Monday Funday: walking tour of Bournemouth

So I’ve told you about Monday Funday’s… Well they are working out a treat!

A while ago I saw an advert for a Walking Talk of Bournemouth. These are organised and lead by Hattie Miles, a Bournemouth local whose work with The Bournemouth Echo over the last 24 years has given her a unique insight to the goings on of Bournemouth town and it’s flavourful history!

Bournemouth-postcard

It seems only right that I, as someone who prides themselves on being Bournemouth’s biggest fan, should also be someone who know’s a bit about my favourite seaside town’s (admittedly short) history.

So I booked myself onto a tour! The Hidden Gems of the Town Centre tour to be precise. Starting at The Miramar Hotel on a rather drizzly day, myself, Hattie and a few others strolled along the east cliff (this was pre-landslide), down to the prom, along the gardens and round the back of the town centre.

Soaking up the history of the town and the stories that form it is fascinating. Places you walk past everyday take on new significance once you know the history woven into it. Bournemouth is only young, but there is enough history to make you feel wonder and pride!

We learnt about Tregonwell, Old Harry Pay, the fact that Tolkien stayed here often (and hated it!), the Beatles big gig, the fascinating story of the Shelly’s (no Mary didn’t actually live here) and the unfortunate demise of Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce)… I could divulge more details about these tales but I think Hattie could tell the stories much better!

I think we should tell the history of our towns more often, it adds so much flavour and texture. We can be encouraged by the stories of local activists. We CAN make a difference in our town, because people have gone before us and done just that. Perhaps, in the far off future, people will go on walking talks and hear about the goings on that are happening right now?

So if you have a spare morning or afternoon that you want to fill with something a little out of the ordinary then you should definitely go on a Walking Talk! Hattie is a lovely tour host, she made two hours pass by in a flash, rain and all – absolutely recommended!

#2016WRITE – Travels With My Aunt Review

Did you see my Mouse Trap review a little while ago? Well I’ve done another one… This time for Travels With My Aunt. Thank you Lighthouse Poole, Young Reviewers!

Travels with my Aunt - Lighthouse Poole - Creative Cow Company

Travels With My Aunt, written by Graham Greene, came to Lighthouse, Poole and was performed by the Creative Cow Company. They created an interesting take on a well-loved book that has been doing the rounds in theatres and on screen for the past 40 years. I took the chance to go and see it on a Saturday afternoon in April.

The curtain goes up and you’re introduced to the cast of four, all wearing identical 3 piece suits, who had the interesting task of playing 10+ characters in the story. The fast chopping and changing of roles and faces meant the only way to keep track was to keep an eye out for the waving of a careful choice of small character distinguishing props and ear out for the most outrageous use of accents.

Straight-laced, retired bank manager, Mr. Henry Pulling when at his mother’s funeral, meets his Aunt Augusta – distinguished by the flourish of an ever-present pair of Dame-Edna-esque glasses and an upper-class drawling voice – for the first time. Shocked that Henry has never left the country, Aunt Augusta demands he joins her on a trip to Brighton. But only after dropping the bombshell that the woman they have just buried isn’t really his Mother.

One thing leads to another and safe Mr. Pulling finds his sense of adventure through following his absurdly eccentric Aunt on her world wide quest to flash her cash, smuggle stolen treasures and find her long lost love, the questionable Mr. Visconti, in the dangerous side of Panama.

All this sounds like it should be quite a laugh, but actually? I found it quite boring. I stayed awake (which is more than can be said of the person sat behind me) and it just about held my attention but I wasn’t actively enjoying myself. I felt the obligation of appreciating the work of the actors in front of me and the guilt of longing to be somewhere else on my Saturday afternoon.

Whilst the acting was good and I enjoyed the fast paced way every actor chopped and changed between characters, I didn’t connect with any of them. To be completely honest I haven’t even remembered their names. The only reason I’ve got them in this review is down to Google.

I think this is down the play being so stereotypically 1920’s English (even though it’s set in post-WW2 London). From the pronunciation of “three piece ss-yew-ts” to the uncomfortable racial stereotyping you were always a few social barriers away from making any connection with the people portrayed on the stage. All the character dialogue stayed on surface level. There were a few moments that looked like it could open up to Graham Greene’s comment on love and morality – which would have added a fascinating layer to the mix – but they were quickly overshadowed by more frivolity.

