Who gets lost at Dot2Dot festival?

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So, I think I owe you guys an apology – it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been slacking on the blogging front. But, I’ll make it up to you – promise.  I don’t mean to rub it in – but I’ve been living the some sort of high life lately and haven’t had time to stop. From press nights at Turtle Bay to menu reviews at Missoula – I’ve basically been paid to eat my body weight in food and drink. Another rum punch? why not.

It’s been a very busy bank holiday. But, it started with a bang that’s for sure. I jetted off to Manchester for a day (and night) of unsigned bands, quirky venues and far too many ciders. It’s safe to say I’m still feeling the effects two days later. Ok, I guess it doesn’t help that I followed the ‘hair of the dog’ rule yesterday and had a generous tipple of gin at a family house party. But, it’s the bank holiday weekend and sleeping, eating and drinking is part and parcel, right?

Back to the festival, before I go on a sleep deprived tangent. The teeny-weeny festival – a cracking £12.50 a ticket – was scattered across Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Proper quirky. Like, who’d have thought you could watch Sundara Karma in a cathedral with a pint in hand? I know.

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I’ve been to a far few festivals, but this was something else. Ok, there was still the odd cup of piss flung in the air – but that’s a given. It was everything without the bullshit. No floral headbands, floor length kimono’s or 125ml bottles of wine in sight. It was just decent music for a change. We stuck to the pint-a-place rule so we could see as many acts as possible – and many acts we saw. By the end of the night, we had no sense of direction at all. Forget dot-to-dot festival – we walked the same circle three times to end up in the exact place we started. At least we found the kebab shop no bother. Saying that, we could sniff one out on a deserted island.  

Liss – a five man band from Sweden – tore the place apart in Soup Kitchen. Set in a grungy cellar – with make-shift toilets and stage – it was a real experience. We’d sacked the all-time favourite Mystery Jets off to see the unheardof band –  and it was well worth the risk. I’m all for sticky feet, sweaty hair and being packed in like sardines.

Dua Lipa were on point. Yet, the venue was past boiling point. Manchester’s Methodist Church was a literal sweat box. Vocally, she was wicked and she had real good stage presence (give or take the late arrival).

 

A festival up there at the top – it’ll definitely be on the cards for next year.

Ey up, a quick inside tip for anyone looking for somewhere ‘different’ for a drink

  • Soup Kitchen – kitted out with quirky furniture
  • Night and Day – proper chilled atmosphere
  • 57 Thomas Street – lush apricot cider

 

Until next time…

The Mad Grad

 

 

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Gym and Tonic – if only it was as good as the real thing.

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So, I’ve finally turned into the person. I’ve purchased a gym membership – ‘cancel any time’ – of course and I’ve planned a weekly routine. Send help.

Screw the beach body, Kim K bum and abs that look like baking trays – I’m doing it to keep fit. It’s so easy to get caught up in the work-life routine and forget about your own goals. It’s important to always put time aside for yourself. Whether it’s a stroll round a park, an hour watching your favourite TV series or a quick workout at the gym – sometimes you just need to ease your foot off the gas for a bit.

Let’s get one thing straight – I’m far from a ‘gym-head’. I’m that person who stares at a machine for ten minutes to figure out how it works. I’m also that person who can barely lift the lightest weights. Oh yeah, I’m also that person who has a half-hearted attempt a gym wardrobe. I’d much rather sweat in an Arctic Monkeys top. That way, at least if I can’t lift, people know I’ve got good music taste. Every cloud, ey?

I doubt I’ll be entering the World Championship body-building tournament or running a marathon any time soon. But, it’s all about one step at a time. I’ve always been a keen runner. Ok, keen and running should never be used in the same sentence. Let’s re-phrase that. I have two left feet, so I never made it as a dancer. And, height isn’t on my side, so I never made it as a netball player. So, I guess you could say running was a last resort. I was tactical – the 200m sprint was my forte. It was neither a sprint or trek.

Ok, I know I say I’m only joining the gym to wind down after work, yet I do have one goal in mind. I’ve done Race for Life, I’ve competed for Sparkhill Harriers and I’ve played for Sheffield Hallam’s Gaelic football team. But, there is still one thing to tick off – Mudderella. So, let’s see how that plans out.

Watch this space.

The Mad Grad

 

 

 

 

 

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“No, it’s not Ashton, it’s Aisling. That’s A-I-S-L-I-N-G”

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Well, that’s a wrap. I made it the end of the week without any major fuck-ups. Yeah, major is the imperative word here. But, it could have gone a lot worst. Believe me. Ok, I might have had heart palpitations, a tied tongue and a spate of shakes when I made my first phonecall. But, I still managed to pluck up the courage to do it. We’ll just ignore the fact it took three hours to do so.

