Tuesday, 30 June 2015

And June's top blog posts were...

A bit of a battle for the most popular posts this month, so I shall list the runners up too.

Stories & Stuff Blog

Top post: I forgot to feed my Tamagotchi blog >

In second place: What's the pig idea? Pigs swill >

And a close third: There goes some more of that money-that-I-never-actually-saw-or-touched >

i did a doodle today Blog

Top Post: Tangerine #colour_collective Madarin Duck >

Just behind in second: A pretty four poster bed fit for a princess >


Prepare for the worst - and enjoy every moment of it

This was the philosophy Chris Hadfield learnt at NASA and the philosophy that he lives by.

For those who (like me until recently) have not heard of Chris Hadfield, then let me bring you up to speed. His Wickipedia decription reads:

Chris Austin Hadfield OC OOnt MSC CD (born 29 August 1959) is a retiredCanadian astronaut who was the first Canadian to walk in space. An engineerand former Royal Canadian Air Force fighter pilot, Hadfield has flown two space shuttle missions and served as commander of the International Space Station.

In 2013 he published his book 'An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth'. Now who wouldn't want to read a book with that title. Fantastic. Further more, the tag line reads 'Life Lessons from Space'. Oh yes, we have a winner.

From the moment I read the recent blog coverage from Farm Lane's Book Blog (Read their review here >) I was more than intrigued, I was actually a little excited. Why? Well, putting (if possible) that blinder of a title and tag line to one side, I was drawn into one particular exert from the book:

Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.

Life is down to us. We can influence our paths and lifestyles. We can decide for ourselves how we want to live. And, now this is the key, we can work out what makes us happy, motivated and alive, and then we can live our lives so that we are happy, motivated and alive.

It is so true of life today that so many of us find ourselves leading a life we don't find 100% inspiring, 100% fulfilling or 100% the life we really want, and, if we are honest, we often fall into sub 50% of these things. Why? Because when we are young we are living our lives by experiencing and learning about life, what is out there, what it's about and what is fun for us and what is not. But to do this we need to 'exists', we need funds to experience things, to eat and live and to go places and meet people. So we work, and so few people actually start off doing what their hearts' really desire, often because at this stage of our lives, we have no idea really what that is.

We have to take the stepping stones to get to places and even to know these places (careers) exist. That sounds fair enough, we take steps towards our goals... but like I said, so often we do not know what those goals are. and then before we know it, we are in a career in a town in a life we just 'fell in to' because change is hard and life just keeps ticking on.

It has taken me to my fourties to really learn about what makes me tick, what makes me truly happy and what I need in my life and what I don't. Learning to have control of your life and then enabling it is so hard. I have (unfortunately-but-turned-out-to-be-fortunately) had the time provided for me to actually fully re-evaluate my life and where I'm going and why. Not an easy task and I am stumbling all the time, but I am taking the opportunity to change my life so I can live the life I want to live.

Now, all this sounds a little selfish (self absorbed), but I am not doing this in isolation. I am doing it within the parameters of the family I love, striving to make this the best life for them too. If I am in a good place, then that reflects on those around me. I have had to make sacrifices (little luxuires really are more of a luxury these days) and I have to make compromises (I still have bills to pay and mouths to feed), but I'm finding a balance and letting me lead my life, not life lead me... well, I'm trying.

Chris Hadfield has led a life so extraordinary, so 'out of this world' that I can only image (and secretly envy) from afar, but his passion and drive is not so out of reach. I love the NASA philosophy of 'prepare for the worst - and enjoy every moment', and even though I have not always prepared for the worst (it just catches you unaware sometimes) I am the kind-a-gal that 'moves past the worst to live the best'.

What about you?

PS. I'm just starting Chris Hadfield's book... no way I wasn't going to read a book with THAT title.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Pets Run this House (3)

This is the third part of my anti-flitting campaign, and the third concept page from my book, Pets run this House, that I am sharing with you.

I really need a creative, booky kick up the bottom. So that's what I'm doing. I'm giving myself a kick(start). I've posted two mock-up (and remember these are mock up and not final illustrations) pages already of my almost-but-not-really-finished books to see what you, my lovely bloggies, think. Should I finish? or should I file near the trash?

See the first blog post, Pets Run this House (1) >

Take a look at the first page I posted >

Here's the third page...

Sunday, 28 June 2015

My week...