It’s a shame; because I’ve heard people share their love for the book and their love for Creative Cow Company. Maybe Travels With My Aunt doesn’t quite translate into 21st century theatre… it’s another story that reinforces the posh ‘tally-hoe’ English theatre stereotype that can make even the most entertaining parts of the narrative just a little bit dull, and make a reasonably young audience switch off.

So I’ve decided I’m going to read the book and see if it comes across better on paper. I’m also going to see a different Creative Cow Company show, because, despite me not enjoying Travels with my Aunt, their performance has made me intrigued about what else they can do.

Let’s just hope they’re not wearing “ss-yew-ts” again.

Monday Funday: planting with Grounded Enterprises

Not-9-to-5-ing is great. But I have a problem.

I still find that my default thing to do when I don’t have meetings or project visits booked in is to sit in front of my computer pretending to be busy… Even if I’m not doing anything in particular. I tend to do this from 9am to 5pm…

I know. I know.

So to try and combat the endless cycle of this sitting at the desk being #busynotbusy I have decided to take a concerted effort to take myself out of the front of the screen and into some kind of life enhancing activity.

And so Monday Funday began.

My good friend Michael spends a lot of his time supporting a Boscombe based project called Grounded Enterprises. Grounded Enterprises have a plot of land that is a meeting space, garden training spot and community venue, called The Secret Garden. They grow organic herbs and leaf vegetables, all in hyper enriched soil, so it’s as good for you as it can get.  They have a meeting hut, a clay pizza oven, two poly-tunnels, a chicken coup, a large pond and a view of a rather large and beautiful church. Not bad eh?

This is some of what they’re about:

  • They want to develop an urban food growing model that provides local food and a means of profit to the poor in the community.
  • They produce examples of how people can take urban growing into their own back gardens.
  • They are a community garden that serves as a place of educational, economic and spiritual transformation.

The folks at Grounded Enterprises have partnered with a pick-your-own farm just outside of Ringwood, The Avon Valley Nursery. They’ve been given a large greenhouse to increase the Urban Herb production.

And with that there is a lot preparation to do. Perfect for a Monday Funday!

The Grounded Enterprises activity is mostly down to volunteers. People get involved as a way of getting outdoors, learning to grow, supporting their community and spending time doing something different. Gardening is therapeutic and volunteers get as much out of it as they put in.

So with that in mind, I decided to join a bunch of others in volunteering to get outdoors and my hands dirty.

wheelbarrow-woodchipT

These are the things I love about volunteer gardening.

  • Getting the earth under your nails and wiping dirty hands on your tracky bottoms and not caring about it.
  • Learning how to use a shovel properly.
  • Weeding can be really satisfying, if time consuming.

box-of-weeds-converse

  • Being in a wide open space where instead of hearing traffic, you hear sheep.
  • Being in the fresh air with a bunch of new friends (and old ones!) where we’re all chatting away and making the most of time doing something different.
  • Sitting cross legged on the floor teasing out tiny little lettuce leaves from their tubs knowing that they’re going to keep on growing in the ground you’ve just watered.

irrigation-system

  • Gardening is a slow slow process. Trial and error takes years to get you to a patch to where everything grows like you want it to… and even then something might change. For an impatient person (I know, who would have thought) this is quite a challenge to get used to.
  • Getting top gardening tips from fellow volunteers who’ve been gardening for years.
  • Learning that there are more types of salad leaves that I could possibly remember.

Screenshot 2016-04-26 13.16.07

  • There are dogs EVERYWHERE.
  • I’m not getting square eyes from another day spent behind my computer.
  • Coming home, having a shower and feeling tired from a days hard work.
  • Knowing that life really can be this varied. #nota9to5

So. If you fancy doing something different for the day – get in touch with Grounded Enterprises to volunteer. I can’t recommend it enough! Especially if you’re like me and the only earth you have access to is in a pot on your balcony!

I wonder what next Monday is going to look like!

baby-salad-leaves

why I don’t have a work/life balance

My not-a-9-to-5 quest was to try and see if there is another way to work, a way that means you aren’t constantly trying to find a “work/life balance”. I really, really, really don’t like that phrase.

I’ve been mulling over my reactions to “work/life balance” for quite some time now. I’m pretty sure that most of you have had to put up with me going on about it.

