Monday, 31 July 2017

July 2017

It's one of those months where the beginning of the month feels like a very long time ago.

At the beginning of the month, I was in wonderful London, with Michael. He humoured me by letting us go for dinner at the current hottest vegan joint, Temple of Seitan, the UK's first vegan fried chicken shop (yes yes yes I know it's not actual chicken, I am going to carry on calling it chicken whether you like it or not). It was UTTERLY WONDERFUL and it's a good job I don't live a lot closer because I would be eating there way too much. Those buffalo wings. SWOON.

The main reason I went down to London was for my great Aunt's 90th birthday party. The last time I saw her was at her 80th birthday, which was at the same hotel, with the same people, we were all just 10 years younger. A weird sense of time passing. It was gloriously sunny last time too. But my life was very different. Spent most of it vaguely thinking about how the last 10 years have been, and still failing to do very well at socialising with family.

I had a couple of work related meetings in London (check me out), a little bit of a bad tummy, and was travelling down to Brighton from London, so my day on that Monday felt a little stressful, but also broadly good. It's hard to explain, but I always feel like I experience life in the city more vividly/physically somehow. Was thinking about all the things I'd been reassured by that day when I was feeling stressed.

And then back to Brighton again for a couple of days work. Walking along by the sea near Palmeira Square might be my favourite place forever.

And then, train home. I really enjoy the journey from London to Leeds.


Sometimes I feel like my life is nothing but work, walking Charlie, domestic tasks and sleeping... sometimes this bothers me, but it's mostly okay. TBH not even sure what I'd do with free time if I had it now... (Not really, I have so many exciting things I can't wait to try and find time for!) (And also, clearly I do get to do some other fun stuff, I'm just being a moan-bot)

One of those sad rain, sad tummy days that can only be redeemed with potato waffles, beans and sausages.

I'm not very good at faces. (Woohoo, Martin came to visit!)

My first print fair! On Saturday 15th I had a table at Hebden Bridge Print fair, having been screenprinting and lino printing and zine-making in preparation for months now! It was a rainy day, and tbh I think a little poorly promoted, but I made my table fee back and then some, and I met some interesting people, so it was totally worth doing.

Collage made from some of my prints and some offcuts of scrap paper from the Egg Factory where I did my print making.

One side effect of all the damn rain is that it is SO GREEN here at the moment.

Yeah yeah yeah more of that countryside

Countryside which I am seeing a LOT of, thanks to a certain doggo friend of mine. (Add me as a friend on Fitbit, MARVEL at my outrageous step-count)

I really love poppy seed heads. As a kid I used to love tipping them up and seeing all the seeds skitter out into my hand (and, like russian roulette, occasionally an earwig would be living in there)

It still doesn't look like Justin. But one day I'll capture an accurate likeness...

Guyyyyys I made some lovely tea towels and you can buy them here if you'd like! Me and Alex are going away next week so I'm going to start properly promoting my shiny new Etsy shop when I get back. I'll try not to be too tedious about it, promise.


Okay slight hyperbole

30 on the 30th! Celebratory lasagne, best orange cake, and unusual midnight torchlit ritual...

On Justin's actual birthday there was a beer festival AND a gin festival but sadly this was TOO MUCH and only beer festival was achieved. Beer festival, big breakfast, long walk and tasty Indian food though, so pretty good, I hope.

On we go to August. More sun would be nice, but I'm going down to London and Brighton again which makes me happy, and I'm feeling cosier here with every month that goes by. (A little too cosy right now, Charlie is asleep on top of me and there's a duvet and my feet are hotter than the centre of the sun)

Friday, 30 June 2017

June 2017

June has been hectic.

I'll be honest with you... I fear that I am in the midst of some kind of long, quiet, slow, approaching-30 crisis. This month I have been questioning my relationship (we'll be okay), my work (which actually is pretty good), my decision to get a dog (but honestly he's the greatest), my decision to leave Brighton (but ugh I'm glad I have), and basically EVERYTHING.

And I still am. I'm questioning all these things and wondering if I need to make big changes or if I've actually already made those big changes and need to come to terms with them... While simulataneously appreciating that people in the UK and around the world are going through some utterly horrendous stuff right now, and the ability to have this little existential crisis is just a sign of my privilege. Because I'm not having to worry about what I'm going to eat tomorrow, whether I'll still have a house tomorrow, whether it's safe for me to leave my house tomorrow, whether the police will kill me tomorrow, or a whole myriad of other shit that people are dealing with in this world right now.

