Friday, 30 January 2015


So, in a fit of unusual determination/new-year-motivation, I have now been SPORTSING regularly for nearly a month.

At no point in my life before have I managed any sort of committed exercise for more than about 3 days running. I went trampolining once a week for a few years, but fairly early on it became apparent that I was never going to reach these sort of heights, so I eventually gave up...

In the last couple of years, I've also started cycling, but it's only occasional relaxing rides along the flat coastal path, or short trips to run errands, not any sort of exerting exercise.

But a few people I know have recently been getting pretty excited about indoor bouldering. I figured I'd go along and give it a try, and was surprised and disconcerted to find that I didn't hate it.

I decided, extravagantly, to invest in a month's membership to Boulder Brighton, and some cheap climbing shoes, in the hope that financial investment would inspire commitment. Possibly not the most advisable strategy, but remarkably, it's actually worked, so far. Money, apparently, can buy you a sense of guilt-induced motivation.

Despite the cold, dark, January weather, I've been dragging myself over to Boulder Brighton three times a week for around an hour at a time. And good news! I still don't hate it, I have lots of tiny gross callouses on my hands, and I'm now better at climbing things than I previously was. (I'm still pretty rubbish, struggling clumsily up the easy routes, but there has been progress, which is satisfying)

Anyway, this blog is arbitrarily meant to be about creativity, and all that was just prelude to THIS:

Boulder Brighton are having a t-shirt competition! And I was persuaded to enter by my friend Jess, on the condition that if I win, she gets one of my 5 free prize t-shirts. Good deal.

I don't think I'm likely to win, because I suspect there are some other big creative talents at the bouldering wall, but, as these sportsing types always say, it's not about winning, it's about... playing the game... drawing the drawing... something like that.

ANYWAY. I'd wear it!

Thursday, 1 January 2015


I'm going to join in the inevitable flurry of year-end review blogs with this little one of my own... Although really this is more of a month end review, and I do this every month, so you should already be used to this kind of self indulgence from me... Onwards!

As you may or may not remember, November was GREAT. December was always going to struggle to match up to it, realistically...

December always starts off nicely though, thanks to me being a perpetually spoiled brat/only child, and my mother STILL humouring me with this massively labour intensive advent calendar each year. She made it when I was about 3, and as I was growing up, would put a little mini chocolate bar in the pocket for each day. Now, as a vegan adult, she nearly refused to do it for me ("you've made it too hard!"), but wonderfully managed to fill every day with a whole range of treats (mostly stationery, condiments and vegan cereal bars). (Here's a picture of it)

Apple have discontinued the iPod classic, possibly one of the only products that I genuinely feel complete product loyalty to. It seems like an incomprehensible decision to me, when all their old marketing was based around the idea of having your entire music collection in your pocket, and now none of their music players have enough capacity to hold a reasonably sized music collection (plus they all cost WAY more). Maybe it’s a push to get everyone streaming music rather than buying it, but if that’s the case, they seem to have missed the crucial point that there isn’t internet everywhere, especially not in the places where I most want to listen to music, like on remote windswept beaches (sorry nature, I’m blocking you out) or on public transport! Grumble. Anyway. If you already own one, which I did, you can still get a replacement by taking your broken one in for a service at the Apple store. Which I did. SHINY! (I feel a bit like I’m back in year 9, being challenged to draw shiny things for art class homework. Probably haven’t improved very much since then…)

My BFF Naomi started knitting me this snood over a year ago. In fairness to her, she got distracted by the birth of her niece, and the obligatory knitters desire to knit hundreds of tiny cute outfits for any new baby in the family. I was very excited to finally receive this, anyway, and the timing is perfect as it’s now FREEZING all the time. I am wearing it right now, in fact! (Plus gloves. I am typing in gloves because of David Cameron’s broken Britain) Here's a real picture!

I’ve never had a real thanksgiving dinner before. I was delighted to be invited to this slightly late thanksgiving/christmas crossover meal by our friends Kris and Jonny, Kris being total 100% fully legit American. Naively, I just assumed that thanksgiving was much the same as Christmas roast that we have in this country, but I was totally wrong! There were so many other weird delights I couldn’t even have anticipated! Admittedly it was a somewhat non-traditional thanksgiving dinner, as Kris was kind enough to make it fully vegan for me and Alex, but still, I am assured that many of these elements were just subtle adaptations of things that would normally be had. American biscuits with gravy! (Which are NOT BISCUITS) Crazy sweet potato and banana sticky casserole malarkey! Walnuts, brussels sprouts and broccoli glazed with a coca cola glaze! (Which sounds horrific but was actually amazing, although apparently a non-traditional element) Pumpkin pie! Much more!
A delicious evening with wonderful friends. Consider me suitably thankful.

At around this point, Alex became officially the longest relationship I’ve ever had. As I have experienced before and am trying to keep remembering, you have to keep learning to love the person you’re with afresh. And sometimes its hard work, because every relationship has a honeymoon period, and after that, it takes effort and thought and conscious decisions to try and keep things magic. I hope we do enough. Anyway, I still get excited when Alex asks if I’d like to go for a meander round town with him to run errands. I hope day-to-day activities carry on feeling like dates forever. (It helps that I take great joy in mundane tasks like going to Sainsburys or collecting dry cleaning.) 


This month I finally finished a ridiculous ongoing personal project which was to design and print a mini cook book (more of a cook-zine) for our house. I might do a separate blog about it later. But anyway, this drawing of kale is included in it in a different context, but I decided to recycle it here as I made a GREAT kale-y stew.

