Hello All

I would also like to thank Oonagh on great alteration jobs for me

My thanks to Emma Waas who painted my back garden fence with me over the summer (including most of really awkward bits) which was hard work but always fun!

Best wishes


I'd like to thank Oonagh for doing fantastic alterations - to my beloved winter coat and to my daughters Prom dress 

And to Flora for business advice 
And to Olive for some fantastic jams 


Good Morning everyone

I would like to thank Liz for hosting a very successful coffee get together yesterday. There were several new faces there which is always great.  As usual we had a magnificent spread of cakes/biscuits etc. Liz can probably do coffee and cakes for the next week !!

I would also like to say a big thank you to Anna and Anne who came round yesterday and did a sterling job on my kitchen and windows. It also motivated me to do two hours as well (as many of you know, I will do anything to avoid housework).  I did cobwebs, hoovering and dusting. 

I am conscious that we do not share our gem stories as often as we should so if anyone has any other stories to share, please post them


I'd like to thank Oonagh for doing fantastic alterations - to my beloved winter coat and to my daughters Prom dress 

And to Flora for business advice 
And to Olive for some fantastic jams 

And ref Annas note below. It reminded me that I have a couple of requests 

1) I need a problem fixing with Hotmail on my MacBook Air ( won't send mail, think it just needs reinstalling) 

2) I have some pieces of jewellery fixing - a stone has come out of a ring and a necklace is broken 

Many thanks to anyone who can help 

Thank you - Good Stuff

I’d like to thank Simon Bramley for doing a sterling job on my old Dyson vacuum cleaner this week.
He fixed a few worn parts and replaced them with others salvaged from a cast-off appliance.

Also, in the past few months:
Jenny Winch for services to privet hedges. 
Oonagh for top quality alterations.
Andy Pepper for Mac Book clean up and Photoshopping
Rosie Kemp for fixing earrings and broken necklace.

Good stuff!
Anna G


Lettting those Gems shine

Dear All
It was a pleasure to have Liz M who needed some gems, to help me erect & concrete in some fence posts for a gem so that I can put up my allotment gate again after it blew down.
Liz said she had not realised how easy [& cheap] it was to do!
It was also nice to earn back the gem I gave her from Debbie Welch and join Cath Mears & Liz to help clear Debbie`s rasperry bed for the winter on her lovely allotment.
As you can see there are always plenty of ways to help each other & keep the gems flowing.
If you have only few gems & would like to earn some let people on the SE know by sending a general email.
Also for those of you who with lots of gems , Christmas is coming & is an ideal opportunity to get spending & create more gem journeys.
Best wishes to All.


Busy, busy at the Meakin household

Hi Skills Exchangers

It seems its not just the sun that has been shining - the Skills Exchange activity in our house has been as well - Martha borrowed the Baby Gate, Simon mended our toilet and Patrick has cut Villma's hedge.

On a slightly unrelated note... 
Due to unforeseen circumstances I have 3 tickets to the Sound of Music at the Theatre Royal in town on Thursday 22nd Sept 2016 at 7.30pm which I can't use. The tickets are good seats and cost £96 for 3.

Unfortunately the Theatre Royal won't refund them as the production isn't sold out yet, so whilst I am hedging my bets it does and I can resell them back to the Theatre I thought I would just ask my highly cultured Skills Exchanger friends!

Whilst I would love the full resale value for them, I would prefer they were not wasted, so if your are interested, please get in touch

All the best
Kate, Patrick & Mollie


My daughter's birthday party was a great success!!

I wanted to send BIG THANK YOU to  Maria,  Olive and Carol  for the fantastic and generous help that made it possible to cater of over 30 people!
Also a BIG THANK YOU to Kate for lending me a much needed safety gate.
I'm proud of being part of the Skills Exchange group! 
“Many hands make light work”


Hive of activity at David and Sarah's

Dear All

Hope you are all well. 

We have had a busy couple of weeks in the SE with Kathy & her daughter looking after our house rabbit Fuzzy for a week - he came back looking happy and very well cared for .

David has started to dig up the damson trees and has made one delivery , with more deliveries planned for Tuesday. If there is anybody left who would like one , David is also happy to plant it for you.

Today we have gifted some hellebores to Hannah who has already planted them and sent us a lovely picture of them in their new home.

I need to be earning some gems as we are now down to about 3 - so if anybody needs any jobs doing, or anything that I can do in an evening - eg ironing please let me know. 

We would like somebody please to be able to help and cut our hedges in the back garden ( they are not long ) it will need to be somebody please with their own electric hedgecutters. 

Really look forward to hearing from somebody soon re hedges ! 

