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Ratlook HeartDue to ill health we have had to put Tilly Ba Lou on hold for now but here’s a reminder of one of favorite forms of trade …. VDub shows where we coined the phrase … Love your VDub Then Give it a Heart.

This is one aspect of the business I really and truly miss :(

The picture is a Ratlook Heart in a Ratlook Look Bus :)

This was from Tatton Park 2014. We last sold at V Dub Shows in 2009 so it was such a joy to see one  of our hearts still chesrished … see it on this fab Youtube clip at around 5.16.

If you want to be notified when we’ll be producing again please register for updates at  http://www.tillybalou.com

Love and thanks to all of our customers over the years we hope to be back soon xxx

I have been reliably informed by many of my florist friends that this year, in protest of the sky high price of red roses, valentines day will be mostly purple!

I’m not sure how well the public at large will understand this concept but personally I love so many different flowers and hardly ever receive them. So for me I would love a seasonal bouquet of any spring bulbs with twigs, preferably twisted willow!

Whatever you choose, please order them from your local independent florist and try to order as soon as possible to give them the best possible chance of sourcing the most beautiful flowers at the best prices. Let me share with you some of the most beautiful flowers, bouquets and ideas I have found and featured on our Beautiful Great British Independents Facebook page over this last couple of weeks.  

I started my research by sharing the first gorgeous lilac and green bouquet from Handties Floral Studio, whose owner, Michael Parleto assured me that this year purple and lime are very much en trend, regardless of Valentines Day.  Our page fans loved it and virtually all said they would love this type of bouquet and colorway for Valentines.

I have to confess to not even checking the price of the Moyses Stevens bouquet, although Philip and Don from Blue Geranium (Don actually worked with Moyses Stevens back in 2003) assured me that even they would have to charge around £120 for something that manificent.  However, they could easily do a beautiful bouquet, using the same flowers but roughly a quarter of the size, gift wrapped for around £40.

I absolutely adore the next two bouquets from Hannah Burnett and Jo Flowers but then I just adore whimsy and Jo Flowers has to be one of my favorite florists.

This door wreath from Dreamweavers Wedding Venues would make a gorgeous valentines gift … imagine coming home and finding that or something similar on your front door (swoon) … and although the bouquet from Agapanthus is a wedding bouquet, the heart shape would be so fitting for valentines day.  Come on boys, use your imagination and talk to your local independent florist for inspiration and ideas on putting the most thoughtful gift you can together.

For those of you who are married, why not take a snap of your wedding flowers in with you and have something designed to reflect them in some way.

If you really have no ide of your significant others taste in flowers, why not take a couple of snaps of her favorite rooms to the florist with you.  Come on … let’s get creative and show them just how much we love them.

Kerry Illidge from Zu Zu’s Petals told us

“We always offer more country style posy for Valentines, excluding any Red from a cost point of view and secondly, the soft pastel colours are what my customers want, and me too!!  I try to keep my look whatever the time of year and also run with what’s seasonal.”

A romantic candlelit dinner cooked by a significant other is always well recieved IF it’s not something you do every week.  That said, it wouldn’t matter whether the dinner was burnt beans on toast (Yes I have been served that in the past!!!) IF the table centre looked like the one featured from the Flower Mill.

Do you already have a candelabra or a special something tucked away that wouldn’t be missed if you sneaked it out of the house … take it to your local florist and ask what they can do with it … remember snaps of wedding flowers or where it will be placed are invaluable to get the look that just hits the spot!

How about matching flowers and dog! … No seriously, depending upon how well trained your pooch is, get him to greet her at the door, wearing flowers and holding a card or special gift in his teeth.  I just love “Please can we marry him” from Willow Floristry.  For those of you already married for a number of years why not book a date for re-newing your wedding vows (Just a tip though guys … give her plenty of notice!)

