150 Years of John Lewis

Fun celebrations and a new range a celebrate landmark anniversary.


Which will you choose – John or Lewis?

150 years of John Lewis


To celebrate the 150th anniversary of a business that has grown from a humble draper’s shop opened in 1864, to the £4 billion international, award-winning business it is today; John Lewis Cheadle is pleased to announce plans for a series of commemorative events.

Kicking off on 3rd May, the shop on Wilmslow Road, will host a number of activities such as:

  • Children’s treasure hunt
  • Facepainters
  • Balloon modeller
  • Live music

As part of the 150th celebrations John Lewis will be working in partnership with Barnardo’s. John Lewis Cheadle has chosen to support the Benchill Sure Start Children’s Centre in Wythenshaw.


Exclusive anniversary range


Collaborating with some of Britain’s most loved brands and designers, John Lewis Cheadle are offering in store and online a carefully edited collection which has been produced exclusively for the anniversary.

The electrical department has teamed up with the iconic Henry Hoover brand to offer the opportunity to buy  a John or a Lewis Hoover, and in the Home department their own design studio is paying homage to the brand’s design history by taking key heritage prints from the archives and using them on new modern products. ‘


John Lewis heritage teapotJohn Lewis 150 anniversary cushion


National events

The week will also see the launch of a series of national events, including a fantastic roof garden for it’s Oxford Street store in London.

Working with Tony Woods, Royal Horticultural Society National Young Designer of the Year, and John Lewis’ own gardeners, one of the capital’s largest urban rooftops has been transformed.


John Lewis Oxford Street Roof Garden


Competition time



To celebrate 150 years of John Lewis, we’ve got a John or a Lewis Hoover to give away to one lucky reader.


John and Lewis Hoovers

They retail at £129.95 so this really is a fantastic prize (you can read the product details here).

All you need to do is leave a comment in the box below telling us whether you’d rather have a ‘John’ or a ‘Lewis’ Hoover and why.

Me – It would have to be Lewis after the author of one of my favourite children’s books, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: John Lewis


By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Tuesday 6th May 2014.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Tuesday 6th May 2014. The winner will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions and loquax. If you are a lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.


Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

MINILAND Manchester – win a family day pass to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester (6th November 2013). Winner Andrea Lloyd.

New trends Christmas decorations – win a John Lewis Christmas 2013 teddy (11th November 2013). Winner Rachael Barratt.

Luxurious home products – win a throw from Linen Loft (15th November 2013). Winner Chris Fletcher.

Personalised Christmas Gifts – win a personalised mug from Photobox (18th November 2013). Winners Katrina Steward, Nicola McConnell.

Bathroom makeover – win a selection of pamper products (14th January 2014). Winner Georgina Jacobs.

Travelling with Kids – win Cryin Air travel packs (22nd January 2014). Winner Lily Bowers.

Farmhouse Breakfast Week – win a breakfast hamper (27th January 2014). Winner Janet Rumley.

Easy Valentine Heart Cookies – win heart shape cookie cutters (3rd February 2014). Winner Donna Lawton.

Black Dog branches into fashion – win a designer t-shirt (5th February 2014)

Interview with Rianna Phillips – win a designer mini pouch (11th February 2014). Winner Laura Vitty.

Ethical African Bags – win a BagsandMore demi lune bag and scarf (3rd March 2014). Winners Sandy Hendry and Jenny Miller.

Manchester Fashion Bee – win an Essential Burt’s Bees Kit (11th March 2014). Winner Angela Norton-Kelly.

Home Is In The North – win a Lomas & Lomas lampshade (17th March 2014). Winner Beatrice Henderson.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas – win a Mum’s Mumisms typography print (19th March 2014). Winner Natalie Gillham.

Celebrating National Puppy Day – win a pooch brooch (21st March 2014). Winner Claire Deakin.

Health and Fitness Workshop – win a place on a health and fitness workshop (1st April 2014). Winner Toni W.

Gorgeous SS14 Fashion Trends – win luxury nail lacquer (3rd April 2014). Winner Michelle Wild.

Bonbon Chocolate Boutique – win a luxury box of chocolates and £10 Golden Ticket (8th April 2014). Winner Bonnie King.







Women, industry and WWI

Do you know who the women in these amazing photos are?


I am never going to moan about my lot again after seeing these photos!

To mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, The Imperial War Museum North (IWM North) is marking the contribution that women made to the war effort with a display of six massive photographs in 5m high frames, outside the museum’s entrance.

But while we know who took the photographs and where they were taken (all in the North West), we don’t know who these women actually were!


Women & industry in WWI


A war that changed society for ever


It was ordinary women like these, were plunged into extraordinary circumstances, who helped secure the vote for women. By pitching in and doing what were previously considered to be ‘men’s jobs’, women proved their worth to a male dominated society.


