May 27, 2016
Christ I’m behind on blogging, unemployment would make this easier but then who would pay for the electricity?
Back in February I accidentally found a nature reserve in Oxfordshire – Jubilee Meadows near Wootton. I was up visiting a client who has an amazing office round the corner which overlooks a beautiful river (we were watching kingfishers out of their office window). As I tend to do I had turned up far too early and was too awkward to call them and ask if I could come and see them before we had planned so I just wandered round the area for a bit looking for public footpath signs (always a promise of adventure). I’d driven through Wootton and seen an amazing early morning view of mist over a flooded meadow so went back after the meeting (which was lovely) for a lunchtime wander.
Only saw one other person in the couple of hours I spent there, although it was February and quite cold but plenty of rabbits enjoying the peace and casting me begrudging glances for my intrusion into their quiet wilderness.
Here’s a video slideshow with some audio I recorded on the day.
The full set of photos is here. Here are my favourites:
May 3, 2016
I really suck at managing my blood sugar levels at certain times of day, my clients really suck at having emergencies at certain times of day. I have made this scientific graph to illustrate this problem.
April 30, 2016
Helping British tourism where I can.
Just keep calm and don’t look behind you.
April 23, 2016
I remembered I have a Society6 store – https://society6.com/anxioussilence so I’ve remembered to upload a design for print. I’ll add some more next weekend.
I’ve been primarily focusing on photography recently for a few reasons. Firstly, health. I really need to get a lot of exercise at the moment. I’m managing diabetes primarily through diet and exercise (with a little bit of drugs) and finding time and motivation to get any exercise after all the other responsibilities of being a theoretical adult can be a challenge. Photography is a good motivator to get out and walk someplace. Secondly, I’ve spent a lot of time over the years flitting from one interest to another, never giving enough time to anything to get any good at it, sticking to one medium for a while has been a great experience (and will be ongoing). Finally, it’s the only creative outlet I don’t need a run up to. For illustration, music and video I need a bit of warm up time which I just don’t have right now, for photography I can just pick up the camera and go.
Oddly, I never intended to get into photography as a medium in it’s own right. I picked it up again as an adult (having loved it as a child) primarily to collect source materials for illustration and digital collage, this has over time become secondary.
Anyway, I’ve added ‘Your Carriage Awaits‘ as the first item. I need to resurrect my Etsy store shortly as well. You can get a print or the image on a mug, a travel mug or a clock (because I am an awful merchandise whore).
April 21, 2016
Every year I promise myself I’m going to stop buying people Christmas presents and start making them then I remember about two weeks before Christmas and realise I have not the time, the requisite skills, the time to learn the requisite skills or the inspiration to actually do this. This year I sort of managed to edge towards this ideal, although massively misjudged by needing to order some stuff in which took far longer than expected.
I’ve been toying with the idea of getting some stuff laser cut for a while, I’ve got a big bunch of sketches and ideas for a variety of homewares and entertaining tat and I’d been talking to Paul about some ideas we may at some point work on together so thought I would give making some Christmas decorations for friends a go.
I had two made up (see pics below) for my friends Tim and Caitlin who are keen on (hopefully) Christmas tat and animals. I was hoping the process would be simple enough that I could start selling decorations on my Etsy store but unfortunately the production cost has slightly killed that for now. The material costs were incredibly low but the cutting cost was really high (for the size of decoration), excluding shipping it worked out at just under £20 for both decorations, which is great for a one off gift for a friend but not viable for retailing.
As it happens the cost is driven up by the number of curves in the designs. Straight lines are quick and easy to cut, curves expend far more energy. All of my current designs are quite curvy and I don’t have the energy to come up with new designs right now. We did investigate buying our own laser cutter but that’s currently way outside our financial reach for a couple of ideas which may never generate any cash, also it looks like the power consumption may be the real killer.
You can see in the photos where I skated underneath the minimum width for parts of the design and ended up with some very fine cuts, they look quite cool but are fairly fragile.
The two here were cut by RazorLab out of 3mm MDF. I was going to paint them but the burn marks made by the cutter give them quite a nice handmade look anyway.
I would still like to have a crack at making some bits to sell but will need to find out if I can get the production cost down a bit first.
