Hiho & Co Event 2019 - Be All You Can Be

You're holding them like a baby...yes, that's because they're precious.
The Rockinghams.

After being glued to the fantastic coverage of 2018's Style, Skills and Silver InstaMeet on social media, I was determined not to miss 2019's event, Hiho & Co - Be All You Can Be. As a loyal follower of all things Rhea Freeman PR, I had plenty of notice to organise my life in time for the big day to make it happen...and a special mention to Rhea who endured a running commentary on my list of things to do. I appreciate as a wife, mother of twin boys, dogs and horses, it appears to be a walk in the park and in hindsight relatively small. 

  • Holiday booked off work - tick
  • Arnold sent to boarding school - tick
  • Help organised for HRH Oscar - tick
  • Ticket purchased - tick

Monday 11th February 2019
I turned into the idyllic location of Blackdown Shepherds Huts, having just made it in time for the 9.30am start. The sunshine was streaming through the trees surrounding the hideaway shepherds huts and I felt the buzz of nervous excitement as I stepped out the car and headed into the barn, alone - what's that thing people say about doing one thing everyday that scares you.

I needn't have been nervous, Emma Warren of Hiho Silver warmly welcomed me like an old friend and handed me my name badge, hanging from a bespoke leather lanyard – thank you Chris from Mackenzie & George. I was whisked off for a freshly ground coffee served from a delightful Doris cup, decorated with the words of William Blake; "I will not reason and compare, my business is to create". How appropriate I thought as I took a sip, a deep breath and let my eyes wander around the room.

I was immediately drawn to my soul sister Becky Wren; Country Bumpkin Chic. We'd never met before, nor did we follow one another on social media prior to the day but arrived dressed almost identically. Not such a coincidence if you’re dressed in denim and tweed, only we were in leopard print midi dresses and leather jackets - just for the record, we were less Kat Slater and more Claudia Schiffer - I am certain we will remain firm friends following our day together. With Becky was Charlotte writer of the Forelock Journal, recently crowned Haynets Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2018 and lovely Gem of Gem Eventing.

Guest Presenter
It is impossible to write enough superlatives to justify how fabulous Lucy is. I fell in love with her, she is warm, passionate, funny, engaging, knowledgeable...I could go on, but having just declared my love for her, it could all come across as a bit much. So I'll stop. You get the idea, she is amazing!

Lucy made flatlays come to life and invited me into a whole new world that I hadn't been part of before. Our morning’s activity was to create and photograph a flatlay that is you; your blog, your business, your passion, your hobby, your personality. We were presented to a table covered in glossy magazines, colourful postcards, ribbons, fresh flowers, wild and wonderful accessories and Lucy's genius flatlay backgrounds - learn more about them here, and yes I've ordered one.

Siri "what is a flatlay photo...?"
Flatlay photography is an insanely easy way to showcase awesome items you own, tell a story, and wow your Instagram followers. Flat Lay is simple to do, can be shot almost anywhere, and can be as simple as emptying your handbag or arranging the items on your desk.

Here is my picture...the steps to the shepherds hut made the perfect backdrop for the wild meadow flowers bound with ribbon and allowed the Fairfax and Favor Rockingham Boots to take centre stage. With Rockingham being on my doorstep at home they couldn't suit me more and of course a horseshoe for good fortune. Simple and very different to what you're used to seeing on Gee Gee and Me.

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Time for Lunch
Freshly cooked and served from the Towby Hut by Mr Emma Warren and Co, the menu was delicious and I had pheasant goujons sourced from a local shoot, served in a wrap with fresh yoghurt and salad, washed down with a Hullabaloos Lemonade. I found myself sat next to another amazing woman wearing leopard print too, Zoe the founder of Honest Riders, modelling her own Limited Edition Two Hearts Sweatshirt. 
Over lunch we talked about her business, my blog, our history and future aspirations. I learnt Zoe is a beautiful person, a true force for good. I won't share too much as I placed an order on her website only last night and believe Honest Riders warrants its very own blog post so watch this space.

