My last post here was January 2021, and it was about snow and frost. Two months after, my world turned a little upside down. It's only fitting that my first post in so long would be on the Summer Solstice, I suppose.
Summer, and joy, and happiness.
Good morning Starshine. The Earth says 'hello'!
We haven't had snow yet here, and I'm so terribly jealous of those around the country who have been blessed with it. We did get some lovely frost though, and it was almost enough to pretend.
Well, this is where I usually do a recap, I guess! Not a whole lot to report, of course, and yet it's home to some of my biggest and fondest memories - mainly my trip of a lifetime to Tokyo with Moose, to celebrate our tenth anniversary! It's honestlty wild to think we managed to do that this year, before the entire world got a little, well, 2020-ish. I still have yet to blog about it, it's so big and there's so much, but I think I'll start posting about it here next week - marking a year on from our trip. I can't believe a year ago today I was gearing up for it. 2020 seems to have gone so quickly. Just as well, really. I think we're all quite happy to see the back of it.
Still, as much as this year was kind of a bust, here's a list of the things I did manage to achieve in 2020!
...I saw in the new year with my best friends, as usual, surrounded by food and games and kind of scary fireworks.
...Went to Japan with Moose to celebrate our tenth anniversary, exploring Tokyo, Hakone and Disney Sea!
...Attended Secret Cinema's 'Stranger Things' event for the second time, which was incredible and I wish I could do it again.
...Had fun at a pop up retro arcade event in Bristol for Matt's birthday!
...Redecorated my room in true lockdown DIY fashion, painted my units, got new furniture, new carpet, repainted the walls...
...Actually managed to attend a second Secret Cinema event, this time a 'Drive In Cinema' where we saw 'Knives Out' from the social distancing safety of our cars. It was amazing.
...Had a wonderful birthday where Moose surprised me with a lovely picnic (no restaurants or pubs open at the time!)
...Attended my one gig this year, a 'No Such Thing As A Fish' podcast recording in London.
...Managed to sneak in a weekend with Moose up in Basingstoke between lockdowns, where he saw 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' for the very first time! He's still not sure what he made of it, haha.
...Took more private commissions this year than any other, sold more woodburnings than ever and did a decent trade at a few 'online' conventions that took place in leu of their real life counterparts.
...Attended Stourhead at Christmas' lights event twice! And avoided the rain both times!
...okay, so it's not the longest list. But this year hasn't exactly offered much in the way of opportunities. So, I watched a lot of television instead.
...Jane the Virgin
...Dash & Lily
...Kipo & The Age of Wonderbeasts
...Emily In Paris
...Dead To Me
...Dolly Parton's Heartstrings
...Brave New Animal
...Merry Happy Whatever
...13 Reasons Why
...I'm Not Okay With This
...Tiger King (don't judge me, lockdown just started!)
I also managed to sneak out to the cinema a few times this year before lockdown, and just after it in that tiny gap between cinemas opening and our local cinema (Cineworld) closing semi-permanently.
...Sonic the Hedgehog (saw this one twice!)
...The Personal History of David Copperfield
...Bill & Ted Face The Music
...Cats & Dogs 3: Paws Unite (last film we saw at our local Cineworld before they closed).
...The Rocky Horror Picture Show
...not a whole lot, as it turns out. Mum and I actually have (or had, I guess) Cineworld cards, which let us attend unlimited screenings of any films we liked, so we used to go to the cinema a fair bit. This year, obviously, they closed the cards down, and then the cinema down, and now the only regular 'entertainment' we had is gone. I know everything's moving to streaming now, but there's something so nice about going to the cinema, grabbing a snack and being in the dark without the temptation to check your phone, or answer the door, or reply to that email. Cinema is an event to me, and it's one of the biggest things I miss right now.
