Tuesday, 15 August 2017

BLOODSTOCK FESTIVAL WITH KRAKEN RUM


What a whirlwind of weekend I’ve had. I’m pretty sure I’m just a husk right now. I flew from a festival in Germany, with just enough time to wash and pack (although not very well, it would turn out) and then hop in the car and head to my very first Bloodstock festival

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Friday, 4 August 2017

Holidaying at Home


I know with the abundance of picture-perfect holiday posts on Instagram it feels likeh EVERYONE is able, or in the financial position to go on holiday (and regularly). But I promise you it’s not the case. I’m not sure me saying you’re not the only one at home is helping you that much, the extreme feeling of wanderlust or the mere yearning to escape your life for a bit probably overwhelms rational of the nature, but I just wanted to remind you that what you’re seeing online isn’t REAL LIFE. We don’t know what sacrifice or efforts they had to put in to be able to go on the holiday, we have no ideal if the trip was as idyllic as the images portray, we don’t know what aspects of life they neglect in order to be able to travel. Of course there are some simply jammy people or those that come from money, but please don't feel less-than if you aren’t currently in a position/situation that allows you to take time out or afford trips away. 



Apart from my love of seeing the world and basking in the soothing rays of the sun, I’m desperate to get away with Si because of our living situation. Living with my parents and only really having my bedroom to live out of is difficult to say the least. It’s undeniably unhealthy for a couple to have to exists together in a space that is where they both have to eat, sleep AND work, but at the same time have no privacy or independence because interested ears are always a few metres or less away. Si gets to feel like a proper adult at times and escape through his work travels, but I haven’t had any time away from my parents since August. I'm desperate for some time to myself, or with my boyfriend and be able to enjoy each other in the way normal couples of our age can . 



Before I activate woe-is-me mode I wanted to get myself back to the point of this post, that being that is a holiday really isn’t on the cards for you this year, there are some small ways to give bursts of that holiday feeling. I’m not talking about UK breaks or cheap holidays, because I’m sure there’s many people like me who can’t even consider those options either, this is more about pockets of joy.

If the suns out in the garden and I’m at home, I’ll spray on the suntan lotion I love the smell of, you know that ones that instantly takes you back to chilling on that Kefalonia beach with a can of peach juice. Talking of peach juice, I’ll make sure I get those drinks I associate with holiday in - Lemon Fanta, Sam Pellegrino, Orangina…you know, the usual suspects. 



This is another way to create a holiday vibe. If you’ve finished work and the evening is warm head to a pub with outside seating, I try to find one near water for added holiday points. Buy a bevvy that reminds you of holiday unwinding and people-watching, which would be shandy, mojito or Pimms in my case.


People-watching is one of my all time favourite aspects of holidays. I love seeing how other couples interact and getting the ick when they’re way over-zealous with the PDA’s. I love to observe family dynamics and will admit to getting a bit judgemental when witnessing bad parenting. The whole ‘aww isn’t he funny’ when in fact he’s an absolute brat, particularly gets my goat. Of course, as long as I’ve got my shades on I’m a bit partial to checking out the dad bods too. Yes this activity seems more fun when horizontal and sipping on a delicious drink, but who says that needs to be a holiday-only activity.

It doesn’t take much to get brits scantily clad and horizontal when the sun comes out. Going to one of our many great parks and open spaces will deliver, with locations like Alexandra Palace being a hive of summer fun, with the added bonus of incredible views and access to drinks and food, you can get that holiday vibe in an instance. The bonus of a park is also the addition of dogs, which improves any scenario a million fold in my eyes.

Is the hotel pool or the ocean one of the main things you look forward to and enjoy about a holiday? If the answer is yes, I understand that the leisure full of kids centre doesn’t quite fill that void. Speak to your friends and see if any of them are members of clubs, like Shoreditch House for example. I of course can’t afford membership to places like this, but I know many lucky people who get them through their work. Many have options to invite guests for the day, so it’s worth seeing whether this could allow for a few day’s of sunbathing by the pool in the city sun this summer. Failing that of course there are Lido’s. Some of them getting frighteningly rowdy and busy on the really hot days which can be off-putting but maybe try a few and see if you can find one that will deliver a nice place to cool down without the overcrowding completely killing that holiday vibe.
Of course if you have a few pounds to spare you could order a paddling pool to the garden. It’s nice to keep those ankles cool when things get really muggy - muggy in weather terms not the Love Island way.

Another thing I love about a holiday is getting ready for a night out after a day of lying in the sun feeling a little bit rank. Putting on your make-up having been sweaty and bare faced all day, and attempting to sort out that barnet, which has either turned into wire wool due to the humidity, or a greasy oil slick due to the lotion/sweat combo, is a satisfying process . It also serves to separates the day into two parts part which makes it feel a lot longer, which is what you want on a holiday.
Si and I rarely get dressed up these days, we are well and truly into the routine of getting in our sloggy clothes as quickly and as often as possible. We are definitely at that age where comfort rules over all. However I think ensuring you have a few nights over the summer where you put on an ‘holiday outfit’ and preen in the way you would when you’re away, rather than pull up your joggers and the t-shirt you sleep in, will give you those holiday feels and potentially reignite a spark with your beau. 

