I like to ride my bicycle

As some of you may or may not know – my beloved bicycle Caprice was stolen outside Hackney Library a couple of months ago. It was a sad end to a beautiful 3 year relationship. We had been through many a broken tyre, one minor contact with a vehicle, a broken lock, some serious TLC from my friend Sam, and a 200 mile journey from Manchester to London. But alas the time came for me to say goodbye, albeit unwillingly.

And so, for the past few months, I have been subjected to the infamous bus commute into work. Regular blog readers will know this is not something I enjoy.

Luckily, Tom’s sister Katy came to the rescue, as she had a bike that she was trying to get rid of. Meet Romana, the prettiest bike I have ever seen. (sorry Caprice)

Romana

Romana

So happy to be biking to work again. Only this time I will be investing in a better lock.

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Getting Buxom with the Mayor of Norwich

This weekend I was witness to an ancient ceremony that involved a man with a sword, an oath about getting buxom with a Mayor and a lot of chicken drumsticks. And it was all to watch my boyfriend and his family become Freemen of the City of Norwich.

And what on earth is that I hear you ask? Well dear readers- it is an ancient tradition that dates back to medieval times , whereby those granted the honour of being a Freeman were entitled to trading rights not permitted to ordinary residents. Back in the ‘olden days’ the Freemen were the governing body of Norwich, but today their privileges are mostly redundant. Despite this however, the tradition still exists.

We Brits do love a bit of tradition don’t we?

The honour of becoming a Freeman of Norwich is strictly hereditary  and until only two years ago was applicable only to male family members. And so it was I found myself in the Norwich Council Chamber on Friday watching my boyfriend and his Sister, Aunt and Mum all get bestowed with the honour of becoming Freemen of Norwich, a honour that has been passed down from Tom’s Grandfather, Philip Armes.

The ceremony involved a number of people dressed in ridiculous outfits, including the town crier who had forgotten his glasses and messed up the opening speech! The Sheriff of Norwich was also there, along with the Mayor and his wife.

All in all the day was a good one, and although it has somewhat lost it’s meaning, it was nice to see a tradition like this still going, and that it has adapted to the modern day by allowing women to apply. Plus, the buffet lunch was cracking. Alan Partridge would have been proud.

A-ha!

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Moving House

I think I have surpassed myself this time. It’s been a whole 6 months since my last post! Either my life has been VERY uneventful the last 6 months or I have just been extremely lazy. Neither are great, but I think it’s probably the latter. From this day forward I will make a pledge to post more often…once every 3 months should just about do it?

Probably the most eventful thing to happen to me in this last 6 months is what my housemates and I have come to call ‘The Big Move 2012’. Due to our landlord thinking it was great idea to throw us out of our flat in the middle of the Olympics to renovate it, we decided to cut our loses and move out sooner rather than later. So I am writing this dear readers, from my new pad…. a whole 1 mile up the road from my last one. Thats right, no longer will I frequent London Fields or Victoria Park on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It’s Hackney Downs for me now. Depending on who asks, I live either in Clapton, or Stoke Newington. I’m a lot closer to the former, the latter is more a hopeful illusion.

It wasn’t easy to get here. Firstly, we were meant to be moving into a house in Hackney Wick, but got royally gazumped 5 days prior to moving in. Cue mass hysteria and girl tears as we fretted over being homeless. But, after racing around all of hackney on bicycles, we came across this little gem in a quiet ‘mews’ in Clapton. After some gazumping of our own (it’s called karma people) we got the place and we’ve been here just over a week now. I’m with the same housemates that I’ve been with for the last year or so and over that year we have accumulated a lot of crap. A. LOT. It took three hire van loads and help from two other halves to do it – but we did it nonetheless. Even Sexy Steven made it in one piece.

A week later and it already feels like home. We’ve bonded with the neighbour over wine and BBQs, met our eccentric German landlord that has a fear of all things flammable, and even snuggled the communal cat, Oscar, or MC Double Bum as he is apparently known amongst the mews residents.

So its the start of a new era in Clapton, bring it on I say!

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Under your spell

My attitude towards film is similar to my attitude towards music. I dont make a point of knowing an awful lot about it, and it is widely known amougst my peers that my favourite film ever is the Will Smith alien-punching classic Independence Day. However, I do appreciate good cinema, and nothing has delighted me as much as the film that everyone is talking about at the moment: Drive.

Now, film fans beware, what is about to follow is not an in-depth well thought out critique, but more  just some words on why the film is BLOODY AMAZING AND EVERYONE SHOULD GO AND SEE IT.

I dont even know where to start. I’m not a car/racing/hesit/shoot-out fan, and on first seeing the trailer for this film I assumed thats what it would be, like a slightly cooler version of The Fast and the Furious. I also, and girls please forgive me for this, was not a particularly big fan of Ryan Gosling. The Notebook was depressing and I hadn’t really seen him in much else, so all in all I wasnt that fussed. Little did I know I was in for two hours of gorgeous, retro, stylish, tense and simply haunting cinema, centered around a love story like no other.

