Homesickness & Appreciation

Writing

Am I the only person who gained a newfound appreciation for my home country only once moving away from it?

I think the saying is true, we don’t really know how much we miss something until we no longer have it. And this point couldn’t have revealed itself to be more true than during my recent trip back to visit my parents in Northern Ireland.

I use to think that the little town I grew up in had nothing going for it. But actually it has quite the opposite, it holds my most cherished childhood memories, from my first day at primary school to the day I left for university, it was the place I was a child, the place where I was brought into this world. And I will always be thankful for that. Northern Ireland, in such a contrasting way to my parent’s experience due to The Troubles, gave me an overall safe childhood, filled with an eclectic range of memories, from my 12 year old self racing snails on makeshift race tracks I caught in the local park to my awkward yet endearing coming of age self throwing the bizarrest of shapes at school prom nights in cold Decembers.

I used to think I was from a quite a quiet place but with time my perception has changed, I’ve came from quite a peaceful place. That the smell of manure infiltrated my lungs making me wish I didn’t have a nose at some stages, yet now, I see it as a welcome home sign, a pleasant change from more polluted places.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that I detest city life, if that were the case I wouldn’t be living in a city. Infact I like living in a city because it makes me appreciate the places I visit when I’m not in the city even more if that makes any sense!

Do you have an appreciation for your country of birth?

 

Review: The Aeronaut

Writing

Not to be confused with ‘the astronaut’ this eccentric public house also doubles up as a theatrical extravaganza. From circus to stand up comedy and everything inbetween, why be on the moon when you could be poking somebody in the neck with a pickled frankfurter?

 

Atleast this is what I came to realise on my recent escapade to the Acton based watering house this Friday passed. Voted ‘best pub in west London’ by event ticketing website ‘design my night‘, I thought I’d pay it a visit to see if it really did stand up to this accolade.

 

Strolling up on that dark Friday evening with my lovely friend from university – Leo, we entered with great anticipation. Inside, it appeared to my eyes to be something similar to, if you know the scene, in Harry Potter when Professor Slughorn holds a glorious Christmas party in an outdoor tent. Well, this place, with arguably the same amount of magical enchantment donned a similar decor. With crimson and canary pinstripe material draped  throughout the walls of the main theatre area. And as if the outdoor beer garden wanted to adopt this lively pattern too, a continuation of the vividly coloured striping within each heated little cabin in the garden area took form also.

In the main bar section to the left of the theatre area was a spooktacular salute to all things Halloween. I could see clouds of cobwebs as thick as smog, so dense it put my own home’s to shame. I also spotted pumpkins carved into everything under the sun, from self-portraits to spinal cords. Stumbling further through the zany labyrinth I became aware of the volume of two mens’ voices, they were becoming distinctively louder, also equally alarming to the volume was the words they were saying with such conviction. Something like ‘shoot em’ again, shoot em’ again’ I almost froze in fear, if curiosity hadn’t got the better of me I probably would still be standing there now. With my beady eyes and increasing paranoia I turned the corner of the corridor of the pub expecting to see a crime scene infront of me, yet instead the real crime was done on my eyes as I seen before me the cumbersome movements of two grown men banging into the walls and eachother in such animated fashion. Turns out they were wearing VR (virtual reality) headsets playing what looked like some simulated version of Call of Duty.

With the investigation solved, Leo and I returned to the theatre. No sooner had we entered than were we greeted by a granny named Maggie, conversing with us in a thick brogue straight from the highlands of Scotland.. Little did I know soon Maggie would be taking to the stage to do her comedy act.

Before Maggie was to crack a few knock knock jokes, another lady came round to the table Leo and I claimed as our own for the 2 hour performance about to unfold. She asked us how exactly we were related to Maggie. At first her question bewildered me and then I realised oh it’s an interactive comedy, and that’s when the meatsweats started. Maggie the old bat, was part of the onstage comedy trio who would be performing a sketch inwhich the objective of the storyline was that some of the geriatrics would compete against eachother to be lead event organisers of their carehome, and it was our job their audience, soon to be mock family members , to take part in the ‘competition’ also on behalf of our elderly relative.

