28 January 2018

An interview with Claire Williamson from Sea Legs Cartoons

I started following @sealegscartoon on Instagram before Christmas and admired the fun surfboard cartoons, they can't fail to make you smile and think of catching fun waves in the sunshine. So, I invited the artist behind the cartoons, Claire Williamson, to appear on Country Bumpkin Chic.

Hi! My name’s Claire Williamson and I’m the illustrator/cartoonist behind the surf cartoon Sea Legs Cartoon

Hi Claire & welcome to Country Bumpkin Chic. Where in the world are you based?
I’m lucky enough to spend my time between charming Vienna, Austria and beautiful Dunsborough, Australia.

Oh wow, that sounds idyllic, so how did you get into sketching cartoons?
By total accident :D Although I’m always constantly drawing/painting/doodling/etc. I never had any intention of committing myself to a cartoon or even a specific drawing style. It was all just play. I drew and doodled Fin and his pals for yeeeears, before having the courage to show people outside my family. My family loved them! My friends loved them! But for some reason (hello shyness!), I never put much thought into sharing them publicly until I started playing around with Instagram a few years ago. I had random blogs and accounts, and one day I thought… What if I share these cartoons I draw?

And they’re fab designs, tell us a bit more about the story behind Fin.
Fin and his friends were born the day I saw Thomas Campbell’s movie ‘The Seedling’. In one scene, the camera follows a surfer walking with his board under his arm and, to me, the shadows that were created look like the surfboard had legs and was walking itself. My brain found that amusing and I immediately started drawing surfboards with legs. Fin became a fish pretty quickly as those are my favourite boards.

So, are you a surfer or super? And where are your favourite spots?
I SUP whenever I get the chance...so Spring/Summer here in Vienna, along the Danube River. As far as surfing goes, I am a total beginner :D  I grew up in a very beach/surfing oriented family, but as a kid, I was much more interested in art than sports, so I never progressed. As an adult, I learn more whenever I get the chance, but as I live in a landlocked city most of the time, I again have not progressed very far. Drawing Sea Legs is my way of staying connected with that part of myself until I’m back in the water. My favourite place to learn, to date, has definitely been Wategos beach in Byron Bay, Australia. I dream of getting back there… maybe this will be the year!

Image courtesy of www.ytravelblog.com
Do you own a board?
Yes, the first board I ever bought was a blue fish with thick rails and a ridiculous amount of buoyancy. It was so hard to duck dive! I chose to sell it when my trip around Australia ended and I decided to travel around Europe, just for the sake of travelling light. But I regret that decision every so often as I am a bit of a romantic and the thought of keeping your first board seems really sweet. Luckily, my brother is a professional surfboard shaper (@awol_custom) so I just borrow boards from him whenever I’m visiting. Now that I think of it though, I bet if I ask nicely, he would make me a pretty close replica...perhaps a bit easier to duck dive  ;)

What's your top tips for anyone wanting to get into drawing cartoons?
Just draw! All the time, whenever you can, with whatever you have. The more you draw, the faster you will develop characters, a storyline, and a style. You’ll learn what you love to draw and what you don’t like to draw (hands! ah!). I recommend spending any money you have for cartooning on pens… the paper isn’t important until you want to make prints, but bad pens can really take the fun out of drawing pretty quickly. As for gathering ideas, just look around you and find some way to record whatever strikes you as funny or odd.  You may be able to fit it into your cartoon later.

And where do you get your inspiration from?
Oh man, everywhere; surf blogs/magazines/movies, my family. I have tons of pieces of paper, notebooks and notes on my phone, filled with random jokes, incomplete Sea Leg cartoons, phrases I read or overheard that I would like to turn into a joke, things I find amusing, etc.

Who do you follow on Instagram?
There are so many amazing artists out there, but to name a few:
@piaopfermann: great illustrator and super sweet person :)
@jamesredmaynewriter: his ‘TheSurfing Animals Alphabet’ book is so cool!
@lizzyartwork: I love her sweet, feminine style, and colour palette.

