Okay, so it's easy for me to say that, what with having the week off work and all, but in the spirit of last week's blog, this week I am keeping things simple.
Things have been going pretty well with the whole writing thing at Shelly Berry Towers - my dabble at writing a script for a short film is progressing nicely (watch this space), as is my stab at journalism, what with a couple of juicy pieces for the Waltham Forest Echo working themselves out of the woodwork (again, keep your eyes peeled). Edit of novel number two is getting closer to completion too, despite my wavering confidence in the project. The problem is, it is all starting to feel a bit manic, and, having committed to a college course starting in September, it is going to get worse.
Or is it?
Maybe I just need to do what I keep telling myself to do; keep it simple. Stop putting pressure on myself to get things done that can wait and enjoy those little pleasures in life, like cooking and reading. I've been trying to read Iris Murdoch's The Sea The Sea for weeks now, but keep finding myself distracted by things I ought to do, rather than settling down with a good book and a nice cup of tea. And, rather than cooking the food I really want to eat, I end up churning out the same old thing night after night, rather than taking an extra 15 minutes to experiment and try something new - something that a recent meal out and a weekend with friends has made me determined to do.
So, when I get my train home tomorrow, I shall read my book. And when I go shopping, I will buy ingredients to make Moroccan Lamb and Aubergine with pomegranate and tabouleh salad, just like I had at The Bell in the Stow, and even more aubergine to make Simone's Melanzane parmingiana. And, before my next batch of leave, I will make a cake to take into work - I have a heap of cream cheese icing in the freezer that desperately needs using up, and quite a few colleagues who I really owe a slice of my grandma's carrot cake for one reason or another. And, hell, I like baking. So that is what I am going to do.
Emptying the loft, cleaning the bathroom and redecorating the kitchen can wait. I am on a new kind of mission, my friend...
So, as the Bank Holiday draws to a close, I hope everyone is feeling as smug as I am. I've had a lovely weekend thanks to my friends who joined me for a belated housewarming. In true Shelly fashion, I couldn't resist but go all out on the catering, providing food from the east - as in winkles from East London, Pork Pies from the East Midlands, and, sat firmly in centre stage, ham, stotties and pease pudding from my birthplace in the North East. I cooked the ham and the stotties myself and was really pleased with the results - will definitely be making those again!
Of course, it being a house warming party, I wanted to get my flat as pretty as possible - and managed to finish my second book case with half an hour to spare before my first guests arrived. Cutting it fine? Moi? Okay, maybe a bit...
So yes, I'm in my happy place this evening, and will be staying firmly put throughout the week, courtesy of a few day's annual leave I managed to sneak in. Of course on Thursday I will be voting, and encourage everyone to do the same. Last week I went to a talk by Owen Jones and George the Poet, and left feeling really inspired that, if we all pull together to work towards a better future, anything is possible. Not sure who to vote for? Take George's advice: think about all the things that really annoy you on a normal day and look at what the different parties are going to do about them. Pretty sound advice if you ask me...
I shall leave you with a quote from George - one for life and the election:
As long as you're gonna be courageous
I promise you you're gonna see some changes.
Hope you have all had a lovely weekend, relaxing indoors perhaps, safe in the knowledge that you go about your business without prying eyes paying attention to your every move? Yes?
Well I'm sorry, but I'm going to spoil it for you.
Don't get me wrong, I've had a lovely weekend visiting friends out on the commuter belt and, prior to that, enjoyed a night out with the girlies in London. But what I have learnt during these jollies has left me disturbed. You see, what I have learnt is about cyber-stalking - and how scarily easy it is.
Take scenario number one. Girl goes to an open mic night. Girl sees boy and decides she quite likes him, but can't quite muster the courage to begin a conversation. However, her interest surpasses her shyness and she "friends" him on facebook, looks up where his next gig is - and drags me along (after I've looked him up online myself, of course!). Girl again couldn't bring herself to talk to the said young man, but has sent him an innocent query via the medium of social media about his work
And then there's scenario number two. Girl visits wildlife hospital with mates. Girl comments of attractiveness of male giving a talk about, let's say, hedgehogs. Later that evening, after a couple of glasses of wine, girl and mates, armed with his first name, place of work and home town (more fool him for disclosing this during talk about his prickly friends) are able to locate him on Twitter, facebook and You Tube. Girl promptly follows boy, but will be unfollowing him before posting this blog (for obvious reasons). Besides, his girlfriend looks really nice, and is only 20...
