Thursday, 24 December 2009


Dear soapchick

I came to the advent fair at the Steiner School this November to buy a birthday
present for my husband, and you recommended this soap.  I never dreamt
that that one split second decision to say yes to a BIBS would be the
beginning of something so big.... The trouble is that I have now fallen
in love - with a bar of soap.  Please will you help by bringing another
one to the late night shopping in Totnes next Tuesday evening.   I'm
worried you may not have any  as it says so on your lovely yummy
website.    Once smitten, nothing else will quite do.  Please do your
best to help.

yours ever hopeful

............. The story continues, how wonderful is that for an endorsement of my soaps?  True to her word Judy came to our stall yesterday, we were really busy but it was sooooo good to hear her feedback - she bought more Beer Inn Beer Bars, gave me permission to use her private email and said that it was the best soap she had ever used.

Go on, try it yourselves, just to let you know, very low stocks available for the next 4 weeks.  Sign up as a facebook friend and get a very special offer until 2nd Jan, buy one, get two soaps free - Happy Christmas and Best Wishes for 2010 - Lots of love, SoapchickXXXXXX

Wednesday, 16 December 2009


I was privaleged to be invited by Dad, along with the rest of my family, to attend the first performance of his quartet inspired by Darwin and commissioned by the Darwin Festival, Cambridge for the 2009 Festival in July.  We had a fantastic time and were so, so proud of him, I am pictured in the centre of this picture of my dad introducing the music and the quartet in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.  I'm wearing white and a blue scarf with Rik next to me in a cream shirt.

Charles Darwin may have had his biggest impact on biology, but he began his scientific career as a geologist. So it’s appropriate that earlier this year, retired geologist John Ramsay, who had long studied the famed biologist’s life, accepted a commission to compose a Darwin-themed string quartet.
Darwin “did some pretty fundamental geological mapping," says Ramsay, drawing a parallel to his own geological career, during which he has drawn maps of the Scottish Highlands, South Africa, and the Swiss Alps. Ramsay says he and Darwin also share a penchant for putting "ideas that spring from other parts of one's life" into their current work. He notes that Darwin applied lessons from Earth's landscape to biology, adapting, for example, Charles Lyell's theory of gradual geological change to living things. Similarly, Ramsay's musical tribute draws on his own geology background. "Knowing Darwin's work, I wrote my quartet first of all on the evolution of the Earth," Ramsay says.
At the beginning of the piece, a disorganized Earth takes shape, with the core, mantle, and crust emerging into distinct musical themes. Life then arrives. Next, Ramsay writes in his concert notes, "the 'wriggly' primitive forms evolve into ... stronger and more continuous themes representing reptile and mammal forms."
Performed by the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, Ramsay’s composition premiered in Cambridge, U.K., during the Darwin Festival (Ramsay pictured above and Quartet playing pictured below) on 7 July 2009. The Darwin Quartet gave its second performance late last month during the triennial Cambridge Music Festival. The two festivals jointly commissioned the piece, and Ramsay hopes the Fitzwilliam Quartet will record the composition next year.
How did a structural geologist who spent his career climbing the academic career ladder at British and Swiss universities end up composing evolution-themed music? National service: After completing his Ph.D. in geology at Imperial College London, recalls Ramsay, "I became a cellist in an Army orchestra" in 1955. For 2 years, he toured Britain and British bases in Germany.
When his tour was over, Ramsay had to decide between pursuing music or geology. "I was hard-put," he says, "but I only started playing cello at 18, ... and that's a bit late for someone becoming a top professional." Instead, he continued with geology research and teaching at Imperial College, moved to the University of Leeds, and eventually settled in Zurich, Switzerland, with joint geology appointments at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) and the University of Zurich. But his other passion has come to the forefront again now that Ramsay has retired. Today, he teaches and composes music in the French hamlet of Cratoule, in a wine-growing region near the Rhône River whose landscape he describes as "wild without being fiercely wild."
His music hobby did not directly influence his geological career, Ramsay says, but a night class on life-drawing he took while in the Army probably did shape his interest in geological maps: "They are scientific records of the rocks on the Earth's surface, but they can be exceedingly beautiful things."
Ramsay says he tried to incorporate Darwin's ideas about the fleeting nature of any individual species into the epilogue of his composition; the music is meant to evoke a barren landscape, devoid of today's multitude of species. "Darwin showed that practically all the organisms that have lived on the Earth had a limited species-life, and practically all of them have died out and been replaced by new ones," Ramsay notes.
And what would Darwin have thought of the composition? "I don't know what he would make of my string quartet, [but] he was very worried toward the end of his life about where things were going," Ramsay says. "My idea is that perhaps the world will finish up like Mars, without life but still with a great deal of beauty."

 His quartet was performed this year by the Fitzwilliam Quartet themselves and is about to be made into a recording.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

THE Christmas parties Totnes throws are so good even the weather can't dampen the festive spirits.
Despite the early evening wind and rain the market town was packed with stalls, musicians and hundreds of party goers out to enjoy the first of three Totnes late night shopping extravaganzas.
By 7pm the rain had stopped and the party really got under way as throngs of people crowded up and down the main street, spilling over on to The Plains and into The Rotherfold.
Drummers drummed, bands played, youngsters from Berry Pomeroy Primary School sang carols and at least one busking crooner gave voice at various venues up and down the town centre.
Meanwhile, visitors were tucking into anything from burgers to Thai takeaways and mulled wine.
Totnes town clerk David Edwards, who is part of the late night shopping organisation, said: "It was the best first late night shopping Tuesday that we have had for several years.
"The number of people in the town was amazing. The main street was pulsating with people."
His comments were echoed by traders as Caroline Arscott, from Hi Ho Silver in High Street.
She said: "It was a fantastic evening. It was wet and windy early on but after 6.30pm people started to come out and have a really good time.
"People were very happy and we were very pleased with the way business went."
Tom Welch, who works at Julian Graves in Fore Street, said: "It was a very good atmosphere. It was perhaps not as busy as it has been in the past but there were lots of people here. It's always worth opening on late night shopping and it was a good night."
Pet and Garden Centre boss Mike Sealey, said: "It was one of the best first late night Tuesdays that we have had.
"It dried up and there was a great atmosphere. Everyone was here to enjoy themselves."
He said that people were putting the Totnes late night shopping events in their diaries and some were coming from miles around to enjoy it.
The main street was closed to traffic and the evening shopping event included a town market as well as stalls lining the High Street, Fore Street, The Plains and The Rotherfold.

Its all set to be repeated again tonight and next Tuesday night (15th & 22nd December) and NATURALLY MADE SOAPS will be there.  I am bringing out my fantastic new Limited Edition Range, Flower Power, made especially for Totnes and next week, the last of the Christmas Festival evenings, I will be bringing something really special, whole Christmas Spice Cake Soaps to be cut up in front of your eyes!  We will, of course, be bringing the usual soap delights, Snowballs in a Snowdrift, Mini Mince Pies and my famous White Chocolate and Strawberry Gateaux, to name a few.  So come and see Rik and I, our stall is bright orange and right opposite the Civic Hall Square, its going to be a great night tonight!