Category Archives: These Recent Things

These Recent Things (Hotdogs, Castles & Car Parks)

Last weekend we visited friends in Denmark, stayed in a castle, ate the best hotdogs of our lives, and saw the most brilliant futuristic carpark. I also drank tea out of a cup with a goat on the bottom of it. These are the things that make life.

This weekend we stayed at home, Adam’s been doing DIY and making burgers, I’ve been ironing, writing, and preparing for the week ahead, and Tutti’s been throwing herself at the back door in an attempt to get out and chew the grass.

So, what’ve I got to tell you? Everything, of course!

Remember a few years ago I founded a charity in my airing cupboard? The Toiletries Amnesty has been  announced as the winner of the X Foundation Grant. We’ve got the funding to produce  a dedicated website, and the motivation to create a global movement.

I went to the IMM travel event at the QEII Centre in London, met lots of interesting people and caught up with some of my favourite travel-writing friends. The highlight though, was when I noticed everyone pressed up against the window to watch the royal family going into Westminster cathedral for the Commonwealth Service. There were cries of ‘Look, there’s Megan!’ and, ‘Who’s that weird looking child in the red beret?’ Turns out it was Theresa May.

Eleanor and I attended the Holland Press Awards at the Hoxton, Holborn. An article I wrote for the Huffington Post was nominated for an award. I didn’t win, but I did get to eat a lot of cheese, so, still a winner.

That was such a lovely night. Probably the best awards event I’ve been to. We left with huge bunches of peachy tulips and talked well into the night, in our Ibis Budget hotel cell. Last time we were together was a press trip where we ended up sharing a suite because the hotel rooms were so big I was scared to stay on my own!

The next day we headed off to IPPUDO for good food – delicious ramen and a fancy cucumber. We popped in to Melissa to see Juno Calypso’s exhibition. Eleanor bought shoes and I spoke to a man about data and web cams in the red basement salon the Juno had created. The neon light on the wall flashed from Radience to Die, and for a short moment I wondered if it was a trap.

Whilst we trotted around the city, me lugging a bag full of all sorts, including cured meats and a chopping board, and Eleanor, surrounded by dozens of glorious tulips, Adam Whatsapp’d me updates from home – the cat had slept on the bed, April had laid her first egg of spring. Oh yeah, my real life!

The problem with having a three day work jolly is coming home to no heating and more snow,  a head cold and an email mountain.  I’m not sure when I am going to launch the Karen Harvey Anti Email Party, but it’s coming, and there will be a buffet. And crowns.

I watched a fair bit of We Bare Bears.

The dishwasher broke and all the pans were inside, so I had to go to the pub for lunch.

I went to an event with Green Flag at Devils Pit 4×4 in Bedfordshire. A man came up to me and asked, Are you here to interview Chris?’ ‘No,’ I said, I’m here for the cars’. He patted me gently on the arm and moved on. He was talking about a man from the TV show Love Island. I was talking about a 400 quid Saab 95 and a clapped out white van. Apparently I was the fastest driver of the day. Unfortunately, the competition wasn’t about speed.

I also had a brilliant day up at Donington testing tyres with Bridgestone.

I went to Paris – I didn’t get mugged, I didn’t stand in dog poo, I didn’t eat a macaron, I didn’t eat a snail. Did I even go to Paris?

I got a new accountant. Hooray!

I sat next to a man on the tube who seemed to be quite warm, he had a puffer jacket on, in that really shiny material, and he kept wiping his head on his sleeve. His sleeve was very wet and inside I was like, ‘Eww, wet sleeve, eww wet sleeve next to me!’

When I got off the tube I realised that he had sweated so much that it had gone through his jacket sleeve, through my coat sleeve and then through my jumper sleeve. My left arm was soaking wet with random man sweat!

Adam says I can burn my coat, now that spring’s here.

I was coatless, but then my amazing designer friend Dusica sent me a coat that her studio had made just for me. That’s right. Joy and gratitude overload!

I judged the photography prize at the South Holland exhibition, sponsored by Shutter Hub again this year.

The Shutter Hub BORDERS exhibition finished at St Bride Foundation and we confirmed the OPEN this year will be at the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane.

