Monthly Archives: January 2012

There’s no such thing as a gruffalo!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a talk with Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson (author of The Gruffalo, Tyrannosaurus Drip, A Squash and a Squeeze, and Rosie’s Hat to name a few) and the Laureate na nÓg, Siobhán Parkinson (author of Amelia, Kate, All Shining in the Spring and Sisters-No Way!).

Two inspirational and interesting women who not only write fantastic children’s books but champion reading and writing for children and support the importance of local libraries.

The event was held in the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry, produced by Dog Ears and presented by Marie-Louise Muir from BBC Ulster’s Arts Extra.

It was a fab event for aspiring writers, lovers of literature and of course the infamous Gruffalo! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to these two writers and their experiences, their attitude to their own writing as well as others.

I was really struck by Siobhán, her humour and openness and her attitude to writing- especially when she described the time in her life when she considered herself a ‘secret writer’ and with which I could identify. I asked her more about this time of her career and how she got the courage to show people her writing. She opened up about her first book and how dear it was to her- a very special and emotional moment for us all in the room.

Both are clearly intelligent, passionate about what they do and at the same time, humble with their success. And Julia was sweet enough to stay behind and sign the books of those who came to see her. A truly lovely event and huge thanks to all the organisers!

My signed copy

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Not all golden at the globes

To sum up my thoughts on the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards from Sunday night- disappointing. I recorded and watched the red carpet and ceremony on Monday, and have been looking at various photos and opinions on the fashion and ceremony.

My first disappointment was in host, Ricky Gervais. After last years slating monologues I had big expectations that once again he would fill the room with gasps as the A-list egos trembled at his feet. This year however, I felt that his jokes weren’t so funny and he had definitely toned down his digs, pandering to the celebs and their egos. Such a shame.

Second, the fashion. Overall I think it was a good night, no total disasters (or as Andre Leon-Talley might say dreckitude) but no one really wowed me either. It was all a little dull.

I think my top picks were: Charlize Theron, Julianna Margulies, Rooney Mara, Sofia Vergara and Salma Hayek.

Oh so close…Zooey Deschanel. I love this girl and her quirky, fresh style but I think the hair was too done and if she’d put it up, it could have really shown off the back. Another almost and fashion crush of mine, Michelle Williams. I like that she tries new things and mixes them with stunning vintage pieces. I loved her dress, the texture and colour but I think the headband was one accessory too many.

And the worst for me was…Sarah Michelle Gellar. It did not work on her or on the red carpet. It was bright but a bit boring, too much fabric and the shape has been done to death.

So all in all- dull and disappointing! I love it when someone gets us talking like January Jones’s 2010 Emmy dress in bright blue. I loved it but it polarised opinions. And I never thought I’d say it but I think I miss Helena Bonham Carter! I want to see mismatched shoes and crazy hair haha that’s what the awards season is about.

Let’s hope that the celebs step up their game for the Oscars in Feb!

Tagged , , ,

Hot Tickets to cure New Year blues

Doesn’t it feel like we start January with such positivity and motivation, then by the second and third week that revitalised feeling is already beginning to wane? For me, I decided several years ago to stop doing new years resolutions which has helped me with this. Instead, I write a list of aims, hopes and goals for the year. Some things are simple like making more time for my husband or to watch less TV, others may include developing new skills such as my photography or writing. It’s therapeutic to make positive changes that are not limiting like banning alcohol and fatty foods.

The other thing I like to do in January is make plans and think about events or activities that I would like to do- another way of keeping motivated. I’ve been surfing the internet, looking to see what’s on and found some amazing gigs and films that I hope to see in the next two months.

First being a visit to QFT in Belfast (http://www.queensfilmtheatre.com/) They have some great films showing this month including the much lauded The Artist and Shame. Both films are already nominated for several Golden Globes and no doubt Oscar nods to follow. (And I do love a good award season!)

