It’s high time I re-started sharing more of what’s inspiring me, or bringing me joy.It’s high time I re-started sharing more of what’s inspiring me, or bringing me joy.
I’ve missed it! I have missed telling you about the highlights of the last few weeks on a regular basis; lists of books, plays, films and events that have sparked ideas, made me smile, or got the old grey matter working a little harder.
I can scarcely believe that spring has arrived, and we are a quarter of the way through the year.
So before more time escapes, or I get distracted by something else, here are a few of the things I’ve loved lately, from the first two-and-a-bit months of 2022.
This list doesn’t cover everything from this month; the majority is focused on January and February, because it’s taken me so long to publish this post! I know, I know.
We’re a little late with Brassic, but we’ve made up for lost time, and finally finished the show last week. This brash and brassy series is outrageous, but its crooked exterior holds a heart of gold.
It seamlessly, exquisitely transitions from crude jokes and outlandish, illegal behaviour to tender and relatable explorations of topics like male mental health, trauma and trust. I’ve not watched a series like it before and I know Vinnie and the gang will stay with me for a long while.
The Great Pottery Throw Down
I’m late to the party with this one, too! After trying my own hand at throwing pots on a wheel last summer, I watched my first season of TGPT this year. It’s unlike any other show of its kind. While its foundation is a familiar competition format, this show deftly weaves in joy, equality, empowerment and more into each episode, which made it a very moving and powerful watch.
I personally was thrilled with the outcome, but found the journey and the progress of each potter to be the most rewarding part. Seeing the competitors’ emotional journeys, and their stories told through clay, was wonderful. I look forward to the next season.
Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
This guide to weathering the storms of life, in the same way we might weather the world’s coldest months, was one of my first books of the year, and it really couldn’t have been better timed. Wintering is beautifully written, woven with full-hearted, personal stories about helping yourself through not only Earth’s darkest season, but the darkest months of life too.
May has a magical way with words and I really cannot recommend this book enough, especially if you feel you are in one of life’s ‘winter’ periods, when things feel frostier and hibernation is not a want, but a desperate need.
Come from Away
February saw my first visit to London since summer 2019. I was anxious, but we had a fantastic time cramming as much as we could into our trip – including an evening with Come From Away.
I’ve wanted to see it for years, and we managed to get bargain seats in the stalls on TodayTix hours before catching our train. If you’re a fan of theatre, you’ll likely have already heard the hype around the show, so I won’t go into detail; but I hadn’t seen a musical like this before. There’s such a great homespun and heartfelt feel to it, and you almost get a sense that you really are watching everyday people perform on stage with so much non-stop energy and emotion. It’s genuine and honest and witty, and it surpassed my expectations. Wonderful stuff.
Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Cinderella
Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Cinderella was the second show of our London trip. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect and was a little concerned it would be more pantomime than stellar ALW production. However, I was thrilled to be proven wrong. It was witty, brazen and audacious, and the cast were spectacular. I’m not sure I’d say it was that family friendly – but despite what its headline song says, it’s certainly not a Bad Cinderella at all. I had a ball.
Holly Naylor’s Stop Trying To be Fantastic
I loved seeing Holly Naylor’s Stop Trying to be Fantastic when it came to MAST Mayflower Studios in Southampton in late January. It was accessible, open, and an amazing example of simple yet beautiful storytelling. Holly is a wonderful performer and I hope that’s not the only time I get to see her work. I’m very much enjoying how many poetry-based shows and events are going on at the moment, and can’t wait for more!
[AD] The Wild Wordsmith’s Winter Writing Camp
From late February to early March I took part in The Winter Writing Camp with Amber, the owner of The Wild Wordsmith. Amber is a fellow word lover and invited me to join her and a group of other women on a four-week writing course, covering different topics each time, designed to increase confidence and creativity. We explored poetry, memoir, fiction and journalling, with intense periods of writing and learning, as well as meditation. As a writer, I think you can never attend enough workshops or courses, and I learned a lot about both each craft and my own creative process as the weeks went on.
This was a gifted experience, but I genuinely want to share more of what we did, without obligation – so keep your eyes peeled for more!
For now, here are some of the haikus I wrote in the last day of the course.
Drawing Portraits with Oils with Stewart Beckett
Lockdown saw me rekindle my love of art, and since late 2020 I’ve been dabbling with watercolours and acrylics; but for me, nothing compares to oil paints. I put off using them because they’re messy (and we’re renting our home, so need I say more!) but when local artist Stewart Beckett advertised a portrait drawing workshop with oils in Southampton’s Arches Studios, I jumped at the chance to dabble again.
It was a full day of using oil paints like I’d never used them before, and it was fantastic being back at an easel drawing from life. Oils are tricky, but I love the intensity of colour and the way they blend. I learned a lot during the jam-packed day and I’m really hoping I can return for another session soon to improve my skills further. Stewart was a great teacher – and he’s also a very skilled artist!
Dinner at Le Mercury, Islington
I enjoyed a delicious dinner at Le Mercury with a dear friend, who I met with for the first time in three years on that aforementioned trip to London. I enjoyed a very tasty cauliflower steak with kimchi, and a rather tremendous creme brûlée, with lashings of tasty red wine in a super cosy and intimate setting. It was excellent. I would absolutely return.
Appearing on BBC Solent
I’ve had my voice on the airwaves a couple of times now, and so was delighted to return twice in early 2022! The first was an early-morning poetry reading and chat about the City of Culture on the day Southampton’s Bid was submitted – in which I successfully fielded off some tricksy questions before I’d even had my first cuppa! The second was a lengthy pre-recorded interview on the same subject, where I was introduced as a ‘cultural commentator’ by the lovely Tom Stroud – something I found both entertaining and exciting!