Friday 31 December 2010

My 2010

A year coming to an end always makes me slightly nostalgic and reflective. I like to look back at my year and summarised the main events of each month and what they've meant to me. So, this is my 2010.

Saw in the New Year at a pretty good house party/fire/BBQ in Dundee.
John took me to Egypt for my Christmas present, it was amazing.
Started the home run towards my final degree project.

Lots of nights out!
Was hating my degree project
Spent a lot of time discussing my life with the cat
John spoiled me rotten on Valentines Day

Tache Bash, the fundraising event for our degree show
Changed my project idea 6 weeks before the end of the year - BEST THING I EVER DID.
Pretty much just slaved away for all of March doing project work.

Didn't eat or sleep for weeks as I frantically worked on my project
Pillow Talk went viral
Got featured on Gizmodo which, it's safe to say, has changed my life
Apparently didn't take many photos as I was so busy
My horse kept me sane

Where do I start? Gave my final ever presentation at uni.
Was awarded a First Class Honours degree.
Degree Show opened.
Saw the true colours of some of my "friends".
Was interviewed on BBC Radio and made the front cover of a National newspaper
Photographed my first wedding

Graduated from uni!
Went to grad ball
Drank my own bodyweight in champagne
Did a lot of Freelance work.
Spent a lovely weekend in Loch Lomond with John and his family
Was offered a PhD place at Newcastle uni.

(These are my two best friends in the whole world)

Went to T in the Park
Chilled the hell out since uni was finished.
Grew a giant courgette.
Drove a lot.
Celebrated one year with John. Well, I did, he was at sea!

Pretty much just went on holiday a lot.
Went to Greece with John.
Went to France with John to visit my folks at their house there.
Had my PhD offer pulled out from under my feet and was suddenly left questioning what to do with the rest of my life again

Moved to Newcastle
Started my own company
Started a Masters of Research at Newcastle University
Did a LOT of paperwork in my newfound Director role

Turned 23! Worst birthday ever, alone in Newcastle hardly knowing anyone. Spent it at the aquarium with my 3yr old pseudo-nephew, who also shares my birthday. 
Won £25,000 the week after which kind of made up for it.
Went to London.
Presented Pillow Talk at the Innovate 10 Conference
Met some old friends :)

November was bad for a variety of reasons.
But it still had its good parts... like going to Spain

Finally started to feel settled in Newcastle
Drank more jagerbombs in one night than I will ever again, across the rest of my life!
Home to Scotland for Christmas.

All in all, it's been a funny year. It saw my last year of university, the last time I would enjoy the company of all the people I spent the best four years of my life with. It saw the end of four years of studying, of blood sweat and tears, becoming one single certificate which will define my career prospects for decades to come. Two thousand and ten was a year which, for me, held a huge life transition. 

And let's not forget the people. I found out in 2010 that a lot of people weren't who I really thought they were (or perhaps I wasn't who they thought I was?) But either way, as the year draws to a close, I call far less people my friends. This doesn't bother me - those I have lost were not worth my time, and those who remain will stay with me forever. Jen will forever be my best friend, and I'll never forget the loyalty of Keiran and - until nearer the end - Neil. I suppose, in a way, 2010 has shown me what I expect from people and who I can expect it from. It has also carried through some old friendships which, through thick and thin, only become stronger for each New Year they see (Ross, I'm looking at you).

Two thousand and ten started okay, slid into a Springtime Slump and then gave me everything I could have asked for in the summer. Autumn was hard, harder still, but I'm approaching 2011 with a strange sense of optimism. I hope you all have a good one too. 

Thursday 23 December 2010

Russell Brand on Love

Russell Brand writing about Katy Perry. I don't like Russell Brand in the slightest, but this is lovely. 

Thursday 25 November 2010


1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.
2. confident expectation of something; hope.

3. to have trust or confidence in; rely or depend on.
4. to believe.
5. to expect confidently; hope (usually fol. by a clause or infinitive as object): trusting the job would soon be finished; trusting to find oil on the land.