OK so you still think Valetines Day should be red.  Well, the gorgeous vintage style bucket from The Flower Studio is also available in reds …

And what happens with colour if we combine shades of red with shades of purple …shades of plum (yum yum) … the hellebore and Black Jack tulips from Blue Geranium are just divine.  Now I also have a sneaky insight here from Philip Thornford of Blue Geranium … would you like to hear it?


“I’ve heard on the grape vine that UK wholesalers have warned the Dutch that red roses will be a big no-no this year for St Valentine’s. This could have a double edged problem – price of red roses being much cheaper than anticipated, but orders for non-red flowers being greater and other colours being higher in price”

Philip also told us …..

“For the past 6 years Blue Geranium has provided more non-red rose bouquets for St Valentine’s.”

So what do we do????!!!!!

We do what we know will show how much we really love and appreciate our significant other no matter what the cost … even a few of her favorite blooms in a recycled jam jar or tin if that is your budget, with a beautifully thought out note tied to it will bring her to her knees … I can’t actually believe I just said that :o!

Let me give you an example though before you choose the red rose route of what you can expect to get for your money … this from Amy Curtis Floristry

“Mixed hand ties start from £30 but that is more the £45 ish because of spray rose variety used but we buy the best quality at the best prices varying content depending on what is available to offer best value for money we can”

I asked Amy what would a red rose option cost and look like and here is her response …

“I have 6 red from £34.99 BUT offer deluxe price points where the rose quality and Stem length head size increase. The floristry industry is facing so much competition from multi national retailers not just the supermarkets but now even from within our own industry from order gatherers and relay companies. It really is about shopping wisely and choosing an independent, experienced or highly qualified florist that can design intelligently within the market availability for the consumer to achieve value for money, a personal service and great design!”

Yes I think I’ll take the seasonal hand tie please!

… and Philip from Blue Geranuium gave me another snippet … most men prefer one of the 3 primary colours when choosing flowers and prefer solid blocks of colour! … SO MEN … remember you are choosing flowers for her not yourself!!!! … unless you are a man choosing for your man … in which case this may be a very important factor for you to consider!

phil and don

The lovely Philip and Donald from the gorgeous Blue Geranium

So here it is … the traditional Valentines bouquet of red roses:

Roses are Red my Love!!! ... HOW MUCH???? ... expect to pay between £150 and £190 depending upon the type of rose!

Roses are Red my Love!!! … HOW MUCH???? … expect to pay between £150 and £190 depending upon the type of rose!

Whatever you choose and whatever you do, have a wonderful Valentines day … Always With Love … Denise xx

Shop Local and Boost your Local Economy

Shop Local and Boost your Local Economy

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New for Christmas 2013 are our automative Tug Boat Sculptures.  We have a selection of around 14  sculptures which will be added to our Facebook Christmas Market Night album before Sunday. They each stand approximately 32cm, with a width and depth of 9cms. They will be £69 each inc P&P to UK. Each sculpture is hand painted and distressed prior to being waxed to give an aged finish.


There are 3 strips of wood across the top, representing a boardwalk. Each of these can be stamped with a word, up to 4 letters long … ours say tiLLY Ba LoU. Once stamped and dried these are also waxed.

You can choose to have them personalised or just waxed.

Details of our Christmas Market Night on Facebook here.

Always With Love … Denise xxx



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For a chance to win £100 to spend with Tilly Ba Lou or any of the gorgeous companies featured on our Beautiful Great British Independents Page.

Simply subscribe to this blog and then check out the 4 different looks for Christmas featured below.  Then comment on your favourite one.

Once you’ve done that, simply go to the post pinned to the top of the Beautiful Great British Independents page and Comment “done”.  Winner will be drawn this Sunday.

