Category: Events

Proud: Hearing Voices Exhibition

Last week I was over the moon to see the ‘Hearing Voices: Suffering, Inspiration and the Everyday’ effort myself. I have blogged before about how myself and a group of other young voice hearers created art to be displayed. In absolute honesty I was expecting hushed rooms and many glass cases; maybe with undertones of pity for us voice hearers. I was pleasantly surprised to find colour and sound and passion. Yes: it actually makes voices appear as just a part of life that some of us happen to experience. In the exhibition is tons of information and even areas where you can stand on a carpet to hear a simulation of what it is like to have voices in your head. My wonderful Learning Support Practitioner, K, managed to see the exhibition while in Durham on holiday. She said: “it makes hearing voices seem like just a part of being human”. This message is exactly what myself and the other young people had hoped to get across in our work. So what was the best bit? For me it must have been seeing the work of young people who struggle so greatly at times alongside original manuscripts of Virginia Woolf and Julian of Norwich who experienced the same. I felt pride to have my work next to creatives like Wolf and Beckett. Overwhelming pride for the project and all it encompasses for people who hear voices. Maybe, just maybe, alongside the horrific pain the experience can cause, there is a vibrance, passion and creative flare that we can share with the world or simply use to get by.

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Want to see it for yourself? The exhibition is open until the 26th of February 2017. You can find out more here.

School Refusal Is Far More Complex Than Just Truanting

On Thursday I was honoured to be asked to speak to a group of young people who, for one reason or another, are unable to attend school regularly. They meet in a brightly painted bungalow ominously named as home of ‘The Prevention Services’. There were five young people all facing very different issues to do with school- bullying, anger, frustration and fear being the main reasons for not regularly attending. This general anxiety surfaced in the form of long absences and sometimes exclusions.

Talking to the group was great. As someone who had a lot of trouble attending mainstream school because of intense anxiety I knew what I would have wanted to hear in their position. I told them that they may be terrified of school but they should never, ever, be terrified of learning. Hatred of school does not equal hatred of learning, and if you keep learning there is a way through the tangle of school refusal. I hope I was able to be of some use to them.

It was hard to imagine these bright, quirky and talkative young people not thriving in school. We talked about the problems in the school environment; it is too big, with too many people and holds too greater focus on discipline. One young person spoke about anger problems and how in mainstream teachers would rile up the situation more by using discipline rather than redirecting or calming down the rage. Since moving to a specialist unit this young person has access to these strategies and enjoys learning much more. Before the unit they had been excluded a dozen times. Not everyone’s anxiety showed through acting out and anger, for some it caused them to turn inwards- too scared to speak to anyone or walk through the gates.

The young people’s idea of an ideal school was surprisingly achievable. A more college-like setting where staff respected students and vice versa. They would want to be treated as individuals with different learning styles. The classes would be small and with more hands on practical learning. There would be more support because, to my surprise, some of the young people had made it to year 9 without knowing if there was any pastoral care in their school at all.

The project involves making an animated film in order to explain to professionals the miriad of reasons why a young person might not be attending school. This sounds like it couldn’t be more needed. We started styling objects out of plastercine. We made a foreboding looking school gate and a young person contributed a skull on a stick to place next to the gate. Across the table a young person made a plastercine noose. I saw how not attending school could be both a necessity and an agonising decision to make as they are intensely aware of the pressure it puts on their families. They feel immensely guilty and sad. At the end of the session taxis pulled up to take the young people back to their education providers. One young person who had pre-arranged to go home instead due to an injury went wide eyed:

“Is that taxi for me? I won’t go. I’m not going. I can’t.”

“They’ll kidnap me.”

School refusal and low attendance is not straight forward. These are not ‘bad kids’. They have anxiety, precarious home lives and aren’t equipped with strategies to get through. School adds steam to the pressure cooker. School refusal is far more complex than many would believe.

“Young People Hearing Voices; Suffering, Inspiration and the Everyday.”

I’ve blogged already about the ‘Listen Up!’ workshops for young voice hearers which I was lucky enough to take part in. All the young people from workshops previous met for one last time in Durham to finish their pieces ready for exhibition. Without further ado, these amazing pieces can speak strongly for themselves…

A small wooden box has a white plastercine figure stroking a cat. The back of the box is decorated like a garden. In the sky it reads 'Bring me to Reality'

Black letters on a white poster reads: Just Go And Get Your Facts Straight

Black letters on a white background read:

On a white background the outline of a head is in black. Inside in black letters are the words:

A purple background has many many circles in yellow, green and lilac. They cluster towards the centre where there is a white clearing. In the clearing is one single black dot.