Leo naturally piped up saying with great conviction that we were to be Maggie’s grandmother, which is obviously a realistic family member to be to an 80 year old. So no sooner had we taken our seats than had the show began with the aim of the game being Maggie’s family would compete with Arthur’s family (the other old guy) in a range of interactive tasks in a bid to help their elderly relative win the coveted role of event planner.

The interactive activities included seeing who could wrap their partner up in a full roll of cellotape the fastest, guessing whether sausage or a finger poked you in the back of the neck (I had the pleasure of taking part in this one,  getting poked by some stranger’s sausage), putting tights on your partner without them using their hands the fastest and then consequently seeing how many objects you can stuff down those tights on your partner (someone got a chair leg in and suspended the chair in mid air, that must’ve hurt the crotch).

The winning team at the end got a bottle of Prosecco, and the fact that we went away empty handed is evidence that Arthur’s team won.

Would I go back again for a rematch? Definitely!

 

The only thing is, which is both good and bad about The Aeronaut is that their lineup of performance acts can vary so you may not see the same act twice. I guess what they give is a taster, an exhibition of quality talent, that if it impresses you enough you’ll go see them again wherever they perform.

I’ve booked my tickets for their upcoming comedy night, called ‘sketch n scratch’. Reminds of another saying involving scratching……

If you’re ever in Acton give them a chance to make a fool out of you, I’ve no doubt you’ll thank them for it!

 

Day Trip – Woburn Safari park

Writing

Zoos are pretty dichotomous places. Good for their conservation of an endangered breed yet bad  by preventing an animal from living in its natural habitat. Many more pros and cons come into play when determining whether there is a need for a zoo or not.

But I’ll keep that discussion in the pipeline, for today let me share with you the positives of the safari park situated just north of the capital in the quaint little English village of Woburn which means ‘crooked or twisted stream’ according to wikipedia, fun fact of the day:

So here we go,

Not soon into the safari park driveway and I capture the moment a Dwarf Forest Buffalo charges at one of the touring Cars! It’s always the cute ones you have to look out for!

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Which was a surprise as I expected this hench guy  to have a go instead:

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Things seemed to settle down as we passed the grazing herbivores, which seem more adept to roaming the great plains of the African Savannah than the cud of England’s countryside but anyhow.

Here’s a giraffe licking a fence behind the blur of my Dad’s cheek:

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Elephants make an appearance ofcourse on the safari (is the front one male ;p):

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And a few Zebra minding their own business make themselves familiar too:

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Once the boring animals, I mean grazing animals were out of the way it was times for the moment we all go to Safari’s for, the predators! Behind this cage awaits some of the world’s most deadliest species!

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First up the wolves and the Black Bears, both in the same enclosure I may add:

 

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Then it was the tiger, sorry I’ve no photos of it, it was lying down at the furthest point from the road! I don’t blame it!

The Lions weren’t as shy though:

 

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My heart was pounding out of my chest thinking of the following happening:

(credits – Joshua Sutherland)

And with that I think we’ll end this predatory chapter and open one with our friendly cousins the monkeys and Lemurs:

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Look at the little baby on her back! Aw happy families, how adorable!

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Such a poignant moment caught on camera, in some way it symbolises the intrusive behaviour us humans have had towards the planet’s wildlife.

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They were protecting their baby.

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Black and white ruffed lemurs and ring tailed lemurs were next:

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Next a horny goat:

 

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Leave her alone! She’s too young for kids!

This one was cute though:

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Now for the mini dinosaurs aka the birds:

First we have a tiny owl I forgot which breed sorry, look how small it is:

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Next we have two cocks having a stand off, nothing new here:

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Now a rather nimble little creature, quite prehistoric in it’s movements I must say:

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And finally I captured an owl within it’s enclosure, it makes me feel a bit of a mixture of emotions to be honest, not sure they’re all good:

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Overall I feel the park deserves a visit, I think zoos and safari parks are important for conservation and education, do I think we need as many? That’s a different question and ultimately, no.

To check out Woburn Safari Park click here.

