Happy New Year (better late than never)

This morning, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen since before Christmas and he said 'What have you been up to lately?' and it suddenly dawned on me that so much has happened in the past two months (3 months?) since my last blog entry!

Firstly, the WrenHouse design team visited the IAAPA convention in Orlando on 16th November. IAAPA is the 'International Association for Amusement Parks and Attractions' and is basically seen as the government body for the attractions industry. They hold different expos all over the world, every year. I actually visited the Euro Expo show in 2016, in Barcelona with the Quarry Fold Studio team.

The main expo is held in Orlando and it's huge - it almost, if not, fills the exhibition space in the humongous Orlando County Convention Center.

I had made informal plans to meet with a friend, Andreas Andersen who is the CEO of Liseberg, the theme park in Sweden I have worked with previously. When I went into the exhibition hall I was greeted with 10m posters of his face, as I learned he is now the Chairman of IAAPA! What a pleasant surprise, and huge congratulations to him. I thought he may have been too busy to come and meet with me but he happily came out of a meeting room to gimme a hug, it was lovely to see him again!

I drove up to Tallahassee for thanksgiving (23rd November) with the Mordens, which was great to be all together.

Scott, Debra, Griffin, with their friends from Universal - Merritt and Wayne, and myself all went to see 90s Rockabilly legend Brian Setzer in concert in Orlando on 30th November. It was an amazing concert, such energy - and it was great cus it was the type where no one felt the need to stand up, it was very chilled yet lively. Everyone was kitted out in their Rockabilly garb, it was a great night.

Derek Yaniger, one of my favourite artists actually designed the poster for the gig, and Scott reached out to him to admire it. He sent Scott an original drawing!! So cool.

On 1st December, I gave a lecture/ presentation online via Skype to the students who are currently taking the course I did at Leeds College of Art, BA Hons Graphic Design. It was great to think about how far I have come, and what I would tell my undergraduate self. Thanks to John Watters for the opportunity, I actually had a lot of fun.

The next day, Mum and Georgia came to visit me the first two weeks of December. We had a blast!

The first week, I showed them as much as I could around where I live in Sarasota. This mainly included food and beaches?

We went to Weeki Wachee, which was great for me to finally visit the park I had created been designing for whilst I was still in England. It was cool to see it all in person, including my T-shirt design! We watched the mermaid show and met with the art director/ mermaid safety advisor/ photographer and all-rounder Andrew Brusso, who has become a good friend of mine since working with the 'friends of Weeki Wachee' group. He took us into the stage control room, underwater! It was amazing.

We also had a bit of lunch, wandered around the park and then took a ride on a boat down the Weeki Wachee river. It was beautiful. Such a good laugh to be with these two again.

I had also arranged for us to drive up to Orlando and visit Epcot. Mum and Gee finally got to ride the attraction I operated when I worked with the Walt Disney Company back in 2014. It was a lovely day. The next day, we did Magic Kingdom - we pretty much did every attraction, it was such a laugh.

We stayed over in Orlando, and Sohmer joined us on the second night. We all went out for dinner.

I had then arranged for us 4 to meet with some of the Morden/ Sirois for lunch at the BoatHouse in Disney Springs. It was great, if not a little bit cold! Felt kinda ... hurricane-y. Mum and Gee haven't seen these guys for nearly ten years?!

Georgia flew back home after one week - just due to work timetables. Me and mum proceeded into the second week by driving up to Tallahassee - nice for mum to be reunited with family.

Me, mum and Debra took a trip to the Salvador Dali Museum, there was a brilliant Schiaparelli fashion exhibition on, it was amazing. Some very intricate embroidery work. I love 30s era fashion, too - was surprised to see some very modern/ surreal shapes.

After mum flew home on 16th December, I actually did some work, for once before me and Sohmer left for Christmas in North Carolina!

On 22nd December, we drove 11 hours from Sarasota, Florida - up through Georgia, South Carolina then finally North Carolina. We stopped at her friend, Heathers house for a night. Heather was a wonderful, generous host, a mean cook with a great sense of humour. It was a right laugh. We then proceeded on to Sohmer's late father's lake house, it was absolutely stunningly beautiful. We then went from there to see her Mom and auntie. Sohmer's aunt and uncle live in a lovely 1940s house, and her aunt generously gifted me a bag of records, some very cool old books and victorian medicine bottles. Thanks a lot to Sohmers family and friends for being so accommodating.

On 27th December, we drove 13 hours back down to Orlando (there was a lot of traffic on our way back!) and stayed in a hotel, as the very next morning I was due to fly out to New Jersey!

I went to visit somebody I had never met before in person, but of whom I had grown very close to via the internet. I sent Will a message on instagram, admiring his graphic design work and noticing that he was into a lot of the same music as I am. We exchanged hundreds of messages, and found we have a lot more things in common than we originally thought. I took the chance to go out there and visit him for a few days, and had an absolute blast. Will took me all around his hometown, was weird to be in the snow after coming from the sunshine State. He took me to where he grew up, Atlantic City - and took a walk on the beach. We visited the art museum in Philadelphia, hung out listening to records, ate a lot, talked about music, art, design, sarcasm and laughed our asses off. It was great to be in such intelligent company. We went to a New Years party together with his friends and played board games. I had an amazing time.

We had such a good time, in fact, that he plans to visit me in a few weeks here in Florida!

During the trip, I went to a Goodwill outlet with Will's Mom, Julia, who alongside her teaching career, hosts an online vintage shop, and so we were treasure hunting. I actually found some really interesting stuff and it was a really fun morning. She has great taste! I bagged a 1960s souvenir vinyl soundtrack to Mary Poppins. Love this cover artwork. I also got a 70s Disney World 'pennant' (new word for me) and I also chose this Ringling Brothers wall decal, because it felt significant to Sarasota. Julia actually sold me a beautiful ceramic Christmas tree from her collection, I'd been wanting one for ages! Thanks to her for a great day!! So lovely to meet her.

I've actually not been doing too well since the new year, with a lot of stress and just not been myself. A think a few 20-something life questions have been troubling me, but I'm glad to be feeling back to normal and on top of things. Thanks to my great friends, family and Will for being just the best and reminding me that I TOTALLY GOT THIS!

I dyed my hair pink!

I bought some new 1940s reproduction shoes.. I LOVE THEM!

I finally bought a car!! Big thanks to Debra, Scott, Will, Will's mom, my mum, Cat and Sohmer for helping and bullying me into finally doing this, what a relief... only took six months being in the USA but say hello to Wilson!!

Until next time, blog!

#christmas #friends #Epcot #WeekiWachee #Sarasota #WaltDisneyWorld #geekingout #music