Good Luck … Always With Love … Denise xxx

To spend with Tilly Ba Lou you will need to attend the Facebook Christmas Market Night on Sunday Evening.  Details pinned to the top of the Tilly Ba Lou page … items being added daily xxx




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In the centre of our living room we have what I suppose you would call a chandalier … you know, one of the plastic ones for around £30! … Anyway it is now covered in silvered tiny baubles hanging from vintage gray velvet ribbon and finished with antiqued, silvered stars.  Although it looks absolutely gorgeous it hangs roughly at shoulder level even for a dwarf like me!  The answer, to put a very small table underneath and decorate it with more of the things I love ….

…. and so the raiding of the bedroom commenced.  All of the pressed glass vintage cake stands, tiny jugs and pewterware were combined with a few more silvered ornaments, baubles and church candles, before adding delicate flowers in very soft tones.  I also couldn’t resist these gorgeous carnations.

I am so looking forward to a weekly visit to my local florists to carefully choose a few blooms for each of my Christmas themes.P

Perhaps I ought to mention that the upcycled cupboad on which the hand tie is displayed is actually my ribbon cupboard … it’s about 5ft tall and 4ft wide lol …

BTW Santa’s sleigh is actually our rowing machine :D

Always With Love … Denise xxx

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Just loving the current trend of all things sparkly and kitsch for Christmas … it so takes me back to my childhood and so as you open the living room and look straight ahead you cannot help but notice the area that is usually my desk!

The customised lampshade on the upcycled sideboard that houses my paperwork and printer, sets the tone for this bright vintage theme.  Not everything that is bright, sparkles though, here and there you will see our wooden Tilly Ba Lou dala horses and stars, decorated with vintage fabrics and crochet.

A lichen covered fallen branch hosts a whole load of random decorations, including sparkly flashing rudolph earings (top right) and faux crystal baubles in shades of fuschia, torquoise, lemon and lime.  There in the centre is my crazy faerie (who normally sits in my knitting basket) surrounded by giant red paper snowflakes and glittering birdies with gorgeous tail feathers.

My collection of vintage coloured glass really comes into its own with a huge purple vase filled with brightly coloured beads and coloured lights.  I did try putting these in a clear glass globe but it was way too contemporary and besides I like the fact that the colours are more subdued.

Perched on the vintage floral cake plate are even more sparkly birdies, along with paper butterflies … oh and that thing I’m supposed to remember to back up my pc with … oops! … and you can just about see my red glittery reindeer peeping out from the jug of red roses, orange fuschia and tree ivy.

Apart from when you walk head on into the room, the only time you see this bright Christmas wonderland is when you sit on the sofa next to the winter woodland and peer through the rooms centrepiece of soft and romatic vintage elegance which we’ll bring to you tomorrow.

We hope your Christmas is already feeling bright with love and cheer in abundance.

Always with Love … Denise xxx

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And so from Memories of Green, we move towards the living room door and blend in our Scadinavian Christmas with a bleached, twig wreath, complete with silver stars and then we start with a hint of red in the Christmas stocking, nestled between the neutral blankets and vintage skates, hanging from the solid hardwood shaker peg shelf.  Remember to click on the images to enlarge them …

Next we cosy up by the fire with a basket of  yummy wool and another basket containing drift wood and pine cones.  Each piece of driftwood has been carefully selected and is awaiting a new lease of life when inspiration strikes.

So what did I do with the Nisse napkins that brought back my creativity.  I turned them into pictures by stitching them onto different fabrics and framing them in simple white box frames.  I also stitched some onto luggage labels, which I stamped with Merry Christmas before hanging them from the tree.

Ahhh the tree … yes the tree that isn’t a Christmas tree!  I decided to use a Lelandii as when planted outside after Christmas it will quickly grow to provide shelter for our feathered friends.  Next year I will hang fat filled pine cones from it as extra winter nourishment for them.

The beauty of a Lelandii is that it also lends itself beautifully to the overall nordic feel with only a tiny sprinkling of white lights and hand made fabric baubles and stars, along of course with my gorgeous mini nisse, tiny dala horses and felt robins.

On the chair that normally houses floral cushions for the summer are a couple of home made stag cushions and a double heart hanger, symbolising “Two Hearts, One Love”.

