This summer, I worked with an awesome group of local women to open Sea & Slate Gallery in Llangrannog. Its runaway success is why the Etsy shop and this website have been quiet – I am having trouble making enough jewellery to keep up with demand! Needless to say I am flippin’ delighted with this!
Surfergrl.co.uk is due for a revamp, and I will soon be selling Surfergirl’s Seaglass here, as well as more on Etsy, and selected special pieces on the Sea & Slate website. The shop is getting quiet now, so we have time to expand our offerings.
I love coconut oil. It goes everywhere in me and on me. I make deodorant with it, use it as a deep conditioner for my hair, put it in my secret recipe for frizz-taming ‘beach hair’ spray, use it as a moisturiser, to treat thrush, to groom my eyebrows, to soothe minor scrapes…
I also cook with it – OMG! Apparently the worst thing you can do, ‘pure poison’ according to some Harvard bod. Cue the coconut oil brigade (including me) getting all indignant, and the general media’s glee at the chance tromp all over another thing those superfood lovers think is so great.
Lots of irritating articles and fence-sitting from nutritionists later, I read a decent report in i where it was concluded that two tablespoons a day would smash through your recommended saturated fat levels. Well, duh. It’s 86% saturated fat.
Do they think we’re all completely brainless? If you eat coconut oil, you most likely do it because you’ve heard about various alleged health benefits and/or you like the taste. But you are not a moron. You know that it’s fat, and you’re not going to eat two tbsp a day. I’d bloody struggle to! I can happily use a teaspoon to make my eggs (yum), and if I’m tracking my calories at the time, in it goes. I eat it all the damn time, and I’m not fat, thanks (I also don’t have a cholesterol problem – if you did, it’d be off the table along with a lot of other stuff).
Leave coconut oil alone, and all the other glorious rainbow of ingredients native and exotic that people into health, fitness and just variety like to incorporate as part of their lives. Focus instead on the twpsyn who eats Maccy D two, three times a week and thinks nothing of ten pints of cider (aka ten doughnuts’ worth of sugar) Friday and Saturday night.
Rant over 😀
PS: Coconut oil is just one thing; I could write this same post about clean eating, or how Deliciously Ella is often attacked, or the recent ‘probiotics labelled quite useless’ reports (oh yes? Deduced from a trial where they looked at a full 25 people?!). This is more a post about the way the media seizes headlines and buries the actual science, and the ‘boring’ bits where experts say it’s actually fine, in sensible amounts.
I went into hospital for a day last week, the culmination of a period of awfulness which I won’t dwell on as it was also the grossest thing ever, which no-one needs the details of…
Since then I’ve been trying to get on the beach every day, and do some yoga every day, for the last week or so. Not just trying, but bloody determined, to inch towards health again.
Today I decided to do both at the same time. Lovely. Morning yoga on a blissfully quiet beach in the sunshine, with just my dog, the rocks and the waves.
Until two ‘regular tourists’ (the kind who come several times a year) came and sat two feet from me. Literally, two feet away. I was in warrior three. They could have counted the stitches on the crotch of my leggings. Personal space, anyone?
I looked over, brows raised, but they didn’t move. So I finished my sequence, grabbed my jumper, and moved myself. Breathed deep, really deep, did some ‘fierce lion breaths, yeah’ and carried on with my practice.
I thought I dealt with it quite well. They are usually nice people, and I didn’t want to return rudeness for rudeness. They are also customers so it’s best to avoid the kind of rude I would have been. (What the actual fuck? Do you want to sit ON me? Because this couldn’t be any MORE uncomfortable than it already is!)
Unfortunately, I was mad as a cut snake. My emotions are a bit all over the place as I come off the antidepressants and recover from everything else. That or I just have PMT.
Then there was the silly cow with the insane dog…but we won’t get into that one.
Yoga and the beach, the things that always centre me – did not work!
But I went out for a lovely lunch and had a moan at my other half about it. Then we discussed going on holiday – much better.
Then I had a shift in the Gallery. I intended to listen to some folk and make some more delicate drop earrings. I ended up listening to a lot of P!nk (explicit versions, ha) and making some big, bold statement pieces with lots of hammering involved. And I priced them higher than usual, because I am proud of them. I don’t even care if they sell or not.
That and a kick-ass training session (which felt easy, despite or maybe because of my week off training) and some writing, and I feel I’m on a bit more of an even keel.
Wonder what’ll capsize me tomorrow?! (No. Should be good. Family time.)
Cakes? Oh yeah. Made some sick cacao and peanut butter protein balls this eve. Not really cakes. But I liked the title.