Trust. What is trust? We use the word so boldly but do we ever stop to question what it really means? We talk about it with family, with friends and with colleagues. We talk about it online and offline, it is responsible for our deepest secrets and for the successful completion of many daily tasks. We are defining it, outlining it and promoting it to each other, but the definition of trust seems less concrete. As I battle the ups and downs of various situations life throws at me, I am finding myself becoming more aware of what moves me to “trust” - and what undermines that. 
There are so many different kinds of trust. I trust my parents to love me unconditionally no matter what decisions I make in life. I trust my boyfriend not to cheat on me. I trust online shops to send me the items I have paid for. Is any kind of trust more important than another? 
The birth and creation of trust is a grey area. Trusting someone should be hard but we seem to accept that it is a necessary starting point in any relationship or friendship. Where do we find it in ourselves? Trust opens us up and presents our vulnerability to anyone we bestow it upon. It exposes us in a way few other emotional commitments do. In doing this, we expect our openness to be treated with respect and our disadvantages and weaknesses not to be taken advantage of. As individuals, we have to do this in good faith. But how do you prove this trust? Can it be proved? People have many flaws but we are all so beautifully raw and vulnerable when we initially interact with people. We can be guarded and attempt to shield our cores but ultimately, we have to trust based upon nothing. 
The reality is, our ability to trust is probably one of our purest traits as human beings. Truth can be so easily lost. Once the damage is done, the notion that you might ever trust that person again can feel impossible. When we are hurt or betrayed by someone and the trust is no longer complete, we find it difficult to expose ourselves again. It takes this “proof” that we cannot trust them before we experience the doubt, yet we trust so openly and completely in the beginning with no solid foundations. 
I’ve been thinking about this for days but I still don’t know what trust is. All is know is that trust is both brave and vulnerable. Trust is not sparing my feelings. Trust is the hard truth spoken gently. We can lose it before we have it or find where we least expect it. Trust can be given, but not invented, stolen, or demanded.
The painful truth about trust is that, once it is shattered, we cannot glue it back together. Like good health, generosity, or love, we are most reminded of its value when it is gone. 

Sunday 24 October 2010

A Week in October

About four weeks ago I moved to Newcastle or, more specifically, to a little coastal town to the South East (I think, don't quote me on it) of the city. I'm not sure if I'm officially in Whitley Bay or not, but I do know that I'm close enough to the beach to enjoy it whenever I want. I've had a couple of long walks along it this week but, in a sea of dog walkers, I felt a bit out of place.

I moved here to live with my boyfriend but he works at sea and is away at the moment so I've had a lot of time to explore the local area. Whitley Bay seems to be quite cheap and cheerful in areas, the street with all the bars/pubs is quite the meat market on a Saturday night! However the town centre does have lots of teashops, and I am a sucker for a good teashop. I also live across the road from a bakery which sells pretty epic cupcakes, so all in all I hope this is going to be a good place for me.

Other things I've enjoyed this week:


Sunday 17 October 2010

Back in the Game

I've been really caught up in various things over the past couple of months, so I'm ashamed to say I haven't found time to update since July! However, I am back now so hopefully I'll manage to write more often.

I spent my summer thinking I would be beginning a PhD at Culture Lab in Newcastle this month, but at the end of August I was told my funding had fallen through. At the time I was devastaed, but my mother always tells me that everything happens for a reason - and only good things have happened to me since.

In September I founded my own company, Little Riot Ltd. I have a lot of ideas but felt I needed a platform on which to develop them, so Little Riot has been set up as an interaction design company. I'm primarily doing research at the moment, but I'm also going to channel my consultancy and freelance work through it.