It’s weird – I’m practically an adult now. Like, I have my own you-can’t-see-much-because-it’s-covered-in-sticky-notes desk, a fancy office phone (which I’ve soon discovered actually works) and a fully functioning email address. Woah – calm down. Fashion wise? I get to wear fancy shoes, fitted pencil skirts and elegant dresses – it’s bliss.

Saying that, it hasn’t been plain sailing. It’s a challenge and I’ve got a lot to learn. Writing is my passion and when I’m blogging words just roll off my tongue – but news writing is a completely different kettle of fish. It’s hard. It’s frustrating. And it’s an it’s an art I’m eager to master. I know it’ll come in time and the penny will drop – I’m just very impatient.

As far as work environments go, it’s pretty awesome. Everyone is so chilled and the room is constantly full of flying banter. Of course, I’m always the brunt of the jokes. But you wait, you wait until I’m all settled. They’ll need a tub of sudocreme for the burns. They’ll soon see the punny side. Joking aside, they’re a cracking bunch and have made me feel proper welcome.

Sticking to my word – even though I’ve settled into a job – it’s the year of experience. The first hurdle? shorthand. It’s shapes and symbols, so if it’s anything like algebra – I’m screwed. With that in mind, I’m proper excited to get my teeth into it and whip its ass. But let’s not get cocky – I haven’t started it yet.

So, the good news is that I’m going back for another week. They haven’t managed to scare me off. Not yet anyway. Although it’s difficult, I’m excited to grow and find my niche as a journalist. I know I’ve made the right decision and I’m full of beans to see where it will take me.

For now? It’s about nailing an Intro.

Over and out.

The Mad Grad.

 

 

 

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How to dress your way into a job.

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Eat, sleep, job hunt – repeat. That’s life post-grad. So, if you’re lucky enough to bag yourself an interview – fix up and look sharp. You can bet your bottom dollar your choice of shoe will say much more than 12 GCSE’s (… what are they again?)

Here’s a few tips to get you on your way:

Keep it Conservative.

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Scrap your CV, Linkedin and over-compensated cover letter – it’s all about first impressions. It’s like X Factor (the difference is you only get one shot). Keep it conservative, classy and clean (Of Course). Remember, you’re applying for a job not a position on Take Me Out. You may be £27,000 in debt, have a non-existent social life and be living at home, but the last thing you want is to look desperate – keep it subtle. A simple, flattering shirt coupled with a tailored pair of trousers can work wonders. You’ve got one chance to make your mark – so use your accessories to make a statement.

 

Put some spring in your step

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Tried and tested; vibrant colours, patterned pants and petite peep toes are the passport to a second interview. Dress like you don’t want to be forgotten and left on the shelf. For Pete’s sake – get creative, be original and inject a bit of life into your outfit. After all,  you’ve probably got under half an hour to sell yourself (no, not in that way). So, let your outfit do the intro. Black, ill-fitted, nylon trousers are so ten years ago. Unconventional, extremely comfortable and only-to-be-worn-with-white-knickers, these patterned pants are definitely the way forward. Chuck in a bold top and you’ll be onto a winner (S’alright, just thank us later).

 

The LBD

IMG_2121A girl’s best friend – Little Black Dress. Like a Maccies after a night out – it never disappoints. It’s an item which completes every woman’s wardrobe. Believe me. Simple, sophisticated and stylish, the LBD is the interview outfit. I bet you never thought you could look so professional. Karen Brady, watch your back girl. Perfectly complimented with a pair of mid-heel court shoes and a classy watch, you’ll be more than ready to get down to business. So, get in there and show them who is boss!

Happy hunting.

The Mad Grad

 

 

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You’ve got the Job!

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Reverse back a few weeks – to the point where I was having a mid-life crisis. I’d been rejected from a job I thought fit the bill for me. Now I realise how very wrong I was. Yesterday, I attended an interview at the Solihull Observer for the role of a News reporter/editor. Call me stubborn, persistent or maybe even lucky – but I got offered it within half an hour of the interview.

Alright, it’s only a local paper and the salary isn’t the best – but it’s a start. I’ve got one foot on the ladder and I’m going to climb. It’s the start of an adventure. They’ve even offered to support me through my NCTJ exams to become an accredited journalist. Who’d have thought it?

Of Course, I’m petrified to leave Waitrose – a job I’ve been settled in for 5 years – and it’ll be strange leaving everything behind. But, I know it’s something I needed to do (and soon). It’s a family. I’ve grown so much in the 5 years of working there (and I’m not just talking about height). Yet, I’m sure they’re all grateful that they’ll never have to hear my awful jokes and face my dry humour again. Joking aside, I think I’m more devastated about the fact I’m losing my discount card – no more treats for me.

