It’s Summer! Let your kids play in the street

Well, not literally in the traffic, but how about it? Every year the conversation between parents about leaving children to play unsupervised comes around regularly, especially during the long summer holidays. I used to play in my road, but it was a cul-de-sac so I wasn’t in any real danger of being knocked down by a car. But it was freedom. Total freedom to dig around, talk nonsense with the other kids who spoke the same language, and play until your parent called you inside for a meal, or sometimes came looking for you!

This wasn’t an idyll of being left to roam around in woodland or forests or anything else magical, it was a plain old inner city cul-de-sac. But it was where we lived.

Radiantlady wishes for a world where children can be free to play in safety. Photo courtesy of

Radiantlady wishes for a world where children can be free to play in safety.
Photo courtesy of


I read an article recently about a working mother in the States who was reported to the police for leaving her child playing in a municipal playground with other kids – while she went to work. It was a playground her daughter was familiar with but it was the fact that there was no hovering mum or parent or even older sibling that got strangers talking. Another case featured a woman, desperate to find work, who’d locked her children safely inside a hot car, while she attended an interview.

There are multiple issues at play here: cost of childcare, risks to children, parental responsibility, personal opinion, age and maturity of the child or children, time of day that the child is left alone… it’s a long list with many variants.

In our family, we started our summer holiday simply and cheaply: a trip to the charity shop to stock up on summer reading materials, a cheeky iced coffee for mum and a fishing net from the hardware store. Quite low tech. Like hundreds of parents, I will be juggling the need for childcare due to work commitments with the desire to create a carefree sense of abandonment from daily routine, for the summer holiday.

Reading these press articles you realise that half of you is wishing for Utopia and the other half, is rooted in reality. You also realise, that most parents take risks with their children; calculated risks – the first time they go on the bus alone, the first walk round to the corner shop.  Playing outside all day with no adult supervision, is different, but is it any safer than the walk to school or a sleepover? We have a modern day paranoia about child molesters and the like. But we only need to read the news and know a drop about history to acknowledge that the ‘bad’ person is not a modern bogeyman; he’s always been there.

So what to do?

1. Trust your instincts

2. Teach your child the basics of what to do if…(fill in your own blanks here, we parents are pretty good as frightening the skin off ourselves!)

3. Give your child freedom, but try if first in small groups, with three or four kids near their age and an older one?

4. Put your mobile number on your child’s hand or inside a lunch box or something they have with them.

5. Teach your child the safe meeting place to go to in case they get lost.

I’m not an expert on child protection and not suggesting you book the first flight to Australia having given your kids a quick run through! Just thinking of things we can do to give our children the confidence to be independent beings in a world that often feels unsteady.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this one!

It’s a balancing act, but no-one said parenting was easy.


© Suzy Rigg




Vintage Fashion

Just had to show you this ‘wow’ necklace I picked up from a flea market in Paris. Oh, all right then, it was from a charity shop in South West London. But you’ve got to live the dream, eh?


Conversation Between Friends loves vintage

Conversation Between Friends loves vintage

And for the fashionista sistas… my words of wisdom are:

” A piece of jewellery this eye-catching needs to take centre stage; keep the rest of your clothing muted and your make up subtle. Otherwise you may end up looking like that pantomime dame. Never a good look. Thank you for your attention, darlings”


© Suzy Rigg

Loom Bands craze, a parent’s badge of honour

Loopy Loomband

Suzy’s Loom: Adorning the end of my arm is an eye-catching traditional fishtail loomband, in topical, tropical summer coral hues.

In this next photo, Jake is modelling a hand-made rainbow selection whilst he entertains his chums on the guitar:

Radiantlady loves guitarists

Radiantlady loves guitarists

We bumped into a mother of a girl aged about nine and we had a conversation about loom bands and the fact that at work, nearly everyone round the meeting room table had on a loom band. Perhaps they should be called ‘love bands’ as wearing them demonstrates a real act of love for your child when you are at work; a bold statement to the world that you are a parent and YES! you will wear rubber band jewellery if it’s made by the fair hand of your offspring.

I smiled inwardly. How far things have come since I was a young single working mum, too afraid to tell her employers that I had a little girl. What a curious charm these bands are, uniting working parents in such a subtle way. The best thing about this craze is that it’s market driven, the kids love ‘em so they make them and wear them and so do you. It’s a far stronger message than any political campaign could dream of aspiring to.

Educationally they are great too, as they demand good hand eye-co-ordination, good manual dexterity, the ability to follow instructions and contain the in-build motivation of a cool band at the end of it.

Try a few yourself, it’s a great way to relax with your children and stay cool this summer.


Suzy Rigg


On your doorstep

Can you spot the robin?

Can you spot the robin?

I’m sure this is not particular to London dwellers, but we are as guilty as many who live in beautiful and wealthy cities but do not take full advantage of them. Conversation Between Friends believes that we are all part of a micro-community as well as the larger ‘society’. In some ways because the larger society and social cohesion is becoming so fractured, it’s more important than ever to belong or be part of something local.



