Monday, 17 November 2014

Bits and bobs

I haven't updated this ol' blog in a while so here's what I've been up to lately..

- Dressed up as a crow for 'Monsters & Mischief' - a Halloween evening with a British folk theme held at Nottingham Contemporary
- Made a scrummy autumnal apple & plum crumble
- Helped Tom to film his new band video (involving a green screen and dancing nuns... this should be good!)
- Had a flying visit to the Big Smoke last week, and stumbled upon the bookshop from Black Books (only five minutes' walk from St Pancras, who would've thunk it?) I'll post more bits from my London trip soon.
- Got pretty addicted to Serial podcast (anyone else been listening to it? What do you make of the case so far?)
- Started watching The Gilmore Girls. I have never really given it a proper go so I've started it from the first episode... 
- In house news... (or lack thereof) we were told the chain on our house purchase was complete last month.. but the day after it fell through again so we are back to waiting for our vendors to find a new house. Such. A. Long. Process. Looks like we'll be spending this Christmas in the Convent after all. (Which isn't really that bad - but frustrating all the same)
- And finally.. Tom has found a new job in The National Space Centre! He'll be working as a Graphic Designer there which is pretty flippin' cool, am very proud of him indeed.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

A cave tour in the Malt Cross

The Malt Cross is a beautiful Victorian music hall which is now a cafe bar, and one of my favourite places for a drink in Nottingham. A few months ago it shut its doors for refurbishment after gaining a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to restore the caves in its basement and discover more about the history of the building. It recently reopened again - hurrah! - and today I had chance to join a tour to learn more about its history and explore the caves in the basement. 

As well as the ancient caves, the venue also has a brand new gallery space downstairs, a workshop space, a rehearsal room and a prayer room (the building is owned by a Christian charity trust). There is also a new craft shop next door full of handmade goodies, open until the end of the year.

This weekend the workshop space was being used by Melton Original Portraits, a father and son team who use traditional photography methods to take unique Victorian-style portraits. Quite a few friends of mine have had their portraits taken there so it was interesting to hear more about the process.

The tour was a fascinating insight into the building's architecture and history, and a bargain at just £3. I'm also thinking of signing up to one of their Christmas courses (including letterpress, wreath-making and lino-printing) - I just need to decide which one! Read more about the Malt Cross's history here.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Film Friday: Gone Girl

I'd been looking forward to seeing Gone Girl for a while as David Fincher was directing, and the book got such rave reviews. Fincher is known for Seven, Zodiac and The Social Network and there are elements of each in Gone Girl. Ben Affleck plays a husband who arrives home one day to find his wife Amy missing. The film then explores their relationship using flashbacks and Amy's diary entries. But all is not what it seems..

I thought the film was really gripping, it really drew you in and Ben Affleck was brilliant in portraying the uncaring husband, throughout the film you can't quite work out whether you're on his side or not. I didn't enjoy the second half of the film quite as much though, I found the plot got a bit hard to believe towards the end and wasn't keen on the ending. But I enjoyed Gone Girl and would definitely recommend it. Have you read the book or seen the film? Let me know what you made of it!

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Turkish Delight

Tonight I'm combating the horrible weather outside by playing some old Justin Timberlake and looking through some holiday snaps taken last week when Tom and I headed for a break in Kalkan, Turkey. We're not usually ones for 'relaxing' holidays spent lounging by the pool but I have to admit it was brilliant to escape our daily schedules and spend a week in the sunshine doing not much more more than reading, swimming and eating nice food! Tom's dad recently bought a flat there with an amazing view of the sea below, we felt very lucky indeed to have chance to stay there. It all seems quite far away now however... time to start snuggling up on the sofa with a good film and a hot chocolate I think!

Some memories of Turkey...

