Thursday marks two months (two actual months!!!) since our big day. So this post has been a long time coming. I’d like to say that the delay in sitting down and reminiscing about my most FAVOURITE DAY EVER was because … Continue reading
For any of you really sweet, but mad loons who actually read my blog (hi dad!), you’ll have noticed that I’ve been MIA for the last six months. And if I’m being honest; the last two years really. Yes, I’ve … Continue reading
OK, a deep title and before anyone starts to call my mother/ the Samaritans, I’m absolutely fine. Put the phone down.
I think on occasions most of us try to figure out the meaning of life, be it through exploring religion, climbing the career ladder or y’know; packing it all in and moving to remote island to contemplate.
I’m yet to figure it out (if anyone has the answer, please do share) but after chatting today with someone who has just lost their mom, it’s totally got me thinking; you’re born, you live, you die. What is the actual point? FYI I’m writing this on my phone, on the train, and the man next to me just glanced down at my typing, looked worried and moved. Honestly, I’m fine.
I suppose if we’re all being honest; happiness is the end goal, right?
We work hard, we push our bodies (well, you might. I’m aching from a 10 minute Blogilates video attempted yesterday morning), we decline cake because we’re on diets, we say no to exciting plans or adventures because we have to work (although and please don’t virtually kick me; I do actually love working!) or worry about money, scratch that; we worry about everything and anything, we get stuck in ruts, we compare ourselves to others, we don’t spend time with those that truly matter and realistically: why, when let’s face it, none of us know for certain when that metaphorical curtain will come down and our time will be up? All we’re ever assured from life is that it’s limited.
But, this post is not an advertisement for a mass Beachy Head jump, quite the opposite in fact. I think it’s about time we high-fived ourselves about getting through another day. We should eat the damn cake, spend time with those that make our world’s a better place and ultimately; just enjoy ourselves, the best we possibly can – after all, you just never know when this funny little game of twists and turns (it’s a bit like Snakes and Ladders meets Monopoly, don’t you think?) called life, may be over.
With that in mind, I’m pressing publish on this (without spell checking, rebel that I am), going to cook a school dinner tea for me and The Boy (chicken nuggets, chips and beans) and calling one of my most favourite people on the planet, my mother, to tell her that I think she’s bloody marvellous and that I love her ridiculously.
As I type, the wind is battering against the windows and the sea is looking fierce. Yep, it’s pretty cosy and atmospheric, however, this looks like the second day, that I won’t leave the flat. And well, to be really honest, I’m becoming pretty feral – one thing that many people who work in an office, surrounded by constant chatter, may never fully quite get. Last night, in a cabin fever induced state, I even found myself full on belly laughing (tears and everything) at some woodland animal food clips that The Boy had put on bags of pasta (“to keep them from going stale,” I’m told). Told ya; it’s all rock ‘n roll here. That’s just between us, right?
But I KNOW, it’s not all bad and not all days end in such strange hilarity. So to cheer myself up, I wrote down five of my absolute fave things, that I love most about being self-employed… Here they are:
- Doing what you want, when you want
Fancy doing a fitness class at 10am? Or maybe having a bath at 4pm? Or – a definite highlight for me (when I actually leave the confinements of our one bed!) working somewhere completely different for the day? You can when you’re freelance! There’s no such thing as the 9-5 when you enter the realms of the self-employed; but that’s not saying you that get nothing done! In fact, while your day becomes longer – I clock on from 7:30am and clock off just after 9pm – you do get to dictate how you break it up, rather than sitting at a computer, solidly for eight hours/ nine if you dine aldesco. It may drive 9-5ers mad, but it totally works for me – especially with social media clients!
- You can wear PJs/ onesies/ non-matching socks
Basically, clothing etiquette goes well and truly out of the window. You can stuff the style stakes and having to look decent every day, in favour of comfy clothes, that make you focus more on your work, rather than how itchy your tights are, if you have a builder’s bum and if you can actually walk to the water cooler, cuz your shoes are HIGH and uncomfy.