Best wishes


Celebrating my 60th birthday

My sixtieth birthday - a big party in the garden - lots of friends I hadn't seen for ages - a husband working his socks off to make it all a brilliant success (which it was) ..... but a bit of stress about how to manage it all and have a fantastic time. Enter 2 Skills Exchangers to the rescue. For a few gems, we had Bridget as a "meeter and greeter" and general help in the kitchen, which definitely took the pressure off answering the door and replenishing the food. And Jackie, not strictly a SE-er but honorary, as wife of Mark, also a talented photographer, did a fantastic job taking pictures, discreetly at a distance for some candid shots, as well as some posed groups. It was so good to have such a brilliant record of the evening without having to step out of the action ourselves to take photos. 6 gems absolutely well spent!

Carol and John


Our book group

Dear All

The Skills Exchange Book Group is very active and we wanted to share with you a photograph taken at last night's meeting where we had the pleasure of a visiting local author - Paula Rawsthorne (shown seated in the photo).

We had read a collection of short stories by local authors, including Paula, and it was a real treat to be able to talk to her about her writing specifically and the more general creative process, and the thriving literary scene here in Nottingham.

As new members join Skills Exchange on a regular basis, it's probably worth reiterating how the Book Group works, in case anyone is interested in joining.  We meet approximately every 6 weeks and tend to read off a list - either one that is already determined (for example, The Booker Prize shortlist) or a list that we pull together ourselves (from various 'must read' features in the weekend newspapers, for example).  On top of that, we sometimes have 'if you have time' reads, which at the moment, are books written pre-20th century and/or originally written in a language other than English.

Whilst we aren't at all a very academic, serious group, we do try to focus our meetings on discussing the books (as well as social chat, of course!) and to encourage this - there is an expectation that people will have read the book that's being discussed, otherwise the Book Group can all too easily become just a social evening, which is lovely but not quite what we intended!  You're not barred from coming if you haven't read the book, but you don't get any wine.

So - if anyone has any questions about Book Group, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.  We would be very pleased to see some new faces!

Best wishes


Spring has begun - gems are circulating again

Dear All
Just a note to say how wonderful it is to see the gems flowing.
Yesterday saw 7 lovely ladies & one junior member [Joseph W] arrived at my allotment and they all have my heartfelt thanks for
Transforming it from a weedy patch into lots of lovely beds begging to be planted! - Thanks to Gill, Maureen, Emma, Claire, Jenny etc.,
Picking  the last of my carrots - Joseph
Turning my untidy greenhouse into something to be proud of  - Thanks Marta!
Help add cladding to my peach/tomato/summerhouse, made by recycling the windows from my house with Dennis G`s & Cath M help over the winter,
so I will finally have somewhere to shady to sit out off the sweltering summer heat [ if we get any :-) ]
The sky was blue, the sun was out, spring has sprung & a very enjoyable afternoon it was - as in previous years.
11 gems now back in circulation & I hope we can keep the momentum going on the gem journey.
SE Rocks!
Best Wishes


Christmas cakes by Mary and Hallit

Hello everyone
Hope you are all well!

Only 10 sleeps till Christmas!

I still have some Christmas cakes going if any one wants to swap for a gem!

They are made using quality ingredients ( range eggs, unrefined sugar, organic flour, lots of alcohol, Nigella Lawson style!) for a gem each and £1.50 for a  4" cake, £2.50 for a 5" inch cake, £3.00 for a 6" cake ( the pennies are to help cover some of the cost of ingredients, decorations and packaging etc) Please note the sizing will be slightly larger than stated below once marzipaned and iced. Ive attached some photos from last year of  examples of what they may look like when ready (marzipaned, iced and decorated, cake board and packaged) (they will be different designs too.) They will be gift wrapped in clear cellophane, tied with ribbon and a hand made tag to state what the cake is (so would make a lovely gift).
Here is what I have left:

1@ 5"x 1.5"
1 @ 6x2"
1@ 4 x2"

Chocolate (using organic dark choc!) with Tia Maria:-
1@ 5x2"
1@ 4x1.5"

Gluten Free with Brandy:-
2 @ 5x2"
1@ 4x1.5"

Best wishes


Dennis has been spending his gems.

Tuesday 15th December

Liz Mollatt, Flora and Meridee all went round last week to help Dennis with cleaning his house ready for Christmas. They also helped to tidy his garden and  greenhouse.
As a treat for his helpers, Dennis had asked if someone would make him a cake. Carol Williams made a delicious Lemon Drizzle cake which Flora and Meridee are enjoying with their morning coffee.
A great example of a group activity involving five Skills Exchangers.
If anyone has any other stories to share please let me know so I can share them with the group
Best Wishes


Cath's Christmas Door Decoration

Sunday  6th December
Good Evening Everyone
I have been given access to the Skills Exchange Blog so I need to practice. I thought I would start by showing you all the lovely Christmas wreath that Teresa Hopwood has made for me. It is multi purpose - Door Wreath or Table Decoration but today it is a door wreath. I am hoping that I am also going to be able to share a picture with you all. Oh dear technology is not my forte. Hey Presto. All I need to do now is remember how I did this. If anyone else has any Skills Exchange stories and pictures they would like to share then please send them me and I will hopefully be able to post them for everyone to see.
Best Wishes


Lisa's Meals are divine!