I wrote an article for Shutter Hub on Why the Photography Industry is Saying No to Instagram Pods.

I wrote Foodie Finds for Surf4 (including an amazing lunch at IPPUDO and an evening of cheese, meat and vodka with Woodalls Charcuterie).

And I thought I had sprained my ankle. Turns out it’s Achilles tendinopathy (what athlete’s get, innit). Then I sprained something else, my tooth, on an olive pit. Seriously, did you know that was a thing?

Some photography work I did several years ago with Louise Katerega and Foot in Hand has been included in a publication called Invisible Visibility: Diverse Voices within Inclusive Dance. It was so lovely to be reminded of the project – an absolutely marvellous family of dancers, ignoring adversity, and just being their beautiful, brilliant selves.

Tutti Biscotti turned 11 years old. That’s one whole year she’s lived with us, and in that times she’s only gained a few nicknames; Tuttinda Hotspot, the grey slug and Babooman (because she looks half baboon, half human). 


I went to the UK Blog Awards. The invite said the dress code was ‘As Glam as you Can’. I wore trainers and ate two squares of deep fried belly pork in a hotel basement.

And then we went to Denmark, stayed in that castle, learnt some Danish (fart means speed), ate that hotdog,  went to the sea, and had a lovely, lovely time.

I’m loving the brighter evenings, the signs of spring, and this fruit salad of primroses in my mum’s garden.

These Recent Things (Go, Go, Snow, Stop)

I was about to leave the house for the train station, but then a snowflake fluttered by. That busy day of meetings turned into a tea and email fest at home. Snow day. The chickens wouldn’t come out of their house for fear that the sky was falling. I had to take porridge and sweetcorn to their door. I didn’t have to wear socks and sandals, (like a total dude) but I did anyway, and I learnt my lesson.

I’m finding it hard to believe we’re already two months into the year, but I imagine we’re all feeling the same. I think that’s why I like to write this to you, to share stories, to document memories to reaffirm that I’ve been using my time for good things.

So, here are my recent oddments of joy and wonder.

The Artificial Things exhibition closed at Cambridge University, our BORDERS exhibition opened at St Bride Foundation in Fleet Street with an amazing response, and then we travelled to Tel Aviv Israel to launch our Girl Town exhibition.

I wrote about our trip to Tel Aviv – staying in a hovel box, meeting a cross eyed cat, sharing our exhibition, being featured in a national Israeli newspaper, eating weird snacks that made my lip swell up all pouty, hanging out with friends and seeing the sights and the sea.

When we got home I was interviewed by i24NEWS. Want to see me say ‘boobies’ in front of an international audience of millions? Of course you do!


Our dear Sandra chicken (RIP) was featured on the front cover of Practical Poultry, and some of my photographs of Kettles Yard were used in an educational publication based around nature in the house.

A Huff Post article that I wrote has been nominated for a Holland Press Award.

This blog has been shortlisted for the UK Blog Awards Best Travel Blog 2018.

And I got invited to visit a dog food factory and sample their food. Weird that they thought the offer might tempt me. I don’t even have a dog. (Or want to drive to Wales and eat dog food).


I ate a great meal at TOZI. I wrote about my great meal at TOZI.

I gave blood, Adam gave blood. I ate an orange Club biscuit and tried to sing Dub Be Good to Me to an old man. I wrote about it all here.

I went to the Embassy of the Netherlands and ate breakfast.

I ripped the front bumper off my car. 75% accident, 25% intent. (Two men came to tell me my bumper was hanging off, I was already out of the car and loading it into the back seat).


I went to Leigh on Sea. I saw the sea. I went to the Francesca Maffeo Gallery, recorded an interview, gave some portfolio reviews and saw some books with pigeons in.

And, in Southend, I saw a woman at the pedestrian crossing, standing in the middle of the road. She dropped something from under her arm, it bounced and rolled back into the road. It was a small dog in a little blue coat!


The end… for now.