The only person that may be forced to see you in your jumbled up OOTD (mine today, by the way, is leggings, a garish vintage shirt that I’m sure may have even caused Pat Butcher to flinch, a woolly cardy and the piece de resistance; Greek pom-pom slippers) is the postman. But, who cares?! I’m sure he sees it all of the time! I ALWAYS ensure I have my eyebrows on, though.
- Commuting time = 0
I have NO IDEA how anyone spends over an hour of their precious time commuting to and from work. That’s two hours of their day that could be spent going to the gym, blogging or y’know; sat on the sofa with a cuppa watching Escape to the Country (again; just between us!). When you’re freelance; your home is your office, which yes has bad points (I haven’t been outside for 48 hours!), but also has good points – I won’t be sat on a stinky train, next to some constantly snotty/coughy commuter and walking home in the rain, come 7pm or whenever the delayed train decides that your evening can now start.
- You make ONE cup of tea, rather than 25
I hate making tea. There, I said it. I have no idea why, but perhaps years of working in offices where EVERY PERSON wants a different drink (me included – either a black tea, one dip or Earl Grey with soya) has taken its toll, to the point where The Boy makes me tea in the evenings and takes full kettle responsibilities when we have guests. So, you can imagine, I’m pretty thankful that come 3pm brew time, I’m in and out of our kitchen within a minute, rather than still lingering in there, 20 mins later and boiling the kettle for the 450th time
- There are so many opportunities to do WHAT YOU WANT
Joking aside, being self-employed gives you the opportunity to really think about what YOU want from your career and lifestyle, as they do go hand-in-hand; especially when you work for yourself.
Of course, some days it may seem easier to just go and get a full time job, clock-off at 5pm (albeit if it does mean commuting and occasionally doing the tea run), but it’s really rewarding to know that, through perhaps working unsociable hours and not having day to day interaction with actual people – you are ultimately shaping your own future. You work with who you want, decide (most of the time!) how much you get paid and choose HOW you work.
Of course, there are plenty of people who do work f/t and are still pursuing their own ventures (Greek slippers off to you, you go-getters), but realistically, having that time to be creative and most importantly; enjoy doing what you do, can be something that many of those stuck inside an office all day, dream about. We really are a lucky lot, let’s not forget it.
So, today is A Level results day and while it was seven years ago for me, I still remember that trembling terror when ripping into that envelope.
Even though I knew I had already secured my place at uni, there was still an exciting mix of anticipation and dread to see how months of revision and *occasionally* (read most Monday afternoons) skipping lessons in favour of heading to the pub had worked out harmoniously. Somehow they had and I’d scraped the grades I needed to go to uni. I still stand firm that A Levels were the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
However, while I was pleased to be heading off to uni, I didn’t feel it was as necessary as my parents did – and given the opportunity again, I think I’d definitely re-think my decision to go, in favour of doing a creative apprenticeship. Here’s why:
- Yep, it’s an easy one: the debt (the UK average is £20,000). I feel a little sick with myself knowing that I’ll be paying back THOUSANDS of pounds for pretty much the rest of my life. And, I was a very savvy student, even working twenty hours per week and every God-given hour of ‘holidays’. Not fun. Earning and learning, now that sounds MUCH better!
- It wasn’t 100% necessary! While many journo or feature writing jobs (for top mags) require you to have a 2:1 (I surprisingly do!), I’ve been told by clients and mags I write for, that I’ve been given the gig on my personality and my ability. Not one person who has paid me to write for them, has asked my grade, let alone wanted to see that piece of paper my result is written on. Good job really, as I have no idea where it is…
- The career prospects are almost identical, if not better! OK, you are paid peanuts and can be made to do horrendous, menial tasks while doing an apprenticeship and some horror stories do make it sound like slave labour, BUT, you also qualify quicker (two years rather than three) and there’s an emphasis for companies to take you on full time, when you’ve finished. It took me nine months to secure my first writing job, and many people I know are still waiting for that ‘opportunity’ to land in their lap, or are doing something non-related.
- You learn about the industry a whole lot faster! When you go to uni, dreaming of writing for a magazine – you imagine creative freedom, long lunches and let’s face it; becoming bezzies with celebs. It takes three years of slightly random modules, boring work experiences and an over-priced piece of paper (that you then loose!) for the rose-tinted glasses to reveal the hum-drum reality of long hours and low pay – and that’s if you’re lucky enough to get a job, anyway.
