Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Alice in Wonderland... Eat your heart out! Book review: an oldie but a goodie: The Vintage Tea Party by Angel Adoree.

My costume-designer friend Viva, who I met in a bookshop and who lives in a beautiful ramshackle house, filled with fabrics, and old furniture - plucked this book from the shelf for me last week, and now I want to own it. Heart-shaped cucumber sandwiches..... Again, that blog post started, breathed momentarily, then dropped to the floor. Probably distracted by some inane worry about something like the porridge burning; it was discarded, like so many other fledgling posts. To continue, though - Angel Adoree, of The Vintage Tea Party has gone on to write another wanton book and have a baby, one which I as yet do not own (book nor the baby). And Viva, the bookshelf- dweller is the most amazing seamstress, I learnt, having spent an afternoon with her to learn to use my sewing machine, handed down to me by a wonderful Japanese girl called Miri, who had actually learnt to make her own shoes, from leather - and who had in her possession the most miraculous wardrobe. Like a geisha-miss-haversham, I admired her. Back to Viva, her sewing machine might as well be an extension of her arm. She can talk and sew, quite literally, at an equal speed. But, my does she have a story to tell. Just imagine meeting a real-life Miranda Hart, for humour and height, and then quickly becoming good friends. Her open banter combined with an ability to knock-up a tunic in under half an hour was astounding. Sew, two inspirational ladies, introduced to me through a bookshop, where one day, hopefully, all my clammered- up ideas, thoughts and self-made fairytales will reside. If you haven't bought it already - (I realise that this review is late) then do; it stands proud on my book shelf - and is filled with the most delectable, extraordinary ideas for a tea party that quite honestly The Queen of Hearts wouldn't sniff at!

Hilarious, pro-men feminism... 'How To Be A Woman' by Caitlin Moran: Book Review

So this is one of those don't-care-if-the-phones-ringing-or-the-kettles-boiling-can't-put-you-down-books, because 1/ it's bloody funny, and 2/ it perfectly describes me and the majority of my female friends. Women, we must be so frustrating for men - in a constant state of flux, never quite sure whether we are right or wrong, always trying, often self-depreciating..... yet always with a bubbling urge to be strong, speak our minds and f*** everyone else (not literally)...

Caitlin Moran, perfectly melds feminist strength with our our slight soft-spot for men. I urge each and every one of you to read it. And men, read it too, if only for reassurance and peace of mind, that yes, we are all slightly mad, and controlled by those terrifying impulses (otherwise known as hormones.) Because I wrote this post over a year ago, got distracted and forgot to finish the review (and press publish/ blame hormones) - you can now buy it on amazon, for less than a fiver! http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Be-Woman-Caitlin-Moran/dp/0091940745. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Teeny-tiny festival review: In The Woods Festival 2011

The trees and paths behind my cottage ignited into a sea of lights and lampshades, bustling bars, trees wrapped in knitted yarns and stages filled with music...

In The Woods Festival, hosted and organised by The Laurel Collective transformed a once romantic woodland filled with age-old trees and trickling streams into a grand, magical party for one weekend only, resulting in some brilliant madness....

Paths were cleared through the woods to host two stages, with artists that are regularly acclaimed on BBC6 Music. From the hauntingly pretty sounds and lyrics of Lucy Rose to the soulful, startling vocals of Lianne La Havas in the Laurel Lounge. Alt J and many many more performed on a little stage crowded with people soaking up the melodies.

The main stage played host to the electro-pulsing beats of Post War Years and The Laurel Collective and many more, where the wild-folk danced 'til the cows came home...A yurt sold tea, coffee and friendly faces if you needed a rest - and there was plenty of room for quick kip by the bonfire. If, next year you are looking for a 'boutique' festival, then look no further. The infamous Biddenden Cider poured on tap, and a delicious pig on a spit, spat away - as girls in their floral dresses and boys in their waistcoats nodded, jumped and sang their way through an evening of inspiring music and beautiful people. Check out: http://www.inthewoodsfestival.co.uk

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Art, sea and sandwiches in MARGATE

The Turner Contemporary opened in April this year - a large, modern building on the seafront - marking the very place where JMW Turner frequently stayed in a lodging house throughout his life. Turner had spent time in Margate as a child, and continued to visit often. A number of his paintings, watercolours and sketches feature part of the Kent coast, particularly Margate - and Turner was said to have remarked that ' the skies over Thanet are the loveliest in all Europe'. (Thanet is just along the coast from Margate.)

