Tiny things Tuesday #14

The spate of depression that I have been struggling to outrun the last few weeks finally caught up with me “properly” yesterday. Crying at my desk, not sure what to do with myself – the works. I’m not going to go into too much detail about that here because it’s not really what I want the overall focus on this blog to be about.

I debated with myself skipping todays post because my head was saying there was no point and that there was nothing tiny or large to celebrate. I’m going against my urge to skip though because I don’t think my base instincts in these cases are always the most helpful and I know that having this weekly routine HAS gone some way to improve my year so far.

I’m enjoy seeing these posts gather in a nice little bundle. This is also the most consistently I have ever kept a public blog too, so there is an elements of not wanting to break that thread.

This weeks list;

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1. Simple foods – One of my goals this month was to try out some new recipes. So far I have only managed one, which I made last night (an avocado pesto which was large constructed via guess work and needs some fine tuning). Even making myself sandwiches for my lunch can feel like an act of self care, despite it being just me slapping some vegan ham and mayo in a shop brought roll. I’ve also got a fair few of these rice snacks in my desk drawer for those days when I struggle to make a decision about what to eat and just need something I can prepare by pouring water in a mug and waiting for a few minutes. There are a lot of different flavours but I think the Mexican one is the only vegan one.

2. Being outside – where I work has a lot of lovely outdoor spaces around the campus which was part of the reason I was drawn to working here in the first place. I went outside yesterday and today at lunch and I think the break really helped.

3. Distracting games. Right now I am playing Animal Crossing – New Leaf, Pokémon Shuffle and Nekoatsume. They’re all really gentle games with no real fine motor skills or quick reactions required which is just what I need right now.

The cat game is available on Android and iOS for free but is it Japanese. It’s pretty easy to work out (Although I has to ask a friend for help!) but there is a guide here too. I am a little concerned that one of the “toys” for the cats is a plastic bag. Don’t suffocate virtual kitties!

4. (Re-)dyeing my hair – As I had some time over the weekend, I decided to try leaving the semi-permanent colour on for a lot longer than the recommended time to see if I could get a) a more vibrant colour and b) one that covered more of my grey hair.

I’m currently using Crazy Color in bright purple. I left it on for 2 hours and covered it with an old shower cap while pottering around the house during that time. Having bright hair or even just one bright streak really cheers me up when I look in the mirror or see my reflection.

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #13

I’ve been feeling quite low today. Tuesday blues caught up with me early in the day. I sat outside at lunchtime to soak up some “proper” light (I work in a huge open plan office and sometimes feel like I don’t see any natural light at all from when I start to when I leave if I don’t venture out of the building on my break or for meetings) That helped a little. As did sitting on my sofa this evening, knitting and watching many episodes of Community.

Here’s this weeks list;

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1. My seeds that I planted at the start of this month are starting to sprout! This is the 4th Spring that I have lived in my current house and each year I have tried growing things on my windowsill with varying results. Coriander, chives and basil seem to work well. My tomatoes shoot upward very quickly from seeds but then seem to fail to survive when I re-pot them. I’ve managed to grow a chili pepper plant from seed once before and it produced one tiny red chili before dying on me.

This year I just have 4 pots on the go. Seeing the little green shoots get bigger each day is very heartening when I am feeling low.

2. I had a lovely day out over the weekend with some friends to Hatton Country World. I got to see sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, reptiles birds of prey and various rodents but for me the highlight was the Guinea Pig village where I got to hold and stroke two little cuties. We finished our day off with a quick visit to the Astley Book Farm, where I picked up a few books in the 10 bob barn (50p for those who don’t speak ‘old’ prices)

3. I got these zines in my last every order from Marching Stars. They were both amazing reads and I’ve ordered a few more from Clementine this week. I find it hard to articulate just what it was that I loved about them – I think it was the mix of topics written about combined with such honesty.

4. Tonight’s tea was a experiment based on finding Jus-Rol croissants reduced to 60p. I made up some vegan cheese sauce and added in chopped up mushrooms, then added some of this inside each croissant before baking them. Pretty good for a quick dinner.

