Wednesday, 30 September 2015

You are here

We've been tarting up our new home since we moved in, but at a snail's pace because our priority has been enjoying summer on the balcony!

Now it's autumn though, our attention has turned back to décor and the hallway we need to finish off before moving onto the living/dining room.

You can catch up on our painting here and our up-cycling here

Manchester Doodle Map, David Gee, Pencil Me In, £42 (framed)

Now, Pencil Me In is a gorgeous shop, that I've mentioned in posts before. It's on Chapel St, very close to our home, and represents part of an indie renaissance around the £360m regeneration area of Salford Central and New Bailey, skirting the River Irwell and Spinningfields. Along with Lupo, the italian coffee shop, Kings Arms and its theatre space and the Salford Arms, the strip is getting known amongst the hipsters.

The store stocks gorgeous stationery, prints, gifts and all manner of wonderfully cute things, including lovely doodles by local illustrator, David Gee, who, incidentally, is based just above the store!

David's illustrations adorn ceramics, phone cases and come in the more traditional framed print form, and the boyf and I fell in love with this monochromatic doodle map of our fair city, Manchester.

It works perfectly well on an otherwise baron wall, breathing a little humour, sense of location and place within the welcoming foyer to our home.


Sunday, 27 September 2015

Read all about it, Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester Literature Festival is back in town, promoting contemporary poetry and prose from across the globe, as well as Manchester's own incredible literary history.

University Professors, writers, poets, editors, journalists and readers of all ages will come together, from 12th October - 25th October, at venues across the city to celebrate the written word. But, which of the events is worth a punt?

To mark the festival's 10th birthday, the schedule is bigger than ever, with Festival Co-directors Cathy Bolton and Sarah-Jane Roberts promising to invite, "back many of our favourite writers from the past decade and hand-picking some of the most gifted emerging storytellers, destined to make big literary waves in the coming decade." 85 events will take place, some having already taken place in September, prior to the official festival start date. They'll span talks and seminars, walking and coach tours, film screenings and things for the little ones.

Top names include Margaret Atwood, Patricia Duncker on George Eliot, Jeanette Winterson, who will launch her re-telling of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale, Simon Armitage and, of course, Carol Ann Duffy.

On my must-see list is:

An Evening with Robert Harris
Harris was a Panorama and Newsnight reporter before turning his attention from broadcast and newspaper journalism to fiction. He's authored many thrillers, including Fatherland, which I studied when at University as part of a course on literature of the Third Reich. Harris will discuss politics, power and corruption in conversation with Carol Ackroyd.

Royal Exchange Theatre
Monday 12th October, 7:30pm

Elizabeth Gazkell's Manchester
Join Ed Glinert on a walking tour of Manchester, pin pointing many sights and sites of Gaskell's Manchester, ending at the newly reopened Elizabeth Gaskell's House for tea and cake.

Meet outside St. Ann's Church
Tuesday 13th October, 1:30-4pm

Jeanette Winterson, The Gap of Time: The Winter's Tale Retold
Winterson is the acclaimed author of many novels, including the multi award winning Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit. I've read and studied Winterson for years and got to meet her a few years back at the launch of her memoir, Why Be Happy, When You Could Be Normal? When signing my copy, she said she liked my name #fangirling

Winterson will discuss her new work, a retelling of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale. re-set in a post-credit crash London and the US city of New Bohemia.

Royal Exchange Theatre
Tuesday 13th October, 7:30pm

Patricia Duncker on George Eliot
Duncker is an icon to any undergrad who was lucky to hear her lecture at The University of Manchester. Her opening address to the School of English, on my first day of University was inspiring, to say the least. She raised an eyebrow and bellowed into the microphone, "University is a time to experiment," a brief pause, "Lord knows I did," a whip of her pashmina and she strode off the stage.

Duncker's works include many gripping and tantalising fictions, including the mind boggling The Curious Case of The Composer and His Judge, which I highly recommend. Here though, Duncker will explore Eliot's later life, the relationship between author and reader and her new work Sophie and the Sibyl.

Portico Library
Wednesday 14th October, 6:30pm

An Evening with Carol Ann Duffy
Join Duffy in celebrating the launch of the Poet Laureate's first Collected Poems, spanning 8 collections and 30 years.

Hallé St. Peter's
Sunday 18th October, 7:30pm

Simon Armitage
Armitage's poetry touches the hearts and adorns the bookshelves of most poetry enthusiasts. For his best-seller Walking Home, the poet trekked the Pennine Way. Now, he's busking his way through Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and this will be the topic of his discussion.