After lots of revisiting my thoughts, I like to think it comes down to the assumptions that come with the phrase “work/life balance”. Some of them are good and wise, assumptions that we should bear in mind. Other assumptions, however, are downright harmful.

Here are some of the assumptions I have found really damaging:

1) Life is all the stuff that happens when you are not at work.

Say you work 40 hours a week. That’s 2080 hours a year… 86 solid 24 hour days. If your lucky enough to be working from ages 18 – 65 then that will be a total of 4,042 24 hour days of your life that you’ve spent working. Just over 11 years.

That’s quite a lot of time to not consider part of your full and dynamic life.

2) If you work too much it is always a bad thing and it requires balancing.

One of the best bits of advice that I was given when I started not-9-to-5-ing was “Work when you’re inspired to work”. This makes me so much more productive. Sometimes I’m inspired to work for 14 hours a day* and that day is satisfying and affirming. Life should be satisfying and affirming and if your work is doing that for you, GREAT.

What do we consider ‘work’? We’re conditioned to think that we’re only being productive when we’re sat in front of the computer typing away. But as a freelancer, I need to make sure that I include reading, development, meeting like-minded people, training etc. That keeps me inspired, affirmed and is a productive way to spend my time.

*and yes sometimes I’m only inspired for 1 hour a day… I’m still trying to work out how I manage that.

3) It is good/healthy to disconnect your life from your work and vica versa.

This is similar to point number one but what I mean with this is that we shouldn’t have to be two separate personas: the ‘life’ me and the ‘work’ me. I’m just me. I am me in all of those areas of life. I may have different responsibilities in those areas of life but my ‘me-ness’ stays the same.

And, for the sake of this much loved balance, here are the good assumptions that I think it’s fair to recognise.

1) You should make time for different things in your life.

We have lots of parts to our lives; be it work, family, hobbies, travel, friends, self development… and we should make sure that all these things are – over the course of our lives – balanced.

There is a time for this, and there is a time for that. Those stretches of time might be days, weeks, months or years. It would be impossible to make sure that everything is equal every day. I know I would be endlessly beating myself up for not achieving ‘balance’ if that were the case.

2) Your job doesnt define, box or validate you.

Some days this is one I find particularly difficult to get to grips with this, mostly thanks to the “So, what do you do?” question at networking events/dinner parties/any social interaction.

But when I’m having a good day, I remember this: Your job doesn’t define you, you define your job. You bring all that is intrinsically YOU to the role, whatever it is.

The same role done by someone else looks completely different. Your life, your experiences and your personality could make even the most boring job wonderful.

3) Rest is good.

Very good. Good for your body, spirit and mind. If you don’t have rest your body lets you know what it thinks about your lifestyle. My body reminded me to rest by prescribing me a dose of alopecia – as someone who takes pride in their long flowing locks, I got the message rather quickly!

So…

What I’ve decided to settle with is a…

Life Life Balance - Faizal Lulat

(This wonderful image was made for me by an amazing artist called Faizal Lulat, who I met in Brick Lane Market a few years ago. You should check out his stuff and see what he’s about!)

All of this stuff and activity is life. If I ever start to see something as ‘other to life’ then I know I’ll need to have another long hard look at how I am doing things and why this ‘other to life’ activity has become just that.

So, here’s to a LIFE/LIFE balance. May we all feel happier for it.

___________________________________________________________

The inevitable disclaimer: because I always end up talking myself round in circles! 

I am aware that I am developing these thoughts for the context I am in now. No doubt when I am older and with children I will want to revisit this and see if my opinions have changed.

I am also aware I have the flexibility to work doing the things I love (meeting people, supporting community-focused and social-action projects, and exploring Bournemouth in a freelancer-y not-a-9-to-5 kind of way), so my lens probably takes that for granted too. My position could be quite different if I was in a job that I had to have (to afford rent/mortgage/ever increasing cost of living/supporting a family) and that I didn’t necessarily enjoy. However, being the optimist that I am, I would hope that in that situation I could see life in it and the people I was around, even if it wasn’t “living the dream”.

If I HATED my work and the people I happened to be working with, and there was no silver lining or positive spin I could put on the situation, then I would definitely say there has to be something better out there. 11 years is a long chunk of your life to resent.

I’m going to think about this more. In writing this I’ve made a huge list of tangents to go on, books to read and ideas to develop! 

What do you think? 

