Searching for Sugar Man. Have you heard of it?

Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary film, Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, that follows two fans and their search to uncover the anonymity of a singer. The singer was as big as the beetles in South Africa, he offered hope and strength to the country, his words bearing truth and inspiration to an isolated country, but in his home of the USA he was little to unknown, he wasn’t recognised and he wasn’t heard.  The true story focuses on would-be rock legend Sixto Rodriguez, with his songs centred around desolate Detroit, he was discovered on a foggy night, hidden in a smoke filled bar, playing his guitar singing his words that were true and told of his troubles.

The documentary is beautiful and incredible, not a second was spent thinking of anything else whilst I was watching, not what I was doing after, or what should I eat for dinner? Because all my attention was spent on the film. The story perfectly unfolds, flashing by in a blink. Were we really in there for over an hour? It felt like half the time.

True stories occasionally lack the substance of fiction, the thrills and tension but, when a film can encapsulate that with no added exaggeration, when it is just re-telling the truth it adds something truly special, and In Searching for Sugar Man the suspense lasted through the whole film and further remains after it ended. I could expand a lot on details because I fell in love with the film, the people in the film, who made the film and Rodriguez himself but, I want you to see it for yourself.

I have a few films that I can think off the top of my head that have moved me in such a memorable way. I haven’t stopped thinking about this film for a couple of days now, it makes me smile to think of it. It reminded me of what life is about, giving, the modesty of people and the power of a community. I really want you, your parents, and your parents, parents, your teenage son, teenage daughter or cynical auntie to go and watch this; I can make a guarantee, a promise that they will be inspired, uplifted and thankful.
Let me know what you think.

Happy Bonfire Night.

Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot. Every year in the UK we celebrate the failed explosion of the Houses of Parliament, Guy Fawkes Night. Celebrating with burning bonfires, tall and roaring, warming the cold November night and fireworks that shoot far into the sky, bigger every year, louder ever still. Pets resort to hiding under beds and disappearing from the booms and bangs. An annual event that sees families and friends take to fields and big spaces to stare up at the mid-autumn sky,watching flashes and flares dance tall in the night.

When I was younger, much younger, my family and I would venture out to the local rugby club, to see a display of thirty minutes, joining the community in the yearly event. I remember wearing a big woolly hat with a bobble on the end, gloves that wrapped and snuggled my hands in tight and a big coat, zipped up to the top. We never drove to the rugby club, because there would never be parking spaces. We walked all together anticipating the start time warming up as we went. I remember seeing floods of people towering over me, waddling through the field to get the best view, I was clenching my Mother and Nan’s hands, desperate not to lose them. The smell of the burning bonfire, strong now nostalgic, all merging with fast food of burgers and hotdogs, fried onion and mustard, sweet candy floss and tooth shattering toffee apples. A tradition of candy floss eating became a eagerly awaited treat. I held the stick in my hands, removing my gloves to tear away at the fluffy ball, resulting in sticky hands and sensitive, sweet teeth.

The fireworks would start, of course with a bang, looking up to the sky I could never quite seeing enough, my view was impaired by broad shoulders and tall heads. To my benefit my Grampy lifted me to his shoulders to let me see the horizon, up, up above, seeing more than I could imagine. The fireworks illuminated a flock of faces, gazing happily and occasionally flinching at the strength of the explosions, they were stunning and bigger than little me could comprehend, the colours and the dispersing glitter, made time freeze for half an hour, the candy floss eaters seized and people stopped chattering, only allowing ‘ooh’ and ‘aahh’.

Every year from then on I would stop and watch, with my family, on Grampy’s shoulders, until I became too old and too cool going with friends, a chance to mingle and giggle on the fairground rides. Until I left the tradition and watched a far from my window. Its funny how I remember the 5th of November, fireworks, candy floss and sitting on shoulders.

I hope you have a lovely bonfire night, keep the pets in and wrap up warm, tonight is going to be a cold one.

Finding, dining and eating chicken.