Over the Christmas holidays our family will be looking after the Stroger's  mini Zoo. As Lisa was running low on gems and I was running low on time, it was fantastic to be presented by an amazing lasagne which I then froze and took it  to my father in law over the christmas period. where 6 of us had a wonderful and tasty meal and a break from cooking.

Subsequently Lisa made me some authentic Indian meals too, which were delicious and we can thoroughly recommend a meal from the Stroger household!

Thank you Lisa!

Easier way to communicate with each other

After many years of struggling sending out group emails, we had some co operation with the now newly formed Cambridge Skills Exchange, where a new member suggested to use Google groups.
As I had not heard of these before, I looked into it and found that this indeed might be a great way forward.

Cath and I set to work to contact the whole group and took this opportunity to tidy up the administration at the same time.

After 7 years we had 130 members, but it turned out that on close examination only 80 were active and wanted to stay in the Exchange. So it is that we have started again with new energy and vigour.
We now communicate through the West Bridgford Google Group which should be easier and therefore more open to all.

Keeping fingers crossed that this is the case but have already seen an improvement over the last few days.



Some years ago during the arctic temperatures, a pipe burst and due to the fact that the stop cock was in an awkward place and very stiff, it was not possible to close it easily. All is well now but wanted to make sure that this scenario would not happen again. I phoned Simon the plumber who told me about this switch that could be put in instead of the stopcock tap, SureStop

Simon came and within the hour a new, easy to deal with switch was put in. For £36 and a gem I now have peace of mind. thank you Simon for the info as well as putting the gadget in for me.


Will there be another Christmas party this year?

After the Skills exchange Christmas party last year, Sally was inundated by requests for her delicious truffles.

People had a choice of a box of coffee, orange, champagne, cinnamon or a mixture there of.

Well, I did not have a look in Sally's kitchen but it must have been like a chocolate factory as at the end of the evening she came and dropped off her boxes with goodies for 6 of our friends. Beautifully packaged with care and love.

Thank you Sal for these lovely creations.

Will you be doing them again this year?


Cath's Curtains

Good Evening Everyone

I am absolutely delighted with the curtains and Roman Blind that Jane Rose has helped me to make. (The photo does not do the curtains justice but it was the best I could manage for an email  ) 

 I never expected to be able to make such a huge pair of lined curtains from fabric that I used to dream about. Jane has also taught me how to make curtains correctly which has been very useful.
Thank you for all your help Jane and I believe that you have already started spending your gems on a couple of pampering sessions. 


Why the Skills Exchange is such a success

I saw this brilliant Ted talk today by Margaret Heffernan, she explains so beautifully why the West Bridgford skills exchange is such a success.

Get yourself a cuppa, sit down for 20mins and let yourself be inspired by clicking HERE


List of great trades people

To my friends.

Can anyone recommend a company who specialise in front garden gates/fences? I think I need something custom made and I'd ideally like a local firm so would love to hear from you if you know of anyone suitable. 

Thanks to the recommendations from the skills exchangers, I've now got a good bank of people that I've now used for electrics, joinery, gardening, odd jobs and chimney sweeping. So, if you need a contact for any of these services, let me know!

Many Thanks
Helen W


Collision with Mike's wall set off a chain reaction of good will.

I have been trying to earn gems since my little collision with Mike's wall last summer, so have enjoyed bringing Diane M, her husband and friends home from a couple of interesting vegetarian restaurants I would never have found out about if it weren't for that activity. 

Ben and I also enjoyed setting up a christening party earlier in the year with Anna G and another couple.
Non-gem related activity has included   Helping Mike with the latest edition of Totally Locally WBT with a couple of articles on local businesses Signature and No 8, In which I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the stories of their growth and development and talking to new businesses Country Interiors and Through the Looking Glass about their ideas. 

Anne TH also rescued me with her magic hands from knotty shoulders after a house move with a very welcome massage. Finally I thoroughly enjoyed Skills Exchange book club last week. After a few months' non attendance it was good to reconnect with such a warm group of lively minds and discuss how we want the book group to develop. New members always welcome!
Warm wishes,
Catherine x


Skills Exchange book group 4 1/2 years old

It's four and a half years since the Skills Exchange Book Group started, and in that time we've made some good friendships, agreed, disagreed, drunk wine and had some great laughs!

The group generally reads from a list - for example we're currently working our way through the 2014 Man Booker shortlist, and we've also compiled our own lists from Radio 4's A Good Read, and  a variety of other sources.  We intersperse these lists with books recommended by group members and, as a result, have read a huge variety - including poetry and autobiography, as well as novels, which remain our usual fodder.

I can't speak for the whole group, but for me highlights have included Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier - one of those stories you know by osmosis, but have you ever actually read the book?  It's wonderful.  Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey - the most amazing two character narrated yarn, full of vivid imagery and extraordinary stories.  Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which taught me so much about Biafra which I grew up hearing about on the news, but to my shame, knew nothing about (the book is so, so much better than the film).  Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch which I finished, sobbing, on a plane home from Italy at least 2 years ago and still can't get out of my head!

