January is all about Art

This month , I have decided to do more art, and less blogging. “But you are blogging!” I hear you say! Well if you do see a blog this month, it will b about art or opinion, not a product or experience.

I love doing digital art on my iPad, and it’s also a brilliant tool for photo editing. But my first love is painting. I have always been a painter rather the. Someone who draws. In primary school I asked for watercolour paints, and my grandparents helped me to learn the basics. As I got older, I discovered other medium and a love of bolder colours, and mainly work in acrylics.

Lion and the Lamb

I love portraits, animals and fan art. I love the use of texture and words and symbols tangled into the paint, and try and use few colours in a painting, and use white to vary the shades.

Luna

I have had a love for impressionist artist from an early age, and my parents took me to Giverney, the house and Garden of Claude Monet which inspired painting series such as “Waterlillies“. The textured use of paint, and the light has been a big thing for me, even though I don’t paint similar subject matters, he is alway prominent.

Chuck Close, photo realistic portraits

my other major inspiration is Chuck Close. The year I did my GCSEs, my parents took me to New York, and I got to go around the Museum of Modern art where I found his supersized paintings of faces. Chuck Close had two major types of work, between 1967 and 1988, he work with airbrushing techniques, creating photo realistic portraits, which inspired the ink jet printers. in 1988 he suffered a major seizure, which left him paralysed from the neck down. he refused to let this stop him, and his style changes, but not the size, or subject matters. Interesting for such an incredible portraits artist, he his “face blind” ( Prosopagnosia) and remembers faces by painting them.

Chuck Close’s more recent work

Over the previous 10 years I haven’t painted. I lost faith and enjoyment in art, my career, and my family took over, and I forgot about how much joy painting has brought me in the past. So this summer, having more time on my hands, I decided to paint over a photo canvas. This painting turned out far better then I could have hoped, and has given me confidence to continue.

Ying-yang nifflers

This year I would love to stretch my art further. I would love someone to buy a painting that I’ve done. And I would love to create a fan art Pin badge champagne via Kickstarter. Also, I am hoping to create some local merchandise in a collaboration with a friend to celebrate the city I love, Coventry. so keep you eyes peeled for my new projects this year.

Cov painting

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Brexit; food for thought?

Ok, I admit it, I’m worried. With no deal and the date set for 29th March to leave the EU, I am concerned firstly about the food supply. Although the UK can support the population, it will take a lot of time to re-establish the lost farms, repurpose land, make enough equipment and train farm workers. It will also mean a change in diet for the population, and a population used to a world of choice.

The Guadian back in October 2018 said;

While you can, for example, source British-produced flour, oats, sugar (from beets), salt (by Maldon, for example), vinegar (apple cider, say, as opposed to balsamic) mustard (although the Colman’s factory in Norwich is closing next year), Marmite (the Burton upon Trent factory isn’t going anywhere but, frankly, who can risk a run on their supplies?), lentils and more, you’ll want a stash of your high-quality EU goods, too. Start with olive oil, pepper, pasta and rice. For flavour, you’ll want spices, chilli and herbs, anchovies and tomato (paste, tinned and passata).

Then you need bulk and protein: canned and dried pulses (kidney beans, butter beans, black beans, chickpeas) and tinned fish (sardines and tuna). Add to that tinned olives, pickled capers and jarred peppers, and you’ve basically got a cheat’s Ottolenghi.

We have grown accustomed to cheap pasta, vegetables, rice and meat from Europe, not to mention booze, but import tax will go up meaning the overall price will increase. We have also no guarantee that VAT won’t go up.

The other concern is that the military have also been told be on standby to be deployed to ports to help control chaos. The Air Forces will be deployed to keep the vital medical supplies in stock, and the navy will be used to keep the food supply moving, and to police smugglers and people traffickers. I don’t mean to scare munger, they are currently only talking about 3500 personal, but these things could easily spiral, given that we are an island. Also the government has has spent £13.8million on a contract with Seaborne Freight, to run a ferry service between Ramsgate and Ostend to ease the issues, but Seaborne has no ferries currently as the have never run a ferry service before? Read this

But are we only worried about European products going up in price? No, every import is likely to be increased in price, as every place that we import from will have to be renegotiated, and as such a small country in the grand scheme of things, we are unlikely to strike a better deal then we currently have. And do I think the saving from the EU will used to subsidise this? Erm, I wouldn’t have thought so! ( Oh yes, and the UK is making no saving in the next 5 years due to the leaving fines etc that the EU insists we pay. Read this

So Today I got started on stockpiling food. I bought three 3kg bags of pasta, 20 tins of passata, 5 tubes of tomato paste and a packet of paprika. This cost me under £20 from Asda today, I plan to pile some more, including more spices, rices and jars. I will try and keep you all updated, and let you know about any dramatic price rises I’ve noticed!

