Sara Pascoe – LadsLadsLads

On Friday, I dragged myself out of my self-imposed winter hibernation for a trip into London.  On the agenda – dinner, Sara Pascoe at the Wyndhams Theatre, and light installations.

This is the third time I’ve seen Sara, and further continuation of realising how much I identify with her which I first realised after seeing her in 2016.  Admittedly there was slightly less for me to hook into in LadsLadsLads as the show started with the break-up of her last relationship but there was still plenty of “THAT’S ME!” moments even down to her pre-gig/interval music which was basically my Spotify playlist).

There was such an intimacy to her show which I can imagine some people would feel uncomfortable with, and there was certainly some awkward laughter from some of the audience.  At one point, she said there was only two reasons to stand up in front of people – if you make them laugh, that’s comedy but if you don’t, it’s a TED talk but I really felt like Sara’s show was both – when she wasn’t offering funny insights, she was giving us thoughtful comments, all interwoven into a story with multiple call backs.  I adore a comedian that gives me a fully-fleshed story alongside the giggles.

I also want to commend her spectacular heckler management.  I despise idiots who make unsolicited noises in gigs whether positive or negative, and I cringed every time this idiot woman whooped.  It’s so selfish and I will never understand it.  Sara has perfected the art of a perfect withering look though.

An interesting angle for me (and probably loads of others as well), is that I’ll be hearing the other side of the break-up when I see her ex-boyfriend in a couple of weeks.  Based on the fact that I almost cried on a number of occasions in Sara’s set, I’m already preparing myself emotionally for that.

After the show, Tim and I searched out some light installations from Lumiere London.  I’ve missed it on previous years, and only saw a small bit of this year but it’s better than nothing!  We down the South Bank and saw OSC-L, Light on Their Feet, and possibly others too but my favourite was Vertigo by Danish Company The Wave.

I didn’t have my camera on me so all my shots are appalling, but I loved walking through the triangular tunnel.  It’s a real shame Lumiere is only on for the weekend as it would have been great to see it in daylight as well.

Project 365 – 2017

I’ve been taking a photo every day for 7 years now.  I’ve managed to train myself so that it feels weird not taking a photo – I’ll admit, sometimes I’ll get to the end of a unremarkable day so I take a panic photo, but at least the photo is representative of the day!

Instagram has definitely helped, but I have got very lazy in relying on my phone – I must make more of an effort with my camera, so I might treat myself to a new lens this year.  Picking out my favourite memories from the year was a little hard as I don’t think I’ve had a particularly memorable 2017, but let’s look back.

January started slowly with a new Eve mattress and my very first Grensons, plus a work trip to Birmingham.  I did have a lot of work trips this year, but nothing as epic as the one in February – over to Florida for an amazing conference which is possibly my favourite thing from the whole year.  I followed this up with a couple of days in New York where I did nothing but blissful shopping.  I finished my management course in March with a lot of typing and spent a two weeks on my own as it was Husband’s turn to be away for work.  April saw two mini-breaks to Brighton and I faced my professional fear of presenting in front of an entire lecture theatre full of sector peers.  Boy, was I nervous.

Back over the Atlantic in May for a family trip to Miami where I introduced my Mum to Surfside – of course, she loved it.  June was fairly uneventful (I’m ignoring the general election) but I managed to continue the Miami vibe by seeing Footloose in beachy themed room in Liberty.  We aroused suspicion again by going to the USA for a third time as we visited New York for the 4th July – they love their fireworks.  And August was the month we bought a new car (although he didn’t arrive for another few months).

The start of semester in September is always crazy busy, but I managed to fit in a Richard Ayoade talk and a couple of back stage tours on the South Bank.  October introduced us to our new garden fox, Little Lord Stinky Butt but was also the start of my epic cold which is still lingering now.  I fell in love with Dungeness in November, and we collected our new baby (our Audi Q3, Murdock).  And the less said about December the better, what with all the sneezing and coughing (oh my god, the endless coughing).

And onto 2018 – hopefully with significantly less coughing.

December Things

December 2017 will be remembered as the month I sat around feeling sorry for myself.  The last post I made was about how I thought I had bronchitis – apparently, it’s “just” a cough, albeit a cough which made me actually vomit during a meeting at work (oh god, the shame).  Just when I thought it was getting better, I then picked up another cold which has made my cough worse again, so spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s on the sofa.

