I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

Letter Play

When I was back home at my par­ents over Christ­mas I sort­ed through a cou­ple of box­es of bits that were tak­ing up some space in the room I sleep in when I’m there. Dur­ing the process I came across some of my old sketch­books from my Art Foun­da­tion course and had a flick through.
I was struck by how dif­fer­ent they were com­pared to the note­books I’ve been keep­ing for the last few years. They were full of cre­ativ­i­ty. Each page was dif­fer­ent, whether it was explor­ing my own ideas on a project, or a con­tex­tu­al spread about a design­er or artist that inspired me.
The last cou­ple of days have been odd ones for me. After many months of not feel­ing much of the effects of my depres­sion, yes­ter­day when I woke up I could feel the heav­i­ness and fog of it. I had the same thing this morn­ing, so I’ve done what is the only thing I can do. I’ve tried to push on and not let it stop me doing my work.
This evening I put a film on, one of my favourites, Good Will Hunt­ing and grabbed my sketch book, a scalpel, two mag­a­zines I get free from Wait­rose, a pritt-stick, and my Bible. I flicked to one of my favourite vers­es and while I watched the film I sat on the floor cut­ting out words and letters.
It’s been a long time since I did any­thing like this and about ten min­utes before the film fin­ished I had fin­ished. It might’ve tak­en me a lot longer than I remem­ber it tak­ing, but for those two hours there was no fog and I was just able to enjoy being absorbed in some­thing a lit­tle more cre­ative than my nor­mal design work.

My Secret Battle – a Grief Shared ›

This week I can across the blog is Simon Thomas. He’s a Sky Sports pre­sen­ter and a Chris­t­ian, known by many in the U.K. He lost his wife to can­cer in Sep­tem­ber last year and has been blog­ging about his grief. This week he shared a post about his Secret Bat­tle with depres­sion and anxiety.
It’s a very hon­est and open account of the bat­tle he has, and still is, fac­ing. I have a great admi­ra­tion for any­one who is able to post so pub­licly about their bat­tle with men­tal health. I have attempt­ed to write many times about my own strug­gle with depres­sion, it is not an easy thing to do. I’m thank­ful that Simon has a strong faith in God that is help­ing him through this time. My own faith helped me in my dark­est time, and I have wit­nessed the faith of oth­ers close to me help them. I am for­ev­er thank­ful for this.

Book Budget

I just added a new cat­e­go­ry in my YNAB Bud­get under Qual­i­ty of Life Goals, it’s name? Books.
Since I start­ed using Goodreads in 2013 I’ve read 104 books. That’s an aver­age of just under 21 books a year with a low of 17 in 2013 and a high of 34 books in 2016.
Clear­ly I like to read, so it made sense to actu­al­ly bud­get for these books finan­cial­ly since I’m already mak­ing time in my life to read them. There’s some­thing very dif­fer­ent about sit­ting down and relax­ing with a good book com­pared to a film or boxset that I enjoy a great deal. Most of these books are fic­tion, I find they pro­vide me with a good way of shut­ting my mind off at the end of the day by forc­ing me to use my imag­i­na­tion. I have to let my mind cre­ate the images that go with the words, con­vert­ing the writ­ers descrip­tions into visu­als in my mind. The words on the page act­ing as the brush and my mind as the paint to cre­ate the large land­scapes and cityscapes as well as the detail of the char­ac­ters faces and the expres­sions they pull.
Until a few years ago I had gone a few years with­out read­ing a lot, I always had a nov­el on the go but the num­ber I would read in a year was much less. Grad­u­al­ly as I got old­er and remem­bered how much I like read­ing the num­ber would increase, but the inten­si­ty at which I devoured books became greater after I became ill with depres­sion a few years ago. Through­out my recov­ery, and when I find my mood dip­ping again, nov­els become a great source of escape. Usu­al­ly I find con­cen­tra­tion hard when I’m bat­tling a low peri­od, but a good nov­el (often a famil­iar one that I’ve read many times) is able to pro­vide me with some escape. Read­ing the prose of a good fan­ta­sy or sci-fi book allows me to find free­dom from the cir­cu­lar thoughts and spi­rals of what­ev­er I find myself fix­at­ing on. As a visu­al thinker let­ting my imag­i­na­tion build the worlds cen­turies away from today (in either direc­tion) is a great way of exer­cis­ing my cre­ative mus­cles and pre­vent­ing those unhelp­ful thought pat­terns take hold.
When­ev­er I’ve spo­ken to friends who have been strug­gling with sim­i­lar men­tal health issues, I always rec­om­mend they read. It takes a bit of effort to start, but I’ve found it much more help­ful than watch­ing a film. The act of watch­ing images devel­op on a screen is far less dis­tract­ing than hav­ing to engage your mind with the words and sto­ry of a book. Read­ing, I find, is a form of active rest. I can let my body rest and recharge, while using my mind in a way that’s dif­fer­ent from the work of my two jobs, and in so doing let­ting it refresh and recharge.
So here’s to books, to my new book bud­get, and to the many more hours of rest that they will provide.


