They said it on the air on the radio


The other night, cutting it a bit fine before the cut off deadline, I started to listening to a BBC Radio 4 Extra programme by Jessica Fostekew called Motherhood: Bump, Birth and Beyond.

Here’s the description from the BBC website:

“Made for 4 Extra. Jessica Fostekew charts the horrors and highs of the nine months of life with a bump, the moment of reckoning with birth, and the chaos, or not, that lies ahead.

We have clips from over 50 years of Woman’s Hour, programmes on pregnancy and childbirth from the 1960s and 1970s, and archive interviews about coping with parenthood – and we’ll be speaking to the comedians Jenny Eclair, Cariad Lloyd, Sara Barron, Richard Herring and Catie Wilkins, Caroline Mabey, Jen Brister, Hatty Ashdown, Kirsty Newton, Katie Mulgrew, Taylor Glenn, Robin Ince, Laura Lexx, Sindhu Vee, Diane Morgan, and Holly Walsh about their experiences with fertility, pregnancy and motherhood.”

 

I was listening, sitting in bed, in the dark, on my own, late at night and it made me quite emotional.

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Biting the bullet


I’m not really one to follow trends, I’m rubbish at knowing what’s cool, what’s not, I mostly stick with stuff I like and if it happens to be something that fits with the world’s view of cool then so be it.

Bullet journaling has really taken off – my former boss introduced us to the concept as a way of managing tasks about 18 months ago, but it didn’t really click for me.  For the uninitiated it’s a system of organizing your time, tasks, activities; it’s a to-do list, a diary, a sketchpad, notebook, pretty much everything you can think of and want it to be.  When Jess told us about it it was not really something I needed.  My job was running the cafe and so making plans of what I needed to do took a back seat to actually doing it, but now things are different.

I’ve now got two jobs, volunteering and am attempting to make stuff and have a small social life too.  I work from a small diary to keep track of which job I’m meant to be at when, but now that doesn’t seem to be enough.

At the start of this year, Genevieve at job no. 2 showed me the start of her bullet journal and this, coupled with the fact that I’d got a Paperchase voucher, meant that of course I needed to give it a go because I’m a sucker for new stationary.

An aside: 

Do you still get the urge to rush out to WHSmith’s every September to get new notebooks, ring binders, pens and geometry set?  I really do.  I’ve been out of the education system for 11 years, but every new academic year I feel that longing to get new stuff ready for the start of school or university, as though the old stuff just won’t cut it any more, I’ve chewed through all the pens and pencils, notebooks lie forlornly half filled with ideas and snippets.  I don’t even really need a geometry set anymore, it’s very rare that I can put to good use my set square or protractor.  I couldn’t even remember the name of the protractor, I’ve actually had to just look it up in order to write this, but I know I want, no need, a new one each Autumn.  I know I’ve been conditioned to feel this way, in the same manner that while watching ‘Bake Off’ I’ll find myself suddenly with a mixing bowl in my lap, creaming butter and sugar together without really having realised it….  September for me is changing leaves, conkers shiny shoes and needing to give myself a restraining order for a stationary store.

I started gathering the stationary bits from around my room – collecting the coloured pencils, pens, a mini ruler and bought myself a blank notebook with dots instead of lines and then my mind went blank.  What should I include? What should I write? What would be useful? Can I fit in time to fill it in?  Then I stalled for a week.

Desperate for inspiration I signed up for the official newsletter, I fell into the twin rabbit holes of Buzzfeed and Pinterest – gorgeous pictures of layouts with fancy fonts, doodles, weekly and monthly trackers… It all seemed a bit beyond me.

Some of the ideas from Pinterest

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So no-one told you life was gonna be this way


When you start school, you are placed in a class with other children born at roughly the same time as you, in the same area.  You may be in the same class as those children for the next 6 years, maybe even longer.  They become your friends and you may lose touch with some of them over the years, or you may still be talking about when Ryan and James jumped into the lake and got soaked 25 years later.

 

If you go to stay in halls at university, you get placed with people from all over the country and live with them for at least a year.  You become friends through your living situation, the experience of moving away from home for the first time and dealing with all the things that come with having to become an adult for the first time.

 

You start jobs, you have hobbies, you make friends in a number of different ways, but it sometimes seems harder to do when you are older and move to a new place. I’ve been in Sheffield for 4 years now and I have some lovely friends, but it’s always good to make more.

 

Last week, I went along to the second Girl Gang Sheffield ‘Speed Mate-ing’ event at Union Street.  I had planned to go to the first one but it was sold out, so I bought my ticket early for number two.  For those reading in the future and may not know, the UK was rocked by ‘The Beast from the East’ over the start of March this year and Sheffield did not escape the Siberian winds and the snow storms that covered the country, but that didn’t stop the ladies (and one gent) of the city and surrounding area from heading into town to make some new friends.

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We’re made of something you don’t understand – Lefty Scum


Last night was part three of my Sparkle Dress Comedy Challenge and a trip to Sheffield’s City Hall for ‘Lefty Scum’.

