I went to the library

and I got a bit over excited, a novel, by me.

So, I did have a bit of a rant about libraries the other day, not the libraries themselves, but a bad experience that I had within one and the way in which it is being callously treated by the local Council. Anywho. I had to return some books. Also there were things I wanted to read… So, I ended up spending an hour picking through the shelves and came away with six items. Also, it was wonderful to be there in the middle of the day, during the week and see the place full of young parents, toddlers and retired people, as well as a few folks like me that were clearly putting their free time to good use!

library haul featuring a rec from @sophoes

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Here’s this trips collection of books.

Like I said, I had things to return, but I was also on the hunt for some Mhairie Mcfarlane after watching this video, I found lots of her, but… You know, there is a limit to how much one can hire at a time. I’m also searching for a copy of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty because everyone tells me its wonderful – is this true?!

I ended up with:
Girl Up by Laura Bates | Still on that non fiction train and still have a copy of Every Day Sexism I’ve not managed to finish but you know…
Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt| I actually debated buying this in the airport the other day, glad I didn’t now I know the library had it!
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | Everyone raves about her books, I’ve never read them, so… Figured I would.
The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey | Read the Fifth Wave forever ago, never finished the series, think I might now!
Who’s That Girl by Mhairie Mcfarlane | Sophie made me get it. I’m very excited to read it!
The History of Twin Peaks by Mark Frost | My friend Chris is a massive fan of Twin Peaks, he’s lent me the series to watch (I’ve not finished it yet) and there is a reunion series coming soon which he is very excited about and as this is one of the craziest shows I’ve ever seen, I thought I’d do a bit of wider reading to understand it a bit more!

Any of you guys read any of these? Let me know if they’re any good!

Solo adventures in Edinburgh

There are lots of things I would like to do in life, travel being one of them, that I don’t do because I’m scared at the idea of doing it alone. Which is kind of stupid really because I spend 99% of my time alone, being an introvert will do that to you. Anyway, I finally bit the bullet and decided if I want to experience new places, I have to face my fears and just go, whether I’m alone or not, because if I wait around for someone to go with me, I’ll never get there. So we’re starting small I guess, by taking a solo trip to Edinburgh, somewhere I have always wanted to go and now my only wish is that I had gone sooner.

Ya’ll know I’m a city girl at heart, there’s something about a city, a vibe that you don’t get out of town and Edinburgh might be one of the most instragrammable places I’ve ever been, even if getting there was a little traumatic. This was the first time I was going somewhere completely new by myself and the first time I was flying alone, flying alone kinda sucks by the way, but I dunno, maybe I’ll do it again. My journey began with being chosen for a random security check at the airport, which honestly was the most inefficient thing I have ever witnessed. Like, I know security is important and as I had nothing that could pose a threat, I didn’t have a problem with them singling me out other than the fact that I am slightly anxious in airports anyway and was about to go in a plane by myself, but I did kind of assume that during the check they would ask to see some ID (they didn’t) or you know, check my pockets (they didn’t). Once that was over though, I could really start to enjoy the experience, which was in equal parts terrifying and liberating. Like, I was in a city by myself, I could do whatever and go wherever I wanted and no one knew where I was at any one time. But anyway, Edinburgh.

Once I’d alighted the plane, I made my way to the front of the airport where I had been told by other visitors that there was a shuttle bus which would take me to the city centre, the air link service does open returns for £7.50 btw if you’re considering a visit and the handy voice over tells you which stops are which, so I stayed on til the last one, which took me to Waverley Bridge, a place I now know is slap bang in the middle of a generic looking high street, a mountain and several very old, exciting looking buildings surrounding it. Honestly, there is nothing more exciting than looking out of a bus window at 8.30 in the morning and seeing a very normal looking British road system with a snow capped mountain in the background. Like seriously, this place is beautiful.

This was the first sight to greet my eyes when stepping off the bus in the heart of Edinburgh, the Scott’s memorial (which it turns out is for Walter Scott and not Scottish people in general, though that would be a nice thought).

Well, I thought to myself glancing from the Whetherspoons to one side of me and this beautiful piece of architecture to the other, this is off to a fabulous start. I couldn’t check into my hotel until 3 p.m. so, naturally I did the next best sensible thing, I looked beyond the memorial towards the castle and thought, I’ll go there first. So, I walked in its general direction for a couple of minutes before consulting google, who decided to abandon me in my hour of need and took me on a fifteen minute detour through Princes Gardens around the place before I found a group of school children to follow. Wait… That wasn’t meant to sound as weird as it did. Take that in the most innocent way possible!