By doing an apprenticeship, you’d be working in industry EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. You see its flaws and imperfections, as well as the perks and highs. Better still, if you don’t like it – you can get out and you haven’t lost anything, rather than learn £20K+ later. WIN.
- You can either write, or you can’t. It’s simple. You don’t need a degree to tell you that. While it was lovely learning about the history of magazines, I can’t really tell you that my writing improved during those three years. It’s been, in the years since graduating, that I’ve developed my style and opened my eyes to other related opportunities – including social media and PR.
For this reason, especially, I wish I would have taken up a low-paying apprenticeship, started blogging and practising writing styles to get-going a lot sooner. While I know my life would have been very different (I wouldn’t have met The Boy, for one), I would love to have a Sliding Doors moment and see exactly how it would have been. Career-wise, probably no different.
So for any of you who didn’t get the grades today and want a creative career, don’t panic – there’s a whole lotta options out there for you; including apprenticeships that could get you there quicker and without life-long debt. This may be a blessing in disguise.
A few weeks after getting engaged, I accidently tried on a wedding dress in a High Street shop’s sale (not thinking it would fit and that I’d ever buy my wedding dress from Coast!) and after a few frenzied phone calls to friends and The Mother, I bought it, just like that. For less than £250.
While I didn’t have ‘the experience’ of visiting a bridal shop, swooning at all the dresses and standing in my knickers, while a stranger helps me into twenty metres of tulle and The Mother and bestie, waiting with baited breath, prosecco, tissues and tears, outside for my grand reveal, I’m quite glad it’s done. Also, I’m not sure, from hearing everyone else’s experience it is as Hollywood as it’s ‘supposed’ to be. I’m pretty sure I would have ended up hot, bothered and a stressed mess. Too much choice, especially for me, is never a good thing.
Of course, I’ve pretty much questioned my decision to buy The Dress so early on too – what happens if I put on weight? Did I just buy on impulse? Is it The One? However, and as a girly girl who bloody loves and really only wears dresses, what I might say might shock you – I don’t think that there’s such thing, especially with so much choice.
That’s not saying that I don’t LOVE my dress (after trying it on again, yesterday – over a year later and STILL with ten months to go!), I really do. It ticks all of my wishes and wants, as much as the dreamy dresses that cost ten times the amount I paid for mine. But, I do think that as brides-to-be SO MUCH DAMN EMPHASIS is put on finding The Dress (and paying as much as you can for it), when realistically, you should want something that is YOU and suits YOUR very own wishes and wants – including that all-important budget; even if yes, it isn’t from a bridal shop or even a wedding dress at all.
There are so many gorgeous dream day dresses to buy on the High Street and online (although, I would probably draw the line at buying a new dress from overseas, via eBay – really cheap, but just so many horror stories. I say there’s no such thing as the perfect dress, but it could end up being a total nightmare!). Here’s just a few that make my heart very happy!
Would you ever go High Street or are you firmly sticking to bridal boutiques?!
Like so many other things, networking with other freelancers and business owners, has been on my to-do list for a long while. However, after searching and coming across meet-ups that probably aren’t me; mumtrepreneurs (I don’t have babies), BNI and Chamber of Commerce (fill me with thoughts of The Apprentice style candidates and stuffy suits!) and even speed business networking (er, cringey anyone?), I thought it just wasn’t going to happen. That was until I was scrolling through Instagram and found LH Design’s #OneGirlBand meet-up, a few weeks ago.
#OneGirlBand sounded right up my street – an opportunity to mix with likeminded ladies who were creative and doing it for themselves; all organised by the lovely Lola whose inspiring designs, I even have around my home. Oh and there was the promise of gluten free waffles too. Obviously, I cleared my diary and then found myself tottering (a little nervously, I don’t mind admitting) off to HEN for the meet-up, yesterday morning.
