Monthly Archives: November 2011

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Mexican Tequila Bananas

I saw this recipe on a Mexican cooking show this morning.

Take four bananas, cut lengthwise
Melt butter in a frying pan, add bananas
Let them get a bit of colour
Sprinkle with sugar
Turn over, sprinkle with sugar
Keep cooking until caramelized
Add tequila, flambe
Add double cream
Add half a lime
Top with cinnamon

Serve. Enjoy.

Review: Acid Mothers Temple at Thekla

Tuesday night, 15 November, saw the rare visit of Japan’s Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. to the Thekla and they were rewarded with quite a healthy turn-out. They are a band that follows in the long line of glorious psychedelic sonic freakiness to come out of that country which has been well documented by Julian Cope in his book Japrocksampler. Indeed, it was hoped that the man himself may make a special guest appearance at some point during the evening, as he has appeared on stage with them before, but unfortunately is wasn’t to be.

The now fairly grizzled and well worn looking band took to the stage and started with a couple of tracks from their latest opus ‘The Ripper at the Heavens Gates of Dark’ including the lead track ‘Chinese Flying Saucer’ which contained the interesting and a little off putting shrill vocal stylings of Tsuyama Atsushi.

It wasn’t until they launched into their third track ‘Pink Lady Lemonade’ that the band really seemed to hit their stride, the opening notes of which were welcomed vociferously by the knowledgeable crowd. There followed a good forty minutes of the kind of effortlessly played kaleidoscopic space rock that over the years has become their trademark, during which they kept the crowd captivated.

This groove was then maintained until the final notes of the set, the last song of which saw the guitarist Kawabata Makoto, in a move reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, set fire to his guitar with lighter fluid which undoubtedly startled the staff on hand.

As enjoyable and entertaining as the band were, there was a slight nagging feeling that they were going through the motions a little, the above two mentioned members of the outfit seemed to have a lot more fun when they previously visited these shores with the drummer from fellow Japanese act Ruins. This slight misgiving apart, they thoroughly lived up to their well deserved live reputation.

By Paul Pritchard

The Homemade Mama, shaping the world

Jolie O’Dell, a technology writer with Mashable wrote the following on Twitter a couple of months ago:

women: Stop making startups about fashion, shopping, & babies. At least for the next few years. You’re embarrassing me. (link)

The condemnation wasn’t directed at ‘fashion, shopping & babies’ startups such as Ebay, Zappos, Bluefly, Kaboodle, and because they were established by men. They are also hugely successful and to put it delicately, huge.

No. She was directing her ire at smaller businesses such as the Homemade Mama by Kimberlee Daly who makes bunting, cakes, baby products and party packages. Run by Kimberlee, first time mum of nine-month old Henry, the small business aims to provide the personal touch with some homemade products such as bunting, red velvet cupcakes, baby blankets and little baby shoes.

The Homemade Mama pretty much exemplifies what O’Dell was talking about but see if you agree with her opinion after reading more about it. It is a business that is run in Kimberlee’s spare time while raising her son and taking care of her family. It was a business that started off with a friend and is now just run by her.

While Kimberlee is not technologically savy herself, she has found help through online communities and has had her logo designed by someone she met on Twitter, a woman.

Due to the availability of online shops and social networks, Kimberlee can run her business and talk to friends at times when “it’s hard to get out with a baby and make new friends, or have the time to talk to people. Using my iPhone I have been able to ‘chat’ to my circle of mum friends whenever Henry is nursing, asleep, while I am up with him in the night or even when I am in the bath! This networking among mothers is so important when starting up a business as a mother.”

As she says herself, “starting up my business is not a way of avoiding hard work. It’s hard, especially when I am tired from a day looking after a nine month old, and all I want to do is curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. However, I think that the opportunity to work around your child enabling you to do something that you enjoy as well as give your child all of the attention that they need is feel worth making sacrifices for.”

