this must be the place

I remember the first time I came here, ten years ago. It was summer, my hair was a blazing orange from a poor decision, and the dog went bounding into the water with absolutely no fear. Inside I was trembling. Terrified. It was the start of 'my new life', the start of my time in this new place. This beautiful place, so rugged, and yet so strange. So unfamiliar. 

Now, I come here, and I feel at ease. I've walked round the reservoir so many times I don't think I could count. I've walked with family, friends, and boys. I've walked with hope, with sadness, and with ambivalence. Bright, bushy-tailed, and other times jaded with hangover. 

I've seen it through the seasons. Glistening from Spring, covered in Winter frost, and now glowing gorgeously with orange. 


turning 25: limbo years old

This week I turn 25. Mid-twenties. Halfway through my decade of exploration, experimentation, and enjoyment. Or at least that's what I'm told it should be!

Some of my school friends are getting married. Some are having babies. Some have already knitted together their family units for life. And I sit here, sometimes feeling more childlike than ever. Like a fraud of an adult, forever on the cusp of teenage cautionlessness. Staying out and sleeping in. Panicking. Prioritising stupid things. Residing in this urban cocoon, growing my wings.

There are still so many things I have yet to learn. There are still so many things I wish to see. I dream of sailing away for forever and a day. Yet, sometimes I feel like I'd love nothing more than to curl up with you and the dog inside a precious terraced cottage. Somewhere where smoke billows out the chimney, you cook, and I write. And we plod along, happily.

We've got time, I remind myself. I look away from the lives of others, and go with my gut.

Twentyfive, alive and thriving - that's all we need to remember.

Everything will be absolutely fine.


a sunday kind of love #9

This past week there's been torrential rain, there's been Chicago, there's been Black Treacle ice cream from Northern Bloc on Black Friday (as well as some purchases...), there's been food markets like Orange Pip in Middlesbrough which I'll post about soon, and there's been CHRISTMAS SONG after Christmas song... which I'm not actually that adverse to. (I love Christmas songs. And films for that matter.) Seriously though, I've seen the Coca Cola truck, drank mulled wine and Christmas pudding ground coffee, seen many a Christmas tree, so yes- I think it's safe to say it's beginning to look a lot like... 

Watch//  Werner Herzog's Lo and Behold: Reveries of The Connected World (those football playing robots, though!) 

The Hygge Conspiracy - an interesting look at the word that is everywhere
Frances visits a Cat Cafe in Manchester and it looks AMAZING

Drink// This week I went along to The Botanist to sample their new Winter Warmer range. I'll post more about this soon, as I'm keen to try out their Mulled Cider recipe... But the Mulled Wine was an absolute treat, and it was fun to learn how to make the other cocktails, one featuring plum and Justin Timberlake's own tequila. 

Wishlist// With my birthday (next weekend) and Christmas approaching, I've been thinking a lot about what I'd like. Forest Gin, which is made from foraged fruits, would be oh so lovely if it came in a smaller bottle for a slightly smaller pricetag. And also, I'd love a trip away in a log cabin!

Have you all had a wonderful weekend?


chicago at leeds grand theatre

The show begins with jazz. Fishnets, sleek bobs, and suspenders dominate the stage as the singing and the dancing illuminate the simple black set from the outset.

And all that jazz.

Toned limbs and taut tummies draped in lingerie, alongside bulging packages framed in waistcoasts and tight tight trousers. A fierce and fiery sexual energy.   

I remember watching the film Chicago many moons ago and being bowled over by Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones in the roles of Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, respectively. This run of the famed Americana musical sees Hayley Tamaddon of Emmerdale and Coronation Street fame as Roxie. She is small, smiley, and suitably convincing as the fame-hungry naive criminal-ette.

As Velma, in steps professional dancer and musical theatre extraordinaire Sophie Carmen Jones. Jones is ultimately the star of the show, exuding charisma with every smile and twirl of her talented legs.

In support of the lead brunette vixens, we have fellow Emmerdale alumni John Partridge, who cut his acting teeth in West End in productions such as Cats, which the cast of the original U.K. tour he joined at age 16. He is a dashing, warbling Billy Flynn with his Ken Doll looks and sparkling grin. 