All that's a way of saying — I'm a little fragile, emotionally, but broadly everything is fine. Sorry for the overshare.

But like I say. Work, personal and professional, is going well at the moment. I'm still gearing up for the Hebden Bridge Print Fair in July, and have been experimenting with lino cutting. My first go was this abstract attempt at a poppy. It was, I'll be honest, not great, but a fun start.

Earlier this month, Hebden Bridge was host to festival of digital and analouge gaming — Feral Vector. Me and Justin took part in strange LARP* 'Deep Green', and had a remarkably good time.
(*LARP = Live Action Roleplay game, basically a bunch of people playing out a story together, with varying amounts of fixed rules/improv/theatre/comedy/seriousness/dress-up. Some are campaigns — people meet up for months or years to play through a particular scenario/world-build, others, like this one, are one-off events)

The next day, me and Alex took part in Nate Crowley's 'Business Year 2001: A Business Odyssey' LARP about a dystopian apocaylptic, target-led, blue sky thinking business future. It was fairly nightmarish.

For Alex's birthday eve, we had LOADS OF PEOPLE over for dinner. Friends! Actual local friends! We have friends! Cause for celebration.

Alex is now #olderthanjesus

I’m really working on not getting sad about the rain every time it rains, but damn I hate rain. And it rains a lot here.

This is only the second time I’ve ever given over a double page spread to a single day, but this was SUCH A DAY.

TL;DR, Voting, TV, humblebragging, election madness, intense joy.

I got up very early and went down to the polling station in Hebden Bridge with Justin and Charlie to vote. (And get our ‘dogs outside polling stations’ snap for social media, which turned out to be somewhat of a lie because dogs are actually allowed inside our polling station, as evidenced by Alex later who actually took Charlie right into the polling booth with him). Rather excitingly, our super sweet local labour candidate was there, which was disconcerting when I was still half asleep.

I walked Charlie then headed home and had some breakfast, then got on the train to LONDON!

I’ve probably mentioned this before. It’s almost certainly my best anecdote. About 7 years ago I met Reggie Watts, American comedian, musician, and all round genius. He is one of the most charismatic, ridiculous, hilarious, challenging, wonderful people I have ever encountered. I have no idea what he sees in me (I feel like the blandest human in the world by comparison), but somehow, we are friends, and it’s weird to realise just how long for at this point.

Anyway, for the last year or two, he’s been the band leader on the Late Late show, hosted by disconcertingly-loved-by-America’s James Corden. It’s a very silly but very funny program.

They were shooting a few special edition episodes in London, and Reggie invited me to come along for the filming of one of them. This is very exciting, I’ve never been to a telly thing before!

The show was being filmed in the Westminster Methodist Chapel, which is RIGHT BY the houses of parliament, and it was weirdly exciting being right at the centre of things, politically, on Election Day. (Added to by the fact that the building we were in was also a polling station, and some people who thought they were queuing to vote were actually queuing for James Corden and vice versa…)

Anyway, after some dawdling, we were shown into the studio, an incredible room with a top layer of seating, and then all the action going on down on the studio floor. My view wasn’t amazing, but I was just excited to be there tbh, and watched craning my neck with some awe while James Corden and Emily Blunt did a remarkably tuneful/well choreographed Romeo and Juliet themed song montage… I hate musicals, but was genuinely quite awed by the skill of the camera men and the set builders and the lighting people and just… TV is a masterpiece you guys.

And then immediately after, loads of people came running on and disassembled the incredibly elaborate set before our eyes, while we all got given ice lollies and listened to some guy get us hyped and tell us we had to behave like Americans and whoop and cheer and scream about every tiny thing. It was very strange but I got into the spirit.

Then, HUMBLEBRAG, a lady came and got me… Apparently Reggie had seen where I was sitting, determined it was a rubbish seat, and asked for me to be put somewhere better. So guys, they put me here. That’s the couch where James Corden and his guests sit. It was A BIT MUCH and Reggie is THE LOVELIEST.

And then they shot the show. I can’t say it enough — TV IS SO WEIRD.

The guests were David Beckham Emily Blunt and Harry Styles, none of whom I have any particular interest in, but it was surreal to be so close regardless.

