63 // Beautiful & Rugged

The best of plans come from adventurous thinking. Seeing as I’m doing my 30 before 30, I asked a friend if there was anything they’d like to do before they turned 30 themselves. This friend is Dan, and he’s one of my closest pals. His response: Drive through the Highlands… Next, picture the scene: I’m sitting at home on my sofa, it’s 2am, I have a voucher from Christmas for Canopy & Stars that needs using before the end of the year. I come across a listing for The Ferry Waiting Room – a former waiting room converted into a sleeping area with a little cabin for cooking. It sleeps four, dogs are welcome. It has a brilliant view, and is in the Highlands. An idea starts to form.

I ask Dan. He’s in. I ask Mikee. He’s in. Dan asks me to ask his wife Nicola, because it’ll be ‘less crazy’ coming from me. I ask her. She’s in. And where me and Mikee go, so goes Piggy. The stars aligned timing wise, so we made a rough plan and we booked for 3 nights. He would achieve his goal just days before his birthday.

Along comes the 7th of Sept. All of us make our individual ways to Sussex. On the 8th I have my grandads 92nd birthday & they have a wedding to attend. 9pm rolls around and Dan & Nicola show up at my mums and our adventure begins – a 3 hour journey to Birmingham by car which goes much faster than the 2 hour journey’s to London in my mums car.

On the 9th we make our way from Birmingham to our destination – Monachyle Mhor on Loch Voil. It takes us 7hours, we make two stops, and play the question game. I discover lots of things about my lovely friends. The drive gets more and more lovely the further north we get. We check in, and the lady in reception shows us where our bathroom is, leads us though the woods in heavy rain to our weird little cabin, gives us the keys and bids us goodbye.

We have arrived.

We spend the evening with the boys making multiple fires and since the Hotel had a dinner Michelin Star menu costing £65 per person (I’m sure it’s worth it but we’re not loaded) we ate our car snacks – a feast of crisps, bbq fired camembert, bread, babybels and chocolate biscuits. I had a stonking cold, and we were all pretty tired from the journey so we all went to sleep after each having a creepy journey walk the pitch black woods to go and use the bathroom in the hotel. At least it wasn’t an outhouse ha.

With two full days to fill, Dan had the best knowledge and ideas and so we followed his lead. On day one we went to Mhor Bread in Callander, just missing breakfast but everyone got to try pies and I had a tasty soup. And then we decided to drive to Loch Lomond and go on a ferry ride. The ferry was very informative. Loch Lomond is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain, I believe they said there used to be an illegal whisky making operation on one of the islands in the loch. We spotted an Osprey nest as we went around and they also have wallaby’s living on one of the islands.

We drove back, trying to find a place to pick up ingredients to make soup. We found a tiny Londis, the only shop for miles around – we picked up potatoes, onion, mushrooms, broccoli, cream cheese, garlic, carrot and stock and somehow Mikee managed to cook us the best possible meal from our Londis which we paired with an awesome cheese and jalapeno sourdough loaf which we managed to cook on the log burner in our little kitchen.

I had ordered Dan a cake to celebrate the last few days of his 20’s and sort of have an early celebration of his birthday, and I picked it up from the hotel and it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. A chocolate orange cake with candied orange, chocolate crumb and crushed pistachio on top. The look on his face when I gave it to him was the best.

We decided to head to the hotels living room for some comfort, in our pyjamas so we could easily get ready for bed, and watched Stranger Than Fiction – hogging the room to ourselves.

The second day we had some promising weather in the morning so after breakfast of leftover soup we decided to drive to Glen Coe, an hour and a half away further up into the Highlands. The mountains started getting bigger and as we got further north the weather started changing, in some spots there was lovely fluffy clouds and then was had misty drizzly rain, and the mountains started appearing out of nothing as we kept on driving. The landscapes were stunning. We stopped at The Boots Bar on the A82 and everyone enjoyed a good lunch. One of the barmaids gave us some tips – told us to avoid Fort William, recommended Oban, and told us if we had to chance to drive up to Morar to see the Silver Sands where there’s a white beach and turquoise water, and to go further up the road even though she said it was a bit of a hair raising drive.

