Monday, 31 January 2011

Sewing therapy

Although my last post may suggest otherwise, I didn't spent the entire weekend moping. As well as a nice trip out to the countryside I also got my sewing machine out again to run up another homemade gift. This time, a clutch bag for a friend who's moving abroad. I made it using a layering and cutting technique I've just learned at my sewing class, and which I might now be a little bit addicted to. 
The colours haven't come out in photos as pretty as they are in real life, and it's not quite finished, but here are a couple of snaps.

I also discovered the wonderful Creativity shop, on Worrall Road, Clifton.. When I say discovered, I'd known it was there for ages but for some reason assumed it was quite small and wouldn't have half of what I needed. I was wrong. My problem was trying to stick to what I needed and not get carried away in a frenzy of bead and button shopping. Lovely, helpful staff too. I'll definitely be going back soon.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Big questions and the Big Smoke

Sometimes life seems like one long struggle and this has been one of those weeks. I've been going through a period where I feel dissatisfied with everything, and as though I'm somehow failing at making a success of my life. 
This time that feeling has been focused on my career and I've found myself wondering if I'm going in the right direction and, if I'm not, what I can do to change that. 
Inevitably when I start thinking this way I begin wondering if I should be moving to London. Although I was brought up there I have no particular desire to live in the capital - unlike many of my friends who flocked there as soon as they grauated, I headed in the opposite direction.
But in the past few weeks I've been keeping my eye on media jobs - not so much for myself as for my boyfriend who is looking to move to Bristol. And the vast majority of relevant vacancies are in London. 
That there are more jobs in London than Bristol (or elsewhere in the country for that matter) doesn't come as a surprise of course. But reading the jobs pages is a depressing reminder of why many people feel that, if they really want to "make it", they have to move to the Big Smoke. 
Which got me thinking about what I need in order to feel that I've "made it", and what success even is. In the mood I've been in in the past week those were very difficult questions to be asking myself, and ones that I will have to leave for another blog post to attempt exploring.
What I do know is that I want to live in Bristol, but I also want to live with my boyfriend,  so we need to be somewhere he can work too. And, although I have a good job at the moment, at some point I will want to move on. So I was wondering if we were being idealistic about trying to have it all - the lifestyle and the careers. 
And then I picked up a copy of Bristol Property Live. I know it sounds like an unlikely place to find inspiration,and that wasn't why I started reading it (I wasn't reading it as a potential house-buyer either, sadly.) But a feature on Mike Bennett, Bristol's place-making director, caught my eye. 
As the article observed, it's a rubbish job title. But Bennett's role is to promote Bristol as an exciting, vibrant place to come and live and work. 
As part of the initiative he and his team have come up with 50 ideas to invigorate the city. 
Sure, many of them will never see the light of day, but just reading the list of suggestions, such as a Slow Sunday anti-rat race movement, or summer music sessions, made me feel excited about living here again. 
It reminded me that Bristol is alive with creativity and innovation, which is what makes it so desirable as a place to live and work. OK, the sheer volume of jobs in London may mean it's often the safest, most obvious place to pursue a career. But who wants to be safe and obvious?
It may be that little bit harder to find the ideal job here but I've decided to take that as a challenge, and to see it as a an opportunity, in the spirit of Bristol, to create something even better than those London folk can imagine.


Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Teabags and poached eggs

Yesterday was my and the boyfriend's two year anniversary. Sadly, like most Monday evenings since we got together, we spent it apart. Since he lives even deeper in the Westcountry than I do we can usually only see each other at the weekends. 
I did feel a little sorry for myself, but we had spent the weekend together and exchanged presents so I couldn't complain too much. 
My bank account is still groaning slightly after the pressure Christmas put it under. Luckily, I got a sewing machine for Christmas (from the BF actually) so I thought I'd whip him up a little something.
My skills are still limited, but I had learned how to make a lavender bag at the lessons I went to before Christmas. I'd discussed this with the BF, who said he would like one to hang in his wardrobe, but wouldn't want it to be lavender scented. His reason? He was worried it might make him sleepy while he was getting dressed... How do you argue with a mind that works like that?
So I had to think a bit creatively about what to stuff the bag with. I settled on lemon and ginger tea. It might sound strange, but I figured that tea leaves are the same kind of consistency as dried lavender. And lemon and ginger should be suitably invigorating. 
I couldn't find loose herbal tea anywhere (does anyone know where you can get it from?) so I ended up buying teabags and laboriously emptying them out before feeding the tea into the bag I'd sewn. That's love. But then again, I think I'd have to go a long way to find another man to whom I could present something made, essentially, of a cut up old shirt and some tea-bags and know he'd understand what it represented.
I did take a picture which I'd planned to upload here but I'm having technical difficulties. Hopefully it will follow at a later date. 
And last night, to celebrate our two years together, I made myself two poached eggs with the egg poacher he'd given me as an anniversary present. And I loved every mouthful. 

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Happy City

In my last blog I shared some ideas for staving off the January blues and since then I've been thinking more about happiness and how we all need more of it. 
Bristol's been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently. As a young woman living not far from Clifton - and with an anxious mother texting me every evening to check I'm OK - it's hard to forget that there's a major police investigation going on just a few roads away. 
But I also keep reminding myself, and my concerned mother, that Bristol is by and large a wonderful, safe place to live and we shouldn't let horrible, tragic, but hopefully one-off crimes detract from that. 
As I've said before there are many things that make Bristol so fantastic, and one I've been wanting to write about for a while is an initiative I stumbled across on Facebook called Happy City Bristol. 
Its mission is very simple - to spread happiness in Bristol. And it aims to do this by bringing people together, connecting communities and helping people to make the changes they want to see in their city. 
I love everything about this. I don't think there's anything more important than happiness. And by that I don't mean the hit of instant gratification you get from a new pair of shoes. I mean that deep-seated sense of wellness and oneness that makes the whole world a better place.
And I fully endorse the Happy City principle that this comes from "creating caring, connected communities" and "bringing people, ideas and resources together".
The sense that Bristol is pulsing with a creative, community spirit was what drew me here, and it makes me very happy to find that there's a project focused on tapping into that and helping it to flourish.

Monday, 3 January 2011

January action plan

It is definitely January. Outside, the sky is a dull grey and it can’t decide whether it wants to snow or rain, so it’s doing a little of both. It’s my last day off before work and I had great intentions of a purposeful day of doing, organising and sorting so I can start the new year in a productive and energised manner. Instead, I eventually hauled myself out of bed at getting on for midday, made myself a peppermint tea, wrapped myself in a cardigan and woolly socks, and got right back into bed.
Every year I think I’m prepared for the sheer dismalness of January and promise myself that I won’t let it affect me, But each time it rolls around the cold, skin, flatness of the month manages to hit me afresh.
But this year I’m determined to meet January head on and this time I have a plan - hobbies.
I don’t know if it’s my age but in the last couple of years I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of having lots of interests, and discovering new ones. When I was a teenager my mum despaired as I gave up one extra-curricular activity after another - at weekends all I wanted to do was find new and more interesting ways to drink and meet boys.
I’m still a fan of drink and boys, but now they have to fit around dance classes, writing groups, sewing lessons and yes, even knitting. I’ve toyed with the idea of taking up the piano again. But I gave that up for a very good reason - I was crap.
So I’m going to fill this month with activities and projects. I’m already signed up for more sewing lessons at the Folk House, on Park Street, which I suggest as an excellent place to start if you want to keep yourself so busy that you don’t even notice that Christmas has been and gone for another year.
Hobbies don’t have to be expensive. Find a local book group, or a supper club. Teach yourself to play the ukulele on Youtube, or ask someone you know to share a skill with you and offer to teach them one in return. By February you’ll be full of goodwill once again, and you’ll have a new talent to boot. Happy New Year.

To get you started with a few ideas, check out the Folk House