Silver Crow Project

Rocking My World Friday - Number Four Knock at the Door

(TL;DR: Lots of nature, more books, a bridge went up and lots of love from me to you.)

Hello there. I'm going to link up with Virginia today. The founder of RMWF. I haven't for the previous three. Oh, I've shared the link with her but I've been a bit shy - wrong word but I'm struggling to think of a better one - about publicly linking up. I'm pretty sure I know why and it's a daft reason, not one I really want to share. I started blogging again at just the right time and I find myself smiling during the week as I think about what I'm going to write. It will be worth it if just one of you thinks about starting this practice, to note down your positives, doesn't have to be in blog form, could be in a diary, post-its that only you see, art work... just acknowledge them. It sounds happy clappy but I promise you, not immediately but over time, you will start thinking in an all together different way.

So then, what's brightened my days this week?

Firstly - the hound. He is sparko in this picture. I woke up, he's wedged against the back of my legs here and somehow, in the night, he has managed to drag that fleece from the end of my bed and covered himself up like that! Talk about make yourself at home! Look at the smile on his face! Cheek of it!
whoopidooings: RMWF
 We live on an island which is serviced by two bridges. The old bridge and the new bridge (they have proper names but this is what we call them) The old bridge has to be lifted for big container ferries coming through to the docks or yachts that have tall masts. The new bridge is high enough that it doesn't. Whenever I have Bear in the car we have to go the old way on the off chance that the bridge might go up. Nine times out of ten it doesn't and I then have to explain that they wont lift it just for him. Today, on picking him up from visiting Nanna, I was almost excited as him to see the red warning lights flashing that the gates were closing. Honestly, if he wasn't strapped in he would have been bouncing around that car!
whoopidooings: RMWF
You can just see the ferry mast and flag going through in the second picture
Bonus fact for you - the bridge featured in the Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em 1975 Christmas episode. Frank Spencer learns to drive and the bridge he gets stuck on at the end is our bridge. There you go - little bit of trivia for you there. (Around about the 40 minute mark)
Took a bored, bored boooooored, BORED, bored Roo to the library at the weekend. While we were there I picked up a couple of books for myself. The Joker was one I'd put in a purchase request for after having it recommended. The Sandman was on their 'new books' shelf. The librarian actually passed me the Joker pinched between her finger and thumb, didn't like the cover. She was laughing about it - I told her it's the art that makes me read them! Did chuckle though. I'd also tried to reserve Dr Strange - The Way of the Weird, another graphic novel. I fancy watching the Benedict Cumberbatch film and thought I'd try the book first. She told me that they'd had to decline my request because every single issue in the county has gone missing! Well... How very... Weird!
whoopidooings: RMWF
This plum. Look at the colour! Such a gorgeous red! And it was just the perfect sweet and sour tang too. (I eat them before they properly ripen) Oh it was so good.
A friend inadvertently reminded me of the app that I used to have on my phone prior to it crashing. So I downloaded that again this week because I do love my Word of the Day. Just in time too because the very next day this happened...
It's the little things that make me laugh - driving them crazy keeps me sane! :)
Walking home after dropping the kids off at school yesterday and I kid you not, from the moment I turned into the top of my road till I got to the square at the bottom, birds were swooping in front of me back and forth, back and forth. Crows, starlings, sparrows, greenies, goldfinches. It was like being in a real life Disney film! I'm walking through like... I'M A PRINCETH! The lisp was essential. I think I may have even adopted the walk... (I would be Princess Fiona - she kicks arse! And is an ogre. As am I. No seriously - don't you take my moment away from me or you will see.) I could have burst into song! It had zero to do with the council man cutting all the long grass. No, not at all - it was my real life Disney moment! Aw I can't tell you - it was amazing!  Absolutely stunning. Still makes me smile. And the noise! Oh wow - indescribable.
It tipped down last night. (Heavenly breeze today. Oh thank you so much!) Walking to Morrisons today with Phe and stopping every few steps so we could both move the emerging snails off of the gravel path and a little closer to the grass. There were a few that had been squished but we rescued many more. Love that she gets me. Got caught talking to one the other day. Was going "come on little fella, over here..." moving it off (a different) path onto some grass. Man walks past me  with a raised eyebrow and an "alright!" I may get a name for myself at this rate. Ah well, add it to the list.
While we're on the nature... many, many sightings of Silver Crow! Always when I don't have my camera handy or when she's to far away - my phone takes lovely close up pictures but the zoom is crappy to say the least. Been seeing her from early this year right up until this week. She's not so silver now, more greyish white but still just as beautiful. I don't think she's albino though - she's not got the albino eyes and her beak is dark not pink like I've seen when I've googled it. Still makes my heart leap when I see her. She must be at least 5 years old now. She was a baby when we moved into this house. In fact, I have spotted a fair few black crows with white speckles in their wings and tail feathers so I think she may be a Mama. She's actually a jackdaw but I started calling her Silver Crow before I learned more about them, the name has stuck.
Whoopidooings - RYWF: Silver Crow
Old pictures of Silver Crow on our birdtable
I have a date! Next month! I'm going to socialise. Ohhhh yeah! Sarah is an amazing person. We met through Blogland and I count her as one of my best friends. In actual fact I think we have only met in person... 3 times? We've been friends for years now and do talk every few days via this wonderful t'interweb. For many of those years we've been saying we should meet up so I can be walloped in a deluge of all her street art knowledge. She's promised me a guided tour around that there illustrated London. Finally the stars have collided, our diaries have aligned and we have a date to do some serious walking and art slobbering (that bit would be me) It's going to be EPIC. (Repeat that last word in voice-over man tone - with echo effects.) She knows everything in the whole world (probably) about street art. You may know her already, she's otherwise known as Lost Dogs. You might have seen her stickers plastered in various public places on your travels around this fair land. I'm a tad excited, I don't know if it comes across. But I am. The nerves are kicking in already but I'm excited. And look, look Sarah - you too are written in ink!
Whoopidooings: RYWF