The castle reminded me a bit of the Tower of London, there were lots of little exhibitions and a great view and there were even crown jewels, though much like in London, you aren’t allowed to photograph the jewels there either. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I am a nerd and I love learning, I was actually surprised and ashamed of how much I learned at the castle about Scottish history, like guys, Scotland is part of the United Kingdom and yet, I had been told nothing of Scotland in history lessons at school, I guess I arrogantly assumed that it was all British history. Sorry, Scotland.

After spending several hours soaking up the castle and getting blown into oblivion because once again, my ignorance of Scotland was being proved by the fact that I, someone living in the South of England, thought  to myself, its March, how cold can it be? It was bloody freezing. It was snowing on and off and blowing a gale. But anyway, after taking way too many photos and visiting all the exhibitions, I left the castle grounds to explore the Royal Mile, which is what my previously visiting friends had all raved about and honestly, it is possibly the most beautiful street I’ve ever walked down, seriously Edinburgh, you need to stop with all the things to look at, my eyes can only do so much.

At the other end of the Royal Mile is Holyrood, which had some commotion going on outside because there was a debate of some sort going on inside. Much like the rest of the city, Parliament was a very pretty building, as was the palace over the road and the mini mountain behind it. Can we take a moment to appreciate the fact that I was considering climbing Arthur’s Seat because google told me it was a hill? One thing to take from this trip, google is not always to be trusted. The closer I got to Arthur’s Seat, the less hill like and the more mountainous it became,  I got a little way through the park and thought, nah, you know what, I’m happy just being here.

By this time it was getting fairly late in the afternoon, so back along the Royal Mile I went, debating ticking off something else off my bucket list and getting a tattoo from one of the many shops along the High Street, but my rumbling stomach won out, so instead I headed back to Waverley and across the bridge to Princes Street on the search for a vegan restaurant called Henderson’s I’d found, again on my not so trusted friend, Google. Turns out the place does exist and had a very exciting menu, however, until the evening it didn’t do main meals, only salads and well, it was snowing out and I hadn’t yet eaten, I didn’t want salad. So, a high street chain provided me with lunch instead, which was a shame, but my stomach appreciated it.

By the time I’d eaten it was late afternoon and what can only be described as a blizzard was taking place, so I checked into the hotel for some respite, before going on the hunt for a hat and scarf in one of the many shops along Princes Street. Sadly, it being ‘spring’ not a single woolly item could be found. So, I decided to continue my exploration of the Royal Mile and its side streets in a bid to keep warm, I did find a Writer’s Museum (which doesn’t open on Tuesdays, boo) and perhaps the most exciting thing, the Elephant House, where J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter.

Not being much of a drinker and having been up since 3 a.m., I retired much earlier than I’d have liked and I had to be up fairly early to get back on the bus to head to the airport. Next time, I am planning a much longer trip!

One final thought about Edinburgh, I love you. You’re aesthetically pleasing, you’re friendly af, you have the best atmosphere and I am very sorry I didn’t visit sooner.
Also, the Scots have the best sticker grafetti, seriously:

Yes, Please

Yes, Please – Amy Poehler

Here we are, another episode of Leah actively continues on her quest to read more non fiction.

In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

Fun fact, I went to the library the day after International Women’s Day and grabbed this off the shelf of female authors before they started dismantling it, partly because I’ve heard it’s a good book but also because I have two goals and they are to read more non fiction and to read more female authors, so I figured I’d tick two things off at once and I had a jolly good time doing it.

So, Amy Poehler isn’t someone who’s work I’ve seen a  lot of, of course I’ve seen Mean Girls and of course I catch snippets of SNL and obviously we all love Parks and Rec, but other than that, I don’t think I can even name any other project she’s been involved in. If you’re like me and don’t know that much about her work, don’t expect too much of her life story from this book, this was more of a collection of essays anchored in experience than an autobiography and was honestly a really enjoyable way to find out more about being a woman in Hollywood and a woman in the entertainment industry. I’ve said before that autobiographies are great because they’re a really accessible form of non fiction and they’re even better when they’re about someone you already have some knowledge or an appreciation of, but I think this style of biography, if we can even call it that, might be my new favourite form of non fiction.