A week of flurried creativity and a lot of blog writing (many of which I've banked to post over the upcoming hectic summer holiday weeks). Colours have been bursting from the doodle blogs and ideas and ramblings have been tumbling from Stories & Stuff. I feel energised and awake and inspired.


So here's my week in writerland, blogland and creativeland...

My favourite doodle this week?

Be yourself.

Unless you can be a unicorn,
then be a unicorn.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Summer Dawns

Summer Dawns
by V R Heal

A time of possibilities,
when there is a sensation of anticipation.
The sun leaves shadows long and light bright,
with colours squinting and breezes fading.
The air thickens and the days lengthen,
the fabrics flow and the hair tumbles.

These are the days of yester-year,
the days of tomorrow and the eve of the summer.
Children tumble out of doorways,
men ease their shoulders and the women ease their dresses.

A freeness awaits,
a smile beckons
and the sun calls out that summer's coming.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Baby Business: Week 23, mmmmmmMUM

Mother’s Day baby sick on shirt. Tick
Mother’s Day rattle attack. Tick
Mother’s Day splashing at bath time. Tick
Loving Mother’s Day. Absolutely!

I woke this morning to my first ever Mother’s Day as a mother. And my little girl greeted me with the biggest smile and (this is the clever bit) she had sent me cards and flowers. So advanced!
Whilst enjoying a lovely lazy day with my little girl I did wonder what ‘mother’s day’ was all about... a Clinton Cards’ invention, or something more meaningful? For those who are interested, the origins go back to the Greeks when they celebrated the Mother of the Gods, Rhea. So now I feel even more important today to be acknowledged on the same level as the Gods.
It’s a really bizarre thing to now be on the receiving end of Mother’s Day. To me this day has always been about my mum and me telling her how much I love her. So to be thinking that my little girl is going to be saying that to me every year is totally surreal, but thrills me and melts my heart.
Before becoming a mum, I don’t think I really appreciated what being a mother truly involves and means. I just knew I loved my mum and that she was always there for me regardless of how far she had to drive, the time of night I tottered out of a party, the dodgy colours I dyed my hair, the sports matches in the rain, the 5am starts to muck out horses... I could go on and on and on and... When I think of the grey hairs I gave my mum... (sorry about the bleach and My Little Pony incident mum).
So what does mother’s day mean to me? It means I get to celebrate that I am a mum and celebrate my wonderful, gorgeous little girl. I am proud to be a mummy; I love being a mum; and I feel complete now that I am a mother.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Pets Run this House (2)

This is the second part of my anti-flitting campaign, and the second page from my book, Pets run this House, that I am sharing with you.

I really need a creative, booky kick up the bottom. So that's what I'm doing. I'm giving myself a kick(start). I've posted one mock-up (and remember these are mock up and not final illustrations) page already of one of my almost-but-not-really-finished books to see what you, my lovely bloggies, think. Should I finish? or should I file near the trash?

See the first blog post, Pets Run this House (1) >

Here's the second and next will be a third page...

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

A vehicle to creativity. Transported by our surroundings.

"Charles Dickens kept a ‘china monkey’ on his desk without which he couldn't settle down, or how Sir Walter Scott kept his mother’s old toilette boxes and his father’s snuff box and etui-case on his desk." [extract taken from Penguin Blog #onthepage, Aislinn Hunter 'Good Company' blog post.]

My surroundings calm me, make me happy. As a troubled mind often tries to reek havoc within me and around me, I have battled for many years to find out what helps me to be me, the me I know I am and that wants to do great things, if only in my own small way. 

I need order and an air of calm. Noise is fine if its music, pop, rock, country or rap, all work, but as a background to ensure I am not in total silent isolation. I need to be alone to work, but I don't want to feel alone. Ironic, maybe, but I believe this is the case for so many people. We try to find our space but then surround ourselves with the things that make us feel comfortable, at ease. Maybe that is the great outdoors itself, immersing ourselves in the surroundings of the trees and hills; others need hustle and bustle around them, the daily goings-on of life itself, seen maybe from a wide windowed coffee shop or a bench in the park. Me? I like to surround myself with what I have created, what I am proud of and what I feel represents me (in all my guises).

My ramblings today have not come from thin air, but from a blog post I read back in March on the Penguin blog #onthepage, which featured Aislinn Hunter (@AislinnHunterexploring the importance of writers' belongings and the things they choose to surround themselves with. What do these items, surroundings say about us?

