Running

Like many of us I spend a lot of time sitting in front of a computer working and often, drawing or writing. A lot of time being stationary. I'm conscious of this and know I need to counterbalance it with exercise. I've also been talking to friends lately about how running makes them feel. Both mentally and physically. About how it can help to deal with stress and clear your mind.

One morning about three weeks ago, I woke up at 6am. It was light and bright outside. So I got up, put on my sports kit and trainers and headed out the door. And I ran. Only for one minute but I ran. As the books advise, I alternated running for one minute with walking for two. I didn't push myself. I listened to music. I looked at the sun shining through the trees. I noticed how many other people were out running! And it felt good. Two days later, I set my alarm for 6am and I went out again. And dare I say it, it was fun.

And as I turned in the direction of home, there was a little note on the pavement. My two new favourite pieces of advice - run and paint : )

An Easy Veggie Curry

This recipe is for when you really can't be bothered to cook but want something cosy and wholesome. Everything goes in one saucepan and simmers away while you put your feet up. It makes enough for 3 - 4 meals and tastes even better the day after you cook it.

Ingredients
1 white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of ground tumeric
1 medium aubergine, chopped into cubes
A couple of handfuls of chopped broccoli and cauliflower or any veggies you fancy (if I'm feeling really lazy I buy the pre-chopped packs)
1 tin of chickpeas
1 tin of coconut milk
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Method
Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil until the onion softens. Add the spices and stir for about 30 seconds. Add all of the other ingredients to the saucepan and stir well. Grind in a little salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for 40 minutes. Serve with either brown or white rice, whichever you prefer. Curl up and enjoy!

Podcast - Desert Island Discs, Stella McCartney

Like most people, the Beatles are woven into the fabric of my past and have become part of the stories I tell. But what must it have been like to actually grow up with such a superstar Dad, surrounded by music and magnificent musicians?

I listened to Stella McCartney's episode of Desert Island Discs as I wondered home through the streets of London and it totally transported me, to the Mull of Kintyre and beyond. It was fascinating to hear an insight into the life of someone who is so creative in her own right but has drawn such inspiration from her parents. It turns out her childhood was surprisingly 'normal' but also wonderfully liberating as Paul and Linda McCartney created a home in the countryside where their children could have freedom to explore while they themselves had space to create their songs. Well worth a listen.

Stella McCartney, Desert Island Discs - BBC Radio 4

Stella McCartney, fashion designer, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs

As an aside, one of Stella's choices is a beautiful version of George Harrison's perfect song, Something, by a reggae artist called Phyllis Dillon. It reminded me of a time I worked at Abbey Road. They regularly white wash the wall at the front of the recording studios because it gets covered in graffiti so often. I found a clear square and simply wrote 'Something'.

A Night In With Netflix - Chef

Sometimes there's nothing better than curling up on the sofa for a night in with Netflix. And sometimes you find a real treat hidden amongst the recommendations. This week I realised that Chef was squirrelled among the thumbnails. I've seen it several times already but it's one of my favourite go-to movies. If you can watch it without wanting to go to New Orleans and eat an entire block of cheese melted on toast, let me know.

Abstract

I spend a lot of my time in my day job as an event manager having to be very precise with logistics and planning. I find it very satisfying putting everything in order. But the other side of my personality is messy and free-flowing. Illustration and writing feeds this to a certain extent but drawing the picture book for example still needs an element of structure. This is why abstract painting is something I often come back to. I start with an empty page and watercolours, acrylics, washi tapes and pens and just see what comes. I'm a big fan of using words in art and at the moment I often find myself inspired by one word which I'll meditate on so it can become colours and patterns.

This one is inspired by the word 'resonate'. If you fancy, why not create something yourself inspired by that word too and share it with me on Twitter or Instagram.

Podcast - Sara Tasker & Helen Stephens

I really enjoyed this treat from the Hashtag Authentic podcast series presented by Sara Tasker. This week Sara interviews illustrator Helen Stephens who wrote and illustrated How To Hide A Lion amongst many other books. Helen has a lovely scribbly, warm style which has lots of energy and detail. She describes how she finds inspiration while drawing from life. I really agree with her about the almost meditative state you find yourself in while drawing and how this can open your mind to let ideas flood in.

Helen also describes how, while her early experience of traditional publishing taught her an awful lot, she found herself straying from her own style. She bravely took a year out to try to get back to her roots. It worked and she now manages to be totally true to herself while still being super successful.

Such an inspiring interview. I highly recommend listening to it even if you aren't an illustrator and are just trying to be true to your creative self. Click on the tweet below to go to Sara's site.

Vinyl

I finally have a record player back in my life after an absence of about 25 years and oh my goodness, it is so lovely. I dug out all my old 45s and sat on my lounge floor like I was fourteen again. The act of placing the record carefully on the turntable, the gentle clunk of the tone arm (who knew it was called that?) moving onto the record and the quality of the sound resonating from the speakers of my ancient Technics stereo was just wonderful.

The first record in the pile was this absolute classic. The second was Manchild by Neneh Cherry. My friends and I used to challenge each other to do the whole rap and I'm proud to say I still remember all the words. Just hoping my neighbours didn't hear me rapping.