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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!

No place like home…

I’m home safely from a gorgeous two day branding shoot with Louise Rose Couture, who is also one of my very best friends in the world.

I LOVED the magic we created together and I adored having an excuse to spend time together before Christmas – we are both so busy we didn’t know if we’d manage it otherwise!

And I slept like an actual log at her house.

But after a long drive home, I opened my front door and Luna and Clover were waiting for me, tails quivering with happiness that I came home (I was literally gone for 28 hours and Mum visited, cuddled and fed them twice in that time, so it’s nice to know I’m loved!).

Aside from the specific happiness at both of them being back to normal after Clover’s stressful summer of hiding, I was filled with happiness to be home. There’s just no place like home, is there?

It’s vibrant and cluttered, gorgeous and messy, full of all the things I love and built with love by me and Mum and Dad.

It’s my sanctuary and I love it.

Not doing so well on the daily posts but this is probably the most I’ve posted in a month since about 2012.

On a separate note, Facebook informed me yesterday that in 2009, I did my very first craft fair.

Nine years of hoping and wishing, dreaming and scheming, planning and doing… and here I am, living the results of my dreams.

Apparently this time several years ago I also wrote to my 13 year old self. She definitely wouldn’t believe me if I told her, but I think she’d be proud. I know that Mum is and I’m sure that Dad is.

Happy Thanksgiving, American friends!

(Can you hashtag #streamofconsciousness?!)

On the precipice of a(nother) new life

Five and a half years ago, I wrote about leaving London for a new kind of life. More time, more space, no commuting… apologies if the link won’t work, my redirects are misbehaving and it’s much too sunny a day to sit and fix code!

And now here I am on the precipice of another new life – the one I have sought since I was old enough to know what adult life looked like, the one I have worked towards every day of the last eight or nine years.

I handed my notice in last week and from 1st August this year, I will be fully self employed.

new life part 2 |

I should probably be terrified. Instead I know with a deep certainty that this was the right time for this decision, that it is a million percent the right decision, and I am a strange mix of utterly calm and completely overexcited.

At work I have been described as “gleeful” as I’ve been imparting the news – of course there’s a sadness at leaving people behind, it’s always the people that make the job. Though hopefully I won’t lose too many of them with the change. And I am very good at what I do, and am proud of what I have achieved during my years at Essex.

But this… this freedom to pursue my own dreams, to live my own rhythm, to be answerable to nobody but myself… to fit my work around my enchantment & joy, so I am living my fullest & best life… it’s what I’ve craved since I knew how adulthood worked.

I have never understood the 9-5 life, and the way that the human race has created a rat race for themselves, wanting ever more money & power for no discernible reason. I’ve seen so many people sell their souls to their employers, and altogether too many people stretch to buy the home of their dreams, and then spend hardly any time in it, because they are stuck at work earning the money to pay for the home… which they never see. It is a conundrum I have tried and failed to get my head around.

And ultimately, this is what I have always wanted. A chance to give my all to my businesses and my life, instead of using the best of myself on a job and then only having the dregs of my energy for the things that are most important to me.

My time in “proper” jobs has taught me huge amounts about myself, who I am, how I work, what makes me happy, what makes me sad, what I will & won’t tolerate, and a million more small ways to know myself. In the last five years I’ve also discovered my love for the solo life, how to tackle my anxiety, what my natural waking & sleeping rhythm is (it’s nothing like what the general world expects which would explain a lot!), how to control most of my allergies, and I am learning how to live without Dad, though this is by far the hardest lesson.

I know it will involve some sacrifice, and I know it will involve harder work than it looks on the surface.

But as I stand on this precipice, I cannot wait for the end of July. and the leap into something I have loved from afar for so long. My quartet of businesses & my blog bring me joy on a deep level – I am already settling into giving them more of a boost, as they will no longer be side hustles, but the main part of my livelihood.

I am most looking forward to the freedom to design my days as I please, to wake & sleep as my body tells me, and not feeling so goddamn exhausted all the time. To be able to lose myself in creation and not have to put it aside before I am ready, because of a relentless five-day-a-week schedule created by someone else. And to changing other people’s lives & businesses, in small but significant ways, through my photography and my mermaid tails, and the connection of handwritten letters.

