Archives for category: The Story So Far

I think I can remove that question mark now from the previous post!  Project 1p would be ending this evening had it not already ended.  I’ve just had a pleasant half an hour reminiscing about the project 1p.

Highlights – Dennis and the goldfish, being on Newsround, and getting that land in Bulgaria.

Happy New Year everyone!

P.S. Does anyone want to swap a 2p? 🙂


I bet you didn’t expect to reading a project 1p blog post with that title in July.  I certainly didn’t expect to be writing it.  There have been some complications.  Rebecca has decided to retract her offer (Wedding photography package).  It would seem that she is annoyed that I was unable to trade it for something of greater value.  Not through lack of trying I assure you!  As I have explained to many before, I can only trade what I get offered.

So where does this leave Project 1p?  With the Wedding Dress voucher, that I originally had two and a half months ago.  Uh oh!

Project 1p is supposed to be entertaining, exciting and interesting.  Not just for me but for the people who take part and for the people who follow it.  Taking a giant step back to where I was two and a half months ago just doesn’t feel right.  It doesn’t feel exciting, entertaining or interesting.  I can’t really see any alternative than to end the project here, and accept that I will never be King of my own country.

However, you might notice that I put a “?” in the title of this post.  The project has thrown up many surprises in the last 6 months, so I thought I’d use that question mark to cover myself against any unexpected intervention that somehow keeps the project alive.  You never know!
At this point I’d like to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who has been following my progress, and to everyone who has made an offer and to the people who traded with me – Harry, Dennis, Dave and his mum, Dale, Paul, Darren, Alex and Claire, Adrian Firth and Andy Hornby.

It’s been fun!

I hope you’ve enjoyed yourselves too

Project 1p is 6 months old.  That seems like the ideal time to have a brief recap.  It started life with just a mere one penny coin.  During the project’s infancy, the penny coin soon became 3 goldfish and a pot of fish food.  Through sheer perseverance those pesky fish evolved into a guitar, which turned into a bike, which became £50, which bought 10 sq metres of land in Bulgaria.  By now the project was learning to walk and the land was soon exchanged for a custom made metal object, which was traded for a French yurt holiday, which was swapped for a penny portrait, which became a wedding dress, which was exchanged for a wedding photographer.

At 6 months old, project 1p has been having a small midlife crisis. The primary objective in the beginning was to turn my 1p coin into something of greater value.  I think its fair to say that I have succeeded in fulfilling that objective.  Indeed, some might say that I’ve exceeded.  Now that the initial challenge has already been accomplished, the project feels like it is lacking something.  Lacking a goal to achieve, a target to reach.  A wise man once said –

“The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.”

Project 1p needs a dream.  Or at least a new dream because the old dream has already become reality.

Over the years, I have concluded that the best place to have a dream is in bed.  With that in mind, I put my pyjamas on and tucked myself in.  Having a dream is not easy.  Others who have been in similar situations before me have dreamt of holidays or houses.  The trouble is, I don’t want a holiday, or a house.  I don’t actually seem to want anything much.  I was thinking hard.  What did I want?  Then I remembered a conversation I had as a teenager with my friend, Blue (so called because he used to tell us stories about watching blue movies on satellite TV).  We talked about owning an Island, and declaring it our own country.  It was to be called Sandland and everything was to be made out of sand.  Now that might sound like an utterly absurd idea to you.  But is it?  I will concede that building everything out of sand would be impractical at best, but the concept of creating a new country doesn’t sound that unreasonable.  It’s been done before, I could do it again.  And that ladies and gentlemen is my dream.

So, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Project 1p Part 2.  Over the next 6 months I will be trading up to an Island so that I can declare independence and create my very own country.

You probably think I’ve gone mad!

Now who is going to take this wedding photographer off my hands?

I spent much of the last month reading bridal fashion magazines, emailing wedding fair planners, posting on forums with names like You & Your Wedding and generally scouring the country for budding brides who might want to barter for a wedding dress.  This has given me an insight into what it is like to be a bride and I can tell you now, I never want to be one.  I am sure I could be forgiven for wanting to run from the hullabaloo of the wedding world with my next trade, never to return.  However, in a cruel twist of fate, Project 1p has presented me with another wedding related item to trade. 