Reggie and his band are just incredible. They play the show in and out, introduce guests, and generally mess about at appropriate moments. Reggie comes down and sometimes does audience participation stuff. I nearly texted him beforehand to say ‘REGGIE DO NOT AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ME’, but decided it would be flattering myself to assume he would. But of course he then did. I’m not even sure what happened, except that suddenly he whirled round me, all the lights and cameras and faces were on me, and he said/sung something about how I am great and that everyone should ‘watch out for me’ (what), while I blinked and probably crumbled into 1000 tiny pieces. Luckily, that song didn’t air, instead, it was Harry Styles playing the world’s longest most boring song on the roof at sunset, but I’ll forgive him because he seems like a very lovely man.

Afterwards, we went backstage, ate salads and talked about politics (because the Comey thing was unfolding that day too, which was occupying Reggie's attention)... and then headed back to his hotel for dinner. I ate a plate of asparagus thast might have been the most beautiful plate of asparagus I've ever encountered.

A few hours later, Reggie headed off to some party, loading me into an executive Uber (LOLOLOL first and last time I'll ever ride in one of those) up to Finsbury Park, to meet my friend Kier and his sister in the pub literally 30 seconds round the corner from Jeremy Corbyn's house.

I'd intentionally not looked at the exit polls as I was having such a nice time with Reggie I didn't want to spoil things. I got to the pub to a weirdly jubliant atmosphere. They'd just watched Jeremy Corbyn arrive home (round the conrer) on the telly screens, and the exit polls were not predicting the Tory landslide everyone had feared — in fact, it was too close to call. Every Labour seat won sent cries and screams of joy into the night, I can't remember an election night like it, since I've been paying attention. We stayed there till closing time at around 1, and then walked back to Kier's, past Jeremy Corbyn's house (the lights were on! It's so humble! I was so excited!) and then further en-route, past the leisure centre where his votes were being counted, and where he'd later make his rousing victory speech.

We got home to Kier's partner Moa watching the results come in on the telly, so me, Kier and Kier's sister joined her, getting more and more jubliant until around 3.30, when me and Moa went to bed, and Kier and his sister went round the corner to cheer Jeremy Corbyn out of the leisure centre after his victory speech.

I slept till around 6.30... when I woke up and, despite seeming to be just about a Tory victory, felt unexpectedly gleeful about the whole thing. (Kier meanwhile had not slept, and went to wave at Jeremy Corbyn as he left his house the next morning like a proper fanboy).

Honestly, the whole 24 hours was just so weird and intense and it was so amazing to both distance myself from politics for those weird few hours with TV and Reggie, and then just be TOTALLY IN THE MIDDLE of politics in Jeremy Corbyn's constituency. It was magic. I loved it.

3 hours sleep and train back to Yorkshire will tire a girl out though. But I was buoyant.

Things went a bit downhill then though.

I got SO ILL (mega fluey cold) which coincided with both Alex AND Justin being away for 5 days, so despite feeling like all I wanted to do was sleep, I HAD to heave myself out of bed, and out of the house and walk Charlie. Despite feeling THE WORST I was remarkably productive work wise, working from home is great in that respect, because sick days don’t actually have to be fully sick days. But my goodness, I was sick.

But I have a friend!!! (Hopefully). Lovely Rachel from the Egg Factory, the co-working space where I’ve been doing some print making and lunch-having in the last few months bought me groceries and had a cup of tea and it was just the most wonderful thing and I will be eternally grateful for that kindness.

Still lurgied up to the gills, I eventually made it back to the Egg Factory to test my second Lino cut, these slug lads. Rather pleased with this one.

Very very glad to have Alex back at last.

Lou and Caroline came to stay, and them and Alex went for a swim in Lumb Falls. Not for me though, no way! Enjoyed trying to draw it though.

We’ve been playing Pandemic Legacy. We named a character after Justin (because Justin was in India when we originally started playing), and then HE DIED (never name a character after your friends, it was a bit much)

Freelancing is an uncertain game, but right now, it’s going quite well, which is utterly wonderful. I am doing it alongside three days a week with Kings though, which sometimes adds up to quite long days. But work is good, and work is fun, even when work is hard. I’m really lucky that people are commissioning me for genuinely fun, creative projects in areas that I want to work in. Thank you, again, if you have sent work my way, and thank you in advance if you are considering doing so. You are making my Northern, dog-owning, warm-house-living dream a reality!

Terrible self portrait.

The handmade parade is a ridiculous, incredible, massive parade that rolls through Hebden Bridge once or twice a year. All the local samba drummers and brass bands come out, dress up, and plough through the town, surrounded by absolutely spectacular handmade beasts and structures and its honestly incredible. In slightly dark theme choice, this year’s theme was watery, noting the town’s recent past experiences with very heavy flooding. It was honestly one of the most incredible parades I’ve ever seen, and such a show of community strength. This place is pretty amazing.