Finally scenario number three - girl and mates then start googling each other and their other mates. Girl is relieved to find nothing too incriminating about herself (well, under her real name anyway) - apart from an email sent for her day job that has been released under the Freedom of Information Act - eeek! Luckily it was very short and did not include any bad jokes, but STILL! Another mate came up a little worse for wear, with names of siblings, ex wives and financial situation being easily accessible. Yikes...
So... the moral of the story? Look yourself up - and get yourself removed from any sites you don't want to be named on. Oh, and if you want to find out the relationship status of "Dave" who works at your local, message my mate Jules - damn that girl is good!
Oh, and if all that stalking makes you hungry, go eat pizza. I recommend my mate Phil's creations but, if you don't fancy a trip to Bucks and live in London,, check out Operation:Pizza - new blog posted on Friday.
Of course if you do fancy Phil's Parma Ham Special, just look him up online - I'm sure you can find him...
I hope you are all feeling nicely refreshed after the weekend? I have to admit that, after three nights of camping, I'm quite tired - but then there's nothing quite like sitting around a smoldering BBQ at 11 o'clock at night, playing cards and supping Jameson's whiskey (a new and rather dangerous discovery for old Shell) to re-charge the batteries. Okay, so as camping goes we were pretty well looked after (electricity supply, showers AND clean toilets? Wow!) but cooking outdoors, sleeping with nothing more than a sheet of waterproof fabric between you and the elements and being without all those creature comforts we don't need but depend on is certainly good for the soul. Even if not the back...
It isn't just going camping that has helped me detox my mind - if not my body (one thing at a time people!). I've been reading a book by Gabbi Bernstein, Yoga and Meditation buff whose 108 Miracles Now breaks down developing your spiritual side - and maintaining your well-being - into easy to follow steps. Whilst some of it isn't for me, it is full of handy hints to improve your relationship with the world and look at life with a more positive slant, something I admit I sometimes find tricky.
On Thursday, I found myself seeing positives in what could have been a rather crushing situation. After several rejection letters confused by some very positive feedback from publishers and competition judges, I decided to ask a professional to look at my first novel, Faith, Hope and Chocolate. Deep down I knew it wasn't my best writing by any means but had grown attached to my characters - and still loved the concept. Claire's feedback confirmed this - and her comments helped me see where it wasn't working and think about how I could develop the story line. We concluded that the best course of action would be to start again - and, this time, write with a bit more of a purpose and a plan, something I admit not really doing the first time round. So, watch this space people - just don't hold your breath, as I have novel number two to edit first, plus a couple of other ideas floating about...
Now, with all that in mind, I'm going to run myself a nice bath, read some more "Miracles" and write in my journal - the detox isn't complete yet!
Well I trust you are all having a super Sunday. I set my alarm this morning in an attempt to get Glastonbury tickets. Needless to say I wasn't successful, but I'm not going to dwell on it. Sniff...
So, how was your week? I managed to finish off the two collages I made a start on last week - and here they are! I might play with another today - the truth is I really want to do a bit of painting but, as I work in slow-drying oils, I'm putting this off until after I move. Which, incidentally, I'm no further along with. Don't get me started...
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this, but buying a flat is not easy in London, yet is something that, when you get to my age (34 - yes, I lied last week when I suggested I was a touch younger...) is almost expected of you. Last night my friend Vicky and I bemoaned all the Facebook posts reminding us of our friend's and aquaintances achievements, from buying houses, getting engaged and having children. But then, after further discussion (and a bit more wine) we came to the conclusion that, whilst for some people reaching these milestones was a natural progression, the rest of us want to make our own rules. In London this is a lot easier, and folk are more accepting of an alternative. This week I was out until 3am two nights in a row and have been more than a little consumed with thoughts of music festivals - quite normal to me, but apparently not so to others. I'll never forget clubbing in Birmingham before Christmas and noting that, apart from one rogue couple, everyone else was younger than 25. Even more amusing was when a lad barely able to shave suggested I was only there to pull a younger man. No, I'm not kidding...
