Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Two Lone Wanderers

Two Lone Wanderers
A poem by Kubi May

There were two lone wanderers who lived in the woods
where the bramble had grown thicker than it normally should.
They had slightly green skin and leaves stuck in their hair
but both had no idea that such a twin lived there.

‘Til one day they met on an untrodden path,
that had become illuminated by the death of a star.
He climbed up with the squirrels to sling shot her with nuts.
She painted on war marks and flung back clumps of mud.

For neither had seen such a creature before.
A mirror image of themselves, of that they were sure.
They peered curiously into one another's eyes
and began a chase beneath the starry winter skies.

They hunted each other to the edge of a lake
where in its waters swam an undiscovered snake.
They clung together, now nude and aware
that both had to cross the emerald waters there.

And crawling to peer into the waters reflection,
they recoiled at first at their new disposition;
as they saw themselves stare back for the very first time.
All their light and darkness and sweetness and grime.

She etched a large circle into his back.
He wove some fallen ivy into her plait.
They smeared clay on their bodies and began to play,
knee deep in mud until their socks wore right away.

She gathered the twine, he gathered the wood,
and they began to build as fast as they could,
‘til they had a houseboat to float along the stream.
At one with the waters, with their stories and dreams.

By dawn they sailed out the forest together,
across to a meadow ablaze with bright blue heather
where they drank the morning's dew and snacked on sunshine,
as it filtered down through the leafy woodland pines.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Why Londoners are Finding Magic Living on the Canals...

As the alarm clocks start sounding the 9-5 commuters of London to get out of their beds and onto the tube, another nomadic community in the city have already risen long ago to stoke their log burners.  A whole other, gentler world is found from the banks of Little Venice through to Limehouse Basin, where the sunrise  bounces off the surface of the canal waterways and reflects the myriad of colourful houseboats, with flower pots and candles perched on their rooftops.
According to the Canal & River Trust, there has been a 50% rise in boat numbers in London from 2010-2015, accumulating to 3,255 nomads who have decided to reject normal London housing in favour of a house on water.  Two of which, were me and my friend Ruben, who decided in February to move from his flat in Hackney onto a boat on the London canals. Now, with only a few days away until the fruition of our plans where we move aboard The Seawolf, I thought i’d go over a few of the reasons that helped us to make such a bonkers decision.
So what is so alluring about canal life?
Some obvious factors are behind the mini-houseboat-boom such as housing costs in central London spiraling out of control and the innate drive for a life with more financial freedom.  Whilst others are taking to canals for the lifestyle; preferring a slower, minimalist and ultimately stripped back version of life, to be closer to nature, for the water-bound escapism. The adventure!  After all, what could be more romantic than sailing along the glittering water, surrounded by the humdrum of the city in your own gypsy-style version of reality? I cover a few of these in more detail below…


About a third of London’s canal boats, are operating under ‘continuous cruising licenses,’ requiring them to move every two weeks so they don’t monopolize the canals. If this sounds something like a nomadic dream come true, you’re probably about right. A fortnightly change of scenery oozes with the promises of freedom; perfect for flighty individuals like ourselves who just can’t seem to settle in once place for too long without phining over a map. The ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ concept of boat life enables you to move elsewhere when the feeling takes you, or when you get fed up of your neighbours bad music taste or over zealous sex noises.
What’s more, we were particularly hyper about being able to explore a new borough of the city every two weeks. Being able to cruise around the canals of London enables those with adventure in their souls to experience the different areas of London with a fresh set of eyes; staying in all the most sort after places such as; Little Venice, Camden Town, Richmond, Uxbridge and Islington to name just a few.  So many times already, I have considered how lucky we are to always have a home with an ever-changing, ever charming view. Even in the groggiest areas of London, a life next to nature still seems to prevail. The canals seem to brighten the place up, the river never fails to light up the sky and you are never too far away from the prettier, greener, hang outs.
Should you get bored of London?  Take a holiday upstream- you’re floating on your ticket out of there! This was also a huge bonus for me, as a slightly neurotic owner of two chihuahuas. Rather than texting the dog sitter every day to check if either of them have thrown up/ forgotten to eat/ self combusted, being able to take the little rascals with us everywhere makes the idea of travelling seem so much more relaxed.


