Tag Archives: writing

On Not Being the Most Productive Person in the World.

HSGS at Thetford Forest

Now that the dust has well and truly settled on the wedding, I’ve settled into a semi-pleasing routine of work, rest and just the tiniest amount of play.

Shortly after returning from honeymoon, I started a new job in a primary school. Some of you will remember that I actually trained as a secondary drama teacher, so taking on one class for 100% of lessons took a little getting used to. I am incredibly lucky however, having lots of support among my colleagues and a class that are so cute I could squeeze all the air out of them.

The thing about teaching though, is that it is relentless. My first term passed in a blur and now that Term 2 has arrived I’ve realised that the key to keeping sane during term time is definitely routine, routine, routine. I like to think that I thrive in spontaneity, but pals, it just ain’t the truth. Mr Hello actually has to tell me the whole plot of movies with any form of suspense, and I think I’ve got a similar approach to life – tell me what to expect, and we’ll be juuuust fiiiiiine.

Here’s the rub: on my walk home one day this week, it struck me that since leaving for Australia over a year ago, I’ve done approximately 0.25 things creatively. I officially cut myself some slack during wedding season, but now that it’s all over with (apart from the whole, you know, marriage part), I haven’t quite seemed to regain my doing-creative-and-entrepreneurial-things mojo. I’m not sure I like being someone who has a job and then just…goes…home? Even if home is shared with the delicious beardy one.

I thought perhaps that settling into my routine would be the key, but so far, nothing seems to have changed. I’m still just pottering about at home each evening, somehow genuinely forgetting the list of things I need to do.

Perhaps it’s teacher brain. Perhaps it’s some kind of latent post-wedding blues? I don’t think so, but can you actually be blue without really feeling it? I don’t feel sad, rather the opposite. But there is a lack of motivation at the moment, and I just can’t seem to work out why. Perhaps it will get better. But right here, right now, I not producing anything and especially not the answers to this little conundrum.

Jump Forward, Spring Back

Spring in Rochester Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

The sun is shining most days now, here in Rochester, and it’s good for my soul. I’m still rugged up with my slippers on inside, but there’s sunlight streaming through the blinds in our bay window, warming my face as I write.

A lot of English people like Autumn the most, probably for the sublime colours of the season, and the permission we grant ourselves to rug up before walking outside. Whereas with Spring, we’re all pretending Summer is on her merry way, so the unwritten, unmentioned rule is that coats are banished to the back of the cupboard.

There’s something about the in-between seasons, Spring and Autumn, that are really quite special.

It’s an in-between season for me too, professionally. I’m about to start teaching tomorrow, and although I have some last minute preparation to finalise, today is a pause, a breath before the madness of returning to regular, outside-the-home work.

I’ve enjoyed being at home. I’ve enjoyed the way Loki, the slightly more ferocious of our two cats, jumps on my lap and naps with me while I work in the study. I like to hear the cheekily hopeful bell attached to the collar of next door’s cat, as he comes into our house for food, only to quickly escape once he sees me here. I’ve enjoyed being able to take my time with things, and to see there’s a rhythm to each day, even when there’s no plan.

Life changes with the seasons, and the seasons seem to change with life.

This Week I Was Grateful For #6

Avenue Q Rehearsals Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha

 

I’ve been a pretty lucky lady this week. My freelance writing gig has stepped up a notch, and as a result I got to attend the press day for the upcoming tour of Avenue Q.

I spent a day in London watching rehearsals, interviewing actors and soaking up the Music Theatre atmosphere. It’s been a while!

Although it’s a new challenge in a year of many challenges, sometimes taking a risk rewards you in really fun ways.

Have a great week guys!

Launched.

If you have been reading Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha for a long time, you may know that I have been a regular features writer for the Kent based WOW Magazine. It’s an arts and entertainment listings magazine, covering Medway, Maidstone and the ‘accessible beyond’.

I’ve always been so proud to be connected to the magazine, as it’s become a touchstone for the creative community in these difficult economic times, and its sleek yet approachable design has given credibility to a host of entrepreneurial endeavours.

My dear friend Emma (who has been duly requisitioned for bridesmaid duties) has skilfully grown the magazine from a petite 2,000 copies, to a massive 10,000 in early 2015. One of the problems of the physical magazine has been that we’ve only ever had room to feature local and upcoming events. There was literally no space for retrospectives, opinion pieces or reviews, let alone events from further afield.

