2018 to 2019

2018 was a hard year and felt like it lasted a million years rather than just one. I spent most of 2017 travelling around for both work and pleasure, visiting the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Japan, Croatia, Slovenia, France and Switzerland.

Here I am

I have barely updated this blog since the summer because I’ve been both very busy and rarely home. I spent most of September in Australia…

Ma Chambre

So here’s my room. I moved to this small unfurnished flat in October, and until the New Year I didn’t have a bed or enough shelves, so everything was in boxes all over the place, and it didn’t look great. The other room has both the living room stuff and my desk, which isn’t ideal. Photos of that will have to wait because it’s currently covered in a load of paperwork and art stuff.

Trying to be nicer to myself

Today is the last day of my 32nd year on the planet. As someone with a mid-January birthday, I particularly hate how January is assigned to be the hate-yourself-and-vow-to-change-everything-about-yourself-in-a-punitive-way month. Rather than futile and harmful diet and gym plans, I’m trying to be nicer to myself and less viciously self-critical about my appearance.

Some thoughts about having left London

So I returned permanently to the UK in September and moved to Margate. I grew up in Kent, but haven’t lived here permanently since I was 18, which feels like a long time ago. Settling in has been both good and hard. I travelled non-stop essentially from January to September, and adjusting myself to being in one place and the idea that I live somewhere has taken a while. It’s also kind of weird pretty much only being surrounded by people I’ve known for 1-2 months- you feel like the awkward new kid at school.

Hiding in plain sight

I’ve wanted to write about some happier things for the last few days, but my mind has been very much consumed with the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal

It’s so funny how we don’t talk any more

I realised recently how much I miss getting comments and having conversations on this blog. I know that people read it and they seem to enjoy it, but I don’t get much feedback or reactions outside Facebook.

One Second A Day- September

Here is my one second a day video for September. Features Hamburg suburbs, Heidelburg, small towns in Baden-Württemburg, the Kent coast and a gig from British Sea Power and Everything Everything.

So I moved back to Kent…

So I moved back to Kent last week. (I’m knackered after travelling round Germany for three weeks and then moving house back-to-back). To Margate in particular. I grew up in Medway, a little way to the west, but left when I was eighteen to go to university, as it didn’t feel like there were any opportunities for me. Nearly fifteen years later, here I am. A lot has changed in that time.

So Bin Ich

I return to the UK for good next week (?!?) after a year spent mostly abroad. It will be back to service as normal round here, and I’ve got a whole load of photos of different places that I have yet to post.

I’ve got a fair few new readers lately (mostly from my photos of Japan), and the bio on here isn’t very forthcoming about myself. A lot of the time my approach to blogging is Look Here Is A Thing, but I think a lot of people prefer something more personal to keep reading. So here’s one of those 50 Things About Me things, (with one for luck).

Here I am

Also I haven’t been updating this blog as much lately, because I’ve just been so busy. I went to Croatia, Slovenia and Austria for work and pleasure in June, and then came to Cambridge at the start of the month to teach on a residential course. My contracted hours were already high, and I’ve been doing a lot of overtime covering for someone who was hospitalised. I’ve worked 160 hours in the last three weeks, so it’s no surprise I’ve had no spare time. I only have one more week left to go however, so expect some photos of Austria and the former Yugoslavia, as well as other things.

Gute Reise

On Thursday I go off to spend 6 weeks in Central Europe. One week in Brno in the Czech Republic, then five weeks in various places in Austria teaching. Then in March, I’m off to Japan for two weeks.

So I will closing the shop from 3pm GMT on Weds the 18th of Jan. If you want zines or ribbons or badges, this is your last chance until April.

Keep it clean

I wouldn’t say I was particularly tidy, but I do like to keep my living environment clean. I spent a few years working in restaurants when I was younger, and a big part of the job was keeping the restaurant and bar as clean and pleasant as possible. Especially at the end of the night, you can’t go home until everything is spotless, so you get used to cleaning things as efficiently as possible, and in a way that makes sure it all looks shiny as well as being hygienic. This has also been useful in making not-so-nice rented places in London a lot more pleasant to live in. (It has also given me the side-effect of finding housework to be an effective hangover cure)

I’ve come to realise lately, a surprising number of people find housework difficult and turn out not to know things about laundry, unblocking drains etc that I thought everyone knew. It still seems a bit patronising for me to write these tips (but also quite militant in my aversion to dirty tea towels and unrinsed washing up), because they’re obvious to me, but I know now they’re not obvious to a lot of people, and New Year seems an appropriate time to write them.