The Photographer


George Parham Lewis, an official photographer of the home front, specialised in documenting heavy industry and photographed women workers in the glass, vehicle and food industries.

In the process he captured women’s vital contribution to the war effort in factories across the North West of England almost 100 years ago. The images now reside in the IWM’s Photographic Archive.


The photographs


Women workers in an Oil and Cake factory having tea, Lancashire, 1918. Oil cakes were used to feed cattle.


GP Lewis photograph from IWM archive. Women, Industry and WWI


Female worker in Charles Macintosh and Sons’ Ltd rubber factory, Manchester, 1918.
GP Lewis photograph from IWM archive. Women, Industry and WWI.

Female glass worker carrying a tube of rolled glass at Pilkington Glass Ltd., St Helen’s, 1918.


GP Lewis photograph from IWM archive. Women, Industry and WWI
Women workers stacking oil cakes at an Oil and Cake factory, Lancashire, 1918.


GP Lewis photograph from IWM archive. Women, Industry and WWI
Women working in an asbestos factory, Lancashire, 1918. Asbestos, now recognised as a dangerous material, was used in many different ways such as in buildings and engines.


GP Lewis photograph from IWM archive. Women, Industry and WWI
Women workers operating a grain elevator at the mills of Messrs. Rank & Sons in Birkenhead, 1918.


GP Lewis photograph from IWM archive. Women, Industry and WWI


Do you know these women?


Can you help us to track down who these women were?

Is it your Great-nan? Great-Great Auntie Edith or distant cousin Maude four times removed? If you recognise any family members in GP Lewis’ photographs, please contact IWM North via twitter @I_W_M (#IWMNorth) or Facebook facebook.com/iwm.north

Let’s see if we can put a name to a face and give these great ladies of the Great War the recognition they deserve.

For more information visit iwm.org.uk/womenandindustryinthefirstworldwar


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Taken by Alison Staples of GP Lewis’ originals,











My top 5 favourite Xmas No 1′s

What would be your Top of the Pops?


If all goes to plan, this evening I’m wrapping all my Christmas presents.

BUT – an operation such as this requires the right sound track (and a glass of sherry).

I’ve had the same Christmas CD for about 10 years now and frankly I’m a bit bored of Slade and Shakin’ Stevens.


Christmas CD
So, I’ve been having a look back at previous Christmas No 1′s to see if I can find something a bit different, and have come up with my top five.

But before I cut to the chase, I have a few little facts for you.


Did you know that …….


The Beatles top the chart when it comes to the most Christmas Number 1′s with:

  • I want to hold your hand (1963)
  • I feel fine (1964)
  • Day tripper (1965)
  • Hello Goodbye (1967)

Of course Paul McCartney had another bite of the cherry in 1977 with Wings and Mull of Kintyre which as far as I can remember stayed at Number 1 for the rest of the year!


In the ’90′s


In the ‘90’s, Christmas bought itself a Union Jack dress and a pair of platforms and belted out a big dose of ‘Girl Power’. With three Christmas Number 1′s – thank you The Spice Girls for:

  • 2 become 1 (1996)
  • Too Much (1997)
  • Goodbye (1998)

It sounds like one of my previous relationships from around that time.


Band Aid


Band Aid have changed their line up more times than the Sugababes, but it didn’t stop them charting at Number 1 in Christmas 1984, 1989 and 2004 with Do they Know it’s Christmas? It’s just a guess – but I think they probably do!




While people across the Commonwealth sit down at 3 o’clock every Christmas to watch the Queen’s speech, she isn’t the only Queen to have ruled at Christmas. In 1975 and again in 1991, rock God’s Queen topped the chart with Bohemian Rhapsody – complete with Beelzebub in his sideboard!


Same Song, Different Artist


The crown for same song, different artist goes to Mary’s Boy Child which reached Number 1 with Harry Belafonte in 1957 and Boney M in 1978.


Are you impressed? I’ve been doing some very in depth research!


Cliff Richard


While at one point in the late ‘80’s if felt like Cliff Richard was Christmas Number 1 every year – he actually only managed it twice (I say only – it’s twice more than I’ve managed), with ‘Mistletoe and Wine in 1988 and Saviours Day in 1990. Though he did manage a cheeky Number 1 in 1960 with The Shadows and I Love You.

And I love you too Cliff, so I guess we can bump you up to three.


Novelty Christmas Number 1′s


We’ve had some stonkingly bad novelty Number 1’s over the years. Who could forget (though I’m sure we’d all love to), Mr Blobby with Mr Blobby (Blobby, Blobby) in 1993, Renee & Renato with Save Your Love in 1982, St Winifred’s School Choir with There’s no one quite like Grandma in 1980, Bennie Hill with Ernie (fastest milkman in the west) in 1971 and Bob the Builder with Can we fix it? in 2000.