Aside from the fact that Amy has a really engaging and witty voice, the book is really nicely put together, the pages are all glossy and there are images and diagrams, more like a scrap book than a traditional piece of prose, we get lists, scripts, life advice and all sorts which made it seem much more like sitting down and having coffee with someone than just listening to them dictate their life history to you. Real talk, I did spend a lot of time just flicking through and stroking the pages. They feel nice and I like bright colours, don’t judge me!

Basically, if like me you’d like to read more non fiction but you’re not really sure where to start because its a big, intimidating genre, this is a great step in the right direction. A biography without being too much of a biography, mini essays about a range of subjects and badass women doing badass things and teaching you a bit about life on the way, what more could you want?!

If anyone else has read this or can think of similar style books, let me know, I want to consume them all!

Probably a broken record but…

Hello there friends, it feels like its been a VERY long time since I last sat down and just wrote how I was feeling… I think its because although I rarely get things to the standard I would like, I am a virgo… So like perfectionism and planning is sort of my thing… Anyway, I had a point I wanted to make and I’m already getting distracted, see, this is exactly why stream of consciousness posts so rarely work for me!

The thing is, the thing I kind of want to talk about today is a thing that is talked about (I certainly have mentioned it several times before) a lot, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I am going to mention it again. Libraries. They are important and they are under threat. I love libraries, I think they’re hugely important aspects of our communities and they need funding and they need saving and they need to stay. I seem to talk about it a lot when in front of a camera But…  Today I kind of came to the realisation that there are many libraries that really don’t help themselves.

Let me explain.

I am fairly lucky in the sense that I live in an area where there are several libraries fairly near to me and thanks to an agreement among them, I can use any one of them I choose. So I literally can stroll into a random one and hire books if I so wish. That’s pretty cool.

Here comes your first bit of back story.
Recently, there has been a bit of an uproar because Bath’s Central Library and one of the smaller services in a town on the outskirts of Bath are about to have their library services cut and the two libraries moved. The local council would like you to believe they haven’t made a decision on this yet, but they don’t seem to have told their marketing department this. Ooops. Anyway, the people in Bath city centre took it upon themselves to save the central library and serve the council with some pretty scary legal stuff, but the people on the outskirts of town could not care any less that their library service is being cut which for a while really bugged me because its probably the library I use the most, that was until today.

Second bit of backstory.
Through the summer and ending this month is a library run scheme called the Reading Passport where you get the chance to win a load of books if you happen to collect stamps from certain decades in your passport. Genius idea, I love reading and being a stationary nerd, I quite like stamps too.
I mean, check it out, I am so nearly done! (Though sadly, won’t be done in time to actually enter the competition.)

Only five stamps to go and my reading passport is complete!

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Here comes the bit where the two backstories come together. I visited the smaller library today partly because I was in that part of town, partly because I wanted to try and get an extra stamp in my passport and partly because I wanted to see how well advertised the consultation on the move was, seeing as no one seemed to care.
Firstly, the library was packed, which was great to see.
Secondly, the two librarians on duty were more concerned with chatting to each other about their holidays than helping any of the people trying to use an out of order machine to hire out books or put away anything that had been returned. Not so great.
Thirdly there were no posters or consultation forms and when I asked, neither of the librarians seemed at all bothered about the fact that their jobs might not exist soon.
Finally, when I approached them with my reading passport and a selection of books, despite the reading passport having posters around the place and loads more attention than the actual important consultation about the library being moved into a much smaller space, neither of them knew what it was or what they had to do with it.
And there I was wondering why people are so passive about library services being cut. I love libraries, I know that one sour experience will not change my love for libraries, I know they are important and they are used, sometimes quite well, but honestly, if the people working in them don’t care, why should the wider community?

Though I love the concept of libraries as a quiet space for education, the collecting of books and archives, a study area and a community hub, if they want to survive, they have to change. If they want more people using them and engaging with them, the people in them need to take notice of schemes they’re running and engage in them too, they need to be attentive, no a library isn’t a shop, but god damn it, you are there to provide a service, so when an elderly lady is trying to hire some books, offer to book them out for her, don’t just watch her struggle with the self service machine and if there is a threat to that service, maybe be vocal, tell people where they can get information and send their opinions and for heaven’s sake, display the damn consultation papers. I want libraries to survive, I want to join the fight to save the two that are currently under threat in my area, but they need to want to save themselves too.