And on that note, I am off to sit in the garden with my beloved kitteny cats and enjoy the May sunshine!

June check in

Just checking in – I really miss blogging like I used to, as more of a journal of my life. Over the 12 and a half years I’ve been writing about my life on the internet, I’ve seen blogging change and evolve and shapeshift so many times.

I haven’t quite worked out where it is, as a medium, today – some people say it’s dead, some people say it’s stripped back to its bare bones, some sit in the middle.

But for me, and I’m sure I’ve talked about this here before, my blog is my online living room. It’s decorated how I like it, it’s filled with the things and conversations I want to have, and people can visit and leave as they like. No scheduling, no shoulds, no worrying.

It’s probably not a strategy to build an enormous following, but that was never the goal for this particular blog. And I have plenty of business spaces to do the strategic-yet-authentic thing (though if I’m honest, even my businesses don’t have much of a schedule for blogging & social. I prefer to be present and write when I have something to say).

So, things that have been going on in my (still grief-fuddled) world recently:

This amazing box to brighten up my day job desk

hogwarts broomstick repair kit box |

Friendiversary dinners & plans – from a year to 20 years, eeek!

Choosing a yellow rose to plant in Dad’s memory

A series of commercial shoots coming up for the Burlesque Jems (and I’m going to be on TV dancing with them – eee!)

Packing for holiday and wondering how the hell I’m going to get my biggest fin, two weeks’ worth of clothes plus my camera, lenses & laptop into hand luggage only

Mermaid filming, and some secret squirrel plans for Mermaiding UK’s blog

Celebrating my Gran’s 88th birthday (we missed Dad being a BBQ maestro but it was really lovely to spend a whole day just chilling out with family)

Gran's 88th birthday |

Gran's 88th birthday |

Happy lunching with friends at work

I was on BBC radio talking about being a mermaid!

mermaid on the radio |

Ink Drops packing, podcasts and plans

Moving Crafty Coffee to a Wednesday, to fit in with my new part time hours

Planning for a creative day with friends

Julia and Willoughby came to stay for the long weekend and I had my first foray into toddler soft play – was hilarious! At sixteen months he is gorgeous and much more interactive than newborn babies… but I had forgotten how much energy kids have!!

Going back to burlesque classes – I had missed it SO MUCH

Jenny & Matt’s wedding (and unicorn shoes, and sneaking in brunch with Lou & Paul!) It was also… illuminating… to meet up with people I’d not seen for nearly a decade. I’m very entertained by how some of them still think of me, and also by the passage of time in the case of the boys – the teenage boys I was friends with and loved so much – they are all now hurtling for middle age, yet haven’t changed personality-wise at all.

me with the blushing (erm...) bride Jenny |

the gorgeous bride Jenny and groom Matt |

And I’m sure all sorts of other stuff which has escaped my brain for now.

I can’t quite believe it’s June, but I’m trying to keep up my Happy Jar and gratitude journal practices, and making an effort to cook & eat well, as grief is quite exhausting enough without also trying to survive on junk food.

I’m still sadder than I knew was possible, but I am getting through each day, and spending as much time as I can with Mum and my family and my kittens and my friends – these things do make you realise the important things in life.

And finally, I’m hoping to spend a bit more quality time with my camera over the next couple of months, around all the admin we have to do, and also of course around work. I read somewhere that immersing yourself in things you love helps with anxiety, as you’re too absorbed in your creativity to worry unnecessarily about things. I think maybe this is a good experiment to try…


Finding home

For the longest time, I thought “home” was a place. Where you live, the house or flat or other dwelling that you return to.

During the days before my beloved Dad passed away, in a tiny hospital room in the acute cardiac unit, I realised that I was wrong.

Home is not just a place, it’s the people you love.

So that little room was home in the truest sense, Dad and Mum and I all together, helping each other through that most final of partings. I’ve never been anywhere more filled with love.

And home is, of course, not just your parents, children or partner.

It’s where you feel you belong. Whether that’s with a group of friends, or in a particular place, or a mixture of the two…

I’m amazingly lucky to have lots of people who feel like home, and several places too (not least my actual house).

Last weekend, I was with my best friends from uni, in a cottage on a lake in the Cotswolds. We went boating on the lake, and I was home, both with them and on the water.

