A birthday party with Creative Spirit at Bonds


This weekend I had the pleasure of collecting 10 unique works of art by emerging artists, original glazed pottery hot off the kiln! No, I’ve not started an art collection (chance would be a fine thing), in fact this was one of the truly nice side effects of being a parent.


Last week our eldest daughter Rachel had her 6th birthday party at Creative Spirit Studio, run by a lovely lady called Nina. Rachel and her friends chose from a range of figurines and crockery, and sitting around a table together were given free range to paint them, with a huge range of colours to choose from. All of the children were engrossed in the task, and impeccably behaved because they were so engaged. After the crafts each child was given their own packed lunch (lovely thick ham and shiny fruit!) before birthday cake and colouring in their own gift bag, in which their finished pottery would be sent home after firing.

For the parents this seemed to be the perfect party, as while their child was occupied they had the chance to browse the rest of the building. Creative Spirit Studio is housed within Bonds which is an enchanting antique, lifestyle and interiors centre. With over 40 concessions under one roof here you can find beautiful kitchens, vintage furniture, glassware, paint, vases, artificial flowers, candles…the list goes on. I originally knew this place as Stratford Antiques and Interiors but came across it under its new identity when on my search for supplies for my desk renovation project The wonders of chalk paint.

Another pleasant surprise was the reinvented cafe, with a menu of homemade and locally sourced treats-including breakfasts, cakes, curry, sandwiches, soups and coffee. Plus free fruit for children. Bonus!

The only problem with Bonds is that it is difficult to visit without making a purchase. EVERYTHING here I wanted to buy, and so far our home has been enriched with two vintage magnifying glasses, blue chopsticks, a Royal Doulton horse figurine and a decorative coat hook. It is these touches though that make a house unique and characterful, rather than a showcase for a budget catalogue range so I’m definitely not sorry!

Back to the party; the finished articles were really impressive. The colours glossy and bright having been fired, and Rachel can’t wait to hand them out to her friends. An item they have created which they can keep is something so special. Nina also offers decoupage, foam clay, mosaic, canvas & fabric painting parties so that’s a good few years of parties covered on my part! In addition, on this return visit I discovered that Bonds also offer workshops in felting, chalk paint, upholstery and pottery which really took my fancy- maybe I’ll get the chance to create something myself soon too.

Where to buy cheap homewares. My favourite retailers.

I spend hours of an evening scouring the internet for my next must have item for our home, and there are a few sites that I always return to. If you are looking for value, or current styles you can afford to change next year have a look at my favourite online retailers, these are the sites I recommend to my friends.

  • George Asda. Best for cheap trendy accessories & bedding. George Asda Home
  • Matalan. Best for soft furnishings and bathroom accessories. Matalan Home
  • Ikea. Best for furniture & basics. Never overlook this Swedish wondershop! Still great value & with some really great designs. I’m in love with their picture shelves. IKEA
  • H&M. Best for accessories and rugs. H&M Home
  • Online carpets. Best for carpets! Amazing value, good quality carpets & underlay with efficient delivery. Online Carpets
  • Better bathrooms. Best for sanitary ware. We’ve renovated 9 bathrooms so far using this company, it’s a great site with some of the best prices I’ve found. Better Bathrooms
  • Blinds2go/Curtains2go. Best for bespoke window dressing. I couldn’t believe the made to measure roman blinds, roller blinds & curtains I’ve received from this online shop. For a fraction of the price anywhere else & with a range of fabrics for all budgets. blinds2go
  • Next clearance. Best for ready made curtains. This is the first place I look for curtains as the prices are hugely reduced for great quality curtains. Next Home Clearance
  • Magnet. Best for a new kitchen. A great range of styles in 3 price bands. The cheapest (Simply Magnet) are still a good quality kitchen. Magnet Kitchens
  • Ebay & Amazon. Best for branded basics & electronics. Whenever I find a basic I always check these two marketplaces for price comparison and delivery options. I’ve bought good mattresses, garden storage & furniture through them recently. Ebay & Amazon
  • Screwfix. Best for DIY. Don’t avoid it thinking it’s just for tradespeople. They stock pretty much every piece of hardware/plumbing/electrical essential you might need & they sell to anyone, you can even do same day click & collect. Screwfix