Aislinn discusses how surroundings and objects ground us, how many authors couldn't work without certain items, trinkets, memories. Exploring the idea that an author's surroundings may provide an insight to the reader, help a reader's understanding of an author, Aislinn writes of how desks and tools enable the transition of imagination to words and images. What a wonderful image itself, vehicles for creation transporting our thoughts and ideas on to paper and screen. But it doesn't just happen through the desk or tools, what about the walls around us, or the open air of outdoor workers? Our thoughts are transitional and our surroundings and attachments help guide them to a reality.

"Alice Munro once described the early stages of her writing process by saying that she begins by staring at a wall, thinking ‘really dreamy, foundless thoughts.’ This is the double gaze: seeing something and nothing all at once, the imagined world taking shape over the lived one. Logically, the things a writer keeps on their desk often do the opposite – root a writer in a sense of the physical, bring the voyager back to a sense of self through the relationships, memories or allegories the objects stand for." [extract taken from #onthepage, Aislinn Hunter 'Good Company' blog post.]

I sit in my first floor (converted bedroom) office, gazing out the window over the tips of the climbing-frame in the play-park and beyond to the wild grass field born from landfill, and beyond to the old abbey and its swaying flag-post. Dog walkers come and go, a child wobbles on his new bike and some teenagers drag their feet and kick the dirt. Daily life pops in and out of my view, but often I am not seeing, I am thinking, drifting, my mind ticking and flitting from an idea to remembering the washing in the machine to the drawing I am trying to conjure up, back to the fact I haven't followed up on a couple of work leads... Yes, I rarely calm or still my mind, I can focus but never switch it all off. 

I have learnt to take one thing at a time, plan better and organise my thoughts and activities, but none of this would matter if I didn't have the feeling of belonging, happiness when I open the door of my office. The bright giant golden and pink peacock feathers bursting off the walls and the sumptuous, mildly decadent, floor length burgundy and gold damask curtains framing my view. My little view, My lovely view of life.

If I didn't have my special place to work, the colours I love around me, the bit of humour in my decor and my complete abandonment to the rules of decoration, then I would not sit everyday with inspiration and motivation. I would be restless, I would be uncomfortable. My inner demons bouncing inside my mind, stirring up unease.

I surround myself with me. And only I can inspire myself to create.

Are surroundings important? Yes. But they do not need to be of wealth and exact design; nor do they need to make sense to anyone else; and its up to you if you are happy in your surroundings. Inside or out, the physical or the imaginary, it is your work-space, your muse for inspiration. Your surroundings are what you want them to be, to do what you want to do.

Monday, 22 June 2015

There goes some more of that money-that-I-never-actually-saw-or-touched

Well that's a lovely new top purchased, love online shopping. Not really a second thought goes into clicking 'complete purchase', before you get a ring on the doorbell with an exciting parcel for you to open. How great is that: browse, click, get.

But maybe we should be stopping for a second or two and thinking about how and what we purchase. It seems that many of us don't bat an eyelid about thirty pounds here CLICK, fifteen pounds there CLICK and twenty-five pounds in the sale CLICK.

What if just a little of that money-that-I-never-actually-saw-or-touched could not only get me that fab new top, but actually make a difference somewhere, to someone? and what if I didn't have to even click a little box that I have to squint to see, and I didn't have to read something that guilts me into donating money? I just simply bought my fab top and that was that, someone somewhere was getting something they desperately need for survival, hope and health.

For the record, it shouldn't be all on the consumer. We are, after all, just meeting our own personal needs and in a climate where time is precious and purchasing made way-too-easy for us. Why should we do all the thinking. How about the manufacturers, retailers and service providers giving a bit more thought to making a difference and helping consumers make a difference? Profits are profits, but this is a world where the fat cat is just that, fat. Shedding a few 'pounds' really would not harm your 'bottom' line, but could really make a significant difference to others.

I recently discovered Faircloth & Supply through a magazine article. As a fashion retailer, for every item they sell they buy one uniform for a girl in Nepal, enabling that girl to attend school and receive an education to help to better her life and her future.

Nepal is just one country where women are mistreated and undervalued through historic cultural beliefs. With over 30 million girls not in school, Faircloth & Supply are supporting the work of the GHF (General Welfare Pratisthan) to empower women in Nepal and break the cycle of discrimination.