The Book Group meets approximately every 6 weeks and we alternate hosting in our homes - there are usually about 6 of us.  We manage, I think, to strike a good balance between general chat and a focus on having a really good discussion about the book - in fact, members of the group who have belonged to other book groups have commented that we manage this very well.  We're not academic in our approach, but we do encourage everyone to do their best to finish the book because it makes for a much better quality discussion.

Please contact me on if you're interested in joining the Skills Exchange Book Group, or have any questions.


Group Gardening at Cath and Mike's

I would like to thank Flora, Dennis, Jenny, Bridget, Jan and Olive for all their hard work yesterday. We had a really successful afternoon and the weather was very kind to us. I cannot believe how much we managed to do in 2 hours. I had felt really outfaced by the amount of work ahead of me to get the garden tidied up and sorted out for spring. The composter has been emptied, all the plants are planted and the borders tidied up. Everything now feels a lot more manageable and I am looking forward to seeing the garden come alive during spring and through the summer. 

I know several of you out there have a sizeable amount of gems and can strongly recommend the group get togethers. I could not have done on my own in 14 hours what 7 of us achieved yesterday. Also it was really enjoyable and great to get everyone together. I am happy to help anyone organise a group activity and once more I am also looking to earn gems as I used 12 yesterday topaz my 6 helpers.

Once again thank you all very much for all your hard work.

Best Wishes


Spring is in the air

We had the first group gardening session of the year last Sunday. Trish, Jan and I went and helped Flora with some clearing away and weeding and I replaced some broken greenhouse glass. It rained earlier in the day but we managed to catch a dry couple of hours. The great thing about group sessions is that everyone motivates each other and you can really see a difference at the same time as having fun.
This Saturday Bridget, Jenny, Diane, Olive, Jan and Flora are all coming to help me with tidying up, emptying the composter and planting.

I would like to really get the gems flowing again. Things have been a bit dormant over the winter - However spring is just around the corner and everyones spirits are lifting with the glimmer of good weather. Crocuses, snowdrops and daffodils are all coming out and the birds seem a bit livelier too.

How about if we all think of a wish or something that we would like help with  and then see if we can get that wish off the ground with help from one of the many talented helpful people on the skills exchange. There is a whole host of skills on the shared document for ideas.

After my gardening extravaganza on Saturday 14th March, I will be needing to earn gems 
 so if anyone would like help with clearing rubbish to the tip, cleaning, decorating or even making a glass dish to put an easter gift on then please let me know. I also love getting involved in any group activity.
I know many of you still struggle with group emails so if you need any help, please contact me.
Thanks and Best Wishes


Pampering and letting those gems shine!

Good Afternoon Everyone and what a beautiful one it is.

I would like to thank Mike, Kathy,Corina and Olive who worked tirelessly last night and provided us all with some very welcome pampering. They certainly earned their 3 gems each.I would also like to thank everyone who came as without you lovely people none of this could happen

I hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as I did.  I love having the get togethers and meeting up with everyone. As usual there was a lovely feast for everyone to share and Floras champagne certainly put a sparkle to the evening.

Best Wishes


Skills Exchange Summer Gathering - @the sun shone on the righteous again!

I would just like to thank everyone who came to the garden party yesterday. The sun shone on the righteous again and we all had a lovely afternoon. There was a great selection of stalls - Clothes, food, jewellery, glass, chocolates, cards, books and energy saving ideas. As usual everyone contributed very generously to the bring and share food and drink and we had a lovely spread.  Ten of us finished the day off with a very jolly and enjoyable wine tasting session which Flora organised. I am now more knowledgable and will be venturing a little further than 3 bottles for £10 at the end of the aisle.

I invited a few friends outside of the Skills Exchange who all said how lucky I was to be involved in such a friendly, industrious group with such lovely people and Bridgets friend must have thought the same as she has asked to join us and will be signing up.

I nearly forgot to thank Dennis and Marta for the loan of their gazebos. Fortunately we needed them to shade from the sun and not he rain.

Thank you once again to everyone for making it such an enjoyable event

Best wishes 


Group Gardening at Flora's allotment

A big thank you to all  who joined the gardening party at my new orchard allotment last Sunday.
In just one hour you all amazed me by weeding a large raised bed, fitting a door on my greenhouse and clearing half of the new plot!
Special thanks to baby Molly for overseeing the event & bringing her parents & Mike Mears on what was a lovely afternoon.
Also thanks to all the ladies for getting the gems flowing & Cath Mears for also helping to dismantle Oonagh's Greenhouse & bringing it to the orchard site where it will have a new life protecting my peaches.
The power & goodwill of the SE manifest.
Well done.
Kind regards
Flora M
The Wine Tasting Event on 6th July at 6pm after the SE Gathering is now fully booked.


