The blog of BaggieAggie, designer of bags, gadget cases and other fabulous accessories handmade in Wales. Sprinkled with recipes, gardening chat, the odd piece of short fiction, and anything else that inspires (or annoys!) me. So pull up a comfy chair and stay a while.


Thursday, 28 June 2012

Chocolate cures everything...

Quirky Limited Edition fabric Kindle sleeve.

... and no, your bum is NOT big, lol!
I love this fabric, and have already sold two Kindle cases made with it.  As you can see, fun and funky Girl Stuff! is definitely one for the girls!  This quirky Kindle sleeve was relisted in my website shop yesterday, and, as I only bought a small amount of this fabric and it's no longer available, Girl Stuff! is a Limited Edition.
Cool ladies' handmade Kindle case with a difference! 
Fun and funky Limited Edition Kindle case for women.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Seven things you never knew about me...!

BaggieAggie receives The Versatile Blogger award!
And, after reading one thing in particular, you'll wish you still didn't, lol!  Seriously, the reason I've bared all is because I'm immensely chuffed to have received The Versatile Blogger award from the lovely Stef at Jaysmonkey.  (Thank you again, Stef!) To accept it, all I have to do is follow a few simple rules, including the mention of seven random facts about me, so here they are!

1. Cutting my nails makes me feel physically sick.
2. I was Miss Scot Meats 1971.
3. My first date with a showman/escapologist involved watching while he was lowered into a lake - in a coffin wrapped in chains.
4. I've almost drowned twice - once when learning to swim in the local river aged 13, and then in a canoeing accident aged 16. 
5. Part of my second date with the showman/escapologist was spent scantily-clad and strapped to a revolving wooden wheel while he hurled knives at me.
6. OH and I were at school together - and met again 33 years later, through Friends Reunited.
7. Drunken sex once involved a visit to A&E the next day - for the (highly embarrassing) removal of an out-of-reach tampon. 

Moving swiftly on from the gruesome image conjured up by No. 7 (!), another rule is that I must list the rules (so those I pass this award to know what to do):
1. Add the award to your blog.  
2. Thank the blogger who gave it to you.  
3. Mention 7 random things about yourself.
4. List the rules.   
5. Award to 15 bloggers. 
6. Inform each of those 15 by leaving a comment on their blog. 

The fifteen fab blogs I've chosen to receive this award are (in random order):

Please do check them out – they’re well worth a look!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

New Kindle Sleeves and iPad Cases

If you're looking for a Kindle case that stands out from the crowd, then BaggieAggie has them in spades, and in a choice of fabrics so diverse there's bound to be something that will float your boat! And in the unlikely event that there isn't, I'm happy to sail the seven seas till I find exactly the right fabric for your particular Kindle, iPad or similar gadget. Simply send me a message via the Contact page on the website.

Some examples:

Kindle Case

Quirky 'Frogs' Kindle sleeve by BaggieAggie.
Kindle Case

Red 'I Love London' Kindle cover, handmade in Wales, UK.
Kindle Sleeve

Striped padded and lined designer Kindle case, made to order.
Kindle Sleeve

Elegant ladies' Kindle sleeve for those who want Something Different.
Kindle Case

Striking and unusual iPad case in an 'apples' design fabric. Padded and fully lined.
iPad Case

Visit for full details of all these gadget cases and more. :)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Is Sex Really Better Than Chocolate...? (Friday Fiction)

Humorous short story: Better Than Chocolate
I wrote the original version of this humorous short story quite a few years ago, and was lucky enough to have it accepted for publication.  Having resurrected and rewritten it this week, I thought I'd post it here and (hopefully!) give you a good laugh.  Enjoy!