We in the western world take our education for granted far too much, often undervaluing it and even, in many parts, dismissing it as a waste of time. These girls in Nepal, these 30 million young girls, have no such luxury. Education is not just academic to girls Nepal, it is a life line to provide safety from trafficking and exploitation, to provide education on HIV and well-being, to help them out of poverty.

So that fab top I just bought could have bought one girl a uniform, kept her safe and helped her on a journey to better her life. CLICK.

Faircloth & Supply are not the only forward thinking and compassionate business, but they are a great example of the simplicity of the problem and the simplicity of the solution. There is, of course, way more complexities behind the scenes (loop holes, red tape, etc) but that's the point - it is behind the scenes. Consumers don't need to be bogged down with it, stressed by it, or put off by it. We see what we like, we like what we see and CLICK we have helped.

It is possible for all sides to benefit. Just takes a little thought, compassion and action.

Find out more about Faircloth & Supply and visit their online shop >

Read more about the work of the GWP >

Sunday, 21 June 2015

My week...

Fully back in the swing of things again now, and getting all creative in all directions... marketing design work, writing, stained-glass window, illustrations, blog blog blogging, cooking (including cauliflower cous cous, who knew!), gardening and even some home-decor (still a work in progress!). So fully fuelled, I look back on my week with zest and excitement for next week...

So this week in Creativeland, Writeland and Blogland:

My favourite doodle this week?

Friday, 19 June 2015

How nature turns an army into a kaleidoscope

Coincidentally, the BBC News Magazine posted an article this week entitled, 'Do butterflies hold the answers to life's mysteries?'. I say coincidentally, because I have been producing my own (made-up) butterfly collection, based on natural colour palettes taken from the fauna, flora and geography around us. So my ears pricked up when I read this title, and indeed this fascinating article about the use of the butterfly in the arts, from poems and stories to music and paintings. The butterfly and the transformation and transition from egg to caterpillar to a gracefully flying creature, symbolises and represents such powerful things to so many people.

Read the BBC News Magazine article here >

The article delves in to how different butterflies took on different meanings through their specific patterns and colours (the poor Red Admiral's red and black labeling it 'the butterfly from hell'). As I've been working on my butterfly collection, entirely made up, but with an essence of the form and markings of real butterflies, I have been churning and spinning ideas of names for them. Butterflies carry such beautiful and interesting names, with equally wonderfully sounding Latin terminology. So what should I be calling my butterflies?

Firstly, the pure essence of a butterfly seems to come through its design and colours, making a statement that clearly says 'this is me'. It can't be missed as a vibrant zesty orange wraps itself around a peacock blue sphere, creating an eye staring through the rings of aqua green and buttercream yellow. Oh what I'd give for a dress like that... That's it, of course. Butterfly Haute Couture.

So now I have my collective theme, but all creatures have a collective term for their groups, so what is a group of butterflies known as? This is where it gets interesting, as there appears to be a few terms, of which my lesser liked are:

A swarm of butterflies or a rabble of butterflies.

Surely butterflies are too poetic, too fragile and delicate, too beautiful to be termed in such a way? My creative mind will not compute that. However, what a marvel it was to read that a group of butterflies is also known as:

A kaleidoscope of butterflies, or
A flutter of butterflies, or even
A rainbow of butterflies.

Now that is pure music terminology and partnership of words. So apt, so reflective... a kaleidoscope of butterflies.


ps, as an interesting little side note, a group of caterpillars is known as an army. Too foreboding in my head, but I do like the visual imagery of an army turning in to a kaleidoscope (of colours and patterns). 

So as my Kaleidoscope of Haute Couture Butterflies go out in to the world, they cannot be nameless. Most butterflies have gained their names through their visual features:
The bright 'Orange Tip'
The grandly decorated 'Purple emperor'
The literally described 'Black-Veined White'
and so on. And then they have their Latin names, their scientific labels.

Now, I cannot even begin too pretend to be a Latin expert, I learnt about troops passing cows in my early secondary school days, but that is the (very dusty) extent of my Latin. So please forgive me Latin Experts out there, I have creatively muddled some terms to meet the actions of my butterflies (call it artistic licence).

