The Glovers/Reggae/Period Drama Joy

This weekend was mostly spent celebrating The Glovers’ releasing their first single, He’s Not Mine, along with accompanying video. The Glovers, composed of Lisa Marie Glover, Tash Williams, and Peter Scott and Sam Widdop, (whose twopiece Scott Widdop is playing TwoPoundIn this Saturday coming, but more of that later in the week), have been playing together for less than a year, had a lovely tour this spring and play incredibly catchy original songs. If you would like to support this local group, you can purchase the single, plus a funny little song about science, on their bandcamp for a MERE £1.50. As you have probably guessed, I have a personal relationship with the band, and so if you can make my boyfriend a bona fide rock star I’d be ever so grateful.

To celebrate, I was taken out dancing to reggae music at the Stir It Up night at Full Circle. I’ve been to Stir It Up before, when it was at Left Bank Leeds, which was a good night but completely the wrong venue. It seems to have found its spiritual home at Full Circle, which I’ve never been to before but will definitely be visiting again in the near future. On Kirkstall road, opposite Radio Aire, it’s just far enough out of town to not be a massive trek, and for me handily fifteen minutes walk home, though after several Red Stripes and some of the most delicious street food I’ve ever tasted that journey may have taken slightly longer.

Full Circle also sell arty geeky things, and have a really lovely space, and apparently do Sunday Roasts with accompanying jazz which I am so going to be going to post-payday…

Then on Sunday I got together with my Period Drama Homegirls and watched me some Medieval Babes in The White Queen, which people who aren’t into History Trash are going to rubbish as froth, but which we really enjoyed. It is fantastically well cast, with Jacquetta stealing most scenes and Warwick being lovely and bitter, and Edward IV is Quite Hot. My favourite book in Philippa Gregory’s Cousins War series so far has to be The Kingmaker’s Daughter, so I’m looking forward to seeing more of Anne Neville. The White Queen itself was quite good but tbh The Red Queen was weak, and I hope Amanda Hale makes more of Margaret Beaufort than the original text does, as she is  one of the most fascinating and inspirational women in history. She founded shed loads of schools and universities and worked tirelessly for her son’s advancement-the only way, it could be said, of advancing herself. Along with Bess of Hardwick she’s one of those women who has been either ignored or written as stiff because she didn’t fanny about, and married strategically, and that is a real shame.

So yes, another weekend of Leeds being awesome, with more good stuff to come this week!

World Book Night, so good I blogged it twice…

So World Book Night has come and gone for another year, and what a lovely WBN it was! Once again the Travelling Suitcase Library took over my local pub, Arcadia, filling it with books, and bunting.

A happy customer!

 I was giving away Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses, a powerful dystopian YA romance book, and I was also joined by the lovely Jimi, who found out about the event through the World Book Night website, who was giving out copies of Casino Royale, which went down a treat with the pub regulars.

World Book Night @ Arcadia

We were joined by the incredibly supportive Leeds Big Bookend Crew, whose festival I’m really looking forward to, and the Leeds Ladyfest Crew were on hand selling awesome merch, the bags really came in useful for carrying the books back!

The Ladyfest Crew and the Awesome Bags!

 And of course the Travelling Suitcase Library was its usual busy self, as most people turned up to the event with bags upon bags of books to swap.

Books Make People Excited!

 This year’s event was smaller than previous ones, World Book Night is now such a big event with so many people giving books all over Leeds-I was really chuffed to be handed some in Leeds Book Station by Leeds Met Library-it is hard for someone on their own to organise. I couldn’t do a buffet, and the least said about my buns the better. But for the people who came, and supported the event for the third year running (and it was SO NICE to have people bringing books they got last year and loved to be swapped again) we had a lovely evening, I got to wear a frock, and many people found a stack of books. M

Me, and my suitcase, looking a bit pink at the end of the night!

Thank yous… The Arcadia Team, Graeme, Sarah and Hayley for being so lovely and letting me take over for another year. Reb and Dave for being so incredibly kind and helpful, Fiona and The Big Bookend, L and P from Ladyfest and the Leeds Feminist Network Massive, fellow giver Jimi, B and friends, Luey, Lou, Tom and Jim, H, G/R, EB Snare and the Twitter Crew and P for just being wonderful.