Pamper party - treats all around

Last night I went along to Sherry's Pamper evening with Iranian meal. Sherry organised the event and welcomed us into her home.  Anne TH, Corina L and Sherry provided 2 x 30 minute treatments each followed by a veritable Iranian feast that Sherry had prepared. I had a massage from Anne which really helped  my shoulder and a lovely facial from Corina which left my skin feeling well nourished.

I think I can speak for everyone if I say Sherry is an outstanding cook and really put on a fantastic and varied spread of traditional Iranian food.

We all thoroughly enjoyed our treatments, had a lovely evening and left feeling very relaxed. I would like to thank Sherry for taking the time to organise the treatments and do the cooking.  It was also lovely last night as we had different mix of Skills exchangers and as usual, lots of talk and laughter.

Cath M


Hi Skills Exchangers

I would like to share my skills exchange weekend with you all.  

First of all, Oonagh came and took away my trampoline which i had been planning to get rid of but could not move it myself.  Oonagh and Steve came and dismantled it and took it away to assemble in their garden.  Hopefully their children will get as much pleasure from it as my daughter.  
I then helped Flora in her allotments for a couple of gems and thoroughly enjoyed myself and so did my dog Ruby.
I then went for a lovely dog walk with Averil, a neighbour whom i met through the skills exchange and who helps me out with dog and house sitting.
Cath is taking and collecting me and my friend when we go from East Midlands to Prague next weekend. Since the airport link bus stopped running, i rely on skills exchangers for my transport.
Finally, I have joined the 21st century and got Isi Dixons old iPhone which is a great improvement on my old one and saved Isi the hassle of advertising it for sale.  She also much preferred to sell it to a fellow skills exchanger.
It was a very gratifying weekend which would not have happened without the Skills Exchange.

Thank you everyone

Jan Day


Guys birthday party

With the help of the skills exchange, I was able to organise a surprise afternoon tea party for my husband Guy's 40th birthday.
Initially I needed a venue, I sent out an email asking for ideas. So many skills exchangers came back with good suggestions. In the end I used Cath Mears' recommendation, the Wightman Hall Scout Hut which proved to be an excellent and affordable venue. I decided to hold afternoon tea, for which I needed a tea service, lots of tea pots and some yummy food.
The tea service I rented from an amazing charity shop in Sutton in Ashfield called The Vine Tree, for a bargain price of £25 for tea cups, saucers, side plates for 60 along with numerous serving plates and cake stands. The rental all went to a good cause too!
I needed a few extra tea pots which I borrowed from very kind skills exchangers including Claire Richmond and Olive Day. Along with a couple of tea pots each, Gill Murray lent me some kids garden games and Jan lent me a hot water urn. Thea lent me some kids chairs and tables so we were able to make a little children's corner.
Karina made me several batches of 2 flavours of delicious scones: fruit and cheese, which she baked and delivered on the morning of the party. Shazia made me the most amazing cake with 3 tiers of delicious flavours: chocolate fudge, lemon and gluten free vanilla.
I used local shops to get all the food I needed including Brumpton's the Butchers, the Fruit Basket and Paolo's Sea Food. I bought beautiful hyacinths and anemones for the table decorations from Slades. Ultraprint did the copying I needed for invites and a spoof 40th newspaper we put together.
The whole party was a great success and my husband absolutely loved it. Thank you so much to all who helped me out.  Helen

A whole load of logs

I would just like to say how grateful I am to Graham M for coming to my rescue. He came round and helped me move this pile of wood from my garden round to the yard for storage. Unfortunately all the trees next door to me have been chopped down but the good news is that they said I could help myself to the logs (or rather tree trunks).

I had only just posted the request when I started getting replies. The skills exchange really is an efficient service.

Thank You Graham - This wood will have warmed me three times by the time it has been burnt on my log burner. Once to get it into my garden, once to get it from the garden to the yard for storage and a third time when it goes into the log burner.

Cath M


Oonagh comes to rescue (again!)

I am not really a person who likes spending a lot of money on clothing or even shopping for them is off putting.

This is why it is so wonderful to have the skills of Oonagh in our exchange. Twice now has she come up trumps and turned a jacket that was made out of lovely material but a bit baggy and old fashioned into a modern, stylish piece of clothing that I wear rather regularly now.

Then only a few days ago I came across a simple white linen summer dress, that needed taking in to give a more tailored look. I showed it to Oonagh, who immediately saw where the changes would be best to make. A few hours later and the phone rings. 'Your dress is ready' do you want me to drop it off?

Amazing service and the end result was wonderful.

Thank you Oonagh for sharing your skills

I will go and do some group spring cleaning next week at Paul's to earn some gems I spent with Oonagh and my husband spent with Paul when he had his photographs taken. I look forward to it.
Giving or receiving it is all great fun in the skills exchange.



