from the desk of…

At the moment, it is very difficult to find time to do anything else besides work, prepare for the next day going to work and looking after the kids – and I’m not even the one looking after them all day! But when I do get a few precious moments at lunch to browse the net or head out to a book store I love finding new things. My latest discovery of how to chew up 15 minutes without blinking is by visiting ‘from the desk of’. The premise is simple :

You turn your camera on your workspace. Please, don’t stage it.  Don’t clean it (a messy desk doesn’t make a messy mind). Don’t make it something you or your work is not. Keep it real. This is a collaborative snapshot of what makes us uniquely us. To an extent, our space reflects what kind of work we produce. Add as much or little to the project as you want.  Just participate”.

I’ve tried to have a desk in our last flat and also in our current flat, but within a month of creating and installing a desk and shelving space in our spare room, it had to be ripped out to make become a place to hang and store our clothes. This was because the other bedroom had become our daughter’s. Now I don’t want you to think I resent her for this, quite the opposite – it has worked out really well, which is why even though I don’t have my own work space to show you,  I wanted to share hers, which she absolutely loves and which allows her to give free reign to her imagination. If I ever get to have a workspace half as cool as hers – I’ll be a very happy man – in the meantime I’m very happy sharing hers.

Here’s a hypothetical interview with her. At 2½ years old, she’s definitely vocal, but still wouldn’t be able to formulate a structured sentence beyond a few words, so I’ve answered on her behalf:

 

The desk

The desk

How do you work? I work at my desk doing whatever takes my fancy really. This could be drawing with crayons or pencils one minute and then moving on to shading out stencils of farm animals and houses; one of my favourite activities at the moment is cutting out tissue paper and magazines and gluing them down on paper. I also have a chalkboard literally two feet away from my desk which means I can freely draw and not worry about the results. If I don’t like them – I can rub them out! I also have a great floor space which allows me to spread out some plastic sheeting and paint using yellow, green, blue and red. I’d like to paint with pink – but my dad hasn’t got me any white paint to mix with the red yet, so…  I like to draw from the moment I wake up, until about breakfast time; then intermittently throughout the day in-between playing and doing other fun stuff, and finally, I always like to finish my day by drawing with crayons.

The office

The office What about your lighting? I have one Velux skylight which brings in lovely natural light, particularly at this time of year when the daylight hours are longer. I also have a small window on the other side of the room. This is complemented by one light in the main room and a free-standing lamp in the alcove which allows me to read in bed at any time of the day.

 

View? The view out the Velux window is of our roof terrace, but I’m too short to see out there, so I only get to do that when my mum or dad lift me up. Apart from that, most of my work goes straight from my desk and up on my wall – so I am surrounded by my pictures and then also have an alphabet and numbered frieze around the top of the walls. Out my smaller window I can see all the way down our road which is lovely when it is very sunny – or snowy.

Coordinates, please? Brixton, London

Books

Books

Clean and tidy? Um, no. The only time it is clean and tidy is just before bed when I do a general clear up. Otherwise my style is the scattergun approach – spread the creativity as far and wide as possible so it makes it into every corner of the room. My drawings can be a bit like that too – but not always…

How many hours a day? As many as I can, definitely no fewer than 5 hours per day, and that’s even if I go to Nursery! Apart from my desk, all my favourite books are on the other side of the room – and I can spend a lot of time reading these and I have music in the corner which I can easily turn on now I know how – although I haven’t worked out how to use the remote yet. When this happens, I’ll be able to control the music from my desk – I’m working on that!

Sitting? Standing? Both, depending on whether I am at my desk, running around, drawing on my chalkboard or crouching over a painting on the floor.

The window

The window

Coffee cups?  Is that tea? No tea or coffee for me, I pretty much just stick to water. My parents do offer me fruit juices, but I’m pretty happy with tap water. I do like a good chocolate digestive or hob nob though whilst I’m drawing. That is definitely my weakness.

Minimalist? Um, nah! If there is a space free, it should be covered – with my drawings!

Scattered? Creatively sprawled? YES!

Feel like you need to tidy up–maybe you shouldn’t. I don’t feel like tidying up, but I do every evening just before bed –  so I can walk from my desk to bed unimpeded. I also do like a run around the room before bed to burn the last of the days energy. Plus, if I call out for my mum or dad in the night, I don’t want them breaking their necks over anything in the dark.

Butterfly cut-outs

Butterfly cut-outs

 

At the moment, it is very difficult to find time to do anything else besides work, prepare for the next day going to work and looking after the kids – and I’m not even the one looking after them all day! But when I do get a few precious moments at lunch to browse the net or head out to a book store I love finding new things. My latest discovery of how to chew up 15 minutes without blinking is by visiting ‘from the desk of’. The premise is simple :

 

You turn your camera on your workspace. Please, don’t stage it.  Don’t clean it (a messy desk doesn’t make a messy mind). Don’t make it something you or your work is not. Keep it real. This is a collaborative snapshot of what makes us uniquely us. To an extent, our space reflects what kind of work we produce. Add as much or little to the project as you want.  Just participate”.

