Hello everyone!! It's me again, the sometimes-blogger who often tells the world how she'll “blog more from now on” and then invariably... doesn't. Honestly, I hate to buck a trend, so I'm going to start this post by again apologising and telling you all that I promise I'm going to be more active here from now on. Honestly, honestly, hand on heart!
I hate starting a new year with a post talking about the old year, but I really feel like I owe it to 2017 to write a few words about it. The world around us had a tough time, and a lot of people are justified in their desire to say goodbye to 2017, but truthfully, from a personal perspective, I've had a pretty great year, all told. So much so that I'm going into 2018 with a huge dollop of optimism and wide, starry eyes.
In 2017 I...
… celebrated my seventh anniversary with Moose, in a gorgeous apartment in Bristol, scoping out the city we'll hopefully soon call our home.
… went ice skating a lot!
… broke my wrist ice skating, which saw an end to that!
… sold art at my first ever MCM Birmingham in March, which was so good I did it again in November.
… attended Rezzed and played a whole lot of video games.
... said a very sad goodbye to our favourite pub, The Hobgoblin, in Bath.
… sold art at the London Video Games Market.
… helped out Just Fur The Weekend as a dealers liaison and tabled there as an artist as well.
… attended the an AMAZING Secret Cinema event - Moulin Rogue!
… Attended Bristol Anime & Gaming Con – would love to sell there someday but it's always sold out!
… Sold yet again at MCM London in both May and October.
… Dressed up all pretty for the Vintage Nostalgia Show in Stockton.
… Went to London Anime Con for my birthday weekend in London!
… Attended Hyper Japan and thoroughly fell in love with it for being such a different type of show! I plan on selling there at some point in 2018!
… Broke a huge record at MCM Manchester and really levelled up in terms of confidence and pride in my art.
… Cosplayed Yuri at Kitacon, had the most AMAZING time with the most amazing people!
… Spent a couple of days at Alton Towers with Moose and completely fell in love with 'Th13rteen'.
… Attended UK Ponycon and spent the weekend with my dorky pony family.
… Had an amazing week in Bristol with my favourite people from all over Europe <3
… Finally got to a carnival, which I haven't done properly in years.
… Saw Hamilton on its very first week in London!
2017 was the first year I think I can safely say I actually worked between conventions at being an artist (as opposed to not drawing much for weeks and then panicking in the eleventh hour, heh.) I managed to produce at least one art print piece every month. Thanks to MCM Manchester, I was also finally able to pay off my ever-looming overdraft, which has been a financial hurdle to a lot of things for a very long time. I took on a few extra hours at my part-time day job, which I always considered a backward step in my quest to being an artist, but has actually given me so much back in terms of stability, freedom and flexibility. It has allowed me to take larger risks, and it has taken the pressure off from the daily hustle that being an online artist can be.
There's a lot I'm looking forward to in 2018. I don't have another convention to sell at until March, so I'm spending the next two months working on new products and new prints, and re-arranging my display a little bit for the new year. I plan on buying a banner to better promote my table with at conventions, as well as changing up my display a little to offer a bit more variety in what I sell.
2018 is the year I think I'll finally be able to gather some actual savings, which is handy as it's also the year Moose and I said we'd make a conscious effort to move in together. As of this month, we've been together eight years, and while I'm a complete home-bird that adores living here in my comfortable, safe, surroundings, it's really getting to the point that he and I need to fly the nest. Only a little, though. I'm only moving an hour away. My parents can't get rid of me that easily.
But that means 2018 should be a year of tremendous, and, frankly, terrifying change. Exciting, though, as well! I can't wait to set up an art area, to decorate our own little home, to have a nest I can call my own (well, our own, I guess, haha). It'll be surreal waking up next to the man I've dated long distance for eight whole years. I can't wait to have friends around for gaming evenings or long Netflix marathon sessions. One of the very first things I want to do is actually cook (I don't cook) a big fancy meal (I really don't cook) for my parents in my very own kitchen! Did I mention I don't cook? 2018 is going to be a year for learning a whole lot of things. Best remedies for food poisoning may well be one of them.