The Photographer is  called Rebecca.  Rebecca sent me an email offering me a long list of items including some of her signed prints, a photo shoot at her studio and all sorts of other things.  An hour later she sent me another email with a revised and even longer list of offers.  Such was the eagerness of her emailing that my inbox decided that it must be spam and threw it into the junk mail folder.  By chance I noticed them hiding amongst the dodgy pharmaceutical emails that inhabit my junk mail.  I emailed Rebecca and thanked her for the spam and she promised not to send me any more.

And that was that.  I filed the offer under “maybe” and continued the search.  A few other offers dribbled in, my favorite being a lifetime supply of dog leads, but I think it’s fair to say I over estimated the volume of brides who would want to barter for their wedding dress.  I was confused.  As you know, I grew up being told to look after my pennies.  For me, the prospect of bartering and spending less money on the most expensive/important day of your life sounds like a great idea.  On reflection, I think spending all the money is probably half the fun of a wedding.  Or in some cases three quarters.

Half way through the month of May I devised a cunning plan.  Wedding Fairs.  I managed to barter my way to a free stand at a fair in Surrey.  What better place to find a bride than at a wedding fair?  I spent an evening preparing the signage for my stand.  Just as I finished the last sign, I had an email declaring that “Due to unforeseen circumstances the wedding fair scheduled for 22nd May has been cancelled.”  It was like being jilted at the alter.

As the month drew to an end, I reviewed all the offers and tried make a decision.  I re-read all of Rebecca’s emails.  The fact she was so eager made me want to trade with her.  Especially as the dress was to be a present for her friend.  It felt right, but the offer felt wrong.  It would have been nearly impossible to find someone to trade with who wanted everything she was offering, even though each item was individually a good one.  I then realized that as well as fashion photography, she also does wedding photography.  I think we’ve established now that I know very little about weddings, but I’ve seen enough wedding photo albums to reach the conclusion that most wedding photos look the same.  However, this is not this case with Rebecca’s photography.  There is something different about it.  It’s unusual and imaginative and original.  Its brilliant!  I don’t know how else to explain it.

I emailed Rebecca and asked her if she would offer her wedding photography services.  Now, at this point, I hadn’t intended to go for the final handshake and seal the deal.  I was planning to wait for a response, ponder on it some more and then think about making the trade.  However, it would appear that the wording of my email was rather ambiguous and the response from Rebecca was “Lets do it!  I’m so happy thank you!”  I could hardly say no now could I?

So, Rebecca’s relentless spam and bullying forced me to trade the wedding dress for a wedding photographer.  As a result Rebecca’s friend gets a wedding dress, I have to endure another round of wedding fever, and now we all know conclusively that Spam does actually work.

I am genuinely happy with the trade and I would have said yes anyway!  Rebecca’s photography skills are outstanding and should be easy to trade on.  Full details of the wedding photography package can be seen by following the link below.  Offers to trade welcome, and required.



You can choose from 500 new designer dresses.

Yesterday, the biggest wedding that the country has seen in 30 years took place at Westminster Abbey.  But more importantly I traded the 1p portrait of Andy Hornby for a wedding dress.  This is how and why it happened.

If you’ve been following the progress of project 1p, you will probably be vaguely aware that I was keen to trade the portrait with Andy Hornby himself.  In fact, over the last month, some might say I have become slightly obsessed with Andy Hornby.  My girlfriend certainly would.  I even had a dream several weeks ago that I was working as his assistant.

As soon as I traded the holiday for the Andy Hornby Portrait, I sent Andy a rather lovely email asking for his thoughts on the project, the portrait and the prospect of a trade.  No reply.  I then sent him another rather lovely email asking for a response to the first email.  No reply.  Another two emails later still no response.  I was beginning to give up on Mr Hornby.

