Lockdown Diaries – Cambridge During COVID-19

It’s hard to know where to begin. The world is experiencing a global crisis and somehow writing a blog seems insignificant and a bit odd.

However, this space has evolved into a personal journal for me and despite a few months of neglect, I feel compelled to document and to share again.

Wherever you are in the world, Corona virus is having an impact. Sometimes, it is hard to comprehend just how much of an in impact because it feels so surreal. But as the situation progresses, I have found myself experiencing the reality and consequences in so many different ways. Loved ones have lost jobs, friends are in isolation and family members are struggling to get basic supplies. Like many, I am experiencing anxiety and have realised I need to check on the news just once a day in order to protect my mental health. I have felt anger when I hear of others selfishly living life as if they were before this awful disease took over everything. I feel sadness when I see the death toll and the strain on our health system. It is a massive rollercoaster of emotions.

The lockdown in the UK has been a wake up call and has highlighted so many things I took for granted in life. I am hugely grateful we are still able to go our for solitary exercise each day, but living in a city, I have found it difficult to avoid people at times.

On Friday 27 March I took my lunch break from working at home at 2pm and decided to cycle through the city centre for daily exercise. In the 14 years I have lived in Cambridge, I have never experienced it like this.

No bikes, no cars, no people. All shops and restaurants closed.

Kings Parade is usually the busiest tourist hotspot. Not in lockdown.

The Corpus Clock with no one infront of it.

The Mill Pond without any punts or people. So strange to see.

I took a couple of videos whilst cycling the empty streets.

As the situation takes hold, like many, I am trying to find a new normal and take each day as it comes. I am feeling very grateful to be able to work from home and for video calls with family and friends who are distancing or in isolation. My flatmate and I are taking moments to appreciate our home and spending time together after work to try and separate home and work life.

Dating at a distance in a lockdown has been another challenge to get my head (and heart) around. But I know that it is a minor adjustment in comparison to others who are struggling with so much more.

If you are isolating during this tough time, I am open to finding light together on the difficult days. My flatmate Emily reminded me that literally the whole world is in this together and I feel there is strength and comfort in that thought alone.

Stay safe and well x

Year of Claire – December and the year end

I can’t quite believe my Year of Claire project has come to an end. One whole year of focusing on myself and prioritising personal growth. There were highs and lows, lots of laughs and plenty of change.

Before I reflect on the entire year, here’s a little round up of what happened in December!

My work schedule was incredibly hectic for the entire month (more on this later), but I managed a couple of quick catch ups with friends. I visited the Mill Road Winter Fair (that tartiflette was amazing), crocheted a baby blanket for friends and walked Leo for Hannah and Ian.

My job as a Facilities Coordinator was very busy in December! The tech firm I work for were moving to a new office and it was our Department who managed it all and worked on the fit out. As a Department of only 4 people it was a lot of work (250 staff to move!), but a great project to be part of.

We worked long long hours and weekends too, but it was worth it! My boss and I are really proud of the new space. My favourite part of the project was working with a plant contractor and picking furniture for the Library space. Despite the exhaustion and hard graft (we cleared the old office too so I am a pro at chucking stuff in a skip and moving crates now!), I’m grateful to have had the chance to throw myself into work this year.

The day we started to move offices was also our work Christmas do. We decided to pop by for the meal for a couple of hours break, so I got ready in 15 minutes and rushed off to our NYC themed bash. My work colleagues are so much fun, so I was glad to make it for a while.

Jo and I decided to throw a more low key Christmas do for the Cambridge Creatives group this year. We met for drinks and delicious vegetarian meze at Thirsty and Hungry. We got very tiddly on a school night, but it was great to celebrate everyone’s achievements and let our hair down a bit. Even though I’m no longer running my shop. I’m happy I still get to hang out with my creative pals in the city!

Even though I had limited time to get festive this year, Em and I managed to get a tree and I had Christmas Day and Boxing Day off work to spend with family. I watched TV with the pets, saw my Grandad, played games with my cousins and read festive books with my youngest niece.

December was definitely the most hectic month of the entire year.

The Year of Claire project was one where I continued to embrace change and positivity and it felt good. I had a couple of weekends away to Amsterdam and Brighton. I upped my fitness regime and got stronger. I worked on my anxiety through therapy. I moved out of a houseshare into a wonderful flat with Em. I did so much flat pack. I fell in love and had my heart broken. I went on dates and met some great people who opened my mind and heart again. I closed the door on my business and threw myself into work. I got creative for fun again. I spent a lot of time with friends and family making memories. I rode my bike. I went paddleboarding. I flew in a vintage plane over my city. I drank coffee and went for solo brunches. I read books. I ate a lot of ice cream.