So what do you think? Do you plan to stick pile food? What are you going to get? Comment below and let me know!

(As a side note, I also got £6 Cashback on QuidCo for placing an order as a new customer, and if you sign up you could get an additional £5 for doing so! I also use TopCashBack for similar offers for cashback on online shopping.)

The Botanist Coventry

The Botanist Is the hottest new venue this Christmas, in Coventry. It is the last in the Cathedral Lanes development on Broadgate. It is part of a chain of venues across the country which embrace fresh ingredients, interesting mixology and wonderful spaces.

Using the centre of the old shopping centre, they have made wonderful use of the glass roof, and turned a grotty space into a light, bright, glamours hot house! It is unbelievable what they have achieved with this space!

You enter through toast iron gates on the ground floor, and walk up stairs which are around a glass lift. On the way up you pass a wonderful balcony which overlooks Broadgate and the Lady Godiva Statue. This is going to be awesome I’m the summer, and I can just imagine people watching, Cocktail in hand on a summers evening.

Through glass-doors, is a warm waiting area with booths and benches. there is some lovely “reclaimed” light fittings and foliage to make this are feel cosy and welcoming. Then you enter the wonderland! Over the stream via a humpbacked bridge with gazebos at either side, you are faced with the vast space!

Because both times I went were opening weekend events, the Gazebos were set up. One was for live music acts, and the other was for drinks tasting. But I’m pretty sure that these will contain tables and will be available to book in the future.

The chain is famous for its mixologists who use premium alcohols and fresh botanicals. They also have a vast array of craft beers, spirits, wines, and soft drinks.

Generally the bar staff were knowledgeable and well trained, but I asked two bar men to make me the best gin&tonic, one just made one with a standard, readily available gin, with “tonic” from the soda stream, which I was sure was actually just soda when I tasted it. And the other opened a new bottle of Silent Pool Gin, and a bottle of double Dutch “watermelons and cucumber” tonic which knocked my socks off! It was garnished with mint and a slice of grapefruit. It was insanely good.

My favourite cocktail of the experience was the Matcha melon iced tea smoking cocktail. This was served in a glass teapot, and teacup. It was light and fresh, and had a certain sense of theatre that I loved.

The canapés that were handed around was lovely, and the staff were happy to e plain them to us. This was the best food I experienced at the venue.

We were also invited to Sunday lunch at The Botanist, and this meant we could see the venue in day light, experience more if the drinks, and try the roast dinner. Unfortunately the wait for our table was long, the choice was very limited on roast meats due to the late seating, and when the roast did arrive it was cold. Everyone else sent theirs back, but I was so hungry that I decided to eat it as it was.

The beef wasn’t as pink as. Would have liked it, and very thin. They had asked if I wanted it Well dome or rare. The braised cabbage and veg on the plate were tasty. the Yorkshire pudding was crispy. But I was disappointed with the potatoes which had no colour, and had no colour, and weren’t crispy.

The sides were tasty and the best part of the meal. I was a bit disappointed by the service upstairs in the restaurant in general. The food was slow, the drinks took ages, and every time any of us tried to catch the attention of a of staff, they seemed to ignore or avoid us. Also, I wish they hand split our party of 8 onto two tables. They knew we were coming, and it was annoying to be separated by the main aisle that the staff took the food through to the rest of the tables.

I was also very annoyed that by the time the food had been redelivered to the rest of the group, there was no dessert left. Not only this, the staff were asked twice before they told us that they had run out of dessert. I left the venue still hungry, and went across Broadgate to Greggs to buy cake to make up for it! So all in all I was very disappointed in the restaurant, even if the bar and venue where good.

