Brains behind the brands

You don’t work within the drinks industry for almost 20 years without learning a little bit about what makes a great brand.

Having worked alongside the inventive marketing minds that have brought to life drinks such as Old Speckled Hen, Wainwright and Abbot Ale I believe it is a range of factors that determine a brand’s success story.

IMG_8151 (1)

It goes without saying that budget, strategy and objectives all play their part in the foundations of a brand’s journey, however I believe that implementation and creativity play much more of a fundamental role in how well a brand’s personality is received by consumers.

John Murphy of St Peter’s Brewery and Plymouth Gin (to name only two of his brilliant portfolio), has led the way, embedding his beloved brands in to households by consistent brand recognition via on and off trade. His respectful approach to each brand is demonstrated by their positioning in the market place, always showcasing them with a sympathetic backdrop. The St Peter’s range making themselves at home at the Jerusalem Tavern is a great example of this and ensures beer lovers return to the City pub for their Suffolk brewery fix.


It is exciting when fresh brands arrive on the scene oozing with personality with keen and charismatic innovators at the helm. I was lucky enough to catch up with two of my favourite brand creators at Craft Beer Rising earlier in the year.

I have loved watching the journey that Hannah Rhodes has carved for Hiver – The Honey Beer. Hiver was ‘born out of an admiration for London’s urban beekeepers and a passion for craft beer’ and the brand exudes quality, care, growth, legacy and social responsibility. The warm welcome one receives from Hiver, be that in person or their website, is notable, you are part of the Hiver family from the off and instantly feel the urge to visit their Taproom and Shop (open at weekends).

Hannah at Hiver

Another brand to get excited about is that of Hawkes cider. The trail blazing approach of Chief Hawker, Simon Wright has brought a fresh canvas to apple cart activity. I can recall discussing the headturning logo with Dan Seago a number of years ago and I always watch with anticipation to see the next great campaign or cider to leave the Hawkes arches. To offer consumers drinks as innovative as Elephants on Ice to that of Soul Trader is surely a dream for both producer and drinker?!  

Simon Wright Hawkes IMG_9058







Both Hiver and Hawkes have quite rightly made the shortlist at the Beer and Cider Marketing Awards 2018, being held at the Truman Brewery this month. Co-founder and head judge Pete Brown said, ‘The spread of entries we’ve had this year was the best yet. Together they showcase a real broadening of creative ideas in the beer and cider market – and it really is in both beer and cider’.

Read the full James Beeson, Morning Advertiser article here

Best of British at the awards ceremony Hiver & Hawkes!


The Yes Man Effect

Writing for Stamford Living means I am used to interviewing people. I enjoy it so much. I love getting to know about different lives, passions and opinions. So when Felicity Francis from Talk Networking approached me to take part in the podcast series from Ade Oduyemi I was:

  1. extremely flattered to be thought of
  2. extremely apprehensive as to what I would be asked and how would I answer!

Embracing the ‘Yes Man’ theory, I said ‘yes’ and I am now, extremely pleased I did.

Ade creates a warm and open environment to ask exploratory questions such as ‘if you were Queen for the day what would you do?’ and ‘with only 3 minutes to rescue anything from your burning home, what would you select?’ He really sets your mind racing as to what is important in one’s own life. Ever since the experience I have been left pondering Ade’s questions and my responses. To be interviewed and recorded can leave one feeling quite vulnerable and it was reassuring that in hindsight I felt confident in my views on the subjects discussed.

Ade and I spoke at length about female role models for boys and men and on reflection I can appreciate that this is something I feel hugely passionate about. Women (be they in the home, workplace, local community or public figures) play an integral part in the lives of boys and men and therefore their potential to influence positively should be more highly recognised and regarded.

I will continue to reflect on this subject and will post more thoughts in the coming weeks, however in the meantime, should you wish to listen to Ade’s interview with me you can do so here:

Victoria’s Podcast

I do hope you enjoy it and should you have the opportunity to be interviewed, would you say yes? And what would be your chosen subject?

Links to the brilliant women mentioned are below:

Caroline Cotterell

Nicky Peters

Scarlett Curtis

Gina Long

Julie Jolly

Rachael Banks

and another ultimate woman Liz Kentish

Avoiding the family holiday drama

Whether it’s a week in the sun, the Easter bank holiday or the long anticipated Christmas festivities, there are some key rules for avoiding a family holiday drama. If you have any pearls of wisdom to add, please leave them in the comments below to help others 🙂


1. Don’t set expectations too high – you can only control 50% of the conversations and interactions. You are responsible for your words and actions but not those of others. You might not know what they have going on behind the scenes which in turn drives their mood and behaviour.

