Blog Challenge: Choosing Your Adventure

Day 8, should have been Saturday, but I was feeling rather under the weather and didn’t go out. So Sunday was my day for fun, I started out after brunch and went into Oxford to do a bit of gallery hopping and maybe some shopping. When I got into Oxford it turns out there was an arts and craft market on Broad Street. This turned out to a great opportunity to see what sort of price points others were using and whether I was way off bat with my calculations for a Christmas arts & crafts fair I’m doing in about 2 months time. Good news, similar products were on sale/selling at approximate prices to what I’d intended, also I noticed that the frames I’d picked up from a well known design store to trial some prints in, were also widely in use, so I’m in good company.

After I’d perused and picked up many a business card (I like to have a nosy at people’s websites as well), I headed to Modern Art Oxford to check out some more art. For the whole of 2016 to celebrate the gallery’s 50 year anniversary they are running continuous exhibitions, which means the galleries don’t shut down during change over like they normally would, it also at least feels like there’s more exhibitions on than there would be in a normal year.

Exhibits from Gothic and MAO

The main space upstairs was dominated by a Richard Long piece on the floor resembling a maze, the gallery was flooded with light and there were some kids making up games walking over the/through the maze, which was pretty cool. Also in this room there was a sound installation of an orchestra replicating a thunder clap, I liked this too although i’m struggling to put into words why, maybe because galleries can often be too quiet so a bit of noise is good.

After looking at the rest of the exhibition including some instructions to ‘Imagine the clouds dripping. Dig a hole in your garden to put them in.’ from Yoko Ono (you were allowed to remove the instructions to take away, but I didn’t), I headed downstairs to the cafe which has temporarily moved into the outside foyer. Here I had the best cookie, salted caramel and tahini. It was amazing.

Latte and world’s best cookie, courtesy of the Missing Bean at MAO

Then I went for a walk, taking some photos (with my film camera, so not ready yet) and then up to St John’s college, as I’d spotted a sign saying ‘Gothic’ outside when I went past on the bus. It turns out that Gothic is the name of the exhibition of architectural objects, photographs and films by the MA Architecture students from Oxford Brookes. It was a great exhibition, the lighting of the textures in the photographs and the objects themselves in the exhibition were really interesting and not at all what I would expect from an architecture exhibit.

Today reminded me that it’s good to get out there and see what other creatives are up to, refresh your mind, feel inspired and just take things easy. I’m looking forward to the week ahead for once, rather than having that Sunday night blues.

This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 8

Oxford Instameet

A couple of weeks ago I headed out on an Oxford Instameet organised by the wonderful folk at Independent Oxford and Natasha from Candy Pop, billed as the chance to meet with other local creatives, I was curious as to how it may differ from other photo-walk type events I’d been to in the past.

We met in the café of Modern Art Oxford, somewhere I’d been meaning to visit for ages as their twitter and instagram feed is full of delicious looking food – I opted for the coffee cake and was not disappointed! The most obvious difference for me was that the ratio of female to male had swapped considerably as I’m usually one of the few women (if not the only one) on other photography based meet ups. Also most people there (if not all) were in some way, whether full time or along the day job, trying to make a living/business out of their creative endeavours – some rather successfully. The ladies were all brightly dressed and ready to jump, jump, jump for photo ops in front of many of Oxford’s colourful houses and doorways, you know you’re making a splash when the tourist groups stop to photograph you, instead of a historic landmark!

It was also really inspiring talking to everyone and finding out what they were up to, and I guess my biggest take home lesson, was that success doesn’t happen overnight and that’s ok. Now I know that may sound obvious, but in today’s super social-networking universe it seems that people go from bogging zero to dragon’s den hero in a couple of years. It can leave you (ok, me mostly) feeling a bit of a failure when a business doesn’t go anywhere for the first few years. I was quite happy to throw in the towel a few months before moving to Oxford and give it a rest for while….

But after speaking to one of the ladies who’d spent 8 years building up her online business to the point of taking it on full time, living the dream, quitting the day job, I’ve felt a renewed energy.  So almost two years after moving here I’ve started working on my website properly, and looking to get back in the print studio (something I was going to do over a year ago!), basically sorting my sh*t out.