 

 

 

#2016WRITE – The Mousetrap Review

You may know I’ve set a few intentions about writing more. Well, you’ll be pleased to know I’ve signed up for a writing course!

Young Reviewers at The Lighthouse Poole.

Turns out you don’t have to be all that young to take part!

Over the course of 4 months I’ll go to a bunch of plays/dance shows/live music events and have sessions with various industry professionals learning how to review something well.

Last Saturday we got together and saw The Mousetrap (an Agatha Christie Classic) with theatre reviewers Paul London and Johnny Fox. Paul and Johnny told us some of their tips re. getting published and out of the box approaches to reviewing… though their take away message was:

“Theatre Reviewing is the perfect hobby because it pays for itself. Just don’t expect it to pay for anything else… like rent, bills or food.”

Fair enough, I’m in it for culture anyway!

I’ve just finished my review of The Mousetrap… So here it is, just for you.

The Mousetrap - Agatha Christie

On a fairly nippy Saturday afternoon, I joined a new club. The automatic membership to the ‘Do Not Tell Anyone “Who did it” in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap Club’ comes with heavy responsibility, a heavy responsibility that anyone who is part of the ‘What’s the Deal with The Sixth Sense Club’ will understand.

The Mousetrap, which has the warm familiarity of any Agatha Christie story, is a classic – thanks to its claim of being the longest running play in the history of British theatre. 

The story, unsurprisingly, is about murder.  A vicious killer is on the loose after strangling a woman in London and now he or she is heading to the very-well-to-do hotel where a group of unwitting potential victims stay. Potential victims whose pasts are connected in some way, not that they know it yet, to the murderer… A murderer who may well be in their midst. A snowstorm hits and everyone is trapped in the hotel: the secrets come out and the mystery starts to unravel.

The play could be told in a dark and frightening fashion – you won’t be able to listen to the children’s nursery rhyme 3 Blind Mice in the same way again – but instead the style provides an easy watching performance that had the audience chuckling throughout.

The characters, already quite stereotypical to Christie, have been caricatured. The matron, Mrs Boyle, is fierce and not to be messed with. The newly married Mr & Mrs Rolston are sweet and doting. The young and artistic Christopher Wren is terribly flamboyant. The stand-offish socialist, Miss Casewell, stands tall and proud in her trouser suit. The mysterious foreigner, Mr Paravicini is outrageously flirtatious. Retired Major Metcalf, is the fatherly protector with a war story in hand.

It was comedic Christopher Wren, played by Oliver Gully, that set the tone for the play.

Wren’s entrance was loud and magnificent, his vowels long and drawn out and his daft, child like love for the macabre – along with Mrs Boyle’s ability to be wound up and Mr Rolston’s sarcastic comments – meant that even the most serious scenes would illicit a snigger from the audience, thanks to the repartee between this clearly incompatible group stuck in a snowstorm together.

Yes, there is suspense. We, the audience, rippled in empathy when the characters stubbornly refuse to aid a clearly frustrated (and shouty) Sergeant Trotter in his investigation (“If you don’t share what you know and one of you dies, well you’ve only got yourself to blame!”) and there was definitely an audible gasp when the killer was revealed.

But after a few moments of anguish once the killer is caught, bizarrely, everything returns to life as normal for our characters. Perhaps it’s the indomitable, plucky English spirit and its ability to buck up and carry on; come rain, shine or murder.

So I suppose you would like to know the following:

Is it worth going to see? All in all, yes.

Is it worth the money?  I think so. (Disclaimer: I got my ticket as part of the Young Reviewers course at The Lighthouse Theatre, so I don’t actually know how much it cost!)

Would I be happy to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon in my local theatre watching it? The theatre was packed and everyone seemed to come out happy, so I think that’s a pretty good sign.

It’s not the edgiest play in the world and it won’t leave you awake at night thinking about the allegories of the plot, the characters or their relationships. But it is a British classic that will certainly  entertain you for the afternoon.

And you get to join the club.

Now, I wonder if I’ll get a badge…

The Mousetrap is currently touring around the UK. Tour dates can be found at www.mousetrapontour.com.

exploring Bournemouth: StreetWise

 

Me and Michael (co-Bournemouth Scene-er) were in the West Howe Industrial estate visiting a few projects when we heard a rumour…

“Did you hear about the life sized model village around the corner?”

“Sorry, the what?”