Bear had his first induction day at big school today. Loved it, wants to start there tomorrow. I had to explain he gets to go for another day next week but not properly till after the summer. So pleased he liked it though and all his little friends are in the same class with him.
I was talking to Phe yesterday about children having kids and somehow, it got round to my saying that I hope they hold off as long as they can or forever. I really do. I want them under no pressure to provide me with grandchildren. (Far from it.) I want them to live full lives so rich in experiences and knowledge. I started young, to young and although I love my babies dearly, I have nothing to pass on to them. I'm not talking money - I've always believed as long as they have a roof, food and love they'll be fine.  And they are more than fine - they are amazing kiddos. So proud of them. No - I've had no worldly experience and I don't feel my head has any real knowledge within it. It's not something I'm proud of and It's probably why I admire so many of you guys so much. I try to hold on to people that are passionate about things. In some way to soak up a little of what you know and pass those titbits on...

Today I got a letter from student finance. It's all going ahead. There is literally nothing stopping me now, except me. I am going to uni. I am going to keep learning. I am going to get a degree and I am going to be self employed. This is happening... Could someone maybe pass me a paper bag?

I just wish Mum could have seen. I really do. I will admit to some tears today. Happy tears. Receiving that letter - I'll never see it but it's a lot of money they entrust in you. When you see it written down and hold that letter in your hands. It's a bit of a "whoa" moment. Thinking about Mum and then reading back through this post and realising how lucky I am - bit overwhelmed today. Work hard. Make damn sure I'm looking back with no regrets, hey? Right - time to wrap this up methinks before I short circuit the keyboard.

I told a big fat lie the other week didn't I? These posts aren't getting any shorter. You know why? I write them throughout the week, kind of diary style so I don't forget things. If I just sat down on Friday I'd forget. Would you like me to write the days down I'm physically writing each bit or shall I just continue as I am?

To end, Phe told me George Ezra is finally releasing a new album. (Pause to have a little "yaaaaay") So this week Mr Ezra has been my car companion. His first album Wanted On Voyage is just so good, there is not a single bad track on there but these are my three favourites. These get cranked up just enough so I can't hear myself and I sing along till my throat hurts. 

  Ah Hell - Just go to Youtube, play the whole album. It's madness how good it is.
Thanks for stopping by. How has your week been?

Rocking My World Friday:The Hat-Trick!

Three in a row. Boom. Boom. Boom.

Can we officially say I'm back now? Maybe after an arty post or two which might just happen soon because I HAVE MY PHONE BACK! Which means I HAVE MY CAMERA! The phone side of things can remain a mystery, haven't missed that at all - we all know I hate the damn things. But I have my lovely camera. So first big positive to Samsung for prompt fixage - even if they did call it an old phone! At two years? How vay dare they! Saving me many, many pennies for a new one. And years of saving up said pennies.
Earlier in the week I found myself perusing a clothing shop, not quite sure what drew me in actually. But I was most excited to spy a long black t-shirt. All sparkly and very soft. I love long t-shirts and vests but you rarely see them un-chopped up now. I tried it on and it was a lovely length, no bits slashed out of the back or splits up to the armpits, thought it looked slinky, so I did. Very nice. Checked the price tag, £10. Not bad, I wear my clothes till they literally fall apart, stitch them up and wear them again. Easy enough to get a tenners worth of wear out of it. Bargain. Triumphantly take my prize to the till and whip out a crisp £10 note, look at me! Clothes shopping! ... Only to see it go through as a nighty! A nighty? Glance over at the section it was in... the rail it was on is surrounded by lacy bras and knickers. I did not even notice.