On white paper in red bubble writing is 'Everyone has a unique story.'

Three boxes, one larger one filled with colourful circles has a circle of green fabric dolls in front. A bubble coming out of one doll reads

A girl's head in shades of blue. She looks non expressive. Coming out of her head are splashes of colour and three birds flying out. Inside a blue box are several dolls. They are white and black splattered, The one at the front of the group is looking out with big dark eyes. The box is wrapped in purple thread so it is like a thick cobweb on the front.
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Thank you so much to the Wellcome Trust and Hearing the Voice for giving time and space to simply be.

The finished pieces and more will be on exhibition from the 5th of November at Palace Green Library, Durham University.

Listen Up! Workshop #2- Pieces and Reflections

You might have seen my previous blog where I expressed my joy at going to a creative workshop especially for young voice hearers.

I was absolutely over the moon to get an email saying that due to the high demand there would be one more workshop at Art Link Leeds.

The amazing Mary Robson came prepared with canvases and mirrors to make one of the ideas from my book into a piece of art. I was (with safety precautions taken) given a mallet and some mirrors to smash.

On the first canvas I wrote in between the glued on shards a Groucho Marx quote: “Blessed are the cracked for they let in the light”. I have always found this a really inspiring quote- no matter how damaged or cracked you get in this world, the light will still come through.

The second piece was more personal. My reflection (literally) on trauma, illness and affirmation.

“The pieces stay together because they have to. They don’t work together quite the same though. We are all still me, we just got splintered into other things too.” 

It was great to meet up with Rai, Mary and the two other participants again. Smashing mirrors was highly therapeutic; and I’ve decided it isn’t bad luck as it is for creative purposes! Next stop- the exhibition in Durham!

A Creative Workshop for Young People Who Hear Voices or See Visions

If you read my last post you will know that recently I have been on a mission to find other people, particularly young people, who see visions and hear voices like I do. It was while googling for voice hearing and the arts that I came across Hearing the Voice. It just happened that in browsing the site I found that they have been running workshops in order to create an art exhibition called “Hearing Voices: suffering, inspiration, and the everyday” at Durham University. They are aiming to create two cases for the exhibition- one of young people’s experiences of voice hearing and vision seeing and another of what young people would like others to know about these experiences. All of this will be portrayed through the arts.

So to Leeds I went and (joyously dodging roadworks) I arrived at Artlink. The two co-ordinators were lovely ladies; Mary Robson (a creative facilitator) and Rai Waddington (who has experience of voice hearing and provides training on the subject). There were also two other young participants and, funnily enough, one had travelled all the way from my home city! The other two girls had also been to the workshop previous but were incredibly welcoming. The group started with a discussion on what hearing voices is like and the unhelpful things people have said to us as voice hearers in the past. The notes speak for themselves.

"Aren't they just imaginary friends that never went away?" Don't use the fact I hear voices to back up your beliefs. They've got sanity around them like a bubble, they don't get as hurt as we do. "Oh we all have a voice inside our heads!". "You'll never have children".

"You're mental" "Just ignore them" "Have you tried eating kale?" Voice hearers don't always do what the voice is telling them. When you are really hurt by people you just talk to the voices and do what they say. "It's like Butlins but bonkers". "Voices don't change who you are". You are just attention seeking.

What really stuck out to me during this discussion was how little people understand us. How we are constantly having to explain ourselves or even defend ourselves. Whether it is an underestimation of our ability, a snide comment or an off hand ‘suggestion’- people’s responses can really hurt. To talk to strangers who experience the same as me was amazing and hearing someone else say that they know what it is like for reality to not make sense at all sometimes was extremely validating. To meet complete strangers yet share such personal experiences is a very powerful thing.

I believe arts can change everything for people with mental health problems and I believe it fiercely. This belief grew when I saw the things people had produced when given the materials. Mary provided everything under the sun you could possibly need in a creative flurry- wooden boxes to decorate, tiny blank faced cloth dolls, sharpies and stencils. We were also given a brown scrapbook each. Later Mary said: “These aren’t just books, they are time and space to create and simply be”. How true that is. The fact that this lovely book had been gifted to me by these lovely people, who know and understand that I’m this misfit person that the arts can soothe, was amazing. So for the next two hours we all worked on our books, drawing and writing poetry about our experiences.