“You heard.”

Well… We found it.

Nestled in between your classic industrial part businesses we found an unassuming warehouse labeled “StreetWise”. We rang the door bell and asked the lovely lady in the office if we could pop in and have a nose around. I was surprised when she said yes and only had a few moments to compose myself before strolling into…

This.

indoor-bus

indoor-traffic

indoor-train

Yes thats a train.

streetwise-central-train-station

And yes, that’s a train station.

indoor-beach-2

indoor-pond

Pretty impressive huh? In total their space includes:

* deep breath *

A fully operational two story house.

A highstreet.

Roads with traffic lights.

A beach.

A pub.

A building site.

A farmyard.

An electricity substation.

Heathland.

A railway station and track

Oh and they have a helicopter in the classroom.

helicopter-indoors

Of course they do.

So what’s StreetWise and why do they have a life-sized model village inside a warehouse on the West Howe Industrial Estate?

Well, I’ll tell you.

StreetWise is a safety education charity that trains all sorts of people (mostly children and voluntary groups) to stay safe at home and on the street. They also host the traffic awareness course for those people who like to drive one or two mph over the speed limit… but of course you lot wouldn’t know that.

They’re a charity and all the people who give safety tours are volunteers. They’re a pretty special bunch.

The biggie for me is that they are also up for hosting events and you can hire out the whole space if you want to.

So what kind of thing should we host in this magical warehouse of wonders?

Hit me with your best ideas!

 

exploring Bournemouth: Velo Domestique

Did you know that me and my friends made a map of Bournemouth?

Of course you did. The Bournemouth Scene is pretty much all I talk about.

The Bournemouth Scene is one of my favourite things to do with my not-9-to-5-ing time. It means I get to explore the town that I live in and love.

We’re making an updated map (in APP form) which means I’m in full on RESEARCH mode.

On Monday I jumped on the bus and headed over to Southbourne to explore.

Just my luck I hopped onto The Gallery Bus.

gallery-bus-bournemouth

Some of the Yellow buses in town are kitted out with sketches from local artists. If you’re fortunate enough to be on a fairly empty bus you can spend a bit of time (if it’s a long journey) moving seats to see as many of the sketches as you can.

Once in Southbourne I prepared myself to chat The Bournemouth Scene chat with the businesses there (so many hidden gems)… It turns out Monday is when most of Southbourne shuts! I don’t think it’s every Monday… just the one I decided to make a special effort to visit Southbourne on. Typical.

All was not lost. I had some reading I needed to do (which I had packed for a time such as this) so I settled myself down in Southbourne’s best bike-shop-come-cafe, Velo Domestique, and got on with that instead.

velo-domestique

It definitely helps to have other work with you when what you planned to do doesn’t work out. It could have been a bit of a waste of a journey but it instead turned into a pleasantly productive afternoon!

It was an afternoon made even more pleasant by the fact that Robin (Velo’s in-house culinary genius) kept bringing me plates of delicious food.

Like this egg, salsa and avo delight:

brunch-bournemouth

And this grilled apricot, mascarpone and brioche slice of HEAVEN:dessert-bournemouth

And omg this hot chocolate:creamy-hot-chocolate

Just look at it.

You’ll be pleased to know all food is locally sourced so the calories don’t count. #bonus

Velo is a pretty special spot. They were open last year in a different venue as a 3 month pop up shop and things went so well that Dan (the brains behind Velo) now has a permanent space.

Here are some reasons you should go there:

  • You saw the pictures of the food right? Wow.
  • They know A LOT about bikes and have a rather extensive Bike Repair Menu.
  • You can enjoy some coffee while you wait for your bike to be serviced (and they do a really good job at servicing – I got my bike sorted with them last year).
  • They love freelancers and to prove it they have an £8 day rate for free wifi and unlimited drinks.
  • They host all sorts of events including: night rides, bike meet ups, hip hop socials, yoga, supper clubs and they’ve probably got a few more things up their sleeves!
  • Dan and Robin are bloody lovely hosts.

 

So next time you’re in Southbourne, make a point of going and saying hello.

They’re at:

176 – 180 Seaborne Road. BH5 2JB.

They’re open Monday – Saturday 8am – 6pm | Sunday 9am – 3pm | Closed Tuesday.

And yes, they’re going to be on the Bournemouth Scene Map!

It’s a no brainer really!