Tuesday, 11 October 2016


I recently had the pleasure of creating a set of illustrations for a series of blogs by climate change charity 10:10 about ways to make a small difference in your day-to-day life.

Or as they put it, become UNSTOPPABLE, which is a hyperbole I can definitely get behind.

On the homepage of their website right now, there's a big option to sign up for a series of emails which will basically send one of the ten tips to your inbox every morning for 10 days. What better way to start the day? :)

Or if you don't want to sign up for that, you can read their tips here. I've also put my illustrations below...

(Or, if your house is basically one big draught like mine, maybe even more would be a good idea)

(TIL while doing this illustration... LEDs don't look like this any more...)

(Thankfully my local MP right now is Caroline Lucas who is basically a superhero, but I am thoroughly looking forwards to writing many lengthy letters about this and countless other issues to the Tory MP where we're moving in Yorkshire. I hope he's ready for all the pent up Tory rage I've had no one to meaningfully write to about for the last 5 years.)

(We've already got tinfoil behind every radiator but possibly I might be better off wrapping myself in it during the upcoming winter months [is shivering already])

(Let me talk to you about climate change and how it's real and terrifying.)

(Let's stand on Brighton beach holding hands and looking out at the Rampion Wind farm with joy in our hearts.)

(Community energy projects are an amazing way to take back control and make a difference and I very much hope I'll have the means to get involved with one at some point before too long.)

(This might be my favourite illustration and one of the things on this list I can most enthusiastically endorse, because I love food.)

[Avoids eye contact with beloved bike sitting in the hallway out of action with a seemingly unfixable puncture that I've been too tight to take to the shop and get fixed]

(I like to think that doing these illustrations counts in some small way as helping others, but if you'd like me to cook you a seasonal vegetable meal and bring it over to your house to eat while we shove tinfoil behind all your radiators, please just shout because I am so down for that.)

It's been a joy to work with 10:10, and just as a reminder, I'm currently accepting other freelance commissions for illustration or graphic design work, so if you think there's anything in those areas I might be able to help you with, please do drop me a line!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

September 2016

It has been a super intense month, but good on the whole (in part thanks to the ongoing unseasonal sunshine, which I'm enjoying in much the way someone might enjoy a beautiful sunset while sat on the deck of a very slowly sinking ship. Global warming, hey?)

Even though we're not moving away from Brighton until January, obviously we're starting to get mentally and practically prepared for this as much as we can at this stage. This is involving quite a bitt of touristing around Brighton and the south while we're still close by, which has been strange but fun, and is an ongoing process.
I am also taking on as much freelance work as I can get hold of, with a view to building up both additional savings and hopefully a client base, in readiness for dropping to a part time salary in January.

Do you need some design or some drawings? Email me! I want to help and you will be very much helping me.

So basically this month has been a lot of work in my evenings and weekends, a lot of touristing, and also trying to spend as much time with friends as we can while we're still here. Expect more of the same in the coming months...

I do wonder if my visual diary has suffered as a result of all this busyness, but hopefully there's still some good stuff.

Kind of bad stuff to start though. I’ve been suffering from back pain recently in a way I never really have in my life before. I’ve had to stop going to dance classes (hopefully temporarily) because I found they were aggravating it, which makes me very sad. It’s been coming and going but the GP couldn’t offer much apart from a 4 month wait for physio (by which point we’ll have moved away).
So I’m living with it and it seems to be gradually easing (with occasional flare ups again) so hopefully I’ll be dancing again before too long.
When I drew this I'd also hurt my ankle and was feeling thoroughly miserable.

“Getting good” is an exaggeration. I can now do basic plaits. But there are many plaiting skills I want to learn. Someone please teach me how to do French plaits!

I’m trying to spend less money in preparation for potential financial hard times in the new year. I’m not very good at it. Writing down what you spend is an interesting and sometimes guilt inducing process… (this was a particularly extravagant day)

Not the best drawing but interesting! Brighton has what I formerly thought was one giant cemetery/crematorium... But it's actually two separate cemeteries, each with their own crematorium. One of them is really beautiful, like a hidden valley full of fascinating historic graves, and a beautiful church building. The other one is kind of drab. It's quite a long walk from my house to get to them, and they're kind of confusing to get into/out of, and this particular time I made a mistake and ended up in the wrong one, and had a very disappointing walk.

