For the first time in the 13 year history of this blog, I’m not doing a roundup post – I can’t face it. Nice things have happened this year, but the balance is eclipsed by the loss of Dad.
I have just come home from a week with Mum (Luna & Clover came too) and it was wonderful to spend time with her but we both found the hole he has left behind him was even bigger over Christmas. He was always so damn
competitive enthusiastic about the Christmas lights that I’m going to have to seriously up my game in his honour next year. My neighbours are going to love me…
On the plus side, we did find some wonderful photo memories of me & Mum & Dad during the Christmas break, which I plan to make into an album so they’re not just lurking on a hard drive somewhere.
Anyway, that’s why this isn’t a round up post this year. And technically, all the businesses are taking a break till 2nd January.
But old habits die hard and I’ve never yet spent a new year’s eve without writing on my beloved blog, so instead, have the best 18 photos from my mermaid life & business (because most of you won’t have a steady stream of mermaid goodness in your feeds!):
Being a mermaid really wasn’t something I thought could make actually happen – yet now I get to make other people’s mermaid dreams come true as well as my own, and it fits beautifully alongside my photography, business photography and stationery ventures.
My current quartet of businesses feels meant to be, and I really think Dad would approve. Plus I can run them with Kitten Assistants Luna & Clover, who really do light up my life. On that note, I’m off to feed the kitten assistants and read a good book.
I hope 2018 is everything you want it to be and I’ll see you on the other side.
I can’t get my head around the fact that it’s October. October!
With the falling of the leaves and the crispness of the mornings, it couldn’t really be any other month – but I was still surprised to see leaves on the ground when I walked into work the other day.
So what does the start of autumn look like in my world?
Mixing up my routine
I have been craving routine (I know, who knew that was something I’d ever want?) but mainly at home. At the day job, my routine is set in stone and needed a shakeup.
So taking inspiration from my first ever online course (a Free Range Humans one), I am parking in a different place, taking a different route and making sure I have lunch with different people every day.
I’ve also been taking the laptop out and about to work in some of the cafes, bars & student areas when I can, and have organised coworking sessions with colleagues for stuff we’re collaborating on.
So far, so good.
Burlesquing in public
It has been a LONG time since I’ve danced out – probably not since Hogswatch, actually… so I was chuffed to bits to have the chance to dance out with fabulous friends Lynsey, Annastasia and Jenna in September. Photos courtesy of Lynsey’s other half Mike!
(Edit a couple of days later – I knew I was tired – I did the Fling in July this year! But though it was gorgeous, that’s probably a good example of exactly how much my brain is fuzzing things at the moment…)
It was a greyhound show, and I did come home wanting greyhounds again. But I think Luna & Clover would eat them…
Mermaiding. All the mermaiding.
September was the month I finally got my pod! Sam organised a Clacton meetup, and four of the twelve mermaids there were me and my gorgeous models/friends/burlesquers – Jenna, Lynsey & Fran were mermaiding for the first time before modelling for me, and we all loved it so much that we want to do it again, regularly 😀
Here’s a shot of all of us:
And here’s the Colchester pod:
And here’s a really quick edit of some of the video footage of the girls’ first swim!
Watch us & subscribe on YouTube (I know, that’s a Vimeo link, means no adverts on the site!)
And then it was time for our mermaid shoot at the start of this month. We had the Loft studio for three hours, and it was basically playtime – mermaid tails, crowns, corsets and sparkly lingerie galore.
We spent the night before at Fran’s house, decorating shells & tiaras, and it was so utterly lovely I can’t even tell you 🙂
AND THEN THE SHOOT.
These girls. They are naturals in a tail and apparently also naturals as models too – some people totally freak out in a studio environment but they were PERFECT.
I’ve not finished the edit yet, but here is a teaser:
Autumn has also brought:
- meeting my GORGEOUS new niece, Odette Carla (yes, Odette Carla <3) – if her mum & dad are ok with it, she’ll get a post all to herself!
- a 20 year friendiversary celebration with Louise
- going out for dessert for Maddy’s birthday
- tarot discussions & inspiration
- new friendships
- old friendships
- ridiculous kitten antics
- and a whole load more stuff I can’t remember because I’m tired.
I still miss Dad a ridiculous amount, I’m still prone to crying at the drop of a hat, and Mum & I still have an insane amount of admin to do.
But keeping busy isn’t a bad thing, and doing things that make me feel like me is a good thing, and a random side effect that I had not anticipated is that for several weeks now, my anxiety has been much, much lower. I’ve had some dips & attacks, but it has been SO nice to feel a bit more like myself and not be living with constant irrational fear all the time.
So there’s my autumn. I’ll try and post proper roundups of each thing on the relevant blogs:
Oh, and with all this multipod goodness going on, I started a podcast about being one, especially being one in business. But I can’t share it yet, only one episode and it recorded quite quietly. It’s coming, though!
I hope your autumn brings you happiness <3
My first Fling festival was in 2011, and still stands out as one of the most magical experiences of my life.
