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Make your own Notebook with our newly relaunched Kit

NEW for summer 2017! The long established Crumps Barn Studio notebook kit has had a relaunch. We are very pleased to present the kit in its new compact packaging – the perfect little parcel for yourself or a gift for your friend.

This make it yourself Notebook kit is the original Crumps Barn Studio step-by-step kit from our bookbinding studio in the Cotswolds, UK. With this kit you will make your own hardback notebook and learn a traditional bookbinding stitch. Everything you need is included in the kit except for PVA glue, a mixing pot and a glue brush.

This is a great way for beginners and confident crafters to learn traditional bookbinding. The technique we use in the kit is the same as the method we use in our own workshop to bind our printed works.

What’s our hot tip? Press your newly bound book for 24hrs by placing it under something heavy. This will keep it crisp and smart while the glue dries. You’ll be impressed with the finished notebook!

Contents of the Make it yourself Notebook kit bookbinding
Contents of the Make it yourself Notebook kit

What’s included in the kit?

  • Fabric cover *
  • Greyboard
  • White cartridge paper pages
  • Linen mull
  • Needle and linen thread
  • Wheat starch
  • And of course full step by step instructions on how to make your own fabulous hardback notebook!

You will also need PVA glue, a glue brush and a mixing pot.

* The fabric cover shown is for illustration purposes. The cover included in this kit has been selected from our current collection of fabulous fabrics.

WARNING! This is not a toy. Contains sharp needle and wheat starch. Unsuitable for young children due to sharp needle and potential choke hazard.

We recommend this kit for comfortable crafters – no bookbinding experience is necessary. Our easy to follow step by step instructions will teach you how to make your own fabulous handbound notebook.

Buy now from Amazon UK priced only £14.99 plus delivery

Buy our kit from Amazon UK priced £14.99 plus delivery

Polly Williamson celebrates a year at the top spot

Gripping memoir ‘Where did I go?’ is celebrating a year at the top of the Amazon Bestsellers list. Launched in April 2016, the year since has seen the book feature heavily in the national press and at brain injury conferences. Author Polly Williamson is now a regular speaker at Headway (brain injury charity) events and her book is now the recommended reading for both victims and families of those who have suffered a severe brain trauma.

The latest Amazon Reader reviews say it all:
“This book is without a doubt one of the best autobiographies that I have ever read, i laughed and cried throughout the entire book. Polly is such an inspiration and I am left truly in awe of her, to suffer such an awful brain injury and come back fighting…… WOW. This book is a must read.”

“I’m astounded, moved, shocked, saddened, but mostly in awe and admiration of Polly and Toby.
What a moving, heartfelt and searingly honest account of the cliff face she had to climb.”

“Polly Williamson has inspired me in my recovery from a brain injury , in fact some of the ‘journey’ which Polly describes so graphically has been mine too. She has given me encouragement but more than that, hope that by the time I too am four and a half years along the recovery road, I will be as able and eloquent as she is.”

Her story:

Polly Williamson’s life changed the day a dramatic incident with a young horse left her with a horrific head injury. She was a horse trainer and former Champion eventer. She was a wife and mother to two young boys. The accident severed her connection to this former life. It stole away her ability to care for her children and left her struggling to rediscover who she was.

Surviving a near fatal brain injury brings a person face to face with the very basis of their identity. Some will be lucky and pick up their former lives with barely a missed step. Others will have everything that holds them to who they were stripped away by brain damage.

Polly has had her world shattered and seen the fragments of her identity laid bare. Where did I go? is the powerful record of her efforts to pick up the pieces and put her life back together again.

Where can you buy it?

Polly Williamson - Where did I go?

Polly Williamson speaks to BBC Radio Bristol

Polly Williamson has had a busy few weeks. Last week Points West TV aired an interview with Polly filmed at her yard and today she spoke to BBC Radio Bristol’s John Darvall about traumatic brain injuries, her treatment at BIRU Frenchay Hospital and recovery with two young children to care for.

Listen again on the BBC iPlayer from 02:15:

Polly Williamson: Rediscovering my lost identity

We are delighted to issue advanced information on forthcoming 2016 title WHERE DID I GO? by Polly Williamson.

Rediscovering my identity, lost after a traumatic brain injury

“8 December 2011: I went to a small horse competition in the morning. That much I do remember. After that absolutely nothing.”