I’m not suggesting you should spend money and go out for a meal with your glad rags on, that’s just not possible for everyone’s budget, nor do you need to get any fancy ingredients in. Merely changing your normal routine a bit could make the evening feel different, and therefore more special and akin to how mushy you feel on holiday. Perhaps you could eat in a more civilised manner, lay the table rather than eat off your laps. Perhaps you could light a candle or too, and add some smooth tunes in the background, or a Spanish guitar track if you want to be mentally transported away. Maybe you/he could work the gentlemanly moves as if you were out in a restaurant and on a date - pull out the chair, pour her wine, stand up if she goes to the loo.

The other week, even though we were both exhausted, we decided to make the most of the heatwave knowing it was likely to go away very soon (dammit, were we right) and decided to have a bbq. Our first one as a couple of five years no less! We got in the car and drove to our local Argos, managed to find one on deal, grabbed some coal that was on offer at Tesco’s, and checked the reduced aisle for some bargains to cook on the griddle. We already had some veggie burgers and corn on the cobs in our fridge, so it proved to be relatively inexpensive whilst being extremely effective in giving us those summer feels. Nothing like a burnt sausage to make you feel like summer is truly here.

Unfortunately the last couple of weeks the weather has been very inconsistent. It’s hard to allocate a day to summer activities when it glimmers for half hour intervals at a time.



Gandy’s very kindly sent me some goodies this week in the form of a circular towel and some flip flops. I permanently have the Aztec towel draped over one of the kitchen chairs now, so that when I see the sun re-emerge from behind the clouds I can pop on my flip flops, grab the towel and set myself up a little holiday spot in the garden. It’s quite easy to pretend I’m in an exotic location if I squint enough to blind myself to the view of my house, as I have a large palm tree and bamboo in the garden. It’s only when the neighbours kids decide to bounce on their trampoline and peer over that I feel a bit less relaxed. Once again I spray that yummy smelling lotion, spread my bare legs out on the towel and absorb myself in a book for a few minutes, before heading in and getting back to work. If you don’t know about Gandy’s please take time to familiarise either via a previous blog (http://sophieeggleton.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/global-galivanting-with-gandys.html) or by reading their story on their website. By making a purchase you are making a difference.




Now finally for my fellow spoonies that find themselves be- bound and not able to even venture to the dining table or garden, it will be admittedly harder to recreate holiday vibes in your bedroom, but there are a few little things that will at the very least  feel pleasant. It’s amazing how scent can effect your mood, relax or invite your imagination to run wild. If there’s a particular location you want to close your eyes and picture, think of a scent that will make that mental journey easier. Whether it’s Moroccan spices of the bustling souks, or the smell of a grapes from your tine at a vine yard in Bordeaux. So whether you fill your room with incense, scented candles, or food this can help to relax or uplift. If there’s someone else there maybe the aroma can arrive via a massage oil. Like I said before play some music befitting of the location your want to put yourself in whether that be laid back Baleiric, indian folk music or Nashville classic country. Perhaps you’d prefer the sounds of the sea, if so there’s plenty of playlists of natural sounds that can be streamed or downloaded. When Si and I want to be cosy and imagine we are in a cosy log cabin snuggling up we find one of those 10hr fireplace video on YouTube that we stream through the TV. We always end up falling asleep to the crackle of the fake embers.

I was a bit worried this post would feel a bit patronising due to the simplistic advice it offers, I know I’m not suggesting anything you’ve probably not thought of or tried before. I guess I just wanted an excuse to reach out to others who haven’t been able (due to time constraints, ill health, or lack of funds to go on holiday this year, or even on a mini break in their own country.

Let’s not let this summer conclude without ensuring we’ve created some snapshots of a new kinda holidays at home.


Aztec Sand Round Towel £75.00
Aztec Sand Flip Flops £24.00

both from @GandysLondon

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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Having it All and Feeling Guilty


As I start this journey of study to learn mindfullness techniques, and then on to acquiring teaching skills to pass on what I have learned, I am undoubtedly going to experience plenty of those eureka moments. These courses will force me to look hard at myself and access my own behaviours and habits, and in turn question the the way I spend the minutes of my days.


One chapter in to one of my main reference books, and it’s already been made extremely clear how important it is to schedule the mediations in to your life as regularly as possible, ideally daily, and that they should be considered as routine and integral as brushing your teeth. As someone who already feels like they need to turn to cloning or look into medical advances in terms of obtaining extra limbs, I’ve wondered how on earth I am going to manage this.

