In an effort to keep up with whats going on at the University of Birmingham while I’m on my industry year, I’ve got involved in a really cool project thanks to their Circles of Influence campaign. I’m really excited to be the head of In-House Graphic Design for New Street Records, a brand new student-run record label in Birmingham. We will be seeking out a range of student artists, and help give them the springboard that they need.
Keep an eye out for more news hear soon about our first signings, but in the meantime, here’s the poster for the launch night THIS THURSDAY:
If you’re in Birmingham, I highly recommend you head along – it’s set to be a great night. In the meantime, you can find out more about New Street Records on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
This weekend I managed to go a little further afield than usual – what began as a joke led to me meeting two friends at Schipol Airport for a weekend of exploring, shopping, and seeing Gerard Way.
Leaving work at 3pm, I caught a flight to Amsterdam from the Euroairport (thankfully only 30 mins away from my lab) and made it into Schipol for about 8pm. I met Rosie there, who informed me that the current weather outside was “freezing rain” (apparently distinct from snow or hail). We got a train followed by a tram to our hostel, Hotel Van Gogh, finding out on the way that it was indeed extremely cold. Charlotte, who arrived earlier that afternoon, met us there having already acquainted herself with all the other guests in the common room and made full use of the hot drinks machine.
After a reasonable nights sleep, we woke up to snow!
If you read my post last week you’ll know that I will never not find this exciting. With less than 48 hours in the city, we headed off to do some exploring.
Amsterdam has some great vintage shops, which we wasted no time in finding. Purchases included a jumper embroidered with ducks and a bucket hat with unicorns on. (I was disappointed to later discover that the “unicorns” in question were in fact just flamboyantly coloured horses, although this didn’t stop me proudly wearing it all evening.)
We also came across a great little sweetshop which had a huge range of vegetarian and vegan pick n mix. The staff were fantastic; one guy just could not give us enough free samples. This place is well worth a look if you’re in the area, vegan or not!
With a satisfyingly weighty bag of pick n mix each, we headed back to the hostel the pick up our tickets for the show that night.
So this is why we ended up in Amsterdam, really. Rosie and I both recently rekindled our teenage obsession with Thank You For The Venom (if you don’t love that album, fight me) which led to us joking that we should go and see Gerard Way live. Which led to me finding out that he was on tour, and playing in Birmingham (where Rosie lives). Unfortunately the Birmingham show was midweek, so I couldn’t really fly back without using up what’s left of my holiday allowance at work. Fortunately, his show in Amsterdam was on a Saturday night. Before we knew it we’d booked out flights..
We missed the support (sorry Nothing But Thieves!) as it turns out that it’s entirely possible to get lost in Amsterdam in the dark with only some hastily scribbled directions from google maps to help you find the venue. Despite my stubbornness (“I’m sure it’s just down here..”), Rosie asked a nearby restaurant owner who showed us the way.
The venue was housed in a former dairy, and the name (“Melkweg”) translates literally as “milky way”.
By this point my inner thirteen-year-old had taken over and I was inappropriately excited. I am now the proud owner of a 25€ t shirt, which Rosie kindly pointed out was more than the price of my ticket. I’m just going to put that down to gigs being waaay cheaper on the continent. At this point it should be clear to you that I won’t (nay, can’t) give you a unbiased review of the gig. Instead, a few observations:
- They served draught Leffe behind the bar at a reasonable price – this is infinitely superior to the Carlsberg you pay upwards of £4 a pint for at most of the mid-sized venues in the UK.
- I don’t think I have ever been to a gig with more women in the audience than men. This was most definitely the case here. It was chill.
- Gerard Way’s showmanship was predictably fantastic. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny he knows how to please a crowd. He played every track off his solo album, and threw in an impromptu cover of “Do You Want To Build A Snowman” from Frozen for good measure. This was admittedly a little lost on me, having not seen Frozen, but I think I was the only one.
- Gerard Way is now a certified silver fox.
We left the show to meet Charlotte, who for some reason opted not to spend her evening wading through a crowd of sweaty emo fangirls. Each to their own I guess. She was at Roest, a warehouse bar just a short tram ride out of the city centre. It was situated in an industrial estate, so we were greeted with a slightly post-apocalyptic vibe, despite the liberal amounts of fairy lights.
Thankfully on the inside it was really cosy!