As the weather was a bit pants and the drive to and from places would already be pretty long, we decided to go to Oban. Nicola and I bought some lovely bubble bath from the Highland Soap Company (the honeysuckle smells delightful). And we stopped briefly in the Distillery but left as they weren’t dog friendly. I picked up some violet gin from a bottle shop, the guys grabbed fish and chips and we made a booking for dinner at Mhor 84 which was just down the road from where we were staying. It’s owned by the same family as Monachyle Mhor but much more affordable. After a long drive back we all had a brilliant dinner there, then it was rather late and so the beds were calling.

In the morning we all packed up, got ready and checked out. We made friends with some of the resident dogs – Rose, Betty and a black lab. They all followed us across a field where we went to take pictures before we left. With Rose photobombing a lot of our pictures. After dancing like a bunch of idiots because I wanted to make a silly travel video (above) we went and got breakfast (from Mhor84 again) and it was really good. The environment there was really nice as well so it was nice to go back. It was Dan’s actual birthday the day we drove back, so it was a good way to welcome in the new decade. And Nicola drove us all the way back to Birmingham while Dan and Piggy slept in the back of the car. And with that, our Rugged & Beautiful adventure ended, I’ll be going back with my mum.

62 // Walthamstow Day Trip

At the start of September I went on a day out to Walthamstow with my beautiful friend Juliette. Even though Walthamstow is in London it’s so far for both of us, we made a day of it.

When we got there we were both super hungry so we went to Eat17, which had really good reviews on Google and it was 100% worth going. Juliette had tagliatelle and I had avo toast with poached eggs because I’m a millennial. They gave us drinks with bamboo straws which were AWESOME. We got some cake and donuts when we left because they looked delightful.

When we left we had a little look in some of the shops in Walthamstow village and went for a walk to see if we could find fabric, but we had places to go and things to see… firstly – the William Morris museum. Set here because he was born in Walthamstow and spent most of his life in the area doing arty and activisty type things. We got to see his old paintings, prints, textiles, all sorts – well worth the visit if you end up in the hood. We sat outside after, chatting and enjoyed our cake in the sunshine.

Next up we made our way to God’s Own Junkyard, wandering through a graveyard and coming across a tudor house. One of the gravestones gave me an idea – how awesome would it be to be buried in a bathtub?

Anyway, I had heard about God’s Own Junkyard around 5 years ago, and have never visited. So it was amazing to finally get there: So many lights, crammed full of neon it was everything I could have wanted – apart from their camera policy. You’re allowed to take photos on your phone but not on an slr, and while I respect that that’s what they want I don’t understand the logic? It all ends up the same… I just wanted to take some nice portraits of my friend. Never mind. We had fun, and when we left we stopped by Mother’s Ruin Gin company and enjoyed a little drink before making our way home.

61 // 30 Before 30 Update

4 Months down, 8 to go. This is how I’m doing with my 30 before 30: 3 Done, 14 Doing, 12 Need work on and 1 Failed but not completely. Not bad progress.

TRAVEL

  • Visit Sabine in Munich – DOING: Booking this soon.
  • Visit New York – This will have to just be booked for next year, I really want to go in September and we can’t go THIS coming September.
  • Girly weekend. – Need to work on this.
  • Go on a hike. – DOING: Going to Scotland with friends in September, we will do this then.
  • Last festival of my 20s. – DONE: We went to Citadel and it was fun. We are also going to Secret Cinema which I believe is going for a mini festival theme.