March 28, 2016
I’ve driven past St. James the less in Stubbings (Maidenhead) repeatedly over the last couple of decades but never had the chance to stop and take a look around. I was on my way back from hiking in the Chilterns much earlier than expected and the low winter sun looked phenomenal so stopped to look around.
Unfortunately, because I had spent the day focusing so damn hard on not working one of my clients got to the point of being overwhelmingly trigger happy with the redial button on his phone and I spent about 40 minutes pacing around the car park while hoping to accidentally lose a leg or be struck by a falling tree. I missed the best of the light, I was also too mentally unfocused to try and go inside for fear of having to engage with other humans who may ask difficult questions such as “how are you today?”
Again, it’s been a couple of months since I took the photos so don’t have much recollection of the details aside from pacing round the car park while discussing websites. There was a man playing loud music in an Ocado van out the front but I don’t think he was a permanent fixture. The church is located just down the road from Maidenhead thicket so quite a peaceful surrounding (loud Ocado man notwithstanding). There were quite a few crows, but again I suspect these were not an intended feature.
The church dates back to 1849, and if their website is anything to go by has some decent stained glass windows. My aforementioned horror at possibly human contact prevented my experiencing these. I appreciate my reviews are getting patchy at this point, I’m working towards writing stuff up closer to the date, or just learning to write things down.
March 27, 2016
I had to think about including this entry as I’m not particularly happy with any of the shots. I only stopped in here on the way back from a long hike in the Chilterns, I was quite tired and a little emotional. At some point I’ll drop back in and give it another try.
It’s a nice little church in a lovely location. There’s a great view of the windmill from the churchyard. It has some decent stained glass windows. The current building dates back to 1340 and is a lovely flint building. It includes a small John Piper window.
The church is situated in the incredibly quaint village of Turville although I found it incredibly hard to get a decent angle to get any shots of the building itself (there’s a lot of trees very close by), tiredness may have contributed to this.
March 17, 2016
It’s been a long year already and bought some unexpected changes, some harsh but which have over time worked out for the better. I’ve been putting off writing this for a good few weeks and that’s probably a good thing as I now have a better aspect on everything. A little distance helps the focus.
At the beginning of the year I had a checkup that came with the unpleasant news that my diabetes had become far worse over the previous year. This was particularly shocking as prior to this it had been under control to the extent I had been given the official “sod off, you don’t need our help any more” from my doctor. At the time of the checkup it was worse than when I was first diagnosed and seemingly in decline. Since then I’ve made some severe changes to my lifestyle (which was hardly excessive to start with) which will hopefully have put me back on track, I won’t know for a few months until I next see the doctor.
More importantly (to me), I have been struggling with my mental health. This is not a recent thing, it fluctuates like a wonky LFO in a cheap synth. Over the last few months the lows were getting lower and the highs were not happening, I’m actually grateful for the doctors appointment for the diabetes because it enabled me to bring it up without needing to make a specific appointment, which I wouldn’t have done. In a hilariously understated middle class manner I mentioned I sometimes felt a bit sad (translation: spend a lot of my life crying in car parks) and was there anything he could do. I’ve been referred to a counselling service and am currently doing an initial course of CBT. This is really helping. I’m in no sense ‘fixed’, nor do I expect to be but I am dealing far better with things that I have been previously, I am incredibly relieved to have started this process. At this point I’ve been diagnosed with depression and generalised anxiety, I have problems with self esteem (or would do if I had any at all). I’m getting better.
I was initially wary of mentioning my mental health online, especially on this blog which is superficially about my art and photography but I feel it’s important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s had a massive impact on my life and has certainly influenced my creative output to a severe extent, predominantly by crushing it for a long time. Secondly, one of the reasons I finally spoke to my doctor was because I had seen other people publicly discussing their mental health problems and how they deal with them (among others Wil Wheaton, Rob Delaney and John Green). There is a stigma here, one I have felt deeply and they had helped give me the impetus to finally do something to try and fix my situation. While I am not quite at the level of those mentioned above I hope by openly and frankly discussing the subject I can in some small way help the discourse and possibly convince you to seek help if you need to. Seriously, feeling a bit sad on an all to regular basis? Go talk to someone. Always stressed, never sleep? Go talk to someone. Feel trapped in your own body and constantly screaming inside? Go talk to someone? Crying in your car five days a week? Go talk to someone.
