Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January 2017

Hi, hello, 2017, what is even going on

January has been ridiculous. The whole world feels like it's on the brink of something horrible, meanwhile, I've been orchestrating a cross-country move (remember Emma 'Logistics' Charleston? She's been out in full force this month). I think the only thing that has stopped me descending into full grim-news-despair has been a constant cycle of packing boxes, freaking out, paying bills, talking to two different letting agents, disposing responsibly of endless detritus, general move admin, and packing more boxes. Nothing like keeping busy to keep the fear out, eh?

Shout out to everyone who is fighting what's going on in the world right now, be it through protest, action, donation, or any other means — and also shout out to those who, like me, desperately want to figure out what we can best do to help and start doing it. Between Donald Trump and Theresa May we've got plenty to keep us busy...


Some (increasingly poor as the month goes on and I get more stressed) drawings about what I've been up to, accompanied by increasingly caps laden descriptions.

New year, new start! Or something.
Have been succeeding fairly well in my goal to eat a piece of fruit a day (I know it's ridiculous but I'm really not into fruit. Probably ate it once a month, max presiously. Loads of veg every day, but fruit, blegh. A month in and my opinion on that has not changed.)
Have utterly failed at my (second year running) goal of reading more, but that's basically because I've not had a moment of free time, so maybe I'll pick up on that one soon.
Making life up north a success remains to be seen...

An abstract representation of me, hiding underneath 100 blankets.

Freecycle is (mostly) great. It never ceases to amaze me what people will come round to your house and collect. Mostly entirely normal people too.

In a brief distraction from everything else, got to head over to the big litho printing press and get over enthusiastic about big printers for a morning. Woop!

I am so over getting pieces of furniture up/down stairs/round awkward corners.

Don't go under there. (This won't be the last time you see Henry this month)

I went to a small child's birthday party, and wanted to try and capture some of the intensity of that experience in a drawing. Imagine this but x10 and vibrating and flashing and 'cotton-eye Joe' is playing.

Aaaaaaaauuuuuuughhhhhhhhhh where did all these objects come from who do they even belong to

On the 3rd's drawing, it says 'Alex is stressed'. Alex was stressed because we had no boxes, so that evening we went on the internet and ordered a load of boxes. I was pretty grumpy about spending money about things which you sometimes get for free with deliveries, but so be it. Then I saw someone getting rid of a load of boxes on Freecycle, so I figured sure, why not, a few more won't hurt. And then suddenly the house was FULL OF BOXES. Given that the house is pretty full of stuff at the best of times, this was kind of distressing. (Spoiler alert: it was not in fact too many boxes. It was actually too few. What even)

Also we emptied the huge attic, which was full of other people who used to live in the house's stuff, in a way that meant all my previous de-cluttering work suddenly felt worthless because there was about 10x more STUFF AND BOXES EVERYWHERE.

PLEASE JUST TAKE AWAY THIS DETRITUS (I've been saying the word 'detritus' a lot this month)

Just gross. Why was all the stuff in the attic so sticky. AUGH

And yet, bothered I must be.

In my new home up north I'm going to be freelancing and working part time in my current job remotely. For this, a new computer was definitely required, as my old imac was not nearly up to the task. After much umming and ahhing and bitterness at Apple for stupidly overpricing their new laptops, and Windows for being so terrible, I bit the bullet and bought a secondhand macbook pro on eBay. Which feels incredibly risky but I had the help of a trusted friend who said it would be FINE, and indeed, it has been. I sit here typing to you on it now, and aside from the fact that there was some gross gunk around the keyboard and it insisted on calling me Clive for a while, it's been pretty good.

Took a morning off work to run some errands and DID I RUN ERRANDS OR WHAT

Jonny came round and drove me and Henry to the hoover repair shop where I dropped Henry off, then on to the tip to dump an old TV we found in the attic. Then I put some laundry on, and did three walks up and down the hill with books to sell at Wax Factor and others to drop at the Amnesty charity shop. Then I walked a load of stuff over to the Martletts hospice, and en route found a guy from the council doing free/materials only bike repairs, so I dashed home, heaved my bike out from among the many boxes, smashing a bottle of balsamic vinegar over the hallway in the process. I rushed the bike down to him, grabbed some lunch, came home and tried to clear up the balsamic chaos in the hallway, unloaded and hung the laundry, collected my bike from the guy, and headed to work. I'm not sure I've ever squeezed more tasks into a morning in my life.

Signed the contracts for our new house on the day of the inauguration.