The reality is we can all find 10-40 minutes a day to ensure to focus on the present in a quiet spot allocated for this purpose. This is something I will no doubt comment on further as I progress through the studies, but initially it has got me thinking about time, and about how so many of us feel there just aren’t enough minutes in the day anymore - to fulfil and tick off all the things we are expected to do for others, or the things we wish to do for ourselves. This lead me thinking about the emotions that resonate because of this, and I think the most prevalent, and most draining, is that of guilt. 


From a young age I remember seeing articles aimed to be triumphant and positive in feminism strength, telling us that we (women) really can ‘have it all’. I know the intentions of such messages were to empower and equalize, and that the authors wanted us to believe that there are no boundaries due to our gender, but I think the repetition of the statement has turned it into a pressure, one that’s really not needed on top of all the other things weighing us down in 2017.

If they’re saying we can ‘have it all’ but we fail to do so, are we failures? Have we let our gender down? Even worse, have we let ourselves down? 


I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s definitely not possible to have it all, in the way you want to have it all, at least. What I mean is perfecting each and every area of your life is very unlikely and probably unachievable. I’m not saying we can’t have a good relationship, a good career, a good social life etc. However, I do think it’s impossible to nourish, nurture or propel one area as much as you  would, if you didn’t have to look after the other areas too.

For example in the last year I’ve turned down a potentially career-changing TV appearance to be there for a friend in need. I knew that if I didn’t I would never forgive myself and the guilt would eat me up, so it was a fairly quick decision, albeit not one those I confided in agreed with. So if we were to summarise this instance, I’ve sacrificed progress in my career to ensure that my social circle was looked after. So, if I didn’t care about maintaining friendships or being there for loved ones my career could be benefitting or flourishing. But would I be happy? Probably not. Definitely not. 


Recently I’ve been on the constant edge of burnout, in fact I’ve probably been in a consistent state of burn-out, in an attempt to keep everyone happy and maintain all the areas of my life. I have to admit to myself that’s it’s just not possible to work as hard as I innately like to work...and be a good friend, girlfriend, family member and human. No doubt this burnout has been accelerated because of the strain feeling permanently guilty puts on your body and mind.

Every week I’m having to let friends down by cancelling dinners, being too tired to head into London on the weekend for BBQ’s and gatherings (having commuted all week), being too ill (due to pushing myself too hard) or too busy to go birthdays, reunions, baby showers etc. It’s truly horrible to feel like a rubbish friend, but if I don’t say yes to all the work opportunities I can, I will be letting work people down, and the concept that ‘I only have myself to blame’ enforced. Afterall I am constantly being told I’ll only start earning more money if I go to these events, meet these people etc. It’s a no win situation. Whatever decision I make I will let someone down, so whether I choose work or a social life, the result is that my stomach will be knotted, I will have to go through an awkward interaction with whoever I’ve decided to let down on this particular occasion, and I’ll have to try and make the most of the choice I’ve made in spite of feeling  greyed by guilt. 



You’re then having to fit in spending quality time with your partner, who also has a busy schedule which doesn’t necessarily working seamlessly with yours, and try and not be a stressed/tired wreck during those windows. I’ve done the long distance thing for a while, and yes the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ thing does work for a time, but for us at least, we’ve reached an age where we don’t want that to be the norm anymore. To make it work for us now, we need to try and allocate some time to one another each week, which I’ve found would be impossible if I were to say yes to all work opportunities that come my way. So I’ll turn down some premieres or a party with friends, and try not to make Si feel guilty for that or like an inconvenient part of the difficult level puzzle that is my weekly schedule.

So once again that involves some sacrifice, which reaffirms my previous statement that you can’t entirely ‘have it all’ in the form you may dreamt it.

Blogging/YouTube is a very hard industry to incorporate ‘No's’ into. When glamorous, fun or exciting events or trips come your way you want to say yes to them all because you are all to aware of how important illusion of being busy/successful is to getting future work with other brands, how good it is for your profile, how fickle and saturated the industry is, and simply because they look awesome…but also because you know that you’ll have to see pictures on your feeds and timelines posted by the people who have said yes to the invitation and opportunities. It’s very easy to become dogged to a unhealthy extent. At times I’ve been a workaholic to almost a selfish level where forgotten how it impacts those people around me. It’s not fair to never be around for Si, and miss out on the moments he wants to share, or always be distracted or work focused when we are finally together. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always gonna work hard and be ambitious, that’s innate, but I can be more selective and reasonable when it comes to what I say yes to. And I do need to remember that relationships are what enrich my life, and I should ensure my determination to succeed doesn’t harm them to a level I’ll regret. 


