Quick post today, but wanted to share the photos of our tent at the Fling Festival a couple of weeks ago – it was the most glorious debut for my burlesque troupe. And who knew, when we took that first class eighteen months ago, what it would lead to?
You may or may not know that I’m a founder member of Paper Dolls Burlesque – a group of my closest friends, who are a very talented bunch in various crafty pursuits, and who have been brought even closer by our love of burlesque (our weekly classes with Jem have been a fantastic way to make sure we all meet up regularly!).
Last week we got a call to ask us to host a tent at the Fling… a one day festival of quirky amusements for over 18s.
And so I am delighted to announce that we will be hosting a tent of burlesque delights. With dancing, dressing up, mini makeovers, tassel making and even the chance to get the glue and glitter out and decorate your own Paper Doll – it’s going to be a glorious day.
The Fling has been a highlight of my year each time I’ve been – who knew, leaving the last one, that I’d be a performer at the next? Just shows what can happen when you’re doing things that make you happy!
If you’re near Chelmsford, please come and join us 🙂
A weekend of pure magic is over… and I’m looking back and sighing with happiness at every moment of it.
On Friday, The Night Circus arrived at Tea and Sympathy, my favourite place in Colchester. The dress code was black and white and circus-appropriate, with a red accent for the reveurs – those who had read the book. (And if you’ve read it, you’ll know why!) For those that haven’t had the pleasure, the theme was around the book The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern.
My red accents were my sequined shoes, scarlet lipstick and a peek of a red bra… 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more thoroughly myself, though my outfit wasn’t entirely appropriate for the multi storey car park where we put the cars when we arrived… lol. But I’ve always been fascinated by the circus – my burlesque name is a tribute to my obsession with Enid Blyton’s circus stories!
I arrived with Gabby and Chris, after the quickest house tour in the history of the world, and we wandered in a haze of happiness through the shop, up and down the tiny, twisting staircase, to hidden rooms, magic and wonder at every turn…
There were fire dancers, burlesque from Miss Fanny Darling, magicians, fortune tellers and some cocktails, which I’m told were lethal… I declined to sample them, as I quite fancied getting home without getting arrested!
Here’s Gabby and Chris, looking like they belong with the Cirque…
Miss Fanny Darling as the Raven…
And the incredible fire dancing duo (I have plans for a skirt just like that one… I LOVE IT!)
I’ll leave you with the video of the fire dancers – a little taste of the most magical evening I’ve had in a long, long time! With thanks to Tea and Sympathy for making dreams reality 🙂
Burlesque (well, a Ducking Fabulous stall while wearing my burlesque gear, to support the girls who were performing at the venue), zooming around in Poppy with the roof down, puppies, lunch with a dear friend and lots and lots of SUNSHINE… it’s been a thoroughly brilliant weekend.
She generally has a sweeter expression than this – I think she was unimpressed by the camera shoved in her face!
While driving around in Poppy, roof down, singing (badly) to 99 Problems, I realised that even with sunglasses and a convertible, I will never be cool. This is rather a relief.
Talking of roof down, I nearly wet myself laughing when I stopped at traffic lights and a random chav yelled “oi, someone’s nicked yer roof” – I’ve certainly had more original heckles. It amazes me how much attention she seems to get, especially in this part of the country where there are much more expensive, shiny and generally showy cars around. (It’s ok – I still love her best!)
This is serious market research. Does your outfit affect your sales?!
I’ve done at least half my admin outside, and I even managed to sit and read a book for a bit this morning. Acquired a hammer (Dad will be relieved, he’ll have sole ownership of his again), a blue beach type chair for garden relaxing, a photo tent, another copy of the Free Range Humans book and a copy of my door key so that friends don’t have to leave when I do if they stay during the week. Excellent.
I even managed to make a summery casserole (oxymoron, no?!) in the slow cooker – so my only fail of the weekend would be choosing and writing cards for two of my favourite people in the world, whose birthdays fell on Friday and today… and then in the madness of stallholding, forgetting to take them with me to post. Silly girl… so if either of you are reading (I suspect you’re not, lol) – they’re going in the post tomorrow, I promise!
And on that note, having filled the blank page (and many others) in the fading sun with notes for Ink Drops, the Ducking Fabulous shop and my two super secret projects, I am off to bed with a book.
I hope you all also had thoroughly fabulous weekends!