 

I worked all day in Meadowhall, got changed into the sequins in the staff room behind some mannequins (getting semi stuck in the previous dress as I went) and headed to the tram stop, hoping to get to the venue on time.  I found my seat, but had to take the long way around to get to it and missed out on a trip to the bar – but then the queue was long and I have very little money left at the end of the month, so never mind.

 

I chatted a little to the couple to my left (naturally) about recent things they’d been to, I’d been to, how they’d moved up here from London recently and are looking for more stuff to do and to meet new people.  They seemed lovely and, coincidentally, the lady I was sat next to on Thursday came up and said hello to them – she the girlfriend of one of their friends, they told me.  Foolishly, we didn’t exchange names or details to meet up, but they might read this, so ‘Hello!’

 

The gig was kicked off by Josie in some great dungarees doing her bit of ‘chatting’.  I’ve never seen her live before, I’ve heard some of her podcasts: Short Cuts, Robin and Josie’s Utter Shambles, Book Shambles and as a guest on others like The Made of Human Podcast with Sofie Hagan.

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A tram at night


I sat on the tram opposite an older woman. Her face was turned to the window and tears streamed silently down her face. I took out my headphones and asked her if she was ok, she just nodded. I smiled at her and put my headphones back in, listening to funny women being clever.

I was sitting directly opposite her but tried not to keep looking directly at her, but because I felt she didn’t want a witness to the still falling tears. She turned back to the window, clutching her carrier a little closer. I could see her wipe at the tears from the corner of my eye, in the reflection of the windows. I wanted to check again whether she needed help but I didn’t want to draw attention to her.

The tram rattled on, halting at each stop, unusual for this time of night. When the woman and I locked eyes briefly we smiled at each other. I looked away and focused on the voices being pumped into my ears.

My stop was announced, I gathered my things, stood and gave her a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and another smile as I headed towards the door. Another year fell and she smiled again wearily, putting her hand over mine. I left the tram, stepping to the pavement and the dark night. After a few seconds the tram rolled past me, the lights inside harsh and garish compared to the muted streetlight ahead of me. She was lit up, once again looking out of the window away from me. The tram sped on, carrying her further into the night and whatever awaited her at home.

Send in the clowns


Twenty two days into February and I finally got to go to another live comedy show.  This is officially part two of my Sparkle Dress Comedy Challenge, following last month’s trip to Greg Davies in Leicester.  You can read more about that here.

 

Last night was John Kearn’s show ‘Don’t Worry They’re Here’ at DINA venue in Sheffield.  It was also my 34th birthday.  I sent a link to some youtube clips of John to some friends and invited them to come with me, but I did let them know that I’d not be offended if it wasn’t their thing.  Comedy can be very divisive, you laugh or you don’t and there’s nothing worse for me than laughing my head off with friends who just don’t get it, it stresses me out and I’d rather go on my own and enjoy it than be worried about how others are going to react.

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The making of a Winter Bear


Sometimes I find it hard to find presents for people.  There is an ongoing and unresolved discussion with my siblings about Christmas – whether we should do presents for each other.  My view is almost always yes – I’m single, have no kids and so if my family don’t get me present then I don’t really get any and that just seems sad.

 

I love planning presents – what to get each person, how to wrap and present it.  This year was a bit different to usual as I was made redundant in August and from September to the end of November I really had very little money.  I managed to pay for some things for the nieces and nephews and make something for Mum, but everyone else was going to miss out a little.

 

I was due to stay with my brother for Christmas, so wanted to get something for him and he’d said that they always like home made presents, which is handy because I have resources at home and I can normally think of something to put together.

 

When we were younger we had some lovely picture books; one that went astray and which we have both tracked down copies of was ‘The Winter Bear’ written by Ruth Craft and illustrated by Erik Blegvad.  The story is a simple one, of a group of siblings on a winter walk and finding a lost bear.  The landscapes are beautifully painted and drawn and for a while I’d thought that I could re-create some of it in felt but the main issue would be picking which page.

 

I settled on an image of the boy rescuing the bear from the tree because I liked the snowy scene, the colours of the landscape, I could embroider the grass and tree and the boy reminded me of my youngest nephew.

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Back to business…


I last posted in September with big plans for streamlining the blog, actually writing something for a change but then I got confused and distracted.  Writing just didn’t seem to be high on my list of priorities, but some things have happened and I’ve got a new love  and enthusiasm for it.

So firstly, I got two part time jobs, one in Meadowhall and the other at Sheffield University Student’s Union.  They couldn’t be more different, but I’m working with lovely people at both, I have a relatively steady, but meagre, income and I’m feeling happy again.  I’ve also been making some of the felt pictures, more on that in a later post, and trying to build myself a social life again after becoming a relative hermit from habit and poverty.  As part of my self care, building my social life and getting out doing fun things more…

…let me introduce you to The Sparkle Dress:

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The Sparkle Dress was something I saw online one day in September but couldn’t think of obtaining.  I got a job and The Sparkle dress became something I gazed at as I walked past Simply Be on my way to work.  The Sparkle Dress called to me because it had all the colours of my hair.  The Sparkle Dress was something I couldn’t afford because I had to pay for other, less frivolous things, like rent and food and travel to work and Netflix.

