Images of Melton Mowbray

I came across this image the other day, showing two of Melton’s finest buildings. As it happens, the Anne of Cleves is also one of our favourite pubs…..

Original source for the image can be viewed at http://www.ilkcam.com/Specials/Days%20Out/Melton01/Melton%20Street.html.

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September 4, 2011 at 03:48 14 comments

Melton Mowbray – our new home

After a frenetic week of packing our crate, preparing the contents of our house for auction and then finally packing the rest of our belongings in to suitcases, as we made our way to the airport in Springfield it all seemed just a little surreal.

The journey itself was pretty smooth going; a short layover in Dallas before the 8 hour flight to London Heathrow. The news in the days leading up to our arrival had been all about the riots in London and elsewhere in the UK but we didn’t encounter anything when we first arrived and haven’t directly encountered anything since, although the newspapers and TV featured little else fpr our first week or so here.

So here we are. Our new home is a market town in the middle of the country called Melton Mowbray. Melton Mowbray is known for foxhunting, pork pies and stilton cheese. It also happens to have a market that dates back over 1,000 years. More about all of that later.

Melton itself is pretty small, with around 25,000 people living in the town itself, and 45,000 in the borough (the immediate surrounding area). But – we’re in easy reach of Leicester, Peterborough and Nottingham. London is just 100 miles away.

We wanted to take this opportunity to break away from being car-slaves, and so are intent on using public transport (and our legs of course!). We’ve started being completely car-free – and will see how we fare with that as the winter sets in…..no promises!

The public transport infrastructure here is great. Melton has a railway station and numerous bus routes connecting to it. More blogs about that later, but a good example is the trip to London. It takes a little under 2 hours by train, and costs just £44 ($75) if booked a day in advance.

This weekend marks the end of the girls’ summer. Jilian started school on Thursday, and Marilian starts at her school this Monday. So now it really does feel like we’re here and settled.

September 4, 2011 at 03:30 Leave a comment

A summer cottage in Osage Beach, circa 1976

A summer cottage in Osage Beach, circa 1976.

July 24, 2011 at 08:18 3 comments

the start of our new chapter

Before getting back to David’s telephone conversation, a couple of  background information “nuggets” might be useful.

Nugget #1

David’s first “proper” job after first graduating from college was with his brother Peter. Peter had earlier launched a jewellery design and manufacturing company called Vipa Designs. Like many other manufacturing businesses, jewellery has changed dramatically in the UK over the past 20 or 30 years. Most of the small to medium manufacturing companies have disappeared, and the bulk of mass manufacturing is now shipped overseas. During that time Vipa has bucked the trend and grown steadily, gaining a reputation for innovative design and high quality manufacturing whether for one-off pieces or for larger quantities.

Nugget #2

Before opening Global Fayre, we had no idea of just how complex the topic of fair trade is. Three years later, our understanding of the whole issue is deeper, but our awareness of some of the complexities is deeper too. Just what “fair trade” actually means differs widely from product to product. When something like coffee is certified as fair trade, we all know that this means that the growers have been paid a fair trade price; it doesn’t tell us anything about the importer or the roaster. Conversely, when you purchase a typical piece of fair trade jewellery, you know that the producer group that made the piece has been treated fairly, but you probably don’t know anything about how the raw materials were produced.

Nugget #3

A really exciting announcement was made in the UK this year on Valentines Day; the Fairtrade Foundation and the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) had come together to certify the world’s first fair trade and fair mined gold. Around 15% of the world’s gold production is sourced from small scale miners, numbering around 15 million. Conditions in these small scale mines are often hazardous both to the people working there and the local environment. (more about this in a later blog). The UK initiative focuses on the three core areas of the gold supply chain: a cluster of small-scale mines, a handful of gold traders, and around 20 designer jewelers (again – more of this in a later blog).

So – nuggets over, back to that phone call.

David and Peter have often used each other as sounding boards, personally and professionally. David was doing exactly that with Peter after the closure of Global Fayre when Peter said “come and help me make this fair trade gold thing work” (or something to that effect). Vipa Designs is one of the 8 companies currently licensed to trade in fair trade gold. Quite where this will lead is not clear, but it’s exciting to find a new challenge and to be able to contribute in some way to the growth of fair trade and ethical business.

So – we’re off to England! David, Cheri and the girls are very very excited. We’ll be living near our family there in the middle of the country.