We had a leaving party, which I was weirdly reluctant about, because saying bye is hard/upsetting. But we did it and it was wonderful and so many people came and I had such a lovely time. (There were lots of people there who were friends of Alex and Justin that I didn't even know, so I didn't draw them — apologies if you came and I know you and I didn't draw you here!)

On the bright side, I guess this is good exposure therapy for my emetophobia...

After having Jonny's help driving me and Henry to the hoover repair shop, another kind friend gave me a lift on my lunchbreak to fetch Henry. Got him home, he was still broken, absolutely raging, I LITERALLY DO NOT HAVE TIME FOR THIS (or, crucially, an easy way of transporting him back to the hoover shop again)

Rachel, who used to live in our house, came over to stop in and grab some stuff. She left half a loaf of rye bread which ended up being crucial lunch sustenance the next day, and gave me a hug that nearly made me cry but actually just gave me enough strength to keep going.

Got up early. Heaved Henry down the hill onto the bus. Heaved him off the bus to the hoover repair shop. Left him there, went to work, at lunchtime went back, heaved him back onto the bus and home again. Nearly broke myself and him, but we made it. Never buy a hoover with a face you guys. Way too much emotional attachment.

My last day at work passed by weirdly in a blur. I'd been so busy sorting out house move logistics for the last month that I'd barely taken in the fact that this was the end. I've been coming to that office every weekday for pretty much 6 years to the day. As my boss put it, in some rather touching leaving speeches, 'You came to us a barely formed adult, and are leaving us as a bona-fide creative professional' (I should put that last bit in some kind of testimonials section on my website). He described the time as arguably some of the most formative years of my life, and I dare say he's right. I love the people I work with and the job has been (and hopefully will continue to be) great. It hasn't quite hit home that I'm not going back into that office again any time soon. I still just feel a bit like I'm on some kind of holiday.

For some irrational reason we decided that it would be okay to finish work on Friday, and do the actual move on Sunday. Would not recommend. A suitably intense Saturday of packing that nearly gave me a full nervous breakdown, only staved off by some well timed chips and a visit from a friend I don't even know that well when I was at my lowest ebb. Friends are great. Cling onto them.

On Sunday the vans got loaded early in the morning. Lots of friends came over to help which was wonderful. Alex and Justin travelled up in one of the vans, while I stayed behind with my Mum and Hannah to clean the house. It was a weird process. I wrote a thing on my instagram about how much that house means to me. I've never seen it empty. It was far from empty when I moved in, so seeing it with all the life stripped out was strange. Focussing on all the little details like the unexpectedly fancy door handles. The grime that's built up over years around the light switches. The mould. The crumbling ceilings. The light and the dark and the way the rain sounds against the windows. We cleaned a good clean, I said goodbye to Hannah (one of my oldest Brighton friends), and then I said goodbye to the house. I had a little cry on the train. I put on an album that I listened to every single day during the brief period when I was commuting from Brighton to London. I'd always hit play at the moment the train pulled out from the station, and because of that intense period of listening to it repeatedly, it's synonymous for me with riding out of Brighton on the train in the height of summer. Listening to it riding out of Brighton for the last time as home, with the rain pouring down... I did a really brief intense cry but then I was done.

I'm sad I didn't take more pictures of the empty rooms. It scares me how fast the memory of a place can start drifting out of your mind. Sometimes I think I get as much/more of an attachment to places as I do to people. I loved that house so much.

I stayed in London with George overnight on the Sunday night, before getting the train up to Hebden Bridge on Monday. I felt excited for most of the journey, but as I walked through Hebden Bridge to get to our new house where Alex and Justin were waiting for me, I was mostly just hoping and praying that we have made the right choice. Because there is no going back now.

And here we are. I've been here a day now. It's been raining a lot (I know you all warned me about this), and our house is up 95 of the steepest steps you've ever encountered in your life, plus a bonus hill at each end. Everything is still weird. Like I said, this still feels a bit like a strange holiday of some kind, but I think I'm okay. Packing is miserable, but unpacking fills me with a particular kind of joy. The kitchen has basically been entirely unpacked, and is BRILLIANT. The living room is still chaos. The rest of the house is in various states of packed and unpacked. The bathroom is pretty terrible. Toilet flush as weak as an old man spitting in a bucket and NO SHOWER. We're getting there. The house already feels like home despite its flaws. Hopefully my brain will soon shed any residual sense that Brighton is still home and start to believe that Hebden Bridge holds that title instead.