Introducing my Haute Couture Kaleidoscope of Butterflies:

Earth Flower
Terra Flos
Petal Bird
Plasmodesmata Avis 
Rainbow Quiver
Iris Pharetram

Flying Beauty
Volans Pulchritudo

Beautiful Air
Pulchra Aeris
Colour Flutter
Coloro Trepidare

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Baby Business: Week 22, Baby, Work, Baby, Work, Baby, Work

Baby picture on mobile screen saver. Tick
Baby picture on laptop screen saver. Tick
Baby pictures all over my office. Tick
Baby picture overload. Definitely not!

Although I have been gradually getting back in to work-mode over the past weeks, I am now having to focus even more on work, if for no other reason than to fund the ever-expanding list of baby ‘essentials’ for Little One.
It is always an interesting ‘debate’ – when and if mums should go back to work. In this day-and-age, more and more women go back to work after having babies, but it is with a lot of reluctance, even if some won’t admit it.
However career-orientated we may have been before Mother Nature took hold and worked her miracle, becoming a mummy does change us. I have always been very focused and driven by my work, but from the moment I looked in to the eyes of my new born baby something changed dramatically. My whole inner-being shifted from ‘me’ to an unconditional selfless dedication and devotion to my beautiful daughter... nothing else matters.
So the first few times I had to leave Little One for meetings was beyond horrendous. I felt a ripping sensation from within, being separated from my little baby. It was all consuming, making the meetings pointless really as I could only think about Little One and worrying if she was alright. The immense guilt that took over me was unbearable. I genuinely thought I would not be able to cope going back to work.
So how can I stop being a mother 24/7 to go back to work? The answer – I don’t! Whether I am bouncing Little One on my knee, singing ‘row row row your boat’ or I am typing away on my laptop, I am always being first and foremost a mum. I never stop thinking about Little One and her needs and it is the very thought of one of her award-winning smiles and contagious giggle-fits that gets me through the hours when I am working.
Honestly - would I go back to work if I didn’t have to? I don’t know. I don’t have that luxury, so I have tailored my working life to ensure I get to be with Little One as much as possible and that her love of life and constant yearning for learning and exploration is not interrupted or affected in any way. It is all about balance and every day I am striving to ensure I achieve the baby business balance. At the moment the scales are very much weighted in Little One’s favour, but you know what? That is absolutely fine by me.

PS. A massive thank you to my wonderful nanny who is not only a treasure, but now a good friend too... part the furniture already! 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

An exert from one of 'my books in progress'

“I didn’t realise you could actually go on Air Force One, wouldn’t that be classed as a security risk?” George asked, wondering if he’d misheard part of Sandy’s chatter.

“Now that would be a coo,” chuckled Carl. “Imagine telling the Jensons we sat in Obama’s seat on Air Force One. Wouldn't they just die.”

“Carl, don’t be so silly and don’t tease poor old George,” Sandy tutted.

And there it was again, thought George, ‘old’. Funny how you can forget your age when there’s no need to remember; when you have all your marbles and use of all your bodily functions and limbs. But then, when someone or something provides a reminder, you feel a little twinge in your knees or have a sudden urge to sit down and rest a little. I am a walking contradiction George concluded, I am an old man on the outside, but an ageless one inside. He wondered which would win.

“‘It’s not the actual Air Force One,” Sandy was starting to explain, “well it was, before the actual one they use now was built, so would that not make the one they use now Air Force Two? Why is it not called Air Force Two Carl? Surely that would stop confusion. I mean, the real Air Force One is the one we are going on isn’t it, not the one Obama uses? His is number two, right.”

Whilst Sandy stopped to breath and ponder her inner revelation about the naming of the presidential plane, George asked for his bill and a taxi. Carl, who was shaking his head, eyes wide and bemused about his wife's ramblings, simply nodded at George, “wise move cowboy.”

Later that evening George picked up another tourist leaflet from reception and read up on the Reagan Foundation and the original Air Force One, now housed as part of a display covering the Regan era. A glossy picture of Air Force One stretched across the leaflet, Ronald and Nancy waving from the open doors. George pictured Sandy and Carl, dressed up and beaming their best all American smiles as they posed in the doorway for the photo that he felt sure would be the front of their Christmas cards this year.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Pets Run This House (1)

I am a notorious flitter. Flitting from one project to the next, dipping in and out of new ideas and past inspirations, starting things, filing things, going back and almost finishing things... and as a result I have lots of lovely pieces of work that are not-really-quite-finished-but-really-ought-to-be!