So, what’s next for Sea Legs?
An online shop with prints, stickers, annnnd hopefully shirts/tote bags/etc! I’m mega stoked and can not wait to open the virtual doors :)))

Where can we find out more about Sea Legs?
For more Sea Legs, please feel free to check out my website: sealegssmile.com and sign up for the newsletter. You’ll be first in the know when the shop opens and see new cartoons before anyone else!

Huge thank you to Becky for this interview! I’m so flattered and had a great time answering your questions :)) 

Well, thank you, Claire for inspiring us through a very grey January! Stay tuned for more interviews on Country Bumpkin Chic.

21 January 2018

My Top 5 Insta Pages

For anyone who follows me will know I have a wide range of hobbies & eclectic tastes. So, it’s no surprise that some of my favourite Instagram pages are a bit left field. But why be dull I say, variety is the spice of life?

Anyhow, here are a few which are making me smile in a very grey January.

Sea Legs @sealegscartoon
I first spotted Sea Legs on @surfgirlmag it’s fun little surf wave based cartoons based on a surfboard enjoying life with his mates. For surf chicas & chicos, it can’t help but make you smile & dream about heading off in search of the perfect wave.

Celeste Barber @celestebarber
If you’re in need of a proper belly laugh, follow @celestebarber. Celeste is an Australian actor, comedian and all-round funny lady. Basically, she re-enacts perfect model/celebrity shots or videos with her own tongue & cheek interpretation. Watch her videos, you can’t help but chuckle.

Judy Andrews @spoonfulsugarco

I met the very funky designer Judy from A Spoonful of Sugar & Co last summer at Blogtacular. By day she works as a graphic designer in the same industry as me & runs her own business. Judy's creations focus on bright & bold typography across cool stationery, pins, jewellery etc all with a positive feel-good vibe.

Charlie - @therunnebeans
If you’re looking for a female running inspiration check out Charlie Watson from @therunnerbeans for a true down to earth account of the highs and lows of running. She’s also aiming to run her fastest ever marathon in London this year, so give her a follow and some encouragement.

Gaping Void @gapingvoid
Flipping over to the corporate world of insta pages @GapingVoid brings workplace culture stories to life in the form of daily cartoon/sketches. Based in America their posts are usually the first thing I see in the morning and are very relatable to office life.

What are your current favourite Instagram pages? I’m always on the lookout for inspiring, upbeat pages – pop them in the comments box below.

07 January 2018

Top Tips for Tackling Tough Mudder

Cider makes everything better....

So maybe your 2018 resolution was to sign up to Tough Mudder or some other obstacle race? Do something out of your comfort zone or set yourself a new challenge you might be thinking?

Yep, that was me last year when I fell in to peer pressure to sign up to Tough Mudder at Badminton Estate (also that place for that well-known horse event) in Gloucester. At the end of the day, it was for charity. I just tried not to think about the 10 muddy miles & 20+ obstacles. It’s like cross country for humans. Right?

In 2017 for about 6 months Tough Mudder dominated a lot of my conversations, before, during & after – so I thought I’d share some of my pearls of wisdom on how to get yourself to the start line.

How far out before the race should you start training?

I probably spent about 3 months trying to get myself into a good physical state & a couple of weeks trying to sort out my mental state & avoid pulling out!

TM produces several training guides to help you get to the start line… they do seem pretty full on. & I suppose with a lot of things it's taking the best from each & finding what suits you. However, if you like routine & are good at following a guide then this one is for you.

How fit do you have to be to take part in a Tough Mudder?


I’d say if you can comfortably run 5km without walking, then great. And if you can bust out a 10km without much worry even better. You’ll find there are people who’ll do no exercise what so ever & will suffer from the off or pay for it for the following week. Why do that to yourself?

There are loads of great apps out there to get you off the couch to 5km. Nike is always a good place to start & once you’ve got into the swing of things, get yourself down to a local parkrun. It’s free & actually pretty fun, plus it’s great to track your improvement week in week.

Join your local parkrun to help boost your fitness...

Or if you can run with friends or a local running club even better as they’ll help cheer you on as you progress over the weeks.

Running with friends is a great motivator...