Originally appeared on the Travelling Suitcase Library blog.

The Best Thing, Ever, In The World, Ever

So last month, on a whim, I started Envelope Club. This was a small little project after rediscovering the joy of sending stuff through the post that I blogged, and that got a fair bit of support. You sign up by email, copying and pasting a promise that you won’t send nasty or hurtful or inappropriate stuff to strangers, along with a postal address, and each month I send you a different strangers details for you to send some random stuff through the post.

Now so far I’ve sent two addresses to people and sent two envelopes. I haven’t received anything back yet but some of the twenty or so other people who have signed up so far  have, and this weekend I got an email of something one of them, a lovely man called Pete, sent, and it made me actually cry with how beautiful and lovely it is.

mail letter web

This has made me so happy, art is occurring and random people all over the world are sharing stuff they like with people they don’t know!

If you would like to join us, please check out lez rulez and drop us an email. I’ll be sending the next round of addresses out on the 22 March, so any addresses I get before then will be added.

Envelopes are lovely.

Leeds Meeples

Meeples1

Some friendly board game types

 

On Sunday afternoon, I took a break from my usual routine of breakfast and homework and had an Afternoon Out to join a trusty band of loyal board games players at Leeds Meeples. Coordinated by lovely Dave and Laura, Meeples is a board game club like no other.

Meeples2

Some of the board games people brought to play

 

I was never really ‘into’ board games, I’m still not, really, they are prohibitively expensive and I can just imagine my pub friend’s faces if I were to pull one out, however I went to a Meeples last year out of shere curiosity in its former home of Dock Street Market and fell in love with Citadels, a game which is a bit like Sim City vs Pokemon, where you get to crush people with one move and it only takes about 45 minutes a game.

 

Meeples3

Citadels

 

What I like most about Meeples is that, although you might go knowing no one, everyone is so friendly (in a highly competitive ‘I Will Crush You’ way) and it’s such a welcoming environment with strict ground rules on Being Nice To Each Other behaviour.

Meeples has now moved to The Victoria Hotel on Great George Street, which was a fantastic cosy venue which sells excellent food. I had wild boar and chorizo because wild boar and it was tasty as owt but I immediately regretted this upon seeing the PIES. Next time I shall be having a PIE.

Meeples4

Busy playing board game…

We started off with a lovely game of Apples to Apples which I am quite good at, then I demanded citadels so had a round of that whilst others played more complicated looking games. I ended the afternoon with a nice round of Cthulhu Gloom, a story telling card game where the object is to give your Lovecraftian characters horrible untimely deaths. I may have been crushed in both these games, but had such a pleasant afternoon catching up with some friends and meeting new people that it didn’t really matter. Meeples is the ultimate proof that it isn’t winning, it’s the taking part that counts.

Plus Size Clothes Swap

Last year I went to the first ever Plus Sized Clothes Swap, an event that I loved and thought a brilliant idea. I’m on the smaller end of plus size, this time last year I was wearing 18-20, I’m now a 16-18, 5’8″  with monkey arms and I find going to vintage fairs and clothes swaps often disheartening in that things are too tight in the wrong places, the sleeves are too short and nothing really fits. The idea of a body positive space filled with lovely non-judgemental types who aren’t going to say how good I’ve been or how well I’m looking (yes, I’ve lost weight, no, I don’t want a fucking sticker) always fills me with joy and on Saturday I went with the beautiful @missmoralessays to the fourth clothes swap at Wharf Chambers (after walking round in circles for ten minutes because, despite having been to a billion and one events in Wharf Chambers I can never remember where it is) and boy, haven’t we grown?

Me in my cardigan and lovely Fascinator. Photos taken by @missmoralessays

Me in my cardigan and lovely Fascinator. Photos taken by @missmoralessays

The idea is you can take as many items to be swapped, and anything that’s left over at the end goes to charity. It costs £1 to get in, they sell cake and tea, there’s a zine stall that was also selling beautiful stationary (of which more later in the week as I’ve had an idea about that…) and there is always loads of lovely enthusiastic people willing to chat about the clothes, body positive living and life in general. I’ve also got some great advice about altering clothes to fit you better and it has inspired me to be a bit more creative in how I dress.