“Yes yes yes!” Sheila punched the air, then kissed the letter repeatedly. Unable to keep the good news to herself a second longer, she snatched up the phone and rang Graham.
   “Sorry,” said his secretary, “your husband’s in an all day meeting. I’ve got instructions not to disturb him unless it’s an emergency.”
   Damn! thought Sheila. She tried her sister’s number, but there was no reply.
   “Blast!” Sheila put down the phone. Who else could she try? Not her daughter – she was sunning herself in Spain. And her friends were in jobs where private calls were frowned on. But she had to tell someone before she exploded. There was always her aunt, but…
   What the heck, Sheila decided. Aunt Hester would be proud of her. And the chances of her ever reading it were zero. She picked up the phone again.
   “Hi Hester, it’s Sheila. How are you?”
   There was a gasp, a brief pause, then a whisper in her ear. “Shirley? Is that really you? What’s it like there, dear? Is it really like the vicar says?”
   Sheila was speechless for a second. Hester, hard of hearing, normally shouted down the phone. And who on earth was Shirley? Then she remembered. Shirley had lived in the sheltered flat next to Hester’s, until she’d passed away last month at the ripe old age of a hundred and two.
   “It’s Sheila, your niece!” she yelled.
   “Sheila!” Hester’s voice flooded with relief. “Why didn’t you say so?” she shouted. “You frightened me half to death.”
   “Turn up your hearing-aid, Hester. I’ve brilliant news – I’m almost a published writer.”
   “Hold on a minute, Sheila – hearing-aid’s playing up again. For a minute there I thought you said you were a published writer, hahaha!”
   Sheila ignored Hester’s guffaws. “A women’s magazine’s publishing one of my stories next month.”
   “Oh…! Oh, how lovely. Which one? Your Woman? Woman’s Monthly?”
   “Er, not exactly... It’s Women’s Whims.”
   “Women’s what…? Hold on, I’ll fetch my pencil.”
   “No, no, don’t worry, it’s not your kind of thing.”
   But Hester had gone. Sheila chewed her nails while she waited, beginning to wish she’d curbed her excitement. This wasn’t turning out to be such a good idea.
   The handset clattered at the other end and Hester was back. “Tell me again, Sheila. Women’s what?”
   “Um, it’s really not your cup of tea. I just wanted to share the news with you.”
   “Don’t be silly. You know I read anything.”
   “Yes, but... it’s a little bit... naughty.”
   Hester roared with laughter. “Sheila, I’m a spinster, not a nun!”
   “Yes, but...”
   “Sheila, I’m proud of you and I want to read it. Now stop stalling, and give me that name again.”
   Sheila gave up. It didn’t matter anyway. Her aunt’s memory was almost as bad as her hearing. She’d have forgotten all about it in a day or two. “Women’s Whims,” she said resignedly. “W-H-I-M-S.”