And then we have Jessie Wallace (yup, Kat Slater) who returns with a flash of leopard print, extreme bronzer, and a bouffant hairdo as Matron 'Mama' Morton. Though her singing was undeniably and somewhat surprisingly beautiful (as it always is when you don't know an actor can hit the notes), her acting left a little to be desired as she appeared slightly wooden in her stern demeanour, a world away from the sass of Queen Latifah in the Hollywood version. Was she uncomfortable, was she nervous, or was it simply that no one could live up to the vitality of Jones as Velma Kelly?

Luckily, the band were on-hand, cleverly showcased onstage throughout on a stacked block, bringing such energy and pizazz to the music and lyrics. The entirety of the stage direction was impeccable. Seamless choreography, languishes of vaudeville, and the much-loved melodies that were enough to get anybody's fingers clicking. 

Chicago to me, then, was simple, yet powerfully seductive. 

And that's good, isn't it grand, isn't it great... Definitely worth a see!

Chicago The Musical is at Leeds Grand Theatre from Tuesday 22nd to Saturday 26th November

Tickets are priced from £23 to £47

Book online at or call Box Office on 0844 848 2700

thankful on thanksgiving

Three years ago today on Thanksgiving I was in Texas eating kolaches and guzzling cocktails with lovely friends. This year I'm in Leeds with a profound lack of pumpkin pie. 

Oh how I miss that place so much. The neon green drinks, the baroque architecture, the drawls.

Despite this, there are a lot of things I'm thankful for.
My friends, my family, my boyfriend, my job, my flat, to name but a few! Living and being in Leeds with all the wonderful things that are happening at the moment.

And my memories of that slightly burnt turkey, the candied yams, the homecoming to the suburbs.

To my friends across the ocean that never escape my wandering mind, who I miss terribly...

Happy Thanksgiving!

What're you thankful for?


christmas at fazenda, leeds

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to head to a festive tasting lunch at Fazenda at Granary Wharf.

We were greeted with glasses of sparkling Jeio, then had the full gaucho experience, with meats carved at our table. Beforehand, we'd filled up on the salad bar which boasted sushi, cured meats, hot dishes, and of course an amazing array of salady bits. 

I'd never been to Fazenda before, and knew of it only as a fancy restaurant. What I hadn't quite realised was how much food you would get... We're talking mountains of meat. Upon arrival, you're given a card that when it's turned to the green side means you're constantly abounded with more and more rodizio cuts, sliced for you by the amazing waitstaff. When you turn it to red, that means the endless wave of food stops. Unless, of course, you turn it back to green again.

I also hadn't quite realised how lovely and relaxed the ambience would be. It was festive, and warm, and cosy, and frankly perfect for a Christmas meal.

I imagined sitting there, happily dressed up with friends and family - a real occasion, with real occasionwear. Sparkly chit chatter over glorious beef, lamb, chicken, and pork cuts (oh and chicken hearts).  After the fine wine, I imagined leaving the restaurant -- red, green and gold clobber blowing in the wind -- feeling suitably stuffed after some of the finest food in Leeds...

 And feeling more than anything, innately full of festive cheer. 

Now that sounds like the most wonderful time of the year to me.


hello again old hometown

I thought everything would've changed, just like I thought I'd changed.

It had been a year and a half, and yet as soon as my feet hit the pavement they knew where to go.

I expected lines of new buildings, for the roads to have morphed. But places have a funny way of going on without you, of not orbiting around you, of thriving in spite of you.

You still feel like home, like I know every nook and cranny so implicitly that I could never get lost.

But you're doing so well without me, and I take comfort in that.

On the sunniest day of the weekend, we drove to the beach - to a secluded part, away from the tourists and the buzz. We sat for a while, and as the water lapped at the shore I felt the warmth of security on my face.

Soon enough, though, it was time to leave.

Just like a sweeping then withdrawing wave, such as I had bursted in, my departure came around far too soon.  

It was time to say goodbye to my old hometown once again.