I picked up some lovely pieces, most all of them found by @missmoralessays who also took the beautiful photos on this blog. I’ve found the frock (and SHOES!!!!) I’ll be wearing on my birthday, new jeans which fit perfectly and the loveliest snuggliest multi coloured cardigan I wore for the rest of the weekend whilst Doing My Homework.

Me, posing, avec Legs

Me, posing, avec Legs

There are more lovely photos of the event on Rebecca’s Blog and you can find more information on Facebook. I’m not sure when the next one is going to be, but there is always info floating around and if you Google it there are LOADS of bloggers covering the event.

More than anything else the clothes swap has made me wish that my mum could still be here as she would have loved it, and I wish wish wish that more people could come and feel better about their bodies, and get some cracking new outfits!

In Which We Try To Go To The German Market…

…But End Up In Whitelocks.

The German Market (or whatever it’s called) marks the start of Festive Times for me. A time when it is perfectly acceptable to elbow a stranger in the face or run a pram into their ankles just to move that extra three feet towards a display of weird angel feather wings.

A couple of years ago I accidentally trapped a small child under my skirt navigating the German Market on a weekend, which is why this year we tried to go on a Thursday night, when it was pissing it down. And we STILL couldn’t get in anywhere. I got to the smaller of the two original beer tent things (the one nearest Nelson Mandela Gardens) at 5.40 pm to be told that unless I knew people already in the tent I couldn’t go inside even to look for them. Now I know the Market is famous for having the grumpiest Christmas seasonal staff ever, and that’s part of its charm, but this year the popularity of the beer tents has reached such extremes you literally have to be there from 4 pm in order to have a night out in them with friends later.

We ended up sitting outside opposite the large beer tent with the singing monks in a little shack that also sold mulled wine, and when this got boring and we got hungry decided to give the Market up as a bad job and go to Whitelocks.

Now, I’ve not been to Whitelocks in some time, and the last time I went it didn’t leave the best impression. Dirty, crowded and in need of a bit of a hug. What a transformation! Beautifully brassoed throughout (there is literally nothing more stress releasing that brassoing things, always my favourite job in working in bars), with a roaring fire, friendly staff who encouraged us to dry our sodden shoes by said fire, cracking beer, and FOOD. LOOK AT THE FOOD.

So yes, my German Market Times have failed so far… even though I’ve still managed to buy myself a suitably festive present from them (see below, how cute are they!!!!). But I shall persevere and do the German Market PROPERLY before it goes to be replaced with the Horrible Ice Rink No One Likes or Wants.

 

Return of the Jumper

The Killing (or as we proper fans like to call it, Forbrydelsen. Just don’t ask me what the hashtag is this year cos I haven’t a clue!) returns to UK TV for its third and final season this Saturday. I think it is safe to say I am a little excited by this.

My obsession with Scandinavian Crime Dramas started with a recommendation from my uncle to start watching Wallander, the Swedish cop drama, in the Autumn of 2010. I was living in a house with a proper nice front room and a massive telly at the time, and just became addicted to it. The spare landscape and incredibly noir elements to the drama really struck a chord with me-I’ve always been a fan of the more bleak crime dramas, McCallum and Waking the Dead being two of my favourites. Wallander, adapted from the excellent books by Henning Mankell which I promptly stole from @legalbizzle, possibly the nicest teddy bear in the world, is a Morse-esque detective who can’t maintain a relationship and ‘is’ the job. The various TV versions have all been good, but Krister Henriksson’s series are my favourite, not least because of the inclusion of the beautiful Ola Rapace in the cast of the earlier seasons.

Then in January 2011 came The Killing. Sarah Lund, badass, is the Danish detective who again can’t maintain relationships and ‘is’ the job. In the first series, to which I was completely addicted, she and her colleagues solve the mystery of who killed Nanna Birk Larsen, whose body is found in the boot of a sunken car at the end of the first episode. The series takes place over the next 20 days and becomes entwined with the Copenhagen mayoral elections, especially the favourite candidate Troels. The first series is so good, so good. Sarah tends to jump into action before thinking about it too much, she isn’t great at getting on with colleagues but is badly affected when things so wrong and cannot let go of a case. The family of the victim as well was one of the best things about series one, the moment where Nana’s mother finds out her daughter is dead has echoes of Lynch’s Twin Peaks and if it was supposed to be an homage to that moment it is done perfectly.