Beautiful black swans

I actually visited the Wetlands Centre in the heart of Barnes with my family although I have driven past it more times that I can remember. It was an oasis in the heart of an affluent suburb. The the only things that were rich and showy were the spectacular birds and wildfowl. We paid for a family ticket through Living Social, which meant the entry price was fairly well discounted. The face value entry price was one of the reasons why we haven’t visited before.

We spent five hours there and it was five, slow relaxing hours in which we learned or were reminded of the value of water, in particular fresh water to our delicate eco-system, of which humans are playing a dominating part.

I learned that only 3% of water in the world is freshwater. I considered the complexities of town planning if you live in a flood plain. I learned about more animals and wild life that are nearing extinction and what we can each do to reduce this race against time. I watched a sickening video about the layers of cooking fat that are congealed and blocked under London’s busiest streets. I was reminded about the importance of teaching our children to be global citizens and aware of the world around them and their impact on it.


Utterly Otter-ley

But most of all, I learned not to ignore the hidden treasures on all of our doorsteps. Some of them are free, some aren’t, some need your entry fee to continue their good works, some are just another way to get to know your neighbourhood better, and really understand your place in it.


© Suzy Rigg

Older Women – a Beautiful Paradox

So much of beauty is associated with youth, if you think of the language used by the cosmetics industry for women, you get a strong sense of beauty being firmly a luxury of youth: the ‘bloom’ in the cheeks, ‘taut’ skin ‘flawless’ foundation. Photography is primarily of young, often teenage young women, with barely a feminine lump in sight, with hyper-slim bodies, unmarked by age or the ravages of time.

But wait! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and Edo Zollo, an Italian-born London photographer sees so much beauty in the mystery and wisdom of older women, he is staging an exhibition in July in London to shed new light on a selection of wonderful women who have left the flush of youth firmly behind them.

His photography project entitled ‘Beauty in Older Women’ has been a labour of love. The photographs, taken against harsh urban backdrops, feature ten women who are not professional models, clothed only in a white sheet.


Conversation Between Friends loves Beauty Older Women

Solange, 79, featured in Beauty Older Women

Photographs of these ten beautiful women will be on display at Craft Central Gallery from 7th-13th July, at Craft Central Gallery, London, EC1.

Edo explains his vision for the exhibition: “The photos challenge the accepted view of ageing women as unattractive; my subjects are aged between 67 to 79 and are proud to show their bodies and their characters in my portraits. Each photograph is accompanied by a statement from the women. Hazel (79) writes ‘I’m doing something I have never done before. At my age, you have done most things, what a joy to find yourself involved in a new experience!’ Margaret (67) says: ‘Do not accept society’s evaluation! Be proud of who you are, expect to be noticed and look for attention. We deserve it and no matter who we are, we have contributed and should not be ignored or set aside.’ I wanted to capture their inner and outer beauty, said Edo, whatever their age, these women they are striking!”

A poignant example of the importance of this project is Val’s story: She was widowed recently and after meeting Edo and the other women and being photographed for the project, she started to feel better about herself and is starting to move on with her life.

As we traverse this age of enlightenment, it’s fitting that the divine feminine is celebrated even when she is not as young as her younger self!

Congratulations to Edo and his brave and beautiful subjects.


Hazel, striking at 79

Hazel, striking at 79

If you are in London that week, Edo, Solage and the others would love to meet you and tell you about their exciting experience with Beauty Older Women.

The Exhibition is supported by Hanover, who provide housing for older people.

Dates: 7th – 13th July



Venue: Craft Central @CraftCentral, 33 – 35 St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 4DS

e: @beautyolder

© Suzy Rigg


Creative thinking, vital time or a waste of time?

Many of us boast about our creativity. Many more run screaming for the hills when the word ‘creativity’ is mentioned. Myers-Briggs tells me I’m split about straight down the middle on creativity vs. logic. There is a heated conversation between professionals about what makes someone creative. Where are you on the creativity spectrum? If you work in the field of communications, the likelihood is that you engage a sizeable chunk of your right brain in your daily work. But how much is too much? or more importantly not enough? And how is creativity measured?

We all know creativity is valued and highly desirably in our industry. In fact, it can be the difference between winning awards and not being the “also-rans.” And we all know that impact that awards have on our bottom line, don’t we? Yes! You can attract new business with your shiny new award and keep the business stealers at bay for at least a year.

So how does your organisation nurture creativity in its people? There’s a whole industry dedicated to teasing out those game-changing ideas from staff and while they all enjoy varying levels of success, there is one thing you can control in your march for the competitive edge of creativity. And that’s you!


computer-eye-strain473Sharing at a screen can be counter productive to creative thinking.

There is an array of tools available to PR, social marketers and agency creatives, to help them simplify their workload, making it faster, simpler, more immediate. But where is the time for creative reflection to keep ideas fresh and pursue innovation?