Settling back into work after the Christmas break, making the most of driving Poppy while the weather is above freezing, getting to know new starters in some of the offices I work in, starting to fill my diary with glorious things and generally marvelling at how opportunities present themselves as soon as you start to make things happen…
Contented with and awestruck at my new life, with one dilemma between two wonderful annual events that are very probably happening on the same weekend in 2013.
The new spend less revolution, Blog Inc and Be a Free Range Human – all beautifully aligned with my plans and ideas and feelings this year. I’m also waiting for a chunk of time to start Lace, which was a present from my fabulous business partner at Christmas – but I suspect I won’t be able to put it down!
Project Pin Up goodness, the next Ink Drops boxes, new posts and a more soulful direction for my blogging, a website for my cousin’s go-karting and the things that will make me happiest this year.
A world that isn’t topsy-turvy, and a me that is able to skate skilfully.
A whole heap of things, none of which are essential to my happiness, fortunately – teal leather skates from Moxi, feather fans, various courses and an entire studio set up for photography.
I had a garden so I could take on my friends’ beautiful Staffie, Monty when they move to Australia at the end of the month.
Ideas and looks for the collaborative photoshoot I’m doing with Contrariety Rose in February, my storecupboard challenge, the new look of Ducking Fabulous and taking more photographs (sadly unevidenced by this post!)
Beauty at all sizes, getting the new DF site almost finished, my Dyson being fixed (I know, I know, since when did I get so excited over household appliances? But it’s happening…)
The chance to break habits and beliefs now that otherwise would stalk me and be obstacles for most of my life, and as always the unwavering support of those close to me
And finally tomorrow I will be:
Spring (winter?) cleaning my flat and then curling up for blissful sleep at Mum & Dad’s in the evening
On my to-do list?
So much on my list I might explode, but I have been trying to split everything that occurs to me into a relevant category in Wunderlist – and this way I don’t get overwhelmed.
Things on it I’m looking forward to –
A day with my camera in London and meeting up with the lovely Miss Joyful
Organising some rehearsal time for the troupe’s first performances (you heard of Paper Dolls Burlesque here first!)
Car admin – the Micra needs a SORN and I have been driving for ten years (amazing, huh?!) so need a renewing and amazingly I have been on the road for 10 years – so need a new driving licence!
Christmas is all over for another year, and though I’m very much enjoying the week in limbo between years in a way I thought would be impossible a few short months ago, the season rather snuck up on me this year. Sitting working quietly on Rob’s sofa before we head out to a party later, I thought now would be a good time to look back at 2012 and perhaps forward at 2013. Though that may make the post too epic, so perhaps I’ll do that separately. I’ve kept it wordy as I hope to sort a photo album out later on…
I saw the 2011-2012 new year in with Rob and his friends, at Holly’s house, watching fireworks and making Emily dress up as a dinosaur, accompanied by large amounts of cocktails. The rest of January shot past in something of a blur, with the highlight being Progress Theatre’s production of Neverwhere, one of my all time favourite books, which the fabulous Lou had done the costumes for.
Much of February 2012 was taken up with our much-anticipated USA road trip. Though I never finished blogging it, this was truly epic, so much so that we still haven’t chosen the photos to go on the wall – there are too many awesome memories! I turned 26 as we flew home, which was actually quite nice.
In March I met the gorgeous Anastasia’s equally gorgeous daughter Zoe. Unrelatedly, I discovered I would have to embark upon the first and only diet of my lifetime, in order to fit into the bridesmaid dress Julia had bought for me when she and Ed first got engaged. (I love her, and it was that or not be a bridesmaid, which was unthinkable. I do not love anyone else in this world enough to diet for them, believe me – never, ever again!!). To make this more bearable, I also booked a boudoir shoot for June, went to a corset party and signed up for burlesque classes. I had no idea how this would change my life…
April brought the relaunch of the Ducking Fabulous shop, dressing up as a dead parrot for a Monty Python party and my very first burlesque class. I loved it from the start – it was like recognising something that had been there all along.
May was a completely mad but absolutely wonderful month. I started it with a long weekend back in Loughborough with my uni girls I lived with, which was weird but fab; hit Paris and Disney dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast for Julia’s hen do; booked CybHer to give me some blogging oomph and incentive, saw Swan Lake on Ice with Hannah and revisited the Royal Albert Hall as a spectator, for the first time since I performed there in 2005 (which was lovely but very odd…). And my favourite part, a week on a narrowboat with Rob, Andy, Gemma, James and Jo – which we just happened to have booked during the hottest week of the whole year.