These Recent Things (Winter, Snow, Travel & Time)

This geranium brings me much joy. Flowering away in the conservatory, whatever the weather. A candyfloss bloom, come rain or shine. I used to hate geraniums, I thought they were old fashioned and smelt funny, but now I love geraniums… they are old fashioned and smell funny.

I’ve totally gone off carrots though.

I think this the bit where I am supposed to tell you my goals for 2018? I do love a good list, and I have many ambitions, but I’m not suddenly going to achieve them all when the clock strikes midnight. I know that. You know that. We all know that ‘eat more healthily’ just means ‘be more secretive about eating snacks’. I do have one big goal for 2018, and I’m probably going to need your help with it, but I’ll come back to that when I have something more organised to share. Ooo, the suspense. Cliff-hanger. (Wanker). Whatever.

So, again, it’s been a while and I can’t remember everything.


Things that I know have happened since I last wrote…

Our chicken April appeared on the front cover of Practical Poultry magazine.  I got to write some words about my love for her: ‘Her favourite food is red grapes, she likes to sleep in trees and she runs like Basil Fawlty’.

I wrote Foodie Finds things for Surf4, I wrote a short travel piece for Thomas Cook. I wrote a review of Cig Harvey’s beautiful book, You An Orchestra, You A Bomb for Shutter Hub. (And she loved it. And I loved that she loved it.)

I washed a house plant called Mary in vodka and it survived, in fact, it flourished.

I gave portfolio reviews with Renaissance Photography Prize at Getty Images Gallery in London.

I did my first ever ‘Facebook Live’, where I talked to Charly Lester from A League of Her Own about the Shutter Hub blog.

I went on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s afternoon Drivetime show and talked with presenter Thordis Fridriksson. Beforehand, I asked friends on Facebook for bets on what embarrassing off-topic things I might come out with– the consensus was chickens or toilets!

I worked with Bose and PSR Automotive, and drove a bunch of super cars including an Audi R8, a Porshe 911, a Lotus Evora and, my favourite, a Lamborghini Gallardo. Heart eyes!

Both Adam and I did our last sprint of the year, with Lotus Cup UK Speed,  at Rockingham. The day went like this, for me – I stalled on the startline because I got distracted singing the Black Beauty theme tune. I spun the car on second practice because I got cramp in my foot. I finished 6th in class.

On the fantastical food front I can tell you, I went to Yuu Kitchen’s first birthday dinner and it was amazing. I made pistachio and chai spiced fudge and nobody died. And Olivia took me for afternoon tea at a shed in the middle of a Suffolk field.

‘I was born cross eyed and stopped breathing when I was two,’ said the waitress, before inviting me to feel her over-extended intestinal bulge, which she revealed from beneath her pink floral apron.

We had snow. Everyone had snow. Some people even had snow twice! Snow on a Sunday. It’s a modern-day miracle.

I spoke at a symposium at Cambridge University. I even got asked for an autograph afterwards. Never had that before. Death threats, yes, but not autograph requests.


I travelled to Holland and Belgium, Eindhoven and Antwerp. It was wonderful. The architecture, the food, the culture, the company. Wonderful. Then I came home and was forced into submission by food poisoning. It was bad. Bad. So bad I thought it must be Malaria! After several weeks of pain, weakness, and dependency on close ties with the toilet, I rose from my sofa nest and ventured out into the world. Then I retreated for Christmas.

We embraced the Midwinter Movement and decorated the house for winter. Stayed home for Christmas. Enjoyed the quiet.

And that’s that, really. I hope 2018 is good for you, and the year after, and the year after that.

I’ll leave you with what is perhaps my favourite photograph of 2017, it’s blurry and badly composed, but it’s bloody hilarious and I love it!

These Recent Things (Cats, Cruise Ships & Cars)


I should have written sooner. All those days blurring busily into weeks, months. Today I’ve found, in between baking an apple cake and prepping for the Renaissance Photography Prize portfolio reviews, a pocket of time that would have otherwise been filled.

Right now I should have been in Tel Aviv launching an exhibition, giving portfolio reviews, hunting down cakes of excellence. But, flights cancelled, exhibition postponed, I’ve found myself at home with time, and sunshine, and an abundance of autumn fruit.