Promised myself I’d get out on the water this week; didn’t happen. I wanted to go and take some lovely pictures. I really want to capture the oystercatchers that live around Ysglan – there are usually seven, give or take, every year, and I just think they’re beautiful. One day, I’ll put the big camera in the drybag and paddle over.
Probably won’t happen this weekend now, but I’ll get out there as soon as I can. I need some water time. I am so lucky to live here – except luck has little to do with it. I work hard to be here, and I have to make time for the very reason I do so. I chilled on Cilborth last night with one oystercatcher puddling about, until a visitor scared it off. They never even saw it. How much we don’t see of what’s around us, and under the wide oceans.
Blue Planet II is now on Netflix, so I finally get to watch it.
Rambling. Too much work and not enough play makes surfergrl – dull.
A visit to the Cross Foxes near Dolgellau, North Wales.
A chilled-out weekend, what a treat. The Cross Foxes is lovey, a really old farmhouse done in the usual re-done style…still got some of the old features like the big open fire, but mostly super crisp lines, wooden floors, local artwork and great views. We went straight into the bar and sat there for the rugby, a few beers and dinner (the plaice fillet and cheese & biscuits were heavenly).
When the hail let up, I took Cymro for a nice walk. It was icy cold but we soon warmed up and did four miles. We turned up the little lane opposite the pub and walked around, then back on the main road for half a mile or so. Tabor is a tiny hamlet a mile from the pub, with a few cottages and an atmospheric old Quaker meeting house and graveyard.
There were very few signs of life apart from some chimney smoke, not even tyre tracks in the snow that day. We saw zero people apart from one angry-looking woman with a couple of dogs. Sometimes it takes me ages to decide whether to say hello in Welsh or English, but she didn’t answer anyway…
Wind-bent trees, fairy groves, bogs, granite outcrops, hail, views of Cadair Idris’s lower peak to the south (north shrouded in snow clouds) and other mountains to the north. It’s wild and beautiful country; makes Llangrannog area look a bit cutesy!
The graveyard was full of families – the Prices, Evans’s and Jones’s of Tabor, up until about 2009. Someone lives in the house, but the meeting house itself looks fairly unloved, rather like my vestry. Fluffy snow on the way down the hill, then a slog up the grassy side of the main road. I think I could have gone a bit further and onto a parallel B-road, but I didn’t want to be out much longer with Cymro starting to limp, and it was a bit cold to get totally lost!
The road parallel looked like it had some wonderful houses on it too – a deep valley then steep ridge with some imposing houses set solidly back into the hill. I really fancy staying in the one pictured left.
On the way home we saw some tents on the lower slopes of Cadair Idris. Now that would have been a cold night! I wonder if they were on a Duke of Edinburgh expedition or training for something. Quite a few silhouettes walking on the ridgeline. A tough day to be heading up there; good boots and poles would be needed. Tal-y-Llyn looked cold and silent under a grey sky. I fell asleep happily until Ffos-y-Ffin. We will return when it’s not so cold, in the camper van and with all our walking gear. The air up there is so clear, and the views so starkly stunning, it always refreshes me.
Lord Dennis Stevenson, CE of Mind, and Paul Farmer, chair of the NHS Mental Health Taskforce, have written an independent mental health review which says 300,000 people lose their jobs over mental health every year.
300,000? Three HUNDRED THOUSAND?! This is the second biggest reason for workplace sickness. Wow. And yet…why does it surprise me?
From a personal standpoint, this issue has affected every stage of my life and career. College, where I was paralysed for about six months, doing nothing but reading books (that were nothing to do with my A-Level subjects) and rearranging my room. The deputy head was a saviour there, but they had no particular path to help available.
Two jobs, both of which I had to leave because I simply couldn’t do the work any more. One job was a major factor in my depression; the other team couldn’t have been more lovely and supportive. And the latter part of my PhD, where I had more than the usual amount of ‘I am never, ever going to get this done’ (the institution were great about it, and I did get there!).
It’s taken so, so long for me to be diagnosed, deal with and manage depression. Even knowing it isn’t just ‘a bit of a bad time’ or ‘moodiness’, and that it is a chronic condition. (Chronic just makes me think of Snoop Dogg and his blunts…I prefer ‘longtime’.)
Theresa May said: “It is only by making this an everyday concern for everyone that we change the way we see mental illness so that striving to improve your mental health – whether at work or at home – is seen as just as positive as improving our physical wellbeing.” Yes. Just yes. Which is why I ain’t gonna hide it from anyone I work with again. (Difficult anyway, if I blog about it!) Sometimes I’m not very well, and I need to do whatever I need to do to feel better again. Simple enough…but often not.
