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!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Learning the art of Letterpress


Last weekend I hopped on a train to Leicester to meet Janet for a Letterpress Printing workshop held at the beautiful Botanic Gardens. After getting a wee bit lost finding the venue, we finally arrived and met the tutor Nick who showed us how to typeset using a traditional letterpress, and how to print from a linocut.

I chose a quote from It's a Wonderful Life (and from The Owl & the Pussycat), along with a picture of a happy moon. I have to admit my favourite part of the day was having access to the amazing collection of wooden and metal letters in a wide array of typefaces. Basically a graphic designer's dream! After I'd made a few copies of my moon print I chose some interesting letters to spell out my blog name.

video

Here's a quick video to show you briefly how a letterpress works, using Janet's lovely 'books' print. (You can see her final piece here). Lining up the composition takes longer than you'd think and it took a few tries to get an even print, but it was so much fun experimenting! It's hard to believe that books and newspapers used such a time consuming technique up until the middle of last century.

I'd definitely recommend trying a workshop of this kind, the time just flew by! After our class we visited some amazing vintage furniture shops, then met up with the very lovely B of Make Do and Spend and headed for some food. I had a great day out in Leicester and I'd forgotten just how easy it is to get there by train, so I'm looking forward to visiting again soon.












Friday, 4 July 2014

Film Friday: Chef


Plot: Jon Favreau (who also writes and directs) stars as a chef whose creativity in the kitchen is being stifled at the restaurant he works at. After receiving a less than enthusiastic review from a top restaurant critic he decides to get his own back by opening up his own food truck.
Guest appearances: Quite a few familiar faces pop up including Dustin Hoffman (who doesn't really seem to suit his role as the grumpy restaurant owner), Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Junior who plays Favreau's ex-wife's ex-husband.. if that makes sense.
Watch this if you're a fan of.. yummy food. The Cuban sandwiches will have you drooling. This is a film where nothing bad really happens, it's funny and sweet.. and has a heck of a lot of Twitter references.
Overall: I'd give this film a 7/10 - I enjoyed it but the ending fell a bit flat for me.. however watching all the food being prepared did inspire me to be a little more creative with meals! 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Photobooth - a Biography


Over the last few years, I've become more than a little obsessed with tracking down old fashioned black and white photobooths. It's so exciting to discover one of these booths as they are such a rare find these days and, in my mind, far superior to their digital counterparts! Each picture on the strip is different which means you can be so much more creative. Getting a group of friends squashed into a tiny photobooth always makes for some brilliant pictures, and waiting for the finished photostrip to pop out of the machine is part of the fun. (Black & white booths also seem a bit more flattering than new machines which tend to give me rather a ghostly appearance!)

So far I've located chemical photobooths in Brighton, London, Manchester, Chicago, Paris and (the capital of 'booths!) Berlin. A handy tip if you're ever searching for a chemical booth is to have a look on photobooth.net which has a handy worldwide locator. While browsing the site recently I came across my dream book - a graphic novel all about photobooths!



Photobooth - A Biography is written by artist Meags Fitzgerald who has grown up with a lifelong love and fascination with photobooths. She's traveled the world to photobooth exhibitions & conventions, connected with fellow fans and even learnt how to repair old booths. It was wonderful to read a book by somebody who shares my love for photobooths (to the point where they actually appear in your dreams!)

The book serves as a history of the invention of the machines, along with geeky tips on which models are still in service and snippets from Meags' journey to capture the beauty of analogue photobooths before they get replaced by digital. Sadly, one of the chemicals used to process the photos inside the booths is very harmful and may soon cease to be made, which means that as early as 2015 these beautiful old photobooths (as seen in many of my favourite films such as Amelie Buffalo 66) could be extinct. Track them down while you can!


Monday, 30 June 2014

Ideas on Paper (a magazine lover's dream)


One of the things I love about Nottingham is the number of new creative spaces that keep popping up here. When Janet visited a few months ago we discovered the lovely Cobden Chambers, in Nottingham's newly named Creative Quarter. Situated near the Bodega Social, it's a pretty space full of indie shops, including a brilliant magazine shop called Ideas on Paper. I popped in this weekend for a browse and decided to treat myself to one of the pretty magazines on sale there. Choosing which one proved to be difficult as there were so many beautiful publications on sale! Alex, the owner is a friendly chap who was on hand with recommendations aplenty (and fresh coffee!), and in the end I plumped for a copy of Lionheart. If you're a fan of independent magazines I'd definitely recommend a trip to the shop and a visit to Cobden Chambers which also plays hosts to regular gigs and vintage fairs. Right, I'm off to read my magazine with a cuppa. If you have any favourite magazines to recommend, I'd love to hear!