Category Archives: Inspiration

Early Morning Geekery: 365-6

Good morning Antwerp

Good morning Antwerp

Another noisy photo today but it was 5am in Belgium (4am UK time) and I only had my phone handy for taking photos with.

I like fonts, especially these retro “N”s, and find them really evocative of the continent and the Art-Deco style. I also like travelling by train, so all in all the early start had its bonuses. A nice little typical European station to set me up for the day.

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Filed under 365 project, Belgium, Europe, Inspiration, Nice Things, Photography, Travel

Christmas Reclaimed: 365-2

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Today I took down my Christmas tree, it feels like December has been hanging over my head like a shroud. I feel more positive in the house already.
These are the Christmas decorations that I have been collecting from the different places I have visited over the past year. My little attempt to reclaim Christmas back for myself with my own little memories.
I’ve found the perfect home for them for the other 11-odd months of the year, nestled in a gorgeous Hotel Chocolat chocolate box, which was a present from my mum this year, and which I can’t bear to throw away (the chocs were delicious too). Spot on.

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Filed under 365 project, Inspiration, Nice Things, Photography

365 2014

I’ve often thought about doing a 365 project but have never really begun to think about it at the right time. Not that there needs to be a right time, as 365 days can begin whenever you want really. But I like structure & to know where I am, so I am going with January 1st.

I’m also going to stick with photos rather than blog posts or anything else that you could do one a day of, because I know that’s achievable, and will allow (and make) me (to) think about what I want to share. I will aim to accompany each day’s photo with at least a sentence to give some context, which I hope will also keep my writing going whilst forcing me to be more succinct! The only other rules I set myself will be that I will include no food- or work-related posts.

This is my only plan (“resolution” if you like) for 2014. I want to keep it simple and focus on the basics rather than try to do too much and not manage it at all. Didn’t get round to much of 2013’s ideas, but then 2013 did take some unexpected twists and turns for me! It would be nice to think that in 365 days’ time, I’ll be back in the habit of making inspiration a priority again.

Here’s a little preview, of a situation I find comforting – being safe inside when the weather rages around. Taken at around dawn on 27th December 2013:

rain, window, dawn

Safe Inside

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Filed under 365 project, Comfort, Inspiration, Photography

Having a Quacking Time at The Fringe

The Fifth Duck Cast. Sitting, but not sitting ducks

The Fifth Duck Cast. Sitting, but not sitting ducks

Well Brian has now premiered his show The Fifth Duck at the Edinburgh Fringe (you can read why this is such a big deal for him in my previous post) – so I can finally reveal a little bit more about it!

I have to say I’ve seen Brian in a few productions before, but never have I seen him so relaxed and confident with his performance – clearly being able to run with his own ideas and express himself in his own words suits him down to the ground. And he’s really funny! He manages to turn a haplessly mundane caretaker into an underdog to root for with just the cheekiest of facial expressions, not forgetting an impressive singing voice (so much so that I thought at first we were listening to a recording of Roger Daltrey – where have you been hiding that voice Brian?!!). The Spaceship Driving Lesson sketch, in which he acts alongside saxophonist & dancer Alison, is brilliantly scripted and a joy to watch. There is musketeer vs viking sword fighting, Martyn showing off blacklit circus skills, and a stunning Cabaret homage from Katie. I won’t spoil their adaptation of Aladdin for you but suffice to say the script is fresh, funny and endearing – and you will love the Genie! Oh and in the absence of ducks and monkeys, look out for the squirrel!

If you’re in Edinburgh, you’ve got 4 more days to catch The Fifth Duck at The Gryphon Venues, Tuesday 6th – Friday 9th August every day at 4pm. Please pop along if you can!

The Cast of The Fifth Duck

Poised – The Cast of The Fifth Duck

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Filed under Culture, Festivals, Inspiration, Nice Things, Society

These Ain’t No Sitting Ducks

The Fifth Duck Prepare

The Fifth Duck Prepare

My brother Brian has always been into acting. Even before we started going to an after-school drama class aged about 8 or 9, I can remember him reciting Goon Show and Monty Python sketches, and making up little skits of his own around the house. He’s a member of our old local theatre group, he writes, he does tech at fan conventions, went to Edinburgh to study drama at college, started his own DiscWorld fan convention in 2011, and he’s just finished two years at Mind the Gap in Bradford. Working in the theatre is all he’s ever wanted to do.

