The wonderings, ponderings and other 'ings' of me. Lifestyle, review, news and opinion posts. Chic with a hint of sarcasm... hopefully!

Monday 27 October 2014

What happens at a Roller Derby Game

My first trip to Roller Derby was an unprepared one.  I've seen Whip It a few years back but basically had no clue as to the rules. Obviously this event was a little different to the Drew Barrymore film, it was daytime, there was no curved rink and no beer but I figured it was worth a shot.  From what I can gather every few minutes a guy blows a whistle and one girl tries to push through while the girls in the other team shove her with their arms and bum off the track.   It's all very odd but quite exciting as there's much shouting and cajoling that occurs.  Some generally accepted oddities I noticed within the first few minutes were:

Hand Actions
The players seem to be doing a weird 'I'm a little double handled tea pot' or 'time warp' dance, when they do this the whole thing stops.  The refs join in with their own dances, some favour a sort of synchronised swimming arm movement while others do impressions of orchestra conductors or flying eagles.

Synchronized Swimmer arms, minus other swimmers
Sin Bin
There are naughty seats which are pretty much constantly occupied though Lord knows what you do to be put in one. The chairs are labelled B and J... in that order, which is quite funny to those of us with a childish sense of humour.

The Style
There were some interesting helmets and legging choices and a wild cat theme seemed to run though 'our' team the Romsey Town Roller Billies  For the first 20 minutes of game 1 I thought the cute one that kept getting away from the others had collagen lips, but then realised she had a mouth guard that matched her lipstick.  A nice touch.
She's jammin' jammin' jammin' hope you like jammin' too!

For a Saturday afternoon with no curved rink and no beer they do a pretty good job of keeping the adrenaline up.  This is through tunes from the student’s radio (decent ones, including Cannon ball by the Breeders and Hungry like the Wolf by Duran Duran) and the commentators.  To be honest I could have done without the latter quite as much as it made it difficult to concentrate on who was shoving who out of the rink.

And then suddenly, just as the second half kicked in it all seemed to click.  From my novice POV here's what I decided the basic rules are.  You've got a Jammer and 4, maybe 5, Blockers, hence the B and J's on the naughty seats. If your jammer gets past their blockers before their jammer gets past your blockers, yours is the main jammer and the one that can score points.  Points are scored when the jammer circles round and gets passed the blockers again, a point for each blocker passed (still with me?) Jammers can call off the jam by signalling (the 'time warp' dance).  Refs point out the main jammer and points they have scored with their synchronised swimmers move and second jammer with the flying eagle move, Simple no?

It was at this point I found I had become somewhat of an expert - like when you've watched Strictly for a week or so and now decide you know what the arm hold should be in the waltz and when an Alemana should be attempted. I did miss seeing the whip it thing that Ellen did in the film but going from the sign on the floor maybe it's better that move wasn't tried.

At this point I was truly involved, and the final game was as close as they come, we eventually lost, but only by 4 points (183 - 187) so it did get exciting, even without the beer (have I said beer too much in this post?).

If this has peaked your interest here are the real rules.   And if you're feeling brave they're having try-outs in January.  I'll not be there (bruise like a peach) but if you make it through I'll definitely be on the frow cheering you on.  All in all I think I'm rather hooked!

Friday 24 October 2014

Foxes, Twigs and Milk, seriously?

Those that are musically gifted have always had a penchant for the dramatic when it comes to describing themselves.  David Bowie called himself Ziggy Stardust for a decade and Beyonce's alter ego is Sasha Fierce, a name I still find a little too 'look at me' but whatever.  I get that naming an artist is part of the creative process, recently though some choices have me more than a little perplexed.  I've picked 3 such acts that, while I very much enjoy what they produce, simply cannot get my head around why they chose to be known as the following. 
There's the animals (plural) the Leicester City Football Club and there is Louise Rose Allen, aka:

How is this the name of one person?  Never has someone called Louise irritated me so since that bint from Made In Chelsea! With her eyes so big a crazed jealous Zooey Deschannel is currently planning her demise and her blow up doll lips the look is, lets just say not my cup of tea.

The music and vocals however, especially the remixes, are higher ground stuff.  Uplifting and inspiring her album is definitely one on my Christmas wish list!

Next we have..

FKA Twigs
Her name is actually Tahliah Debrett Barnett and there's no denying she's an interesting one.   As a former back up dancer to Kylie and Jessie J she moved into music with a self released album in 2012.  To be honest for a while I wasn't sure I'd even heard her sing.  All I knew is she was/is going out with Robert Pattinson, but on looking her up it seems her song 'Two Weeks' was one of my favourite tunes recently. Lord knows why it's called two weeks, another odd name to add to the ever increasing pile, it's also lyrically, a tad bit naughtier than I had been lead to believe from my PG radio edit. That said she sounds and looks adorable.

