A time of inbetweens.

By | RL | No Comments

It feels odd to be here, it feels like I’m perpetually in between. I’ve finished my last contract, and went off to France (post coming soon!), and now I’m in this weird two weeks before I go out to New Zealand for a month. With no job, but all of the things to do. Part of it is organising all the things (Oh NZ, whyyyy are you so far away?) but I’m doing some fun design work: finaaaallly got the Tuesday Labs site up and running – high five! I’m also starting to work with Pixate, which is a pretty fun prototyping tool.

The surprising thing for me is that I’m not anywhere near as productive as I thought I would be. When I have a job I cram in all the things. Contract work, side hustles, an active social life. It’s all top speed – lets go! But now? Now when I have all the time? I’m meandering. I feel like I’m window shopping all the things. A lunch with friends here, a walk by the river here. Some design work, trying out new recipes. It feels like I’m perpetually on the move, and yet it’s all very slow. Like I’m taste-testing my way through my days.

It’s quite bizarre. I think I’m okay with it, though. It’s not often that you get the time to meander a little.

I’m trying to make a concentrated effort to just enjoy London (although London, with it’s gloom and grey and rain clearly doesn’t want to be enjoyed). So, here’s the thing. The last time I was in an inbetween, I got all down which in part I think is because isolation sucks. This time I’ve made an effort to leave the apartment everyday and have a conversation with someone other than Zee. So far so good! I’ve enjoyed meeting people for lunches – lunches are the perfect amount of time for a catch up, don’t you think? It’s been taking me all over the city (from way east in Shoreditch, to way west in Richmond) and it’s nice to visit these places in daylight and catch up with some familiar faces outside a bar or a restaurant.

So yes, the downtime is nice. The change of pace pretty surprising (I’m always surprised when I go from high level ALL THE THINGS and shift down into something more sedate), but generally? I just feel like I’m waiting till I’m on a flight to New Zealand. I’m counting down you guys! It’s going to be brilliant.

#TravelTuesday – Snow Trips

By | RL | One Comment

In a few weeks Zee and I will be headed to France to enjoy their copious amounts of snow. Now, I’m an avid snow bunny. I LOVE snowboarding. I was introduced at university (it seems ridiculous that that was almost ten years ago now) and I loved it so much that I became a snowboard instructor and have since ridden snow all over the place. New Zealand, the States (VT + CO), Canada (Whistler I love you), Austria, France, Italy

(Sauze D’oulx, Italy)

(Whakapapa, New Zealand)

(France, with Mont Blanc in the back)

(Mayrhofen, Austria)

(Whistler, Canada)

In New Zealand, a snow trip doesn’t haven’t to compete with any other holidays. In New Zealand, most places are too far away to begin with, so you’re mostly doing domestic trips. In the summer that means beaches and epic road trips and water sports. In winter, it means snow trips. However in London, a decision to go to the snow is always competing with something else. Kitesurfing in Egypt. Climbing mountains in Africa. Any one of the million of places I haven’t yet been (Athens, Prague, Morocco, Instanbul – I can reel off a million places I want to go but haven’t yet been). My love for snowboarding is forever competing with my love of travel.

It was just a small thing to tip the scales to a snowboarding trip, just a small tiny thing: Zee has never been. I’ve gifted him surfing lessons, and kitesurfing lessons and Dad taught him to waterski off the back of our boat last (NZ) summer. His love of watersports and activeness rivals mine. So, the idea of him not knowing what a joy it was to be riding down a mountain of snow was inconceivable. So we’re going.

I gave him the choice for Christmas: I could teach him to ride, or I’d pay for lessons. Up to him. He chose me, we’ll see how that goes. It sounds soppy, but I’m really excited to be introducing Zee to proper snow and my love of snowboarding. I’ve been checking snow reports (the small amount of snow we’ve had in London has only been good for snow elsewhere… a good 30cm fell at our resort last night!) and yesterday he’d bought himself a snowboarding outfit, which of course he tried on immediately.

It’s been two years since I was last went to the snow. I actually can’t wait. It’s going to be glorious.

The New Contract Dance

By | RL | 4 Comments

I’ve just started another contract. I feel like contracting is one big dance from one project to another. There are lots of us that do this, and I’m beginning to recognise names and faces of other contractors as I move from one role to the next.

This new contract is another agency, with a pretty fantastic app with a big-brand name. It’s pretty cool to be working on this kind of stuff, and a little heartbreaking to see behind the curtain with how they work their magic. I recognise their process and their skills and it’s all so very good, and so very ordinary (isn’t it always, though?) Being considered ‘good’ enough to work on big brand stuff is pretty flattering, and it’s exciting to think that part of what I’m doing might end up being used by many millions of people.