While we’re talking work, something needs to be done about the 24/7 expectation of people within a lot of prominant industries these days. I saw something on Twitter a few weeks ago that really captured how out-of-hand things have got, and went a long way to explain why so many people are struggling with stress or burn-out. A company going through the interview process to hire new employees decided to test them without warning by sending an email out on a Sunday, if they replied within an hour they’d still be in the running for the job (something like that anyway). Tweeters were quick to point out how unfair that was and reasoned that the opposite would actually be better for business - it would mean the employee would likely be more fulfilled and happy from their weekend and refreshed on Monday ahead of their working week if they’d taken time away from work (and their inbox). But this businesses attitude to a preferable work ethic is not unusual and actually pretty consistent in many industries, like music, media and blogging. Unless we all take a stand against this though it’s not going to change. As long as some people are willing to give up their evenings and weekends, others will be expected or pressured to do so too, so will risk losing their much sought after position if they fail to do so. 


Say you’ve decided to let your foot slightly off the accelerator career wise, for the sake of your friends/partner/family. Your financial position is therefore stagnant or deteriorating. You then realise you can’t afford to do all the things your partner/friends want you to do or take part in . Oh hello guilt, there you are again you rotten bastard.

Most of my close friends are also far more financially stable than me, with homes, cars, regular salaries and such. So every time there’s a birthday gathering or celebration they’ll come with cards and presents, I’ll come empty handed because I can barely afford to pay for the meal we’re having.  I can’t even bring a handmade card anymore, as I haven’t got the time to do thoughtful things like that anymore. Sometimes I even opt out of things just to avoid feeling like a crappy guest or friend, and so to avoid that particular reminder that I’m not where I want to be career wise.


Then there’s the guilt of being absent from social media or other tech methods of communication. There’s a couple of WhatsApp groups I barely contribute to anymore, and I feel awful, as they’ve now become the main forum for my closest friends to share the trials, sadnesses and triumphs of their days, where they seek advice and share their funny or embarrassing stories, and I just don’t have enough/any time to keep on top of them. I can’t read them, let alone respond thoughtfully. After attending an event I’ll see three different groups with 100 plus messages I need to catch up on and it’s so daunting it almost makes me feel sick with stress. There’s only so many times I can say sorry I’ve been M.I.A works been hectic, particularly when I’m talking to working mums who are dealing with stresses of their own. I just wish I could give them that beauty and the beast mirror so they could see how stretched I am, so they could see it wasn’t me not making enough effort or not caring enough. There’s also the fact that social media is a large chunk of my work, (unlike my mates who work in very different industries) so to fill my non-work time doing the same sort of action/process is clearly unhealthy and something I should try and avoid for my mental health... and poor overworked fingers. 


I’ve had to make the decision to stop using Facebook too, just so I have enough to time to do the social media that is more integral to my work, but that now means I’m constantly missing event invites, and no longer wishing friends happy birthday on their timelines - something which I used to be regimented about. Even though I’m making time to post on Instagram I’m not responding to the comments, which makes me feel terribly guilty when someones taken the time to offer kindness or help. Then there’s the messages from strangers I get due to the nature of my YouTube content. I get so many a week now it’s a significant job to reply to them in the nature I would want to. I doesn’t feel right replying to a page and half of heartfelt text with a few paltry or generic lines of thanks or well wishes. So then I don’t reply, and feel wracked with guilt that I’ve not sent anything back. What will they think of me? What if the fact I don’t reply hurts them and makes them feel worse?

These are just a few things I feel guilty about, and I’m sure a few of you have nodded along as you’ve read. While it might be a comfort to know someone else is feeling this perennial and unpleasant feeling in the gut, without at least pondering solutions this article is somewhat pointless.
So what can we do?


In my view it’s something that needs to be changed on a grand scale. Our society and working culture needs to be transformed in a way that is kinder to our mental health and more conducive to maintaining a balance in all areas of our lives. Should there be stricter things enforced in terms of how many hours a week we work? Should there be times of social media blackout so we are forced to have breaks from it? Should everyone have rights to a 2 or even 3 day weekend? Unfortunately, I fear a quick fix isn’t possible, and any cultural changes will take a significant amount of time, with lots of ingrained habits or expectations needing to be befazed out, which will be hard when you consider the trends and pressures of modern society.

I do believe we hold a lot of power to make the changes necessary to mean we will be less hard on ourselves though.

Rather than worry what people are thinking of me (or saying about me) when I don’t turn up to social events, I’m going to explain my position so they can understand why I’m unable to be as present as I’d like right now. I’m going to attempt to use my time more efficiently, being more selective about what I say yes to, weighing the negatives and benefits, and trying to gauge how positive it will be to do it. I will really need to constantly remind myself what’s important to me, and not push myself to do excess amounts of the stuff that isn’t enriching me on a deep or helpful level. Knowing that although being financially stable would make me happy, but being rich isn’t important to me, I’m going to try and make sure my the scales tip a bit more favourably to the social side of my life. My friends are everything to me, and it’s about time my actions mirrored that truth. I also know that I need to try and give myself a break, and acknowledge that I am in a very tricky position and that my lack of energy makes everything harder to deal with.
Lastly I refer back to an earlier point. I think we have to acknowledge that we have to realistic in our quest for ‘having it all’. We have to accept that if we are going to try, there will be times we will get the balance very wrong, and end up feeling bad because of how that makes us, or others feel. 