Ridiculous Name Award


However the ‘ridiculous name’ award goes to neither Mr Blobby nor Bob the Builder, but Conrad Twitty who was top of the pops Christmas 1958 with It’s only make believe. But unfortunately it wasn’t – that really was his name.


Reality Show Winners


Sadly the ‘noughties’ and I suspect the ‘teenies’ have become very predictable, being dominated by reality show winners – mainly The X Factor.

In 2002 we had Girls Aloud with The Sound of the Underground. In 2005 Shayne Ward, 2006 Leona Lewis, 2007 Leon Jackson, 2008 Alexandra Burke and 2010 Matt Cardle. Only Joe McElderry, Little Mix and James Arthur have failed to make it to Christmas Number 1, pipped at the post by Rage Against the Machine and Killing in the name (after a huge campaign for an anti X Factor 2009 protest vote), The Military Wives with Gareth Malone and Wherever you are, and The Justice Collective with He Ain‘t Heavy, He’s My Brother last year.


Will this year’s Number 1 be X Factor’s Sam Bailey with Skyscraper or something else?



My Top 5 Favourite Christmas Number 1′s


So enough of this preamble – I’ve scoured the list of Christmas Number ones and here are my favourite Top 5.


5. Michael Andrews starring Gary JulesMad World. Christmas 2003 (because it’s so haunting).



4. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman – ‘Something Stupid’. Christmas 2001 (for the sexual chemistry).



3. Winifred Atwell – Let’s Have Another Party. Christmas 1954 (because it reminds me of my mum who was a big Winifred Atwell fan. And because would be rude not to have another party!



2. Danny Williams – ‘Moon River’. Christmas 1961 (last dance at our wedding).



1. Dickie Valentine – ‘Christmas Alphabet’. Christmas 1955 (a good old fashioned Christmas song).



Whatever your favourite Christmas tune – bang it on your CD player / ipod, crack open the sherry, swing your baubles and wrap along.



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples












Turning into your parents?

You swore you’d never do it!


I swore I’d never say some of the things my parents used to say, but recently I’ve had to pull myself up a couple of times. It seems I’m not the only one. Check out today’s blog from Cat who is battling a slippery slope.


Over to you Cat ……

Cat & Sam


Has anyone noticed how more and more websites have started to talk to you as though they are you’re teenage mates?

“Whoops, something went wrong. We’re working on it!” “Okay, you’ve selected option B”.

And does anyone else find it increasingly irritating?


The pinnacle of my irritation came the other day when Twitter blocked my account after some suspicious activity. All credit to them for doing that, but not for the way they greeted me when I tried to sign in: “We’ve temporarily locked your ability to set passwords. Please chillax for a few, then try again”.

Chillax? How old am I, 15? And for a few what? Minutes? Hours?  Elephants? (as one of my teachers used to say). Incensed, I vented my outrage through – another social networking site. “Twitter”, I ranted on Facebook, “you are a social networking site, not my best mate and I am 42, not 15”.

Then I was sharply pulled up.

Amongst the various amused and sympathetic ‘comments’ that followed, up popped our esteemed 4Manchester Women editor Alison:

“Cat, you sound like someone’s nan!”


Horror of horrors I actually did!


Although, strictly speaking, I’m old enough to be someone’s nan, as soon as I became a parent I vowed to never be an embarrassing uncool one like my own parents had been (or any rate had seemed to be at the time). And this got me thinking about excruciating things that my parents and my friends’ parents had come out with in the 80s….

For the most part, these had been prompted by watching Top of the Pops.  Along with the fairly common “Why can’t they sing and not shout?” and (on Boy George) “Is that a boy or a girl?” a few of my particular favourites are:

Frankie Goes to Hollywood“Oh, not that awful Frankie again – I wish he would go to Hollywood!”

 “The Cure?  Well, they definitely need one!” (thanks to my friend Catherine for that one)

And best of all this joint effort by my Mum and Dad on Feargal Sharkey and his post-Undertones band The Assembly back in 1983:

Dad: He looks like he’s just crawled out of a coffin!”

Feargal: “It’s never happened to me, it’s never happened to me….”

Mum: “I’m not surprised!”

Although, as you can see from the video below, they did rather have a point!




It was worse when you were out somewhere


How did parents know to come out with something embarrassing just when someone you fancied was nearby?

Here’s my Gran at a pub when I was 15 and eyeing up a boy on a nearby fruit machine: “Oooh, Catherine, look at the ducks!”.

