Category Archives: Festivals and Events

April 10, 2016

March Favourites

Papworth family in Flaine, March 2016March seemed so long when we were in it, so I can’t believe we’re already 10 days into April! I spent wonderful weekends in Bath and Oxford with friends and a week skiing in the French Alps with my family. My London-based recommendations are a little thin on the ground this month, but I still have plenty to share…

continue reading

January 24, 2016

Lights On: Lumiere London

Lumiere London Oxford StreetLast week there was a free outdoor light festival on across central London called Lumiere. I popped over to Oxford Street last Saturday, taking advantage of living so close by. I’ve lived in London since April but it still feels strange to me, perhaps because I travel out of London for work, not to need a ‘tourist day out’ to do something touristy any more!

My favourite instillation was the one suspended over Oxford Street. It changed colour gradually, swaying gently and mesmerisingly. The fish/dragon puppets around Regent’s Street were also really fun. We saw a few other exhibits, but, as they were in tight spaces with lots of people moving in and out, it was harder to stop and get drawn in by the artwork.

The festival was produced by Artichoke, and has previously been to Durham and Derry-Londonderry. It was a huge hit in London, and a great way to get out and about in January, so I’m hoping it will come again next winter, or visit other UK cities soon!

Lumiere London Oxford Street over buildingsLumiere London bird boxes light installationLumiere London dragon fish light puppets in skyLumiere London children's drawings in parkLumiere London lights over Oxford Street pink, green and yellow

June 14, 2015

Bushstock Festival

St Stephens Church Shepherds Bush Villagers

With Lucy Rose, Michael Kiwanuka and Villagers headlining at Communion Records’ Bushstock Festival in Shepherds Bush last night, it was incredibly tough deciding who to see. Thankfully we had several hours of brilliant music to indulge in first!

In the end we plumped for Villagers’ intimate folk music in serene St Stephen’s Church and it was an absolute treat after a day of dashing manically between venues to see relatively unknown artists like Jack Watts and Lake Komo. Conor’s wavering melodies, already delicately crafted on the recordings, were rearranged for the show; a wonderful touch that made the night even more magical.

We were gutted to miss secret sets from Nick Mulvey and The Staves, and at times the festival was frustratingly overcrowded, with venues regularly reaching capacity from mid-afternoon. Nevertheless, Bushstock was a little gem of a festival in the heart of London with a very brilliant lineup, which will be hard to resist next year now we know Shepherds Bush is only a bus ride away!

If you fancy the sound of Bushstock Festival check out this year’s lineup in the official Spotify playlist:

August 30, 2014

Coastal Currents 2014

Coastal Currents 2014Last year I spent an incredible couple of weekends working at Coastal Currents, a visual arts festival in St Leonards and Hastings and unbelievably it’s back already, running from 29th August – 14th September!

This is the second year Creative Coast and Home Live Art have teamed up to produce Coastal Currents, bringing together local open studios, exhibitions and interactive live art. I really enjoyed my time at Coastal Currents last year (you can read about 2013 events Walking Stories, Worktable, Bodies in Urban Spaces and Boogaloo Stu if you like!). This year looks like it will have just as moving and spectacular artwork, such as Meltdown, Points of View and Kate McGwire. Once I’ve shifted my summer holiday cold (more about that in my next post..) I’ll be going down to see some weekend events.

All the artwork is free and there’s also some great ways to get involved over next weekend such as a bike tour of the open studios. And if you need any more persuading the Blue Dophin Fish Bar in Hastings does amazing fish and chips!

Coastal Currents Visual Arts festival 29th August – 14th September 2014, St Leonards and Hastings. All events are free.

August 3, 2014

Latitude Festival 2014

Latitude 2014

I’m very late with this post about Latitude, a combination of being busy and not quite knowing where to start to cram three jam-packed festival days into one blog post!

In the meantime I’ve read other people’s reviews of the weekend and, to quote The 405’s William Caston Cook: ‘The first night is always the worst at a festival’. Yes, yes it was. Not because it was an excited night where we did too much, but because we were stuck on the M25 for an extra 4 hours in a traffic jam. An unexpected 8 hour journey and sleeping in the car overnight was a pretty inauspicious start to the weekend!