Bridging the gap between Scandinavia and out Winter Woodland is a gorgeous whitewashed wooden heart shaped bird box from which hangs two crystal robins and then next we have our wonderful meeces with a little tree all of their own.

The mice themselves where only £3 each from TK Max and we made them their sleigh bed complete with mattress, sheets, patchwork duvets, overstuffed pillows and cushions with a knitted throw for those extra chilly nights.

Underneath the olive tree which houses more tiny white lights and crocheted snowflakes, is a basket containing cyclamen and hydrangea, fallen lichen covered twigs and tree ivy, all bedecked with faux crystal droplets.

So as you open the lounge door and look left and forward, the only part of the room you don’t see is our Christmas Vintage Brights which we may just bring you tomorrow.  In the meantime you can see our little star Beanie, the Yorkie, fast asleep on her giant dog bed (some might call it a sofa!!!)

Finally, there in the far corner you can see photographs of my beautiful brother.  I didn’t want to over decorate this area as it is the favorite playground of our Lovebird and Rosella.  4 Simple baubles are tied with gray organza ribbon to the duck egg blue lamp shade under which my adorable sleepwalker smiles her beautiful smile.

Of course the hand tie has now been removed else it would have ended up as beak blended pot pouri but just up at the top you can see one of the many projects on which Brian and I are currently working … automative models, starting with boats for the summer.

Some of these models may well go on sale this side of Christmas but don’t hold your breath as they say … the best laid plans of mice and men and all that …

Always With Love … Denise xxx

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Well my friends that time of year is here again and I have to be honest and tell you that a couple of weeks ago I was determined that I would NOT be “doing ” Christmas this year (something I actually SAY every year).Depression had taken hold with a firm grip again and it didn’t help that the stress of still being on a waiting list to see a psychologist for 4 years appeared to have caused my hair to start to fall out again.

Then I realised something … apart from the very rare trip to the supermarket, I hadn’t actually been outside for at least 3 months.  Instead of “living”, I had simply been surviving with the threat looming of yet another Christmas without loved ones.

I’d also had a really bad cold for 2 months and when I wasn’t working I was simply exhausted and sleeping.  Then one day I woke up, took a couple of diazepam with my morning vitamin drink, raided my winter wardrobe and Bri took me to Bangor for the day.  Sad to see so many more independent shops had closed down, including the one I particularly wanted which was the shop that sold hair extensions!!! (ast least that would have been one problem less lol).

Anyway, we just happened to come across one of those shops that sells glamour/fetish and goth wear and while Bri wasn’t starting in the window lol, he spotted a sign for hair extentensions …. yaaay …. one problem down but countless still to go, we headed to Beaumaris.  There in a shop I found some Maelig napkins which I just couldn’t resist and suddenly my inspiration to “do” Christmas had returned.

I think that had been a big problem … inspiration, or rather lack of it … and probably lack of fresh air and daylight :/

So over the next few days I will talk you through and show you some of the trials and tribulations of preparing for Christmas 2013.

A friend told me a few days back that he really was dreading Christmas this year and I told him to set everything up as soon as possible and then just treat the whole thing like a “season” … that way the actual days you are supposed to walk round merrily grinning like a cheshire cat, it doesn’t matter if you feel like crap because it’s just another day in a whole season.  He said it was actually quite a sensible idea considering it had come from me :D … good job he lives too far away for a crack round the lughole!

Seriously though, Christmas for many is a terrible time of year for so many reasons … please try not to dwell on that though … spare them some thoughts and send them your love and then enjoy and cherish whatever you can of the season with your own loved ones.