My best friend wrote me an epistle from her family holiday in 1984, including the cringeworthy moment where her mum and Auntie were looking at swimsuits and kept saying, “Ooh, that’s a gay bathing costume!”.

Meanwhile, another of my best friends was shoe shopping with her mum and hoping to keep a low profile as one of the school bullies was doing a Saturday job in the shop – but hope was dashed when her mum picked one up and bellowed, “Well, Elisabeth, these are a better class of shoe!”

She must have been the inspiration for the Harry Enfield sketch where Kevin’s aunt embarrasses him in front of his best friend Perry in a shoe shop – “Hurry up Kevin, I’m going to WET MY PANTS!”


Small wonder that we vowed not to turn out like our parents


I don’t know about you though, but I’ve caught myself doing just that on more than one occasion already – and my kids are only 6 and 3!

“I want doesn’t get” isn’t so bad, but not knowing what’s in the Top 10 or how to download said songs even if I did probably is.

My husband then adds his two penn’orth (and does anyone actually say this nowadays?) by remarking that everything in the Top 10 is rubbish R & B anyway so why would we want to? And I listen to Absolute 80s Radio and proclaim that it is much better than anything in the charts nowadays.

Roll on the teenage years. I’m either going to end up as excruciating as my parents were, or force myself to get down with the kids for the sake of my children. Not sure which way I’ll swing, so I think I’ll just chillax for a few and come back to it later.

We’d love to hear what YOUR parents used to say – and what you inadvertently find yourself saying now!


Cat x


Photographs: Frankie Goes to Hollywood Wikipedia










Top 10 ways to eat Eccles Cakes

You can’t beat a load of currants wrapped in pastry!


Eccles Cake Festival

Today’s blog was first published last year – but as we’ve just learned that we’re in the midst of The Eccles Cake Festival (7th – 13th October), we felt it was time for another airing!.

Guest writer Sarah Mac is someone with more than a passing yearning for the ‘fly pie’!


Over to you Sarah ……

Sarah Mac head shot on beach in Bermuda.


I saw some Eccles Cakes in the supermarket the other day. Bizarrely, and for reasons that I’ll explain shortly, they reminded me of Bermuda.

I was telling my friend in London about this experience, and her Australian boyfriend made the pleasing observation that towns in the north of England are really good at naming cakes after themselves.


It was hard to argue, really, given that Eccles, Chorley, Kendal and Pontefract have spawned cakes, Bakewell, Manchester and Liverpool have their tarts (leave it…), Chester and Yorkshire have their puddings, and so the list goes on.

Anyway, back to the Eccles Cakes. I have never bought Eccles Cakes in the UK. I have spent much of the last decade living a few miles away from where they originated but not once have I either made or bought them. Then last year, something changed. I spent a year living and working in Bermuda, and when you are 4,000 miles from home for a long period of time you find yourself doing things in order to feel closer to home.

For me, this involved the happy discovery that the Lindo’s supermarket in Bermuda sold a range of imported British goodies, among them Frazzles, Soreen fruity malt loaf and Eccles Cakes. One homesick evening I found myself forking over the equivalent of nearly £7.00 for a packet of the little raisiny darlings, and that, I am ashamed to say, was dinner taken care of!

Fast-forward 10 months, and I am now back in Manchester, once again living just a few miles from the home of Eccles Cakes. Once again, I can’t imagine buying them ever again, unless – bizarrely – I want something that will remind me of Bermuda!

Which made me wonder: how can I make my potential binge-eating of Eccles Cakes into something a bit different? This in turn morphed into a slightly strange conversation with our Editor, Alison. So here, in no particular order, is or Top Ten favourite ways to enjoy an Eccles Cake:


Straight up. Just scarf it down and enjoy the sugar-rush you get from all those squished-up raisins.

With a cheeky glass of dessert wine. Suggested tipples include a smooth Vin Santo (the Italians’ weapon of choice for dipping their biscotti), a classy Canadian ice wine, or possibly a Brown Brothers Orange Muscat, with its sticky citrus notes.

Cracking cup of tea, Gromit. Like the archetypal Little Black Dress there are some things that will simply never go out of fashion, and for me one of those things is a nice cup of tea. Wash your Eccles Cake down with a nice brew and a sit-down. Luckily they come in packets of four: one for when you put the kettle on, one while it boils, one for while you’re waiting for your cuppa to cool to optimum drinking temperature, and then one to have with your brew. (Or is that just me?)

With a slice of cheese. Serving cheese with fruit cake or a fruit chutney is a traditional pairing, so we think that a tasty piece of Lancashire cheese would go down a treat with the sweet, fruity pastry.

