It’s always better on holiday…

On Friday, I grudgingly came back from Cornwall, smashing back into the real world. I’m not entirely sure how to write a post about this without it being the 2013 equivalent of showing you my holiday slide show (‘how did THAT get in there?!’) so I’ll do what I can to keep it lively.

I spent two weeks with the fam in St Ives in Cornwall, mainly just eating, reading, walking and cooking, and very occasionally thinking. It was my first holiday in a year, and I desperately needed to take a bit of time out from pressures at home, and come back with a fresh perspective. For me, that’s what a holiday should be for – in a way, a break from yourself and a break from your routines.

I was stagnating a bit before I went away. It was a stressful start to the year, and I went from knowing exactly what I wanted to do to being more or less completely lost in a matter of weeks. Circumstances around me changed and I found it hard to change with them. I’ve been freelance for nearly two years now, and I hit a wall. Projects wrapped up and I suddenly couldn’t bear the thought of having to come up with a slew of new ideas to get going on.

Nearly two years of pressured deadlines, answering emails at 11pm, constantly seeking new clients, projects not coming off…and more than anything, the ALL-ENERGY-ALL-THE-TIME aspect of freelancing. I was exhausted. I was fed up. I lost all motivation and found myself questioning what I wanted to do. I hated writing, didn’t want to do, couldn’t do it, most terrifyingly of all. I couldn’t pick up a pen, couldn’t open an empty Word doc. I’ve been craving photocopiers and office gossip and leaving work at 6 and drawing a line under it. No messy overspill. Defined days. Measured time.

Two weeks away gave me time to reflect on all of those ragged, half-formed thoughts. I was so cross and frustrated with myself. While I was away, I put down my phone(s), zipped up my laptop bag, and just tried to ‘be’ for the two weeks. I read a lot, went for long walks, cooked meals over a period of several hours with a glass of wine in hand. I’ve come back ready to address things properly instead of running away from them. This Monday, I’ve been excited again, keen to work hard, wanting to get things done. I feel a million miles away from the way I did before the holiday, and it’s a relief.

If you’ve been feeling a bit lost or a bit confused, try and take some time away if your circumstances permit it. Get away from social media and the relentless tide of everyday communications. Try and remember who you are and what you’re doing. Step back before you jump in again. What a sappy post – I’m sorry for the fortune cookie wisdom I appear to be spouting, so I’ll wrap up right here. If you’re anything like me and you tend to run away from things, then try running a little further then coming back more prepared.

And if you found that the most saccharine pile of old rubbish, then here are some pretty pictures and photos of food wot I ate to cheer you up. Coming up soon: more recipes, and watch a shirt magically transform into a skirt.


Life, lashes and laughter

That title sounds like a Lambrini tagline, right? Not that I’ve ever drunk the stuff, but still…

Life It’s been quite the crazy week, life-wise. While last week was insanely busy with doing stuff, this week has been mostly spent working at home. I tell you what, readers – I’d got to the end of my tether with freelancing all the time. I’ve been so lucky since I last left the office environment last June. I honestly never expected to be able to be my own boss, and it’s not something I planned at all. But project after project came in, affording me huge freedoms, and the chance to get paid to write; not something I thought I’d be doing for a very long time. But this month? I found myself between projects, very poor, and desperately yearning to flirt over a photocopier or make some foul instant coffee in an office kitchen.

Oh, obviously it was more than that. I wanted some structure, the knowledge of a regular paycheck, and a chance to actually reclaim my weekends. I read a wonderful quote on Twitter the other day, and sadly I can’t remember who said it, but it was something like ‘Being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life’. And that’s truly how it feels. Can you remember that Sunday night/end of the holidays slightly sick feeling? The panic of ‘oh GOD, I’ve left it so late! This is insane. I can’t manage it. Can I?’ And that’s what I’ve been having a lot lately. Even if you get on top of things you still have more to do. It’s weird – it’s the same thing that makes me love writing!