The workshop was amazing. I could have stayed there forever and I cried several times at the pure ‘wow’ of it all. There was chance to talk to the lovely Rai 1:1 and her story is living testament to the fact that people who hear voices can still fly high. I’m likely going to meet with Mary again to turn one of the ideas in my book into a physical piece of art. Everyone in the group is planning to go and see our work at the final exhibition at Durham in September. I’m so glad that I found this project, purely by chance, in time to take part. I am however intensely aware that these opportunities are few and far between and for every person who found the workshops there are many more who did not.

We need more places like this. Places where you can be with people who understand you and who share a common interest in creating. The work we did as a group had an impact on us all and I think the session was a real game changer for me. I feel stronger than ever before that having access to the arts can help people with mental health problems. I am certainly going to find a way to fight for this for everyone who needs it.

An Obsessive Compulsive Conference

Yesterday I had the joy of going to OCD-UK’s national conference. I found out about it completely by chance during OCD week last month. The conference was in my nearest city, York and I didn’t know what to expect. Maybe a lot of anxious-looking people talking about what makes them anxious.  A bit like the poem ‘anxiety group‘ by Catalina Ferro. But It wasn’t like that at all. The people looked and acted normal and were, by all accounts, lovely. During my time at both my CAMHS units I was always the one who had OCD- or OCD had me. It was my primary diagnosis and the one that had dropped me into the white-walled rabbit warren. None of the other patients really understood my condition as nearly all of them were there for depression. It was lonely.

So for the first time I was surrounded by people just like me. As the fantastic Ashley Fulwood, CEO of OCD-UK, told me: “Today you are normal!”. The speakers were fantastic and I was particularly moved by Ian Pulestone-Davies’ honest and humorous account of being an OCD warrior and actor. Ian plays Owen from Coronation Street, so I made sure I got a picture! He was also pretty keen to help out with my various creative adventures so watch this space!


I attended the teen workshop where there were a small gathering of young sufferers and their parents. We mostly played ‘who has ever’ which could best be described as a drinking game involving swapping seats rather than slugging down ethanol. “Who has ever… Had a hand washing compulsion?”, “Who has ever been hospitalised?”: this simple exercise made me see I wasn’t alone. As a group we also also created these fab images of our ‘OCD bullies’. I paticularly liked the one that has been viciously scrunched up!  The talks and workshops were all recovery based. At times I felt a little sad because I feel that my recovery from OCD is hindered a lot by EUPD. Where generally exposures are the way forward for OCD recovery, EUPD means that an exposure can quickly put me in a very dangerous place mentally. It’s why I’m currently not receiving any CBT or ERT from my community mental health team as they try to stabilise me. I wish that my conditions didn’t make a horrific montage of confusion in my head.

It was great to be around people who properly ‘get’ OCD. It was fantastic to air some of the pent-up frustration from every chat that someone says they are “so OCD” for checking their hair straighteners are turned off. Anxiety keeps us alive- it makes sure we check the straighteners so we don’t die in house fires. That’s what anxiety is supposed to do. OCD is when you have to do the same thing again and again to momentarily lift the all encompassing fear. Recovery is possible- but it’s hard. There is no cure. You just have to fight for your life. Days like today make me think I can do this. Watching Ashley lick his shoe made me desperate to get there. I’m determined.

Project Wormwood

There is nothing that I could be happier to receive than a project; something to get my teeth stuck into and to keep me focused when life gets blurry.

When I first arrived at *Cheery Lodge they told me that they had a storytelling workshop based around fairytales. I was angry and fought against going. My feeling was that they were tipping ‘happily ever after’ into us along with Prozac and so I said no and asked for therapy. There is no such thing as happily ever after. 

The next week however boredom got the better of me and I decided to go along. It was then that I met Cath Heinemeyer, a PHD student and storyteller. Though I was aware that fairytales outside of Disney aren’t all rainbows and fairy dust; I had certainly never ventured into traditional folk tales or the shadowy world of The Brother’s Grimm.

The process started with a very strange story called ‘Wormwood’ by Italo Calvino. It is the story of a woman who started life as a baby left to die under a wormwood bush. Wormwood is controlled entirely by other people and their actions. I became enthusiastic about the story quickly and after hearing retellings and the original several times I was wanting to work with it more. Cath had asked everyone in the first storytelling workshop to write a poem from different characters to Wormwood and her responses back to them. We soon had poetic conversations between characters that varied hugely in style and warmth.

