My Top 5 Things To Do In Abingdon-on Thames

I never thought I’d see the day where I would be writing a blog post about my little historic town but I thought for those of you who are coming from afar to my open studio for Oxfordshire’s ArtWeeks, you may want a little guide to what to do when you get here. Seeing as I have lived here all of my life, I guess I’m the gal to do it!

 

Quickly before we get started; for those of you don’t know, my studio is open for Oxfordshire ArtWeeks on the 11th, 12th, 15th, 18th and 19th of May from 11 – 6. There will be demonstrations given by me, refreshments and nibbles, exclusive discounts and more!

 

Right, let’s do this!

 

My top 5 things to do in Abingdon-on-Thames

 

  1. Have a walk by the river

 

If Millie could talk (she can’t because she’s a dog..) then she would say it was the best thing since tennis balls. She loves it, as do I. It’s perfect because you can make it as long as you want it to be, just turn around when you feel as though you’ve had enough or there is a lovely loop that you can do too which takes a good hour or so. I don’t know about you but happy dogs bouncing around, birds singing and flowing water is a recipe for a perfect walk.  You can also end the walk with a beer in the Nags Head, you can practically high-five the people driving boats down the river, you’re that close to them.

 

 

  1. Go for a walk around Radley lakes 

 

I love walking around Radley lakes. You start walking down a path which has trees either side so it makes you feel as though you could be anywhere, especially on a sunny day! This path leads you to the lakes which will be on your left. The whole way round you can just hear birds singing to each other. You can start this walk at the Abbey Meadows with 2 hours free parking, which is about a 6k walk round or you can park opposite the Bio-Techne building which is about a 3k loop.

 

 

  1. Go into Oxford

 

There are two options here. You can either get the bus from opposite the Boundary House, roughly a 5-10 minute walk away or you can drive in which takes about 15 minutes. Parking at the Westgate is relatively easy but can be a little wait before you get in, especially from 11 onwards. There’s plenty to do in Oxford, lots of beautiful, historic buildings, cute pubs and the fancy new Westgate shopping centre.

 

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  1. Have a meal at the Flowing Well

 

It takes roughly 10 minutes to walk here, with the walk taking you down little paths, away from the roads only going over the A34. Me and Phil love it here, mainly because they’re dog friendly and decent seating for whatever the weather. A big open fire for when it’s cold and wet, and an outside decking for when it’s sunny. The food is bloomin’ lovely, I’d recommend the skinny burger, it’s delish!

 

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  1. See nature in all it’s glory at Harcourt Arboretum

 

This is only a little drive away, roughly about 15-minute drive from Abingdon, but it’s a lovely way to spend the day! I’d recommend taking a picnic to eat in the gardens or there’s a lovely pub round the corner called the Seven Stars in a beautiful little village called Marsh Baldon.

 

There’s definitely enough there to fill the day, there’s definitely a theme running throughout this blog post and you can tell I rarely go further than 15 minutes away, I love walking and going to pubs… So if you’re like me, you’d love doing either of these 5 things! I hope you enjoyed the photos attached that were taken at each location too, every photo we take is mostly of the dog!

 

I hope this has helped you plan your day and by all means get in touch if you would like to do one of these and I can give you some more detailed information.

 

See you soon!!!

Fi x

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Create Memories, Not Waste.

We’ve all had those Christmas’ and birthdays where we have opened a gift and given the well-rehearsed reaction of just been given the most amazing gift ever. A reply of “OMG, thank you sooooo much, this is sooooo cool” knowing full well it will never get used or end up in a charity shop.

 

At face value, it seems like we are the only people who are affected by this but in reality, we’re not. There is a more serious effect of gift giving and we can make more conscious decisions when it comes to buying someone a gift. I have seen a lot of stories about this, particularly over the Christmas period and it has urged me to speak up too, especially now when we are at the start of a New Year, a year of making more conscious decisions.

 

We have all been alerted to how our mindless choices impact the environment from using plastic bags to hold our fruit and vegetables to dropping a plastic straw into our cold drinks to avoid hurting our sensitive teeth. I, along with many other businesses, big and small, have been making choices about how we package our products, you can read mine here. Even since writing that blog post I have made more changes by not wrapping the boxes in brown paper anymore. These decisions can be extended to our gift giving too.