 

(cc) Photos taken by Natasha Moore & Claudia Rose Moore

Isle of Wight Festival – The Experience

Writing

Like a herd of African wildebeest, me and what seemed like the whole world and it’s dog made our steady way from our campsite to the main event. As the muffled sounds of electric guitars and pounding drums became clearer and clearer with very step closer, my excitement crescendoed to new climatic heights (ew).

Security checks were over in the blink of an eye (which was slightly worrying) and with that I was just a hop skip and a jump away from the crooning yodels of Rick Astley on the main stage. If his name’s not familiar with you then that’s because you still have your teeth and not a blue rinse. Yes he’s the trench coat loving singer who made dances in the late 80’s the place to be with his hit track – ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

Soon after he started yodelling the rain began pouring, coincidence? I think not! Just Kidding! He was quite good really:

*No photos of him sorry, although loads down below!

Even if there would’ve been hailstones the size of golfballs which skinned you like a butcher’s knife, I still feel the crowd would’ve sang their hearts out. The atmosphere was just electric the whole day. Rain or shine the crowd stayed energetic.

Speaking of energy the next artist to get my attention was the lovely Anne-Marie, the British beauty has such a sexy voice. Mixing her bubbly personality with upbeat poppy tracks made for an entertaining midday set. Some of her biggest tunes are: ‘Alarm’ and ‘2002’.

*She’s hot and I didn’t get a picture, I’m sorry. 😦
Bastille blew me away, I think I’m in love with their main singer. His raspy voice certainly pulled at my heart strings once or twice. It’s interesting because I asked my parents what they thought of the performances (they watched the festival  on TV) and they said he didn’t have a note in his head. Bearing in mind my mum makes the dog yelp when she tries to hold a note for more than 5 seconds, something tells me she’s not one to judge. Whether you can sing or not, if you jump into the crowd and keep the song banging more props to you. Bastille’s full set was fantastic although ofcourse the big hit ‘Pompeii’ was one of the highlights. They released their new album ‘Doom Days’ on 14th June.

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With each performance passing by, my group of friends and I managed to creep closer and closer to the front, yes I became one of ‘those’, I admit it. I’m sorry I wanted to make out some features on their face! Even while halfway in the crowd I felt like I needed a telescope to make out Astley’s eye colour so no wonder we tip toed ever closer to the front.

By the time George Ezra took to the stage to sit on a stool and serenade us, I can safely say I could make out each string on each his well polished guitar. As his smooth vocals caressed my ears I suddenly had the stark realisation that my bladder was about to explode. WTF! What do I do, just hold it or fight through the hundreds upon hundreds of people back to the minging portaloos? I had to make a decision. Quick! I tried to hold it in, initially that is, with each passing word of his song my mind drifted in and out of consciousness, my eyes crossed, beads of sweat dripped from my bow, by his 3rd song I couldn’t take it any longer!

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*Yes I know I should take up photography.

My knights in shining armour came in the form of 4 ladies, each linking arms, snaking their way through the crowd. This was my moment! Using them as a divider of the red sea of people, they saw me through the first three quarters of the crowd. But with a quarter remaining I found that I’d lost them! Somehow they’d vanished and I was by this stage about to pass out from the pain of my toxic urine filled-bladder. As I made my way towards the beacon of light shining over the portaloo on the horizon, I tripped over what seemed like every foldable seat, beercan and small child in the country. Arguably more challenging to move through than human bodies I found the struggle well and truly real at the final hurdle, prohibiting me momentarily from reaching my final destination of peeing the equivalent of the Niagara Falls in 10 seconds.

 

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64895393_2567011619995803_5399880205927972864_n.jpgAfter 15 minutes of limboing, sashaying and foxtrotting through the crowds, George Ezra was still mumbling some small song called ‘Budapest’ in the background. And finally the waterfall or shall I say Tsunamis was released.

Apologies for diverging from the actual music, and going off on a rant about my bladder almost bursting!

As Ezra finished his set the sun began to set too. And with darkness approaching came the appearance of strobe lighting, lazers and the pounding synths of the megastar DJ Fatboy Slim. From his psychedelic visuals to his heart racing beat drops, he closed the show sensationally:
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**The quality of these photos are something else, you almost feel like you’e there.