Case in point, I have completed two children's picture books, but have another four substantially written and illustrated, but not finished, and another ten I have started but nowhere near complete. That's a lot of potential books. So I really need a creative, booky kick up the bottom.

So that's what I'm doing. I'm giving myself a kick(start). I'm going to post three mock-up (and remember these are mock up and not final illustrations) pages of one of these almost-but-not-really-finished books to see what you, my lovely bloggies, think. Should I finish? or should I file near the trash?

This book is called 'Pets Run this House' and is a series of limericks I have written about all the wonderful array of pets we keep, and starts with Max...

Sunday, 14 June 2015

My week...

Oh it feels so, so good to be back in to the swing of things again, with functioning technology and functioning creativity. Wow, putting the past few dog-eared weeks behind me, I'm back into the 'go-zone'.

So following a week of jamming a lot in, it looks like my business hat is going back on, with web presence and marketing material being worked on and a couple of client quotes out there, I may well be back to happy juggling of work, writing, parenting and blogging... just the way I like it. After all, it's all joined together by the common (and wonderful) them of creativeness.

So this week in creativeland, writerland, marketingland, blogland...

  • New logo branding for a preschool
  • Marketing consultancy and review for energy company
  • Absolutely no work on children or grown up books - that's hurting a bit
  • Glass painting (a window pane commission) - ridiculously therapeutic and turning out beautiful too, much to my surprise!
  • Lovely coverage in the Art Daily. Take a look >
  • Feeding my tamagotchi blog after a month of neglect! Read the full blog here >
  • Final photographic image from my Captivated v Captivity research. Eye know >
  • Down to toilet humour in my Baby Business blog. Poo hit me between the eyes >
  • There was murder in the chatroom. Start of short story >
  • I was inspired to doodle by pigs swill! Check out The Pig Idea >
  • Went mint green for #colour_collective. And I cheated a little bit... >
  • I did a doodle every day and started my very own made-up butterfly collection. Doodles ahead >
Favourite doodle this week?

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Eye know

The final picture from my research in to Captivated vs Captivity, and this is by far my favourite. The creature's look speaking without words, but saying so much.

With eyes full of words, the world sat before. 
Looking for life, his life passed in front, 
the day starting with silence and ending with more.
The words watched and the face told,
as the gates opened, but not for him.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Baby Business: Week 21, toilet humour

Perfected raspberry blowing. Tick
Perfected screeching full volume. Tick
Perfected the discreet burp. Definitely not!

I will apologise in advance for lowering the tone of my blog this week, it has all gone to base-level with a whole new look at ‘toilet humour’. The week started so innocently, with the usual cuddles and playtimes when things took a turn to the ‘dark side’...
Incident 1:
Bath time and there we were playing the raspberry blowing game on the changing mat whilst the bath was running, when I gathered Little One up for a big squeezy-hug and... What is that warm feeling on my leg? Doh! Never pick up an excited baby with no nappy on. Denim really soaks up wee. Little One’s reaction – giggles of course.
Incident 2:
Little One is now extremely ‘in to’ Timba the dog. Her eyes follow him everywhere and she keeps putting her hands out to stroke him. She actually got to lie on him the other day and was full of chuckles and squeals of delight as she grabbed great handfuls of his fur - not sure Timba was as impressed with the situation. At the beginning of the week Little One was watching with her usual intense fascination when my delightful dog farted... loudly! Well that was it, Little One burst out in to uncontrollable giggles.
Incident 3:
You change umpteen nappies a day and every so often there will be one that will catch you off guard. Little One treats her changing mat as one of her favourite play-zones: wriggling, waving arms and legs, chatting, squealing and generally having a good time. So it can often be a little challenging changing her nappy (Krypton Factor has nothing on this). I always have a quick ‘sneak-peek’ into her nappy to prep me for what is to come. I took a look – all clear, just a bit wet... easy. So in the spirit of playfulness, I flicked the nappy from under Little One only to be met with a perfectly round marble of poo between the eyes. Bullseye! Little One’s reaction? Yes, you guessed it – giggles.

So it is true - toilet humour makes people of all ages laugh. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Murder in the Chatroom

Writing out of my style, out of my comfort zone, is something I love - creating unnecessary stress on my creative senses to fuel new ideas, new ways of thinking and to open up my mind and my penmanship.