It sounds so easy when you’re well “Go talk to someone” but I know it isn’t. If you are already struggling it can seem a massive scary challenge, especially if you are struggling with anxiety or social phobias. But please try, it can get easier. When I first spoke to my doctor I had all these fears about what was going to happen next. Would I be thrown out for wasting time? Would I be made to take terrifying drugs? Would I be laughed at and publicly ridiculed? None of these things happen, instead a very kind, patient and incredibly non-judgemental lady from the NHS talked to me for a while and helped me work out what would happen next. I’ve had nothing but kindness and care from the people who have been dealing with me.
I will talk more about this another time but for now I just want to say again, if you are struggling please talk to someone, it doesn’t have to be your doctor (although that’s a good starting point), just tell someone you can trust, it’s a starting point. It can get better.
There’s a lot of words there for something I was intending to get into one short paragraph, I should probably split this into two separate entries, but I’m not going to, this was intended to be an entry about photography and work/life balance and dammit it’s going to be.
Short break? Here’s a picture of a horse:
One of the biggest causes of woe (as has been chronicled here before) is my work/life balance and the anxiety that comes with it. As I’ve been discovering over the last few weeks this is a difficult and complex relationship which isn’t going to be fixed overnight. Back in January I had this plan (which I’ve since abandoned as bullshit) to work double shifts for a couple of weeks at a time then take an entire day off to go exploring and be alone with my thoughts. The idea being I would get a proper work free, responsibility free break. This was my first attempt.
I planned in advance where to go, Scott had told me about a bit of particularly beautiful forest in the Chilterns (near Turville) where he takes some amazing photographs. Scott even sorted me a map which I left at home because I’m a dick. Because I’m slightly less of a dick I had roughly memorised the route.
I set out at 8am at the starting point (outside St. Mary’s Church in Turville) then immediately panicked because I had my first telephone appointment with my mental health supporter at 9am and there was no phone signal. So I drove round for an hour and eventually made my way halfway home to a car park in Henley which had reasonable signal.
10am tried again. Annoyingly I’d missed the best sunlight and the beautiful frost which had covered the hills had mostly melted away. I did not give up. I followed my route saw some amazing scenery and the first proper moments of calm in a long time. I saw few people but those I happened upon were without fail friendly and welcoming.
After a while it became clear I had got lost. Mostly because I had been walking the circumference of the same field for 30 minutes and had no clue which way I should be going. After explaining this to a disinterested horse (see above) I had a bit of a panic. Initial feeling was to give up, find a car park to cry in then go home. Instead I opted to follow footpaths at random to see where they took me. This was infinitely better than crying in car parks, I strongly recommend it as a course of action.
It was a good day. I checked my email more than is sensible, I checked my voicemail more than is necessary, I thought about work more than I wanted, but I didn’t give in, I didn’t go back to work halfway through the day, I didn’t take any work calls, I took some reasonable photos and I found some personal space. I need to make this part of my regular existence but that’s a battle I still need to fight.
Things I learned:
Here’s some of my favourites:
January 10, 2016
It has a funny name, the promise of naval shenanigans, it’s in the New Forest and we were on holiday. What could go wrong? My child. My child could go wrong. Deciding he HATED it from the moment we got to the car park purely because he wanted to go to Lymington to watch the trains and he had to wait until later in the day.
He hated turning up 10 minutes before it was open, he hated it opening, he hated the museum, he freaked out at the harbour (which I’ll let him off because that was more a bit of fear of water than being an arse), he hated that I refused to buy him a toy boat because he had been an arse all day and he hated having to sit in a field with me to calm down for half an hour.
So my opinion of Buckler’s Hard? Don’t take my child there, he will be a shithead and you’ll leave after 20 minutes having paid for three of you to spend the best part of the day there. It all looked very nice and interesting but lacked any facility in which to deposit a five year old who would do nothing other than shout “I want to goooooooooo”. So we eventually went. We might try again next year. I took a handful of photos in between being whinged at.
They have a website and a facebook page should you wish for more info as there’s very little else I can tell you.
December 29, 2015
Back to fighting mental issues through the medium of drawing cute animals. I actually wrote about two thousand words on this but then couldn’t face proof reading it so drew a penguin instead. Annoyingly I have since become aware of the Socially Awkward Penguin meme, this is an unfortunate coincidence.
You say ‘Good listener’ I say ‘Too awkward to interrupt’
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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