A little slice of vintage heaven

A jaunt to Greenwich with my parents for Dad’s birthday, led us to stumbling across two amazing shops side by side. Retrobates Vintage and Casbah Records share frontage, and all three of us were drawn to the windows.

On venturing in, Dad turned left to the records, and was soon engrossed in conversation with the owner about 60s music and his own collection. Mum wandered through the arch and found kindred spirits in the girl with 60s hair, selling a green minidress she wore when she very first knew Dad.

While they chatted, I mooched with my camera…







Note the wallpaper, and the leopard print faux fur ceiling. I didn’t think they made shops like this any more – I’ve not been into even a vintage shop with so much personality for a long time – and with both records and clothing reasonably priced (especially for London), I shall be back… probably with Louise Contrariety Rose in tow!

[Five for Friday] Post-trip blues

I’m happy to be home with my kitties, but I miss the freedom and warmth of being on holiday. So here’s me with extremely blue hair in the world’s largest shopping mall (so it’s said), the sunset in Wivenhoe the day I arrived home, my best attempt at being a unicorn (and keeping my hair out of the pool), the excellent Brick Lane curry house in Dubai, and my unicorn being reluctant to climb out of the suitcase and return to everyday life.

It’s just as well I’m releasing my Everyday Magic email series soon, isn’t it? If you’d like to be among the first to know when it’s released, pop your details in the form below.

Unicorn love and sparkles on a surprisingly light Friday night,

Carla xx

Writing from the pool

Back online after a 48 hour technology detox, and what a way to write my first post!


Hah, I’ve always wanted to blog from the poolside, but Dad left Abu Dhabi the year before I started my first blog, and until now I’ve usually had clunky laptops with zero battery life so it’s not really been possible.

The pool is rippled because April-May is shamaal (desert wind) season over here. Which is actually rather nice, because it means we can lie in the sun for far longer than normal as the breeze makes it not just bearable, but pleasant to sit in 35-40 degree heat in between dips in the pool.

I’ll write more about the trip when I’m home and have been through the insane number of photos I’ve taken, but it is amazing to be back in the Gulf. And especially as an adult, when I can appreciate the scale of the building work, the luxury of the hotels and the complete insanity of the driving. Taxis all the way – I have no desire to take my life in my hands by trying to drive here.

Though I have been working a bit while I’ve been out here, I disappeared off-grid for 48 hours, abandoning all my own technology except my camera and Kindle, and it was gorgeous. I hopped back onto Gmail only long enough to send the cattery where Luna and Clover are alternative contact details. And while I missed being able to post photos, I loved the freedom so much I’m leaving my phone behind every day and just checking it at night.

On logging back into this, to pick up all my emails, I was conscious of anxiety creeping in and having to DO ALL THE THINGS. Whereas actually there was very little that needed actioning, and nothing at all super-urgent. One to ponder on – I reckon I need to do less and chill more.

Currently Dad is sprawled in the sunshine, Mum’s reading in the spa and I am about to finish this post, finish this cocktail and jump in the pool to cool down. And dye all the towels blue in the process, gigglesnort. My hair has reacted amazingly well to the sun though 🙂

On leaving technology behind for a while

Following on from my single-tasking experiment (which is rapidly becoming a habit), I’ve also been thinking and talking about going off-grid for a bit. Just for 24 or 48 hours at a time to start with.

Imagine. No phone, no laptop, no tablet/Kindle/internet.

No screens (except possibly the one on my camera).

No Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram… Pinterest is a particular offender at the moment, because I can spend three hours pinning things in front of a screen and then feel like I’ve been creative without actually having exercised a single creative muscle.

I love them all – but talking to the lovely Sarah, Lisa, Nina and Louise last week, I realised that I’ve not been without my mobile since I got it at the age of 14. That’s HALF MY LIFE.

I’ll happily admit that one of the reasons I love living alone so much is modern technology – on the rare occasions I’d prefer company and haven’t already organised it, I can communicate with someone in moments. But as a result I barely know my neighbours, and make less effort to see my local friends than I would otherwise. (We all acknowledge this – but don’t often do anything about it.)

