Cherwell Valley Today-supporting local businesses

new very big logo

Our lovely new lifestyle blog Cherwell Valley Today has been rebranded, had a bit of a cool make over thanks to the lovely Steve, and is now looking more gorgeous than we thought possible.
Created to bring together the best things that Oxfordshire life has to offer, we want to reach out to local businesses, venues and events to get on board with us and work in partnership to promote what they do.

Lifestyle. Events. Businesses. Venues

It is a pretty simple concept and one that we hope local businesses will really be able to understand and benefit from. We are local, care passionately about supporting local enterprises and events and we already have a very loyal following of readers who LOVE the brands and businesses that we write about.

I have worked with small businesses and start ups for years-first as a business journalist and then as a PR consultant, providing straight forward media packages to help clients to raise their profiles.

Cherwell Valley Today is a project that I see as a natural progression and gives me the chance to work with even more businesses and help them to reach new audiences, while at the same time providing us with some really exciting and inspiring content for our lovely readers to enjoy.

For many business owners, the thought of ‘doing some PR’ fills them with horror because they assume it will be complicated, time consuming and expensive. It can be all of those things which is why Cherwell Valley Today has created its Media Support Kit to help businesses to get ahead and raise their profiles.

Through our chats with local business owners, we know how hard the marketplace is-we are a small business too after all! Many are sick and tired of throwing good money after bad booking advertising with local free sheets, cheaply produced magazines and local papers that are no longer even produced in the area let alone packed with relevant local content, and fail to reach the right kind of customer.

After a few of these conversations it became abundantly clear that some sort of support package was needed and it got us thinking! After all, Cherwell Valley Today is owned and operated by the creative team at Mediabird so surely it would make sense to put our heads together and come up with a plan!

And so that is exactly what we did and here it is!

Drum roll please…The Mediabird Business Support Kit!

The Mediabird Business Support Kit is a cost effective FREEBIE packed coaching package that has been designed just for small businesses and start ups.

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Based on years of solid industry experience, our package includes:

A FREE one hour consultation with one of our lovely creative media consultants
A FREE PR and media healthcheck
FREE templates to help you create press releases and a media pack
FREE digital photography masterclass
Social media and blogging coaching
Media training to help you make the most of interview opportunities
A bespoke advertising and marketing package designed just for YOU to appear on Cherwell Valley Today. This includes an ad design, editorial content, photography/video and a social media campaign.
A one to one coaching session to help you set goals and create a creative communications plan that works for YOUR business

As well as all of the lovely, helpful things listed above we will share with you lots of FREE tips, tricks and hacks.

To find out about the cost of the course, more information and to receive regular email updates with FREE tips and help (we never ever, ever, share your details with anyone else-that would just be rude) please email sarah@mediabird.co.uk

Before you start panicking about the cost-it WILL be less than you think and to help ease the cash flow situation we offer the option for payments to be made in easy instalments.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Best wishes

Sarah x

new very big logo

Cherwell Valley Today


Yes…it has been a while…

All I can say is sorry-yes this blog has been subject to a certain level of neglect over the last few months-but with VERY good reasons!

At the end of last year we launched a very exciting new project www.bicestertoday.news
This is a hyperlocal website for Bicester and the surrounding areas that is part of the Hyperlocal Today group of websites that are now popping up across the UK.

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This is our lovely new website!

The site is owned by us and we aim to publish content that other local news outlets perhaps don’t want to or prefer not to or simply do not consider interesting enough. We are keen to be seen as an alternative to other local news outlets-and so far-so good.
Since we launched, our visitor numbers are increasing daily and the feedback we have received from the local community has been exceptional. Thousands of people are reading our posts and seeing our ads every day.

Our social media profile is getting better all the time and the range of content that we are producing is interesting and relevant to the people who live, work and study in our area.
Bicester is growing fast-nationally we are known for the Bicester Village shopping outlet, but trust me there is a LOT more to Bicester than designer shops! We have a wealth of brilliant businesses, charitable and community groups and fabulous events happening in our patch-all down to the amazing people who live in Bicester and the surrounding villages.
Since we launched (very quietly!) our team has grown and we are now working with a graphic designer and a marketing consultant as the next step is to grow www.bicestertoday.news even more with even better, richer content, gorgeous visuals and plenty of effective sponsorship and advertising packages, to support all our local businesses who need really targeted but flexible promotional opportunities to shout about how truly amazing they are!
So-check us out www.bicestertoday.news and get in touch!