News of Cat and Mark’s engagement heralded June, while drinking cocktails at the Oxo tower. Which was rather lovely. I spent a day at Elstree studios learning WordPress with Andy, and we overheard and then sneakily watched Leona Lewis rehearse. Lou and I went to a Startup Saturday course, and I took the beginnings of the London Pin Up School to start to form them into an actual strategy. It went down a storm, and both of us came away feeling really inspired. I sold my first international order on Etsy, built an online portfolio (which still needs work, but the basics are there), discovered a new friend and rollerskating companion in Caroline, and took myself on a date to the Hammersmith Apollo to see Against Time – Flawless vs the English National Ballet. Some things are too good to be shared! The lovely Bluebell the bicycle also came to live with me towards the end of the month… a good omen, given that I can now cycle to work! I also slipped in the boudoir shoot, with Emily, which was terrifying but fabulous and incredibly good for both soul and self image. And I also met the lovely Craftyguider in real life, which was nervewracking but fab – we had a great time and her children are gorgeous!
July was characterised by inspiring conversations about opening a gym and generally working for oneself and escaping the City grind, puppies, celebratory dinners, long bike rides and another amazing CAE, this time in Yorkshire. Even the rain couldn’t stop us having fun, and I treasure these weekends, they’re truly three days of laughter, bant and frankly ridiculous conversations, surrounded by people I never expected to meet and now cannot imagine my life without, even the ones I only see once or twice a year. I picked up the images from my photoshoot and experienced a profound shift in perception – for the better. I cannot recommend this experience enough, and promptly booked another one for October – seeing myself in a new light is one of the most valuable things I’ve done this year.
July was of course also Julia and Ed’s wedding, and it was gorgeous – the bride was amazingly beautiful, the groom couldn’t stop smiling and the rest of us managed to hold it together until Julia’s old musical drama group did a Love Actually-style flashmob in the reception, where they’d rewritten a Disney medley for her and Ed. I bawled, but it was lovely. She’s now a Wilson and happily settled in Bristol, and I am dying to see her! (and yes, I fitted the dress, I lost almost two stone between March and July. Proud, but never again!!)
August saw me suddenly putting myself in gear and organising things – a picnic for lots of dear friends I hadn’t seen for ages, a conversation with Annastasia led to our now launched company Ink Drops Boxes, I discovered Free Range Humans and began to look at the world differently and start to work out what I actually wanted to do with my life. I was able to work from home during some of the Olympics, and I was amazingly moved by the Olympians and how well we hosted it – definitely a summer to remember. Horses and puppies and GCSE results arrived with my extended family, Janine had an amazing tea party/BBQ for her birthday (and my gazebo is still there, oops!!) and Wendy and I went up to London to see the Hurly Burly show – the first live burlesque I’d seen apart from the Fling last year. It was even better than expected!
Trade shows and Ink Drops dominated September, including nearly running out of petrol halfway home from Birmingham and discovering that “vegan” and “just irritatingly fussy” make for a very relaxed approach to eating out together! I started applying for more craft fairs without really believing I’d have time to do them, but knowing I had to start somewhere to build up my attendance again. I did a double take when I realised a whole year had passed since the Romania rally, and had a whole host of lunches out with amazing people to try and get over the shock!
September also brought news of a new job, handing in my notice to the City at last, and my first Escape the City workshop, plus a new friend. Ironic, as I’d already left… but we’ve now formed an entrepreneurial support group which is fabulous. I managed to squeeze in two burlesque shows – one at Proud Cabaret, with work ladies, and one in Chelmsford with my best friends, both of which made me squee and want to work on my own routines even more. Having handed in my notice, I was quite overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, and intrigued by comments that I was brave.
October. Cabaret, cabaret, cabaret – my first burlesque performance! Rehearsals with the girls, rehearsals at class, class as normal. Costumes, feathers, glitter, panic, then elation as I stepped off the stage. The performing bug is back! Another boudoir shoot, this time with much more idea of what I wanted, followed, and Lou and I had a hilarious evening trying on all our outfits and accessories for it. I spent a lot of the month working on a helicopter presentation (who knew that a LAMA was a helicopter and not a furry animal with wings?!), had a Bare Escentuals make-under and found a glorious new liquid lipstick (in red, of course), had our first Escape the City meetup, and then left work in a blaze of tears, a vintage mannequin and a THREE KILOGRAM Kit Kat (photos of that to follow when I find my camera card). Straight in the car up to Nottingham where I spent quite a lot of time in stunned “has it really happened” kind of mode, and we spent the other half bankrupting ourselves in Lakeland and making chicken and tarragon pie and chocolate spoons. Not to be eaten at the same time, obviously. I subscribed to Simple Things in honour of my new, slower lifestyle.
