Item off the bucket list

So in March of this year I finally built up the courage to do a sky dive!

I had been thinking about it for some time but not really found the perfect place which would eventually persuade me. Well when living in Dubai I heard about Skydive Dubai, which most expats do at some point as either a colleague, friend or family member is going along for a jump and posting it on social media. But thats the great thing about Sky Dive Dubai they not only take a bunch and I mean a bunch of pictures of you while your screaming your head off up there, they also shoot some video and put it all together into a mini film along with interviews with yourself pre and post jump.

It is by far one the best things I have done and I am so glad I did it in Dubai as the views are immense! I would recommend it to anyone! So I only ever posted a couple of images online at the time but thought as I am starting to write more on my blog and wanting myself to come across more I wanted to let whoever reads these posts in on a little bit more about myself. Here it is in full my Sky dive experience – prepare to have your mind blow 😀

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Vinyl memories

So I know its become quite cool to appreciate and buy Vinyl records again in recent years. I myself have purchased a player and bought a number of records over the last year. It has become really enjoyable as I rarely buy them new but instead I much prefer to explore the numerous charity and second hand stores that are in the area where I live or close to whichever office I am working in that day. I have come across and bought some absolute gems which I would have never thought to buy online or in store as It was more about exciting to search for them myself and discovering new musical tastes which had once been someone else’s treasured item.

Vinyl records take me back to my childhood and hold special memories for me. My Mum and Dad had a big collection like most parents who grew up before the Compact disc. I have very vivid memories of my Mum getting on with the house work and putting her records on at full blast, sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor to the soundtrack of everything from Matt Monroe to The Four Tops, Mario Lanza to Sandie Shaw. I began to see how happy it made my Mum to have these artists within her home and hear them as loud as she wanted with no one to tell her otherwise. I myself took to these songs and would often prompt my Mum to play one when I knew it was the right time which could be either of the following:

  • My Dad and brother were out of the house so no need for the football to be on.
  • We were busy in other areas of the house so background music was a good idea (I still can’t stand silence when I am in my flat now, I have to have music playing)
  • We had people over and were sat in the kitchen or chatting in the living room (time for more background music)

Christmas was always a time for records to be played, It’s a running joke between my younger Sister and I that as soon as Halloween is over my Mum will be playing Christmas records! To our amusement she would delve into her archives of classics from artists such as Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Andy Williams and Elvis Presley. These moments did definitely enhance my Christmas as a child as I am sure you will agree the old Christmas songs are definitely the best ones! They just have that magical being about them that makes you think of snow, old movies, hot chocolate and let me say it a traditional Christmas or shall I call it a classic Christmas from a Hollywood movie.

So all this being said I now see the same similarities in myself that I once saw in my Mum. I have purchased a record player and a number of records and now I have quite a collection! Some of my own taste but some are just cause they have that soft spot in my heart from way back when and others were bought from the musical influence of my Husband. Here is a list of the ones I have accumulated so far and where I sourced them from:

  • Electric Warrior by T-Rex
  • Rumours by Fleetwood Mac
  • Thriller by Michael Jackson

All kindly loaned from my Father-in-laws extensive collection (one that I must be exploring again soon).

  • Tango In The Night by Fleetwood Mac
  • Parallel Lines by Blondie

Both second-hand surprise purchases from my husband via amazon (doesn’t he have great taste) The Fleetwood Mac one has become a favourite of mine.

  • David Live by David Bowie

Salvaged from a dusty cardboard box at a stall in Spitalfields market, London.

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  • Let’s Dance by David Bowie
  • Love Songs by Elvis Presley

Found in my local British heart foundation charity shop and another Oxfam in South Woodford.

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  • Greatest Hits by Rod Stewart
  • Greatest Hits by Elton John
  • Motown Dance Party – Various Artists
  • Greatest Hits by Bob Dylan
  • Don Mclean album
  • Roxy Music album
  • The Man Who Sold The World by David Bowie

Purchased at my local Oxfam charity shop – some were collected at a Vinyl night they hosted because of the abundance of Vinyl records they are accumulated over the years, I hope they have another event soon!