A complimentary copy of the magazine arrived a month later. Sheila tore off the wrapping and flicked through it in a frenzy of excitement. There it was, on pages nineteen and twenty, complete with photos. Before she could begin to read, the phone rang.
   “I’m at the hospital,” said a familiar voice. “I want you here right now.”
   “Hester? Are you all right?”
   “Now, Sheila!” Her aunt slammed down the phone.
   Panic-stricken, Sheila grabbed her jacket and purse, and dashed down to the bus-stop, praying it was nothing serious. Hester had never been in hospital. What if it was life-threatening…? Since Sheila’s parents had passed away, Hester had been like a mother to her.
   The bus arrived belching diesel fumes. Sheila paid the driver and, once in her seat, took a few deep breaths and began to calm down. Hester had sounded as loud and as well as ever on the phone. If she was seriously ill the warden in her sheltered housing complex would have called, surely.
   The bus dropped her outside the hospital and she hurried inside. There was a shop selling cards, flowers and gifts just off reception. The flowers looked as if they’d been caught in last night’s frost, so she picked up a box of chocolates instead. Dark chocolates with soft centres, Hester’s favourites.
   She gave the receptionist her aunt’s name. The woman ran a finger down her computer screen and shook her head. “No-one here with that name, I’m afraid. I’ll just scroll down again to make sure.”
   From the corner of her eye, Sheila saw a white-haired figure plodding through a set of double doors. “Hester!” She rushed towards her and threw her arms around her, almost dropping the chocolates. But she might as well have hugged a block of wood. A shiver ran through her. She stepped back quickly and looked into her aunt’s watery eyes. “What’s wrong? Are they keeping you in?”
   Hester pushed her aside and turned up her hearing-aid. Her face creased in grief. “Mabel’s dead! And it’s all your fault!”
   “Mabel? Who on earth’s Mabel? I don’t know any Mabel.” Bewilderment always made Sheila gabble.
   Hester was crying now. “You’ve killed her, Sheila!”
   The double doors swung open again, and a young nurse hurried towards them. “There you are, Miss Gillgrass.” She smiled at Hester and took her hand. “We wondered where you’d gone in such a hurry. Don’t you want to see your friend?”
   “No.” Hester wiped her eyes with a crumpled tissue. “I just want to go home and remember her as she was.”
   The nurse looked at Sheila with questioning eyes, then, seeing she’d find no answer there, turned back to Hester. “But she wants to see you. We’ve arranged an ambulance to take you both home, once Mabel’s feeling up to it.”
   Hester stared. “You mean... she’s not dead?”
   The nurse laughed and patted her hand. “Of course not, silly. She passed out, that’s all. She has a pacemaker so the paramedics were right to bring her in. But we’ve checked her heart and it’s fine.”
   “But the doctor said... he said he couldn’t save her...”
   “I think you must have misheard. He said he’d given Mabel an injection to stabilise her.”
   Sheila sighed with relief. “Come on, Hester. Let’s have a cup of tea. We’ve both had a shock.”
   They sat down in the hospital’s cafeteria and sipped sweet tea in silence for several minutes. The colour slowly returned to Hester’s cheeks, and Sheila reached for her hand.
   “What did you mean about me killing Mabel? I don’t understand.”
   Hester smiled ruefully. “I’m sorry, Sheila. It was as much my fault as yours.”
   She nibbled her chocolate biscuit, and Sheila waited, trying to hide her impatience.
   “I’d forgotten all about it, you see.”
   “Forgotten what, Aunt?”
   “Our newsagent said he’d never heard of it but he’d try to get it for me. I forgot all about it.”
   Light began to dawn in Sheila’s confused brain. “Are you… are you talking about Women’s Whims, by any chance?”
   “Of course I am! I was proud of you. But it went straight to our dayroom, along with the daily papers. I’m possibly the only one who hasn’t read it.”
   Sheila’s breath whooshed from her lungs and she grabbed the table for support, afraid she might faint. She visualised the story pages and the photo on the front cover – the one of the hunk wearing nothing but transparent boxers. And she visualised a room full of elderly ladies with weak hearts. Somehow she managed to string together a coherent sentence. “But I thought your own papers were delivered direct to the flat," she squeaked.
   “They are, but I must have forgotten to give my name and flat number when I ordered the magazine.”
   Dear God! thought Sheila, dragging a hand through her hair. Was the newsagent out of his mind? Still, at least it meant her aunt hadn’t read the story; Sheila knew she'd have heard about it by now if she had.
   Hester took another sip from her tea-cup. “I saw the ambulance pull up by the dayroom from my kitchen window and went to see what the commotion was. It was coffee morning so the dayroom was packed. I couldn’t see a thing. Then they brought in a stretcher, forcing everyone aside, and there was Mabel, lying on the carpet.”
   Sheila closed her eyes. Visions of a frail old woman, unconscious on the floor, Women’s Whims open in her limp hand at page nineteen, hurtled into her mind in glorious technicolour. Her dream of being published had been realised, but it was fast becoming a nightmare.
   Hester’s cup chinked against her saucer and Sheila reopened her eyes. Hester answered her burning question before she could articulate it.
   “It was lying underneath her. I saw what it was as soon as they moved her, and stuffed it in my bag.”
   Sheila’s heart plummeted as Hester patted the handbag on the seat beside her.
   “In all the excitement,” continued her aunt, “I don’t think anyone noticed.”
   Sheila decided there was nothing she could do but grin and bear it. “I should have been honest with you from the start, Aunt. I should have told you what sort of magazine it was.”
   But she couldn’t quite pluck up the courage to tell her the rest. Not yet.
   Hester struggled to her feet. “It wasn’t quite what I was expecting. But never mind. Let’s go and see Mabel.”
   Sheila would have preferred not to, but Hester was already dragging her along the corridor towards Casualty.
   They found Mabel sitting on a trolley in a curtained cubicle. Her pale face lit up. “Hester! They told me you were here.” She examined Sheila with interest. “Who’s this?”
   Sheila smiled back weakly. “I’m Sheila Platt, Hester’s niece.” She remembered she was still clutching the chocolates she’d bought for Hester. After a brief hesitation she handed them to Mabel. Hester nodded approvingly.
   Mabel looked pleased but confused. “Thank you, Sheila, but it wasn’t necessary.”
   A blush rushed up Sheila’s neck and into her cheeks like a tidal wave.“It’s the least I can do. Hester tells me it’s my fault you’re here.”
   Mabel frowned. “Your fault…?”
   Hester smiled an apology. “I’m sorry, dear. It’s my fault too – I forgot to give the newsagent my name when I ordered that magazine. Or my flat number. I’m getting more and more forgetful these days.”
   Mabel giggled through her fingers. “Hester Gillgrass,” she whispered, “I’m so glad you did. It’s the most excitement I’ve had in years. I’ll order it myself from now on!”
   Sheila couldn’t stand it any longer. She had to know. “Mabel, did you read the story?”
   “Of course! That’s why I fainted. It’s the most stimulating thing I’ve ever read.”
   Sheila groaned inwardly. She had to get out of there.
   Mabel selected a chocolate, savoured it for a few seconds then swallowed. “Some daft woman on the telly said eating chocolate is the same as having sex – something to do with it triggering the same brain chemicals. What a load of hooey. She should take a look at Women’s Whims!”
   Beads of sweat had formed on Sheila’s forehead. Her heart thudded like a jackhammer and it was getting hard to breathe. She checked her watch. “I ought to go. Graham will be home soon and wonder where I am.”
   Mabel beamed at her. “You get along, dear. We’ll be fine. While we’re waiting for the ambulance, I’ll get Hester to reveal a few trade secrets.” She winked conspiratorially. “A dark horse, your aunt!”
   Hester’s benign expression changed to one of deep suspicion. “What’s going on here...?”
   Sheila hastily kissed her cheek. “I’ll ring you later. Must dash.”
   As she hurried from the cubicle, she caught a glimpse of Hester reaching for her handbag. If I’m very quick, she thought, I’ll be out of here before she finds my story…
   No such luck. As Sheila dashed through the double doors into reception, Hester’s voice boomed down the corridor behind her. “Sheila! Get back here, my girl! Right now!"
   Sheila told herself she really had been incredibly stupid to use that pseudonym. But how was she to know that a friend of the real Hester Gillgrass would read Women’s Whims…?