Shorter term, however, 2018 is off to a really exciting start with a short break to Amsterdam! Moose and I usually do something a little fun and different for our anniversary in January – and a trip away is a really fun way to shake off the post-Christmas blues. I'm not really sure why we settled on Amsterdam as a city to visit, but I'm looking forward to exploring it and taking on a few canal dinner cruises! Now we've discovered how cheap a European city break can be, I think we'll be doing a lot more of them in the future. The world is very big, and there's so much I want to see.
Resolutions? I know some folks really hate them, but I love making them, even though I'm fully aware each year that I probably won't stick to them. Because everyone else seems to hate them, though, I've taken to calling them 'goals', which sounds less guilt-laden to me. A resolution sounds like something you have to start in January and stick to, whereas a goal is something, anything, tangible you can achieve. I've set myself a bunch of resolutions, or goals, for the year – small frivolous things to larger, more exciting things, and things I downright know I won't achieve. There's lots, mind, but I figure, if I list a whole bunch of things, I'm bound to achieve at least one of them, right?
In 2018 I'd like to...
… move out with Moose (and probably Luke too, haha) into our own little nerd nest.
… continue drawing at least one print-worthy piece of art each month.
… revamp my Patreon, Ko-fi and Redbubble accounts to make them exciting and great value for my wonderful fans and supporters.
… revamp my commissions too and drum for business without the stress of actually needing it. Becoming so reliant on commissions was so stressful and horrible. I'm so glad I can now try and take on private work without that angst.
… Save more money!! Now my overdraft is paid off, I can focus on other things.
… lose weight. ha. ha.
… have my art in a zine! That'd be a fun goal. I adore fanzines so much. C'mon, me. Do the thing.
… get 1000+ Twitter and Instagram followers. C'mon, I said some of these were frivolous.
… blog more!! Hey, this is a good start, right?
… use my Youtube channel again! For vlogs, art videos, book hauls, anything. I know, I'm rolling my eyes too.
… read 20 books. I know, that's such a tiny number for a lot of bookworms, but I am a terrible, lazy person who spends every evening in video games. Speaking of...
… get rank 7 on Rakan in League of Legends.
… stream? Art? Gaming? Anything? Bueller?
… actually scrapbook the year. And catch up on the past years too. I've got several unfinished 'Project Life' scrapbooks here with half a year of memories in them. I need to sort that out.
I think that's everything I'd like to achieve. It's all the enhancements I want to make a regular thing in my life, really, not just a few limited to 2018. I really hope I can look back on this post in a year and cross off at least a few of those things, but who knows! I know resolutions don't really matter and it doesn't matter if you keep them, but it's sure fun making a list of goals anyway. Or maybe that's just the bullet journaler in me. Oh, maybe that should be another one. Start bullet journaling. Brilliant.
I'm sorry for this post that has become a major wall-of-text – call it a make-up post for all the posts I should have made throughout 2017. See, I'm already on good standing with one of my resolutions up there! At any rate, I hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas and New Years and I hope 2018 is kind and fruitful for you all. Make this the year you achieve the best you. I know that's my goalest goal of all.
Next weekend I'll be selling at UK Ponycon, which is a convention that has been going since its debut in 2004 and is dedicated to all things My Little Pony! The con started as purely a collector's con, way before My Little Pony had its viral resurgence in the form of the new cartoon, Friendship is Magic. There, collectors would trade and sell their extras and generally use the weekend as a chance to meet other like-minded fans. In 2010, the new cartoon would bring a whole new group of people to the convention, fans of the show who called themselves 'Bronies' and who shared our passion for silly colourful horses.
Since then, UK Ponycon has grown into a mid-sized convention that collectors and new fans alike flock to from all corners of the globe. People dress up in pony cosplay, sell sell handmade art and customised ponies and take part in all the fun events Ponycon annually has to offer. I have attended nine of the thirteen (!) Ponycons so far, and I'd like to think I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from the event, so I thought I'd write up a little guide detailing the sort of thing you might expect to experience if you attend UK Ponycon!