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  • U218 Singles by U2
  • Nothing Has Changed by David Bowie

The only two records I have bought brand new. Since our visit to NYC this past summer or more accurately Madison Square Gardens to see U2 perform we have been playing their music constantly, so I wanted a record to remember this by. As for the Bowie one well I kinda needed to have his back catalogue in my collection didn’t I? I will probably continue to snag the odd iconic album as and when I come across it though.

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  • The Very Best of the Bee Gees
  • Every Breath You Take – The Singles by The Police
  • Tina Turner album

Purchased again at an Oxfam charity shop this time in Victoria, London

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  • You are Beautiful by The Stylistics
  • The Drifters
  • The Best of The Four Tops
  • The Fortunes
  • The Velvet Underground

The above three were very sweet 30th Birthday gifts from my Mum and Sister 🙂

I am always searching to grow my collection and I am sure it will double in the next year. I hope someday when I have children of my own that they will experience the same sweet memories I now reflect on every time I place that needle on the Vinyl.

South/North part 1

A couple of weekends ago Me and Dave ventured to North London and visited Hampstead Heath for the very first time! (Yes I know I have been here over 8 years!) I have alway thought about going but its never been close by to where I was currently living and I probably opted for a closer or easier to reach park such as Victoria or Hyde park.

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I was so glad we made it and the view did not disappoint! It got me to thinking though… When I lived back in Doncaster I still had the interest of going into the countryside and taking in views from the top of hills and I was always intrigued by interesting buildings and architecture. I don’t know what it is but it just inspires me and gets me thinking about the areas history and people who live there – kinda deep but we all find our inspiration somewhere!

So it also made me think that how it blew my mind when I came to London and these views, buildings, places were just littered across this wonderful city my 21 year old self was blown away. Even though these new places were were so different to the ones I had previously treasured the old ones still have there place. I want to share two of my favourite spots old and new that I love going back to over and over again.

Cusworth Hall

Cusworth Hall

This was the view from the top and It was the place of many a trip as a child right through to probably my last day of permanently living in Doncaster. I ventured up here for sledging, walking my dog Sparky and Barney, walks with my then boyfriend Dave and a meeting place for friends who lived at the other end of our village of Sprotbrough. On those visits with friends, the four of us would sit at the top of the hill and look out over Doncaster and dream about all the things we would be doing when we grew up and it would often end in our younger/child at heart friend Claire suggesting we do roly polys down the hill just as we had at our picnics there in primary school! You can imagine the response she got from her teenage going on 25 year old friends!

The whole area around Cusworth hall is stunning and I have seen it grow and change over the years I just wish I could see it everyday sometimes, I never thought I would miss somewhere in Doncaster when I left but this places has stood the test of time for me.

The Golden Jubilee Bridge & The Southbank

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This place to me is just magical! It has everything, Arts, restaurants, entertainment, bars, coffee shops, views, river vies, a ferris wheel and did I mention a carousel 🙂

When I first moved to London the first thing I bought is an A-Z and it was the best thing! On my own in a new city I would make my way from NW10 via foot and bus (never the tube as It was hard to gauge where you were and learn the surroundings) I would often end up here at the Southbank and explore its many attractions and secret spots. It quickly became my go to place when I had friends or family in town, just the walk across the Golden Jubilee bridge is enough to turn anyone who says London is too busy, too crazy for them to live in. I assure you this view is probably the best i have seen and it gets me every time I walk over I think to myself how lucky I am to live in this great city!

At Christmas a small market occupies the bank selling everything from mulled wine to gingerbread, in the summer there are numerous street entertainers and musicians entertaining the crowds. Near the BFI building there is usually a book stall to explore (who doesn’t love a good old 2nd hand book stall) they also sell old illustrations of famous landmarks across the country and one time I was rooting my way through the many boxes and came a across a picture of Cusworth Hall! I didn’t end up buying it unfortunately as it was in my earlier days when money could be better spent on food and bills, I often go back and see if I can come across it again though but no luck yet. There are many pop up bars, street food stalls, small exhibitions and there was even an manmade beach that took on a temporary residence during the summer months.

