Monday, 26 November 2012

My Monday: naps and scraps

Last night saw me don my gladrags for my work Christmas do, so today has been all about napping, orange juice and more napping. I feel like I never get the chance to dress up these days so I threw on my best dress,  LISTENED to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme tune on repeat and shimmied around my room before heading to Za Za Bazaar on the harbourside and then dancing on until the morning.

Half of the fun of going out is the getting ready!
The do itself and the resulting lag of fatigue have eaten away most of the WEEKEND, but I've still had this evening to soak in the bath, make a start on my birthday scrapbook and nurse fragrant mugs of hot elderflower cordial. Yesterday morning I ventured to the Cube to mooch around the Christmas market and picked up a couple of gifts for friends and now I'm itching to actually see a film there! What a lovely little cinema.

I've been re-watching The Young Ones over the past couple of days and spotting places I think I might know - including the street where the house was located (or at least, the outside of the house), which is only a few streets over from mine, so I might pay it a visit to see if it's changed! Tonight I'll be retiring early to bed and taking Pathologize This! - a mental health zine - with me to READ. I picked it up from Princesa Pirata Distro's stand at the Cube yesterday.

The weekend doesn't feel like it's been long enough this time round - but what I've had of it, I've enjoyed!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Have You Ever Heard the Lovely Eggs? @ Start The Bus

The tour is only just beginning! Catch them at your local venue in the next week or so.
Last night saw the very lovely Lovely Eggs begin their Wildlife tour with a free show at Start The Bus in Bristol, with support from local popsters Schnauser (replacing the Thyme Machine in the support slot). Having managed to miss my favourite eggs (hard-boiled aside) twice in the last year or so due to ill health, there was no way I was going to be anywhere but STB this time!

Schnauser were sound-checking (in a very twinkly fashion) when I arrived and then had the good grace not to get started until I'd settled myself with a pint (it's almost as if they knew). I really liked them. Imagine a world where the Indelicates taught key stage 1 and you've got Schnauser. The stand-out track for me was "Moron": I'm a sucker for anything that has me snorting with amusement as well as tapping my foot.

If Schnauser are the over-enthusiastic school-teachers at a suburban primary, the Lovely Eggs are the problem child in year 5 who probably shouldn't be allowed fizzy pop in public. They said themselves: "We write a lot of songs about food. We've been given shit for being childish and childlike, but we say, it's not just kids that eat." It's true: they do write a lot of songs about food (including new'un "Food", which, oddly enough, feels like a pop anthem to me), but who doesn't love food? I can identify with hits about sausage rolls perhaps even better than I can with songs about heartbreak (I was a teenage girl for seven whole years). And that's the best thing about the Lovely Eggs. They don't take themselves seriously but they're great at what they do and that's throwing out carefree pop songs about people being twats, anxiety and how, if you've never heard a digital accordion, you're probably going to burn in hell.

In short, bobbing along with the rest of the giddy, flailing crowd, last night was the most fun I've had in a good while that hasn't involved an episode of Hebburn and half a packet of chocolate digestives.
The Lovely Eggs are on tour until 2nd December (see photo, above) and their new album, Wildlife, is out on Monday (26th November)

Monday, 19 November 2012

My Monday: low GI baking

A bottle of red makes for a surprisingly good rolling pin!
A couple of months into the diagnosis of PCOS and the associated label of insulin resistance and I am becoming more and more frustrated by the limits of the lifestyle rules I now have to stick to. I knew that if I didn't make myself some low GI treats soon, I'd slip back into the dangerous life of a carb adorer. So today has been all about keeping me happy: a slightly pricey trip to Scoopaway, a perusal of GI High-Energy Cookbook and a few hours in the kitchen later and... well, I think it all needs further work. But I have a rough idea of the ingredients it's safe to use and how - and their shortcomings.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for the end product of my efforts today, I always enjoy baking and it was a fun way of spending my day off. I may have to invest in a rolling pin, though, as I had to improvise: luckily there just happened to be a full bottle of wine standing on the dining table. As I've been baking, I've been LISTENING to Dworkin's Bastards by ONSIND and singing along at the top of my voice.