So the review has lots of good and positive steps, though we’ll see how they will translate into real action in real organisations, where managers are already stretched and maybe don’t have the capabilities to come up with a mental health plan. And it has to happen in smaller businesses too – they need support in order to be able to help employees.
Applause for the review, and of course for the Royals and other notables who are getting involved, and also the people like the ones on the Sky page, putting their experiences out there. On video. I ain’t brave enough for that!
Yesssssss…I’ve done it! Wrote 1,800 words today towards my NaNoWriMo novel. I have signed up most years and always failed. But I’m going to give it a good shot this year. I want to really work that novel-writing muscle out and get it strong again. NaNo is a great place to start, and the novel I’m working on is a kind of diary-style, stream of nonsense/conscience thingy. And this will not be in my pitch to agents! But anyway, it’s just great to be punching out some fiction again. It has been a while, but I knew that after the bloodletting of the PhD – and the associated occasional elation, of course – it would take a while for my literary enthusiasms to return. Although I would not call what I’ve written today literature. But it is the beginning of something, and it’s a story I’ve wanted to write for quite a long time. Funnily enough, I don’t think I could have until now, right now, when I am exactly who I am at the moment.
Wait…technically it’s Saturday, so…I need to do another 1667 words today. Ah.
Surfergirl’s Seaglass jewellery is now available at the Welsh Wildlife Centre! I love this place – a huge reedbed, lots of walking, a great cafe and awesome events. So I asked, and secured myself a spot.
I feel like a ‘proper’ jewellery-maker now. I had so much fun sorting all my stock and dressing my section of the table. Wowed to be in such great company as well – there is some consummate talent on show in the shop, which is is in a lovely building, all high ceilings, lots of glass and wood. It fits my stuff perfectly.
I’ve no idea if it’ll make much money, but I don’t really mind either way. I’m just stoked to be there. Start of bigger and better things for my little bits of ‘rubbish’ off the beach…because that’s what seaglass is really, old litter, and I love re-purposing it.
I have a month of making planned (if I can afford all the silver I want…hmm…credit card?!) and then it’ll be Christmas fair time, which is going to be so much fun. I can sit all day watching people and knitting (I plan a line of iPhone covers in fluffy and felted yarn), and I might even make some money. Also hoping to grow my network of lovely local crafters.
I’ve got an exciting collaboration planned too, but can’t reveal it till…well, till I’ve done something concrete about it! I also want to tie in with some of Surfers Against Sewage’s work, as well as #2minutebeachclean and #take3forthesea.
And it’s time to start making rings, which is really why I got so into seaglass and silversmithing. I wanted a seaglass ring, but couldn’t afford one. I hope to work out a way to make them so other people can afford them too. A lot of them are super-chunky, which is lush, but I want to make more delicate ones too, and stackers, and spinners, and…where is that Visa card…?!
All right, it was yesterday, but I was feeling like the picture (left)…dark, damp and chasm-y…
Everything the Royals are doing with Heads Together is so inspiring, and everywhere I go it seems there are conversations, promotions (Lloyds Bank today) and just a bit more understanding.
With the funeral yesterday of a 32-year old killed locally there was a lot of sadness around, and many people barely know how to deal with the more negative of their emotions. You don’t have to be happy all the time, or strong all the time. Getting drunk might help, but it’s not a lasting solution. Mates are important. Family.
I think Heads Together have got it so right with their new digital ideas too – online help and support is the way to go. If I want to explore possibilities for what the fuck is going on, those resources (especially other peoples’ experiences) are so useful.
For me this month, focusing over-hard on what I want to achieve has frightened me into inertia, and a lack of sleep in my nights and rhythm to my days has unhinged me a bit.
So tonight is an early one, and tomorrow will be better…like tonight’s sunset (same place, different focus).
After a hectic summer working hard, I’ve finally had time to get back to seaglassing. I had a few chances to go seaglass collecting, and was pleased and surprised to be approached by people asking for jewellery. So I got back to the bench and spent AGES working out a new process for making better Carreg Bica silver pendants. I am so happy with the result!
The awesome Beach Hut in Llangrannog supports local artists, and they now have a limited stock of my work. I am sounding out some of my other favourite places locally, so there will be more stockists soon. If you want to visit my workshop, get in touch, and my Etsy shop will be updated soon. I plan to hit the Christmas markets hard too!