Stuff it - still going to wear it as a t-shirt. Still love it!

We went to the local cricket ground for a picnic on Saturday. It's great because there are lots of trees (glorious shade) and a play park, lots of benches and usually a match on during the Summer. You can tell how interested I am in that, I come armed with reading material. We usually finish off by going for a wander through the small wooded area you can see over the back... kids scaring all the local wildlife by screaming how lost they are in the woods. Seriously, it's tiny! Wander off on a different track for 5 minutes! *snigger*  Great way to spend a few hours. Cheapy cheap and the kids come home exhausted. Bonus!
Whoopidooings: Rocking My World Friday - picnic
My delightful children seeing how many grapes they could shovel into their chops.
Phe won.  Not at all surprised.
The kids have been enjoying hot chocolate topped with marshmallows this week. Yes, yes I have pointed out the ludicrously apocalyptic weather that is happening here in England. (Seriously, Mother Nature, sort it out! We have a stereotypical Summer I would very much like you to revert to! Grey skies, bit of drizzle, ability to function, that kind of thing. Thank you kindly.) Still, they want it and I must admit, as a non hot chocolate drinker I have been a bit jealous. They look so good. So I made a coffee and piled marshmallows on top.
Ohhhhhh coffeee you're so fine, you're so fine, you blow my mind. 
Heaven. On. Earth! When I got to the bottom it was all melty coffee marshmallow gloopiness. Mm-mm. The only way it could have been bettered would have been with a shot of whiskey. Waaw! Next time my friends. Next time.
Pressie from my Daddykins for mowing and de-brambling his garden. 'Nuff said! 
Apart from - MWAHAHAHAAAAAR! Eat peppermint and sage you 8 legged freaky beasts sent to torment me but whom I cannot kill because of daft superstition! Feel the force of my impenetrable... er, spray! Ummm... Hmm. Smells nice anyway.

Ooh, also showing in the picture. I stole the radio from the kitchen and spirited it away to my workshop! Teehee! Actually better reception out there. Go figure! Now, I wonder if anyone will notice a sofa and the fridge missing?

After saying I would make these shorter I realise I have waffled on again. And I have missed Friday too - it's now half past midnight so technically Saturday. Whoops. Here's a few quick things that made me smile:
  • Going to Morrisons around twilight and seeing the bunnies playing along the side of the building.
  • Just being outside around twilight, love that time of day.
  • Bears fashion show at nursery - no piccies because of other peoples children in them but the video shows him dragging his partner up the catwalk, not letting him have his moment at all. Like, I've done it now lets get out of here. Made me laugh.
  • Dropping Bear and his Daddy off at the station for a weekend with Nanny and having a jay flying in front and alongside the car before settling in a tree. Gorgeous bird, thought it was a woodpecker at first.
  • Mother Nature listened! Whoop whoop! Am sitting here with a gorgeous breeze whistling around my room and my duvet is looking mighty inviting. I shall be having a lovely snuggle under that! It's been to hot for covers and I do hate to sleep without one. I like that comforting weight.
  • The tiny thunder and lightning storm the other day - Phe and I were lucky enough to be outside and witnessed a lightning streak zigzag it's way to the ground. It was purple! And it was awesome!
  • My Dads reaction to the bug hotel we got him for Fathers Day. I popped down there tonight to drop some scones off Devvie had made him and he dragged me out to the garden to see it in situ. So pleased, he's a pain in the bum to gift for and it was one of those "well I'd like this so maybe he will..." gifts.
  • Trying to translate Le Petit Loup Rouge. I did OK, I kind of guessed the title was The Little Red Wolf. It's slow going, not going to lie. But between me, google and my little post-it notes, I'm getting there. I have such a fan girl crush on the illustrator Amélie Fléchais and I have a couple of her books now but they are in French and I want to experience them fully.

And that will do for now I'll leave you with who I'm listening to this week. Another group I properly discovered last year and Devvie bought me their Ellipsis album for Christmas or my birthday. It was this song that made me discover them properly but on YouTubing them I realised I knew a lot of their stuff but didn't know who sung it. They are amazing! They are Scottish! And you can hear their accents when they sing. *sigh*  I love them. Like Blue October, their lyrics are just beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by - how has your week been?

WOYWW - The First Time in Forever...