© Rosie Rose 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012

A Brand New Honeysuckle for Small Gardens

A brand new honeysuckle - L. japonica 'Princess Kate'. Named after the Duchess of Cambridge.Before this wet and wild weather hit South Wales with a vengeance, I cut down a straggly and very ugly Lonicera Japonica 'Halliana'. About four years old, and against a north-west facing fence behind a Rugosa Rosa 'Hansa', this honeysuckle has never done well. The plan was to replace it with something else entirely, but then I came across a newly-introduced and very gorgeous honeysuckle - L. japonica 'Princess Kate' (pictured left, and named - you've guessed! - after the dazzling Duchess of Cambridge).  A very hardy evergreen variety with variegated leaves of an unusual shape, and pink-tinged yellow flowers, I couldn't resist! Plus, it grows to a height and spread of only 7 feet, so is perfect for smaller spaces.

OH isn't convinced it'll do any better than the deceased 'Halliana', nor is he convinced that it will be fully evergreen, but I've decided to plant it a few feet away from the old honeysuckle site in the hope that extra light and sun will do the trick.

But before I can put my gardening hat on again, I'll need to wait for the weather to calm down. I was out in torrential rain and 70mph winds earlier, picking up blown-over apple-trees in pots from the deck and anchoring them to the balustrade. I'm still drying out now! So until it improves, I'll be searching for a Clematis Montana to grow up the trees in the hedgerow at the bottom of the garden. Gardening online isn't quite as therapeutic as the real thing, but it's a close second!

Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Farewell to Folksy and a Mega Rant...!


1. Like most sellers, I joined Folksy because it markets itself as ‘British handmade’ and I had no reason to believe this wasn’t true. Imagine then the shock of discovering that Folksy allows British designers to have their items made abroad, and always has done. There is no mention of this anywhere on the site, and only came to light in a recent Q&A session.  When pressed to explain what exactly was meant by ‘only in small batches’, we were told no more than one hundred. One hundred! And as there is generally only one reason to have items made abroad (cheap labour), how Folksy expects UK handmakers to compete, I can’t imagine.  And, more importantly, what of Folksy’s buyers, who will quite rightly have expected their purchases to be British handmade, not made in India or China or elsewhere?  What indeed.

2. Thanks to the big November changes, something went horribly wrong with Folksy’s SEO. I and many other top-250 sellers of 2011 have sold practically nothing since, because Folksy has sunk into oblivion in Google searches.  My own Folksy sales, unlike my healthy website sales, plummeted to almost zero. My emails to Folksy Support were met with the stock answer that they’re using ‘best practice’ and that it’s up to me to ensure I’m doing everything I need to do. My responses (that I am doing everything I need to do) were shrugged off.  Sure, Folksy has now made it possible to relist items and keep the same URL (albeit six months too late!), and this may help. But Folksy’s SEO was superb before the changes, and that was without everlasting URLs.  I had originally planned to wait it out to see if this new feature would indeed make a difference (though, incidentally, it won’t make any difference to shops selling one-off items), but then along came reason number three, the final straw...

