It 10:30am and Chris has ordered his Americano. Today he opted for decaffe with a splash of milk after recently discovering it was the coffee making him jittery and he still  doesn’t feel brave enough to tackle the alternative (and elaborate) sounding concoctions on offer. Like myself, he orders his coffee in a to-go cup even though we’re sitting in; the logic behind it is that it keeps the drink warmer for longer and fingers curl around the paper cup perfectly.

Despite it being his day off work he was awake at 7am, spending the first few hours of his day ploughing through his summer project for his 1 year foundation course in Art and Design at Oxford Brookes come September. The project is on ‘heirlooms’ and although hardly inspiring and painfully dull, he trudges on anyway. The unfortunate reality is that in order to be in a position in which you can make a living by creating pieces that you’re proud of you really do have to start from the bottom; like an internship making coffee at Vogue. We all have to start from somewhere; Chris knows this is his somewhere. He follows this up with a bowl of shreddies accompanied with the first of several coffees as he gets the lo-down on the current position of Team GB in the Olympics.  A quick scrub up and wash down and here he is with me.


When I asked his to tell me his idea of an individual’s ‘ordinary’ day he describes someone who works a standard 9-5 job. Somewhere between the blur of waking up and getting to the office they might drop their kids off at school or perhaps walk the dog. After a busy (but not necessarily bad) day they have dinner with their family before kicking up their feet and watching reality TV until the sun goes down and it’s time for the whole process to repeat itself until the weekend roles around.

“Do you think it’s bad to live a life filled with these days?” I challenge. As if Chris can read my own thoughts he says”it is not the way in which we spend these ‘odirnary’ days which makes them bad but merely our expectations of what we hope to achieve on a day-to-day basis that leaves us wanting more.” We constantly want to inspire and be inspired, make  a change or be part of one, leave our mark. Admittedly this is easier said than done.

Chris recalls a little tale he once heard of a man who was walking on a beach one day throwing starfish that had washed up onto the sand back into the salty water. The man was not disheartened by the seemingly never ending amount of fish in his path, continuing to save each one. He was eventually interrupted by another man who asked him why he bothered if he knew he couldn’t possibly save all the starfish from dying? ‘Who was he saving?’ The man responded by picking up another starfish and placing it back into the sea before saying “I might not be able to save all the starfish, but I saved that one.”  Take what you will from the story but Chris interpreted it imply that the small changes we make on an ‘ordinary day’ are as important a those much larger made less often that often go unnoticed. We don’t need to do extravagant things all the time to make a difference.

Chris continues that it’s not uncommon in careers, especially ones that  reply on imagination, determination and lots of luck like the creative industry, to find yourself in a rut. For a long time much of what you do is determined by those around you which can make you question why you do it at all. What is it all for? Who is it all for? Chris sometimes finds himself losing sight of what made him want to do art as a full time job in the first place and he must make himself remember the story  of the starfish and promts himself “to fake it until you make it.” Rather than a measly project on ‘heirlooms’ I ask Chris what his ‘dream’ career would be, if he could do anything, if the world really was his oyster… “Like any other artistic person I want to earn money for my family and I by creating things I love and am proud of but I realise that is a long shot.Aside from that I would have loved to have done some of the set designs for Jurassic Park or illustations for the new Harry Potter graphic novels, something along those lines.” Until then he will continue to make pieces, whether they excite him or not, earning his keep through his part-time job at M&S and small commissions always with that end goal in mind and eyes on the prize.

Chris goes on to say that down the line it is irrefutable that he’ll most likely do a job he likes and is happy to go to most of the time but there is bound to be bad days where he’d much rather hit the snooze button that leave the warmth of his bed. He may not always be able to do work that he’s passionate about, but hopefully he will more frequently than he is now, perhaps he can even fork out a yearly holiday for his ife and children with it, who knows? Unlike many young creators today he’s aware of the competitive nature of the industry and has no expectation to be the next Van Gough or to travel the world all willy-nilly. Chris remains in love with his art but also reasonable and confesses that so long as he remembers why he fell in love with art in the first place and on those (hopefully) few and far between bad days he can come home to complain to his family, Chris is perfectly happy living an ‘ordinary’ life.

