Wednesday, 28 February 2018

February 2018

I was right. I feel better in February.

It's weird, because we moved to Hebden Bridge at the very end of January 2017, and my memory of February 2017 was as a bleak, miserable, long, painful month of rain and mud and darkness.

But having now endured a November/December/January of rain and mud and darkness, February feels GLORIOUS! It's not dark till after FIVE these days! The mud is fractionally less! It's still raining but it also has been NOT raining for periods of time too, such joy!

On February 2nd, as a present to myself, I took a day trip to Blackpool, because what better time to visit the UK's premiere seaside resort than in the height of low-season?
My main motivation was to continue my quest to visit all the UK's piers, and I'm pleased to say I checked off FOUR in that one day (although all of them were to some extent closed because of winter, and I am sufficiently intrigued by Blackpool in general to want to go back in high season.)
It was a gloriously sunny day, I got to ride on a tram, had a delicious plate of chips and gravy, saw the incredible comedy carpet, and generally felt the happiest I had felt in a long time, walking by the sea in the sun. (I've lived by the sea all my life until this last year and I really miss it.)

Nearly, but not quite, a whole year since Charlie last fell in the canal by accident. This time we were running, and he barged past me on the outside on some particularly slippy stones and tumbled in. Once again, ungracefully heaved out and taken home for a sad bath. The indignity of it all.

Nearly but NOT QUITE grown out fringe and it is very very annoying right now.

Damn February has been cold though. But this is mostly okay. I don’t mind the snow, and I can deal with the cold for the most part. I feel the cold a lot but it doesn’t make me sad in the same way rain does. (We were all sad this day though, but mainly for reasons unrelated to weather)

Brief moments where I believe that actually I am good at what I do, competant and worthy of what I am paid, and maybe I could actually reach the heights I dream of in my career one day. Maybe.

Went to see Samiyam in Manchester. He was great but my stomach was really gripey and he creates music which is particularly… vibratey… so it wasn’t the ideal combination and I spent most of the show feeling kind of sick. Ho hum.

Mud, glorious mud.

Okay so the BIG NEWS is I’m finally going to the USA in April/May. I have been saving for and planning for and dreaming of this trip for nearly a decade but the stars of finance, timing, transatlantic friendship, a certain incredibly generous benefactor, and my own bravery have combined such that THIS IS HAPPENING. I am incredibly excited but also my travel anxiety now kicks in and I start imagining everything that could go wrong.

So. Many. Pancakes.

Valentines day, eh. Why do we do this to ourselves.

So Charlie briefly went on a bit of a crime spree back there. There were some minor infractions, like secretly climbing into the guest bed while muddy and writhing around a bit while no one was there, and clambering up onto things uninvited quite a lot, but his most serious offence was quite unprecedented for such a normally-good-boy…

Alex made a very large garlic bread which contained a whole bulb of garlic (highly toxic to dogs, and chilli isn’t great for them either)… And left it out on the table overnight. This shouldn’t have been a problem, as Charlie has never stolen food before. And indeed, he didn’t steal it overnight, but for some mad, impulsive reason, around 15 minutes after receiving his breakfast the next morning, he decided he wanted pudding, and leapt up and ate nearly the whole thing.

Cue rushed taxi ride to the vets and £160 to sit on the floor for nearly an hour comforting him while he painstakingly medically-induced-vomited the whole thing up again, barely digested.

He was a very sad boy, I was a very sad girl, and I hope we’ve all learnt from the experience.

(A few people say his moments of madness are purely down to the joys of spring, and I hope this is the explanation. He’s been back to his usual good self since, anyway)

Just wanted to try and paint some nice moss and lichen.

I really hate having breasts. They have been little but unnecessary pain and weight and obtrusiveness and distraction for as long as I've had them. But maybe hate a little less than I once did. As I get older they change shape, and weight, and texture, and this is traditionally held up as ‘a bad thing’ but somehow it feels like they’re less THERE somehow. Unclear whether this is a physical thing or just an emotional illusion. It would be nice to not hate them, anyway. Maybe that will happen soon.