Eccles Mess. Inspired by Eton Mess (cream, meringues and strawberries/raspberries) we created a Manc spin on the summer favourite. I was a bit concerned that it looked like a bowl of coronation chicken (or worse…)  at one stage so our esteemed Editor had to do a bit of ‘food styling’ using assorted garden herbs, spices, and plenty of arty lighting and camera angles! The bottom line is that it was quite tasty and makes a quick and comforting store-cupboard pud without the need for any effort or skill in the kitchen:

  • Take a large cooking apple, chop and blitz in the microwave for a couple of minutes until it begins to soften but is still chunky. Add a pinch of cinnamon, ground cloves and sugar/sweetener to taste.
  • Take half a tin of ready-made custard and mix with a small pot of double cream.
  • Roughly chop a pack of Eccles cakes. Stir into the custard mixture, along with the apple sauce.
  • Finish with sliced apples, a dusting of cinnamon and a wedge of Eccles cake to garnish.
  • Experiment with the quantities and ingredients until you find your perfect Eccles Mess combination!

 Eccles Mess ingredients - apples, cream, custard & Eccles cakes

Eccles Mess MixtureEccles Mess with garnish - apple & thyme


Hot and cold. Warm them in the oven for a few minutes and serve with a big dollop of vanilla ice-cream. Try Snugbury’s or the Cheshire Ice-Cream Farm for the full North-West gourmet treat.

Eccles Ice-Cream. Simply chop them up and fold into slightly softened ice-cream before devouring. I think rum & raisin would work really well…

In Chorley. Live dangerously: take your Eccles Cake to Chorley and taunt the locals with the flakiness of your pastry compared to their biscuit-like Chorley Cake cousins.

With cocktails. I know it would be a bit weird, but why the heck not?! (Also, YOU try coming up with 10 ways to eat Eccles Cakes – it’s not as easy as it sounded when I volunteered to write a Top Ten…)

On a beach in Bermuda. I don’t think we’re in Manchester, I mean Kansas, anymore, Toto. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…..


For more information about the Eccles Cake Festival visit visitsalford.info/ecclescakefestival


Sarah Mac x


Photographs: Alison Staples














Hard Rock Couture Exhibition

Where the costumes are as iconic as the artists!


Never in my life did I ever think that one day I’d be standing chest to chest with Madonna’s Jean Paul Gaultier pointy boob corset! Fighting every urge to re-enact the two handed orange juicer impersonation was just the start of it!


Madonna Corset


Before I could say “Thank you – thank you very much” I was humming ‘Viva Las Vagas’ gyrating my hips and attempting to moon walk!

You can visit The Hard Rock Couture Exhibition at The Hard Rock Café Manchester Printworks until 8th September 2013.

We popped down for a preview and were quite frankly a bit star struck! I’m going to leave you in the capable hands of our guest writer Victoria to tell you all about it!


Over to you Victoria ……



There was a magical feeling as we walked up the stairs in Manchester’s Hard Rock Café last Thursday.

Although we were armed with great expectations, we weren’t quite prepared for the fantastic collection of music/fashion memorabilia that awaited us.

We felt really privileged to get a sneak preview of the Hard Rock Couture exhibition which will be in Manchester from 30th August – 8th September.


And of course chat to the world’s favourite and longest serving waitress, Rita – she’s a lady with a story to tell! (Read our interview with Rita here).


Hard Rock Cafe Rita


The collection includes twenty pieces of impressive stage costumes from some of the world’s greatest musicians, plus other associated memorabilia. It ranges from Elvis’s jailhouse rock outfit to Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It’ jacket, Katy Perry’s sequin ensemble, Lady Gaga’s Oscar Lima dress, The Killers’ famous jacket worn by lead singer Brandon Flowers and costumes from Kiss, ACDC, Elton John and lots more!


Hard Rock Couture


You can enjoy taking a trip down memory lane to get an up-close view of some of the outfits of your Rock star crushes, while your kids admire the clothes of their favourite pop stars.

Some say that you can feel the presence of the person who wore the costume. Nothing gave us bigger goose bumps then hearing that a psychic who visited the Hard Rock’s memorabilia store started talking about a feeling in her chest – she was unknowingly holding a piece of John Lennon memorabilia.

Speaking about the contrast between the historic and contemporary pieces, Emma (Hard Rock Manchester’s Sales and Marketing Manager) said: “Everything that’s here is a one off piece so when you see Lady Gaga’s Oscar Lima dress; the thing that you get from it is that they have all been made with love, care and attention.”

What we found to be most interesting about the exhibition was the simplicity of some of the outfits, particularly the older ones and the authenticity that comes with it including patched up knees and general wear and tear as a result of excessive rock and rolling.


Michael Jackson's jacket


The idea behind the exhibition which is travelling worldwide originated from America.

Emma said: “It’s something we’ve never done before but Hard Rock curator Jeff Nolan took a road show around the States of various pieces of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia. The idea was that if you’ve never been to a Hard Rock café before you don’t perhaps know about the memorabilia. So he literally packed the trucks and took it on the road.”

The 77,000 items of memorabilia stored in a warehouse in Orlando were narrowed down to just twenty of the best for this exhibition. I wonder whether Miley Cyrus’ skimpy outfit worn for her extremely controversial performance at the VMA’s will ever make an appearance!

And we almost forgot to mention that the exhibition is FREE with charitable donations to Forever Manchester greatly accepted .

Our favourite piece of memorabilia was the conical Jean Paul Gautier bodice worn by Madonna on her Blond Ambition tour. What is yours?


Victoria x


Photographs: Hard Rock Cafe, Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.











How to organise photographs

Enjoying Memories Captured on Film


Put your hand up if you’ve got old photo albums where the sticky has gone brown. Or shoe boxes full of photos and negatives from distant holidays and family gatherings.

How are you supposed to enjoy them when all they are good for at the moment is taking up shelf space? We need some top tips – and the bank holiday weekend is just the time to get organised!

We’ve got top organiser Amanda from Orderly Office and Home on the blog today to knock our photo collections into shape!


Over to you Amanda ……

Amanda Mason


The main objective of my job is to help Clients achieve their organising goals.

Whether that’s decluttering a room to use the space properly, creating a personalised system for handling paperwork, or helping them to become more efficient at work, their end goal should always be in the forefront of their mind.

This is what will drive a successful decluttering session for them.

Recently I worked with a Client who needed to tackle a huge stack of photographs.


Not that hard you might think?


Old photo


But these pictures belonged to her parents who had died a few years earlier, and it had taken years for her to be in the right frame of mind to tackle them. She needed closure.

All of the photographs from her parent’s home (loose and in frames) were in four large suitcases, and had remained in her bedroom until earlier this year when she felt the time was right. She wanted her space back and knew that anticipated (painful) action had to be taken.

Realising that she was never going to do this on her own, and having followed my Facebook page for a while, she contacted me for a consultation and we arranged a session for this emotional task.

She focused and put things into perspective. The pictures were of holidays, events, memories and a take on life that did not belong to her – but to her deceased parents.

We sorted through piles of packets, envelopes, bags and frames, categorising into decades and events; some pictures as old as the late 1800’s.

It was easier to start on more recent years first; recognising and noting faces, locations, events, and so on. We sorted and removed the duplicates, the blurred or shaky photos, the ‘backs of head’ or ‘finger over the lens’ images, scenic views from holidays she had never been on.

Old photo

It was difficult. Emotions were high whilst we looked through, but my Client chose the ones she wanted to keep.

Once finished, there was a huge pile to be thrown away (photographs can’t be recycled due to the ink), a carrier bag full to be given to a family friend (mainly snaps of their children), another for family members, some for her own children’s ‘memory boxes’ and some to be displayed.

The remainder were set aside to be put into albums or for scrapbooking.

Most importantly, my Client had regained valuable space in her room.


Top tips for organising photographs


  • Got several pictures from the same event? Keep the best of the best. Pass the rest onto friends or family who were there to enjoy it too.
  • Old photographs (especially from the 60s and 70s) can be tiny. Insert them into plastic wallets stuck onto backing paper – you can write down the details of each picture (who, when, where) – and keep them in a folder, or use a traditional photograph album.
  • Lack storage for packets? Use a plastic lidded storage box or sturdy cardboard box, like these from Lakeland to store pictures in groups; holidays, family events, children, etc.


Storage boxes


  • Consider creating a photobook. Take a look at Jessops, Snapfish and even the large supermarkets, where you can scan and upload photos and create albums – ‘Our holiday in Wales’, ‘Jane’s wedding’, ‘baby 0-5yrs’ and so on. In a book, they can easily be kept on a bookcase and looked at often.


photo book


If you feel overwhelmed with an organising task in your home, however small, why not sign up (orderlyofficeandhome.co.uk/workwithme) for my free hints & tips and newsletter?

Clutter drains your energy – and we Manchester women certainly don’t need that now, do we?


Amanda x




Web site: www.orderlyofficeandhome.co.uk

Facebook: facebook.com/OrderlyOfficeandHome

Twitter: @orderofficehome

Phone: 07754 069829      Email: info@orderlyofficeandhome.co.uk



Photographs: LizJones112 on Flickr, Emery Co Photo on Flickr, Archmage01 on Flickr, Amanda Manson

This is a sponsored blog post.


Other articles by Amanda:

New Year de-cluttering tips

Work from home – get organised

Declutter and organise

Introducing Orderly Office and Home











DIY Cock – ups!

I’m not a natural Handy Andy


As someone who is prone to monumental stupidity when it comes to doing practical ‘stuff’, I thought you might enjoy my top five comedy DIY cock-ups!


5. Alternative uses for a butter knife


Butter Knife


The summer of 1989 was spent scraping 75 layers of different coloured paint from the door of a rented house in Oxford – with a butter knife. If nothing else it bought our the completer finisher in me. I then painted the door red – as a gift to the people I was renting it from. All I can say is that there were only three channels on TV in those days.

The butter knife made a re-appearance in the late 90′s when I needed to assemble a futon, but didn’t have a screw driver. So infamous is this episode, that it even made it into my dad’s speech at our wedding.


4. How not to use the scalpel in your school dissecting kit


I have a scar on my right knee (circa 1985) where I slipped while trying to trim the excess rubber from around the bottom of my pixie boot during a bout of DIY cobbling.


3. Toothpaste isn’t sticky enough to replace glue


When I was travelling solo around the world in 2007, I ended up in a hotel in Bangkok which was a bit ……. shall we say …… tired. As I unpacked my toiletries, I dropped my jar of moisturiser into the sink – the bottom of which promptly dropped out. I was horrified! My L’Oreal was responsible for a gaping, fist size hole in the porcelain.

I never realised pentapeptides were so heavy!

My immediate thought was that I was going to be charged for a new sink. But I was a backpacker on a budget. A new sink was equivalent to a trip swimming with dolphins or a jet boat ride. So I did what anyone would do …… well maybe not…. I looked for something sticky. The only thing to hand was my minty fresh toothpaste so I set about grouting the sink back together.


Twenty minutes I stood there, holding my sink together waiting for the tooth paste to set. Which of course it didn’t. As soon as I let go, the sink held fast for all of 10 seconds. Just long enough for me to congratulate myself on my resourceful use of Colgate, before the bottom of the sink fell out again, this time shattering into 1,000 pieces on the floor.

It was at that point I admitted defeat, phoned reception and with much apologising was moved to another room.


2. Shoes make a great hammer


I was living in a rented flat in 1997, when, having watched one too many episodes of Changing Rooms, I decided to flex my interior design muscles and hide the nasty fitted wardrobe with some feminine floaty voile curtains. In the absence of a curtain track I hammered the curtain into the ceiling at regular intervals with the heel of my stiletto.


Shoe heel


What no one told me was that the electrics to the central light ran across the ceiling just below the plaster. All it took was one poorly placed nail and – ‘BANG’ – then blackness.

1. Alison’s DIY guide to cleaning your carburetter


I’ve never been very good at following recipes, so how I thought I was going to follow a Haynes Manual and remove, clean and re-install the carburetter in my Vauxhall Chevette is a mystery.

It was 1994 and my poor car had been spluttering and kangarooing for a while. I decided that action was required.

It all started rather well. Never one to read the instructions, I just went for it and had the thing out in a jiffy. It was just like playing ‘Operation Game’ which I’d always been rather good at.

Unfortunately, when it came to put the thing back, I had absolutely no idea what to do. In my haste to get the thing out, I’d made no mental record of what order to do things or what anything had looked like before my ‘carburetta-dectomy’.

Far too late I resorted to the manual which made no sense what-so-ever, and to make matters worse it had started to rain. I was getting wet.

It only took the offer of cake from my house mate for me to abandon my plan to the rain.

The carburetter stayed on a chair in the dining room (on newspaper of course) for a further three months before I finally admitted defeat and engaged a man to put it right.


Vauxhall Chevette

But those days are a thing of the past. I’ve married a man with a power drill and a fully equipped tool box.
I may be stupid – but I’m not daft!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


PS.Don’t try any of the above unless you want to fry or bleed to death!

Photographs: Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.







1913 Don’ts for wives!

Wifely etiquette for a perfect marriage


It’s tea time – time for me to prove that I’m a domestic goddess by creating a culinary masterpiece for my husband.

I think I have a pizza in the freezer?

Once again it might be time to consult my matrimonial bible – Don’ts for Wives

A hundred years ago, this was the essential guidance that all wives apparently needed to prevent their husband from being displeased with them!

Here goes.


Chapter VIII – FOOD


Don’t forget to ‘feed the brute’ well. Much depends on the state of his digestion.

Don’t talk to your husband about anything of a worrying nature until he has finished his evening meal.

Don’t be afraid of cold meat. Some men like it, but cold mutton has wrecked many happy homes.

Don’t persist in having mushrooms on the table when you know they always make your husband ill. They may be your favourite dish, but is it worth it?