Yeah, I have no idea what this post is.
I should not write without planning in future.

Leah out.

*edit*
This is a complete stream of consciousness and is in no way meant to bash librarians – I always wanted to be one after all! It is merely me venting my frustration at the apathy exhibited by two particular librarians, who I’m sure were just having a bad day.
Also, if you are interested in helping the residents save the libraries, there is a consultation on at the moment via bathnes.gov.uk and Save Bath Library have a very informative Facebook group!

February round up

For being the shortest month, I packed a lot into February! I ended up hanging out in London with my buddy Charlotte for a few days which involved visiting all my favourite spots in the city and getting into Matilda for £5! Yaaaas! This month I also saw me saying goodbye to my little Fiat and getting a new… well… Little Fiat and eating all the vegan treats, Tesco now stocks vegan fish fingers, so naturally, fish finger sandwiches had to happen and if that wasn’t exciting enough, the Foo Fighters played in my tiny Somerset town! I didn’t get a ticket because I’m not on their mailing list, but as I’ve played the same venue, I’m going to go ahead and tell people that I’ve opened for the Foo Fighters.

What I read this month:

18867162Just one damn thing after another – Jodi Taylor
I saw this series in a book haul on the internet and then thought of it again when I started watching Timeless (which is great btw, check out my video below for how much I love Timeless!). For the first book in a series, it is very slow to start and takes a while for the story to kick in, but when it does, God! What fun! Being a history nerd and a lover of science, I did enjoy this and I’ll be checking out the rest of the series, there is time travel and dinosaurs and conspiracy and relationship drama, what more could you ask for?!

8247122Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher
I really wish I’d come across this book sooner, Carrie Fisher is such an engaging and hilarious writer, there are very few people who can make you sympathise, relate and howl with laughter all at the same time, but she manages it. Reading this made me not only appreciate her genius all the more, but also made me so sad at the loss of such potential, my new aim is to track down all the rest of her writings!

13262783Everyday – David Levithan
I read these in the wrong order, I read Another Day, which is the same story from Rhiannon’s point of view back last year and although I enjoyed the concept, I found the whole thing a little bit invasive and I’ll be honest, reading A’s account creeped me out on a whole new level, it’s so… rapey… I guess, I can’t think of a better way to explain it. I still think the idea of being a genderless being who experiences different identities every day is an interesting concept, but the contents of the story are still problematic for me.

28686840Holding up the universe – Jennifer Niven
I’d seen so many mixed reviews, though mostly positive for Niven’s other book, All the Bright Places, which I’ve yet to find at the library, but when I happened across this, I thought I’d give it a go, plus the cover looks pretty. The thing is, I’m not really sure how I feel about it, the romance felt a little contrived and the fact that Libby spends the whole book complaining that all she is known for is being the fattest person in the country and yet can’t stop reminding the reader every other second did irritate me no end! Not sure if I’ll be searching so hard for All the Bright Places now I’ve read this…

26200563Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin Manuel Miranda et al
OMG I WISH YOU COULD ACTUALLY SEE THIS IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK I OWN. It is a fact commonly acknowledged that I love Hamilton (I have tickets for next June) so when I saw this in Waterstones, I had to grab a copy for myself, if you love Hamilton, or just shows in general, it is a wonderful art book full of anecdotes of putting together a stage show, from conception, to curtain up, as well as photographs showing the staging, costume design and additions from several contributors of the show. Photographs do not do it justice and I don’t think my words did either, but if you are interested, I reviewed it here.

70947Northern Lights – Philip Pullman
This month news broke that Philip Pullman was releasing another series of books based around his Dark Materials trilogy, this excites me! So, I figured I better re read them before the new book comes out! I’ve not picked this trilogy up since the first time I read them when I was a kid, so I had a wonderful sense of nostalgia reading this and it made me so sad that the film was awful! The first time I picked these up, I always wanted to be Lyra and have my own daemon, guess I’ll just have to play pokemon go more often so I pretend my vaporeon buddy is a daemon! These books are great by the way, so… like read them!