Cath then asked myself and another patient to continue working on the story with the aim being to perform at a local festival celebrating arts and mental wellbeing. We met several times in various cafés and bookish environments- pouring over many sheets of paper and fine-tuning the tiny threads of each relationship within the story. Week by week we worked together to make the story into a script, which would later become our performance. I felt a connection with Wormwood and after looking through my poems I found some that I hoped would bring emotion to the character that we knew very little about.

In the end it was just Cath and I who did the performances. We were aided by the little hand sewn puppets we created and we also had the fantastic input of a local theatre director. The audiences for all three performances were fantastic and listened throughout. Many admitted that they found the story strange but fascinating.  

I particularly loved to get feedback from those who had experience of mental illness themselves and hearing that they could connect to my poetry was amazing. It was the first time I had every performed my poetry live, and it certainly won’t be the last. I got a real buzz from it. The poems I used were ‘I am Exhaled’ and ‘We’re All Rare Anyway‘ accompanied by my letter to mental health professionals.

There were so many amazing things going on at the Love Arts festival that it was impossible to choose what to attend. So many people were there with so many links to mental health and the arts. I am so very honoured to have been a part of such a project and I am so gateful to Cath for the opportunity, and of course to all those who came to see us perform on some of the hottest days of the British summer!

At the end of the performance I repeat a line from We’re all Rare Anyway and tell the audience that they are all the most beautiful of creatures. It is at this point a basket of slightly battered apples get passed around with little tiny things to decorate them with and birth certificates. You can tell that these apples were made by very arty folk!


Now then… What next?!

Hear us Roar – Right Not a Fight

If you have been following my musings for quite some time you may remember that I had the pleasure of attending the Natspec Student Conference way back in December.

Since then Natspec’s campaign to give choice to young disabled people in education has grown into a rather stunning campaign called ‘Right Not a Fight’.

The title (of course) is referring to the battle which many young people have to go through before they can gain funding to get into specialist colleges. I loved the december conference and I was honoured to be a part of the group which coined the phrase ‘Right not a fight’. On tuesday I headed out with a group of students from my college to the capital to take part in a protest with Natspec outside parliament.

The day started bright and early and myself and friend T found ourselves to be the only two students to travel the four hour journey in the car rather than the minibus with the others. The minibus goers bided us farewell and began the journey, while staff member and driver K was still contemplating where on earth we were going to put the umpteen lunch bags we had been left to transport. Encased in egg sandwiches with a distinct absence of cool bags on one of the hottest days of the year, we were off.

Within college, marketing is somewhat a mystical department. We see very little of the staff there apart from when they appear at college events to snap a few photos. With only a vague idea of where they actually worked on the campus it was really nice to get to know K and L. We had some crackers of conversations on the long drive down including; comedy nose breaking, mockery of Nick Clegg’s tweet announcing his love for apple crumble and a lot of staff/student myth busting.

It’s relatively rare that staff find themselves trapped in a vauxhall with a dog, two students and many heat festering sandwiches so K and L appeared to use it as a student/staff ice breaking exercise. As the hours ticked by myself and T kept a close eye on a very suspicious looking cheese and pickle sandwich that in the heat appeared to be haemorrhaging chutney- it was our version of a barometer throughout the day.

On arriving in London and being presented with our ‘Right not a Fight’ t-shirts we went in search of a cafe and a toilet. To get accessible facilities we ended up going through airport-like security to use the ones in the House of Commons. We felt very privileged, and in the Foyer I met a group of small children who asked me if Noodle the Guide Dog was an MP. “Yes she is” – I replied with a smile. Apologies to the parents who likely later had to explain to their child that dogs, bow-tie wearing or not, cannot be members of parliament.

We were meeting on Old Palace Yard, Westminster and though we were strictly prohibited from using ‘Noise Producing Objects’ myself and T decided to take the risk and bring out our ukulele and Guitar. If I was to be asked previously what I thought the first time I performed in public would be like, I would have never have guessed it would be singing ‘Roar’ along to my ukulele in front of the House of Commons. Several MPs popped over the road to see us, and now that the noise rule had been well and truly demolished the group began to chant too. Other colleges who are members of Natspec were there also and it was lovely to catch up with people from the December conference and meet new friends too. My personal highlight of the day had to be meeting a charming young man called L who I communicated with through Makaton. I have been learning makaton since september, but this was the first time I had used it in real life. He was lovely and even told me about his pet cat.