Dublin has some unreal gigs coming up in the next few weeks with big names such as Florence and the Machine, Snow Patrol, newcomers Christina Perri and Maverick Sabre to name a few. I have already suggested to my other half that a good birthday pressie for me would be tickets to see instrumental duo Rodrigo Y Gabriela in The Olympia Theatre on Sunday 19th February. Tickets are €39.05 plus booking fee.

The other gig that I would love to go to is on Friday 2nd March at The Academy and is my latest discovery, Ben Howard whose 2011 was huge with his album Every Kingdom and is only set for bigger and bigger things in 2012. Tickets are great value at €16.50 plus booking fee. Definite must!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Day Out to the Ulster Museum

Having been off work for two whole weeks, I committed myself to do one of the things that I have been intending to do for too long- visit the refurbished Ulster Museum in Belfast. It reopened in 2009 and houses various exhibitions in a contemporary space.

The history of Ireland was the highlight for me, from medieval times right through to the troubles. I enjoy learning about history but strangely I only remember learning about World War II, Vietnam War, Cold War between USA and Russia, in school. This could be terrible memory on my part or perhaps the history of our Island is too dividing or contentious but it is so interesting and important to know about our own past. It helped put a lot into context for me, in terms of understanding the troubles better. Shameful to admit but much of the exhibition was new information to me, or perhaps felt new because of it’s presentation. In timeline format, I found it fascinating to work my way through the centuries to the present day. I would seriously recommend a visit to anyone who, like me, enjoys history and is a bit sketchy on some details of Irish past.

A visiting exhibition, The Queen: Art and Image, was one that I found quite interesting too although did not like the layout of the exhibition at all. It contained various photos of the Queen since her coronation. Some photos are documentary and more informal, others are official portraits taken by Annie Leibowitz (love her!) and Cecil Beaton. There are also art pieces from Andy Warhol and Chris Levine. The content was good but the timeline through the decades wasn’t clear and chopped and changed from wall to wall- it didn’t flow well and was unclearly marked. However that aside, I enjoyed studying the photographs.

Through this exhibition and into another space, we were met with more modern art works under the title Silent Echoes. The title is taken from a recent acquisition Silent Echoes, Ohara (2008), a sound sculpture by American artist Bill Fontana made by recording the sounds echoing within a Japanese temple bell when it is ‘silent’. This piece could feel a little strange to some but I thought it was truly lovely. As you sit in darkness looking at the film of a bell- unmoving, the room is filled with sounds from within it. This drew particular emotions from me as it reminded me of someone dear who died in 2011. The sound and the apparent lack of movement- to the naked eye at least- was calming and warm.

There are many other areas of the Museum dedicated to the Living World with animal replicas and Ancient Egypt. We didn’t see everything during this visit so plan to go back again soon. The bonus is it is FREE admission- yay! Perfect for those of us on a budget and kids would also love much of the content in the exhibitions as well as us grown ups. There is a restaurant and shop, and the museum is located right beside Botanic Gardens so very easy to get to. You can usually find parking on a side street (depending on time of visit).

A thumbs up from me on the Ulster Museum! Our next stop is Ulster American Folk Park, Omagh….

                     

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Meet Lola

I have neglected this blog over Christmas and New Year, too busy eating rich food and drinking red wine. I’m still off work, not back until 9th January- yay! This week I’ve been spending some quality time with my gorgeous two year old ‘shiranian‘ (cross between a shi tzu and a pomeranian) called Lola. I thought it was about time that I introduce her. She is seriously sweet, hilariously comedic and I am convinced at times part-human. I thought I’d post a small gallery of photos because who doesn’t love a cute doggy pic?

Today we braved the storm outside and went for a short walk along an open lane near the golf course close to our home. I got completely soaked through but she had a blast in the huge puddles- the things we do for love haha. We’ve been cosying up in the house all evening now with candles lit and music on while I cooked and Lola slept. Believe it or not, I didn’t like dogs until we got Lola. Now I am a changed woman; a true dog lover.

Here’s some photos to ‘awww’ over…

Tagged , , ,