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Bristol Life Awards

We were absolutely amazed and overjoyed to be shortlisted as a finalist in the “Retailer” category for this years Bristol Life Awards earlier this year! It was a long wait but the night of the awards finally rolled around last Thursday (16th Sept)

I was excited to attend such a prestigious event and started the evening by dressing in my finery and ordering an Uber into town.

I met a few friends from a networking crew for cocktails at Revolution de Cuba, a fantastic venue on Bristols waterfront area (link here). From there it was another Uber ride, which turned into a comedy of errors!

A friend ordered this Uber and chatted with the driver on the phone prior to arrival. When the car turned up he asked the driver if his name was XXX, as displayed in the app (I’m sure you all know how it works) and was met with a resounding “Yes”, so we jumped in. He could only accommodate three of us so a fourth friend went back to the bar to travel with others. Not two min utes into the journey our driver got a call from his scheduled customer and it transpired that he was not actually our Uber at all! Rather than got back to where we began we hopped out there and then and were lucky enough to spot a taxi parked at a taxi rank (yes, they still exist!) just along the road. A few moments later we were bound for Ashton Gate and the Awards!

Upon arrival we joined the queue, displayed our Covid-free c credentials, collected our wristbands and entered the venue, to be greeted by the fourth friend who couldn’t;’t fit in “our” Uber earlier, who had beaten us to the venue thanks to our comedy of errors! We all had a good laugh and supped on a free glass of fizz!

Then it was upstairs to be seated at one of 60+ tables for the meal, and then the actual awards. Each table had three bottles of red wine and two white, for eight people, which was more than enough. Two people had actually dropped out from my table, and it transpired that I was the only one drinking red wine. Thankfully the food was good and I was drinking slowly!

The awards were hosted by award-winning comedian, writer and actor Laura Lexx, and she really had her work cut out for her. Everybody was just so happy to be at a public event again that it was difficult for Laura to actually get everyone’s attention! She did a fantastic job under difficult conditions though and was both very funny and very eloquent!

Disappointingly we didn’t win, but as everyone else pointed out, there’s always next year!.The evening was rounded out with an after party in the bar downstairs but I didn’t stay for long as that bottle and a half of red wine I’d had to myself caught up with me. Another Uber ride (error-free this time!) and I was home by 1am(ish), and asleep shortly thereafter. It wasn’t;t until Friday morning I noticed that I’d lost my bow tie! in retrospect it probably came off when I took my seatbelt off getting out of my home Uber. Ah well, plenty of time before next years awards to buy a new one!

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Post No. 1

I’ve been promising myself all year that I’ll start a blog page here on the website. I even took a course called “Blogging for Business”, but the one thing that eluded me was ideas about what to write!

As more time passed I became more anxious about what my first blog post should be about until I decided to abandon the idea completely because I was putting too much pressure on myself and causing myself too much stress and anxiety.

Then I spoke to a close friend about the issues I was having and she said, “Write about what you know” and a spark of inspiration flared somewhere at the back of my mind. 

So, what do I know about? Well, I know a lot about films and American Football, but neither of those seem suitable for this blog; I know a fair amount about baking, and am constantly learning more but again, not suitable for this blog (plus I’m thinking of starting a personal blog based on my baking anyway!).

So what does that leave? The obvious choice is of course fountain pens, but I’m still relatively new to the hobby myself and the business is still less than 12 months old. I will of course pepper this blog with posts about pens, pen shows etc. and my own experiences

The next choice, which seems less obvious and perhaps not hugely suitable at first glance, is mental health. But why would this not be suitable? Ok, so most or all of you come to this website to browse, and perhaps even buy from, our range of fountain pens, ink and other goodies. You’re not expecting a lecture about mental health and the social stigma attached to it, but that’s not what this meant to be.

Now I’m sure there are some among you who switched off and navigated away from this blog as soon as the words “mental health” appeared, and that’s fair enough. It is of course your time and I totally get why you wouldn’t want to spend it reading about mental health when you came here looking for fountain pens!

