Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Five (Left) Lions

Nottingham treasure LeftLion Magazine reaches its 100th issue this month! It's a must-read if you're in the city, and free to pick up from many a fine Notts establishment. I'm dead chuffed to have been doing a few articles for their website recently, here they all are if you fancy a gander...


1. Nottingham Writers' Studio to Host Joint Networking Event with Society of Authors

A little plug for our beloved Notts Writers' Studio, which is well worth a visit.


2. 10 Nottingham Watering Holes with Pub Sports and Games

I had so much fun researching for this (2-3 pubs per week for a month).


3. Art Review: Strike Site at Backlit

Review of an exhibition about the refugee crisis at indie gallery Backlit.


4. Fluent Females: Third Annual Women Say Stuff Event at Cafe Sobar

Write up of a female-led poetry event for International Women's Day.


5. Film Review: The Square

Getting bitter and preachy about the mad world of contemporary art.


Playing Ringing the Bull at Ye Olde Trip (plus mystery observer)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Writing/everything is hard

So, “restarting my blog” went well, didn’t it?

I had a bit of a writing hiatus during December, but January feels better.

Had my first taste of publisher rejection before Christmas (wrote a short story back in October for an anthology, which was “borderline” but not quite right). The first in a long line of disappointments, which is half the fun of being A Writer.

Started another story about a manipulative priestess and a giant crab. One day a publisher will appreciate my talent and send me a limo pfffff.


Genuinely good; I won 1st prize for Flash Fiction and 2nd for Poetry in a competition at Nottingham Writer’s Studio. I am so proud of my wee trophy! The hardest thing for me is just getting started, so events are a great motivator.

I’ve got a couple of fun things to write for Left Lion too over the next month. I like to think stuff like this is my “real job”…

2018 resolutions are Fitter, Happier, More Productive. And get published (ha).

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Tale of Two Bookshops - Scarthin Books & Five Leaves

Not a review as such, but a CELEBRATION of two brilliant independent bookshops! If you’re in the area, why not give ‘em a visit?

Scarthin Books, Cromford, Derbyshire

If you love books, Scarthin’s will make you weep. This gem of a shop has three floors of books, old and new, stuffed into every corner. It has a rickety Harry Potter vibe - held up purely by stacks of books and magic. There was even a fundraiser to ensure it didn’t collapse. It’s now better (and safer) than ever.


Along with whole rooms dedicated to Art, Music, and Children, Scarthin’s is creative in its categorising. There used to be a shelf labelled “all of them witches” for their Wiccan/Occult section (which I adored as a teen goth), a shelf near the ceiling of “old books too beautiful to hide”, and an eye-openingly generous section on Cats. You will leave wanting a bigger house.


There’s a wee vegetarian cafĂ© upstairs and loads of nooks and crannies to explore. Stay a couple of hours! Before the refurb, someone had stuck up a photo of an ambiguous object, asking what it was. I wrote “a weapon of mass destruction” and by my next visit “a real and present danger” had been added.


Book people are the best people, and Scarthin’s is always staffed by bright young things. I was looking at Chomsky’s latest offering and was told “he has written better books”, before being guided over to the epic Politics section.


The layout is dreamy too, having to duck and squeeze through all those old tomes. It would be a wonderful place to take a date; peering over each other’s shoulders and getting to know their taste (one of my first dates with my partner involved browsing films in CeX - a huge success). Scarthin Books is a Labyrinth, a Pandora’s Box, an Aladdin’s Cave. It is one of my fave places on earth.

Click here to visit the Scarthin Books website

Five Leaves Bookshop, City Centre, Nottingham

I’ve only just visited this place, even though it’s been open a few years now. It sits up an alleyway off Market Square, near to not-quite-bookshop The Works. If Scarthin’s is an old wizard, Five Leaves is its younger and hipper cousin.


Five Leaves attracts a radical yet very polite crowd, and the staff leave you alone. Somebody even apologised for having to walk around me, which is amazing as this never happens (I am small, meek and constantly apologising for my own existence). It’s a lovely place for an introvert to go when Nottingham city centre gets too much. I should probably buy something next time though!


Being a one-room shop, they have to be discerning - so you get the best of everything. This is a bookshop run by people who really appreciate knowledge and want to share it with you. It’s all killer and no filler. There are lots of interesting titles that I remember from English Lit and Performing Arts.


You’ll also notice pretty early on that it’s fabulously left-wing. If you’re fond of the phrase “Social Justice Warrior” or “Loony Left”, you may want to sod off sharpish. I enjoyed the choice of Corbyn books, colourful selection of cultures and worldviews, and indie publishers. Five Leaves’ heroes are your heroes. It’s a safe space, down to the noticeboard of therapy hotlines and yoga classes.