Farewell party 12th April

As a way to say farewell to you all, I am organising my last get together on Saturday 12th April at my house.
between 10 and 3pm. The idea is to combine it with a garage 'sale'/give away as well as a bring and share some food and stories.
If you would like to join in, please contact Karina direct


Christmas Market Shop at Caths

Becoming a Mum to our gorgeous little girl, Mollie Louise, 7 weeks ago has changed a few things in the Meakin household. I have spent a lot more time in Bridgford and with less money coming in, this has meant maximising the use of the local amenities - local baby & parent groups; walks through the park (Mollie isn't quite up to swings & slides yet!); shopping locally on a more regular basis and of course using the Skills Exchange.
Last night (whilst Mollie was having Daddy-daughter time) I was able to visit the SE Christmas market at Cath's house. Greeted with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine - Cath was the perfect host - showing me around all the stalls which offered jewellery; home baking and preserves; glass products; cards; Christmas decorations; scarfs and a huge range of beauty products. I managed to exchange my gems (but could have also spent cash) on a variety of items which will make delightful (and unique) Christmas presents for our family & friends. It was also wonderful to catch up (& meet new) Skill Exchangers and hear all about the pop up shop from Karina which will be run by Mike F and Suzanne R. on the Avenue (previously the David Holmes shoe shop) shortly - of which I am sure me (& Mollie) will be visiting.
Thanks for a brilliant start to the festive season.
Kate M


A shining Example on how the Skills Exchange works

Only a few weeks ago Sherry joined the Skills Exchange and has thrown herself into the Spirit straight away.
Not only did she show  Gill, Katya, and myself how to do face painting, (see results below)

last week she went down the group address list to find people with a low gem count to see if she could
let them shine! She spent virtually all her gems to give people a chance to earn some gems. Fantastic!

Then she invited people to come and join her for an Iranian evening. With help from her sister and friend  Si Bel, they cooked food, fit for a King/Queen. Meat as well as vegetarian. My favourite was the aubergine dish called Geraten and Ash Jo
which also seem to be a big hit with the non vegetarians, so if you ever order a meal from Sherry, can  highly recommend this. Having said that. It was ALL delicious.

We had the honour to have a private audition of Sherry and her sister singing and later a performance by Sherry playing her Iranian drum. Many, many thanks to this amazing team.!
Mina took some pictures, see below, to give you a 'flavour' of the lovely evening.

If ever you want a real taste of Iran, give Sherry a call and order a meal. You won't regret it.


Facepainting lessons by Sherry

On Friday afternoon  Gill, Katya gathered at my home and were instructed by Sherry on how to do some basic face painting,  We turned each other into puppies and had great fun doing this. Then we had a rent a crowd  idea, to get some children in to practice on. Unfortunately they did not want to be puppies but Pirates! So we learned how to do Pirates too!

A new skill that is a great way for community events, have started practicing Santa, Rudolph and Elves.

there will be another one soon so contact Sherry if you are interested


A vegetable growers dream

After working hard in the gardens and bring back wheelbarrow loads of harvest the last thing you feel like doing is to cook.

Thank goodness for Lisa Stroger, she is a real whizz in the kitchen. We had a bit of a ready steady cook moment the other day. I dropped of a basket full of different vegetables for her to make a meal with.

Only a few hours later, we got the call that the meal was ready. It was amazing! Delicious Indian Cuisine with home grown vegetables, it can't get better than that.

Thank you so much Lisa for letting me enjoy the fruits of my labour in such a wonderful way.

I can recommend this to anyone.


Group Gatherings - a way to get to know eachother

The Skills Exchange summer gathering on Sunday  afternoon in Cath and Mike Mears' garden was a real joy.  The weather was great, children were playing and running around in the garden  and parents were chatting, sharing and enjoying each other's company.
I would like to thank Flora, Cath and Mike for organising this event as it was a veritable feast enjoyed by all. I'm sure everyone would have to agree that Flora did a fantastic job with the food and drink.
We have all got a few new plants for our gardens and thanks to Mike Finn,  I managed to get rid of all the jam
It is great to see that other members are organising regular get-togethers too, as it builds a wonderfully strong community.
Groups of which I am aware are:

The book group; Contact: Kate L
There are various gardening/allotment groups contacts: Ian M, Jenny W, Karina W
The Bee Group contact: Alex B
Pampering Evenings; Martha and Anne TH
Abundance harvesting: Karina W and Flora M

Dianne M  told us about the food and craft swap group, The home Grown exchange  she had been to in Nottingham,.
With so many growers, abundance helpers, makers and bakers in our group, Is there an interest from you to be part of one in West Bridgford ? If so, please let me know. (could be a nice formula for our Christmas bring and share)
The next community project in aid of the Friary Drop in centre will be this coming Sunday 8th September. It is the Musters Road Open Garden from 2-6pm (organised by Kate Lewis)  If you would like to contribute in any way (give a gem to the community chest, bake cakes or help with the catering (contact Di McClintock), or bring your family and friends and enjoy the gardens on your doorstep (entrance £5 for a couple)


News from a fairly new member

The Skills Exchange has been a great help.
Nearly a year ago I set up my business and have been networking and finding business contacts ever since. I had a huge stack of business cards that were sitting there and doing not much as yet.
Claire of the skills Exchange  went through all the collected business cards and put them into an excel spread sheet.
Simon is helping me with my website.

