• Shop Fronts: A Modern Rarity

    Every street in the centre of villages and towns were strewn with shop fronts a hundred years ago...

    Shop Fronts

    Although people didn't sit outside their shop front, it harks back to a time when food shopping took all morning and the main high street was at the heart of the community.

    Durrants Butcher Shopfronts

    This was an era when every shopfront had a window display. Nowadays, how many window displays do you see when walking down your high street?

    Shopfront Old

    In English villages, charity shops dominate their little high streets that used to have rows of busy shopfronts manned by neighbours and everyone knew eachother.

    Shop Fronts

    Our modern world is so fragmented that many people don't even know their next door neighbour and shopping is done in souless hypermarkets where nobody even talks to eachother.

    The shop front used to be the place where everybody met up to chat, gossip and cement friendships. Who has time for that now as we run a million miles an hour towards our deathbeds? No time to stand and stare, or to pass the time of day with a local shop owner.


    These shop fronts were the lifeblood of the villages and towns around the world. In my village, there were people right up to the 1960s that had never been the 5 miles into the city of Bristol because they had everything they ever needed right there in the village.

    Harry Carter Shopfront

    Not just butchers, bakers and candlestick makers, but absolutely everything, whatever people needed within a mile radius someone would be able to supply it. When new things were needed new shop front doors opened to supply that demand.

    Ivor Deedney Shop Front

    In seaside towns new shop fronts opened to serve the tourists and the local community benefitted from this influx of people rather than the big chain stores.

    ShopFront Charlies

    Conditions improved for everyone, electricity came to many homes and, with it, new bookstore shopfronts and increased leisure time meant more time with friends and family. The pace of life was slower, no one was running to keep up with themselves unless they wanted to.

    Old Fashioned Shop Front

    Even the old Dickensian style of shop front survived as there was increased population and increased demand for new gadgets and homewares. Many more people had extra money in their pockets and could do more than just feed themselves.

    But then, everything began to change...

    Old Shopfront

    The big homeware stores began opening up other branches as did other successful merchants and the chain store was born. At first the impact was small, as every new shop front still needed to open up on a busy high street.

    The smaller competitors were still able to compete and there was often choice in the marketplace.

    But then things got even worse...

    Decaying Shopfront

    The rise of the Mall was the first nail in the small shop's coffin as it made the whole shopping experience easier and more pleasurable for the customer and protected them from the elements. The first Malls were in town and many other nearby shops benefitted. But then, because of parking and space issues, many new shopping malls were set up out of town and the heart of the city caved in.

    Pauls Store Valletta shopfronts

    The traditional shopfront struggled to survive and went downhill until the shop front doors finally closed for good.

    Shops were knocked together to make room for chain stores with their characterless buildings and faceless staff. Smaller shops were taken over by people with dreams in their heart, only to fail in the first year. The footsteps dwindled on the high street and were replaced by the sounds of fast food rubbish cartwheeling like tumbleweed down the street.

    But some still survive...

    Porto Shop Front

    The glamourous shopfronts built in the art deco period still have as much appeal today as 100 years ago.

    Ramblas Peacock ShopFront

    As do the Gaudi inspired shopfronts of Barcelona, and he too was inspired by the Art Nouveau movement that swept Europe in the early 1900s. The art scene brought some beautiful architecture into the shops and arcades of European towns.


    The shopfronts of the World can be reborn again and we can refind ourselves in the heart of our own communities. We just need to make time to visit and support independent shopkeepers and not just walk past their shop fronts. They in turn will invest in their own community - YOUR community! and you will all be richer for it. And I am not just talking about money.

    Do you see those big chain stores investing in your community? I didn't think so. Most of them have such an immoral view of tricking the tax system they don't even pay taxes in your country - it all gets syphoned off to tax havens - making not just your community, but your whole country poorer.

    Please shop locally and invest in your community before it too disappears.

    Thank you for reading. If you liked it please share it with your friends.

  • Digby and Jick's Big Adventure

    For many years Digby has been my partner in crime. We grew up on the same sprawling estate. We watched each others backs when the local gangs tried to recruit us and failed. Through hell and high water Digby has been an island of paradise in an oasis of crime, drug-addled pimps with far too many bullets in their guns and policemen on the take.

    That was 25 years ago now and we are both married and settled down like boring old farts with slippers and dressing gowns and an average of 2.5 children (he has three, I have two). Now, we may have been rabble-rousers in our day, but now we are sweetness and light and say ĎYes Darling' a lot.