Meanwhile, I received a nice selection of offers from other people who don’t know how to run banks.  I was offered a brand new 27″ iMac with accessories to be delivered in a Porche 911, another website, 15 minutes on stage at the Sussex University summer ball, and a Safari Experience at The Aspinall Foundation.  The Aspinall Foundation are a great charity who rescue and breed endangered species.  They have a miniature safari style game reserve at their park in Kent where you stay in a lodge and have dinner with antelope running about etc…

I liked the sound of safari, but I could not stop thinking about Andy Hornby.  Probably because his smug face was the first thing I saw when I woke up each morning.  (The portrait stood next to my bed, purely due to lack of sensible storage options in my house, not because I’m obsessed with him.)  It felt like he was mocking me.  Then I had an idea.  It occured to me that there must be more than one Andy Hornby in the world, and if THE Andy Hornby would not talk to me, maybe a different one would.  I composed a quick email, and sent it to as many Andy Hornby’s as I could before Facebook banned me for spamming.

The first reply came back.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to have an email in my inbox from an Andy Hornby.  A tear came to my eye.  Andy liked the project.  He told my that he ran a wedding shop ( his wife Ali.  After a bit of chit chat Andy offered to trade any wedding dress from their stock of about 500 for the portrait of his namesake.

On the 29th April 2011, I watched Prince William lead his new wife out to their carriage, and I picked up the phone and accepted the offer.

Now, to business.  I’m quite sure that everyone who reads this will be either getting married themselves at some point in the near future, or know someone else who is getting married.  Therefore, I would like to suggest that instead of buying a wedding dress, you/they/whoever barter for one with me!  Any offers will be considered, so spread the word, tell all your friends and make me an offer.

See what happens next? >>>

That’s right, I traded the yurt holiday for a portrait made of 1p coins.  2,500 coins to be precise.  You probably think that this is quite a good trade.  But wait….  It gets better…

The man in that picture is Andy Hornby.  For those of you who don’t know, Andy Hornby was the chief executive of HBOS during the 2008 banking crisis.  They made a loss of £10.8 Billion in that year.  He took a portion of blame and was asked to resign from his position.

So, project 1p has traded up from one penny, to a portrait made with thousands of pennies, of a man who lost trillions of pennies.  Oh the irony!

This is how it happened.

I was excited about the yurt holiday.  Very excited in fact.  However, the offers were few and far between.  I was facing a choice between someone’s web design services, an ex husband, or a romantic walk in the park followed by tea and cake.  Not bad offers, but not the right offers.

Then I remembered a proverb that I was never told when I was growing up.

“If the mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain”

I realised I would have to go and look for my next trade.  I have been keen to trade some art at some point during the project, so I innocently typed “penny artist” into a search engine.  After looking at the creative workings of 27 different artists named Penny, I stumbled upon the website of a man called Adrian Firth ( Adrian made a whole series of portraits using 1p coins.

I was astonished!  They are all brilliant.  I emailed Adrian and told him that.  Then I told him I wanted to swap my yurt holiday for one of his pictures.  Fortunately, he was in need of a holiday.  Even more fortunately, he had sold all but one of his penny portraits.  With very little hesitation, the deal was done.

Adrian, his wife and their baby boy are going on a 1 week yurt holiday in France this September, and I am looking across the room at Andy Hornby’s face.

So ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again.  Make me an offer for the 1p portrait.  As usual, any offers will be carefully considered, so don’t be shy!  However I should point out that any offers made by Andy Hornby himself will be given priority.  Go on Andy, make me an offer!

More info on the picture here

See what happens next? >>>

The title of this trade very nearly read “The Cake”.  I had the telephone in my hand and was about to dial the number to accept the offer of the cake when the email about the French Yurt holiday arrived.

It was no ordinary cake mind you.  The offer arrived from “Russ BigMilf Milford” via facebook.

Hi Luke, My wife makes amazing cakes (see ) now! we are local people that want to make a genuine offer, the offer for the next trade is a Wedding cake to the value of £800

I love cakes.  A lot.  So this immediately took my fancy, even more than the offer of 50 bottles of prize winning homemade wine.  However, if there is one thing I love as much as a good cake, it’s a yurt.