I don’t know why I was a bit apprehensive about chatting with so many inspiring ladies – perhaps it’s the feeling that everyone else has their shit together (a conversation we actually had, and regardless of how successful these ladies sat around me were, everyone felt they didn’t. Sad to hear, but refreshing too). It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing (I actually do!), I think we just put so much pressure on ourselves to DO EVERYTHING and literally be Superwoman in every aspect of life, be it with work, friends or family, and it’s just not obtainable… most of the time!
It was awesome to hear the stories and advice of those, sat in the same boat as me and discuss things that just aren’t appropriate with friends and partners who work full time – pricing panicks, confidence wobbles to working in your PJs. We may be one girl bands, but we’re not totally alone, and that is a bloody lovely feeling.
I already can’t wait for the next one (not ’till November!). Wanna come along? Give Lola a follow! x
Turn on the news and there’s daily reports of murders, attacks and people just generally going out of their way to make life miserable for others. We can sometimes forget that the world we live in ISN’T all doom and gloom and full of ‘bad people’ trying to do us wrong – something I experienced first-hand a few weeks ago when I lost my purse.
En route back to Brighton (via the joy that is Clapham Junction), from the Allergy Show at Olympia, I had that tight-knotted-stomach-meets-I’m-gonna-throw-up-feeling, when rooting around my rucksack (I went prepared this year!) and couldn’t find my purse. After having two strangers check through my bags – they confirmed my worst fear; my purse was missing.
While, there was no money in it (I’d luckily spent it all at the show!) and of course, in a life and death situation, it is not important; it did contain both my personal and our joint rent-fun-holiday account cards – that are both contactless – along with an assortment of store loyalty cards, photos, notes and thankfully, my driving licence. Basically, my life. And, god dammit, it was such a pretty handmade purse.
Within a matter of minutes, I was cancelling cards, retracing my steps and having unproductive chats with staff members, without any luck. Yes, I admit I’m a bit scatty, but it’s really not like me to lose anything at all and to be really honest, I was shaken up and felt my OCD for constantly checking I have keys, phone, purse rise to OMG.
I then boarded a train back to Brighton to continue the card cancelling calls (at one point, I thought my hefty £6.73 worth of Boots Advantage Card points had been used – cue rage and then embarrassment for thinking the worst, when it turns out I have two accounts and I’d tried cancelling the one with zilch on it) and to start re-ordering my license, rail card etc, thinking pursey was well and truly gone for good.
However, later that night I received a rather unexpected Tweet from an account with no profile pic, bio or followers saying his wife had found my purse – hurrah! He then asked if my address was the same one on my Driving License and (not letting me pay for postage) just three days after loosing it – my purse, with all its notes, photos, cards and pennies was back in my possession. It was amazing.
My nan, also kept calling to see if it had arrived – but not for the same reasons as me – she was convinced that someone would go to all that trouble only to come to my home and murder me; what did I say to you about always thinking the worst about people?! Sadly, I’m not even slightly exaggerating. My Grandad also learnt to text in order to make sure I hadn’t been killed my some crazy purse person. Gotta love ‘em.
After Tweeting with my lovely purse finder (and reassuring the grandparents), I gave them my email address and asked for the best address to send a little something to (I was a little bit gutted when my purse arrived without any contact info) and found out, as I expected that they had deliberately signed up to Twitter, just to let me know that it was safe and stop me ‘panicking’ – what a bloody lovely person?!
Of course – it wasn’t a heroic action in terms of life-saving, but for them to take the time to take care of my purse, find me, sign up to (and figure out!) Twitter, then stand in a post office queue on a Saturday morning and pay to return it to me – without any whiff of wanting anything for it, was proof enough to me, that kindness still exists. It’s just sadly not shouted about enough.
July is my gluten-free anniversary, this year marking three year’s since ditching the gluten in favour of no stomach aches, brain fog, constant tiredness and the like, so to ‘celebrate’, I headed up to London’s Olympia for the Allergy and Free From Show – not the sexiest title, I know!