I’m not saying we can’t have a great career, awesome relationships and a buzzing social life whilst having time look after our wellbeing, but we HAVE to accept that some areas, or even all areas, will involve sacrifice. It’s not easy despite how some people make it appear online or in the papers/magazines, and at some point you may decide it’s sensible/necessary to change your own expectations for your life - don't see this as giving up or failing. This really doesn’t have to mean you’re not striving for your best life, being a boss-woman or championing girl power…I promise you. Knowing yourself, and managing your life in a way that makes you happier is what I call bossin’ it.

Are you living with guilt? What makes you feel guilty? What are you going to do to combat it? 

Outfit Details
 Milk. It Reckless Long Sleeve Tee (available on Ragged Priest)
New Look Bag
Dr.Martens Vegan Boots 
Boohoo skirt
Ebay Sunglasses. 


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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

47 METRES DOWN REVIEW AND EVENT



Not much scares me in terms of activities the many would deem extreme or scary. I’ve jumped out of a plane a couple of times and prepared myself for my first time doing so with a couple of bungee jumps, one in an urban location, another over water. I’ve tried wind-sailing, skiing, snowboarding and water rafting….but that’s where my fearless self came unstuck. Unfortunately on the rapids my kayak capsized and I found myself under the boat and trapped somehow under the water for what seemed like a dangerous amount of time. It was unfortunate, as I was just at that point of allowing myself to enjoy water, finding serenity in rowing down the Ardeche in my bright orange canoe and basking in the 40 degree heat of the valley. It had taken a while to get to that position too as an incident on the water slides at Centre Parks as a youngster, when a hefty bloke decided not to wait for the green blight before coming down, landed on top of me and pushed me deep into the water had haunted me for years. The reason I’m sharing my personal water based traumas with you is to help you understand why a film of this nature makes me react in a way many other films wouldn’t.

I don’t scare easy when it comes to horror movies, and it’s annoying because I want that thrill, increase of heart rate, and the goosebumps that many of my friends get. Unfortunately I seem weirdly resistant to it…we joke that I’ve got Unagi (Friends fans will understand). However, scenes or movies that focus on water based terror make me feel incredibly tense and anxious. So even before I read the synopsis of this movie, the visuals of water featured in promo pictures told me enough to know I’d find this movie a tough watch at times.

First up, I was chuffed to see that Mandy Moore was starring, I’ve loved her since the tearjerking A  Walk to Remember, but have had a recent boost of affection due to her role in the amazing This Is Us. She stars alongside the beautiful Clare Holt (Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries), but it was also a welcome surprise to see Matthew Modines legendary face again. 



I’m not going to drown you with spoilers, but I’ll give you the general splash. The two sisters are on holiday in Mexico together after Mandy’s husband was unable to join her as originally planned. The younger more adventurous sister, Kate (Holt) wants to up the excitement level of their holiday in more ways than one. After an evening of cocktails and dancing with some rather fetching locals, they’re convinced to join them on their boat the next day where they do cage dives to view the sharks. Lisa (Moore) is extremely hesitant being the more reserved of the two, but in an effort to please her sister and prove another point (you’ll know what I mean when you see the movie) she agrees, despite her obvious fears. She lies to the instructor that she has had Scuba diving training like her worldly sister, which is an early warning sign to anyone that knows how these films tend to go, that all is not going to go to plan.

There are a lot of B movie elements to this movie, particularly the script. Yes, some of it’s cheesy, but I actually wouldn’t have it any other way, as it helps to give it that old school horror/suspense charm. You’ll hear numerous lines that to the trained horror-ear can only signal some sort of trauma or doom for the main characters, and I love that feeling of ‘oh god, what’s coming next.’ Mandy Moore is great at being that slightly annoying person in a situation of stress, who states the obvious but also feels the need say unhelpful truths that really don’t need to be vocalised. I genuinely liked this about her performance as it gave these tense scenes a bit of lightness.

I’m not going to say much more now, for fear of ruining it for people willing to go deep into the ocean at the cinema this weekend. But just know, that if you’re like me you have a fear of drowning or water in general, this will be your worst nightmare depicted on screen. You palms will sweat, you’ll want to cancel that beach holiday immediately, and all those memories of watching Jaws for the first time, open mouthed and petrified, will come flooding back. Did it deliver what it promises, from a water phobic, yes it did, but be prepared for a nice bit of cheese with that salty water too. 
  