At the weekend my boyfriend’s family came to Bristol,UK. Which is fun because, as you know I love being a tourist in my own city but also because you get to see responses to the city from people who don’t know it, you get to take adventures and visit places forgotten or past by. I wonder if being a tour guide would get boring, or would your energy be supplied by the gleaming faces of tourists?

Having walked the city till our feet were sore and muscles in my legs, which I didn’t know existed, burnt and stung with exhaustion we decided it was time to reward ourselves to a dinner out.  We decided to take them to a little Jamaican in Stokes Croft, named Rice and Things. Me and my boyfriend had passed this restaurant several times, like the other lovely smelling cafes and bistros staggered throughout stokes croft, we finally went we had the occasion to go, and couldn’t ignore it any longer. Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain, as it would’ve been an easy option to choose, tired and flagging from a long day out.

The menu at Rice and Things was bursting with combination of foods I’ve never tasted, dishes were named with suggestions of the chefs personality and heritage. The atmosphere was buzzing; people coming and going, grabbing their take-away meals or waiting for the next available table to open up.

Then it was our turn to taste.

When the food arrived we let out a gasp. Thank goodness we didn’t have any starters, the plates were piled high with fried chicken for me, and jerk chicken for the hot spice tolerant. We had rice and beans for a side, fragrant with cinnamon, herbs and spices my amateur pallet couldn’t yet pick out. We also decided to try the ‘boiled food’ option, the ambiguity of the description let curiosity order. The boiled food was a boiled banana, dumpling and potatoes, the mellow tastes complementing the subtle spice of fried chicken perfectly. It was a feast, a mini banquet, the tastes were beautiful and we were disappointed not to squeeze a desert in. There is nothing I like better than to see satisfied faces around the dinner table, the food turning into the subject matter, and nodding in approval that “we went somewhere different”. Everything about this place makes me want to recommend. It isn’t the glossy chain, you don’t get what you expect, instead you get a plate in front of you that has a story, another culture filled dish, made with love and pride.

Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain. I am forever wanting to try different foods, finding back street cafes big enough for about 4 people, or street food with lingering smells that invite you in, but not going to mass restaurant chains. They are popular because you know what to expect, the menus normally have safe go-to options and you don’t have to think about hunting somewhere else, perhaps it is more convenient or genuinely find the ambiance and food appealing. But there are so many delicious restaurants and eateries around that expose you to such amazing food that I can’t go back to chains, not when I have been to the other side, not when there are so many independent businesses offering up food that I’ve never tasted, offering a culture other than the one I’m used to. I like to support these places and enjoy finding them, hidden gems, to use a cliche but they really are.

Food is so much more than an eating habit, for me it is my favourite social activity, at university we would pass up a night out for a dinner party, bring a dish and a bottle and plenty of conversation, I miss those days. When I was younger I remember getting my nice dress on for a “dinner out Friday”, it always felt special. We weren’t sat around our dinner table, mundane and boring from too many after-school dinners, predictable and rushed, too eager to play we would finish our dinner with fork fulls of leftovers ,much to the dismay of my mother. But eating out meant we were fresh in surroundings, the adrenaline of doing something different encouraged interaction and with the lack of distraction meant we caught up as a family, acknowledged each other and listened to stories of the week.

Do dream catchers really work?

When I have a lot of things on my mind, that are bustling through my brain, caused from over thinking some things, under the others, exaggerating worries and creating concerns out of the tiniest seed of thought, my dream rate increases. Every-night I can expect vivid imagery and seemingly hallucinated story lines. This isn’t inception, its just my brain going into a frenzy, I don’t dislike dreaming but only when the story-line soothes me, it is appealing but obviously if it gets too weird, too scary, too intangible then I start to seriously consider the positive effects that a dream catcher might have. I don’t understand what they are ‘supposed’ to do, I remember a friend who had one when I was younger, she said it was meant to keep out the bad dreams and only let in the good ones…Do they really work? Because I’ll take two.

