Tuesday and back to Britain!

Tuesday and back to Britain!

Hello again!
Tuesday’s blog rolls back the hours, so back we roll to 1995, when I came back to blighty with the kids. For the sake of sanity, there are episodes in one’s life which are just not worth dwelling on. This time was one such phase in my life. In fact, that might explain why I have no photographic evidence of this phase either! Suffice it to say that I stuck little postcards everywhere; on the window by the kitchen sink, on the bathroom mirror, on my bed headboard, on the car dashboard – everywhere. And every single one read:

“It is never the event, but how you respond to it which will ultimately affect you”. 

And I stand by that.
So the children and I came back to England, moved close to my parents, and I started pedalling like fury to pay the bills. In fact, nothing much has changed! Except the bills have just gotten a whole hellavalot bigger!
P for Perseverance. Well, it would probably have been a lot easier to just go and get a job in the city, but I had made a pledge, remember? To work from home because of the kids? So I didn’t have much choice, except to persevere with what I had begun in America. My parents were brilliant; they helped me look after Grace and Mark so that I could earn a crust and keep going with the Claritystamp adventure. But it was pretty modest in the beginning. I had had to abandon ship in California and start all over again when I got back here. But the lovely Brits really embraced the transparent stamp concept, so it wasn’t such a battle. The battle was trying to develop the business whilst trying to pay the rent! SO. I worked out how much I needed to live on, and then I went out and created enough work to make that amount. Call me simple, but guess what? I always made enough to pay my bills! Ready for this?
Every Tuesday evening, from 6.30 – 9.30, I used to run a stamping workshop at the back of a florist’s shop in Rainham. I was allowed the space free, but I had to keep the shop door open and sell flowers to the husbands who were getting home from London rather late and buying peace offerings for their wives. Now, reading between the lines, you can imagine what I thought about husbands who came home half-cut and late! So not only did the 8 to 10 of us have a grand old time stamping up a storm, I derived a certain sadistic pleasure tapping up these wayward husbands for £30 to £40 bouquets! They’d come in for a bunch of daffs or tulips, and leave with a glorious handheld burst of scented roses and lillies! And my good people would sit quietly behind the trellis partition at the back of the shop, letting me wield Flower Power! But the point was that the group came every week and those 10 good people paid my rent. But only just! So on Sundays I had a 6ft table at the Savacentre in Gillingham. And that paid the other things, like food and petrol. Every Sunday for 2 years, I would pack the kids up in the car (an old Beetle) and then Dad would come to the Savacentre at 6.30am and get them, so that I could set up and work. I never missed a beat. Just like I haven’t missed a beat on the TV the first Sunday of every month for over 5 years now. It’s all about regularity (and perseverance of course!). I call it the Crackerjack effect; do you remember Crackerjack? Because if you do, you will also remember this: It’s Friday, it’s 5 to 5 and it’s Crackerjack!!”
If you are trying to get workshops organised, you need a plan. Let’s talk about P for Plan next week, because I have to get some sleep now; otherwise my plan for tomorrow won’t have been worth planning!


78 thoughts on “Tuesday and back to Britain!

  1. Oh how I admire your drive to survive! A lot of young people today would do well to read your story. Dedication and hard work has gotten you where you are and hopefully you can derive more of the pleasure from your work these days. You certainly make a lot of people happy so keep on crafting! Looking forward to see what the next installment holds for you and your family x

  2. We're a rare breed us " against all the odds achievers!" I have a similar story to tell. Through all the #### life throws us we battle on. The proof is in the pudding, a masterpiece of achievement. So young lady, you deserve all this success and the spotlight is shining brightly on you, take a bow and hear the cheers. Love Marian xxxxxxx

  3. I do so agree with Isobel. Your drive to survive is incredible and has definitely made you what you are today. Your sheer determination to succeed and not to let others down is a great example to so many people. Lord Sugar should hold you up as a true example of what is needed to make your way in life and business. I really look forward every Tuesday to the next instalment of your life. Thank you for sharing it with us. xxxx Maggie. PS Hope you had a good day with your Mum and Dad. I reckon they must be so proud of you.

  4. I have so much admiration for you Barbara. You weren't just persevering to pay the rent…you were doing it for your children too. They must be so proud of you as we all know you are of them. Your drive and determination along with your talent have served you well. What an excellent role model you are (for young and old). And yes I am in the older group that remembers crackerjack! Love Emma xx

  5. I really admire your work ethic; it's even more fantastic that you share so much of what you do with the rest of us. Many thanks for your inspiring thoughts and wonderful artwork

  6. One inspirational lady that's what I've called you when talking to friends. I hope you realise that this is your form of scrapbooking & that it's wonderful you're sharing it with us all xx