- Spotting little fishes swimming near my feet in the clear blue sea
- Stray dogs sleeping on the pavements
- Spotting pomegranate, lime and olive trees
- Beautiful pink bougainvillea trees 
- Watching lightning light up the clouds across the mountains
- Breakfasts of fresh yogurt, melon, pomegranate and honey
- The sound of the call to prayer from the Mosque in the distance
- Delicious hot Turkish tea, sheltering from a sudden rainstorm

Sunday, 5 October 2014

24 Hours in Nottingham

Yesterday I welcomed Leicester-based bloggers Janet, B & E for a wander around Nottingham. It was the perfect chance to visit some new places that have recently opened up here, including an amazing sweetshop and a Berlin-themed bar complete with photobooth. If you find yourself in Nottingham for a day here are a few places that are not to be missed.

First up is a trip to the wonderful Hopkinson, an antiques & arts centre handily located opposite Nottingham train station. Hopkinson is a real treasure trove of vintage goodies spread across 4 floors. As well as antiques the ground floor is home to a cafe while the basement is full of furniture (including some rather nice old theatre chairs), toys, buttons, letterpress blocks, scrabble tiles and other bits and bobs. Upstairs you'll find sewing goodies and vintage material, beautiful '50s frocks, cameras, jars and other quirky finds. And finally on the top floor there is a gallery space, where you can buy art supplies and zines.

Next up was a trip to Nottingham's newest sweet-shop The Treat Kitchen. Even if you're not the biggest sweet fan it's hard not to swoon over that window display. I picked up a pouch of crunchy rhubarb-crumble sweets, yum!

Nottingham is home to a wealth of cosy cafes and tea shops, but if it's cake you're after the new Edin's Patisserie in Hockley has a great selection. I opted for a brownie this time but on my last visit went for a huge hunk of the chocolate & apricot cake which was pretty impressive.

If you wander around Hockley you'll find a range of independent shops and charity shops including White Rose, Oxfam and Sue Ryder. There's also Wild Clothing and Cow if you're looking for vintage clothing. Lee Rosy's tea shop on Broad Street is good for a brew as is the Jam Cafe nearby.

By now we were in need of a bit of refreshment so headed to Das Kino, a new bar that's popped up opposite Yo Sushi in the Lace Market. As you can tell from its name, the bar is themed around a German cinema and houses an old photobooth in the entrance (although the prints are digital), and ping pong tables in the back. It can get pretty busy in there though so get there early if you want a table. To end the day we all crammed into the booth for a photo - although were caught unawares in the first shot, oops!

It was a lovely day in Nottingham which went by in a flash. Our only regret was missing out on the metre-long pizza at Das Kino which looked amazing... it's definitely on the list for next time!

See also: Top 5 quirky Nottingham pubs, Nottingham's top 5 curry houses.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Film Friday: Pride

Pride is a new British comedy set around the time of the Miners Strikes in 1984, when a group of gay activists decided to support them and formed a new group called LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

I agree with Sarah that the film took a little while to get going, but there were lots of emotional moments, some sad and some funny - including a bizarre part when Dominic West gets up on the tabletops in the Welsh community centre and dances to a disco tune.. (quite amusing if you remember him from The Wire!) The end of the film was very moving and I hadn't realised that a lot of the characters were based on real people so it was interesting to hear what happened to them.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A trip to Barter Books

This is a bit of a 'retro-post' as I visited Barter Books back in June but forgot to post about it! Located in Alnwick in Northumberland, Barter Books is one of the best bookshops I've visited.

The bookshop is located inside an old railway station and houses hundreds of books as well as a little cafe, and best of all a miniature railway runs round a track above the shelves!

It's also the place which kick-started the (slightly too ubiquitous!) Keep Calm and Carry On phrase into popularity. An old poster from WWII containing the slogan was discovered in a dusty box of books and put on display in the shop. Its design was so popular that customers started asking for a copy. You can hear the story of the poster and the shop in this video. If you're ever in the area I'd recommend a trip to Barter Books, I just wish I could have stayed there longer!


(PS This year has been a good one for bookshops - I visited Hay-on-Wye aka the town of books in May!)