For now at least, this means that Global Fayre is on hold in terms of having an online store and doing educational work. Our hope is that once we get settled in England (we move in August) we can pick the reins back up; however that works out, we’ll keep posting here and on our facebook page. We remain just as passionate about fair trade as ever, and get a real sense that more and more people are joining us in wanting to become conscious consumers.

 

July 1, 2011 at 17:04 7 comments

The end of a chapter

The last couple of months have been pretty difficult for Global Fayre (meaning for David and Cheri).

We had realized towards the end of last year that we were struggling to cope with the store itself and all of the other activities that Global Fayre required of us, PLUS raising our two daughters PLUS Cheri being a Doula PLUS David doing his own stuff (what is that exactly?!)

We brought someone in to help at the store (Sophie was a great help and a real asset to the team) but by the time we got to the Spring of 2011 the message had firmly sunk in. We didn’t have the resources (financial, physical and emotional) to make the store work as well as it should or as well as we wanted it to.

So in May we took the decision to close the store itself, but to leave the door open to continue with fair trade talks, outside events at local churches and the online store.

Announcing the closure, and dealing with the customer/friend reaction was truly bitter/sweet. People had some very kind words to say, and we really felt appreciated, but then to feel the process take its own momentum; after all, stores open and close all the time, and we are just one of many. An inventory sale seamlessly turned in to a closing sale, with some very loyal customers getting the “one thing” that they had been wanting for a very long time but could never afford or justify. That was very satisfying to see.

We weren’t prepared for how emotionally draining the last two weeks would be; we lost count of the number of times we had “that” conversation about why we were closing, how we would be missed etc etc. Of course, person #200 means it just as much as the person #1 – so you try hard to have the conversation, yet again.

So the store is closed, and we were preparing for life after downtown Global Fayre…..and then David had a very interesting telephone conversation……..

 

June 10, 2011 at 19:51 5 comments

“Cloud 9” Fair Trade silver and Murano glass pendants

We don’t carry many glass products, partly because one of our closest downtown neighbors is a glass blower  (if you ever visit Springfield, aside from coming to Global Fayre, you should make sure to check out Terry and Gabe’s work at Springfield Hot Glass.

But when we saw these beautiful pendants, we just couldn’t resist.

Sterling silver and murano glass pendantThe maker is a woman from Coapango, Guerrero in southern Mexico, Guadalupe Ramos Rios. Our source, Tom Costello tells us that “As far back as the stories go, and as far back as Ms. Ramos Rios can remember, her parent’s parent’s parent’s were artisans who made dresses, shoes, chairs, flatware, jewelry, and other items for everyday use and for personal dress. I have worked with three generations of her family. Every pendant has six components. When the chain or necklace are counted, that makes seven. We christened them “Cloud 9″ because of there light, floating colors and designs.”

For the moment, we are selling them only in our store at 324 S Campbell, Springfield, MO – but in a few weeks we will add them to our online store.

They have arrived just in time for Valentines Day – and to celebrate, we are giving away a Fair Trade Rose with every purchase from Feb 10 to Feb 14.

February 9, 2011 at 00:59 Leave a comment

Shona Sculptures from Zimbabwe

We just delivery of our first piece of Shona Sculpture from our friends at Venture Imports.

Serpentine is the stone most commonly used by the Shona Carvers;  Shona ranges in hardness from 2.0 to 5.5 on “Mohs Scale of Hardness.” It has a huge range of color variations, but most pieces will have some brown, green or black in them.

Our first piece is this beautiful “Kissing Couple” in natural stone.

 

Jennie from Venture Imports describes the carving process this way:

“The artists chip, chisel, sand and then wet-sand each piece. (Before sandpaper, artists would use river sand and a rag in their hands to smooth out the pieces.) Then they place the piece around, or in some cases actually in, a fire. They finish by putting floor polish on the heated piece which sinks into the piece and brings out the natural colors of the stone and makes it shiny. They keep reapplying the floor wax (they use Cobra wax, I use Johnson paste wax) until the surface cools. Then they buff it with a cloth which makes it nice and shiny.”

Jennie also explains how the carvers learn their craft:

“Most of the artists have no formal training, but they often learn as apprentices under a master sculptor. They begin by washing and polishing the master’s pieces and then start working on small pieces of their own. Some of the artists work in cooperatives which is a fun site to see. They are so quick and sing and talk while they chip away.”

More pieces will arrive soon, and will be added to our online store.

February 5, 2011 at 13:18 Leave a comment

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