Oh food. You will never cease to be a joy.

Molly came to stay. Had a conversation about removing bras as soon as you get home, and I realised I’d never removed my bra through my sleeve before. Did it. It’s REALLY HARD how do ya’ll get so slick at it?!

Second Lino cut, in my apparently forming series of ‘creepy crawlies that no one likes very much’ — moths. (Here, test printed under slugs)

Still just trying to do WAY TOO MUCH and tomorrow I’m going back to London/Brighton for another hectic few days of fun stuff and work and fun work. Hebden Bridge is great, but I do still LOVE visiting Brighton and weirdly particularly London, which, as somewhere I’ve never actually lived but have spent a lot of time throughout my life, is becoming an increasingly dense mesh of joyful memories and experiences. I love being back in the midst of that.

With that, let's do July. We'll get through it together.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

May 2017

Last month I was bemoaning my sloppiness and lack of effort with trying to accurately capture people's likenesses. The above are both still true, but I have been trying harder this month, when I have time.

TIME! Honestly I thought that moving away from Brighton would give me more time to indulge in all the myriad projects and hobbies and adventures I want to have (you guys, I STILL haven't made it to Blackpool, home of so many piers, it's so near yet so far!)... But somehow, despite going part time in my main job, freelance work/dog walking/housework/mystery other stuff (I mean literally a mystery, where is my time going?!) are taking up all the hours of my days. Ho hum. Still I persist in making time for this drawing a day in the hope that ultimately I will get better at drawing, especially now I'm actually touting myself as some kind of professional (and at least partially motivated by all your wonderfully kind words about this project).

Anyway, May.

As part of this effort at capturing likenesses, I tried, yet again, to draw myself. I am still utterly TERRIBLE at self-portraits.

One of my favourite recent freelance projects has been an illustration for a book cover, which I hope to share with you in more detail soon. One aspect of the illustration was the small figure of a windswept man (the hero of the novel) looking out across the moors. My client asked me to redraw the man several times… initially because my original figure was too slender (I had a vision of the character in my mind but he actually needed to be far stockier/burlier), and then to very subtly adjust the angle of his head, so that he was looking down, not out/up. It can be very fiddly to convey such nuance in such a tiny silhouette, but a fun challenge! (I spent so long doing this that evening that I only had time for these sketches which were part of my working ponderings anyway)

Finally managed to make time for some screenprinting at The Egg Factory. A super busy, intense day, but I got a lot done, and now have a big batch of prints to sell at Hebden Bridge Print Fair in July. (Still got a lot more to go though!)

These last couple of days are some of my misprints, just sneaky teases of the full designs. I really need to set up a photoshoot so I can get them on this blog and my website! (And ultimately an online shop for them and my zines...)

First walk properly out on the moors. I am pretty unsentimental about nature and the countryside, so I'm not gonna claim some big emotional epiphany about how beautiful it all was, but it would be hard for even the most callous heart (i.e. mine) to deny there are some pretty great colours out there. My crude attempts to capture such...

Working remotely mostly works fine, apart from one incredibly frustrating glitch which occasionally occurs when I reupload my working files to the server, basically rendering them useless to my colleague James back in the office. Deeply distressing, particularly when up against deadlines, and no obvious fix or reason why it’s happening. Perturbing.

Okay, so, at around 1am, I awoke abruptly, to the sound of scraping scuttling noises (definitely animal), coming from INSIDE MY BED. Clearly, this is the stuff of nightmares, but I calmed myself down, assuming my half asleep brain had just imagined it. Lay awake with my heart racing for approximately 15 minutes, and then THE NOISES HAPPENED AGAIN.

Went through to get Alex (we sleep apart due to wildly differing sleep patterns — top relationship tip, seperate beds/rooms are amazing), aware that ‘There is something alive in my bed’ sounded a lot like the rantings of a confused half-asleep person… Alex gamely came through and helped me lift up my mattress to confirm that there was almost certainly (but not definitely) nothing in my bed. I was so freaked out that they kindly stayed with me the rest of the night, but the noises did not happen again.

We just got a new smart meter, and were checking it out the following morning, and noticed that at the same time as mystery animal, there was a MASSIVE spike in both gas and electricity usage.