Brian & Me

Brian & Me

I’ve never asked him what it was that got him hooked on performing in the first place – perhaps it was being able to be whatever he wanted to be without being misunderstood or told off (which is, he won’t mind me telling you, something Brian has had to battle with his whole life, as he has Asperger’s, which nobody recognised till just before he turned 30). Ask him what he gets out of performing today though and he’ll tell you it’s the response from an audience, the interaction of performer and spectator. To hear him talk about it, I guess it’s what makes him tick.

SCRIPT!

SCRIPT!

Next week sees the culmination of a dream for him. Ever since he was at college in Edinburgh, he’s wanted to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Not being the best with social conventions, nor wanting to deal with any more knock-backs from what seem like constant misunderstandings from “official” bodies, he’s taken the brave decision to fund and organise it all himself, with the help of some money our grandma left us when she died 4 years ago.

Martyn & Alison Rehearse

Martyn & Alison Rehearse

Now, as his older sister, who has been there to help with quite a  lot of problems in the past, I must admit this prospect left me feeling… trepidatious. Part of me was really pleased for him that he was going to be able to do something he’s always wanted to do (I have a lot of respect for anyone who has the guts to sod it all and follow their dreams), but part of me didn’t want to see his high expectations potentially crushed  in what is, let’s face it, an incredibly competitive and cut throat environment. With a show that was only written 8 weeks before the festival and only performed once before in public. Eeeek!

The Cast of The Fifth Duck

The Cast of The Fifth Duck

However, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise publicly to Brian if I have seemed overly negative in the run up to the show. I went to see the preview at Bradford Playhouse on Saturday, and I really enjoyed it! The Show, entitled The Fifth Duck (and having seen it, I’ve still no idea where ducks come into it, but I’m sure Brian would enlighten you if you asked), is a four-person showcase of talents – a touch of traditional revue mixed with several hilarious running gags, sensitive moments pondering love and friendship, and an entirely new take on the story of Aladdin. The premise is simple and altruistic: everyone gets a turn, everyone contributes to the ideas, Brian turns it all into a script, and then they show the world that even though they may have learning difficulties [three of the four of them do], they’re not write-offs.

The Fifth Duck Cast. Sitting, but not sitting ducks

The Fifth Duck Cast. Sitting, but not sitting ducks

I am proper proud of my little brother for putting this together in such a short space of time, for having the courage of his convictions to take his dream show to The Fringe, and for writing and performing in it so well. I really hope his run goes well next week, he deserves to be seen. Break a leg bruv!

If you are planning a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we’d really love it if you could find time to see his show, The Fifth Duck, at The Gryphon on Bread Street at 4pm, Monday 5th – Friday 9th August. Or, if you know someone who is going, please spread the word!

Photos are by Jamie Boynton

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Filed under Culture, Inspiration, Nice Things, Society

Victorian Explorin

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Filed under Bradford, Culture, Inspiration, Leeds, Nice Things, Railways, Society, UK

Blue Saturday

I had a  bit if a rubbish weekend last weekend, and I found myself scouring the low cost airlines for convenient getaways. Dubrovnik perhaps? Or Berlin? NO. All too expensive in the summer, none fly over  a weekend without having to book half the following week off work too. Which is a no-no at the moment. But what the hell did I used to do before I “discovered” Solo Travel?  I went for a a little UK city break , courtesy of my old and rattly bright green Peugeot, bombing up and down the M1 in the days before all my friends settled down and/or moved away, and I started doing other stuff, and life generally got in the way.

Great! Time to pounce on some friends. I picked up the phone. “Adam? What are you doing on Saturday? I need an urgent day of prancing round the Northern Quarter pretending we’re hip and cool!”. Fortunately, if Adam isn’t busy he’ll always come to my aid, so I found myself on the train to Manchester Victoria yesterday morning, poking around craft shops, vintage shops, and several cocktail and beverage shops. The highlight had to be when Adam also introduced me to Keko Moku, where  THESE are what we had, mine chosen for its triumphant description on the menu as m*therf*cking BLUE!:

Blue Hawaii, complete with Glowstick and massive flower

Blue Hawaii, complete with Glowstick and massive flower

TNT Mojito

TNT Mojito

 

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Filed under Food & Drink, Inspiration, Nice Things