Would I go back to the IOW festival – Hell Yes! Even if it meant kipping in a sleeping bag which almost gave me pneumonia. Umm…if I must. 😦

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One lasting image of this one again to finish on ahahha so smart:

 

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Silent Disco?

Writing

Always keen to try something atleast once, I thought I’d lend my supple body to a bit of shape throwing in a silent room full of strangers. Yes, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington is home to the type of event suitable for just about anybody, from dancing dads to tameful clubbers, the event I assure you, will enthuse us all.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘silent disco’, as I was weeks prior to the event, in summary it’s like a ‘one man party’ but not in the sad kind of way. On Friday night the set up was that there were 3 DJs, each playing a different genre of music: Hip-Hop, EDM and Cheesy Classics. Every person had their own headphones provided, which had special switches you used to change the song, so for example if you were sick of listening to Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ (as if), then you just flick a switch and suddenly you’re listening to Abba’s ‘Take A Chance On Me’.

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So it really was like your own personalised party. But what made it even better was actually when you momentarily removed your headphones, it was such a bizarre experience but basically it was like some weird clashing choir. All I could hear was a mix up of three songs being sung out loud mainly by middle-aged men going gloriously off-key. Plus people were ‘dancing’ to what appeared to be no music.Weirdly enough, more people were dancing at the event than I’ve seen drunk in a club.  Yes, it looked very strange indeed. To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.

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At one stage the DJ’s had us doing the macarena followed by a massive conga line before finishing foff the night with a good ol’ rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. What a fun night out.

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To check out other fun things you could try in London or even in a city near you have a look at my other post.

Celtic Cavemen

Writing

Newgrange, Co. Meath, Rep. of Ireland

The Emerald Isle has its fair share of busy cities and pretty coastlines so why not go and visit a big-ass dome in the middle of a field instead? Or atleast, that’s the logic of my two wonderful parents. Well, it’s safe to say Mother (and Father) knows best and here’s why:

This folks, is Newgrange:

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Yes, I know, I wanna join the big conga line into the pit of darkness too, but before we join all the fun let’s do a little bit of scouting out of the area, shall we?

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You can see a significantly smaller dome in the adjacent field. Just beyond this meanders the River Boyne.

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The River Boyne

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comfy

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The highest point of Newgrange’s ridge is around 61m above sea level. This naturally high terrain would have made it a prominent part of the landscape to its dwellers. Earliest evidence of human activity (farming tools) is sometime before 4000BC.

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For heaven’s sake, although I studied geology, don’t ask me what the stone was. I think it’s a mixture of slate, quartz, blood sweat and tears. So basically a conglomerate! Oh, I must mention, the exterior as in the picture is not 100% reflective of the true structure when first built, it is instead an interpretation. As with the passing of time I’m sure you can imagine it wasn’t looking it’s best, so this late face lift was somewhat a blessing to Ireland’s tourism piggybank.

Moving on swiftly, the theoretical reasoning for the Neolithic construction was to act as a passage tomb for sunlight. Specifically in alignment with the Winter Solstice (Dec 21st). It is believed that its function was deliberate, thereby pre-dating the astronomically oriented structure of Stonehenge by approx 500 – 600 years.

So cavemen built this mound and passageway combo for some teeny weeny little light beam to shine into their peepers come Christmas Eve? Well, kind of.

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Tri-Spiralled entrance stone.

Celtic legend mentions the significance of the ‘three-leaf spiral’ or the tri-spiral, and nowhere is this more exemplified than at Newgrange. Here you can see sets of Tri-spirals which hold as many answers as they do questions, on both exterior and interior rockforms of the lithic structure. The tourguide suggested several potentially plausible theories to explain these carvings on the main stone of the passageway entrance, suggested explanations included religion –  each prominent spiral may have represented: The Father, The son and The Holy Spirit respectively, other suggestions inferred that the passageway  entrance stone’s use was as some sort of megalithic map.

Which reminds me, I briefly mentioned earlier, in addition to Newgrange, other more modestly sized domed passageways can be found peppering the neighbouring fertile fields of the River Boyne floodplains. It’s believed that they served a similar purpose. You can see that there are several sets of tri-spirals in the image above (perhaps representing the three domes) and what looks like a wave motion (River Boyne) engraved at the bottom of the entrance stone. This may have acted as a guide to the local people of the time?