It’s so ridiculous and pathetic – I’m normally such a well person, so I can’t really understand why I’m so run down.  At least I have another week off work for more lying around feeling sorry for myself.

There were some highlights in December though.

Crafty Fox at the Mercato Metropolitano
The perfect timing for some Christmas gifts, I met up with an old friend to visit the Crafty Fox market which was held at the Mercato Metropolitano which is just gorgeous.  I wish I had another reason to visit Elephant and Castle – they currently have a Backyard Cinema there but I think they’re mostly booked up.

As for the market, I managed to get a lot of gifts there, and some fun things for myself.  I do love a Craft Fox event.

Liberty Beauty Advent Calendar
I normally blog about this weekly, but I just did not have the energy.  It was packed with all the usual goodies, with some new items like the iconic Brazilian Bum Bum Cream and QMS Medicosmetics.  It does feel like a lot more items have gone to my Mum than in previous years, so maybe this one hasn’t been as good?  Still enjoyable though.

I mentioned last year that Christmas has become incredibly difficult for me to cope with but circumstances this year meant I was able to have a very quiet Christmas day with both my in-laws and my Mum (and Husband of course).  We didn’t go insane with gifts or anything like that – the commercialism of the holiday is getting truly ridiculous and makes me feel quite uncomfortable at times.  That said, I did get the latest Mr Jones Watch for my collection which I was incredibly grateful for.  It was a very relaxed and peaceful day with wonderful food and good company.

We got addicted to Dark, the first German language series on Netflix.  It blew my mind – the level of detail, the intricacies of the many stories being told.  On several occasions, a reveal happened on screen but the implications of it wouldn’t hit me for a while.  This meant I frequently turned to Husband at random moments and screamed excitedly at him.  Cannot wait for series 2.

First trip to London
My Mum had my niece for a couple of days over the Christmas break, so we decided to take her on her first trip to London.  On the itinerary – Liberty, Carnaby Street, and of course Hamleys.  She was a little overwhelmed when we first stepped into the famous toy store, but as soon as she saw Peppa Pig cuddly toys, she figured out that this was her shop.  It was very adorable seeing her excitedly spotting different things, and I managed to convince her to get a Supergirl doll (they didn’t have Wonder Woman).  Walking round the busy streets with her yelling at people to get out of the way is a memory I’ll cherish!

I see a fever dream before me now

I have achieved nothing these past few weeks.  I haven’t felt 100% since my terrible cold a few weeks ago, and now I’m fairly certain I have bronchitis.  I’ve spent yet another day off work in my Wonder Woman PJs coughing so hard that I’ve thrown up on several occasions.  I’m not normally an ill person, so this is just irritating me beyond belief.

I had planned to blog all about the rest of our Dungeness trip, our new car, seeing Tom Allen, and my Liberty Beauty advent calendar but I just haven’t had any energy.

For now, I’m sticking to inhaling cough mixture (the hardcore stuff from behind the counter *wink wink*) and trying to stay asleep when it wears off after 4 hours.  I miss my old life!

November Things

Working in higher education, I don’t really get any time off from August to October (no, we don’t get the summer holidays off – I wish), so November saw the arrival of my much needed holiday.  Plus, a video game addiction from the past returned, and there was a bit of TV catch-up.

I think I pretty much covered our stay in Dungeness in my two posts about it – both the estate and the Fog Signal Building where we stayed.  It was exactly what I needed after a busy few months.

Animal Crossing Pocket Camp
Many years ago, I remember husband coming home with a new Nintendo DS for the sole purpose of playing Animal Crossing: Wild World.  I demanded he go straight back out and buy me a DS because I wanted to play it too.  I very quickly became obsessed, and fell in love with a little blue squirrel called Filbert.

So of course I immediately downloaded Pocket Camp and have been playing it non-stop since then.  I appreciate that it’s got very bad reviews, but for a free-to-play mobile game, it’s pretty cute.  It’ll tide me over until something is released for the Nintendo Switch.

And I was over the moon to have Filbert move in to my camp.  He’s still just as adorable.