Indulge me while I reminisce for a while, to a sultry summer afternoon in a South London suburb and yours truly was at work in a newly converted office, which used to be a church, complete with lofty eaves. I was – steel yourself reader -looking out of the WINDOW! I was also in the midst of selling in a story to journalists but taking five minutes to think. Working out how to position the story to make it most appealing to the busy journo at the other end of the ‘phone. Working out whether to go straight for the core message, or should I meander to the point, gauging his or her level of interest first? I was in the middle of this imaginary conversation when PING! An email from my boss arrived, which read something like..”I notice you are gazing out the window, I do not pay you to gave out of the window, you are supposed to be on the ‘phone to journalists!

My answer reader was polite, eloquent even. Suffice to say, I took my ideas and enthusiasm and applied them elsewhere!

Getting back to the drift of the article, was she right or wrong, or was I? The real question about the permissibility of  personal thinking time at work. Whether you are a contractor or an employee, the pressures are intense, being seen to be doing something is the over riding culture is many places. Trendy agencies and forward-thinking companies like Google have long cottoned on value in creating a comfortable, ostensibly slower paced working environment to encourage creative thinking and stimulate brand extending ideas.

In the super-fast workspace that we inhabit, it seems that the most covetable commodity to offer employees is time. Time to look sideways at issues, time to turn problems on their heads and to stretch yourself intellectually. Time to productively gaze out of the window!

Here’s my sanity saving seven-step plan for creativity ( you will need to use your initiative about how easy these techniques will be to apply in  your work space/lunch break):

1. Visit art galleries or museums with a note book and smartphone

2. Talk to people in totally different careers sectors to yourself

3. Talk to people in your organisation who are employed in customer-facing roles

4. Pretend your are someone else…’if I were xx what would I think about this issue?”

5. Read a dictionary! Not cover to cover (!) but flicking through can stimulate your imagination

6. Listen to inspirational speakers either live on in the internet  – overcoming adversity tunes into your brain’s ‘fight or flight’ mechanism

7. Listen to classical music (particularly Mozart, Bach, Handel) the light and repetitive rhythms lower the heart rate, you feel less anxious and the ideas start to flow!

Here’s what those chaps at the Blur Group are saying about ideas and how to keep yourself open to them..

In essence I think that…


“Creativity is a spark, the result of a confluence of thought and feeling”

Happy thinking!

© Suzy Rigg







Doing homework with my son, sometimes has incredible results. I found myself drawn into the fascinating and disturbing history of the Native Americans. I was blown away by just how many tribes there were across the far west of America, in California, Wyoming, Montana. The rich history of the chiefs, the lyrical names like Sittingbull and Chief Crazy Horse, Geronimo.

It’s hardly surprising this violent part of America’s history has inspired so many films and launched the acting careers of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.

I was also humbled and intrigued by a people so unique and wedded to the earth and traditions. that I was inspired to write a poem, it’s called:

‘Cheyenne’. I hope you like it.




Melodious tribal names, sweet calling cards of the past

there is gentility in your call, dear Sioux, brave Navajo, gentle Arapaho

Cheyenne rings like the clearest bell: shhhaaaaaaay ennne!

That faraway look in your eyes,

it is the look of centuries, of bloodshed and pride

like a totem of self-determination

a plumage that stands atop your soul and quivers there.

You dare to gaze upon my beauty

when it was you who plucked me bare

and left me bleeding under a grey expanse of sky?

Laughing crows picked at your carcass in bleak rain

the battle was fought hard and hard won

you were warriors of the wild west

slaves to no-one

flag bearers of the original American Dream

Homeland survivors

in the land that you called home.





The images are sourced from public files on the internet and I’m grateful to be able to use them to illustrate this poem.

Suzy Rigg 2014

For Maya

Missing Mayaphoto courtesy positiveimageproject



We felt your light, your strength, your hope

as dark-skinned girls

with large white teeth

and short black hair

you made us shine like ocean pearls

yes, we were proud to be *black* girls

you made us laugh, you made us cry

your poetry made us feel alive

you sang your song,

your heart laid bare

your spirit rising took us there

Emotions raw

touched every nerve

life’s rich agony

strange, absurd

We are one people

all we have is love

your legacy a wealth of prose

we’ll flood your words

from brows to toes

you rose up sista

like a bird

although you’ve gone

your voice is heard

around the globe

your words will go

For you are forever, Angel-ou.

RIP Dr. Maya Angelou 4.3.28 ~ 28.5.14

© Suzy Rigg






The Mask – Dr. Maya Angelou

I find this one so moving, so personal – WHAT a performance.

She touches on the part of women, and in particular black women, that is so alluring: the layers of charm, humour and wit that are used to hide our pain, hurts and rejection.

No one must know what’s behind the mask, it’s private, that’s the real me right there. If I show you the real me, what will be left?




Fashion for less

If you are looking for fashion for less, look no further than you local charity shop – I call it ‘Charity Shop Chic’, which is essentially dressing like a royalty on a servant’s budget. What’s not to like?

For charity shop devotees like myself, there is a certain joy in tracking down a bargain for yourself, your child or your other half and knowing you are contributing in a positive way to improve the lives of others in the process.

Niamh (snapped in Teddington) certainly had ‘the look’, looks like she’s been to Fara too!


Charity Shop Chic

Conversation Between Friends loves Charity shops!



But what’s in the box?


© Suzy Rigg