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Putting the duck into Ducking Fabulous

A very few of you will remember that back in 2006, when I was first blogging, I had a pair of tiny rubber ducks (one green, one yellow) given to me for my birthday. Being students, we took them out drinking with us, and came back with a whole stash of photos of them on the bar, in drinks, stuck to people’s faces and occasionally in someone’s cleavage.

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Frankie and Freddie having a chat on my (then cutting-edge) mobile, sometime in 2006

We named them Frankie and Freddie, and they accompanied me all over the place for most of my first and second year at university. They had their own blog, their own MySpace page and they spawned the collection I currently have – I now receive at least one or two ducks every single birthday and Christmas 🙂 A chance encounter with a very fuzzy picture of a duck on a bottle in the students’ union confirms that the green one is Freddie, so the yellow one is Frankie.

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I don’t know if the fuzziness is bad light, old camera or drunkenness. Taken in Loughborough Students’ Union, so probably the latter.

Friends took photos of ducks they owned in odd places and sent them to me, and my parents even bought a duck (“Texan Cousin Duck”) on a road trip and proceeded to take photos of him everywhere – even on a police car!

I still have Frankie and Freddie, though their online homes are long gone, and while I did manage to take a few photos on my own USA road trip last year (in Tennessee and at the EYC)I’ve slacked off terribly on the travelling ducks front .

A recent conversation with a group of friends made me decide to resurrect the ducks on tour section of Ducking Fabulous – after all, what is a blog with a name like this doing without a duck or ten as mascots?!

So  you’ll see I’ve added a “Ducks on Tour” tab to the navigation – which will be a nice convenient way to pull together all duck-related posts. Which will all appear in my usual blogging too 🙂

Feel free to send me your own – I’d love to see fellow adventurous ducks and what they get up to!

Moving on out…

I have been absent! But with good reason – if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or my other blogs (Teasets to Typewriters and Etc Collective), you’ll know I was unexpectedly served notice on my beloved flat and am now in the process of moving.

Dolls moving house, via Photopin | duckingfabulous.com photo credit: Valeri-DBF via photopin cc

It’s… an experience! After the initial shock and sadness of being ordered to leave somewhere that’s been home for two and a half years, and the first place of my own, I’m actually quite excited.

Last Saturday the snow spoiled my plans – Rob was due to visit, I was going to London to meet the fabulous Miss Joyful, and I was intending puppy cuddles and maybe riding on Sunday afternoon. Snow put paid to all of this, so I had a lazy, snuggly kind of a day and read two books cover to cover. On checking my post at lunchtime, I found my notice to vacate, which didn’t improve my mood!  In a most un-Carla fashion, I threw myself into action and by the end of Saturday had booked five viewings and had a much better idea of what I was going to do next.

By this Saturday, I’d viewed a decent number of places and fallen in love with a house in Wivenhoe. Today, I’m dropping my reference paperwork off with the estate agents, and this evening I shall continue packing.

I’ll be sad to leave, but I’m hugely excited about the new house – it has a garden, a conservatory and a spiral staircase, space for my studio and it’s fifteen minutes’ walk from work. The village is utterly gorgeous – I’ll have to do a tour when I get there. No photos yet as it wasn’t listed online… it’s a wait and see one!

I’ll try and keep up the blogging during the move!

The magic of snow (i.e. stop whinging, start enjoying)

Snow. It’s on its way, in some places it’s settled, in some it’s already melting, here it’s falling gently but not even attempting to settle.

When did we stop seeing the magic of snow? When did we stop finding the particular kind of silence that comes from an overnight blanket of soft, cold white stuff so exciting, stop wanting to be the first to put our footprint in the pristine powdery coating, stop sticking our tongue out to catch snowflakes?

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photo credit: blmiers2 via photopin cc

With the exception of one person who has a very good reason not to like snow, and one person who feels the same as I do, every single post on Facebook today that has mentioned snow has done so accompanied by moaning and negativity.

And for what? In a world that is more connected, more technologically advanced than ever before, a world where we carry our entire lives in a small touchscreen device in our back pockets or handbags, we worry that we may miss something in the [career cage] job. That someone might not be able to get hold of us for something “urgent” if we’re off sledging with our friends or children instead of being in the office, on the one or possibly two days a year that’s a possibility. That we might miss a deadline, miss spending some more time in front of a computer.

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photo credit: Denis Collette…!!! via photopin cc

This year I want to absorb, to marvel, to appreciate – and stop my major snow whinge, which is that while it’s snowing I can’t drive my beloved Poppy. She makes me sparkle all year round – and there is something undeniably otherworldly and, yes, magical, about a world rendered almost unrecognisable by fleeting, soft, white fluff. It won’t hurt her or me to leave her parked up safely for a few days and walk – and the snow could be gone within hours.

