Astonish: Ethical Cleaning Products, Made in Britain

A short while ago I had the great pleasure of trying out the Astonish range of cleaning products, and to say I was blown away by the quality would be an understatement!

As we become ever more conscious of the source and ingredients of the products we use, I was delighted to discover not only is Astonish a Great British company, but they also have a thoroughly ethical approach to manufacturing and quality.

Here’s a little more from the guys themselves …

“Astonish is a British company, based in the North of England, manufacturing household cleaning products, for inside and outside the home.

The original Oven and Cookware paste was created in the late 60s, created as a safe, vegetarian, multipurpose cleaning paste, biodegradable, with no harmful fumes or chemicals.

Today, Astonish manufactures over 60 products, all created in house, never tested on animals, all vegetarian approved and suitable for vegans, all the products are biodegradable.

Please see more info on the website..



What social media can do for British farming


Nobody dislikes stories of the public being hoodwinked more than me. The latest scandal to hit the press involving horse meat being widely supplied to a number of British supermarkets and even to schools is enough to turn even the strongest stomach.

Every day we seem to be faced with another tale of revolting, rehashed animal product reaching our shores from abroad, coming soon to some cheap ready-meal near you.

It all comes down to standards. And when standards reach an unacceptable all-time low in the name of maximising profits, Joe and Joanna Public get very hot under the collar.

So today I’m asking British farmers to take to the streets of social media to broadcast their message, telling us why we should commit in future to buying British and only British.

This is not about patriotism … It’s about common sense. And this is why:

• Buying our own produce supports and secures jobs.
• It decreases the carbon footprint so it’s good for the environment.
• The welfare of the animals (and farm workers) in question can be more easily monitored.

If I were advising anyone connected with the British farming industry on their social media strategy in the coming days and months this is what I’d be saying:

Tell the public what they want to hear! Tell them via social media that buying British means one thing and one thing only


Persuade them to only buy from shops and supermarkets that guarantee British produce. Nothing panics corporates more than the thought of a boycott.

Publicly declare that the time for shoddy products at ridiculously prices is over … Fair prices paid to farmers will ensure continuing high standards.

Connect with food bloggers – start circulating recipes that utilise lower-priced British produce to maximum effect (I cook brisket in wine or beer for 24 hours my slow cooker and it is to die for …)

Engage online with British independent food retailers and ask for their support by sharing your information- use Twitter’s search facility to do this. Multiply your message and you amplify it!

Some months ago I picked up a packet of cooked chicken in a leading supermarket that was labelled “produce of Thailand”. It was £1.99. I wonder what sort of conditions the animal lived in. I wonder how much the farmer was paid for it. I wonder how much it cost to transport it to the UK. And yet still they were making a profit?

As a consumer I want to be assured that it will all be fine … Buying British is a way to make it fine.

Now is the time to galvanise public support. As a nation we love to rally round a worthy cause.

Gather ye hashtags … Farming needs to get social!

photo credit: Eduardo Amorim via photopin cc

Seeing Red!

Well … here we are all safely installed and now living in our delightful ‘Grand Old Lady’! It seems little more than a dream …. She is every inch what I expected; full of character and with the odd draft but teeming with potential and history.

We’re still in the very early stages of even being vaguely organised, but as I now have a semi-functioning office I’ve taken the time to go through a few shots on my camera.

Here’s one of a very beautiful tree on the front lawn; can anyone tell me what sort it is? Its red foliage looked rather splendid today against the azure blue autumnal sky …

And here are a couple of our beloved Red Arrows in action a few weeks ago. We’re so very lucky to seem them almost on a daily basis as they’re based at RAF Scampton, just a stones throw from here.

OK, so now I’d better try and get on with some unpacking, cook some supper and finish some ironing ;)

Until the morrow, dear friends!

Typhoon! Fun in the sun at RAF Scampton

What an amazing day it’s been … And what an amazing day we’ve had!

Temperatures and aircraft soared today over RAF Scampton; it was the perfect end to the school summer holiday as we watched the Red Arrows, the RAF Falcon display team and a magnificent Spitfire to name but a few.

Here are a few shots I managed to capture of the hugely impressive Typhoon, thrilling us with its twists, turns and aerobatics:

In an English country garden …

Clearly I’m biased but I do think that these wonderful isles of ours take some beating during the summer months when gardens are in full bloom and (if we’re very lucky) the sun is shining.

It’s hard to describe a typical summer … but it’s been reported that it allegedly consists of two fine days and a thunderstorm. A little harsh … but not too far off the mark.

We are however occasionally blessed with a glorious day during which we can drink in all that is wonderful about the season, and during one such afternoon recently I was privileged to photograph the incredibly beautiful gardens and grounds of a very grand local hall.

Rather amazingly these gorgeous gardens are tended to by just one head gardener! Apparently some hundred years ago there was a team of twelve or so men who carefully manicured and worked on the grounds.

Here’s just a taste of what I managed to capture … Enjoy!