Saturday, 18 June 2016

Five More Great Podcasts

With a long commute, Podcasts have become a pretty essential part of my daily routine now, so I thought it was about time I shared five more of my recent favourites (all available on iTunes).

1. For music fans...
I only just discovered this Podcast, in which musicians break down how they put together a chosen song. They share lyric inspirations and detail what instruments they used which is fascinating, even if you're not all that familiar with the chosen songs.
Recommended: The Postal Service - The District Sleeps Alone Tonight, Weezer - Summer Elaine and Drunk Dory (Rivers is pretty nuts, in a good way..!)

2. For fans of true stories...
In the Modern Love podcast actors read true stories of love and friendship that were originally submitted to the New York Times column of the same name. The stories are always sweet and moving.
Recommended: Modern Love 7: In Darkness and in Light.

3. For lovers of comedy...
Cheeky and dry-witted comedian Richard Herring interviews well-known comedians in this Podcast. Look out for his 'emergency questions' when conversation ever runs dry... 
Recommended: David Mitchell, Louis Theroux, Adam Buxton - which brings me to...


4. For good conversation (and jingles that never fail to make you smile)
I've been a fan of Dr Buckles since his Adam & Joe days, and his latest Podcast series has become a firm favourite. Guests have included Louis Theroux, Caitlyn Moran, Rob Delaney and Jonny Greenwood. Adam Buxton seems like a genuinely nice chap and his jingles will stick in your head for most of the day (but don't let that put you off!) Go listen to one his Ramble Chats. GO!
Recommended: Louis Theroux Pts 1 & 2, Sara Pascoe, Rob Delaney.

5. For silliness and 'advice'
I have only listened to a few of these so far as the guests aren't always up my street, but the basic premise is that actress Anna Faris invites famous friends on to her show for a quickfire questioning, then takes listener calls and tries to give them relationship advice. She's far from an expert (and swears at her producer a LOT, poor guy) but the shows are entertaining, and sometimes you'll hear random tidbits about her husband, Chris Pratt...
Recommended: ep13: Ellen Page, ep 06: Aubrey Plaza.

Do you have any other Podcasts you're loving at the moment? If so please share! Last time I got some great recommendations, like the Nerdist so I'm always keen to hear more.


Friday, 10 June 2016

Visiting the Secret Japanese Garden

The Guardian featured an article recently about the UK's top 10 secret gardens, and amongst them was a beautiful looking Japanese garden in Nottinghamshire. Despite having living here for ten years I'd never heard of the garden before so was keen to take a trip there. Last Sunday's sunshine was the perfect excuse for Tom and I to drive over and see it for ourselves.

The garden was created in 1980 by Maitreya, who was born in Japan. After living as a Zen monk for a time and travelling around Asia he began teaching meditation before moving to England. Here he wanted to create a peaceful area for visitors to relax in. Pure Land Meditation Centre and Japanese Garden was born!

The garden was a little further than I'd expected, as it lies north of Newark, but the countryside around it is beautiful, filled with picture-perfect villages.

Entry is £7, and when we visited on a Sunday afternoon there were a few other visitors but it wasn't overly busy. Although the garden isn't huge, it's wonderful to wander around and explore, with pretty flowers, wooden bridges and a crystal garden making it a very peaceful space. There is also a little tea room where you can buy Japanese tea and scones, which we enjoyed in the garden. Afterwards we went for a little walk through some nearby fields and met a very friendly horse!

I would love to visit Japan itself some day, but for now it was nice to have a little taster of it right here in the Midlands. To find out more about the garden, click here.


Sunday, 29 May 2016

My So Called Life Zine - submissions sought!

Last month I headed to Sheffield to meet up with Janet who was visiting the Sheffield Zine Fest. There were so many inspiring stalls there, with zines on various subjects ranging from periods, diets and anxiety to one zine dedicated to Bruce Springsteen's butt! Weirdly, just as I was remarking to Janet that it would be great to make a zine dedicated to my favourite TV show as I was growing up, My So Called Life, I spotted a zine called 'Has anyone seen Tino?' on a nearby stall and was told that there was a zine on another stall containing pictures of Jordan-'I love how he leans'-Catalano. So I've decided to group together with some fellow fans and create a zine dedicated to the wonderful world of Angela, Rayanne, Ricky et al.

If you'd like to contribute to the zine (be it an essay, a list, a drawing or whatever you like) just drop me an email. I'm hoping to collect everything together by the end of June!

