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    Birmingham, Lifestyle

    Brum Zine Fest 2018

    brumzinefest

    There’s a quote from Roald Dahl about magic, which says “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” It always reminds me to look for magic, no matter how ordinary it might seem because when I’m feeling pretty rubbish, everyday magic is exactly what I need.

    And walking through the doors of Impact Hub Birmingham feels like walking into somewhere magic, it’s in the air, and it was even more so on the eagerly anticipated return of the Brum Zine Fest.  After a six year hiatus it was back, and it was well worth the wait.  I vaguely remember the old BZF, held in cool upstairs of willing pubs, well before Impact Hub existed, with zines of people I sort-of knew and a whole pile of ones from further afield of people I really didn’t.  But the light and airy Impact Hub gave it a sense of freshness, a newness but an openness.  It felt like the ideal place for a rebirth.

    I’d signed up to one of the first workshops so I made sure I was there early.  With enough time to grab a coffee and head upstairs for the first workshop, where I bumped into a few people I know and who it is always a pleasure to see; hearing Anneka talk about Enrol Yourself and Lorna and storytelling for adults reminded me to keep looking for that everyday magic.

    DhA_H36X4AE8ZfoStorytelling Masterclass

    Wolverhampton-based Baljinder Kaur hosted the first workshop, which was a look at her journaling habits or drawing every day, by collecting the pockets of time and everyday truths. She showed the variety of ways she has done this, narrating her life through drawings, some of herself, some of commuters she encountered

    She inspired and challenged us to pick something personal to us that we had with us and document it, in whichever way we wanted.  Despite wishing I could, I can’t draw for toffee, so I chose the Batman keyring given to me by my friend Jude when I moved into my flat.  The keyring has certainly seen better days but it reminds me of friendship, of resilience and perseverance and of small gifts with big impacts.

    Zines and lunch

    I had a look round the stalls and despite trying to set myself a budget, I bought far too many zines.  There were a few music ones including one that felt like a mixed tape my friend Louise would’ve made, so I bought the two issues as a reminder to go back and discover some new old favourites.  I really enjoyed the variety of zines on display, some were created by people with a clear talent for drawing, others who focused more on words.

    After that I couldn’t ignore the calls from my stomach to check out the food that I’d spotted being set up earlier.  Bombay Tapas were selling a few things, but I stuck with the tapas offering and the samosa was so good I went back for seconds.

    Outside they were setting up for Box Wars, a showdown with cardboard.  This mainly involved watching the sheer determination from a collection of very cute children work together to dismantle a very structurally-sound bull piñata.  It was also great to chat to

    DhBLTufW4AIneVGMy First Zine workshop

    I signed up for this in a fleeting moment of thinking I could be more am more hands-on creative than I actually am.  I love the idea of creating a zine, probably partly why I like blogging so much, but realistically I never really know where to start. Or what to do with it when it’s done.

    Early as ever, I headed up to grab my seat for the workshop and spotted the table of example zines that workshop facilitators Megan Boyd and James Wilkes had laid out.  And sat amongst the pile were a couple of copies of Atta Girl, zines from around the time of the previous Brum Zine Fest and a nice blast from the past.  After reading through and reminiscing about those zines, I took my seat ready to have a go myself.

    Megan and James gave us a run through of the history of the zine, its originals in sci-fi fandom and punk counter-culture, and then showed us the relatively simple and yet kind of amazing way to take an A3 bit of paper and create your own eight-page booklet without and staples.

    With glittery stickers, magazines and pens, we were left to our own devices to create our very first zine.  And that’s when writer’s block struck.  Whilst I really liked the idea of creating a zine, at that point I had no idea what I wanted to create one about.  And so I decided to get all meta and create a zine…about the zine festival.

    IMG-4079

    Once our time was up we showed off our creations to the rest of the group and it was wonderful to see what other people had created.  Some very talented artists had drawn cartoons, others drawings of life events, it turns out there was a fellow blogger Nati, from Life After Coffee, who was also in the workshop, something I didn’t discover until after.

    After that my head and heart were full and I knew it was time to take my bag full of newly acquired zines home and digest the day.  It was a truly delightful experience, an absolutely pleasure to be part of and considering I’d spent most of the weekend feeling quite on the outside, it was really lovely to feel welcomed and part of the fun.  It felt inclusive and

    I cannot wait for next years. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a zine to showcase by then!

    https://twitter.com/BrumZineFest

    Lifestyle

    Halfway through 2018…

    How I am getting on with my 2018 challenges...

    I’m trying really hard not to say “how are we half way through the year already”, because it’s such a massive cliche.  But seriously, how are we?!

    As I mentioned in the first of these blog posts, I’m not overly keen on New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to try and set myself fun challenges.  This year I went for a trinity of books, film and theatre, and this is the mid-way look at how I’m getting on.  In terms of the numbers, I’ve already completed one, am well on course to completely the other and failing miserably at the third.  But numbers rarely tell the whole story.