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #12

I can’t believe it’s already April and the Easter weekend is over. It was so nice to have 4 days off of work and to just stay at home and mooch around. I made some more scones and knocked up a batch of maki sushi rolls too. I don’t always cook from scratch because I never feel like I have enough time so this felt like a luxury.

I watched a couple of films and discovered a program on Channel 4 about one of my interests – tiny houses! You can have a look at their main website here and watch some of season 1 on 4OD at the moment.

Here’s this weeks list;

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1. I’ve gotta admit that I woke up this morning feeling a little glum at the thought of going back to work. It helps to have a few nice things to take with me – like this can of drink I brought yesterday. I can take or leave the usual lemon or orange San Pellegrino that is more regularly found but I LOVE the grapefruit one. Drinking this at my desk this morning certainly eased me back into work (plus check out the latest additional to my work inspiration wall – a cute Moomin postcard from Artbox) I need to remember that sometimes, small cheap things can make a huge difference. My can of drink was £1 and the postcard was 60p. I think feeling better was well worth that £1.60

2. This total mess of a photo is just some of the pile of stuff I have to take to the charity shop. It’s one of my long running goals for this year to downsize my possessions and only keep things around that I love or are useful. I probably have 2 bin bags of stuff ready to go to the charity shop and probably binned a similar amount of stuff that was worn out or broken. Sometimes I feel like this is a never ending task and because I keep doing bits every now and then, it’s hard to see the bigger picture. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself – I’m doing it, I’m making progress.

3. The bonus of tidying up was finding a few things that had been missing in action for a while. One of those was my Animal Crossing: New Leaf game which I had been looking for just the other week. If you haven’t played any AC games, they are very relaxing and cute. After spending some time out with friends yesterday, it was lovely to come home and relax by lolling on my bed in front of a fan and fishing, rearranging my furniture and collecting shells on the beach in my virtual town.

4. This cutie turned up at our backdoor yesterday and was friendly/curious enough to have some strokes. Actually, she was so bold that later on in the day, we found her getting comfortable on the spare room windowsill and while I have been writing this, I just saw a little round head peering over the end of the bed at me. Cats are so great.

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #11

I think I’m still riding high on the energy from my trip away last week. I’ve felt really positive since I got back and have also been working on channeling that energy into my time at work. I am pretty tired though so I’m glad we have a long weekend coming up (and I’ll be staying close to home for this one)

Here’s this weeks list;

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1. I made these savory sweet potato and rosemary scones last night using the recipe from here. They are delicious, specially when warmed slightly and with some vitalite on. I altered the recipe slightly as I didn’t have any nutritional yeast so I put in a heaped teaspoon of vegan Parmesan and I used dried rosemary instead of fresh.

The blog is run by my friend Sian and I’m excited to try out more of her recipes.

2. I joined the Kanken club this week after musing for months over what colour to get (so much choice!) I finally settled on this one in salvia green and it had its first outing today. I put in it everything I had in my shoulder bag yesterday and it felt so much lighter and easier to carry. I am a convert.

3. My legs are pleasingly achy after 1 hours of dancing tonight at Ego. I saw this session advertised when I was in their cafe at the weekend and thought I’d give it a go. You pay £1, say beforehand on the FB group what songs you would like to hear and then all dance for 1 hour. It was good fun, got my heart rate up and also made me think about how much less self conscious I am these days. I’m looking forward to going back next week and hopefully they will play this for me (which has been my theme song the last few days)

It’s also worth saying that Ego is amazing because it not only runs as a not for profit arts company with a lot of different things going on, its cafe/bar is the only all veggie/vegan place in Coventry. I love it!

4. I brought myself these flowers at the weekend for £1 because tulips are my favourites and I thought the happiness I got from seeing these each day was worth splashing out £1 on. I wish I could have them in the bedroom but I’m a pain in the bum for flailing around and knocking over water/wine/coffee when I’m stretching.

Time for me to get some rest. I think the dancing tired me out more than I was expecting.