Oh and I bloody hope we can get the toilet fixed and get a shower installed soon because baths are NOT THE ONE.

HI FEBRUARY I AM READY (I just need a bit of a nap first please)

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

One last visual ode to Brighton

Actually that's probably not true. I'm blatantly going to write and think and draw and create about Brighton lots more over the course of my life.

But still, leaving in under a month felt like a particularly fitting time to create these Brighton themed materials in my day job.

I work for Kings Education, a group of international colleges, and in May we're opening our newest location — in Brighton! (Which is fairly ridiculous given that our HQ has been based here all along, but ho hum, we're only just getting round to it!)

It's probably our biggest, most exciting college to date, in that it's an entirely new building built from scratch for the purpose (on the old Buxtons site near London Road/The Level, for Brighton locals with an interest in what's going on there).

We're recruiting both local and international students to study GCSEs, A-levels and other specialist vocational courses (as well as English language courses for the international students), but because we currently have no building with which to woo potential students, one of the meeting rooms in our office is being converted into 'the marketing suite', where international and local students alike can come and learn more about the new college before its launch.

We didn't want it to just be another drab office room, so we've snazzed it up with a few things, including some bespoke 'Kings Brighton' rock, some big prints of CGI views of the college on the wall, a soon-to-come custom made model of the building, and, most pertinently to this blog post, I've had a fun chance to create some large format graphics — a map for the wall, and a fun design for the surface of the meeting room table, centred around facts about Brighton. (And they're quite weird/obscure/interesting facts, so as to hopefully be interesting to local students who know the area well, as well as international students)

Here I am looking smug with my map and my table.

And here are some more shots to show them off.

Hard to capture the colours of the map wall with my iPhone and no daylight, but it’s a lovely lilac colour. It was produced as two layers of vinyl, the light purple of the streets, and then the white/colour of the annotations as a separate layer.

The table design has been applied as a vinyl, heat sealed to wrap around the edges. It looks even better than I had hoped, and has a lovely shiny finish. The table looks about 100x better than it did before! My print heroes Perfect Print did the install. Gonna miss them when I'm gone for sure, they've been so helpful and generous to me over the years.

The colours are drawn from a selection of colours that will be used to decorate the new college, so any students will hopefully see a correlation between this room and the building they eventually end up in.

It's been lovely to do a hand-drawn typographic project on such a big scale. I had a lot of fun with it.

Hopefully I can ask our photographer to take some better pictures of it all than these, to go on my website, but I figured I'd share these here while I'm still all excited about it!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

December 2016

So it's been a pretty intense December.

As I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned lots of times, we’re moving up north. SOON. I’ve been gently nudging Alex to start getting rid of some of their vast horde of stuff for pretty much the last year, but it’s finally (slowly) happening. Mostly because hording and dust-triggered hay fever are not great friends, and most attempts at clearing stuff end within about half an hour with sneezing and streaming face until (quite literally) the dust has settled. Still. We’re making progress.

I know people move house all the time. And over far longer distances than we are about to. But I’ve been in Brighton for over 9 years, so I’m granting myself permission to let my brain swirl and process and panic and freak out quite a bit, especially this month. Recurring theme alert.

Given blood quite a few times but I still get a bit anxious about getting light headed after, as I have quite low blood pressure. Had quite a long break after my nose piercing earlier this year, good to be back. (And they text you with where your blood has been used now, which is cool/weird)

There’s a very particular type of visual diary, where I’ve got home from work, sat down with my housemates, talked/eaten dinner/hung out, and suddenly it’s late, I haven’t done a drawing, and Alex and Justin want to go to Budgens for snacks. So we go to Budgens, then we get home, I realise I haven’t done a visual diary, and ask if I can draw one of them, to test my figure drawing skills and because I'm too lazy to think of anything else. Of course Justin is usually eating biscuits by this point, and asks me not to illustrate the fact that he’s eating biscuits, which is becoming something of a running joke.

This is not a very good visual diary but you’d better believe it’s because I spent all my time calling up letting agents to arrange house viewings, and other important moving business, like a pro.


I genuinely love the Christmas work party. I’ve worked here for 6 years now… This coming year I’m going down to part time (3 days a week) and will be working remotely from our new home, with the remaining two days a week for freelance (hire me plz)… They've been incredibly generous in letting me do this, and I’m lucky to have such a kind employer who genuinely want to help me move forward in my life.

Time for Chris and Anna’s annual port n’ cheese party, this year with vegan cheese, very exciting developments.

