I'm back again for another fantastic interview. Where do these people hide in Kent?
This week's special guest on my blog is the wonderfully truthful and exceptionally brave Sian Murphy, 48 from Hoo near Rochester, Medway.
Although the picture is quite clear, Sian would like to reiterate that she is a woman as her name is sometimes confused with Sean. Don't worry Sian, they will never make that mistake.
Currently, Sian runs her own business, Stormchasers, with her husband Mark. In conjunction with her work at Stormchasers, Sian works with 2 other professional to make up The Ruby Marketers.
If you are wondering exactly what the company is, I will tell you! The company specialises in helping local business owners who are computer illiterate or did not have the priviledge of using a laptop when they were younger to market their business online. The range of services they offer is so vast which can start from setting up a Business Blog for a business to setting up social media profiles and as Sian puts it 'Give them the confidence and know-how to start using it.'
If that wasn't already enough, Stormchaser is branching out in another field of their business.
'Another part of my business is run by my husband Mark and he builds starter websites for businesses as part of Stormchasers at AskStormchasers.'
I was intrigued to find out more and did a bit of 'Googling' and came across an interesting article on the following website:
I found a great quote on this website which described Stormchasers as a business that 'Is about leaping forwards into the storm, and coming back out the other side into a brighter and calmer world.'
I think this is a great acknowledgement of Sian and Mark's hard work.
And for any potential new and bright minds that want to begin their own business, take this advice from Sian. 'My tip for setting up in business is to give it time. Work out how long it will take you to get it all up and running and get work finished - and then double it!'
'Set goals and then plan how you are going to achieve them and don't give up too soon, but be prepared to bend and sway as things change. Smile, laugh, share and have 1 full day off each week.'
Wise words and I think, sensible advice for new business minds in the making. Thanks Sian!
Moving on to Kentish matters, Sian likes the diversity of the landscape in Kent. 'We have rolling countryside, inland waterways, estuary shorelines and seaside all within a 70 mile radius. To top it all off we also have some fascinating industrial areas with some really unexpected hidden treasures.'
Sian particularly like Hoo Church Cemetery. Before you feel a shiver go down your spine, listen to the reason. 'A bit odd I know but unlike so many graveyards, Hoo is full of life. Despite the age of many of the gravestones, there are flowers and shiny windmills, some truly wonderful trees to sit under when it's raining and some well placed benches for when the sun is out. There are often children playing or just hanging out in their hoodies chatting to each other, whilst other villagers walk their dogs. It's the happiest graveyard I've ever been to!'
Maybe I could have saved this for Halloween but I think it is great to hear something out the ordinary in an ordinary day in our lives. Plus, I have never heard someone describe a graveyard in detail without using the words 'depressing' and 'upsetting' before.
As you know, my avid readers, as of 2011 I introduced a new question to my blog in which my interviewees tell me a specific fact or snippet of information about our beloved county. Sian had a really interesting and historical one this week!
'One day I'm going to walk the Saxon Shore Way.' Sian begins. ' The Shore Way follows the line of historic fortifications that defended the Kent coast at the end of the Roman era. The Shore Way is 160 miles long and starts from Gravesend and goes right the way around to Hasting, East Sussex.'
'There's lots to see along the way from ports, coastline and stunning countryside and of course that sense of history that walking along an ancient footpath - following along in the footstep of goodness know who always amuses me.'
Further to Sian's comments about the Saxon Shore Way, there are also four Roman fort remains, dating from the 4th Century that line the trail. The only one I am familiar with is the one in Dover. Kent is very rich in history but it is always great to learn about new things that different Kent residents know from their own experiences.
One of my favourite parts of the blog is eating spots!
Sian enjoys eating at two pubs in Kent, namely The Ringlestone Inn and The Pier at Upnor, Rochester. 'I like them because the food is good and so is the atmosphere. We also like to take a little picnic along the shoreline at Hoo every now and then.'
You can't beat a Ham and Colman's Mustard sandwich, a bag of kettle crisps and a healthy slice of Chocolate Fudge cake! Delicious.
When not working, Sian enjoys cooking and eating meal with the family with a good bottle of wine, which she finds is her 'favourite pastime.'
This is followed by watching a movie whilst nodding off on the sofa. A pastime of many in Kent I assume.