Polly Williamson is a former Junior European Eventing Champion. She won six international gold medals representing the GBR equestrian team during her career (under the name Polly Lyon) and she was crowned Junior European Champion at the age of eighteen. She is a wife and a mother to two lively boys, and she is currently a respected trainer working with world class horses and their riders. Her expert advice features regularly in top equestrian magazines and blogs … Wife, mother and horse trainer: The three elements that define Polly Williamson’s life read like a catalogue of care and determination.

That determination was to prove vital when she sustained a horrific head injury in a dramatic incident with a young horse and it left her connection to her former life in tatters.

Where did I go? is a brave account of recovery from a ‘traumatic brain injury’ and its impact on both the body and the mind. Polly’s story makes readers face questions about the links between identity and the ability to process emotions, and join the struggle to regain a sense of her former self, which is made all the more poignant by the knowledge that it is essential for the sake of her children.

Topical: Many high profile personalities and sportsmen have sustained similarly horrific injuries in recent years: Richard Hammond, Michael Schumacher, James Cracknell, to name but a few. The summer of 2015 saw brain injuries become a topic for discussion when concerns were raised about repeat concussions sustained by World Cup Rugby players and also the near miss experienced by Olympic medallist William Fox-Pitt.

Some of those sportsmen and personalities have been lucky and picked up their former lives with barely a missed step. Others have had everything that holds them to who they were stripped away by brain damage. Now Polly tells the story of her accident and recovery; the story of how a mother faced an extraordinary challenge to rediscover her lost identity.

  • WHERE DID I GO? is published in Spring 2016 to ebook and paperback.
  • Foreword by a notable sportsperson (to be announced in January 2016)
  • Preview copies available from mid January 2016. Register your interest now:

The topics covered within Polly’s book are detailed here in our Additional Information download.

The Clarendon Boys’ adventure begins

Congratulations to long term Crumps Barn Studio author Jane Phillips. The launch of her new 1940s children’s adventure The Clarendon Boys caught the eye of local press. We were excited to see articles in both the Deal Mercury and the Dover Express.

Set in post-war Dover amongst the ruins of the town, Peter and his friends must face a daring adventure. There’s the trouble about the Second World War mine, the train, the crashed aeroplane … and the long dark tunnels beneath the Western Heights with all their dangerous secrets …

The Clarendon Boys is available now in paperback and ebook. Shop now.

Click on the articles to enlarge:

Deal Mercury feature on The Clarendon Boys

Dover Express feature on The Clarendon Boys

New children’s book visits WWII Western Heights

A new children’s book has been released featuring the extraordinary fortifications and WWII landmarks that span the famous White Cliffs of Dover.

The Clarendon Boys is an exciting children’s adventure for ages 10+ set in Dover during the period immediately after the Second World War. Four boys encounter dangerous secrets in the long dark tunnels beneath the Western Heights and this is only the start of their troubles, which soon include a naval mine, a train and a crashed aeroplane …

Engaging and particularly attractive to boys, this book features excellent detail on the era and the town itself. This is Jane’s second children’s book and her first for older children set within the environs of her home town. It draws on personal memories and tackles many of the difficulties faced by children who live in a time of rationing and shortages.

The Western Heights
The Western Heights consist of a huge range of fortifications situated along the western (believe it or not) portion of land between the town and the cliffs. They include the Citadel, pillboxes and lookouts, the enormous moats of the Drop Redoubt and the Grand Shaft, amongst others. If you are visiting the area, perhaps you’d like to take a look. Visit the Western Heights Preservation Society website for information on open days and other events. The photograph above shows part of the vast moat and fortifications of the Drop Redoubt. Copyright © Paul Wells.

Discover the spectacular locations within The Clarendon Boys!

9780993179938 The Clarendon Boys

Chipping Campden Literature Festival

Crumps Barn Studio was delighted to host the opening event for this year’s Chipping Campden Literature Festival. The workshop was a delight to hold and the venue, the Church Rooms in Chipping Campden, was a splendid setting. Twelve lucky participants got to make their own hand bound hardback notebook during the two-hour workshop.

We also got to attend the closing events with our pop-up stand and it proved a fantastic opportunity to hear some really special speakers. We can’t wait until next year.

assembling the book block

stitching the signatures

A Tale of Ted features in YOU magazine

Congratulations to new children’s author Lottie Prentice on this blindingly brilliant piece in today’s YOU magazine for the Mail on Sunday.