Friday was our last day of the holiday, and because we had a painfully early flight the next day, we decided to spend our last day locally, in the gorgeous little seaside spot of Saltburn by the Sea. Saltburn has a historic cliff lift that takes you down to the beach and it was a wonderful little thing to experience! We all bundled into the old carriage, which had beautiful stained glass windows (not original, sadly, but reinstated in 1991) and headed down to the beach. Of course, the one time we decided to spend the day at our local beach was our first bad day, weather wise! It was drizzly and rainy the whole day, but fortunately Saltburn by the Sea has a little arcade by the pier so we took refuge in there while we waited for the rain to ease a little.
We decided to grab something to eat at a very appealing looking restaurant pub overlooking the sea called Vista Mar. It was very cosy and comfortable and the food was delicious, the perfect way to enjoy a grizzly grey sea view.
With full bellies, it was time to head home. We had a slow stroll across the beach before returning to the cliff lift, and spent the evening cleaning and tidying the house, packing and getting ready for the unearthly 3am start we had the next morning (our flight was at 7am, at an airport two hours away, yeech.)
This trip to Yorkshire was absolutely phenomenal. We all had the most wonderful time. I loved returning to the comfort of such a gorgeous holiday home and chilling out in the games room. Eden Camp was incredible, Beamish was just as fun as I remembered from my childhood, and York is a beautiful old city I'd love to return to someday. We haven't had a group holiday this year, and finally finishing this trip report has made me so ready for one!
On that note, I'm sorry it's taken over a year to compile this report - I've been a terrible blogger lately but I'm determined to make a change to that now. There's something about Autumn that makes me really love blogging, cosied up in comfortable slouchy clothes with a cup of hot chocolate at hand. I spend so much of my creative time these days drawing, I've been missing my writing side lately, so it's nice to flex my, erm, fingers a little here on the blog. Thanks for sticking with me, guys! I'll be back more often now, I promise.
Today was the first day to divide our group! Moose, Luke, Sarah and I wanted to explore Flamingo Land, a theme park and zoo resort in North Yorkshire, while Pash, Joe and DC decided they'd rather go back to York.
I'm a sucker for theme parks (obviously). I adore roller-coasters and I heard there were some pretty unique ones at Flamingo Land, so I was super excited to check them out. I'm also crazy about animals (again, obviously) so I was really excited to visit the zoo part of the resort, too.
One of the very first things we did was rode was the log flume, Lost River Ride. Fortunately, it was a gorgeously sunny day, because we got absolutely soaked! We then made our way around the various roller-coasters, including Hero, which you sort of stood up into and it leaned you forwards with a really weird sensation of free flight! The sensation was... weird. It was really the oddest coaster I've ever been on, and I'm not sure I'd be in a rush to return to it!
We took a break at a cute American style diner there, before checking out the zoo section of the park. We managed to catch a sea lion show and a bird display, both handled very professionally and by people you could tell cared for the animals and their well-being.
Honestly, the resort was a lot better than I'd been expecting! I'd not really heard much about Flamingo Land before we looked into places to visit in Yorkshire, and I'm so glad we discovered it. Some really great and unique rides for roller-coaster enthusiasts, plus the nice zoo gardens, made it a really busy and tiring day out for us! I'd definitely go back if we were 'up North' again!
Wednesday was our day in York! I've been to York before but honestly couldn't remember much about it, and certainly didn't remember what a beautiful place it is. We began our day by checking out the National Railway Museum, which honestly wasn't my first choice but I gotta say my Dad would have loved it! It was essentially a giant warehouse full of different trains through history and I'd say it would be a wonderful (and free!) trip if you're interested in this sort of thing. They had a workshop you could look down into where people were actually actively working on restoring parts, which was really interesting to watch, and my personal favourite area featured a train that had been used to transport injured soldiers during the war.
