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  1. I grew up in a strictly soap-only family. Just the one bar of soap between the four of us. This greige soap was used for months until it dwindled into a few dirty-looking, hard pieces of soap on the edge of the sink. There was no distinction between hand soap and body soap - it was one soap fits all for us Rowes. The soap even came away on holiday with us in one of those natty plastic soap holders - remember those?!

    When I was growing up in the 80s, shower gel was the new kid on the soap block. My mum, always very suspicious of ‘new things’, viewed it as new-fangled, over indulgent and completely unnecessary. Mum was an ethical consumer before the term had ever been spoken or heard. She would always question what had been done to something to ‘improve’ it. Mum never liked perfume or perfumed products and everything in our house had to be fragrance free. (We didn’t own a microwave and she wouldn’t let us have our feet measured with those electric machines in case of radiation!).

    As teenagers this caused a great deal of consternation and eye-rolling from my brother and I. While my friends were busy spraying themselves liberally with the perfumes of the 80s; Eternity, Anais Anais, Samara (I can almost smell them now), I had to wait until I was out of the house before application, otherwise mum would have a coughing fit.

    Why couldn’t we just be a normal family?!

    After leaving home and indulging in as many fully scented, brightly coloured shower gels (and other beauty products) as I could get my hands on, I finally reached the conclusion that shower gels just didn’t wash as well. They always left a residue and the smell was often overpowering (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree afterall).

    Fast forward a few years (or 20) to family life, and I find myself back in the soap corner, although hubby does still favours the lather-tastic shower gels (he only considers himself clean with at least 3 inches of foam over his entire body). The children insist on having their own soap and get very cross if they see me using it, at which point I regale them with the hardships of growing up in a family where it was one soap fits all!

    I had always been under the assumption that soap is better for the environment but was rather disappointed to discover that, as well a host of other chemicals, almost all soap contains Palm Oil (as does Shampoo, Ice Cream, Lipstick, Margarine to name a few). The growing of palm plantations is the leading cause of the destruction of rainforest across the world and is driving wildlife species to the brink of extinction. Since this discovery I have hunted high and low for Palm-free soap in the supermarkets and high street stores - it is pretty much impossible to find.

    My search led to the discovery of our newest supplier at The Wise House, Nathalie Bond Organics. Natalie wanted to stop using beauty products packed with synthetic chemicals and so developed a natural range of soaps with 100% natural and certified organic ingredients.

    Nathalie Bond Organics Soap Nathalie Bond Organic Soap

    These soaps look the business; simple, elegant packaging unveil to reveal a soap visibly full of natural ingredients; like Peppermint & Eucalyptus or Rose Geranium and Patchouli. Clay is added to give the soaps a silky, luxurious texture and they are really gentle on your skin (I almost felt like taking a bite out of one the smell is so divine).

    Nathalie Bond Organic Soap  Nathalie Bond Organics Soap 

    It’s the first soap I have felt confident using on my face too and my husband even uses it on his hair. Yes, you heard right, my HUSBAND is using soap! He was so attracted by the look of the new soap sitting in the shower tray that he actually bypassed the bright blue Radox bottle! Miracles will never cease...

    It looks like we are now carrying on the family tradition of being a Soap family. A Palm Oil free soap family at that. I urge you to give these beautiful soaps (and lip salves) a try for you and your family.


    You can see the full collection of soaps and lip salves here. Leave a comment below the blog post on the website as to why you would like to try one of our new soaps. Our favourite comment will receive a soap for free.

  2. My children find me embarrassing. Fact. 
    I think I am a cool mum. Debatable.

    I do have an obsession with picking up litter on the way back from the local corner shop. There are always wrappers, bottles and cans strewn across the grass verge and I just can’t seem to walk past and ignore it all, especially as I am so close to home and a bin. This does mean that I can occasionally be seen carrying home empty beer cans. This makes it look like I am boozing in the middle of the day on the street with my children in tow. Yes, embarrassing.

    However, last week I managed to turn litterpicking into a fun activity for the children and their friends, with the help of some natty litterpicking pincers from our lovely neighbour, Pat. It was a dull old day and the children had exhausted all indoor activities. I noticed that the pincers had featured in one of their imaginary games, and so lightly suggested that perhaps we could go round the local park and use them to pick up litter.