Good music, old friends, and a few beers – a great (if cliché) end to a super fun weekend.
Of course, given more time I would have loved to have seen more of Amsterdam – any suggestions for what I missed out would be gratefully received in the comments!
Since coming back to Basel after the Christmas break, I’ve realised that I need to find some more time for my University course. My physical chemistry exam is only weeks away, and I’m the first to admit that it isn’t my strong point!
This means a lot of sitting down and reading through notes. On the plus side, I find trains a great place to read, and I live right near Basel SBB station. So, I’ve been taking advantage of this excuse to do some exploring!
Last weekend I made my way to Mulhouse, which is only a half hour trip across the border into Alsace. I’d been advised by a coworker not to, “waste time visiting Mulhouse”, so my hopes weren’t high – it’s just so close that it seemed silly not to visit. However, I was pleasantly surprised! Mulhouse has some great architecture, including the gothic Temple Saint-Étienne or “Cathédrale de Mulhouse” right in the centre of the City.
Just across the square from this is the Rothüss, or city hall – a great pink Renaissance style building covered in paintings. Hung in the doorway of this usually flamboyant building was a sobering sign, reading, “Je Suis Charlie“. These signs could be seen in the windows of businesses all over the city; I was there on the 10th of January, only a few days after the Paris attack, and the events had cleary resonated throughout the country.
After a few hours wandering around the city, I found a great little café where I settled down to get some reading done – I had to do something to maintain the idea that I was getting some uni work done. Everyone has different ways of studying, and for me environment makes a huge difference – I can never get anything done in my own flat. Great coffee and pain au chocolat is a big help, too ;)
A week later, and I decided to visit Bern. The train there stopped in Olten, which was excitingly snowy. The Swiss of course are used to a bit of snow – everything still works, nothing shuts, and the news doesn’t devote 90% of it’s attention to weather reporting. However, as a Brit I can’t help but think it’s a big deal whenever it happens.
In Bern itself it was a little more rainy than snowy, but still pretty cold! There’s so much to see in the city, and the old covered walkways offered some shelter. I feel a bit like cities in Switzerland offer a lot more independent shops and small chains than British high streets, which makes shopping much more interesting. I found a branch of Fizzen, a really cute clothes shop that has a few shops across Switzerland. I also managed to make some great additions to my ever expanding postcard collection!
Do you have any suggestions for where I should go next? Or any great study tips? Let me know in the comments!
Hi there! Sorry for the lack of updates lately – despite exams being over, I’m still managing to be super busy. Six days after finishing my last exam, I was straight back into the labs for a “boot camp” in preparation for my industry year in Switzerland. Between these sessions I’ve been trying to sort out my visa for Shanghai, so all in all, not the chilled out few weeks I wanted! I’ve found time to finally play Red Dead Redemption though – been wanting to get hold of it for ages. I realise how late to the game I am with that one, so of course I don’t need to tell you how super-fun it is (you can lasso people!)
That aside, I did get a chance to head over to University of Birmingham’s Valefest yesterday with the lovely ladies Anna of ALMSEE and Rosie (who has yet to get blogging..), both of whom finished the same day as me. Despite a pretty grim weather forecast, we donned the obligatory raincoats, glitter and flower garlands and headed over to the Vale.
Valefest is a yearly music festival run by students at the university, and this year was it’s tenth birthday. With loads of tents, stages and stalls featuring bands, DJs, comedy acts, and workshops, there was something for everyone. We turned up in time to catch Temple Funk Collective, an 8-piece brass section from Oxford, who managed to coax the sun out with their jazz-funk rearrangements of modern tracks. If this sounds like it might be up your street, give their “Drum and Brass” medley a listen:
When these guys had finished, the sun was shining so we sat out on the grass and watched Battle Reenactment Society do their thing. This is exactly what it sounds like (think chainmail, axes and shouting) and after seeing them open the Miscellany Gala earlier this year, I was keen to see them again. They did not disappoint.