Lottie and real-life horsey hero Ted featured in a fabulous article today which sets out to explain how their remarkable partnership culminated in the penning of Lottie’s first children’s book. Even his print counterpart got a look-in with one of illustrator Lorna Gray’s illustrations featuring in the closing section.

YOU magazine article copy

cover copy

final page copy

Read the full article online at the Mail on Sunday website

And get your copy now:

Cover FINAL-02

And Life Goes On : Free excerpt

We are delighted to introduce the new memoir from Partricia R. Carpenter M.B.E.

And Life Goes On is an enchanting portrait of childhood in 1940s and 50s town and country. Patricia Carpenter was awarded her M.B.E in 1997 for services to the MoD and the community. In this original memoir, Patricia Carpenter shares the experience of crouching under a table top shelter while air raid sirens blare out their warning. Her world is one of red Mickey Mouse gas masks and her mother dashing to the shops on roller skates with the pram because they can’t afford the bus.

When peace resumes, the urban landscape of smog and shortages is exchanged for the wide spaces of Kempsford in Gloucestershire. This is a place where mains electricity becomes a distant memory, water has to be fetched from the well and children are expected to help on the land before going to school.

With additional chapters featuring her parents’ life in service to the gentry and her own coming of age in the country, And Life Goes On is a beautifully personal account of growing up in wartime Britain.

Buy And Life Goes On direct from the publisher

Read on for an excerpt from And Life Goes On:

One of my earliest memories is of wartime London, crouching with my mother and baby sister Eileen in the table top shelter or cowering under the stairs of 45 Ordnance Hill, St John’s Wood NW8 as the sirens blared out the warning that an air raid was imminent.

As a small child I didn’t understand what all the fuss and hurry was and would have much preferred to stand at the window, especially at night peeping through the blackout curtains watching the searchlights shining high up in the sky – which were the only lights seen at night.

All vehicles, of which there were few – due to petrol rationing – vehicles and torches had a cardboard covering over the light with a thin slit cut out of the middle showing the smallest glimmer which MUST be pointed down to the ground so that no light could be seen from the air. Men smoking pipes had to turn the bowl of the pipe
up-side-down, for the same reason.

We used to have an Anderson shelter in the garden until it was destroyed when a bomb demolished some of the houses on the other side of the road. Then we managed to squeeze into the cupboard under the stairs which still smelled of the coal that used to be stored there before the war, this was our temporary shelter until a large table top one was installed in our living room. It was so big it took up half of the room, and had mattresses inside. I was put to bed every night in the shelter which was great fun – it was my very own den – until there was an air raid when everyone joined me and it became very cramped.

As soon as the sirens screamed out mother would first put on the light and check that the blackout curtains were carefully drawn so that not a chink of light could be seen outside. If it could, a warden would soon rap on the door and shout, ‘put out that light.’ ‘Don’t show Gerry the way.’ Mother would then fetch the baby from her cot in the next room and we were soon joined by Milkie (Miss Milton), Wilkie (Miss Wilkins) from next door, Uncle ‘Bob’ Tanner (slang for one shilling and sixpence). His real name was Charles Tanner and he had a self-contained set of rooms on the second floor of our house. Two Irish Colleens came down from the top storey – Mary and that ‘painted hussy Christine’, as Milkie called her. Everyone would settle down as best they could under what now seemed quite a small shelter with their blankets, pillows, thermos flasks of cocoa, torches, baby’s nappies and bottle: the list of items was endless. We would wait for the ‘all clear’ siren to sound and then we could all go back to bed.

Everyone would talk, drink cocoa, play games or have a good moan and eventually end up having a good old sing song. Sad songs to begin with, then some defiant ones like ‘Rule Britannia’ and, finally comic songs. Uncle Bob always fiddled with a wireless set trying to get the latest bulletin. Mickey Drippin, who was really my uncle Reg and a pilot – one of the ‘Few’ to survive the Battle of Britain, later to be killed when only 25, whilst training Indian pilots, only no one knew that in those dark and dismal days.

I loved Mickey Drippin most of all. When he was in the shelter he would do conjuring tricks, make threepenny pieces magically appear from my ears or hair. As soon as he arrived home on leave, which was not very often, he would shout, ‘where’s Paddy Wack the Barber?’, pretending he couldn’t see me when I rushed in clutching his knees and yelling, ‘Here I am.’ He would swing me high above his head. He was such fun.