Still, I’m doing the contractor dance again. Meeting the new people, making all the small talk and sharing snacks and slowly, slowly making friends. There’s all sorts of new to figure out, how timesheets work, how to connect to the printers, where to find the leftover pastries or nice lunch places… The office itself is nice, it’s a newly designed fancy office, in a quite fun and new-to-me part of London.

This contract is a short one (only a few weeks) and then I’ll be on my way, but it’s nice to be here while I am. I’ve had worse contracts to settle into.

Right Now: A Snapshot

By | RL | No Comments

Back in London, now feels like such a bizarre time… I’m between contracts at the moment and the extended downtime is both glorious (with afternoon movies and sleeping in) but stifling (no routine, no drive, less social everything). I find myself easily distracted, pottering from one errand to another. I’m working on some design projects… but I’m chipping away at them rather delicately rather than bulldozing through like I would if I was on a job. Pottering… I spend time crocheting a line or two, my progress is slow, I suspect winter will be finished before my new scarf is. I’ve taken to just standing over heaters, enjoying the warmth. If it’s not raining, I might run, but without the limitations of time or a buddy, my runs often become a walk, and then a meander. I almost never run 14k now. 8, maybe. Sometimes 5. My walks make up the shortfall, cold, but lovely.

Sometimes I think about little adventures I should take – museum trips, art galleries, market wanderings. I think about the things I could teach myself (the guitar, how to speak French, I could bake something, I could start yoga…) and then I think… perhaps I’ll just lay here in the sun a little longer.

Well after the suns gone down and I know Zee is to be home soon, everything is rushed. I’m up and moving and doing all the things. I tidy the house, put away all the dishes and washing and messes and start dinner. A facsimile of productivity.

I’m lining up interviews, and if something comes of it I know I’ll shift it up a gear or three back to normal. If not though, thanks to some rather large holiday plans, I may not be working till April. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime though… everything is slow and lethargic.

Hows your January going?

Belfast – The Titanic Quarter

By | nubbed | One Comment

Almost everyone has heard of the Titanic, and I don’t know anyone that hasn’t seen Leo do his thing in the movie, but I had NO idea the ship was built in Belfast. It was, and there’s a whole load of interesting Titanic related things to go visit.

We hit up the Dry Dock first, which is where the ship was built. It was HUGE. Ridiculously huge, and only standing at the bottom of it did I get an inkling of the immense scale of the Titanic. It was also pretty interesting to check out the old school tech that pumped water in and out and opened the 1000 tonne door. It was pretty innovative (for it’s time).

Eventually we wandered over to the Museum, which was this ridiculously shaped silver building. You can’t miss it.

There was a lot of good stuff to be learnt, especially around how it was made in relation to the existing technology of the time (one bit I stuck with me was the teams of rivet men, who worked in teams of five to hammer by hand each individual rivet). It was incredibly impressive, actually.

After it’s launch the information get’s a bit sketchy. There is no real information about why or how it sank. The exhibit just kind of glosses over it. There was a big enquiry after the Titanic sank which found that there were insufficient lifeboats to save everyone (isn’t that crazy?). Apparently ships were seen as unsinkable and so lifeboats were for ferrying passengers to rescue vessels, not for the survival on a sinking ship. They had 20, but really they needed three times that.

Even worse, the crew were pretty poorly trained in terms of evacuations, and didn’t know how many people could be put safely into a lifeboat (depending on it’s type, between 45-60) and a lot of the boats were launched only half full. Insaaaane.

The enquiry also found that the 3rd class passengers weren’t aware of what was going on and were left to fend for themselves. This meant that most of them got trapped below decks as the ship filled with water. I honestly can’t even imagine it. There were audio recordings of survivors and it’s heartbreaking to listen to.

Another interesting tidbit that I remember was that the Titanic actually had two sister ships: the Olympic and the Britannica. Zee was curious about what happened to them, and it turns out the Britannic for drafted into the war as a hospital ship and hit a mine in the Aegean sea (whomp). The Olympic got drafted to ferry Canadian troops into Europe, and then became a fancy trans-atlantic passenger ship in the 1920s and into the first half of the 1930s, though the Great Depression after 1930 made using her fairly unprofitable and she was scrapped. Sad face. The Olympic was apparently was the first ship to be fitted with a dance floor, which I love the idea of.

So yes. Visited Belfast, got a pretty intense education in all things Titanic.

For scale, this is the Titanic in the dry dock we were standing in…

Insane. I wasn’t expecting anything like this when I found out we were headed to Belfast, but I think part of why I love travelling, and being a tourist. Belfast Titanic Quarter? Well good.