Central Library
Tuesday 22nd October, 6:30pm

Find the full schedule here

See you at the event!


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Travel wardrobe, summer jollies

It was the first day of autumn yesterday, and the day we travelled home from our late summer get away to the wonderful coastal town of Sitges, near Barcelona in Spain.

I had planned a post about all my outfit choices for the week-long excursion, but work and frantic pre-holidays errands got in the way. So, here's a retrospective look at some of my luggage contents!

 Deck shoes, Rockport
Shirt, Criminal Damage
Shorts, Levi
Shades, Ray Ban

I love this outfit, it has a nice retro feel about it. I wore it for dinner and drinks one evening and had my shirt tucked into the shorts, buttoned all the way up and a necklace under my collar.

No break is complete without some literature! I only had time to read two of these in the week though.

I can't recommend Gray Mountain by Grisham. He seemed to struggled with how to write a convincing female protagonist. I'd sooner recommend The Litigators or The Last Juror by Grisham instead. 

Janet Mock's memoir, however, was incredible. Documenting her journey to womanhood, the autobiography is a comprehensive introduction to Trans* womanhood and answers so many of the questions you have, in a beautiful and eloquent way.

A snippet of the Santa Telca Festa celebrations on our last night on the beach front.

Jumper, TOPMAN
Shorts, Levi
Trainers, New Balance

This little outfit never saw the light, because despite the jumper being a loose knit and, basically, see-through - it was way to hot to contemplate knits!


A nice smart-ish outfit for cocktails and card games by the shore!

All Bizarre

Some tees for our nights out dancing, all paired with denim cut-off shorts, my go-to for city summer chic. These are all from a new little indie in the Northern Quarter, on Hilton Street/Stevenson Square, called Bizarre. The two black tees feat. hand stitched embroidery, sewn in-store by Damien Gray, the boutique's owner. I adore them, nice simple tees, light fabrics and tight cuts.

Cola tees, Primark
7UP tee, TK Maxx

One needs to stay refreshed when by the pool! These tees were perfect for excursions as complex as sun lounger to bar and vice versa.

From skimpiest to modest, Zara, HOM, HOM and French Connection

I basically lived in the Zara budgie smugglers, only succumbing to the French Connection shorts when the sun burn was winning!

All Calvin Klein from Mainline here

Last but not least, new undies! Because there's nothing like a pair of new knickers to pop on after a day of sun bathing!


This post was written with my disclosure policy in mind, here

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

AW15 Look Book: Super Size Me

A colleague of mine got an email the other day that started, "I hope you had a nice summer?"

He nearly cried. I nearly cried. But, then I remembered, I adore Autumn/Winter (I love saying Autumn/Winter instead of just Autumn because it sounds so dicky!) All the perfectly clichéd favourites spring to mind like fallen leaves, crisp mornings, hot chocolate and nights in. And of course, fabulous fashion.

In this transitional period, kinda in-between seasons, one needs a transeasonal wardrobe, and I have found that in my new love affair with ridiculously oversized tees. Tees so long, my friends call them my nighties. They're bloody brill.

Hat, Criminal Damage
Tee, Blood Brothers

Picked this one up in the Harvey Nichols sale, it's an oversized style, but I got it in a XL anyway, for that added Hip-Hop flava. I wear it with meggings (read: leggings for men) and trainers.

Meggings, ASOS
Trainers, New Balance

These trainers are an odd pair, they're made from a spongy material which makes them dead comfy. I love the neon flash too, always makes a statement.

Shades, Topman
Tee, BOY London

Then there's this beauty, a BOY London tee with mesh arms, another Harvey Nichols bargain. I love wearing this one with leather look leggings and trainers. Great for a transeasonal look, as it's airy enough for September humidity, but more covered than a summery vest.

Meggings, ASOS
Trainers, New Balance 

Another pair of neon New Balance trainers, in a bright yellow, a great accent to a dark outfit.

Of course, if I'm truly rocking a 90s Hip-Hop kinda look, I'll need the wrist candy to go with it. This time, it comes courtesy of Timex and their limited edition Retro UG0118. It's got that Grandad-hand-me-down feel and it's just a little bit of fun to add to a daytime outfit. It comes with detachable wrist straps too for a brown and black leather option.

This post was written in line with my disclosure policy here


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Other Bracefaces: Lisa Scott-Lee

Whilst sometimes I may act like I'm the only person in the world to have braces, I do often draw upon the experiences of other's who have gone through metal-mouth too. Especially when they had braces in adulthood!