Apologies if the title gave you an ear-worm (Not really - secretly hoping it did!)

Greetings fair travellers of Blogland. I'm guessing if you have landed on my page today it is for one reason and one reason only. To rummage. It's been so long since I've taken part in What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday that most of you probably wont know me. I'm Carmen aka whoopidoo - I have two desks on the go (three if I can get away with the dinner table and four in September when I head off to uni) But for now I have the workdesk in my bedroom for when it's to hot/cold/can't be arsed to go outside and my workshop desk... Recently acquired when I took over the back of the garage.

This is said workshop desk...
This morning...
No room to play...
After much tidying...
All messed up again
It's so hot out there at the moment, ridiculously hot. Like, you're having a flaming giraffe, kind of hot. Stupid weather. So I think I deserve some kind of reward for tidying it all up and messing it up again don't you? The top pictures are some discarded imperfect lino prints which will be used in collage and in the bottom picture I have moved on to building up some texture layers for a canvas base.

Any questions please feel free to ask in the comments. I'm off to link up with Julia and then will be popping by your desks. 
Thanks for stopping by today :)

Rocking My World Friday - Two in a Row!

(TL;DR: Super proud of the bubs - they are all doing well. Plus, books. Mmmm, books.)

Cor blimey Guv! She's only gone and done it!

Still no camera so expect recycled or borrowed photos to break up the meanderings. This week I thought I'd continue catching you up on (some) of the past year with the family but also start including my week to get me back on a more even keel. That OK? Well, it's what's happening so...

First up has to be this kiddo. I mentioned last week that I was doing my English GCSE. Well Phe is slap bang in the middle of hers. I tell you - I am exhausted doing one. She will have completed 25 exams by the end of this. Not only that but a lot of the teachers are getting the kids in for a couple of hours revision before each exam on the day! She says it helps. It fries my brain just thinking about it - she deserves to have done well, she has worked so hard. It's been fun doing mine alongside her too, comparing notes. Realising she knows way fancier words than me!
She also manages to still help around the house, cooks dinner on occasion and has been the babysitter while I toddle off to my English night class. That's not counting the hour a night exercising with her Mummy. The poor neighbours, the noises we make. They must wonder what the Hell is going on. We did the Dirty Dancing dance on Just Dance the other day... we had to pause at one point, looked at each other and were like "is this wrong? Is this OK? Ah, sod it!" I was Patrick Swayze. We got high score. Oh yeah. Talk about giggle. Hey - it's going to go one of two ways. Therapy when they're older or fond memories of a batty old Mum. I will say - we drew the line at attempting the lift.

You may also recall  I said she introduced me to Blue October? Ah man. Those guys. I am an emotional wreck at the moment. I used to be hard as nails. I had built up such a wall, no emotions got past. What happens when walls start to come down? I am weeping at adverts, crying over music, wanting to hug the most inappropriate people. I am not a hugger.  Let me just put that out there. She came with me to Gaurdians of the Galaxy 2 (I was working up to going alone for the first time ever.) We were both sat there trying to subtly wipe our eyes at the end. Who knew we'd need tissues? The poor dog at the moment. He looks at me so warily when I come into the room. I think he's worried I'm either going to break into song, bust out some dodgy dance moves, combination of both... or hug him. Either way... I get this look a lot.  I do serenade him. He's just an ungrateful grump.
Anyway, I might moan that she is plugged into her gadgets a lot ol' Phe. But like her Mum she needs escape from all the madness sometimes and that's her way of doing it. We have such a laugh, she's talking about uni now. Can you believe it? In a couple of years another may have flown the nest. I will miss our shenanigans. She said we will Facetime and serenade each other - can you imagine her flatmates? I feel for them already.

Devvie is due to start her third year of uni in September - that has really flown past. My uni, although a different one, will be very near hers so I am looking forward to meeting up with her more in the Summer. It's been hard while Bear has been half days, you are tied to the area. I am so proud of what she's achieved. She is getting consistently good grades. (Are they called grades at uni?) I am not in a position to help her financially so she's been holding down two jobs as well as study. I asked the other day how the  savings account we did her was was faring - she's not taken any out. She's actually put more in!! She's so organised. Apparently her housemates call her the Mum as she has set them housework rotas and everything. I don't know where she gets her organisational skills from, not from me. I've actually adopted some of her techniques myself. She's thinking about her dissertation now - scary times.

