27 Apr 2016

Makes of late

I've not made much time for my creative outlets during these first few months of 2016 (something that reading Big Magic is sure to change, don't you worry!). One thing I did finish making however was this little deer.

Rather than dwell on the fact that I started her back in June last year (I was asked to do some hand modelling for a crochet shoot and I felt a little out of practice so I picked up this pattern to get me back into the swing of things), what's important is that I finally completed her and she's cute (I'll also ignore the fact that Mitch was like: cool, what do we do with her though? We don't know any small children right now so duh, she's for display).

A second thing I made (and in one afternoon no less) was another Zippy tee with the fabric I picked up in Brighton. I have four zippies now :)

Next on my making list: a baby quilt for a friend's little one (progress is currently slow but there's a sneaky peek below) and dresses! Although the weather in London is all over the shop (snow on Tuesday!) spring/summer will arrive at some point in the capital and I have a distinct lack of dresses. I've seen a couple of patterns I'd like to try and it's pay day on Friday so watch this space! What are you making at the moment?

19 Apr 2016

Reading & Seeing 28

Fatale - Jean-patrick Manchette (1977)
An excellent noir novella which follows the exploits of a killer, Aimee, as she arrives in a small seaside town and ingratiates herself into the inner circle of its corrupted prominent inhabitants. Our central character is, perhaps at the time it was written anyway, shockingly cold and calculating (less so in this day and age what with the likes of Amy Dunne etc around). It's a lean little book, about 90 pages long, and none of those are wasted filler, it's suspenseful, atmospheric and dramatic.  Unsurprisingly, I finished it within a day and if you enjoy a bit crime noir you probably will too.

The Secret Place - Tana French (2014)
Work's (first) book club choice and a fat old read at that. Set in a girls' boarding school a year after a student from the nearby boys' school is found murdered in the grounds, the story is told from multiple perspectives including the rookie cop attempting to solve the murder and the four teenage girls at the centre of the story. This book was incredibly dense - 5 pages to get a across a paragraph of story progression - which some might find enjoyably descriptive, I did not. I found it really hard going, the girls' narratives quite grating and cringey, and it wasn't until the last 100 pages or that the story picked up any kind of pace or suspense. Just not my cup of tea really.

After the Crash - Michel Bussi (2015)
A plane crashes in the French alps, two babies are amongst the passengers on board - one from a wealthy family and one from a significantly less well-off one - everyone on the plane perishes, except for one baby, but which baby is she? The story is largely set 18 years after the crash where both families and a private detective are trying to solve the mystery once and for all. The premise of this book sounded great but the delivery didn't really live up to it - meandering all over the place with fairly long irrelevant sections - and the 'reveal' at the end was pretty predictable (which says a lot, I NEVER figure out whodunit).

The Circle - Dave Eggers (2013)
Everyone wants to work for The Circle, the company is full of bright young minds, desinging and producing innovative ideas that'll change the world. But it's big thing is social media. Employees are encouraged to comment, like, connect with and record everything, and as the power and reach of The Circle expands, the company's actions and values take a sinister turn. It's pretty easy to see the comparison between our own social media obsessed society and the world described in the book (The Circle itself made me think of Google or Facebook).  I thoroughly enjoyed it - the writing style, the tech ideas, the symbolism, even the ending that left a bad taste in my mouth. I do like unsettling SF which makes me think though...

I've not watched a lot of films at the cinema in the last four months, I basically missed the entire Oscars season which I'm gutted about, there was so much I wanted to see! Mitch and I saw Trumbo on my birthday and it was excellent. I knew nothing about the Black List which ruined so many careers not to mention the lives of those who worked in the entertainment industry. Who knew John Wayne was such an asshole! Bryan Cranston was on top form in the lead role and the styling and costumes were perfection. Sticking with a v.similar theme (communism in Hollywood), we went to see Hail Caesar! last month. It's packed full of excellent set pieces (Channing Tatum's sailor routine, Scarlet Johansson's mermaid, ALL the bits with cowboy actor Tobey) but overall the storyline didn't quite bring it together for me. Too much time was spent on George Clooney hanging out with the communists, although Clooney's speech towards the end is ace (along with his amazing 'reaction to the christ' acting).