It has all started since I began reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. (I’m on a reading mission to read classic books and tick them of my ‘must read’ list) At school we studied Frankenstein, it was a toss up between the two for our Gothic horror class in literature and teacher chose Frankenstein bypassing Dracula. Thank goodness, I wouldn’t have been able to handle it when I was that young. I don’t get scared watching horror films because the gore is just off putting, barely realistic and when its time for the rolling credits to roll, the film has very much ended and so has my thinking surrounding it. But when reading, you are alone with the words and characters, perhaps in a quiet room, with just the pages in-front to distract you.

Reading Dracula is such a powerful experience, I’ve had one or two dreams that concern vampires since, not the Twilight kind either, the scary Stoker kind. Having an effect over me, like a bitten victim of the Count’s canines, I awoke in the middle of the night confused disorientated and trying to recall my spooky dream. My cat has obviously been dreaming to, maybe its Halloween approaching, as twice she has woke me up by falling off the bed. At least I have her for company.

I won’t be sleeping tonight…

Yet, despite waking in a hot sweat and questioning ‘what the hell was that noise?’, I still  keep reading for more. Dracula is comprised of diary entries, telegrams and newspaper clippings from those who have experienced the vampire, Count Dracula, as I turn the pages I feel alone, flicking through personal accounts, my position as the reader is isolated and vulnerable. Reading these different private forms adds tension yet, even though it is fiction, from the style it adds factuality.  I yearn to know what the next entry is going to supply me with, how I’m going to respond, will this fear that Stoker installed remain until the final page?

One of my favourite things about reading is, when I carry on thinking about the plot and content once my bookmark is set in the page, when the narrative doesn’t end with a full stop and the tension translates.Which is exactly what a great novel does, it’s just, I didn’t expected to feel such a response from Dracula. I start to visualise my position as an onlooker in the story; I build and architect the scenes in my head, zoning out from the present, zoning into the realm of fiction. Exceeding my expectations and lingering all day long somewhere in the back of my head through the day and to my dreams at night. The supernatural element, unknowing and alien, causes me to devise realistic solutions, relating it to my everyday or to a world that I can familiarise with. I think this is affecting me more than other books because it is unworldly, incomprehensible to our reality.

I haven’t finished Dracula yet, and I hope I get to sleep tonight but this is my definite Halloween read. It comes with a warning, and if you are or prone to nightmares of ghouls, goblins and all things with oversized canines, make sure you have a dream catcher because I don’t think you will dream well.

What book has made you think above what you expected? Do you dream about a book you’re reading? Is Dracula really scary? Am I just a coward? Are vampires real?  Do dream catchers really work?

A sentimental skyline

This was taken from the Berliner Dom, The cathedral that, to me, stands perfectly and beautifully in one of the many hearts of Berlin.

There were other places I could go to reach a view of the city’s skyline but I went here, I chose here because it was subtly stunning. It was high up but, not too high up to cause vertigo and turning stomachs. I looked up here everyday, I saw the light blue autumn sky shift to a glowing pink, mirroring the fresh coloured cheeks of unwrapped pedestrians. I remember feeling my cheeks with an ungloved finger, blushed, Ice cold and freezing.

As I walked the spiralling staircase I noticed how quiet and alone I was up here, there was a haunting echo of footsteps that were too far behind to offer any company. Following the trail climbing more steps, opening doors, closing them behind me, looking at notices, please keep all belongings close,  tightly grasping my camera I stepped out, emerging through a narrow, low door onto the rooftop of the building I had admired for many days, weeks before.

The contrast of the stale magnolia walls inside, with the subtle pinks and blues merging in blissful harmony, was truly heart-warming. The blood rushed round my body causing adrenaline which added more to the fear of being up so high, I was in a state of bewilderment.

Seeing the skyline from here, was and is, sentimental, seeing the high and low patterns from buildings large and small, creating a wispy silhouette. I can never forget how the clouds looked so modest in the distance, blending with baby blues and blushing pinks, the burning orange of the sun, slowly descending for the day. And seeing the ups and downs, the . It felt as if the city slowed down, it took a pause, the day was closing but it had no need to rush like it did in the morning. The lethargic end to the day made my beating heart calm, this is a beautiful moment I will remember this for the rest of my life.