I hope that in the winter when my partner  isn’t as busy, he can earn some gems back doing a few gardens as he is a professional gardener and landscaper.

The skills exchange has been  great for me as I  cannot afford to take on a full time member of staff yet.

 Things I’ve done for others on the skills exchange:
Arranged to get a light socket fixed.
Translated a few Cuban recipe’s into English.
Drop off at the airport.




Cara's story

I'm often not great at spending my gems. I forget, I get too busy or I can't decide what to do with them, so this month I decided to get active.  I spent a couple of gems but I've also felt the benefit of the skills 
exchange community in lots of different ways.

First up was the lovely elderflower cordial made by Flora Muir. Cash not gems, but access to affordable local produce is a real bonus of the group for me. Two bottles, one for me and one to give to friends, perfect timing for the hot weather.  
Then a super busy fortnight left me with a wardrobe full of un-ironed shirts, which were quickly put right by Liz Milton for a gem.
This was followed by a call out from Tina Holt for a worktop off cut for her downstairs toilet. I happened to have just the thing. No gems or cash, 
but being able to pass on something we have no use for, and is taking up space in the garage, is a good thing.
Gavin Booth fixed our gate that had stopped closing a few months ago. He did a great job for the price of a gem.
Then Karina started selling her excess vegetables. If you've had some you will know they are really good, so several lettuces, potatoes, mangetout, and some amazing honey later, I may have spent a few pounds, but it's cheaper, fresher and nearer than any shop.


Feedback from a new member to the Skills Exchange

Skills Exchange – mm I thought sounds a good idea  - could I do it though – what skills do i Have??
After a half hour with Karina I was signed up! So  what are my skills – Initially I just added sewing – it’s what i do for a living – making curtains/blinds/teaching sewing -  I have since added haircutting as well offering sewing lessons, vouchers for courses. I’m sure I could add ironing/cleaning etc  to the list but am struggling with time so a bit reluctant to state this.
As yet not earned any gems but I have spent a couple of  though!
I spent a lovely long hour with Jen S – advice on blogging/websites – we had soo much in common &  chatted about lots of other things as well as the people we had in common – such a small world.  Hopefully we will meet for another coffee soon
This week I  had a lovely hour of Pilates with Mary W who was in need of Gems. Well worth the spending of a Gem – some me timeSmile. Mary was lovely – made me feel relaxed/not self conscious  and instructed really clearly. It’s a shame her yoga class on a Wed clashes with another commitment or I would be going to that!
I also took the opportunity to email round the SE group for some free advice for a friend & also to give away a book case. Both of which were responded to  - which was lovely.
Finally I  purchased some pink  elderflower cordial from Flora. I’m not usually a fan of white elderflower cordial as I find it too perfumey but thought I’d give it a go as I am trying to reduce my weekly intake of wine(arent we all?) so my mid week drink has become pink elderflower cordial & sparkly water – Lovely! Wish she has some more but sadly I got the last bottle. Maybe I might try her white elderflower just to see if my taste buds have changed?
I just wanted to thank you all for making me so welcome & look forward to becoming friends and being involved in this community.
Jan M


Sanding party

Sanding ‘Party’

A new lick of paint is always a great way to refresh a space and often great fun to do - but getting ready for the paint brush can be a real pain, particularly in a hall and landing area.

When our hall was ready for a refresh, and as it included banisters, door frames and skirting boards on three floors, we decided we needed some help.

Having done the sanding ourselves the last time we renovated the hall, and knowing how long it took, we thought the Skills exchange might come to the rescue.

We organised a one hour sanding ‘party’ on a Saturday and five enthusiastic Skills exchangers arrived.  Mike brought his own sand paper and block, Flora brought a nifty cordless detail sander and everyone came with masses of enthusiasm.

People were dispatched to the attic, first floor and ground floor and started rubbing away.  There was dust!!  Julie disappeared into a hall corner to tackle a large wooden area and couldn’t be seen for white mist.  Martha and Flora took it in turns to tackle the downstairs surfaces and front door, Mike was on the top floor doing banisters, skirting boards and door frames and Monique attacked the first floor banisters, door frames and skirting boards.  In the meantime Monika made a great deal of ‘fog’ burning off paint from another set of banisters.  Masks were provided!

Within the hour we had sanded every paint surface on three floors and it was all ready for painting.  It took a while for the dust to settle but, if we had not had such great help on the day, it would have taken us weeks to do it on our own.  The brilliant thing was that as people were only sanding for an hour, they did it with masses of enthusiasm and really made an impact.

