Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tuesday With Vous: Carolyn Gray Edition

I knew who Carolyn was long before we actually met due to the fact that, though she’s far too humble to admit it, she plays a key role in making sure a great number of local organisations and causes get the attention and community care they need. On top of volunteering for this, that, and the other (this post included!), she runs a terrific blog and manages to stay up-to-date on all the local Twitter happenings (follow her at @CarolynTGray). I’m incredibly grateful to count her as a TWV contributor and I hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at her Tuesday.     

When I first met Lady Katherine, she said “Oh Wow! You are the Queen of twitter”, but I think that may be a bit of an over statement. However, because of social media I have gotten involved in a lot of projects, which are taking up my life while I have no full-time work.

I had a polaroid camera when I was about eight, and was always writing stories, and then poems, and knitting and sewing, so I guess those things have never gone away. Currently, while looking after a household of increasingly tall children, I’m writing articles for several local free magazines. I’m also on the committee of my local (Grosvenor and Hilbert) park friends group, and help make their newsletter. We are planning a big Family Day for the 6th of May, so that’s taking a lot of time. I took on tweeting for Tunbridge Wells Writers group, and manage several facebook pages, too.

Tuesday, April 9th


School holidays so I’m up later than normal. First thing, coffee and a twitter catch-up!

Our dishwasher has stopped working properly… 

My Darling-Daughter and I need to go into town, but it’s still raining. Our cat goes outside, but won’t pose for a photo.
DD and I are walking into town, dodging puddles.
Bonus photo, we should have got here for 11:00 but were late….(trying too hard)
We were between having a coffee in Costa, and applying for DD passport in Post Office. Looking backwards was the better view (is that often the case?)
Lunch-time, at home.
Checking emails, and tweeting for Tunbridge Wells Writers.
15I’ve gone to the drizzly park to meet ‘a man from the council’ and another committee member to assess the field before the Family Day. Local springs are literally springing up all along the far edge of the football pitch….
16Drying out the maps from the park, we are also having to plan around repairs to a broken Victorian wall. (I’m resisting writing a history lesson here….)
17Getting ready to go out, to knitting and writers groups. Only once in a blue moon do they fall on the same Tuesday.
1818.5Two bonus photos as I race along the High Street.  As usual I’ve met someone I know while walking and got talking, not at knitting group at 6pm as I’d hoped.
18.6Second challenge of my day, at knitting group we are going to test patterns in a “30 minute knits” book.
19Happily knitting and nattering in Javabean.
20Knitted crowns, as you do.
21A short trip back along the road to see what the writers are up to. Meeting in the ‘gallery’ area of The Black Pig as there is a function in the function room.
When the fifteenth alarm of the day goes off I’m thinking it must be time to go home and stop the alarms – snooze or dismiss at 22:00?
Home, but phone is full of all these notifications, I feel the need to read them all before sleeping. Midnight, pleased to no longer have an alarm going off, and thinking about what I’m doing!
Many thanks to Carolyn for contributing to this week’s Tuesday With Vous.  If you’d like to contribute, you can find all the information here, or just drop me an email at kate (at) 

Tuesday With Vous: Samuel Marlow Outtakes

Last week, the talented Samuel Marlow was the man behind the lens for Tuesday With Vous (if you missed it, be sure to check out his post!) and today I wanted to share some of his outtakes with you.  I really like these pictures and the texture of photographs makes me want to shoot film.  (The birdbath photo, in particular, has my heart.)


If I sometimes seem a bit weird, or appear to ignore you in the street, this is what I’m thinking about…Sam_TWV_Ex02

The birdbath has been frozen solid for four days!Sam_TWV_Ex03

Lunch.  Seth Rogan Josh.  Sam_TWV_Ex04

Leaving the house. Sam_TWV_Ex05

View from the bus. Sam_TWV_Ex06

Lots of Easter Eggs.  Will all be gone by the time you read this… Sam_TWV_Ex07

Waiting for Scott. Sam_TWV_Ex08

Proscenium arch in the Opera House. Sam_TWV_Ex09

Sitting room in the street. Sam_TWV_Ex10On the way to the Writers.

Thanks, Sam!

If you’re a creative, a small business owner, or simply someone who’s a little photo-happy and would like to contribute, please get in touch.  I’m always happy to share a new perspective, regardless of whether you’re here, there or anywhere.