(Chris actually did the web design for this blog and painted a water colour image for my Grandad’s birthday on request. He does have a red-bubble site that he’s hoping to work more on once the heirlooms project is over but has not had the time recently. He does commissions on request and, being very talented across the board, can pretty much create anything you like be that a sketch, illustration, web design or water colour.)

Youtube channel with drawing machine videos:


(There are more images of Chris’ work on his Instagram page so please click on the link above. Contact him if you’re intrested in any commissions.)




I have dipped my toes into many different genres of literature since starting my blog and I’ve really tried to to  focus on my ability to write decent poetry (albeit still trying) as well as short stories. However, there remains several areas of literature which I’ve yet to venture down, one of these being journalism. Journalism is something I’ve shyed away from a little bit as I felt like I didn’t really have anything intresting to say or anything that I was overly passionate about that I felt I would like to write about and want people to read.In a society so invested into the lives of others (nosey parkers!) it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find something captivating and meaningful to read and write about.


Recently I read a really cool article  in the latest issue of Marie Claire (OK I admit I only bought it because it was on offer for £1.99 and I was going on a long bus ride.) The article was on a woman who began teaching young girls ballet from the streets of Brazil as a way of keeping them out of danger, turning to violence or prostitution. Reading her story about how she grew up in Brazil alongside how she expanded her teaching was really admirable and reminded me of how journalism can be exciting still despite much of it being diluted with trendy new diets and the intricate love lives of the rich and famous. In my eyes journalism is no longer relatable or about the lives of ‘real’ people. Sure it meets the needs of it’s target audience; the mum who just wants five minutes peace and quiet with her up of tea as her baby naps, the pensioners looking for cracking holiday deals or the man looking for this weeks show times on ITV1. Nonetheless, I think journalism needs to try to celebrate the ordinary rather than push for all of us to expect the extraordinary only to be left disappointed when out day-to-day life doesn’t parallel that of Brad and Angelina.

The vast majority of people you walk past in the street are teachers, doctors, sale assistants etc. They go to the co-op every Monday evening to do their food shop, they are always rushing to get the kids ready for school in the morning and consequently choose a black instant  coffee over a sustainable breakfast. These people work 9-5 jobs, pay their bills, have good days and bad days, they cry and they laugh; they live beautifully ordinary lives. Daily life isn’t glamorous, some new adventure doesn’t come along all the time and most of us won’t change the lives of those outside our social circle and you know what? That is OK.

We need to celebrate the ‘ordinary’ and accept that leading a ‘normal’ life bombarded with highs and lows, exciting trips and hours glued to the office chair, money troubles, family arguments are all part of the equation. The over documentation of the lives of celebrities through social media (i’m looking at you Instagram!) have caused us to expect an abundance of adventure, travelling, out-of-this-world opportunities, all while we’re making our mark . Despite being all well and good (I’m not saying don’t strive to always better yourself and challenge your capabilities) but for the most part we only really impact the lives of those around us and cannot afford to do exotic things all the time amongst the chaos of working, having a family, making relationships work. Consequently, we’re left feeling incomplete, all too often questioning our0′ purpose’ and resenting that our lives thave turned out to be a lot more lack-luster than we wanted.

In reality the ordinary is blissful; it’s both amazing at times and utterly shoddy at others, it is exciting and exhausting, mostly intresting but occasionally dull. It is full of heartbreak and butterflies, rainy days and days where the sun shines so bright it’s blinding.  Leading an ordinary life is under-rated and deserves more acknowledgement. it’s through this new series ‘THE SHADES OF YOU’ in which I intend to do just this; celebrate the lives of the ordinary people around us.

beauty 2

I want to talk to people from a variety of different ages, social groups, walks of life, people with different hopes and dreams who have tales of both success and disappointment. Despite all their differences all the individuals share one common interest; they all live wonderfully ordinary lives. For some a cup of these people a tea and five minutes to themselves is the best moment of their week meanwhile for some it is coming home to their dog or waking up to sunshine. Most have settled for a job they like rather than love because it allows them flexibility to have a social life and look after the kids whilst just about covering the bills and a little extra on the side here and there if they play their cards right.

THE SHADES OF YOU is all about getting to know the simple lives led by those around us, appreciating and loving the normality of them The footprint they leave behind may not be as large as those we read about in texts books or watch in documentaries but that does not make it any less vital. There are more than seven billion people on this planet right now and we’re all different and most of us are gloriously ordinary.




