Cheesy panic stations!

I sabotaged my own business this week. 🙁

Just for those who may not know my alter-ego – ann of slate-ware – it is this business I am talking about – not the novel writing,

So there I am looking at the google adwords – you know those that appear beside the main body of searches and in the faintly (and getting fainter) pink block across the top.You probably know that all these ads are paid per click – so each time you click on one of these, the business who placed the ad pays google some money. Sounds vague – well this is because the business owner has to put a bid on how much they want to pay for their ad to be displayed when a range of specific keywords are put in by the potential customer. And it is vague. You are given ‘guidance’ like – “the average bid for page 1 is 15p” – meaning that you need to be bidding something in that region to get your ad on the first page.

Now, for certain items like slate plates and slate place cards my products naturally (organically) appear on the first page of the seach results. Fot these I do not usually advertise as well. However, some of my products do not appear on the first page, like slate clocks and slate cheeseboards, and for these I do.

So, I put in the search box one of my paid-for keywords, ‘slate cheeseboards’ – and expected to see my ad appear. It was not there! I tried another – still no ad. I checked that I had not had my limit already spent that day (You can set your own limit for how much you want to spend – but that can quickly get used up at this time of the year and I often have to increase it in November) however, it hadn’t all been used. What was going on?

Exploring my ad campaign, I found that google were now suggesting that this keyword would need an average bid of 49p for the ad to appear on the first page. Call me a miser if you like, but 49p a click !!! At that rate I’d have to put the price of the cheeseboards up, and that would never do!

Better by far, I thought, to get onto the first page naturally – but despite having one of the widest ranges of slate cheeseboards available on the Internet, my slate cheeseboards did not show until page 3 – which I am sure you will agree, is further than most people tend to go to look for items.

My webmaster advised that if I wanted that particular term to show up I should have it in my item names (they mostly said cheese board or cheeseboard) and to put them into a separate group – not just within Tableware.

I then spent hours doing this – adding the plural – setting up the new category, finessing the categories the cheeseboards appeared in to reallocate them and then, feeling please with myself, I tried a search.


All the results that appeared only led to an ‘error’ page for my website!

What do you do if the product you were looking for only gives you an error page – ….yep you just click it off.  Every single one of my dozen cheeseboards now led to an error page!

I had successfully sabotaged my own business! And at the most important time of the year!!  Which is pretty cheesy!!

Hot! Cold! Could I remember the exact words for each to put them all back? What of my bid for organic first page ranking? Panic, hair pulling  – you get the picture.

An URGENT message to my webmaster and a lot of holding my breath and crossing my fingers and the answer came back – maybe it can be sorted out!

***                        ****                           ******                     ********                *********

Fast forward a few days and my wonderful webmaster has almost sorted it all out – the links that have been developing all over the Internet over the past five years since I started my slate-ware business, once again lead the customer back to the correct page!

And everything is apple-pie again 🙂

Have you ever tried to improve something but got yourself into a worse predicament than when you started? Does the ‘mind’ of the Internet lose you along the way? Do share and make me feel a little better 😉


For FWT cheerleaders – same as last week – so close! Just  a pound and a half to go!


Time for a Slate Clock and this week’s FWT? results

A few weeks ago I realised that one topic I had not blogged about specifically was slate-craft!  Which is strange, as it is an activity I do A LOT !

Most of you will know that this blog is also linked to the website (and to the Facebook page of the same name).  Now I write whenever I can, but creating handcrafted slate-ware is my ‘day job’.   It’s a small business that I have built up from nothing over the past 5 years and AnnMade slate-ware has a good name amongst top chefs and restaurateurs as well as individuals from all over the UK and even as far afield as the USA, Holland, Eire and Australia.

My carefully hand polished and food-safe olive-oil conditioned Slate Plates were specifically asked for by Michelin starred Chef Richard Corrigan for his show on Channel 4, ‘Cookery School’, and they have been used multiple times on The Great British Menu, both in the heats and at a banquet. These and specialist shaped or sized bespoke slate cheeseboards or plates have been made for many chefs and hotels including Marcus Waverly at the Berkley. You may have guessed, I’m quite proud of my little business.

However, I also make a lot of other products for both home and garden, some of which are one-off items, sometimes made from reclaimed slates from Cornwall, notably the famous Delabole slate. This slate weathers well and after a couple of hundred years shows beautiful patterns and markings caused by inclusions of minerals like iron pyrites (fools gold)

While I was busy making a new slate ‘natural sun’ clock using a piece of reclaimed Delabole I decided to take photos as I went along to show you the process and get at least one specific blog into that topic!

Now ‘natural sun’ is just my name for this particular design that I created, where the hours are marked by slots in the slate creating a sun-ray effect to the edge, and each one is unique as each slate is different.

Hope you found this guide to making this type of slate clock interesting.  And talking of time – there is still just time to enter my great Draw to Win a Kindle (or 1 of 4 other prizes) Just click on the link to get all the details, and if you have already signed up make sure you tell everyone you know about it, so they can have a chance too. Only 147 places left!

Finally, for my great cheerleaders who are encouraging me in my quest to lose weight through resistance weights exercises carried out at home and taking less than 15 mins a day (want to know more? click here) .. the results for this week are in. Now you will recall that last week I lost 2 pounds (and was very pleasantly surprised at this stage) well, this week there was no change on the weight front. So still at 10st 1 lb and still tantalisingly close to that 10st goal!  However, the inches moved a little – both measurements, relaxed and pulled in tight were down a quarter of an inch. Considering that the pulled in tight measurement didn’t move last week I am happy with this.

What do you think of the process of making this design of clock?  Do you work in a similar craft?  I just love to hear from you folks!




