This is me.


“Something has changed within me, something is not the same, I’m sick of playing by the rules of someone else’s game…”

Wicked.

 

If you’d said to me a few years ago that I would spend a hot, Summer evening sitting naked with two strangers in one of their living rooms, being recorded for a podcast talking about my body image, having been abused physically and emotionally and various other things for a podcast that anyone anywhere in the world could listen to, I probably would have said that that is bollocks.  But a couple of weeks ago I did just that, I headed to Jenny’s flat to record for The Naked Podcast, having put myself forward to do it.

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Just after recording my episode of ‘The Naked Podcast’ for the BBC with Jenny and Kat. And yes, all totally nude. Photo from The Naked Podcast.

For most of my life I’ve had a difficult relationship with my body image.  For a long time I thought I was fat and how could anyone like or love that, but in the last 6 months I’ve actually found a peace within myself and a comfortableness with myself that I could not have imagined before.  The beginning kernel of this change in attitude started in February when I sent out a request to some of the women I know from school.  I messaged them saying that I’ve been thinking of writing something about body image, this is how I thought of myself back then, what are your memories of me and how did you feel about yourself when you were a teenager?

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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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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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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

Dreams of breathing underwater


The first film I remember seeing at the cinema was when I was 5 years old. It was Disney’s The Little Mermaid.  I was amazed by it, immediately decided I wanted red hair like Ariel.  We went to McDonalds and I got an Ursula toy with my Happy Meal. It was 1989.

Some time not long after I was amazed to see the video in Ritz (as it was then, don’t think it had become a Blockbusters, or indeed a cafe at that point) and begged Mum to buy it for me so that I could re-live that magical underwater world at home.  Mum said no.  It wasn’t the film.  I disagreed, it had Ariel on the front and I could definitely read the words ‘Under the Sea’ there too.  Mum said it wasn’t, it was just in the cinema. I disagreed and must have pestered er for ages because somehow I acquired that video.  Of course it wasn’t The Little Mermaid, it was ‘Sing-a-long Songs Under the Sea‘ which did feature some of the Little Mermaid soundtrack, but also other vaguely water related Disney songs including one from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in which Kirk Douglas seems to be telling his shipmates about some sort of dalliance with a fish or two.  Mr Jim Causley has been known to do an amusing cover of this if you ever get the chance to see/hear it.  Ask him nicely.

My obsession with TLM grew and I was exceptionally jealous of my cousin Rebecca because she had an Ariel doll.  I even used to pretend to be Ariel when swimming at Brackley Pool – the pool has two sets of steps in the shallow end, if you swam around underwater, legs together because you are a mermaid with a tail, singing ‘Part of your world‘ to yourself and timed it right you could push yourself up the steps, breaking out of the water at just the right point to recreate the iconic waves/big stone moment.  To me, I was definitely a ginger mermaid, to everyone else I must have looked mental.

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One night in Bangkok (so far)


‘Bangkok, Oriental setting
And the city don’t know that the city is getting’  Chess

It probably does actually.  The original lyrics are about a chess game between Russia and America at the height of the cold war.  That’s far more dramatic than the sleepy arrival of an increasingly pink English person.

It’s my first day here, it’s 20 past eight and soon I’ll be heading back to bed.  I hadn’t managed to sleep much on the flights, I got maybe two hours altogether. So there was a long taxi ride, got dropped off on the wrong road, so had a little wonder around the busy streets asking bemused looking Thai people to direct me to the right road.  Eventually I got here, had a sleep, a shower and then went off for a walk around the city.

I dozed off on the plane watching Philidelphia (Jet Airlines has a Denzel Washington special video list) and this was what greeted me as I woke up.

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Further along this was the sunrise:

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Obviously there’s a lot of political unrest at the moment.  There are protests, elections being disrupted, people being hot, so I am quite wary as a lone female traveller, but not really any more so than I would anywhere else. One guy was trying to encourage me to go with him to the tourist information as he would get some money from the government for taking me, but the tourist information is near the parliament where it’s all going on, so I politely told him no.

I took a walk to the river, got some street food – two skewers of unidentified meatballs and two of barbequed squid with a spicy dipping sauce in a plastic bag.  It was really tasty, but not great if you don’t like spicy food.  But then if you don’t like spicy food, maybe you shouldn’t come to Thailand.

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I bought my ticket for the boat and waited on the floating pontoon.  There I met 4 English girls on their own adventure – Fiona, Lily, Kate and Laura (Sorry if Laura’s not actually called Laura.  Really should have written things down!)