Last time she was home we started watching Cuckoo on Netflix - they have a few of the seasons on there and it's one of those programs I've always fancied but never really knew when it was on. We started from Season 1. So funny. Just so, so funny. I had to keep doing the check over at her to see if she was laughing too because I was laughing so loud I had to check she was and I wasn't just off on a laughing fit on my own. Do you do that? Is it just me? Greg Davies just cracks me up. He's so dry. If you haven't got Netflix I believe there are a few episodes on iPlayer. Of course now it's our 'thing' so I'll wait till she's home again to watch some more. 

Here's a little clip, not of the show but of a couple of the cast. I've watched it about 5 times now, today included. Each time Mister Bear has to ask me if I'm OK. Don't even realise I'm doing this wheezy kind of cough laugh. (Honestly - who develops hayfever at 40? Stupid rural pollen filled beautiful countryside. Pah.)
And...  A bonus - if you have a spare half hour, a compilation of Greg clips on Would I Lie To You? It popped up after that one. I'm currently trying to type this at 10.30pm Tuesday night. My PC is situated on the workdesk in my bedroom and Bear has snuck in to my bed and is snoring away behind me. I am sat here, in my jammie bottoms and vest, melting in the dark and I am having zero success in stifling the giggles. I can hear Phe huffing downstairs in her room (I'm in the attic - locked away in the top of the house.) I am going to have to stop watching them now - I'll either get told off by a grumpy tired teen or the boy. He's already reprimanded me for listening to music with swear words in today. "That's a naughty word. That's a swear word. Isn't it lucky I didn't copy that!" Jeeeeeeez! Watch, enjoy. 
Roo is doing well, she's on the last reading tier at school before she gets to be a free reader which means she gets to choose what books she reads. I've been really lucky with my lot - they all love reading. Ruby has got a couple of really nice illustrated Frozen books - I follow the illustrator Britney Lee on instagram. She's already promised I can have them when she's to old for them. (Just realised - Mummy gets excited to have the books when Roo outgrows them. Ummm... Hmm. Yes, I do happy clap when she gives me them too!) 
I'm pretty sure she is starting all the hormonal fun and games. We are well into the territory of slammed doors and tears over literally anything. So to have that common ground with books and also music is a godsend. She loves Quentin Blake and he's got another show on in Hastings so am going to take her to see that soon. 
The Bear - well, what can I say? He's such a character. He's in my bed again (It's Wednesday night now) and he is stinking off in his sleep. Charming. He'll be going full time to school in September and in some ways he is so ready for it. He is so full of energy and cheekiness - but in other ways. Well, he's my last baby isn't he? Much as I will be glad to get my days back and to get working and studying... it breaks my heart a tiny bit, he looks so lanky and boy-like every time I look at him. No longer a toddler. A definite boy. He loves his nature and we regularly go on bug/snail hunts. Here's a video just after we had re-homed a snail... 
He tells me that this Summer he is most looking forward to Devvie coming home (she's his favourite out of all of us.) And, now that my back is better, to get me to go on the super loop the loop slide at Wild Woods. The one that makes me want to throw up? That one? Yeah, cheers Mate. Love you too.

So that's us all caught up family wise - yes loads of other stuff has happened, obviously, but this is just a little (long) overview. So to finish off here's a few smiles from this actual week. Much shorter, RYWF's from next week I promise.

I held a starling in my hands. We have them nesting in our roof and they use my bedroom window as a kind of landing platform - it's angled into the roof. I had it open a lot wider one night where it was so muggy and she must have misjudged and flew in. Luckily, I am not sleeping well at the moment and this was at 5.30am, I was laying in bed just zoning in and out so I saw her fly in. She circled the room and then flew off downstairs to Phe's room, I went charging after her and she settled on the window sill. She let me pick her up and I could feel her little heart fluttering under my fingers, she was so soft and I could feel her fragile little bones. Such a beautiful bird. Phe opened the window, I held her out and off she went. Beautiful start to my morning.

Coincidentally, the same day I had library reservations to pick up. After snagging the books, on impulse I stopped off at McDonalds for a free coffee (thank you loyalty scheme) and took myself up to the beach to read said books for half an hour. (Perks of living on an island!) The tide was coming in so it was lovely and cool. It was only 9am so the beach was empty. Chillaxed to the max. I have decided to start doing things like this more. Especially before the madness of September hits. Even when it does, I am going to take advantage of the cheapy cheap (£3 a ticket) local independent cinema on my days off to see films I want to see occasionally - not just childrens films. It was lovely, really lovely.

