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.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

June 2015

June is (almost) always a nice month, and this year was no exception. It's officially warm enough that the winter sads can be declared formally over, and it's the first month that (in this house, anyway), you can walk around barefoot without getting sad cold feet.
Plus it's Alex's birthday, and this year, we went on holiday too!

On Alex’s actual birthday me and him and a big lovely group of friends went to Planet India for vast quantities of curry and associated treats. This isn’t the best illustration, but I’m including it because it documents my first ever encounter with a SELFIE STICK. Selfie sticks are very trendy and being mean about selfie sticks is also very trendy, but you know what, haters gonna hate. I think they're great.

The day after Alex's birthday, lots of people came over, and in a continuance of the previous night's indulgence, we ordered loads of Chinese food. We decided to play 'the hat game', I'm not going to spoil the rules for those of you who haven't played it, but suffice to say, we had a magic moment where we realised HOLD ON, we've got this (previously) utterly pointless window on the staircase, which is perfect for backlit hands-only charades. And it was MAGIC. I don't think our living room has seen that much sustained, intense laughter from such a large group of people in a long time, if ever. I love this house. (And our friends, obvs)

From June 8 – 12, me, Alex, Justin, George, Jess, my old school friend Ieuan and Stompy the dog went on a canal boat holiday on the Rochdale canal. Canal boat holidays are marketed as relaxing which is ALL LIES.

Being in charge of a boat is TERRIFYING and living on a boat is TOO COSY. Day 2, and, as stated, found it very hard to find anything positive (apart from the lovely people who I was sharing the experience with)

The trip passed, twice, through Hebden Bridge. Hebden Bridge is wonderful, and me and Alex hope to move there one day. We planned the trip so that we could have nearly a full day mooching round there. By this point we were better at controlling the boat, and managed to find a lovely place in the heart of Hebden Bridge to moor up overnight.
We got to hang out with our friend Keith who lives in Nutclough co-op, and I rather cheekily managed to go over to his house and have a real shower (boat showers are the WORST) which made me feel a lot more human. That coupled with gorgeous sunshine, gorgeous Hebden Bridge and general good moods all round meant that everything got better from here on in.

By day 4 of 5, we had got locks NAILED. (The Rochdale canal, and the stretch we were on is one of the most locky canals in the UK. Intense.)

And by day 5, I was almost (ALMOST) sad to be leaving. Team boat lives on in all our hearts.

While in Hebden Bridge I finally learnt what za’atar is for (less for seasoning, more for stirring with olive oil and dunking bread in). On my first day back I bought myself a jar and ate nearly 1/4 of it in one sitting with way too much olive oil and a giant chunk of crusty bread. SO GOOD.

Have you all been watching Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? It's not often I get fangirl squealy over telly things and even less often that I do... fan art... But here we are. It was really excellent. You should definitely watch it all if you get the chance.

(On a side note, I got myself two big pen treats this month... more on the second one later, but first, was a coloured multipack of Pilot's Frixion pens. Weirdly, I can't find it on Cult Pens now, so maybe I got lucky and it's gone now, but it was basically these, but with lids rather than clickers and in 12 gorgeous colours. To wax lyrical for a moment, these pens are GREAT. I've always preferred drawing in pen to pencil, but then comes the problem that I'm not always super good at drawing... these pens genuinely erase, cleanly and thoroughly, and it's basically magic. I'd totally run down the black and green ones I originally bought to try them out, so I decided to invest in the pack of 12. So expect a lot more brightly coloured line drawings from here on in)

Alex and George went for a proper swim. I just had a little paddle. Then we all had burgers and played another round of Sherlock. Top evening.

Slips of the tongue.

As alluded to before, this is a cold house. And I am a cold person. The result of which is that from about September to April every year I have to be fairly well layered up to not be uncomfortable, and from November to February, no amount of layers will keep out the vicious coldness and even such simple activities as going to the toilet are fraught with chilliness. There’s nothing like a cold house to make you appreciate the warm months. Related: for about 6 months a year I basically don’t look at myself naked for more than a few moments in the shower. I still have ISSUES with boobs and tummy, but some days everything feels alright.