Lisa Scott-Lee is one such source of constant inspiration. Not only because she rocks electric blue glue-in hair extensions in a way no one else can, not just because Electric really was deserving of top 10 UK singles status and not just because I've met her (and pissed her off) - but because she had braces.

Steps are one of my favourite bands - the 1990s and early 2000s dance-pop group were the soundtrack to my closeted and brace-less adolescence. Lisa was never exactly my favourite member, preferring the rippling abs of Lee, the beauty of Faye and the voice of Claire (pretty much the rest except Scott-Lee and H to be honest!) and when she had braces in the band, it just gave me another reason to shrug her off. But now, as an adult in her shoes, I know what it's like to be a superstar popstar with braces (kinda).

Her braces were the perfect accessory to have in the video to Stomp, playing a mischief-making young-un wrecking some cockney's bachelor pad with her synchronised dancing and general merriment. Proving that braces aren't that bad, you just need killer dance moves and a mirror ball choker.

However, her braces were probably less atmospheric for the Downton Abbey-esque The Way Make Me Feel video where her bashed in noshers would have been far more fitting for a Victorian themed ball. I especially love the Director's placement of Scott-Lee behind the harp, in an attempt to hide her gob, when in fact the vertical harp chords act like a tic-tac-toe on her horizontal braces! Ingenuous.

All in all, Lisa has been a rock in a deep (electric) blue sea of braceface paranoia. Constantly remind me that if Lisa Scott-Lee can wear braces and have the career, legacy and cultural impact that she's had - then I can do it too!



Sunday, 23 August 2015

Womanchester, oh the womanity!

Of all the public statues in Manchester, there's a metal tree, a horn, a stone, a bicycle, at least sixteen men, but only one woman, Queen Victoria. Can you believe that? In a city that brought the world the Pankhursts, the suffrage movement, allowed women to attend its University before any other higher education institution, the home to the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy and just all round bodacious place to be?

Well, a campaign, WoManchester, is under way, lead by Councillor Andrew Simcock, to rectify this issue and raise the public money (up to £500,000) to fund a new statue to commemorate a late great lady of Manchester. The statue won't solve the inequalities between women and men in this city (or this country) and 1/2 million pounds later the balance between statues of men and those of women won't be rectified at all, but it's a step and a statement.

Simcock has just completed a bike ride from top to tail of Great Britain, from Land's End to John O'Groats in Scotland, to raise funds. You can donate to the cause here and the long list of potential subjects has been revealed, which you can view here

Each of the 20 women that make the long list were celebrated at 20 separate intervals of Simcock's bike ride, with a picture taken (some of which are below) to snapshot the moment.


The incredible Marie Stopes makes the list, Stopes wrote the controversial Married Love in 1918 which taught readers about the female orgasm and the need for women to enjoy their participation in (albeit heterosexual, married) sex. She also spoke about birth control and campaigned for women's rights on the subject. If you've not read Married Love, read it, it's amazing and also shocking how little we've moved on.

Of course, the Pankhursts also make the list with Emmeline, Sylvia and Chrisabel up for nomination, but also Enriqueta Rylands, who founded the John Rylands Library on Deansgate in her late husband's name. Although, interestingly, there is a statue of Enriqueta within the library, in the main reading room, starring across the magnificent room across to a statue of her husband, so perhaps she should let another amazing woman get the gig this time round?

The long list will soon become a short list and then it'll be up to the Mancunian public to decide. Who will you vote for?


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

The Pilcrow Pub

Manchester is building a pub. Trained craftspeople, builders, coders and makers are coming together to lead an army of volunteers to co-operate and build a pub in Manchester, for Manchester, by Manchester.

NOMA's coordinates, which is why it's sometimes called NOMA 53°.

The team behind The Pilcrow Pub have a site, the as yet unnamed square in NOMA* and they have an architect, but that's pretty much it. Now, they need Manchester to fill in the blanks, you can join up as a volunteer here.

Construction should start in January 2016, with workshops being devised to up-skill Mancunians on just how to go about building this temporary Pub. Once built, the pub will move around NOMA and will host local beers, food and learning spaces too.
Why The Pilcrow? Well, you may not know (I didn't!) but the pilcrow, ¶, is an oft forgotten punctuation mark that signifies the end of a thought. It's still used by editors and proofreaders, but has long since been dismissed in the wake of WhatsApp and Twitter. The mark will be stamped onto each piece of the puzzle that is The Pilcrow Pub, an emblem to the organic and ever changing nature of the project. Read more on this here.

Excited? You should be!