  7. Oh Barb, no photos needed of this stage in your personal journey – your words are simply enough to show us all just how dedicated and Positive you were, are and no doubt will continue to be. When I read the bit about the flower shop and your selling the flowers to the sozzled partners it brought a very wide grin to my face…I can imagine you doing that so vividly as if I were there. How great that in reading some of the responses above that your ladies of that time are still stamping today and remember those days with affection…I think I can remember the stall at the savacentre in Gillingham…probably looked and passed you by as I would not have had the money back then to start this wonderful hobby as my kids were very young then and I did not have cash to splash! I feel I can only reiterate how proud your family must be of you and that your kids must have some strong memories of your journey and the little glimpses I see of them on your FB page they clearly have inherited your resolve xxx Roll on next Tuesday for the next instalment…. you should consider putting it all in a book for other future small family businesses to read – tastefully illustrated with your stamps as I think many people starting out would take a lot of strength from your experiences….food for thought??? Kim xx

  8. I am so enjoying these weekly instalments! Love the thought of you running a stamp workshop and selling flowers at the same time 🙂 The hard work has paid off – deservedly! Talking of hard work I am meant to be setting off to work early this morning and you have distracted me. At least I will be heading out with a smile on my face 🙂

  9. Determination, inspirational, admiration……. you've kept going when many would give up. All these life experiences make you what you are….a successful lady that your family must be proud of. I really enjoy reading your blog each day, allowing us an insight into your life and the great ideas with step by step instructions that make it easy to follow. Long may you continue! x

  10. Reading today's blog has brought a tear to my eye. Reminded me of my nan who always used to recite a poem she'd learnt at school whenever there was a drama in the family – I read the whole poem at her funeral – she was also one amazing lady!!!
    " A trouble's a ton, a trouble's an ounce, a trouble is what you make it. Did you tackle that trouble that came your way with a resolute heart and cheerful? Or hide your face from the light of day with a craven soul and fearful? Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,or a trouble is what you make it. And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts, but only how did you take it?" (From “How Did You Die?” by Edmund Vance Cooke).

  11. Hello Barb, you are such an inspiration, overcoming every hurdle that seemed to be put in your way. Thankfully you have persevered, otherwise we would not have the pleasure that is Barbara Gray and Clarity. Bx

  12. I so look forward to your daily offerings Barbara. Tuesday is always inspiration in a different way. We all have our own challenges to overcome, and I always look forward to finding out who you have tackled yours -I think you could write a new style of book!

  13. Well done Barb you are a star, all your hard work has paid of. Love your demo's you certain inspire me. Good luck to you & Clarity in 2014. Hope I can get to a class, dropping hints to the family !

  14. As the saying goes what doesn't break you makes you stronger and that is certainly so very true in your case. You obviously are still hanging on to and not dropping that cauliflower. Thank you Barbara xxxx

  15. As the saying goes what doesn't break you makes you stronger and that is certainly so very true in your case. You obviously are still hanging on to and not dropping that cauliflower. Thank you Barbara xxxx

  16. I'm so enjoying this trip down memory lane with you, I really admire your sense of drive, you are quite simply amazing. I' m loving your blog but there's something special about tuesdays, thank you for sharing xx

  17. I remember your stall up at Hempstead Valley on a Sunday. Kids under the table sometimes!! How far you have come and what a journey. So pleased that I can now benefit from your knowledge by attending your brilliant Cowden workshops. Nice to see that there is a still a stage for crafters to sell their wares at Hempstead Valley for new budding Barbara Grays. Keep the blogs a-coming. xx

  18. Hi Barb,
    I really enjoy your Tuesday blog(& every other day too) and the trips down memory lane. I must say that I admire your strength and perseverance. It must have been so hard for you but thank goodness you kept going and that Clarity is going from strength to strength. It all just goes to show that hard work pays. Thank you for everything you do – you make a difference to us all. Hope you had a fabulous day with your mam and dad.
    Ps my letterbox sentiments have arrived& they are fabulous- thank you. Alison xx

  19. Morning Barbara, another great insight into your life….I totally agree with you if it is one thing that I try to teach my boys is that you have to have commitment and keep going …see things through…work your way up….from paper rounds, Saturday jobs and well every aspect of life…
    Have a good day ….hope you slept well.( and a special hug for your Mum) …Jo. X

  20. Inspirational story, beautifully told. I remember standing for ages at Earls Court (think that was right venue) watching a very talented lady wielding a brayer covered in elastic bands. Signed up immediately for your monthly club which I seem to recall was called "Imagina". Stopped crafting for a while but now back full throttle thanks to your inspiration. 🙂

  21. It's amazing the strength we gain when we have children, there isn't anything I wouldn't do for mine, and they are now in their twenties.. and when I found out I had Breast Cancer there wasn't anything they wouldn't do for me… 🙂

  22. You are one heck of a woman Barbara… I so admire your tenacity and perseverance. Your success has delivered so much joy to such a lot of people… And I'm one of them! Thank you for your strength and inspiration xxx love Mandy xxx

  23. I really enjoy reading these Tuesday blogs, no pictures needed. I do admire your determination and hard work…and you are still working hard. Thank you for sharing. Sally xx