I've worn myself out this WEEKEND, but for good reason: my mum and sister visited for a few days and I made it my mission to show them my favourite bits of Bristol - and discovered a few places I hadn't known existed myself! I've fallen into bed each night without even the energy to READ a few pages of my book, but I always awake with enough to watch an episode or three of Gossip Girl - I'm finally getting into it several years late and am on season 2 - so no spoilers, please!

Would you look at the time? It's almost start of a new week (one which brings payday and a Christmas do). Goodnight!

Friday, 16 November 2012

Bonfire Night

Last week, my flatmates and I decided to host a very last-minute bonfire night get-together. As it fell on a Monday this year, I was off work on the day of the party and took it upon myself to get things together and make it a little bit more special than just a fire at the end of the garden. I come into my element when you label something as an event, and there were a few things I was adamant our guests should be provided (and delighted) with: toffee apples and hot, mulled cider (click-through for recipes); marshmallows on sticks; baked bananas oozing the darkest, richest chocolate; and sparklers.

The pumpkin lantern and fireside snacks.

Of course, if I'm going to have guests I'm going to spruce the place up a little. The fire was at the end of our rather long garden, so I studded the path with tealights in glass jars to light the way, finishing with a pair of lights in the archway through to the bonfire, where a pumpkin flickered next to dishes of sweet treats. We banked the fire up, watched it fizzle, roar into life and then die right down again all before our guests arrived. Luckily we coaxed a bit more life out of it and soon the air was filled by the snaps and warmth of a good bonfire, and the chatter of friends. I ladled out the hot, fragrant cider and someone came clutching a bag of corn for popping, so we covered it in a pan nestled in the brightly burning embers.

Poaching a view of someone else's fireworks.

Fireworks lit up the sky, mainly courtesy of our neighbours or a local display, we didn't know which. A guest also arrived with a small box which, when let off, fizzed upwards into the night as we gazed upwards. I doled out the sparklers and we did the usual: circles, lovehearts and furious attempts to write our names so that the letters all hung in the air at once.

"Kitt" - just one letter shy of managing to write my name with a sparkler.

The big, organised displays can be impressive but this girl is a convert: a back-garden get-together with hot booze and idle chat can be even better.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Snapshots of late: easing into winter

Having moved to Bristol in the cool, dark blink of an eye on a scorching day late in July, I held onto that summery feeling for a lot longer than usual. All of a sudden we were well into autumn and I still felt the holiday buzz that comes with exploring a new place - and still do. For that reason, the seasons are flying by and soon we'll be racing down the hill towards Christmas, wrapped up in woollen embraces with old friends and those we once knew. Looking back at a few photographs from the last month or two charts the steady slip into winter proper. There's finally a bite in the air and it's exciting!

1. Cute critters in St. Werburgh's. 2. St. Andrew's Park. 3. Guerilla knitting in the park.

4. Late pumpkin carving - a glowing heart for bonfire night, 5. Fancy dress: my skeleton get-up for hallowe'en this year.

6. The best thing about the biting wind is escaping it in the cosiest of cafés. City Farm café at St Werburgh's. It reminds me of a hobbit hole and is one of my current favourite places!

7&8. The German Christmas market has colonised Broadmead. I've convinced myself (after a mulled wine or two) that I'm a whizz on iceskates.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Mulled cider: a recipe

The Monomyth: diving into a vat of hot, spiced cider
For bonfire night this year, I decided that our cockles needed thoroughly warming on what promised to be a crisp November night, and what better way to warm them than with hot, spiced cider? However, lacking an internet connection I had to improvise- and in doing so made the best mulled cider I have ever tasted. Here's the recipe:

2L cider (and this can be topped up!)
3 apples
1 orange
1 lemon
fresh ginger root
2-3 cinnamon sticks
dried juniper berries
100g demerara sugar

  • Quarter the apples and stud the flesh with cloves. Add to a large pan (preferably one with a lid as it'll really help when bringing such a large volume of liquid to the boil).
  • Grate the rinds of the lemon and orange into the pan. Add the juice. Slice the remaining fruit into the pan too.
  • Grate in fresh root ginger.
  • Add everything else and bring to the boil.
  • Top up with more cider if when needed!
Serve out with a ladle into paper cups or assorted mugs. When our pan of cider began to cool, I replaced the lid and tucked it into the embers of the bonfire, but if you try this, make sure it's a pan that will withstand being right inside the fire!