Films I watched this month:

You may have noticed if you follow me on twitter, have been keeping up with my Film reviews in 10 tweets or less posts or this video, that I really like films and that I spend a lot of time watching them, so here are all the films (some new, some rewatches) that graced my television this month!

  • Hurricane Bianca
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
  • The Lego Batman Movie
  • Divergent

Considering the cinema in town has reopened, I didn’t get to catch as many new releases as I’d have liked this month! Prepare for that to be rectified.

TV I watched his month:

  • Taboo
  • Shadowhunters
  • Teen Wolf
  • Timeless
  • Sneaky Pete
  • Supernatural
  • Riverdale
    My new obsession! I might start wearing dungarees, Jughead is my new icon.
  • Brooklyn Nine Nine

 

My favourite Instagram posts this month:

the fourth plinth is now very excited about something

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They say you should spend valentine's with those you love so T Hardz and I are having a lovely evening

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Kinda love walking down here when there's no one else around

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The carnege left by Storm Doris

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What I did on YouTube this month:

What I loved on YouTube this month:

I can’t not mention this from danisnotonfire, like for serious, were all music teachers evil because I related so hard when I think back to not only my piano teacher (she even said the same thing to me about Fur Elise and my fingers!) but my drum teacher too! (It genuinely was like Whiplash if you were wondering.) While we’re on the subject of danisnotonfire, this golf video with Phil was hilarious and I’m not entirely sure how this wasn’t flagged… I want to recommend a whole channel because with all the fake news and alternate facts flying around, if you need a good source for news, Philly D is your boy. Also twenty one pilots are documenting their final few nights on tour with a series of mini documentaries, here’s the first one.

Bean juice pancakes?!

bookishbakeoff

The cakes I bake and the books I read while baking them. 

sam_1567

So I made a post about vegan pancakes last year, but this year I found a different recipe and thought I’d give it a try!

You will need:
A frying pan
Something to grease your pan with
200g flour
200ml soya milk
1 table spoon olive oil
1 table spoon sugar
1 table spoon maple syrup
40 ml aquafaba (chickpea water. Bare with)

So, let’s talk about the chickpea water.
I have seen on the internet you can use it instead of eggs, so I did. Basically, open a can of chickpeas and drain the water out, keep it though, measure out 40ml and add it to a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, give it a whisk and you’re ready to go!
Now usually I would read while baking, but I was making these while the Robert/Aaron wedding was going on and ya’ll know they’re my problematic ship, so pancakes and getting emotional over soap characters. Standard.

Pour the mix into your frying pan, heating for about 2 minutes on each side and then covering with the toppings of your choice! These did have a chewier texture than I’m used to, but I was using gluten free flour which may have been why, they were certainly the easiest pancakes to flip! So, though the idea of using the water out of a chickpea tin sounds weird, it actually worked really well!

Hamilton: the revolution

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Hamilton: The Revolution – Lin Manuel Miranda and Jeremy Carver

There just isn’t a photo angle in the world that does the beauty of this book justice.

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages–“since before this was even a show,” according to Miranda–traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.
Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don’t throw away their shot.

Some things you need to know about me:

  1. I love musical theatre
  2. I love coffee table style art books
  3. I love the music of Hamilton
  4. I love history
  5. I love Lin-Manuel Miranda and his infectious enthusiasm for everything

Something else you should know, I have tickets for Hamilton London but it isn’t until NEXT JUNE. Damn having to compete for tickets with like the entirety of the UK based Faniltons. So, because my opportunity to see Hamilton is over a year away, I turned to the internet for other Hamilton based things to fill the void and I found this beautiful example of a book.

Right, lets start with the book itself, it is hard back, the cover makes it look like an old school history text book, the spine has gold leafing on it, the pages are finished with these rough edges making it look all ancient and important. I wish there was a way to show you all which could really do it justice!

Then, when you open it, you get the story of how Hamilton came to be from the initial spark of inspiration to opening night, you see costumes, staging, behind the scenes photos, original lyrics, notes and little anecdotes from those who created the show and even Barack Obama!

If you are a Hamilton fan and you don’t like spoilers, maybe wait til after you’ve seen the show, but whatever your stance on spoilers, if you love the show, if you love musical theatre, if you love art books, then you need this in your life. Yes, it is a tad on the expensive side, but it does look ever so lovely on your bookshelf.