So provided your family and friends are safe – let go of the worrying, stop the whinging, and start experiencing and enjoying the snow. Feel the powder turn to slush as you jump on it, relish the cold and the colour in your cheeks, be generous with your sledge  if you have one and engage random passers by in snowball fights. You only live once, after all… and those emails will wait. I promise!

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photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

The year that was: 2012

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…

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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…

Happy Thursday, and a note about blogging

I’m still rushing around in a tearing hurry (but oh, such a good feeling to be hurrying for myself!) so here are some snippets of things that have made me happy over the last week or two…

Ink Drops orders – I cannot wait to see reactions from the first batch of boxes, which ship on 14 December;

Treats – I went to Waitrose and accidentally came home with two tubs of Haagen Dazs ice cream (they were on special, it would have been rude not to) and the utterly gorgeous Montezuma’s mint chocolate… it’s expensive, but worth it 🙂

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Being given the go-ahead to join student dance classes from January, as both a dancer and a photographer. I’ll be dancing in ballet and hopefully working up to pointe class, which will inform a couple of burlesque routines I am plotting and choreographing. The photography is a project I’ve wanted to start for ages, but have never had access to dancers en masse before now… so I’m very excited!

The arrival of my new dishwasher… it’s been here a little less than 48 hours and has already changed my life… I have no idea how I survived without one for so long!

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Adding to my homeware and finally having a theme – turquoise and purple seems to be across my kitchen and living room/dining area, while blue and vivid pink dominate my bedroom, and black and white in the bathroom. I can live with that – they all reflect different bits of me. Here is a teal tablecloth, which will definitely get embellished and altered, and some cheap but pretty purple tea towels. Currently being ignored in favour of my Christmas ones!

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I’ve done more fairs, and enjoyed every moment of them – in the time i took out, I’d forgotten how much I enjoy meeting people. Also had a wonderful coincidence at the Leigh fair, bumping into three lovely ladies (a mum and her two daughters) who Lou and I had met in Spitalfields in the summer, while trying on clothes in Collectif. They popped up at the fair and it was a fabulous moment! Here’s me with my stall (and my hastily-altered dress… it’s strapless, and it was FREEZING, quite literally, on Saturday… so a lace top was added!)

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Lovely, lovely evenings with my parents – particularly in this run up to Christmas, they and I have been decorating new places and new trees and sharing decorations and it’s AMAZING. I love that they live so close, and my Christmas spirit is very much present and correct this year!

Putting the world to rights with friends – in person, on the phone and over Skype, it’s all rather soul-nourishing. Inspiration is all over the place and I think 2013 may be the best year yet!

On a more profound note, two people have, without any prompting at all, told me I’m brave this week, and a dear friend said I appreciated and savoured life more than anyone else she knew, and that I “do the things everyone else just talks about”. If you’ve been reading this blog for longer than a month, you’ll know that’s in no way always been the case, and that comment has stayed with me all week – alternately making me want to shriek in triumph, and cry with happiness. Glorious.

I’ve also noticed, and I don’t think this is particularly worthy of its own post, that lots of bloggers I follow have been wondering whether to continue, fretting about their readers or lack thereof, and worrying about what they post if it’s less than their best writing (because this is apparently what ‘real’ or ‘big’ bloggers recommend). Here seems as good a place as any for me to gently but unwaveringly reaffirm that Ducking Fabulous is my little home on the web. I am beyond delighted to have you, lovely readers, along for the ride, but as you have probably gathered, there is no particular focus, and there is more waffle than well-thought-out, profound writing. I make no apologies for this, as I believe blogging should be something you do because you enjoy it, and you do for you… if you stop writing what you truly want to write, your blog loses its soul. Readers usually follow because they liked what you were already writing, or at least that’s why I follow the blogs that I do.

I’m not offended when people unfollow me, whether it’s here, on Twitter or anywhere else – I assume it’s because whoever it is is no longer interested in what I’m saying. And that’s fine. Conversely, I am RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED whenever WordPress, Twitter or Pinterest tells me I have a new follower, because the chances are their blog, feed or boards will be something I also want to read or follow. And that, for me, is by far the beauty and biggest strength of the social web – finding likeminded people you’d never have known before the internet existed.

 

All photographs are my own – the one of me was taken by the fabulous Val, who was a brilliant Ducking Fabulous ambassador on Saturday! Don’t forget to have a quick nose at the shop, or pop into Tea & Sympathy (Colchester) or Make Do & Mend (Chelmsford), both of whom are currently stocking DF jewellery. I’ll be at the Vintage and Makers Market on Saturday 8th December in Chelmsford town city centre, and last order dates for Christmas are 8 December for the EU and 16 December for the UK – my official rest-of-world last order date has passed, though I will still do my best to get things to you in time for Christmas 🙂

This time last year, this time this year…

This time last year, like today, I was heading over to Chelmsford after work to join old colleagues for their annual Christmas dinner.