Monday, 12 November 2012

My Monday: lazy brunch and zines

Baked egg
Monday always has that indulgent Sunday feel to it for me, what with working Tuesday to Saturday, so this week I tried my first baked egg, made to a recipe found in issue 2 of The Simple Things. I used a generous hunk of pain parisien from Joe's Bakery in Bishopston and a cloud of black pepper. Pair this with fresh coffee and a glass of red grape and pomegranate juice and you have yourself a very luxurious brunch (let's not kid ourselves: I'm rarely out of bed in time for breakfast on my day off).

I spent the rest of the morning, a brief trip out to run an errand or two aside, lazing in a hot bath READING Virgin #2 and Drifting Clouds, two brilliant zines on virginity and consent, respectively. You can find Drifting Clouds here, either to order a copy of or, if you want, read online in PDF form. I'm also finally in the middle of reading Middlesex (A Novel) by Jeffrey Eugenides, after it being at the top of my mental "to-read" list for over a year!

Lately I've been LISTENING to a strange combination of Field Music - Plumb, ONSIND - Dworkin's Bastards and Maybeshewill - Not for Want of Trying. I saw Maybeshewill on Thursday and can't get enough.

This WEEKEND has been longer and more fun-filled than usual: I booked the Saturday off work and headed down to the first ever Fear of Fiction festival in Stokes Croft. Highlights included Three Trapped Tigers, Talons and Telaviv (something about the letter T, perhaps?).

Back to reality this week, or almost: I have Friday off! I've got that festive holiday feeling already. With plans to go ice skating and gulp down mulled wine after work tomorrow, it really does feel like Christmas is just around the corner!

(I Keep Thinking About) Field Music

Firstly, a quick note to explain my absence for those of you who don't keep track of me over on Twitter and Facebook: I had my internet disconnected without warning a few weeks ago so I've not been able to post with the frequency or ease I would have liked. I've managed to get access to a wi-fi hotspot for the time being so hopefully it should be business as usual from now on!

Komedia Bath
In a very last-minute stroke of luck, I found out that Field Music were paying the Komedia in Bath on 19th October. I had a handful of days to grab myself a ticket and, on the day, I rushed straight from work to the train station with a lingering trace of disbelief that I'd even managed to get one. Coming from the Northeast, I guess I'd expected them to sell out everywhere (because they should do - take note, the South).

I wandered around drinking in the sights and sounds of Bath (I'd never been before), found the venue, then stopped off at the Porter for dessert while I waited for the doors to open. When I couldn't wait any longer, I paced impatiently around the block until the Komedia opened up for us, and soon my friends had joined me inside.

Inside the Komedia
The support act were Golden Fable. I'd not even had time to check them out beforehand, but, seeing as Stealing Sheep had supported Field Music on their tour earlier this year, I had good faith and wasn't disappointed. If I were to have a dream, an epic in which white beaches unfolded beneath the hooves of my steed and I looked intensely out towards a castle at sea (whilst looking beautiful and saving my subjects or something like that - I've probably read far too many Tudor novels and played a bit too much Age of Empires in my time), they would be the soundtrack to that dream. I bought a CD and it even had a seal on it (the waxen type, not the cute sea-dwelling animal)!

Golden Fable
Finally, the wait was over and Field Music took to the stage. It was the third time I'd seen them this year (February at the Cluny in Newcastle and July at Tramlines Festival in Sheffield) and perhaps even the best. If you ever get a chance to go and see them, whether you've listened to their music before or not, I implore you to do so! In February I remember breathlessly exclaiming that they were the best live band I'd ever seen and I've yet to change my mind.

Field Music
Field Music's Plumb was nominated for the Mercury Music Award this year and you can listen to it on Spotify (and then go and buy it/their entire back catalogue).