I’ve been busy, I’ve been away, I’ve been to Scotland, and Amsterdam, I’ve driven half way across Rwanda and back. I’ve seen giraffes, and baboons, and cats (no big cats) and funny little birds that roll over as they fly, offering glitzy glimpses of their colourfully feathered undercarriages. I even found myself accidently on a cruise ship (never again).

I’m not sure that, however I try, I can really remember what I’ve been up to, let alone tell you in any detail, but that’s what photographs are for, right? Right.


I’ve done some good eating out – Crown & Punchbowl, Kimchee, Dishoom, Bills in Victoria (because of the great company and velvet corner nest), and eating in – when I had the pleasure of welcoming chef Anita Kerai into my kitchen. She arrived with boxes full of food and spices, and a big grin on her face. Within minutes she’d begun, cooking up a Gujarati feast in my Fenland kitchen, completely relaxed in this stranger’s home. After a day of cooking and learning it was time to eat. We sat down, friends over a feast of delicious food, and Anita shared with me the story of how she became a chef (and I shared that story over here on Surf4).

Adam and I sprinted at Brands Hatch at the Lotus Festival alongside Lotus Cup Europe and all sorts of other wondrous racing. I love Brands Hatch. I was 8th out of 11, which isn’t particularly exciting, but I did knock just over 3 seconds off my time from the previous year, so that was good.

Then we went to Rockingham for a two hour track evening with Alan and that was great fun.


Shutter Hub continued to fundraise for the GIRL TOWN exhibition, dozens of people came forward to share their messages of support (read them here), and Laura’s brilliant article  ‘Celebrating the Culture of the Female in the 21st Century’ got featured on the World Photography Organisation blog, and in Amber Magazine.

We made the selection of work for our forthcoming ‘Artificial Things’ exhibition with Cambridge University which opens on the 3rd November, and we’ve begun work on the accompanying events – come and join us for drinks and talks on 30th November if you can. We’ve also started work on plans for an exhibition in Fleet Street, London early next year, so I’ll let you know about that sometime soon too.

I was very happy to be asked by the FORMAT team to join them at Unseen Amsterdam and give portfolio reviews last month. Unseen is heralded as one of the best photography festivals in the world, I’d never been before and I was excited to have a doubly good reason to go. And I love the Netherlands.

I left my car at the station and got the train to Stansted, plane to Schiphol, train to Amsterdam, and arrived in time to meet my friend Dagmar for Vlaamse Frieten and good chats.

I’d picked a central spot to stay, although Unseen was over at Westergasfabriek (near where I once ate a gold and silver clay covered purple potato), I wanted to be able to enjoy more of the city for my few days. The Nova Hotel (with a bit of a  Hoxton-Shoreditch vibe to the rooms, but more space) was just minutes away from Dam Square and gave me good reason to walk – apart from when I overslept, of course.

Rushing to the reviews in the morning my driver couldn’t see the map, or where he was going. He fumbled and swerved, searching for his glasses. ‘On your head,’ I told him, wishing I’d been up in time to walk.

De Bakkerswinkel was the most lovely venue for the portfolio reviews. Perhaps we could have done with brighter lighting, but the calming atmosphere and fascinating space made for a really relaxed and engaging day. I gave eight reviews in all. I felt inspired, alert and tired, all in one big bundle. I walked back across the city, stopped off to buy orange juice, grapes, salad and a big bar of Tonys Chocolonely, and then headed back to my hotel room where I sat at the table and enjoyed my picnic. It was great!

In the morning I went back over to Unseen – I saw friends and photography, I saw a pig being spit roasted in the street, and a pigeon smiled at me from a bush. Walking back to the station in the sun I met the most magnificent cat sitting outside a bakery sniffing the breeze.

That’s what I call a successful trip.

No sooner was I home than I was rushing off to Rwanda, but that’s another story, a long story, with baboons and hippos, tree tomatoes and passionfruit juice, and a crappy death trap of a hire vehicle. (Thanks Europcar!)

