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Titles are not my strongest point

It’s summer again and I have no idea how that happened – two weeks ago I was wearing fluffy socks after a shoot at the start of June and sulking about it 😂 Today my car read 32 degrees celsius when I got back into it after networking and it’s only now at almost midnight that it’s starting to feel bearably cool enough to sleep.

As ever, I logged in impulsively to write a big life update and now can’t remember any of what I wanted to write.

Kittens are wonderful – still doing slightly weird things with poo (Luna) and puking (Clovie) but on the whole they are glorious. I have hit peak cat lady and bought a baby sling (rainbow, obviously) to attempt to get some use of my hands and arms back in the evenings when Luna gets super cuddly. Obviously the day it arrived, a heatwave hit, so no one wants cuddles at all at the moment because it’s too damn hot!

Friends and family are amazing – we celebrated Gran’s 94th birthday last week which was mad but lovely, and I’ve had a difficult-to-navigate situation that lots of people have been very helpful with. I am regularly extremely grateful for the people in my life, and this season is no exception!

The house is definitely having a seven year itch – it’s actually 8 since I bought it this summer, but I have a few flickering lights, an oven bulb, the extractor fan overhead bulb, a slightly wobbly tap and a couple of other small bits that all need fixing at some point. The garden is doing brilliantly considering how little I manage to water it, and Dad’s rose is abundantly blooming which makes me happy. I think I might even be able to train it to grow round my window in time.

Other stuff that definitely needs doing before winter, somehow, is oiling the decking, restoring the bar, and replacing the greenery on the side fence. And probably also cleaning the BBQ and figuring out how to tell if I have any gas left or not.

I saw my first enormous spider of the season today which I’m not thrilled about, especially as I’d like to spend more time outside during this lovely part of the year where it’s both warm enough and light enough to still be outdoors at 9.30pm.

Had a gorgeous picnic in the woods for J’s half birthday which made me very happy – we all forgot about the mozzies so there were some bites, but on the whole it was beautiful. And all the girls turned up in pretty dresses so I wasn’t the only one in a medieval-style maxi dress on a casual Friday night!

I’ve discovered the Whering app for cataloguing and tracking my wardrobe – this is both delightful and dangerous. And I’ve got a small Vinted addiction… one of my major summer goals is listing all the stuff that I need to part with so I can make more space for beautiful things in my wardrobe!

In treats, I’ve had Sponge Red Velvet cake, all kinds of TEMPRD, Teisseire lemon syrup and a massive box of Fruit Salad sweets – I really do have a sweet tooth, don’t I?! I’m having a cheese savouries and garlic croutons moment too, with my usual beloved breadsticks relegated to the back shelf.

Two new recipes have joined my firm favourites and regular rotations – Vietnamese curry and garlic one pot chicken. Recipes adapted and changed so far from where they started, and they started with several different recipes combined, that I might just have to publish them separately.

I’m slooooowly getting braver at social media including tiktok, and surprising myself by really enjoying the video creation process. I took myself out one Sunday evening for some self portraits on campus and although it was a massive effort, it was also completely and utterly worth it and I felt fabulous afterwards. Must remember to do more of that!

AI is creeping into every conversation – I’ve been experimenting with the words stuff since January this year, but avoiding the imagery because of the uncertainty about how it was trained and whether it was on stolen art.

When Adobe released a Photoshop Beta based on Firefly, with rights managed images forming the basis of how its AI was trained, I decided to give it a go – with distinctly mixed results. It kind of blew my mind, and it kind of made me properly lol – I’ll write in more depth on the art photography blog shortly.

I still think humans are going to balls up AI as a revolution – I can see so much possibility for it to automate and deal with some of the digital muggle tasks, so we can get on with creating and connecting and being humans properly. But I suspect we’ll somehow fuck it up so we make more work for ourselves – we shall see.

I’m reading Chill and Prosper and it’s taking me longer than any other book I’ve ever read because it’s hitting me over the head with realisations every time I pick it up. It’s both unnerving and actually quite exciting!

ADHD wise I’m ok, definitely really noticing the difference when I skip meds, but also wanting the odd day where I do skip them so I can actually eat like a normal person. Allergies are still bollocks – the meds do help and I can’t imagine my life without them now, but as I type I am definitely reaching the part of the day where they wear off and I am snotty and my eyes itch and my nose is blocked and I keep sneezing. Not much fun!

Have had some wonderful networking events and new connections recently which is nice, and work is as manic as it always is – juggling brand shoots, marketing, new fantasy stuff, everyone being obsessed with mermaids, Ink Drops and TEMPRD and the podcast is A Lot. It’s a good lot, but I am definitely still trying to strike a balance that isn’t going to end in burnout again.

I had an emotional moment watching the Merpeople documentary on Netflix – I can’t quite believe that eight years after I got my first tail, and after eight years of talking about it, suddenly we’re mainstream enough to have our own documentary, it’s mad. Again, proper thoughts on that on the art blog soonish.

On that same subject I’ve had some lovely press recently – a whole page in the i newspaper about mermaiding, and with all my pics, a BBC Essex appearance about having cats instead of children, and a cameo piece on WUNC about singlehood by choice. And the big one, finding I’m a star of Bella’s book on singlehood, coming out later on this year. I cried when I read the proofs – it’s surreal but also huge to be part of this very important conversation and what feels a bit like a mini revolution. Like – it’s ok to be single and for that to be the end goal, not the in between state.

And I’m accidentally growing my hair out – haven’t had the time and the money at the same time to get my colours redone for the past 18 months, and now it’s summer and I want to swim and paddle – so I can see a lot more of my natural colour than I usually do. And the unexpected joy of that is that my greys are FINALLY coming through! I know I’m weird – but I’m so excited and have waited for them for so long.