Don’t give your husband burnt porridge.

Don’t let breakfast be a ‘snatch’ meal. Your husband often does the best part of his day’s work on it, and the engine can’t work if you don’t stoke it properly.

Don’t despise trifles.




When two people make a home, the happiness of that home depends on trifles. For instance:

Don’t despise the domestic potato. There are hundreds of appetising ways of cooking it; but unless you take it firmly in hand, it will arrive at table with a consistency of half melted ice – mushy without, stony within. The boiled potato is the rock on which many a happy home has foundered.

Don’t let your husband off carving the joint because he doesn’t like doing it, or does it badly. You have plenty of other things to do, and besides, you don’t want to show him up as a helpless man.

OK, so what I need to do to ‘feed the brute’ is to take a potato firmly in hand, not be afraid of cold meat but to let him carve it so he can feel manly. I mustn’t despise trifles but must stoke his engine!

In the name of marital bliss – I think I can do that!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples

Passage taken from Don’ts for Wives

This is not a sponsored blog post.







My first kiss

Memories from another life


I’m feeling nostalgic today!

Everyone remembers their first proper kiss – and I don’t mean getting caught in the Wendy House in second year infants.



At 17 years old I was a late starter and although I remember the occasion vividly, I’m afraid I never knew his name!

When I was in the sixth form, my friend Emma had a Saturday job in Sainsbury’s. Every other Thursday evening, Sainsbury’s booked Cinderella – Rockafella’s, Northampton’s premier clubbing experience!

Staff were allowed to take their friends along to The Sainsbury’s Disco and Emma and I spent many an evening dancing to Run DMC and trying to get into the over 25’s part of the club.

By the time the slow dances started on the night in question, I’d splurged and entire month’s pocket money on three southern comforts and lemonade. Ahh slow dances – that end of the night ritual where the lights dimmed and people coupled up to do the clinging together and moving around in a circle dance.

I was always a bit thick when it came to boys – in fact I think I was actually a bit scared of them.

My fear dated back to primary school. When we were told to find a partner for country dancing, I’d very enthusiastically run straight for my boy crush, who would then promptly swap me for a thinner and more beautiful partner.

So on that evening in Cinderella – Rockafella’s, when the slow dances started, I settled back into the shadows to watch the floor show. That kind of thing was for other people, while I was destined to be one of life’s observers.

I don’t know what made that evening different. Perhaps it was my new yellow t-shirt and tube skirt from Clockhouse? But this time someone actually came over and asked me to dance. He didn’t introduce himself and neither did I!

Before I knew it, we were on the dance floor with all the other couples in a tight embrace, swaying in time to the music and moving in circles.

Hurrah, I was no longer a leper – I’d been chosen for a slow dance.

I’m glossing over the fact that I think he was drunk!

With Secret Lovers by Atlantic Star ringing in our ears, suddenly his hands shot up the back of my t-shirt!

“Oh no!” I thought, trying my hardest not to freeze.

“What do I do, what do I do?’”

We carried on moving slowly in circles.


Here we are, the two of us together
Takin’ this crazy chance to be all alone
We both know that we should not be together
‘Cause if we’re found out, it could mess up
Both our happy homes

Secret lovers, yeah, that’s what we are
We should not be together
But we can’t let go, no, no
‘Cause we love each other so



Still moving slowly together in circles, I could feel the eyes of my friends burning into me as my not-so-secret lover not only stuck his hands up the back of my top, but then clamped his mouth onto mine. This time I did freeze.

“Oh no – what do I do? What do I do?”

I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing and let him get on with it.

“Please let the music finish, please let it finish” I thought.

But it went on – and on – and on, for an eternity. But too polite to do anything else, I hung on in there.


How could something so wrong be so right
I wish we didn’t have to keep our love out of sight, yeah
Living two lives just ain’t easy at all
But we gotta hang on in there or fall

Secret lovers, yeah, that’s what we are
Tryin’ so hard to hide the way we feel
‘Cause we both belong to someone else
But we can’t let go
‘Cause what we feel is, oh, so real
So real, so real


At last the music started to fade and like a sink plunger, he released my face, which gave me just enough time to mutter “toilet” before making a dash for the door.

It took forty minutes for him to finally give up. Not taking any chances I headed for the door, collected my coat and legged it to the car park. Emma was surprised to find me hiding there half an hour later, crouched down behind her 1975, P reg, snot green Austin Allegro.


Austin Allegro


So, to my first snog, whoever you are, I’d just like to say thank you for such a memorable evening and I’m really sorry that I left you waiting outside the ladies toilets in Cinderella – Roakafella’s in Northampton in 1986. I hope you eventually managed to find someone who appreciated your very special moves.



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.









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