I’m excited for the future and determined to make something of myself. As I proved to myself, anything is possible. I can’t finish up without making a reference to my guide-to-life-film, Confessions of a Shopaholic. Rebecca Bloomwood (who is just as ditzy as me) worked her way up from Successful Savings to Alette magazine. So, who know’s.

Watch this space.

The Mad Grad. 

 

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‘In yer f*ckin face’

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Take what you know about theatre and fuck it out the window – that’s exactly what In Your Face theatre did. A 75 minute fix; disorientated, confused and at times, extremely uncomfortable – it was proper hit. Performed in The Rainbow (a cold, dilapidated shed) and engulfed by a 90’s rave on arrival – reality was soon lost. Perplexed was an understatement. You just knew it was going to be an eccentric performance, then again, it was Trainspotting.

As a sparse set, erratic strobe lighting and make-shift bodily fluids lined the floor – the artistic directors depicted Welsh’s 80’s novel remarkably. Faced with full-frontal nudity (some involuntary closer than others), extreme violence and a-little-too-convincing drug use, it was impossible to escape from the real issues that were being touched upon. Like the junkies, we also had no choice.

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A credit to Welsh’s don’t-give-a-fuck novel, the performance was next to nothing. Gavin Ross – who managed to get himself into a series of shit situations – played Renton to a tee. Shoulders deep in a faeces infested toilet after lubricating a suppository which he earlier stuck up his back side – Ross has guts. Either that, or a trained gag reflex. It’s more than most of the audience could say. Then again, I didn’t receive a clout in the face with a unknown-brown-substance-soaked-tissue (Others weren’t so lucky). Perhaps quite a large claim to make, the Scottish star’s performance was on par with Ewan McGregor. Ey up Danny Boyle, we’ve found your man for the sequel.

It’s a performance for realists. Screw your average theatre with your pigeon holed stalls and boxes – this was a free for all. Screw boundaries. No-one had a right to an opinion in this place. No-one ever felt safe.

A story about a lack opportunities, an ambiguous future and a broken society. You could say, History is repeating itself. “Choose life, choose a career and choose a fixed-interest mortgage repayments”(yeah right, like that’s possible.)

Done and dusted in Birmingham, the cast have moved onto Bristol for the last leg of their journey. Living up to their 5-star rating, they’ve performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in front of Irvine Welsh, the man who gave birth to this outstanding cult novel.

“Shocking… and I wrote the f*cking thing.”

                                             – Irvine Welsh, On ‘In Your Face’ theatre performance.

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March fashion

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The struggle is real. It’s the end of the month, pay day is still two days away and the shops are rife with gorgeous clothes. It’s torture. Haunted by a hefty credit card bill that needs to be paid off next week; all I can do it wander aimlessly, touch every luring piece of clothing and create outfits in my head. Spring has arrived and the all the shops have undergone a complete revamp. It’s out with the old, dark and dismal colours and in with the new, bright and vibrant. Hang on a minute, let me just wipe my mouth.

Call me a drama queen, but shopping is an addiction. It’s an expensive habit and I get withdrawal symptoms – as you’ve just found out – yet it gives a buzz like no other.  Screw Alcoholics Anonymous, I think I need some kind of retail therapy (… just not in the way I know it.)

March has been mayhem. My feet haven’t touched the ground after tearing up and down the country for various reasons. Unfortunately, these required new outfits. Ok, I guess required isn’t quite the right word to use here.

Here’s a couple of this month’s outfits:

Pinny Prinny.

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Top; H&M (£14.99), Dungaree Dress; Primark (£12.99), Earrings; New Look (£2.99)

The 90’s is making an almighty comeback; the era of oversized dungarees, high ponytails and garish tartan co-ords. Alexa Chung – the queen of fashion – has brought dungarees back in a way we’ve never seen before. She’s gone chic. Comfy, versatile and down-right trendy, the dungaree dress is definitely an investment. Like an irreversible coat – except nowhere near as ugly – you’ll get more than one look from it. Easily jazzed up with a patterned blouse or dressed down with a casual top, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be in a fashion dilemma again. A sucker for turtle-necks, the bright number from H&M adds a pop of colour to what could have been a very dark and dull outfit.

Spring Chicken

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Top; Topshop (£36), Trousers; Topshop (£40), Watch; Olivia Burton (£70)

Patterns, patterns, patterns. Never underestimate them – they speak volumes. I’d rather stand out than fit in – that’s boring – hence why I chose this outfit for an interview. Creative, colourful and classy; I let my outfits do the talking. Dressed to impress, I put on a pair of nude court heels to compliment the dusty pink in the blouse and finished the outfit off with a classy, suede mac coat. Of course, that’s not a practical look for everyday. Alternatively, the outfit can be made more casual by swapping the mac and heels for a denim jacket and pumps.

Photography – @emilyalicephotography

The Mad Grad.

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