Till next time…

Sleater-Kinney mini holiday

This week I got to see Sleater-Kinney twice in 2 different cities (a first for me as I’ve seen them twice in a week in London before) I’ve been excited about these gigs since they were announced as I didn’t know if I would ever get to see them play together again. They had been on hiatus since 2006 and I think with all the other projects they have been involved with since, I didn’t expect a new album let alone a tour. To get both was wonderful and has been something I’ve been looking forward to when I’ve been struggling.

They were probably the first band that felt properly like “mine”. I read an interview with Corin Tucker in the zine Funky Spunk when I was in 6th Form and ordered their album “dig me out” from the Virgin Megastore in Colchester. I remember it took weeks to arrive and cost me about £17. I listened to it over and over but didn’t know anyone else who liked them. When I went to university I gradually managed to pick up the rest of their album that they had out at that time. The majority of people I hung out with at uni were into metal and I never really went to clubs that played the music I loved. It was only when I started meeting people through zines and livejournal that I found other people who liked this band. I saw them a number of times in London when I was at uni and the years after and was heartbroken when I found out they had gone on hiatus. Still, there was 7 albums of theirs to listen to at that time and I soothed myself with that.

Now I’m in my 30s, I know a more people who also love them so not only were these gigs great for seeing the band, it also meant I got to hang out with some excellent people that I don’t always get to see much of. Joe wrote down the set lists so as far as I know the following is accurate.

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London set list:
Price tag – oh! – fangless – end of you – what’s mine is yours – one beat – bury our friends – surface envy – get up – no cities – rollercoaster – turn it on – no anthems – new wave – words and guitar – sympathy – entertain – jumpers encore: gimme love – youth decay – let’s call it love – modern girl – dig me out

Hearing Sympathy live was probably the highlight for me – someone uploaded a live video here. The part Corin sings at 2.52 felt like it was yanking my heart from my chest and hurling it 20 foot in the air.

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Manchester set list:
Price tag – fangless – oh – get up – surface envy – ironclad – what’s mine is yours – new wave – one beat – no cities to love – start together – light rail coyote – no anthems – words and guitar – bury our friends – one more hour – entertain – jumpers encore: gimme love – I wanna be your Joey Ramone – let’s call it love again – modern girl – dig me out

The second night was probably more fun for me because there were more people I knew there but the venue felt a lot smaller and even fairly near the back it was crowded and there wasn’t enough room to dance. The band seemed more relaxed in Manchester too and a little more chatty on stage.

Both gigs were amazing and re-energized and inspired me a lot. It was interesting to watch them play 9 years after the previous time I would have seen them and realise how relevant and important they still feel to my life.

Other than the gigs, it was really nice to spend some time away for home hanging out with Joe and various other friends. In London on Tuesday morning we spent some time capturing munzees, browsing Housmans and picking up a few bits from Vx.

Despite having visited London a lot more due to growing up in Essex, Manchester is exciting me a lot more lately. I visited on my own in December and really enjoyed mooching around the Northern Quarter. This time I stayed in Hatters hostel with Pippa and Joe. Our room was basic but comfy and situated right opposite Fred Aldous which is an amazing arts and craft shop.

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On Wednesday we spent a fair amount of time browsing this shop as well as getting our photos taken in one of their vintage booths. I also picked up a few books in the Oxfam bookshops, Magma and Forbidden Planet.

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I really love all the graffiti around the Northern Quarter. There were lots of quotes set into the pavements too like in the picture above. It makes the whole area feel really interesting and alive.

As discussed with Ingrid the other night, one of the best things about visiting new places is getting to eat loads of new vegan food. I definitely got to do that on this trip. Here’s a little run down of some of the best places I ate.

Favorite places that I ate and drank
(in no real order)

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1. Inspiral (London) – – mostly raw and all vegan. We had dinner here before the London gig. I’ve had a burger which instead of a bun had a savory scone which was tasty but also felt very healthy. They also had some lovely cherry beer.

