Published

Added layers to my hair

I’ve been growing my hair out for a little while. I loved having it short, but the £££ required to keep it up is not something I’m willing to commit to just yet. I’d like to give long hair a try but get put off when it gets around shoulder length. Not keen on feeling it around my neck and I hate finding long hairs on my sweater, pillow, etc.

It’s at the I-can’t-stand-it point now, looking pretty Basset Hound-y, so time to cut it.

I followed this YouTube tutorial with a few modifications to account for my wavy hair and lack of any straightening options. I skipped the trimming steps since I’m ok with the length right now, it just needs a better shape so that it’s less heavy at the bottom.

These are the basic steps to add layers.

  1. Gather your tools. Make sure you have enough clips + hair ties and a pair of actual hair scissors. I think ours are this pair from Sanguine, about £14.
  2. Assess how much you’re going to take off. Stand in front of the mirror and assess how long you want the shortest layer to be. Do not pull your hair straight to do this. If you have hair that is anything but stick-straight, you need to make sure you account for the loss of length when it is dry. Once you’ve decided, take a small section of hair from the very top of your head in line with your ear, hold it at the length you’d like, and then measure how much you’re planning to take off. Make a mental note or something to remind yourself of how much you’re planning to take off so that you can refer to it when you start cutting.
  3. Assess the angle you’ll use. In one hand, continue to hold the small section of hair that you grabbed in the previous step at the length that you want your shortest layer to be. In the other hand, grab another small section of hair from the same side of your head just behind your ear. The two sections should be directly on top of each other, neither of them should be further towards the back or the front of the head. Pull each section directly away from your head and towards each other. You want to bring the very end of the bottom section up to meet the point at which you’re planning to cut the uppermost layer. On my hair this was a roughly 45 degree angle. If / when my hair gets longer, I might be pulling it more directly upwards like the stylist does in the video. Remember the angle you establish since you’ll use that in a moment.
  4. Section your hair. Separate your hair in to sections by making a centre part from your forehead back to the nape of your neck and then additional top-to-bottom parts on either side of your head. Make sure each of the sections is tightly secured. I separated it in to four parts as he recommends in the tutorial, next time I’ll do six though since it would suit my hair thickness a little better.
  5. Trim the first section. Let down one of the front sections, and then brush it up and out in the angle you established previously. Holding it up at that angle, slide your finger or a comb through from front to back just around the height of your ear, and then let the lower piece down. This is forming a decent base so that you retain the length. If you don’t do this, you might end up getting some shorter layers falling out when you try to put your hair up! Run your brush through again at the required angle to get it smooth, and then put in a hair tie. Slide the hair tie down the hair keeping it at the required angle until it is a few centimetres above the length you’re planning to cut. Bring this loose ponytail slightly forward so that it is easier to see without pulling any of the hairs in the hair tie. Use your fingers in your non-dominant hand to splay the ends out a bit, and then point-cut in to the ends until you have taken off roughly the amount of length you planned to take off. Remember, you can always take off more later. Err on the side of caution.
  6. Trim the remaining sections in the same way you trimmed the first section.

I’m pretty happy with the results. This technique will do for now, but I’ll absolutely head back to a stylist once all of this is over with and we’re settled somewhere. Will miss Dean. 🙁

Related: See this video for what seems to be a decent scissor-over-comb men’s haircut tutorial…

Published

San Francisco Art Institute is closing

Facade of the San Francisco Art Institute

SFAI is closing indefinitely. Such sad news. It sounds like the CoViD-19 situation was the nail in the coffin.

I took a painting course there during the summer before my senior year of high school. I lived in the East Bay and took BART or drove over the Bay Bridge every day. It’s the sort of place I’d want to be if I had decided to keep studying art. A place where you could get lost and be left to your own devices, sort of like the old Foulis building at GSA but more labyrinthine.

The school has been around for almost 150 years. Diego Rivera painted a huge mural in the student-directed gallery in the 1930s. The photography department was founded by Ansel Adams. San Francisco’s wild parrots sometimes roost loudly in the loquat tree in the Spanish courtyard. I can’t think of anywhere in SF that offers better views of the city and the bay, for free from the Brutalist ampitheater or for the price of a bagel and a coffee at the cafe.

It’s one of my favourite places. Very sad to see it go.

Loquat tree in the Spanish courtyard at SFAI

Concrete work at SFAI

The cafe and terrace at SFAI

Published

Feet on the ground, head in the sky

A stone stile covered in moss in Addingham, West Yorkshire

I’ve been going on a few walks from the front door, no more than one a day as prescribed to maintain sanity. It’s confusing though…

The guidance says, “You can also go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others”, so a walk on a quiet public footpath should be OK. Problem is that you can’t predict how many people might be on a path before you get out there, and there are a lot of stiles and latches you have to touch to get over or through fences.

But it’s not like Main Street is any better. You have to step in to the middle of the road in order to maintain distance since the pavements are so narrow, and there are 4–5 times as many people walking there at any one time than out on the countryside paths.

It’s tough to know what to do, particularly with the police doing things like shaming people via drone cameras. I get it, we absolutely have to avoid throngs of people descending on beaches and beauty spots. But, ugh. Staying 100% inside feels actively unhealthy. Just never feel like I’m doing the right thing.

