My Writing

Learn to love where you live

I love spring. I love that the tree outside my window is in blossom, and the pot of daffodils by my front door are so vibrant, and the unexpected patch of bluebells that has appeared in my garden. I love sitting outside to eat dinner, walks in the warmth… I’m definitely a spring / summer person!

Photo shows yellow daffodils

Maybe my good mood today is also because the latest issue of Happiful magazine hit my doormat this morning. It includes my feature “Learn to love where you live”, which is about how we can connect with our local area, from learning about local history and walking heritage trails to getting involved in community projects or cooking up a meal celebrating our local cuisine.

As well as being in the May print issue of Happiful, the article is also available to read on their website.

In the article, I talk a bit about my experience of discovering more of my Staffordshire home, like taking part in a ceramics class and enjoying the wonderful delicacy that is the oatcake. As we continue to emerge from lockdown, looking at what we have locally is a great way for us to get out again, and I hope the article helps inspire others to explore their hometowns.

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Artist one-to-one session with Appetite

Earlier this week I had a really useful 1:1 session over Zoom with Kat, the Producer for Appetite. Appetite is an arts programme, funded by Arts Council England, that aims to get more people in Stoke-on-Trent and the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme to experience and be inspired by the arts. Over the past eight years they’ve led a host of cultural events, from vibrant street performances in the city centre to the current Familiar Faces project that was created to capture the familiar faces and the unique welcome of Newcastle town centre through the power of photography.

Photo of someone typing on a laptop

Appetite are currently offering 1:1 artist support sessions with local creatives as an opportunity for us to talk about our ideas and get guidance on next steps around making cultural projects happen in our communities.

We had so much to talk about in the hour-long session. I chatted about my creative career so far, and what my hopes are going forward. Kat gave some really great guidance on how to think about community engagement, and we talked through some rough ideas I have for projects. I’d like to build on my experience of running community writing workshops, and I left the session buzzing with ideas, my notebook full of thoughts to develop further.

I’d really recommend other artists in Stoke or Newcastle-under-Lyme to get in touch with Appetite for a 1:1 session. Whether you’re just starting out and want to get a better sense of the local arts scene and how you can get involved, or already have an idea for a cultural project that you’d like some specific advice on, it’s well worth getting in touch. You can find out more about the artist 1:1s here.

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A wonderful few days

I’ve had a very wonderful few days. On Saturday, after over a year of planning, I married Gary at a magical ceremony and reception at Drayton Manor. Beforehand Gary had been adamant he wasn’t going to cry, but as soon as I came down the aisle he was wiping his eyes – as was I. We’ve been together for nearly nine years and to have a day dedicated to us, shared with so many friends and family, was just perfect.

Wedding group

We had photos in the beautiful hotel grounds and then the two of us were whisked on a buggy into the theme park to pose on the carousel and by the lake as day trippers gave us bemused and friendly waves. After a lot of smiling for the camera and trying not to trip on my dress, we were back to the hotel and a delicious vegetarian three course meal, followed by speeches. I was impressed that our best man, Dan, managed to squeeze two Simpsons references into his speech – Gary and I are both big fans.

For the evening do, Gary’s band Skybald played a set that went down well with our guests, followed by a disco (that one of our guests declared had ‘the best set list ever’) and karaoke. We were fuelled by a pizza buffet and slices of our vegan wedding cake. The day went by so quick, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

It feels weird to think that the wedding is done, after such a long build up. Still, we have our honeymoon to Italy to look forward to, and I’m also very excited about receiving the images from our photographer in a few weeks’ time.

Caroline and Gary

Just four days after the best day of my life came another big event: my graduation. It has taken five years part time to get here, but I now have my MA in the Teaching and Practice of Creative Writing, graduating with a Distinction. Staffordshire University hold their graduation ceremonies in the beautiful Trentham Gardens in Stoke-on-Trent. As it (mostly!) did for the wedding day, the rain held off and I was able to enjoy posing in the gardens in my cap and gown.

So that’s two major life events in less than a week! I’m now thinking ahead to my future – my future with my husband, my future as a writer, and my future academically. I have some ideas as to where I want to be, and I’m excited as I look ahead.

My Writing

Article in Simply Vegan

Simply Vegan MagazineI’m happy to have an article in the current issue of Simply Vegan magazine about vegan friendly places to eat in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.

There’s nothing nicer than catching up with people you care about over food and a few drinks. I love going out for something to eat, whether returning to a favourite café for coffee and cake or trying out a new restaurant with my fiancé and our friends. I’m also passionate about good vegan food, so writing about vegan places to eat locally was an obvious choice.

The article gives my recommendations of several cafes and restaurants in the local area that are worth visiting for those interested in or following an animal free diet. It was hard coming up with a shortlist of places as there’s an abundance and ever growing list of great eateries that cater for vegans, so I tried to get a mix that showcases different types of food, from a Chinese restaurant that does amazing tofu dishes to a community café that serves cheap but delicious homemade vegan cakes. My aim was to write an article that features something for everyone and highlights some of the great vegan options out there in a part of the country I’ve been happy to call home for nearly nine years.