So, I’d been applying for full time jobs and part time jobs. Part time would probably be ideal – that way I can keep doing the things I’ve worked hard to do, as well as having a bit of stability. I haven’t applied for a job or used my CV in over a year, and it’s been slightly exciting and slightly weird to do so. I got my first rejection on Thursday! I got a bit upset at first and then grew up, got over myself and forgot about it after an hour or so. It is odd though – I’d got used to talking my way into jobs or projects. For the past year it’s just been a matter of going ‘yeah, that sounds really interesting, I’m up for that’, and you get to do it, because the person employing you has specifically sought you out/knows your skills. Anyway, one rejection, but a rather interesting top secret project has also popped up. I’m saying nothing for now, but it has massive potential for awesomeness.

What else was awesome? I popped up to South Kensington to the Becca boutique, to review eyelash extensions for I’ve thought about getting some for ages, so it was nice to try them. It’s definitely taken some getting used to – I crawled out of bed looking like a glamour puss and freaked myself out in the mirror this morning – but now I can do my entire makeup in about 3 minutes. Foundation, bit of bronzer, bit of lip balm, good to go. YES. Full review will be going up on next week, and I’ll be sure to link y’all, with some photos for good measure.

Last night I went to my very first TV recording. I’d heard that one of my heroes, Adam Buxton, was recording a TV version of his ‘BUG’ shows that he regularly hosts at the BFI Southbank. India and I saw him at Latitude last year and cried with laughter, then we saw him do BUG on the Southbank, and that was extremely awesome as well. Since seeing him at Latitude, I’ve listening to days worth of Adam and Joe radio shows, and they have truly made my life better. At the end of 2011/start of 2012, I was going through some difficult times with the end of a relationship, and general Winter blues, and honestly? Adam & Joe made it all better. Definitely should be prescribed to unhappy people. Since then I’ve turned into an A&J superfan. It’s against my nature to get so obsessed with stuff. I get bored extremely easily and, well…I’m waaaaay too cool for superfannish behaviour. (Ahem.)

But I made an exception for these chaps. I now know what Justin Bieber fans must feel like. I was massively overexcited about seeing Adam finally get a well-earned break with this TV show, and I wasn’t disappointed. We turned up at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith, not really knowing what to expect – although I did get a bright pink wristband (YES) and the camp man checking us in said that my name was ‘amazing’ and that I ‘should be on Downton Abbey’. It’s a funny old business, TV recording. We had to do stuff like recording laughter – we were directed to do ‘polite laughter’, and then slightly more hysterical laughter, and then all out insane laughing, cheering, and clapping. It’s for this reason that I have no voice today.

I have to give massive ‘props’ (is that right??!) to Mr Buxton. I thought he was brills before, but he worked SO HARD. He had to stick to the autocue and often redo things a couple of times, but make the audience laugh each and every time. He was just amazing to watch – he would also keep joking about inbetween recording, so the audience had a proper evening of comedy instead of just stop/start-ing all night. He must have been absolutely exhausted, but he kept really cheerful throughout the evening, which kept the audience in a good place. I have a huge amount of respect for anyone presenting a show – Dr Buckles had an earpiece in with a producer talking to him, loads of camera people, the usual stress of a live recording, and obviously an autocue to do, and certain places to stand.

Talking about certain places to stand – one of the markers had come off the floor of the set, and because I was in the front row, Mr Buxton decided to use me as a marker! He asked me my name, so I told him, and then he said ‘Amelia, you’re looking very beautiful tonight’ (I’m not making this up, it really happened), and then he said he was going to stand in front of me. He made a joke about that being a bit provocative, and he did a ‘sexy’ dance across the stage. I seriously think that my own wedding will have to compete quite hard to improve on last night, because that pretty much made my life. Anyway, all round it was a fantastic night, and I have even more respect for Adam after seeing it. Today, I’m happy, achy, and lacking in voice, and it was all worth it. Check out the video below to see Adam in action. I love you byeeee!