Saturday, 31 October 2015

October 2015

It feels like a really long time since the beginning of October. Some months feel a bit like that, don't they?

A common theme this month has been me behaving like a procrastinatey 'flumpy guts'. EVEN NOW I am procrastinating something else while I write this.

Fortunately, for me, procrastination usually involves being incredibly productive in other areas. This time, I finally did another project I’d been meaning to get around to for ages… I had this really unflattering zippy hoodie so I added black panels to either side and now it looks amazing and is way more comfortable and cosy to wear. Pretty pleased with myself.

I asked Alex to take some pictures of me wearing it, but unfortunately Alex is incapable of taking a non-blurred photo, so this is the best you’ll get: unnecessarily jubilant.

For the first time in my adult life I feel like I’m actually mostly prepared for rain: I have a good long raincoat and good long boots. However my thighs remain vulnerable. I really need to make myself some kind of waterproof knee length skirt (or can anyone direct me to somewhere where I might buy such a thing?)

I made two batches of cookies for the Great British Bake-off finale. Both were terrible in their own special way (I really struggle with cookies for some reason), but fortunately I can rely on housemate Justin to eat even my worst baking.

YEAAAAAAAH! Sorry Nadiya. I’m not very good at drawing people, but you’re so great I wanted to try.

Dance classes have started again on Sunday afternoons. Woop woop woop woop!

First cold of the winter. Self portrait which doesn’t 100% look like me, but definitely captured the overall face vibe that day.

Was cheered in my malaise by a number of unexpected visitors. (And, as a non-tea drinker, a frankly inordinate amount of tea)

Didn’t get any better though. Ended up having to take some days off work. Had a bath, which is really not something I normally do (baths are too hot and then immediately too cold, plus wallowing in your own filth? Nope.)… I decided this once it might be a good thing, medicinally. I was wrong, it just made me feel worse. I did enjoy playing the same imaginary game I always did in the bath as a kid though: imagining that whatever parts of my body emerged from the water were shifting landmasses over the course of millions of years, slowly being submerged and re-emerging, drowning and creating new minute cities and towns and villages and countryside. Bathtime god if you will.

Being ill is BORING.

Felt a bit better by the weekend and managed to get over to Chris and Anna’s housewarming. Suitably warm. Amazingly huge garden.

Then basically spent another couple of days moping around being unable to eat much and napping lots.

Playing our final game of Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (which comes highly recommended btw), so we all dressed up in period costume for the occasion.

(Wes not pictured as he was taking the shot. We're all saying 'sleuth', which is definitely not the most photo-flattering word.)

Justin’s gone back to India for a big chunk of time for more PhD research. Before he left, a bunch of us went for a lovely long walk around the outskirts of Shoreham. It was a bit rainy but infrastructure-tastic and we had a bonus Stompy-dog to look after so it was even better.

Stompy is just the best.

And now Justin’s gone for a while, leaving a Justin shaped absence in our lives.

Sorry guys. I love you all, but I hate halloween. Hence why I'm sitting here writing this rather than out being social. Don't take it personally. This is a pretty good outfit idea for next year though...

Now, without further ado, onwards to November!

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September 2015

It's been a busy month and I feel slightly like I'm crumbling away around the edges, but despite that, I am thoroughly content.

August/September is our very busiest time at work. This year, no late-nighters, which is a success, but lots of hard work, including nearly an entire day of arduous scalpel work. Another year passes with all my fingers still intact! Mad skillz.

A lot of the busyness was in the run up to my company’s big annual meeting, in which we get to showcase all our exciting new materials, and listen to lots of (genuinely interesting) presentations about the state of the international education industry (spoiler alert: the Tories are screwing everything up, what’s new).

There is also usually a fair amount of alcohol involved in the evening (of no interest to me), and a lot of free food over the course of the day (of a LOT of interest to me). Two years ago, at this exact meeting, I ate so much salami at the buffet that I felt so ill, that I went vegetarian, permanently. A year ago, I ate so much cheese at the free buffet that I felt so ill (and disgusted with myself) that I went vegan permanently. I think everyone thought that it was like when hungover people say “I’m never drinking again”, but a year down the line, here I am, still vegan, feeling better than ever, AND, for the first time in my entire career so far, DIDN’T eat way too much at this meeting. A victory, of some kind.