I've finally nailed quesadillas you guys.

George has moved up to London which is kind of sad, but she came to stay with us for a few days which was lovely. We hung out and watched the Great British Bake Off together.

I’ve been trying to get better at drawing people, and I’m grateful to George (and all other willing participants) for letting me try and capture their likeness.

Some days I feel like the most obnoxious person in the world. Sorry to anyone who’s ever found me as incredibly annoying as I imagine I can be…

I went to stay with one of my oldest friends, Sarah. She’s having a baby… It was due on September 27th, but she’s still waiting as I write this (or maybe it’s happening RIGHT NOW, aaaaagh!)
She was pretty giant although weirdly not as giant as I’d expected! I wanted to spend some time with her before the baby comes because everything changes after babies come along. Not better, not worse, just different. It’s strange to think how much things will change for her, but I can’t wait to meet her little one!

I was also DELIGHTED to meet for the first time Sarah’s dog Charlie, who is just an absolute hero and I have totally fallen for him. I think he liked me too! He’s a rescue dog and a little crazy, but with just the biggest heart and he just wants to do the right thing all the time.
We took some pretty strong selfies together.

Trying to grab occasional moments of calm (but I usually just end up doing laundry or cleaning the house…)

Justin came back from a short time away, and bought Lydia with him to stay, just for one night, but it was really lovely to see her briefly.

As aforementioned, George and Wes have moved up to London, into a very nice house shaped like a cube. Once they'd settled in it was time for housewarming! Me and Alex and Justin travelled up there for it, and it was a super lovely evening with loads of incredibly interesting people.

Sometimes my life kind of feels like a series of perfectly intersecting jigsaw piece shaped tasks

Our friend Matt was briefly in between houses, so he came to stay for a week. I imagine Matt as being probably one of the most dreamy housemates imaginable, on the basis that he’s immaculately clean, cooks bangin’ meals, does his washing up immediately after eating, and is LOVELY.

More quick people drawing practice, Matt and Justin.

Have you heard of the French Revolutionary Calendar? It’s pretty ridiculous. We bought one at the beginning of the year thinking it would be interesting, not realising it didn’t start until September. (You should get one too, it's beautiful, fascinating and lasts for nearly 5 years!) We decided to have a French themed dinner to celebrate its beginning, and Tom and Harriet came over to share it with us. French food is not super easy to veganise, but a team effort of French Onion Soup with Baguettes, French Bean Cassoulet, and potatoes dauphinoise was a right treat.

For this Saturday, Alex and Justin decided it would be fun to visit the highest and lowest points in Brighton in one day. I opted out of the ‘sewer tour’, and instead went to the art fair with my mum, and then we all went up the i360 together.
Honestly, I was a bit cynical about it, although we have enjoyed watching it being built… But I am totally sold, it was SO MUCH FUN!

Only trouble with freelancing is that sometimes you can feel like you've not got much art-brain left for personal projects. Here's hoping I can stay inspired.

This last week I’ve spent a couple of days in Bournemouth on a work trip. I’ve been to Bournemouth quite a few times, but never got round to walking about a mile and a half along the coast to Boscombe Pier.
If you read my blog often you probably already know that I’ve got a very slow-running lifelong mission to visit all the UK’s 50+ pleasure piers. Boscombe was an absolute treat — a beautifully elegant, minimal pier with gorgeous lights all along the edges.

This isn’t a particularly good visual diary (I had a very busy day overseeing a signage install and doing some training with colleagues in Bournemouth), but I just wanted to say how AMAZING Zizzi’s new vegan pizza is. Seriously impressive, and so brilliant that it’s available in every branch. I honestly think it might be one of the best pizzas I’ve had — not even since going vegan, I mean EVER!

Very busy few days. It was nice to sit down at home for a bit and watch the Great British Bake Off.

