Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sh*tty Poetry

On Thursday I went to a pre-fringe comedy show at The Montpelier pub in Peckham.  It's called 'Bucket' featuring Ed Eales-White and Jon Pointing.  I didn't really know what to expect but it was brilliant - lots of mini sketches that really nailed the characters and had you believing in them.  I think my favourite was their political sketch which consisted of David Cameron's legs and George Osbourne's arms.  I won't explain further as it'll ruin it for you and it's a 'had to be there moment'.   if you happen to be in any of the following locations (or even Edinburgh for the Fringe) then I highly recommend a viewing. Plus they hand out sweets.

June 25th. 10-15mins. The Jest and Guests. Camden Comedy Club, Camden Head. Tickets on the Door. 

July 4th. (FULL SHOW) The Harrison Pub, Kings Cross. Time & Tickets TBC.

July 6th. (FULL SHOW) Aces & Eights. Tufnell Park. 
Double bill with That Pair! 

July 17th-19th. Fri - Sun. Lamer Tree Festival, times TBC.

July 23rd - 26th. Fri- Sun. Secret Garden Party, times TBC.

5th - 31st August (not 13th & 14th) - 6pm Start. The Cellar, Pleasance Courtyard. ON SALE

Friday I went to see Leanne at an 'anti-slam'.  I have been to a slam before (I told Liz that it's called a slam because the poets read their work then slam their books on the floor and she believed me, hehe) so vaguely knew what to expect, but wasn't sure where the 'anti' bit came in.  Basically, it's still a competition, except the worst poem wins...which is a bit bizarre, but also makes for a lot of comedy.

We dined in The Enterprise which is opposite Chalk Farm station - it's a great, no frills pub with a good very cheap menu (fish finger sarnie for £4 anyone) then headed across to the Roundhouse to watch the show.

Most (I think - some were hard to tell) poets had taken on a character for the evening so as to distance themselves from their real talents.  The first half of the show started with Tim Clare and Mark Grist showcasing some of their poems, with Mark asking the audience for 6 random words at the beginning that he was then going to turn into a poem before the night was out.  Considering that the words included embryo, concubine and halibut, he did very well.  My favourite poem was one Tim did where he referenced over 100 video games in 2 minutes 43 in a rap, with a backdrop of video games on the screen - I have described it poorly but it was brilliant.

The second half of the show was the anti slam.  My good friend Leanne was performing under the character of Peony Simmonds, a posh angsty Cambridge teenager.  Her poem was INCREDIBLE - she really got into character and started her poem with a huge scream down the mic which definitely surprised everyone, and finished it with a dolphin noise.  It was amazing.  Considering that all the poems were meant to be bad, they were all really good, bad, poems - intentionally bad, which made them even funnier.  Leanne didn't win but she came 2nd, winning some foam alphabet pieces. Well done Leanne!

This weekend I have spent a lot of time cooking - I am copying Sepha and making up big bactches of meals which I portion out and freeze. Currently in my freezer I have 7 portions of each of chicken enchiladas, veg lasagne and fish pie.  I am sorted for about 2 months if I spread them out a bit.  I also just cooked the most delicious healthy dinner - I piled some courgette slices, kale, red onion on some foil, topped with a fillet of haddock, topped that with a slice of butter and some lemons and seasoned. Wrapped the package up, put in the oven for half an hour and  it was very tasty, I recommend.

I went to see Mad Max: Fury Road today.  I wanted to see what all the fuss is about with the whole feminism bit.  The film is OK - not great but an easy way to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon.  I don't get why it's caused such controversy though.  Yes, there's a lead female character, and yes she's just as tough as the male character, but why should that make headlines?!  It annoys me that everything has to have a label.  It's not a feminist movie - it's just a movie.  I cannot wait until we live in an age where eyebrows aren't raised when a lead character in a film is a tough woman.  I get that it's got so much attention because it is such a rarity for that to happen, but it's a shame attention has to be drawn to it.  It's a bit like the "women in FM" awards - it's a shame that there is a separate awards ceremony just for women, surely that's the opposite of feminism.  Anyways.

I did a bikram yoga class today.  NEVER AGAIN!  I found this thing called Strive Club which actually looks pretty good - it's a £69 per month membership which gives you access to lots of boutique classes across London, including bikram, pilates, spinning, barretone etc.  You can cancel at any point.  You can get one free class with no catches - simply sign up, enter your card details (they only bill you if you book a second class) and off you go.  Kim came along with me and it was bloody horrible.  I completely underestimated how hot 40degrees is - the room is so sweltering and muggy and I found it hard to take deep breaths. Plus it smelt gross.

The yoga itself I didn't really enjoy either - I think it was more Hatha than Vinyasa Flow, which I like.  It was all about holding poses in repetitions, whereas I prefer more of a flowing into one pose and then another as you feel like you're working out more.  We didn't do any sun salutations which for me is pivotal in yoga, and I really didn't enjoy it - I won't be going back.