WORK

  • Launch Kireli. – DOING: I’ve been working away on this the last few weeks.
  • Start a retirement fund. – Help? Anyone?
  • Enter awards for work. – DONE: And we won an award! I will enter more as the year goes on.
  • Go to one exhibition a month. DOING: Have been to the RA 250th Summer Show, D&AD New Blood, Hope to Nope at the Design Museum, Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson, Fred Butler at Now Gallery, the Central Saint Martins degree show, I’ve seen Michael Beirut from Pentagram talk, I’ve been to a talk at Pentagram as well, and we went to see Andreas Gursky at the Hayward Gallery and I’ve got so many more things planned.
  • Mentor someone & be mentored. – DOING: I am in a way helping a couple of people when I can with their work & careers; as much as I can anyway. I’ve also been on the hunt for a mentor and have spoken to some really incredible people in the process.
  • Learn about investing money. – I’ve yet to read my book… Will add it to the line up of reading material.
  • Make something to sell online for passive income. – I have some ideas as I reflect on this right now.
  • Self portrait challenge. – DOING: Need to do more.
  • Teach a class OR do a talk. – DOING: Talking to a friend about organising a talk at the moment.
  • Pitch for business. – Help? Anyone?

 

FOR FUN

  • Hot air balloon ride. – DOING: Need to book it.
  • Do a handstand again. – DOING: Have put handstand training in my bullet journal habit tracker and have successfully done it a few days in a row.
  • Learn to properly hula hoop. – DOING: I got a hula hoop and can almost keep it up (see video – please excuse me being ridiculous).
  • Cook 5 friends a 3 course meal from scratch. – Going to invite some people over soon.
  • Stand on a moving skateboard for longer than 10 seconds. – Have had a couple of people volunteer to teach me, just need to book in a date to do it.

 

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

  • Do up our flat. – DOING: Kitchen – Check. Need to crack on with the floor. We’ve had more expenses than we anticipated the last few months so other things are on hold.
  • Treat yourself regularly. – DOING: Have had three facials since I started this (post facial right pic below). I’ve also had a haircut (left pic below) and a massage from the lovely Spirited Away Massage.
  • Read 5 books minimum. DONE!: I have read Catcher in the Rye, The Handmaids Tale, the three books from His Dark Materials, Dark Matter – A Ghost Story. I’m on the Book of Dust at the moment, I have American Psycho lined up, and am showing no sign of stopping.
  • Figure out my style. DOING:
  • Make more videos. – I’ve filmed stuff but not proactively made a video. Need to think about how to build this one into the daily.
  • Blog once a week. – FAILED: Already failed this but I’m blogging more regularly which is a good thing.
  • Start learning to drive again.
  • Say yes to doing things. – DOING: Have been to vegan afternoon tea because a friend asked to go for her birthday, I’ve said yes to doing personal project challenges, yes to the Queen’s Garden Party, yes to going in a pedal boat, yes to going to therapy, I’ve been to see the Foo Fighters because my brother asked me, I said yes to joining in on the fun project with Olly, I was asked if I wanted to be featured on something so I said yes, I have been asked if I want to join something else and will say yes. Saying yes is good.
  • Pay it forward. – Still to do but it’s playing very much on my mind for how I want to approach Kireli.
  • Turn 30 somewhere really special. – Mikee and I spoke about maybe going to the Philippines for my birthday this last weekend, I can’t think of anything more special – especially for the year that marks us having known each other for half our lives.

 

60 // Gratitude

Earlier this year I started a bullet journal. It’s been really handy. I don’t really keep it decorative, I already have enough making to keep on top of in my day to day, but it means I can keep track of habits I want to keep on top of or build. I can keep track of my mood and see how I’m feeling about particular things. And recently Aleksandra Stanglewicz sent me this post from The Cut about happiness (which is something I’m a bit interested in – I even wrote my dissertation at university on it), and there was a suggestion to note down 5 things you’re grateful for every day to boost your overall wellbeing, so I put a gratitude section in my bullet journal and make sure to note down 5 things I’m grateful for every day. Most of it revolves around food, friends, nice weather and feeling fulfilled, I’m easy to please clearly.

