Category Archives: Fun

The Heart of Art

The two things I love the most in the world are the arts, and community arts.

The arts I love because they are the thing which makes us humans so unique. We create beautiful, thought-provoking, subversive things and then we share them with other people and that makes them happy, or widens their perspective, or teaches them something. And we do it out of sheer brainpower diverted into a huge range of creative pursuits.

I firmly believe art is one of the most significant things we contribute to the universe, and the fact that our government continues to devalue it, as does the world in general, is so painful to watch.

But that’s where my second favourite thing comes in, which is community arts. Because what is more pure than taking the arts, and making them for everyone. I worry that we will never reach a place where artists and their skill are truly valued (we still constantly offer people “exposure” or “experience” instead of “money” in the arts) but the beauty of community arts is that those of us who know the arts will never be our profession can still get involved. Singing, dancing, pottery or poetry, there are more and more community-led opportunities springing up than ever before.

Community arts, and community in general, is really important to me, because as our world declines into political chaos, there is less and less hope of the government ensuring that arts are any kind of priority (or welfare provision, or equality and inclusion, or really anything we care about and actually value, but whatever. Y’all wanna go spend our money on missiles, FINE. We’ll sort out our own stuff). So we have to do it ourselves. We have to create space and opportunities which allow everyone to get involved and access creativity which broadens their horizons.

There’s only one way it works though, and that’s if everyone gets on board. So, here’s the deal. If you have a concert, a show, a display or a workshop, let me know, and I will do my best to come. If you run a raffle or a fundraiser, I’ll buy tickets or buy in. And in return, you have to do the same with every opportunity you see.

Community arts is thriving, but it needs the community to be fully behind it if that is going to continue. We need an audience, we need participants, and we need supporters.

Things I learnt on my holidays

I’ve spent the last week in Northern Ireland, and it has been AMAZING. Other than the Giant’s Causeway I really didn’t know what I wanted to see, but I’m lucky enough to have a best friend with all the right knowledge, and a welcoming family to boot. So I couldn’t have been in better hands.

Here are the things I learnt:

  1. The Giant’s Causeway is totally worth it, but definitely go in a storm so that you can combine fear of being blown into the ocean with actually getting to be the only people on the Causeway.
  2. Northern Ireland is excellently provisioned with public toilets.
  3. If you want my money, just make a fridge magnet of your attraction (I came home with 3)
  4. Potato bread is king of the breakfast potato products.
  5. I can withstand gale-force winds.
  6. Rope bridges are fun.
  7. Safely make it across a rope bridge suspended above the tumultuous waters of the Irish Sea? Easy. Just walk along a promenade without throwing my own face at the floor? Can’t do it mate.
  8. I still know all of the words to “Unsinkable Dream” from the Titanic musical I was in when I was about 12.
  9. All of Northern Ireland is in fact Game of Thrones.

NI

Credit to the lovely Mr Gordon for photos containing me (because we all know I can’t take photos of myself on account of my tiny arms)

Secret Boudoir, Ultimate Man Cave, Apocalypse Bunker

If you haven’t watched “Amazing Interiors” on Netflix then I thoroughly recommend it. It has been a long day, but now I get to relax and watch a mad American transform a field of bunkers into luxury survival palaces, while a little Italian man expounds his love of faux-baroque design in totally comical French.

It does remind me, however, that I really need to do something with my house. Not that I haven’t done *things* since I moved in, it’s just I haven’t really got round to many of the fun things. I’ve repaired the roof (or rather a fully qualified team of people repaired my roof), I’ve had wiring checked and amended, and I’ve had meters installed. But that’s not fun.

The next plan is to sort out the kitchen. It needs a couple of coats at least of magnolia or cream, to brighten it up and to cover the greasy hand-marks left by my predecessor’s kids. I’m looking forward to getting my Cinderella poster up on the wall, though the fact that it is 5 and a half years since the show is a bit of a sore point.

Next, I’ll move onto the office, which is currently a very fetching shade of yellow. I haven’t decided yet what to do with it, so all suggestions are welcomed – it just needs to continue to house all of my many things, so I’ll probably be avoiding busy wallpaper and things (though there is one wall which is a contender for Marvel wallpaper – depending on quite how young I’m feeling on the day).

In the meantime though, I’ll keep watching Amazing Interiors and making plans for the madness I can inject into my tiny piece of land – maybe by hiding exciting graffiti behind every door, or painting all of the ceilings gold. The possibilities are endless.

Craft Corner

This week I have been *tired*. I mean it. Today I was basically a zombie at work all day. I can’t tell you a single thing I did (but I can tell you that I definitely did lots of work – hi there any colleagues reading this).

I’ve been that kind of tired where your body just feels a bit too old for your skin. Everything aches, my eyes can’t focus properly, getting off the sofa every evening to go to bed has felt like a trial.