Do you hold a connection and admiration for a view you have seen and remembered the most?

Do you mind if I sit there?

The cinema is one of my favourite activities, watching new releases, eager to see what the world has come up with this time, to watch them on a grand scale with surround sound blasting out from mega speakers, the smell of popcorn and sour sweets. The cinema is romantic, used for first dates and through relationships, offering couples an alternative to couch potato-ing  and speech for approximately 120 minutes. The classic glamour of luxurious red velvet seats and tall curtains draping to the floor, that become epic in their unveiling of the big screen. Cinema go-ers are all united in watching the film, it is like a front sitting room only maximised and shared with a bunch of random guests. My recent trip to the cinema has brought to light some potential problems that surround enjoying a film with many strangers.

After the obligatory popcorn buy, then comes the long walk up the narrow corridor to the screens, Its all quite epic, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Walking into the designated screen you are faced with the mountain of stairs from which everyone looks down from, as their attention isn’t fixed to the screen yet their eyes are drawn to the new guest in the room. ‘um hi’ I mutter because it feels like everyone is staring at me, it dawns on me that we are all here to watch the same film, well what if we all hate it? What if someone decides to get up and leave, that would be awkward. What if the stranger sat next to me doesn’t find dramatic, over-exaggerated scenes funny? Will we all be OK  if I rustled my paper popcorn bag, or whispered the plot to my co-cinema go-er? Do you mind if I sit there?

I watch others enter, watching intently as  those sat before me did, the seats start to fill, empty seats are becoming few and far between, the seat to my right is free , I watch a man as he squeezes past, his eyes locked on the target next to me. He sits. Too much aftershave on and smelling like a fragrance store I became a little uneasy. His arm has claimed occupancy of the armrest, where do I put mine? I thought, there is an unwritten rule, I’m sure it exists, that you half share the arm or no-one gets it, in fear of being too rude or possessive. He hadn’t read the unwritten manual.  Nothing I could do apart from fidget, and sigh with my disapproving stare.

At the final moment when the lights were beginning to dull, conversation falls into a silent whisper as the sound starts from the surrounded speakers all voices are drowned and attention is fixed to that big screen in front of us. Together we are watching, all cosy in our large, very large, maximised front room. I’m sat, comfortably, my choice in seating has paid off and I have a good view of the screen, the film starts. A late comer shyly emerges and heads straight for the seat in-front of me, its fine I know it won’t jeopardize my viewing experience, unfortunately this young lady decided to create a sculpture out of her hair, towering in-front of me, creating a crazy silhouette, thanks no really thank you, there is a time and a place for fancy hair, and here ain’t that place. I left the cinema with a crick in my neck and a tired right arm.

The cinema, so romantic with it’s red velvet, warming smells and anticipating costumers. Unfortunately it doesn’t all go so romantically and those sharing the film with you will attempt to disrupt the order, sabotage your view and arm space ,taking the romance vastly away. Do you have any tales from the cinema? Have you sat too close to a noisy popcorn chewer or been unfortunately the late comer, or seen some inappropriate hairstyles, not made for the cinema?

Good-Night

Saturday night the air is crisp and the sky is clear, the smell of midnight food and stale alcohol begins to linger. The stars brightly  illuminate above in the sky, attempting to shine through the city’s light pollution. Walking through the winding street we start our long journey on foot, passing other’s making their way out for the evening, some returning home too intoxicated to handle the hours to come. Together we walk, quickened steps, too cold to linger and craving the heated venue and the buzz of Saturday night. Gradually as we get closer to the pubs and neighbouring clubs more people emerge, a women on her own, 2 or 3 groups of students I notice and stare; There’s a man stood in the road he wavers and wonders, I watch him stumble and shuffle as he safely reaches the pavement. The long winding street filling up as we go.

We reach the venue, pushing open the doors with a great effort, a welcomed break from the numbing coldness, the heat radiates from the bodies inside, the smell of sweat and perspiration becomes overwhelming, the dim light with a red glare makes it hard to miss standing people and tables. I’ll have one for me and one for him, the barmen looks sad/ anger/annoyed/ bored, where else would he like to be tonight?