On the day you’ll find that not everyone runs around the course which I was quite taken back by. The obstacles do zap your energy & you may only be able to muster up a little jog in between or fast walk. Just do what you or your teammates feel best. Definitely, listen to your body, & ultimately you want to make it round in one piece.

Strength & Conditioning

Now, this is an area I should have dedicated more time to, & would advise that at least 1 month out you go to a circuit or HIIT class. Alternatively, there are some good online PTs who put workouts online which you can follow in your own time & own home, I’d recommend Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach, Kayla Itsines or Emily Skye.

I joined forces with a local group who were also training for Tough Mudder & attended about 3 Sunday sessions which included a 5k+ run & 30+ mins of circuit style training – ropes, flipping tyres, weights etc. I’d do this & then run off to go ride 2 horses, so got an extra 2 hours of cardio!

Tough Mudder has just introduced some new 10-minute cardio sessions on YouTube which look good weather or not your training for TM or just want to get back into shape.

What trainers would you wear for TM?

Some people wore trail shoes, TM promotes Merrell trail trainers, which are currently on sale at £50. 

Everyone in my group just wore a pair of trainers they didn’t mind trashing. At the end of the course, there’s a place for people to ditch their unwanted muddy trainers.

Trainer heaven...RIP

What about the rest of your kit, what would you wear?

Long sleeve top & leggings to avoid getting scratched up. I wore my cycling gloves to help get a better grip on some of the obstacles & then took them off for the water ones. Running socks & a charity vest of course. We did debate knee pads but ditched them last minute as they were too bulky & we’re not that wussy.

What do you eat before the race?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel pretty sick the morning of the event. I managed poached eggs & salmon on toast; drunk lots of water as well as a Naked Superfood smoothie & Lucozade - more as a sporting ritual than anything.

It’s a good idea to carb up the night before – a good excuse to eat lots of pasta!

On the course, I took a bag of jelly beans for energy & something to nibble on, as we ended up out of course for about 4 hours!

What’s the atmosphere like?

Electric. It’s so much fun seeing people complete the course with great big the smiles on their face & hoping you’ll be the same. The warm-up pen is a really good laugh. We had a very exuberant presenter taking us through some dodgy warm-up moves, it got everyone in the mood for the event before we were let loose on the 10-mile course.

Is it really that muddy?

Yep… the first few obstacles are pretty nice, wooden struts, hay bales & then by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th obstacle you’re face down in the mud. The obstacles are mixed up between muddy & water ones, so you do have a bit of let up, but it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. Especially when you have one obstacle called mud mile – prepare to get mud where you didn’t expect to!

Somewhere on the Mud Mile...SOS....

What’s the best way to tackle the obstacles?

Take each one at a time & teamwork is the only way to get around. You’ll see some amazing sights, people of all sizes & disabilities. I remember one group managed to get a guy who was a paraplegic round & it made us all man up just that little bit more! You’ll also find strangers helping one & other, so repay the favour.

What were your favourite obstacles?

Mainly the dry ones! I was pleased to run up Pyramid Scheme with very little help & Blockness Monster was fun – although half of that was in the water. Check out the current TM obstacles here.

And the least favourite obstacles?

Arctic Enema – the ice bath, literally took my breath away. I’m not the biggest fan of going underwater & this one gave me nightmares beforehand. & the last obstacle Electric Shock Therapy was brutal – especially as I got electrocuted twice face planting in the mud each time. At least there was a cider being handed out when we finished.

Electric Shock Therapy!!

Would you do it again?

Well, not Tough Mudder this year. It was an amazing experience & great to get around as a team. It’s definitely good for team bonding!! Although the memory of some of those obstacles are still pretty vivid. Maybe next year?


What’s next?

Who knows… maybe another obstacle race or some trail runs. I’m ready for a new challenge that’s for sure.

Hopefully, I haven’t put anyone off Tough Mudder too much. It’s an amazing experience & something I’d recommend everyone doing at least once in their life. Once you get into it, you’ll meet people who do it every year & some that travel the world to complete Tough Mudder, so it’s pretty addictive.

For more information on Tough Mudder head to their website here