Friday, 28 August 2015

August Favourites

One of my favourite types of blog posts or videos to watch is monthly favourites. I quite often find stuff there that I end up enjoying as well (often becoming a favourite of mine too), and so I've decided to use this idea for a regular blog post feature. Each month will be entirely different as I can be a fickle old thing and switch up my favourites all the time. Let's jump right in to the first one then.

Ooh August you were a good'un! Lots of fun things happened this month, with two particular highlights - Tee came home for a visit and we got ourselves a dog! Which of course leads me to my first favourite. How could this face not be? Meet Bob. He's nearly 3 months old, and I'm not going to lie, having a puppy is hard work (understatement), but how can you feel anything but all the happy joyful feels when he's this cute?! Squeeeee!

I know, I know, it's hard to distract yourself from cuteness overload but there were other favourites too. Next up is days out. So many fun days out this month, from car racing to designer clothes - many happy hours with family and friends, which in all honesty will probably be a firm favourite every month!

After it took me a month to finally finish reading Wilkie Collins' Woman in White, it was so nice to read something that was easy reading, light hearted, and didn't take all your brain to concentrate on the big words. How to Be Bad just hit the spot nicely.

I couldn't go this month without mentioning my favourite TV programmes. Not only did the Great British Bake Off return to our screens (beware of soggy bottoms), but Buffy the Vampire Slayer came to Netflix. Praise the 90s! I know I'll never watch the whole thing before it disappears but I'm loving dipping in and out on my lunch breaks.

As per usual tradition, the Great British Summer never really did happen, so whenever the sun came out I too went out immediately to bask in all its glory. It's far too fleeting for my liking, but I'm hopeful for a warm September (ever hopeful)!

And last but not least, our wildflower garden. We have tried so many times to grow one of these and each one has been an epic fail, until this year. Every day something else pops up and opens up and it's brilliant - who needs TV?! I think the yellow daisies are my favourite, but then a red poppy appears and that takes over, so hard to choose!

Let me know your favourite from August. Spread the love wide!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Round Our Way - Yves Saint Laurent Style is Eternal

Style is Eternal is the first exhibition in the UK to present a comprehensive display of Yves Saint Laurent's work and life. Lucky us that it came to the Bowes Museum which is just up the road a tiny bit!

The Bowes Museum is a beautiful building. As you approach the giant gates the house is shown in all its glory, particularly when you arrive on a sunny Saturday morning, with people who have never been before, and who actually gasp out loud at the sight before them! The exhibition itself is housed on the first floor, up the fabulous staircase, and past the giant mirror on the landing. We chose the 11am slot which I can highly recommend as a time - parking was easy to find and although the exhibition was busy it wasn't rammed so there was plenty space to freely wander around and not feel like you were shuffling along with the masses.

At first it's slightly confusing as in the left hand gallery the YSL dresses are in the display cases with other clothes and textiles. I freely admit to not really paying too much attention and thinking they were all part of the same thing, until it suddenly dawned on me that the clothes at the front of each display box were numbered and therefore part of the exhibition - oops. I much preferred the other rooms where the clothes were not behind glass and you could get up close to see the stunning embroidery (all by Lesage). The right hand gallery is all like this and so much more appealing, to me anyway.

The designs are beautiful and a lot of them looked wearable, which is a big bonus when you're walking around selecting which one you would pick if you could take one home. I fell hard for a green and black swing dress with a bright pink heart - with a pair of black tights and knee high boots, perfect for Winter! Sadly taking one of them home was not an option (except when you buy the postcard of said dress) but looking and dreaming are freely available so...

It's not huge, it probably took us about 30 minutes to walk around, but it is a very enjoyable exhibition and the surroundings make it even more so. If you get a spare 10 minutes I would advise popping down to the café and having some Mad Hatter tea and crumpets toasted to perfection, and a mooch round the gift shop as there are a number of postcards and exhibition catalogues to take home. For once, this exhibition is still live so you can visit yourself to find out more. All the details are below.

Yves Saint Laurent, Style is Eternal (11th July - 25th October 2015)
Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, DL12 8NP
Bowes Museum website

Book tickets online here: Yves Saint Laurent

Open daily 10-5 (FREE entry to Café Bowes and Shop)

Let me know what you think if you go!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Down the rabbit hole

Anyone else ever find themselves tumbling down the rabbit hole as you get lost online, clicking frantically from one page to another? I'm easily guilty of doing this on YouTube quite often, but lately, it's for a much more worthy cause.

The project I am currently working on is in the research and consultation phase. I can't give too much away as funding is still to be confirmed, but essentially I'm spending a lot of time researching sensory impairments, and in particular, how art can become accessible to people who can no longer see, hear, smell, taste, and so on. When I find something interesting online, it inevitably leads to writing something down and looking for that, a quick watch of a video and then on to something else, and so on. I can lose hours, and often do; luckily it can all be classified as research and not just time wasting as everything I find is contributing towards the bigger picture that we will present for funding.

I am equally fascinated and humbled. There truly are some amazing people out there and it's inspiring to be involved from my little corner of the world. The people I am meeting along the way are also so interesting. I'm getting to meet local artists who are so enthusiastic to be part of the project, and people who work with those who are blind and visually impaired every single day. I've been to a macular degeneration group who made me feel so grateful and more aware than ever how lucky we are that my mam has responded to her treatment for this age-related disease. Next week I'm off to the local society for the blind to meet another group for further consultation. The thread that runs through all these groups is compassion and care, humour and honesty - it's honestly been an eye-opening experience, if you can forgive the unintended pun.

It's the first time in a long time (if ever!) that I have felt anything like this about work and my job. I feel valued and listened to and respected for my contribution. It's a good place to be, like really good. I think I finally get it. I have no idea where I'll go to next, hopefully I can still be involved with this project as it takes off (as I know it definitely will). But if not I will never forget this brief time where tumbling down rabbit holes is acceptable, encouraged, and leads to an inspirational wonderland - a place I have definitely never been to before!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Round Our Way - Croft Nostalgia Weekend

The Croft Nostalgia Weekend started a few years back now. Each year it has gone from strength to strength and if this year was anything to go by, it will continue to grow in size and popularity. I'm really lucky to get free tickets each year as my Pops helps to organise it, but even if we had to pay for tickets we would definitely attend this great event.

The event is held at Croft Racing Circuit which might give you a little clue what it's all about, but if you're still wondering it's cars, bikes, aeroplanes, military vehicles, retro stalls, and musical entertainment all rolled into one. The title gives even more of a clue that it's seeped in nostalgia, from the 1940's onwards. Some of the cars are much older than this and there are some beautiful specimens on show. Lots of people dress up, in all eras, and everybody really gets into the spirit of it. Each day over the weekend there is racing, the qualifiers on Saturday and the races on the Sunday. There are also amazing air displays from some very special planes (more on that soon).

You can freely wander around all the areas, seeing the teams getting the cars ready for the big races, be up close and personal with some beautiful machines, you can sometimes even go inside a tank! (SO WANT TO DO THIS!) You can get your hair and make-up done in any era you choose, buy a vintage frock, and rock around eating and drinking whilst admiring the weird and the wonderful. 

Motor sport is in my blood so I love nothing better than a day at the track, hearing the roar of the engines and the delicious fumes floating by. Luckily Dave is also a fan so we always have a fab day, as evidenced by our happy faces...that's almost a smile there from Dave *wink* 

I'm not going to lie, another thing that I really love is eating all the donuts. We were quite restrained this year and only had the two each...

This year was pretty special in lots of ways (the crowd numbers for definite!) but the most amazing thing of all was the flyover from the Vulcan Bomber. It's the last airworthy bomber of its kind to be flying and it's also the final year that it will be flying, and as if that wasn't enough, it was the last chance to see it in the north of England. Needless to say this was a huge draw for the crowds, and there were a lot of people with GIANT camera lenses. My little point and press didn't even do it justice so I sat back in awe as this giant beast with its four Rolls Royce engines went vertical, creating a noise like thunder. Even now just thinking about it, it gives me goose bumps. From our viewing point, on our favourite corner, it felt like you could reach out and touch it. It was truly awesome. 

As the sun beat down on the last races of the day we headed home after yet another great day. We'll be back next year. And we'll be booking our tickets well in advance to avoid the giant queues!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Listen Up!