Entirely unsexy though, as I was miserable. For the last couple of months I’ve been suffering with intermittent dizziness, which most of the time is just a minor inconvenience, but has occasionally been pretty debilitating. It’s been at its worst just after I’ve had colds, which annoyingly has happened twice this month, so I’m hoping it’s something that will pass when I’m completely well otherwise. Doctor was inconclusive. Could be an inner ear infection. Fortunately it’s NOT anaemia, because as previously documented, I’m a good vegan and prolifically eat my leafy greens.

Managed to stagger my way (still quite dizzy) to Smokey’s American diner for Tristan’s birthday meal. It is a meaty meaty establishment, so as a vegan I was mainly limited to sides. But who cares, when the sides are DELICIOUS AND VAST.

My work do. A thoroughly civilised affair in which everyone else got incredibly tipsy and I looked on with faint amusement. Excellent.

The same night, however, was Alex's work do, which played out in a somewhat less civilised manner...

At around 2am, (so technically the 19th now), I awoke to the sound of voices downstairs, and not long after, Alex drunk-quietly (i.e. not quietly) came up to apologise and let me know that he’d ended up bringing some people back. I popped some earplugs in and went back to sleep, only to be woken again at 4am by sex noises loud enough to leak through my earplugs. In my confused, disoriented, half-asleep (and still dizzy) state, I staggered over to my bedroom door, to become aware that the noises were coming from Alex’s room. For a brief, paranoia filled moment, I thought Alex was having a ridiculous drunken fling with a colleague, but fortunately he emerged from the bathroom at exactly that point to confirm that, in fact, no, it was actually two of his colleagues having a ridiculous drunken (and thoroughly inadvisable) fling. In his room. Noisily. Earplugs back in, awoken again at 6 by Alex finally coming to bed, still drunk, and confused enough to fall asleep in glasses.

8am, time for me to get up and go to work! Get dressed, down the stairs for cereal and THERE IS A WOMAN PISSING IN MY GARDEN. Which, admittedly, has happened a number of times before with different women and men, as is inevitable in a house with only one bathroom and a garden, but what was so shocking was a) broad daylight, b) RIGHT by the back door, like, actually on the door mat, c) the guy she’d been having noisy sex with the night before had only gone in the bathroom five minutes previously and was just having a shower, surely any sensible person would have either asked to go in first or just asked to go for a wee while he was showering? Anyway, I was FILLED WITH RAGE and spent a moment pondering how best to express that to her, but I settled for going into the kitchen and giving her my most passive-agressive ‘good morning’ when she came back in. Looking back, I am faintly amused by the whole scenario, but still wouldn’t say she’d be a particularly welcome guest in my house in future…

So. I like to think that I’m mostly doing quite well with handling my emetophobia this year. It helps that there haven’t been so many widely publicised outbreaks of the norovirus, which typically tends to send my anxiety levels soaring… While I used to be scared of vomiting in ANY context, even something as minor as seeing it in a film could send me into near panic attack, I can now handle almost all vomit scenarios, the only thing which still scares me is being sick myself. And when I think there might be a danger of that happening (i.e. me catching something or eating something bad)? Thought spiral. Still. This time I luckily managed to hold it together and not have a full panic attack in the middle of a restaurant, and even managed to finish my meal! But my brain. It was spiralling hard.

It probably didn’t help my brain state that previous night that I was coming down with another horrible cold, which was both making me incredibly dizzy, and also generally hurting all over, plus coughs and snot. By the next day it became apparent that it was possibly something nearly approaching flu in its crippling misery-symptoms. My incredibly supportive housemates Justin and Alex, and our friend George inadvisably kept me company in my malaise (or at least, I flumped myself down in the same room as them and none of them told me to leave). Feeling too weak to draw, I asked them to take over for the day, and try to suitably express how bad I was feeling/looking. With excellent results.

Illness continues with horrific self-portrait.

Being ill over Christmas sucks. Still feeling terrible, it was concluded that I was too rough to make the journey over to Alex’s family as planned, thus rendering us stuck in Brighton. Trying to put on a brave face so that Alex’s Christmas wasn’t entirely ruined by being stuck alone with my gloom-face. Hard when everything hurts and there’s snot everywhere. BONUS! This was the day of our third anniversary. We’re going to have a do-over in a couple of weeks because this day sucked too much.

Christmas itself was a little better. Top quality present hauls for both of us, and Alex cooked an amazing Christmas dinner. We managed a little stroll down to the Level to meet a couple of friends and their baby, and Alex got to watch Dr. Who. We would have liked more people around, but it could have been a lot worse.

By the 29th I was just about feeling well enough to consistently be able to stand up and achieve things, so got on to CHORESING HARD in preparation for Christmas II the next day…

Christmas II was a long pre-planned event which was already making me feel a lot better about Christmas I being a bit of a write-off. Similar to last year, we invited a huge number of friends over for a big vegan roast and hoped that just the right number would arrive to fit into our house. And luckily, as last year, it worked, PERFECTLY.

We ended up cooking a full vegan roast for 13, which is close to maximum capacity our kitchen infrastructure will allow, so always a bit of a challenge, but Alex made it work. Christmas II was substantially better than Christmas I and I feel so fortunate to have so many bright lights to count as friends. Big meal followed by giant team games (Google ‘Two Rooms and a Boom’), and prolific pudding action, with people slowly drifting away over the course of the evening. A beautiful day, for which I feel very grateful.

Saw in the new year with a day of ridiculous quantities of washing up, and then many hours of boardgames with Justin and Alex up to midnight. Perfect.

I am finally feeling well (it feels like I’ve spent most of December feeling under the weather in one way or another), and my slightly below average Christmas has been thoroughly redeemed by the kindness and care of friends. I am ready to face 2015 with inevitable new year anxiety, but also optimism. The future is rushing up fast and I don’t know what’s coming, but now entering my third year of visual dairying, I will endeavour to keep drawing it every day.