Back in Jan­u­ary 2015 when I realised I was ill, and con­se­quent­ly start­ed a course of anti­de­pres­sants, many peo­ple encour­aged me to exer­cise. I had been a keen cyclist and they encour­aged me to keep at it and get out on my bike as much as I could. I was told, and in fact read many times, that exer­cise was a great way of coun­ter­ing some of the symp­toms of depres­sion. My issue was that the thought of going out on my bike caused me anx­i­ety and stress, both things which I was try­ing to avoid and so I dis­missed the notion as not for me. Near­ly two and a half years lat­er I’m start­ing to under­stand a lit­tle of what the mys­te­ri­ous they were talk­ing about.
About a month ago I moved into a new flat, one which I’m liv­ing in on my own, it’s great to have my own space again. As a con­se­quence of that move I’ve been doing a lot more walk­ing. It’s locat­ed in such a place that I can walk to pret­ty much every­where I need to go on a reg­u­lar basis. I can walk to my shifts at the cof­fee house, my church, a cou­ple of super­mar­kets, as well as the cen­tre of town, and I’ve been doing that as much as is prac­ti­cal­ly pos­si­ble. It’s become a time that I enjoy, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pop my head­phones in and lis­ten to some music or catch up on a few podcasts.
Over the last cou­ple of weeks I’ve begun to notice some­thing, when I don’t get my dai­ly walks in my mood suf­fers. The real­i­sa­tion has come home to roost this bank hol­i­day week­end. On Sat­ur­day and Mon­day I did­n’t real­ly go out. I stayed home in my flat tin­ker­ing on my web­sites, mak­ing a few adjust­ments, watch­ing some TV shows, what most peo­ple call relax­ing. And it has been just that, but today I noticed the heav­i­ness creep­ing in, it made me realise what effect going out for a walk has on me.
It’s not just the small amount of exer­cise that a brisk walk pro­vides that I’ve missed today, it’s the inten­tion­al­i­ty of going for a walk. Instead of the day just pass­ing by, the act of walk­ing to work is inten­tion­al and pro­vides an ele­ment of struc­ture to my day. I need to sched­ule in the time for my walk to work oth­er­wise I won’t get there on time let­ting peo­ple down. It helps that my walk to work is a pleas­ant one down an old rail­way line, that’s what’s in the pho­to at the top of this post, for a moment I can be lost in the won­der of look­ing at the trees and green­ery as I walk. It pro­vides a chance to look at God’s cre­ation and see how the same place changes from day to day. It’s a chance to walk and lis­ten to some new music or the lat­est pod­casts, in my own lit­tle world that’s out­side in the wider world. It’s a chance to pop the head­phones out and walk lis­ten­ing to the birds and rustling of the trees. When the sun’s out it’s espe­cial­ly enjoy­able, but even on a rainy day I look for­ward to my walk to work.
Almost by acci­dent I’ve dis­cov­ered that the act of walk­ing to work pro­vides me with a moment of calm. In that walk there is noth­ing I can do for my design busi­ness, noth­ing I need to do for my cof­fee house shift, no tweets or Insta­gram pho­tos to catch up on (unless I want to walk into my fel­low walk­ers or be run over by the many cyclists), I can just enjoy the sim­ple act of walking.

My Movember Page

So tomor­row is the first day of Novem­ber or Movem­ber as it’s come to be known. It might not be as fash­ion­able as it used to be but I’ve always been a fan of it, any­thing that rais­es the aware­ness of mens health. This year I noticed they also do work towards rais­ing the aware­ness of men­tal health in men. As some­one who has been affect­ed by men­tal ill­ness (depres­sion specif­i­cal­ly) I decid­ed this year was the year I would take part.
If men­tal ill­ness has affect­ed you or some­one you know please do con­sid­er spon­sor­ing my mous­tache!

Finding Your Bliss Station ›

There’s so much stuff on the inter­net that it seems like an impos­si­bil­i­ty that you would read some­thing at exact­ly the time you need to read it. Austin Kleon’s recent arti­cle about find­ing your bliss sta­tion has man­aged to achieve just that.
Around a year ago I was just fin­ish­ing up a course of coun­selling aimed at help­ing me under­stand the depres­sion I was diag­nosed with in Jan­u­ary 2015. One of the things I learnt about myself was my need to do cre­ative things for myself and how over the year pri­or to my diag­no­sis I had stopped doing that. This evening as I read Austin’s arti­cle it hit home a lit­tle fur­ther, I might’ve lost my cave a lit­tle bit.
This week has been a tough one, the first tough week for a while which is some­thing I know hap­pens to every­one now and again. A give­away sign, which I’ve realised as I write this, is the recur­rence of the word intro­vert in a lot of my snippets/tweets. I’ve been crav­ing time on my own, and that usu­al­ly hap­pens when I’m start­ing to feel a bit unbal­anced in life. It’s a lit­tle clue that I might’ve lost my bliss sta­tion, or cave as I’ve referred to it in the past.

What’s clear is that it’s health­i­est if we make a dai­ly appoint­ment to dis­con­nect from the world so that we can con­nect with ourselves. 

In coun­sel­lor speak this is called self care. We need to take time out to take care of our­selves, to stop our­selves being bom­bard­ed by the world around us. To find a place that frees us from the stress­es of work, from run­ning a busi­ness and work­ing for some­one else at the same time. From being around peo­ple all day, to hav­ing a few moments to our our­selves each and every­day. To take a lit­tle bit of time to do some­thing we want to do just because we enjoy it and it helps us feel free.
By Sun­day evening I plan to have reclaimed my cave from the dump­ing ground it’s become, and in the spir­it of mak­ing bet­ter use of my cal­en­dar I plan to sched­ule in a time every­day for me to be in it just because I want to cre­ate some stuff for myself.

Some­times a day hits you when things that are nor­mal­ly easy to do become the hard­est things. I mean sim­ple things like get­ting out of bed, going down­stairs and mak­ing a cof­fee. That’s the nature of depression.
When it hap­pens you have to find ways of get­ting through because giv­ing in to it can be crip­pling. Giv­ing in can be the start of a down­ward spi­ral, a spi­ral you don’t want to be in and that can take a long time to get out of. That’s a place you don’t want to go. Instead you have to find a way to push through, to stop the down from tak­ing over. What that looks like is the tricky part, but for every­one there is way of doing it.