    I channelled my enthusiasm towards my friend’s lovely daughters, Bethan and Jess, who not only didn’t roll their eyes at me (in the way that only disengaged offspring can) but in fact took on the idea with great excitement! Thus Will and Rose jumped aboard, a plan was formed, and we set off armed with pincers and a black dustbin bag.


    Before we had walked 10 metres we spotted our first piece of litter. There was a moment of anticipation and excitement as Jess put the pincers to work, followed by a cheer as she deftly dispatched the litter into the bin bag. It was an unexpected moment of joy and laughter (and I’ve never been so pleased to see a piece of litter)!


    Onwards to the local park, picking up litter as we went. This focused group didn’t even look up as we passed the swings and slides. We were on a mission. Shortly, we came to our first hedgerow thoroughfare and our first real cache of litter.


    What is it about dense hedges and woodland that entices people to dump their litter there? At this point the children were both excited and appalled in equal measures, with lots of exclamations along the lines of ‘how could they?’ ‘why do they do it?’. We cleared up as best we could (which included me getting caught up on branches in a bid to get that last bin bag containing mystery items). We now had ourselves a proper stockpile.


    It was good news walking through the nature reserve which was fairly litter-free (aside from the inevitable dog poo in bag hanging from a branch - another new and strange behaviour adopted by us humans!).

    We then cut back across the rugby pitch. All of a sudden the children were running in all directions; there was rubbish everywhere! We found mostly discarded water bottles, presumably from spectators and players, as well as the usual junk food wrappers. I have noticed this kind of behaviour at my son’s football events, people seem to think it is okay to leave behind coffee cups and drinks bottles at events, presumably expecting someone else to clear up for them?

    We swept the field SAS style and left it much cleaner than when we found it. Very satisfying indeed.

    We trudged home with a black sack full of rubbish and our walk had covered only around 1.5 miles. The children were proud of themselves; it definitely opened their eyes to the collective effects of people dropping litter. Jess then told us a story about her eccentric grandmother (she was called Grandjan - grand Janet!) who had an obsession/disgust about littering and would always come back with a handful from wherever she had been (kindred sprirt?!).


    I do have a bit of a reputation for sitting on the fence in many conversations (I like to call it pragmatic) but my friends know that there are a few things I do feel strongly about, and littering is one of them. It is sad to see so much being dropped on the streets and in the parks. Our world is a much healthier and more beautiful place without litter in it. Unfortunately nature often takes the brunt of the negative effects.

    The other day, Rose called me in to the lounge to watch a feature on Blue Peter in which they were taking part in a Beach Clean in Whitley Bay organised by the Marine Conservation Society. There was one story that really shocked us - a dead Minke Whale, a whale native to our UK waters, was washed up onto the beach. When scientists dissected it they found 800 grams of rubbish inside its stomach - that is a huge amount! Whales, turtles, seals and other sea life are eating the rubbish in the sea and it is making them very ill, and eventually killing many of them. Here is the feature, showing all of the amazing work that the Marine Conservation Society to help clear up our coastline:

    Almost two thirds of us are litter bugs, according to a survey by Keen Britain Tidy, with only 28% admitting to dropping their rubbish. According to The Metro, £1bn is spent a year on collecting litter, money that comes out of council tax. Samantha Harding, manager of the Stop the Drop campaign outlines how this money makes only a small dent in the amount of rubbish being dropped, ‘The billion pounds doesn’t mean you look around and we’re spotless - we’re only barely getting on top of it and we’re wasting a billion pounds’.

    Street cleaning budgets have also been cut across the country, so we can’t rely on someone else to clean up our mess (a rather selfish mentality in the first place). We have to take personal responsibility, dispose of our own litter and be part of our community by picking up litter on our own streets. All you need is a bag and a pair of gloves or pincers and off you go!

    I'm hoping the children might now think I am a bit cool for picking up litter! They definitely think it is very uncool to drop it…

    Resources - a website for people who want to get involved and do something about litter - Marine Conservation Society