I’m also conscious that I couldn’t have the lifestyle I do, or run the businesses I do, if the internet didn’t exist. And I don’t want it to un-exist. It’s a massive resource, a valuable tool and an altogether incredible concept.

And it would be daft to pretend that I don’t invite much of this contact in – I’m well aware that I make a lot of effort to contact and stay in touch with people using all sorts of social media because it’s convenient.

But I wonder how much more I could have achieved if Facebook didn’t exist, if I didn’t spend hours scrolling through Twitter, pinning on Pinterest, liking photos on Instagram. What if I was out there capturing even more of my own images, getting lost without the assistance of Google maps? Having coffee with people instead of chucking a vague Facebook message their way?

And then I saw this, and it cemented my intentions.

I’m not going to give it up entirely. But I am going to have 48 hours off grid while I’m away, and then try and work up to having a day a week free from screens, the internet and the pervasive nature of social media.

Of course, there’s a possibility I’ll hate it, and like all habits, it’ll be hard to break. But I suspect my life, this blog, and my relationships will be all the richer for it.

Have you ever been off-grid? Or restricted your use of screens, social media, phones for a while?

[reading] away with the fairies

Wanton Fairies, by the incredibly talented Catherine Daniel and Rosie Lee, is one of the very loveliest books I’ve read in a long time.

Do you believe in fairies? Even if you don’t, you’ll find yourself keeping an eye on your garden after reading this. The Wanton Fairies are just that – naughty, risque, real and hilarious, and beautifully captured in delightful words and glorious illustration.

elderberry fairy

I’m a fairy fanatic, so it was a natural choice for me. It would make the most wonderful Christmas present for anyone with imagination, wonder and who’s never quite stopped believing in fairies. Or anyone who needs a cheeky reminder that they very much do.


It’s an e-book (all the better to take with me on journeys and amble through at impromptu moments, and perked up the old London commute no end) but I’d adore a printed version too. So if any of you know any fairy-friendly publishers, let me know!

Go on – make someone’s day with these irreverent lovelies!

You can find the Wanton Fairies:
At wantonfairies.co.uk, on Twitter, and you can buy the ebooks here. Photos courtesy of Wanton Fairies 😉

Happy fairy spotting!

Vintage Goodness at Goodwood Revival

Good-ness… see what I did there? Yep, ok, I was definitely not cut out to be a stand up comic.

I had another one of my trademark weekends, full to the brim with friends and exciting experiences. Life is definitely starting to be more about what I do than what I have, and these few days were enhanced even more by pretty cars and very little kittens!

Here’s Merlin, exploring my book bag when I arrived at Em’s house.


Sunday morning, after a night with the kittens, and a 6.30am fight with victory rolls (patience, kirby grips, at least two people and a LOT of hairspray) I set off for Goodwood.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Revival, it’s a vintage event at Goodwood Motor Circuit, and visitors are encouraged/required to dress in period costume – in this case 40s, 50s or 60s. Rob and I chose a hybrid of late 40s/early 50s and though neither of us had a clue what the other was wearing until we met up at the gate, I think we managed to co-ordinate brilliantly!

Here’s me. Dressed more or less as I often do at weekends, only with the addition of proper hair and less ridiculous shoes. Huge thanks to Lou at Contrariety Rose who was utterly wonderful and got my dress to me just before she went on holiday – it will be forever appreciated!


Here’s Rob doing an excellent impression of a vintage gentleman. Complete with pipe.


Mobiles are strongly frowned upon within the enclosure, and everyone puts a massive effort into dressing up, so there was a real sense of stepping back in time – vintage heaven!

There was so much to see I actually took very few photographs, but was quite pleased with this shot of old bikes in the French quarter:


And it chucked it down with rain as we walked the track, so by the time we returned to our cars (having nearly lost mine in the mud along the way) we resembled drowned rats. I’m pleased to announce that the victory rolls held!!


On the hunt for unicorns

Things have been a bit quiet over here on the blog, while I’ve been having creative block and lots of ideas all at the same time. Which is something of a weird situation, it has to be said – I have notebooks and word documents bursting with ideas, but was stalling on knowing what to do with them.