We Shop Local

David and I always try our best to support local businesses.  Generally, we’re pretty good, but sometimes, well, sometimes it’s just too easy to pop out to the grocery chain around the corner to pick up whatever our cupboards (or bellies) may need.  But here’s the thing about me and David, we’d rather do things that are interesting than easy, so we’ve made a commitment to each other to buy all our food locally.  Farm stalls, veg stands, butcher shops, and coffee roasters– and we’re committed to not just buy food from local shops, but to buy local food from local shops.  Shop+Local+1 Shop+Local+3Shop+Local+2Shop+Local+4On Saturday, with coffees from Basil in hand, we took a leisurely 3.7 mile stroll through town collecting our favourite foods: bread from La Roche, locally-sourced meats from Peter Speaight, cheese from Gill Wing Farm Shop, fruit and veg from Locality, and coffee from Ismail.  We had a lot of fun planning our meals in advance and walking from shop to shop.  We also enjoyed knowing that every pound we spent will support a local business and that by shopping local, we’re learning more about the marvellous people who make up the fabric of our community.

Our bellies and our hearts are happy.  xx

Making Fetch Happen


Okay, so.  Lately, I’ve been hanging out on Google+ and you know what, you guys?  It’s totally the future.  Facebook?  Too cluttered, unorganised, and self-involved (Facebook Home– you’ve got to be joking).  Twitter?  I love Twitter, but what it gains in brevity is lost in the way of visual interest.  Google+ is the best of both worlds (plus more).  It allows you to share ideas both big and small, pair your text with beautifully formatted photos, and easily network with others.

After hanging out on Google+ for the last couple days (you can find me here) and learning lots and lots, I’m ready to declare it the way of the future.  Why?  Because:

  • Circles! Organise your circles however you like, name them what you want (nobody sees them but  you), and easily share information with the people who will actually find it interesting.  Want to share your engagement photos?  Share with your Close Friends & Family circle.  Want to share an article on astrophysics?  Share it with your Geek circle.  FUN!
  • Follow Strangers! Like Twitter, you can choose to follow whomever you please.  This allows you to connect with people from all over the world, regardless of whether or not they’re in your network. Take advantage of this feature and follow brands, artists and movers-and-shakers that you’re genuinely interested in learning from and engaging with.  Then, do exactly that: learn from them, engage them, and build digital relationships.
  • Google+ App!  It’s sleek, it’s easy, it’s awesome.
  • Be Found on Google!  Posting to Google+ can boost your Google search rankings and better lead searchers directly to your content.  For anyone with an idea to sell, this is huge.
  • Communities!  Find your tribe, beat your drum, be with your people.

I know, I know. You’re all like, “Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen.”  Except that it is happening.  Still don’t believe me?  Check out these great articles by people who know what’s up and let them convince you.  And then set up your profile and circle me in– providing I’m not in the Geek circle, of course…

  • David Masters tells you how to create a great profile, organise your circles, and connect with others
  • Mark McGuinness shares 4 reasons why creatives (or anyone with an idea to sell) should be using Google+

Things I Believe About the Work / Life Balance


In the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about how I work, how I want to work, and how I play.  And now that I’m freelance, the difference between my time on the clock and time off has become a little bit blurry (all you freelancers and small business owners out there, I know you feel me).  To ensure I maintain a healthy work/life balance, I’ve created a few guidelines to keep myself on track and help me run my business without feeling like I’m being run by my business.  These are principles I believe in and am constantly reminding myself of.  I find them helpful and I hope you will, too.

  1. If you want others to respect your time, you need to respect your time.   When you’re at the helm of your business, its success relies on you, and it’s all too easy to cave into the pressure or doing everything for everyone– everyone except yourself.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy to give your personal life the TLC it needs; all you need to do is declare when you’re unavailable, and then disappear (for real, put the phone down!).  If you’re like me and don’t believe in answering emails on the weekend, let your clients know.  If you take a yoga class in the mornings or take Fridays off in the summer, let people know.  And when they call on a Friday, don’t answer.  You’ll be surprised by how often the world will wait for you.  You’ll also be surprised by how nice it feels to take the time to focus on yourself.

  2. Manage expectations.  Like all relationships, the key to a successful business relationship is to manage expectations.  Tell your clients when you’ll deliver the goods and then do it.  Be realistic about what and when you’ll deliver and you’ll never let your clients down.  Similarly, tell people when you need things from them and hold them accountable.  This will help you feel in control of your business relationships and allow you to produce better work on time and with minimal stress.

  3. Say yes. I say yes to many opportunities that come my way.  You want me to give a talk about social media at your networking event?  Okay!  You want me to snap some photos for an article you’re writing?  Absolutely!  You want me to be a brand ambassador for your clothing line?  Great, tell me more!  Be open to new experiences, new projects, and new adventures, they can lead to fantastic places.

  4. But say no, too.  As it sometimes goes when you jump at a new opportunity, you realize the initial offer was a lot sweeter than the nitty gritty details.  Perhaps the payment you’re being offered for the set of photos will be “a link in the article” when the guy writing the article is being paid with, you know, real money.  Or maybe the brand you’ll be representing struggles to email you back in a timely manner which makes you question whether they can actually deliver the important things, like inventory.  In these situations where the integrity of your work is being negatively effected, your standards are not being met, and you’re compromising and feeling uneasy, by all means say NO.  It will be difficult, but it’ll be so much better for you in the long run.  Trust.