Whilst sheltering, we all waited to hear the sound of ack-ack guns trying to shoot down the enemy aircraft. If there was the sound of a doodlebug going over (the newly invented flying bombs – I’m not sure, even now, what the difference was), the adults all listened hoping it would pass over, because when the engine stopped – silence – as it plunged to the ground and exploded and they all hoped it would plunge somewhere else. I think that one was the V1 and the V11 was totally silent until the explosion was heard.

One night it stopped overhead and dropped on the houses the other side of the street. Our windows were blown out and a ceiling fell on Mother as she was fetching the baby from her cot, she had paused to warm the feeding bottle. Debris and dust was everywhere and my dolly’s pram which was left in the garden, was never seen again.
There were clods of earth, wood, glass and water from burst pipes everywhere.

Pretty soon policemen (my daddy was one) and wardens were evacuating the area and cordoning off the street. No one was allowed back for any reason, until the search for casualties was complete and the area was declared safe. Everyone crowded into the pub to be accounted for.

After this my mother said I had to be evacuated to the safety of the country. Some children had gone away and then returned when it seemed that we would not be attacked. Mother was adamant: I was taken to a railway station one cold grey day, willing myself not to cry again. I had been told that I was a big girl now and big girls do not cry.
I was not quite sure what was going on but everywhere was chaos and everyone very busy. Large bosomed ladies with long lists in their hands seemed to be charging up and down the platform, marking off the children’s names as they were found. Tying big labels onto their coats barking out in bossy voices, ‘name and address on label?’ ‘Ration book?’ ‘Complete change of clothing?’ ‘Gasmasks?’ Those who had received a ‘Direct Hit’ had had to be kitted out by the Red Cross, WVS and church groups.

There was noise and confusion everywhere. Children were shouting, crying and getting lost. The bossy ladies were becoming very cross and red in the face as they tried to keep order among the would-be evacuees. Elderly guards were trying to ignore the chaos, smoking a crafty fag and hiding behind the luggage wagons.

I wanted to take off my red Mickey Mouse gasmask, as the cord was cutting into my shoulder but Mother would not let me.

I wondered if there was a blanket bundle for Mother among the luggage on the platform. Uncle Harold, who lived in Kempsford in Gloucestershire, often sent a bundle of blankets to Mother. Carefully concealed in the blankets was, maybe, a rabbit, hare or a brace of pigeons. Mother called him our secret butcher. It was a secret because it was not allowed. All food was carefully rationed. I remember being hungry nearly all of the time. I didn’t like pigeons very much, I remember being taken to Trafalgar Square once not too long before and a photographer wanted to take my picture among the pigeons.

Some corn was put onto the palms of my hands and suddenly the birds swooped down on me. They were all around me and on my head and arms. I screamed and screamed, and I have been terrified of birds ever since if they come anywhere near me.

Why was I being sent away? All by myself? Because of the war … THEY said. It would not be safe for me to stay … THEY said. I could not understand why, it was safe for Mother and baby Eileen to stay, so why not me? After all the ceiling fell in on Mother and Eileen: I was safely in the shelter.

Suddenly the guards were shouting, ‘All aboard’ and slamming the carriage doors. Mother bent down and gave me a hug. ‘You’re coming home with me,’ she sobbed. ‘If our number’s up, we’ll all go out together.’ The whistle blew and the train slowly steamed out of the station. I was so happy.


Buy online:

And Life Goes On - memoir
And Life Goes On
Patricia R. Carpenter M.B.E

Two Classic novels join our bookbinding kits

Exciting news for lovers of Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice: These unforgettable classics are set to join our make-it-yourself bookbinding kits from 11 March – next week! And the purists amongst you will be delighted to hear that you’ll even get to bind them in their original three volumes!

Each impressive volume boasts its own fabric cover with a design that is entirely unique to Crumps Barn Studio. We’ve taken our inspiration from wallpaper from the era.

Pre-order now for delivery by Mother’s Day.

Pride and Prejudice Kit Vol. 1 Jane Eyre volume 1

Lorna Gray: Illustrator

Lorna is our in-house illustrator. She also undertakes all design and layout work. She began her writing career here at Crumps Barn Studio with our original hand bound books. These days she is published by Harper Impulse and her debut novel, post-war mystery In the Shadow of Winter, reached the Amazon Top 100.