I'd describe her appearance as an edgier Lisa Bonet, capable of cartoon style sweetness but also loopier looks which include spelling the word LOVE on her forehead....with her own hair.  And the reason for her name? seems this is because her joints cracking sounds like twigs, lovely! The FKA came into play when another artist also called twigs got jealous of her success/complained she stole her name.  Therefore Tahliah became known as FKA Formally Known As.  Cute huh? 

Finally one I truly do not understand..

Milky Chance.
What? I mean what?  Is that supposed to mean something to the average person?  With a little googling I found that even they don't really have a meaning for their title which to the mildly OCD of us is frustrating to say the least.

They're a 'german folk band' so true this may explain a little of the oddity but still, I'm gonna need a proper answer here.  Are they trying to start up a whole new saying? Do away with a "snowballs chance" and start up a less icy adage?  If so they have at least stuck with the colour scheme of the original which is something to cling to.  And happily their music is really quite pleasing. The bouncing sing along style is just what the chart needs these days.  So, in time, I'm sure I will forgive them - a decision which I'll bet they are incredibly relieved to hear!

I'm just going to have to accept it.  I'm officially old and no longer have a milky chance of understanding what the yout's of today are calling themselves.

At least I can still enjoy the tunes though.

Monday 20 October 2014

Champagne anyone?

This time last month I was in the beautiful region of Champagne in France.  The weather was warm and inviting, the scenery glorious, the food was tasty and the company of great friends and family along with a few glasses of the good stuff meant this was one of the best weekends of my life.

On hearing this I appreciate you may now want to switch blogs or at least find something sharp to poke me in the eye with, but I promise the intention is not to brag.  See there were some aspects of the trip that may be worthwhile noting should you embark on your first trip to Champagne and so here are my top tips for visiting the heavenly region:
  •  Head to the Town Hall in Epernay, they have free tastings... Just don't choke and spit it back into the glass like I did - Classy to the end eh?
  • But don't stay there.  While the big champagne houses are impressive, they charge more for their tastings and are simply the same stuff that is sold all over the world.  Plus the accommodation and food is more expensive.
  • Instead aim for one of the smaller villages, they have just as many champagne houses and charge less - or nothing, for tastings.  This is especially true if they have 14 yr old daughters who want to learn how to do a fishtail plait and you happen to have one in.  Granted this is fairly specific advice but handy should you find yourself in that position! 

  • Make appointments. While some of the smaller houses are happy for you to just mosey on up and pop a cork, others prefer a little advance warning, especially in summer's busy season.  The town hall will give you a booklet including all the houses, their opening hours and telephone numbers or email addresses. 
An array of the champagnes we tried in one house
  •  Pace yourself, its easy to get carried away and be supping sweet nectar all day but this will most likely result in a sore head and acidic stomach
  • Bring Rennie and Paracetamol (see tip above!)
  • Try to either learn some French or have a French speaker with you.  While most of the places we visited did speak English not all did.  Either way a little effort goes a long way to dispel the "arrogant English speaker expecting everyone to talk their language wherever they are" label.
Dom Perignon's resting place - no champagne bucket in sight.
  •  Don't forget to take in the sights, a visit to Dom Perignon's abbey is a must on a beautiful sunny day and there is a cute antiques shop around the corner that's worth a potter around.
  • Make sure you stop off at a hypermarket for stinky cheese, cheap wine and smooth luxurious chocolates or macaroons.  Though do remember on Sundays they shut at 12 noon.
Cheeses galore!
And have a brilliant time, remember you're in Champagne! I can't wait to go back. Until next time Santé!

All images taken by myself.

Monday 13 October 2014

Shopaholic to the Stars review

Some books are like chicken soup.  Hardly going to win some big award for creativity but soothing, gives you that contented warm feeling and are exactly what you are looking for. The Shopaholic books are that for myself and a huge number of other like-minded readers.  When our lovely Becky bounds back into our lives credit card in hand, mishaps a plenty we know we are in for a fabulous few days, mainly because we already know and love all the players.

We are invested, we know Becky's a total fruit loop but we would definitely hang with her. We love Suse and hearing about what the uber rich are up to this time around.  We still feel for long suffering Luke.  We even think her mum has just the right amount of crazy to stay funny and not be annoying (even if she is the reason for all of Becky's issues).  Her Dad and all other mini characters that swing by (Tarkie is def one of my favs!) also have our hearts so whenever Sophie decides to write about them it's a sure fire killer hit.

This time around the glitz of Hollywood is the setting though anyone could see this was going to be a disaster.  Living in LA for someone like Becky is like asking a heroin addict to go live in a field, full of Opium Poppies, for 3 months and then seeing if they wouldn't mind helping with the harvest!  The crazy ideals of plastic parties, stars, red carpets and of course shopping prove all too much for her, and she really does seem to go off the deep end more than usual here.

So as not to give too many spoilers, I wont go into detail here but anyone that has read the book may well also be saying 'wh-huh'?! (that red carpet scene towards the end!)  Becky, above all, loves her family and friends so how she acts when they need her the most seems difficult to understand (but I'll give it a go).  I believe it's because the Hollywood lifestyle is so much more insane that her flaws - which already were of blockbuster proportions - become magnified.  And how she doesn't get into financial trouble for her purchases anymore is beyond me, I can only assume Luke knows all about her spending habits, plays dumb then goes off and pays the bills anyway!  