1st November was our official launch date for Ink Drops, and the 5th saw me start my new job at the university. After a whirlwind month of being accepted to fairs, my first Ducking Fabulous stockists, a night of cocktails at Karen & Dave’s, the Free Range festival, a tassel making workshop (including making new friends and learning to twirl them!) with the fabulous Alex/Fanny Darling, a VIP trip to the Hollywood Costume exhibition to see the Ruby Slippers with Caroline, and frequent long “what the hell just happened” conversations with Lou (as Contrariety Rose and Ducking Fabulous found fairs and stockists at almost exactly the same time), I hit the end of the month with a big party for my aunt’s 40th and some much needed puppy cuddles the following day, before my first fair at Curves gym on the last Wednesday of the month.
December saw the beginning of fair season proper… it has been insane but so much fun! Leigh involved Val and Ellie, plus Anna and Dan had their stall behind us. Again made lots of friends, learned lots from both stallholders and customers, and managed to sneak in staying the night before with Val and dinner & putting the world to rights with Ellie on the day. New collaborations are looming, I’ve started burlesque again after the break and there are exciting plans going on there for a troupe and some performance, I’ve discovered edible glitter, I’m heading to another burlesque performance on Saturday night after my final fair, there’s a graduates’ Free Range group which is providing the most amazing platform for likeminded people to chat, give advice and generally work through this incredible new life together… and in the last week before Christmas, I packed in a shopping day with Mum, Olympia horse show with Ellie, and lunch and coffee with dear friends.
Christmas itself was gorgeous but quiet, and Christmas Eve and Boxing Day were spent with the extended family, the giant kit kat and a sense of relaxation. I’m now up in Nottingham with Rob till New Year and trying to decide what make up Little Red Riding Hood would wear, for a party this evening. Cocktails feature heavily in the next few days 🙂
From my breakdown in February to my overarching, incredible happiness, sense of self and enjoyment of every day now – it’s been a transformational year. I don’t think I could start to put into words what I’ve learned, discovered and found – but I do hope 2013 is as incredible. I’m looking forward to seeing what it brings, though less resemblance to a rollercoaster would be great…
It’s been, amazingly, a whole month since my first ever burlesque performance. Cabaret night had been excitedly planned, panicked over and squeaked about for quite some time, and then crept up on us quite suddenly!
Any of you who know me in real life or follow me on Twitter will be aware that although I’ve loved burlesque, corsets and the pin up style most of my adult life, and have danced most of my life, joining a burlesque dance course was quite a big step. A step that, once taken, I couldn’t understand why it had taken me so long – I think was born to prance about in a corset and high heels with feathers in my hair!!
I dance with some of my closest friends, and lots of lovely friends turned up to watch us dance, among them Lou and her sister, who also ran a Contrariety Rose stall on the night… and some of my uni girls who schlepped all the way up from Oxford, Kent and Southend… bless them! Was lovely to see them though I was far too overexcited to actually have a proper conversation!
It was a glorious night (I also had a Ducking Fabulous stall) and I came off the stage wanting to go and do it again, preferably immediately! Definitely have the performing bug back again after so long away from the stage – and can’t wait to start classes again in January!
I'm Carla, a quirky thirtysomething with a penchant for unicorns and glitter. I believe in magic and make-believe, and the gorgeous rebellion of making your life absolutely your own. And I'm a proud multipod!
Proud to be both girly and geeky, when I’m not writing, photographing or daydreaming, you can find me dancing burlesque, riding my bicycle Bluebell, growing herbs and collecting typewriters.
Things I want to do in 2020. Partly from my Daydreams To Do list and also from my general goals for the year.
~ Steampunk events
~ experiment with film cameras
~ walk more
~ explore Colchester
~ beach time
~ kitty portraits
~ western riding
~ spa days
~ learn to make bath bombs
~ recreate Lush's Angel's Delight soap fragrance
~ work in sterling silver
~ build a catio
~ handwritten letters
~ photobook of the house project, the cats, Poppy & Dad
~ print my own photos