The French yurt holiday offer went like this

Her Outdoors would like to offer one week in a yurt in écovallée (excluding July August) this year or next in exchange for the metal thing. The metal thing to be: A snail-shell shaped frame for a solar shower, with holes every Xcm to attach wooden uprights for privacy. Unless it’s a crime, a 1p should be welded onto the inside of the frame somewhere. And to add a bit of connectivity, the winner of the yurt camp week should collect and deliver the metal thing (OPTIONAL).

I agonized over the choice between cake and yurt for several hours, before realizing that in accordance to the Project 1p rules, I wouldn’t actually get to keep (or eat) either of them.  Eventually I decided to compromise by accepting the yurt holiday and buying a cake that I could eat from the local corner shop.

And that was that.  Darren the fabricator will be making a “snail-shaped frame” with a 1p coin welded to it, I will be eating “not so posh” cake, and you will be making me offers for a one week yurt holiday in France!  But be quick because their bookings are filling up fast.  So who wants it?  (Offers of cash, cake, and anything else will be considered)

More info on the holiday here

See what happens next? >>>

You are probably wondering what on Earth a custom made metal object is and why I traded 10 square metres of land in Bulgaria for it.  Before you think I’ve gone completely mad allow me to explain.

You may or may not be aware that after the previous trade, Project 1p received a large amount of interest from the media and as a result a large number of people are now following the developments of the project.  Consequently, I received a large number of offers for the land in Bulgaria.  Obviously this is not a bad thing, but it made the whole process much more challenging.  Up until now the choices I’ve had to make have been fairly simple, but this time the right choice was not so obvious.  It was in fact a bloody hard decision to make.  How anyone can possible choose between such offers as a 42″ plasma TV, a cow and someone’s virginity is beyond me!  (Please note – I am sure the person who offered their virginity was joking.  I hope they were anyway.)

To give you an insight into the other kind of offers I received I’ve listed some examples for you:-

1 juke box, 1 drum kit, a bottle of champagne, a holiday in Tunisia, 2 cars, £150, 70 lottery tickets, some artwork, a facebook app, a percentage of future earnings from an unpublished author, 3 fruit machines, some fishing equipment, 2 terrapin turtles, and some pigs.

Some of these offers were extremely generous and you probably think I am crazy for not accepting the pigs.  However, there were problems and complications with most of them and to be honest, none of them really felt like the right choice.  I was beginning to despair, and some of the facebook followers were becoming impatient.  I then noticed an enthusiastic email that I had overlooked from a chap called Darren –

…I run a limited company ( where we weld and fabricate almost anything out of steel, i have been in this trade for 28 years.  It was my birthday yesterday, So I thought what a way to mark my 44th birthday to trade something with your good self

I wasn’t sure where he was going with this offer so I hastily read to the end.  It turns out that Darren was offering his services and materials for the land.  He said he could do almost anything with metal from making an ornamental garden feature, to repairing a car, or making a candlestick.  In his words

the list is endless to be honest you just need vision

I couldn’t agree more.  This was starting to feel like the right choice.  Somewhat obscure, but right nevertheless.  I had a great chat on the phone with Darren and he told me all about the various objects he makes out of metal.  He can even create objects from rough designs or sketches.  We discussed the fine details of his offer and agreed on the following.

8 Hours skilled labour and £100 of materials (Mild Steel, Stainless Steel, or aluminium – all at cost price) to fabricate and weld any object to specification, sketch or design.

We agreed that the labour and materials would be adjustable depending on what he is required to make as long as his overall expense works out to be the same.

So there we have it.  Have you ever wanted you very own custom made metal object?  Perhaps a garden gate, or a rather extravagant tin opener?  Make me an offer (cash or trade) and you can have whatever you like!  Like Darren said, it could be almost anything, you just need vision.

P.S  Following a few of comments I should clarify that I’m not getting anything made but whoever trades with me next can have whatever they want made!  Hope that all makes sense.

See what happens next? >>>

After some extensive research into what you can get for £50, I can conclude that you can buy:- a flute, a fishboard (not sure what that is), some computer games, a printer, some offcuts of block paving, an old ford fiesta xr2i engine, a bike, a  settee, a bed, a television, some boxes of red wine, or…… 10 SQUARE METRES OF LAND IN BULGARIA.