I came home and Dan was making brownies - wahey!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Bucuresti is the Besti

I have exciting news!!! This blog post is written on my new laptop.  I got fed up with waiting an hour for my old one to load up anything and bit the bullet and bought a touch screen Dell. So far I am very pleased with it but the mouse is a bit shit, so I am grateful for the touchscreen!  I managed to turn the mousepad off when playing with the settings and spent half an hour researching how to turn it back on without a mouse, before remembering it was touchscreen and all I had to do was press the screen button....doh!

Anyways me and Sepha just got back from brilliant weekend away in Bucharest. Our trip began with a refreshing 4.30am walk from Clapham to Victoria.  A coach, a plane and a bus later and we arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed, eager to find our hostel.

We were staying at Antique Hostel which I highly recommend - it's a really great location in Old Town, the rooms are beautiful and the staff are lovely.  Unfortunately the other dorm rooms were booked out by a bunch of 50 architecture students on a study trip so it wasn't the best for socialising, but one of the staff members was an incredibly hot South African guy who looked like Heath Ledger so that more than made up for the lack of socialising.

we had a twin private room - was basic but nice!

the river ouside the hostel

post landing snacks

view from our room

We dumped our stuff and headed out to get some money changed.  We bumped into two German guys (Simon and Sebastian) we'd met on the bus from the airport, so joined them for a drink, which quickly led to more.  Our group grew as a guy who'd overheard us speaking English (and slating French people - and he was French, oops) joined us.

There were 2 escape rooms at the hostel the Germans were staying at, so we decided to go do the escape room before heading out for dinner and drinks.

Our group grew further as we met up with Simon and Sebastian's friend Dario, and we also enlisted the help of another guy standing at the bar, Seth, to help us escape the escape room.  I have always wanted to do one of these and this one was super cheap at 10 euros per person.  It was themed 'black and white' and whist the staff lady had told us it didn't require much maths, it did require lots of code breaking, which isn't my (or any of the other's as it turned out!) forte.  After requesting several hints, we escaped with 13 minutes to spare, which we were quite happy with, but it was a lot harder than I expected .  I want my mum and Tim to do one as they're quite good at that sort of stuff so it would be interesting to see how they did.

the a team

We went back to the hostel bar where we recruited two further girls into our little gang and headed into the Old Town for dinner and drinks.  We had some amazing greek food and the bill came to a fiver each including a beer - so cheap!  After that we went to a bar called Shoteria which as you can probably guess, served lots of different shots.  It was fun but we got tired very quickly having been up since 4am so we left the group at midnight and had a well deserved sleep.

Gyros restaurant - delicious

The next morning we joined a free walking tour which was really interesting and took us on a 2.5 hour tour round the Old Town.  Apparently Bucharest is so called because it was founded by a shepherd called Bucur, and 'rest' means belonging to.  Bucharest has the largest boulevard in the world, and when it was built by the communist leader in the 80s, 40,000 people were moved out of their homes so that the boulevard and Palace of the Parliament could be built.  When they left, some of the buildings were removed from their foundations and put on rail tracks and moved across the city - they moved some 15 churches in this way.

The Palace of the Parliament is the largest administrative building in the world and was built by the communist leader Nicolae CeauČ™escu in the 80s.  It was modelled on one he saw in north Korea (figures!!) and after the death Nicolae they did consider tearing it down, but decided to leave it up.  It goes 92 metres deep and has underground tunnels that connect it to every important building in Romania, including the Otopeni airport.  

Palace of Parliament

apparently named the ugliest statue in Bucharest

Vlad the Impaler (Dracula!) He used to impale his enemies with a wooden rod covered in pork vat, entered via the bum hole and coming out of the mouth, he'd then let them slide down the pole and slowly die over 48hours. Nice!!!

so childish....

After the tour we browsed a flea market where I bought a brilliant pocket watch - it doesn't work but it's really pretty and you can see all of the mechanics of it.  It was only £6 and I am hoping it's worth millions but it's very pretty so I'll keep it for a while. 

I dragged everyone to find a geocache which we failed to find - even with 5 pairs of eyes!  Then we had a very leisurely lunch of typical romanian food.  We ate Mici, which is a sort of unskinned sausage with herbs and spices, and Sarmale, which is ground pork wrapped in a cabbage leaf.  Both were delicious, especially when washed down with £1.20 beer.  For pudding, we tried Papanasi, which is sort of like a doughnut with orange rind in the dough, topped with the doughnut hole, covered in sour cream and prune juice.  Unfortunately it wasn't as nice as it sounded and we were all a bit disappointed.  


