A Very Happy Alice

I’ve just got back from my writing retreat and, newsflash, it was beyond amazing.

Full retreat cohort, including course tutor/professional author Caitlin Davies (in the red jumper)

I met 22 wonderful human beings (15 other participants + tutors/guest readers + Arvon staff), and there was so much to take in and reflect on, and every night I felt I like I could burst with creativity (which would have been awkward, as I don’t think anyone signed-up to being coated in chunks of Alice…at least not before dessert).

With so many thoughts, feelings and emotions running through my head, it’s hard to put into extacting words what the past week has meant to me. From 1-2-1s with critically acclaimed writers, to long walks, to sitting down at a desk (in front of a gorgeous view) and hitting word to paper, my time spent on an Arvon tutored retreat at The Hurst (deep in the Shropshire Hills) has been an incredible experience.

A group of us prepare for a mid-morning woodland hike. Photographed alongside course tutor/publishing editor Jacob Ross (second right)

I’ll get something more substanial down soon but for now know this; I’m a very, very happy Alice!

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You’re Welcome

I sent a thank you card to one of the restaurants I frequented when I made a solo staycation to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

(God knows what I wrote inside, I can barely remember what I ate for lunch five minutes ago.)

Whatever its contents were, The Northern Whig clearly enjoyed them enough to prop it up on their fancy bar and share it on their Instagram story.

Caption reads: Such a thoughtful thank-you card from @aeb.thewriter

You’re welcome guys, hope to visit again soon. x

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Geology, Politics and Guinness: My Week in Belfast

Just back, having spent a week in the lovely city of Belfast (capital of Northern Ireland, UK).

I had a wonderful time visiting The Giants Causeway, drinking Guinness, admiring political murals, drinking my weight in coffee, absorbing the industrial significance of the Titanic…getting through a lot of local gins. It was a cultural whirlwind. Best of all, it was unbelievably sunny; it didn’t rain once!*

* – apart from the ten minutes it pelted it down, but at that point had just paid my entrance ticket to spend some time inside Belfast’s notorious Crumlin prison. (I swear I’m a normal human being deep down.)

Hopefully there will be a video coming up soonish (when I get a spare day to pull everything together), but in the meantime here are a selection of choice snaps from my staycation.

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Supporter Shout Out: Baker Tea House, Cardiff

A massive thank you to the team at Baker Tea House in Cardiff for the lovely card and coffee and cake vouchers! Super unexpected but a wonderful delight.

Baker Tea House is my absolute, number one, favourite coffee shop, quite possibly ever (definitely in Cardiff). I have been frequenting it for years. Located in the High Street Arcade (opposite Cardiff Castle), this multi-level venue stocks oodles of teas, alongside the coffee classics.

Thanks to the pandemic I’ve been unable to go for over a year. Which sucks. Wales said that English people weren’t welcome to cross the border, the politicians in power said so. And we all know what happens when people say no? That’s right, it turns it into forbidden fruit.

Gareth Bale…

Gareth Bale makes decision on offers to leave Real Madrid during summer  transfer window - football.london

Welsh footballer, Gareth Bale, now counts as ‘exotic’, on account of him being someone that, at one stage, it was illegal for me to visit.

Huh? No, I don’t fancy him. Just, *whispers*, forbidden fruitttt. (I’d probably fancy a chimp in a suit if it was classed as forbidden fruit…don’t tell my employers I said that.)

And don’t tell me I’m using the pandemic as an excuse; it still counts.

What were we talking about again? Oh yeah, Baker Tea House.

For anyone interested in visiting, here’s a handy link – https://www.barkerteahouse.com/

(The same management also operate Coffee Barker. Handy link – https://www.coffeebarker.com/)

NB – for the avoidance of doubt, no one sponsored or asked me to write this post. It’s written it in thanks and appreciation to the staff and owners.

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Fancy Chinese Footwear

So here’s a bit of background for you, on the jazzy socks featured in Why Alice is *Still* Single…Probably.

Back when I was living in London I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Tate Modern’s critically appraised exhibition Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy. It ran between 8th March – 9th September 2018.

I didn’t attend “1932…” until late on, days before it was due to close. Why? Because I’ll be honest, Picasso had never really been my bag. I appreciated his reputation and there’s no denying Guernica is a masterpiece of political demonstration, but otherwise I just saw the man as someone who took a lot of credit for not a lot.

Don’t shoot me.

In the end, it was a little voice inside my head that urged me to go, that I’d only regret it if I didn’t. (Also, because at the time I could get in for £5. Minor detail.)

I’m so very glad I went. For one, turns out the man is just as trigger happy on the paint brushes as I am on my blog. In one year he produced over 100 works of art (mostly of his mistress). Secondly, some of his work isn’t too shabby.

Don’t get me wrong, I still had questions. Most of my secondary school art projects were on par with Yellow Belt.