2021 hasn't started brilliantly. We went straight into a full lockdown again in January, and then America started eating itself. Covid cases are currently higher in the UK than they ever have been. It's all still a mess, frankly. And yet I'm trying to go into the year optimistically, with the hope that by the end of 2021, we'll have a little more normalcy to enjoy. The vaccine is under way, and I just booked an actual, honest-to-god convention (Kokorocon, which isn't happening until 2022, but at least it's something to look forward to!)
Resolutions? Just the usual, here. I want to draw more, even without the constant motivation of conventions. I'm going to try and make an art book this year, so that when the cons return I have something a little more tangible to sell. "Draw more" and "blog more" have been a constant resolution of mine my whole life, haha. Someday I'll crack it.
2020 hasn't been a normal year for many people, and even though I was fortunate enough to spend Christmas Day the way I always do, surrounded by the people I usually spend it with, it still felt a little different. Sadly, the day was marred when Dad went to check our café and found that some lowlife had smashed into our gas cage and stolen our entire supply of gas, which means we had to spend hundreds to replace everything before business can resume on Monday. I guess some people really don't have the festive spirit, huh?
Still, as a whole, we had a pretty great Christmas, all things considered. It was, as always, a day full of food, drink and cheesy TV. Oh, and gifts, of course. I was spoilt his year, as always. I think Santa knows I'm always on the nice list ;) So, I thought I'd do a little wrap up of our Christmas Eve, our Christmas Day, and our Boxing Day, in photos. Enjoy!
For the most part, I haven't minded 2020. I appreciate that I've been incredibly blessed that I can even say that. I can't imagine how difficult the world has been to so many. I've lost work and I miss my friends and boyfriend terribly, but for the most part, I've plodded on, and it's been okay. I got to redecorate my bedroom and I absolutely love it, I got to save a little bit of money due to having nothing to spend it on, and I caught up on a whole lot of Netflix. I'm fortunate to live with my parents still, whom I adore, so I spent lockdown in good company. When the government implemented "Eat Out to Help Out" I helped out plenty, to the sum of an extra half stone on the scales. I'm also fortunate enough to have beautiful garden to relax in, where I spent much of Summer, guilt free and armed with cold wine and sizzling BBQ food.
But it's Winter now. Its Christmas now. And now, for the first time all year, I'm really feeling 2020.
We are, as my Dad put it, a 'Winter family'. We're not a beach family. We're not a festival family. We're a theatre, pantomime, Christmas markets and mulled wine family. We do Christmas Big and Hard and this year it's sort of... just there.
It's not for want of trying. Mum and I have done all we can to bring forth the festive feeling. We had our usual tree decorating party with lots of sherry and Christmas tunes, we've watched some Christmas movies and we've bought a LOT of food.
But, without our usual festive staples, it all just feels like a whimper, not a bang, this year. We usually visit several Christmas markets over the holiday period. We usually go to Gloucester Quays to enjoy the wonderful Victorian Market they host every year. I usually have a wonderful Christmassy weekend with my friends where we share gifts and play games and eat a lot of wonderful food. I usually spend a lot of time in London, visiting Moose's family and hanging out with friends there. We usually have half a pub booked out for the occasion. We usually, we usually, we usually...
This year isn't usual. This year, quite frankly, sucks. And it's now, the day before Christmas, where I'm really feeling it.
I think for me, the best take away from this year is going to be an appreciation of freedom. An appreciation of being able to make plans, to visit people, to live spontaneously and with excitement. I'm not sure what 2021 has in store for any of us, but I think the important thing is to keep moving forwards and to not dwell on the moments lost this year. Instead, I think we'll all enjoy things a little more feverishly, and I think we'll just plain appreciate them all a little more.
I saw this tag over on A Geek Girl's Guide by Michelle and I thought it'd be really fun to take part! Fandom is my life. I'm a complete and utter fangirl, I'm somebody who completely wears her heart - and her fandoms! - on her sleeve. Being involved in fandom has been such a world changer for me. Heck, I wouldn't be an artist if it wasn't for fandom, and I sure as heck wouldn't have the circle of friends I do now without it, either!
