Time to move on (and this time, it’s real)

I know I’ve been a bit all over the place in the last few months: I started a new blog, then merged it into this one; I’ve made announcements that things would change, and then they really didn’t. As you can probably tell, I’ve struggled with the direction of my blogging for a while. I started Another Cuppa four and a half years ago because I needed something to do while I was stuck at my parents house applying for jobs after left university. Lots has changed since then, and this blog has grown with me. It’s been a great way to help me articulate how I feel about different ideas, feelings and things that have happened. But like any relationship that needs to come to an end, there is no point dragging it out in a half-hearted way.

I’m too easily led by things that I read and people that I speak to. During and after Alive in Berlin, I’ve been exposed to so many amazing people and their ideas. But I realised I was getting dragged along in a direction that wasn’t my own. Other people have bucket lists – I should have a bucket list! Other people are building an online presence that earns them money – I need to do that too!

So I stopped reading blogs, and started to think about what excites me (not what I feel should). This involved thinking back to my favourite methods of play as a child. I would spend hours at the weekend painting, drawing, cutting, sticking, threading: basically, making a big creative mess. I need to express myself artistically, I need to make things.

I also thought about my values, and how I wanted to get back to living them: being an environmental activist, exploring ways we can live sustainably (a lot of early posts on this blog did talk about this more). I thought about what I was passionate about, and I started forming my own manifesto. I believe right to my core that we are creators: that making things is good for us, and that consuming things is as bad for our souls as it is for the environment. I want to live an empowered, creative life. And I want to share my story in case it inspires others.

Somehow, I had lost sight of this: I became fixated on followers and subscribers and statistics. Of having to have a content schedule, an appropriately sized image to correspond with each post. The pressure meant I stopped feeling inspired and blogging felt like a chore.

All of this leads me to my new project, where I’m sharing my story of living creatively, but not to anyone’s schedule or expectations. There will be no regular posting, or monitoring of page views. If something excites you, please let me know. But don’t feel you have to.

See you on the other side.

Kate x

New blogging gig and a commitment to cycling

So I’m now also going to be blogging over on the Broken Spoke website.

Here’s my first post for them, about the time those nasty people stole the wheels off my bike.

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What is a bicycle? A frame and a pair of wheels? A method of getting from point A to point B?

To me, a bicycle is freedom. Freedom that I’d taken for granted until one day a couple of months ago when I returned home from a weekend away to see only part of my bike locked to the lamp post where I had left it. Thieves had taken both my wheels, leaving a sad looking slightly rusted frame.

The bike wasn’t worth much. It was Halford’s cheapest option, eight years ago when I first started at university and didn’t know anything about cycling (or life). In fact, I still don’t know anything much about bicycle maintenance. My eight year old bike had been severely neglected, left out in the rain, never oiled and barely washed. My housemate concluded that buying replacement wheels would cost more that the whole thing was worth, so I unlocked the frame (which disappeared about two hours later).

The following week was one of frustration. Frustration at waiting for the bus that should have arrived ten minutes ago, frustration at the walk home that was taking so long, frustration at having to carry heavy shopping bags that would otherwise have been in a basket. I felt so held back by the extra time it took to get places and by being at the mercy of the Oxford Bus Company.

Now I’m back in the saddle, and it’s incredible. Right the first ride on my new bike when I’d felt the wind against my face. I was moving so fast!

I vowed never to take cycling for granted again. This time, I’m going to learn to look after my bike properly, keep it safe, and use it more than ever. Like Carlene Thomas-Bailey I can barely identify a pump. But with the help of Broken Spoke, I’m going to become an expert. Watch this space.

I wear short shorts

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I have basically spent every weekend this summer wearing this pair of shorts. I love them and I love how I look in them.

They haven’t always been shorts. They were once a pair of jeans that I cut off when I got bored of them. My Mum suggested I’d cut them too short. I probably rolled my eyes at her.

Once upon a time I used to be self-conscious about wearing short shorts. As you can see, I have quite big thighs and a fair bit of cellulite. But I love my legs. Why? Because they mean I can WALK and RUN and CYCLE and DANCE and a whole load of other things that I am so grateful for. And the more I wear shorts, the more I like how my legs look in shorts.

