Tuesday, 28 July 2015

All Aboard for Indietracks!


This year was my fifth visit to Indietracks Festival, a brilliant indie-music festival that takes place every July at Midland Railway Centre in Derbyshire.

It's always a special weekend, and this year I went with Janet, who also blogged about her experience here. We were lucky with the weather as Saturday was actually dry for the most part, meaning we didn't need our raincoats, hurray! We had a really fun day riding steam trains, watching bands and eating yummy food.


Miniature railways are included...


Butterley Station is manned by a group of friendly volunteers and train enthusiasts. 


Doing what bloggers do best (and excited to be in 'First Class'!)


Approaching the site!


Watching the excellent Feature play the indoor stage... 


The merch tent never fails to surprise!


 Amaaazing pizza..


Farewell Indietracks for another year!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Film Friday: Tig


Plot
 I first heard about Tig on a podcast a while ago, so was glad to see it's finally on Netflix. Tig is a documentary about comedian Tig Notaro, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, which led to a legendary stand-up set which became a sensation overnight. We also follow Tig through her recovery and her quest to have a child.
Guest appearances Tig is friends with comedians including Sarah Silverman, who makes a brief appearance along with her co-star on In a World (which I've also been meaning to watch for a while). 
Overall Despite the serious subject matter, Tig is a really inspirational film about a woman's journey through some extremely tough times, and how she managed to get through it still smiling. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

A mini Norfolk getaway


Last weekend Tom and I went on a last-minute trip to the seaside for a couple of nights. To save money we headed to a cheap & cheerful campsite near Wells-Next-the-Sea on the north Norfolk coast (link here in case you fancy heading that way too!).

Although the campsire was quite busy, it was in a wonderful location, next to some amazing beaches such as Holkam (voted the number 2 beach in England! I'm not quite sure which came in at no.1..) It was indeed a fantastic beach, with long stretches of sand, and wasn't too busy when we arrived.



There's always time for paddling!




On our second day we took a drive to the pretty town of Burnham Market. I read that Johnny Depp was rumoured to have looked at houses here, and you could see why! It was full of quaint chocolate-box houses, fancy delis and cute shops. I also loved the beautiful hollyhocks that filled the village. Although most of the shops were quite pricey as you can imagine, it was a lovely place to wander round and grab some picnic bits for the beach.







We also visited the lovely Wells-Next-the-Sea where we stumbled upon the gorgeous Old Station Pottery & Bookshop. It was such a lovely combination and was completely empty for us to explore. I bought a 'seconds' pottery cup which will make a perfect plant pot, and a book by Alan Sillitoe about the streets of Nottingham.





We spent a sunny day at the beach at Wells, where we admired the beautiful beach houses, played on the arcades and bought an ice cream from the best organic ice cream van, above. It even had a picture of the cow that provided the milk who lived 8 miles down the road, bless!


We also spent a few hours in Hunstanton (aka 'sunny Hunny') which Tom had been to lots as a child. We bought fish & chips and played a round of crazy golf beside the sea. Although camping meant I didn't get much quality sleep, it was a wonderful short escape from the city.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Film Friday: Amy


Plot Amy is a new documentary focusing on the life of singer Amy Winehouse.
Guest appearances The film features interviews with Amy as well as archive footage shot by friends and press. It's narrated by Amy's close friends and family as well as archive interviews with Amy herself.
Overall Amy was an excellent documentary that showed how hard it was for her to deal with fame, being hounded by paparazzi and her famous struggle with drink and drugs that ultimately proved too much. There were moments of extreme happiness (when Amy won her Grammy, and when she performed with one of her idols Tony Bennett) as well as extreme moments of sadness.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Film Friday: Going Clear - Scientology and the Prison of Belief


