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Bishop’s Stortford Independent Parkinality columnist Julie Walker launches Swirl range featuring sarongs/wraps, tote bags and wash bags

Parkinality columnist Julie Walker, of Bishop’s Stortford, writes not about parking, but about living with Parkinson’s disease in her 50s...

I present you with my new project combining two of my favourite activities, art and shopping. I have started a company selling accessories. More precisely, I create original artwork using acrylic and watercolour paints. The designs are then transferred onto pretty and practical accessories for you and your home.

I was going to call myself Parkinality Plumbing but for two reasons, one of which is that I am trying to keep this project well away from Parkinson's disease (PD) and anything Parkinality. So instead it is called Swirl, based on the paint pouring and swirling patterns I have created for some of the accessories.

I have designed a small range to start with - a sarong/wrap, tote bag and wash bag in several designs. All vibrant colours, all ready for your holidays.

I have been told that I should be promoting my products on social media platforms. To be honest, those are totally alien to me. My technical skills have been stretched by creating a Facebook page which you can find at www.facebook.com/swirlaccessories.

In my opinion, shopping online will never beat the dopamine rush associated with shopping IRL and so I am planning on having a market stall. Some of you may be wondering where IRL is and panicking that your passport has expired while many under-40s will be sniggering thinking that it is “totes obvs” what IRL means. To those over-40s, don't worry, I am not down with the kidz and had to google what the acronym meant. IRL means in real life.

Parkinality columnist Julie Walker has launched Swirl, her own range of accessories
Parkinality columnist Julie Walker has launched Swirl, her own range of accessories

So where will you be able to buy my products IRL? I will be having a market stall on Saturday June 3 and Saturday July 1 at the Bishop's Stortford Farmers’ and Craft Market held in North Street.

Regular readers may have heard me refer to PD as Janet before. Janet Bric-a-Brac is my invisible 'frienemy', my constant companion. She is aggravating, annoying and interfering. I never know when she is going to rear her ugly head. Janet is Parkinson's. Personifying PD makes the disease less scary, but just as frustrating.

Even my painting is not free from Janet's interference. When faced with a blank canvas, the type of painting I come up with is influenced by my dexterity and mobility at that time, whether it be large swirling brushstrokes, tiny dots or anything in between.

I find this incredibly frustrating. I might have a brilliant design in my head, but Janet often has other ideas.

This makes for some interesting painting techniques, which sometimes take me by surprise. For example, when my tremor kicks off sometimes I find controlled straight lines easier than repeated dots. The repeated dots make my tremor more intense and my hand goes out of control. Whereas, for some reason, my hand steadies with the concentration associated with painting a straight line.

I haven't written much about the psychological stress of living with two chronic conditions, but I am sure those readers who also live with long-term conditions will agree that art, along with music, really help. When painting I am often distracted and I might have some brief relief from thinking about disease. Add the right music and I might briefly forget.

I have many worries about running a stall, but top of the list is writing receipts. I mean physically writing - I cannot write very well at all. Not because I was never taught, but because PD has made my writing indecipherable. So please don't be offended if you are politely asked to write out your own receipt.

My intention is that the Swirl range will constantly evolve, with colours, designs and accessories changing with the seasons. So if you don't see something you like this time, pop back and there may be something which you like in a future range. Like/follow the Facebook page to get updated when new designs are available.

Do come along to the stall and say hello, particularly if it's raining. Have a browse and maybe pick up something for your holidays, whether that be a fortnight in the Canaries or a day trip to Frinton. A new sarong or coordinating tote bag will brighten up your life.


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