Other women, including those with much thinner or more muscular thighs than me, have told me how lucky I am to be able to go out wearing shorts. Everyone can wear shorts. Like those widely shared instructions on how to have a bikini body (have a bode, put a bikini on it), my guide to wearing shorts are basically to just fucking wear the shorts. Yes, the first time (and maybe the next) requires some bravery. But it soon feels normal.

And today? I’m wearing shorts when I haven’t even shaved my legs in several weeks. Shocker.

This is how well my half marathon training is going

These are things I’ve done this week:

  • Discovered where my nearest Hobbycraft store is.
  • Played about with beads and pins and polystyrene balls.
  • Watched Guardians of the Galaxy.
  • Bought a new bike.
  • Bought a superior bike lock.
  • Learnt how to play Werewolves.
  • Picked a new housemate.
  • Become the owner of a pair of skinny jeans that don’t have an elasticated waistband.
  • Made a bake-off inspired cardamom, coffee and pistachio swiss roll with my friends.
  • Learnt that it’s cardamom and not cardamon.
  • Crocheted a lot.
  • Discovered that blush wine is a thing.
  • Learnt that I like blush wine.

 

These are the things I haven’t done this week:

  • Gone for a run.

On not making plans, impromptu whisky sours and bathroom dining.

Last week I asked my sister what she was most looking forward to doing when she moved into her new house. She answered straight away: “Eating dinner in the bath.”

Her words came back to me today and made me smile, partly because of the absurdity of her answer and partly because of what it represented. Having dinner in the bath is really living life on your own terms: doing something other people think is crazy just because you want to.

This week I had lots of things that I thought I should do. It was supposed to be a quiet one, time to catch up on sleep, do my laundry, clean, tidy, write and reflect. But as soon as I arrived back in Oxford on Sunday night I received a text message: do you want to go for shisha? Which of course turned into shisha and wine and a late night.

On Monday night I ended up having a pub dinner and conversations that lasted until it got dark. On Wednesday night a throwaway remark by a friend – “I haven’t had a whisky sour in ages” – saw us camped out in a cocktail bar for most of the night. I returned home and collapsed on my bed. “Oh shit,” I thought as the room span around me. “I needed to do that laundry.” But it turned out I didn’t, because I wore a running bra under my work clothes today and nothing bad happened.

I have a nasty habit of trying to schedule every moment of my life in advance. I plan, I make lists, and I turn down fun to cross things off them.

This week has shown me that I can relax a little: not plan anything, not set expectations. Wonderful things can happen when you leave space for a little spontaneity. You’ll still do the things that matter (that laundry is in the washing machine as I type) but there’s a lot of things that don’t.

I’ll get more sleep when my friends aren’t in town. I’ll write when I feel inspired, not when I feel I ought to. This might lead to more infrequent blog posts but they will be the ones worth reading. Or it might not, because you don’t know what will happen when you leave space. It is okay to do whatever the hell you want to do in the moment, even it that’s eating dinner in the bath.

Ordinary magic

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You don’t have to do something extraordinary for it to be wonderful. There is magic in everyday things: a story, fresh flowers, a smile.

This week I’m remembering that I don’t have to quit everything and go travelling to have a great life. Happiness is much more about perspective than circumstance.

I’m back! And these are some things I’ve done, and learnt from, in the meantime.

One of my housemates volunteers with a community theatre group. They needed help painting some of the set so I gave up a morning to help. I’d genuinely forgotten how calming I find it when I am absorbed my something creative for a few hours. I drew and painted this board of cogs, and felt so much happier because of it.

I went to Henley Regatta and got to wear a hat (I didn’t actually wear it with that checked shirt). I fitted in much more than I thought I would, which will teach me for being such a reverse snob.

At Cowley Road Carnival we chose mask making in the family craft area rather than daytime drinking in front of the stages. Had much more fun.

I moved rooms in my house. I now have a sofa! And room to spread out all the blankets I crochet.

My bike wheels were stolen. Bastards. But now that it’s my main method of transport, I was toying with the idea of using the money I made my selling my car to invest in a good bike. I guess that decision has now been made for me.