The London eye is probably the landmark of the area and mostly responsible for the huge crowds that gather but if you take a left when cross the bridge there is more to be had! The BFI is mainly a cinema where I have seen some amazing classic films such as Street Car Named Desire and The Man Who Fell To Earth and also caught a programme celebrating all the Disney films so managed to take in Pinocchio, Hercules, Lady and the Tramp and The Little Mermaid. There is also a lovely bar with huge sofas available (if you get there early to snag one) It’s perfect on a cold Sunday afternoon to sink into the lovely surroundings with a hot cup of tea and await your film showing. 🙂

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This is only a small glimpse into this area as there is always something new happening and taking place so I guess thats what makes it one of my favourite places in London. No matter what month there is always something to do here whether it be taking in a film at the BFI, visiting the south bank centre for its latest show/talk etc or even wandering along the river until you meet the Tate modern, new or old, skint or flush with your new pay check you can almost certainly occupy yourself here. Go visit!

I don’t just design

I have started writing posts on Linked in for there Pulse section here is one I thought I would share on here:

I just recently watched a short video about the upcoming documentary Design Disrupters It was so interesting and made me really realise how my role as a designer has changed and is forever going to evolve but this current period in time right now is so important.

Agencies, Companies, Brands and anyone who employs digital designers to create banners, websites, online experiences, emails anything that a user interacts with is starting to notice. Designers can no longer create something visually pleasing, something that has the right colour scheme, adheres to brand guidelines, follows consistent rules set by another designer – no. There is now another more important factor to think about – How it makes the user feel.

As human beings we have had the pleasure of interacting with the digital landscape for some time now and we no longer stumble through it, we know exactly what we want and if we don’t see it, don’t feel it we move on, we’re becoming more demanding and more savvy. This is clear to see if you have children and when they pick up a device for the first time whether it be an iPhone, an Android phone a tablet, they know the gestures, the swiping techniques it’s quite scary to see but it is the way we have evolved and its not going to stop.

Because of this it has forced me and many other professionals like me to step up our design game! Agencies and clients need designers more than ever now to create these experiences and we need to be more in touch with how gestures and transitions need to work and make you feel – design is getting more and more interesting for us as a profession now for sure and I can’t wait to evolve with it and keep the user entertained!

Venice and inspiration

So it was my 30th Birthday this Monday just gone and Myself and Dave decided to celebrate it by going to Venice for the weekend. It was the best choice! I have always wanted to visit for as long as I remember, it always looked so beautiful and having visited a few places in Italy already I knew I would love it.

I don’t think I could have quite believed it until we arrived though, the whole place is magical. We stayed in a lovely little 3 star hotel near the train station which was perfect! Hotel Abbazia was off the main street and quite deceiving from the outside as it turned out to be quite big inside. A medium sized lobby opened up into a long hall with a bar and then there was a beautiful courtyard where you could sit under canopies or out on loungers in the sun.

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The best part about Venice is the little streets and just wondering around them, we never got lost as you just follow signs to either saint mark’s square or the train station or you could just follow the crowd of people in front of you as they will more than likely be going where you are or if not, you won’t be far from it.

Here are a few shots I took whilst wondering the streets:

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The other amazing thing I noticed about Venice is around every corner and wall you step into a painting! The views are literally out of a Canaletto painting, I remember from my art history classes back in 2002/2003 all of these masterpieces and now I can see them right in front of me – it was really inspiring and I will probably be getting out my water colours at some point now I am back and creating some of my own masterpieces.

Here are a few of those remarkable scenes for you to enjoy:

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Along with these incredible views I got the pleasure of seeing some impressive works of art in the numerous galleries that are scattered all over the city.

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I hope one day I will return to this awe-inspiring city and discover more things but for now Venice you have allowed me to enter my thirties feeling inspired by your views, artwork and history and grateful for just having the ability to discover a new place by getting lost in it.