It's Friday again, let's have some more new music. As if last week's revelation of my enjoying #popsynth wasn't enough, my new music journey is apparently now taking me to #melodichouse


Don't even ask how this is happening. I think my ears have gone insane.

If you want to join me on this new journey then press play and have a listen to Felix Jaehn. Apparently he's a producer and this means (I think) that he does remixes. See, I told you, guitar music runs thick through my veins and I have no idea of all this jangly-dangly down with the kids music terminology. AC/DC forever!

What say your ears?

Monday, 10 August 2015

How does your garden grow?

Over the years of our many gardening adventures we have tried so many times to grow a wildflower garden. We've tried scattering the seeds in tubs, in troughs, in small patches of garden, and huge swathes of ground, and every single time it's been an epic fail. Until now. 

3 packets of seeds and some random sunflower seeds from last year were carefully scattered as per the instructions (the reality was more like just chucking them around and see what happens) into our freshly prepared patch of ground that we had lovingly dug over and raked. We watered it up well and crossed our fingers. 

Oh! We have a wildflower garden. It's crazy! Every single day flowers are popping up all over it, from the prettiest blue cornflowers to bright yellow daisies, there's poppies and sunflowers waiting to come out to play, it's absolutely brilliant! And what's even more brilliant is that every time I go out and look at it (which is pretty often, I have to admit) there are bees buzzing and butterflies flying all around it. Yay, happy bees, happy gardeners. 

I can't wait until it's all in flower. It's going to be stunning! 

Friday, 7 August 2015

Listen Up!

I never thought the day would come that I would be anything other than a rock/indie girl with guitar music forever running through my veins but apparently I now like something that falls into the #popsynth category. Don't tell anyone but lately I've even found myself listening to stuff that probably just falls into the #pop category (Taylor Swift sing-along anyone) eep! I'm deciding that it's okay as we humans are continually evolving and therefore it's okay to deviate away from the norm occasionally.

And so I present Gunship. #popsynth

Don't be put off by the hashtag category, it's actually pretty bloody cool and I might even have done a cheeky download of their album, even though I am poorer than a church mouse at the moment. If you don't have money you might as well have brilliant music for your ears (and an overdraft...)


Monday, 3 August 2015

Round Our Way - SIRF 2015

This past weekend is my most favourite one in my little town. Street performers and performing theatre companies descend on Stockton from all around the world for SIRF- Stockton International Riverside Festival. From the sublime to the ridiculous, the weird to the wonderful, there are so many things to see and do, it's just brilliant. The last night finale is always a total show stopper and usually culminates in a massive firework display which showers the skies for all the town to see. Even though the brochure stated that it wouldn't be the usual firework display this year, for me, it was one of the most beautiful yet. 

The company, Cie Carabosse (from France) were given the Trinity Gardens as their space. For all the rest of the year this is basically a shell of a church surrounded by a big green space, but over the SIRF weekend it was a garden of fiery magical delights! All around the grass exterior of the church were huge installations that gently swirled in the wind and hung from the trees. 

There were so many things to look at we didn't know where to go first! There were bands and music surrounded by fire pits, bizarre creatures with clock pieces for heads who moved eerily in the dark, casting huge shadows against the side of the church, bowler hatted performers slowly turning wheels on machines that belched fire flares...even the church had been opened up to visitors where you could see what can only be described as vests lit by fire strung from window to window, and a musician at the end, once again surrounded by fire and playing haunting musical sounds as you wandered around. 

I was so excited to go into the church as I've always been dying to have a look inside! The musician at the end was so cool, it would be brilliant if they used the church for live music - I would totally pay to go and see a band in there! 

As the night drew to a close the audience were patiently moved behind barriers to clear the space ready for the finale. First came the music, and then boom, huge fireworks! So much for no fireworks this year! Ooooh ahhhh showering golds and purples and giant BANGS filled the sky as we all gazed upwards in sheer delight. After about ten minutes it was all over, but we're easily pleased in our little town and the massive crowd burst into applause and cheers. 

Even though the finale is always on a school night and you have to stay up way past beddy-bob time it's absolutely worth the trip. I can honestly say I have never been disappointed, and every year it feels like a little bit of magic comes to town. 

I already can't wait until next year!