Divining an Inspiration

A captured-spring well

Google ‘divining’ and you’ll land in a vehement discussion as to whether it is real and true or just luck and trickery. There seems to be a big divide between those who believe and those who don’t.  I shall nail my colours to the mast. I believe.

Many years ago, after the spring that feeds our water supply reduced to just a trickle, we invested in having a borehole drilled.

Now I am under no illusion that Cornwall, and particularly this part, is a dry area. I know that there are many springs around – it is something that I have done a small historical study on, the domestic captured-spring wells of the parish. Like this one – where the spring has been boxed in by slate slabs (making a dipping pool of about 10 inches deep) with a little stone ‘house’ built over it and even (once) doors to keep out blowing debris and animals.

However, we contacted a guy who later became well known, with a short series on BBC TV, Donovan Wilkins, known as Don the Diviner. His business (based at Chacewater – true!) was borehole drilling and his promise was that when the drilling was made it should produce the amount of water he had predicted or you didn’t pay. Not just water – but the right amount of water.

A hazel Divining or dowsing rod

They came. They being Don and his wife Margaret and he looked around the small paddocks and strode around divining rod in hand, marking a few likely spots. His wife watched. After a while she suggested he try ‘over there on the other side of that gate’. Pointing at the gate to the strip that then led to the big field. So over there they went and within minutes he started sticking rods in all around. Soon he’d marked many lines of underground water and the place where they crossed. He told us how deep they would drill and the quantity of water in gallons per second. (I learned much later, from another renowned dowser, that Margaret was considered as good a diviner, if not better than, Don)

He then offered to show us all how to divine for water. Most of our family had ‘it’ to some extent or other, and #1 son, then aged about 7, was particularly good. Even after relinquishing the rod he seemed to still be able to sense the lines of water underground and described it to me like lights inside his head moving round until they met.

The borehole was drilled and the water found in just the abundance that was promised and an experience was locked into my head. Over time I read up about divining and found that water wasn’t the only thing that diviners could sense.

It was this, of course, that I drew upon when creating my novel Divining the Line, the handsome Cornish water diviner is following a line that isn’t water. It leads him to a nondescript estate in the southeast, a meeting with a woman and a near fatal beating. The woman is at a turning point in her life and ready to follow her own line of discovery that leads them both back down to Cornwall. What comes from this is a story of family, love and loss.  Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life. Read reviews here

Of course in such a novel there has to be Divining – and here are two excerpts from DIVINING THE LINE  involving divining for water… firstly from page one….

Perran Lovering stood in the centre of a circle of white steel spears, marking the lines, and thrust a red spike into the earth between his feet. ‘Right,’ he said ‘that’s it.’

            He smiled and looked round the garden, it was about the best place they could have found, close enough to the road to make access easy and far enough away from the old Cornish farmhouse to be discreet.

‘Would you like to try? I’ll show you how,’ he offered, and held out the vee-shaped hazel stick to the owners.  

The wife blushed but held out her hand. As she took hold of the stick she tried to remember how he’d held it, but couldn’t as she had been keener on watching this handsome young man go about his work, than the work itself.

‘Like this,’ he said warmly. He laid out her hand flat, soft white palm upwards, and placed one arm of the dark rod upon it, its end passing just under her thumb, the lead up to the vee crossing her small finger. ‘Okay, now the same with the other hand. Right. Now grip it.’

She did, finding her wrists twisted inwards at an unnatural angle. 

He looked at her, made sure he had her attention. ‘Now pull the rods so that your wrists come straight.’

She followed his instructions feeling warm with embarrassment.

‘Got it?’

She nodded. 


And then from chapter 8

Back in his room he began to work in earnest. He marked the boundary of the first property as far as was known, he shaded in the ‘impossible’ sites, where farm buildings were, ponds, woodland, and other impediments to the machinery  reaching the sites. He took up the pendulum, letting it swing and twist in his fingers. He thought, water once more filled his mind, the pendulum was brought to swing over the site, eyes open he followed its guiding lines, watched as the swing slowed to a stand-still and became a gentle twisting motion. He fixed his eyes upon the point, let the crystal rest, marked the place with the pencil. He breathed as if he’d held his breath. The site chosen by the pendulum was clear of any of the known obstructions. The lines on the map suggested the ground was reasonably level, that is, level for Cornwall. He picked up the pendulum once more, allowed it to find the spot again, then turned his mind inwards seeking knowledge of the depth that the water ran at, and the quantity that coursed through the place selected. Using imperial measurements he sunk his mind by feet, ‘felt’ a major flow at eighty foot, but went on down, finding the best at a hundred and twenty. He next thought of quality and tasted sweet water in his mouth and was satisfied with that. Finally he needed to fix the quantity, the pendulum answered the numbers as he thought them, settling on eight hundred gallons an hour or thereabouts. All this he noted down and when finished shook himself as if suddenly feeling a chill, his innermost mind shivered from exposure.

Divining the Line and my other Novels (Nothing Ever Happens Here and Some Kind of Synchrony) are all available from annmade books and from Amazon

Or you could Win  a copy ….  as of today there are just over 400 places left in the draw I am holding for one lucky person to Win a Kindle – with runner up prizes of a Nero Slate cheeseboard and ecopies of each of my novels – including Divining the Line. To enter you only need to email sign up to this blog (see box above left) Click HERE to get all the details of when and how the draw will be made, how to get extra entries and why you’ll want to tell all your friends about it!

 By the way, for this week FWT? cheerleaders – results for week 16 are now on the drop-down from FWT? button!

Have you ever had experience of water divining or dowsing? Do you believe in it or think it is just hocus-pocus? I’d love to hear from you on this subject!


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