Overall it was a really fun day, with fab people and I can’t wait for the next one – if you fancy coming on the next Oxford Instameet check out the Facebook event page



Dewey’s 24 hour readathon

I only heard about this 24 hour Readathon event a few days ago via Book Riots, and as I love any excuse to curl up with a book – I decided to join in. It started about 15 minutes ago and I’m currently sat here typing. I guess I’ll update later in the day, I’m not sure of my exact approach or what ‘challenges’ involve yet. I’m hoping to get through a chapter of a few different books, as you can see – my ‘to read’ pile is getting ridiculous now.

pile of books on a table
Almost ready to topple over

Ok so 2 hours have passed and I’ve just found my first mini challenge:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Oxford, UK. It’s a pretty grey day out, so perfect for staying indoors and reading. I don’t intend to get out of my pyjamas if I can help it. It’s also the first day of having the heating on – hello impending winter.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
I’m not sure which I’ll choose yet, possibly The Mandarins or The Wasp Factory

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
I hadn’t even thought about this, I guess I’ll be leaving the house after all, might treat myself to some pretzel pieces although they are notoriously messy and would mean greasy fingers on the pages

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I’m a bad blogger, I haven’t posted anything in almost a year. Plenty of ideas but way too good at procrastination

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
1st readathon, just looking forward to some solid reading time. And seeing what other readathon-ers are up to

My Dream Place

I forgot to mention in my previous post that I’d signed up to the WordPress Writing 101 daily challenge in a bid to write more often. I’m slightly behind in typing these up (as I’ve previously mentioned, I much prefer writing with a pen and notepad), but to crack on with the Day 2 Challenge “If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I crave the sun, the warmth on my skin, the way a gentle breeze feels so refreshing. My husband and I haven’t had a proper, sit back do nothing all day sort of holiday in close to 6 years, so we often talk about how we’d like to revisit Tunisia, where we’ve spent all of our relaxing holidays, to kick back with a beer in the sun.
The Cafe Des Nattes perches on the top of the hill in the beautiful blue and white village of Sidi Bou Said, overlooking the gulf of Tunis. Our first visit here was less than perfect, on a tour bus late afternoon, that seemed to arrive in the village along with numerous other buses at the same time, we were dropped off at the bottom of the hill, to climb through the cobbled and winding streets to the top. It was incredibly hot (late August) and packed with hoards of fellow tourists and the sides of the street were packed with stalls or shops spilling onto the pavement, each seller trying to entice you in. In short it was anything but a relaxing time, we dutifully climbed to the top, took some photos and tried to find a slightly quieter route for our descent.

Our second visit a couple of years later was better planned however, still on a tour bus, but we arrived in the morning, the streets were much quieter, the shop owners were not yet up and running and we could actually see the streets we were walking along, had time to enjoy the sights and more importantly, when we actually arrived at the steps of the Cafe Des Nattes, we could see there was an abundance of space to sit.

The Café has a striking entrance of a  black and white traditional style doorway that contrasts the blue and white everywhere. We ordered ice cold drinks then took up our position on the terrace, which was covered in comfy cushions and watched the world go by, with the bay to the left, and a perfect view over the throngs of tourists starting to make their way towards us. I’d love to go back and just enjoy the view once more, so peaceful and relaxing.


Starting Over..

2014 is going to be a big year in terms of change for me. At the end of 2013 my husband’s temporary job in Oxford went permanent, and so along with packing up and preparing to sell our house in order for the big move I’m now job hunting in Oxford. Which sounds simple enough but I’m actively trying to change my career path, which means translating my work experience from the NHS into another field entirely. So far I’ve managed to get one interview out of about 6 applications, but I’ve only been searching since January, it’s a steep learning curve as it seems in this day and age with jobs being so scarce that no one has the time to give you an individual response to why you were unsuccessful so it’s guess work a lot of the time.

Anyway what has that got to do with this blog? well after not really posting for months and months on my old blog and the ‘design’ side of it not working for me, I decided a brand new shiny blog with a new title would be a good move (although I have imported some old posts that I didn’t want to do away with). I’ve been reading the Zero to Hero posts over on the WordPress Daily Post site which has proved quite inspirational and helped me hone what I want to blog about.

Hence Culturenator: my blog will focus on the cultural stuff I experience, everything from art, music, books and travel to cultural TV shows and an occasional post about my quest for good beer.

I hope you enjoy reading