Anyway, Aleksandra and I were talking a few weeks later and she suggested we set ourselves some personal projects to do in July and keep check on each other to keep each other accountable, and so we have someone rooting for us. I set mine to be to illustrate the things I’m grateful for in July, aiming to do roughly one every other day. I settled on a collage style, it’s generally something I’ve played with in the past, and I wanted to use this golden texture I’d found to show the thing that I was grateful for because it’s making my life more golden. It hasn’t worked out perfectly – I’ve had to play catch up, but I’m mostly on top of it. I can’t say I love all of them but that wasn’t the point here, the point was to just make something – even if it doesn’t end up perfect. Here’s what I’ve made over the month.  It’s been a really nice little challenge to do, I feel like I’ve found a style of illustration which sort of suits me along the process. I think I might do another challenge in August – I’ve been feeling a bit rusty with idea generation so I might set myself the task of coming up with creative solutions to problems every day, so I can just get the wheels of that part of my brain moving again.

59 // Fearless Types

This is so exciting! Olly Cooper and I have been working on an idea with the Young Creative Council for their badass.gal initiative to celebrate the fearless women in the creative industry by rewriting the stereotype. The aim is to empower the next generation of talent.

We got together a few fantastic creative ladies: Aleksandra Stanglewicz, Jennifer Hayashi, Olivia Boutrou, Meagan Bach and myself. And we all took our idea and made it look utterly incredible for D&AD New Blood where you could get postcards, posters and there was a sneak peek of some tee’s we were working on. The designs are absolutely killer, it’s all part of a bigger project in the works and there’s more to come which we can’t wait to share. Here are the designs so far…

And here is the sneak peek of the tee’s… honestly, can’t wait to share the full project, the amount of talented people we’ve had the pleasure of doing work with on this has been phenomenal. Watch this space.

58 // Dear 18 Year Old Me

 

I recently saw a post on Twitter by The Empowered Women Project about writing a letter to your 18 year old self. I thought it was a nice idea, so I wrote myself something and sent them my letter. I thought I’d share it here as well, just this version is a little longer. What would you say to your 18 year old self? 

 

Dear 18 year old me,

You’ve been through a lot and you have so much ahead of you, not all of it is easy, not all of it bad – you’ll have your heart broken in more ways than one but that will never stop you loving things with your whole being.
These are the things I’d want you to keep in mind:

You’ll change a lot but you fundamentally stay the same – you’re an idealist, your instincts are usually correct, you’re simultaneously an old person and a child at heart, you don’t like coffee, beer or coriander, you’re an optimist. You’re a bit odd and usually feel out of place – you’re an INFJ, find this out sooner – it’ll help you make sense of how you sit in the world. You’re a night person – it’s in your biology. Don’t feel guilty for not being a morning person.

You’ll do a job you love, but it’s only possible through hard graft and a lot of side hustling. Don’t expect things to fall into your lap – you need to make sure you’re seen and heard for others to know you want to do the things that you want to do.

That guy in Sainsbury’s, the one who is always smiling at you from across the tills – he’ll become one of your best friends. You meet him properly the day before he leaves for uni when you’re all a bit drunk. Keep it in mind to talk to happy drunk people more, you never know what connection you’ll make.

Always be kind. Don’t get taken advantage of.

Work hard, but don’t worry about what grade you get at uni – no one cares, or asks. Make sure to spend time making things you want to work on.

Do spontaneous trips, you never regret them and you create the best memories from them.

Don’t be afraid to demand support when you need it. Don’t let other people take emotional dumps onto you if you don’t want it. Remember you’re not responsible for their happiness, especially when you’re not doing so okay yourself.

Support your friends and family as much as humanly possible, empower the women around you, and make as many guy friends as you can, you’ll miss having them around. And on that note don’t feel bad for cutting off toxic relationships. It’s better for everyone – even if you miss the people. Boundaries are important to set. Don’t feel guilty for setting them.

Don’t always do the sensible thing. You’re a sensible person – any risk you consider will always be measured, so don’t be afraid of chasing something that might bring you happiness because you’re scared of an unknown outcome. Things work out.