What I particularly liked was the lack of dialogue. Quite the opposite to the disappointement of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, where there was little dialogue and I didn’t have a clue what was going on, I understood every tiny thing that was happening in Drive, just with the visual alone. One scene in a motel springs to mind, when the viewer pieces together what is about to happen exactly as the ‘Driver’ himself pieces it together. The opening scene is also another good example. Aside from a brief sentence from the Driver at the very beginning, the first 10/15 mintues of the film are completely dialogue free, and the viewer is instantly immersed in tense real-time  getaway scene, all the time seeing the thought process going on inside the Driver’s head.

Much of the reason why this works is down to the superior performance of, and girls you can forgive me now, Ryan Gosling. The power of his acting depsite such little dialogue is outstanding. His facial expressions and eye movements deserve their own Oscar. His love for Irene and Benecio comes across so well, and his solitude reminded me of Jean Reno’s Leon.

Of course, I cannot talk about Drive without talking about the soundtrack. The beautifully haunting sounds of 80s electronica pop fill your ears and take over the screen, and it’s unlike any other soundtrack I have ever heard on film. It stays with you for quite sometime after seeing the film. In fact the first thing I did when I got home was to find out the names of the songs and download them.

I cant really say much else, other than go and see this if you haven’t already. It stays with you, leaves you feeling oddly warm, a little shocked, slightly sad, and amazed.

Below are some links to the soundtrack. I’m off to listen to them now, and also reply to the barage of emails I’m likely to get from saying that I found the Notebook depressing. Enjoy!

Main song by Kavinsky – Nightcall

My personal favourite, College ft. Electric Youth – A Real Hero.

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A wedding worth waiting for.

5 or so years ago two of my best friends got engaged, to eachother. Our very own Monica and Chandler, Lauren and James fell in love and 1 year into their relationship, in a hotel room off a motorway, James got down on one knee. He has always been a man of class.

5 years, two degrees and one flat later, they finally got hitched.

The venue had been chosen, the cakes made, the Bridesmaid’s dresses altered, and then altered again, the rings put in their boxes and most importantly, the bets on the length of the best man’s speech had been placed. It was time for a bunch of mates from Didcot to come together in suit and silk to celebrate their friend’s love for one another. And to get horribly, horribly drunk.

The day went perfect, the ceremony was stunning and humble, the reception glitzy and glamourous, no one messed up their lines and I won the bet on the best man’s speech! It was a wonderful day, one that I felt was not only about celebrating The Mitchams, but also friendship. A mum of one of my friends came up to me towards the end of the night and said something quite lovely. She said, albeit slightly slurred, “you and your friends have such a wonderful relationship, you may not live in eachothers pockets, but you come back together like you never parted, and that will stay with you for the rest of your life.” And I really hope it does.

So this blog post is a congratualtions, to Lauren and James, but also a thank you, to my fabulous friends, for making it so easy to fall into place.

Photos: Ed Salter

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Sweet Charity

I do not consider myself a fashion guru. I don’t really read fashion magazines, nor do I try and keep up to date with the latest, and often ridiculous, catwalk creations. I do though like to wear nice clothes and like to think that when I leave the house in the morning I look alright. I’m particularly partial to a little vintage shopping and can often be found buying floral dresses that I think make me look like Zooey Deschannel. (I in no way do look like her, but a girl can dream can’t she?). What I do not like though, is the stupid prices that clothes cost as soon as the ‘vintage’ label is put on them. Thus came about my love of charity shopping, and the time has come to spread the word.

There is a stigma with charity shops. I can remember shopping in my local town centre after school with my mum, stood outside a charity shop waiting for her becasue I refused to go inside in case any of my school friends saw me. And yes, a lot of the time, they do smell. And yes, a lot the things for sale are quite frankly, crap. But with a little patience and imagination, charity shops are a treasure trove of vintage fashion and gorgoeus accessories, for dirt cheap. Like I said, I dont consider myself to be a ‘fashionable’ person, but the number of people that ask me where I got my bag from, or ‘oh I love your dress, where did you get it?’ and to be honest, I relish in telling those people that I got it from a charity shop and that it cost me a couple of quid. A lot of people say they just can’t be bothered  to rummage through all the stuff,  but my advise would be persevere, and the results can be rewarding.  Sometime it’s not about finding a dress that is perfect, but seeing the potential in something. With a little taking in, taking up, or cutting up you can make a bespoke item that cost peanuts.

And it’s not just clothes. Charity shops are full of books, picture frames, vases, teapots, teacups, wool, cushions and jewelery. One of my favourite ever purchases was from a charity shop in Manchester where I bought a pair of rollerblades for £2. Tom’s mum bought his dad a pair of skis for christmas last year. They cost less than a tenner.