We then headed to the York Cold War Bunker which is way more my sort of thing! I'm super interested in the Cold War and I love learning more about it. This bunker was active all the way through the 1960s to the end of the Cold War in the 1990s and was designed as a nerve-centre to monitor fallout in the event of a nuclear attack. Our tour guide was fantastic and enthusiastic (they only allow guided tours) and made the whole visit very enjoyable indeed.
After our tour, we journeyed into York itself! It really is such a beautiful place to explore. We weren't able to go inside York Minster but spent a lot of time walking around the grounds, before wandering the narrow streets and exploring the many independent shops there.
By the time we grabbed food and wandered back to the car, we were all absolutely exhausted. I think I slept most of our drive back, but it was absolutely worth the trip!
Firstly, apologies for the ridiculous lateness in this post! I want to get back to active blogging but I feel really weird just ignoring the rest of the Yorkshire blog posts to do so! So, even though this is all ancient history, allow me to take you back to September 2016 where we continue my holiday report!
On Tuesday, we stayed with a historical theme, and visited a place I'd never actually heard of before called 'The Eden Camp' Museum'. Occupying a WW2 prisoner-of-war camp, Eden Camp now covers all aspects of the war through the 33 huts spread out across its grounds. Each hut is filled to the brim with information and historical artefacts pertaining to WW2, including fully recreated scenes retelling the horrors of the blitz and streets full of shops selling the products of the time.
The photos I took really don't do the place justice. It was hands down my favourite part of the trip! We spent the whole day there wandering about but I think we could have easily returned as so much of it had to be skimmed past in order to see everything. There was a lot to take in! Here are just a few shots from the day.
Monday was our first true adventure! We were headed to the Beamish Museum, a huge living history museum dedicated to life in the North through the years. The name 'museum' really doesn't give credit to places like Beamish. Beamish is a huge sprawling slice-of-life encounter, where you get to live and breathe as though you're in another era. I visited this place years ago with my parents and remember loving every moment of it. I'm very glad to say it entirely holds up as an adult, and I'd truly love to go back if I lived closer to enjoy all their seasonal activities throughout the year.
Beamish is comprised of several different areas, the best of which (in my opinion) is by far the 1900s Town. You can take a tram up to it from the entrance (this museum is seriously huge), or walk to it via a 1940s Farm, but we decided to hitch a ride on the tram. C'mon, how could we not?
The 'Town' itself features a whole slew of living, breathing shops you can take a look around and buy authentic items from. We were immediately directed to the sweet shop, where the shop keeper told us he was about to be making a whole new batch of acid drops to sell and we could watch. Everything at Beamish is done as authentically as possible, and the sweet-making process was no different. We watched in amazement as he made the drops completely from scratch using original machinery and techniques, explaining each step of the process as he performed it. It was really informative, and at the end, we were all given free samples. Brilliant! Entertaining, informative and yummy!
After that, we headed over to the cafe to grab a quick drink, before exploring the rest of the town. One side of the town is entirely dedicated to a terrace block that is the living quarters of various enhabitants, all doubling as their places of work. We visited a solicitor's office, a music teacher's home and even a dentist's surgery. The chap in the dentist's surgery was very informative and took great delight in explaining just how horrible everything was back then. And you thought you hated going to the dentist these days.
After visiting these lovely homes, we looked around the rest of the town. At the pharmacists I noticed they were selling bottles of sarsaparilla and I'd never tried one, so I decided to give it a go! These bottles were great. Back before glass bottles had bottle caps, they used to put small balls in the tops to keep them fresh. The only way to open a bottle was to force the glass ball down into it. Apparently they're still quite popular in Japan, which is where Beamish now imports their bottles from. As for the sarsaparilla? Sort of like dandelion and burdock, a very medicinal taste. I kept the bottle, but probably won't go back for seconds.
We bought some lovely freshly baked bread from the bakers, and looked around the co-op shop, bank and newspaper shop. You could spend hours in this part of the museum alone, but we pressed on as we only had one day to squeeze it all in!