But there is more! 'When Mark and I are on our own, we enjoy walking and can often be spotted meandering mindlessly around the haunts of Hoo with nowhere in particular to go.'
'I also make rag rugs from old clothes and cloth, mainly for decorative purposes.'
My blog now enters a more serious tone that I believe needs delicate and careful attention as I am writing it. Normally, I take great delight in listening to my interviewees explaining a humourous story to me about themselves, whether it be of them waking up semi nude on a beach after an initiation ceremony at University or walking into walls for no apparent reason.
Sian tells me a story that she is currently closing in her life at the moment. One that has me wanting to stand up and applaud her bravery and courage to be able to tell a volunteer bloggist she has never met a very close and personal chapter of her life which I greatly appreciate and hope you find I have describe in a way that is befitting to you.
'2 years ago Mark and I used to have jobs. I worked in local Government and Mark was a Project Manager. We were both unhappy with our jobs and spent years talking about leaving and starting our own business. I'd already trained as an NLP (forgive me if I'm wrong - Neurolinguistic Programming) practitioner and copywriter but unfortunately we didn't plan properly and then in
2009 found ourselves so stressed and miserable that we just decided to hand in our notice and quit.'
So, on 1st August 2009 there we were with no salaries, but some rather grand business plans. On 17th August, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That stopped us in our tracks for a while.'
'It's now 2 years later and whilst I'm still on medication, our business is finally taking off after lots of false starts. I could write a whole book on false starts but we have learned so much.'
'It sounds odd but whilst it might seem like the worst possible time to get cancer, in fact it was the best and it might even have been a lifesaver. Had I been diagnosed whilst I was still at work I think I never would have left because of the security around the sick pay. If I wasn't diagnosed just 2 weeks after we both left our jobs we would have just transferred our hectic lifestyles from jobs to businesses. It would have been the same except now we wouldn't have been receiving monthly pay cheques!'
'Today we've both learned the lesson that money isn't that important, although of course that is also now our challenge because when you are in business you have to value money to some extent or you don't earn any of the damn stuff!'
'We also say thank you got what we do have instead of moaning about what we don't and we really do have so much. Today we are working with some fabulous people the universe has sent us the perfect business partners and associates. Our offices are up at the Innovation Centre and we have the most amazing fun. It's all the good stuff about being at work in an office such as being around friends and having someone to share your triumphs and challenges, but without all of the grim stuff of having to dance to someone else's tune.'
As upbeat as ever, Sian claims ' We're having a ball!'
Now one of my favourite parts of the blog where my interviewees put the world to rights with their opinions on how to make Kent a better place.
"I would get planners in Medway to either change or introduce a required ratio of concrete to plants and greenery in the large housing development that are springing up around Hoo. Many of the houses open directly onto the street, there are no gardens to speak of and the roads are so narrow they are like little brick tunnels.'
Sian likes to see 'a bit of green' when she looks out the window and whilst she doesn't live a development house, it still forms part of the landscape.
'Given that these estates have replaced fields, it would seem ecologically important at least to give a cursory nod to keeping some greenery around!'
I totally agree with that point and think that planners and developers should look closely at where they are building and how it will affect the local surrounding for both the locals and the wildlife.
So we come to my random question of the week and this one is a really good one!
If you could become any person in the world for one day, who would you become and why?
'I tried so hard to think of someone who wasn't too obvious but I couldn't, so I plumped for Oprah Winfrey, a bit of a cliche I know.'
'I chose Oprah because I want to know how it feels to be her. She had a difficult childhood, dealt with racism and has overcome so much to get where she is. She has such a clear vision about her life, that I want to know how that feels so I can recreate it for myself.
Well, this has been one of my most intense blogs yet, with highs and lows, cheerful quips and serious tones but overall I have enjoyed writing this one very much. I hope Sian receives the recognition she deserves, not just through this blog but through the business world too.
Sian - my very best wishes for your future and a speedy recovery and I hope your business will continue to bloom!
So that's it for another week folks! (No Looney Tunes pun intended) but check in again soon for my newest interviewee. Who knows, it could even be you!
If you live in Kent, let's talk!
If you would like to appear on my blog, all I ask is that you live in Kent and that you are willing to talk to me for 10 - 15 minutes about yourself.
If you think you'd like to give it a try, drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see what we can do!