Now, I can't tell you I got books and not show you...
Whoopidooings: Library books
I've had Wonderstruck on my wishlist for a while. I never realised it was such a massive book. It's told from two perspectives, one entirely written and the other entirely illustrated. It's a beauty! The Empire of Death was an accidental reservation. I have another of the authors books on my wishlist (Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us) I searched the author on the library database and this one came up so I thought I'd whack a reservation on. It's actually this I was reading on the beach and it's really interesting. It's already challenging a reaction I had after a visit to the British Museum last year. I had never been before and the mummy section really affected me, I didn't expect it to and... it's hard to explain. I knew I would find it fascinating but it really upset me seeing the tourists taking selfies in front of the mummy cases. They weren't even looking at them they were just posing in front of them, doing these stupid pouts. I wanted to shake them and say "OI! These were real people!" The more I walked through, slowly because it was mobbed, the angrier and more upset I was getting and then I was getting annoyed at myself for feeling like it... Just the first few pages in this book instantly took me back there and made me ponder the way I think and the way others think. It's going to be a good read.

Annnd another book from my wishlist might have accidentally fell into my Wordery basket this week. Don't know what I was doing on Wordery - must have been so overcome with lack of sleep that I went there in an exhaustion fuelled fog. Only explanation I can think of.  Pictures borrowed from Nobrow. Book cheaper on Wordery. (What? I'm not telling you to buy it.) 
So purrrty!
I had the self-employment mentor thing today. It was good. Lots of information to take on board, it was a group session and after this I believe it's one to one. We were to come away and think about it, then go back to the job centre if we decide to go ahead and ask to be referred back to her. They look at each business on it's own merit as to whether they think it will work or whether we need to go away and think about it some more. I'm quite lucky in that I don't need a loan, I don't need to rent premises, I've been building up my art supplies for years. I can tailor it around the kids and uni and it can change and adapt and evolve as I learn. It was definitely helpful and I'm hopeful. Tiny spark of hope flickering away there.

So - it's now gone midnight on Thursday and seriously, look how long this post is! I think in the interest of all that is sensible I will end now. Good grief - I wish I could talk to actual breathing people the way I can rattle on to you all through here. 

Many thanks for the messages I received last week. Both on here and in my inbox. So very much appreciated, always. How has your week been? What made you smile?

Thanks for stopping by :)

Rocking My World Friday - The 2017 Edition

(TL;DR version - I'm back! I missed you all. I've been up to lots - what have you been doing?) 

Well hello everyone. I seriously don't know how to start this blog post now that I shamefacedly realise it's my first post of 2017. Seriously? Seriously?

How did that happen?

But you know what? I'm just going to front it out and carry on. I have really missed my blog but have been pondering for a long time whether to start afresh with a new one (I know, I know - I ask this a lot!) or just carry on here. I think I've finally decided to just carry on. This is my comfy corner of the net, the shabby sofa where I can talk to you all in my vest and pants with my sticky up hair and chipped mug of tea and you don't care. (Though you might do now!) I've made the best friends, truly - my very best friends through here.Those of you that have met me know how awkward I am in social situations and how I've had to psych myself up before meeting you or even to do my courses. But here I don't have that invisible gag over my mouth, I can be myself. What's in my head is on these pages, warts and all. No stuttering, no tripping over my words, no talking so fast in my chav-tastic accent that people can't understand me, no awkward silence while I try and process if whats in my head is acceptable to come out of my mouth... just me. And you guys. 

I actually stopped blogging RMWF because I was worried about some people from my past reading. But you know what? How daft? Let them. I am so over that crap - Virginia doesn't know this but she pretty much saved my life when she started this project all those years ago.  That's not an exaggeration.  I've still carried it on even if I haven't blogged. I recently started a scrapbook where I stick in things that make me smile - not an all singing, all dancing piece of art scrapbook like a lot of you guys do. Just a sketchbook, pictures stuck in, postcards, little daft pictures I've done that are just practice but I love them, stickers - there's an unexpected letter I got from a penpal at Christmas, a positive email from a tutor - that kind of stuff. Not anything pretty, just a book of smiles.

So... I'm back. If you'll have me. If not - I'll still turn up and talk to myself anyway. Never stopped me before. I should mention that this post will be a little picture light. After two years I finally managed to kill my phone and so by default, my camera - that's good going though, right? Considering the amount I have drowned, pickled, lost and smashed in the past? Two years is unheard of. The Bear has somehow managed to break my 'proper' camera too. So I may filch some images from my instagram account and Google just to break up what I can already feel is going to be an epic ramble. (That's your warning to go make a beverage or click away now.) The good news is Samsung think they can fix it. We'll see. I don't miss the phone side of things at all... Except for when I forgot to check the coolant in all that hot weather and I was driving along with smoke filling the car... then I kind of missed it! It's all good. We're all fine. Positive thought to come out of that is that I now know the importance of making sure my car isn't a thirsty beast before I set off. However I absolutely need the camera in my pocket for when I start uni in September. More on that later. Let us begin. (No - - what you've just read was the warm up.)