Click here to visit the Five Leaves website

Have you got a favourite bookshop near you?

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Did you die?

Is blogging dead too?

I hope not, but social media made blogging redundant for a “casual” blogger like me. I found it easier to stick a few photos/words on Facebook or Twitter, rather than spend time fleshing out a big beautiful blog post about my week.

Why are you doing a blog post then?

I write about law now! To remedy this, I have joined a writers' group and write weird fiction in my spare time. Social media posts aren’t very satisfying - I want to torture my three followers on Blogger with some long reads.

What delightful things can we expect?

Just the usual boring stuff I used to blog about. Television programmes, beauty products, what I like for dinner etc. You may also get some mildly interesting stuff like book reviews and local event write ups (I live in a city now!).

Is that it then?

Yes, that’s it. I am a world famous blogger once again.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

I've been blogging more than you think.

I have a bad habit of neglecting to write 'for myself' when I'm working full-time, hence months of nothingness on here. But I DO write and - as I realised when I tried to pick just 10 12 examples from my work blog posts - I still really enjoy and take pride in it . Below are some of my YHA faves!

(I've also done some wee descriptions so that I can say that I've been writing about something other than hostelling, i.e. writing about writing about hostelling...)

The most scenic hiking trails in the UK
I describe a 183 mile walk as being "for beginners". I think the most miles I've walked is 7. 

10 things to do in Liverpool this spring
Tracey Emin and (amazingly) The Beatles get mentioned. Internationally published, so proud!

Lights-off for Earth Hour 2015
It's not easy being Green - luckily the YHA are forward-thinking so it's eco-warrior time.

The Hosteller's Cookbook
I really wish that I could cook some of these. I did help make the veggie biryani though, woo.

Top 10 mind-blowing novels for travellers
Science fiction, fantasy and pop culture references. This has my fingerprints all over it Holmes.

Bizarre & British: alternative places to stay in the UK
Not-so-subtly destroying the stereotype of hostels being purpose-built and grim. They're not.

Take the Classroom to the Great British Outdoors
Making education sound a lot more exciting than I remember it being when I was at school.

How to get a good night's sleep when travelling
Good tips that I consistently ignore; I am writing this like 5 minutes before I go to bed.

Battle of the Kindle vs Traditional paper books
Well I could hardly admit that I barely use my Kindle could I. Also, "BOOK SNIFFING".

The most beautiful National Parks the UK has to offer
Proving that England and Wales are absolutely stunning. I wish I'd taken those photos.

Why travelling Solo rocks and how to make the most of it
Follow the wisdom of someone who usually goes on holiday in the UK, with her parents.

The ever-changing Hostel of the Week page is also my doing, archived as blogs here.

I promise I will eventually get round to doing a proper update on ME (probably involving Matlock's antique shops and how difficult jogging is) but in the meantime check out my ramblings about the mountains, travelling and adventures that I never see. MOUNTAINS GANDALF.

Yes, I really need to follow my own advice and get out there. *bizarre mix of blatant self-promotion/self-deprecation ends*

Monday, 2 February 2015

My Instagram photos for the YHA.

 






I’ve been working for the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) for just over a couple of months now - one of my roles is looking after their Instagram account.

Here are some of my fave snaps that I’ve taken for them so far. With all sincerity, lucky me!

(Before you think I've magically got very good at taking pictures, obviously the best/pro looking ones on their account are not my photography)

Monday, 22 December 2014

Vintage 1960s postcards - kitsch kitten and daisies!

 
Remember when I used to scan stuff I’d found in antique shops? Let me remind you.

Anyway I’m up to it again, starting with this kitsch gem ‘Kitten in the Rose Bower’ photo above by Guy Withers! It’s a J. Arthur Dixon postcard and I think it’s from around 1965 (based on the one below I found with a dated stamp).

Fluffy animal and fake tree branches - what’s not to love?!

 
And another colourful and kitsch J. Arthur Dixon postcard I found in the same antique shop (I know, my hobbies are thrilling)! This one had a stamp on the back from 1965 along with the message:
 
"Thank you so much for sending us Contact. It is most interesting as usual. We are getting straight. With difficulty I at last got rid of some of the furniture and the Bristol furniture looks very nice in its place."
 
Other people’s mail woohoo. The flowers are Barberton Daisies, a wild South African species famed for their varied and attractive colours. Very bright, very 60s…