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My space

So I have finally started to create my own small corner to work from in our flat. It’s not much right now but I have the desk I wanted and its next to the window so plenty of light. I have dreams of decorating the wall with my inspirations and hopefully one off creations (I sadly rarely get out my sketch pad but its something I aim to do now). Photo 16-03-2015 15 44 18

Here are a couple of spaces and creative places that inspired me so far:

You can see more on my Pinterest board here:

So I would love to spend weeks at this desk thinking and creating. but right now I am supposed to be packing as we are going to Dubai tomorrow to celebrate our first wedding anniversary 🙂 This year has flown past!

My road to fitness and back to football

I have recently joined a ladies football team. Well we don’t actually compete in a league we just get together on Saturdays mornings for training sessions. These training sessions involve fitness sections, football drills and end with an 11-a-side game against each other. It’s really good fun, everyone gets on and it’s not competitive just a good way to work out whilst having fun and get to know a few people. Most Saturdays we head to the local pub afterwards to have a drink and get to know each other a little more. I have only been to two sessions so far and I have really enjoyed it, more so the second time as I knew what to expect and got more involved I feel. I have still a long tway to go should I want to compete in a proper game (which they do occasionally) but for now I happy with just doing it for fun and to help my fitness.

Since returning from Dubai I have struggled to maintain a fitness routine apart from last year somewhat as I was part of a gym with my husband and we had the motivation of our upcoming wedding. This year or since March 2014 has been a little harder. We joined another gym which was great, so close to our home and cheap enough that it wasn’t such a drag every month on the bank account. But problem was as soon as the colder months hit and the dark nights it was a struggle to get to. You see it sits behind a dark road and lots of trees and when you don’t have access to a car the walk or run to get there can be a bit off-putting. So we decided to cancel our membership in January this year. I have always enjoyed long runs around our area of Wanstead and South Woodford (outskirts of London) but it can get a bit tedious and repetitive after a while not to mention if you work late its the last thing you want to be doing at 8-9 pm on a cold night!

My husband has always been into football ever since we met 13 years ago it has been the other part of our relationship and to be honest deep down I wouldn’t have it any other way. I see how much enjoyment he gets out of it, from playing every weekend, to watching it on TV, to talking with his friends/me/his family about it – It is and will always be a part of our lives and that’s okay because even before we met my Dad had cemented it into my life also. He used to coach our local boys team, Sprotbrough Crusaders. My brother also played for them and I met some of my close friends by being dragged down on a cold sunday morning to games whilst my mother had to work shifts at our local hospital. I used to hate having to stand there on the side lines next to the first aid box and that “magic” sponge and bucket! But yes there were other daughters like me who were in the same position and had to come down and watch their brother/cousin, and this softened the blow and I guess I can say this is where it started for me.

Soon I was getting involved in the newly established Richmond hill school girls team! It was quite a thing. There was about 8-10 of us in the beginning and we had caught on to a bit of a trend. We all followed football and tried to get involved in the boys games on the field at play time. I don’t know how it started maybe it was that era in the late 90’s of Manchester united, David Beckham and the other superstars coming into the lime light or just the fact we felt we could be as good as the boys, our brothers etc. I mean don’t get me wrong I was a very girly girl in the midst of all this I was still going to ballet and dance classes every Thursday and Saturday. It wasn’t about being “one of the boys” it was about getting involved in something and being part of a team and ultimately having fun with it. So our small girls team grew and other girls in our year started to hear about it and wanted to be involved and before you know it we were going over to another school in the area to play a friendly game, the team or school was ELLERS!  I remember showing up there, my Dad had driven me and a couple of my close friends to the school. He was so proud and I was so proud because he was a manager of the Crusaders! I mean people knew my Dad in our village because of this. He probably should have been our manager but we were lumped with our school teacher Mr Arthur for whatever reason. I can’t actually remember him talking to us as a team, giving us a team talk or any inspiring words to be honest but hey he was our manager figure and quite frankly we all knew what we had to do on that field. As soon as we got out of the car at the ground my Dad got straight to it and got us all in a circle to do a warm up game of head catch. This got us all going and ready to face our first proper game! We got battered by Ellers to be fair. I remember one opportunity for myself. I was clear, running towards the goal, shot in sight, a defender was on me but too far to bother me. I could hear their team cheering for their goalie as I set my sight on the net. I shot on target but she made the save. I was slightly disappointed but I had a taste and It was a thrill for a moment. We went away from that game tired but we all enjoyed it. We played a couple more games, tournaments and matches. Ellers were always our rivals and I can quite distinctly remember them being probably a foot taller than us at the time. (They probably weren’t but things seem so much more exaggerated as a kid)