Many photos, videos, chants and renditions of ‘Roar’ later we were back on the road. It did feel like we had been travelling for an awfully long time for just an hour and a half protest, but it was completely worth it. On the way back myself and T reflected on what our college has done for us, and how close the campaign is to our hearts. L and K joked that they should have had a dictaphone running to take quotes from us. Overall it was a fantastic day and I of course will be supporting Natpsec 100% as this campaign flourishes.

Myself and T playing our instruments and singing  The campaign group of all the students from different colleges and the staff


Then I did the YMCA with the Ladyboys of Bangkok…

To The Staff Members Whom It May Concern,

I am writing on behalf of myself and the other theatre-goers within the college. You may not have heard of us, we are one of the quieter clubs. We have only four permanent members including myself, and our theatre-going (up until last night) consisted of only one outing.  We meet in my common room, the one on the ground floor to the right of the picnic bench. It is here that once a term we rifle through the pages of theatre catalogues, feverishly starring and ticking ones of interest, occasionally mocking and discussing the ones which are not. We often have biscuits, sometimes they have fillings, but we always have ancient fully decarbonated fizzy drinks from the PSO office. It’s compulsory.

This was my second time at the theatre-goers circle. I hadn’t been aware that it was taking place that evening and by chance (in my pyjamas at four o’clock in the afternoon) I stumbled across them. The group had expanded to include several more students and thus they began to read. I don’t know what is going on in Hereford Sir/Madam, however there was a clear theme to the theatre’s offerings. “It will have your legs knitted in sexual tension”- one show’s description read, whilst others broadcasted the similar messages. Then there were The Ladyboys of Bangkok. Now I must admit that by this point I had began to slump, however my ears pricked up when I heard the name. Half way through the description I am sold. “We have to go!”. So to the rest of the group I told how it would be fun, how it would be a laugh, how it would be a good night out. The girls were all for it, they took hardly any persuading. Then a quiet voice from the second sofa, the one nearest the sleeping television, spoke. One singular male student had reluctantly agreed to come.

Now of course the event which our group had agreed on and underlined in the programme was hardly what the staff were expecting. C, who organises such things, tentatively said that she may have to ask you Sir/Madam first before booking the tickets. This was to avoid us attending an event which was possibly ‘inappropriate’.  It was at this point that I pointed out that if our request was denied I would simply write a letter to you explaining that we were disappointed to have been denied access this expressive form of dance created by the thai transgender community, and how surely not allowing us to attend such an event is an equality and diversity issue. But luckily for you I am writing this letter instead.

The night came and we found ourselves occupying seats on the first and second row, directly in front of the stage. As we took our seats there was an apprehensive vibe in the air. The locals were not knowing what to expect, some were there for the spectacle and some were there to ease their itching curiosity. The rest of the audience must have been mildly confused when seeing a group of young people with canes heading to the front row of a dance show, but it is 2014 after all and it is about time we broke some disability stereotypes. Music blared and the lights dimmed. Our group of five blind people and two staff members were sitting together. I was sitting alongside two of my good friends who are unable to see at all. Given my prime position and the lighting on the stage I was actually able to see a fair amount, so throughout the show I gave a running audio description to these friends. In doing so however I did have to lean in very close to the stage which likely made me look like a mildly dodgy and over-keen punter.

The performance was amazing and the cast of sixteen did an amazing assortment of miming, acting and dancing. They had elaborate costumes and the comedy sketches were unfalteringly hilarious. The apprehension I had previously felt from the audience appeared to have drained away and they were almost instantly in awe. Interval came and the public filtered in and out of the auditorium filling their glasses and emptying their bladders. Meanwhile our group joined a queue to have our picture taken with the Ladyboys. At five pounds a picture it was very dear, but it is a good memento of an excellent night all the same.