 

I’ve tried to have a desk in our last flat and also in our current Brixton flat, but within a month of creating a desk and shelving space in our spare room, it had to be ripped out to make become a place to hang and store our clothes. This was because the other bedroom had become my daughters. Now I don’t want you to think I resent her for this, quite the opposite – it has worked out really well, which is why even though I don’t have my own workspace, I wanted to share hers, which she absolutely loves and which allows her to give free reign to her imagination. If I ever get to have a workspace half as cool as hers – I’ll be a very happy man – in the meantime I’m very happy sharing hers.

 

Here’s a hypothetical interview with her. At 2½ years old, she’s definitely vocal, but still wouldn’t be able to formulate a structured sentence beyond a few words, so I’ve answered on her behalf:

 

How do you work?

I work at my desk doing whatever takes my fancy really. This could be drawing with crayons or pencils one minute and then moving on to shading out stencils of farm animals and houses; one of my favourite activities at the moment is cutting out tissue papers and magazines and gluing them down on paper. I also have a chalkboard literally two steps away from my desk which means I can freely draw and not worry about the results. If I don’t like them – I can rub them out! I also have a great floor space which allows me to spread out some plastic sheeting and paint using yellow, green, blue and red. I’d like to paint with pink – but my dad hasn’t got me any white paint to mix with the red yet, so…  I like to draw from the moment I wake up, until about breakfast time; then intermittently throughout the day in-between playing and doing other fun stuff, and finally, I always like to finish my day by drawing with crayons.

What about your lighting?

I have one Velux skylight which brings in lovely natural light, particularly at this time of year when the daylight hours are longer. I also have a small window on the other side of the room. This is complemented by one light in the main room and a free-standing lamp in the alcove which allows me to read in bed at any time of the day.

View

The view out the Velux window is of our roof terrace, but I’m too short to see out there, so I only get to do that when my mum or dad lift me up. Apart from that, most of my work goes straight from my desk and up on my wall – so I am surrounded by my pictures and then also have an alphabet and numbered frieze around the top of the walls. Out my smaller window I can see all the way down our road which is lovely when it is very sunny – or snowy.

Coordinates, please.

Brixton, London

Clean and tidy?

Um, no. The only time it is clean and tidy is just before bed when I do a general clear up. Otherwise my style is the scattergun approach – spread the creativity as far and wide as possible so it makes it into every corner of the room. My drawings can be a bit like that too – but not always…

How many hours a day?

As many as I can, definitely no fewer than 5 hours per day, and that’s even if I go to Nursery! Apart from my desk, all my favourite books are on the other side of the room – and I can spend a lot of time reading these and I have music in the corner which I can easily turn on now I know how – although I haven’t worked out how to use the remote yet. When this happens, I’ll be able to control the music from my desk – I’m working on that!

Sitting? Standing?

Both, depending on whether I am at my desk, running around, drawing on my chalkboard or crouching over a painting on the floor.

Coffee cups?  Is that tea?

No tea or coffee for me, I pretty much just stick to water. My parents do offer me fruit juices, but I’m pretty happy with tap water. I do like a good chocolate digestive or hob nob though whilst I’m drawing. That is definitely my weakness.

Minimalist?

Um, nah! If there is a space free, it should be covered – with my drawings!

Scattered? Creatively sprawled?

YES!

Feel like you need to tidy up–maybe you shouldn’t.

I don’t feel like tidying up, but I do every evening just before bed –  so I can walk from my desk to bed unimpeded. I also do like a run around the room before bed to burn the last of the days energy. Plus, if I call out for my mum or dad in the night, I don’t want them breaking their necks over anything in the dark.

Posted in Learning, Nurture, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spicy yet organised… continuing on from the 100 days

In realising that I really didn’t achieve half of what I set out to achieve as part of my 100 days, I thought it might be worthwhile showing the few things that we were able to get done. The first being the spice rack/photo montage for the kitchen. I’m not sure about any of you, but we have all of our photos of festivals, holidays, birthdays and family on our laptop and occasionally we spend some time looking at them.

Installing photo wire

But I wanted to make them more accessible (especially to my daughter), and easily changeable as and when we get some new photos that we love (which when you have 2 kids happens very, very quickly!) So I built some small shelving which is a spice rack around the perimeter of the area above our fireplace and then tied wire in the middle which allows us to clip on new photos as and when they become available. This has actually worked brilliantly despite it not looking exactly how it did in my head (my carpentry skills leave a lot to be desired).