Until now.

After days and days of typing, uploading, resizing images and the odd bout of arm flailing while I try to think of the perfect sentence, WOW Kent is now here.

WOW Kent Arts Website

We want the website to become a kind of one-stop-shop for events and classes in the whole of Kent. We now have room to publish all the articles we’ve dreamed of for nearly 5 years.

I admit, I’m totally biased, but I love this darn website. It’s colourful and engaging without ever being overwhelming on the eye. It’s sleek and clean – the information we share is clearly the first priority, not the (huge and wonderful) team behind WOW or the designers. There’s still work to do, but it’s here, and you can use it now. I urge you to have a poke around, you never know what you might find!

I am absolutely chuffed to have been a part of this.

9 Superficial Things I’ll Miss About Australia (No, it’s Not the Weather!)

Perth Weather Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha
But the weather ain’t half bad, just sayin’

It’s a truth universally acknowledged by a certain resident of Kansas that there’s no place like home. There are just some certain comforts that make you feel safe and secure, and while many of these are now available thanks to globalisation, there are a few silly things about Australia that I know I wistfully think of when back in Ol’ Blighty. Let’s get listing, shall we?

  • The Size of Avocados – Being a part of the avocado lovin’ family that I am, this is *quite* a significant thing. Avocados in  Australia are deliciously bloody huge, creamy and ripe. On several occasions in the past I have had the misfortune to buy several avocados in England that have proceeded immediately from rock hard to completely rotten, totally bypassing any edible stage. This is important, you guys.
  • Availability of Great Coffee – Look. It’s a lot better in Kent on the coffee side of things now, then it was in 2010 when I first came here. There are still many crappy tearooms selling crappy dishwater style coffee, but you can actually get a flat white here now, Lord be praised. But it’s just not quite as easy as popping down the road to Mooba, Lawley’s or Milkd, like I could in Perth. Heaven is a coffee flavoured place on earth. That’s a song, right?
  • Grill’d & Jus Burger: 
Grill'd Burger
Click for Source – Chi (in Oz)’s Photo Stream

 

Don’t know if there is much more I can say. Burgers. Delicious delicious burgers. Chunky chips. Before you say it, no, I         don’t live in London and no, Byron Burger is just not the same. Suitable replacement suggestions very welcome indeed.

  • Cheap Public Transport – The People of Perth might disagree with me, but public transport is sooooo much cheaper there than in England. In the Motherland there is no such thing as a grace period, meaning you need a new ticket  every time you jump on the bus. For a non-car-owning citizen such as myself, this becomes rather problematic. Terribly interesting too, don’t you agree?
  • David Jones Foodhall – I’m not saying that there is no equivalent in England. There is. It’s a tiny little shop known to the locals as Marks & Spencer, the greatest English shop of them all. But M&S is missing one crucial thing in my book, which gives my beloved DJ’s the advantage. That crucial element is the World’s Greatest Sushi Bar. I don’t know what it is about David Jones Sushi, but it’s bloody delicious and quite cheap really. It shall be missed.
  • Frosty Fruit Icy Poles – Also known as quite a depressing icy pole if you’re a normal person, but the WORLD’S GREATEST SWEET TREAT when you’re trying to watch what you’re eating and are desperate for some kind of cold sweet treat on a hot Australian Summer’s day. It’s the little things you miss, you know?
  • Tax Returns – Stay with me here guys. We don’t have to do these in England, but in Australia if you earn over X amount (I’ve forgotten how much because it’s been too long since I had a proper job :-/) you need to do a tax return, and if you’re lucky, it ends up that the Government owes you money and you get a nice little deposit into your bank account. A form of enforced savings, if you will. Luckily I’ve never had to repay any tax, although I know people who have, and that’s not fun in the slightest. But when I was saving for my travels, I worked three jobs and paid a lot of tax, and ended up with a $4,000 refund waiting for me come tax time. Thanks very much!
  • No Electric Showers – Just typing out ‘electric shower’ makes me go a bit funny. Water pressure in Kent is technically known as ‘a bit shit’ and so if your bathroom is on the first floor or above you need an electric pump to get your shower on in the morning. In Australia I had the full force of outback water blasting me in the face every day, and by golly I’ll miss it. My English shower feels like a combination of being spat and weed on at the moment, and let me tell you, it’s not as fun as it sounds. Unless you’re into that sort of thing. I’d also like to point out that in England you’re not allowed so much as a powerpoint in the bathroom (you are in Australia!) but you can have an electric shower? MADNESS.
  • Knowing How to Do ‘Life’ Stuff – Now this isn’t quite as superficial as the rest, but it’s something I’ll certainly miss. When you’re a local or a native citizen to a country, you end up just somehow knowing how life works, as if you’d picked it up by osmosis throughout your life. When you’re an immigrant, you forfeit that knowledge and so it just takes you that little bit longer to work stuff out. How to get a driving license, why you need a TV license, who pays council tax, what the hell council tax even is, who can vote and where. Having lived here for a few years, I’m much better than I used to be, but there are still times where I feel like a stranger, and I make the odd misstep. But I guess that’s life!