With house prices and rent costs soaring higher each year, living on a canal boat is becoming a serious option for many cash-strapped citizens struggling to get on the housing ladder. (So that’s most of us!) With the average one bedroom flat costing between £300,000 and £400,000 and rent for the same amount of space totalling at £1,350 per month, London's citizens are starting to wake up and really consider how much money a bog-standard living space is truly worth. That’s before we even begin to calculate the cost of council tax, water and electric...
While on the other side of the bridge, a ready-to-go, one bedroom narrowboat with living room and fully equipped kitchen/bathroom, can be purchased for as little as £30,000.
Then of course, there is the wonderful realisation of having no rent or council tax to pay (whahoo!) if you opt for continuous cruising as mentioned before. This, naturally, brings with it a huge life change as it does mean adopting true nomadic ways. Unless you have a job in the supply field, or you’re able to work from home, you may want to consider permanent mooring instead. The same applies to children- unless you are home schooling them, it could prove quite difficult to continuous cruise if your child has a permanent school to attend.
For those who want a permanent location, you can pay for London mooring costs which range from £3,000 to £18,000 per year. Naturally, outside of London, mooring fees fall dramatically to as little as £1,500 per year! Either way, as seen in the recent protests, it is important to stick to continuous cruising if this is what you are opting for and to take that agreement seriously. There is nothing fun about making some canalboat enemies, lest your pot plants be stolen!
Other hidden costs such as Diesel, using a generator for heating, a canal licence, and maintenance equate to under £1,500 per year in total and that’s it; you’re ready to take to water like a commonplace coot!
Renting a houseboat is harder to come by, (possibly because those who buy a boat simply can’t resist living on it themselves!). However,  I have spotted some gorgeous ones including permanent mooring for rent with rental prices starting at £1000 per month.


Sounds like hell on earth to the majority of society, but if you were part of the smaller collective who felt a little inner leap of joy there; be sure to give yourself a smug highfive. Indeed, anyone who has woken up to the bizzare reality we are living in; be it the trap of becoming entirely reliant on technology or the manic pace of life breeding some serious mental health issues, will surely be ready to escape it by now!
Living aboard a houseboat means quite a lifestyle change- one that is not to be taken lightly- but one for the better, which after the adjustment phase, can be really rewarding. The most obvious thing to mention, is the lack of space. Waste becomes REAL all of a sudden, and with it awareness for how many packages/containers you are consuming weekly heightens.
Water use is another big consideration. At the risk of ending up looking like The Twits, you can either keep to your 30 minute showers and run out for the week by day 2, or learn how to shower and shower damn fast for your daily soak! We were a little heartbroken to say goodbye to luxurious spa sessions in the bath at first (and then we realised we’d been living a diva life of unnecessary excess -like two fabulous little Marie Antoinettes- and we soon got a grip).
Something which became apparent as soon as the sun went down, (and all the electronics started to die with it), was the permission to return to a life from times long lost. Night times were no longer about ignoring one another over a TV series, but a new reconnection to laughter, great conversation and real quality time spent by the log burner. Beautiful! There really is something to be said about existing within an alternative timeframe whilst the rest of the city crazies on around you. You are not going anywhere in a hurry on a houseboat, unlike the rest of London. Time to kick back and enjoy the Zen...because let’s face it; you’ll need a lot of that when you have to clear out the compost toilet!

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Friday, 3 June 2016

The Importance of Making Friends with Someone who is Equally as Bananas as You...

An Introduction

Introducing Kubi May…

I grew up in the beautiful little town of Higham Ferrers, East Midlands - which was bloody lucky as it meant that every day began by climbing trees and ended in a river. In some respects, growing up in a sweet little town has been my biggest blessing yet. It gave me the opportunity to learn the importance of connecting to the real earthy world around me, whilst also steadily learning what the outside world had to offer from the most organised woman and imaginative man I have  ever met (and of whom I am also blessed to call my parents). By the age of 18, before I had barely even learnt to read a bus timetable, I had finally grown restless and left home to travel the world for a year. Beyond doing all the embarrassingly cliché things (throwing myself out of planes, finding ‘God’, getting dreadlocks and painting art murals in exchange for food), I had also spent the best part of that year living out of a tent in the jungle village of Byron Bay, Australia.

There really is something that happens to those who live out of a rucksack (aside from fleas). You realise the potential of the human spirit; like something that returns to you to stare sweetly in your face that should always have been there, so much to the point that you could swear you were returning home to an innate part of the human psyche. Travel opens up the time for adults to play, to be creative, to be free, completely uninhibited by work, routines and that grubby little idea of society as we previously knew it to be.  
And then (when the money pot finally dries up) we stop walking around barefoot and balancing crystals on our foreheads. We head back to reality where we let that beautiful, momentary vision of the real human way of living life, eventually, fade away…
…Nope! I spent the next 2 years scheming; desperately trying to work out how to get back to Australia and become a nurse based citizen, convinced it was something about the place! But after 3 months training as a nurse, I held my hands up- admitted a fear of blood, needles and most things nurse-related, leaving York University with my tail between my legs.
The next few years saw me leaving my cottage, narrowly dodging a marriage and exchanging the dream of children for my two sturdy companions – my two Chihuahuas!

I moved to Derby where I met the most wonderful, spirited friends. Together, we explored spirituality, survived the 2012 doomsday (ha!), had an array of mystical experiences and carried one another through an amazing 3 year degree in Creative Therapies.

Finally, at the age of 25, I decided to try my luck in London, seemingly, as a jack of all trades. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday saw me trained up as a secondary school art teacher, Thursday nights saw me leading workshops in meditation and art activism and to burn myself out in a pile of creative magic altogether, I also worked as an Art Therapy practitioner on the weekends.

Needless to say, I was pooped.
It was around here, when the real magic happened. Through the workshops I was holding, I met the friends who really made London a home for the first time for me...

Introducing Ruben Ireland ...

