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If you happen to be free next weekend, Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October, and you’re in reach of the Birnam Hotel in Perthshire, you might like to pop along to the “Meet the Makers” fayre being held there from 10am to 5pm on both days.

It’s hosted by Exclusively Highlands, who are advertising it on their Facebook page.

The reason I mention it is because I’m going to have a stall there, flogging my little book,

some lovely vintage china (not the best of photos, the china looks much better in real life – come and see for yourself),

my sister’s handmade teacosies,

and her cushion covers.

I attended the fayre (I don’t know why they’ve adopted this spelling of the word) last year, the very first time it had been held there, and this year when I found myself with things to sell I thought it might be nice to take a stall and see if I could do a bit of business.

I’ve attended a couple of craft fairs elsewhere in the last few days and noticed that, although there were plenty of punters milling around showing an interest, there was a distinct lack of money changing hands. I’ve spoken to stall holders and other retailers, and they’ve all reported sluggish sales this year.

Quite understandable of course, I myself haven’t bought anything from any of the fairs I’ve been to this year, and in previous years I would almost certainly have shelled out for something.

I watched an interesting series of TV documentaries recently about economics (that might sound a tad dull, but they were enthusiastically presented and well researched), in which the point was made that in order for an economy to work money has to change hands frequently. The problem at the moment seems to be that most of us don’t feel inclined to let go of what we have.

photo courtesy of http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Part of what makes us feel a bit nervous about spending, even if we have a regular income, is that our money doesn’t seem to be worth as much as it used to be. Only a few years ago my savings account yielded twice as much interest as it gives now, and the media is full of doom and gloom about how things are only going to get worse. Not surprisingly, all of this makes the ordinary chap in the street feel a little protective of the money he’s got.

My dad made the point this morning that, in terms of starting up in business, I’ve picked just about the worst time to do it, which is quite true. I also chose the worst time possible to leave a secure, well-paid, job in 2008, just when the recession struck and companies put a freeze on hiring new staff. However, when you get yourself into a bit of a hole like that, it forces you to use your resourcefulness and challenges you to find new ways of staying optimistic. I can’t say that I always manage to do either of these things, and I confess to spending far too much time worrying about it and feeling somewhat demoralised, but learning to count your blessings is a very useful tool in life, and one that can be equally valuable whether you’re living on the breadline or lounging on your megayacht shovelling away the caviar.

From what I remember of the Birnam Fayre last year, crafts on sale included photographs, sculpture, jewellery, handmade chocolates, children’s books, tweed handbags, glassware, biscuits and wood carvings. I can’t remember how many stalls there were but I would guess at 30+ and most of them were housed in the hotel’s rather grand and very spacious hall upstairs.

I don’t think my stall will be in that room, which is a pity, so if you do call in be sure to have a peek into the other little areas dotted about. I might even give you something for a knock-down price. In fact, if you quote ‘Lorna’s little bargain’ I’ll guarantee you a quid off any item you buy. Can’t say fairer than that in these straitened times.

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If you haven’t seen my Teacups Press blog post, you might not know this yet but my book, “Tearoom Delights: a little guide to delightful tearooms of Perthshire, Angus and Dundee” is now available!

I picked it up in boxes two days ago from the printer. I’m pleased with it, and happy that it’s come to fruition as I’d hoped. Now I just have to try and shift all these copies…

For the meantime, it’s only available on ebay, or from me directly (by emailing me, Lorna, at teacups@sent.com). Unfortunately I can’t process credit cards at the moment and so the payment options buying from me are cheque (sterling), cash, postal order or bank transfer. You can use a credit card via an ebay account.

Very soon the book will hopefully be available in local bookshops, tourist information offices and tearooms.

A lot of things make me think of my grandparents, and doing this book is one of them. This rather yellowing picture is of me with my grandad, as a tot at the seaside:

I often think of my grandparents, and this grandad in particular because he’s the one I remember best. When I’m feeling stressed by modern day life, and computer challenges in particular, I take some sort of comfort from thinking how much more baffling it would be for my grandad, if he were alive today. He would be astonished by blogging and the internet in general because he died before it all took off, and I sometimes wonder if life was simpler and easier in his day, although I wouldn’t want to give up all the comforts and conveniences of life in 2012. I suppose every generation has its good and bad points, and there is much to be thankful for in this day and age.

Back to the book, something I wish I could show to my grandparents, but am very grateful to be able to share with my parents. For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to dedicate a book to them, and now that I’ve been able to do that, I feel very satisfied.

It’s not easy to market your own work, perhaps especially for most Brits who are brought up to believe that blowing one’s own trumpet is to be discouraged. There are other cultures that are more comfortable with the idea of personal success and achievement, but it’s part of the British psyche to downplay things and be self-deprecating. (I have been told that this is a charming aspect of the British character, although I could imagine that some people might find it intensely infuriating, exasperating and possibly quite ridiculous.)

Luckily for me, fellow blogger and Tearoom Delights customer, Christine, has done a lovely post about my book on her blog, Writing from Scotland, and I would like to direct you there for an independent review. The teabag mentioned on her blog varies, incidentally, and if you have a special preference I can offer the following choices:

Earl Grey

Lady Grey

English Breakfast

Ceylon

Assam

I hope that no-one receiving a book now is going to be disappointed by the teabag I chose for them, but if you are, please let me know and I will gladly send an alternative.

Here are a few more pictures of the book. This, as you may have gathered, is the front cover:

And this is the back:

This is a wee sketch on page 25:

If you’re thinking that £7, plus postage and packing, is a lot to be spending on a small book about tearooms you might never even visit, you could be right. However, if it helps you to make your decision about whether or not to splash out on a copy, here’s a bit of extra information. £7 will get you:

  • 104 black & white pages with 49 illustrated line drawings/lettering
  • 6 full colour photos on the inside and outside covers
  • a coloured fold-out map on the inside back cover with tearoom locations
  • 23 tearoom reviews with a useful information section for each one
  • a page on local history by my dad
  • a few pages of witterings from me by way of an introduction

If you order it direct from me, you also get a teabag (woohoo!). That’s it really, I hope it’s worth £7 to the kind people who’ve purchased it so far, and to anyone else who parts with their hard earned spondoolicks in the future.

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