Today, grey clouds loom above the vast expanse of sea, a couple of fishing boats bob about in suspense and a strip of coloured warehouses stretch out, masking the horizon. An overwhelming stench of whelks wafts about the muggy heat of the day, yet still tourists queue for a punnet of shellfish.

Entering the Turner Contemporary is little like opening a door into another world, a world away from the rough and ready streets of Margate, where crime rates are the highest in Kent. The big sun-like window looks out to sea, and people who like like they've just stepped off Brick Lane wander about gazing at work through their thick-rimmed professor-esque glasses.

The gallery plans to show changing exhibitions, and will always have one of more Turner works. This exhibition (Revealed: Turner Contemporary Opens) is inpired by Turner's 1815 painting of a volcanic eruption in the Caribbean. A range of work is shown in each part of the gallery, and all exudes incredible beauty and sentiment.

Douglas Gordon's texts appear on the main stairs - the final words uttered by Turner 'The Sun Is God' are played with to express the possibility that 'some things are better read than said'.

Ellen Harvey's installation ARCADIA is dazzling and reflective; a projection of the sea onto a long white wall swishing in and out of the shore and the sounds of the waves fill the room.

The most striking for me were the works of Russell Crotty, who - like Turner is fascinated by nature. Huge sketchbooks filled with large landscape drawings in colour, are scratched away intricately. Inspired by walking, surfing and observing the stars, Crotty uses words in his works to explain his thoughts and processes. Large, delicate paper globes hang from the ceilings, bearing drawings and hundreds of words from long walks and trailing thoughts.

Once you've looked around the shop at the front of the gallery, you can wander over to the Old Town and check out some of the extortionately priced Vintage shops, if you like. You could visit The Greedy Cow - a really lovely cafe selling delicious toasted ciabatta's - I recommend the Turkey, Stuffing & Cranberry Sauce... and nice glass of local (Chapel Down, Tenterden) wine.

So, don your candy-striped dress and get on down to Margate - there are some great retro furniture stores too!

Gallery: http://www.turnercontemporary.org/
Retro furniture: www.etcetera-online.co.uk

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Into the wild: Blackberry Woods, South Downs, Sussex

If you are looking for a romantic getaway or just a beautiful place to camp with a nice old group of friends - then this is the place! If it's just the two of you, you might like to go for Blackberry Fields... nestled into parts of the forest are your pitches, and once the tent is up and the fire stoked - it's just you, your sweetheart and the stars above. (It is for peace-lovers, if you want to party the night away, then don't book into Blackberry Fields. There's a shower with an open roof, clean toilets, sinks and wheelbarrows to carry your camping gear - you leave your cars in the carpark).

The main campsite is set in the secluded glades of the South Downs - an area of truly outstanding natural beauty. There are plenty of walks, and pubs in nearby villages - but once the breakfast is sizzling and the kettle boiled you should start to feel pretty settled just where you are.

You can also book in to stay in the following - for a whole new experience:

Gypsy Caravan: This 1930's, original, hand-crafted Gypsy caravan is the perfect retreat. There's an original wood-burning stove and a very snug double bed which will fit just two adults. You just need to pack some bedding, 'and a crystal ball' they say!

Retro Caravan: 'Bubble' the Dutch Caravan, has been around since 1963, and sits nestled in place, and will sleep just two adults. It has all the cutlery and crockery that you may need, you just need to bring a nice soft duvet and a few pillows. There's a fully functional two-ring gas cooker, a cooler and the sofa turns into the double bed, which is around 6ft long. Children aren't allowed to stay in here, it's old and needs looking after... perfect for kicking back and relaxing for a long weekend.