And yet God knows, you never saw my Art teacher praising me as the Second Coming. I took a snapshot and sent it to my Mum, she still insisted I keep the day job.

So what has all this got to do with socks? Well, sometime after the exhibition I was browsing the wonderful world of Far Eastern shopping when I came across some socks printed with the iconic painting The Dream.

I’ll spare you my cobble-dash description on this painting but yep, the way he painted the face is intentional (classic playboy Picasso). More information here.

Short story, shorter, I found a pair of socks online depicting this masterpiece (or, as the sellers called them, “style #3 sleeping lady”). Don’t ask how or why, it’ll be easier for us both. Neither did I enquire as to the copyright, given the same people were also selling “magic man” socks of Jesus.

12 million months later my socks arrived, looking something like this:

First observation – no way in hell were these made for a ladies foot-size 5 (EU 38). Definitely men’s socks. But still, the print detailing was alright and the image had been flipped. Without disclosing the price, (*cough* 99p), you get what you pay for.

I couldn’t wait to try them on.

Then I looked down…

Because the socks were bigger in size than expected, I’d had to pull them up higher, and because my calves are the size of tree trunks, the print was stretched-out even more.

Far from looking mellowed after a bit of artist lovin’, Marie looks genuinely pained from having her face stretched to that of a horse. And let’s not even go there with where that places Picasso’s perceived manhood.

Oh well.

I’m still gonna wear them though. I mean, Picasso socks! How cool is that?!

…What? What’s wrong?

Thanks Col, babe. xx

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Alice, On…

Let’s start off with some backing music:

1998 this song was released, 19-flipping-98. Still a belter but golly, are we all getting old. And please, don’t come back to me saying you have no memory of this track or, worse, you weren’t even alive then. I-I just can’t.

Any who.

After the questionable success of my previous post, My Sister, On…, here is the “me” version of that. Don’t worry if you haven’t read said post, you’ll get the hang of this very quickly.

Alice, On…

Alice, on…Responsible drinking

Alice, On…Effective conflict resolution

(For context – I picked a fight with a pavement.)

Alice, On…Tropicana on a budget

Alice, On…Workplace integration

Alice, On…All-nighters

Alice, On…Open bars

Alice, On…Bathroom fittings

Alice, On…Haircare

Alice, On…Summer

“Alice, why are you taking so long to rub the sun cream in?”

“No reason!”

“Well then, can I get up?”

“DON’T YOU DARE GET UP YET!!”

Alice, On…”Does my bum look out-of-proportionately big in this?”

Alice, On…Any kind of headwear

And finally (for now), Alice, On…Basic photography skills

Oh, trust me, you’re welcome

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My Sister, On…

This post is dedicated to my lovely little sister, Bubba B.

It’s also dedicated to my old photo achieves I’ve been trawling through with zero regard to common decency. She let me take these photographs, she knew what she was signing herself up to five/six years later.

(At least that’s what my lawyers will say.)

*Cough* anyway, here we go.

My Sister, On…

My Sister, On…Contemporary Art

My Sister, On…Prehistory

(My Sister, On…World Domination of Prehistory)

My Sister, On…Geology

India On…Hipster Coffee

My Sister, On…Making Friends

My Sister, On…Interior Design

My Sister, On…Cultural Portrayals of the Female Body

My Sister, On…Wine Tasting

My Sister, On…Home Removals

My Sister, On…Interpretive Dance

My Sister, On…Travel

My Sister, On…Motivational Talks

(And finally – for now) My Sister, On…Questionable Photography

There you have it! Stay awesome, sister of the sea.

(PS, because no one is perfect…)

Alice On…Literature(?)

Yeah, I’ve no idea either.

(There may be an “Alice On…” sequel, or two, coming soon.)

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Why Alice is *Still* Single…Probably

Candles, erosion excitement and a scurvy-inducing diet, we’ve got all the reasons (and more) why I’ve quite possibly still yet to become one half of a “smug couple”.

Why Alice is Still Single…Probably

First Things First

  • I can’t help that a pandemic happened.
  • I don’t proactively choose to shun humans (Yeah, I’ll call up my insurance firm now. “Hello, I’d like to record my profession as ‘Aspirational Spinster’ please? What do you mean, that’ll increase my premium?”)
  • Although, for the benefit of reassurance, I am attracted to humans.

(But I am also attracted to that part of YouTube.)

I’ve Made My Memory Foam Bed, and it Serves me Well

I live where I live and do what I do. And before you give me that Sliding Doors baloney, “if only you’d taken that fictional job somewhere else, then maybe things would be different”, I mean, sure but…

A) Not God.

B) There are loads of amazing things I’d have missed out on.

C) I lived in London for a year and guess what? Despite getting my bag stuck in the Tube countless times and missing countless more trains altogether, John Hannah still didn’t show up and I’m still not Gwyneth Paltrow.