* As a group were were invited Back to have another meal, I was unable to attend as it was mid week when I have my daughter. Unfortunately other bloggers said the food was nice, but small portions for the price, and the service was very poor. I was meant to visit on my own last week, but decided to skip it as the management had not citified the problem, and left most of the group upset.

http://www.drainedbeauty.co.uk/2018/12/the-botanist-in-coventry-good-bad.html

http://fashionistachic14.blogspot.com/2018/12/blogger-event-botanist-coventry.html

http://www.justgem.co.uk/2018/12/lifestyle-botanist-coventry.html

https://www.esmespurlingmedia.com/😁🇰🇷🇷🇼🍡🇸🇴🇸🇮🇸🇲

Over all I loved the place, somewhere to go to listen to live music, have a drink and enjoy an evening. But I wouldn’t go back for food. One bad experience is not grea, but hearing about the second incident with the other bloggers, I would not go back for food again. It is expensive, small portions, and staff need more customer service training. This makes me wonder how long it will last, the cocktails may keep it afloat for a bit, but there are two venues within Cathedral Lanes that offer good cocktails, and do 2for1 offers, which means that unless they do something spectacular, after the initial buzz wears off, it might not get the business to stay afloat. Only Time will tell.

Etch and Pin

Okay, I admit it, I am totally obsessed with pin badges, and I also love where I live, so when I found out that there was a Pin badge maker in Coventry, championing the city, you can imagine I was rather excited!

Every month, Etch & Pin release a new pin badge, based on something in Coventry. You can either subscribe to get them delivered every month, or get them individually from Etsy or one of the stockists in the city.

This month the subject is the iconic Elephant building which is part of their the Swimming Baths that are soon to be closed, and replaced by the water park currently being built over on the other side of the City. More on the history of the building, check out this article.

There are exciting plans for the building, as talked about in this article from the Cov TelegraphIf like me, you don’t want to pay postage for a local product, there are already three businesses stocking Etch&Pin. Milk, vintage clothing, The Ink Well, (Coventry Uni art shop) and Backhaus & Co in FarGo Village.

Milk vintage Clothing

The Inkwell, art shop

Backhaus & Co

Previous badges have included “it’s a batch”, “I 💙 Cov” and “Sent to Cov”. What would you like to see next? Comment below on what you would like to see.

Peter Pan at The Albany Theatre, Coventry

Hurrah! It’s panto season! One of the best parts of the festive season!

Photos by Dave Fawbert

The Albany theatre in Coventry is in Panto Season at last!! The Ceridwen Theatre company, are run as a not for profit company, andthis is their third show at the Albany theatre . They have been creating new, collaborative theatre for over a decade.

Photos by Dave Fawbert

I really enjoyed the fact that their was a strong family tie in this production, and I immediately spotted the similarities within the cast, and the actresses playing Peter and Wendy are sisters, and incidentally their brother, Lyon, adapted the text for the stage!

Albany auditorium

This is not an all singing all dancing, sparkling, high rolling affair like the Belgrade puts on every year, but it embraces the soul of British panto. There are sing-a-longs, men in women’s clothing, girls playing boys and a villain you can boo and hiss! It is perfect for little kids, and my daughter is off to see it in a schools matinee next week, so I am keen to see how she likes it!

Photos by Dave Fawbert

It is a far cheaper way to go to a panto the other competing commercial venues such as the Belgrade and the hippodrome. At only £11 for adults and £9 for kids, it is much more affordable.

The Belgrade charges;

  • Tickets: Adults: £16.50 to £26 Children: £11.50 to £21 Schools Earlybird: £12.50

The Birmingham Hippodrome charges upto £99 per seat for its version of Peter Pan, but it offers a starstudded cast, acrobats, and spangles all over the place!

Kids activity pack in the programme

Granted that the Hippodrome and the Belgrade will put on spectacular shows, but we all tighten our purse strings in the run up to Christmas, the Albany gives a wholesome alternative to the commercial venues. Another thing to note was that the “merchandise stand” in the foyer was without whistles, sparkly flashy rubbish and costume that are all to common at most Pantos theses days. They had miniature treasure chests, and chocolate coins, and other cute little bits related to the show. also, the programme came with a colour in Peter Pan mask, an some activities for the kids, which I thought was a nice touch.