Doncaster Football

I went to a few “football days” over the coming years cause my Dad knew people at our local club Doncaster Rovers and got involved in most things my brother did with football. This kept us occupied most summers and I was even in the local paper for it! But as high school years approached I and my friends lost interest in playing the game and other things took over appearance, fashion, boys. I got involved in Netball in my later years of school and really enjoyed the team element of this and thought about carrying it on for a while but my eventual career and social life took over again.

For the years through college sport and exercise were not a part of my life which is probably something I regret but if I went back now I probably wouldn’t be able to convince my 17-21 year old self this. I am now an established Digital Art Director working in London for the past 8 years as well as a break year in Dubai with my then boyfriend and now Husband, Dave. I began a heavy (for me) fitness regime whilst in Dubai as It seemed like the perfect time to transform myself. Lucky for me Dave was a qualified personal trainer! I think he was quite shocked but happy and excited when I turned to him in our first few weeks and said, “I want to change my body, please help me”. He loves a challenge and Is very passionate about fitness and wellbeing. He is so knowledgable and driven at his job (health club manager) and I know he is guiding me in the best way possible. In little over 4 weeks I could see the change in myself and body. I felt alive and healthy it was quite a feeling and something I hadn’t experienced for some time if ever. I mean I have never been a gym person in the past but the feeling it gives you is unreal – it’s totally worth it! The best thing about doing all of this is that I could do it with Dave. It became our weekly activity together, we really looked forward to those Friday morning gym sessions then going to a nice restaurant in a beach bar area after knowing we had really worked so we could treat ourselves once in a while. This continued whilst we were in Dubai for a year and I am so glad I woke up from being lazy and just thinking I could go through life and my body would take care of itself. All those times I used to think well I am a slim person surely that’s enough and I can eat whatever I want. Well it isn’t the truth. Listen early 20 year olds – It’s gonna get harder for you to stay in shape, do yourself a favor and start now 🙂 you will feel a whole load better for it, look after your body. In June 2013 we returned to the UK for a number of reasons but one of the main at the time was we were getting married and wanted to be closer to family so that they could enjoy the day with us. As I mentioned previous myself and Dave tried hard to maintain our fitness lifestyle and did as well as we could in the run up to the wedding.

It seemed that I had reached a point as I did when we moved to Dubai that I wanted to change things up a little. Yes I still loved going to the gym but it was often on my days off in the week I could only make it or on a saturday whilst Dave was playing football. I craved some sort of group activity and something more fun and energising than the same routine in the gym. I think Dave first suggested why don’t you look into ladies Football teams whilst we were in the local one Saturday evening. I googled a few times, “ladies football”, “ladies non competitive football” but often I was finding mixed teams and teams at the other side of London. After more searching we came across the Ladies East end academy. This is a group set up by a guy called Naz Ahmed he is joined by another also FA qualified coach Addison. It is the only ladies social football club in east London. It’s for all Ladies from age 16 up from various backgrounds and abilities. The aim for anyone joining is to socialise, learn and keep fit. There is no commitment required and they even try to get us involved in friendly games should we wish.

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This brief delve into my past and journey to now is not to say everybody needs to work out and exercise or me trying to push fitness or being healthy down your throat it is more for me to outline my full circle and to say, whatever you choose to do, to look after yourself and make your mind and soul happy make it something that’s fun and not a chore, after all you only live once and you only have one body to live it in, look after it! (quote stolen from my husband and motivator Dave Taylor).