And the best thing about this? It’s for charity. You can buy that gorgeous 80’s blouse and know that your money is going to a good cause. Charities heavily rely on the funds raised from their shops, so even if you buy a ring for 50p, it all counts.

And this brings me to my new venture blog readers. I want to create a space in the online stratosphere where I can showcase the things I have bought, things my friends have bought and the work that these wonderful charities do. Inspired by blogs like What I Wore Today, I want to create an environment where I can show how easy it is to find fab clothes in that old charity shop on your highstreet. I also want to showcase those people that give up their time to volunteer in shops, learn the stories behind their dedication and understand the hard work they do.

So watch this space blog readers, ‘The Kind You Find’ is coming soon…..

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Not a pretentious music post

One thing I can’t stand is what I call a ‘music snob’. Now by this I don’t mean someone who listens to classical music and raises their noses at us youths, listening to what they deem as being only ‘noise’. No, I am talking about those irritating people who raise their noses at those who don’t know the latest indie/dubstep/anothercoolmadeupword band and who make a point of letting everyone else know that they knew about them 6 months ago. Even more annoying is that guaranteed if said band make it big and have a single in the top 40, they will disown them, claiming them to be ‘too mainstream’.

Now, I like music, a lot, but I don’t lay any claim to knowing an awful lot about it. Having been to a couple of really good gigs recently I felt I really wanted to write a post on the topic, however feared that actually I wouldn’t have anything intelligent to say.

So, what follows is a rather unintelligent, uninformed and unpretentious post about music, or more particularly, my tastes in it.

*warning, if you only have an interest in brand spanking new, alternative bands and are allergic to Avril Lavigne,  please stop reading now. You will only be sorely disappointed and come out in a rash*

A few weeks ago I went to see my favourite band of all time, in the world ever, Incubus. Not everyone is a fan I’m sure, but I whole heartedly love them, and on hearing they were coming to London to do a one-off gig at the Kentish Town Forum, I had to go. I knew though,  I couldnt just go with anybody, so I contacted an old friend that I hadnt seen in probably about 6 years, and asked if she would come with me, like old times. And it was amazing, nothing had changed, other than we now stood at the back of the crowd rather than being in the mosh pit down the front. Becasue we could see better from the back, of course. Incubus were amazing, we sang every word to every song till I thought I would lose my voice and I felt like I was 16 again. This got me thinking, about all the music you listen to growing up and how just one song, one riff even, can take you right back to the age you were when you first listened to them, and how while I may not go moshing every friday night down the Zodiac on Cowley Road anymore, this is the music that I really love.

So, I thought it would be fun to post a few videos, of songs that take me back to another time, and that if alone in my flat on a sunday morning I can still be found jumping up and down on my bed to. For those that didnt know me then, maybe it will be a surprsing insight into my music tastes, for those that did, perhaps it’ll be a lovely trip down memory lane…

I will do anything for…meat.

Meatloaf – what I can I say? Not much really, many of you I know have judged me at the mere mention of his name, but I grew up with his music and whenever I hear this song in particular I am reminded of singing the whole thing word for word in my kitchen with my mum:

‘Cuz I’m in too deep.

Sum 41. My first ever gig. Accompanied by a few friends and one of their dads (we were 15 and the gig was in Brixton…) I had the time of my life, seeing a band I was crazy about up on stage, being near killed in what was my first experience of a mosh pit. Even now me and Tom can be seen bopping along to this particular number in the car:

Dressed up like you’re something else

Next is a girl who is single handedly responsible for how I dressed for much of my teen years:

Let the neighbours talk

Now, while there is an apparent theme to these songs, I don’t limit myself to only one genre. If a song makes me smile and want to dance, well then I’ll probably love it. And this corker from Right Said Fred is one of my most shameful indulgences:

Can we bring yesterday back around?

While we’re on the cheese, I can’t go without mentioning the track that epitomises my first year at University, where I drunkenly sang this song with one hand in the air and the other grasping a pint of BOP’s finest, the Green Monster. The only good song I think that the Sugababes released:

I’m still happy, oh so happy

Next is a band that reminds me not only of my second year at University, but also (and here comes the soppy bit) of my boyfriend Tom. We interviewed and filmed Kid British together, early on in our relationship, and here was the result:

Every now and then I fall apart

A post about music and songs that I love would not be complete without the magnificent Bonnie Tyler, and a song that in one represents my wonderful friends from Oxfordshire. It is tradition now to get horribly drunk every New Year’s Eve and sing this in unison, flailing our arms left right and center and spilling wine everywhere:

Looking forward..

I could go on forever, but for the sake of  not boring you dear readers, I wont. I simply wanted to demonstrate the power of music to evoke emotion and memories like nothing else can, more so even, than a photograph. I suppose I am being nostalgic, but my other point is that I still love these songs to this day. I’ll leave you readers with a song that I predict I’ll listen to in 5 years time, and it will take me back to where I am now, my first year living in London an at the beginning of my career. Here’s hoping my feet don’t fail me now.

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