2. Look Mum, no hands (London) – This bicycle-centric cafe was on the same road as our hotel in London so we stopped here for coffee and time wasting while waiting for our room to be ready. There was a lot of things to look at inside including large tissue paper pompoms hanging from the ceiling. They also did a vegan brownie (which we tried) and some interesting looking food (that we didn’t as we already had dinner plans)

3. Oklahoma (Manchester) – We had breakfast here on WEdnesday morning. I had sourdough toast with vegan butter and black cherry jam and an excellent chocolate and peant butter brownie. It’s part of a cute craft/homewares shop too so we had a look round there after we’d eaten.

4. V Revolution (Manchester) – I ate here last time I was in Manchester and dragged Pippa and Joe back with me this time. I got a vegan slaw dog with a melon lemonade. I also picked up some spacebars and vegan marshmallows to ease going back to work the next day.

5. Tampopo (Manchester) – We ate here just before the Manchester gig. I had some excellent veggie tempura followed by noodles. There wasn’t a ton of vegan options but there was enough so that I didn’t feel like it was an afterthought.

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The above pic is me and my friend Pippa. It was so lovely to hang out with her and so many other friends who mean so much to me. Looking at this picture, I’m really struck by how happy and carefree I look. I hope I can bottles this feeling.

“No one here is taking notice, no outline will ever hold us. It’s not a new wave, it’s just you and me”
– a new wave, sleater-kinney

Tiny things Tuesday Thursday #10

I’ve been away from home this week from Monday morning till last night. While I was away, I had internet access on my phone but I tried not to check it too much and to instead focus on enjoying my surroundings and spending time with a lot of friends that I don’t get to see very often.

I’ll write a longer post soon about my trip away hopefully over the coming weekend (Sleater-Kinney gigs in Manchester and London) but I missed writing my TTT this week so here it is.

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1. A wave of excitement went round Twitter and Instagram last week when UK vegans started spotting these cones in their local shops. To my surprise my local Tesco metro stocks them so I just had to get some to try too. The verdict? Pretty damn good! Not too overpriced at £2 for 4. The ice cream is creamy. I would say that the sauce is more like a fruit sorbet than say the sauce on a Cornetto.

2. There is a cute new iphone game out featuring Moomins called Jam Run. I’ve been playing it this afternoon and it’s free (although does have adverts at the bottom) You can find the info about it as well as other Moomin related stuff at the website.

3. When we came into work this morning, we all found 1 mini chocolate egg on our keyboard (aside from me who found this dairy free bunny) Turns out my colleague from the team who sits next time mine had done each of us a mini egg hunt and hidden another 6 eggs around our desks. I found them hidden in my monitor stand, in a tissue box and behind my phone. There are actually still 2 I haven’t found yet! It was such a sweet and thoughtful thing for her to have done and I was really touched she had made such an effort to include me by buying some vegan friendly chocolate (I swapped my eggs for vegan chocolate after I found them)

4. I’m bursting with ideas and inspiration at the moment. I brought this book secondhand in Manchester yesterday and its giving me a lot to think about. The author also has a blog which is here although I have yet to read that. I was a little trepidatious when I first saw how many people seem to give it 1* reviews on goodreads (including 2 friends of mine) but it’s given me a lot to think about and although I’m only about half way through, I feel as if I’ve already got a lot from it. The notepad in the picture was a gift from a friend and I’ve been carrying it around with me for a few weeks. It’s filling up with lists, ideas of things to look at further, notes to myself, doodles and pieces of writing that will hopefully make their way into zines and blogposts.

In related news – info about issue 4 of my zine is up on the zines page above now or just click here

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #9

This week has been a bit of an arse if I am being totally honest. Nothing has really gone wrong but I have felt tetchy and discontented since the weekend finished. Maybe it’s because I had such a good weekend or maybe it’s just one of those weeks. Either way, I found it harder than usual to write this, this week. I suppose this means that the fact that I wrote something anyway is an achievement in itself.

I’m hoping this is just a blip. Next week I have 3 whole delicious days off of work which I will be spending travelling to Manchester and London, seeing Sleater-Kinney play two gigs, seeing a whole heaps of lovely friends and eating loads of vegan food.