I’m hoping 2020 will allow me more time to blog, make, date, and work. I haven’t set any goals yet, but I’ll be taking January to reflect and plan in my new journal.

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Last Chance – Claireabellemakes Shop Closing Sunday

After 7 years and my post announcing my shop closure, the time has finally come! The studio doors will close on Claireabellemakes on Sunday 24 March. It’s been a busy month filled with pink postal boxes and sacks of orders and I couldn’t be more grateful! Thank you for all your support – keep reading to see what’s left in the shop.

Closing Down Claireabellemakesf you fancy a little slice of Claireabellemakes positivity from the last of the stock, you can opt for a surprise bundle of goodies for just £10 or £20.

Each bundle will definitely contain a pin and a bicycle decoration, but the rest is a total surprise! Grab your bundle here before Sunday!Surprise Boxes for Claireabellemakes Closing SaleThe Enamel Bicycle pins are still in stock and just £4 each (includes free UK shipping). They have been one of the best sellers since they launched a few years back. Grab one here.

SHOP_ Claireabellemakes closing Sale bike pinsAnd don’t forget, you can stay subscribed to my blog and social channels to see what I get up to from now on!



Memory Keeping and Celebrating Individuality

In 2017 I decided to record a one second clip of my life every day. The goal was to capture a memory and create a video at the end of the year with all the clips together. At first it was a fun task, trying to find the best part of each day to film and by the end of the year it became a chore and I was starting to feel strange about how repetitive my life appeared to be through this project.

It wasn’t until 31 December 2017 when I created the year long video that I realised how great it was to look back on the year. There were sick days, bike rides, moments that scared me and far too many clips of the cat. Watching the video back gave me a sense of achievement and I realised that no matter how repetitive or ‘boring’ some days seemed, no one else would have a video like it and that it was completely individual.

Since 2018 began, I’ve been reflecting on the previous year (you can read my highlights post here) and thinking about what I’d like to achieve going forward. Naturally we are goal setters in our house and we really enjoy being productive. At least once a week we will have a ‘get shit done’ day where our productive mindsets spur each other on and we chat about personal projects and crack on with all the things we want to achieve.

Not everyone starts the year this way and that’s OK. Lots of people have the January blues and find it hard to get going. It is tax return month after all and like many I leave it til the last minute and procrastinate a bit! Some people like to leave their Christmas decorations up and keep the relaxed festive vibe going for as long as possible. And some people don’t enjoy the ‘new year, new you’ vibe and prefer to celebrate who they already are and focus on that instead.

What is great about life is that we can all chose our own mindset and approach to the new year. Individuality is what makes people interesting. I shared on Instagram stories recently that I had experienced a rather judgy week on social media with lots of people vocalising their opinions on how one should start the new year. My posts received so many responses that many of you felt the same frustrations as me and that you want to do your own thing.

My hope is that social media doesn’t become the place where we are told how to begin our year or live our best life. Not everyone has the confidence or self esteem to brush these kinds of things off. One person responded that they were worried about sharing their 2018 goals blog post for fear of judgement about goal setting  or ‘resolutions’.  (For the record they are planning to publish the post as it feels right for them). Another said she was leaving her Christmas decorations up for a while despite judgement and my response was ‘good for you’.

So the first week of January has been a strange one on social media. My plan is to be kind and to celebrate individuality. I have set goals for 2018 and I am pleased about that. If you haven’t and you are not going to – so be it! We are all different. However you choose to start the year, I hope it is happy and you make some good memories along the way.

I’ll be taking a break from the 1 Second Everyday app this year and starting a creative memory keeping journal. If you’re interested I’ll share some of it along the way.

How do you like to start your year?



Bank Holiday Happiness

Well would you believe it, it’s Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK and the sun is shining! I’m looking for positivity this weekend after a tough week for our country. I’ll be spending time with friends, having a date night with G who has been away this week for work, and of course working on some new goodies for the shop!

This weekend I’m also having a sale in my Etsy shop yay! Just use the code MAYBANKHOL for 15% off everything. A great time to stock up on cards and gifts or maybe even a treat for yourself.SHOP- Bank Holiday sale & giveawayALSO I HAVE NEWS OF A GIVEAWAY! I have teamed up with the lovely folks at Sew Magazine for a big giveaway and I’m thrilled about it. There are 10 of the SEW necklaces up for grabs in their competition. All you have to do is complete this form to be in with a chance of winning one.
SEW-NecklaceWhat are you planning to do this weekend to stay positive? I better run, I’ve got to get to the post office and send out your lovely orders and of course grab a coffee to start my day. Happy weekend!