 

I bought it on sale, no refunds because it was a bit broken (something I could easily stitch up.  It made me so happy to get it and wear it to Christmas.  At Christmas I got a ticket for Greg Davies’ show ‘You Magnificent Beast’ as a present – thanks Liz and Richard.  I decided that the Sparkle Dress should not just be worn once, but should be worn out and where better to dress as a giant glitter ball from G.A.Y. than a show called ‘You Magnificent Beast’?

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Taking a new direction


It seems like so many things have changed recently, I broke up with my boyfriend and was made redundant from my job of over two years.

It’s a shame to leave my job but in a way it’s been really freeing because I’ve had the time to decide what I want to do with myself.   I have been looking for part time jobs, no luck yet, but I’ve decided to not worry too much because something always seems to turn up.   But there are sometimes lower points and I’ve found some great support from strangers – members of the Made of Human Podcast Facebook group and the Attic24 Moorland and Moor Facebook group.   It’s lovely to be able to see the brilliant creative things others are doing and have a place to have a little chat with people you don’t necessarily know.

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Workshop Write Up: Edge of the Universe Printing Press – Book Binding and Marbling


When I was in primary school we did loads of cool art things that I don’t get to do any more.  I could do something about this; I could build a makeshift flower press; I could take out some crayons and paper and head out for a walk to take some rubbings; I could even buy a load of different pasta shapes and make a collage, but I am less likely to do any paper marbling at home.  Mainly because I can’t really remember how to do it and I don’t really remember what equipment I might need.

So when I saw that my friends at Edge of the Universe Printing Press were running a series of workshops last Summer I signed myself up straight away.  It’s just taken me this long to type up my notes about what we got up to!

I went along to have a go at marbling and book binding in a two part session.  Sarah and David divided up the participants into two groups, one tacking the marbling first and the others working on the book binding.  I had brought along some coloured paper, trimmed to A5 size, and sat myself down to bind my little book first.

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Take this pink ribbon from my eyes


After the #WomensMarch for #WomensRights on Saturday and my last post ‘Streets of London’ I was reading back over old posts and found this for International Women’s Day two years ago.

Over hills and far away...

Today, March the 8th, is International Women’s Day. 

These days it seems that every day is national this or international day of that, so why should we take notice of this? Why should we care about today and celebrate it?

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Streets of London


This post contains some issues that may be triggers for people.  Please do comment below if you would like to.

When I was 13 I was walking across the courtyard of school, just chatting to a friend and heading to a lesson.  Three older boys were walking in the opposite direction, one veered towards me, groped my breasts and walked on laughing.

When I was 16 I was traveling on bus in Oxford, sitting by the window when a young man came and sat by me.  When he sat down his hand brushed my leg, he apologised and I said not to worry.  As the journey progressed his hand resting against the side of my leg started moving further up my thigh.  I squirmed towards the window to move away but there was nowhere to move to.  I got off the bus three stops early to get away from him, but he stood up followed me, pushed himself up against my bottom so that I could feel his erection.  He smiled at me, shrugged and walked off.

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I like the cut of your gib


On Friday the 13th of May I got up stupidly early, took the tram to the station, sat on a train bound for Manchester and made my way to the absolutely huge Paperchase store that they have there. Now I like stationary as much as the next girl, but that’s not my reason for making the trek, oh no! I was going to learn a new technique for making things, lino cutting.

 

I’ve seen lino cut prints before but I’ve never actually tried it before, so when I was sent a link to the Paperchase Project craft workshops it caught my eye immediately and it turns out I bought the first ticket.

The class takes place on the first floor, but you have to pass through a mezzanine level to get there.  The lass who was teaching us introduced herself, but I’m afraid I forgot to write down her name, so if you work at the Manchester shop please tell me so that I can amend this! Continue reading

A recap from April


Winter is flowing into Spring once again and although it’s nearly May (yes, I know it’s May now that I’m typing this up, but let’s just stick with it.) the forecast threatens snow today.

 

I have arrived at work two hours early, because I can’t keep track of my calendar at the moment, I’ve drunk too much coffee and so am drinking lots of water and forcing myself to write.  Why am I forcing myself to write? Because I’ve not been writing and it’s a good habit to get myself back into.

 

So in the last 6 months I have worked, read lots of books*, done a bit of screen printing, investigated European folk patterns and embroidery on a superficial level, watched some films, cut and dyed my hair, walked along a river and seen a heron standing before me, looked after my sister, read some more books and made a mess of my bedroom.  I keep trying to control the bedroom mess but it’s having none of it.

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