Tom Allen
I can’t remember how I found Tom Allen, but have been listening to his and Suzi Ruffell’s Like Minded Friends podcast for a while now.  We saw him at our friendly local arts venue and laughed so much that both Husband and I lost our voices the next day.  I adore him.

Audi Mania
November was the month of our new car arriving.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t quite ready on time so I’ve ended up driving three different Audis in November.  It’s been quite odd – I’ll be posting about my new baby soon.

Search Party
Continuing my theme of coming to TV shows late, we’ve just finished season 1 of Search Party.  We had every intention of watching it when it aired, but for whatever reason have only just started.  We binged watched the whole of season 1 in two sittings – what an ending.  Bring on season 2!

Let’s go to Dungeness

Editing these photos just now has filled me with such longing for this beautifully desolate area of the country.  I don’t think there’s really anything else I can say about Dungeness which has been said by a thousand other people – it’s stark, it’s barren, it feels like the end of the world.  I loved it.

There’s a smattering of houses, two pubs, two lighthouses, an odd little railway, even odder structures, and a power station.  Other than that, there’s silence except for the occasional siren from the lighthouse or alarm from the power station.  It really is a great place to get away from society (but not too far away).

OK, so I’ve romanticised our trip somewhat and I’m sure it’s a very different place in the summer but November definitely felt bleak.

We had a guess at what this structure was but didn’t come close to what the internet says it’s for.  As well as a wooden T, there’s also a wooden diamond further down the beach, and fisherman at sea could apparently line these two structures up to know where to navigate home.

I don’t know if we were just lucky, but as I mentioned in my post about the Fog Signal Building where we stayed, we had such beautiful light on our little walks around the estate.

There aren’t many photos of the residences here because I didn’t want to encroach on people’s privacy so we stuck to the beach.  Turn left out of our back garden – lots of abandoned boats.

And some creepy nuclear radiation detecting things (I think?)

Turn right and you come across the power station.  Somewhat unsettling for those with a propensity to overreact (such as myself).  In my defence, the warning signs around the place are terrifying, and the less said about the cloud in the sky one night, the better.

Everything was closed because it was November (of course) so we didn’t get to go on the mini-railway or go up the old lighthouse so we’ll definitely need to go back.  Hopefully there’ll be less fog next time, so the new lighthouse doesn’t keep us awake.

Fog Signal Building, Dungeness

We like staying in weird places.  In the past few years, we’ve stayed in a Pineapple, a 200 year old fort, and a 16th century Scottish tower house.  So when looking for somewhere to stay for our winter mini-break, I typed various synonyms for “quirky” into Google to see what I could find.

And I found the most perfect UK holiday rental that I have ever stayed in – the Fog Signal Building in Dungeness.

I knew a bit about Dungeness, but haven’t ever explored that area of the UK before so was really looking forward to days of peace and quiet, and that’s what we got.  More about Dungeness in another post (and also more about the random car we had for the drive as well) – but first, more on this amazing building.

The Fog Signal Building is on a plot of land which housed a number of old (and now some new) buildings that formed the Experimental Station – a former Trinity House research station.  It’s a bit hard to find historical details, but one book notes that it was built in the 1950s in order to test telemetry and fog detection.

The Fog Signal Building has been renovated to an extraordinarily high level by Johnson Naylor – beautiful limestone flooring, very cool furnishings, fancy kitchen appliances, and two (yes TWO) different types of teak baths.  There’s one main room for living, dining, and sleeping with separate kitchen and bathroom and it’s all stunning.  This is my dream home.

The light in Dungeness is incredible and almost other-worldly, so at numerous points during the day, we’d run outside to take photos of this iconic building. 

Almost every door and window has a different view – the two lighthouses, the Coastguard Lookout, the beach (and yes, the Nuclear Power Station which was only occasionally unnerving).  My favourite?  Sitting on the sofa looking out towards the new lighthouse, especially at night.

Although looking out over the shingle beach was pretty perfect too.

As our stay was in November, there weren’t many people about and we’d go hours without seeing another soul.  At times, we felt like we were the only ones left at the end of the world, which the Dungeness setting really helped with.

