I’ve had a very mixed week off-air as well as on, all of which has been very exciting but of all which have involved some very varied, yet quite special celebrations.
Last week my darling Austen and I managed to grab some time away in The Cotswolds to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We’re simple folk – we love nice food, a stroll around local independent shops and a few glasses of beer or wine. So that’s exactly what we did in the gorgeous chocolate-box village of Broadway, staying at the historic Lygon Arms Hotel. We popped into the Campaign For Real Ale award-winning pub The Crown and Trumpet for a pint of a deliciously refreshing Codger Ale. The pub cat fell in love with us to. No-one knew her name except that she lived in the farm across the road but loved to snuggle by the fire!
The sun shone on both the days we were there and we strolled around the village looking at the gorgeous houses. We had a tasty lunch in the Broadway Hotel which had crazy stags head wallpaper behind the bar! As cotton is said to reflect the second year of a wedding, Austen bought us a lovely 500 thread count Egyptian cotton damask Northern Nights bedding set in claret. Our first ever Northern Nights purchase too. Needless to say it’s lush!
INSPIRATIONAL FEMALE CARPENTERS
I was very lucky to meet some incredible and very inspirational young ladies – all of whom are trainee carpenters (you hear of female carpenters that often, do you?). Well Danielle, Rachel, Francis, and Rachel (1st, 2nd, 3rd from the left and last on the right in this picture) are celebrating an amazing achievement – earlier this year they agreed to take up a mammoth challenge – to teach African women basic carpentry skills so they could make and sell chairs, benches, tables and even coffins to people in their own communities and have an income for themselves and supporting local people. Talk about Girl Power!!
The Tools 4 Life project was set by Positive Women, a charity set up in the UK to help the women and children in Swaziland in Africa to become self-reliant. Swaziland is a tiny country with only about 1 million people (about the same number of people who live in the city of Birmingham alone!) Swazi families are mainly headed up by women and even young children, because many men have died. The country has the highest death rate from AIDS than anywhere else in the world and it has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. Most people live in the countryside and lead very traditional ways of life. So anything we can do to help the women and children out there earn money to feed everyone in the family and keep a roof over their heads makes a massive difference.
The four girls were led by Kath Moore (a carpenter with 30 years of experience! She’s in the picture next to me in the floral blazer) and they were accompanied by Positive Women’s CEO, Kathryn Llewellyn, and a film crew from the University of Portsmouth. All the girls had to raise the £2,500 funds of airfare and living costs to be there for a month. Positive Women have always worked to achieve everything in very close partnership with local community organisations. SWALPOL (Swaziland Positive Living) is PW’s current partner. It’s led by Siphwe Hlophe (who herself is living with AIDS) who was also on an annual visit to the UK.
All the ladies spent a month teaching some fantastically motivated ladies – the youngest was 21yrs old and the oldest was 63. WOW! By the time the girls left the Swazi ladies had received an order for 100 benches from their local church in Manzini village. Incredible!
This is the video that was made BEFORE everyone went on their trip, and it shows you what life is life in Swaziland as well as chatting to the wonderful young ladies who took that trip. When the Portsmouth University documentary is finished I’ll post it on the blog.
I hope to get out to Swaziland next year, get my hands dirty and get helping, and also witness the effect Positive Women is having on women’s lives. I am so proud to play a small part this charity.
My heart skipped a beat after meeting and interviewing the stunning Ms Joan Collins last Friday! Screen idol, model, actress and friend to the stars and the Royals. This fabulous lady has led the most fascinating life and I was overjoyed to get the chance to quiz her on the revelations of some of the bad times and the many good times which are in her book, as well as the overwhelming amount of superb photographs. If you weren’t a fan of her, before reading this then you certainly will be afterwards. For just £10, you are engulfed in a wonderful world where she reveals so much about herself. You’ll definitely feel honoured to be privy to so much about her!
P.S. I’ve finally set up a Facebook page so do please log on and stay in touch with me there. I’ll post pictures and titbits there to keep you up to date in-between my QVC blog posts.
And don’t forget you can also find me on Twitter too @TVMarv.