Thursday, 14 August 2014

Five great podcasts

Now that my commute is approximately 40x longer than it was in my previous job (for realz) I have had to come up with good ways to pass the time on my bus journey. Luckily there are lots of great podcasts out there, here are five I've been enjoying lately..

1. WTF with Marc Maron
Comedian Mark Maron has interviewed some brilliant creative folks on his WTF podcast, including Claire Danes, Lena Dunham, Moon Zappa, Steve Malkmus and the late Robin Williams. I like how casual and natural his conversations are, and how unlike a lot of interviewers out there Maron actually lets people talk.

2. This American Life
This is a staple podcast that I've been listening to for several years now hosted by the wonderful Ira Glass. Each week there's a theme which binds together true stories by different Americans. It's made me laugh and cry.

3. The Savage Lovecast
Dan Savage is a straight-talking (gay) man who dishes out no-frills sex and relationship advice on his weekly phone-in show. Although I sometimes disagree with his advice it's always entertaining hearing Dan's no nonsense words of wisdom, and you'll find yourself learning interesting new phrases, such as GGG...

4. Freakonomics
A recent discovery after watching the film on Netflix, each podcast takes a different subject and looks at it from an economics perspective. Topics range from how much your name matters to how to make people quit smoking and why people choose to get married.

5. Stuff You Should Know
This is Tom's favourite podcast and is presented by two nice chaps who choose different subjects every week and investigate them. Shows include how chocolate works, how guide dogs work, how bipolar disorder works... quite a diverse range!

Do you have any podcast recommendations? If so please let me know.. (as I get through a lot!)

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

A weekend with Wallace and Gromit in Bristol

Last weekend Tom and I headed down to one of our favourite cities for the weekend, Bristol. We had made plans to visit friends and see the famous Hot Air Balloon Fiesta - the biggest in Europe! However, Hurricane Bertha arrived and our plans were slightly scuppered. No balloons could go up due to heavy rain and wind, but we managed to have a great time nonetheless! We headed to the Wallace and Gromit exhibition currently on at M Shed near the docks.

Bristol is home to Aardman Animations, and it was fun to read the story of how the creators first got into animation, created Morph and later made Creature Comforts and of course the brilliant Wallace & Gromit films. It was amazing to peer into the real sets used on the films - making the tiny props must be such a fun job. I also learnt that Bristol is the world capital of tiny glass bottle blowing due to the films.. you learn something new every day! If you get chance to visit, the exhibition is on until the 7th of September and is great for little 'uns and big 'uns alike!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Film Friday: Brief Encounter

This week it was my dear old Dad's birthday, so I took him and my brother to see a classic of British film, Brief Encounter. I hadn't seen it for years but it was brilliant to see it restored on the big screen. 
Plot The film centres around a woman called Laura who meets a charming doctor at a railway station (I just realised 3 out of 4 of my recent posts have revolved around steam trains! Which is no bad thing..?) She is torn between her blossoming friendship with him and her domestic life at home with two kids and a crossword-loving husband.
Fun facts The film was made at the start of 1945 just before the war ended, and had to be filmed in the north of England so that they would receive sufficient warning in case of an air-raid attack. You can visit the iconic railway station and refreshment room used in the film in Carnforth which has been restored in recent years. (There is also a railway cafe in Wymondham, Norfolk called Brief Encounter that I remember visiting as a child!)
Overall They don't call it a classic for nothing. (Oh, and I learnt that at one time you could borrow books from Boots, who knew?)

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Lovely Links..

Fun stuff I stumbled across lately..

An entire corner shop made of felt.

Photographer comes across an abandoned film school

Talking of abandoned film, I can't wait to watch Finding Vivian Maier.

If I visit New York again, I want to visit the High Line. Ethan Hawke narrates its history.

Not sure what to make of this article - should we mourn the end of blogs?

Friday, 1 August 2014

Film Friday: A Hard Day's Night

Plot This year the iconic Beatles film A Hard Day's Night turned 50 and it was reissued in cinemas so I took my Dad along to see it on the big screen. It was made in '64 at the height of Beatlesmania and follows the boys as they embark on a tour, in a sort of mockumentary style with added songs. My favourite part of the film is where Ringo decides to abandon fame for the day and goes on a wander around London with his camera.
Guest appearances: Wilfred Brambell aka Steptoe shows up as Paul's grandpa. You can also spot George's ex wife Patti Boyd who first met him after playing a schoolgirl on the train at the beginning of the film. 
Watch this if you're a fan of.. err, The Beatles! But it's also a brilliant look at '60s England, from the gorgeous old train carriages (here I go on about trains again!) to the fashions and cobbled streets of post-war Britain.

Overall A real feel-good film, and the only time I've witnessed a man in the cinema audience get up after the film has finished and say: "Can I just ask if anyone enjoyed that as much as I did?"

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ten things we did at Indietracks

Indietracks is an indiepop music festival situated at the Midlands Railway Centre in Butterley, Derbyshire. I feel really lucky to live so close by as I can honestly say it's the nicest festival I've been to. Even if you're not a fan of indie-pop music there's still something for everyone to enjoy at the festival - plus you get to ride on steam trains for free! Here's a list of some super fun things I did at this year's Indietracks, including cardboard record players and hanging out at the 'beach' with B from Make Do & Spend..

1. We hopped on a steam train to the festival...

That's right, Indietracks has its very own train! Pretty exciting. But even better is..

2. Watching some music on a train..

Here's the lovely Shelley Jane entertaining the crowd with her ukulele pop...

3. We pretended we were at Blackpool in the 'beach' area...

 4. Bonded with some rescue birds...

5. Made a cardboard record player...

I lie - I attempted to make a cardboard record player. The basic premise it to fold some card, attach an old record using a split pin, then stick a needle to the other side and spin the record with your fingers to make a sound! Sadly I couldn't get much of a tune out of mine, but the tent was very hot and busy so I may need to have another attempt...

6. Tried out Now That's What I Call Dancerobics.. 

Working out only to songs featured on Now... compilations proved fun. Sweaty, exhausting fun. 

7. Explored the countryside in the sunshine

8. And discovered the railway museum at Swanwick Junction (which was spookily empty, and made us feel as if we were in The Walking Dead...)

9. Marvelled at the miniature railways

10. Watched Gruff Rhys perform a special show as the sun went down, perfect!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Film Friday: Boyhood

PlotBoyhood documents a boy's journey from the age of 5 to 19, and was shot using the same actors over a 12 year period, including Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason Jr's divorced parents. As Mason Jr grows older we witness the music, clothes, haircuts and other items changing too, the film begins with Coldplay's Yellow (boy does that seem like a while ago!) and changes over the course of the film until we reach present day.
Guest appearances: Director Richard Linklater's daughter Lorelei stars as Mason Jr's sister.
Watch this if you're a fan of.. coming of age stories, Linklater's 'Before..' series, snapshots into people's lives
Overall: I really enjoyed this film - one of the few films that actually needs to be longer than 90 mins! All the cast were very natural and convincing and you find yourself recognising parts of Mason's life as he leaves his childhood behind, moves house, finds new friends and eventually leaves home to start college. Go see!