Born: 16/06/1998

1998: NEW BORN

  • Guess How Much I Love You
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Peter Rabbit (This actually terrified me at the time)





  • 5 Minutes Peace and Peace at Last (my mum was often praying for this herself  so I think I ended up being read this all too often as she could relate to the mamma elephant in the tub!)
  • Where’s Spot?
  • Whatever Next (probably what quick started my interest for astronomy and my desire to travel the world)


  • We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (I still sing the rhyme now whenever I walk through any type of woodland area; the song sure does stick)
  • The Smartest Giant In Town (this inspired this poem many years later)
  • Room On The Broom


  • The Mr Men Series (it was around this time that my Dad started reading me bedtime stories and the Mr Men. I distinctly recall Mr Tickle, Mr Bump and Mr Chatterbox being the favourites. I’m no ashamed to admit that even to this day, occasionally when I am feeling rock-bottom and need to regress, my dad does still treat me to few chapters before shut eye. However these days the books we read deal with bigger problems than cartoon characters who are ticklish)


  • The Tiger Who Came For Tea (to this day my all time favourite children’s book.  I’ll most definitely be reading this to my kids in the future. This story had such a huge impact on me that even spoke about it in my personal statement fro university)
  • Elmer
  • The Rainbow Fish
  • (I think it’s safe to say I was attracted to books with bright colours, pretty pictures and images which I could touch. The different textures just baffled me and I learnt that I HATE HATE HATE felt)

    2004: A PEAK INTO POETRY –

  • Dr Zeus EVERYTHING  (e.g. Green Eggs and Ham, Cat in the Hat. I fell in love with the strange stories and the quick-witted lyrical nature of his works. This was my first insight into the world of poetry; it seems I’ve been hooked ever since…


  • Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Twits, BFG, George’s Marvellous Medicine (basically Roald Dahl ANYTHING!) By far Mr Dahl is my favourite children’s author and even one of my favourite authors OF ALL TIME. I love him. I love his humour, his quirky stories, his bizzare imagination.  Whilst I was introduced to this wonderful world of his in 2005 I still read his stories and watch the adaptations often. One day I promise to do a post devoted to the magnificent man himself as one mere paragraph is not enough to cover all bases.

2006: MY FIRST FAD –

  • Lauren the Puppy Fairy (I became OBSESSED with collecting the ‘fairy’ books. There were a GAZILLION of these bad boys lurking on the shelves of book  stores. The short stories that followed the lives of different fairies with different powers were short ‘n’ sweet allowing me to escape the present day into my own fairy-tale.  Alongside my best-friend Saffron I collected about seventy of these books before finally giving up. With the benefit of hindsight, this was probably a good idea of my part as there are too many books in this collection to even fathom now with new ones still being written (my bank account is thanking me i’m sure.)


  • The Ingo Series (I loved these books with every bit of my heart, in fact I still have them today although they are on loan to one of the girls that I babysit.) Helen Dunmore’s beautifully descriptive writing style combined with the eeriness and page-turning plot had me captivated. This series has been re-read many a time and not once have I not enjoyed the wonderfully weird world of memaids and mystery.


  • Goodnight Mr. Tom
  • Adolphus Tips
  • Basically lots of World War/historical fictGTLogo_Cover.pngion books recommended by our teachers. Whilst I did adore these books, they were set texts to read and during this time I didn’t really read much for ‘pleasure.’ No, not because I fell out of love with reading but merely as I didn’t want to seem ‘dorky’ if you will. Whilst I realise this sounds stupid ten year old me was far more concerned with wanting to have friends and fit in. Sadly this meant ditching the wonderful world of literature for the advice columns on boys and horoscopes in Girl Talk and Shout.