So, whist I'm not married with kids (estate agents; please note that such assumptions are NOT acceptable) and object to being referred to as "madam", I'm embracing certain aspects of grown up living - but for me, not because I think I should or other people expect me too. I'm going to buy my flat and am in the process of rediscovering my love of cooking (Roquamole, anyone?) but can't wait to hit the festival season this summer - and my next night on the dance floor. Where I'll be shaking my bootie for me and no one else.
Well I hope you are all having a lovely restful day. Those of you who dip into this blog on a regular basis will know that, this year, I have vowed to take it all a little bit easier. You will also be aware that, last week, I had an offer accepted on a flat. AND arranged to have a wee art exhibition in Farringdon. If you know me personally you will also know what I'm not so good at taking it nice and slow and, even with the best of intentions, my New Years Resolution was always going to be something I would struggle with. And events over the last 14 days have not made it any easier...
It doesn't help that I can't say no to a little bit of fun too. This week I've started choir again, caught up with some art friends over mushroom and stilton pie and wine (as it LOTS of wine) and indulged in a bit of girly time oggling Jude Law in Henry V and dissecting his, er, "performance" over pizza and, yep, more wine. Which means that it is Sunday afternoon and, despite my best intentions, I'm starting to feel a bit antsy about all the stuff I should have done - and not quite managed.
I think I need help.
Anyway, on that note, I'm going to crack on with a bit of writing, research my trip to Bristol next weekend (I WILL have a mini-break, I WILL!) and do my knee strengthening exercises before making a veggie stew for my lunches next week and a spot of dinner. As Virginia Woolf said, "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well..."
Wish me luck. I think I'm going to need it...
Well, what a week. What with unofficial Christmas drinks with friends, mountains of cake and mince pies in the office and two food-laden parties, I'm already feeling as stuffed as a turkey! Hopefully there will be a bit of respite now until the big day, when I will be cooking roast pork for my ma and pa. Yes, my mother has given me free rein of the kitchen on Christmas Day. I just hope she's also stocked up on plenty of wine to help me along...
Like most of you, today I shall be doing some last minute shopping before meeting some chums at the Serpentine Gallery. I'm in the process of convincing them to go to the Winter Wonderland after but this is proving more of a challenge. This weekend I shall also squeezing in a final run to keep the muffin top at bay and finishing off a couple of homemade Christmas presents which I started last night in front of Love Actually (Christmas movie number one - The Muppet Christmas Carol is scheduled for the epic parcel wrapping session tomorrow). Sadly I can't publish any photos of my handiwork yet or it would spoil the surprise... but I'm pleased with how they're turning out.
Well, as we're all so busy, I shall say goodbye for now. Oh, and Merry Christmas one and all. I have a feeling it's going to be a good one...
It’s the third of January and two days since I returned to my chilly, empty flat and returned to work. Despite my New Year’s resolution to “get my shit together” (drink less, eat less, exercise more, find fulfilment and balance in my home and work life, yada yada), my motivation is struggling to get beyond hitting the snooze button – or reaching for yet another piece of chocolate orange.
And that is not all. I now have orders from two very good friends and will be sending one collage and a pair of “Hers and Hers” cushion covers over to chums over in Canada and hand delivering a pair of earrings and a bracelet to another friend when I meet her for coffee in two weeks time. Thanks guys!
I also managed to make a start on novel number two between Christmas and New Year... okay, so I only managed an edit of the 1,800 words I wrote about three years ago plus an extra 500, but it’s a start. And with plans to meet my creative “buddy” this weekend, hopefully I’ll soon be back into the swing of things.
Oh! I almost forgot! I’ve also now got my very own business card! SO EXCITING! So if you happen to bump into me whilst on our travels through 2013 you might even get one – or order something from my Etsy shop and I’ll make sure I pop one in the post to you...
HAPPY NEW YEAR PEEPS!
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...