We had amazing sunsets every night.  I’m fairly certain we had amazing sunrises as well, but I was too lazy to get out of bed.  In fact, we slept really well the whole time except for one foggy night where the lighthouse fog siren blared for a while.  Oh the irony.  Of all the things to be kept awake by in the Fog Signal Building, I didn’t think it would be an actual fog signal.  Admittedly, I did convince myself it was a siren from some sort of nuclear disaster next door first but I soon figured it out.

At the end of our few days, I didn’t want to leave and I am already so desperate to go back.  We booked through Mulberry Cottages who have other amazing Dungeness properties as well (there are a few different websites where you can book this including Airbnb).

This is everything I want in a home, and if I won the lottery tonight, I’d drive down there to try to buy it from the current owners.  I’m sure they wouldn’t sell though – you’d be crazy to let this go.

October Things

Good lord, what a wash out.  October started fine, but ended with me bedridden for an entire week with a mystery virus which I’m still trying to get over.  Nice.

Little Lord Stinky Butt
Over the course of a few weeks, we’ve had an adorable vulpine visitor to the garden.  He set up house for himself behind our shed, but would come out to stretch his legs and catch some sun every so often.  He didn’t seem fazed by me peering at him as he snuggled up in his temporary den, or by Husband and I taking a million photos.  We think he’s moved on now, but we’ll remember Stinky Butt for a long time (so named because… well…. he smelt quite strongly).

Buffering the Vampire Slayer
I’m trying to remember how I found the Buffering Podcast – I think it was a recommendation on another blog – but however I found it, I am now OBSESSED.  It’s a weekly Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast hosted by real life married couple, Jenny Owen Youngs and Kristin Russo who are just precious!  If that description alone is not enough to get you listening, I don’t know what’s wrong with you to be honest.  They love Cordelia to the same degree I do, give awards for sexual tension of the week, and are people I desperately would love to be friends with.

All this, plus an original song each week – I don’t usually like silly made up songs, but these are slices of genius because Jenny is a brilliant musician.  I’ve bought the albums for season 1 and 2, and will no doubt buy season 3 as well.  All together now – When Daryl was in high school he played football, till he fell from some rocks and died…

Everything Everything
Speaking of music, I have listened to the new Everything Everything album a million times this month.  Can’t Do is a phenomenal song, and it’s firmly placed the band in my top ten bands of all time list.

Thank goodness Glossier has finally launched over here, as I was experiencing some serious fomo.  Despite going to NY twice this year, I somehow managed to forget to visit their showroom, so snapped up their phase 1 set and some Cloud Paint on launch day to see what all the fuss was about.  So far, I’m really enjoying their moisturiser and Birthday Balm Dotcom.  Not so keen on the Milky Jelly Cleanser, although that’s mainly because rose scent makes me feel a bit queasy.  I now need to figure out what to try next.

I always boast about how quickly I can bounce back from an illness.  Not this time.  I spent the overwhelming majority of the last week in October under the duvet, only emerging to watch Strictly and The Defenders finale.  The prolonged recovery time has been quite unnerving for me – I know I’ve been run down so that’s probably part of the reason but I’m genuinely not used to being out of action for so long.  Nearly time for our holiday though, so that will give me some more time to get over it.

Touring the South Bank

Two years ago, almost to the day, we went on the most amazing tour of the Southbank Centre.  It involved donning high vis vests to visit closed off spaces and I loved it – an absolute highlight of 2015.  I can’t even remember why I was on the Southbank Centre website a few weeks back, but I noticed that they were advertising more tours and being the efficient nerds we are, Tim and I decided to combine this with a backstage tour of the National Theatre.  What an excellent Saturday.

We met our guide in a very peaceful National Theatre foyer where we were immediately given high vis vests again.  YES!  I now know this to be the hallmark of a brilliant tour.  There were about 10/15 people on the tour, a mixture of ages, quite a few Americans, but a nice respectful bunch who asked (mostly) sensible questions.  After hearing a bit about the history, we were taken into the back of the Olivier theatre, where crew members were going through a tech rehearsal.  I did try to make an effort in listening to the wonderful tour guide as she talked about the drum revolve and the fly tower, but it was so fascinating seeing the action on the stage.