The band plays as we stand and we sway, the lights from behind brightens are faces, squinting our eyes we enjoy what we are hearing and when all is done we sneak out to avoid the rush of departing. The long walk home smells fresher once more, holding hands and walking close, zipping coats and pulling up hoods. Seeing my breathe for the first time this season, a good Saturday night, looking up to the stars once more, stumbling in the front door with heavy footed steps, scurrying into bed, heads spinning and sleep overcoming, Saturday night turning into Sunday morning.

When it rains, it pours

Today the weather was mild, occasionally wet but nothing too dramatic. Talking about the weather is a common conversation topic in Britain, many call it small talk, a way to break the ice. I like talking about the weather and really, genuinely, find it interesting, to some degrees, Fahrenheit.

I was coming back from work this early evening, tired and zombiefied from staring at a computer for 8 hours when the rain began to pour. It was raining cats and dogs, raindrops fell at a rapid rate hitting the ground with a thud, making ripples in the newly formed puddles, it was such a sudden change in weather I perked up and saw my surroundings shift from normality. The shower was so brief it was as if it wasn’t reality. For those 5 minutes the city turned, changing from the mundanity that comes with routine, into a frantic beautiful mess.

I got off the bus and was immersed, running to my next bus stop, my face was forming drips of their own and my shoes were filling up, soaking my socks. There I was running through the city with a grin on my face, it woke me up from my post-work coma. I observed the alternative rush hour, the spontaneous reactions to the unpredicted weather and the inability to change it, to stop it from happening. The city was full of adrenaline; Pedestrians attempts at remaining dry were in vain the umbrellas didn’t work and hair was getting wet crimping and curling,  no match to the down pour. Cyclists became even more erratic with their faces poking out from their tightened hoods, squinting their eyes as a result of the poor visibility, from the splashing vehicles (Not looking so smug now are you cyclists).

I felt liberated from my rotten routine, my ‘get me home’ blinkers switched off and I saw the world in the present, reacting to this sudden shock of the shower. I’m never one to run through the city but I found myself jumping over puddles, dashing for the crossing, smiling and laughing to myself at this 5 minute down pour, and how it changed my expectations of the day.

And that’s why I like talking about the weather, so how was your day? What was the weather like where you were today? The forecast here said showers likely, I’d say.

The film: Looper

Popcorn and Pespi, a pair I always look forward to on cinema nights. I actually find it a little offensive when people disregard popcorn as it tastes like cardboard or worse being called tasteless, I’m not ashamed to admit popcorn being in my top 5 favourite snacks and with a film like Looper, with its tension mounting scenes and questionable plot lines, this snack was well appreciated.

Looper is a Sci-Fi, action, thriller, futuristic, blockbusting film. Directed by Rian Johnson, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt , as the younger version of Bruce Willis, and Bruce Willis an older version of Joseph Gorden-Levitt, the two co-existing separately but brought together in the present through a whole charade of events. There is fighting, violence, futuristic portals, big guns and little romances all creating a fantastic combination to add to the pepsi and popcorn. The film, no spoilers, is about time-travel. The Loopers kill people from the future. In this fictional future people can’t kill others so they pop them in these portals, and the victims are welcomed to the present on their knees, heads covered to be shot with big blasters by the Loopers. That is the basic plot, but little hints throughout amount to the climatic and dramatic end to the film, as I said no spoilers.

I was first introduced to director Rian Johnson with his film Brick(2005), also starring our handsome lead Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Brick was fantastic, the scenes were so sharp, directed to perfect timing, slick and sophisticated, so I expected something impressive on my cinema night. As expected the same traits were evident in Looper, slick, stylish scenes, effortless and not afraid to pause a bit longer than accepted. The filming and the effects were interesting, it wasn’t shy on blood and gore, I’m squeamish but I was fine with the violence, go hard or go home so they went hard. The plot annoyed me because I was asking questions, making assumptions that weren’t justified, I got confused smack bang in the middle, there is a shift in the story and it all suddenly becomes a bit too much to handle. I was laughing at this point, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, was it a sketch, a spoof or something meant to be humours? It wasn’t, as nobody else was laughing, out loud.