3. ‘Gold star’ badges. What, you ask, are they...? Well, as Folksters reading this will know, every couple of weeks or so Folksy admin find an item photo they particularly like and add the shop concerned to the front page as a ‘Featured Seller’.  This is very nice, as it’s free promotion and their shops remain on a ‘Featured Sellers’ list in the public domain for ever.  Unlike some sellers, I've never had a particular problem with this as the Featured Sellers' items aren’t being promoted (via this feature) as better than any other seller’s – it’s simply that they appeal to one person at Folksy HQ. So I’ve been genuinely very happy for selected sellers, and I wish them all the luck and sales in the world.
However, Folksy's decision to ‘reward’ the Featured Sellers (who, remember, have already been promoted for free on the front page, and remain on a special public list for ever) with gold star badges, is so wrong it couldn’t be any wronger! It wouldn’t be quite so bad if these stars were limited to their shops, but they’re not – they show (in the drop down search categories ranged across the top of Folksy’s front page) against every single item they have for sale. This marks their items out (to prospective buyers) as being superior to unstarred items.  Even though your unstarred items may be just as good or better, human nature being what it is, buyers will be swayed by what they perceive as marks of excellence, and may never visit your shop and see your glowing feedback, let alone buy.
Of course, some Featured Sellers during the ensuing debate said they don’t see the problem, but then they would. Some non-featured sellers have also said they don’t see the problem, but if they sell in large categories (with 1000s of items) these stars won’t be nearly so prominent and prevalent, and their sales may remain relatively unaffected. Some have even said they don't care, and, as someone who can’t abide unfairness, and simply wants to see a level playing field for EVERYONE, I’ve been truly shocked by such flippancy and apathy.  And even more shocked by those who chose to rub salt into gaping wounds and shout ‘sour grapes’...! If I was a featured seller, I'd be mortified to find I'd been awarded a star (of any colour) and was therefore putting non-starred shops and items at a disadvantage! Thankfully, these comments have come from only a handful of people, and most are as horrified as me (as my overflowing inbox attests) that sellers in the smaller categories and sub-categories will be adversely affected by this. And they absolutely will. For example, when I first discovered this badging the other day, there were thirteen stars on one sub-cat page alone. Thirteen.  And now that my items in that sub-cat are no longer for sale on Folksy, that number has risen substantially. There is absolutely no way on earth that prospective buyers won’t be influenced by these. Anyone who thinks they won't is being naive.
So if you thought Folksy was a level playing field, and you’re a Folksy seller, think again and add your vote here. (See update below! **) It makes no difference to me as I’ve cleared both my Folksy shops, but it could help you and your fellow-sellers no end.

So that’s it – my main three reasons for leaving Folksy to concentrate on my website. Just a few more points, and I’m done:

To the buyer who seems never to have noticed what and who the Shop Talk forum is for: It says, very clearly, ‘Ask other sellers about what to sell, how to sell and all “shopkeeper” issues.’ In other words, this is a forum to be used solely by Folksy sellers; not by buyers who have no concept of what life is like as a seller, how utterly frustrating and difficult selling on Folksy can be, and how it feels when Folksy gets things so hugely wrong. The sooner Folksy sets up the closed seller forum many of us have been requesting for a very long time, the better!

And to those who continually snipe at and bitch about everyone who makes valid criticisms about Folksy (the company whose wages the sellers pay, dear buyer!) and think the forums should be all cupcakes and candyfloss, I say this: The forums are (or should be) Folksy’s barometer – this is where they see how well (or not) they’re doing, and they should therefore be taking notes rather than locking threads for no good reason.  Most of us began such threads to instigate debate, because we cared that Folksy should be a successful selling platform, and a happy and viable one on which to work.  If you prefer to be apathetic and play tiddleywinks in the background while others use their valuable time to get involved in important debates, that’s fine. But don’t you dare criticise people for merely trying to make Folksy a better and fair place for everyone – including you.

Finally, huge thanks to all those who so generously supported my Folksy shops, who helped with the terrifying techy stuff (!), and, last but not least, to those who took the trouble to send messages and emails of support and thanks regarding the disgraceful badging issue. I haven’t replied to all of you yet, but rest assured I will. :)

** UPDATE  It's official - despite one of the largest votes ever, Folksy has 'declined' to take your views on board (and closed the voting), and those gold stars will not only remain, but it seems that other similar badges will be added to other sellers' shops and items, putting those without badging at an even bigger disadvantage:
(No Status) -> Declined
Thank you for your contribution to this feature request.
We have no plans for removing the marker for Featured Sellers.
However we are planning to introduce other ways for Folksy designer-makers to be featured and promoted on the site (other than editorial ones).
Folksy Support