2016 in review

I spent a low-stress and low-key Christmas with my friend Vicky up in Manchester, and have returned to Kent over the New Year to see hometown friends. I’ll be in the UK for a few more weeks (including my birthday), then heading off to Austria for 5 weeks for work, then a further 2 weeks in Japan, meaning I’ll be abroad until April. A variety of factors has meant that I’ve not worked full-time in months, and to be honest I’m itching to go back to work and being busy all the time.

It’s fair (and easy) to say that 2016 was not a good year for me. And the consensus is that it was also a terrible year politically, that has seen fascism and far-right politics on the ascendant. Here is a brief list of my positives and negatives for the year.

Well that was depressing

So Donald Trump just about won the US election, continuing the exhausting and depressing downwards trajectory of 2016, and the continual rise of the far right to power. Brexit and the election of Trump show how good the Right are at times of economic hardship in convincing people their problems are caused by foreigners and the Other, rather than that they’re living in a system designd to make the rich become richer, and keep a permanent pool of people desperate for work to drive down wages and conditions. Saying “oh it won’t make much difference” after events like Brexit or Trump winning is something you can only say if you and everyone you know and care about don’t fall under the categories of people such as POC, Muslims, women, poor people or immigrants whose lives are about to become so much more difficult. People always think “oh that doesn’t mean my friend/wife/neighbour/workmate, they’re talking about those weird threatening strangers, not those nice people I know”. It does mean those nice people you know.

A bit part in your life.

So it’s October now. The last few weeks I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Kent and Sussex. Job-hunting is boring and tedious, and has pushed back moving house. All my things are packed up in boxes, ready to go, but the going isn’t happening yet. I’ve also had tonisilitis for the last week, which is finally clearing up. I’ve got too many of my own projects I need to finish. So not the most fun of times, but hopefully it won’t drag on forever.

Here’s some interesting odds and ends:

Tuesday the 13th

No posts for a week. I stayed with my dad for most of last week to go to a family wedding, took my laptop with me to do some work while I was there, but then stupidly forgot to bring the power cord with me. Here’s a relaxing video. I actually really don’t enjoy those “relaxing” videos of people whispering or crinkling things, they don’t relax me at all (and some of them are definitely aiming more at “attractive woman pays attention to you” than soothing sounds), but I like this one. Best enjoyed with headphones.

Bienvenue à Lassay-les-Châteaux

My mother lives in a small town in Northern France called Lassay-les-Châteaux. For a few years she’s had a holiday caravan in a park nearby, and at Christmas she bought a house in the town. The English version of wikipedia has practically nothing to say about Lassay-les-Châteaux other than showing photos of two of the three local castles- one in the town centre, the other two just outside. (The town’s name also sounds like it means “leave the castles” in French). The French entry doesn’t tell you much more, except that a lot of people were guillotined there in the Revolution, the local mayor doesn’t belong to a political party (after a long line of right-wingers), and that Victor Hugo visited once. It’s just not a place where things happen. If you want the quiet life, you can find it in Lassay.

Recent charity shop finds

The good thing about spending the summer in a small town full of old people is that there are a lot of charity shops and jumble sales, they often have good stock, don’t overprice and there aren’t a lot of other people looking for the same things as me (which is more likely to happen in a big city).

This must be the place

The past few weeks haven’t really given me time for blogging. I’ve been helping with house-clearances, writing a proposal for some freelance work I really wanted but didn’t get, and undergoing major dental work. I now have the next 10 weeks house-sitting in a small town at least an hour’s travel from anyone I know.