In stark contrast to driving freely across a African National Park, I found myself, last week, accidentally aboard a cruise ship with no hot drinks, shrieking waiters, and a Swarovski crystal staircase worth a couple of hundred-thousand Euros. Nuts. (Literally – in a cake, that the waiter said was nut free. And that’s another story, a boring one about antihistamines, swelling and excuses. Yawn.)


The MSC Preziosa was a frenzy of bloggers rushing everywhere from the restaurants to the pools, taking pictures of half-naked old men (it was an accident, I deleted it) and photographing things they couldn’t have, like cups of tea, apparently only reserved for passengers, not guests.

I’d stayed the night before in a pretty awful hotel. Always wanting to look on the bright side I made a list of good things about the place. 1. It was called The Dolphin  and 2. It looked like a prison.


What next, hey?

These Recent Things (Belfast, Edinburgh, Holland & Home)

It’s Sunday afternoon, the sun is shining, there’s a gentle breeze swaying the lavender from side to side outside the window as chubby bees hang on to it  tightly, and we’re going to have pizza for dinner. It’s a good day.

Last week I had to help little Patty Slipper leave for chicken heaven (she was always on borrowed time, having been so badly treated before she came here), and yesterday our youngest hen, Baby Ruth Sultana died. We’ve known Ruth since she was born, although it didn’t make us close – she’s always been a bit suspicious of us and last summer she moved out for a couple of months.

A few weeks ago Patty Slipper started to get ill, and Ruth was egg bound with a prolapse the size of my fist (I don’t have small hands). I had to give her hot baths and a minor operation. It was not something for the faint hearted.

In a situation of true pharmacy shame I had found myself, wearing socks and Birkenstocks, picking up antibiotics (for me, I had an infected biopsy wound), piles cream (for Ruth) and oral thrush treatment (for Patty Slipper) and then limping off in an embarrassed hurry.

I really did try to help them. Patty soldiered on for a while, and Ruth appeared to make a full recovery, but neither of them made it in the end. We are now down to just three chickens, the garden seems empty, the sparrows and starlings are taking over.

I’ve had a few weeks at home, it’s been nice to spend the time here and appreciate it all over again. Yesterday we took a trip up the river on a friend’s boat, and walked back, picking wild plums and blackberries on the way.

I am planning some trips though, of course. I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to work on a book called When The Last Lion Roars with award winning writer Sara Evans.

It’s exciting, but not as straight forward as it sounds. We need help with funding the trip (everything is voluntary) so we’ve set up this crowdfunder page in the hope that people will help us. Yes, that is a subtle hint!

You can read more about the project here, and, if you’d like to, you can donate here. If you can spare a couple of quid towards making this happen, we’d be so grateful. (Aside from our gratitude, you’ll get an invite to the VIP book launch party and thanked online and in the book.)

In other big-cat news, Tutti Biscotti is settling in well, sleeping in baskets and letting me stroke her tummy whilst she lies about like a soft grey slug.

I wrote a few things – The Meaning Behind the Flowers you Gave for Surf4, and At Home with Blue and White  over on the Huffington Post.

I photographed chocolate for Cocoa Mester, ate great street food at FoodPark Night Market, and shared some more of my Foodie Finds over on Surf4 here, and here.

I also had an operation. I didn’t really mention it because I didn’t really need to. It had no real impact on anyone else (apart from the person who messaged me to complain that I’d not been supporting them by liking their Instagram posts!) but here’s a photo of my congratulatory survival sandwiches anyway.

At the beginning of June I went on a smashing trip with Visit Holland. I hung out with wonderful people, visited incredible exhibitions, ate great food and just had the most excellent time. (Upon returning, my new friend ‘Pat the Canadian’ introduced me to one of her friends on Facebook and they said I was just like Jack Duckworth from Corrie!) I had such a good time, I had to write about it in two parts. You can, if you wish, read part one here, and part two here.

I love the Netherlands so much that a few weeks later I went back with more wonderful people (whose names all begin with M, I just realised. Manon, Mel, Moran, Mara… mmmm!) We visited Edam and Zandvoort, we rode bikes and made our own cheese. I will share much more detail with you soon, I couldn’t not.