A more nonchalant reasoning may have pointed to the engravements being solely for decorative purposes. Holding the tomb in such high prestige, perhaps, as you would decorate your home as an expression of pride, so to may the people of this land approx. 3,200BC.

Leading on from the mysteries of the entrance tombstone, the passageway and subsequent chambers of the sleeping mound  bared even more secrets than what could be imagined.

Linking back to the significance of the sunlight, it is believed that when the passageway was initially constructed, the beam of sunlight during those Winter solstice’s would have penetrated to the back of the recess and indirectly illuminated a three-leaf spiral engravement on the internal wall. An example of the carving shape below:

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If we think back to how creation of the structure would have occurred  we may begin to understand the reasoning for such intelligent design.

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Prof. Tom Ray the School of Cosmic Physics at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (inhales deeply after that)  confirmed the need for such stringent accuracy of the build to produce the desired illuminated effect. He infers that had the passageway been a few metres longer, sunlight wouldn’t have entered the chamber. If the two roof-box slabs forged a gap just 20cm lower the beam wouldn’t have been effective. They’re putting our engineers to shame, Elon Musk eat your heart out!

What would the chambers have been used to for?

-Rituals: With the average age of death at the time being just 26 years old for females and 29 years old for males. Heck, I would’ve taken a bit of wacky backy and sang kumbaya round the nearest tree too! In all seriousness, the relationship between sunlight and spiritualism has stood the test of time. You can see why, sunlight is important for life, it’s important for growth. Therefore the power and prestige of the sun must’ve been paramount.

In addition to potential sun worship, especially during times of natural light shortages, evidence points towards the ritualistic custom of ‘Trepanation’ being praised within Newgrange – the removal of a disc of bone from the skull of a living person to allow ‘evil spirits’ to leave the body. In some findings, as reconstructed in the picture, it was determined that the ‘patient’ survived due to the fact that the bone actually began to grow back. I’ll never complain of a headache again!

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Other theories suggest that Newgrange was used as a place to practice religion. In some ways acting as our  religious buildings of today would.

Shrouded in mystery and unanswered questions makes this unforgettable site a gem of the Emerald Isle in my eyes.

As for what I saw inside the passageway, well, maybe I’ll keep that a secret. Go visit!

**Check out extra pictures on Instagram

Places In London To Chat To Other Creatives.

Writing

Such a big city with big opportunities to get creative. So what places do I know of which offer just this:

1) The Southbank Centre – home to festivals, dance, comedy shows and exhibitions. You’re guaranteed to get those creative juices flowing at the centre. With wide open spaces you can meet with others for a coffee or even a rehearsal of your next show.  From panel shows on how to get a literary agent to workshops on how to play Gamelan instruments, you’re spoilt for choice!

  1. Go Think Big – I should really pitch up tent outside their offices, for I never seem to be out of them. They offer a real smorgasbord of events, activities and workshops for creative young people. Not so long ago they had a workshop on how to handle stress and an upcoming one is based on vlogging as two examples. The breadth they cover really does mean whatever creative flair you have will be encouraged to grow. Infact they even have what looks like a really good networking event coming up very soon here. Give it a go!
  2. MeetUp – so not conventionally a go to ‘place’ to meet other creatives but this site aims to get people together to create based on a similarity in hobbies and so focus groups are created which host events all over the city. From graffiti art walking tours to special effects makeup for horror films, the site has an abundance of groups to join and get creative.
  3. ERIC Festival – last but certainly not least, our very own ERIC! Having attended several of their festivals hosted at the Hospital club from music to musical theatre, I’d definitely recommended anyone who has a creative bone in their body to shimmy on down to their next event. You might even get a job out of it, that’s what happened to me! You meet a contact who could eventually become a colleague, you just never know!

 

I hope the above help you mingle till your heart’s content. In addition to these, London offers a real range of hidden gems also, perhaps venturing off the road most trekked on once in a while will lead you to a creative revelation. If not, just go back to bed. Kidding!

**Please note this article is intended solely for ERIC Mag, and I will link to the article on their site if/when it becomes live.