A bridge over a stream in Addingham, West Yorkshire

I’m carrying hand sanitiser and use it after each time I have to touch some apparatus. I’m planning to carry antimicrobial wipes from now on to open / close gates and get through stiles. Maybe it’ll help others too? Who knows. I’ll also spend some time coming up with more bodyweight exercise routines that I can do from “home” or a random park. Definitely one of those times you long for a garden.

The photos above are from a walk along Marchup Beck (see walk 8, the shorter version) with Sam and the photos below are from walk towards Addingham Moorside (see walk 6, the shortest version) with Gemma in London. It was a walk-and-talk over the phone, 10/10 would recommend. I got *hopelessly* lost once or twice, but it’s pretty straightforward to get back as long as you know where the middle of town is and keep the moor at your back. The walk included some stretches of the Dales Highway and the Millenium Way, I probably just needed to pay better attention to the signs.

View photos

Published

Sharp and Rough

Sharp Haw and Rough Haw in West Yorkshire

Since we don’t have a permanent home at the moment (more on that), we’re living in Addingham for a month. This is Sharp Haw and Rough Haw at the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales. The fields on either side of the path were occupied by male lapwings trying to outdo each other, and I think there was a snipe standing on top of a huge pile of manure.

Published

Digital coffee 🤖☕️

I’ve been getting a bunch of emails recently with web- and tech-related questions from collaborators, friends, clients, family members, almost everyone I know. I suspect this has to do with the huge shift we’ve all made recently in the way we work and live our lives.

Related to this, I’m offering offering free 30 minute slots every Tuesday afternoon GMT to anyone that wants to have digital coffee over Google Hangouts. I haven’t decided how long to do this, but I’ll try to continue until we’re past the worst of current events.

The point is to offer individuals – particularly those that are self-employed or run small businesses – an opportunity to ask nebulous tech-y questions. But I’m happy to talk about anything! WFH tips, recipe ideas, the best movie you’ve seen recently, great sci fi authors, how to grow herbs indoors (I could use some pointers). Only thing I’d probably rather not talk a lot about is COVID-19, please and thank you.

I can’t promise to have all the answers, but I can promise my insight and some nice face-to-face time. We could all use a bit of that right now.

If you think you’d benefit from this, feel free to sign up for a slot. If you know someone that might benefit from this, point them my way.

This is directly inspired by Carly Ayers’s Digital Coffee as linked to on Google’s Hack to Help: COVID-19 site. Nice idea.

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New neighbours

We were due to move out of London on the 31st, and then we were going to live in West Yorkshire with Sam’s family for two weeks before leaving for the US. Obviously, that plan was shot to pieces.

We were still planning to move out on time until late Wednesday night when we realised that a lockdown in London could easily mean being stuck with nowhere to go. At around 5am on Thursday, we woke up and started packing. Sam got one of the last vans at Enterprise and we Tetris-ed things in to it until about 7pm when it was filled to the brim. We said goodbye to our home for the last 4+ years, and then he drove north while I failed to stay awake in the passenger seat. We listened to a few episodes of Answer Me This and The Mythos Suite, ended up rolling in to our destination around 1am.

Meet our new neighbours.

Brown hens in a back gardens in West Yorkshire

We’ll be staying in a few AirBnBs until things calm down a little bit and it makes sense to move to the US. It’s pretty good so far. We have already worked remotely for so long, we don’t have to make any major adjustments there. And it’s a beautiful part of the world, should be able to do a lot of walking.

Part of me feels really guilty about leaving, particularly when I think about what happened with the lockdown exodus in Italy and after reading this Guardian article. We don’t want to contribute to any problems, but we couldn’t stay.

We decided on Yorkshire because it was pretty much our original plan, though we’ll probably be here longer than we had planned and will rarely see family. We’re trying to stay as distant as possible. Living in a state of flux.

Published

Pantry Parkin

This is a use-up-all-the-things parkin recipe. Useful if you want something sweet and super spiced when you’re about to move. Or, say, in the middle of a pandemic. Now is perfect. It takes an hour and a half to bake, so it’s perfect for a lazy Sunday self isolation.

For proper authenticity, use a beat-up Tala Originals Cook’s Dry Measure for most ingredients. Judge the butter amount by gauging it based on a whole block, then hope for the best.

Don’t hesitate to substitute ingredients, that’s the whole point. The only things you probably can’t get away with substituting are the black treacle / molasses and the ground ginger. If you substitute the flour, use Traditional Ovens’ converter to make sure you’ve got the right volume.


Based on a parkin recipe from The Spruce Eats.

Preheat the oven to 140C (275F) and line a 8×8″ (20×20cm) tray or two 1lb loaf tins.

In a large saucepan, melt 220 g butter, ½ c dark brown sugar, packed, ¼ c black treacle or molasses, and 1 c golden syrup or corn syrup

In a bowl, mix ½ c muesli with raisins removed, 1¼ c dark rye flour, 2 t baking powder, ¼ t salt, 4 t ground ginger, 2 t ground nutmeg, and 1 t random spices that are something similar to mixed spice. A blend of ground coriander, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon (heavy on the cinnamon) seems to work well.

Blend the wet and dry together thoroughly, then use a wooden spoon to beat in 2 eggs. The consistency should be like cake batter. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water / oat milk / normal milk.

Pour the mixture in to your prepared tin(s) and bake for an hour and a half. It may need to bake 15-20 minutes longer if using loaf tins. When done, allow to cool in the tin.

When cool, store the parkin in an air tight container. Try to let it sit at least a few days first, it will get better and better. Keeps for about two weeks, and it freezes well.