I’ve given up chocolate and crisps for lent as I usually do, and every year the first weeks are the hardest. One sweet treat I’ve been substituting is four or five dates microwaved in a mug of oat milk. The dates go all soft and gooey and caramelly, and the milk is delicious and hot and sweet. It maybe sounds gross but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it…


It’s everybody’s favourite day, LAST FRIDAY*! (*Your favourite day may differ depending on your company’s pay day policies)

Well, we’re all living it right now, but it has been INCREDIBLY cold the last few days. Like, kind of terrifyingly so. As a one off fluke it’s kind of fun, a novelty even. But I can’t escape the feeling something is horribly broken and it’s only going to get worse from here. I’ve never known cold like this, I don’t think, and I wonder if I will look back on this period of cold as a significant memory in that respect.

Anyway, silver linings, I’m fascinated by ice formations (as anyone who watches my Instagram stories will know). I’d never seen anything like this before — at the base of a waterfall, blobby ice shapes had formed as water splashed onto fine blades of grass and immediately froze up, building up layer upon layer of incredibly clear, curvy ice blobs… It’s hard to describe and was similarly hard to photograph. I cracked one off and enjoyed trying to paint it later.

As mentioned, I feel like I’ve not known cold or snow like this before. Prior to this there had been over a week of sub-zero temperatures, but incredibly dry, and I’d actually been quite enjoying it because most of the mud dried and/or froze up, making walking much easier. But yesterday the inevitable precipitation finally came, and in swirling, blizzarding masses, many inches thick and rapidly covering over any tracks left… The snow is unusually dry, meaning it’s easily whipped up by the wind… I braved a run in it, and was briefly caught in a terrifying spiral of snow lifted from surrounding branches and leaves… Both my phone and iPod died from the cold too which I’ve never known before.

And today, worse even… Looking out of our window across the narrow valley, temperatures hitting minus seven, and the other side of the valley not even visible through the heavy snow. I have braved the outdoors several times because of that doggo, and each time have been caught up in it. I find a certain curiosity in being caught in the middle of snow storms, but there’s a horror to it as well, when the dry, sand-like snow particles are crashing against your face, stinging your cheeks and lips and eyes, and you can’t see more than a few metres ahead, and all sounds are muffled and muted, and you realise, actually, I am quite a long way from home.

But it's okay. It's still better than rain.

March starts tomorrow, and I am on the edge of my seat waiting for it. My March is filled with a ridiculous number of incredibly exciting things and I can hardly wait to get started. Soon we'll be out the other side of the blizzard and I'll be able to see clearly what lies ahead.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Hourly comic day 2018

Well, it's now my fifth year of hourly comicsing. Here are the four previous years.

And actually the first year where I haven't reached the end of the day and been like 'ugh, these are terrible', rather 'Well, these are a tangible improvement from past years (although still far from where I'd like to be)', so that's nice.

The lessons I've learnt from previous years doing this are:
1) Don't try and do too much (i.e. colour, many many panels)
2) Keep it simple (stylistically I mean, try not to scribble, go for clean lines)
3) Draw neat boxes, stop trying to do it by eye, use a ruler, it just makes everything look tidier in this context

The lessons I've learnt from other hourly comicsers and just generally looking at comics throughout the year are:
1) Vary framing. In previous years I've been guilty of framing everything the same (mostly full body shots)
2) You don't have to document EVERYTHING that happens that hour. Just pick a thing or maybe two things max.
3) Facial expressions are everything. Try and get those right.

I'm ot saying I've succeeded at all of the above, but that's what I was trying for.

So, without further ado... My February 1st 2018. (Which actually turned out to be a very typical day for me with little excitement or adventure, and lots of me sitting at my desk working, ho hum!)


Wednesday, 31 January 2018

January 2018

January really is the worst, isn't it. Sorry January fans.

I started the year with big aspirations...

Maybe 2018 will be the year I actually learn to draw hands!

Or maybe I’ll learn to tie some fancy knots?

Or maybe I'll BUY A HOUSE

Except no, I won't buy a house. Because what millenial can buy a house? Even up north? Thing is though right, parents. And only child. And priviledge. So I can't buy a house. But my parents can. And because they're lovely, they'd let me rent it from them. So that might be happening. I'm not buying a house. But I sort of am buying a house. Hello.