I chose the land.

Although I was happy to receive the £50 in the last trade, I couldn’t help feeling less enthusiastic about having money instead of an object.  I had absolutely no idea how to spend the money or what I’d end up with so I asked for some suggestions from a few Project 1p followers.  Judging by their advise, it would seem that the vast majority of the Projects’ followers have a gambling problem!  I had already considered gambling with the money.  I wasn’t ruling it out, but really the project is far to young to take such a risk.  I decided to put an advert on Gumtree offering to swap £50 for something else.

Gradually the offers started to trickle into my inbox.  I was receiving offers from people who had been following the project and were eager to get involved.  Their enthusiasm was restoring my enthusiasm.  I was beginning to respond to the offers when I received an email from a Mr Paul Holman.

Hi Luke ,
I like your project,
How about I sell 10 sq mtrs of freehold land in Bulagia near the black sea coast…

I’d never heard of anywhere called Bulagia before, but after a quick consultation with a map I decided he meant Bulgaria.  I know nothing about Bulgaria, except that the worlds first digital wrist watch was developed by a Bulgarian, but that’s hardly relevant.  Nevertheless, this offer sounded like a winner, so I decided to give Paul a call.  He told me all about the land and it sounded perfect.  He has quite a lot of it.  Paul said that I, or whoever ends up with it can do anything with land including, camp on it, build on it, grow things on it, or “use it for a memorial for a dead dog”!  He also said that he would gladly sell more of the surrounding land if I, or whoever ends up with it wanted to expand.

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.  Paul is now £50 richer, and I am now an international land owner!  So there we have it.  There are 10 square metres of beautiful land in Bulgaria up for grabs.  It easily big enough to pitch a tent on and you could probably bury about 20 dogs on it if you wanted.  Cash or trades accepted.  Get in touch if you want more information, photos, or anything like that.  I should probably point out that it is all legitimate and I have all the paperwork to prove ownership.

And that is the end of a rather exciting episode!

See what happens next? >>>

Goodbye bike, hello cash!  That’s right ladies and gentlemen, project 1p is now worth £50.  Also known as a nifty, a bullseye, half a tonne, half a long un, or a couple of ponies. Whatever you want to call it, I think you’ll find that it is a 500000% increase from the original 1p – in less than 1 month!  I should be a banker.

The day after I received the bike, I used my extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics (I think I mentioned this in the last episode) to do a bit of routine maintenance.  Unfortunately my bicycle maintenance toolkit consists of a single can of WD40, which according to my brother is all you need when things break.  However, on this occasion it would seem he was wrong.  I called in my local bike expert Harry to come and sort it out.  He is likely to feature in this story again at some point so watch out for him.  Anyway, by the end of the day the bike was in tip top shape, and advertised.

One of the first offers was a sofa.  I explained to these wannabe project 1p participants that I barely had room in my flat for the bike, and I certainly didn’t have room for another sofa.  I was then offered a broken mini moto, which I think is a sort of motorbike for small people.  It was a tempting offer, but I wasn’t sure my can of WD40 would have fixed it so I turned it down.  I was starting to get a little impatient when Dale came along with his offer of £50.  I think Dale was keen to find an actual item to swap with the bike, but I explained that cash is fine.  I do really like swapping, but I have a feeling that this project will head in many other directions before the end.  I want to find out what they are, so we’ll all just have to see what happens!

So here we go again.  I have £50 to invest in something.  Any ideas what I should spend it on?

What happens next? >>>

It turns out guitars are in demand!  The first bid came from a Mr Phillips who offered an old 20″ TV.  I’m not a fan of TV and I’m pretty sure the guitar is worth more, so I said no.  He then offered me a Sega Mega Drive, but I was always a Nintendo boy so I said no again.