Oh I really want to re-watch series one now!

And that’s the best thing about The Killing-how much people love it. On Twitter, at work, in general, I love meeting people who love Sarah Lund as much as I do, mostly because we just spend ten minutes going ‘OMG Sarah Lund OMG’. Watching the second series with a feminist friend who also kicks ass was one of my favourite things to do last year.

And now series three. The final series. At a time when I really need more badass women role models (I’m sorry Girls, but you are weird and strange and I don’t want my life to reflect yours any more) I cannot wait for Saturday. I don’t live in a house with a massive telly any more, but fortunately I have good friends who love me enough to let me use theirs (and their cats) so I shall probably by shouting at the Twitters on Saturday, wearing my jumper (I would utterly kill for a Lund jumper but they are nearly £300 so the Christmas Jumper I got from the summer Plus Sized Clothes Swap shall have to do for now) and wishing I was Danish. I might even eat some stew out the pan and stare into the middle distance for a bit.

You can find my Scando Leeds Playlist on Leeds Playlist.

Autumn in Leeds

Autumn is by far my favourite time of year. I get to wear layers, my hair becomes the size of the national debt and I can justify spending all my money on skin care. It is also beautiful.

Living in the most beautiful place in the world, autumn screams walks in the parks, enjoying the view from Burley Hill in the last of the all too brief afternoon sunshine, doing a lot of Looking Up (the rust bucket Leeds Met building looks particularly distinctive in the autumn light) and drinking lots of tea and eating Mac and Cheese in Arcadia (get on the Mac and Cheese, it is just devine). These are all my favourite things to do and I was lucky enough to do a lot of those things this weekend with some of my loveliest friends.

One thing about Leeds I often neglect is the fascinating world of ginnels. The ones in town leading off Briggate are fairly established, hidden pathways to lovely (cheap) pubs, but there are some stunning ones behind the back of Headingley, running from Headingley Lane to the Ridge (and OMG the Ridge is looking lovely this year) and we had a lovely mess about in them, as can be seen below. There is something about leaning against walls with your feet that brings out the six year old in you.

Myself and @community_disco’s cover for our latest album…

We also discovered some Wonderful Things in Woodhouse and Hyde Park and I got to indulge my vintage love of old things by posing against some random car. If this is your car, well done, you get three points, but how do you afford to keep it?

 

Then on Sunday I treated myself to a walk into town, breakfast at the newly spruced up Dock Street Market whilst doing my seemingly endless homework, and a mug of Spiced Apple Mulled Wine and some YA at the packed out German Market (which I will visit properly and do a proper review of later).

 

 

 

 

 

All in all, a lovely, healing weekend that showed the variety and beauty of my city, which I love more than ever.

http://youtu.be/PS3ZTVeqJjA

Friday Reads

I read this profile of Shirley Conran, the author of this 1982 classic bonk buster re-released last July with this marvellous cover, over the summer and mentally put it on my To Be Read list. Then at the ForBooksSake birthday party I got chatting to a very friendly lady who had a copy of Lace in her bag and was waxing lyrical about it, so when I popped in to Central Library the day before I’d booked two days off work and saw it on their Lovely Display I thought, that’s my holiday right there.

Lace is wonderful. Over-long, ridiculous in parts, wincingly old fashioned and gloriously un-PC this is what a bonk-buster should be. Sex, fashion, business, love, fear, political manoeuvrings and friendship combine in a sweeping story that goes back and forth between the lives of the four main characters, and the glamorous but tragic Lilli, who confronts them in middle age with her demand to know ‘which one of you bitches is my mother?’.

Friends since their confinement in a Swiss finishing school, Maxine, Kate, Pagan and waitress Judy go through pretty much every major life event and crisis it is possible for a woman to have. From post-natal depression, alcoholism, a husband coming out as a transvestite, career changes and sexual discovery the women support each other as only old friends who don’t need to see each other all the time to still feel that bond can do.