    It has taken monthís of buttering up to get our wives to agree to let us out on our own, but we have put in the groundwork (tea in bed, bathing the kids and putting them to be regularly, flowers and a few meals out) and they have finally given us permission to head out. If you think I am joking, you are wrong, I think I left my balls at the altar.

    So, the date was set, a Friday night of beer, bromance, and belly laughs. I was as excited as a teenager and couldn't focus on my writing. I packed it in early and spent an hour watching YouTube videos. At 5 I shaved an showered and got smartened up. No aftershave and not too smart otherwise the wife would start wondering. When I set off in the old charabanc which seats about 12 I was not expecting the night to turn into such an epic adventureÖ

    Let me know if you want to hear the crazy story of our night out. Leave a comment below and I will add the final installment.

  • Bristol SEO Company helps Businesses rake in extra cash

    If you have a website then you need SEO. FACT

    A Bristol SEO company had this to say about SEO.

    SEO is not dead and never will be.

    Anyone who has a website needs to make sure it is visible. If your website is not visible on Google (which has a 95% market share of all searches) then it is like having a business but setting it up in the middle of a deep thick forest surrounded by brambles instead of a busy high street.

    SEO Bristol Company


    Pretend you are one of your potential clients and type in to Google the words they might use to find you (not your business name as potential clients wont know it!). If you donít appear on the first page of Google then you will not make any money, it is as simple as that.

    A good Bristol SEO firm will be able to tell you which are your best keywords and roughly how many searches they get on average each month. You can work this out yourself using Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

    The Top 3 positions on page one of Google get 95% of the business. The rest get considerably less and by position 7 only 15% of people are still reading.


    Google Adwords will bring you up to 20% of the clients, but this ignores the 80% of people that trust the organic listings that appear below the Google Ads.


    You can make sure that each of your important keywords has itís own page with the keyword used in the title, description and content (300 words+) and in the ALT tag of pictures. This will show Google that the page is relevant to the particular keyword.
    You can put the keyword as an anchor tag hyperlink (i.e. writing that is blue and underlined and if you click on it you will go to another page) on another page of your website and interlink all the pages of your website together. This will help any SEO power get washed around the whole site.
    A decent Bristol SEO company will be able to help you fully optimise an existing site and can also build you a new site which comes fully optimised.


    First you need to include a blog and all the social media (Facebook, Twitter and Google+ at the very least) to help raise your online profile. You should post things that are useful and informative or entertaining and not spam the internet with useless sales patter.
    You can also add blogs to your site with your keywords as anchor tags pointing to the various parts of your site.
    Another good thing to do is find other niche blogs to write guest articles. This takes time but it is worth it.
    If you need extra help (oh, yeah, you know whatís coming next! :-) you can always contact your local Bristol SEO company to help.

    Free Range help clients all over the World to make their websites more visible online.

    Guest article by Barnaby from Free Range Websites Ė SEO Optimised websites, Online marketing and Social Media Management.

  • Design your own mug shot

    Design Your Own Mug Shot
    How 'gangsta' to create your own mug shot?
    OK, so mine is real of course, cos I'm just too rock 'n' roll not to have been arrested.
    But you can easily design your own mug shot with just a bit of effort on photoshop.

    There is a lot of fun to be had in your local neighbourhood with customised mugs. You can get a picture of the biggest goody-two shoes around and create your own mug shot of them using the yearbook or their picture at 'chess camp' or whatever. Try and get one of them looking mean would be even better. Go up to them with your camera phone at the ready and say you heard they were still a virgin or that their mum was a bit of a loose woman and capture their annoyed downtrodden expression.

    When you get home, upload it to photoshop and turn it into a customised mug shot in black and white with the name of the local sheriff's office on the blackboard. Then put it on an A$ poster with WANTED at the top and a list of crimes underneath. The crimes you put will determine how funny the poster is but make sure you don't get sued!

    Another funny one is to use a picture of your ex-girl or boyfriend and list a series of crimes under his or her custom mug shot. Endless hours of fun. But don't create your own mug of you mom with Prostitution and racketeering underneath and post that round the neighbourhood. She will not find it funny - guaranteed!

    Oh the fun you can have with a custom mug shot. For something a bit more 'cheesy' you could design your own mug shot of your pet: WANTED Fido Crime: Using the word Bitched to describe the 11 female dogs he has gotten pregnant over the last two months. Oh, hang on, that's OK

  • Real Science behind Personal Horoscopes

    Personal Horoscopes

    What does your personal horoscope 2013 have in store for you? Oh sorry, not a Ďbelieverí?