Oh for a walk with no mud and no overgrown foliage just clear brisk striding, such dreams

In December I started kidding myself that maybe I was dealing okay with winter. Maybe I’d be fine. But you know what, the reality is, first full winter in this valley is HARD (and from what everyone local says, it doesn’t even get any easier in subsequent years). The dark, cold, near constant rain/snow/sleet/hail drag you down and situations that would normally barely cause a stir leave you feeling drained and washed out and sad and tired. Next year, SAD lamp and vitamin D. Just must. Ugh.

This isn’t so good because I used the wrong pens, but one of the big things around here is that (especially in winter) there are parts of the valley that barely ever receive direct sunlight. Luckily our house sits above that line, but still, it’s a mood. 

I escaped to Brighton for a little while. Oh Brighton, I can’t believe I ever complained about your winters! What I wouldn’t give for that 2 or 3 degrees extra warmth and approximately half the amount of rain now. Got to see some cuties, and eat some tasty stuff. 

I was in Brighton for work but lucky enough to get to see lovely people every single day I was there. Treats! On Monday I went for pizza with Hannah and Tristan. On Tuesday, Jonny, Kris and Harriet came over for Pho takeout.

On Wednesday Claire and Matthew made lovely chilli tofu and rice for me at their new place!

On Thursday I succumbed to my THIRD COLD OF THE WINTER WHAT ON EARTH HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS (oh, and I went for lovely Planet India with Zoƫ)

On Friday, crippled by lurg, I travelled up to London to stay at George and Wes’s, and got in bonus dinner with them, at Nat and Paul’s place with Steph and Lauren too. Everyone was lovely and I tried to keep my grossness to a minimum and have a fun time.

Then on Saturday I tumbled my way home, just about.

I appreciate this month seems like nothing but moaning. I am sorry. This is very tedious. We’re nearly out the other side. Aren't we?!

Despite seeming like a grumble every time I look back at this (somewhat terribly drawn) comic about my expensive condiment habits, I feel an irrational amount of affection for my long suffering housemates who put up with all my bullshit (and eat my expensive condiments).

Just coming out the other end of my cold, I started getting really terrible stomach cramps in the evening. I always get the fear when this happens as I have a phobia of vomiting, but it's usually nothing (I haven't actually vomited in nearly 20 years)

But this time. It was not nothing.

Alex got a terrible stomach bug (which we initially thought was food poisoning) earlier in the week, and despite my best efforts and intense avoidance tactics, I too succumbed. The next visual diary is a drawing of me sitting on the toilet pooping and NEARLY BUT NOT QUITE vomiting at the same time, so I'll spare you that one, but rest assured it was NO FUN

I came through the worst symptoms somewhat quicker than Alex though, with under 24 hours of actual bad stomach stuff (and no actual vomit), but then quite a few days of just intense, brutal, totally washed out tiredness (I still don’t feel like I’m back to my usual self but I’m not sure if it’s residual illness or just winter sads)

Despite being deprived of some of his usual walks (a neighbour helped us out when we were at our worst), Charlie was a lovely patient nurse, spending hours gently cuddled up with me in bed. (Although still occasionally getting over-excited and pawing at my painful stomach, I did appreciate how chill he managed to keep himself in the face of my distress for the most part)

As someone who leaves the house, usually for at least a couple of hours every day (and always has done), got cabin fever after a couple of days trapped indoors. Finally made it out.

Nat came to visit and lift my miserable mood with all the hot goss from that London town.

Trying to use these coloured pencils a bit more, for variety. Went into Halifax to get some bits, drew this lovely arcade I saw later on.

Fellow vegans, I wholeheartedly endorse these for all your intensely chocolatey cereal needs.

I kind of had a lovely evening on the 26th — first we went to Rachel’s 40th birthday party, and then we went to see old friends/musical geniuses AK/DK play in Todmorden. But my resounding memory of the evening was when Justin got really drunk and decided it was the time to confront me about some of my foibles — some very real, some… entirely imaginary? For example, I don’t think I have ever once smugly declared ‘Welcome to my tower of graphic design’, but I may now start doing so, every time anyone comes up into the loft home office.


(It's okay, we are still friends)

With the exception of those couple of days of tummy bug I have been REALLY HUNGRY all month. Food is just so great. Are there many higher pleasures than a steaming hot tray of fresh chippy chips and curry? I think not.

You may have been under the impression that I would one day run out of/get bored of finding ways to complain about the weather, but no, friends, I shall continue.