I'm also thrilled to be able to say I won £25,000 to develop Pillow Talk, my degree project. The lovely people at the Technology Strategy Board selected me as one of the three winners in their recent "Disruptive Solutions" competition, so I am now able to finally start pushing the concept towards market. I also got to present my work to a live audience at the Innovate 10 conference - it was really strange to be a "business woman" (I had to wear smart clothes and everything!) but I got some pretty good feedback about what I'm doing. I have several people interested in collaborating with me or using my concepts so fingers crossed there are lots of exciting things to come.

It's a huge opportunity and I'm both proud of myself and incredibly grateful to have gained the support. As a graduate, I am really lucky to be working on my own projects and interests instead of slaving away for a larger corporation. Still very much living the life of a poor student, but hopefully that will start to change in time.

I'm also doing a Masters/some research work at Culture Lab, a part of Newcastle University. I think I've really lucked out with it to be honest; I am part of a very small group of people who are resident researchers within the lab. We spend the year working on our own interests and projects, and at the end of the year we write it up and will receive a Masters degree for it. It only came about when my PhD fell through, but I think it may in fact be even more perfect for me as it allows me time to work on my company and sample life as a PhD student or researcher. Again, I'm so lucky to be working in the interaction design field - I always thought I'd end up doing whatever was available when I graduated.

Monday 26 July 2010

Six Items or Less

I spend quite a lot of my online time reading the NY Times, over the years they've published some of my all-time favourite articles - they never hesitate to make me think a lot. One that recently sparked an interest was this article about shoppers on a diet. 

"Imagine that horrible though all-too-familiar feeling: You are standing before a fully stuffed closet and yet have nothing to wear. Now, imagine something worse: Your closet contains only six items, and you are restricted to wearing only those six items for an entire month. Now, if you can bear it, imagine something unspeakable: No one notices."

The article tells the tale of Stella Brennan, a 31 year old insurance sales executive, who wore just six items of clothing for a month. This self-imposed exercise in frugality was prompted by an online challenge called Six Items or Less. The challenge was to go an entire month wearing only six items you already own - not counting shoes, underwear or accessories. Motives include a way to trim back on spending, an outright rejection of fashion, and a concern that the mass production and global transportation of increasingly cheap clothing are damaging the environment.

Aside from the challenge of mixing and matching the same six items for 30 days, what is really interesting about the outcome is that no one noticed. Not even Stella's husband - the man responsible for doing all the laundry in the house.

This has made me question my own life. Do I own too many clothes? Definitely. Could I survive on six items or less for a month? Probably, but I don't do washing often enough; I'd be out of clothes by the end of the week. I've suddenly realised how much stuff I own that I don't use. I have four bedrooms full of material artefacts, yet I managed to backpack round Australia for months with only a rucksack full of clothes. Do I need to go on a shopping diet? Almost definitely.

I also hate wearing the same thing more than once a week, incase anyone thinks I haven't washed it. This undoubtedly makes the "what shall I wear today?" dilemma every morning all the more difficult. But the fact that even Stella's own husband didn't notice has made me question if I'm worrying unnecessarily. I bet my boyfriend wouldn't notice (and he does most of my washing) so would anyone else? Would I notice if any of my friends recycled their outfit for many days in a row? I'm not all that sure that I would. I used to have a lecturer who wore the same outfit every time she taught us (including on a uni trip where she seemingly wore the same outfit for 3 days straight) but even then, how many weeks/months did it take us to notice?

Almost tempted to try the Six Items or Less challenge. Watch this space.

Wednesday 14 July 2010


Oh by the way, I officially graduated a few weeks ago.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of project publicity, job offers, a wedding in Glasgow, a party in Aberdeen, my graduation ceremony, my graduation ball, etc etc. I had plans to chill out over the summer but the summer is rapidly disappearing. Some exciting events are taking place soon, don’t want to say anything until it’s all confirmed though! Watch this space.

Monday 5 July 2010

Recent Events

Last week I went to Super Freelancing - an event organised by the wonderful Super Mondays crew. You can even see my wee blonde head in the audience. Super Mondays is a creative and IT community in the North East of England who meet once a month and host a selection of speakers from across the industry. As I have recently branched out into the world of freelancing - to tide me over until I decide what I'm doing with my life - this month's even was of particular interest to me.