The second half was just as entertaining as the first and we were singing and dancing along with the tunes. When ‘YMCA’ began to blare out of the speakers the auditorium came to life. There was a buzz in the air as people seemingly began to madly gesture the famous letters to invisible deaf giants. It occurred to me that my friends may not understand what was going on, being unable to see the dance party unfolding around us. The letters ‘YMCA’ look very different in braille to how they look in print, and personally I am unsure how one would create the acronym in braille out of body parts. So in each chorus I took a friends hand and showed them how to do it, to their high amusement. It was at this point that one of the cast came running up to our row and gestured for me. He grabbed my hand and before I could really think about it I was on stage, with the ladyboys of Bangkok. This was not my average tuesday night and with the time only at 9:45pm I felt ending up in such a bizarre situation without the aid of alcohol to be quite an achievement.

As I twirled and wirled and made my body parts into giant letters for imaginary hearing impaired giants I thought. I thought about how my body looked and how my body moved. I felt so uncomfortable and I could feel the eyes of the audience on me. I was having a blast, but it was like when you get your bath water just slightly too hot- you can’t work out whether you feel uncomfortable enough to do something about it or not. I am not the most body confident. I never have been. However one thing I did see from the cast was their confidence. Their confidence to be whoever they want to be, and to go out and do what they evidently love despite what others might think. By the end of the night the audience did not feel that they had attended a ‘freak show’ or weird spectacle, they had seen a performance. The performers all looked startlingly wonderful and it was so very easy to forget the difference between what we saw before us and their biologically assigned sex. We saw on that stage that you should live at your happiest and be who ever you want to be.

So it is here that I address you, approving staff member. Thank you for allowing us to go on such a wonderfully diverse and entertaining trip. We had a blast.

Love from,

Student X

Well, Well, Well: We Have a Waitrose.

If you asked me last week what my plans were for today I probably would think for a bit, check my diary, check my calendar and my phone before replying: “Oh just revising”. Revision for my AS Levels appears to have taken over my life. One thing I certainly would not have said was: “cutting the ribbon to open the new Waitrose in town”. But life has its oddities.

Noodle the guide dog lying next to a pile of textbooks, she is looking at an open one by her paws as if she is studying.

As a possibly one-time Waitrose shopper (certainly not a fanatic) I was completely unaware that a massive new branch was nearing the end of its construction in town. In fact, on reading the email asking me to come along with a few others to represent the college, my first thought was: “We have a Waitrose?!”. But sure enough we do.

I met with the other two students and the staff who were going outside at 7:30am. This early wake up was certainly a little painful, but there was a brisk ten minute walk to the shop to brighten us up. On seeing the size of the place I was slightly embarrassed not to have known of its existence- not only was it a ginormous building, it also had an equally humongous new cinema and shopping quarter next to it. The complex is so big that I do not think I can even use my sight as an excuse for not knowing about it. We were met by J, department manager within the branch and then the photo frenzy began. The local press had come along to capture the moment, and we (both guide dogs and humans) found ourselves not knowing who of the people clutching cameras to look in the direction of. The college had been invited to do the honour of opening the store after the chairman of John Lewis came along to a college event with our local MP. It was at that point, whilst standing in the car park holding a green ribbon with the others from my college, that my Principal turned to me and asked if I would like to do the honours. Me. The child who had “Practice using scissors” in her homework diary nearly every week in primary school was now cutting the ribbon to a brand new supermarket. I was honoured to say the least.

Myself, J, R, principal and branch manager outside waitrose. I am holding scissors to a green ribbon.

The city isn’t the largest, nor is it known for being a commercial focal point, so a Waitrose arriving on our doorstep was a big deal. The store was by no means crammed but it was certainly very busy for 8am on a Thursday with people looking adoringly at the cheese counter and admiring the cakes on the many stands. We met the Mayor and Mayoress who described it as a ‘refresh’ for the city. I certainly learnt a lot whilst roaming around the shiny new shop- Waitrose makes a big effort to use local produce, sells Marmalade Vodka and incredibly beautiful looking cakes. After having a look around we all went into the café and had a coffee and were kindly provided with delicious pastries and biscuits. Something which really came across was the absolute passion that the staff have for the company. How it was fair, thoughtful and prosperous. I don’t think I have ever met supermarket employees so proud of their shop. We were told by J how he had been there for 14 years, ever since he was sixteen, and how many people stayed for 20+ years. He rolled off the history of the company; knowing it like the back of his hand. The opening will likely be in local papers tomorrow, but from what I could tell everyone seems very happy with the new addition.

So welcome Waitrose- may your marmalade vodka be riskily breakfast worthy, your cakes be creamy and your staff be always smiley.

Thanks for a fun morning.

A seven layered rainbow sponge cake with each sponge sandwich a different colour of the rainbow.