    I’ve really enjoyed how much having these challenges have kept the idea of going to the cinema or theatre more front of mind.  What this means is that if I’ve got some time free I’ll have a look at what’s on and see what my budget can afford.  It means I’ve seen some really interesting pieces of theatre around social issues, but also some things which are a bit more off the wall (I’m looking at you The String Quartest’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety).  I worried with taking up cycling that I’d lose my cinema days, but I’ve managed a few and now instead I cycle down and feel a bit less guilty at spending the day lounging around watching films when I’ve cycled a few miles to get there.

    50 films at the cinema

    I was well on track in the first quarter of the year, and was almost close to completing it by the halfway point, but after going on holiday for two weeks this would’ve meant cramming in a few films for the sake of it, rather than the enjoyment.  So I didn’t, but I am still at a respectable

    Second Quarter

    Ready Player One | Isle of Dogs | Midnight Sun | A Quiet Place | Ghost Stories | Love Simon | Funny Cow | Beast | Avengers Infinity War | The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society | Journeyman | Avengers Infinity War (IMAX) | Tully | You Can Dig This | Hereditary | Adrift | Love Sonia | Ocean’s 8 | Deadpool 2 | The Book Club | Cycle = 45

    Read 24 books in a year

    Looking very likely that I won’t get anywhere near this one.  With health struggles this year, I’ve really struggled to be able to focus on reading for any length of time, of even shorter bursts like on the bus (I’m usually having a nap instead).  I’ve been carting round Holly Bourne’s new book, an author I have enjoyed all of her previous work and have similarly for this one, but just struggling to maintain focus. Must try harder.

    Second Quarter

    The Exact Opposite of Okay | Nina Is Not Okay

    See 12 theatre shows – DONE

    I’d set this at twelve shows for the year thinking one a month was doable, but in the second quarter of the year I steamed ahead and managed to get to 17 shows.  I’ve got a few more lined up for the upcoming months, but rather than create a stretch target, I’m just going to keep trying to fit in shows when I can.

    Second Quarter

    Fat Friends | Police Cops From Outer Space | This House | Love From a Stranger | The String Quartest’s Guide to Sex and Anxiety | Legally Blonde | Summer Holiday | Birdsong | Woyzeck | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

    Right then, onto the second half of the year…

    Lifestyle

    April update

    April update

    April has been a busy month, and looking back on it, it’s no wonder I’m feeling tired.  Work saw me go on day trips to Leicester and Coventry, as well as a three day trip to Lancaster (which I wrote about here) and I also spent the weekend visiting friends in Colchester. I really enjoy the act of travelling so I didn’t mind all the train journeys, but I need to spend some quality time at home spring cleaning before a trip to Australia next month to see my sister.

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    Lifestyle

    Quarterly update

    Quarterly Update 14

    I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, there’s something a bit joyless about them – they always seem to be about berating yourself for not being good enough.  And I’m quite versed at doing that without having resolution hanging round like millstone round my neck.  But I do like the timeliness of setting myself a challenge that is smart – sensible, measurable, attainable, resourced and time-limited.

    This year I wanted to revive some of the challenges I’ve done before, like the book and film challenges, but add in another one for the theatre.  A few years ago I went to the theatre quite a bit, and I really enjoy it, but with everything going on it’s really easy to forget this.

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    Lifestyle

    Month in review – March 2018

    A MONTH IN REVIEW (1)

    This month can mainly categorised by what my boss terms ‘floored by flu’.  I ended up off work for two weeks with the flu, which included the worst sinus pain I’ve ever had, double ear infections, sore throat and the inability to be more than four steps away from a kettle.  Whilst I’m over the worst of it, some of the symptoms are stubbornly sticking around and I’m trying not to push it too much.

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    Lifestyle

    Shine theory

    shine theory (1)

    During the never-ending bout of the flu I ended up listening to some podcasts whilst in the bath.  One I came across was Call Your Girlfriend, a podcast for ‘long-distance besties everywhere’.  Perfect, I wanted something easy to listen to that was chatty, accessible and that might teach me something without requiring a whole lot of thinking.

    It was there that I first heard the phrase ‘Shine Theory’ an idea that has been floating around for a while, but thanks to an article by Ann Friedman at The Cut, I finally have a name for.  Shine Theory is simple, it’s the idea of supporting and empowering other women to celebrate their successes and celebrating with them.  Rather than thinking another woman’s success puts you in their shadow, realise that when a friend has the spotlight on them, it shines on their friends too.

    Roxane Gay, in How to Be Friends With Another Woman, one of the essays in her Bad Feminist book, puts it brilliantly; “If you and your friend(s) are in the same field and you can collaborate or help each other, do this, without shame. It’s not your fault your friends are awesome.”  In fact, there are so many Shine Theory style pearls of wisdom in How to Be Friends With Another Woman that it’s well worth reading this excerpt.

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