My first performance there was with my troupe Paper Dolls Burlesque in 2013, running a tent, performing and getting people to dress up and do burlesque themed crafting.
It’s moved to Hylands now (same site as V festival), grown hugely and developed into a proper festival you can camp at, not just a one day extravaganza.
This year I performed with the Burlesque Jems, and was also their photographer for the day, capturing their performances and a few sneaky portraits too.
I made a last-minute mermaid bra so I could mermaid-burlesque (merlesque?!) and it was just a wonderful day – the most myself I’ve felt since before Dad went into hospital. It was amazing to merge two of my alter egos (Lotta Fiero and Kerenza Sapphire), brilliant to be back on stage, scary but eventually great to be out and about with my camera, and wonderfully indulgent to leave my worries and sadness behind and throw myself into festival life for a few hours.
Also, what better example of a multipod in action than photographing and performing all on the same day?
I had forgotten how much of a workout dancing and photography are though – my Sunday has been exceptionally gentle!
Here are a few of the photos – the rest will pop up over at Carla Watkins Photography and Burlesque Jems in the coming weeks.
I’m dreaming of the water.
Dreaming of the feeling of wild water on my skin, a feeling you can’t replicate in a pool, even an outdoor one.
Just me, a little boat, and a cool, gentle river to paddle up.
Though obviously, I’d wear a lifejacket…
This week’s discovery, quickly fuelling a long-hidden obsession, is kayaks. Specifically, inflatable kayaks and canoes.
I have loved the water since I was tiny, and now I run a mermaid school among other things – so it’s not like this is a surprise.
But I’ve squashed my desire to get out on the water near where I live for two big reasons:
The main one is my beloved Poppy car. She’s perfect and she’s glorious and she makes me unspeakably happy, but she is also undeniably a two-seater convertible and can’t tow. A kayak would melt (never mind whack passing cars unceremoniously) on the boot rack, and she can’t have a roof rack because soft top.
So all these years, I have made do with the occasional paddle when I visit Wells with my uni girls, or if I happen to be somewhere with an activity lake.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a whitewater rapid kind of a girl – I want to potter upstream to the pub, moor up, sit and have lunch in the sun, with a book or with friends, and then I want to get back in my boat and pootle downstream back to my hometown.
But without being able to transport my gear, that’s not been a reality.
The second reason is fear. I’m a strong swimmer, if not as fit as I’d like to be, and I adore the water – I’m not frightened of falling in. But I have learned to fear being on or in the water alone. Partly through being taught that water is dangerous, and partly because of the tragedies that can and do happen in and on the water, especially wild water rather than pools.
This fear-reasoning has led me to believe that I can’t own a boat while I’m joyfully single (or any kind of single), because I can’t go out in it on my own, and my friends are either too busy or don’t want to come boating with me.
Which is an unfair assessment of the situation, as a tentative reaching out over the last few days has yielded lots of people who were really quite enthusiastic about occasionally coming out on a gentle paddle, and as long as I take proper safety precautions, I absolutely can go out boating on my own.
I’m beginning to realise that though water can, definitely, be dangerous, my respect for it has become fear of what could happen, without any grounds in reality. And do I want to keep myself absolutely safe, or do I want to throw myself headlong into life and enjoy every experience that lights me up, as often as possible?
Enter my lovely plumber Dan. He came to do my annual gas service a week or so ago, and while catching up and showing him the garden (he was the one who did all the work on the inside of my house, and hadn’t seen the garden transformation), he happened to mention paddleboarding and his new inflatable kayak.
My ears pricked up… inflatable means foldable which very possible means fittable-into-Poppy!
And just like that, all my squashed desire to go out boating more regularly surfaced. Not to mention the wild mermaiding possibilities if you can get to places in a boat first!
Some research has thrown up that most are for two people but can be configured for one; that there is a canoe & kayak club in Wivenhoe, which I’ll be investigating, and that there is a new public pontoon on the river.
And also that there are a few local watersports shops! Two near my parents and one on the way to the beach. Perfect.
I also threw the idea out among some friends and discovered a friend who already has one, and paddles nearby – so readymade companions for day trips! (Pub trips…)
I’m planning a visit to see the boats I like in person in the next couple of weeks, and then I’ll start a fund for one of my own. Next summer is looking pretty glorious from where I’m sitting!
With love and unicorns,
Intriguingly, I’d always assumed I’d do some kind of massive post for my 30th birthday, to mark the first “big” birthday (by society’s norms, anyway) I’ve had since I was 21. I’d half expected some kind of breakdown, as we seem to put so much pressure on ourselves to do certain things by certain ages – as though the numbers actually make a difference.
Instead, I’m feeling better than I have in years, my current twin passions of mermaid school and photography are steaming along nicely and gaining traction, there are a ridiculous amount of exciting things happening this year, and very little to be sad or concerned or freaked out about.