Alex also wants it noted on the record that the only reason they say this is that they’re getting WORSE at cooking through lack of practice, so I’m effectively sapping their culinary strength :D

Our friend Tom came to stay. Him and his partner Nicola are moving down from Sheffield to Worthing (counter to the way we’d like it, as we’re heading up North, but we should overlap for a couple of months!)
He came to pick up the keys for his flat from the letting agent, and it was great to hang out with him for a couple of evenings. Hannah and Alex F came over and we played ‘Operation Red Planet’ and ‘Dead Last’ and had a wonderful vegan Chinese takeaway banquet.

That's a lot of people and a lot of stuff, and my October has so far been no less hectic, but I am very content to have such full, exciting days all the time at the moment.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August 2016

We had a conversation at work yesterday about whether it's been a 'good summer', by which we were specifically talking about the weather. We all agreed that yes, it probably has been a good summer — my specific criteria for this is that when I think about all the particularly memorable things I've done this summer, they've all been done in sweltering sunshine, and August's fun things have been no exception. Global warming nightmares (briefly) aside, this is GREAT.

Anyway. Quick off the mark with the blog this month. I hope Justin is happy.

I had a fun work task which involved walking around Brighton photographing architectural features. Nice to really have a proper look at Brighton's weird and wonderful buildings.

You guys. I'm starting to feel old. My back has gone wrong, I made sad noises when I sit down/stand up sometimes, and I don't enjoy Snapchat.

I have, however, been quite enjoying blatant Snapchat rip-off, Instagram stories. On the evening of August 5th, I attempted to explain Instagram stories to Justin, who went from confused, to dismissive, to briefly enraged, to wholehearted endorsement within about 5 minutes, and is now one of the most enthusiastic Instagram storiers in my timeline. 

I had been similarly dismissive of VR/AR, despite having never tried it. Showing my age, I boldly claimed that I simply couldn't see a place for it in my life, and had no interest in finding out any more and would do just fine in the real world, thankyouverymuch. As thanks/payback for the Instagram Stories lesson, Justin hooked me up to Google Cardboard and

wwwwwwooooooooooaaaaaaarggghhhhh VIRTUAL REALITY WOAAAAAH

And now I'm a lot more open minded to VR. The end.

I feel bad for how much I avoid Pride in Brighton. Pride is a wonderful celebration and I wholeheartedly endorse the original sentiment behind it... but it's also, increasingly, a scary, intimidating, rowdy, messy, litter-strewn horror. Every Pride when I go out on the streets I feel threatened or scared at least once. My partner, who is genderqueer, experiences more gender-based abuse during pride than any other time of the year in Brighton, which is utterly grim.

Anyway, I mostly hid this year. But during my hiding (at George and Wes's house) I had AN IDEA. An idea for a business, sorry STARTUP. I don't get those kind of ideas very often (ever) and I'm irrationally excited about it. I'm holding onto it like a precious flower and trying to gently cultivate its growth while not crushing it. Watch this space. (Or maybe don't, in case I fail/give up)

Bought myself some unusually masculine trousers. Is this helpful? POWER SLACKS (nope)

And then suddenly I got REALLY BUSY for a while back there.

This year, me and Alex went to Nine Worlds Geekfest, described on their website as "Three days and nights of books and comics, gaming, film and TV, fandom, crafts, cosplay and creativity, geek culture and academe, and above all meeting awesome people and having a really big party."

Technically more Alex's scene than mine, but there's a lot to interest me there too, and as Alex was part running the boardgames track we got a free hotel room, which sealed the deal. I travelled up to London on a sweltering hot Thursday, the night before the con started, with a giant suitcase full of boardgames.

On the first day of the con, I went to three talks — 'How to fly a rocket to the moon', a sciency talk about the physics of rockets and how they are represented in sci-fi... 'Hiding in plain sight', a fascinating talk (with visuals) about some of history's more creative and inspiring film opening credit sequences... and Lydia Nicholas and Laurie Pennie, 'Telling Stories About Technology', who, frankly, I could have listened to talk for HOURS.