Right – I need to go to bed and had no actual intention of blogging this evening, so am going to find a photo and hit publish and I’ll try for some more stream of consciousness updating soon. I suspect no one reads this any more, which is totally fine – but it’s been the place I deposit my thoughts and ideas and feels and musings for nearly twenty years, so I’m keeping it for me. And if my word waffle is helpful or interesting to anyone else, that’s a glorious bonus!

Most of what I’ve written will get expanded posts of its own on my other sites, so come nose at and if you’re curious!

Spring 2023 check in

The months do keep marching on without any regard for how fast they’re speeding by, don’t they?

Just wanted to drop in as this blog was always my main place for recording life, and I’ve not been so good at that in the last few years.

I attended my first women’s circle last night and it was a powerful, healing experience – I cried a lot but in a good way!

I’m actually not even sure what other news to share – I just wanted to hop in while I have five minutes so I don’t only have summer posts once a year!

Maybe I’ll sneak back in and update this post at some stage… I’m sure I had loads I wanted to write, but I can’t remember any of what I planned to put here now I have the post open in front of me!

Skipping through summer

HOW is it August already? And coming up for the end of August at that! I don’t have time for a full update, but I did want to just hop in and record what I’m up to for the summer of 2022… which is nearly over already. Time. It’s oozy and weird.

It’s been manic as always in the Watkins household, and these two little bundles of fluff turned 9 (NINE!!!) in June. They’ve been keeping me entertained through all the madness and are the lights of my life. They seem to be getting a bit friendlier with each other as they get older, too, which is really nice to see.

Right now, I have a massive skip outside my house and am merrily flinging the detritus of the last few years into it at all hours – stuff I’ve cleared out then shoved in a bag in a cupboard, stuff I don’t need any more, stuff I really should have got rid of when I moved back in after the renovations, and a frankly embarrassing amount of recycling because my shed has got a bit out of hand. Out of sight, out of mind would be apt here and it nearly smothered me when I last tried to put it out for normal recycling day.

(Don’t worry, my skip company recycle as long as it’s in the clear bags!)

I’m hoping it’ll help me clear my head and get back on top of things post pandemic.

I realised quite early on in the process that one of the reasons I never make any progress when tidying up (ADHD aside, there’s a whole set of posts about that which are currently set to private but which I might release at some stage), is that I only ever tackle the surface mess.

So I move stuff around, but I’ve never actually sorted out my cupboards, drawers, various storage solutions to make my life easier from the inside out!

Since discovering this I’ve had to try very hard not to just spend hours watching all the life hacks on social media, but I have:

  • Transferred all my hanging clothes onto flocked/velvet hangers – they stay on and more fit in the cupboard and I am no longer frustrated by finding half my wardrobe on the floor every time I open it
  • Invested in decent stacking washing baskets that are the right size for me to comfortably carry against my hip and support with one arm. Tiny things matter and this makes my laundry safer, easier, and therefore much more likely to happen.
  • See also previously investing in two decent, correctly sized, flexible and handled laundry bins for my bedroom, so I can bring them down my narrow stairs without risking death or a broken limb.
  • Collected all my pens, pencils, holepunches, scissors, staplers and other office stationery type things into one big box, with the intention of sorting them out so there is a set in every room that needs one.
  • Reorganised and labelled my colour coded in tray tower on my desk
  • Added a bamboo riser to my desk so I can put my keyboard, mouse and number pad away and actually use my desk for writing
  • Sorted out the two massive boxes of books in my room – there’s a small boxful to get rid of and the others all fit in my existing bookshelves, except the precious ones which will get new shelves in my room in due course
  • Defrosted the bloody freezer which has been the source of more tears than are reasonable over an electrical appliance over the past couple of years. It took a massive chunk of today but I am SO PLEASED it’s done.
  • Installed fly screens on conservatory and office doors so I can have air but no flies. Have had to pin up the bottom so the cats can get in and out (little divas!) but this still reduces the overall annoyance of flies, moths and small birds so I’m happy.
  • Ordered and installed new lightbulbs for the various ones round my house which weren’t working
  • Ordered three smart plugs so I can finally attempt to put my ceiling fairy lights up in the living room
  • Collected all my filing in one place so I can tackle that after I’ve sorted out the house
  • Taken the old, broken blinds down in the conservatory and ditched them, and replaced them with new double sided pretty ones (actually did that earlier in the year and they have been a GODSEND in the hot weather – but only got round to getting the old ones out of my garden & shed when the skip arrived last week)
  • And a load of other stuff which escapes me right now. But life is feeling more organised and less stressful already.

Things which I still plan to do this summer:

  • Replace the cat palace (it’s a cat tree but Clovie is so regal we renamed it) because it’s old and I can’t get it properly clean and it’s done a sterling job in its time
  • Get the bureau working as a proper part of the living room, not just a general dumping ground for stuff as I go past
  • Fairy lights in the living room, conservatory, my room, spare room and garden
  • Loads of art framed & up – even the small postcard sized ones, I’m going for full maximalist effect
  • Get all the weeds out and put sand back into the brick section of my patio
  • Fully clear the shed and get rid of all the crap in the back while I still have the skip
  • Actually do all my filing and get it all in date order again
  • Sort out Alexa/Echo with routines to help me as much as possible with admin and stuff
  • And some business stuff which can wait for another post!

I’d also really like to start my digital decluttering, sorting out my digital photos and screenshots and stuff, and kicking off my photo albums and scrapbooks plan, although that’s a very long term thing so I’ll see how I go once the main sorting is done.

Things which will probably wait till the spring:

  • Restoring my bar
  • Painting/oiling my decking
  • Putting all my garden plates & ornaments up on the fence
  • Cleaning the BBQ properly
  • Art framed & up on the big wall up the stairs that I can’t safely reach even with a ladder
  • Cleaning gutters & soffits and painting them (god, the stuff you spend money on when you’re an adult)
  • Painting my garage doors
  • Painting my dresser, desk, sideboard, mirror and fireplace
  • Painting the wall behind the bureau
  • Sorting out the loft
  • Pulling out my desk and cleaning behind it properly – after the experience with the massive spider in the ceiling corner the other day, I’m just leaving well alone

I have failed to wild swim or take my beloved Malaika boat out at all this year, but I have managed to do some really lovely things:

  • A halfway day with Claire and the doglet she was looking after
  • A day in Lavenham with Emma & Esther and my rainbow dress, where I found some antique treasures (a steampunk peacock, a seafaring wooden box, a magpie puppet and a beautiful book about hares)
  • Stargazing from Ally’s hot tub at night
  • Being on national TV for the first time with TEMPRD
  • Drive my lovely visiting family around (Mum’s cousins, Gran’s niece and husband, so my… second cousins I think?) while they were here from Oz
  • Sat in the garden with a few different friends and put the world to rights
  • Eaten a lot of cake with various people
  • Been featured in a mixed exhibition at the NaviStitch gallery throughout July
  • Celebrated my fourth freedom birthday (the fourth anniversary of leaving my day job for good)
  • Had a stall at Wivenhoe Regatta dressed as a pirate
  • Had an eye test and for the first time ever, had no clinical change – this made me a bit emotional but in a good way
  • Been brave and asked a new gallery about stocking/exhibiting my work
  • Had a gorgeous day in London with Jules
  • Collected approximately a million feathers
  • And loads more I can’t recall off the top of my head.

Right now, I am off to bed so I can be up bright & early tomorrow to head out to the Adnams brewery and the Southwold seafront with Mum, for what would have been Dad’s 78th birthday – and then back to the sorting when I get home.

(and tentatively hoping I might have my blogging mojo sneakily returning because this is the first spontaneous post I’ve written in ages!)

Summer diaries 2021 – chaos, overwhelm and kittens

Somehow it’s nearing the end of September, and the last few months have been a whirlwind – and not necessarily a good one.

A stress-filled August

August is one of the worst months I can recall in recent years, aside from the obvious – with some big events like deaths of two friends’ Dads, and the kitties being unwell but mysteriously hard to identify and fix, and what felt like unending small ones – taking my house apart to spray it for cats, a flat tyre, some tech issues, all the lights in my office dying within a couple of weeks so I was working in the dark, just loads of small stuff one after the other and it got to a point where I just couldn’t deal.

And the weather! I feel like it has rained almost solidly since I brought Malaika home – clearly this isn’t the case, but I’ve had a few organised paddles ruined by rain, and have been driving around with her on my roof because I can’t safely get her off the car on my own when it’s raining – everything slips!

There were some good bits of the summer, of course – rainbow hair, my own brand shoot, a lovely day with Mum for what would have been Dad’s 77th birthday, seeing two gorgeous friends I haven’t for ages, a family mermaid shoot, Emily and Ricky’s livestreamed wedding, brand shoots and a glorious headshot day, and another nibling born – but on the whole, the summer has been crazy and August was stressful.

I think June and July were mainly crazy with work and weird weather – photography and chocolate and stationery, oh my! I’ve been working on my art photography and have said yes to an exhibition next April, which is exciting-scary, and I definitely feel like I’m emerging from some kind of high-speed-blended treacle…


The good bits first – during August I managed to see Rae and meet her fiance Chris, and we whiled away a whole day chatting in a pub garden in Cambridgeshire. It was glorious – and we had matching rainbow hair too! (Though mine was French plaited in anticipation of my shoot so it’s not that obvious in this photo!)

And then a couple of weeks later, Mum and I drove down for a halfway day with Claire & Diana which was similarly gorgeous – we’ve had a couple of dates with them which we’ve had to cancel due to Covid and some medical stuff, so it was wonderful to get us all together at last.

First time we’ve used the halfway pub (it’s the same one Lou and I use for our halfway days) and it was so easy for both them and us that we’ll definitely use it again).

Kitten issues

Mum was amazing when I phoned about kitty issues – Clover had lost a fair amount of weight while eating normally, and was having some problems with her poo, and both of them were throwing up more regularly than is ideal. I was having problems keeping them from mainlining grass and then throwing it up, and while I shifted them to the hypoallergenic food to test for allergies, I couldn’t stop them eating random stuff outside.

So the three of us moved in with Mum for a couple of weeks, partly to enable the house spraying (eliminating mite allergies for cats – Indorex is brilliant stuff, but the instructions are most confusing. It says to keep your animals outside, but also open all windows and doors to ventilate. Cats do what they want, so… we went to Mum’s 😂).

Being there also helped me to keep them on their hypoallergenic exclusion diet – which was not a resounding success, sadly. They weren’t keen on eating it which meant they were picking rather than enthusiastic, both of them kept throwing up and Luna had perpetual runny poo for the whole time we were there.

And we didn’t find one single flea or mite! Which is obviously a good thing, but made all the upheaval feel a bit pointless.

It was lovely to be with Mum, but between her schedule and mine, me having to find three days for the Indorex in my busiest month to date, and her staying with Gran over the bank holiday, we were a bit like ships passing in the night.

Now we’re home and I have cameras (which I am nonchalantly letting them assume are for security, not spying on which cat is eating what when), two microchip feeders which they are eating from but refusing to use with the covers, which kind of defeats the purpose of them, and a ridiculous stash of food which they’re not eating… joys.

They are, however, much better since Mum came to stay here overnight to enable me to go and see Lou and Evie for 27 hours – a flying visit which seemed to break the chain of my anxiety and stress, and we’ve not had any puking from either of them since. Though the fluffy idiots are still eating too much grass and taking ages to change to the new, skin sensitive food I’m trying them on.

They are, and have been throughout, totally happy in themselves which is a relief – I just found it hard to see them being picky about their food when they’ve always been happy, excited little piglets at mealtimes!

Things are on the up though

Work wise, things have been nuts – I have cleared my Covid backlog now and am looking very seriously at my availability for next year – managing my time so I am not a quivering wreck next year is suddenly much more important than it has been before.

Last week was a good reset for me – I had Sunday night with Lou & Evie, an excellent sleep as we chatted in dimmed light while baby Evie snoozed, and we popped out for brunch and vintage shopping on Monday before I came home. Turns out I am still good at cuddling babies but probably shouldn’t be allowed out alone with a pram 😁 and it was so so lovely to see them both – Paul was away on a training course and it was mine & Lou’s first overnight since she had Evie.

Wednesday saw me heading off to Paper Mill Lock with Malaika on the roof to meet Val for a leisurely paddle and a long chat over a cream tea, which was gorgeous – we’ve been much luckier with the September weather than we were in August. I’ve not got out in my beautiful pink boat as much as I’d hoped this summer so that was a lovely way to finish the season.

We are cooking up some exciting business stuff together! Also had a(nother) small world coincidence – the photographer she’s working with for the Crossfly launch is Dan who owns the Loft studio here, and who gave me the confidence to try studio work.

I haven’t ruled out boating during the winter but suspect I’ll need slightly more sensible clothing if I do…

And Friday brought a business meeting with an impromptu hot tub dip and non-alcoholic champagne – because my business friends are the absolute best!

Rainbows in my hair

My rainbow hair is happymaking and has lasted exceptionally well – I had it done at the very beginning of August, and while my roots are growing in now, I’m ten washes in, and only just starting to see where the top purpley-blue might need a little refresh. Vee continues to be a colour magician, clearly šŸ™‚

It’s amazing how natural having seven colours in my hair feels, like the McFly girl but better… and while I loved my rainbows from last summer, upside down ones are definitely better for me – the deep purple and blue and teal around my face suits me, and my roots are less obvious, plus I can disguise them with dark blue dye if I feel like it. I had planned to go for vertical rainbows next time, with my hair sectioned – but I’m thinking I might do some kind of mystical blue/teal/purple combination instead. I definitely have the bug for having colourful hair right to the roots!

I’m sure there are a few bits I’ve missed, but I miss blogging here so am trying to sneak in and update occasionally – it’s a record of my life that’s much easier to access than my millions of notebooks!

Things I have learned from the summer of 2021

  • Dimmed lights and no screens before bed are probably good for me
  • I’m very lucky in my friends, which I knew, but I’ve realised how relatively unusual it is for friendships to survive as strongly when children come along. I’m lucky that when my dearest friends have had babies, both of us have made the effort to keep our friendships strong and bright
  • My natural hair colour is definitely blue/teal
  • Morning pages are essential to my sanity – I really do notice a difference between the days I do them, even scribbled speedily, and the days I don’t
  • Reliable trades are extremely important and very valuable – when you find good ones, treasure them! I’m feeling very grateful for my brilliant electrician and plumber this month

Another 2020 check in

This year is both the longest and the fastest in the history of the known universe!

I have approximately zero time and way too much to do, but wanted to hop in and just leave a note for my future self about how fucking weird it is to be living through a pandemic while single, self employed and childfree.

I mean, I think it’s weird for everyone living through this – but I can only record what it’s like for me, right?

While starting to make notes for my annual review I realised it’s going to be an odd one, and I’m writing this from the middle of a second national lockdown in England. Four more weeks of things closed, no indoor or garden meetups, only being allowed to see one person from one household outside at once.

The studio is closed again (and we’ve today had a totally tone deaf demand for extra money which I am deeply cross about), and my income has dropped again, and quite honestly I’m fed up to the back teeth with the whole thing.

I just want my normal life back. And I know, I know it’s not just me, I know I’m among the lucky ones but I am allowed to feel fed up, and today that is my overwhelming emotion.

It’s increasingly hard to get motivated and up and going, even though I love my work and I love that my businesses are my work life now. Loving them with my whole heart doesn’t seem to have any impact on the hideous lethargy which has been creeping, creeping this whole year and now means it takes what feels like superhuman effort just to get out of bed in the morning.

I’m still achieving insane amounts of stuff, including filming my first video series for a client, and absolutely smashing the launch of the TEMPRD website – and I’m so proud of myself and my various little businesses. But OH GOD THIS YEAR IS HARD WORK and not in a good way.

Somehow still struggling to find time to relax – totally missed my Slowcation, I managed two days off in two weeks and then was back in full pelt. And despite lockdown I seem to be running around like a headless chicken and still not getting everything done that everyone needs me to do. Deadlines have never been an issue for me but this year I’m finding them more difficult to meet.

I can also sense changes coming in my friendships and my family and myself – but right this moment, it feels like we’re all suspended in time. No one knows what will be allowed in December, or at Christmas, let alone next year, so no one can make any plans, everything feels super tentative, and it’s kind of like swimming through glycerine. Or treacle. But treacle would at least taste nice!

Good stuff – new office chair got rid of hip pain I’d had for five years, in 48 hours. Kayak dreams are slowly building. Although lockdown killed my amazing record breaking month, the fact I managed to do it has changed my money mindset, hopefully permanently. Filofaxes and fountain pens make me really, really happy. Kittens are cuddly and wonderful. I co-own a chocolate factory. Ink Drops subscribers are picking up. This week I read an entire book (Jojo Moyes’ The Giver of Stars) in a 24 hour period for the first time since the start of the year.

It’s not all bad, it’s just tough times right now. And this blog turns 16 this month, and for such a long time it’s been my outlet, my diary, my therapist – it seems strange that I don’t update it often any more, but life just kind of gets in the way and I have so many other demands on my time.

So every now and again, I pop in and stream-of-consciousness my way to a small record of my life, which will be easier to find than notebooks. Although potentially more susceptible to future shit than notebooks, I suppose…!

Six months later… (or five, or seventy-two – time has no meaning any more)

I’ve not posted since April, because April was approximately 10273 million years long, and the months since then have just flown past.

Not necessarily in a good way. The coronavirus pandemic is still in full swing, and though it got a bit better over the summer and we were allowed out again, tentatively, it’s all now looking fairly shit and there’s a lot of talk about another lockdown soon.

I’m ok, I think. Fragile, but ok. Business dipped dramatically during the height of the first wave (FFS, the bloody pandemic even has its own language now), and my total takings in June were Ā£43. That’s not a typo, and I’d say that was one of my lower points this year.

The emotional toll has been high, at one point I’d not seen any of my friends for three months, and Mum and I had been able to support each other but not see or hug anyone else, which was incredibly hard. I’d not realised quite how much I missed human interaction, seeing people in the same room rather than on Zoom, and the odd hug.

Every time I saw friends in August, after this three month hiatus, I cried. Which is kind of ridiculous and kind of completely understandable.

Turns out I’m a good hermit, but only when I can choose when to hermit and when to be social. Which I guess has been an interesting learning point. I’m still very happy with my life choices, I’m still pissed off with the pandemic and this country’s response to it. Though if I’m being kind, I’ll say that however inept the politicians, they haven’t dealt with one before either. But man, the communications coming from the people running the country are painfully bad.

Business has now picked up again, and I’m in theory about to have my best ever month – if the fuckwits in charge don’t ruin it all by announcing draconian measures which fuck over the smallest businesses while benefiting the big ones. We shall see. Regardless of the outcome, I am extremely proud of myself for rebuilding, and extremely exhausted, so am planning to have a week or two off at the end of this month and start of next.

I’ve christened it a Slowcation instead of a Staycation, because although I am indeed staying at home, and while I do plan to do some house stuff while I’m officially not working, I also plan to approach everything slowly and have a proper chill out time.

The kittens are amazing and are keeping me entertained – they do do some stupid stuff but they also give the best cuddles.

Today has reminded me how fragile my (and probably everyone else’s) mental health is, though – I’m ok on the surface, getting on with stuff and prepping happily for tomorrow’s headshot day – and then out of nowhere this evening a MASSIVE spider fell from the ceiling onto my desk, and vanished while I was trying to find the Raid to get rid of it. Argh!

So I am typing this from my bed, because I can’t go back in there until I’ve seen it dead, and the bloody thing could be ANYWHERE. And I am tired, and overdone, and don’t want to deal with it tonight. Thank god I also have an indoor laptop, ancient and creaky though it might be!

And I suspect I’m not alone in small incidents tipping me over the edge into tears and anxiety, actually – this whole year has been a lot. Too much, in many ways. The small things I’d previously have dealt with without fuss are reminding me what a knife edge we’re all walking in terms of staying sane at the moment.

There have been some amazing highs (Mum’s birthday, sea kayaking, meeting the puppy, meeting friends in a ruined church, golden hour walks, hot tub catch ups, de-alcoholised wine, a beach hut day, connection with old friends and new friends, rainbow hair and some other good stuff) to balance all this out. But ergh, on the whole I am totally over 2020.

I did hit peak Carla while testing lights the other day at Studio 19 – I’m not sure there’s any more I can do to be magically, weirdly and authentically me. And this was an accident!!

Trying to think of any vital stats which will be relevant when I look back on this in 10 years’ time, or even for the end of year review I usually write (wow, this year’s going to be weird isn’t it?!), but apart from 254 Zooms and counting since lockdown, I can’t!

It’s not all doom and gloom and I know I’m very much one of the lucky ones – not least because I am self employed and so mistress of my own destiny, which feels infinitely less scary than quite a lot of my previous jobs where I’m pretty sure I’d have been out on my ear once furlough was over.

Things I have treated myself to with money saved on petrol (I know, but I needed something to look forward to and lift my spirits in the depths of it!): sparkly leather DMs, my two favourite HolyClothing dresses in my favourite blue, a brass fountain pen with an extra broad nib and a Victorian writing desk. Plus on a more practical level, rainbow filing trays for my desk and a bunch of drawers & cupboard doors for my office Kallax system. I will be more organised if it kills me! And getting my shed painted, which was less of a treat and more of a necessity, but painted in turquoise and pink it now looks more like a beach hut and makes me smile every time I see it out of the window.

Other good things include making firm plans for a boat (a kayak, not a full on boat) for next spring – I have a bunch of people I love who are into watersports and will actually come out with me, and I can stash it over winter in the studio or in Mum’s garage, so that’s ok. And being able to put a boat on Serafina’s roof rack and go out on the water whenever I fancy again makes up ever so slightly for the loss of Poppy. Though you know I absolutely would have put a roof rack on Poppy if I could have done…

Projects for my Slowcation – I’m trying not to jampack every day, but I would like to do a tip run, so my poor shed can breathe – it’s currently full of all the stuff I cleared out during the first lockdown!

Art to go up on my walls – I’d like to get some of my own work printed, I definitely owe some clients some prints, and need some more for outside Studio 19 – plus I want to get my rogues’ gallery on my stairs sorted. I’ve got a bunch of smallish frames which all tone together, so need to choose my photos and add them to my print order.

The kayak of dreams is also part of my Slowcation plans – looking at what I want to buy, choosing stuff like buoyancy aids and getting my roof rack sorted out are all things I can do before I get the actual boat. Not to mention working on my upper body strength because currently I don’t know if I can lift 19kg onto the top of my car unaided! (can you get stairlifts for boats?!)

I also plan to sleep, and rest, and read – I am having the actual time of my life in many ways, immersed in my beloved businesses 24/7, but juggling them all, sorting out two new websites on top of the client work and marketing, is exhausting and I need a break. I was often baffled at why my fully self employed friends never seemed to take holiday – now I know!!

And of course among all this it’s been AMAZING to get back to shooting – I have the best clients in the world!

This is a massive stream of consciousness so well done if you’ve got this far – I don’t think many people read this blog now and I mainly keep it for my own records – it’s easier to read through than my 3 handwritten pages daily!