Journalism remains at the core of everything Mediabird does-whether I am working alone or with selected creative professionals. However, in this ever changing climate it is vital that we have a true entrepreneurial spirit woven into our work.
As well as our new website, we have been very busy creating some fantastic video content with Absolute Films for a big public sector organisation. Mediabird was also involved in producing a series of films to celebrate the UN International Day of the Volunteer.
We have been collaborating with photographers, designers and other writers and content creators, and running lots of training courses in journalism and PR and communication skills for community groups, businesses, the public sector and universities.

Look out soon for details of our next workshops for anyone who wants to learn more about how to write for business and promote your enterprise on a shoestring. We cover blogging and visual content creation as well as social media and media training to help you make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.

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Mediabird is loving this fantastic book by Natasha Courtenay-Smith

Our workshops are always sell outs and the feedback is superb, so if you are interested in finding out more email us today sarah@mediabird.co.uk and we can send you some more info and add you to our mailing list to receive regular updates from us.

Another new venture for us that has been growing for the last two years, is our Positive Life Skills course. Although a bit of a departure from journalism and media work, this course is rooted in communication skills and planning the next phase of your life. Results from clients who have taken part are astonishing-more information coming soon on how to access the course.

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Planning anything  is made a lot easier by using a journal like this fantastic one from Self Journal which we love!

I promise you that you can now look forward to regular blog updates from the Mediabird team as we continue to grow and help more people to communicate effectively and creatively-all from a shed in the garden!

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Feeling the heat? We can help

Mediabird is a small collective of creative media types who really like a challenge! We work with small businesses, start ups, entrepreneurs, the third sector and the public sector and give people all the knowledge and confidence they need to move their business forward.

We are planning a couple of summer workshops to give local business owners the chance to get together, have a natter and learn about things like:

  • Social media
  • Blogging
  • PR and communications
  • Dealing with the media

The workshops are £35 per person and will run from 9.30-12.30 and include lovely coffee and cakes and the chance to book in for a free consultation with one of our team of PR and communication experts.



So if you are always wondering why other businesses get publicity and press coverage and yours doesn’t, or if you would love to start blogging but just can’t seem to get your fingers dancing across the keyboard then come along and find out just what you can do to help grow your business!

Places are limited and pre booking is essential so please email us for more info





The side panel of shame

Apparently this is news….

The side panel of shame

I have a love/hate relationship with the Daily Mail (mostly hate) but I still find myself strangely drawn to (not addicted you understand) the side panel of shame. Like most people-if they are honest.

Unfortunately, I am a bit out of the celeb inner circle these days as I no longer work with the lovely Vicky, Lisa, Bec and Nat who used to keep me fully in touch with the goings on across a number of celebrity platforms, from Bake Off to Big Brother, TOWIE to MIC, I relished their regular updates even though for the most part I still wasn’t entirely sure who half of these people were. Their knowledge was vast and detailed and impressive. I always felt a bit country bumpkin about it all and felt compelled to secretly buy Hello and Heat magazine to try and improve my celebrity knowledge.

Occasionally we would indulge in a little challenge and email each other the best bits from the side panel of shame-not when we were really busy though, obvs! I quite miss that actually…happy days. Oh how I will always remember Sarah Jessica Parker wearing a red coat and actually holding hands with her children…

So, as a little gift to my fully celeb-ed up friends, here is just a tiny bit of what I found in today’s side panel of shame.

Kim Kardashian flashes her cleavage while Khloe Kardashian goes bra less. Meanwhile Charlie Dimmock has a fuller figure these days and Kate Winslet is NOT pregnant.
In other news, Kourtney Kadashian wears her leotard over her jeans (what like Wonder Woman? Don’t we all do that sometimes? No? Just me? Oh ok…) and Gemma reveals the shock news that TOWIE is NOT real.

However, the really big shocker of the day is that Victoria Beckham is no longer wearing heels. She prefers a comfy pair of trainers but has ‘beyond hate’ for ballet flats…should we have a national day of mourning?

I actually can’t wait for tomorrow. Today I will be swotting up on who these Jenner people are? My teenage son looks at me in despair whenever I mention this but I remain confused.

Dating on your doorstep

Dating on your doorstep

WE are most definitely in an age of supporting anything that is local to us. Whether we are talking about local shops, businesses or service providers, the overriding mantra is BUY LOCAL, and the concept makes perfect sense. Why travel when you have everything you need conveniently based right on your doorstep, and the products you need are tailored exactly to what you want.

Using local businesses makes us feel good because we know we are supporting our local economy AND at the same time we enjoy feeling connected to our community as there is great sense of ownership and responsibility.

There is an increasing trend for doing things and buying things near to where we live. We relish the familiarity and security that buying local gives us. Buying local makes us feel GOOD. And it is easy.