After this we wandered over to the food court – there was a good amount of choice, although I was sad to see that purveyors of “gourmet toasties” The Jabberwocky, were absent. They were there last year, and their “4 Cheese Supreme” was one of the highlights of Valefest 2013 for me. We grabbed some sizeable burgers (Quorn! yey!) from the BBQ stall and ate them in the sunshine by the main stage. The Sons of Pitches were playing, who I’ve heard a few times and who are always good fun. An acapella group of uni students, these guys have quite a following. It’s not hard to see why – it’s hard not to smile when you hear them:
After The Sons of Pitches, we were treated to a set from Fresh Dixie Project. The self professed “crossover swing” band were perfect for the festival, and welcomed in the warm evening with their upbeat original tracks.
(Their cover of “I Wanna Be Like You” from the Jungle Book was a standout track for me, although it doesn’t seem to be around online. Anyone who’s heard Paulo Nutini’s version will know where I’m coming from, though.)
Next we wandered over to the Macmillan Stage and caught Signals‘ set. Math-pop/rock always makes for an impressive live show in my opinion, and Signals were no exception. As an act they were tight, and their clean harmonies were a breath of fresh air amongst the plentiful ska/funk bands we heard over the day. Their audience was unfortunately a little sparse to begin with, but after a brief shower drove lots of people into the tent, they had a lot more listeners. The new, bigger crowd was only in part thanks to the weather, though; the sun soon came back out, but no one left. Their song “Constructions” was one of my favourite tracks of the day:
They were followed by Ghouls, a lively band of “alt-gypsy-punks” from London. This was the headline act for the Macmillan Stage, and they certainly went out with a bang. Never stopping to lower the tempo, Ghouls got the crowd going with song after song of short punchy tracks – think Reel Big Fish meets The Meteors:
Finally, closing the whole festival was the Electric Swing Circus. I had heard a lot about these guys – as locals and ex-UoB students, they play a lot of shows near me, but until now I had never made it to one. They more than lived up to the hype. Fusing 20s swing with electro-house beats, the group put on a fantastic show, complete with smoke machine(!). Vocalists Laura Louise and Bridget Walsh had the air of seasoned performers, all twenties dance routines and unbridled sass. They even found time in their set for an electric double bass solo, which is pretty much all I want from a live band. Their new track, “Minnie”, tells you all you need to know:
So, all round, Valefest 2014 was exactly what the doctor ordered – live music, good food, and a few drinks in the sun with friends. Not to mention that all the proceeds go to Macmillan Cancer Support and Trekstock. What’s not to like!
Were you at Valefest? Have you made it to any other great festivals so far this year? Let me know in the comments!
It’s been a while!
Sorry for the lack of updates – I’ve just had my last exam for the year (Bio-organic Chemistry, for anyone who’s interested) so here I am, enjoying a cool glass of post-exam freedom. After weeks of revising, I’m finally free to continue writing self important posts about nothing in particular. Good times. This is less a post in itself, more just an update – here’s what I’ve been up to:
- I reviewed Richard Ayoade’s The Double for SofaPotatoes – you can read it here.
- I wrote a guest post for National Vegetarian Week 2014 on The Tofu Diaries, which you can find here. There’s one guest post for each day of the week, so it’s well worth a scroll through!
- I entered my review of Blood Red Shoes into a blogging competition with Ticketmaster. It didn’t get shortlisted…but, the lovely Billy Beale‘s review of the same gig did! Pretty exciting stuff. If you can spare a few seconds to go and vote for his entry (and why wouldn’t you – he’s officially a better reviewer than me. I mean, come on) then lucky you because you can do it right here! It would mean a huge amount if he gets chosen. To vote, just scroll to the bottom of the page and like/tweet/whatever it is you do on google+. Thanks in advance you lovely people!
Coming up, I need to sort out my visa for Shanghai, and put together my presentation. Exciting! I also need to get ready to move out of my lovely flat in Birmingham, which I’ll be sad to leave behind.
So that’s where I am right now. Have you just finished exams right now too? Let me know in the comments!
Feminism has been all over the media recently. New books out from Everyday Sexism and The Vagenda, and Veet pulling that ad campaign following something of a twitterstorm. (It’s almost commendable how ~30seconds of footage managed to be quite so universally offensive.)
The internet is flooded with people voicing their opinions on the matter, so I was almost reluctant to weigh in. The other day, though, I made the mistake of scrolling through the comments (I know) on a Tab article (I know!). This one, if you’re interested. Predictably, the internet hate machine has once again spewed out every angry thing it could in response to a fairly inoffensive article with the word feminism in the title. Now, this article is from my own university, and presumably most of the commenters are as well. I couldn’t help but feel a bit let down, and it got me thinking. And I guess I’m self-important enough to think my opinions are interesting, so here you go:
To a lot of people feminism has become a dirty word. I have a number of friends (of different genders, sexualities and backgrounds) who agree with 95% of the principles behind the modern feminist movement, but don’t feel comfortable with the word itself. I feel like feminism could do with a re-brand.