We decided to walk back down and not take the tram, as there are various things to do on the way. The route back to the main entrance from the town passes by a train station, a small fair ground and a warehouse full of stock ready to be placed into Beamish someday. I think I read that they're in the process of building a 1950s area to the museum, which is of course right up my street, so I might have to make a return visit once they do. The warehouses were full to the rafters of wonderful vintage household products, everything from old fashioned vacuum cleaners to magazine collections. Again, I could have spent hours in here. I'm a complete sucker for this stuff.
Further along the road back to the main entrance, we came across the 1940s Farm. This place featured a farmhouse and assorted buildings, all ready for life at war. There was wonderful 40s music belting from the radio while we explored the living room, and then wondered around outside. There was a kitchen set up outside replicating the restaurants set up by the government during the war. I tried a Spam sandwich! It was actually really delicious. And to think Spam gets such a bad rep!
Afterwards, we plodded down to the Pit Village. This was a smaller area, featuring a schoolhouse, a fish n' chip shop and a chapel. The school house was a lot of fun. We spent far too much time trying to learn how to hoop roll, because we're all adults.
We went to the Colliery after, where we took a guided tour down a mine and learned just how awful life down there was. We also had a very eye-opening chat with a man who was one in a long line of proud Northern miners and who had a lot to say about the closures of the mining industry in the 1980s. I must say, the people at Beamish were all so passionate about their roles. They were all so well informed and chatty!
After, it was finally time to meet with the rest of our group (we had split up way at the start and didn't see much of each other during the whole trip!). We arranged to meet back in the pub up in the town, but they had gotten distracted so Moose and I sat and enjoyed a beer while we waited for the last tram home.
And then we went home and slept forever! Seriously, I adore Beamish! I'm sorry for so many photos, but I couldn't narrow them down very well (I took so many!) I'm so sad it's so far away from us down here in the South because I'd love to visit more often. I really, really recommend a visit if anyone's considering the trip. It's a wonderful, informative and fun day out and I can't wait to see how their new developments pan out.
Our second day was our first full day, and we had planned to stay local and visit our nearby beach, Saltburn-by-the-Sea and grab a Sunday roast somewhere along the coast. Sadly, we hadn't done our research properly and found Saltburn completely taken over by a vintage car rally. While it would have been lovely to have looked around (I love vintage vehicles), the whole place was heaving and there was literally nowhere left to park. In the end, we decided to drive around a little bit and see what else we could find instead.
We stumbled across a lovely little village called Skinningrove, right by the coast. It was a gloriously sunny day, so we were lucky enough to enjoy a proper stroll along the sand.
After, we set out to find the Sunday roast we'd dreamed of. We read good reviews of a nearby pub, but unfortunately, it being lunch time by the time we got there, the place was packed and we had to look elsewhere. We ended up driving towards Whitby, and finally decided to park up and go on a hunt for food. We found a seafood restaurant called Trenchers. I'm not a huge seafood fan, really, and this place was exclusively fish. My Mum's allergic, so growing up I never really had it. I only started exploring the options when Moose and I started dating, so looking at Trencher's menu was a little daunting at first. I ended up opting for the simple fish and chips (I know, I'm so adventurous) with a prawn cocktail starter. Moose ordered a crab starter to share as I'd never eaten crab before - can't say I was a huge fan!
Anyway, the food was delicious (crab aside, and I don't think that was any fault of the restaurant, I just don't think it's for me now I've finally tried it), and one thing I liked about Trenchers was how they had a chalk board on the wall explaining who had caught today's fish, and where. Always encouraging to know your food is fresh and from sustainable sources!
I really like Whitby, but both times we visited were quite fleeting and it'd be nice to have a full day exploring the place. We watched some people catching crabs before heading back but didn't have very long to look around. Next time!
A couple of years ago, my friends and I all went down to Cornwall for a week, where we rented a lovely big cottage and spent the days adventuring around the West Country. This year, we decided to travel a little further. We kept it in the UK to try and keep costs down a little, but this time opted to visit Yorkshire, a good 250 miles away up north!