Where to start. OK, my last RYWF post was last Summer. (Jeez!) Since then I started an English GCSE Language course. Primarily to keep my brain active while I deferred starting uni until Bear starts school full time. My Access tutor had commented that I wasn't analytical enough in my journal and essay writings. Apparently I have a tendency to waffle rather than analyse. (Excuse me? Moi? Waffle? OK, maybe justified.) I thought this might help me with the essay side of things when I eventually get to uni. What I got was a whole lot more. It's unlocked a whole tidal wave of memories. I used to write! Secretly, as a teen, I used to write. Oh my God, such angsty teenage doom filled crap but I loved it. Write and shred, write and shred. I used to write comic strips too. I never told anyone that - I don't think anyone knows... apart from maybe my Mum. I think she might have found one of the more risque ones once and that kind of put an end to that. (I nearly died!) I'm reading loads. I kind of dwindled off with my reading - my memory is so shocking that it takes me a while to absorb things. As a teen I could read a book a day but the more kids I have, the less brain seems to have been left. I had been getting into graphic novels over the last few years thanks to my friend, Sarah. This satisfied my hunger for stonking good stories and as you know, I've always loved a good art book. Plus - I'm never one to pass up a beautiful childrens book - for me. Kids can keep their mitts off! But my cravings for history or trivia has usually been down to documentaries. Seems I'm a visual learner. But my reading is getting better and better, I'm getting faster, absorbing it more and actually noticing the techniques used too. Probably still can't name the techniques if you pushed me but I know they are there.

I love my Wednesday night class, literally my night out each week. I started to realise the classroom was unlocked early so would get there and just sit and enjoy a half hour of quiet before everyone else arrived. This place is mental - that little bit of quiet is just amazing - I even planned out an argument for my job centre appointment while sat there this week (Explain that later.) Just bliss.

We had our first exam this week and our last lesson. *insert sad face* I'm really going to miss it all, surprisingly so. Last exam is Monday - trying to think of a positive to end this bit on but am kind of sad now. 

How about a picture - here's what I'm reading right now. Not solidly - I have a big old pile by my bed. Dreams & Shadows is in the car and Florence & Giles is on my Kindle app... caught up on that in one of my quiet half hours too. I bet when Samsung wipe my phone they lose my place. Ah poop.
I am happy to say that, at this point, I recommend them all. Bill Bailey has me snorting out loud but he always has done - ever since Black Books. I love him. That one is both educational and humorous, don't you know. I am thinking of cranking out a few reviews, been a while. Might just do it... but for now - yep, these are good 'uns. 

I'm also still enjoying abusing *cough* making use of the local library and it's purchase request facility that they have hidden away on their website. I think I'm up to 16 confirmed purchases now. I've only ever had one denied and that was because it was an American publisher and they just couldn't get it. People of Kent - you are welcome. Aren't you lucky I have such amazing taste in books? 

The local job centre called me in for a chat at the beginning of the year. Bear will be turning 5 in September so they wanted to help me back to work. To say I was terrified was putting it mildly. I have been "just" a Mum for so long. I'm no longer qualified for anything. I was also scared crapless that this was the one thing that would stand in the way of my getting to uni. I had visions of going in and explaining my plans and being laughed right back out of the door. Do you know what? I couldn't have been more wrong. The first lady who helped me was just lovely - she supported my going self-employed whilst doing uni at the same time. She said I had a unique selling point (liking weird, creepy stuff? ) She seemed surprised that I had done the Access already and was now doing my GCSE. She referred me to a self-employment enterprise scheme. Unfortunately that fell through as they were over subscribed so I have been waiting to get onto another scheme. I had another appointment with my new adviser today - again, terrified that this one would laugh at me for being ridiculous. Again, couldn't have been more wrong. He wants to see some of  my work next time, purely because he's interested and likes cartoons. He's already got me an appointment next week on a mentor scheme and thinks running a business and using the uni to learn but also use their equipment for work side of things is perfect - he's pushing me to look into writing and self publishing as an end goal and he was really supportive when I said that was already, secretly, my end goal. 

I'm beginning to think it's actually me who has the problem? It's me who thinks I'm being ridiculous? I'm being met with nothing but support. From tutors, from family, from friends... Even the uni tutors, when I contacted them to say I will have to leave every day at lunch time to be home from Canterbury in time for the last school run...  I offered to drop out if I was taking the mickey - they said they would support me all the way. They would get me into early workshops rather than afternoons and as long as I can catch up at home on the work - they can't see a problem. Is it me? Why would I think my dream is ridiculous? I've wanted this for over 20 years now. More than that. All my life. I don't know. As it is I am starting full time, kind of part time but full on at home in September. I am getting set a Summer Project and reading list in August. Ooer! The degrees official name is BA in Illustration and Animation. 