Still installing photo wire

We have jars off the bench top now; a lot of our teas and various other things and even some bottles of spirits. But the best part is the changing landscape in the middle. It is now a real focal point in our kitchen for the kids and all visitors who immediately see photos and go and check them out – many of which are of them! So this is another achievement under the nurture theme, making our flat more homely and providing more talking points with friends and family who come into our home – remembering some very good times!

The finished empty product

And the finished product in use...at last!

Posted in DIY, Kitchen, Learning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Getting down with the big G – gardening…

Having spoken to the fam in Australia on Skype (and potentially organised a trip to Porto with them in September – hmmm!) we were keen to get outside and get the roof terrace ready so that we can actually eat some of our own veges this year and also make the roof terrace a bit nicer – get rid of all the leaves and reminders of Winter and Autumn (we literally just close the door for the Winter and don’t really wander out there. So, it was off to Croxted Garden Centre on the other side of Herne Hill which is sooo much fun (when I searched for a link for the address I found HPL had done a post on it last September which gives some great photos)! Our daughter was running around literally giggling and chuckling to herself playing hide and seek and we managed to get everything we needed (including some chicken wire and staples) within half an hour. We also got some great advice on how to give our plants the greatest chance of survival on our roof terrace where there is no shade and no shelter anywhere – so our plants end up getting parched. Croxted Garden Centre top tip (they said they have to do this themselves) during the Summer: because our roof terrace is a sun trap and the plants tend to wither and die in our care despite us watering them everyday – the helpful lady told us that it is best to bring up a bucket of water and literally soak the pot plants in water for 10 or 15 minutes each night. This means that the water doesn’t just run through the soil and out the bottom leaving nothing for the roots and plants to absorb. By giving them a good dunk, it allows the plants to have a good drink before they are denied water again. We haven’t tested this yet – and we are not green-fingered gardeners whom this sort of stuff comes naturally to – but we’ll let you know how it works for us.

The supplies

So with a cuppa tea, some chocky biscuits and our various tools – we pulled back the tarpaulin covering our pots, barbeque,  various bits and bobs and got started. It was my job to attach the chicken wire around the perimeter of our roof terrace. The reason being, that with a bit of determination our daughter could easily squeeze between the fencing. So to avoid an ongoing sort of sheepdog kettling manoeuvre every time she went near the fence, we’re using chicken wire. Which I know sounds a bit rough and ready, bit of all the other options (lattice-work, plastic or canvas sheeting, bamboo) allows the safety of knowing the kids can’t get out, and also allows us to keep our view.

Cermoniously uncovering the bbq for the summer

So I have managed to put up half the fencing before it started to get a bit late and my hammering would have properly disturbed an otherwise tranquil Sunday evening. I’ll finish the rest this week, or next weekend. I’m up at 6.30 am with my daughter on a Saturday, I’m sure the neighbours won’t mind if I start hammering some chicken wire to our fence will they😉

‘A’ also managed to clean out the terracotta pots, which according to our ‘gardening in pots’ book is very important to make sure the plant gets the best chance to thrive with fresh soil and no leftover nasties of whatever was in there before. So we’ve now got our carrot seeds planted. We still have some herbs, kale, red peppers, rocket (which was a real success last year) and some others to plant… so fingers crossed the good weather holds out till the weekend and we can continue.

Getting ready for some gardening action

Other things to do on the roof terrace include sanding back the hand rails, and the table top and thoroughly cleaning the decking. We hope to have this all done by the end of the month, so we can actually enjoy the roof terrace come April.

Posted in Learning, Nurture, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Saturday morning – life affirming…

This weekend was one of those great Spring weekends when although it is crisp in the morning, the sun is out, the birds are singing and you can sense the happiness in people as we walked down for my daughter’s swimming lesson. You could also feel it in Brixton Leisure Centre where the swimming lesson is held as well; usually we hang around with the kids to play some indoor football or basketball but everyone just wanted to get outside and enjoy the sunshine – which we did! But it is also a weekly ritual to pick up a slice or 3 of pizza to keep the wolves at bay after swimming, so we briefly went outside and then back indoors to Brixton Village and on to The Agile Rabbit. We feel really lucky to have this really cool pizza place to just drop in to. AND, as we frequented it throughout the Winter (it’s an open shop stall in Brixton Village – so no heating) when it was FURREEZZING, we feel extra smug to hang out there now, enjoy some pizza and still actually be able to feel our toes… The kids love their margarita pizzas and we’re happy to act as guinea pigs each week to try different calzone fillings and added toppings to the pepperoni, ham & mushroom and vege pizzas. It also brings another wave of smugness when we walk passed the huge queues outside Franca Manca in Market Row with smiles and full bellies.