I do have a 365 project on the go, which I’m still a bit behind on the Instagram, but which I am updating daily on my phone and eventually one will catch up with the other šŸ™‚ It’s not turned out as the showcase of my photography skills I was expecting, but it’s become a great snapshot of a very strange and historic year.

On the whole, I’ve decided I don’t like living through history!

Ok, that’ll probably do for now – I’m off to eat the remains of my TEMPRD samples and make some lists / waste hours on Pinterest!

Life in the time of Coronavirus

It’s day 10 of lockdown in the UK (and as much as I hate Big Brother, I can’t help hearing that voice every time I use that phrase!), and I’m in a much better mood than I was when I last posted.

Because kittens, among other things. And our wonderful NHS staff, without whom we would all be up a very large creek with no paddle at all. Clover isn’t yawning at the NHS, she’s yawning because she has no idea there’s a world crisis, and it really made me smile today.

The world is still upside down, the situation is still terrifying, but I have found a few ways to deal with my own anxiety and overwhelm and fear.

Fear does very strange things to people.

Living in dystopia

It still feels like I’ve woken up in the middle of a dystopian novel with a truly appalling plot, and for someone who’s not had a TV for six years, the whole living-through-history thing is something of a shock to the system.

In normal life, I regularly tell people how amazing it is that we’re living through history – the technology revolution! And that children in the future will learn about us and our tech and machines and ways of working and living. Because you can’t take the geek out of the girl.

But fuck me, a pandemic is not the sort of history I want to be living through! Yet here I am, and here we all are, and the thing which has struck me the most about all the many, many conversations I’ve had over the past two or three weeks is that this is affecting everyone. In different ways, and to different levels, but not one single person is going to come out of this unscathed.

Finding a way through

My remedies so far are quite simple – plenty of sleep, vitamin D, time with my kitties and time with my camera. Finding purpose and focus in pivoting my business to run online, and in helping my community of small business owners who have been devastated by this pandemic, and my employed friends who are suddenly having to work from home for the first time.

Not to mention battling ridiculous downtime and server moves on the website front. Tech and patience have been severely tested by this situation, and I imagine I’m not the only one. But it’s been a great distraction!

Flatlay of the working from home toolkit (tea, phone & magazine)

Baths and books have also featured heavily in my self-care regime, as has an epic stash of chocolate – never before have I been so grateful for my tendency to buy chocolate in bulk.

Video calls – menace or delight?!

Video conferencing, via Zoom or Hangouts or House Party or even WhatsApp, have been both a saviour and a menace. I spent the whole of the first week of the disaster, before lockdown but during the first few days of the entire country trying to work from home for the first time, glued to my phone or my webcam.

True to form, in meetings I wear my unicorn horn headphones and try to get everyone else to do daft things as well! But talking to people for nine hours a day got very tiring very quickly, and drained my ability to do anything else useful.

In the last 24 hours I have forcibly removed myself from those conversations for a while, and I feel better for it. I still want to talk to people, but not 47 people in a day, my introvert heart literally cannot cope. Though I did make some free virtual backgrounds so you can work from bed and pretend you’re not…

I am avoiding social media entirely except for the essentials – the groups which keep me sane and informed and soothed. My phone is permanently turned to Do Not Disturb, so that the most important people can get through immediately but so I can also focus without incessant pinging.

Heading out for a walk at least every couple of days, I’ve been a bit spooked by the emptiness of the streets, the closed parade of shops which are usually bustling with life, the socially distanced queues outside the pharmacy, and the safety zones marked out in tape in the local One Stop.

My other single friends across the world report loneliness in isolation, people forgetting to check on them. I must have very excellent friends or be very lucky, as I’ve been inundated with people checking I’m ok during the lockdown, enquiring after my business, seeing if Mum is ok as well as me. Not everyone, by a long shot – and there have been some who have surprised me with their lack of contact, as ever – but more than enough to reassure me that in a crisis, I wouldn’t be alone.

Zoom call with six people

I do miss Mum, and I wish I could see her for more than occasional essential grocery/medicine drops during this. This picture was taken just a few days before this all got so serious, marking Dad’s third anniversary with a day hunting pebbles & treasure at Walton-on-theNaze. But we speak every day, and for the time being we are both happiest and safest in our own homes. And I miss my friends too, but they are also epic and good with tech and we’ve already established some really lovely regular video chats!

Isolation & life choices

A few people have mentioned that perhaps now is the time I will change my mind about long term single-at-heart-ness, and decide I do want a partner after all, because wouldn’t it be so lovely to have someone to look after me and share the stay at home weirdness with?

And honestly, no. I would probably emerge from isolation into prison, to be honest – I don’t enjoy sharing my space, and while I loved my partners very much during our relationships, I can’t imagine having to stay indoors with them and be with them 24/7 for weeks on end (there, dear readers, is probably a good indication of why they were mostly long distance relationships and are now ex-boyfriends!).

It’s actually been really affirming to discover that my life choices of being single, childfree and self employed are so exactly the right choices for me that I am able to flourish even now. I’ve never been so thankful to not have children, either – anyone who is doing this and also homeschooling has my utmost admiration.

Of course, we are living through the middle of a crisis, and if I get the virus, I probably will be dealing with it entirely alone, because I don’t want to infect Mum or Gran or risk their lives. So for Mum’s sake, for Gran’s and for my own, I am staying as isolated as possible – food shopping, pharmacy trips and the post office, only when absolutely unavoidable and necessary, and getting medicines and medical supplies to Gran when she needs them.

And I am so lucky that my skills & knowledge allow me to do that – that although losing all my upcoming photography clients in three days was fairly horrific, I am more than capable of switching to online – mentoring, teaching & otherwise working remotely. God knows I’ve talked about it enough over the years!