The best film I've seen at the cinema so far this year? Zootropolis. It's cute, it's hilarious, the animation is beautiful, it honestly couldn't have been better. Fun fact for you: mitch and I have a fancy dress party to go to next month and I whole-heartedly think we should be Judy and Nick... Staying with animation, albeit a v.different type of animation, we recently saw Anomalisa, Charlie Kauffman's stop motion animated film with puppets! I confess I spent quite sometime wondering how they made the film - how big were the puppets, what were they made from etc - but that's largely because it gets off to a pretty slow start. But don't worry it ramps up the drama and there's some rather creepy and unsettling scenes in the second half (and I'm not talking about puppet sex).

15 Apr 2016

illustrated packing list: Helsinki

Another illustrated packing list. Yup, I'm off again, this time to Finland for a four day trip with my sis. Just as it's warming up here in London, we're trading it in for some cooler temperatures two hours into the future. Jumpers, scarf and mittens have all been packed. We're hoping to visit some of the little islands around Helsinki as well take a day trip to Tampere to see the Moomin museum aaand I've identified a bunch of cafes and bars to try too. Needless to say, I cannot wait!

13 Apr 2016

a(nother) weekend in the Brecon Beacons

Last weekend 11 of us drove to the Brecon Beacons for a couple of days of walking, boozing and just generally enjoying each others' company.

We stayed at a pub called The Dragon's Back which I would highly recommend if you're planning a trip to Brecon. The owners were absolutely lovely plus they've got accommodation to suit all sorts (we opted for the bunkhouse which included breakfast) and, speaking of food, the pub grub was spot on.

On Saturday we took the easy route up to Pen Y Fan, with a slight detour to the peak of Corn Du on the way. It might be called the easy route (a 2.5 - 3.5 hour walk) but I was a bit out of practice so it suited me just fine! We were engulfed in clouds during our ascent and when we reached the top of Corn Du there was no view to be seen, but there was snow! Still surrounded by mist, we pushed on to Pen Y Fan and then, to everyone's relief (we've been on a few hill and mountain hikes only to be denied a view), the clouds cleared. The scenery was breathtaking, these pictures really don't do it justice.

The descent would have been straightforward had it not been for the crazy weather! We got snow, sleet, sun and a bout of horizontal hail stones, which, I can tell you, are painful and make it difficult very difficult to see when they're hurtling into your eyeballs. We all reached the bottom in one piece and headed back to the pub for an afternoon and evening of well-deserved pints, pies and boards games.

Sunday was altogether more chilled: a quick visit to Llangorse Lake before exploring some incredible caves at The National Show Caves park which also, rather randomly, featured A LOT of 90s-looking dinosaur sculptures. The park was 14 quid to get in which, on reflection, was a bit pricey given that all you really need to see are the caves, particularly the Cathedral Cave which is gigantic and, so everyone kept saying, is sometimes used a wedding venue! A bit too wet and slippery for my liking but to each their own.

After a quick pootle around the farm (which involved petting a variety animals include miniature Shetland ponies (who knew they could be more miniature!)) back to London we went. I feel v.lucky that I get to bugger off to fun places at weekends, fingers crossed for a few more trips this year :)

8 Apr 2016

illustrated packing list - Brecon Beacons for a weekend

A much needed exit from London today and although Brighton was great (and not that long ago), it'll be so good to get a proper change of scenery and some good old fresh air, countryside style. The weather's looking a bit iffy (rain, cloud, nothing higher than 7 degrees C) so I've packed for warmth :) We're staying in a pub, or rather a bunkhouse owned by a pub, which should be good I reckon. Hope you've all got good weekends lined up too, happy Friday!
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