I marked the occasion with an open house (in my actual house) for my family, an open house (in the pub) for my friends and a gorgeous lunch with my parents on the day itself, plus a sneaky trip to London the following day to meet my best friend’s new baby 🙂
There are still several dear friends who I need to celebrate with over the coming months, and that makes me happy – I’ve always been good at drawing my birthday out far beyond the acceptable realms of celebrating time!
I’ve had a few gratefully-received life lessons in the last month or so – to honour and appreciate and choose to use my precious and beautiful body and limbs, never to take my loved ones for granted, and that as much as I love my car, cars are replaceable and humans really aren’t.
If I have to come up with something around my 30th that’s freaking me out, my mortgage would probably do the trick – I love, love, LOVE my house but I get twitchy when I’m £100 in overdraft, so the concept of owing the amount I do on my house is bizarre to say the least. But it is nice to see the overall amount decreasing little by little, and it’s wonderful to feel stable at last, after so many years of being ready to pack up and move on at a moment’s notice!
I’m making good progress through my Daydreams To Do list, which started out as a 30 for 30 list and then got a bit out of hand. And I don’t want to feel like I’m putting time limits on myself, or rushing an experience which should be savoured just so it can be ticked off a list before a certain date.
And I have been overwhelmed by how well my friends & family know me… alongside a circus experience (!) and contributions to a new washing machine (oh, the glamour), I found myself opening an astonishing amount of mermaid and unicorn related presents, which made me very happy!
So here’s to the next decade… I have this sneaking suspicion it’s going to be a good one….
A typical dreamy, water-loving Pisces, my lifetime love of the sea, of mermaids, of myth and magic beneath the waves as well as above them, comes as no surprise.
As a child I was forever in the water. Spending whole days at a time in my aunt’s parents’ pool. Feeling like I’d come home when I went to my family in Cornwall and could swim in the sea.
I dreamed of mermaids and caves, of underwater kingdoms and a beautiful blue tail, which would propel me faster and further than my human legs could do. My hair was always tangled from the salt water or the chlorine, as I found it impossible to be in a pool and not spend most of my time under the surface.
So when, this year, I finally fulfilled my dream of swimming in a real mermaid tail, I loved it so much, I decided I wanted to find a way for other people to experience it too.
Being me, I didn’t let the grass grow under my feet (or the kelp under my tail) – and I am now over the moon to introduce Run Away Days.
Mermaid experiences for grown ups only, in the surroundings of a luxury spa in the Essex countryside.
It’s been a roller coaster ride (anything water based is an absolute arse to get insured and risk-assessed), but we’re all set and ready to go – squeak! First dates are likely to be April or May – and I CANNOT WAIT to share this with other aspiring mers.
If you’re not an underwater baby, Run Away Days will also be offering circus escapes and more in the future. Get on the list here or over at the Run Away Days site.
And tell me – what would your ideal escape day look like?
With love & narwhals (because underwater unicorns!),
(Big thanks to Amy & Laura at Sports Direct Fitness Colchester, who accepted my tailswimming without batting an eyelid, and also to Colchester Leisure World, who have given me permission to swim in the dive pit at certain times. Every mermaid needs to practice!)
“Swim in a mermaid tail” is number four on my Daydreams To Do list. Mermaiding is not a new interest of mine – I vividly remember when I first stumbled across a video of Hannah Mermaid, way back in my London cubicle days.
Having dreamed of being a mermaid for as long as I can remember, and just as happy in water as on land, I was instantly fascinated, and more than a little bit jealous that here was someone making a living being an actual, real life mermaid. Half my family is also Cornish, and Cornwall is rife with mermaid legends and stories… surely some of them must be true.
A bit more Googling and I discovered a whole heap of people doing the mermaid thing, some professional, some hobbyists. And so started my fascination with the world of mermaiding – another one of my highly niche interests, apparently!
photo credit: Mermaids at Vancouver International Boat Show via photopin (license)
Back then, I had two major hurdles – firstly that it hadn’t really caught on in the UK yet, and mainly my own lack of confidence and time. I’ve periodically revisited inspiring sites, pinned wishlists and beautiful images to my Mer board on Pinterest, and generally daydreamed a bit. I even joined my local gym for a few months so I could swim more often but found it really frustrating swimming in lanes.
Fastforward to now. I am in the first grip of a new obsession, and for a multipod there is nothing quite like it. A couple of weeks ago I finally stopped lurking and joined the MerNetwork, a forum for merminded people like me. (Yes, my first port of call is always a forum… that’s where you find the best people!!) Through them I found the UK pod on Facebook, and I’ve been starting to get to know people there too.
We’re already talking about a photoshoot next year, now I’ve found my photography confidence again, and I’m now investigating buying my first tail and monofin. I’ve also emailed the Essex School of Diving, who run sessions on a Saturday evening in Colchester, on the advice of other mers, who have had mixed experiences with using their fins and tails in a public pool, but usually a good reception at scuba clubs.
I know myself well enough now to know this won’t be all-consuming for long – but as I’ve swum and had mermaid dreams all my life, it seems reasonable to assume it’ll hang around as one of the long term things I do! (and I already have the hair, right?!)
With love and multipotentialite unicorns,