Peter Pan at Birmingham Hippodrome

Picture from Sleeping Beauty at The Belgrade Theatre

For a review of Sleeping Beauty at the Belgrade, please visit; Drained Beauty

I have loved Panto from an early age, and was “Happy” in Snow White with the local Am-dram at the Age is seven. I performed all the way until I was 17 when I found that I loved stage management. At 19 I went to Rose Bruford, to do a degree in Stage Management, and had a career in London where I worked on many shows, including Panto season in Barking.

I’m done with this ..Ship!

Peter Pan at the Albany is a barebones cast of five; Wendy, Peter, Hook/Mr Darling, Smee/Mrs Darling, Nana/ Puppeteer. I kind of missed kids being involved, but with how child labour laws have changes, it has become even more difficult to juggle rehearsals, and performances that include children. Also, I can imagine schools issuing fines for absences have also caused a big issue. this means that there is nearly as many people off stage as onstage! (And most of these seem to be the staff of the theatre!)

Photos by Dave Fawbert

I love the simple transition of the set from bedroom to Neverland and back. Both the adaption of the set, and the use of puppetry is a beautifully conceived device, which means that you are in no doubt to what is happening. Also, the Narrator, who I’m pretty sure was a recording, was brilliant in navaigating the audience through the story. Frank Topping, has one of these warm voices which at once puts you at ease, and makes you comfortable. His rich, chocolate tones are perfect for this role.

Photos by Dave Fawbert

The stand out performance for me was Mark Topping, who played both Smee And Mrs Darling. He is so natural, easy to watch, and his comedy timing was a Joy. He made a brilliant double act with Morgan Rees-Davies who played the villain Captain James Hook.

Photos by Dave Fawbert

Tinker bell and the croc were noticeably absent from the cast list, and as Keystones to the story, I was untreated to see how they were created. Tinkerbell, the badtempered fairy who is well known from the Disney film of a Peter Pan, is simply created with a laser pointer, handheld lights and a lovely Tinkerly bell. I personally wish it had been pointed from anywhere but the wings, as the haze meant the beam was very obvious, but I’m sure Kids wouldn’t notice/mind. the Crocodile, was a inflateable one, the type you use in the pool on holiday. this is so that it can be tossed around the audience during the sword fight between the goodies and the pirates. This is great fun, and the children were roaring with laughter!

Over all, I think it was a lovely production to take the kids to. It was two halves of 40mins which is just perfect for little ones. The venue is wonderful, and in a beautiful building.

The show runs until the 22nd December 2018. Thickets are available from the box office, or call or visit their Website.

The reality of blogging

I admit it, I don’t cope well with stress. I currently cannot work because I can’t cope with stress. In fact I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) which means that stress takes me back to traumatic events in my past and leaves me a crying jibbering mess.

I can come across as a confident, friendly, competent adult at times, and I sometimes forget myself that I can fall apart at a moments notice.

I blog because it gives me purpose, it makes me feel like I’m doing something. I love supporting local businesses and experiencing things that I couldn’t otherwise. I like pushing myself outside my comfort zone, and doing new things. But I have found in the last couple of weeks I have had some experiences that have left me wondering if I should be a blogger.

Now previously I have voiced strong opinions, and at other times I have not written reviews because I didn’t want to endorse a product or place. I had decided to be discriptive instead of negative at times, but sometime I think that a rant about a place or product is ok. If it is constructive.

A big restaurant has recently opened and invited a blogging group I’m involved in to attend the vip opening and a meal. Although the party was really good, the meal as disappointing. As a group, the restaurant manager asked for a do-over, which I wasn’t able to attend. Bad service and a waitress having a bad day lead to emails, phone calls and a threat to one on the bloggers on their own social media occurred. This has let me, and others in the group in shock.

It has made me think about myself, and how vulnerable it can be to be a blogger. It also made me think about the fine-line we all walk. Is it right that because I am a blogger I should be positive about a business just because they have given me a free product, activity or meal? Is a blogger more honest if they pay for things themselves? Personally, I don’t think that any blogger should be dishonest with their readers. I feel that if they like a place/product and want to gloss over faults that its ok. But if they get a bad experience, then a blogger should share that with their audience, and should not get abuse for doing so. It is possible to disagree and have a healthy debate, but it isn’t cool to get nasty and personal.