Work in a bar. You’ll meet amazing people, it’ll keep you fit and teach you to not be a dick.

2012 will be awful. You’ll hate your first real job, the people aren’t nice. Your dog dies. Your best friend will move far away. It’s tough as hell, you’ll be depressed, you might even have think about ending it all. You make it through. Remind yourself when it gets bad, you’ll always make it through.

Look after your body more. Make it a priority. It’s the only home that’s truly yours, it’s important.

You’re so much tougher, funner and more versatile than people perceive of you at face value. You mask this side of you so well to protect yourself – which isn’t always a good thing. Don’t be afraid to let people see all of you more often, and allow yourself to be more excited and enthusiastic about things – it’s always uplifting to be around those kinds of people.

You always really like blunt people, even if you’re not sure about them to start with.

Witty banter, piano playing, creative thinking. You love these things but they are skills, keep them well oiled.

You’ll grow into adults with your best friends around you, and you’ll all succeed in different ways. Don’t get jealous of them, remind yourself you each have different definitions of success.

Read the Redditor’s ultimate guide to acne sooner. Spots are a bitch and having bad skin impacts your mental health more than you realise. Your pimples will be around for a long time but discovering that post is everything you need to get to a better place with your skin.

Be mindful of how judgemental you are over trivial things. Question yourself often, figure out why you feel the way you do about something. Push yourself to be better, but be mindful that you are always enough as you are.

Clouds weighing 500,000kg can float in the sky, we’ve visited the moon, we’re made of the same atoms as stars, you wouldn’t believe it but Donald Trump becomes the president of the US, and scientists have teleported a photon… Remember that if these seemingly impossible things can happen – you can manifest anything you want in your life.

Don’t dance in the shower when you’re sleepy and in a rush. This does not turn out well.

Enjoy the ride,

29 year old me.

56 // We Won an Award!

So I’m a lil bit late posting this on here but last year I got approached by Cineworld to redesign their gifting range – everything from giftcards, to the wallets, carriers, promo posters and in cinema stands. It’s been out in the world since Christmas 2017 and this year I was also commissioned to extend the suite of designs to span across their giftboxes as well. All the assets we created needed to be generic enough to apply to the whole year but also to work alongside some seasonal or themed assets, so the span of work needed to be flexible and interchangeable while still working successfully either way.

For the initial gifting range work I brought Olly (who I worked with at Ogilvy) on board to work on the project with me because we work really well together. And we came up with the idea of using the giftcards to give people something meaningful – giftcards can so often feel impersonal. So we created a series of compliment cards with references based in the movies. As far as I know they’ve been successfully doing their job. Back in April, Olly suggested we enter the work into the Hermes Awards. We did, and we won a Gold award for the work. It was really cool to have our idea recognised for being a great idea, because it is. It also means one of my 30 before 30 has a tick next to it.

55 // BADASS.GAL Feature

Short and sweet for you today. The lovely folk at The Young Creative Council launched a project called Badass.gal for International Women’s Day to celebrate young female creatives that are already going above and beyond. Everyday they feature a different lady from the industry on their platform and today they’ve got me on there.

It says on the badass.gal website ‘At the YCC, we’re passionate about helping bridge the gap between industry and education. And we’re fortunate enough to meet and work with some of the most talented female creatives who will no doubt be the industry’s future leaders. This platform is a place to celebrate the amazing work they’re already doing.’

Visit the website to check out all the other badass.gals, to nominate people you know and to champion all those creative ladies who are being total badasses.

54 // Kitchen Adventures Pt 1

This story begins back in February when I booked an appointment for Mikee, my mum and myself to go to Ikea to design a kitchen. If you follow me on Instagram you know what we’ve been going through, and I’ve had a lot of lovely people following on my Instagram Story updates about the kitchen. So I thought I’d do a blog post to actually cover how we started, how it’s all gone and what we did.