House hunting timmmmmmmmmmeeeeeeeaaaaaaargggghhhhhhhhh

Our friends Amy and Fred in Manchester very kindly let us stay with them for a couple of nights during house-quest...

And hey, would you look at that, day 1 of house hunting, we found the place.
We looked at 4 houses, but realised we were never going to find anything better than this, so here it is. Top end of our budget (£800 split 3 ways), but guys — what do you get for £800 up north? The answer is A LOT. 5 bedrooms, a cellar, the fanciest kitchen in the world (it’s got a KITCHEN ISLAND amongst many other great things), solid wood flooring, all new carpets upstairs, the most stunning views across Hebden Bridge, basically everything you could ever want (apart from two toilets and a stand up shower which I’m pretty gutted about, but ho hum)

Cancelled all our house viewings for the following day and holed ourselves up at our friend Nat’s house, with her cats. I got a bit emotional (it’s ridiculous and some people deal with these things a lot better than I do, but I’d been so anxious about the whole process of finding a house that I clearly had a lot of pent up aaaaarggggghhh to vent, so I ended up having a big cry for absolutely no good reason, because it was all good news about the house)… luckily, cats are there for comfort… Right?

Had a nice although in some ways slightly tedious third day in Manchester… We’d left plenty of time for house viewings, and as we found our house to quickly we were sort of twiddling our thumbs waiting to come home so we could start Christmas. Still, got some great vegan eats and saw some sights, which was nice.

One last day of work when we got back on the 22nd, and then a lovely and much needed break.

However, because of our house hunting expedition being when it was, I had LOADS of stuff to do before Christmas that I’d normally have sorted ages ago. Had a super fun productive day rushing around achieving most of it…

Tried to leave Christmas eve relatively clear, because Christmas eve is me and Alex’s anniversary… this year, 5 YEARS! We didn’t do anything super big… updated our Winter 2016/17 looks at London Road’s finest charity shops, and then tasty lunch together. In the evening, we went over to Tom and Harriet’s with Justin for some amazing Christmas eve soups and games.

Christmas day was lovely. I went to church in the morning, then me and Alex cooked a big Christmas dinner for us, Justin, and Justin’s parents, who came over to join us with plenty of treats. After they’d gone in the evening, we went over to Chris and Anna’s for more cheese, port, and family time with Anna’s parents. So much loveliness.

On boxing day, my parents came over and took me, Alex and Justin out for tasty lunch at Food For Friends. In the afternoon we went for a nice long Boxing day walk.

(Side note, I worry that lots of my visual diaries have got a bit samey this month, in terms of style — this is mostly because I treated myself to a new set of Frixion rollerball eraseable pens in 8 colours (my drawing implement of choice, and my secret is out — pens that you can legit rub out. It's magic), and as a result have basically wanted to use them even more than usual. Sorry for sameiness.

What are Christmas/New Year sales for, if not buying loads of pants and bras you couldn’t previously afford at M&S?

One of my favourite days of the year, CHRISTMAS II! For the last 4 years we've put out a fairly open invite for people to come over to our house and have a big vegan Christmas roast, between Christmas and new year. Each year we've had anything from 15 to 22 people, and it's always been magic. This time, comparatively chill 13 friends came round (plus me, Alex and Justin), and we managed all the food without a hitch (if anything, our main problem was things being ready too early!) So much love to George, Dan, Harriet, Tom, Matthew, Martin, Kris, Jonny, Tom, Hannah, Jack, Alex F and Jules for joining us.

Had a lovely walk in the fog at night.

New year was unexpectedly lovely. I hadn’t even really planned on leaving the house, but Alex persuaded me to come round to Lucy and George’s, where we joined them, Jade, Emile, Harry and Sophie for tasty stew, games, and then a progressively more hectic dance party…

It started with us all sat round a stereo reminiscing about our shared pop-punk teenage heritage (Blink 182, System of a Down, The Hives, Incubus, At The Drive-in and much more), and then the realisation that actually, we all really loved 90’s dance music and UK garage, and suddenly the room is dark and we spent the two hours in the run up to midnight unashamedly bopping around to such classic hits as this, this, this, this and this.

Couldn't really ask for much more of a treat than that.

Onwards to 2017. This is the beginning of my 5th year of visual diarying, which sounds pretty hard to believe somehow, but I guess I have been doing this a while...

Big changes afoot. We leave Brighton late January. Next blog will be from Hebden Bridge, which is a pretty intense thought.