 

Did you know that most wrapping papers are not recyclable? Did you know that from Thanks Giving to New Year Americans throw away 25 million extra tonnes of garbage extra year? Nope, me neither.

 

For Valentine’s day, me and my boyfriend don’t buy each other gifts, we put the money we would’ve spent towards a holiday or towards an experience day. It’s so difficult to think of something new to buy your partner every year and in all honesty how much would you have to spend to equate to how much you love them? In all honesty, I’m sure the majority of us couldn’t spend the amount of money we would like to spend on our other halves. With buying experiences and holidays, instead of buying unnecessary gifts with packaging that ruins the environment, you’re also creating memories that you will be able to treasure that are more precious than any gift you could be given.

 

With this in mind, I have asked fellow small businesses for workshops/experience days they run or have been to. A place where you can spend a few hours learning a new skill and you’ll also end up with a piece that you’ve made yourself. Take your partner or a friend for a ‘Galentines’ date and spend some quality time together, making precious memories.

 

  1. FICH ceramics – Pottery Experiences (I know, I know, a bit of shameless self-promo) – Abingdon, Oxfordshire

 

Come along with your partner or friend for a throwing session with me, Fi Chappelle. You’ll sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and biscuits while you watch me give you a demonstration, then it will be your turn to jump on the wheel! I can assure you there will be lots of laughs along the way and you’ll be able to take your pot home once it is fully finished. You also have the choice to come back and turn (carve excess clay off of the base) and glaze your pot afterwards too.

 

£140 for 2 people 3 hours

FICH ceramics’ Pottery Experiences

 

  1. Flat 102 – Screen printing workshop – All over UK

 

Join a group of like-minded individuals to create your own screen-printed tote bags and tea towels. Steph will guide you through the whole process to create something colourful that you can wear with pride! Steph does her workshops in various different venues so there may be one near you.

Prices vary depending on which workshop you’d like to do. You can find out more information by clicking here.

 

  1. Origami Est – All over UK

 

Est runs origami workshops in London and all across the UK. You can make your own geometric plant pots, lampshades and more out of paper depending on which workshop you’d like to go to!

 

Prices vary depending on which workshop you’d like to do. You can find out more information by clicking here.

 

  1. inSilver – Jewellery making workshop – Sheepy Magna, Leicestershire.

 

Enjoy making a piece of jewellery with Aimi’s tuition. You can be a total beginner so there is no experience necessary to be able to make something beautiful and unique. The workshop experiences can just be for a couple, or a group of 3. You can choose to make a ring, bangle or pendant, depending on the type of jewellery you’d usually wear.

 

Prices vary depending on which workshop you’d like to do. You can find out more information by clicking here.

 

  1. Merrie and Bright Calligraphy workshop – Oxford.

 

Learn the art of hand-lettering with Merrie from Merrie and Bright. You will learn about how you can use pressure to create different thicknesses, how to do upper and lower-case letters and joining words together. There is also the opportunity to come back for an improvers workshop where you can develop on your skills and create own style. The workshops are for like-minded individuals, but there is also the option to do a private calligraphy workshop.

 

Prices vary depending on which workshop you’d like to do. You can find out more information by clicking here.

 

  1. Tanya Robinson, Wet felting workshop – Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

 

Wet felting is an ancient way of making fabric. Learn how to mix the colours, create texture and change the thickness of the merino wool so create your own unique piece of fabric which you can then use to make different pieces depending on which workshop you choose to do.

 

Prices vary depending on which workshop you’d like to do. You can find out more information by clicking here.

 

  1. Charlotte Berry – Jewellery making workshop – Oxfordshire

 

Just got engaged and want to gift your other half something meaningful this Valentine’s day? Share a special moment together where you can hand-craft each other’s wedding bands. Creating something truly unique that holds memories. Or are you after a ‘Galentines’ workshop? Charlotte also holds a taster day workshop where you can make a stone set silver ring. This is for 4-5 students, making this ideal for a small group of you.

 

Prices vary depending on which workshop you’d like to do. You can find out more information by clicking here.

 

I hope you can see a workshop that would interest you and I’ve pointed you in the right direction. If you run a workshop or an experience day or can recommend one, then please feel free to add your links in the comments!

 

Thank you for reading,

Speak soon,

Fi x

FICH is coming to Not On The High Street!