Finding Home - kayaking in the Cotswolds |

And I’m now much more aware of people, rather than just places, being home.

I also spotted lots of things Dad would love, which I’ve added to my Instagram hashtag… #thingsthatwouldmakedadsmile

Where is home for you? Who are the people who make you feel at home?

Happy moments: January 2017

I’ve been busy filling my happy jars this month and it’s been a gorgeous experience!

In no particular order, here are lovely little snippets of January:

These coaching videos shared by my friend Darren

best compliments ever from Rhi and Janine, including a comparison to a photographer I love

Lizzie being fully booked for work and Rhiannon’s first month of self employment being a runaway success

booking a very exciting photography workshop

epic kitten cuddles (pic of Luna. Clover likes to cuddle me while I’m on the loo, so I’ll spare you all photos of that)

teeny tiny pug puppies! I was at the vet and a box of tiny, wriggling, three week old puppies came in <3

happy post from Em, Cally, Sarah, Janine, Judy and Annastasia (and NEOM organics)

lens shopping for my photography businesses and impromptu cake with Sarah

giving an inspiring talk to the Cake and Revolution W.I. in Ipswich ~ “I had goosebumps listening to you talk – thank you”

planning cake & celebration for the finishing of the first draft of a friend’s novel

crafting Saturdays at Sarah’s

snow! and getting home safely in some mad flurries of snow. and kittens in the snow (first time they’ve ever seen it):

(The Silly Kittens – first time snow from Carla Louise on Vimeo.)

brunch with Mum & Dad at Chiquito’s

lovely, happy lunches with Ally, Sarah A, Darren, Janine, Emma, Sarah S

making unicorn bark

a security guard letting me through a building even though it was locked, to save me a long walk around to the car park

feeling like I have my creative mojo back

Maddy’s Careershifters feature

Dad’s blue badge approval – which should make it easier for him to get out and about

studio time and homemade lasagne, which Past Carla had been sensible enough to make and then freeze – it was SO nice to have proper food after getting carried away making!

Kittens in paper bags

lucky rainbow scarf day

friends’ business and coaching and singing plans

Lost property lady being utterly lovely about my lost fountain pen

Buying a replacement fountain pen from ebay – it’s not the same enough, but the slip that came with it said that my money is going towards a fund a teenager is setting up to help rural communities in Peru, building classrooms, greenhouses, better sanitation and environmental projects. He is going to volunteer there in the summer following his GCSEs, in 2018. This was such a lovely surprise!

meeting a lovely lecturer at work who was delighted to meet a professional mermaid

sending a surprise parcel to a young lady who’s going to meet a real mermaid, and be one herself for the day, in March – she came to my attention via the Rays of Sunshine charity, and while I couldn’t accommodate her request as my mermaiding is only insured for grown ups, I couldn’t resist parcelling up some mermaid delights for her <3 I had a gorgeous email from her mum to say Lucy loved her parcel!

planning & reviewing time – this has been so good for me in previous years, and I can do it with friends this year!

Karen bringing me a surprise Kinder egg


Reading about basic income – something I’d like to learn more about

transferring Mum’s phone successfully to giffgaff

two no spend days in a row

booking all my Mondays off work to use up holiday

lovely new PA in our faculty team

hotel chocolat order (woo for end of season sales!)

glitter jar for the office



new dreamboard:

View this post on Instagram

Last night's #artistdate – new dreamboard for 2017!

A post shared by Carla Louise (@duckingfabulous) on

exciting photography developments


Things I love and want to remember about myself postcard I made for the WI

invitation to Silke’s Professorial Inaugural Lecture

booked onto the circus day the girls got me for my 30th (eeek!)

salted caramel hot chocolate

long chat with Lou

my nephew Willoughby turned 1

time with Dad putting the world to rights

time with Mum ironing shelves (!) and putting the world to rights

getting all the photos of my house project all in one place

facetime with Claire and her lovely doglet Bailey


Phew! For a long, cold, dull month which also had its share of sadness and anxiety, I feel like that’s one amazing list!

2017 has such a different vibe so far – I am absolutely loving feeling more like myself again, and having creative oomph… long may it last!