    Some people believe in personal horoscopes and some people think they are a load of rubbish.
    Often people who believe in them completely donít understand how they work and the other half of the population that think they are a joke, donít know anything about them either.

    A personal horoscope is your personal astrology chart based on the exact time and place of birth. It works out personalised horoscopes based on where the sun, moon and planets are when you are born and where you are on the planet and the time makes a big difference.

    For people that think the moon and the planets canít possibly influence us, here as some cold hard facts for you.

    All around the country at full moon, accident and emergency wards, psychiatric wards and Police forces have extra staff on duty to cope with the increase in violent behaviour. This is because the moon has been known to affect human behaviour since the time of at least the Babylonian tribe of the Chaldeans, and more likely a lot longer.

    This is how it works. We are made up of up to 75% water and the power of the moons gravity moves over 300 million cubic miles of seawater twice a day to produce the tides. Is it so strange to think that something as powerful as the moon could affect a human made up of say one cubic metre of water?

    Now, the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon and just because in an eerie coincidence it just happens to be 400 times further away doesn't mean it canít influence us. Solar storms have been linked to human behaviour and 11 year solar cycles have been shown to have an effect too.

    Now stars are a lot further away, but they are the background to the affects of nearer planets like Mars and Venus, the stars give us the calendar to be able to formulate the times within a personalised calendar.

    When people realise the science behind astrology, and remember that astrology gave us both our modern calendar and astrology, suddenly it doesn't look as 'flakey' after all.

  • CNC Machining Saved My Wedding Day

    CNC Machining
    OK, I know that saying CNC machining saved our big day is a bit dramatic, but we soo wanted to leave for our honeymoon on the back of the old motorbike.

    I had searched hell and high water to find a new part for the old fella but had no luck at all.

    In a fit of desperation I had asked the local firm of precision engineers to see if they could help me as I had the broken part to base a new part on.

    Their team of precision engineers were a bunch of stars. They ran the broken part through the £D photo scaner and turned it into a cad drawing. Then they were able to pice the two bits back together and tidy it up.

    Please bear in mind that most companies arenít going to do a one off part like this and I was very lucky. It turned out that the owner was an old biker so I had really landed on my feet this time.

    Once the drawing was finished they fed it into their cnc machining centre and with just a flick of a switch the new part was hewn by a CNC milling machine in just a few minutes.It was amazing to watch it appear from the solid metal, slowly but surely as the CNC mill did itís job.

    In no time at all one of the precision engineers was polishing it off and I took the part over to the bike, that was brought on a tow truck to get there. I had the part in place in a matter of a few minutes and with one kick the old beast came back to life and I rode out with five of the cnc machine centres workers standing out to wave me off.

    The big day was a great success (as in she turned up and we got hitched!) and we rode off from the reception with a thunderous roar.

  • Ecommerce fulfilment services: Your guide to hassle free online sales.

    Ecommerce fulfilment services
    If you are selling online already, or thinking of selling online then Ecommerce fulfilment services could be the answer you are looking for.

    Often orders come in at a slow drip drip, followed by a massive surge and it can be a nightmare to process them.

    You may be struggling with storage and are unable to carry as much stock as you like but are worried about buying larger premises.

    Ecommerce fulfilment services takes all the hassle out of selling and is often so cost effective it is well worth considering.

    A good web fulfilment company will be able to store as much stock as you want, as they will already have a big warehouse in place.

    They should be able to offer an IT software integration service that enables your ecommerce shop to send the orders directly to them.

    From this information they will be able to pick and pack your clientís order and have it shipped out straight away. Whatever the size of the order, or however many orders arrive at once then this is something they will have staff already in place to deal with.

    You can get on with focusing on generating more online sales, safe in the knowledge that you have a solid Ecommerce fulfilment company behind you to provide the logistics to your online sales division.

    These companies keep their costs low to make it attractive to you and also they can handle returns and make the whole process a lot more streamlined.

    Letting a fulfilment company take the reigns also ensures that you have a hassle free sales process that is happening outside of your business premises in safe hands.

  • Glass Bowls - Too Good for Fruit!

    There are glass bowls and then there are glass bowls!

    If anyone dreamed of putting a piece of fruit or a bunch of car keys anywhere near some of the art glass bowls I am going to share with you then they should be flogged within an inch of their life or made to go and live in Belgium - for a whole week!