Being part of a blogging group is really interesting. There is no such thing as an average blogger. Everyone writes on different subjects, everyone has different experiences, and enjoy different things. For example, the Teezers excursion of this week. The three others who came, enjoyed how quiet it was, had great cocktails and really loved the decor. Does this mean I was wrong to write a review where I critiqued it? No, I don’t think so, as I try to be constructive. I try and see who might be the target audience, and will never just say “it’s bad.”

What do you think, is the turmoil of blogging worth the stress? Is a free meal, ever really free? Or are we simply being paid to be an advert for a business and should tell the story the business wants us to, and put aside our own view?

Teezers Retro Golf

Themed adult golf is HOT right now. They are popping up everywhere. As you may remember I went to Ghetto Golf a few months ago in Birmingham and we agreed that Coventry really needed one too. Since then they have started popping up everywhere.
Teezers, just outside the ring road opposite IKEA, has opened up in the recently disgraced Club M.
The people behind this venture have been planning it for a while, and have visited every adult crazy golf venue in the country, and decided to strongly theme each hole, and regularly change hole to keep it fresh.
Current themes (December 2018) include Jurassic park, Tetris, and my favourite “Baby Shark”!
…I mean “Jaws
Now I could walk you through all the holes, and talk about the fantastic pieces created for the golf holes, but there are plenty of other blogs and reviews that will do that. Most were really well done, it there were some things that missed the mark, such as the Gallagher Brothers on the “Oasis” hole!
…Liam Gallagher
I went in a small group of bloggers, on a quiet Monday night after the opening weekend. We were one of a few groups in, but it felt empty. I don’t want to complain that we didn’t have to wait at each hole, or feel watched by strangers. But, it did lack atmosphere, and warmth. The music started off in the retro theme with 80s and 90s hits, but soon strayed into more modern contemporary music suck as “Pink!” Singing a version of Million dreams, which came out very recently.
I can’t deny the the decor of the holes was stunning, and it’s obvious that a lot of money and effort has been put into the golf, but I just didn’t have fun. Sometimes being treated as a reviewer sucks. I really really wish I could have been there on a proper night, where it was busy, the drinks were flowing and I could have a laugh with my friends.
Talking of drinks, I have an axe to grind. In this day, everyone is concerned with plastic straws, health and safety and the environment. Well, Teezers not only use two plastic straws per cocktail, they shove it in a red plastic cup (frat party reference apparently), and include a plastic golf club for good measure! Now I get that health and safety means that plastic cups, are the “right” choice for a golf venue (especially one that used to be a club where a stabbing happened). There are so many reusable options available which would create a nicer experience for the drinker and the Planet.
The venue boasts the only Tango Burst machine in the country which is allowed to include alcohol (offically). This means that it is in prime position behind the bar. Also, all the cocktails come with shaved ice, which of course cuts their drinks costs. This means, between the opaque red cup, and the shaved ice, you can’t really see your drink. They do make a different garnish for each of the cocktails, so you can tell them apart, but I was constantly unsure which was my drink all evening.
If you too are a Harry Potter fan, as I am, you too would get excited if you spotted “Butter Beer”. I read the ingredients, (Sailor Jerry, Licor 43, vanilla, malt) and thought “Yummy!” But boy was I disappointed. It literally tasted like cheap beer with butter in it? I cannot imagine why or how someone thought this was a good idea! It should be a warming butterscotch flavoured sweet drink, but this was simply dry, and foul. It left a greasy feeling in the mouth and and unsettled feeling in general.
I did try the ones that others had, and they were all sweet, fruity, and full of alcohol. They are billed as fun, and nowhere as serious as their cocktail bar on Spon Street, Samoan Joes, But I think that for £7 a cocktail, they need to step up their game.
The food is provided by Hangry Moose a “street food” vender who claims ” the way street food should be” on the bottom of the menu. Street food is one of those Buzz phrases which is very up to interpretation, but it’s basically Regional fast food, available from a cart, van or stall. The Decor around the kitchen hatch reflects this, and The Hangry Moose originates from a catering van in Bromsgrove. In their other venue they concentrate on breakfast and burgers, but have created this new menu exclusively for Teezers. They also boast a 5 star hygiene rating.