This time last year, I had somewhat lost the Christmas spirit. I stepped off a train, late, hot and flustered from the sardine-can interior, and spent the entire evening fielding calls from taxi drivers for the event I’d organised for some directors and their clients.

This time last year, I went home to a flat that closely resembled a storage facility with a bed in it, and didn’t get my Christmas decorations up until halfway through December because I was just too tired.

This time this year, I am already feeling festive. I will change and do my hair and make up, put Poppy’s roof down if the weather stays dry and drive over to Chelmsford from my new life. I’ll enjoy every drink, every moment and every snippet of conversation with my phone firmly switched off.

This time this year, I will go home, sort out my stock and box some up for Tea & Sympathy, and then tomorrow after work deliver it and collect my takings from the last batch.

This time this year, I have a full size Christmas tree, which I’ll spend tomorrow evening decorating, and a home I love and can entertain friends in.

Perfection. And I still can’t work out how I made it happen so quickly!

 

Catching up with myself!

With stock in the ever-fabulous Tea & Sympathy in Colchester, soon to be in the gorgeous Make, Do and Mend in Chelmsford, supplying goodies for a friend’s daughter’s pop up college shop and four fairs starting Wednesday evening, it has been a little manic here at Ducking Fabulous HQ for the last couple of weeks.

Some of my printed domino necklaces in progress – I’m very excited about this batch!

I’ve also been working hard on Ink Drops Boxes with Annastasia from Midorigreen, which has been lovely, and punctuated by hilarious Skype chats involving unintentional Lucozade highs. If you love all things handwritten, pop over and see the site and our blog, and if you’re struggling for presents, why not have a look at the shop – a surprise box of beautiful stationery might be the answer!

Christmas preparations are also starting – this weekend I will be at the Betty Blue Eyes vintage and handmade fair in Leigh-on-Sea (and visiting two lovely friends who live in the area at the same time) on Saturday, and at Mum & Dad’s sorting out Christmas trees and decorations on Sunday… they have bought a new tree for their new, higher-ceilinged abode,  and I get the old one, which will fit beautifully into my flat… somewhere. I’m excited for sorting through decorations, most of ours have stories – will try and post about some of them nearer the time.

Right now I am mostly revelling in the incredible feeling of being surrounded by likeminded people and full of inspiration… it’s a feeling like no other!

Other things that have made me happy this week…

A rainbow on my way to work | Househunting | Tentative plans to borrow a greyhound | Dinner and Christmas decoration making at Mimi’s | A fabulous night with family for my aunt’s 40th birthday | puppy cuddles | the Free Range Festival | a festive Saturday in London with some of my uni girls | chocolate muffins | stories of my parents’ lives and travels before I arrived | starting on the overhaul of this site | getting my boudoir shoot photographs back | tassel making workshop and learning to twirl – the best Thursday evening I’ve had for ages! | Contrariety Rose’s mini-boutique in Creative Crafts in Reading | roof-down driving on a Tuesday evening | impromptu dinner and giggles with my parents | fairy lights | stocking up on Lush’s amazing seasonal soap | treating myself to a couple of books I’ve wanted for a while | MAC’s lip primer

So an all round fabulous couple of weeks! I am trying very hard to resume regular, twice a week posting – watch this space 🙂

Cabaret Night: my first burlesque performance

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!!

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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… IMG_9467and 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!

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Here are some more pics of us dancers…

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And we made it into the Essex Chronicle the following week!

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!

Discovering you can be excited for Monday morning…

As a completely fabulous, proper weekend draws to a close, I’m once again pensive. In a good way. For the first time in I genuinely can’t remember how long, I am excited for Monday. The first week of the new job mostly involved meeting people, familiarising myself with the uni’s website and eating cake. But I am looking forward to being there, to the challenge of the first tasks I have, of getting to know my (perfectly lovely!) new colleagues, of discovering the campus and the surrounding areas, of spending the evenings of this week eating good food and making stock for fairs and the fabulous Tea & Sympathy boutique.

This weekend has comprised seeing the Ruby Slippers at the V&A, eating a ridiculous amount of food, catching up with fabulous friends, catching up with fabulous family and walking around in a state of wonder that I can be this happy in normal, everyday life. Read on for more…

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(more…)

The first weekend… a photographic miscellany

My final day in London was 26th October. I was rather tearful and overwhelmed, having been entirely unexpectedly presented with a lovely card, a vintage mannequin (they know me well) and THE BIGGEST KIT KAT IN THE WORLD (you think I’m joking… look at it!! Was very touched that my director had bid on it in a charity auction for me.)

You can see the mannequin, now named Delilah, in the background of an Ink Drops promo pic here…

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and the KitKat here, all three kilos of it, and better photos coming soon. My plan is to photograph it properly and then take it home for Christmas so the kids can help me eat it. With a hammer. It would be a shame not to eat it!