And then, I got home this evening and suddenly had all the energy.

So, I made a pinafore dress out of all the jeans I’ve recently ruined. I ruin jeans fairly often because I have Thighs For Days. I think if I were body-confident and also 10 years younger I’d potentially describe them as thicc. Instead, I’ll just go ahead and describe them as “fairly stocky”. For a tiny little lady, I have quite a lot of thigh, and my cheap high-street jeans just cannot cope.

The big issue with women’s clothing (as we know) is lack of pockets, so I decided I’d make a dress out of all the bits of the jeans which include pockets. I chopped out a number of panels before deciding that really the only pockets I wanted to keep were the back pockets (sensible patch pockets without additional faff, basically). I saved the waistbands to make the straps, because they are already the right shape, and the buttons make for handy fastenings.

Ultimately, it’s not exactly the height of fashion, but it has pockets pockets pockets, and it’s dead comfy.  And having had absolutely no energy all week, I’ll take whatever results I can get.

(Not a professional model, or photographer, just to clarify)

Starter Pack

Straight out of 2014 (because I absolutely do not conform to trends/am always quite late to everything because of who I am as a person) I decided it might be fun to create a ‘Sally’ starter pack.

I honestly don’t know why, but it’s Sunday and I’m not really that interested in the football, so you’re welcome.

So now you know how you can get my life in just a few simple steps (which I know is what you’ve all been waiting for, you’re [doubly] welcome)

Elite Pastry

I tried to call this post “cake or death?” but it turns out I’ve used that one before. The problem with writing a sporadic blog over an 8 year period is that occasionally you have the same thoughts twice.

Also 8 years. Let’s just all take that in a bit shall we. I have been wittering on the internet for 8 years, and people have been reading it. I had 18 views today. From who? Who knows? It’s all very exciting.

The length of time I’ve spent writing this blog was highlighted to me today because one of my former colleagues graduated from her undergraduate English degree today, and it reminded me that I graduated from my first degree five years ago. Which feels like a mix of no time and just a huge expansive amount of time ago.

But Sally, wasn’t this going to be about cake?

Yes it was, but I sidetracked myself with nostalgia, you’re welcome.

For the uninitiated, I love baking. One of the greatest joys of owning a house has been the ability to bake almost every weekend, and sometimes mid-week as well. I bake cakes mostly, and buns, sometimes scones. I’ve yet to do bread, but have big plans for later in the summer.

I am ashamed to say I have not seen the most recent season of GBBO Professionals (I have sworn off normal GBBO since the Channel 4 move, but Creme de la creme was too good to miss) but I do plan on going back to it. I’ve seen all of Nailed It (if you haven’t then get yourself over to Netflix NOW).

But my new hobby and secret passion is watching baking montage videos on Instagram. In particular I’m a fan of an account called pastry_academy_of_elite (and no, not just for the name). The account reposts the most amazing baking, stunning mirror glazes, and just insanely detailed and beautiful pastries. As you’d probably expect really. I find myself just scrolling through on autopilot now, admiring all their beautiful creations.

As for me – some of my baking is moderately pretty, but there’s a way to go. All tastes nice though.

Things I learnt during show week

(Listicles are still a cool and popular format, right?)

  1. I am quite good at folding large numbers of costume bags
  2. In general life I am quite body-conscious and avoid showing skin if I can help it. But I will absolutely strip to my undies in the corridor of a theatre for a quick change and not bat an eye
  3. I still can’t dance.
  4. Dressing-room camaraderie is just lovely, and during a stressful week I could not have wished for nicer people to share a bench with
  5. There are levels of tired I haven’t reached yet, but dear lord I have been close this week
  6. Children are better actors than everyone, I’ll hear no more on the matter.
  7. Children are incredibly strong (or I am incredibly weak)
  8. Nothing beats a good pair of legwarmers.
  9. I am wife material, if your definition includes turning up in hotpants with cupcakes.
  10. Creative people can do amazing things with a few square foot of space and I am in awe of the crew.
  11. I want to do props for the rest of my life
  12. It is possible to do a choir concert and then 6 all-singing all-dancing musicals, but it is not advisable
  13. If you leave my parents alone for 24 hours they will completely re-landscape your garden
  14. I love theatre. I don’t understand how I forget this. It’s just brilliant. Get yourself down to a theatre and get involved (and if you’re a bit inept like me, find the friendly and inclusive people because it makes all the difference in the world).

The Wedding Singer was incredible, and I am ever so sad to say goodbye to it. I’m excited to revel in my free time of course (barring the two board meetings and two subcommittees I have this week) but I’m so excited to be part of a new community of people and I’m excited for the next thing, whatever it is. Probably panto to be honest. Remember the time I dressed as a fish for a pantomime? A story for another day.

LIDOS, it has been swell.