I found several major problem with the food. Firstly is the size of the portions. With a price tag between £6 and £8 on average, the portions are humungous! I could not have eaten a while portion on my own. For example: tempura prawns contain 24 deep fried prawns and two small pots of sweet chilli sauce. This costs £8. Maybe a half portion for could help more people order food, and could, in the long run cut down on food wastage. Also maybe some further info about portion size on the menu would be useful.
My other issues about the prawns were that they looked horrible. The batter looked under done, and the prawns were only just cooked. They lacked any seasoning, and the sweet chilli sauce was disgusting. Saying that, they were still one of the better items I ate. Now I understand that street food isn’t all about how it looks, but when it both looks and tastes mediocre at best, you do start to question it.
Next thing that was served up was Hangry Sticks (double fried chips topped with Chilli con carne and chipotle mayo) and Sweet Spot (Sweet potato fries topped with nacho cheese, bbq sauce and crispy onions).
The Marketing person is a big fan of Hangry sticks, and says that he eats them every day for lunch, and has them every day for lunch. The chips are crispy, the chipotle mayo is lovely, but I found the chilli a bit lacking.
The Sweet spot fries would be delicious if it wasn’t for the fact that I personally hate nacho cheese. The Sweet potato fries may be the crispiest I’ve ever had, but the flavour is a bit lost unfortunately. Again, I have to point out that the potions are enormous, and at £6 a portions are totally a meal on their own. (Plain fries are £4 and sweet fries are £6 per potion)
I was impressed that we were asked about food allergies when we arrived, especially as one of our party has a nut allergy. This was particularly important because we were served “Chicken Nut”, deep fried chicken coated in Crunchie Nut Cornflakes. These are available in the types: Faldo, Tiger and Hangry. We were served Hangry, which were so hot and sour that none of us managed to eat more then a bite. Totally a shame, as if we had been offered a choice, we all would have gone for the none spicy version. We all commented on the amount of spice in everything, and how much we all struggled with how hot it all was. Personally, I love a bit of spice, but when everything is so spicy, your taste buds hurt, it’s not an enjoyable experience. I would have liked to see a nice bbq sauce on these chicken bits, I think that would have been lovely.
Finally we got given the Pigs in Blankets. These were agreed by the group to be the best item. The did look over done, but were crispy and tasty. And I loved the Chipotle mayo.
Over all, the food was oversizes, clunky, and deep fried. Not very appealing to look at and if I went again, I wouldn’t rush to eat. I can see that the target audience is Men. Spicy, heavy deep fried food in giant portions, is not really inclusive, and certainly wouldn’t recommend it to any of my friends. Saying that, the others in the party enjoyed the food much more then I did.
Over all I didn’t enjoy the evening, but I think I had an unusual evening, and one that no one else would have if they visited Teezers. If I were to go again and paid, I would go at a peak time, order a beer ( they have a nice selection of BrewDog beers), eat food that was more my taste (Maybe a burger without cheese?) and have a fun night with friends enjoying the busier atmosphere. But That isn’t the experience I had, so I have to be honest and say I didn’t enjoy myself.
One last little niggle, was that the water in the bathrooms what’s super hot. When I mentioned this, the venue plumber (who was sat having a drink at the Bar) was dragged over to explain about how water now has to be a 60 degrees to help prevent the spread of legionnaires disease. It felt really sorry for the guy, as all that is needed is a warning sign so future patrons don’t scold their hands like I did!
price wise, it costs £10 to get in, and booking is recommended. Beers start at £4.50 and you could save on food if you go in a group and share a few dishes. But I recon you would easily spend £30 on a night out. But you could easily save money by not eating or drinking there.
If I compare it to Ghetto Golf, I would say that it wasn’t as Cool, fun or as tasty in general.
Teezers is more of a budget venue, and could be a good alternative to going to the cinema or going skating at the Sky dome. It fits in very well into Coventry, and is very well located, just across from the Sky Dome.
Overall, I don’t think I would visit again, but all the other people in the party said they would, and enjoyed themselves. I accept that I am not a person of mainstream tastes, and many people would disagree with me, but it was somewhere that I had looked forward to going, and was so disappointed with the attitude, offerings and experience. I usually opt for ” if you can’t say something nice…” but I felt that I should share my opinion on this one, and hope I have done so constructively. What do you think, would you visit? Have you visited and had a different experience, please let me know in the comments below!