The word itself implies it’s only for women. However, to me feminism is the fight for gender equality. Women’s rights have come a long way in the last century, so the goals have changed. It just feels like the image hasn’t. There is a deficit between men’s rights and women’s rights, but it goes without saying that it’s not JUST a case of men doing better in every single area. It’s a shame, really, that “gender equalitarianism” just doesn’t have a very good ring to it. Not really something you can fit on a bumper sticker.
That Veet ad campaign is the perfect example in my eyes. Although the backlash against it has been received as “raving feminists ruining anything fun” by some people, is there anyone that it ISN’T offensive against? The values in it seem to me to be harmful to pretty much anyone. At the risk of sounding a bit worthy, can’t we all just play nice and work towards equality together, rather than this weird battle of the sexes thing that seems to prevail at the moment?
Windows 8, what are you. I’ve made the jump to a new computer and everything feels a bit odd to say the least. I’ve been playing around, trying to get everything up and running. I just checked my emails (which you’ll be glad to hear still exist within the new OS) and I had a message from my personal tutor at uni just saying “Congratulations! Fantastic news!”. All very nice, but a bit mysterious on it’s own. So I scrolled down, and right there is a message from my university telling me that my application for the Universitas 21 Undergraduate Research Conference has been successful. Which, in short, means they’re sending me to Shanghai this summer!
I only had the interview a few days ago; pretty standard procedure – crowbar myself into and uncomfortable pencil skirt, go and babble to the panel for ten-fifteen minutes and then come out the room a bit dazed and try and forget it happened. The interviewers told me that I wouldn’t hear until next week, so I was pretty surprised to get the email so soon!
It feels like I’m going to be all over the place this year. I’m writing this from a sleeping bag on the sofa at my Mum’s house in Somerset, where I haven’t been since Christmas. A couple of friends came down with me, and I’ve been hunting for “fun” southwest-y activities the last couple of days: yesterday we went to the beach at Minehead, ate chips on the seafront, played on the penny-pusher machines and essentially had the most cliché British day out ever. Hardly glamorous, but another place to have been – and of course I need to start sorting things out for my move to Switzerland, which is getting closer and closer..
Before that though, Shanghai! I’ll be spending a week at Jiao Tong University at a Food Safety Conference in July. Anticipate photos, blogs and maybe even a ~vlog~. Who knows.
Primarily in the interest of making this page a bit more ~multimedia~ , I thought I’d share this video which features my charming face. Look out for some great stop motion, and the comedy rewind at about a minute in (neither of which I can take credit for!)
It was part of a module on my course called Science Communication, where all second years had to produce a short film, along with some pieces of scientific writing. Needless to say, some people approached it with some reluctance! Personally I was glad of the variety; I love my course, but once we got on to the fourth physical chemistry module of the year getting some credits for nervously grinning into a video camera seemed pretty appealing.
Which brings me onto science communication. This is something close to my heart – every week I work at a nearby school teaching science. “Grown ups” often get overlooked, however!
Once school science lessons are done with, so many people just lose interest. For most adults who aren’t actively involved in the scientific community, the only source of information on new scientific developments is the mainstream media. Although this is great when journalists get the science right, it’s often not the case. As something that effects all of us every day, it bothers me a bit that so few people show an interest in new science. But, I suppose I’m biased – not everyone wants to know about the latest in nanotechnology or space exploration. I just feel that, as new technology becomes a bigger and bigger part of our lives, the average person needs a greater scientific awareness in order to make informed decisions.
Up to date, accessible information is more available than ever before thanks to blogs like io9 and even the New Scientist website. There are also more and more mainstream science tv shows (I have a lot of love for Dara Ó Briain’s Science Club!) so maybe I’m over-reacting. Either way, I’m going to keep fighting the corner, and continue telling anyone who will listen to me why “Heisenberg” was such a funny codename for Walter White to use and why you don’t need to worry about the risks of “dihydrogen monoxide”.