Lily has eagle eyes and spotted someone who may or not be famous.  He is.  I took a sneaky picture, as you do, then he and his friends headed our way and he got chatting.  He’s been bitten by a lizard and suggested making sure that we head to a decent elephant place when we go north.  And because it’s what I do, I got myself a picture.  So here you might recognise Dominic Monaghan from Lord of the Rings and Lost.  I’ll ignore the fact that I look like a beetroot.  I’m acclimatizing.

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The sun was setting s the boat headed down the river so no great pictures yet, but I’m going to take it again tomorrow morning on my way to the Siam Museum, The Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The Tent Next Door


A song written whilst waiting for the train back from the excellent Warwick Folk Festival in July.  I’ve packed a few notebooks to take away with me and managed to find this in one of them. 

 

You have to imagine a vaguely bluesy tune to go along with it. 

 

The Tent Next Door

Chorus:

Babe, babe whatcha doin’ babe? 

Don’t throw my things all over the floor!

There’s a really awful row been going on for hours now

And I’m sleeping in the tent next door. 

 

She says ‘I’m in a mood and I’m really not being rude, 

But your attitude is bothering me now.’

His head is in a spin, ‘cos he’s only just got in 

To the khaki tent they’re sharing next door.

 

She says she’s in a huff and very soon she’s thrown his stuff

Out of the hastily opened zip in the door

So he’s scrabbling on the floor, even though it’s half past four

And I’m sleeping in the tent next door. 

 

Babe, babe, whatcha doin’ babe?

Don’t throw my stuff all over the floor!

There’s a really awful row been going on for hours now

And I’m sleeping in the tent next door. 

 

So they’re keeping me awake and my neck it starts to ache

It’s no fun sleeping here on the floor

And now I think I might throw up, because the sounds of making up

Are loudly screeching from the tent next door.

 

Now the morning’s not much better, ‘cos the weather’s getting wetter

And I’m lying in a puddle on the floor

But I might get some soggy peace, as there’s no sounds of gas release

Coming from the khaki tent next door.

 

Babe, babe whatcha doin’ babe? 

Don’t throw my things all over the floor!

There’s a really awful row been going on for hours now

And I’m sleeping in the tent next door. 

 

He says ‘Make me some tea, babe, I think I hurt my knee

In the ceilidh as I slid through the crowd.’

She replies ‘The water’s boiled, get up, your knee’s well oiled!’

And he whispers that she’s talking too loud. 

 

As she headed out the tent, she said ‘The money’s nearly spent

You’ve got pot noodle ‘less you get some more.’

He doesn’t follow after, but I hear some muffled laughter

As I’m creeping past the tent next door. 

 

Babe, babe whatcha doin’ babe? 

Don’t throw my things all over the floor!

There’s a really awful row been going on for hours now

And I’m sleeping in the tent next door. 

 

I head back for a snooze, but I’m soon woken by the news that:

‘Well if you don’t know what’s wrong then that’s half the problem!!’

I just have to bang my head on the floor

I can’t help yell ‘Shut up!’ and ‘Why don’t you just break up?’

There are cheers from other tents all around.

 

So when you’re at a festival and you think that it is best of all

To put your tent up here next to mine

Won’t you have consideration for the campers of the nation

Just trying to sleep here in the tents down the line. 

 

Babe, babe whatcha doin’ babe? 

Don’t throw my things all over the floor!

There’s a really awful row been going on for hours now

And I’m sleeping in the tent next door. 

 

E. Skinner 2013

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Beverley East Riding Festival ages ago. I have no pictures of me at Warwick, but at least this one is at a festival and includes tents.

 

In the kitchen, the mighty kitchen, the lino sleeps tonight…


Now that I’m entering my final months of this stint in Tanzania there are so many things that I want to do but don’t have the funds for at the moment. I’m almost half way through our Easter holiday and I was hoping to go to Gombe Stream National Park to visit the chimpanzees but the ‘death money’ hasn’t come through, so I’ll se staying in Mwanza. I would love to go white water rafting in Uganda, or to see the gorillas in Rwanda, take the train from Dar es Salaam to Zambia to see Victoria Falls, but it’s not going to happen on this trip. Even if I stayed on for a further year I don’t think I’d have enough cash and time to do all of these things so there’s no point in getting annoyed and feeling like I’ve missed out.

There is plenty that I have done in the 6 months that I’ve actually been here, however. I‘ve been to Zanzibar, to Tanga and Pangani on the Tanzanian Swahili Coast. I have driven through ancient landscapes down to Shinyanga, across to Arusha, seen Mount Kilimanjaro, up across the border into Kenya. I’ve fed giraffes, been tickled by an orphaned elephant, snorkelled in the Indian Ocean, met fishermen and Maasai, been stupidly sunburnt (even in the shade), eaten fresh octopus and fish straight from the ocean. I’ve been to one of the most important archaeological sites in Kenya and watched monkeys play for half an hour. And last weekend I went to the Serengeti.

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