My hip hop dance odyssey continues, with a lesson in twerking from someone who can actually twerk. It’s REALLY HARD (as anyone who’s ever tried will testify to.) One day I will reach these towering heights. (P.S. I don't think this diagram is actually a helpful depiction of how to twerk)

So this is a terrible drawing but BEAR WITH ME, because on a pizza and fizzy pop fueled binge, me, Alex and Justin came up with a GREAT (possibly) idea for a play for next year’s Fringe festival, as follows:

"The play is played out over the course of a year's worth of Argus comments [the local Brighton newspaper, renowned for its utterly abhorrent comment threads which show the very worst of Brighton's bigotries, such as they are], in which two commenters, one an anti-gay immigrant, the other an anti-immigrant gay man, slowly fall in love, ultimately meeting and realising their feelings on the opening night of the i360 [Brighton's ridiculous folly] — which they both won tickets to in an Argus competition. Alex and Justin play the couple and I play EVERY OTHER ARGUS COMMENTER. There are banners in the background with thumbs up and thumbs down that descend at appropriate moments [in reference to the thumbs up and thumbs down which can be rewarded to comments based on their popularity] The entire script is actually published on actual Argus articles in the year running up to the play. Possibly the play actually takes place on the i360."

It's worth noting that, in my head, I picture the whole thing as being a musical, but that could be thwarted by the fact that none of us can sing.

Who wouldn't go see that play, amirite?

I hadn't been for a cycle in aaaaages. Like months. I got a puncture from some glass while cycling in the dark and the rain, and three attempts at fixing it failed, and since then my motivation was low. I've also stopped going climbing, because I'm a big quitter. I got massive conscience pangs about both of these things for some reason, and felt like I should maybe cycle to climbing. Two birds, and that. I cycled nearly to climbing and then stopped at Lawrence Art supplies and decided to instead spend my climbing money (and then some) on loads of lovely Tombow Brush pens... I really like buying them in sets of a single colour, light > dark, as they're great for shading... I got a rose-pink set (with the added bonus that I now have a felt pen matching my skin tone), and a lilac set. And I immediately cycled home to do this with them.
Pleased that I'm still okay and safe to cycle on roads though. Cars won't wear me down!

More pen fun. I really like these pens.

I'm dog-sitting next week. Expect lots of terrible dog drawings because dogs are really hard to draw.
I went over to see Lump and his owners and learn all about his funny ways. Then I came home and baked a vegan dark chocolate and raspberry torte, which everyone got pretty excited about :)

It’s very hard to be like Beyoncé when 29º + period pains. But I guess Beyonce sometimes dances in 29º heat with period pains. How does she do it?! (Side note, Lya my dance teacher is an absolute hero. She’s so kind even though I am TERRIBLE)

Now it's July and HEATWAVE! I am so into this.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Unashamedly cute.

Just thought I'd share this birthday invite I made for my BFF's sister's little girl.

The theme of the birthday party is 'teddy bear's picnic', and the dog teddy in the middle is her absolute favourite toy. Generally try and avoid pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys cliches, but I had this pink and minty green colour scheme in mind from the start, so OH WELL.

Printed double-sided, A6 (postcard size), on a lovely thick card stock.

Enjoyed doing the typography for this one too. Texta for the body copy works well with the hand-done fonts, I reckon. (Texta is my new favourite sans, after years of Gotham loyalty.)

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

May 2015

May has felt busy, in the way that the months leading into summer tend to. It probably wasn't that actually that hectic, but I guess it's just warm enough that we're all starting to venture outdoors again... So, with that in mind, BUMPER EDITION visual diary! At least it feels that way.

Starting with wedding!

I did this fairly terrible drawing of the beautiful Louise and Caroline... (which in my defense was done very late at night while utterly exhausted...) based on this picture I took, which (if I do say so myself) captures the moment wonderfully. SUCH a lovely day.

May continued nicely...

I had a great evening on May 5th… Went to Pizza 500 (who make amazingly delicious but also cheap, authentic Italian pizza) with Alex, Hannah and Tristan, then came home and watched BBC 4’s fantastic ‘slow tv’ 2-hour broadcast of a canal journey (link expires this Friday) while listening to one of my favourite radio shows over the top, and working on a fun freelance project. DREAMY.

Got pizza two days in a row as well, which is always a treat. AND a big slab of Wes’s birthday cheesecake.

Last month I left a very minor cliffhanger. Brief summary: applied for nice job in new place. Got interview. Conclusion: didn’t get nice job in new place. It’s cool. I do already have a very lovely job, and change is TERRIFYING, so everything is fine.

And then the Tories won. Many more dark days to come.