    There are certain glass bowls Ė often factory made Ė that are not fit for anything other than the introduction of a stone castle, a few multicoloured grains and a dim-witted rust coloured fish.

    Anyone who buys a factory made pressed glass bowl when they could be the proud owners of an art glass bowl must be as dim-witted as the fish. These items never grow in value and they are uninspiring to look at.

    Art Glass Bowl

    When you are looking to buy an art glass bowl, why not buy something dazzling with a bit of class? A sheer glass crystal bowl with more charisma than any presidential candidate 

    There is a reward waiting in the long run. A wise investment in a gorgeous piece of art glass means that you can enjoy looking at something for many years to come and, at any given time, you should be able to cash it in for more than you paid for it. A true win win situation.

    Choose wisely. There is plenty of cheap tat out there made for the tourists and those who canít spot cheap oriental rubbish from something a whole lot classier.

    Donít worry if you canít find anything in your price range. There are lots of glass bowls out there, made by fine artists across the world, so keep your eyes and ears open and you will eventually find the perfect glass bowl that is just right for you.

  • Amazing Glass - For you Forever!

    There is something special about glass...

    I don't know what it is and I struggle to put my finger on just what it is exactly that delights and enthrals me at every turn.

    Sometimes I think it is the way glass paperweights catch the sunlight and refracts it in a million angles. Sometimes I think it is the way that it captures the reflections of the firelight and sheaths the room in dancing shapes.

    Glass ornaments

    When I was a boy I used to go into the woods with a spade and trowel and uncover some amazing glass from Nailsea Glass to discarded household bottles that were thrown in pits behind old house in the days of olde.

    Sometimes I would dig into a plague pit by mistake and have to shower three times before I felt clean again, but it was all worth it. The chance to uncover a lined blue medicine bottle or old beer bottle from the 18th century, made the mud and the black death all worth it.

    My best find was a little flintlock pistol made of glass, but sometimes just finding a glass bottle with a jungle of moss and other things growing inside it made just as much of an impression.

    I always liked the idea of getting a big bell jar and growing a microcosm of plants and fungi inside it, like a big living test tube, to sit in the window sill next to all the glass ornaments. This, like so many other plans are in the big To-Do list that just gets bigger every day and the Done List doesnít change as the beauty, delights and frustrations of daily life seem to always get in the way.

    No matter, never mind, there is a world out there to be explored, and just knowing that is enough to sustain me. I smile in the darkness and am only happy when itís complicated.

  • Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Packages - choose well

    On the internet there are dozens of Abu Dhabi Grand prix packages being offered and it is useful to know a bit more about Abu Dhabi and Yas Marina Circuit to make sure you decide on the right company to go with.

    Most important of all, whoever you decide to go with, ensure that they are covered by ATOL protection. This demonstrates that they are a reputable company and means that, in any event, you are totally covered.

    Abu Dhabi Grand Prix F1 Hotelse of Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Packages will mean staying at an F1 Hotel right on Yas Marina, with the best choice of all being the highly luxurious Yas Marina F1 Hotel.

    If you are considering staying at a Dubai Hotel instead, then the most luxurious option would easily be the world famous 5 Star Burj AI Arab Hotel. The downside of staying 2 hours up the coast, is that you are 2 hours' drive away from the race, but there are helicopter transfers available to get up and down.

    One the day of the race there are two fantastic ways to enjoy the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The first is to partake in the institution that is the F1 Paddock Club, and the second one is getting a place on a luxury Yacht in Yas Marina.

    The Yas circuit weaves around the edge of Yas Marina and is a fantastic spot to enjoy the race from. The Marina was built with the intention of harbouring yachts so they could enjoy a prime postion to watch the thrilling action from.

    The United Arab Emirates are a glorious mix of the old and the new; bright shiny new shopping centres and old mosques whose while stone glows in the fading sun. There is the Ferrari World centre, fine dining and exciting nightlife.

    Abu Dhabi is right on the coast and there are lots of beautiful beaches to enjoy, as well as reefs and lagoons. Some of the hotels have private beaches, with staff on hand to serve food and drink all day on the beach or by the pool.

    Really decent Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Packages are bespoke and are created around you and your guests. Whether you are treating family or friends or looking to impress some high net worth business people, it is important that the company really gets to understand your group dynamic.

    Abu Dhabi is a glorious, thrilling, cosmopolitan city and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix packages are the best way to enjoy both the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi in one memorable trip.


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