Everyone should have a favourite children’s book, here’s mine.

Image

These splendiferous illustrations are taken from a book called Heads, Bodies and Legs by Dennis Wirth-Miller and the appropriately named Richard Chopping, published by Puffin. I stumbled across it one day at the glorious Camilla’s bookshop in Eastbourne and had to own it. It’s not just one of my favourite books in the world, it’s one of my favourite things. If only I could draw like this.

Image

Image

Advertisements

HOPE

We took a family holiday, just a week in Cornwall. It was fun, and the kids loved messing about on the beach but it didn’t really deliver everything I’d hoped it would. I hoped it would give me some time, some perspective, some time to talk things through, some time to breath the fresh sea air, to heal and become stronger but this thing is tougher than I’d ever imagined. Perhaps I underestimated what those pills were doing for me, because right now, at this moment, I feel wretched beyond belief and drained. So drained.

At these times it’s important to remember that every day the sun rises anew.  You’ve just got to keep on getting up in the morning, keep trying to make things better and one day, they will be. Or that’s what I keep telling myself. It’s not much, but it’s all I really need. Here’s hoping.

Lionheart issue four: shapes

Image

Lionheart is possibly my favourite magazine ever (and I’m a real mag-nut, so that’s saying something). It’s got pretty much everything I look for in a mag: clean lines, lovely thick matte paper, a good smell (years of working in book production have turned me into a passionate paper sniffer – don’t judge), beautiful design, incredible illustrations, a community feel, REAL ACTUAL WRITING YOU CAN ACTUALLY READ the list goes on and on.

Issue four is all about shapes, a theme I found really interesting but hard to interpret when I was trying to come up with ideas for my contribution. In the end Hels (the wonderful editor) asked me to interview the fashion designer Helen Bullock, and I’m so glad she did. I love interviewing artists about their work, especially when they share my obsession with colour and pattern. I knew instantly I was going to really, really like her – and I was right.

We met at Cafe Oto in Dalston, which is my favourite place to drink tea and do  interviews. I interviewed Simon Costin from the Museum of British Folklore there a while back and it went really smoothly, although, this time around, I could barely hear a word when I sat down to transcribe it afterwards. There’s a top tip for aspiring journalists – never sit too close to the coffee machine! You’ll regret it later. You can read my interview with Helen, whose work is so so inspiring, on pages 12-15 of the mag.

Image

Image

Helen decorated the spreads herself, I love the result – makes me want to get my paints out.

There’s so much more to read though, and I mean actually read – there’s real content here, which makes a nice change. I particularly enjoyed Hels’ interview with Oana Befort. Her floral watercolours are so beautiful.

Image

Hannah Bullivant’s piece on Margate really made me long for a cheeky weekend visit and Daria Hlazatova’s illustration for the architecture article is just… Daria is the BOMB.

Image

So, what are you waiting for. Head on over to the website and buy the mag here. I promise you won’t regret it.

Breathe more deeply

Aren't they pretty. So many times I've thought about these colours and what they mean.

Aren’t they pretty? So many times I’ve thought about the significance of these colours and what they mean.

For a very long time (years now) I have been taking one shiny little green and yellow capsule before bed every night. A simple act designed to help me not-want-to-throw-stuff-at-other-stuff so much. Depression – though I am not sure I really want to call it that, because that word just doesn’t feel real to me for some reason – has bothered me from time to time ever since I was a kid, but back then it was just called ‘moodiness’.

On a good day I am a perfectly balanced and normal human being. I can laugh and dance and feel joy as keenly as the next person. I have lots of good days. But on a bad day I am disorientated, confused, lost, tearful, sad, irritable, angry.

A handful of times it’s been more or less impossible to function. I’ve stood rooted to a single spot in a busy supermarket completely paralyzed and unable to speak, because I didn’t understand what was going on in my head and felt scared to move in case I was forced to interact with another human being. That day I almost walked out into traffic. That was the worst day. Most bad days don’t get anywhere near that bad because I keep my family close and they give me all the love and support I need to stay on the pavement.