“I work around my son, often only getting the time to work, when he sleeps and that time for myself literally doesn’t exist anymore. I am either caring for Henry, doing housework or working on the business. I am hoping that once the business is better established I will be able to have a little more time to relax, but for now this is how it must be.”

“Nothing worth having is easy, but everything I am working for is worth it. I do worry that how hard I have to work is going to catch up with me and that tiredness may eventually have a detrimental effect on my work both as a business woman and a mother or that I am trying to do too much and don’t do anything to the best of my abilities at times.”

“I hope that all my hard work pays off as I have invested my much needed money on business set up costs. I am already seeing a return and I hope that this steady flow of business and interest in my products continues so that I don’t miss out on any of the precious moments with Henry while creating and selling things that I love.”

The Homemade Mama is shining example of cooperation, professionalism, hard work and a lot of love and help. When I tweeted about how angry O’Dell’s tweet had made me I said that she didn’t think that there was anything life-changing about mum-businesses.

Kimberlee’s reply sums up the potential that is inherent in all these startups by women: “just love how [O’Dell] thought motherhood & related topics aren’t changing the world. Looking after the next generation is the definition of shaping the world to me!”

A Hartfelt birthday treat

I just had to share a wonderful birthday breakfast treat which I received last week. A box of pastries and jar of grapefruit marmalade make up the Breakfast in Bed present from Hart’s Bakery and my little girl’s dad woke up very early to surprise us all.

Our delicious box of pastries:

The Hart’s bakery will be at their normal workshop on Hampton Lane,
just off Cotham Hill , for one more week and then it all becomes a bit uncertain. In the meanwhile, Laura Hart’s pastries can be found at 40 Alfred Place in Kingsdown.

Thank you for the lovely treat Martin and Hart’s bakery. What a clever, and utterly delicious present from Mersina’s favourite place. We were very impressed.

The Miserable Rich, Miss You In The Days

The Miserable Rich are playing one of the sweetest locations in Bristol tomorrow at the Crypt of St John the Baptist’s Church-in-the-wall as part of their Haunted tour. In the spirit of Laura Marling at Bristol Cathedral and The House of Bernarda Alba at St Thomas the Martyr, a church is now the place to be for unique and wonderful experiences.

They are playing their latest album Miss You In The Days.

November 8, 7.30pm.


Lionheart Magazine

Helen Martin is about to release the first copy of her magazine Lionheart, in November, after eight months of work. Her perseverance and dedication have impressed me and I can’t help but want to share with other people some part of her story so I asked her to send me something about the practicalities of turning a dream into reality. The rest is from her. – Jo

Lionheart Magazine

Out this November!

So, as to create some sort of sanctuary in my flat, I’ve been festooning fairy lights about the place. I purposefully purchased the ‘warm’ bulbs and the battery powered ones, so that I could put them around my old, Georgian windows. This I hope, together with constant music, top blend teas and beautiful pictures – inventory illegally – blue takked to my cream walls, will fight the onset of the chill and produce light that will lift and carry me on through the woods, during the most bizarre and terrifying time of my life.

It all sounds rather dramatic, but it’s not really, I’ve just never done this before and I think people didn’t believe I’d go through with it. When I say it now, I don’t feel brave at all, I just have that shiver of excitement, like the beginnings of love, or something equally cherry blossom falling, violins playing, rose tinted. I’m starting – I’ve STARTED – a printed magazine on my own, born from an idea found somewhere it had always been. An explosion of belief and fear beckoned it out. As well as an exceedingly limited budget and fierce determination on precisely what I wanted to create. That latter point there, making things so much harder than you’d ever expect. Eight months of constant learning.

Meet the corporate world. Not as a junior, as a business opportunity: I thought if you had people – business people – that liked your magazine and saw what it is, what it really IS, they would understand the ethos that must never budge. However, I have faced the power of the pound sign, head on. It’s far bigger and greater than any sort of bright idea. Money shouts louder than passion. Even when you think, hope and almost… know, that it could make maybe make some good money – and they know it too – it’s not enough if it doesn’t scream from the hills, ‘This’ll get ‘em’.