Here’s this weeks list;

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1. I was due to meet up with someone tonight to go through some paperwork over food. Both the places in town that serve vegan food closed early tonight so we ended up going to the chip shop near me to grab something to eat at mine. It’s different to any other chip shop I have been to though as it has it’s own dedicated veggie/vegan cooking area and seperate menu. I had this amazing southern fried chicken kebab with mayo and salad in a naan bread tonight. Totally vegan and one of the best things I’ve had in ages.

2. I woke up too late to bother washing my hair this morning so I sprayed a ton of this Superdrug dry shampoo in it. Although my hair felt kinda odd today, it looked pretty damn great and it gave it loads of volume and hold. I’m really enjoying having less hair at the moment plus it’s oddly liberating to no longer have the option to tie it back at work.

(I’m going to buck trend with these last two and not have pictures because a) they are kinda of hard to illustrate and b) my eyes are sore from being at the computer all day)

3. The meeting I had tonight was to hand over all the paperwork for a voluntary role that I did for over a year. Although I enjoyed it while I did it, it’s been nice to hand it all over and draw a line under it. I guess this item is just a little pat on the back to myself for doing it and passing it all over.

4. Usually when I finish a zine, I feel like I have exhausted my supply of things to say for a while. This time though, I have already started writing my next issue and making notes for another separate zine. I feel so inspired at the moment. There are various bits scribbled in notebooks as well as in emails to myself. It’s a nice feeling.

This weekend I’m off to InZine Fest III in Coventry. It feels strange to be going to a zine event where I live but it’d be nice to meet other zinester locally so fingers crossed!

Till next time…

Sheffield Zine Fest

I had the best time on Saturday at Sheffield Zine Fest. I got my train at 8.50am so I was pretty sleepy but slowly woke up over the course of the journey. I rolled into Sheffield around 11 and as I was getting my bearings outside the station I heard my friend Lou call my name. I wasn’t 100% sure she was coming so it was great to see her.

The Electric Works where the event was held was right opposite the station so was ideally situated for me (knowing little of Sheffield geography) However it did mean I saw nothing else of the city. I’d like to go back another time and have a proper explore.

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The main thing I want to say about the Electric Works is that THERE IS A HELTER SKELTER IN RECEPTION!! I can’t express how much glee this fills me with. More buildings should have built in slides or swings.

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The actual event had stalls spread over two rooms. My newest issue was for sale on the shared table at the entrance. It was also the first official outing of the split zine I made about Indietracks with my camp mates – Ingrid and Sarah.

I spent most of the day hanging out with lots of people I know and love as well as chatting to a load of other cool people that I’d love to stay in touch with (for anyone I excitedly rambled at – hi!).

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And of course, I went down the slide. Ingrid snapped this super blurry shot of me. It was great fun, although the resulting dizziness meant I only went down once.

I covered the Vampire Sushi Distro table for a while as Tukru was running a workshop. I wish I had gone to some of the workshops too as they had some great sounding ones but on the other hand, it was fun chatting to people who came to the stall.

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I came back with so many zines to read, these two pics cover most of my gains for the day. It was nice to go to an event that seemed to skew more towards perzines and political zines rather than art zines and comics (I do like the latter as well, it’s just not something I relate to as closely)

I started to read some of them on the train coming back but 1 or two of the zines that I started were SO good that I felt like they deserved a better setting for a first read than a messy train full of people swearing at each other.

Instead I looked out the window, scribbled in my notebook, ate a vegan white chocolate Santa that Ingrid gave me and watched the sky change colour.

At Tamworth, there was a moment where pink rays of lights from the setting sun burst through a patch of cloud and made me wish my phone battery hadn’t died. I can still remember it though and I can remember feeling really really contented and peaceful. On days like this I feel so happy to be me, living my life.

I’m excited for the Northwest Zine fest in May now. I’m feeling full of inspiration at the moment so I may even have another zine out by then.

(Very) tiny things Tuesday #8

This is a very tiny selection of things because it’s getting pretty late and I’ve spent the last 2 nights buried in tiny pieces of paper, glue sticks and collage material – assembling ellipsis #4. I’m over half way done now with the layout but I don’t know if it will be finished and copied in time to sell/trade at Sheffield Zine Fest on Saturday. ARGH!!