However if you’re still here and still reading then I thank you! I’m not going to lecture you or try to change any preconceived ideas you may have about what mental health is or means; I’m just going to write about my own experiences! (I’ll start off slow and easy without wishing to lay the real heavy stuff on an uncertain audience straight away!)

So here goes…

Just over four years ago I was diagnosed with Depression and Anxiety and began taking prescription anti-depressants. Now the drugs definitely work but I’m hoping to be able to wean myself off of them in the coming years so I’ve been searching, on and off, for a non-narcotic way of coping.

One of the greatest things I’ve found over the course of the last four years is yoga. I’ve been aware of yoga for most of my life but I’d never actually tried it, or even knew much about it, until my therapist suggested I give it a try. So I started researching this ancient form of exercise and discovered a huge wealth of online tools and resources which were useful but also, quite frankly, overwhelming in their breadth and number. So I dabbled in reading about yoga for a while until I found an online portal called Gaia. I’ve heard this online platform described as “The Netflix of Yoga” but it’s so much more than that. I’ve only scratched the surface of the video tutorials they offer on yoga but these have proven to be a great starting point.

I found I was able to enjoy a regular yoga practice based in my own lounge through linking my tablet to my TV and following the online tutorial videos on the big screen. This was my introduction to yoga practice without the stress I would undoubtedly have felt at joining an actual class out in the wide world somewhere. My practice was regular for a few months and I definitely felt the benefits in my mental health. Unfortunately this practice began to peter out from daily to weekly, to every now and then until it just stopped one day.

 Try as I might I just couldn’t muster the impetus to re-start my practice, despite knowing the benefits I would surely reap. During this break from yoga my life underwent a drastic change as I lost my job, ironically enough because of excessive sickness absence due to my depression! A few weeks went by before I got the idea for the business that you all now know and love (hopefully!) as Stonecott Fine Writing Supplies. 

2019 then became a very busy year as I planned the business strategy, built the website, ordered stock and found an office. I was simply too busy to even think about re-starting my yoga practice, despite this wish always being there at the back of my mind. In late 2019 I joined a local Bristol-based business networking group and it was through this group that my yoga practice was to get a kickstart!

In February 2020 I attended the networking meeting with a heady sense of anticipation. It had been advertised for several weeks that this meeting would open with a 25 minute yoga taster session for those that were interested. I was nervous but eager, having never practiced yoga in public before, but I needn’t have worried. I got changed and entered the studio to be greeted warmly by the instructor. The session was over far too quickly and left me feeling, well I can’t quite put into words just how good I felt. It was the kickstart my yoga practice needed and the next few days saw me practice at home every day, sometimes twice a day. 

I then attended my first “proper” yoga class at the same studio, and with the same instructor, as the taster session had been at; Wild Wolf’s Yoga. It was nothing short of fantastic and the studio became my favourite place, my happy place! I looked forward to each session I had there, despite having to drive into the city centre, and always left feeling full of positive energy and supremely relaxed.

Since the pandemic lockdown hit Wild Wolf’s have been streaming their yoga classes live via Zoom. So I get the best of both worlds, a fantastic yoga class that I love and that always leaves me feeling relaxed and brimming with positivity, but in the privacy of my own home. Actually that last bit is incorrect; I miss the studio! It has a certain warmth, and a very particular scent, that are impossible for me to recreate at home. It begins with the stairway up to the studio when the scent first hits you, and just gets stronger the closer you get. Then it culminates with a greeting from the studio team which is never anything less than warm and friendly and welcoming, and quite often comes with a hug!

So there we have it, the absolute best weapon in my arsenal to fight against depression and anxiety – yoga. To coincide with the launch of the blog, and another reason to champion yoga, we’ve teamed up with Wild Wolf’s Yoga to offer a discount on any class pass purchases. They offer a single class pass, a five class pass and a 10 class pass, and use of the code “WILDLYCONNECTED” will grant you a whopping 25% discount. If you take advantage of this amazing offer I can wholeheartedly recommend the Yin Yoga classes run by Jess, tell her that Derek from Stonecott Fine Writing sent you!