It's not like I don't have a million things I am meant to be working on (and actually finishing), but if I don't stir things up a bit, push myself that little bit differently, then I fall in to ruts, get bogged down in my safe place of my own style and thinking. Nothing wrong with having your own style and thoughts, but what if they could be even better, even broader, even more tantalising? That's where randomness is fabulous, just for-no-particular-reason I will sit at my keyboard and let the keys jabber away in an area I either don't know or a style I have not tried.

Sometimes laughter is the best medicine, with plenty of chortles born from my experimental ramblings, but sometimes, just sometimes, there's something that is a little like 'potential' sneaking out. A million light years from perfection or actual credibility, but just that little scent of something worth trying again...

So here's a one that has caught my creative attention, and got a whole lot of whirring occurring in my head. So much so I even mocked up a cover for the story below:

Hello Purplecat10. Missed you yesterday.

Hi Boosh24.

Are you having a good day?

Not really.

What’s up?

Just some bitches at school. Fucking hate them.

What have they done? Are you ok?

Photoshopped some pictures of me and posted them for everyone to see.


Yeah and Instagram. They’re not even any good at photoshopping, but they made me look like a hooker.

But you’re nothing like that.

I know, but what does that matter. Now everyone’s calling me a slut and the lads are pretending to offer me money for me to blow them off. Dicks.

Purplecat, you’re better than that. So much better than them. You’re my Purplecat and I know you’re not like that. I know you, I really know you, and you know me. You are special, remember that. We are special.

I know Boosh. It still feels shit though.

Oh my Purplecat, I wish I was there to give you a cuddle.

Me too Boosh.

Maybe one day...

Jean Atticker took a deep breath and opened the first file. This was not going to be pleasant, she knew it would turn her stomach, but this would only make her more vigilant. Every little piece of evidence was vital to a conviction. Nothing could be missed, overlooked or misinterpreted. That bastard was going to get life. Life for a life. And it was up to her to make sure that the evidence was watertight.

The case had repulsed the nation and led the headlines for months, with the search, the suspicions and pointing of media fingers and then the discovery. The awful discovery, which many had felt inevitable, but that left no one untouched by tragedy.

And then the arrest.

Jean stared down at the papers in the file, a photo paper-clipped to the front of the first document. Cara Evelyn smiled back at her, eyes bright and mischievous, her long hair falling across her cheeks and shoulders. 14 and full of hope. 14 and full of life. 14 and dead.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

What's the pig idea? Pigs swill.

When I read about great ideas and great organisation, it fires me up and in a similar way to that fire in the belly I get from a creative splurge, or writing a character's personality though actions. So I'd like to write about these causes, activities and organisations that motivate me, make me want to stand up and shout "YES"... basically if it stops and makes me think, then it will have an impact (in its own way) on my creativity. We are what we think. We are what we believe.

So here's the first, of what I hope to be a growing number, of these types of posts. I write about those causes and organisations I come across, in magazine, papers, tv, conversations, and not because I am connected to them or that they have been promoted to me. I just write as I find.

The other night I sat in a fairly nice restaurant, eating pretty delicious food, made from locally sourced produce. My plate sat in front of me, not empty but pretty well attacked. I was stuffed. It was tasty, but I just couldn't manage another mouthful. So what happened to the remains? I'm not one for asking for doggy bags, but I hate the thought of it all getting scraped into a black bin bag and thrown out for the garbage truck to chomp on. Surely there's a better way than feeding the bin?

There is. There has been for thousands of years. Pigs swill.

For centuries humans have fed pigs on the scraps from their tables, helping pigs grow big and fat ready to be eaten. Then the humans feed the scraps from their tables to the pigs, helping them grow big and fat and... Recycling perfection. In fact, I believe that this is why people first started keeping pigs... the ultimate recycling bin.