Intimate Afternoon Session with Sweet-Images Photography
Rachel Bragg
Five of us were given the opportunity to perfect our eye with Rachel, following the morning’s flatlay session. Before the practical activities got under way we were able to talk about what barriers we face and share our experiences. Rachel was an excellent coach and it turns out Al - the front-man of Blackdown Shepherds Huts - is also an excellent barista. As the wood burning stove roared and Emma appeared delivering cupcakes the setting was heavenly. To then top it all off we were surrounded by luxurious lines from Fairfax & Favor, Albion, Mackenzie & George, HihoSilver and Joules free for us to flatlay and photograph. Sadly, the only thing off limits was taking them home.

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Afternoon Tea and Goodbyes
We regrouped for tea and scrumptious cake – thank you to my Mumma for preparing one earlier for me to bring - to discuss hot topics amongst small equine and country businesses, bloggers and influencers. You couldn't get a better panel to bounce off Sophie CallahanRhea FreemanEmma Warren and Capture by Lucy who encouraged us all to have the confidence to be ourselves and happy in our own skin. Emma chanted the 'Be All You Can Be' motto and asked us to share this message with others who weren't able to make the event. 

I travelled home feeling happy and content with an exciting list of ideas in my head, I had made many new friends and deepened existing relationships. I had also been prompted to take a step back and view Gee Gee and Me from a follower’s perspective:
  • My blog, founded in 2013 has always centred around trialling and testing the very best handpicked products and services our equestrian world has to offer. I have a loyal following - thank you all, you mean the world to me - and my opinion matters. I am proud that the fantastic page you’re reading now averages 30,000 hits per year with an ever growing following, and that Gee Gee and Me has inspired and supported so many aspiring bloggers to take their first step. 
  • My Instagram is horses, horses, horses...or should that be Connemara's, Connermara's Connermara's! 
  • My Facebook being a mix of both of the above.
And as incredible as the above three are, they've hit a glass ceiling and a reoccurring theme that I couldn't wiggle out of was the fact people want to see more of the person behind the camera - how about that to take me out of my comfort zone...well Friday I took a small step and before dashing off to work I took a selfie, knowing I didn't have the time to think about the imperfections I posted a picture of me in my kitchen, making coffee, showing off my Hiho Silver necklace from the insane goody bag I left with on Monday.

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The next blog will be all about what’s’s worth the wait, I promise. In the meantime I am going to be a little kinder to myself and I hope you enjoy seeing a little more Jess alongside the Gee Gee's.

Much love...
Gee Gee and Me



Back in November I praised Botanica International's Cleansing Wash on Gee Gee and Me...Arnold had just arrived from Ireland and his skin, coat, mane and tail were in need of some love. Living life in the herd is a little different to life at GG&M HQ...

Botanica International were also kind enough to send me a pot of their Natural Herbal Cream, this took a little longer to put through its paces as fortunately, I don't have any mud rashes, ringworm, cuts or wounds to contend with - touching wood as I type! I do however have very sore human hands and Oscar, as always at this time of year has rubs, from almost everything and anything that touches his skin. As a result I have been lathering it on the both of us.

The Natural Herbal Cream is a unique combination of herbal ingredients, similar to those found in the Cleansing Wash, carefully selected and blended to repair blemishes and skin complaints. There is a noticeable scent of tea tree oil, that works alongside aloe vera, comfrey and lavender to perform their magic to support and maintain healthy skin.

The tub has a handy pump helping it stay hygienic, meaning no fingers inside the pot and because its not 'just for horses' I have found myself using it has a hand cream after I have washed out water buckets and feed bowls before my gloves go back on. The tub I have is the largest; 500ml and £29.95 - and can be purchased by clicking here - I will certainly be investing in another pot as soon as I am out as I think it will be perfect in the summer months as a fly repellent and fly bite treatment.

The more people I speak to about Botanica International Products, the more I realise how widely known the brand is. I feel like it is one of the best kept secrets in our equestrian world and if you're like I was and blissfully unaware, I really urge you to take a look at their products. Hot clothing will never be the same again...

Thank you
Gee Gee and Me