Blended Monkey: Woodworking and pottery studio

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As Sarah Harris discovered, Blended Monkey is a labor of love in every sense of the word, a business that blends creativity and rehabilitation.

Husband and wife team Simon and Louise Taggart are driven by a passion for making a difference. They have poured their heart and soul into every aspect of the business, leveraging their individual talents for a broader purpose.

The business, located in the couple’s home in Upwell on the Norfolk/Cambridgeshire border, is two-fold. Blended Monkey is a woodworking workshop and ceramics studio offering one-on-one and pair classes with woodturner Simon and potter Louise. Crafter’s Retreat is a recent addition. A two-berth log cabin located at the back of the couple’s large garden welcomes craft enthusiasts to an environment that fosters creativity.

Wonderful British life: Louise Taggart in her Upwell studioLouise Taggart in Upwell’s studio

Louise, who was born in Ely, said: Her name comes from a cocktail of the same name that I often drank when I lived in Germany for many years. We felt this was the perfect way to describe our fusion of her two artistic fields. ”

Handcrafted bespoke gifts, artwork and collections using wood, clay and silk are the couple’s forte, but perhaps most fascinatingly, Simon and Louise have branched out into creative therapy, helping people with disabilities (and their victims). We offer sessions and accommodations tailored to your needs (including: Brain trauma.

“We entered the teaching field four years ago. It started as a gift experience, and it was through our teaching that we discovered Bruce,” Louise explains.

“Bruce suffered a stroke eight years ago after surgery following an accident at work. He lost complete use of his right side and his speech was affected. When his rehabilitation began, his wife He now visits us every two weeks with a support worker.”

Bruce, a cabinet maker and sculptor, has come a long way since he started sessions with Louise and Simon. Blend His Monkey His workshop allows you to relax and rediscover your creativity while offering rehabilitation methods that work alongside regular physical therapy.

The Wonderful British Life: Simon Taggart in his woodworking workshop.Simon Taggart in his woodworking workshop.

“He woodworks with Simon in the morning, and in the afternoon, after lunch, Bruce potters with me,” Louise continues. “Our sessions have evolved and developed over the years. Conversation also plays a big role during his time with us, providing a type of speech therapy. Bruce has good days, too. There are bad days. He takes a long time to say what he wants to say and uses pictures to communicate. We sit and talk and laugh.”

“We have seen a dramatic improvement in Bruce. He now has a workshop at home and we were invited to his home to advise on how best to set it up.”

Since Louise and Simon started seeing results in Bruce, it has become clear that their research can be extended to people with other brain disorders and physical problems such as balance and coordination.

Louise said: “When a client plays with clay or tries a wood lathe, their brains can switch off and make their brains work in a different way. It was a learning process for us, but word spreads. , we were recently approached by the Caregiving Association on behalf of women with Alzheimer’s disease, who could also benefit from our work.”

Louise and Simon’s clients include autistic children supported by their parents, as well as teenagers and adults with PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. I am. Louise and Simon are strong supporters of mental health charity Mind and welcome a wide range of cases. Louise recalls a client who developed Tourette syndrome and suffered from seizures due to anxiety. Levels of severity vary and it can prove to be a challenge, but the rewards from the client’s improvement and progress far outweigh any challenges the couple faces.

As well as the creative therapy sessions offered by Blended Monkey, Crafter’s Retreat offers a quiet and secluded place for guests to stay overnight if they wish. Louise sums it up: “Everything works together.”

Described on Blended Monkey’s website as a “self-contained safe haven,” the cabin is designed with an emphasis on mindfulness, health, and peace, and includes a cozy sleeping space, kitchen area, , hot tub, and outdoor fire pit. There is a private knot garden where visitors can sit and relax, and the space is accessible to wheelchair users. With WiFi and a variety of books, board games, and art supplies readily available, as well as discounted pottery and woodworking workshops within walking distance, guests won’t have to travel far from this quiet little center. there is no.

Wonderful British Life: A piece of wood made in Simon's workshop.A piece of wood made in Simon’s workshop.

Louise and Simon’s workspace is also their home, but in recent years they have ventured further afield through their involvement in various community projects. Louise recently joined Secret Her Garden in Wisbech to teach a creative pottery workshop in collaboration with her CP Learning Trust, a not-for-profit charity that works with disadvantaged communities. .

The aim was to share her skills and knowledge with those who could not afford such an experience and provide opportunities they would not otherwise have. Louise and Simon also spoke at Hickathrift House Care Home in Marshland St James, where they discussed and demonstrated their work.

Between these projects and their daily duties, Louise and Simon are always busy. However, Blended Monkey’s future plans continue to move forward at a rapid pace, with plans to expand its offering of group experiences.

Louise explains: “Last year we held our first large group workshop elsewhere, as we don’t have the space to accommodate a group at home. We hope to build on that and widen our reach. We look forward to further collaboration with CP Learning Trust.”

The Wonderful British Life: Simon Taggart in his woodworking workshop.Simon Taggart in his woodworking workshop.

Plans for creative therapy are also in the works. “We are approaching a number of further care associations and hope to soon source people to work with within the mental health sector. They often don’t know what to do or where to start. Our one-on-one and pair tuition is perfect for these people, as they usually don’t like being part of a large group. .”

Louise and Simon’s journey is far from complete, but Blend Monkey is going from strength to strength. In fact, underlying the creative duo’s success to date is their determination to use their skill sets in more fulfilling and life-affirming ways, and their sensitivity, adaptability, and patience with their clients. have earned the reputation they deserve. .

Louise added: It’s hard work, but it’s a lot of fun. ”

For more information about Blended Monkey or Crafter’s Retreat, visit blendedmonkey.co.uk or craftersretreat.co.uk.





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