The pig... “is the Husbandman’s best Scavenger, and the Huswives most wholsome sink; for his food and living is by that which will else rot in the yard …; for from the Husbandman he taketh pulse, chaff, barn dust, man’s ordure, garbage, and the weeds of his yard: and from the huswife her draff, swillings, whey, washing of tubs, and such like, with which he will live and keep a good state of body, very sufficiently.”
From Gervase Markham, 17th Century Author
Currently there is an EU ban on feeding swill (food waste) from restaurants, etc. to pigs. Welcome to 'The Pig Idea', who wants to get this ban lifted and:

  • Stop food waste being wasted
  • Stop forests being cut down to make way for grain for pig feed
  • Reduce the rising costs of pig feed and pork production
  • Free up food supplies to help feed people 

Right now we are not allowed to feed pigs our food waste, yet we are feeding pigs food that could be eaten by people, people who can't feed themselves through poverty, famine, displacement, etc. Sounds crazy hey.

The Pig Idea and its many supporters don't just work to promote the use of swill, they also campaign to ensure all safe and edible unsold food is used to feed people who need it. But not all wasted food is suitable for human consumption, so why not use it to still benefit humans?

Food for thought, so I did a doodle about it...

Read all about The Pig Idea >
@ThePigIdea #oink

Monday, 8 June 2015

I forgot to feed my Tamagotchi blog

Pitiful. Truly pitiful. A sad, limp graphical curve wends its way south, past months of dedication and devotion, to level out at a sorry all time low. And so my blog pageviews graph highlights the reality of neglect.

As a naive newbie to the blogworld, I have swotted, researched, followed and posted, nurturing my blog with care and devotion, encouraging my little blog to step out into the online world with a voice and a story. Proudly I watched her grow, make new friends from all over the world and inspire me to write. And then I had to let her fend for herself for a month. Just one little month, what harm could that do...?

Let's side-step for a minute, as to answer that (well, understand the why) it's worth remembering how and why we are here. Blogs are a voice, not always loud, but certainly not quiet. In our social-media-means-of-communications, blogs have been an obvious sub-evolution of all the many, varied things we have to say and share. In fact, over 250 million blogs now have something to share, with a new blog apparently born every second of every minute of every hour of every day in to the blogosphere. That's an awful lot of voices out there. So who should I listen to?

Well, if I'm not interested in what you're talking about, I won't listen. If you're not interesting, I won't listen. If you lie, I won't listen. If you insult me, I won't listen. In fact, there are many reasons I won't listen, but also many reasons that I will listen. BUT, and this is kind of key, if you don't speak, I have nothing to listen to!

So there's the lifeline of our blogs. Our voice. It defines our blog, gives it a heart and soul and the energy to explore and earn, and legs to run, grow and climb. So a month off, a month of near silence, my blog had no fuel and no voice for its friends (followers) to listen to, so of course they stopped listening.

I once owned a Tamagotchi pet, a little digital dog who lived in my backpack as I youthfully traveled the world. Everyday, more than once a day, I got my little dog out, tickled its tummy and fed it a biscuit. Long (death-defying) bus journeys and tedious waits at airports meant more love and attention for my little pet. Then one day, somewhere off the coast of Sumatra, I forgot about my faithful Tamagotchi, who lay at the bottom of my backpack unfed and untickled. My digital dog dwindled to a shadow of its former self. I lost interest.

My blog may not be a toy, but it needs to be cared for as it's my voice. And if people want to listen, I have to give them something to listen to.

A month of silence? Time to clear my throat, wake the digital dog and find my voice again.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

My (ahem, embarrassed look) weeks...

Ok, there's no excuse, I've been slack and unattentive to my blog. I had the internet rugged pulled from under me and I flaked out. Terrible. Pathetic. Lame.


So I would like to apologise and am planning a bumper blog month for June, only a week in so plenty of time to really start running and entertaining (hopefully). I have a host of posts planned, ones that I''ve been meaning to write/post for a while, so watch this space.

Now instead of a summary of activity in blogland, writerland and creativeland (as that has been a bit lacking), here is a gallery of doodles that you may have missed... I was still functioning graphically!






and the top blog posts for May were...

Although May has been a quieter month for me, I have a whole blog about that coming up, I have been pleased to see so many friends visiting both my blogs. Thank you. I promise that June will be a far more active and much more exciting month for Stories & Stuff, and i did a doodle will continue to keep exploring the creative crevices of my mind and imagination.

So the most popular blog posts for May?

Stories & Stuff Blog

Baby Business, week 18.
Rightly so, as it was My Little one who wrote this!
Take a peek >

i did a doodle blog
15th May 2015
Colour Collective doodle for the colour Cerulean Blue.
Check out cerulean blue >

Thank you to all those who visit me in blogland and follow my doodles and stories.