Back in October, I was invited to speak at the January meeting of the fabulous Cake and Revolution W.I. in Ipswich.

I’d heard loads about the W.I. (not least their crafting!) and a couple of my friends are members in other towns, but I’d never actually had the chance to go to a meeting. So I packed some photographs and a mermaid tail (obviously) and set off to talk about my journey.

Photos, talk notes and mermaid costume at the WI talk in Ipswich | car

I’m vociferous and loud about body positivity, but possibly even more so about being a geek – doing whatever it is you truly, secretly, honestly want to, without worrying what the world thinks of you. I firmly believe that the more enthusiastic you are about the things you love, the better your life will be.

And my secret weapons for both body and life positivity are enthusiasm, imagination and curiosity. All of which let us play – and we don’t play enough as adults!

I’ll post the full talk one of these days (I might even record it if I ever stop sneezing!) but here are a few of the photos I shared, documenting my journey to where I am now:

extreme ironing | carlawatkinsphotography.com

This is me, extreme ironing on the way to the ferry iin a £250 car on a rally in 2011. Which is exactly as stupid and wonderful as it sounds.

hogswatch burlesque by Tim van Holder | carlawatkinsphotography.com

Burlesque at a Terry Pratchett celebration event, to Postman Pat. Also as stupid and wonderful as it sounds (can you see a pattern here?!). Photograph by Tim van Holder.

body positive mermaids by Photography by Grace Hill | carlawatkinsphotography.com

Body positive mermaids on Clacton beach, by the lovely & talented Grace Hill.

rusty mclusty, atlantic booze cruisers | carlawatkinsphotography.com

Rusty McLusty, our rally car for the 2011 Romania trip. Yes, the rear bumper is decoupaged with what you think…

The evening was structured so I’d give the talk three times, to three groups of ladies – they’d be circulating between me, a yoga class and a pilates class.

I think most of them were utterly mystified when they first came over and saw the tail and bra on the table, but everyone reacted well, laughed in all the right places, and I had some utterly wonderful compliments afterwards – it feels so good to have made an impact on people by sharing my journey and my story.

With thanks to Cake & Revolution for having me <3