With San Fermin‘s help we blew away the cobwebs the following morning in the BBC 6 Music tent. Somewhere between an orchestra, a jazz band and a pop band, San Fermin was a highlight of the festival. They’re made up of eight musicians performing music about different characters composed by Brooklyn based Ellis Ludwig-Leone. I’d listened to them before but never appreciated quite how electric their live performances were: a trumpet and a saxophone jamming together was a brilliant start to the weekend.

latitude festival

Latitude was stuffed full of glitteringly good bands. From Canadian jazz trio Badbadnotgood, Suffolk based rock band Dingus Khan, and britpop legend Damon Albarn and his host of special guests, through to Icelandic sensation AsegirSOHN, Marika Hackman, Haim, First Aid Kit and RY X‘s haunting band The Acid.

The one frustration of Latitude is that there’s just too much to see. Three or four timetable clashes is not unusual, and as well as wanting to see nearly all of the music acts, I’d happily gobble up the literary performances, poetry, theatre, experimental live art … heck, finding time to say hello to the sheep during the weekend is hard! We popped in to see Home Live Art‘s fun and creative Alternative Village Fete, watched the wonderful and hilarious Michael Rosen speak about chocolate cake, marvelled at the innovative use of sets and costumes during Full Stop by Light The Fuse. The list goes on – I just wanted more time to see everything!

Latitude Festival in the woods

It was Atomic Bomb! Who Is William Onyeabor? that really stole the show. Filling the Sunday main stage midday slot, hundreds of bodies jumped along to the beat of African synth pop. As well as being one of the most enjoyable musical moments of the festival, the background of the Atomic Bomb! band is incredibly intriguing. William Onyeabor, originally a Nigerian funk musician, recorded 8 albums between 1970’s to 1980’s and then became a born-again Christian, abandoning and refusing to speak about his music. An awesome supergroup of musicians have resurrected his work: Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip, Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem), Money Mark (Beastie Boys). They’ve been touring their tribute to William Onyeabor this year and Latitude was their final performance. And then they brought up Young Fathers and LAW during the set, then added in some African dancers and essentially started a huge joyful bouncing African-themed party from the stage. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning!

 

July 13, 2014

Fever-Tree Ultimate Gin & Tonic Pop Up Bar

Fever-Tree Gin Pop Up Bar

‘Tis the season for pop-ups! Last Saturday evening we popped over to a Fever-Tree’s pop up gin bar in Hoxton Square for my Mum’s birthday celebrations. We’ve been enjoying Fever-Tree tonics in our G&T’s for a year or so now, and quite liked the idea of 160 different kinds of gin to accompany the tonic!

Usually we’ll have a gin and tonic as pre-dinner drink, but on Saturday we had some dinner round the corner at the very yummy Breakfast Club first and got stuck in to the gin at a fairly respectable hour of 8pm.

Thankfully Fever-Tree help to narrow down the very long gin menu by offering a ‘G&Tree flights’ where you could choose 4 different shots of gin from a selected menu with all four tonics for £15. This started the evening off nicely, and encouraged us to try American gins like Dorothy Parker that we wouldn’t usually have picked. £2 from every G&Tree Flight is also donated to Malaria No More UK.

Fever Tree Gin BarFever Tree Gin Pop Up

The gins I chose were presented so sweetly, with four shot glasses of gin with a cinnamon stick, a dried lemon leaf, grapefruit rind and lemon rind, along with four bottles of Fever-Tree’s tonics – Elderflower, Original Indian, Lemon and Mediterranean. It was a lot of fun experimenting with taste combinations. If you fancy a simple G&T (if choosing from 160 gins and four types of tonic is simple) you can order whatever you like from the menu, which comes in a beautiful stemmed gin glass.

The pop up is open until 26th July, I really recommend going along with some friends and reserving a table for a fun couple of hours of gin drinking!

What are your favourite pop-ups this summer?