I know one thing. I cannot wait to be able to say, when asked what I do... "I'm a self-employed illustrator, full time student and a Mum." I usually just skirt around ways of not saying I'm unemployed. I hate it.

Anyway. I have spent a lot of time clearing out the back of the garage to turn it into my new workshop/studio in preparation. People that follow me on Facebook or Instagram - sorry. I am unashamedly reposting the pictures from there. I am conscious of how long I am going on now - I'll wrap this up soon. 
Whoopidooings: Studio prep
Sweeping, painting, tarpauling...
Whoopidooings: Studio prep
Someone thinks the new table is for him! Workshop in  use.
There will be a lot more room when that aviary is gone, then I'll just roll the tarpaulin down all the way and move the shelving down too. It's already way more room than I'm used to. Fear not though, the old shedio still lives. Claimed by Roo and she made me remove everything! And I mean everything of mine out of there. I thought I'd at least get to store some bits in there still. Nope. She was harsh!
Whoopidooings: Studio prep
My brand new table piled high and they buggered off to paint! I was played!
Finally,  I would say for about three weeks both Phe and I have been exercise partners. We do just over an hour a night, most nights of Just Sweat on one of the Just Dance games and then use the vibration plate (henceforth known as the wobble board.) For the record - I cannot Move Like Jagger if my life depended on it. But I move. I do planks and push ups and some weird thrust and squat bicep curl thing on the wobble board. I hate the man on the DVD. I want to wipe that smug smile off his face so much. Yes. Yes I am 70% out of breath, thank you for checking. In fact I may just be nearly 100% out of breath. BUT, although my weight-loss is slow and steady this time round, my body shape is changing quite rapidly. I am getting a waist and arm muscles and... wait for it... A BUM! Whoop whoop! But the best thing? I have had no pain. That is ZERO pain, nada, none, zip in my back for this entire two weeks. For those that don't know I have a spinal condition called Scheuermanns Disease which causes curvature of the spine and was basically explained to me that one side of my spine is a little longer than the other. It can develop into other complications later on.

Since having Mr Bear it's been a lot worse - to the point that I had my worst ever attack at Christmas and seriously thought I was going to be in a wheelchair very soon. I literally couldn't move. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have ever been pain free - it's just much more manageable at some times than it is others. So this - this is like some kind of miracle happening right now. I can only put it down to the combination of exercises we are doing and all the work I'm doing round the house. Whatever it is - I know I have to keep it up and somehow, when uni starts, still make time to do that every night. To have little Mister hug me so tight and tell me that he loves my back being better because I can play with him. Well. Worth it's weight in gold isn't it?

I shall leave you now with Blue October. Pheeb introduced me to them last year and we have since seen them in concert in March. Best concert of my life. No lie. First one I have ever sobbed my eyes out. I wasn't alone. The lead singer, Justin, is a very autobiographical singer. The lyrics to the songs... although about his own experiences are very relate-able to many people even though you may not have experienced what he has. They fit.  He has the ability to rip my heart out of my chest, wring it out and hand it back to me on a plate, after it's been kicked round the floor for a bit. I feel like I should have grown up with them and introduced her as some of the music is from around that time. But I've found them now - at just the right time when I've had some seriously weird emotional kaka going down. I may even have to admit to overdosing slightly on the music but I love them. This one in particular. Listen to the words. Then go to You Tube, type in Blue October and listen to the mix of songs that comes up. You can thank me later. Soundtrack to my life at the moment.

I lied, I'm not done - I remembered something else. The Twitter Art Exhibit came to the UK for the first time ever, to Stratford upon Avon, so I was able to see my contribution on display. It sold, someone forked over cold hard cash for it and the charity, Molly Olly's Wishes raised so much money - thousands of pounds,  for such a worthy cause. The buyer sent me a lovely message. Plus I was able to meet up with Sarah, one of my bestest buds who I rarely get to see. I also bought some beautiful art myself.  Loved it - I urge anyone, all of you to take part next year it's such an amazing event and so easy to just do a postcard. Such a small thing that makes such a huge difference.
Whoopidooings: Twitter Art Exhibit
I will say goodbye now, if you made it this far...? Seriously, thank you. I'll be back with a normal RYWF next week. Arty type posts will resume both here and on instagram when I get my phone back. But that's you caught up with me at least :)

Hugs x