Shirley Conran gets female friendship right on the nose. The careers these women eventually have might seem slightly wish-fulfillmenty, but the beginning of the book, when they are 16, at school and trying to figure out men and sex for the first time was at once hilariously funny and spot on. I’ve been sat on the end of that bed discussing how far you take it on various dates, what it feels like and what it means and it is only as an adult you realise you knew nothing. I’m pretty certain when I’m in my forties I shall be looking at myself now and be thinking exactly the same thing and that is what Lace does, it allows you to laugh at your teenage self and look forward to the future.

The men are all explicably awful, abusers, manipulators, weak cheaters and heart breakers and parts of the book where the women literally stomp all over them are quite maddening as they demonstrate power though individual violence rather than solidarity, as I would prefer. Lace shows how even the strongest most independent of women can be flattened by a bad man. It also shows how easy it would be for someone in power to manipulate and control someone vulnerable, and trigger warnings for rape, abuse, underage abuse, and all that goes with that have to be given. A book that opens with a thirteen year old having an abortion shouldn’t really be read lightly. But parts of Lace made me laugh out loud, and parts made me cry as well.

Then there are the sexy parts. This isn’t Black Lace, it isn’t half as explicit as some of the other bonk-busters I’ve read (I’m looking at you, Jilly Cooper…) but damn is it sexy. Apart from the bit with the goldfish (which doesn’t actually happen), that bit is just plain icky. Personally though, I am all for visiting a champagne factory Any Time Soon.

I would have happily read this in a couple of days and done nothing else apart from eat lots of chocolate and drink expensive red wine whilst wrapped in a fur, as that is what this book makes you want to do (along with visit a champagne factory) so if you’ve got a couple of days to yourself this winter try and get somewhere with a real fire and 70s lighting and indulge in this book. I want to buy copies for all my girlfriends from school and if I had been a teenager in the early 80s I’d have been reading this under the covers with a torch. In fact I can’t quite believe my mother never snuck me this and am quite disappointed with her for not doing so!

I got my copy from the library, and it is a perfect library book as it feels more like a ‘treat’ when it’s got a plastic cover. Get it out, enjoy, and try not to be embarrassed by the ensuing blushes and bursts of laughter. And have the tissues on standby.

My Halloween

Because I don’t particularly like being blackmailed by tweens in exchange for not having my house egged (and because I HAVE NO SOUL…) I have issues with this time of year. I love fireworks, but have had them thrown at me too many times (only once so far this year, and that was on coming home from la gym so is clearly A Sign) I am against them being as available as they are. I also love Autumn because it is stunning and crisp, and you get to wear lots of jumpers, but hate feeling like a prisoner in Own Home because of aforementioned eggingsand having fireworks thrown at me.

TSL @ Arcadia

So this year, I have spent most of my Halloween/half term holiday partying, meaning I get to leave the house, but don’t get egged, which sounds like a better plan than it turned out, considering how knackerdand broken I now am!

@thevisibleman reads something terrifying…

I did a book swap in Arcadia on Halloween itself, which a committed bunch of lovely people battled through the rain for (thanks esp to @catnamedeaster who brought a scary amount of Point Horror, @thevisibleman for keeping me entertained (you can read his new blog about video games and that HERE, and you should, it’s funny) and @gazpachodragon for the bags of books earlier in the week) and then got a bit trashed on Moorhouse Brewery’s lovely Black Cat ale, one of my favs, and ate lots of Spooky Snacks that the chef rustled up for the occasion.

Then on Saturday I ventured out to the Brude for Lovely Pints (I love the Brude so much, such a friendly venue) and drank lots of this

and went to Left Bank, a building so sexy I might have to marry it, and danced to old school reggae thanks to Stir It Up, which has been running for a while but which I’ve never been to before, a collaboration between people who love reggae and Manjit’s Kitchen, which sells amazingly good Indian Street Food. I had a chickpea wrap and the sauce it comes in is to die for (my camera then decided to die so sadly no photos).

All in all, a nice mix of events over a weekend that could otherwise be a bit samey year in year out. Once again, Leeds showed itself as a city that never stops surprising you with the variety of nights it puts on and Left Bank confirmed itself as one of my favourite places. I was also shown this music video filmed there, which shows it off very nicely!