July 6, 2014

How to Build a Girl – Review

How to Build a Girl Union Chapel

After Caitlin Moran’s notorious first book How To Be a Woman went down so well as a Christmas gift, my boyfriend gave me her second book Moronthology (equally hilarious) and tickets for us to see her speak about her third book How to Build a Girl at Union Chapel for birthday gifts. What he didn’t realise when he booked the tickets was that he’d end up standing on his seat chanting ‘I’m a feminist!’, which gives you a pretty good idea of how the evening went.

I steered clear of How To Be a Woman initially, viewing it as long angry autobiographical rant about feminism and periods. So it was a nice surprise, after having it forced on me pityingly for my lack of pop culture knowledge, to find out that it was actually a hilarious commentary on girl-and-womanhood by a witty, astute writer, who just happened to have a berserk badger stripe hairstyle.

Standing in the queue outside it became apparent that Caitlin Moran’s work has so far spawned a predominantly female fanbase; my boyfriend was one of about thirty men there. Thirty men who also worry about their legs and fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. We’re all essentially the same.

 

Our tickets allowed us a free drink at the bar (hurrah!) as well as a signed copy of the book, however we weren’t allowed to take any alcohol into the actual venue from the bar presumably because it’s used as a church for half the week. Yet, in an surreal juxtaposition, Caitlin talked her way through sex, masturbation, pornography and drugs throughout the evening, hardly Christian condoned topics. Not being able to drink a glass of wine while watching a re-enactment of a porn scene was a mind-bendingly odd experience. Caitlin had a full bottle of wine on stage so perhaps she had special dispensation from the for the night? Let’s hope so.

How to Build a Girl’s protagonist, Johanna Morrigan, feels very like a fictional reflection of Caitlin: an overweight teenage girl from Wolverhampton living on benefits and leaving school to write for a London based music magazine. She states, ‘this is a novel and it is all fictional’, leaving the events of the book open ended as to whether they happened or not, and a frequent need to remind myself that I wasn’t reading How To Be a Woman Part Two.

Not since I read Jaqueline Wilson and Judy Blume’s books growing up have I read a novel that feels like an author knows, and is willing to write about, what growing up as a teenage girl feels like. How to Build a Girl is infused with positivity, the limitless, indestructible, lightness of being a teenager as well as the sometimes confusing, dark, destructive struggle of growing up and building of an identity. Set against a backdrop of ‘90’s working-class poverty, I felt I had a window into a community I’ve co-existed with and rarely heard from before, just as pertinent twenty years later as Cameron’s slashing welfare benefits and the propaganda of a ‘lazy’ working-class is still firmly etched into the collective middle-class subconscious.

Many of the ‘90’s references were lost on me (I knew Ceefax, but not Uncle Tupelo) but Caitlin’s writing was so slick, witty and vivid that glossing over some of them didn’t make me enjoy the book any less. Her ability to metaphorically pin-point exactly how something feels, sounds or looks is exceptionally displayed; a ‘very large penis’ is a ‘draught excluder, with two buttons for eyes’; the extinct trolleybus system ‘a series of dreamlike veins left on old maps’.

As far as I can tell from Caitlin’s twitter feed every audience has been invited to stand on their chairs and shout ‘I’m a feminist’, so if you’ve got tickets for the tour you might want to get practising. And, if you’re thinking of buying the book, it’s far too good to wait for the paperback at Christmas, go and buy it now!

How to Build a Girl is on sale now, and Caitlin Moran is touring throughout July.

May 21, 2014

Brighton Bites in May

Brighton PierBrighton and Arts go together like fish, chips and screaming seagulls, and there’s no better time than May to visit and check out what’s on offer.

With Brighton Festival and Fringe, Charleston Festival and Artists’ Open House, there’s literally too much to cram into the month!

Add in sun, sea and ice cream, and the perfect day out is waiting down by the coast.

1. Brighton Festival // 3rd – 25th May

A jam packed programme of music, theatre, live art, dance, circus, film.. the list goes on! I saw Ida Barr’s Mash Up at the Dome as part of the Festival last weekend.