Have you ever made fan art?
Um... yeah. It's kind of my job, haha.
Have you ever written fan fiction?
I have! I've written fanfic my whole life. When I was a kid I used to use Dad's old Amstrad to write Sonic the Hedgehog stories! I mainly write 'drabbles' - stories limited to just 100 words - due to my very short attention span. You can find some of my fanfic over on my A03 page - it's mostly Doctor Who and Yuri on Ice! (and I'll warn you, though none of my fic is adult, I am a bit of a slasher... ahem!)
Have your ever gone to a special event for a fandom? (midnight releases, etc.)
Assuming we don't mean conventions, because boy, I've been to a lot of those, I've attended quite a few fandom events as well! I am fortunate enough to live right next to Wincanton, a small town that regularly hosts Discworld events such as Hogswatch, and I went to the midnight release of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, too (and I won cinema tickets for best fancy dress!)
Have you ever been active in a fandom community online?
Very much! I used to roleplay in the old days, and as a dedicated fanartist, I'm always sharing my creations with the world. I'm really active on Twitter, in Discord communities, and on forums (yes, some still exist!)
Have you ever made friends because of mutual fandoms?
Heck, most of my friends these days are through fandom in one way or another, either because I met them at cons, or through my art, or in an online video game. I'm a lifer, man.
I've been digging through my old Livejournal recently, a relic of the Internet’s past that I miss so much these days. I miss when blogging was personal, where people posted online diaries about their lives without a care to how messy they seemed, without ads or constant sponsorship. So many of my old entries are terrible, of course, teenage drivel complaining about friends or relationships (or the lack thereof!), lusting over celebrities, fawning over fandoms. But a lot of my old entries are digital time capsules, reminding me of songs I loved, places I visited, shows I watched.
One post I found that stood out was my old bucket list. Written back in 2012, it’s so interesting to see what mattered to me back then and compare it to the things I consider important now. It’s also quite inspiring to see how many things I have actually achieved since writing it. I thought I’d go through it now and see how many things we can cross off together… and I think I’ll draft up a new bucket list for the person I am now, eight years later.
Learn to surf, or at least give it a go [Nope, but I’d still love to try!]
Get married, and have a small, wonderfully themed wedding ('Autumn' or 'Luau') [Nope, sadly, but I’m still dead set on those themes!]
Go on a cruise down the Thames (a nice evening cruise especially, with wine and music) [Yes! I actually did this! Moose and I went on a Thames cruise with his parents as a sort of double-date anniversary gift! It was lovely!]
Take a flight in Concorde* (it'll never happen now, but I've wanted to do this since I was a kid, so it stays on my bucket list.) [fair]
Holiday on a canal boat [Yes! And you can read about it here!]
Publish a comic [Still no, but hopefully someday!]
Get featured in an anthology of comics or art [see above!]
Sell art at a convention [Yeah, I kind of nailed this one]
Visit the remaining Disney parks I haven't yet been to: [prior to 2012!]
--California Adventure Park
--Disneyland Park, Paris [Yep! I’ve actually been six times now! You can read about them in my Disney tag!]
--Walt Disney Studios Park [See above!]
--Hong Kong Disneyland
--Tokyo DisneySea [Yes! Earlier this year! I’m still in the process of writing it up!]
Go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida [Big plans to finally return to Florida finally in 2022, fingers crossed!]
Meet Danny Elfman [Sadly, still no. I've tried several times, though!]
Visit the Valve studios in Seattle [I’d still love to go, but Valve don't seem to be the same company they once were :(]
Own MOC (mint on card) My Little Pony 'Gypsy' [Nope - but someday!!]
Go on a 'Wolf Walk' in Reading [Sadly, they no longer offer wolf walking experiences to the public! Missed the boat here, I’m afraid.]