  5. Remember, everyone is busy.  When you’re feeling under pressure and need something done, it’s all too easy to send a frantic email and ask for it Now, right now!  But, before you hit send, ask yourself how you’d feel receiving that email.  Remember, all of us are busy.  We all have lives, worries, goals, and external pressures.  In these moments of stress, take a deep breath and remember to be respectful of others and their time.  Especially if you want them to be respectful of yours.

So here’s what I’m proposing: Let’s create a positive feedback loop of mutual respect and consideration so we can all create comfortable and happy work environments.  I don’t care if you’re a freelancer, start-up entrepreneur, CEO or secretary, let’s be open with our communication, honest and respectful.  Who’s with me?

>>> If you want some extra organisation tips for running your business, check out these 8 Gmail Features You Should Be Using by Jessica Sutton.  I’m a huge fan of Boomerang, which is perfect for sending 12:30 AM emails at 10:00AM, instead.

Tuesday With Vous: Samuel Marlow Edition

I met Sam the way I meet most people in Tunbridge Wells, through Twitter.  Shortly thereafter, I met him in real life and immediately, I felt the currents of creativity running off him and asked him to contribute to TWV.  He obliged.  Enjoy his post, visit his website, take a look at his work, and follow him on Twittertoo. 

I’d only known Kate for a few days before she propositioned me to take part in her Tuesday With Vous project.  Her only stipulation was that it should be photographed on a “proper camera”.  I, in turn, agreed on the condition I could shoot film.  The result is that these photos come to you a week later than normal, as I couldn’t find anyone willing to offer me a one-hour photo service at 2 o’clock in the morning!

I took the photos on my lovely old Pentax MX, which was my constant companion through two years at college.  I bought it second-hand from Redbox Cameras (called Adams Photographic at the time) ten years ago when I started college, and this particular camera is older than I am.  One of the reasons I went with it is it is the same camera my Dad owns, so I was already familiar with how to use it.  Olny after leaving college did I add to my collection of lenses with a 28mm (used in a few of the shots here) and others, but for more than two years, the f/1.4 50mm lens the camera came with fulfilled all my photographic needs.

Of late, though, I have had less time to use it, and with everything else I carry around I have taken to leaving it at home.  It was lovely, then, to be “forced” to use it for Kate’s project, and I feel the urge to try to carry it with me again.  As I had to use up all 36 exposures on the 800ASA roll of Fuji Superia, I ended up taking more than the stipulated one photo per hour.  Some of these “outtakes” Kate has said she will share next week.

Tuesday, March 27th

Sam_TWV_0800Considered a few views from my bed for my first photo of TWV. Decided on this one…


Regardless of the fact it comes at a fairly predictable time of day, morning always seems to take me by surprise. This is my surprised face.


The e-mails that have come in overnight. Mostly newsletters and spam…

Sam_TWV_1100Two teas down. Moving onto coffee.


Was on the phone for about 20 minutes, discussing time lapse with a client. Missed midday as a result.


A brass statue of Vishnu who sits by my monitor. Four arms would be useful sometimes…


Still at the computer.


On the bus.


I find it useful to have people around when I’m writing, so coffee shops are a good place for me. I know, I’m such a cliché!


Hanging in Basil café with Scott.


I’ve always liked plants breaking out of man-made structures.


Lime and soda.


Camera shy.


This was a half-second exposure. Impressed everyone stayed so still.


Kate. How meta!


Selfie on the way home.


Putting some stuff away in the gear-room. Masks from Scene 17 of “All About Town”.


Some light reading before bed.


Big fat furry cat-puss.

A major thank you to Sam for sharing his day with us & an equally major thank you to you, dear reader, for visiting.  And remember, if you’re interested in contributing to Tuesday With Vous, you can find all the information here.  xx

American in England: Brighton

Brighton+1 Brighton+2 Brighton+3 Brighton+4 Brighton+5We rang in BST with a sunset stroll along the beaches of Brighton, my ears heavy with the noise of feet raking through rocks, my eyes glued to the horizon.

Today, England feels like summer.  The sun is out and the clatter of an unseen construction site is carried through the window like a yawn.  Birds chirp happily in the trees and though it’s still cool, I can again recall the taste of sweat, the smell of freshly cut grass and the buzz of insects doing their insect things.  I can close my eyes and imagine the way strawberries taste when they’re freshly harvested, the way a drink refreshes when it’s sipped in the sunshine and the way heat rises in a blur off the pavement.  This is going to be a good summer, dear reader, a spectacular summer.  I can feel it.  Can you?