2. Set some clear boundaries about how you would like the holiday to be (and stick to them) – if you need some time with yourself/partner/your family each day (to chat, gossip, laugh, eat) make sure you schedule it so that from day one you have that time out to recharge.

3. Have a code word – that is your ‘get out’ code for when things are getting to hard to handle. My friends and I use this all the time and it is a superb ejector seat in life! Eg: cousin Bertie is really pushing your buttons, so you can say to your ally, ‘How about we open that pack of ‘bourbon’ biscuits now’. ‘Bourbon’ is your code to action ‘get me out of here NOW!’

4. Keep a notebook for anecdotes – it might be painful writing some of the events at the time, but in weeks, months, years you might laugh or at least shock friends with the outrageous behaviour of others! You will hone your skills of tongue biting as you can lodge all your thoughts down on paper with the satisfaction that you didn’t join in the circus of a crazy debate or argument.

5. Have something each day that you can look forward to – whether it is quiet time reading a great book, a soak in the bath with a glass of wine or taking off with a friend/child to the bakery/garage. See it as a treat, look forward to it and don’t take your eye off the ball.

6. Be prepared for the unexpected – have you thought what your reaction would be if another guest told your child off for something? How would you handle seeing another guest’s child doing/saying something naughty? Have you packed your European health card? Have you packed any hard cash for an emergency getaway if needed?

Holidays should always feel fun, but sometimes they just aren’t, for all sorts of reasons. You certainly learn over time the people that can be trusted and are reliable when away from home and those times are fabulously memorable. But sometimes we are thrown together with people that just aren’t our cup of tea, so I hope that if ever you find yourself in that position that this blog comes to mind and gives you some comfort and top tips!

Father’s Day Beer

After years of buying novelty items, socks, hankies and general unwanted presents…this year, why not buy your dad a gift your KNOW he will enjoy and savour!

I have always been a fan of the unassuming St Peter’s Brewery based in Bungay, Suffolk. It was recently said to be ‘the most beautiful brewery in all the land’ and who am I to disagree…
IMG_3066Not only do St Peter’s Brewery offer brewery tours (always a gift winner!) but you can stay and enjoy a pint over lunch at St Peter’s Hall, renowned for it’s wonderful food, live music events and warm, friendly hospitality.

If you can’t make it up to Suffolk for Father’s Day, fear not….you can pick up a terrific selection of St Peter’s Brewery beers from supermarkets and stockists from around the country including: Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Whole Foods amongst others. It is a fine offering from Ruby Red, Honey Porter and Cream Stout, to name a few.


But what is VERY exciting is that the range includes TWO gluten free beers!


You only have to look on Instagram to see that St Peter’s Brewery beer is the gift that keeps on giving! Happy Father’s Day (21st June) to all the dads out there, CHEERS!

FullSizeRender[1] (2)FullSizeRender (2)

FullSizeRender[2] (2)

Hair and Beauty Essentials

My fabulous hairdresser Grace, introduced me to Kerastase Resistance recently and I can’t believe the difference it has made to my hair. It is more expensive than hair products I have used previously, but I am hooked! We often spend substantial sums having our hair coloured but then scrimp on the products we use at home. 

My favourite products are Nectar Thermique which makes my hair extremely soft and Ciment Thermique which protects my hair from heat from my hairdryer and GHDs.

My friend Georgina bought me Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer which is terrific for strengthening hair and really easy to use. 

On trend Georgina also introduced me to Beautiful Skin from No7. It’s a hydration face mask, which looks like marshmallows and feels and smells great. My skin always feels so smooth after using it.

For a glowing, radiant look after a mask and before applying makeup, try one of the Botanics Radiance range. I only use a tiny amount and the result is soft, shimmering skin. 
The best daily moisturiser I have found is Neutrogena – it doesn’t leave my skin oily and is perfect if you want to use makeup straight after applying. Neutrogena also make a fabulous Rapid Clear Treatment which is essential for any blemishes. 
Another great product to use prior to applying makeup is Maybelline Baby Skin. I sometimes use it instead of moisturiser, it fills any pores making it a perfect base before using foundation. 
If you ever find that your eye make up irritates your eyes, try using No7 Stay Precise liquid liner, Bourjois Khol and No7 sensitive mascara – they are produced for sensitive eyes, the results are terrific and there is no compromise on appearance.

I am a big lip balm fan and one of the best that I have found is Norwegian Fomula, it is one of my all time essentials. For a treat, Tom Ford’s Blush Nude has to be the ultimate in lipstick. It is lovely to apply and it smells divine!

There are many makeup removers on the market but the most effective one I have found is Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water; it is not harsh on skin, is really effective in removing all traces of makeup and does not leave skin dry or oily.  

Do you have any desert island product essentials? I would love to hear about them so do leave a comment below…

Thanks for reading, liking, sharing!