Go diving (even if it's just a little shallow dive) [Not yet!]
--Similarly, swim around a coral reef, among tropical fish [Still waiting!]
Own a dog [One day!!]
Swim in the Pacific Ocean (I can't believe I've not yet done this) [...and I still haven’t!]
Swim in the Dead Sea
Visit the 'Wonders' of the World I hadn't yet seen:
-Great Pyramid of Giza
--Great Wall of China
--Eiffel Tower [Yep! I'm in the middle of writing up a blog post about it!]
--Leaning Tower of Pisa
--Great Barrier Reef
Go to New York and do all that crazy New York stuff [Yes!! Visited twice, once at Christmas, too, in 2014! Read about that here!]
Ride in a helicopter [Nope… not sure I really care though, now!]
Ride in an air balloon [Nope, but I’d still like to!]
Own my own place [Hah. Yeah. Maybe someday.]
Have a pony room! [See above!]
Go to an ice hotel [No! We were going to go to one in Amsterdam but it was sadly closed the week we went!]
Swim with dolphins [Nope, but I’d still love to, provided we found an ethical place to do it]
Fly first class [Still the dream]
Do a 'high ropes' course somewhere [Maybe when I lose a few stone…]
Go on a banana boat ride [I mean, sure? Haha, not sure if this is bucket list material, but sure!]
Bask on a tropical island [Gosh, yes please. Still would like to!]
Do a Caribbean Cruise [...Maybe even a Disney one and visit Castaway Cay?]
Drink out of a coconut [Yes!! On a street market in New York, which isn’t the tropical destination I thought I’d do this in, but it was great until the heavens opened and we ended up in the middle of one of the most exciting storms I’ve ever encountered!]
Cram all of my friends into a photo booth and take some dumb photos [Well, I’ve crammed some friends into a booth for photos! Not sure why this is a bucket list entry, though! Past me had pretty low expectations, haha.]
Do all the achievements in TF2 [Hah. Only 131 to go…]
Get a pentakill in League of Legends [...Do bot games count?]
Be a bridesmaid [Naw. None of my best friends seem to want to get married :(]
See the Northern Lights [I’d still love to, maybe on a cruise somewhere…]
So, there you have it! That is what 2012 me considered a bucket list! A few of those entries remain pretty solid, to me. I'd still love to visit an ice hotel, for example, and I can only dream of the day I achieve a pentakill in League of Legends! But some parts? I'm not sure why I ever thought a squished photo booth photo or a banana boat ride was that exciting. And visiting Mount Everest? Sounds a bit cold and dangerous, to me!
I'm going to write up a new bucket list. I think I'll be including quite a few things from this old one, but my tastes and priorities have changed a little since 2012, and it'll be nice to see what I can achieve in the next eight years going forward. Do you have a bucket list? Has it changed over the years? Did you manage to tick many things off?
This is actually an outfit from a little while ago, but I love it so much I felt I had to include it. In honour of it being UK Ponycon that weekend, I'd braided my hair overnight resulting in this fabulous 80s faux perm! It reminds me of how I styled my hair for Secret Cinema's 'Stranger Things' event - dang I love the 1980s and its ridiculous fashion choices.
Dress - The White Stuff
Leggings - Primark
Boots - Rocket Dog
I don't know about you, but I've been using lockdown as an excuse to devour as much media I as I can! From books, to Netflix, to games I'd not yet tried and, especially, podcasts!
Podcasts are the newest form of media to me, but one I took to super fast! In fact, I've become such a podcast fan that I rarely listen to music in my car, not even my carefully curated YouTube Music or Spotify playlists. Instead, I turn to Pocket Casts, an app perfectly tailored to podcasts. Here's my top five podcasts to listen to, but I suspect I'll find many more to enjoy before 2020 is over!