We’ve been living in our flat for three years and while we love our flat, it is a bit of a fixer-upper. We live in a one bedroom ex-council flat in Zone 2 with a tiny balcony overlooking allotments. We’re about a twenty minute walk past the docks from Canada Water and a five minute walk from the river. The flat we have has good sized rooms, lots of light on one side of the building and about 5 million unnecessary cupboards which I seriously consider renting out sometimes because they’re bigger than Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs. Most of it hasn’t been updated since it was built so it’s in need of some TLC.

Which brings us to the kitchen. The kitchen was a good kitchen, liveable in but not very well designed or practical. The first day we were here we cleaned the cupboard tops which were grimy as, and I left a dirty hand print on the wall by accident just to remind us of how gross it was. The floor, the cupboards, the countertop were all different shades of wood, the backsplash was make to look like fake tiles, we had ONE tiny drawer, the cupboard doors were falling off because the actual units were from when the flat was first built. And when we first moved we had been left a washing machine which was useful but I’m fairly certain it was from the 1980s and it flooded our kitchen after we’d only been here about 4 months – resulting in us ripping up the laminate leaving some very old gross marbled vinyl tiles. Fast forward three years when we’d done bits and bobs over the years to try and make it better but we just really needed to redo the whole thing.

I’m not sure what the tipping point was, maybe it was my mum going ‘you need to redo your kitchen’ for the 100th time. But I booked that appointment and so off we went, not even sure if we could afford it knowing the chain reaction it would set off – by doing the kitchen we’ll need to do the floor, if we do the floor we want the floor to go through the whole flat and so on.

Anyway, we designed the kitchen with the help of Ikea. Having lived here for so long already we knew exactly what would work to make layout much more useful. And the price came to £2,600 ish. We noticed you could pay on finance over 3 years at 0% interest, making the kitchen about £75 a month which is affordable for us. We’d also been saving up to go to New York (we hadn’t saved up much but just enough to book flights), and decided to use the money to get half of the floor and any DIY bits and pieces we might need, as well as to pay people who came and helped us on the things we couldn’t do ourselves. Cue Friday April 13th and our new kitchen was destined to arrive.

THIS. Was our old kitchen. So nice, as you can see.

WEEK 1

The Sunday before the kitchen was due to arrive we decided to start our process by moving everything into the living room and taking all the old cupboards down. It took us a day to get the majority of the units and worktop out. As well as to get the ugly vinly floor tiles up which were stuck down with mastic that just gets stronger over time, so it was really forking strong. We basically did this so we could assess the damage which was probably just as bad as we were expecting.

The wall behind the sink was covered in black mould because the sealant had aged so much that it no longer worked and moisture had gotten in. We found a lot of mouse poo. We discovered that under the corner of the counter a bunch of old tiles from a previous kitchen renovation had been dumped there (just why?!) The vinyl tiles only went up to the units. The walls behind the cupboards hadn’t been sealed or painted – they were just plasterboard attached to brick. We discovered how thick our internal walls are which is not very thick – three layers of plasterboard. Some of the plasterboard had gotten so old that it just fell away from the wall when we pulled stuff out. It just wasn’t great.

Once we had everything out we started by PVAing the walls to seal them. We removed the door frame and any skirting that we could. We painted the ceiling. I filled in holes with mortar and polyfila. Mikee and I sanded and peeled away the mouldy top layer of the plasterboard. My mum and I wallpapered and painted the walls green. And Mikee and I got the floor down just as the new kitchen showed up – kudos to the guys who brought everything up the stairs as everything was rather heavy.

That weekend we had help from Rupert (a family member) to get the plumbing started. We took out the old radiator, we got a line in to connect to the new dishwasher, the washing machine and to plumb in the fridge and we also shortened the gas pipe a little. We painted some more and started building units while trying to figure out how on earth we were going to fix the units to the wall as our walls were so thin and our stud finder was saying everywhere had wires in the wall. Stressful.

I think that’s enough for this post! Check back later for the next leg of the journey toward a much, much, much better kitchen.