Just so you know, I take little pieces and pools of you wherever I go.


the poetry in paterson #LIFF30

A review of the 30th Leeds International Film Festival's opening film Paterson.
America is a country that revels in the romanticisation of its small towns. The high school dramas that centre around the beloved sports team; the films that chronicle the microcosm of a high street; the musical odes by well-known singers that celebrate an old-fashioned way of living. 

In Paterson, Jim Jarmusch takes this idea and pushes it even further. Not only do we find ourselves immersed in a small town, but also within the home and daily lives of the title character, Paterson (played expertly by Adam Driver, the master of introverted charisma) and his ever-enthusiastic stay-at-home-wife, Laura. 

We watch curiously as they arise at the same time each morning, as Paterson patters to work as a bus driver each day, and as he returns each afternoon to Laura, who's more often than not spent her time channeling her energy into some zany, artistic task - whether it's baking cupcakes for the farmer's market, incessantly painting, or playing guitar. She commits herself to each endeavour which such tremendous gusto, and perseverance, that one can't help but be swept up by her passion. 

Paterson himself finds a creative outlet in his poetry, which is shared with us on the screen as small, swimming words. In the same vein as his heroes and much alluded to fellow Paterson, New Jersey patrons, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg, his poetry concentrates on the material things around him. "We have plenty of matches," he muses, proceeding to describe simply yet imaginatively a matchbox. There is never a sense of cyniciscm surrounding Paterson's poetry, never a flicker of the 'struggling artist' trope we're so used to seeing. Instead, his words flow out of him, simply as his method of chronicalling the beauty he views around him. 

Finding joy in the small moments is the central message of the film. In the dull monotony of their weekly routine, Paterson and Laura are never defeated, and never pessimistic. Instead, they breathe life into the daily pint of beer in the bar while walking the dog, the daily dinners, and in their relationship - so calm and yet so packed with an ignited sense of love and dedication. She's the yang to his yin. Paterson smiles each day as he opens his prepared lunchbox to a different photograph of Laura that she's inserted, and a different assortment of foods, painted with circles.

Circles are another theme we see frequently. This is a film in which many symbols are repeated in ways that are often open-ended and unexplained. At times this can become infuriating, as you search for the fact behind the fiction, the meaning behind the menial. One morning for example, Laura energetically tells her husband of her dream in which she bore them twins. From then on, identical twins appear everywhere in the town, to a comical degree. What should we make of this, we wonder? Should we infer this to be attributed to their lack of children? Perhaps it's Paterson's desire to procreate, later solidified by his tender meeting with a little girl who appears as a prodigal daughter figure. Is it purely a red herring inserted by Jarmusch to pique our interest? Or maybe, we should simply see this as just an interesting detail in their run-of-the-mill lives. 

Along with twins and circles, it's worth nothing that watches and waterfalls also appear repeatedly, a testament to the circular, repetitive, infinite loop of the film, and of life -- its structure reminiscent of a comfortable, intimate, self-assured Groundhog Day.

I imagine Paterson to be a very divisive film. For those that appreciate a linear storyline or a copious amount of action, this will most likely make you grimace. You may even be bored to tears. For me, I see it as a film that becomes more enjoyable after you've seen it, like a food with an intoxicating aftertaste, as you ingest slowly the weird array of moments you've witnessed. It is after all a sum of these small cohesive pockets, from Laura's hilarious English bulldog Marvin, who's every pant and wiggle illicits a laugh from the audience, to the many conversations Paterson overhears as he drives through the city each day, to bar-room brawls and rappers in launderettes. 

It assesses the grandeur of history, of the legend of creative greats, and interposed with this the everyday things that inspired them. The streets and things and people emboldened by their loving gaze, poured into glorious verse. I view the film as a poem in itself, a post-Modern ode to small-town America. Strange to watch, a little disconcerting, jarring and at times overtly mundane, but ultimately timeless. 


love brownies, ilkley

I love Autumn. It's the season of wrapping up warm, sipping hot chocolates, but mostly it's about the beautiful, bold and bright colours. The reds, the oranges, the yellows, and ...the turquoises. Love Brownies with its vibrant exterior is a little Bakery & Shop nestled away in Ilkley, perfect for an Autumnal treat.