To date, all of Crumps Barn Studio’s published illustrated works feature Lorna’s artwork. Lorna has illustrated three children’s books, one adult work of non-fiction and authored and illustrated her own short cartoon / picture book. She frequently combines detailed penmanship with digital colouring but she is most noted for her watercolours as displayed in children’s picture book A Tale of Ted.

To find out more about Lorna visit her website

Author Profile: Di Alexander

Di (Diana) Alexander has had a long career as a journalist, writing for Cotswold Life, Gloucestershire Life, Wiltshire Life and the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. In 2012, she examined the much overlooked story of Pamela Mitford and brought it to the fore in ‘The Other Mitford’ (History Press 2012).

‘Harcombe’ became a household staple during its years as a regular feature in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard. Her debut release with Crumps Barn Studio, The Harcombe Year, marks its long-awaited return.

Author Profile: Lottie Prentice

Lottie Prentice’s debut children’s book A Tale of Ted: A very naughty horse was published in April 2015.

Prior to this, Lottie was a British team member and professional three-day event rider. Her star horse Ted took on some of the toughest tracks in the world and achieved international success. Lottie grew up on the 350 acre Syde Park estate in Gloucestershire and whilst competing professionally studied for her masters degree in International Business at Warwick University, qualifying as a Management Consultant in 2001. She went on to study law at Bristol University and is now a qualified solicitor, heading up the country’s first Landed Estates, Sports & Equine Law division. She has recently attained her Higher Rights of Audience meaning that she can represent her clients in the higher courts sporting a wig and gown.

Lottie lives in the Cotswolds with her husband Bryan and 3 year-old son William (named after her mother’s horse). Lottie writes regularly for the equestrian press and has appeared frequently on radio and TV, including a reality TV show for BBC 3 with Rufus Hound in 2006. She is a member of the Executive Committee for the Guild of the Cheltenham Ladies’ College where she was a pupil. In her spare time Lottie helps raise funds for Help for Heroes, models and represents Shock Absorber sports bras.

A Tale of Ted: A very naughty horse is available in our online shop.

A Tale of Ted: Competition Winners

The winners of the 2015 Colouring Competition are:

Runner Up Monty Phillips Age 5
Runner Up Monty Phillips Age 5
Runner Up Ryan Lyne Age 14
Runner Up Ryan Lyne Age 14
WINNER Tia Claridge Age 8
WINNER Tia Claridge Age 8

Sponsored by Crumps Barn Studio, Lorna Gray, the artist behind A Tale of Ted’s colourful illustrations, has opened a colouring competition.

Can you make your own picture of a very very naughty horse?

You can use pens, paint, pencils, crayons … pretty much anything you like just so long as you start with one of these two drawings.

The prize is a special t-shirt featuring an original design or an original signed drawing created by Lorna herself!

To enter:

Send a photo of your finished drawing to:

Or the original by post to: Crumps Barn Studio, Crumps Barn, Syde, Cheltenham GL53 9PN

Be sure to include your name, address, telephone number and age. If you like, you can tell us why you loved A Tale of Ted: A very naughty horse.

The rules:

  • You must be a resident of the UK
  • One entry permitted per person
  • Choose one of the two designs
  • You agree by entering to allow Crumps Barn Studio to use your drawing as part of its marketing
  • You can be any age
  • The winner will be able to choose between receiving an original drawing or a t-shirt as a prize. There is no cash alternative. The t-shirt will be a size of your choice. Colour choices may be available at the artist’s discretion

Your choices:

Colouring Competition-05

Colouring Competition-03

Download the challenge as a PDF

Closing Date: Closing date: August 6th 2015

winner to be announced within two weeks of that date.

The Harcombe Year – A real treasure

Di Alexander’s recent release, The Harcombe Year has attracted many rave reviews, and none more glowing than this recently published review in This England magazine. Nestling amongst fascinating articles on the propaganda for and against Richard III and beautiful images of English countryside, this neat little piece on The Harcombe Year mentions Di’s ‘warmth, verve and humour‘ and concludes by crowning it ‘a real little treasure and a labour of love‘.

We couldn’t agree more.

This England magazine are running a fabulous reader offer, details on p75, or you can buy direct from us.