripping paint from a delicately moulded frame. Then comes sanding, with patience, to a smooth finish before fixing in the new panes. Only slightly thicker glass than the originals, but an improvement. Finally, several coats of a mix of oils to seal and preserve the wood.

With an appreciation for the original character of the house, we’re renovating slowly and in harmony with our own progress in this new life. Really, why rush? Yes, there are some aspects that have needed urgent attention; the sieve of a roof, for example, just couldn’t wait.  However, we’re enjoying the journey and doing what makes sense in terms of resources available.

The Harvest from my Adventure

Choosing to change my profession and to live in France has been an adventure. And then some. I never imagined that I would have the life I have now, but I’m delighted that I do!

The transition from a handful of dreams and ideas to this whole new life has taken hard work and effort. Just like the crops, it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time.  But here we are, living it.  The ups and downs of the journey continue to make it an adventure and provide fertile soil for learning.

Your Adventure, Your Harvest

As with any great adventure, whatever it may be, it starts with the first step and goes on from there. What would the trailer be laden with in your adventure?