I didn’t get it. But I get it now. They didn’t understand that I didn’t want to ‘have ‘em’ anyway. I knew and know my audience, they don’t want to be had. Each page is precious and can be filled with greatness, why have another angle and a big dip of ads, trying to capture what’s already there? I never have, and never will, understand how fresh ideas seem to be so easily thrown out the window for the sake of sharp suits and a Mercedes Benz.

If it doesn’t work, I think I’ll retrain as something completely different. Maybe move abroad and wait tables in New York. Who knows, when you feel you’re treading on unknown territory, the fall is only as low as you’ll allow it. I’ll just have to surf on the wave of one or the other, success of the F word and keep paddling on my surfboard until I arrive somewhere new.

I apologise, Jo asked me to discuss the practicalities of having your own business and I haven’t properly. I’ve sort of done my own thing again. However, in brief my experience of having a new business includes: tax, bank accounts, zero money, five jobs, every minute of dedication, research until the seasons have changed at least three times, discussions round stone tables, mingling with bubbling glasses and steaming brews, hoping, staying awake at night, constant opinions, pitching, pitching, pitching, the strangest reactions, amazing kindness, brilliant people and thousands of emails. The worst and the happiest of times.

The most important ‘practicality’ of having a business is complete faith in what you’re doing. I know that Lionheart Magazine is beautiful, witty, interesting and informative. Its inspiring interviews, imaginative design, stunning words and artwork make the cherry blossom fall and the violinists come strutting out. I’m not sure why I picked violins – let’s say that incredible artist of which you admire. That warm feeling that stays with you. Nothing else matters.

Silly really, but I love it and I’ll be proud of it for all of time. From my flat here in Bristol, to the tables of New York and the oceans lapping by Australia. Around the world, I will always keep pitching this idea of capturing something you love.

With love, to Liz Jones

I wasn’t going to write about the Liz Jones article [non-Daily Mail link] and the fuss it caused all over Twitter yesterday. Fuss? It had Twitter chortling and gasping in waves of indignant amusement and horror at the Daily Mail columnist’s latest confession about how she tried to steal some sperm from a couple of men. It wasn’t just general sperm theft. It was all about making a baby without the man’s consent or knowledge.

Is this what brought on the righteous indignation of a lot of people? Not entirely, apart from some angry women who thought to add a little warning to men to be careful. It was Jones’ admonition that this unilateral baby-making was what every mid-30s non-attached woman was up to.

This made me a bit angry, then sad for her, then I took it personally and got even more sad. Now I’m a little less sad and more peeved. I became pregnant outside of a relationship in my early 30s. We made a baby without either of us intending to. Keeping the baby, our beautiful 8-month old daughter, was solely up to me.

My first, and constant, priority since finding out about the baby was to be as loving about the process as possible. To think, even for a second, that it was because I tricked someone is such an abhorrent accusation that it made me quite upset. I wasn’t going to write about it because others in the New Statesman and the Guardian had already written some lovely heartfelt pieces about feeling sorry for Jones and about how brave she was and that she needed compassion. I agree with the sentiments but I also think that her position of being paid to write about something which millions of people will read is one of responsibility.

My pregnancy was not the easiest both physically and emotionally. The last two weeks were a particularly trying time where I had to make a huge effort to keep in mind my goal of making this a loving experience but I did my best. I always had compassion and love as my goals for raising our daughter and I intend to stick to that.

If I can do that for the sake of one person’s life then Liz Jones who is an adult and affects many peoples’ lives can also put a little thought behind what she is doing. Her accusations and actions are so unpleasant and full of unhappiness that she can’t help but pass those feelings on to other people who read her. She certainly passed on the unhappiness to me, albeit briefly, yesterday.