We are positively embracing buying our food locally, so why not apply the same theory to online dating?



After all, dating sites are service providers, the taboos of yesteryear are now a distant memory, and they have to be based somewhere. More often than not, trying to find a real person as opposed to a multi billion dollar business behind a dating site is pretty impossible.

www.honestlydating.com is based in rural Oxfordshire and is owned by two entrepreneurs who both live locally and have strong local connections. The team that supports the business is also made up of local business owners with backgrounds in web design and development, PR and communications and, of course, accounting and business services.

The whole project is deeply embedded into the local Oxfordshire community and provides a specific dating service for people in that area. With the city of Oxford and its dreaming spires right on the doorstep, there are plenty of amazing venues for dates and a wide selection of local single people who want to spend time with each other, rather than embarking on arduous journeys in the hope that this might be ‘the one.’

Members can be secure in the knowledge that the site they have chosen to use (which is, incidentally, currently free) is owned and controlled by real people who live in a village probably not that far from them. Add to that the fact that at least two of the people involved in developing the business have racked up over 100 Internet dates between them, and most definitely know what they are taking about, and any qualms you may have had about joining a dating site should quickly disappear. The business is ethical,  transparent and has a website jammed with free dating tips and advice.

While the big boys of Internet dating such as Match, Pof, OK Cupid and others remain undoubtedly the market leaders, smaller sites like honestlydating.com are championing the cause for “buying” local and using local services.

Clare Beaney, is one half of the business partnership. She said: “I have had a lot of internet dates, and I didn’t want to travel hundreds of miles to meet someone. The big sites do have hundreds of thousands of members which is great, but do we really have time to wade through a large percentage of ‘unsuitables’ who live too far away? honestlydating.com was created to provide an open and honest approach to Internet dating and to offer single people an enhanced online dating experience. We have taken this one step further by limiting our members to an area local to Oxford and Oxfordshire. We accept this this could be a business risk, but conversely also feel it makes us unique in what is a very overcrowded market.”

With many newbie online daters feeling overwhelmed by the well established dating sites, and horror stories regularly appearing in the media about online dating as a whole, honestlydating.com is friendly, small and has a nurturing, community feel to it. The idea is to link up local people with similar interests and see if Cupid takes over.

Anona Hessler, the other partner in the business added: “We set out to provide an honest Internet dating experience, and that is what we will continue to do. Oxford and Oxfordshire has a wealth of interesting single people all looking for love, and we aim to bring them together by making matching as easy as possible. Why waste time connecting with people who are half a day away, when you can spend that precious time getting to know someone who almost lives on your doorstep?”



My last cheese sandwich…

JUST before I launch into this, I want to issue a warning that what you are about to read is fundamentally a first world problem. I have written this in my lovely office watching the starlings squabble with the blue tits over a fat ball. Life is good. I am blessed.

And yes, this is mostly about a cheese sandwich. My last cheese sandwich, potentially. And a bag of crisps

Goodbye my faithful snack friends

(salt and vinegar-of course) and a cup of tea (builders).

Just after the festive season I had a good old look at myself and realised that if I don’t tackle the fat this year, when I am 48, it WILL be too late. My adoring husband may well love my heavenly curves, but the last bloke I married dumped me when I ‘ballooned’ from a size 12 to a 14 (I was preggers but hey ho) and I can’t be arsed with another divorce. Easier to ditch the fromage. I also want to look totally eff off amazing for my step daughter’s wedding in August, and not some frumpy mess in layers of chiffon with a stupid fascinator perched aloft to ‘give me a little much-needed height.’

Previously I have been a pretty healthy eater, regular dog walker, light drinker, non smoker, and occasional snacker. Unfortunately I have never been naturally slim, toned or bony and even though I am not a lazy cow who sits around eating biscuits all day, I put on weight very easily and have had a constant life battle with food and my body. Not helped by cheese sandwiches and crisps. Obvs. I often forget what I have actually eaten. I think that perhaps I was a Labrador in my last life.

So, 2016 is THE year I have decided when all this changes and I will be a size 10 by the summer. THIS summer-not next. That means shrinking from an ample (definitely on the cuddly side) of a size 14 which doesn’t sound too bad but believe me, it probably will be. Exercise will be required, along with lots of willpower.

To give the old chubbiness a bit of a kick start I thought I would try the SIRT diet. This is THE latest diet thing and is actually not really a diet-more a way of life (apparently).

My new constant companion

There is a lovely book out about it which I have duly purchased and even read. It gives you a shopping list, recipes and loads of reasons why SIRT foods are really good for you. Luckily for me, I already eat quite a few SIRT foods-things like kale, rocket, celery, green apples, tofu, butterbeans and so on. Even walnuts get a mention-happy days!


