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Dates with myself (try it, it might just change your life)

Way back when I was still working in London, I wrote about my spontaneous booking of tickets to see the English National Ballet and Flawless at the Hammersmith Apollo.


There wasn’t anyone immediately available who I particularly wanted to join me, so I took myself. It was a Friday night, and my colleagues thought I was crazy and a little tragic. I may even have thought that myself for about five minutes after I left the office.

And then I realised, it wasn’t tragic, it was wonderful. The feeling of independence of doing something typically associated with group or couple outings by myself was incredible. It’s also very freeing not to have any expectations around an event or place – you don’t have to comment on it, or work around anyone else’s plans or needs – you can simply be, and absorb, and enjoy (and eat cake).


And so I’ve carried on having dates with myself when I feel the need to recharge my creative and emotional batteries.

I’ve been to gardens, museums, galleries, parks, coffee shops, restaurants, talks, all sorts. Often I’ll discover it for the first time with someone, and return on my own to appreciate it properly.

It doesn’t have to be a day out, either. Sometimes I’ll go and visit a particular shop I love, or I’ll spend an afternoon scrapbooking, delving into memories.

I might go horse riding, skating or simply sit with a slice of something sweet and watch the world go by.

It’s not always educational and it’s not always obviously connected with anything – but I always, always feel refreshed, motivated and more me when I return. Whether it’s a whole weekend or just half an hour, it helps.


I found Julia Cameron’s “Artist Date” concept via Leonie Dawson this morning, which seems to describe my dates with myself fairly accurately, and as this post was already brewing I thought it was a good sign that I should get on and write it already.

So who’s with me? Julia suggests weekly – I don’t have a schedule, but find I’m drawn to doing things alone whenever I need to recharge, which could be at any interval from a couple of days to a few months.

Whether you’re single or partnered up, a parent or child-free, see if you can find time this week to try it. There are some great suggestions at The Artist’s Way but feel free to choose anything at all to do – something you are drawn to.

The only rule is that you do it solo.

And then let me know how you got on!

This post first appeared on Ducking Fabulous

{life magic} 2013: the first year of my new life

What a year it’s been.

Much like 2014 appears to be doing, 2013 snuck up on me somewhat. The new year is only a couple of hours old, but I wanted to get my review up before my planning posts.

I saw 2013 in at Rob’s with a bunch of new friends, getting rather whimsically tipsy and generally having a wonderful time.


January saw a craft swap with some of my favourite people, lots of snow, a notice to vacate my flat, a ukulele workshop and a visit to London Edge trade show. Who knew that just a year later I’d be helping out Contrariety Rose with her stand there?!

January-1 DSC_1168


was my birthday month (I celebrated by having dinner with Mum & Gran, and heading to bed with wine and six books. Utter bliss.), and also the month in which I visited Lou’s shop for the first time, had an impromptu school reunion and modelled in a collaborative photoshoot.


March held moving house in the snow, to a little house with a spiral staircase in a riverside village full of mad creative people. I finally got my garden and couldn’t be happier! I spent the very last morning at my old flat creating memories with my best friends, taking burlesque photos for the Paper Dolls. I also had six inches chopped off my hair – eek!


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, 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!!


What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year?

I spent some of my lunch hour today listening to this video interview.   As I’ve also been reading The Creative Habit and the Happiness Project, it’s all clunking into place rather nicely.

The video sparked me into thinking – what do I want to be able to say about myself a year from now? What do I want my daily life to look like, what do I want my habits and routines to be, what kind of a person do I want to have become in that time?


To become a pro at anything is as much about mindset change and daily routines as anything else, and the gist of the interview is that in order to do this, you need to change your existing and new habits from amateur ones into professional ones. Keep going through adversity and crap. Don’t let life get in the way of your goals.

Twyla Tharp advocates morning rituals to get you going for the day, among other things, and as I find mornings the hardest part of the day, I’ve been pondering what I could do to make them better, more joyful and to set me up better for the day.