So I can accept the weird plot line because I appreciated the filming, the performances, and the pauses, I love the pauses I am drawn to them, noticing them more than the couple rustling beside me. But there is still something I have tried hard to understand and forgive Johnson for, but I can’t not yet, it’s still fresh. I just don’t understand why they had to put so much make-up on Joseph G-L, yes he had to look like a younger Bruce Willis but his eyebrows were made-up for the stage and his lips, whilst still being kissable, looked a little clownish. I don’t get it, he doesn’t have to be dead ringer of young Bruce Willis, so to paint him up and highlight his face so much detracted and distracted me for most of the film.

Too much?

Too much?

Please go and see this weird and wonderful film, it’s odd, it’s hilarious, it’s in the future, the past and the present, its a Looper, fantastic directing and questionable plot directions but I haven’t seen a combination like it, popcorn and Pepsi included.

Like a fish out of water

1…2…3…Jump

My Mother always said I was a water baby. She told me that she would throw me into mother and baby swimming classes and wait to see if I could swim, my little bald baby head would always emerge like a buoyancy aid, it all sounds rather dramatic but its what they did in the 90′s and apparently babies can swim really well,  it comes naturally.

Mother and I are making a regular habit of swimming. Sticking to our schedule for a once a week mother and daughter swim club at our Olympic sized swimming pool just out of town. It is perfect, big and new, making the water look even more driveable and in a location where we won’t bump into anyone we know in an attempt to re-invent ourselves as Olympic hopefuls.

It took a bit of adjusting to the whole swimming business, I used to swim lots as a child having lessons where we would have to swim to the deepest part of the pool and pick a brick up, that brick was no object for me, thanks to mum throwing me in I would always surface pretty quickly. Recently I haven’t had the opportunity to swim so my first week at this new pool was a shock to the system. What is the pool protocol? After the compulsory warm shower we climb down into the pool, the contrast of temperatures hits me, the pool is cool and surprising after that nice warm compulsory shower. I start to sneeze, which is always questionable in the pool, as my body adjusts to the temperature my eyes adjusted to the bright white lights, beaming down lighting up the tempting blue water. After the sneezing outburst I settle into the water, feeling streamlined like a fish I start pretending to be in competition with my neighbours in the next lane, there is even a spectator stand with, spectators staring. This pool couldn’t be better if it tried. This week I even wore goggles, things are looking serious now.

Kids can use the pool, which is a major dilemma especially when one child decides he wants to splash everyone that passes him, the grown-ups of the pool huff and puff at the child’s naivety of the pool protocol.  At least I have my goggles on, I gave him a mean scowl, as much as I could with bug eyed goggles on, regardless he carried on and I took to a new lane.

I was getting used to inhaling an exhaling between strokes and then slowly my goggles began to fill up, is this meant to happen, it says they were water tight? I hadn’t prepared for the effects of them not being water tight and now my eyes stinging with the chlorine, a fuzz appears over them and my vision is impaired. I got to the safety of the side of the pool, my mum was waiting for me I told her of my dilemma whilst removing the dishonest goggles. She stared, looking a little concerned. Trusting the goggles would keep my eyes dry I didn’t take of the remainder of the days black mascara, what a faux pas, what a no –no, I don’t think Olympians ever face this problem. My stained black eyes illuminated by the fluorescent white bright lights.

I’ve always loved swimming, its therapeutic and stress relieving qualities make it a favourite hobby of mine. I like that you don’t have to worry about your hair or clothes, you are submerged, released from any anxieties or worries. I don’t find it strenuous or do I need convincing to swim after a tiring day at work. Just pop my bathing suit on and jump right in. I just need to remember to take my mascara off next time, try not to sneeze and look out for the splashing child, I don’t have any goggles now so I need to be careful.

What is your pool protocol? Do you have to remember to take your eye make-up off? Or do you forget the ‘No Diving’ ‘No Splashing’ rules?