I also did some enthusiastic teaching in the boardgames lounge (Patchwork and Galaxy Trucker), and generally mingled around having a nice time.

One of the highlights of Nine Worlds for me, was staying in a way nicer hotel than we'd normally be able to afford. The Novotel Hammersmith is a big chain hotel, but at the upper end of niceness, which meant the room had all kinds of ridiculous swanky features, and the bed linen and mattress were just reeeeeallly nice. One of the main highlights though, for me, was GIANT BREAKFAST. After the first day when we established that the kitchen are GOOD PEOPLE who basically made everything that could be vegan vegan (cooking in olive oil rather than butter, vegan brand of veggie sausages, vegan brand of hash browns, etc) I went nuts every morning with the fullest breakfast I could muster. Amazing.

Went to a fascinating talk about Apocalypse scenarios and why we love thinking about them so much.

My good friend Lyall came to visit, to demo the wonderful game his company has created — Beasts of Balance. Played a lot of games of it, got very excited.

Also went to a talk about Imposter Syndrome, which ironically convinced me that I don't actually suffer from Imposter Syndrome, I'm just genuinely not very good at things. Hm.

We had Wagamama for dinner, and yo, Wagamama, you fucked up my order AGAIN. They were v apologetic for feeding me egg (been an upset vegan this month, more on that later), and as apology, gave me a replacement meal and free dumplings, which I ate all of, very fast, oh dear.

On the last day, I only went to one talk, but it was about EUROVISION, so clearly the most exciting of them all. Me and Alex also had a very lovely meander over beautiful Hammersmith bridge in the glorious sunset, which was actually one of my highlights of the whole trip.

We procrastinated leaving the hotel for AGES the next morning by watching lots of olympics. Actually spent a remarkable amount of time chilling out in the hotel room watching olympics during the whole weekend, which was utterly lovely.

We eventually made it back to Brighton where I further cemented my burgeoning friendship with Little Black Cat by spending like a whole 20 minutes sitting in the garden snuggling together, with no claws or running away scared on either of our parts.

Sorry Justin.
(Alex and Justin love 'Genius Rules of the Game', a ridiculous Korean reality show)

Had to go a funeral. Did a little family tree on the train home.

Had a really nice day. My friend Ben came to stay from Cambridge and we had burritos, bubble tea, and a lovely catch up. And I finally got a ring in my nose rather than a stud and it is soooooo much better.

Lots of lovely feels. Me and Little Black Cat fully mates now, proper BFFs, loads of lovely cat strokes. Also melting chocolate with minty tea, and listening to lovely radio. Treats.

Busiest time of year at work, making brochures. But we're nearly there!

I made good bulgar wheat for the first time ever, and now I highly endorse bulgar wheat.

Me and Alex went for a day trip to Hastings and it was GREAT!
I might have mentioned in the past that I have a long-running mission to visit every surviving UK pier. As we're moving away from this area in January, I figured I really should get over to Hastings before we go, as it's only an hour or so by train from Brighton.
And the pier is a great one. Restored by the community, and co-operatively owned, the pier itself is a wonderful structure, and very well run, it was an absolute delight to visit, might even be one of my favourites so far.
We also had some great vegan lunch at the unpromisingly named 'Beer hall and hotdog emporium', and I got a ride on a brilliant funicular railway. A+++ day out.

(And later, friends Stina and Renee came to stay, and Hannah joined us, and we got to play the very good new Dead of Winter expansion)

Recommend me gentle exercises and stretches for hurty lower back. I've got a hurty lower back :(
(Top quality hat game for Matthew's birthday though)

Went on one of my favourite walks, along the undercliff from Saltdean back to Brighton. Such gorgeous colours, chalk cliffs and brutal concrete path.

You guys I ordered pizza and they put anchovies on it, but I just picked them off and ate it but it still tasted of anchovies but anchovies are soooooo gooooooood so I kind of didn't mind but also feel very conflicted about enjoying it so much. SIGH.


Now. Let's September. More warm weather plz. I'm not complaining.