World Oceans Day

beach sunset
Cilborth Sunset

Happy World Oceans Day…

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.

Under Idris’s Clouds

A visit to the Cross Foxes near Dolgellau, North Wales.

view from the cross foxes pubA 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).

a treeWhen 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!

quaker house

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.

lichen rocks
Lovely Lichen
corgi at the gate
There’s a Corgi at the gates!

Second biggest cause of workplace sickness

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.


Welsh Wildlife Centre Shop

shop 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…?!

World Mental Health Day

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).


Carreg Bica in the making

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!

See the Surfergirl’s Seaglass page for loads more photos.


Today I went onto Facebook for the first time in a long time. I saw some funny, cute and cool stuff. It was great to ‘catch up’ with close friends who I don’t see any more due to massive distances. I learned a few things.

But in general, I was reminded why I don’t really use Facebook. My feed is full of adverts which are not relevant to me, timewasting bullshit and too much negativity. Life itself is very much like that, I suppose, but it’s not something I want to voluntarily submit to.

When I looked up from my phone, an hour had gone, and the light had changed over the hillside. I wish I’d watched that instead.

I’m torn, because there are some things I’m really glad I got to share in, such as hen do memories…but much more that was sad, confusing, dull, insipid, self-righteous…and so on. I think I’ll look at my friends list, the pages I follow and groups I’m in, and cut out a lot of it. And I’ll limit it to once a week or so, and make it a part of my business strategy rather than a random waste of time.

Then maybe I can go on Facebook and not get that Facebook-hangover feeling – overwhelmed, a bit dirty, a bit annoyed, and even more exhausted. It can be a great vehicle for change, for promotion, for stories and celebrating life, but unless I can filter the lows, I won’t have the energy to enjoy the occasional highs.


A neuroscientist says there’s a powerful benefit to exercise that is rarely discussed‘ – it’s brain function. A good article…but I think it is often discussed! It’s certainly something we talk about a lot in the online gym I’m a member of. Julia B draws people in with the promise of fat loss (and free workouts!), then hits them with loads of other benefits including improved mood and ability to focus.

My recent round of one of her programmes, Forge, hasn’t seen me lose much fat at all (I’ve gained it, if anything). This is down to several factors including medication, but I’m not stressing it because I still have all those other benefits. Digging trenches last week showed me how strong and fit I am, and I feel better about everything when I work out, even if it’s only 3-4 times a week with the current crazy building/working schedule.


I just read The Times Magazine (from July – it takes me a while to get to this nonsense). I’m actually unimpressed by the whole thing – the journos are sneery about pretty much everything and everyone. (Don’t touch Joanna Lumley.)

The Style spread was two pages of a description of ‘Smutton, pronounced “sch-mutton”: the tendancy to dresses [sic] younger than you should when the sun (finally) comes out’. Instantly I don’t really care what this person (presumably female) says, and, obviously, neither does the poor sub-editor required to police this trash.

So here are the things that are smuttony, and whether or not I regularly wear them:
    Hot pants: Yes. Hey, my ass is one thing I’m happy with.
    Bra-less: No. Does anyone? Even though they still pass the pencil test, thank you very much.
    Side-boob/Under-boob: Er, no.
    Bikini top as bra: Yes, because I am a surfer. It’s allowed. It’s one of the best things about summer.
    Cutesy girly kitschy sunglasses: Er…do mirrored gold aviators count? 😉
    Shades, never mirrored: Oh, they do. But mirrored means I can check out hotties unseen!
    Henna tattoos: Okay, I’m kinda with this one…it’s for 18 year old festival-goers. But I still got one in Marrakesh…it was shit, so I suppose it served me right.
    Anklets: I’m sorry, but I LOVE anklets. In school ‘only prozzies’ wore them, but now, while still slutty, I think they are more often cute and sweet. The write admits she has a gold one from Urban Outiftters and isn’t taking it off. Fine – mine are handmade by me from local seaglass, and I’m bloody well wearing them.  
    Selfies of your tanned self: Hm, not till I have completed Forge. Not to say I wouldn’t, though.
    Tan. Tan more! This one goes without saying; I need more tan.
    Nose piercings: Not for me, but I can’t see why not in general. As long as it’s not septum.
    H&M. Not sure why. Not a massive fan anyway.
    A splash of electric pink in your hair: I would…but the boss wouldn’t like it.
    Air-dried beachy waves: This is literally the only way I CAN dry my hair.
    Tattoos: Fuck off. I’m getting another one, to go with my hairdresser’s car.
    Frayed sawn-off denim: Check. I wear it. Fuck it.
    Crop tops: Hahahahahah no. Most teenagers look shit in them, let alone apple-shaped me.
    Loose arm-hole vests: This is surfer style, not smuttony.
    Hair wraps: Oooooh, I must get one.
    Peasant blouses: Have just chucked some out. Don’t flatter me (anyone).
    Pieces of string as belts: Guilty. And strings of shells as belts. And bits of suede, and scarves, and anything really that will fit around my hips.
    Nail art/glitter: Check and check. And I DO NOT CARE. Nail art is one of my very favourite things.
    Bikini should be from the ‘big-girls shops’: Don’t fucking patronise me, I know more about bikinis than you.
    Caps with ‘embellishment’: Again, this is surfer style. And is essential in my tin-top car. Which is probably also smuttony.

So in summation, I am about 80% ‘summer mutton-dressed-as-lamb’.

Instead I’m supposed to wear a kaftan and straw bag? Kakhi and a white vest top like Jen is okay by me, but I’m not as old as the women I’m supposed to copy according to this, and I never want to look boring and ‘classic’. The summer is about having some fun, goddamit.

There’s Elle McPherson, looking great but wow, she must miss food, in a black dress (oh God, what is wrong with colour??), big classic shades (like), and ‘barely-there’ sandals which are cutting off the blood supply to her toes – ‘no ethnic prints or clogs’. I love clogs…and ethnic boho…must contact brother in Africa to remind him of this.

Cindy Crawford – monochrome. I’m not in my 50s and again, WHAT IS WRONG WITH COLOUR.

Jen: Her I like. Always. I think I need a pair of cute kakhi pants in my life.

Off to put on my leggings with lace at the bottom and slightly glittery Roxy vest top with bikini underneath, plus my mismatched Havianas to show my blue nail art off. Mirror shades, top down, shaka.

Truly, though. The only good thing in this mag is Caitlin Moran (and not always her).