However, through the haze, one idea has taken shape and become clearer… (my apologies for the terrible quality of the pic – I will endeavour to replace it when the light is better)


Yup, I’m going unicorn hunting. (armed only with a camera and notebook, I don’t want to hurt them!!)

Those of you who knew or followed me before Ducking Fabulous was born, when I was blogging but not here, may remember some musings back in 2009 about a camper van trip across the UK.

Now, while I’m certainly still intending to convert my own camper at some point, currently I don’t have the time, space or money to start on that particular project. But it has come up in several conversations recently, and I also unearthed, entirely by accident, the original itinerary and route I’d put together for the first one.

You may also have noticed that unicorns have become my thing. Not intentionally, but I’ve always been fascinated with faeries, unicorns and all things mystical and magical. (yes, I know this blog is called Ducking Fabulous. I like ducks too. I’ll find a duck with a unicorn horn. Maybe.)

The British Isles are heaving with magic and myth, with unicorns and dragons and castles. I want to document the stories in words and photographs, a legacy of magic woven throughout our islands.

For the first time in some time, my day job is one I have no wish to leave. So while I won’t be taking a year off to travel, I don’t want to put off the trip until I a) have a camper van and b) can do the whole trip all in one go.

And so I will shortly embark on a series of journeys in my beloved Poppy, and occasionally by train. Hunting the mythical, magical tales of Britain, and maybe beyond.

I hope you’ll join me on that journey?

(I’ll probably set up a separate site for the trip when I decide on a final name for it – I’ll post the link when I have it. For now, my writing will continue to live here!)

Freedom, adventure and location independence

Freedom. It’s a very loaded word, particularly for me as a twentysomething single female. With total freedom, in theory I can do anything, go anywhere, be anyone I want – something that is less accessible to those with responsibilities like houses, children, mortgages.

And yet my definition of freedom in business isn’t necessarily what people expect. Sure, I love to travel (particularly if horses are involved)– but what I want is freedom in terms of time and schedule, and where I am isn’t overly relevant.

horse galloping on beachphoto credit: Gastev via photopin cc

To me, it looks like this:

… dictating my own hours and planning my own day. So if I want to work till 4am then sleep in till 11 the next day, I can, without having to phone someone to explain or call in sick

… a steady passive income, so I can develop the next projects and stages of my work without stressing about money

… time and space to pursue my non-business interests, both those that already exist and those that I fancy trying on a whim

… complete autonomy on decision making for my business, with other entrepreneurial friends around if I need to consult them, but without having to defer to someone else for a final decision (this is one of the things that makes me happiest about Ink Drops – Annastasia and I are so much on the same wavelength that we often don’t need to consult each other about decisions, we just make them)

How I see location independence is also different from the standard view, I think. For me it’s all about freedom (there’s that word again!) of choice.

…not being tied to a desk, a physical meeting schedule or someone else’s timetable, but free to choose when and where I work from. After all, there’s no place like home!

…more often than not, I believe my perfect choice of workspace would be my studio at home, filled with all the things that make me happy, or a couple of local haunts with wifi where I love to work when I have the time.

… to be able to travel around the UK and also the world in short bursts, without having to leave my business behind or hand it over to someone else while I’m away

In short, to work from anywhere I choose even if that choice is my own living room… that’s what location independence means to me.

Part of the Suitcase Entrepreneur’s 30 Day Blog Challenge.

Inspiration Space: Beth Chatto Gardens

One Sunday with my parents, after a very lovely brunch at Wivenhoe House Hotel, we went over to see the Beth Chatto Gardens.


I’m both sad and astounded that I’ve lived in Essex nearly six years, and in Colchester just over three, and somehow haven’t ever been here before!  SAM_0802

Five acres of informal, beautifully tended and imagined, landscaped gardens and water gardens, and some incredible examples of plants and trees I’ve never even heard of abound.

Some spots would be perfect for reading, thinking or just letting the inspiration sink in…


and other spots make you feel like you’ve just crossed the bridge into fairyland.


I did my usual from-where-I-stand shot surrounded by blossom,