After visiting last year and being amazed at just HOW MUCH gluten-free (along with wheat, dairy, nut, egg and meat-free) products there was to sample, find out more about and of course, buy, I packed freezer bags in my rucksack and ventured out on an empty stomach… to return with overflowing bags and feel well and truly stuffed – my idea of a good day out. (I did also return without my purse, which put a slight dampner on the day, but it seems there’s a happy ending – more on this, fingers crossed, later this week!).
Here’s just a few pics from this year’s show:
Now, I’ve just got to eat it all! I’m already looking forward to next year’s and planning the Welti Wedding Mini Moon around it…
Yep, I KNOW I haven’t blogged for almost a year, but as I sit here in a depressed post-holiday state, with my tan starting to peel and with The Boy wailing Non, je ne regrette rien in our freezing shower (the boiler decided to pack up whilst we were away, perfect timing eh?), what better reason to escape the back-to-it-all-blues than by re-living our Mykonos adventures?!
Also, today marks a year since The Boy shushed me from talking about cat toilet seats and asked me to marry him – and in 362 days; I’ll no longer be Shelley Baker (pretty scary stuff this Mrs and name-changing lark, no?!), so here’s to a year of blogging as a Baker. I promise to not leave it so long next time!
Anyway, back to Mykonos and a week of sightseeing, wine sipping and completely chilling – it was bliss! We stayed in Ornos, literally ten minutes from the bright lights, spectacular views and maze-like streets of Mykonos Town (Chora) and although, upon arrival, we were a little overwhelmed, shall we say, by the beach full of beautiful people, booming bass and ridiculously overpriced sushi platters (20 euro for six pieces of cucumber maki! Gulp.) – a far cry from the sleepy Greek fishing villages we’re used to, we were quickly won over by its (slightly pretentious) beauty.
The small resort had a handful of restaurants, family-run self-catering studios and even seven star hotels; including Santa Marina – which, with its own helicopter, private beach and blacked out vans, we were told had been a holiday hotspot for Madonna, Tom Hanks and Sarah Jessica Parker, over the last few years. Needless to say, these gorgeous villas and apartments (that we spent a good chunk of yesterday morning Google-ing) were ever so slightly out of our price range, so we stayed, just around the corner at Hotel Vanilla. While it didn’t have sea views – it did have a large pool (that we had mostly to ourselves), clean rooms with free air con and free continental breakfast, and cost us just over £700, for the two of us, with flights for the week. We were pretty damn happy with our bargain!
Of course, the continental breakfast of Greek yoghurt, cereal and cakes, didn’t go down well with some British guests who expected a fry-up with all the trimmings. One fellow traveller, we named Mr Shit Breakfast, as his opening line to all conversations we had with him – and heard him have with others – was “Isn’t breakfast shit?”. I don’t think he took in the fact we thought it wasn’t too bad, after all; it cost us nothing, you didn’t have to eat it AND we were in Greece, where greasy fry ups AREN’T the norm. He could have always walked five minutes away to the beach and found himself a fry up, but alas, there he was every morning; shaking his head in disbelief at the yoghurt.
We ate really well, as always – The Boy spent the majority of his time in one of three bakeries within a one-minute radius of the hotel (lucky him!) and we munched vine leaves, souvlaki and stuffed tomatoes, throughout the week. I also nearly died when I found gluten free pasta at the most fantastic Italian restuarant in Mykonos Town, but more of this to come in another post. I think it has to be the best bolognese I’ve had since becoming gluten free, three years ago – it 100% deserves it’s own post!
As well as stuffing our faces, drinking wine and relaxing, we took in the sights of the island – heading down to the beach where old-school movie Shirley Valentine was filmed, visiting Ano Mera (famous for the monastery of Panagia Tourliani, which we did go in, however, I was preoccupied by the tiny kittens sat outside!) and indulged in a spot o’ wine tasting, Greek tapas and playing with the owner’s sausage dog, Oscar, at the picturesque Mykonos Vioma Organic Farm and Vineyard, where the owner boomed classical music to his grapes, as he thought it made them more tasty. We certainly enjoyed it!
Now we’re back home, with boiler problems, an over-loaded laundry basket and heavy hearts, so needless to say we’re already planning our next Greek adventure; a mini-moon back to Santorini, this time next year. When I’ll be a married woman. Eeek!