We found a gorgeous farm house in Guisborough, just half an hour from Whitby and only a couple of miles from the coast. This place was perfect, with two reception rooms, a huge dining table for gaming and group meals, and a self contained games room fully equipped with a pool table, table tennis, foosball and even a dart board!
Originally, I toyed with the idea of driving up, but we discovered that flying to Newcastle from Bristol International was actually pretty cheap (tickets were under £100) and the flight took less than an hour. Beats a five-six hour drive, that's for sure! The only downside was that the flights were so early in the morning - going up wasn't so bad, but having to leave our comfortable, warm farmhouse at 3am on our last morning to catch our return flight was some kind of cruel and unusual punishment. Sarah, who had opted to drive for some crazy reason, and who was able to sleep in and leave at a far more sociable hour, certainly got the last laugh on that one.
Anyway, back to the beginning! After an airport breakfast (did you know Burger King at Bristol Airport sells beer??), we boarded our flight and escaped the rain. It was actually gloriosly sunny in Yorkshire for almost the entire holiday. We were very lucky! The flight took about 48 minutes, most of which was spent playing dumb games on my phone. I gotta say, it's very strange taking a flight to another part of the UK. I associate airports with foreign holidays, of course, so stepping foot back on British soil after a flight was a new experience to me!
Joe went to collect the car while we waited with our luggage. We couldn't get into our house until 3pm, so we decided to make a day of it by driving down to Whitby for lunch. We arranged to meet Sarah, who had decided to drive up. Unfortunately, Whitby on a sunny Saturday was a very popular choice, and we ended up at a very busy Wetherspoon pub for lunch, which wasn't really our ideal start to an authentic Yorkshire holiday! Still, Wetherspoon is pretty good for encouraging local produce and I at least I managed to treat myself to some Whitby scampi and a pint of Whitby Brewery beer!
After lunch, we had a very quick look around before heading to the house. Tidkinhow Farm is actually situated up a private drive, through a working farm, and up a country lane. We were very, very secluded from the rest of the world! But, my, what a view!
That evening, we went food shopping as our plan was to eat plenty of meals at home to save a little money (plus group cooking is fun!) The rest of the night was spent in the games room, which was essentially just a giant barn full of fun things to play.
We had fajhitas and played a little Zombies!!! and celebrated the start of a very fun, busy week!
I hope you enjoy reading about our little adventure 'up North'! It all happened a few weeks ago now, so it's really nice reliving it all through blog posts and photos! We went to the Beamish Museum, Flamingo Land and Eden Camp, among other places, so if you'd like to read more about those, feel free to check back in the coming weeks!
Hello! I know, I know, it's been a while. I've no excuse, aside from the fact that I'm a terrible blogger! But there's something about Autumn, with the falling leaves and twinkly lights on crisp, chilly nights that just makes blogging feel right, so I've decided to blow the dust off this thing, crack my fingers and get to work.
October is, without a doubt, my favourite month. Autumn is, without a doubt, my favourite season. I sort of um and ah when Summer comes around, trying to decide if I like Summer the most, with its promise of sandy beaches, cold beers and evening BBQs, As the shops fill with cute little Summer dresses, slip-on shoes and fruity perfumes, I'm almost convinced that, yes, I'm a Summer girl.
But... then Autumn rolls around. And I realise now that, without a doubt, I'm an Autumn girl. I'm a pumpkins-and-cinnamon kind of girl. I'm layers and messy buns and thick, slouchy socks and chunky scarves. I'm nutmeg and hot chocolate (with a dash of rum!), and crisp sunny mornings. I'm the excitement of Halloween, the thrill of scary movies.
Autumn is absolutely my season, and October is the best month of all! Sure, Summer's nice and all, but it's got nothing on Autumn! And besides, you can still wear pretty dresses in Autumn. The colder weather just gives you an excuse to layer them up with some cute jumpers or cardigans! And who doesn't love the thick-tights-and-knee-high-boots combo?
* Photo credit
Hey there! I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and video gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a geek, travel and Disney lifestyle blog dedicated to my nerdy little life! If you'd like to learn a little more about me, click here.