One of these magicians of my life; Ruben Ireland,  became my closest friend very soon.

Growing up amidst the rolling hills and winding woods of the Cotswolds, Ruben was no stranger to the magic of life. The fortunate effect of being a teenager in somewhere like Stroud meant there was always an opportunity to make costumes for parades, paint faces at festivals, decorate trees with colourful fabrics for wild parties or cast away all props and simply get lost in the hills.

At a slightly more serious age, Ruben took to art college and later university to study Illustration in London. With a degree completed during a colourful three years, he managed to make good traction in the illustration and art world. With his career in full swing, a strong and sudden desire for the green pastures of home took Ruben back to the countryside, with a better chance of committing to creativity full time.  But sitting at a desk in solitude for many hours and many months, gave birth to a nagging loneliness,  a creeping sense of Wanderlust and a bad back.

It was at this point Ruben realised how his work could be done from just about anywhere. So he took his portable career to Cyprus, Barcelona and San Francisco following an invite to exhibit his art there.

Luckily after 2 years, an invite to exhibit in London meant a serious consideration to re approach the place he’d once left so abruptly.  As it were, the galactic timing of universe had him strolling into one of my meditation classes there in August last year, grinning like i’d known him for many years already and what a blessing it was to find him!
After soon establishing many twin-like characteristics, we decided to celebrate the first 6 months of our friendship dressing as trademark naked pixies to party at the weekends, visited galleries in dressing gowns to ruffle the feathers of the elite, rallied in protests and started to co-host eye gazing workshops together.

By January, life seemed set on aligning our paths to live together in his flat, where art and creativity soon became a central focus of every day and a new idea began to take form. It was on one evening when we were approaching the end of the renting term there and particularly high on life at a gig, when it was suggested, ‘Why don’t we live on a boat instead?!’
And it was born there in a moment of unfolding golden chaos, like all good ideas that land in the minds of spontaneous fools, where this new adventure began …

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Wednesday, 1 June 2016

I wonder if I have drawn this as a deep appreciation for my own little fox, Zorro the Chihuahua. I can't wait to get adding material to this sketch- if only he would move his furry little butt. [Stay tuned....I will be releasing my first artworks next couple of weeks!]

How to Create a Life you won't need a Vacation from...

Deep down, everyone is trying to escape the mundane.
Everyone has that seemingly insignificant nagging sensation suggesting that, perhaps, there is more magic yet to be found waiting around the next corner on their hopelessly predictable path.

For some, it is a moment of realisation that only hits home after they have reached the end of their ‘to watch list’ on TV, after they have realised that changing their coffee brand hasn’t changed their life and that their new hair cut hasn’t had an impact on their happiness in the slightest. It is sometimes only then, that a glimmer of realisation is born. The individual begins to glow a little flicker of light that starts in their eyes and slowly gets extinguished by the oppressive eye of society that laughs at such fanciful ideas of freedom.

‘Fun??? Silly mortal, get back to work!’ ]

The thing is, humans (although ape-like on weekends) are magical, conscious beautiful creatures!! Suppress the feeling, though you might, but you will never kill that nagging sensation. We deserve to live a life full of magic and adventure, because then we would be a true reflection of what we really are at the core.
Can you even imagine anything more magical than an animal who has evolved into consciousness, who is able to think, philosophise, ponder, create, learn, love, design, dream, and has incidentally also invented all the technology necessary to propel such magical daydreams into reality?

Welcome to the human race!

Alas, we are presented with a morbid version of reality indeed! We are offered a life of mundanity- the classic 9-5 day job, clad in a *yawn* shirt and tie, a mortgage for that house you get to fill up with the junk that you slave so hard to buy on a daily basis, a partner, some kids and a cat who hates you. Oh, and let’s not forget- lucky sods- that wonderfully awkward holiday to Mallorca once a year to weep bitterly into a Martini about the life you could have lived. Whilst all the time feeling the weight of the world and all the chores you left behind, which would be there to greet you as soon as you step back over the border and into the airport. [Urggghhhhhhh].

Do we ever stop to consider how optional this lifestyle really is?

Well, it took far too many whiskeys on the stroke of the New Year to reject that existence once and for all, when my best friend turned to me and said,
It's 2016. Let’s create a life that we won’t even need a vacation from.’
And through my rather hazy vision, (which just so happened to be located beneath the shade of a rather accommodating table), I mumbled back a wonderfully optimistic- if a little slurred-

Because why not?
The adventure begins when you decide to run after it. The magic wants to be chased, and it will land not once in the lap of even the luckiest of us without such a chase.

For me, the adventure starts here- documented from the beginning. Perhaps this will give you confidence to also break out as we leave our mundane lives behind and head into a lifestyle which rejects society as it stands; where creativity is embraced as a career, a boat as a home, where we return to a more spiritual, humanitarian, natural- dare I say Vegan- way of being, and enter a new life of play, where magic and unconventional adventures are found even surrounded by the grime of the city.

This blog is all about taking back  the magical world which has always been ours to embrace, despite the drab reality we are too often sold.
I hope it inspires you to take yours back too :)

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