Holiday Bus: Honk Honk! This 1964 Routemaster - giant red double-decker sleeps two couples in the comfy cosy upstairs - upper deck, which also bears a lounging area... downstairs you have the kitchen and dining area, and if you have little ones - this might please you... there's a fun play area which turns into a bedroom at night. It comes equipped with pots, pans, cutlery and all you need to do is bundle some bedding into the boot then away you go - 'summer holiday' time!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Listen to: 'Johannes' by Cocos Lovers

This incredible band dropped out of the blue blue skies of Kent and landed on a stage at a tiny little village festival last year...
Sitting and people-watching, I spotted this talented group long before they took to the stage. Couples entwined, children ran about, and a slightly bohemian air danced above them, so I wasn't surprised when they took to the stage and arranged a plethora of instruments: Violin, Tenor Banjo, Mandolin, Guitar, Flute and Ukelele were lifted out carefully and tuned.

African inspired, deep-rooted, harmonic folk sounds resonated as Cocos Lovers got into the swing of the set. Each took their turn to sing, harmonise and chant, the instruments combining to create touching melodies. Soon, everyone began humming along, and then clapping and dancing in time to their infectious rhythms. The mix of tuneful upbeat new folk sounds, with heartier, traditional folk tunes and instruments has made for something inspiring. I am hooked, and I want to be a part of their band.

The band have performed at Bloody Awful Poetry events in London, and have so far supported Mumford & Sons, Alessi's Ark and Fionn Regan amongst others. They have also performed at Secret Garden Party and Greenman Festival, and this year are set to do the same, as well as performing at Glastonbury this weekend, and Lounge on the Farm in a few weeks time.

Look out for Cocos Lovers this year. Their debut album, 'Johannes' is out on Smugglers Records, and their new album is set for release this year. It's called 'Elephant Lands'.

Have a listen here: http://www.myspace.com/cocoslovers

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Go see: Every Day is a Good Day! John Cage @ The De La Warr Pavillion

Whilst trawling charity shops in Bexhill for cups and saucers, the large white (art deco-style) building that perches on the edge of the sea caught my eye. The De La Warr Paviliion has exhibited a number of inspirational artists over the years, and this exhibition surrounded and interpreted the work of John Cage (musician, artist and philosopher). Cage is most widely recognised for his works entitled: 4'33" which is a series of three movements, played without hearing a single note. The content supposedly revolves around the engagement of the audiences with the sounds that they hear and create whilst participating in these 'movements'.

So, the De La Warr came up with A Nod To Cage, which includes work from Yoko Ono who worked with the man himself, some newly commissioned works from Shelley Parker and Charlie Hooker, and six students from Brighton University and Sussex Coast College. The exhibition covers the whole of the De La Warr - Gallery 1 showing the handiwork of John Cage, and suitably named Every Day is A Good Day. Drawings and watercolours are arranged in sporadic fashion across the long hall. Based on the order of I Ching, fostering the beliefs of the artist, the works are distributed at random, and so a guide book is provided to help navigate your way through the show.

There is a grand piano sat atop one flight of stairs, playing notes on it's own accord - depicting the effects that sound has as it enters and leaves our bodies.... a camera on a long, wooden arm which faces towards a projection wall, showing a film of two dancers at either end of the camera. One a ballet dancer, moving in her way, and one a tap dancer, responding in hers. It was moving, and tempting to jump up and swing the camera around! All relate to the concepts of sound that Cage discovered, shared and explored.

It's also a place to chat to people openly and freely. The staff are very passionate about the works that they exhibit, and clearly put their heart into their research and happily share their knowledge if you are keen to hear it. It was a day for meeting people, as two other young people crossed my path from polar-walks of life to my own, opening my eyes and heart to the way that they experienced the world...

Check out the De La Warr line-ups here: http://www.dlwp.com/ and make sure you take a look at the LIVE PROGRAMME. Alan Carr and Mogwai coming soon!