Perhaps in a slight political misery induced haze, I decided to stop climbing. Or at least stop climbing as a regular thing. I know. I’m a big quitter. WINNERS DON’T QUIT AND QUITTERS DON’T WIN etc. But you know what, screw that. I’m not into putting myself through things I don’t enjoy on the vague promise of some potential future personal betterment. It just wasn’t my sport. I still haven’t found my sport. (More on that next though)
Climbing still has its joys and I will return on occasion and battle my way up the easy routes, but it just isn't a thing that I want to force myself to try and get better at when I just wasn't getting better or having fun in the process.

I only quit climbing on the condition that I immediately start trying some new sport thing. So with great trepidation, I showed up at a hip hop dance class and flailed my way through a terrifying hour, including at one point being surrounded by a circle of lithe, toned women, and being shouted at to ‘FREESTYLE’. It was genuinely one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. AND I WANT MORE

My life basically revolves around tasks. If I’ve completed them all I find myself at a bit of a loss. (You can never really complete ALL the tasks though)

How come all the cats I meet in the street are so super lovely and friendly but all the cats I meet in my garden are just grumpy evasive poop-machines?

Bought myself some beautiful trainers for absolutely no justifiable reason.

My hair is finally long enough for UP-DOS! How exciting. It’s a pity I have no idea what I’m doing.

And here I am again. With my terrible coordination, a whole new range of body-confidence issues, only fully revealed by attempting to dance with lots of other people in front of a large mirror… AND YET.
It’s really remarkable that it’s taken me this long to combine my intense hatred of exercise with my intense love of music, to come up with something that just about tips the scales into ‘tolerable’ with moments of outright fun. Who knows. 3 months down the line I’ll probably decide this is ‘not my sport’ either and start playing badminton or something, but for now. This is the dream.

I’m not normally into fizzy pop but this stuff is GOOD.

I love hanging out with new dog friends.

Then, the annual event. EUROVISION!

I decided to try and draw all the acts again this year. As previously mentioned: I’m terrible at drawing people. But this is good practice. And I love Eurovision so much. (Even in the slightly less good years like this one was, IMO)

Tried another self portrait. I guess it’s probably quite vain to keep on doing this, but I feel like I need to at least be able to get my own face right! It still isn’t, but there are some interesting things going on that work okay. (Hair and cheek shading)

I’ve been meaning to do this for AGES. I hope I can be a good blog updater. If you like benches, you should check out my blog, UNPRECEDENTED BENCH ENTHUSIASM (all the good bench URLs were taken, okay, and not even by people writing about benches!)

In exciting house news, we were suddenly informed we were going to get a new toilet. (Probably prompted by the discovery that the soil pipe was a) leaking, and b) asbestos…)
We were told by the plumber that our old toilet could be over 100 years old! When I first moved in I thought it was GRIM. Everything under the water-line was utterly stained and the whole thing was covered in cracks and inherently impossible to every get truly clean. But the ceramic bowl was a beautiful unusual shape, and it had a certain sturdiness and reliableness to it (enhanced now I know it may have been 100+ years old) that meant I grew to quite like it.

For a few moments I was thrilled by the new toilet. It’s so CLEAN! It practically GLOWS! Shining! Gleaming! But it turns out it IS possible to have sentimental feelings for a toilet, and I (and several other people who live/have lived in this house have confirmed), the old toilet was kind of iconic, and we all miss it a bit. Which is RIDICULOUS.

Another one of the mixed blessings of this house (like the disgusting toilet that everyone secretly felt emotionally attached to), is that the house hasn't been properly emptied in probably 15+ years, maybe longer, and many past tenants have left behind possessions, either with the intent of collecting them further down the line, or as an easy means of getting rid of things. As a result, the kitchen is filled with a fairly ridiculous amount of stuff and I finally got round to disposing of all the pan-lids-without-pans, ancient poorly-washed tupperware, rusty cake trays, and other miscellaneous unwanted bits. What could go to charity shops went to charity shops, and the rest was recycled or binned, and suddenly the cupboards are no longer filled with junk and it's SO GOOD.

Rarekind is a record shop at the bottom of Trafalgar Street. I’d always walked past it and thought “I think that is a record shop for people who really like hip hop”. Then on Sunday I was like “Hold on, *I* really like hip hop”… so I went in and it’s so amazing and as well as hip hop there’s loads of jazz and electronica and I spent so much money and this is going to get expensive really quickly. I love you Rarekind.

Onwards to June. Already exciting because housemate and friend Justin has returned from his travels, this Friday is Alex's birthday, and after that we're going on a BOAT! Adventures await!