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Caroline helped me carry all my stuff to St Paul’s station, and then I hopped on a tube, hopped on a train for the final time and headed home to shower, collect Poppy and drive up to Nottingham. Rob had promised to have celebratory cocktails at the ready, though the fact that I didn’t get there till twenty to one in the morning scuppered my plans to drink lots, lol!

On Saturday we popped to town and accidentally helped break a Guiness World Record (for the most people doing a science experiment at the same time – slime and rockets, what’s not to love?!), experimented with Shakeaway and tried not to buy the whole of Lakeland, and then went home to celebrate some more by cooking ridiculous amounts of food…

Recipes and the beginnings of chicken & tarragon pie…

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We might have cheated a tiny bit with the pastry but doing a good job of pretending to be proud, no?!

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Finished pie!! It was AMAZING.

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(yes, extra big pic, I was proud of the pie)

And I wanted to test my new spoons mould from Lakeland… with chocolate orange…

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Never miss an opportunity to pose like an idiot, me…

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And just in case you’re interested, this is what four chocolate spoons look like when I’ve accidentally eaten the one I was posing with. (I’m actually quite excited about the concept of doing these in marbled chocolate to go with dessert for dinner parties…) The chocolate orange stays softer once it’s been melted and mixed, so they were very dangerously moreish pleasant when set.

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It was gloriously relaxing and a lovely way to mark the end of my London adventures and start my new life… and I finished it by meeting Anna in Loughborough for dinner, and Dad unexpectedly joined us for a drink too, to break his journey.

All round lovely 😀

Blustery updates

It’s a properly blustery autumn day – windy, blowy, and this morning I popped out for breakfast and groceries and nearly drowned in the rain! (Actually, I was such a wuss I stayed in Poppy on the driveway for a good fifteen minutes before venturing to my front door with all my bags!)

Just a brief update before I start on the proper blog posts which are long overdue 🙂 This week has been a revelation – and I think in October time each year, I will take a few days if not a whole week off work, and have an autumn-clean… there is something wonderful, even to a chaotic and messy soul such as me, in knowing everything is in its place, and so it is entirely acceptable to come in, put the heating on, don a fluffy dressing gown and spend the whole evening lost in a book or crafting.

London already feels a million miles away – I have had a few calls from the old job, and some lovely emails from my friends there… I hope that carries on as it is always the people you miss most!

The studio is sorted, the fridge is stocked, my suits have been consigned to my fabric stash and new bedlinen has been bought and put on the bed to mark a new chapter.

Yes, I know, I’m making WAY too much of this new life thing – but it’s so exciting, and so utterly lovely to have time to make my flat a home, instead of just rushing through it at the speed of light.

Since I finished the old job I’ve managed to see some of my favourite people in the world, break a Guinness world record, make pie, soup and brownies, drink cocktails, put up shelves, revamp the flat and launch a company… not to mention meet with the fabulous Melissa at Tea & Sympathy who will shortly be stocking my jewellery!

Life is good – the only thing I haven’t done is ring both the Wendys in my life… so I’m off to do that now 🙂

Time, and a new way of life

I feel very strongly that this is a new phase in my life. The opportunity to work so close to home is one that I think I only truly appreciate having battled almost two years of four-hours-a-day commuting. It signifies a change in pace, and a change in attitude. To make the jump to leaving London, there is a whole mindset change. Money becomes less important, and time, though still precious, is more plentiful.

There will be more time to spend with my family, the people and also the animals that are so dear to me, and who helped me so much through the darkest times of my life, and who share these happy ones so wholeheartedly.

Time to take Bluebell for long cycle rides, Poppy for long drives, to ride Jack and Chess (maybe not simultaneously) through the fields, to photograph and record the things I didn’t even have time to see before.

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Long afternoons to spend with friends, chatting, talking, just being. Time to dream and plan for a nomadic future – narrowboats and caravans, visiting friends, a gentler pace of life.

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While still running my businesses and creating my portfolio life, I also want to find time to learn – through the university, evening dance classes, finally getting going on my Universal Class courses, through Free Range Humans and Escape the City (just because I’ve escaped, doesn’t mean I can’t still spend time with fabulous like minded people)…

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All these things I have missed for the past five years. All these things I am so much looking forward to – and all these things and more I will be thankful for. I’ll still be busy but I am absolutely determined to make more of everyday life now I have taken the leap. I don’t want to just live for the weekends – I want every day to be worth something.

I don’t regret my time in London, I’ve met some wonderful people (you really do find absolute gems in the most unexpected places) and I’ve learned a lot, much of it also unexpected. But the time is right to move on, and I am focused on the future. I don’t think I’ll ever return to work in the City – but I will take many memories of it with me.