I returned to Rochester at about 9pm on Tuesday night, and it was incredibly surreal. I haven’t yet quite consolidated the fact that I’m back in my own house, with my own cats and my own fiancé. I haven’t yet begun to miss Australia too much, although I’m prepared for that to hit me when I am least prepared, as I’m sure those of you who have travelled will recognise.

Moving Forward, Moving On

Disappearing

This image is what moving forward and moving on has looked like in recent years.

When I was 12 and a half we moved from the home of my childhood to a bigger town further north, much closer to my new high school. I was so excited for the move, and had many grand plans about how I was going to be the most popular girl in my class, and how high school would be exciting, wonderful and fun. Full of naive enthusiasm, and totally, totally oblivious.

Looking back I think this had something to do with the fact that the farm I lived on wasn’t sold until many years later, so I had that lovely sense of moving forward without too much changing behind me.

As the movers filled their trucks I wandered around the property, saying goodbye to the familiar hills, the dams we swam in many times, the rickety old fences and reticulation piping I could be consistently relied upon to trip over. I thought of the geese we’d had before, and the rock I stood on to feed them, pretending I was a sailor at the bow of a ship. I used to leave a couple of handfuls of grain in the bucket for our one goose with a deformed beak, which meant he had to strategically scoop the seed into his mouth rather than peck. He was imaginatively named Beaky.

I wandered around, saying goodbye to trees and bushes because I was a child, and moreover a child who spent a considerable amount of time in a fantasy land of her own. A big property is fruitful land for many things, not least a child’s imagination.

If I was ever asked the day that my childhood ended I would say without doubt or rancour, that this was the day.

This post was written in response to the prompt ‘disappearing’ 

The Gratitude Series

Reasons I Love My Mother

I spent some time this evening going through the archives of an old Tumblr I follow – in fact one of the first blogs I ever read. Reasons I Love My Mother by Chris Kelly is a journal of 365 reasons why he – strange as it seems – loves his mother, who passed away from metastasised cancer in 2009. It’s a heartwarming/breaking reflection on what made her the most perfect mother in the world for him.

He talks about her gratitude journal, and how even during her battle with cancer she made a point of focussing on the things she was grateful for. I found it very moving, and I felt inspired by this woman I never met. So this year I am going to use this blog as something of the same. It won’t be every day, but every week I will pick something I am grateful for.

And you’re going to hear all about it!

 

Thank You, Women Who Write

I have maintained a blog in one form or another for nigh on five years now, not nearly as long as some around these parts, but long enough to feel some sense of belonging in my own, slightly imaginary blogging community. Due to the ridiculous amount of time I spend online I’ve noticed over the last year or so, there seems to have been a bit of a shift away from the blogs I really cut my teeth on, and the blogging scene has become decidedly spiffy-er. Of course, this is both wonderful, and a little sad as I’m finding it harder and harder to find well written and interesting blogs that are about the every day delightful hum-drum, rather than a perfectly Photoshopped version of life. I feel nostalgic for my ‘old days’, even if they were considerably newer than the days of others’.

Strangely enough, I remember the first blog I ever followed, the now sadly defunct London Makeup Girl (who appears to be infrequently around on Twitter). Lydia gave concise and helpful makeup reviews from a really pragmatic perspective and with a focus on niche brands. I really adored her approach to makeup, and it was like permission to be a feminist and interested in beauty products. As strange as it seems, she really gave me the confidence to start buying makeup from counters in department stores, whereas before I was too terrified of the perfectly eyebrowed sales assistants.