Monday, 23 May 2016

A Tiny Kitchen Makeover: Before & After

It's been just over a year since Tom and I got the keys to our first home. Luckily the previous owners had good taste so most of the rooms haven't needed much decorating, but the kitchen was high on our list. Although it wasn't terribly out of date, being a Victorian terrace, the kitchen is quite small and dark so we wanted to create a lighter airier looking room with more surface space.

Removing old tiles / the joy of grouting...

We originally looked into the 'easy' solution of getting it done for us, but were put off by the quote we were given by a well known kitchen company, at almost £4000 just to replace the units and for new flooring. (This didn't include replacing the tiling or painting the walls which would have added even more costs on.) So we decided our best option was to DIY! 

The hob area before...

...And after

Tom did a lot of the research and measured out the walls & floor. In the end we had to enlist the help of 3 different workmen to do the jobs we couldn't do ourselves; a plumber to replace the sink and remove the radiator while we tiled, a joiner who installed the new worktop (using a fancy machine to join two pieces together) and finally a plasterer who we needed to smooth off the walls for us once we had removed the tiles. 

An 'in progress' shot, to show you the full chaos...

To save money we decided to keep the cupboards, but replaced one with a shelf to move the microwave on to, so that we had more surface space below it. We painted them white (after first prepping them with ESP primer. In the end we had to paint three layers though so it was quite time consuming!)


And after

Our biggest bargain was the shelving which cost only £7 for two long ex-scaffolding planks, which Tom measured and sawed before applying woodstain and varnish. (Bought from East Midlands Recycling Centre)

Mugs from Ikea/Sainsburys!

 Close up of the 'scaffolding' shelves

The most grueling bits were the tiling (mostly done by Tom who I had to keep reminding to eat and take a break!), the grouting (ugh, messy and not fun) and finally applying the sealant around the edges (inhaling this is not good for anyone...). We also had to spend several weeks with our dining room a real mess, kettle upstairs and eating takeaways and microwave meals. But it was worth it! 

I'm really proud of what we've achieved with this room and it's a great feeling when you know you've done most of the work yourselves. It's hard to estimate the final costs as numerous trips to B&Q, Wickes & Ikea et al were needed, but I'm sure we spent less than half of what we would have if we'd had the work done by a kitchen company. Now I'm off to put the kettle on...


Monday, 11 April 2016

A Trip to Haddon Hall (aka Prince Humperdinck's Castle in the Princess Bride)

"Have fun storming the castle!"

The Princess Bride is one of my favourite films, so when I discovered that some of it was shot in Derbyshire and that Prince Humperdink's Castle was under an hour's drive away I couldn't wait to visit.

Haddon Hall, near Bakewell in the Peak District was used as the Castle in the film, where Buttercup is taken against her will to marry the Prince. Westley, Inigo "You killed my father" Montoya and Fezzik then hatch a plan to rescue her before it's too late.

A still of Haddon Hall from The Princess Bride

The hall itself is a beautifully preserved Tudor manor, some of which dates right back to the 12th century. It was really fun exploring the medieval rooms, from the 'exercise room' (pictured above) meant for Elizabethan ladies  to walk up & down in so they wouldn't get a tan, to the kitchens which used a poor bow-legged dog to turn the spitroast! The gardens are also beautiful, with a lovely view of the countryside and river below. Entrance costs £13.50 which gains entry to the many rooms and garden.

Although there wasn't really any references to the film at the hall (besides the DVD in the shop!) it was a lovely afternoon which I would recommend to any film or history lovers!

See also: A Trip to Withnail's cottage, New York Film & TV spots.


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Food in Notts: Oscar & Rosie's Pizza

I first tried Oscar & Rosie's pizza on a trip to Das Kino, in the Lace Market with fellow bloggers Janet from Words That Can Only be Your Own and Elle & Becca (who have just started a lovely new blog called The Weekend Collective).

Last year Oscar & Rosie's branched out and opened up their own pizza restaurant in Thurland Street. You can read their story here. Famous for their 'metre of pizza' they also do darn good veggie and vegan options. Having now tried three veggie options I can safely say there's no wrong choice to be made!

Tip: The 14" pizzas are pretty huge; I haven't finished a full one yet, so you may want to share a pizza between two, or ask for a pizza box to take the rest home for tomorrow's breakfast (which is usually what I opt for!) They also don't take bookings for small groups but if you turn up early-ish you should be fine.
Menu: Last time I went I opted for 'The Frenchman,' a goat's cheese, beetroot, rocket & pesto pizza on a garlic base. Mmm. I've yet to try their mac & cheese but it also looks tempting.
Value for money? 14 inch pizzas are £14, but for the sheer size & fresh ingredients I'd say it's not bad value and you could always choose to split a pizza. 
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