My good friends Georgina Voss and Wesley Goatley had an art commission as part of Brighton digital festival, a sound/art installation exploring the hidden networks surrounding our transportation networks. It was pretty amazing. This was the opening night. This was also the first time I ever had a pea fritter. For the uninitiated, a pea fritter is a fist sized blob of mushy peas, deep fried in batter. It is INCOMPREHENSIBLY GOOD, and so green you can almost convince yourself it’s healthy. All in all, an excellent evening.

My senior designer had a baby. When he told us a few months ago when it was due, my boss (jokingly) accused him of intentionally timing it for the absolute peak of our busy period. In the event, while we were stupendously busy, I (just about) held it together by myself for the two weeks of his paternity leave, AND even found the time to make a card for his new daughter Farrah (although tbh she can’t read yet, so she probably won’t really appreciate it)

I thought fangirling would ease once I came out of my teens, but it really doesn’t. I blame all the insanely talented people that compel me to get obsessed and over excited by them right through into adulthood. My friend Kris is currently going through an intense Bertie Carvel fan phase, so we got all squealy together about the joy of just being utterly infatuated with unobtainable artists, of any description.

Tidy house = tidy brain (in my case, at least, tidiness/cleanness is crucial to good state of mind)

Ok, so the last week has actually FINALLY been quite nice, but rain continued to distress me through much of September. Especially this particular morning, where I thought I was prepared but was actually woefully under-prepared for the sheer intensity of rain that was thrown at me on my walk to work.

I’ve been really enjoying going to dance classes, so I’m very sad that my dance teacher has had to stop doing them for a bit. Hopefully she’ll find a new place, as I’m way too intimidated to go to the hip hop dance class at the Marina where all the scarily good people go.

Did this drawing of a full English breakfast for a work project. Have spent most of the rest of the month craving a full English, but haven't yet been bothered to make one...

Some days.

So the previous weekend I said to Alex and Justin (who I live with) ‘We really need to sort out the garden’. The response was more enthusiastic than I was expecting, and we decided to ask if anyone else would like to come over and help us hack away at weeds/trees in exchange for a tasty dinner… The response was better than we could ever have expected, with NINE people coming over to help with the garden (plus some extras for dinner and boardgames)… The garden now looks SO much better, and we had such a lovely day. Thank you again to everyone who came and helped. Sorry I'm not very good at drawing accurate likenesses!

Took care of Familiars (Wes and George’s aforementioned exhibition) for a bit of afternoon on the last day. A pleasure. And I stole lots of their lovely stickers for this.

Something went wrong with my face, but because I was going away for the rest of this week, I couldn’t get to the dentist. DISTRESSING.

Construction parts of a soon-to-come editorial illustration.

Turns out it wasn’t a wisdom tooth or a cavity, just a TRAUMATIC ULCER. Gross. But no requirement for major dental work, so I’m cool with that.

Jeremy Corbyn is coming* and IT’S GOING TO BE AMAZING (*Possibly not in a giant mecha, as I imagine it would go against his pacifist principles)

Now October's nearly here. I'm not feeling ready for the inevitable coldness that is to come, but everything else is okay, so hopefully that will keep me warm in other ways.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

August 2015

August has mostly just been me complaining about the rain and how miserable it's making me. Well, not quite, but that's how it feels.

Other stuff has happened though.

For starters, I went 'home'. Well, the place I grew up, Anglesey in North Wales. It’s not really home though. It’s a place I spent 19 years, but I've felt more at home since leaving than I ever did living there. I’ve been away long enough (nearly 4 years) to build up some sense of vaguely fond nostalgia though, so going back was interesting enough.

TBH though, no amount of idly wandering the streets of my childhood matched the joy I got from hanging out with these goats. (P.S. Got the dates wrong on this and the last one: actually the 3rd/4th)

The reason I went back was my best friend was getting married near there, in Llanberis, in the heart of Snowdonia. I did this fairly terrible drawing of her and her husband, which doesn’t nearly sufficiently express their beautiful wedding glow.

After I got back I assessed my experience of returning to Anglesey for the first time in so long.
The village closest to where I grew up is proper gentrified now. Wills and Kate lived on the island for a while, and especially for them, Menai Bridge got a Waitrose. Now there’s an artisan bakery selling freshly made sourdough, and loads of shops selling fancy house detritus. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO FEEL.
I also discovered that I’m still clinging on to a lot of the fear I had growing up that whenever I encountered a group of teenagers I would get abuse/aggression hurled at me. Despite living in a city where I’m probably far more likely to actually get mugged, I walk around Brighton at night with no fear. Menai Bridge? Nope. Too scared some kids will come and kick off at me for being ginger and steal my chips. Despite that fact that I'm now 27 and could totally take them in a fight.
Other things: spent some good quality time admiring the typography in the beautiful graveyard in Menai Bridge, plus the quality time with goats. Pretty great.