It was through a comment on her blog that I also discovered Love Audrey, an English lifestyle blog to whom I have linked many times before. Franky was the exact type of blog I adored – thoughtful, fun, and willing to talk about the not quite so delightful aspects of being a student. Makeup FOTD photos in weird lighting before she became so good with her new camera, outfit shots, delicious recipes and giggly posts about heading out in London with her friends. I’ve read regularly for years now and in the last 18 months her blog has definitely changed, undergoing a major redesign that I totally adore. I honestly look forward to her posts the most out of the many blogs I follow, but I do miss the days when she was around more often!

When Franky got engaged she led me to Love My Dress, the inimitable wedding blog that I not-so-secretly read for two years before getting engaged. I know, I am almost embarrassed to admit that, but I don’t really care because the love Annabel has poured into that blog over the years has been a wonderful thing to be a part of. Love My Dress has also been redesigned a couple of times since I began reading, and there is something to be said (I’m not sure what, but hey) about remembering an old design, it’s kind of a ‘you weren’t there man’ feeling, and of being one of the original fans, even though of course I wasn’t. Annabel has recently advertised for new writing interns for Love My Dress, something I would adore to do. I began an application as well, only to come to the conclusion that I simply cannot  keep piling more work onto my plate, especially next year, even if I was lucky enough to get a place. So that may stay as a pipe dream for some time.

All of my favourite blogs are written by women. Most of them are written by women who live varied and interesting lives, which is fantastic, but quite unreasonably sad for me. Many have ceased to write, or dropped the frequency of their posting drastically because they’re out actually living their lives. How dare they. I’ve noticed the absence of their voices in my life. So this post is  a little tribute to those bloggers, as well as the ones linked to above and many, many more.

The Hello Sam Goodbye Samantha List of Bloggers I Wish Were Around More

London Makeup Girl – the blog is now defunct and so no link! 🙁 Twitter link above

Modesty Brown Loves Makeup

Belgian Waffle – who incidentally I met once, but was too shy to speak to, and having read her blog since, I suspect she was too!

Dempeaux – who lives near my hometown in country WA

The Velvet Bow/The Peach House – a friend!

Not Enough Mud

Parlez Vous Moo

Please Don’t Eat With Your Mouth Open

Irretrievably Broken

Happy Sighs

Blabbermouse – possibly the second blog I ever followed.

Blogging has given me a wonderful new creative outlet, and has kept me feeling connected to other women throughout periods of massive change in my life. I’m so grateful for women who write.

In Which I Try to Be a Blogger

There seems to be, in my humble opinion, a certain type of status that comes with being a ‘blogger’. Not a person who writes a blog, but a blogger. I am rather susceptible to a bit of the ol’ green eyed monster every now and then when it comes to other peoples’ blogs, I won’t deny it. But every now and then I brought firmly back to earth, and to the knowledge that when comparing those who have blogs and the ever jealous making bloggers, I am most certainly in the former camp.

Take these series of photographs, for example. Several days ago I thought I would try out a modest photoshoot, to see if I too was capable of having swoon worthy photography gracing the pages of this here weblog.

awkward2

Nope. Can’t see my face, too much shrubbery, and plus…that’s a decidedly strange pose you’ve got going there girl.

awkward1

Also in the NOPE pile. Firstly, it’s an unflattering angle of a new top I dearly regret impulse buying, and secondly, that stupid look on my face is clearly the results trying to look natural while I fake brushing my hair off my face. 

awkward3

Too far.

awkward4

Too close. Plus a slightly deer-in-the-headlights-what-have-I-become look about me. Dainty finger pose too.

ok1

This one I admit, is acceptable. I like that my face seems to realise what a ridiculous thing I am trying to do. The top looks slightly better, and I’m doing something rather attractive with my shoulders. I like it. I like my one average photo!

I could say something calming and reflective here about how during this process I realised that I don’t need to strive to replicate other peoples’ blogs, because we’re all different and rah rah rah unique gifts rah rah. But I won’t, because if I am honest, I do wish I had a shiny pretty happy blog. I do wish I knew how to take great photos of my carefully curated life, but I don’t. More to the point I honestly probably wouldn’t, either, even if I had the requisite skills.

I feel very much a part of a huge blogging community, having blogged in some way or another relatively consistently for four years, but more so because I’m a consumer of blogs. Maybe my best role in the blogosphere is to support others who do it  better. To put some love out there for people who plan and publish content more regularly than I. I don’t feel bad about that in the least, and so for now, I’m reminding myself to be pretty content with my one average photo, and my average little blog.