No Such Thing As A Fish
This is currently my #1 podcast! I enjoy the show so much, I've actually seen them perform it live in London twice (and was booked to see them during lockdown for a special 'drive-in' event that sadly was cancelled). No Such Thing As A Fish' is a podcast by some of the fact-finders behind the TV show 'QI', where they each tell you a random interesting fact they've researched that week. I used to love QI, but I much prefer this podcast - it feels far more authentic, rather than relying on comedians, celebrities and performances. Instead, you have four people chatting about their fact of the week, and it feels like you're just hanging out with three friends, bantering in the pub. Which, y'know, is something I've very much missed this year. You can jump in on any episode, they're all great.
The Adventure Zone
If you're into Dungeons & Dragons (or any tabletop roleplay game, for that matter), you've probably heard of 'Critical Role', and I'd say 'The Adventure Zone' was its little brother. Originally a spin-off from their 'advice' show' 'My Brother, My Brother & Me', 'The Adventure Zone' began life as a D&D adventure by the McElroy brothers and it has since become so much more than that. It's been running since 2014 and has changed form, game-play system and story many times, but I'd honestly recommend starting at the very start. In my opinion, their first season, 'Balance', is still the best story of the lot, with the best characters of the lot, and it's probably the one you've heard of if you've heard of any of them.
The Way I Heard It
I don't really know how I found this one, but I absolutely love it. Dubbed 'True tales for the curious mind with a short attention span', 'The Way I Heard' It by Mike Rowe is a podcast about real life people, and real life stories... though maybe sometimes a little... fabricated. The way he talks and spins his stories is utterly captivating, and each only ten minutes or so long, so it's perfect for a short commute. I absolutely love the reveal at the ending of so many of his tales, and so many times I've been left in awe with honest-to-God goosebumps! You can jump in on any episode, but I really recommend episode 96 - 'The Pilot and the Passenger'!
'Teen Creeps' is a podcast about young adult fiction - or specifically, about those old horror books we all loved as young teenagers. I was a sucker for Point Horror books, and R.L Stine in particular, and Teen Creeps digs right into these as well as a bunch of other books by similar authors in the same creepy vein. Sometimes the hosts are a little chatty and go on slight tangents, but they're nice and enjoyable to listen to and often make me giggle as they reveal just how dumb and silly those old books were.
Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet
One of my favourite pass times is reading TripAdvisor reviews on places I've been to. I particularly love reading negative reviews on places I love, because it honestly astounds me sometimes how crazy some reviewers can be! When I found 'Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet'. I couldn't believe my luck. A podcast devoted to unfair and often bonkers reviews of places? Sign me up! Their dramatic readings of one star reviews are genuinely a joy to listen to, but you might lose your faith in society a little bit!
(aka All aboard the Birthday Boat)
Back in 2011, my birthday was spent mostly on board a 69 foot canal boat, cruising down the Kennet & Avon canal in celebration of my many years on earth (or rather, in avoidance of it.)
The decision to go on a short canal holiday was partially my need to do something different, and partially due to my friend DC's love of such things. He had done a similar trip a few years ago with friends, and had been saying he wanted to do one again for some time. I dove at the chance, because I didn't want the emphasis this year to be on my birthday (nearing death) so much as on having fun (no death allowed).
I chose Foxhanger Canal Holidays entirely for their name, because each boat on their fleet is named after a fox or fox-related thing. Sadly, of all the Foxcubs and Fennec Foxes, on their fleet we got Fox Terrier, sister to the Fox Hunter. Irony.
Still, the boat itself was gorgeous. Nearly 70 feet of compact comfort, two double beds, a set of bunk beds and a sofa-bed in the living room. DC, Luke, Sarah, myself and Moose would all be there Monday to Friday, and the plan was that Pash would join us Tuesday evening in Bradford-on-Avon for a Savage World's roleplay and a meal in the Lock Inn, a fantastic pub-café-restaurant with a lovely owner and even lovelier food.