…and if you need something to do over the summer, can I recommend the fabulous Left Bank Opera Festival?

Left Bank Opera Festival

Left Bank Opera festival – 22nd-26th Aug, Left Bank, with Northern Opera Group

Happy

Happiness means different things to different people.

For example, to some people (Pharrell Williams), happy means feeling like a room without a roof. Some people (Pharrell Williams) have an odd description of happiness.

I think my definition of happy is a pretty standard definition. I feel happy when I see other people smiling. I like knowing that the people around me are having a good time, and that they have the things they need and that they are enjoying life. Sometimes (read: literally constantly) I help people feel happy by providing them with copious amounts of baked goods. Less frequently I give people hugs. Sometimes I make jokes.

Normally my jokes are terrible and don’t make people happy.

I’ll do just about anything though, to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s utterly selfish. I truly believe that we all deserve to get that warm fuzzy feeling of genuine proper happy, which is a little bit lacking in the world at large these days.

Sometimes I get caught by surprise by happiness, because it turns up in unexpected forms. Today, for example, I was thanked for a bunch of things I barely realise I’ve even done. It was so unexpected that I caught myself actually grinning (which is terrifying and I think we can all agree should be avoided). I hope that someone else got their happy from knowing how happy they made me. God bless all the happiness vampires of the world.

Given that this has taken a turn, it’s probably time for me to set my keyboard aside and go back to the other things that make me happy (my bed, netflix, late-night coffee) but before I do, please don’t forget that the best way to make me happy right now is to come to all of the things – as a reminder, they are:

Leeds Vocal Movement

Leeds Vocal Movement summer concert, 16th June, Left Bank

The Wedding Singer - LIDOS

Wedding Singer – 19th-23rd June, Carriageworks Theatre, with LIDOS

Left Bank Opera Festival

Left Bank Opera festival – 22nd-26th Aug, Left Bank, with Northern Opera Group

Not an ad vol 2. (return of the not-so-covert ads)

love to sing.

When people ask about singing I always give the same answer. All range, no skill. That’s me, though it’s probably a little unfair to the parents who paid for lessons, and the singing teachers who taught me for years. It feels accurate though, because despite many years of pretending otherwise, I really can’t read music at all, I struggle with pitching, and I can’t ever hear my line in a harmony.

I can sing a bunch of notes though, so I do. And as with a great many things in life, I do so with great (and slightly intense, I imagine) enthusiasm. If being enthusiastic is a talent, then that’s my talent. Need someone to think your thing is the best thing ever. Give this girl a call [points at self].

In recent times I have been testing the limits of my singing a bit – dabbling in interesting bass lines, mostly hanging around the tenor section (being a tenorlady, yes the joke is purposeful, no I will not stop making it) and singing soprano while dancing (!). Sometimes singing soprano instead of tenor for kicks/to see if I can still hit the high notes – with questionable results.

I remain, I fear, mostly range, minimally skill.

But, the other people in the room are full of skill, and range, and all that good stuff. So, you should come and see them. And me. But them. And their wonderful skill, and beautiful singing.

Leeds Vocal Movement

Leeds Vocal Movement summer concert, 16th June, Left Bank

The Wedding Singer - LIDOS

Wedding Singer – 19th-23rd June, Carriageworks Theatre, with LIDOS

Left Bank Opera Festival

Left Bank Opera festival – 22nd-26th Aug, Left Bank, with Northern Opera Group

Not an ad (part 1)

Spoilers: It’s totally an ad.

It’s an ad for a show I’m so keen about that I drove all the way to Horsforth today without actually checking to see if I was needed.

I was not needed.

Good thing it was a lovely day for a drive.

So, what is this show that I am happy to drive all around Leeds for? And what do you mean I’m in a show again, didn’t I grow out of this? WELL. That’s what you thought (and I thought, and I mean I think we all thought I’d move on from this phase but now look)

Image may contain: text

This won’t be the first advert either, because of several reasons (to be elaborated on later) including the fact that I have to dance, that I have a child (possibly numerous, still unsure), that it’s genuinely hilarious, and that I potentially (unconfirmed) get points if I bring people. And points, as we know, mean prizes (probably).

(If you’re struggling to read my post today because of all of the bracketed clauses I’d like to apologise and say I KNOW but I just can’t help it, so there we are)

I’d also like to advertise gardening as an excellent thing to do with your life. Having discovered I didn’t need to be at rehearsal I promptly went back to the shop and bought wild flower seeds, which I’ve not planted yet because my garden is a hideous lumpy mess of weeds. But slightly less hideous and lumpy now that I’ve given it 5 hours of my life. Look at me, being all kinds of an adult.

Other things to advertise include Avengers: Infinity War (but only if you’re quite into the MCU) and the Lego Avengers game (because let’s not pretend I’ve actually fully become an adult – that may never happen).