So feeling drained from anxiety, or as if I might have been effected by the bends via some sort of cinematic osmosis, I headed to the Southbank to try out the Virtual Reality experience they had on offer for one day only.


The Shark Dive experience would see willing participants enter a rusty cage very similar to the one we've only just witness ruin lives. They/we would then be suspended a few metres up in the London air above a shark. Okay, it wasn't a real shark, but it was still a very brave thing to do okay??


I was teamed up with Comedy facebooker and good pal Joe Tasker. Now, if you know Joe you will be aware of his boundless energy, an excess level of zest which will allow him to intensify anything we are feeling through his actions. In this case he was happy to add to the already multi-sensory experience by throwing in some kicks of the leg and some very shrill shrieks, just to get me really riled up and anxious while my vision was completely obscured by virtual reality.


Alongside Joe's DIY added extras, we had a guy squirting us with a water pistol and the unsettling jolts of the cage which were in time with the drops of the cage in the scenes we were watching in our headsets. 


The copious and rather unpleasant amount of sweat created during the screening had only just dried, when my body decided to create a whole new batch during this experience. Isn't funny how you can't control your bodily functions in these instances, even though you know that shark below is only made of paper mache or something and everything you're seeing ISN'T REAL?! What's even weirder is that we enjoy it, in fact we revel in it.


I have always loved simulaters. When I went to Universal Studios as a youngster, the Back To The Future ride blew my mind and I ended up coming out of the ride and straight back into the queue, so I've always been partial to entertainment of this nature. Having said that, the watery location of this one definitely tapped into my aforemtioned deepest darkest fears. 

So, who's going to check out this movie? Who else has a fear or water or sharks? Let me know in the comments.


Thanks so much to team #47metresdown for having us at the screening us and making this wet wednesday one to remember...
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Sunday, 23 July 2017

FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES: GALLERY: 2000 TREES


This was the first time I've ever been able to enjoy a full Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes show and boy have I been missing out on a unique live music experience.  It's the only show I've seen where a singer has reunited a members of the crowd with a phone and a bumbag, that's for sure. I am so warmed to see someone of influence put their voice to such an important issues as Frank has for Safe Gigs for Women. Seeing him encourage females to crowd surf during his set, and seeing so many feeling comfortable (and deliriously happy) doing so, was an undoubtable highlight of my entire weekend. We still have a long way to go, not just in the concerts crowds but the industry as a whole, but we must take time to acknowledge these noteable steps too. 

As with all of the shots from 2000 Trees Festival, they were taken from within the crowd so the angles or distances away from the stage aren't always ideal or condusive to getting great shots, but I still wanted to give it a go without a photo pass.
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Friday, 21 July 2017

Grieving for Lost Idols.



Once again we do one of our mundane and all too frequent checks of our phones to be greeted with gut-wrenching news.

Yesterday I was waiting for my friends before heading into the BLINK 182 show at O2, scrolling so not to feel awkward that I was on my own in this vast space full of logo’d excitable music fans. Then I saw ‘it’ on my timeline, my heart started bursting out of my chest in the same when the home phone rings late at night and I know it can only be sounding to deliver bad and life changing news.

The same thoughts and hopes we all have when we see news that feels unbelievable, shocking or frankly unbearable, were ignited. It can’t be true. There must be a mistake. It’s a hoax or distasteful rumour.

Then you see a respected outlet or closely connected human confirm it to be true.

This one has hit me particularly hard. I had been really upset that I had not to been able to go to their recent shows in London, but had comforted myself in the thought that their would be another chance - which we sadly now know not to be the case.

Although I had a brief meeting with Chester a few years ago in London, and felt a knew a bit about who he was through friends of mine who knew him well, I always hoped I’d be able to talk with him further via an interview. I had always connected with his lyrics and the emotive quality of his melodies always tugged hard, so I think I’d made an assumption that with my inclination to struggle with life, that I would ‘get’ him and the way he thought…however naive or silly that may sound. 
As I listen intently to his songs today and force my parents to do the same by putting them on the TV in the lounge, the lyrics sting prophetically. Although I’d listened to some of these songs for 17 years I don’t think I’d really heard them till this chillingly melancholy day.

He has always told us how dark things get for him, but I guess like many I somehow believed with arenas full of adoring fans, a nice house in LA and an extensive and loving family would somehow mean he was fixed or had just enough to cope. I can’t believe I thought his life was safe from the deathly potential of mental health issues, when I know from my own life how factors external to your mind aren’t enough to always ensure your capable of sticking with life on earth. Why do we find it so hard to really grasp that Depression doesn’t discriminate, even when incidences like this keep on happening? Having things or being seen a certain way doesn’t gift immunity, in fact it can often compound the issue.