The answer, in fact, is, we still have no idea. The power spike hasn’t happened again to our knowledge. We have heard the noises since, and actually they’re incredibly loud in the living room which implies it’s not something in my bed, but actually something in between the floorboards. Whether it is trapped, or freely coming and going, we don’t know, although its very intermittent nature suggests the latter. Now that I feel safe in the knowledge that whatever beast it is (and it sounds very large, much larger than a mouse!) is not actually in my bed, I am much less concerned. But STILL. Not cool.

Anyway, I also did more screen printing, went to the dentist for the first time since moving up here, and Justin took Charlie on a very long walk across the moors, inadvertently dying him orange.

I wouldn’t normally share this one, because it’s a terrible drawing… But if you read these blogs for Emma life updates rather than good drawings, this one is kind of a key plot point in my month, so it feels bad to leave it out… Charlie got hit by a car, and it was genuinely one of the most horrendous things I’ve ever experienced. Totally my fault. I thought he’d learnt a healthy respect for traffic, but it turned out, he hadn’t. We credit them with more intelligence than they actually have sometimes.
He got hit, hard, on his right side, by a car doing around 30 – 40 mph. There was a loud bang, he flew through the air, and I assumed, in that split second, that he was dead. But he was flung to the side of the road, and immediately came running over to me, all shaky and sorry for himself like I’d just yelled at him or something. I held him close, apologised to the driver (who did stop), and we took him straight to the vet. Somehow, he managed to escape the whole thing with nothing but a bit of a scare and a small cut on his back leg, which he had staples in. (Hence cone, although luckily he WAS intelligent enough not to obsessively lick the cut, so he didn’t need to wear it).

To be honest, I think I dealt with it worse than him… He was perky and right as rain by that afternoon while I’m still here having guilt and flashbacks at what a terrible dog owner I am, and how I could let that happen to this beautiful, warm-hearted little creature who is supposedly in my care. Pets. Who’d have 'em.

Our friend James and his brother-in-law were walking the Pennine Way, and came to stay with us for one night. We met them en-route at Stoodley Pike, a giant monument on the top of a big hill, which was very exciting, as Stoodley Pike had previously been one of my big future walking goals. (I had assumed it was TOO FAR, but it’s actually only about a 3 hour round walk from our house).

Rain still gets me down, but we’ve got to take our comforts where we can.

Even before the accident, but particularly since, I’ve wondered what Charlie thinks of me (if indeed dogs have the capacity for nuanced feelings about different humans, which I strongly believe they do). I think he likes me a lot. I hope he likes me a lot. (He doesn't like it when I run though)

Oh man can the election just be over already but also can it never happen so that we never have to confront the grim inevitability of another 5 years of Tories.

We found out that Finn took his life the night before. I can’t draw people. But I had to try and draw Finn. Finn was so good at drawing. And so many other things. I still can’t quite believe that he’s gone. Everyone who knew him is still heartbreaking, I know I am. I wish I could have done better (at this drawing, at being there for him, at so many things). Hold your loved ones close.

Steve came over and bought his very expensive bottle of trace minerals, and his new obsession — Pu-errh (?) tea. You take a tiny drop of trace minerals in a glass of water and in theory it gives you all the very rare minerals that are hard/impossible to get through most diets, and which can help revitalise you. (I am cynical about such things but I gave it a go.)
Then tea, brewed repeatedly in tiny pot with the flavour changing with each brew, served in tiny glasses like espresso. (I don't think I have a nuanced enough palate to appreciate such things, I find the same with coffee/wine connoisseurs, no matter how hard I concentrate, I can't get what they're getting from things...)

Still feeling all the feelings.

All the feelings while attempting to complete all the tasks.

Headed back to Brighton (Hove actually) again, for some work stuff.

Weirdly, MORE feels this time being back. Last time I felt relatively neutral about it. This time... Well, Brighton is at its most Brighton in May — sun out in full force, festival happening in every possible corner... I still believe it to be one of the best places in the world, in those moments. Being back feels like a lightness and a heaviness all at once. I don't (think I) want to live back there again. But it's hard to escape that emotional gravity well. I love the place SO much, still.

Delighted to be back in town for Chris's fringe show. This is actually worse than the drawing I did of him last year, because sometimes one step forward, two steps back, right?

And then trains. Home. I love trains.

Fleeting visit from Jonny and Kris, who are viewing houses both in Brighton and up here near us. Here’s hoping they make the (entirely subjectively) right choice and move up nearby! (Oh also I've been doing lots of brush lettering for a signage project with my work which is just a delight)

We watched the debates tonight. Was this election actually maybe less stressful when there was no hope at all, rather than now that there's just a tiny inkling of hope that things might be okay? Things aren't going to be okay, are they.