Victoria x


The True Cinematic Experience

It’s fair to say I am a cinema passionista! I adore everything about going to the cinema and the more old skool, the better!

Occasionally, I will visit an enormous multi-screen but it usually leaves me penniless and feeling a bit empty. Okay, so the plush seats recline and you can eat and drink like a giant, but for me, I prefer a more eclectic experience.

Kiss me stupid

In my teens I visited friends in Cyprus and on the Friday evening we all piled into the local cinema where the only place left to sit was in the aisle. This was considered perfectly acceptable. It was a haphazard place and the atmosphere was electric as we all waited for the film to start. People chattered all through the film and somehow this added to the laissez faire ambiance.

I have never needed a film buddy to enjoy the cinema (although it is always nice to have company) and don’t feel uncomfortable about watching films on my own. As a student and an au pair, I kept unusual hours and would often fill spare time in London and Paris in little side street cinemas that showed films I was desperate to see but had very little exposure.

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

I am always on the look out for cinemas which offer something different and feel that the UK has a terrific offering. For a long time, the Abbeygate Cinema in Bury St Edmunds was my local cinema and I can remember watching ‘Brief Encounter‘ there with the local vicar! It was one of the first places I had been to where you were offered a glass of wine (in an actual wine glass!) and a slice of homemade carrot cake!


Prior to this, I would visit the Duke of Yorks Picturehouse in Brighton. It is where I saw ‘Amelie‘ for the first time – the film that really introduced me to foreign film. It is still amongst my favourite films, along with ‘Little White Lies’, ‘Life is Beautiful’ and ‘Cinema Paradiso’.

DukeOfYorksCinema   Cinema Paridiso

I am a real ambassador of the Picturehouse group as they are so inclusive and even have ‘Big Scream’ viewings, so that parents with very young children still get to have an afternoon at the pictures without having to compromise on the film choice! They also have a Silver Screen club for over 60s, a kids club, Vintage Sundays, autism-friendly screenings and double bills.

I was lucky enough that when I lived in Lytham, recently, there was a wonderful cinema on the beach called the Island Cinema. I spent hours there as it only cost £3 to watch a film! My friend Nicole and I would make it a weekly event as she would collect me en route in her Mini Cooper. We would cry together watching ‘The Book Thief’ and gasp at Leonardo’s performance in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.  I also like the fact that you can buy the old film posters, a great treat for enthusiasts.

pleasureisland_lythamStAnnesA cinema that I was fortunate to go to a couple of months ago, was the Electric at Portobello Road. It had been on my wishlist for a long time and it didn’t disappoint in the slightest. Its small frontage hides the most magnificent cinema. There is a stylish bar where you can order posh burgers and champagne and you have the option of a sofa or cosy armchair with foot stool (which houses a blanket for your legs!). I have never seen so many people taking photos prior to the film starting. The whole audience were really excited to be there and it really is worth a visit.

electriccinema_01 Portabllo

Last weekend I travelled to Woodhall Spa as I had heard that the ‘Kinema in the Woods‘ was a great day out (via @MrsHound thank you for the top tip!). It was truly magical. As you travel through the woods you come across the alpine lodge cinema and as you step inside you are transported back in time.


The red foyer welcomes you with film memorabilia including a Dr Who dalek and there is a piano in the movie theatre, which I assume must get played before some showings. I was quite taken aback when half way through the film there was an interval and this absolutely added to the authenticity of the cinema.


This summer I plan to visit the Melton Mowbray Regal as it has come highly recommended (thank you Sarah at Stamford Beauty)…

Regal Melton Mobray

…the Electric Picture Palace at Southwold, where apparently ‘God Save the Queen’ is played before the film…

Electric Palace Southwold cinema …the Pillow Cinema, the ‘cosiest cinema experience this side of a fluffy cloud’ located in a former tube station and where you can take along your own pillow (BYOP – no pillow, no entry!) – as recommended by my friend Grace (the best hairdresser EVER!)…


…and the Burghley Film Festival, for a combination of great film, a magnificent setting and a picnic!


Are you a film buff? Do you seek out secret cinemas too?! Share the cinema love with your brilliant discoveries…after all, sharing is caring!

Quick and Easy Meatloaf

I am no domestic goddess! But after a recent trip to Sweden and being served a delicious meatloaf, I decided to make one myself on my return.

It was a case of googling a recipe (find it here!) and gathering the ingredients:

IMG_9278  IMG_9275mixing them together in a bowl:

IMG_9279  IMG_9280

filling a prosciutto lined loaf tin with the mixture and cook for 1 hour at 190 degrees (fan oven).

IMG_9281  IMG_9283

It was enjoyed as an afternoon lunch and I have been requested to make it again!