Paul Easton of Easton Media was first up, who gave us some hints and tips on using PR to our advantage. He urged us not to underestimate the power of good old fashioned newspapers and journalists, and some provoking questions from the audience resulted in us all learning what to avoid when offered a feature-and-ad combo.

Paul was followed by Laura Maddison of Altitude Recruitment  who gave some insider information on presenting our CVs. Always valuable advice. Rob Lavendar followed her, giving a talk titled "The Freelancer's Toolkit". I found this very interesting as it laid out some of the key tools and programs which aid the life of a freelancer. He has kindly uploaded his keynote here, which I highly recommend you check out. Lee Simpson was last up with tips on how to generate a passive income. Very interesting but not really applicable to me, unfortunately.

The following Thursday, I attended the Design PhD Conference at Northumbria University. The keynote speaker was Mike Press, a lecturer of mine from Dundee University, so it was nice to catch up as well as hear his lecture.He showed and described a broad selection of work from Jewellers to Animators, each of whom had made international impacts in their subjects from human computer interaction to cleaning up the planet. This brought the audience to a conclusion that the way ahead for design is in Social Innovation. You can read more about the conference and the lectures at the link above.

The past week has definitely given me some food for thought.

Wednesday 9 June 2010

New business cards

Got my new business cards in the post today from the wonderful Moo. Really pleased with them :)

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Wedding Photographs

A few weeks ago I took my first foray into the world of wedding photography. The bride to be, Sarah, emailed me saying she'd been recommended by a friend of mine, Clare Doogan, and could I photograph her wedding. I was a bit nervous as capturing someone's big day is a pretty big deal - and I'd never photographed a wedding before - but today I got confirmation that she'd received the photos and was delighted with them. I am so pleased - I'm not sure if I'd ever have been able to forgive myself if I'd messed them up.

With kind permission from the bride and groom, here are some of my favourites from their big day.

I've had a pretty relaxing few weeks which is really nice - also have some exciting opportunities coming my way but can't say too much at the moment :) 

Thursday 3 June 2010

Time of My Life

This week has been so amazing and it's only Wednesday. Got my final degree results and literally couldn't have done any better, so really proud of myself. I'm starting to really look forward to Graduation and Grad Ball now! It's nice to be able to chill out and relax a bit after the stress of the last few months. 

I've also had some more publicity this week on my Pillow Talk project - I was interviewed on BBC Radio on Tuesday talking about it, closely followed by a stint on Tay FM. I also somehow made it onto the front page of The Courier, which is pretty crazy. Really flattered and grateful for everything that is coming my way at the moment. 

Monday 24 May 2010

Degree Show

My degree show opened on Friday night. Here is me in my infamous yellow dress at my exhibit. It seemed to go down pretty well, lots of people took my contact details and lots of people tried it out. It runs until this Sunday at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design at Dundee University if any of you are local and fancy popping along.

The publicity just keeps on coming which is incredible really. My video on YouTube is close on 100,000 hits and on Saturday I was featured in the Arts section of The Herald. I have two job offers on the table and potential funding to develop my project so it's all systems go from here. End of an era but the start of what will hopefully be a new and exciting one. 

Monday 17 May 2010

Big Top Jamboree

This evening I was sent to photograph for The Skinny magazine at "Big Top Jamboree" - a craft/art/handmade fair organised by Jen Collins, Nikki McWilliams and Lauren Gentry - three graduates from the art school at Dundee University.

I was lucky enough to be there just before everything kicked off at 7pm. There was some really beautiful stuff on show, I'm quite amazed at what people can hand make. It's also really inspiring to see creative people still having the time and motivation to actually create - I know a few graduates who left art school and now work in call centres and banks.

Here are a selection of photos, more are available on my Flickr.

Really, REALLY wish I'd bought that bracelet!