Sorry you guys. I don’t like Cards Against Humanity. It’s forced humour of the worst possible variety, and bad taste with absolutely no justification.

Which is disappointing.

Took Justin bouldering. First time I’d been in a couple of months. Arms weak, brain scared, and hands covered in open blisters within an hour. Distressing.

These noodles. So good.

Dead of Winter is an amazing boardgame. But it can get VERY bleak if things start to go wrong.

So we decided to walk from Devil’s Dyke to Hassocks via Poynings on the hottest day of the year. This may have been a mistake, although I have no regrets. If it hadn’t been for a well placed pub in the middle of nowhere we might have died of heatstroke though.
Anyway, the highlight of this outing was where I stood on a bridge over the railway by the ‘Clayton Portal’ (a big tunnel) and as a train emerged, I raised my arms and shouted “TRAAAAIN” and the train driver sounded the horn (I like to think) especially for me.

As mentioned: the near-constant rain has been getting me down in a big way.

I’m still trying to learn to dance. It is a long, slow, undignified process.

Had an indoor picnic for Matthew’s birthday (because it was raining outside. Obvs.) and I ate way too many tortilla chips.

Onwards into September. Quite a bit onwards into September, I'd been too busy to get this written until now! Hopefully good things and not too much rain await.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

July 2015

Apart from NOT ENOUGH SUN, and an ill Alex, July has been mostly lovely. And it might well be that all the ongoing rain is karma aimed at me for getting horribly sunburnt on that one lovely weekend in early July. I apparently can't be trusted in sunshine despite having 27 years of experience of being pale and ginger. Anyway...

This dress is so good. Ridiculous. Good. And it has pockets which is just so wonderful because not enough women’s clothes have pockets. If you see me wearing this dress you can basically assume I'm in a great mood.

Bizarre montage of the day in which I watched loads of tennis, hung out with mum and dad, went to the Samaritans volunteering open morning, walked over 10 miles, got horribly sunburnt, took care of lump the dog and ate loads of amazing food.

This was a great weekend. As well as all the previous day's stuff, I was staying at my friends Alex and Stina’s beautiful flat looking after their lovely dog Lump. I’m so dog broody.

So I bought myself a Fitbit. Because I basically love gamifying my life and am sadly coming to acknowledge that I probably need to eat a bit less and move around a bit more. And you know what? It’s been GREAT. I’ve lost SOME POUNDS, and I’m feeling much better about myself in general — physically and mentally. I’ve not gone super crazy… I’m hitting around 12,000 steps a day, and I’m still eating everything I want to eat, just a bit less.

I did briefly get obsessed with striding about the place though. I’ve stopped thinking about it quite so much at this point!

Got a great new bra. Decided this was a bit much though.

David came to stay. He’s one of my favourites. This drawing looks nothing like him. He drew this one of me which is BRILLIANT, because he's a drawing wizard.

I’m still pretty obsessed with za’atar. Learnt how to make za’atar manakish, za’atar topped flatbreads. They were delicious.

Alex hangover is now on day #14. Turns out it’s more of a lurgy than a hangover and Alex is MISERABLE.

By day #4 it had evolved into an upset tummy. I immediately got a sympathy upset tummy, because my body is terrible at functioning like a functional human body. But I don’t think I’ve actually got the lurgy.

My work are putting together a team for the 10k run next April. For a very brief moment, in a moment of fitbit motivated over-confidence I considered joining them. 10k isn’t really that far? So I tried to do a 10k (walking, not running) and was on track to do it within an hour and a half, but then I got blisters. OH DEAR.

Justin’s pre-birthday gathering was pretty magic.

Here’s the most horrific drawing of Alex ever, but it captures the general mood of lurgy induced misery.

I’m still dancing and can FINALLY (mostly) do a pas de bouree. WATCH ME WATCH ME WATCH ME

The day before Justin’s actual birthday I created a custom Justin cake and it turned out pretty amazing.

And then on Justin’s actual birthday we ordered an obscene amount of chip shop chips to celebrate. Possibly too many chips.

Tomorrow I'm off to North Wales (where I grew up) for the first time in around 4 years, for a BFF's wedding. Feels kind of weird to be going back after so long! I will try and draw some interesting things while I'm there.