Keen not to be accused of following a fad, I did my research, fuelled entirely by the fact that you can actually lose 7 pounds in a week, and was thrilled to discover that MOST of the foods are easy to get-even in an Oxfordshire market town. So I made my list, ordered a juicer from Amazon and off I went in search of Kale, Matcha powder, buckwheat flour and other very worthy, healthy things that I didn’t even know existed-well apart from kale which figures quite prominently.

Despite looking very, very hard I failed to find anything buckwheat or matcha-y in my local supermarket (but I DID find that bloke who was on Come Dine with Me recently on TV who had a big old strop when he didn’t win, so it wasn’t an entirely wasted journey) so I came home and promptly put in an order to Holland and Barrett.

Keen to start and a-sirt myself (see what I did there!) I ploughed on anyway-juicing anything green and crunchy that came to hand. I soon decided that without the magic Matcha powder ( who knows what that is??), the green juice that you have to drink for the first few days was basically hard work and would try the will of the most staunchly committed vegan. I instead feasted on soba noodles and tofu. Tofu is controversial and is either loved or hated. I love it. What I do NOT love are  soba noodles. They  look like malnourished, slimy, juvenile earth worms and they did NOT enhance my stir fry experience-perhaps I am cooking them all wrong.

Having not received my order of SIRT essentials, but still being relatively keen to continue, I thought I know, I will do a gradual introduction of these new foods into my diet and then by the time the buckwheat and the matcha turn up I will be all over this bloody SIRT thing.

I did, of course, still expect to lose a couple of pounds at least. I mean all that kale must have some kind of slimming impact? Turns out that you can’t drink Prosecco, eat brie, finish off the panetonne from Christmas, and eat some kale and handful of walnuts and see the fat melt away. Not even after having a token cup of green tea (which I WAS told was the  miracle fat cure) Bugger. My gradual introduction plan has failed. I was bitterly disappointed.

OH well, I thought, I WILL do this diet but I will just wait a bit. So the ‘bit’ has turned into two weeks, because apart from anything else, Tesco will definitely be running low on kale and I still haven’t received my package from Holland Barret so what’s the point? I guess there must be a national shortage of buckwheat. Let’s try the all or nothing approach instead.

I was just doing a quick reassessment of the situation and decided that really we are half way through January now, and it is ALWAYS better to start at the beginning of the month so I will wait until February. But then we have pancake day, but that is fine because buckwheat pancakes a-go-go baby!

So imagine my horror today when the parcel turned up from Holland and Barrett. No excuse now is there?

Yey…buckwheat…can’t actually wait…


I HAVE to do this. I know that I can no longer eat cheese sandwiches and crisps and still wear normal clothes.

Kale and tofu sandwich? Anyone?






WE put this story out yesterday following the death of David Bowie. It is on behalf of our client the Guild of Television  Cameramen.



A cameraman has been speaking of the moment he realised he owned footage of David Bowie on Top of the Pops which was thought to be lost.

John Henshall, from Stanford-in-the-Vale, Oxfordshire, who is also the President of the Guild of Television Cameramen, retained a copy of Bowie performing Jean Genie in 1973.

He said: “I just couldn’t believe that I was the only one with it. I just thought you wouldn’t be mad enough to wipe a tape like that.”

It was unveiled at an event held by the British Film Institute in 2011.

The annual event, Missing Believed Wiped, was the first time the footage had been seen since January 1973.

John said he only kept it because he wanted it for his showreel.

In the footage he used Telefex Fisheye lenses which he had designed himself. He also ended up in the background of one of the shots.

After the recording he asked producers for a personal copy on 2in (5cm) broadcast videotape.

John said: “I didn’t realise that it had been wiped by the BBC. They’d been looking for it for years, hoping that somebody had maybe pointed an 8mm home movie camera at the screen, because there was no VHS in those days.

“I didn’t realise that anybody wanted it. I’d just had it because it was my Fisheye.I had loads of ideas for optical effects back then.”

Bowie’s performance of Jean Genie was recorded on 3 January 1973 and transmitted the following day for the first and only time.

After realising he had a “rarer than rare” piece of television history, John went to Westpoint Television in London to view the footage.



John used one of his own lenses to create the optical effects seen in the recording. The lens was then loaned to the National Media Museum who kept all John’s revolutionary special effects lenses for nine years. They were rediscovered recently, deteriorating in a cold hangar including the lens which John had used on the cameras for Bowie’s appearances.

The lens has recently been used on Good Morning Britain, having been rediscovered towards the end of last year.