If you have success you fear losing it and the rewards it brings. You worry about letting people down. You have a pressure to better yourself with each thing you do or create. You feel anxious you might tarnish your existing legacy. You’re expected to be a good role model and be there for the people that adore you, even when you’re all too aware of your mistakes and less than favourable traits….It goes on. We don’t know what lead to this occasion's feeling of intense hopelessness, but we know it must have felt overwhelming and pulsed at a time he couldn’t muster sufficient reason or rational.

For me, again it’s not about mourning a perfect being, with a talent that elevated him above us normal folk. I’m devastated for the loss of this flawed being. I don’t mean that to diminish his worth or as any sort of criticism, I simply mean he was a human, muddling through life like all of us, sometimes making mistakes and simply trying to make sense of things.. and himself. I’m sad that things got too much and that he wasn’t able to beat the doubts and demons, and in that moment remember that everything could feel very different in a few days time. I’m heartbroken for his kid’s whose lives will be forever changed and for his wife who will undoubtedly have to try and explain the illogical logically as they continue to ask questions as to why. I’m sorry for his band mates who will have lost a career mate, collaborator, brother and no doubt cause of frequent frustration. But I feel added concern for them as they deal with the ongoing stress of deciphering the best course of action in terms of looking out for their beloved fans and Chester’s legacy.

I tweeted my heartbreak last night, although I’m never completely comfortable with my 140 characters when someone I admire passes. When someone who has a following dies I find myself conflicted, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. If they’re someone whose work I have enjoyed during my life whether it be their acting performances or their music I feel an intense sorrow, it’s not at all dissimilar to the grief I feel for a friend or relative when they pass. But with this passing I can’t help but feel I haven’t earned the tears, that I’m taking something away from those that did know them on a personal and intimate level. How dare I be utterly devastated? How dare I cry when I hear their song or see their face on a screen? How dare I share the volume of my sorrow with people who may have known him better?

But when you think about the trivial, everyday, routine things we choose to share on social media, it’s inevitable that in today’s world when anything significant happens we are likely to share our thoughts or feelings on it via Twitter, Instagram Facebook etc. It would almost seem odd to not comment on it, silence could be seen as dismissive or uncaring. For me I knew I had to say something, but when I did I had the fear that some people would judge my chosen words negatively. 

Some people on social feel they have the right to negate the feelings of people that feel compelled to tweet in light of this news. Many assume it’s people jumping on the grief bandwagon, wanting to make it about them, even outpouring emotions  in the pursuit of a retweet. Well there may be some of these we have to give people the benefit of the doubt because only they know the impact the event has had on them. We don’t know how much the song/songs were there at the right time for them, spoke to them when they really needed and made them feel less isolated and alone. We don’t know whether it soundtracked a particularly shaping time of their life, or whether it was an aspect more consistent in their life than family or love. This can’t be a time for assumptions or thinking the worst. If we are to bolster the point of view that it’s important to talk and share, we can’t give people further reason to hold back or edit.

I have some friends that are closed off emotionally, who refuse to open up for fear of burdening or judgement…I can only presume as they don’t tell me why. I still love them. Some of the musicians I’ve followed have shared more than those friends via interviews or their music, so although it’s been shared to the masses a closeness and intimacy has been cultivated. For many of the kids and adult crying today they’re mourning a significant part of their history and moments that made them who they are today (I know for many Linkin Park sparked a passion for music which lead to careers in the industry). Linkin Park probably gifted many with a loving group of friends, formed through a shared interest - the heart- rending release from the fan community backs up this theory.

It’s funny how people are more accepting of fellow musicians tweeting about their sorrow just because their position of fame somehow puts them on the same level as the person who has passed. We have to remember they are also fans, just like you and me - you don’t stop admiring people people just because you have a level of success that puts you on a pedestal in the eyes of others.

I sobbed for much of last night, and for a few moments felt shame about that. But before Hybrid Theory I had been into UK guitar based bands, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics, Oasis and lots more that went under the indie bracket. At around the year 2000 things changed for me, thanks to Linkin Park and bands like Deftness, Slipknot and Limp Bizkit. I now had music that had melodies, but with grinds, breakdowns and turntable squeaks that would allow me to let off steam too, which felt necessary as adolescent with constant frustrations and hormonal angst. Linkin Park were/are part of a movement which shaped me and lead to me becoming the music obsessed person I am today, and were part of many a great houses party which featured daunting first snogs and acrid cheap bottled cider. As I lay awake making my face increasingly red and streaked with salt lines, I decided that it was inevitable and fair to be overcome in this way, and would allow myself to be upset.

Epidemic doesn’t feel like an ill fitting term for whats happening with suicide. We owe it to our lost souls to take action and make the changes it’s so clear need to happen.

