I must apologise for not blogging to you all last weekend - after a 14 mile hike with my dad and his cronies I was a wee bit tired!
Yep, as always it's been all go. This weekend I compensated for my trek with a massage and facial followed by afternoon tea and shopping with my ma. I've also been keeping myself busy with my "hobbies"; swimming, writing, yoga-ing, sewing and painting.
Why? Well, I guess you could say I choose life.
Yes, I am quoting Renton's rant in Trainspotting, which I saw at the King's Head in Islington last week. It was a fantastic, brave production, which I strongly recommend you see if the company take it anywhere else.
But why choose life? What's the meaning of it all? Why bother with all these extra-curricular activities? Well, I admit, sometimes I wonder. But then I know that if I don't engage in the process, I'll never find out why I am really here.
And I guess I'd quite like to figure that out.
... maybe not always as easy as 1 2 3, but it sums up my last week quite nicely! Let me explain...
A is for... Alcohol Abstinence!
Yep, I've nearly finished Dry January, all in the name of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Why the MNDA? Well, take a look at my Just Giving page to find out! Or if you just want to throw caution to the wind and support this amazing charity (and inspire me to see out the rest on the month!) text GOMB99 £5 to 70070. Simples!
B is for... Blogging!
Well, duh! But not just here - I've been writing about how my beloved London has kept me entertained during the first 31 days of the year. Yesterday I ticked off three of my own suggestions with some art exhibitions, a walk along the Southbank and a trip to the cinema. Read more of my sober strategies here...and then check out my latest review for Operation:Pizza to see how one of the biggest chains compares.
And C is for... Crafting!
Okay, so I made the bag above earlier this month, but it was a birthday present for my cousin and I didn't want to spoil her surprise! This weekend, however, I finished off my latest upcycling project, turning two pine stools I picked up for £1.50 into Shelly Berry Originals - check it out!
And D? Well, when the clock strikes midnight on Saturday it will be for... drinking!
Okay, so maybe I have a problem...
Yep, it's Sunday evening and I'm here as usual, blogging away. It's been a busy week, what with my frantic attempts to finish decorating the hall (STILL not quite done) and a visit from Mama and Papa Berry. It was lovely to see them both and show off my new abode to my ma, who had yet to visit, and to my pa, who has only seen it in the light of a decorator.
On Saturday I was treated to a West Show, this time The Lion King. Whilst I was impressed by the singing, dancing and puppetry, I admit I wasn't blown away. As my ma pointed out, the story was a little one-dimensional, but I think it was something else that really bugged me. I couldn't help but wonder how an African would see the Westernized, Disney-fied interpretation of their country. What would they make of the sanitized version of the vibrant outfits I saw when I visited Kenya, or the semi-clad actors and supporting dancers who seem to play to that tired, old stereotype that black people are, like women, little more than sex objects?
I wonder if my discomfort came from a conversation I had earlier that week about the way we describe people from different ethnic groups. Whilst I understand that to the older generation the label "coloured" was once much more acceptable than the term "black", I had to point out that it basically puts anyone who isn't "white" into the same ethnic group - essentially lumping together anyone who isn't Caucasian as the other. Whilst I accept that not all people mean to be derogatory when they use the word, when you look under the surface, it screams of notions of white supremacy. Not pretty.
But then, who am I to judge? In my day job, I spend a lot of time telling people how they should behave and what they should do to improve their lives - people who are often from a different class, ethnic background and generation to me. Whilst my colleagues and I work hard to make a positive difference, I wonder if we always listen to the people we are supposed to be helping - and whether we truly welcome and take on board their views.
So when I attend my evening meeting tomorrow, I'm going to make a conscious effort to really listen to what people are saying - and do my best to ensure that their views are taken into consideration in the follow-up work that we do. I like to think that I already do this. but if I'm brutally honest, I wonder if I'm just kidding myself, and I ask anyone who reads this to let me know if they think that I am - and perhaps to take stock of their own practice and views when dealing with people who are different from themselves.
Yes, it's another late-night blog after a pretty hectic weekend. In case you didn't already guess, I've been to see Evita and today went to a seminar about - wait for it - dating. Yes, really. In my defense, my main reason for going was for research (still working on my podcast/article/youtube piece on the subject) but admit that there was some personal benefit. Okay, so a lot of it was about men, but the basis of the talk was how to get what you want from life, whether that be a new career or a new relationship.
Eva Peron was a woman who did what she had to do to get where she wanted to be, morally or otherwise. According to the musical, she essentially used men to get to the top and her working-class background to gain the adoration of a nation - with the added benefit of the riches that came with being the first lady of Argentina. Having read a few books on finding Mr Right (research people, honest!), I have to say that some tactics suggested seem a little bit manipulative. I mean, asking a guy if you can use his phone just to start a conversation? Persuading him to help you pick a birthday present for an imaginary brother? Sorry, but no - if I'm going to find Mr Right, I'm going to do it my way. And that means cutting the crap.
So, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to text that young man I met last week and remind him how fabulous I am. What I won't be telling him is that I've been singing Andrew Lloyd Webber songs all weekend...
Happy Sunday everyone!
Yes, I know, it's Monday tomorrow, which means we all have to go back to work. I'm relieved to say that I'm only in for two days before taking some annual leave - a much needed break from what often feels like Groundhog Day.
But whilst work has been rather tiresome, this week I've noticed a few firsts. Okay. maybe they aren't anything major, but little things that, when I think about it, show that, whilst making the most of life, I might actually be getting somewhere...
Folks, I have made a decision.
After three days of packing, I have decided that, assuming all goes well next week, I am never going to move again. Ever - unless I am rich enough to pay someone to do my packing and cleaning for me. Not only am I bloody knackered, my flat is in complete disarray and my hands have gone from Fairy soft to those of a seasoned builder. As for my nails... one is not amused!
Ah! Which brings me nicely on to my night at the theatre on Friday night (my only real break from the mad house). I went to see Handbagged with my mate Marie and thoroughly enjoyed the rather tongue-in-cheek exploration of Maggie Thatcher's relationship with the Queen. It made me think about Madge's legacy - and how it has impacted on the lives and attitudes of people today. Nothing illustrated this better than, whilst waiting for the bus home afterwards, I witnessed a homeless guy beg another homeless man for some cardboard to sleep under. Whilst Maggie may have thought that we should all work to lift ourselves out of poverty, some people have absolutely nothing to do that with. Something that is still forgotten by the Tories today.
Anyway, minor political rant over, I'm gonna make this blog short and sweet - I think I need a nap before I venture out for my Scrabble date and want to finish Captain Corelli's Mandolin before I go out too - after seeing the movie years ago I was a bit put off, but am really enjoying it. Give it a go if you haven't already.
Oh, and wish me luck for the moving madness heading my way...
Ah, don't you love that feeling we only ever get to indulge in a handful of times a year - you know, that one when it's a Sunday and you don't have to be up at the crack of dawn in the morning to go to work? Bliss!
I decided to take advantage of the long weekend and headed up to my hometown to see the folks - and catch up with an old school friend for her birthday. Her dad's band Moonshine were playing on the five year anniversary of their first gig, which I was apparently present at, so it seemed fitting that I tag along. They didn't disappoint, with covers of tunes from the sixties onwards, with a preference for rocky numbers with melodies that made full use of my mate's bro's ever-improving vocals. Needless to say I was impressed, and had a good old boogie too (anyone who doesn't dance to "Play That Funky Music," in my humble opinion, may as well be dead), much to the amusement of the band and the more conservative residents of Lincoln.
It seems that, despite my disappointment at not getting Glasto tickets AGAIN (yep, still not over that!), new, live music is cropping up in the most surprising of places. On Friday, after a quick glass of wine after work, I went home to make my Peru collage Pacha Mama whilst listening to the Global Psychedelic Sound-system, a very funky DJ I discovered at the Isle of Wight festival last year, courtesy of the island radio station's website. As always, I loved his set but, as it drew to a close and my collage became close to completion, I found myself at a bit of a loss as to how to spend the rest of my evening. After resorting to my fail-safe option (a bath with a glass of red on the side), I found myself listening to yet another talented musician, Jace Thompson, via the wonder of Twitter and YouTube. I was mighty impressed and, after nattering over social media for a bit, was delighted to hear that he has a gig in my hood next weekend. Well, that's Sunday night sorted...
You see, I do love my music - and I love discovering new artists who, behind all the popularist crap that plagues our airwaves, have something really important say - and real talent when it comes to saying it. Being an undiscovered "artist" myself, whilst I get why they do it and the joy that it gives them, I feel their frustration and celebrate their successes, which although often small in comparison to those headlining Glastonbury this year, are perhaps the things that keep them going.
Something I can wholeheartedly relate to.
Well I trust you are all having a super Sunday. I set my alarm this morning in an attempt to get Glastonbury tickets. Needless to say I wasn't successful, but I'm not going to dwell on it. Sniff...
So, how was your week? I managed to finish off the two collages I made a start on last week - and here they are! I might play with another today - the truth is I really want to do a bit of painting but, as I work in slow-drying oils, I'm putting this off until after I move. Which, incidentally, I'm no further along with. Don't get me started...