The next day I was offered a mountain bike by a chap called Dave.  This was definitely an offer that tickled my taste buds.  I happened to mention the offer on Facebook, and a few hours later I was already receiving offers for a bike I didn’t even own yet!  It was now 3 am in the morning, and I’d drank quite a lot of cider, but I was pretty sure this was a sign that the bike was a good idea.  So I took the bull by the horns and emailed Dave to accept the offer.

On Monday night, Dave, the bike and his mum turned up on my doorstep for the trade.  Dave wasn’t that young, but I was expecting someone older for some reason.  He was pleased with the guitar, and the bike looked like it was a good one, although I know absolutely nothing about bikes (which is actually quite embarrassing because I used to run an online bike shop, but that’s another story).  I was expecting an old rust bucket with a garish 80’s paint job, but the bike was nothing like this!  Dave informed me it was a dirt jump bike.  I was going to take it for a test ride, but I was wearing my slippers which I didn’t think was appropriate attire for a dirt jumps.

Neither Dave or his mum knew that they had become part of project 1p.  His mum told me that she thought it was great that people still swapped things, “like the old days”.  It’s nice to know that despite the ulterior motives of the project, I am in a small way inspiring people to trade the old fashion way.   We had a short chat about landfills, tricycles, gardening, and double basses then they left.

So there we have it.  Its a pretty cool bike, in good condition, and as always I will accept offers of cash or trade, so make me an offer!  Get in touch for more info on the bike if you like.

What happens next? >>>

I was beginning to think I’d be stuck with those bloody fish forever.  Especially as one of them seemed to have a problem with swimming the right way up.  Eventually I was offered 2p and a can of beer.  I tried to negotiate a better deal, but it fell through.  Just when I was beginning to lose hope, I received an email from a nice chap called Dennis.  He offered me a guitar for the 3 goldfish.  Hooray!  The main advantage that guitars have over fish is that you don’t have to feed it.  And you can’t kill it.  And you don’t have to worry that someone will inform the RSPCA that you are keeping it in a bucket.

Dennis explained to me that he really wanted a dog, but his landlord wouldn’t let him so he went for the next best thing.  He said he couldn’t play his guitar anymore because of some sort of finger operation, so the swap made perfect sense.  Anyway, he seemed happy with the fish, the fish seemed happy in their new tank, and I seem happy with the guitar!  Perfect!

So ladies and gentlemen, step on up and make me an offer!  As usual, cash or trade will be accepted. The guitar is a Stagg sunburst acoustic, and in great condition.

What happens next? >>>

the fishDay 3 of the project and the first transaction has been made!  Hooray!  A friend of mine mentioned yesterday that he was going to donate his three goldfish to the local pub fish tank.  I jumped in and offered him my 1p for a fish.  He was somewhat reluctant to start with, but after a lot of negotiating he agreed to sell me all three of his fish and a pot of fish food for 1p!  Result.

While I was carrying them home in my bucket, I realised that it might not have been a great idea.  Things that are alive have enourmous potential to die.  That would of course be tragic for the fish, but would also bankcrupt the project at the very start.  I’m going to have to try very hard to look after these little guys until I can make the next transaction.

So roll up roll up.  3 goldfish and a pot of fish food available.  Make me and offer (cash or trade).  They need a good home.  Preferably a fish tank.

What happens next? >>>

So here we are.  It’s New Years Day 2011.  This project officially got underway at 12:01 am this morning.  As you can see, I’ve got my one penny coin.  Its a 1987 edition, and in case you were wondering, yes that’s before they stopped making them out of bronze and started using copper plated steel.  The queens head on this particular coin was designed by Raphael Maklouf, and the rear design is by a chap called Christopher Ironside.  It truly is a marvelous coin.  The work horse of the royal mint.  I gave my one penny a bit of a polish.  I thought this might improve its desirability, and help me get things moving.

The first trade is going to be the most difficult.  I’ve already spent some time on the internet looking for items that cost 1p, and there aren’t many!  I think I have two options at this stage:-

1. Try and find something to buy for 1p and hope that I can sell it for more.

2. Swap my shiny 1p coin for someone’s dirty (yet more valuable) coin

Either way, I need to shift the coin in the next few days to get some good momentum for the project. Wish me luck!

What happens next? >>>

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