It’s a beautiful theatre and brought back great memories of seeing Everyman there a few years ago.  From the Olivier, we went over to the Lyttelton theatre which was all set up for Jane Eyre.  It’s really odd being in a brightly lit and empty theatre, but you really get to experience the venue, rather than the performance.  We were taken around the back of the stage (where the photo at the top was taken from), saw the props all laid out, costumes hanging up, and a Henry Hoover ready to go. 
From there, we walked down the main ‘road’ behind the stages, visited the carpenters shop, and peered down into the props department from the walkway.  Even though it was a Saturday, staff were still busy at work creating amazing sets and props, including very realistic looking pizza.

The final part of the tour took us through the offices and dressing rooms, where we saw Bryan Cranston’s name on a door, reminding Tim that he has tickets to see Network, and enabling me to snag his spare ticket.  Back to the Olivier I will go in January.
The second tour of the day was the architecture tour of the Southbank Centre, sadly without high vis jacket.  The tour mainly took us around the public areas so it didn’t really add much to the one we did a couple of years ago although we did get to go into the empty Royal Festival Hall where some musicians were hauling instruments on stage for that night’s performance.  What a treat.

I was able to boast about my stay at A Room for London which I am always happy to do for a willing audience (can’t do it enough to be honest) but the rest of the tour wasn’t ‘backstagey’ enough for me.  They do have a bunch more tours scheduled for the rest of the year, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to go on the actual behind the scenes tour.

After we said goodbye to our tour guide, we went back to the National Theatre to try to catch a glimpse of something referenced on our tour.  We were told that the dressing rooms have windows that overlook a private courtyard and on press night, the actors all stand at their windows banged on the glass as part of a longstanding tradition.  According to the guide, you can just about see the courtyard from one of the outdoor terraces.

Off we scampered, and whilst we didn’t find the courtyard, we did find a secluded garden, great views over the south bank (and also people trying to work with two idiots running around outside).  Every time I visit the Southbank, I discover something new.

Richard Ayoade and Adam Buxton

The last week of September was pretty insane.  There were a couple of days where I clocked in 11 hours at work and when I wasn’t in the office, I was asleep.  It always is madness at the start of semester, so goodness knows why I arranged two things to do in London.  I’m clearly a masochist.

The first event was seeing Adam Buxton interviewing Richard Ayoade for a Guardian Live event where they discussed Richard’s new book The Grip of Film by Gordy LaSure.  Richard is a fairly introspective and reticent interviewee, but it feels like Adam and him have a genuine friendship so it made the evening a very intimate and relaxed chat.  I’m a huge fan of Richard’s films

I hadn’t heard of the venue before – the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster, a church-like building with very dramatic mood lighting.  Whilst is was a beautiful looking building, we did suffer from sitting in pews for 90 minutes.  Husband lost feeling in his legs, my butt was in a lot of pain, and Tim’s spine turned into the spine of a much older man.  Pews are not build for comfort.

In those 90 minutes, Richard and Adam chatted about his book, his films, and other random nonsense – fans of Adam’s Podcast would have recognised this as a classic Dr Buckles ramble chat.  There was also a lot of talk about film, and I was pleased to hear Richard’s cinematic journey was much like my own.  He didn’t watch films as a child – neither did I – so hasn’t seen a lot of the ‘classics’ that almost everyone has seen, a good example being Jurassic Park.

There has been a lot of historical Ayoade/Buxton crossover, with episodes of Gadget Man, Travel Man, Adam’s own podcast, and most recently The Crystal Maze so Richard did seem quite comfortable, but he did seem to tense up a bit when it came to the audience Q&A, particularly as the first question was a bit mean spirited for comedic value.  The rest were really good questions however, which I genuinely wasn’t expecting.  The audience clearly had a lot of respect for the talented filmmaker.

And at the end, a bonus book signing which I felt terribly conflicted about.  It was clear Richard wasn’t looking forward to a queue of needy strangers… but I did want my book signed.  I thought long and hard about what to say to him.  As a fellow introvert, I could feel his discomfort and I didn’t want to add to it so simply told him I really enjoyed listening to the talk, and he promised to pass this on to Adam as well.  I couldn’t have empathised with him more.

I’m looking forward to reading his book – his first book, Ayoade on Ayoade was surreally delightful and this one promises the same.  It will have to sustain me until his next outing as a writer or director.