John filmed David Bowie many times and used his special lenses on many programmes. The BBC destroyed the historic recording but, incredibly, John had kept a copy and was able to save the BBC’s bacon and blushes.


“The hairs stood up on the back of my neck,” he said.There it was in full broadcast quality. Amazing.”


After his time with Top of the Pops, John went on to film professional music videos for Blondie, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Kate Bush, Spandau Ballet, Roxy Music and Queen.




For more information and to interview John Henshall please contact Sarah Edwards 07966 523662 sarah@mediabird.co.uk




Do you run a small (or even tiny) business in a rural area?

I run my business from a building  in my garden-a fancy shed would be a good way to describe it! I love working for myself and have a collection of really interesting clients ranging from a dating website to a global petrochemicals company, education providers to newspaper publishers, third sector enterprises and professional organisations to herbalists-it is a pretty varied mix!

IMG_1959Mediabird is a creative communications company that has its HQ in my garden, but that draws on the skills and expertise of a group of brilliant and talented individuals. For the most part I work alone, as do my colleagues, but we come together to work on various projects-it seems to be working well so far!

We are very honest with our clients and don’t pretend to be a big, glossy PR outfit. We like that we all work from our own offices or kitchen tables and pride ourselves on offering a first class service to everyone we work with. The way we work is efficient and means we can provide cost effective services that are flexible, which means we can work with even tiny businesses with tiny budgets.

Among the services we offer to small businesses are:


PR advice and consultancy

Media training-from how to Tweet to how to handle an interview

Web development and design

Writing and content creation/blogging

Newspaper and magazine design

Training in community journalism

If you run a small business in a rural area and would like a chat about how we might be able to help you. Please email us info@mediabird.co.uk or ring 07966523662

Ok so it’s January…get a grip people!

Yes it is the first and possibly dreariest month of 2016, and apparently tomorrow is officially THE most depressing day of the year-although as it is my dear sister-in-law’s birthday too she may have different ideas about that!

I am currently working on my first novel. I have written other books before but this is an actual grown up work of fiction. Its working title is I Thought I Knew You, and it has been a work in progress for a good couple of years. However, 2016 is the year it has to come to fruition and be actually finished.

The book follows the lives of various characters-some who have lives filled with abundance but genuinely think they have been dealt a shitty hand, and those who literally have nothing or are facing enormous challenges in their lives, but still find time for other people.

One of my characters spirals easily into a major breakdown because she can’t fit into her skinny jeans and her nanny decides to leave, another faces equally first world problems when she can’t have the dream house she feels she deserves. The main male character lies, cheats and is constantly looking for ways to make cash from anyone he comes into contact with, but maintains that the way his life has turned out is everyone else’s fault, and another character, Marcia, is dealing with the sudden and suspicious death of her husband.

The title of the book has been chosen to reflect the fact that sometimes we THINK we know everything about our friends but when things get really bad, the truth inevitably comes out. It is a book about those who have so much and don’t realise it, and those who have so little but just get on with it. I am particularly pleased with the ending but more of that later!

The books is not designed to be preachy BUT, and it is a BIG BUT my hope is that when people read it (fingers crossed they will!) it might just make them realise how lucky they are to have what they have. I am blessed with good health, an amazing family, loyal, kind and considerate friends and a job that I love. I live in an amazing place and I am writing this from my dream Nordic cabin at the bottom of my garden. I am very, very lucky.

I have two very good friends who are both battling breast cancer at the moment. They are amazing women and far, far too young to be going through all this. I have another friend who is dealing with the fact that after being married for 50 years, her parents now have to be cared for in care homes that are miles away from each other. Separation has been foisted onto them because of their advancing years and complex health issues, and they will never live as man and wife again. They have basically been forced into a divorce. After 50 years together in the same house, how can that be fair?

Another friend continues to fight for justice with a health organisation following the avoidable death of her son.

These, my friends, are things to be worried about. Life events that warrant more than a bit of a moan on social media. But these friends of mine don’t moan, they get on with it. They get up every day put on their lippy and start the fight all over again. And I know they will all continue to do this for as long as they need to. They have too much to lose to just give up and collapse in a heap of self indulgent misery-even though that is their entitlement.

So this month, our worst month when top of the list of worries are shockers such as supermarkets running out of the kale needed to feed our juicing habits, or how much we spent over Christmas or how  large our arse has become because of eating our bodyweight in Quality Street, or the fact that we MUST get to the sales and buy that must-have bargain, I would urge anyone who has worries of this level to take a step back, think and look at what you have around you. Chances are you are pretty damn lucky.