  • Holes (a book passed down from my brother and probably the only book he’ll ever pass on as he doesn’t really read much. I still find it cool that the characters first name is his last name but backwards *STANLEY YELANTS*)
  • The Twilight Saga (I binge-read this on a holiday to Northumberland and recall reviewing all the books in a A4 Journal for my teacher. My mum and I bonded over how we both fancied 23 year old R-Patz and I spent much of my time day dreaming bout being a vampire much to my embarrassment.)
  • This was the year I also started secondary school and much like the previous year, reading took a back seat to my desire to be cool. Despite my sacrifice I never quite succeeded in reaching this status however and probabaly would have been better off just reading anyway…


  • Harry Potter.
  • Harry Potter.
  • Harry Potter.
  • This was the year that I was introduced to the wonderful world of wizardry and boy was I OBSESSED. I re-read and re-read. I re-watched and re-watched. I had to own every piece of merchandise as if it was a way of proving my devotion to the franchise. I even created my own Facebook page in order to interact with other ‘Potterheads.’ Looking back, the whole fad was slightly scary and sad but at the time I didn’t care and I was happy in my little bubble of magic and mischief. Despite no longer being as addicted as I once was Harry Potter will always hold a special place in my heart. Always.


  • This was a difficult school year yet again and I was still very much trapped (willingly) in the spider’s web that was the potter fandom.
  • I struggled a lot with friends and remember spending a lot of time in costa after school on Wednesdays with my mum crying over bitchy girls and arrogant guys.
  • However, one BRILLIANT thing that did come from this year is I began to realise that English might seriously be the path I venture down in the future. The idea had always been in the back of my mind but became something I was constantly toying with,.
  • I really enjoyed my English lessons that year for two main reasons A) I fancied my teacher and B) we read Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. Whilst absolutely heart wrenching and  devastating I found the writing style so mesmerising, so poetic. The author was able to get me to relate to the character Bruno despite never having gone through any of the experiences that he did. At times the book filled me with warmth and made me feel all mushy and gooey inside and at other times it has me balling my eyes out and screaming over the injustice of the whole thing. Truly a masterpiece.



  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Great Expecations
  • Peter Pan
  • Lord of the Flies
  • After realising that a career in English was something I’d most likely end up doing I became a bit of what I call a ‘bookish snob.’ I refused to read anything that wasn’t a classic, hadn’t won an award or wasn’t quoted in a film. I closed my mind and shut myself of from my beloved world of fantasy and YA and instead waltzed about with my nose in the air and eyes glued to a variety of crticially acclaimed stories; some fantastic like Peter Pan but some also a REAL SNOOZE like Lord of the Flies. Thankfully I quickly snapped out of this pretentious phase of mine as began reading for pleasure soon enough *wipes forhead I relief.*


  • Of Mine and Men, The Great Gatsby. The Grapes of Wrath, Little Women
  • Romeo and Juliet, The Twelfth Knight,  Hamlet tumblr_lz7ikccWI21rp32b4o1_500.png


  • Persuasion, Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Tennyson’s Poetry
  • Frankenstein
  • Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • Alice in Wonderland (really?!?!?!?!?!)
  • I studied Victorian Literature for AS and so obviously the majority of the books I read during this year were books from this era both for purpose and pleasure. A handful of the novels that I read I didn’t exactly ‘enjoy like Bleak House by Dickens or Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad which both had me snoozing away. It was most likely  because I read them towards the end of the course I was so fed up with the repetitive themes of Victorian texts rather than the fact that they were ‘bad’ books. Nonetheless they’re certainly not ones that I’ll be re-reading in the foreseeable future.
  • On the other hand many of the books I read during this year have made their way to my list of top twenty. Surprisingly I enjoyed the lovey-duvey stuff written by Bronte and Austen with their strong female rpotgaonists and chivalric men. I dream of meeting my very own Captain Wentworth or Mr Darcy one day, one can hope right?
  • Frankenstein also became one of my ALL TIME favourite books. I’ve since recommended it a dozen times and re-read it about half a dozen however I’m yet to find a film adaptation that I think is adequate.


  • The Bell Jar
  • Carol Ann Duffy’s ‘Love Letters’
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles
  • 1000 Splendid Suns + The Kite Runner
  • All My Punny Sorrows
  • I Am Pilgrim
  • This was a year of diversity and decisions. I read a lot of different books from different genres, different time periods and from different perspectives. I read some of my favourite books this year and this was probably my favourite year reading-wise.
  • I also really developed my writing style, creating this blog, entering competitions, doing some work for some projects – It was all very exciting.

    I honestly cannot wait to see what the rest of 2016 has in store as I await my A2 results and flee from the nest that has had me cucked up for so long i’m beginning to feel suffocated. Whether I hated them or loved them these are a short snippet of the books that made me and often the very books that saved me.