Where I’ve been

I haven’t written here for a while. Life has been very busy, and apart from a holiday to Italy, generally stressful and a little depressing, and I’ve very rarely had access to the internet other than on my phone, which doesn’t encourage updating a blog (although I’ve got lots of things I’d like to put on here). On a personal level, I moved out of London at the end of April. I was supposed to go down to Sussex to take care of my mum’s new flat until the Autumn. She inherited some money before Christmas, and moved house and bought a holiday cottage in France with it. The plan was she’d have some things done to the new flat and then spend the whole summer in France sorting out the holiday cottage how she wanted. “Some things” turned into “rip out all the electrics because they turned out to be illegal and unsafe, have all the walls replastered and replace the kitchen and bathroom”. Coupled with a builder with a very elastic sense of time, it’s only just being finished at the end of this week. That means I’ve been living out of a suitcase since April. I’ve been to Italy and Sheffield in that time (very nice), visited relatives (very stressful) and spent a very claustrophobic two weeks in a caravan in France with my mum where we couldn’t go anywhere or do anything because there was a fuel strike and then floods (I didn’t murder her).

Roll up, roll up

I’ve been very busy this week. On Wednesday I moved all my stuff out of London and into storage until the end of May, and visited my dad, then took the train up to Sheffield to see friends and table at the Sheffield Zine Fest. I had a great time, but I was exhausted and fell asleep at 7pm on Saturday! I’m going back to Yorkshire this weekend for a friend’s wedding, and then Italy the following week (ridiculously, it was cheaper to go on holiday to Lake Garda, hardly the cheapest region of Italy, than it was to extend my tenancy a week in London. Let that one sink in… ). When I come back towards the end of May, I’ll then go to Sussex to house-sit for the summer.

Here I am.

My life has been both turbulent and boring at the same time lately, and I haven’t been writing here, as I haven’t had the energy. I have been suffering with health problems, dealing with family illness, and trying to keep my head above water in a London that is increasingly unaffordable and inhospitable. (And to make things even worse, this weekend a hometown friend died at a horribly young age. RIP Louise).

Every morning there are mountains to climb

I haven’t posted here for nearly a month now. Family illness, upcoming major life changes, unsuccessful job hunts and other stressful things have taken up my time. I’ve had a lot of ideas for posts to make here, but neither the time nor energy to write them. Not a lot of fun happening round this way lately. I got to see Grimes play live though recently, which was something, at least. Here are some interesting links to share.

Frimaire, Nivose & Pluviose

I haven’t updated here in a while. I worked long hours throughout January and also moved house. I’ve also now officially deferred my course until next year. I missed too much of the school year when I was ill. I’ll have a little while off, and then look for some work to tide me over. In between all that I turned 31. Ancient, really. I’ll have a bit more time on my hands over the next couple of weeks, so I’d better make use of it. Here’s some links of interesting bits and bobs to tide you over.

New Years 2015

I’m not going anywhere tonight. I’ve never been much of one for NYE, and my options for tonight included spending lots of money I don’t have, or spending at least an hour crossing town. As I’m not drinking at the moment, feeling kind of quiet and tired lately, and totally broke until Monday, I’m happy to stay in. My preferred NYE social options are either going to a pub within quick reach of home, or going to a friends house/hosting them anyway. The problem with London is that everyone is so spread out with long journey times or awkward journeys if you’re not going via central, and transport is often such a horrible experience on NYE that it can become a bit of a mission to do even that.

Roll on 2016

I’m at my dad’s place for a couple of days over Christmas, I’m not feeling at all festive this year though, and it seems a lot of other people aren’t either. When I was growing up, they nearly always showed Watership Down on TV at some point over Christmas. It seemed perfectly normal at the time, but now it seems an odd and slightly depressing choice of film to repeat every year. So here’s the trailer as my half-hearted attempt at being festive.

Enjoy your Londons

In 2015 I’ve worked long hours in the day job (+ spending the spare time I did have in the summer helping to make DIY Space for London a reality) and not had much time for creative projects. It’s been good for my CV, and my material standard of living has improved, but I’ve not always had the time or energy to devote to doing much in the way of creative work or taking as much advantage of all the interesting things London has to offer as I could do or would have liked. I now have plenty of time and not much money until January, so now seems the time to try to figure out how to get a better work-life balance without going broke (always a challenge in an expensive city like London). It’s a month early to do New Year’s Resolutions, but why let a calendar stop me. I always feel much happier and focused with a to do list to work on. Here’s my goals.

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