I took a short trip to Northern Ireland to give portfolio reviews at Belfast Photo Festival. I got a taxi from the airport, it was rainy and the taxi driver said f*ck a lot. My clichéd prophecies were fulfilled.

We went to Lewis Bush’s fascinating talk on number stations (and yodelling) at Belfast Exposed. We went to the opening of Juno Calypso’s exhibition at Golden Thread Gallery (I made friends with Juno by awkwardly slurping orange juice at her). We went to Bullitt Hotel for the festival launch party, before finding our way back to our Airbnb – a 1980s local authorities flat with a flimsy front door and sticky floors, next to the main road to Shankill.

I saw some wonderful work at the portfolio review. I got given a beautiful neon yellow Caran D’Ache pen by one of the photographers. The panel discussion was super (I loved hearing the hilarious stories behind Hello Mr). We ate great pizza in Little Wing, and good eggs benedict for breakfast at Bullitt Hotel. Kristen Gaylord of MoMA gave the most brilliant talk and I love her. Then someone who I don’t know came and thanked me for the work I do with Shutter Hub and gave me his book!

It was a pretty epic, tiring, inspiring couple of days. I discussed it on the flight home with Sean Bean’s personal assistant, who I sat next to, she was off to her nan’s birthday party.

Work also led me to Brighton, so I stayed the weekend with my dear friend Emma. We ate eggs benedict in the sun and got a day saver bus pass. We bussed it down to Rottingdean, walked along the seafront through the ‘danger zone’ and got spritzed with seawater from crashing waves. We stopped for a Solero and then powered on through Brighton Marina and into town, to catch another bus, up to the South Downs for a ginger beer and a packet of crisps. It was great.

Adam and I sprinted at Silverstone Stowe in June with Lotus Cup UK  Speed and the MG Car Club. I was 6th of 9 in my class. It was super scorchio in the sun. My best time was 60.91, Adam’s 58.91.

We also sprinted at Blyton Park in July with the Westfield Sports Car Club. It was a totally different track layout to the one I am used to. In 1st practice I was only 0.5 seconds behind Adam, but ended up finishing over 4 seconds behind him. Proud to say that I didn’t need a map, but disappointed that with only 2 timed runs I spun and ruined my final go. Still, I think I was 7th out of 9, and I had what was possibly my best excuse to date – stitches and an infected biopsy wound on my left ankle. Manky.

We resumed our usual Midsummer ritual of fire and food, and then I headed up to Edinburgh with Laura for the Shutter Hub OPEN 2017. This year I curated a show for Retina International Photography Festival, and although that sounds (to me) quite glamorous, there was a great deal of graft involved.

On the train, up passed the sea, and the mist, and the sheep. It rained so cold. We walked head first into horizontal rain. I feared that my umbrella would turn inside out. It was harsh. Later when the rain cleared we saw land across the other side of the docks where we thought it had been sea.

Our hotel room resembled a closely packed ferry cabin. We slept well then spent a day working solidly on the exhibition hang. That evening Graeme, who works at the gallery, offered to give us a mini tour of Leith and walked us round the streets pointing to things. Mary Queen of Scots first stepped here when she came to Leith… Oliver Cromwell held aristocrats here and stored gunpowder there. It was fascinating. But we were exhausted. We bought chips and ate them in a bus shelter, managing to lure just one sea gull.

The following morning we headed back to the gallery to host portfolio reviews, and then in the evening we had the private view, which was lovely. I gave a talk which involved me making bird calls (remember, I was tired) before we finished the evening with a pizza and good people.

Back at home I joined some of the lovely Cambridge Eat Up! crew for a picnic on Parkers Piece. I also managed to wander obliviously into the middle of a cricket match, piled high with cake boxes and an inane grin on my face because I could see Aoife across the field.

I’d been invited to try out the new Soboro Bakery in Cambridge so I got something for everyone, we sat on blankets and shared tastes of cakes. It was a lovely evening. Jin made Kuih, Deepa made chive butter filled scones, Aoife made lavender cake and Sue brought along an excellent pork pie.

I think it’s true to say, we all need more picnics in our lives. And hammocks, I totally need a hammock.

All that, amongst other things.