(But at least my accent isn’t that grating.)

My Cooking is Beyond Questionable

Case in point, I routinely eat leftover Chinese with pasta. I call it “East Meets West” (no, really, I do).

I know what you’re thinking and yes, I am the kind of girl who brings a stapler and a rack of business cards to dinner (and you thought the Chinese was hot stuff).

As a rule of thumb, the dishes I cook involve three ingredients. E.g. scrambled eggs: eggs (no milk), bread, butter for bread. Soup: tin of soup, bread, butter for bread. Chips, fish fingers, peas.

I also routinely snack on dry cream crackers.

#NoShame

I’m Not in the Market of Being Someone I’m Not

I’m so out of habit with makeup I barely wear it nowadays. The idea of putting all this stuff on my face to create something to satisfy everyone but me just doesn’t do anything for me (you can’t see your own face after all).

Looking at this from a positive angle, this is presently the worst I’m ever going to get:

*Well, excluding when I’m chilling out in the back of Shoreditch clubs.

Moving on…

Everything Excites Me…But Men

Things like having David Nicholls, author of One Day, like my Tweet:

(Reason .5 for staying single – I like using words like golly)

I also like seeing the effects of coastal erosion on tiny pebbles:

Longshore drift is a thing y’all.

Even these socks with one of my favourite Picasso paintings, they got me excited:

I didn’t even care they only were available in a men’s size. Why? Because I’m now the proud owner of Picasso socks. Duh.

It doesn’t take much to get me excited, but on the downside, it doesn’t take much to get me excited. I don’t need a guy to be the *sole* provider of my joy…unless you have Picasso socks. And yes, pun intended.

I Have Awesome Friends

Doesn’t everyone bring hand sanitiser and a banking card reader to their girls’ night in calls?

Granted, things are a smidge surreal at the moment, but I still have my girl (and guy) friends. And if I can’t meet up with them in real life, I still can connect with them digitally.

Dressing up and dancing around my bedroom, it’s like the teenage years I never had. Back when I was too busy wearing jeans and playing about with hair straighteners and knives.

Oh, Cotswolds, you do crack me up.

Nb, that was taken on my eighteenth birthday. Disney need to do a rerun of that film, 13 Going on 30.

We’ll call it 30 Going on 13, and it’ll be 90 minutes of me struggling to comprehend water installations in urban environments:

Ten years on and I’m still trying to work them out.

Hmm, I think we’ve gone a bit off topic somewhere around here. What were we discussing, again? Oh yeah, why I’m single.

Me, Myself and I; We’ve got Our Own Thaang Going on

*cough*

This is How I Dress

This is How I React to Confusing Things

I Already Have an Interim Solution, and it’s a Candle

I can’t quite fathom how Glade have done this, but I swear this candle smells like a ‘best of’ man collection. It’s kinda musky and has a nice cologne-like secondary smell. I think it’s a honey and chocolate combo.

I can’t share the smell, but trust me, it’s solid. And no, I’m not backing down on this.

And Then There Are the Creeps

Ooh! Bear with, just got a new match.

Right, let’s open this up…

Ah.

In Summary

Your best bet is to cook me something with four ingredients, invest in quirky socks and dip yourself in molten wax.

Guess what? I’m eighteen years old in that one too.

I need to get into teen movies. Where is my non-existent agent?

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London Recalling: The Throwback-set

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there” – L.P. Hartley

Tower Bridge

A year ago today, I returned from a London city break and published my first post. I’d spent a year living in the UK capital, so for me it marked a refresh of the best bits of city-living, including art galleries, theatre performances and catching up with old friends.

Days after my return I was left encumbered, battling a mystery illness. Those following weeks I pressed on the best I could, putting it down as another one of those viruses which circulate in densely populated environments. A year later I’m no closer knowing what struck me down; we all have our theories.

Back then, my friends and I had whimsically noted the high-adoption of face coverings being worn by the predominantly Asian tourist base. We mused on the foreign illness that was gripping other continents, but to comprehend the possibility that our own country could already be rife with disease was a step too far. We were better than that, we were British. Instead, we continued to pack ourselves into dense sweats to watch live music, feasted in noisy restaurants and embraced fondly.

If only we’d known.

So, with perhaps a naively romanticised view of what were truly the last days of normality (late January 2020), here are all four parts of London Recalling.

London Recalling – the Mini-Series

Part One – Straight Lesbians, Like Us

Part Two – The Creative’s Curse

Part Three – Solo Sell-Outs

Part Four – Wapping Old Stairs

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Stranger Things Have Happened

For anyone thinking things only got weird in March 2020, here is a street performer in Exeter I filmed a week prior to the first lockdown in Britain.

Ye-ep.

Still, could be worse…

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