Here’s today mini list

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1. All change! – I got my hair chopped off on Friday in a kind of asymmetric bob. It’s cropped to ear on the right hand side and then chin length on the left. I’m still getting used to it (and not being able to tie it back at work but I think I really like it!) I also took the plunge and got my septum pierced on Saturday morning. I’d fancied the look of it for a while and decided while I was changing my hair, I may as well change that too. It’s a little tender at the moment but otherwise fine. Once it’s healed, I will probably change it out for a slightly smaller barbell.

2. A friend came to hang out with me at the weekend and brought me the Jason and the Argon Oil Lush shampoo bar. I’ve been using it since the weekend and it smells amazing (its the Rose Jam scent that I love from Lush and always get complimented on when I am wearing the perfume) it also lathers up really well and I think it can be used as body wash too – meaning I’ll probably take it next time I go camping!

3. I spent some time Sunday hanging out in Cherry Red’s in Birmingham and eating cake with Joe. I’ve been a couple of times recently and it gets bonus point from me for:

a) Being cosy

b) Not just having vegan cake, but having a selection of vegan cake for me to choose from

c) Having furniture that reminds me a lot of my Nan’s house growing up and bring back some lovely memories.

(My Nan never had a wall painted with cherries and hightops though)

The Vegan Grindhouse is back on campus this week so I’ll be treating myself to something else from their menu tomorrow. In the evening, I’m meeting up with friends in Birmingham to see this show. Hopefully I can have a lay in Sunday and then get started on all the new craft projects I have bubbling up in my head at the moment (but that I’m making myself put on hold till the zine is done)

Till next time…

Tiny things Tuesday #7

Well, I have been in an almighty grump this week. I spent most of yesterday stomping around, feeling sorry for myself and this carried on right through till I fell asleep. Today has been better. I got my printer working again so I can start printing and laying out ellipsis 4 this week.

Here’s this weeks list

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1. I brought this cute new pj set from Primark on Friday. I probably have too many sets of pjs but they get a lot of wear. It’s not unusual for me to change into them as soon as I get home from work or spend at least one day in my weekend in them (or get up, shower or bath and then put on another clean set) Anyway – these are super cute and were only £8 for the set. I love the slightly faded looked pattern on the top as well as the bright shorts. It may be cold outside but I am pretty warm blooded and seem to be warm all the time at the moment so these work well for me not overheating!

2. My first lucky dip club box arrived today and it’s LOVELY! this is one of my allowed treats per month so I was anxiously waiting for this to arrive. This month’s theme was lovehearts and lipstick. I loved the glittery brooch and the envelope necklace (and I am even breaking my no gold jewelry rule to wear it) Looking forward to finding out what next month has in store.

3. Munzees – I won’t say too much about this as I’m already planning on writing either a longer blog article about this or maybe a zine about this and Geocaching. I’ve been having a lot of fun getting out and about to find Munzees in Coventry (as well as occasionally slightly further afield) It’s given me a new way of looking at my city.

4. I went on a day trip to Bletchley Park on Saturday. I’d wanted to visit for a while and we went on the train which meant that we could get 2 for 1 tickets by showing our train tickets. Although it’s not cheap to get in £16.75 per person unless you use the deal we did) your ticket is then valid for a year so you can go back as many times as you like. This may well be something I take up because we didn’t get to see everything in one visit.

This photo was taken inside the main house in the library which was pretty crowded as there was an exhibition also in the house about the recent film (The Imitation Game) which I didn’t pay too much attention to as I haven’t seen the film yet. Along with your entry ticket, you get an interactive guide and headphones to take round with you. I think it’s essentially a touch screen ipod which you can play videos on at different locations but it was pretty interesting. None of the videos were longer than a few minutes, making it a good way of finding out more and hearing from people who were based at the park in the war.

I can’t stop listening to The Dispossessed by Spoonboy this week. It gives me the shivers (as does the video) in the best way.

Lastly – Marching Stars distro is closing. Lizzy who runs it is such a wonderfully supportive person. Please go check it out and place one last order before she finally closes.

Till next time…