Staying at home

And so I am sitting tight like Luna (though not on a shed roof, you’ll be pleased to know), and holding on for dear life, and hoping that me and my loved ones will weather the storm together but apart.

Taking the pressure off myself has definitely helped my mood – there is so much I want to do, both in business and in life, during this rare break from the world. But there is no rush. Sadly, I don’t think the end of three weeks of lockdown will be anything like the end of this crisis. And so many people have been financially affected that there will be plenty of time to dream up new things to create online, while my main client base, like so many others, has been decimated.

But I am determined to rise from the ashes a success story – I just also need the occasional lazy morning to breathe.

How are you coping with lockdown? Wherever you are and whatever your situation, I am sending you sparkles. We need to take joy wherever we can find it!

Where you can find me or more info

If you’re moving your business online, using this time to work on your branding, content, systems or any other tweaks to your business, or of course you need brand photography (products, or planning a shoot featuring you, I can do both!), then I’d absolutely love to chat and you can find out more at

Ink Drops is still open though posting at much less frequent intervals, and we would love to help you stay in touch with your loved ones through the post. My postie approves, too! Find lovely cards and delightful gifts at

If you’re working from home and thinking WTAF, then I wrote the WFH Toolkit for you.

You can follow my new 365 project (what a year I chose – I’m 44 days in) at @colourfulmagicalweirdo

And if you’re in need of some support, wisdom & a safe space to let it all out, come & join the Improper Job Collective.

I’m most active over in the Collective, on Instagram & in my photography newsletter, although I may resurrect this one in the coming weeks to share some useful and lovely things I’ve found.

WTF, 2020?

I’ve been trying to write a post over here for some time. I still don’t have the words.

This is how I live now – on Zoom. Which has been a lifesaver, to be honest, even if I have spoken to more people in a week than I usually do in a month and a half.

We are in our first week of lockdown, and the world has gone completely mad. I’m having problems getting hold of essential medication for Gran, I can’t get shopping delivered to Mum, and I can’t go shopping because I’m trying to keep them both safe.

Yes, that’s more than a QUARTER OF A MILLION people trying to get onto the Boots website at half past ten on a Saturday night.

Ocado wasn’t much better earlier in the week – today I am just getting a “we have no more delivery slots” notice.

And it is breaking my heart, because some people will be slipping through the cracks. Never mind that every small business I know has crumbled to 0 income overnight, that every major non essential shop is closed, that the majority of the office working population is finally and suddenly working from home, that schools are closed indefinitely.

I’m lost for words – we are living through history, a serious and terrifying part of history, and I don’t like it at all.

I’ll try and post something slightly more coherent in the next week or so.

Sidebar list update, 2019

Each year I have a little list of things I’d like to do that year in my blog sidebar.

Although 2017-19 haven’t been the most prolific for my personal blog, this was this year’s list and…

~ Draigcon and/or Wizardry School – done, Bothwell School of Witchcraft in April and August

~ Steampunk events – done, at the Museum of Power

~ experiment with film cameras – not this year

~ walk more – yep

~ explore Colchester – yes, although not as I expected – mostly through networking and 121s and finding new places in town!

~ beach time – yes

~ kitty portraits – yes and Philly is painting them too

~ western riding – nope

~ spa days – don’t think I’ve been on an actual spa day this year, but did spend a day at Lifehouse for my first headshot day

~ kayaking – nope

~ learn to make bath bombs – nope

~ recreate Lush’s Angel’s Delight soap fragrance – haha I had forgotten I wanted to do this, hasn’t happened yet

~ slow reading club – nope but this year have mastered my balance of writing & reading, I think, and am reading without guilt

~ craft gatherings – not really, but made some friends through making which is just as lovely, and had a couple of gatherings at mine which made my heart happy (including 2020 planning!)

~ work in sterling silver – YES! Completed the BENCH Space beginners course and am booked onto the improvers in January – made two rings, the leaping hare necklace of my dreams and some earrings, and cannot wait to learn more.

~ build a catio – nope, but still on the list

~ handwritten letters – yes, and would like to write more this coming year

~ photobook of the house project – no, but very much still on my list along with photobooks for Poppy, Dad, and the kittens

~ print my own photos – for open studios and marketing yes, for my wall no

~ explore – I am unsure exactly what I meant by this but I have been all over the country for work and pleasure this year, so counting it as a yes!

At some stage I will be writing up my 2019 review and my decade review – the days speed past so fast that I can’t actually keep up!

Autumn musings

There’s a day every year, usually close to the turning of the clocks, where I am suddenly, viscerally aware that the season has changed, and it is autumn.

Today was that day. After resolutely wearing summer clothes despite the rain, and fighting my thermostat because I really don’t want it to be the time of year where I put the heating on regularly yet, I stepped outside to pop to Tesco this evening, turned around after locking the door – and it was cold, it was dark, it was blowing a gale and it was most definitely autumn.

I don’t notice the other seasons in the same way, but today there have been lots of little signs that winter is coming and now is the time to prepare. I am tired and lethargic, and found it hard to get out of bed (though admittedly, that might be more down to the 3.30am bedtime after podcast recording last night!). I am craving comfort food and made a massive pot of pasta carbonara to combat the chilly outdoors. My winter duvet is back on my bed, and my summer duvet has been moved permanently to the sofa, to enable my morning pages to be written without shivering. Suddenly, I want tea all the time – I am usually a strict five-can-a-day Pepsi Max girl.

If September is full of that back to school feeling, then for me October and November are the months where I go into full cosy mode. This week I’ve had to reschedule a shoot due to rain, I’ve had several meetings cancel (and have been relieved rather than annoyed because honestly, who wants to go out when you can drink hot chocolate and work on the sofa?!) and I have been sleeping really weirdly.

I love autumn’s colours, the obvious change, the starting to hunker down for winter. I feel like it’s snuck up on me this year and I’m not terribly well prepared – I am still wearing flipflops 90% of the time, for starters – but on the whole, I’m so grateful to live somewhere where the seasons are obvious.

And more grateful, these days, for the freedom to notice the seasons changing. Because once upon a time, I didn’t see my home in daylight from October to March, because I was either commuting to London or working in a high rise office. Nature didn’t feature in my life and I was sadder for it.

I am thankful for so many things, big & small.

Oh, and this article made far more sense than it should have done, in a weird, time-melty, how is it October and more to the point how is it nearly the end of 2019 already kind of a way.

Kind of mid year depth year check in

Yes, that’s up there with some of my least imaginative post titles ever! I guess it’s a sign of how busy I am with my other sites these days, that when I thought I’d pop over and check in, it took me half an hour of updates to get this one displaying properly…!

It’s the middle of July, and approaching a year since I left the day job and struck out on my own, and nearly seven months into my Depth Year, so I thought I’d have a really quick check in.

Except it’s gone midnight, and my finger joints hurt, so it might end up being quicker than planned and ironically not very in depth!

So let’s start off with that time I realised I’d never been that close to a squirrel in real life before:

Mainly I wanted to sneak in to say how much I enjoyed shooting Graduation for my old day job this year – it’s always been my favourite time of year on campus so getting to be in the thick of it every day was a joy, and reconnecting with old colleagues was fun too.

Though there were some very entertaining conversations – “you look really professional with all your gear there. What is it you do nowadays?” “Well, funny you should mention that… I’m a professional photographer!”

Bless them.

I’ve had some amazing clients this year too – SO excited to see them use their photos to grow their businesses & their dreams. More on that over on the brand blog!

I genuinely can’t believe this is my life, most days – though I never expected to have to do it without Dad here, this is for the most part the life I always dreamed of, and the work life I have plotted and schemed and worked towards for the last ten years.

I’m also the proud owner of a Sony a7iii and LOVING the shift to mirrorless – this both goes perfectly with and completely contravenes my depth year plans, as it lets me go further into my photography career, but obviously isn’t making the most of existing kit…! But in a weird way it is, as I sold all the stuff I wasn’t using and invested in a new body and a 135mm lens to complement my existing kit… and suddenly my work is shining even brighter. So I’m counting that as a major win. Shooting dual system is interesting too – I’ll probably start a little series about that over on as I’m intrigued by the similarities and differences.

Anxiety has been at an all time low for the last few months and I am crossing EVERYTHING that that stays the same. Confidence has been at an all time high for some time now and again, hoping that stays the same – there will always be ups and downs because creativity, but I’m feeling good for now.

There was Bothwell. Bothwell needs its own post as the first run in April was profoundly, permanently and unexpectedly life-altering for me.

There’s a grant application in the works and I’ve had two fantastic shoots with a wonderful friend, and several more in the works with people I love. Is there anything better than getting to work and play and create art with people you love?!

I’ve taken on a couple of mentoring clients which is exciting – for business systems, visibility, content & growth rather than specifically for photography, and I’m loving spending time on that side of the business.

Intriguingly, and very appropriately for a depth year review, I am LOVING creating new opportunities and avenues and products and things within a business, rather than constantly creating new businesses. This is another unexpected development, but one I’m very happy about.

Much to my surprise (and to no one else’s surprise at all), I am really enjoying networking and have joined a couple of groups – the ones that meet at 6am can fuck right off, but the friendly ones I’ve found which meet over lunch (very civilised) are lovely.

I’m experimenting with tattoos – temporary but longer term solutions, rather than real ones, because there still isn’t anything I want on my body for ever and always.

Morning pages have made a welcome return to my life, and the Artist’s Way continues to delight and astound me on a daily basis.

Luna and Clover just fill my days with love and purrs, and emergency snuggles when Luna runs in meowing, panicking that the cuddles have run out. I love these two little furry beings more than I ever expected I could – I genuinely don’t think I could love them more if I had given birth to them, and I am certainly keener on being their parent than I am on ever parenting a human.

Luna’s newest trick is to snooze in the doorway of my office, so that I can’t escape without giving her cuddles, biscuits or both! Clover is recovered from her ordeal last year, and is ruling the outdoors with a firm, fluffy paw – her current favourite snoozing spot is right in the middle of my flower bed.

Mumski and I are moving through our days as best we can – still grieving, still so sad under the surface that I try not to think about it because I can’t bear it. Dad makes his presence felt regularly, and this is a huge comfort to me, but I miss him so much I still don’t have the words for it. But I am very lucky to be their daughter, and I’m so grateful that Mum and I have each other. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

On that note, it’s now nearly 1am and I’m shooting in the morning, so bedtime for me. It’s nice to be back!

On eating alone

People often ask how I can bear to eat alone most days.

They say mealtimes are social, a time to catch up, go over the day, share stories.

But there is a quiet ritual to my mealtimes, especially in the evenings, and even more so now I’m self employed.

A table set for one, with pasta and a drink, and a tea towel featuring pink teapots.

Photo by Elli O. via Unsplash

In my working days, mealtimes were a pause – a sort of peace between the hustle of the day job and commute, and the quiet, determined industry of my evenings spent working on my then fledgling businesses.

Now, they are a reminder to stop, to nourish and take care of myself. Mealtimes are a chance to catch up, and to go over the day – but with myself, not with a cacophony of other voices and experiences.

The act of cooking, and then sitting down to eat (yes, alone), is one I find deeply soothing. As a child we almost always ate at the table rather than on our laps, and I try to make sure that happens at least a few times a week.

Though indulging in my favourite films while eating on my lap is also one of the many pleasures of living alone. This evening’s was Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes.

I like my solitary meals, and I love my own company. And, should I crave chatter and voices to accompany my food, I’m never lacking in friends to eat with.

The choice is the thing – one of the many parts of singlehood I find magical in spite of others’ misplaced pity.

Do you eat alone? Is it joyful or do you find it strange?