Plot Going Clear is a new documentary about the inner workings of Scientology, featuring interviews with ex Scientologists, as well as archive footage.
Guest appearances Old footage of John Travolta and some rather embarrassing clips of Tom Cruise being a bit strange both feature, as you might expect!
Fun facts The film has struggled every step of the way to find distribution. According to director Alex Gibney, "Every step of the way, every distributor, every festival has received multiple threatening letters from the Church of Scientology. Some have come very close to buckling." Apparently Louis Theroux is also working on a similar documentary, but when it'll see the light of day is anyone's guess..
Overall Going Clear was an eye opening documentary, which was at times funny, at others downright shocking. It was difficult to comprehend why some people were drawn into Scientology for so long before seeing sense. It was also eye opening to see how much money the organisation has made whilst being exempt from normal tax laws in the US.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Recipe of the week: Yotam Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu




It's easy to get into a bit of a rut with cooking. I am guilty of relying on the same post-work meals so I have decided to challenge myself to cook a new recipe a week and explore some new vegetarian meal options.

I borrowed a few veggie cookbooks from the library to inspire me, including the popular Plenty by Guardian food writer Yotam Ottolenghi. I plumped for the Black Pepper Tofu recipe which I'd been meaning to try for a while. Here it is if you'd like to give it a go yourself, it's also suitable for vegans.




I got very excited to discover that these noodles came with a ribbon wrapped around the individual portions!


Food failure or food success?
The recipe requires you to dip the tofu pieces in cornflour before frying them in oil. However when I tried it, this didn't seem to work - the flour/crust seemed to drop to the bottom of the frying pan and didn't coat the tofu very well. I also used black pepper from a grinder instead of crushing peppercorns with a pestle & mortar. Apart from that though this worked really well, it had a bite to it from the black pepper and chili and the ginger gave it a lovely flavour. Tom was suitably impressed and gave it the thumbs up!

Would you make it again?
Apart from the frying stress, yes! I'd just have to make sure I had all the ingredients ready as some are ones I wouldn't have in my store cupboard.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Furniture Makeover: Colourful Dining Chairs


For our latest home DIY project Tom and I decided to give some old dining chairs a splash of colour. I've been collecting wooden 'Ercol' style chairs over the last few months and have now amassed 6 mis-matching ones which cost between £3-5 each (plus one genuine Ercol which was £25 from eBay but covered in blotchy dark wood stain!)

After seeing some bright multi-coloured chairs on Pinterest we decided to give it a go ourselves and give four of the chairs a new lease of life.

For this project you'll need:

- Brightly coloured furniture paint (we used teal, lemon yellow, orange and slate grey) Note: you could use spray paint for a much quicker project, however the spray cans cost around £10 each, so it seemed more cost effective to buy tins of gloss, at around £3.50 each.
- Rough, medium & smooth sandpaper
- Gloves (don't sand without wearing gloves as Tom learnt! Ouch)
- Paintbrushes
- White spirit to clean your brushes between colours
- Old newspaper
- Clear gloss finisher spray
- Varnish/wood stain (if you want to do the seats separately as we did)
- Masking tape
- Elbow grease!

The whole project for four chairs cost us around £70 in total including the cost of the chairs, which isn't bad considering I saw some new ones that looked similar for sale in Homebase for £95 each!


Here are the chairs before, so you can see how scratched and faded they were...


First we gave them a good sand down. Next we wiped them down with a damp cloth and masked off the edges as we were going to leave the seats natural before varnishing them.


Luckily we picked a sunny day! After the first layer of paint had gone on (beware of drips!) we let it dry, gave it another light sand down and then applied another coat. Once this was dried we removed the tape and varnished the seats. Finally we sprayed them with a clear gloss sealer for added shine and left it to dry overnight.


And here are the finished chairs! The project took the best part of a weekend to complete and we were pretty tired after all that sanding, but we're really chuffed with the results.

I do love the back of the Ercol chair above, I think it's my favourite one.




 (Here's an extra shot of camera corner, with added Elvis Costello...)

Have you tried giving furniture a makeover? Why not give it a go!