Many thanks to the skills exchange and the sanders for a brilliant hour of their time.

The sanding party was made up of Monika and Andy and Mike, Flora, Martha, Monique and Julie.

Andy and Monika on Crosby Road


Over a glass of fresh elderflower cordial some careers advise

As we are looking for a new challenge in our life, with so many options we felt that Liz M would be great to meet up and quiz about one of the options we were looking at. She started off by telling us that she was not sure how much use her advise would be. Well, after an hour of chatting and questioning (she must have been exhausted) she had given us plenty of food for thought. We were very grateful for the sharing of her vast amount of experience, practical advise and insights. Stuff you can't find in books or even on the internet!

Thanks Liz, for giving us some clarity.

And so the gems flow...

Simon B was here this morning putting life into an old gate, hanging a towel rail, adjusting the kitchen cupboard doors and fixing a broken outdoors table. All brilliantly and neatly done. We paid with gems but I hope to earn some back with ironing soon!
A couple of weeks ago, I took away a large bag of ironing from Anne T-H in exchange for a voucher for some pampering for a friends’ birthday present. Excellent!
from Liz


When a friend remarked that I was carrying a lot of stress in my shoulders I thought a massage would be a good idea. As if by magic I received an email from Karina the next day saying that Villma was keen to earn more gems by doing massages. It was meant to be! I have now had my luxurious back/shoulder/neck massage in the comfort of my own living room. Thank you Villma!
Liz J


News from Flora - Monday 17 June 2013

I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped me either by using my skills or supplying their own so far this year.

The journey of a gem has been very fruitful with some now appearing on my fruit allotment that Cath Mears , Graham Moreland & Bridget Rich  & others have helped me with & I cannot thank Mike Mears enough for coming to the rescue & fabricating roof spars that fit my greenhouse perfectly & taking the time to fit them so I can now glaze the greenhouse. I must also thank him for mending & welding a new piece for my lovely tiered flower basket, which is now happily growing lots of strawberries.

So much of what has been achieved in the last few months could not have been done without their generosity.

All that activity has also benefited the SE community fund whenever I felt I had an embarrassment of riches in gem terms, so the journey of a gem could extend beyond my own needs.

Thank you to all the SE people who have given me the pleasure of taking them or their families to or from the airport whether at EMA or Birmingham or using my time to help them with
  - their gardens or
- spending gems on plants
- or decorating or
- getting advice on business start up & finance or  garden designs & planting

so that I can spend the gems to get help with a whole range of tasks & get the loan of equipment I needed to build my allotment from scratch, not forgetting the lovely gardening party group of SE members that kicked the whole project off in June last year.

 What a difference a year & all that goodwill has made!
A big thank you to all!!



Stuck in amsterdam airport, but Lawrence came to the rescue

On Thursday Lawrence drove us to East Midland airport to have a few lovely days with the family in Holland.
He picked us up and drove through torrential rain to get us there on time. Gem exchange and armed with his mobile number we set off.

After a few days of sun shine and wonderful food and company we headed back to the airport to find that due to the hold up on the motorway we managed to miss the plane and the next one was the following day at the same time... An executive decision was made to fly to Birmingham instead a few hours later. We phoned Lawrence to inform him about our situation and without hesitation he offered to pick us up from Birmingham instead.

What a joy it was to see a smiling helpful face standing at the arrival point to bring us back home after a long and frustrating journey.  Thank you Lawrence!

Beauty Treats and Topiary Fun

Me and my family have had a very productive Saturday afternoon with the skills exchange. The 'spending' was done by my Mum and me - we were treated to a hot stone massage (Mum), a facial (me) and fabulous gel manicures (both of us) by the always professional and hospitable Anne TH and her daughter Bethan. Whilst across the village Patrick and my Dad 'earnt' a few gems back by neatening Karina's front garden hedge. A very productive and relaxing (for me!) afternoon - thank you skills exchange!


A busy week on the skills exchange chez moi.

I definitely have that Spring Cleaning feeling now that the sun is out.
On Monday I shampooed two carpets for Anne TH - they look great even though I say so myself;-) next I went to the post-lunchtime networking chat at Taste and met half a dozen other solo-preneurs and Totally Locally business owners.
On Tuesday I borrowed a steam cleaner and freshened up my sofas.
On Wednesday Jenny W did some gardening for me. She planted a shrub and dug a trench for a railway sleeper On Thursday my garden furniture was repaired by new Skills Exchange member Gavin - he fixed two broken table legs. Great job.
On Friday I had a back massage  with Anne at Maluwa Therapies very relaxing.
On Saturday I visited Melton Road Market and collected my railway sleeper from Cotgrave as local as I could get (excellent selection at Kilgraney).
On Sunday, to finish the week, I enjoyed coffee and some fabulous chocolate beer cake at the new Youth Centre at the library with some of the Summer Gathering exhibitors. I delivered the West Bridgford Times on my road.

Have a great week
Anna G