Sarmale with polenta (yuck) and sour cream


preparing the Mici

That night we joined the boys for a bar crawl their hostel was putting on.  We managed to get free entry and a free shot to one of the bars that originally wasn't letting us in as we weren't part of the crawl and didn't want to pay (not sure how that happened but it was an offer we obviously didn't refuse!).  The crawl took us on a random selection of bars - a roof top hostel bar, a karaoke bar (but the queue to sing was 2 hours - ain't nobody got time for that), a Russian bar that had a live band and some very odd clientele, and an underground club.  After making numerous attempts at escaping, we eventually managed to slink away at the respectable time of 3am whilst the boys made it back to their hostel at 7 in the morning....I was very glad we left when we did!

On our final day we had a leisurely breakfast followed by a disappointing multicache - we got all the clues but couldn't work out the last number for the co-ordinates we needed for the geocache due to the building being under construction.  After several frustrating guesses and maths attempts we decided to give up and just go for a wander.  We headed in the direction of a design museum which we also couldn't find  - this was becoming a common theme of the trip, before chilling in a park for an hour or so.  We then joined the boys for one last farewell drink before heading back to the UK.  

I love the manhole covers in Bucharest. Each one was different

On of many churches

There's a lot of this grubby style of street art

the boulevard

Trying to solve the bloody geocache we didn't try this!

I really enjoyed the weekend and Sepha was a great travelling partner.  I definitely recommend Bucharest - it's quite pretty and has an interesting, recent history.  I do think 2/3 days is enough to stay there, and would recommend the Old Town as a good location to stay, especially if you want to go on a night out. We found everyone to be friendly, but service in restaurants was noticably slow.  It is very cheap!!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Ship shape and Bristol Fashion

Last weekend we (me, Liz and Bex) went on a mini road trip to visit Hazel and Jen in Bristol.  (I did see if my brother wanted to meet up too but he didn't. Sigh.)

As much as I love London, I also LOVE getting out of it, and a weekend away is bliss. 

I managed to coerce everyone to meet at Cheddar Gorge as I've never been and have always wanted to go.  I would have loved to go in the caves but a Duke of Knobland owns half of the Gorge and has turned it into a tourist attraction where you have to pay £18.95 if you want to look in caves, do a walk round it and get a bus tour of the Gorge.  APparently visitor numbers have dropped (probably because the tickets are so expensive) and to get visitor numbers back up they want to build a cable car to the top of the Gorge.  Fingers crossed planning permission won't be approved.

 The National Trust on the other hand (I bloody love the National Trust) have a small information centre and gift shop (which is filled with some quite cool stuff) and own the other half of the land that the Duke doesn't. You pay a fiver to park all day (quite steep but cheaper than London!) and they've published a nice 4 mile walk that goes up, round and down the Gorge so you can see it in its full glory, without spending a penny.

We did exactly that (and lost two people in the process -  the beginning is VERY steep! Edited to add that they didn't die/fall down, they just gave up) but it's a beautiful and rewarding walk nonetheless.

We also found a really cool cache on the way, look at this fella!!

After the walk we wandered round the town of Cheddar for a bit.  There's not too much to do and it's quite touristy but there's a plethora of cider and cheddar and ice cream shops, all of which give free samples, so we ate many mini cubes of different flavoured cheese as a post walk snack. 

We drove back to Bristol in high spirits and I got a little lost, we were in the back end of nowhere and the sat nav signal cut out so what was a 30 min journey turned into an hour, but it was very pretty and lush and green so we didn't mind.  

We went for dinner in a pub in Kings Street where we had pulled pork burgers and chips, then for a drink in The Apple which is a cider boat on the river and confusingly smells overwhelmingly of horses.  A sip of the Ol' Bristolian cider they have on tap confirmed that the smell came from this as it tasted of the horse smell too, weird. 

We had envisaged a big night out but we were all tired from the walk and drive, so a bit embarrassingly we were home by midnight after hailing a cab. Something I'd eaten that day hadn't agreed with me and I spent half an hour moaning about feeling sick before vomming into my hand in a mad dash up the stairs to the toilet.  Nice.  Felt much better for it though afterwards!

The next day we had brunch in North Street Standard which has a bit of an industrial vibe but the food was very good.  I had the best breakfast of my life, a veg fry up of halloumi, spinach, bubble and squeak, mushroom, tomatoes, toast and an egg.  Unfortunately Hazel's breakfast took forever to arrive and we'd all finished by the time it came out, and they'd got her order wrong.  They were a bit blase about the whole thing which was a shame. 

After that we strolled down the road looking at antique shops and a small market in the Tobacco Factory where I bought some cake for tea, then back to Hazel's house where we met Jen and Samer for cake and a catch up. 

I love Bristol and could happily live there.  I wish I'd gone to university there but hindsight and all that.   Thank you for hosting us Hazel, it was lovely to see you!!