2. Brighton Fringe // 3rd May – 1st June

An open access festival for all art forms, on for 4 weeks for the second year running.

3. House 2014 // 3rd – 25th May

Brighton and Hove’s curated and commissioned visual arts festival. Something I only just found out about but want to go to!

4. Artists Open House Festival // every weekend in May

I’ve been itching to visit more Artists Open Houses after following Brighton based artist Philippa Stanton on Instagram under moniker 5ftinf.

5. Charleston Festival // 16th – 26th May

Set in former Bloomsbury Group house with beautiful grounds, inspiring talks from authors, and a special 25th anniversary being celebrated this year.

And, as May blurs into June, and then into May next year, here’s some dates for your diary!

Upcoming:

University of Brighton Faculty of Arts Graduate Degree Show // 7th – 14th June 2014

The Great Escape // 14th – 16th May 2015

See you there!

Photo: from personal collection

Ida Barr’s Mash Up at Brighton Festival

Ida Barr Mash Up Open EastIda Barr’s a Cockney pensioner with attitude; the ‘world’s first music hall singer turned RnB rap superstar’ spawning her own music genre, Artificial Hip Hop! This weekend I was assisting Home Live Art with her Ida Barr’s Mash Up show at the Brighton Festival.

I was nearly convinced first time I saw her in costume at Open East Festival in London … but Ida Barr is an act, a mind-bogglingly convincing character written and performed by Christopher Green.

Held at the Brighton Dome, Ida Barr’s Mash Up is a cabaret of participatory music all MC’d by Ida from different groups across Brighton. Woodingdean School, Qukulele, a lesbian ukulele group, Silver Sounds, an older person Samba band, and  a group of DJ’s came together to create a musical mash up of influences from samba to classic songs on ukulele.

All of this was interspersed with Ida’s own unique songs, where music hall and RnB were mashed up together – Jerusalem with Nicki Minaj was a personal favourite!

For more on Ida Barr, visit Christopher Green’s website. Ida Barr’s Mash Up will also be toured with Home Live Art in Birmingham and Sheffield in coming months!

Photo: Open East – Home Live Art

April 26, 2014

Record Store Day

eople Records Guildford, Record Store Dayeople Records Guildford, Record Store Day

eople Records Guildford, Record Store Day

Last Saturday we headed over to People Records in Guildford very early in the morning for Record Store Day! In order to make sure we were able to buy some exclusive records, available only for the day, we got there at 7.30am, half an hour before they opened and were already the 78th and 79th people in the queue. Quite the committed crowd!

I was expecting to stand queuing for a long time, but the staff at People Records made sure we all had tickets to reserve our place in the queue, and operated a one in one out rule. Instead of hanging around in the cold, we went and had breakfast at Bill’s, how’s that for queuing!

eople Records Guildford, Record Store Day

 

Record Store Day is an annual event, in its 8th year, celebrating independent record stores around the UK. Every year several hundred artists release limited edition or re-release tracks on vinyl record that can only be bought on the day from indie record shops*. Every year RSD supports a charity – this year it was War Child!

*Sometimes you can find them in store for a few days/weeks if they haven’t sold out!

eople Records Guildford, Record Store Dayeople Records Guildford, Record Store Day eople Records Guildford, Record Store Dayeople Records Guildford, Record Store Day

By 10am we were in! Inevitably, some records we wanted were gone, but we came away with Natasha Khan & Jon Hopkins Garden’s Heart, Damon Albarn Lonely Press Play, and Little Dragon Klapp Klapp 12″. The biggest disappointment was that the Ghostbusters record had already sold out!

The staff at People Records were so lovely, knowledgeable and enthusiastic, and their ticketed queue system made the whole event so much less stressful than waiting in a queue for three hours! The shop is a great place to nose around to find old and new music on vinyl and CD, and if you need more persuading, they even have a lovely little dog hanging out in the shop too!

eople Records Guildford, Record Store Dayeople Records Guildford, Record Store Day

People Independent Music Shop is found at 14a Chapel Street, Guildford, GU1 3UL