Yep, you heard that right, FICH will be coming to NOTHS soon! I am so excited about this opportunity, hopefully this blog post will make you as excited as I am if you’re not already buzzing!

 

So, what is Not On The High Street?

 

NOTHS is a curated online marketplace whose primary focus is on personalised, thoughtful, unique gifts. I particularly love the photography of the high-quality products on the site. It is very succinct and clean, making it easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. I couldn’t believe it when they got in touch, I cannot wait to get my storefront up and running!

 

What can you expect from FICH?

 

Hand-thrown pieces are very personal because each piece is made by hand. This is evident when a piece is finished, there are usually maker’s marks on the piece or when you put your finger in the inside curve of a pot or by holding a mug, it comfortably fits your hand because it’s come from mine. There are always more ways to make a gift more personalised and this is the aspect of my business I have been wanting to develop for a while.

 

I’m imagining fun sayings, quotes or a couple of words that can be generalised like a plant pot that says “Mad About The Plants” or just a simple “I Love You” on a mug. There will also be the option to have your name on a piece, I can imagine this is especially appealing to those of you who have an alternative spelt name, looks funky but you cannot find your name, spelt the way you spell it, anywhere! This has obviously come from the struggle to find “Fiona” on personalised bookmarks at the garden centre when I was a kid.

 

My one goal for selling with NOTHS, will be to create a unique gift for you to give the one you love that’ll make them smile. Pretty simple really.

 

How can you help me?

 

I want to make my pieces FOR YOU, therefore if there are any words or sayings you’d love to see, then please leave a comment below and I will do my best to make these and put them in my shop!

 

When?

 

I am hoping to open my shop at the mid-end of February and it will be filled with gifts for Mother’s Day so you can find the perfect gift for your mum! Please follow me on Instagram if you’d like to know when we are officially open for business at @FICHceramics or alternatively you can sign up to my newsletter, you can do this by popping over to my website at www.FICHceramics.co.uk.

 

Please be aware that to start with I will only be selling within the United Kingdom, but I will be looking to sell internationally eventually.

 

Take care,

 

Fi x

2019, let’s be havin’ ya

Right, so, I am going to try really hard not to write cliché’s, let’s see how I do. I’m going to throw the ‘new year, new me’ out for starters because let’s face it, I have bought a diary for the last few years that are only filled in for the first month or so and then the rest of it is left blank. Okay, first admittance of 2019, I’ve bought myself another diary. Ha. It does say ‘2019 is your year’ on the front so maybe that’ll help.

 

“You could take me on a camper holiday in the UK over a trip to Dubai or New York any day”

 

Since I’ve had a few days to let the new year sink in I have been mulling over 2018. It’s been amazing both in my personal life with my sister’s hen party and wedding (this is when I get sad I’m not in the ’21 Kids and Counting’ family, I would love for a sister of mine to get married every year). This is also the first year me and Phil (my boyfriend) have been able to enjoy our camper and I literally couldn’t love our little trips away, more… You could take me on a camper holiday in the UK over a trip to Dubai or New York any day (although taking the camper to New Zealand would be The Dream… hinthinthint). For the last few of months of 2018 I also started going to the gym again. In my second year of university I went nearly every day and lost of load of weight. Having a job I wasn’t happy in, pre-FICH, made me put it all on again and I have been really angry at myself for it ever since. Going back to the gym has been great for my mental health and has helped me to start feeling good again. This is something I can’t wait to continue in 2019.

 

 

 

 “FICH ceramics is supported by the Prince’s Trust, woop!”

 

My business life has been pretty amazing too. 91 Magazine did a feature on me and my work in their E-zine. I actually love the magazine it’s bloody lush so it was a great honour [if you’re into indie interior magazines you should really check them out]. I completed the Princes Trust Business Enterprise Programme which means I can now officially say that FICH ceramics is supported by the Prince’s Trust, woop! I also opened my studio up for two weekends in December, that went really, really well. So chuffed and grateful that people came along, so thank you so much if you did, it really means the world [if you would like to come along to the next one please sign up to my newsletter and/or follow me on Instagram to stay updated]. I was also approached by Not On The High Street to sell on their platform which admittedly I did have to refrain myself from just replying ‘YES PLEASE!!’. I was feeling a bit miffed that I didn’t have a work do to dress up for so to finish the year, I took the people who have supported and helped FICH ceramics in 2018, my family, out for a meal to say thank you. Not that a meal equates to the amount of thanks I have for them, but it was something.