Now I find my thoughts going further than just the morning. Without taking on so many commitments that I get overwhelmed and give up, what can I commit to changing? Writing every day? A photograph every day? Getting up by a certain time so I can accomplish these things and better self-care (like actually eating breakfast)?

It’s certainly made me consider what I do every day in a new light. I shall continue to ponder and blog my specific changes when they’re a little clearer in my mind. Right now they’re a confused blur of DO ALL THE THINGS BUT BETTER…

What do you want to be able to say about yourself in a year’s time?

Further reading:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Turning Pro by Steven Pressfield

Image credit – Ducking Fabulous / Letters from my Twenties

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.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

This was my 300th post on Ducking Fabulous, which made me happy and astounded in equal measure. Thank you for being along for the ride – here’s to the next 300 posts!

Onto today’s actual subject… Natalie Sisson is running a 30 day blog challenge over on the Suitcase Entrepreneur. Today’s question – If you woke up tomorrow and were free to do anything you wanted with your life, what would you do and who would you be?

What would I do, who would I be? What do I really want to do?

Once, I’d have said have a horse, and to dance. That was more or less the sum total of what I dreamed of.

Now? Now my dreams are more wide ranging. I’m achieving or on the road to achieving many of them, I’m happy with where I am and I have absolute belief that the others will happen somehow, someday.

But right now, if I could genuinely do anything I wanted? I’d…

… buy somewhere beautiful to live, in the countryside, with a kitchen big enough for a squidgy sofa, lots and lots of windows and light, space for crafting and photography and a huge garage/workshop for my fleet of beloved vehicles

…open it as a retreat to friends and family and likeminded souls who need to get their breath back from life, or who want to kickstart their own creativity

…have a camper van for weekends and a caravan in the garden as an extra spare room/studio

… surround myself with the animal companions I adore – horses, dogs and the occasional unicorn

… regularly travel somewhere warm – I love the seasons in the UK, and wouldn’t change my homeland for anything. But during the depths of winter, I often feel like I’ll never be warm again. The luxury of being able to feel sunshine whenever you fancy it is incomparable.

…ride out over the countryside daily

…write, photograph, dance, create at my own pace, in my own time, in my own space

…there would be a river at the bottom of the garden where my narrowboat lives

…and work wise, I’d help people along the journey to self-employment. The fiddly practical bits and the dreamy planning bits; the awkward conversations with friends & family and the incredible feeling of belonging when you find your tribe.

What would you do? What do you dream of?

Paper Dolls Burlesque at the Fling Festival 2013

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?

Here we all are with our fab stage kitten Lou:

Paper Dolls Burlesque |

And here are the rest of the images – squeak!

Created with flickr slideshow.


The Fling always defies description, but to be there as a performer, helping to create the experience for other festivalgoers – it was a privilege, and one of the best days of my life.

Check us out – our troupe is Paper Dolls Burlesque, and we learned (and continue to learn) the art of burlesque with  Jem Ayres at Burlesque Jems.


Announcing our tent at the Fling!

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!).

IMG_9901 sketch edit

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 🙂


Jewellery stories – the Tiffany ring and the typewriter charm

Currently gracing my neck most days:


The ring:

My 21st birthday present from Julia. She and I had wanted Tiffany rings for as long as we could remember. And now we have matching ones – identical, except that mine has a blue sapphire and hers has a pink sapphire. I wear it almost constantly – either on a finger or on a chain. Six and a half years on, it would feel very odd to be without it. It’s a symbol of the friendship that will be twenty five years old this year, and which I couldn’t imagine being without.

The typewriter:

A very pretty little charm which I fell for at a craft fair I did, back in April. I usually have a very strict rule of not spending until I’ve sold, but when I saw that they had a typewriter, vintage camera and an ice skate charm, I had to be very sneaky and buy them all. And given that my collection of real typewriters has accidentally doubled (from two to four, lol) in the last few months thanks to the generosity of a fab friend and a colleague, it seems appropriate.

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,