I haven’t had a bad day in ages. The pills have worked. They’ve worked well, but sometimes I have felt a bit… numb. The lower register of emotions hasn’t been as apparent, but neither have the upper ones. I haven’t cried at a wedding, or a birth, or at Eastenders, or cried at all, it seems, for an eternity. Recently my lovely Gramps died and I knew I felt very sad, but it was a bit like straining to listen to someone speaking from inside a soundproof booth. You know someone is saying something, you can see their lips moving, you just can’t quite make out the words. It’s like that dream you have sometimes when you go to run or punch someone but your limbs won’t move and when they do finally stir it’s like you’re dragging them through quicksand. Solid air.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not coming out against Antidepressants – I believe they’re useful and necessary in a lot of cases, but there is a price to be paid for pharmaceutically-imposed tranquility and I was no longer sure I wanted to pay it.

So last week, at the advice of a doctor, I started phasing out the drugs. Quite suddenly things began to feel more raw, more alive again. I shifted gears. I’ve found myself saying things and posting things on social media that, in retrospect, sound like the ramblings of a frazzled and cranky old cat lady. It’s quite possible that this post is one of those things. This is NOT ideal because I rely on my ability to communicate for my living. But, and this is a big but, I figure I’d rather live as a flawed and slightly damaged human being than as a fabulous and shiny, wipe-clean robot. I need to find a way to embrace this weird and inconvenient element of my identity and learn to work with it rather than drug it into submission. Maybe it’s all about yoga and meditation, perhaps it’s about CBT and crochet (which, by the way, I’ve always found extremely helpful), perhaps I just need to breath more deeply. I’ll let you know how it goes. xx

Image

Cecily tried hard to hide her immense smugness behind a pair of enormous sunglasses, to no avail #sadface

 

Hello everyone. Long time no see. There’s more than one reason I haven’t been blogging (or making) much recently. The first, and most tangible, is that I managed to land myself a really amazing job editing a children’s magazine. I’m really, really enjoying it. It involves surrounding myself on a daily basis with all the things I value most – positivity, inspiration, ideas, history, talented writers and illustrators and books…lots and lots of books. I’m very lucky indeed.

The second reason is that I’ve started to feel a little bit disenchanted with blogging in general, and with lifestyle/crafty blogs specifically. Beautiful lifestyle blogs and sites like Pinterest encourage us all to measure our success as human beings against a bunch of pretty pictures instead of focusing on what’s important. The more time I spend pouring over other people’s photos of that trip they took to Copenhagen, or the £90 espadrilles they bought (or were gifted!), the more hollow and dissatisfied I find myself feeling. I’ve spent my writing career trying not to engage with that school of thought and I have no intention of contributing to a culture that makes people feel bad, and so I have decided that any blogging I do should be 100 per cent honest and real. I’ll still make things – a lot, and post them on here, and I love seeing the stuff you guys produce, but I am no longer competing against anyone to see who can be the most picturesque, because that’s not who I am.

The truth is that my house is a damn mess, my kids are constantly scruffy as hell (and not in a cute way), I no longer own a piece of furniture (vintage or otherwise) that hasn’t been scribbled, dripped, chewed or spewed on and when I wake up in the morning I look like Hatty Jacques crossed with Mark E Smith. That’s the truth. I’d rather it wasn’t but there it is. So this blog is probably going to evolve into something a bit different pretty soon. There will still be craft, though, oh yes, and the usual lolz, so do pop by and check it out. In the meantime have a look at this film which has really made me smile lately.

I Love, You Love, Johnny Loves June

Do you have plans this Saturday?

Would you like some?

What's not to love though, really?

What’s not to love though, really?

 

Then why not head down to Johnny Loves June’s Vintage and Handmade fair at The Shoreham Centre. It’s going to be awesome! Stallholders include my fabulous friends at Doris Loves, who will be dishing out temporary tattoos (in exchange for money) from their beautiful temporary tattoo station, and the lovely, adorable Sarah at Sitting Comfortably, the veritable Simon Pie-man of gorgeous homeware  (but much more attractive, obvs).  Throw live music, jive demonstrations, a pop up tea shop and… AND a vintage beauty parlour into the mix, and by jingo, you’ve got yourself a party! I am so excited, it’s almost obscene.

Doors open at 11am, check out their site for full details.