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this, but buying a flat is not easy in London, yet is something that, when you get to my age (34 - yes, I lied last week when I suggested I was a touch younger...) is almost expected of you. Last night my friend Vicky and I bemoaned all the Facebook posts reminding us of our friend's and aquaintances achievements, from buying houses, getting engaged and having children. But then, after further discussion (and a bit more wine) we came to the conclusion that, whilst for some people reaching these milestones was a natural progression, the rest of us want to make our own rules. In London this is a lot easier, and folk are more accepting of an alternative. This week I was out until 3am two nights in a row and have been more than a little consumed with thoughts of music festivals - quite normal to me, but apparently not so to others. I'll never forget clubbing in Birmingham before Christmas and noting that, apart from one rogue couple, everyone else was younger than 25. Even more amusing was when a lad barely able to shave suggested I was only there to pull a younger man. No, I'm not kidding...
So, whist I'm not married with kids (estate agents; please note that such assumptions are NOT acceptable) and object to being referred to as "madam", I'm embracing certain aspects of grown up living - but for me, not because I think I should or other people expect me too. I'm going to buy my flat and am in the process of rediscovering my love of cooking (Roquamole, anyone?) but can't wait to hit the festival season this summer - and my next night on the dance floor. Where I'll be shaking my bootie for me and no one else.
Happy Easter Monday everyone!
Whether you're religious or not, you can't help but love Easter - never mind all the chocolate, for me it's all about the four day weekend!
My Easter Sunday ended up being quite traditional - with an alternative edge. In the morning I went to the Sunday Assembly, a Godless congregation which, rather than banging on about a higher power, makes its mission to help people realise their full potential. It was quite fun, with singing (strictly secular) songs, a poetry reading, a personal memoir on giving up things for lent (no alcohol? For 40 days? Respect!) with tips on how you can help people in this predicament, and talks on optimism and how important is is if you want to succeed. All in all, very thought provoking with some useful reminders on the power of positive thinking - something I am now making a conscious effort to put into practice.
One of the things that was pointed out to us during the talk on optimism is that, if you want to be something, you have to take action - and keep going, even when you feel like giving up. So, with that in mind, I'm chuffed to say that this weekend I've made a start on two collages which, after a little titivation, will be good to go. I've also sent a "pen portrait" to Mslexia magazine in the hope that they will consider it for their next edition. The theme was "Caged Animal" and you can see my (very short) interpretation of this subject here. I hope you like!
Anyway, I digress. After the Assembly I ended up having a traditional Sunday Roast before winning a big bag of Maltesers in an Easter egg hunt - all in the pub, of course! Today I am going to keep the Bank Holiday tradition alive with a spot of mattress and fridge shopping (Middle aged, me? Well, maybe getting there...) as, although things have stalled, I am still hopeful that I will be moving into my little flat in two weeks time. Assuming the tenants in the place I'm trying to buy eventually move out...
So, without further aplomb, I shall wish you adieu. Enjoy the rest of the holiday!
Well, hello there...
I hope you're all feeling a bit better than me. A busy week at Out of Hours, a nasty cold and one too many Jaegerbombs last night (yes, really!) has left my energy levels rather depleted... but not so much that I can't tell you all about it. Well, my little exhibition has been and gone and, although I'm all a bit knackered, it was worth it - two pictures sold and interest shown in two others has left me chuffed to bits! A few people
have asked me if I'd do it again - or, indeed when I'll next be showing my work. Well, I may well do it again, but not for a while (I need to recuperate!) and will try to find a venue which is more used to exhibiting art - and share the load when it comes to promoting. A PR I aint... I'm pleased to say that it hasn't all be work and no play. I had Friday off and met a friend and her gorgeous 8 month old daughter at Ritzy cinema in Brixton for The Big Scream - screenings especially for mums with babies - and thoroughly enjoyed The Book Thief and a good natter over lunch afterwards.
My culturefest didn't end there. Yesterday Mama Berry came down to London and I took her to see Marti Webb in Tell Me On a Sunday - the soundtrack of which I was all but brought up on. Marti certainly hasn't lost it - and the lyrics definately struck a chord with my thirty-something year old self. It's only on until the 8th so I suggest you get your skates on and book a ticket pronto!
Sadly for my poor little head, my weekend of fun didn't end there. After putting my mum on a train full of Leeds supporters (sorry mum!) I met some chums for a few drinks... then a few more... and some random dancing in a basement bar somewhere in Shoreditch. The evening was rounded off with a trip to the Bavarian Beerhouse on City Road, somewhere I've been fascinated with for ages. Let's just say my curiosity has been satisfied and I don't feel the need to rush back...
So yes, you'd probably be right in saying I have no-one else to blame but myself for my sudden craving for full-fat Coke and crisps. But sometimes you just need to let your hair down and have a good giggle with the girlies. Which I certainly did this weekend. Now it's time so sit back, put on my Friends box set and relax... just as soon as I've had a little siesta. Zzzz....
See you next week!
Here you will find my latest news, including what I have been up to and what I have been writing (and making). Hopefully you'll like what I have to say - and perhaps I will motivate you to get creative too...