Like my friend Jess Hope from Don't Fret Club quite rightly tweeted, it’s so important that bands have constant access to help. I don’t know what band that doesn’t have one if not all members in need of some sort of help, and I maintain that EVERYONE could benefit from therapy of some sort. Everyone has faced difficulties or battles or struggles with aspects of themselves. If not they will benefit  from learning coping mechanisms for when they do.
My therapist worked with a lot of musicians and would often tour the world with them, so he could be there should they need support whilst on tour and away from their nearest and dearest or simply the comfort and safety of home. Although he was of course discrete and never divulged any information, I got the impression it was a service needed often. A therapist should be considered as normal and integral as a manager or guitar tech. It shouldn’t be a secretive thing some artists do to survive. They shouldn’t feel they have to pretend that their therapists is there in a different role. Managers and band mates should ensure members go to therapy if it’s clear that someone isn’t coping and it shouldn’t be as awkward a conversation as it is for some people today. But ideally we’d get to a place where someone feels they can decide to do that for themselves, in the same way you’d go for dentist appointment or take your car in for an MOT, and when I say that I don’t mean putting it off for months on end.

When I think back to my art degree at uni, I struggle to think of someone that didn’t reveal some torment or struggle when we were forced to talk about the roots and meanings behind our work at the group critiques. During my time at uni I had to help friends and myself through all manner of emotionally scarring events, and our artwork or the fuel behind the pieces stemmed from these, and the way our minds reacted to them. I think people who naturally gravitate to creative endeavours are emotionally engaged. I don’t know whether we are innately a certain way and need to use activity and passion to create, for purpose of venting or catharsis, or whether as artists it’s integral to have easy and constant access to our emotions. Maybe it rests very heavily on the surface of our being, and perhaps sometimes that weight is just to much for our mentally frail-ed selves to take.

Although I say frail-ed, but I don’t want to connote weakness when I refer to people who struggle with darkness, in fact that opposite is true. Everyday that someone gets through when the harmful voices are at their loudest shows an incredible amount of strength. With the effort and toll this takes it’s no wonder our defences weaken at times and allow the voices to get heard. If you’re an honest lyricist and struggle with depression, it can’t be easy performing songs that document some of the hardest times of your life on those days where you don’t even want to open your curtains and let daylight in.





Grieving is a personal thing, we all have our own ways of doing it. Some will find social media, and communication in general, completely impossible and prefer to go over (and over) the realisation in silence or private. Others will feel soothed by sharing the grief with others. Others will take to their canvas or notebook and create words or art to capture the moment at it’s height. Today we may see many create meme’s incorporating some emotive and all to relevant lyrics.
Whatever your way, I think it’s important we are sensitive to each other’s unique responses and coping mechanisms. Don’t think harshly. Disregard scepticism or a point of view that has been jaded by modern times. Of course it’s of primary important that we be sensitive to the nearest and deareast, but we mustn’t cause damage by dismissing or doubting our or other’s involuntary reaction to the loss of a life. As long as we’’re respectful to those who will be at their most vulnerable, explaining that we loved someone or the work they created feels logical and correct in these times, even if the events that lead to us sharing those thoughts don’t.

Talk, cry, share. Whatever you do don’t keep it bottled inside.


'Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strenght to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control'
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Wednesday, 19 July 2017

SLAVES PHOTO GALLERY: 2000 TREES


As with all of these 2000 Tree's sets they were taken from within the crowd as I didn't have a photo pass to allow me in the pit. This of course has had an effect on the outcome of the shots. They were taken further away so they're less crisp than I'd like and I definitely wasn't able to get the greatest compositions as I was unable to get myself central to the stage. They had some fantastic visuals including a lit up SLAVES sign which looked great behind the two band members in the shots I've seen from people in the pit, so it's a shame I couldn't capture that. Despite their mediocre nature I still wanted to post this just to prove that even if you don't get a pass you can still enjoy snapping some live music, don't let it stop you!

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INTERVIEW/PHOTO GALLERY: THE XCERTS 2000 TREES


The Xcerts of one of those bands that music industry people adore. Bands, journalists, PR's, and random people like me, believe they should be considered one of our most treasured rock bands. They get consistently gushy reviews for their records as well as their haeartfelt live performances, and now it finally feels like they are going to be appreciated by the masses. 
Their new single 'Feels like Falling in Love' has quite rightly caught the ears of those that have an inquestionable influence on musical releases in 2017, with Spotify featuring the track on numerous go-to playists.
I was so pleased to see that they've clearly been given a budget to deliver a  slick video to accompany and enhance the single, with wondreful palette of red and pink, freehand text and squiggles, and great new clothes and haircuts, this phase feels contempary and more importantly commercially viable.  
And thing with The Xcerts is that no-one would begrudge them success, or even consider the term sell-outs, because they've grafted, paid their dues, and quite frankly a greater success at this time of their career would simply be getting what they've always deserved.
I can't wait to see where this song helps to take them...

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