 

 

Although this year has been amazing, the last 3 months have been the toughest I’ve had to go through with my business and I wasn’t happy towards the end of 2018. I mentioned my kiln issues in the last blog post so I won’t dive into that cesspit again. I have since realised that it wasn’t really about the kiln, anything could go wrong, like if I broke my wrist (which is pretty likely due to my horrendous clumsiness) and other happenings that would have a big impact on my business, with me mentally but also financially. It was the first major thing to go wrong for me, which is pretty good going as I edge towards the end of my second year and what it taught me was that I should have plans in place for if any of these things do happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to write down an individual plan for everything but putting money aside or having a ‘is it really that bad’ checklist would really help my brain to see the situation logically.

 

So, 2019, oh heeeeeey!

 

I am determined to make this year a bloomin’ gooden and to do that I…

 

  • Want to keep at the gym because that helps me so much mentally. When I am in the gym I feel as though I can accomplish anything I put my mind to and I actually, as stupid as it may sound, it makes me feel alive and strong. I may be out of breath and sweaty but I love pushing my body to see what it can do. I know this may not look like a business goal but if I’m not showing up at 100% each day, no one else will.
  • Will keep myself organised. I am so bad at this but organising the year as a whole now will make this a hell of a lot easier when it comes to designating jobs that need to be done each week. I did this a few months into last year (when I met my PT mentor for the first time) and it was so refreshing to be on time and ready for each deadline.

 

This last goal may surprise you but I think it’s one that needs to happen…

 

  • Need to get a part-time job. Not really for money, although getting a monthly pay cheque will be nice, it’s more to help with the loneliness of the self-employed life. I feel like I need something else to focus on which will inevitably make everything flow better, yes, my brain works in weird and wonderful ways… I’m imagining it will be as an art technician at a school or something along those lines. I will fill you in as and when things happen!

 

2019, let’s be havin’ ya. I’m excited and eager to get going. I hope that whatever your plans are, you achieve them, I’m rooting for you!

 

Speak soon,

Fi x

 

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram under the username @FICHceramics.

… and breathe

Hindsight is such a beautiful thing that pops it’s head in when the difficult time has been and gone. It’s timing is all over the place. We need to tackle the tough times with knowledge to help us see the bigger picture, hopefully this post will do just that.

If you’ve been following along on Instagram you’ll roughly know what I’m going on about but if you don’t, basically in a nutshell, my kiln gave up the ghost. It also had the worst possible timing. it was just before my colour palette release making it a huge disappointment and it completely threw off my preparation for Christmas. I was really excited as I had planned big things for these events yet it all went to pot and honestly it made me go down a dark hole which I struggled to get out of. 

I focused on the things which were going wrong like not having enough stock for a craft show in London rather than focusing on things which I could do differently so the kiln breaking wouldn’t have such a big affect on my little business.

It’s really shown me how important it is to talk to a third party about what’s going on because they will see your situation in a completely different way. I spoke to my sister about the lack of Autumn Winter pieces I’d have to take to London and she told me to just take pieces from my Spring Summer collection as well – after all, my colours are chosen specifically so they all look good together regardless of what collection they are from. You wouldn’t believe how much this simple solution made me feel soooooo much better (so thank you Zo). After speaking to my mentor a couple of weeks ago, I also realised that I could’ve just promoted my pottery experiences more as most would be bought as gifts for Christmas, therefore I wouldn’t need to use my kiln until January. 

These solutions seem so simple but when something is going wrong it really has the ability to cloud your thought processes making it all seem like everything is failing, when actually it’s really not. 

The trouble is, when you’re the only one in your business… the business stops when you do. You can’t plan for every possible issue you may have but it’s definitely worth stepping back when something starts going wrong and assess the situation. 

Remember to reach out when you’re going through a tricky patch. This for me is one of the hardest parts of running a small business by yourself, but you can make it easier. Join groups who have members doing a similar thing to you, I bet 99% of people would have a tip or two to help you through it. Allow yourselves time away from your businesses too, it can all too quickly become very consuming. I don’t mean going on an expensive holiday – take yourself on a walk and meet up with your friends. You’re the wheel in your business, without you nothing will move. Self care is so important.

Look after yourselves,

Fi x