  24. As they say in Essex 'totes amaze balls' that's what you are and shamazing. Fascinating blog, when is the book coming out,will be first in the queue. Crafty hugs xxxx

  25. Hello Barb
    I was going to say "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" but someone else thought the same before me!
    I went through hell for 2 years…. before I came out the other side ….thanks to good friends and the need to provide a roof for my 3 children.
    Revenge is sweeter when you do nothing to the other """""" and they have to keep looking for the stab in the back….. which never comes!
    O! but its lovely watching them .
    My life is calmer and I answer to no one that's Karma !
    I do admire your determination Barb, you deserve all the lovely things that life has sent your way!
    Take care

  26. So much inspiration and insight to your life Barbara. I very much look forward tor eading your blog everyday. The Tuesday blog always makes me realise that you need to put a smile on your face and tackle all that life throws at you head on, the good and the bad. I look forward to reading next weeks instalment about your life and the Plan. PS I am also old enough to remember Crackerjact with Stu Francis and the later ones with The Krankies. Life was so much simpler back then with no bills and only school homework to worry about!

    1. Karin, you are only a baby. I remember Crackerjack with Eamonn Andrews and later with Max Bygraves and then with Leslie Crowther, all before Stu Francis. I reckon I probably saw the very first show in 1955. That makes me very old. xx Maggie

  27. I remember Crackerjack, I remember the Sweets/popcorn Crackerjack too because I used to love the lovely square boxes they came in!! You really are an inspiration Barbara. Its that old saying isn't it "Onwards and Upwards" the Onwards can be achieved as you say if you stay positive the Upwards well as you say you need a Plan don't you!! I am looking forward to next week. I do love reading your Blogs. Sam xx

  28. Thanks Barbara for your inspiration with your crafting and your blog. You help us see that there can be light at the end of a tunnel which is not the train coming towards you, although it might feel like it. Keep up the good work, although I don't know how you find the time to do everything.

  29. I too remember Crackerjack, feeling my age. Your very honest and touching story was sad yet uplifting to read, it shows how strong you are as a lady and a business woman and long may you be successful. Joan x

  30. Thank you for sharing your story, amazing. You are an inspiration to us all. You have certainly had to accept a lot of change in your life…someone once told me "if nothing changes it stays the same"…it's so obviously true, sometimes change is good and it enables you to move on – it certainly has for me. I remember Crackerjack too, Thanks again

  31. What another great part of your life. Single mum, I can understand how difficult it is and am totally with you re. Perseverance. Well done to you, to have done so, and keep fighting so we can now enjoy stunning products.
    Thanks Barbara.
    Laurence x

  32. Crack-er-jack!!!

    Oh how lovely to have another insight into the world of Barbara Gray and the early days of Clarity Stamps! You really are such an enterprising and inspirational person Barbara and proof that if you stick at something and use the brain you were born with you can be successful! Love and hugs xxx

  33. Thank goodness for your perseverance. Now we can all enjoy your fabulous products and inspirational artwork. I'm so glad too that you persevere with the create and craft lessons and Sunday sessions – they are the best days of the month. Lxxx

  34. I remember watching Crackerjack when the presenter was Eamonn Andrews! My 'crafty' friend, Sue Hughes' not only watched the first 'lesson' but she also dug out the card she made 'with you' on that first programme to show us at 'Craft Club'. The quality of the 'Classroom' programme is wonderful and I love watching everyone.

  35. I was a Crackerjack girl never missed a show, thanks for sharing your journey true grit and determination paid off for you. We Mums will move heaven and earth to provide and protect our children when we are up against it. You made me smile with the flower selling story can see you there, they wouldn't have stood a chance lol.


  36. Your blog has definitely become a daily read, Barbara – I loved the trip down memory lane and remember – 'You reap what you sow'. You are definitely reaping the benefits of your hard grit and determination and we are all lucky enough to be making the journey with you.

    Looking forward to 'P for plan' next week.
    Hugz, Jan xx

  37. Interesting! That's where my friend , Bea, and I came in!! She visited you at Gillingham several times and then we both came to your stall in a Tunbridge Wells shopping Mall. We travelled down ffrom South London just to see you! Now we live in Kent, but on the wrong side for your workshops etc.
    I still have the first stamp (a corner one) and inkpad -a green one – you sold me in about 1996, and both are still in use!!

  38. Oh naughty Barb – all those poor sods spending extra pennies – serves em right lol. Read all this yesterday but no time to leave a comment I do love the day you roll back the years its fascinating reading – just nosey lol xx

  39. "It is never the event, but how you respond to it which will ultimately affect you" – please, please could this be made into a stamp as many times this would have been the perfect phase to finish a card. Thank you for taking the time to share your ramblings with all of us Barbara/Clarity fans

  40. "It is never the event, but how you respond to it which will ultimately affect you" – please, please could this be made into a stamp as many times this would have been the perfect phase to finish a card. Thank you for taking the time to share your ramblings with all of us Barbara/Clarity fans

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