That said Hollywood Shopaholic doesn't disappoint.  There are crazy sprees which we can live vicariously through, idiot schemes that you can see falling apart a mile off and tender moments of true love between the characters.  Then, just when you think you've got the whole book sussed bam! the 'We're all called Rebecca' line is planted and you've got a whole new storyline that hits you like an unexpected tax rebate (heightened senses, shallow breath, shinning eyes and 'what the fu*k glee!).  

As usual I inhaled it.  I genuinely had try and slow myself down from reading too much in one day as I didn't want it to be over (it was, way too quickly) and an added twist - look away if you don't want to know anything.......

A fecking cliffhanger!

Hurry up and come back to us Becky, we need to know if everything is OK.

P.S a word to Mrs Kinsella please please please do not kill off her dad or husband like that Bridget Jones woman did, we wont be able to cope.

Much love

Thee Middle Sister.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Autumn Trends/Cambridge Style

You can literally smell Autumn in the air now can't you? As I mooched along on my lunch hour today I got to thinking about unique trends the high street, and in particular Independent Cambridge high street shops are offering and these little gems seemed to jump out at me.

While some accessories here aren't necessarily for those of us on a budget several independent designers have worked with Cambridge Contemporary Crafts for a quite some time and their items have a unique feel when compared to those found on your average high street.  These dinky lambs wool scarves by Tangent work a treat for those of use that get cold even inside our homes.

If lambs wool isn't you thing, Annie Neill's scarves of the more usual thickness may be right up your street.  In case you hadn't noticed the Autumn (or Fall) season means scarves are my latest obsession and I'll probably be banging on about them on and off for the next few months, just so's you know.
If you're on the hunt for quirky jewellery, Anna Wiscombe's pieces, in the shape of birds, leaves and trees are made from wood and have a childlike, yet chic appeal.
Unless you've watched Crocodile Dundee (80's flick) another natural material you probably haven't seen as a fashion item is cork.  This industry is having a tough old time of it recently as cork is no longer used as much for wine bottle stops but the tree still has to stripped every 10 yrs or it dies.  Should the usual display and materials for bags not float your boat you may want to check out Viking's cork bags which look to only be available in Podarok.  Smooth to the touch they've proved fairly popular with Podarok patrons and make an unusual talking point should local fashionistas find themselves in a conversation lull.

Just a few interesting finds for you to ponder over.  Should you require help building up your Autumn wardrobe I'll likely be adding more posts of this genre in the next few weeks.

Until then.

All Images are my own - thank you very much!

Monday 6 October 2014

Old before my time? - Ickworth House Wood and Craft Fair

Ickworth House in the background of the craft fair

It's true; I enjoy a good craft fair.  As we, I dragged my husband along with me, surveyed the crowds it seemed that we brought the attendees age down by about 15 years - if you don't count the Waitrose shopping/Joules clad parents with their children, Hugo and Oscar.  However I was very happy to be in the grounds of Ickworth house on a clear sunny day surrounded by my elders, couldn't say the same for my husband though he did cheer up when he saw a Moonshine Brewery stand.  Just a little gripe the entry fee was £8! (because it was in National Trust site I assume) and there was little, if any, credit card usage.

  • Get a friend or relative you know to lend you their national trust card, craft fairs held in their grounds are a lot cheaper for members.
  • Bring cash; it’s a massive pain in the hole to get card machines to work in fields in the middle of nowhere.
As wood and craft fairs go, this one seemed highly popular and had some great little stalls like my friend's one IF Ceramics. Disclaimer: as the previous sentence heavily implies, this is a friend of mine but that doesn't mean her stuff isn't the shizzle!  Her owl pictures proved very popular though I preferred the hearts you see above, and her Christmas decorations were sweet, unique and at only £3 a proper bargain.
See the Owls I was talking about a minute ago?

Many of the other stalls were also worth a gander and it was so cool to see those with an actual skill making stuff.  Before our very eyes one guy carved a bear out of a chunk of wood, with a chainsaw.  Another guy made nutso Game of Thrones style chairs (except carved out of wood not bones which is much nicer and less aggressive, don't you agree?)

I wasn't the only one to appreciate the woodwork, several times over the afternoon we saw family men carrying beautifully carved chairs or massive slabs of varnished wood over their heads.  A little odd but lovely none the less.

There were also a ton of knick-knacks for your home and garden too.  Cosy Mama made some adorable booties and tablet covers that wouldn't look out of place in The White Company and Newleaf Woodcraft's rustic tea light holders are perfect for any wood lover.

There were also a few larger than average garden ornaments.  Along with the wooden mushrooms, wizards, owls carved into trees and metal animals there were this...
 Cos who doesn't want a dragon swimming through their lawn?

NB: All images taken by myself.
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