For my own part I’m pleased to say that my hair is growing back again but I don’t think I’ll be ditching the extensions to quickly … I’ve never had so much hair in my life :D

Anyway, enough waffle here is the first, smallest and simplest of my 5 Christmas Inspirations … click the images to enlarge them … click on Memories of Green for a very profound message from one of my favorite films xxx

Memories of Green

Green and Silver Bauble

Green and Silver Bauble

A very simple arrangement in a silvered round glass bowl using only foliage and hypericum berries with an ivory church candle slightly off centre.  The imbalance is counterbalanced by adding a couple of different textured but still silver baubles.

Simple and Elegant

Simple and Elegant

Here we have added a glass globe, again with lots of greenery and just 3 white rose heads. This would stand equally well alone but here we have grouped it with a delicate vintage vase of tiny white flowers and some more silvered containers, this time holding candles.

Winter Woodland

Winter Woodland

The link between our Sandinavien Collection and Winter Wonderland will soon become clear but for now here is a close up on some beautiful white cyclamen, with fallen twigs, tree ivy and cystal look droplets.

Always with Love … Denise xxx

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Six months ago I started our Beautiful Great British Independents page on Facebook.  The page was set up to celebrate the work of our talented, makers, artists and designers and bring them together with the beautiful design stores and florists that still adorn our high streets up and down the UK.  The ultimate aim, apart from bringing them together, being to promote their talent, hard work and dedication to what is essentially a labour of love.

Finally, I have sufficient beautiful content on the Beautiful Great Independents Page to start to create gorgeous themed blog posts and inspiration boards which not only serve to delight our customers and followers but also provide additional publicity and free advertising for all of those talented lovely people.

The ongoing saga of our FREE Florists Directory continues but that’s a story for another day.  In the meantime I have registered Sends Flowers.co.uk and .uk.com and we are working on getting it up and running as soon as possible.

Anyway back to our glorious story of roses, pale, beautiful and white …

I simply adore the images in this inspiration board which is probably why five of them are actually taken in my own bedroom lol.  The pure beauty of white as a backdrop for sugar almond shades of pink is just so feminine without being too girlie.  This concept is illustrated perfectly in the image of those delicate flowers by Solomen Bloemen.

Peony and Sage are a gorgeous company whoes faded, vintage and French inspired linen fabrics are just to die for.  In fact they are on my shopping list for this week as they have inspired a whole new collection for me.   They feature on our Facebook page several times over I hasten to add.

Typically English source vintage fabrics and findings which they not only use to produce their own deliciously romantic gifts and accessories, but they also supply as craft kits too, again on my shopping list for this week.

And now to the gorgeous Amanda Taffinder Flowers, whose work I simply adore.  Just look at those glorious blooms against that wonderful aged barn door.

Speaking of aging, I am loving the current revival in what is now known as “upcycled furniture”, something I have been specialising in for almost 30 years now.  I just love items with age and history and their own story to tell.  Often a piece is too beautiful to paint and distress but around 4/5 years ago we started a stall on an indoor Sunday craft and antique market up here in North Wales.  Due to illness I had to give it up but in the short time we were there we inspired many a London dealer to take photographs of the finished products and have all  available “brown furniture” shipped down south lol.  It is now enjoying a massive resurgence right across the UK and providing an income for many;)

And to conclude our story … the fabulously talentented Cotton and Crumbs, whoes cakes are simply up there with the finest of artists and designers.

So my friends whether you are looking for inspiraion either for your home or your wedding or event, I am sure you will agree that this inspiration board is just so full of delicate vintage whimsy and charm and a collaboration of the work of some escellent and inspirational designers and makers.

Always with Love … Denise xxx

If you like what you see, then please do subscribe to our blog so that you never miss a post.  You can also follow our pages on Facebook but due to Facebook policies are unlikely to see many of our posts on there, hence our migration to the much wider audience that is the world wide web ;) x

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Just a really quick Friday Flowers post … thanks to Kay O’Donoghue’s Floral Designs and Love Lily.

Buying flowers for the weeekend? …Please remember you don’t get flowers this beautiful from the supermarket.  Support your local independent florist and have a lovely weekend.

Always with Love …. Denise xxx


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