She may not get paid if she focuses on love and happiness but she will be helping the world. So why did I write about it in the end? I was walking along with a friend and was explaining to him how I felt about the article when he lost interest and set about looking at a shop window. That didn’t make me feel very listened to, so I resolved to fulfil the function of my blog which was to express myself.

I can feel a lot of compassion for someone, like Jones, who wants to be heard but I won’t feel bad for wanting to have a baby. I’m not sure she should either. Doing anything in a sneaky and selfish way would understandably feel bad. Doing something out of love however is a whole different matter.

Pop-up mania from Ocado to the dead

Pop up seems to be the new black these days. In a case of ‘blink-when-walking-by and you’ll miss it’, there are temporary set ups all around Bristol and they are all a little interesting. The following few are some of the ones I have noticed.

Ocado – From 4 to 10 November

There is a pop-up virtual shopping wall at Cabot Circus on Concorde Street between Ernst Jones and Wallis. Ocado, the exclusively online supermarket, are promoting their online phone app and ease of shopping with a trial of a physical location, taking place in a few cities.

Around 50 grocery products are painted on the physical wall of an empty shop and each one has a barcode and a witty description underneath. A bag of lemons is described as ‘easy peasy’ and clementines are ‘my sweet’. There are baked beans, baby food, baby juice, smoked salmon, a bottle of merlot, eggs and various other goodies.

The Ocado app is currently available for iphone and Android phones and will be released for Blackberry and Windows7 phones later this month. Shopping is as easy as installing the appropriate app, clicking the barcode scan option, scanning the desired codes from the wall and then clicking through to delivery and checkout.

A whole different experience of window shopping.

Made in Bristol – From 9 November to 24 December
Cabot Circus, Bristol

Five Bristol-based creative groups will be showcasing original paintings, illustrations, crafts and gifts from over 100 artists.

From 9 to 14 November
Made In Bristol Pop-Up will be Level 1, Glass Walk, Cabot Circus (opposite Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf)

* Local Artist & Designer Showcase
* Quality Jewellery, Ceramics & Textiles
* Unique Handmade Gifts – Made in Bristol
* Cornucopia of Local Creativity

From 9 November to 24 December
The POP-UPfest will be at Level 1, Glass Walk, Cabot Circus
(Next to Starbucks & opposite The Entertainer toy shop)

* Urban Art & Graffiti Gallery
* Bristol Street Art Photography
* Weekly Artist Live Drawing
* Interactive Drawing Wall

From 11 November to 3 December

Drawn In Bristol Pop-Up will be at Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus (near Carluccio’s)
* Original Illustrations, Prints & Cards
* Handmade Toys, Gifts & Decorations
* Handprinted Locally Designed T-Shirts
* Live Drawing with Special Guests

24 November to Saturday 24 December
Smithson Gallery & Gifts will be at Level 1, Glass Walk, Cabot Circus (opposite Jungle Rumble Adventure Golf)

* Original Art & Prints
* Gifts, Cards and Decorations
* Featuring Local Artists & Designers
* Pop-Up Winter Wonderland

8 to 24 December

The Bristol Creatives Pop-Up Gallery will be at Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus (near Carluccio’s)

* Quality Christmas Gifts
* Bristol Artists & Makers
* Jewellery, Ceramics & Crafts
* Prints, Photography & Cards

Right now

At the bottom of Park Street there is an art exhibition celebrating the Day of the Dead and promises Gargoyles and Grotesque. Gotta love it.

The Ocado part of the post was brought to you courtesy of Ocado and around £43 worth of shopping from the virtual wall, including chicken, orange juice and baby food.

Writing Skills #NaNoWrimo Day two


Writing skills books are available at the Bristol central library.

Update: As my friend Judith points out, NaNo is about writing, constant writing, just writing until 50,000 words are written. Writing skills books are fun but save them for December. During November do your best to turn off that inner critic and bullish editor. Good luck!