I'll admit, I was the most neurotic of the bunch, because the whole trip was on my head and because the £200 damage deposit was on Dad's head, so it wasn't entirely the relaxing holiday I'd planned. Every bump or scrape worried me, and when we got stuck turning around on the Wednesday, I dang near had a nervous breakdown. While Pash, Luke, DC and Sarah kept calm and did all they could to unstick the boat, I was inside crying and panicking and drinking cinnamon flavoured whiskey while being comforted by a comforting Moose.
He said, or Sarah said, or Pash or someone said, that I'd look back on this and laugh, and he's or she or they are right, because looking back it is downright hilarious. Had anyone else organised the trip, I would have been laughing and rolling my eyes, saying 'oh god, isn't it all so typical that we should do this'.
A guy we'd met previously, who had Skipper on his hat and who, thank the gods, knew what he was doing, finally came to our aid. He jumped off his boat and helped us. He took control, told us what to do, and finally had his own boat tow us out of the Avoncliffe Viaduct shallows, towards victory. Or, at least towards Bradford.
But. I digress, because all that happened on the Wednesday, which meant we had had two days of clear sailing before we ran ashore. We stopped at the Barge Inn Monday night, which was only an hour or so from where we had originally set off. The food was average (duck eggs, ham and chips for me), the prices were high, we probably wouldn't do it again, but it was a nice way to see in the start of our holiday. The night was spent playing Cranium and Munchkin and eating my Team Fortress 2 decorated birthday cake.
Tuesday night was spent with the company of Pash in Bradford-on-Avon, and Wednesday we went further down the canal towards our final destination (after the turning-around fiasco) and ate a gorgeous lamb roast cooked up by the fabulous DC. It made the whole boat smell of mint and of love.
On Thursday, we travelled back alongside Foxcub, a Foxhanger fleet boat we'd shared most of our return journey with, and alongside whom we'd completed many locks and swing bridges. Moose and I discovered that one of the locks had been left open, and a mamma duck and her babies had swam right into it. The fact Foxcub and OUR boat was heading straight into the lock was enough to kill me, because the duck and her babies would surely be crushed by our boats if we went in. I panicked. We ushered MammaDuck and her babies out, but they didn't want to go far from the lock. A nearby peep peep peeping revealed why; she had a baby still in the bushes, the other side of the lock from where we'd ushered her. While someone else sorted out the lock, Moose and I hunted for the duckling. I wasn't going to let the duckling stay there alone, and eventually I found it hiding in some undergrowth, surrounded by thorns and nettles. I scooped him up and dropped him into the water near MammaDuck, but he kept swimming back to me, over and over. Eventually MammaDuck cottoned on and came over to him, which is just as well because I bloody well would have taken him home with me had she rejected him. Eventually he swam up to her and joined her brood. Only...
...as we walked back to the boat, I heard another peep peep peep, and someone said "I think there's another one. Eh. Mother Nature can be cruel."
Yeah, sure she can, but had I left that second peep peep to starve and die, the whole holiday would be ruined. So I searched and searched and there he was, near where I found the first, all motionless and soft and adorable. I picked him up and he didn't move. I thought shock had gotten to him, but the moment he heard his mother's quack, he squirmed and dived out of my hand, backflipped into the water and zoomed towards her. Validated, chuffed, saviour to duck-kin, I re-boarded our boat and considered the holiday a success. We headed back to the hanger where we'd picked up our boat, packed up our belongings and finally left the Kennet & Avon canal.
I loved it. It was sad to end, despite my neurosis. I'd love to do something like it again, but further afield, and perhaps without my head being on the line should we somehow break the boat.
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Hi! I'm Selena an artist, blogger and gamer!
Dream Somehow is my little corner of the internet where I talk about life, the universe and everything! Here, you'll find travel, adventures, vintage style, life in the South West of England, a little bit of Disney dreaming and a whole lot of geeky nonsense. If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here!