Also finishing off lunch with THE BEST COFFEE IN LONDON, bar none is a real treat. Although, it seems word has well and truly spread and now there is always a big queue outside Federation Coffee. This is backed up by a great iPhone app called ‘London’s best coffee’ where it was rated no. 1 for several weeks but is now in the top 5. It is worth the queue though – the coffee is truly amazing, the atmosphere is great and you can drink your coffee there with one of their amazing cakes or biscuits or take it away and drink it whilst perusing the cool clothes, food, art and textiles shops around.

A morning like this ticks a number of the adopted rules all at once – quality time with family and friends (nurture), a daily treat(s), connecting, saying hello and smiling at strangers and counting my blessings! Life’s good!

Posted in Nurture, Treat, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

So, what happened?

Well, I’m almost a bit embarrassed to be back here on my ‘100 days of change’ blog – what happened there? One minute all was going ok and although the home renovations part of my plan wasn’t really progressing – I was becoming quite good at my weekly yoga practice and also enjoying improving my quick-step and tango at the weekly ballroom dancing. – Most of that went out the window when I started spending all my evenings looking for a new job with the added pressure that A was pregnant with our son J. The pressure of not having a job in what was panning out to be the worst recession in a long time, in a sector that was going to be severely hit was all a bit stressful.

This has now resolved itself brilliantly though – I had real support from friends and colleagues. I’ve managed to find a great job in an organisation that is embracing change and doing really interesting work with enthusiastic and engaging people – all great news! Also, like many people who go through redundancy, it does knock your confidence – even though I didn’t want it to. Being in the same organisation for a long time can make you worry about whether you’ll find a new job and fit-in in other organisations. I also didn’t want to get a job that would require crazy commuting or very long hours due to wanting to actually be with my kids whilst they are growing up. I can still cycle in to work in 35 minutes and the flexible work environment is great – all good so far.

So two big changes – new job and new baby, but I won’t harp on too much about all the things I didn’t do or achieve as part of the 100 days, but instead will use this post – as a bit of a re-intro to the 100 days and getting me back on the bike so to speak. I will provide updates on various things, but will do it in bits and bobs as I was finding myself with lots of ideas in my head and not getting many of them down. So on that note, I’ll start doing and writing again and see where it takes me…

Posted in 100 day plan, JobSearch | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Weekly round-up: days 32 – 35

Yoga on Saturday went really well and like the ballroom, I am now more adept at picking up the moves and knowing what’s going to come next. This is great news for me as it means I can spend more time on the stretches themselves.

Watched the Australia-Ghana game on Saturday afternoon. I was supposed to be attending a 2 year birthday party with A&E but couldn’t pull myself away from the TV – it was a great game that kept my heart in the pit of my stomach right up to the end of extra time. But alas, without a win over Ghana, it is looking more and more likely that we will be going home after the group stages (we need to beat Serbia 3-0 which is quite unlikely). I’ve decided that I’m actually really glad I don’t support a club team because I couldn’t take this level of excitement and heartache every week.

Then we watched Denmark send Cameroon home in the evening (A is half Danish) with what started out as a performance that looked very worrying and ended with two of the best goals of the tournament. So a good day for both our teams!

Two other items re: the football – I’m really hoping England win on Wednesday – C’mon Enger-land! And I’m gutted that the host nation has been knocked out of the World Cup in the group stages – sorry Bafana Bafana!

Posted in Sport | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Day 30 – redundant’n’disestablished

Well, it’s now official. The announcement and consultation document went out today, but I found out on Tuesday 25th May that due to the cuts been made across our organisation, my job is at risk of redundancy. When they say ‘at risk’, the job I’m doing at the moment is gone as of the end of September – the redundancy part can be avoided if they place me elsewhere in the organisation, or if not, it’ll be game over at the end of September and on to a new adventure working somewhere else.  So, when I first began these 100 days of change, I didn’t think that it would include changing jobs as well – but there you go!

Now, some of you may be very proactive in keeping your CV up to date and your finger on the pulse of the job markets, I myself, have not…until now. All of my jobs for the last few years have come internally to the organisation and have involved application forms for very specific positions. So, writing a general CV is not going to be easy. I’ve found some good tips on various sites, but if anyone has any other good online resources, please feel free to share:

I’ll also be signing-up to various agencies and job services and will keep you posted on which are good, bad or ugly. Now I just need to keep the motivation going (easier said than done) but two sayings keep popping into my head which should help: “dig the well before you need water” and “it’s too late to learn to swim when you’re drowning”.  I’m working towards being afloat and hydrated by the time I leave the organisation in September.

Posted in 100 day plan, CVs, JobSearch, Learning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment