Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Things I'm loving this week: week 10

(Well it's kind of week 10 I suppose. I've lost track.)

Soundtrack to the week
Like pretty much everyone else in the world I'm currently obsessing over Lady Gaga's new album 'Born This Way'. It's so, so good. So good. It's rare that I'll say that an album has no filler but literally every song on Born This Way has me hooked. Edge of Glory is my personal favourite track.

Worth-every-penny splurge of the week
My new Gold Series GHDs were by no means cheap but my god they're money well spent. GHDs have always been the daddy of hair straighteners and the Gold Series is the best I've used. The plates glide through your hair so easily and leave hair silky smooth. I can't stop touching mine. It's becoming a bit of an issue. At about £120 a pair they made for one very expensive lunch hour, but for the effect - and on a cost per use basis! - they're completely 100% worth it.

Guilty pleasure of the week
I'm not a particular fan of Jersey Shore. I can't stand The Only Way is Essex. So my viewing of Geordie Shore on MTV last night was only exploratory. In theory. In fact I love the show. For those unaware of the concept eight (four girls, four guys) young, good looking, incredibly shallow Geordies are put in a stupidly nice house with a fridge full of booze and draws full of condoms and, essentially, left to their own devices. Hilarity ensues. And/or all hell breaks loose. It's hard to tell the difference. It's not big, it's not clever but it is entertaining. Trashy, but entertaining.

Some early thoughts: Greg and Vicky are my favourites, Vicky should get with Greg not Jay, Jay's eyebrows are weird and 'a million and ten per cent' is a wicked catchphrase.

Girl crush of the week
Michelle Obama. With the state visit happening at the moment the Obamas are all over the news. This pleases me intensely. Now, y'know, Barack is pretty cool but Michelle is just amaze, as the kids would say. I've always had a soft spot for her but this developed into full on girl crush thanks to the incredible white Tom Ford gown she wore to the state banquet. Oh. Em. Gee.

Shoes of the week
I love Schuh. It's just the best shoe shop out there, especially their web shopping. I particularly love their great range of cute kitten heels which, not being much cop at walking in anything higher, are my go to work/occasion shoe style. My most recent acquisitions are another pair - I already have them in black glitter! - of their Clara courts. And they're ace.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

So who should take over on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two?

So the sad Strictly news of the day is that Claudia Winkleman is taking a break from It Takes Two this series to concentrate on raising her (what will then be) newborn baby. Or as she put it on Twitter:
"Will miss it terribly but baby / goat will only be very small and can't leave it every day." 
 Sadface. Understandable of course, but sadface.

There's been much chatter today about who the Beeb will get to fill in for her. Names that keep cropping up include Kate Garraway (I'll be demanding a portion of my license fee back if so - I can't abide the woman), Natasha Kaplinsky, Sian Williams, Arlene Philips and various of the ex-pros (Matt Cutler and Karen Hardy seemingly being particular faves).

Taking a slightly more left field approach, over on her blog Caron suggested my beloved Anton Du Beke taking over. I'm not as averse to this suggestion as you might think. I mean come on, it'd be guaranteed Anton five nights a week! I love that idea. On many levels... As long as he still did the pro dances (not the show dances since they're invariably rubbish and the point where everyone puts the kettle on) I could live with him not competing on the show were it not for one thing: he's a dancer.

I feel pretty strongly that the host of ITT should not be a dancer. That seems like a pretty stupid thing to say, right? But for me so much of the charm of Claudia doing ITT was that she knew nothing about the technical side of the dancing. She asked the sort of ill informed questions that the average audience member would ask, given the chance. And she did so wonderfully badly in my favourite bit of ITT - Len's Master Class. Put a dancer in as the host and you lose all of that. I have very little interest in watching Anton and Craig R-H sit and argue about the relative merits of someone's fleckle for half an hour. Stick a non-dancer in to argue with Craig about how much fun it was watching the person try and do said fleckle on the other hand...

So who do I think should take over from Claudia? I'd like to see it be someone who's contributed to the Friday Panel in the past. Miranda Hart would be fabulous, I could live with John Barrowman, even Peter Andre would have his charm. (And also his body, but I digress). But I think my top choice would be showbiz royalty in the shape of Michael Ball. I love his contributions to the Panel and he has the right blend of charm, cheese and cheek to make it his own. And I think he'd make an excellent dance partner for Len, which is surely the most important consideration in all of this!

One thing's for sure though. Whoever eventually emerges as this series' host is going to have one hell of a job filling Claudia's stilettos.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Places to go, people to see: Fountains Abbey

Occasionally, I go to some exceptionally nice places. And I take photos of them and stuff. So consider this the first in a semi-regular series of those places. My first subject is the gorgeous Fountain's Abbey near Ripon where I spent a lovely afternoon post-Royal Wedding. Or, as I like to call it, the most middle class day ever.

Looking down the main aisle of the Abbey. Very appropriate after watching the Royal Wedding!

Love this photo of the arches down the side of the main Abbey.

Store room. Serious architecture.

I'm not one for religious iconography, but I find this very atmospheric.

Fabulously well preserved mosaic floor at the Abbey's alter.

The tower.

Looking back at the Abbey from beautiful Georgian water gardens.

Me and my mum.

Me and my dad.

And me and my iPhone!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Things I'm loving this... er... non specific period of time

Stop looking at me like that. I'm aware it's been a while. What can I say? Life's been a bit... life-y recently. By which I mean, if you'll excuse the language, it's been a bit of a cluster fuck. Personally and, moreover, politically things have not been great. I'm not going to dwell on either other than to say, on both counts, keep calm and carry on.

Anyway, enough of that. Here's some stuff that has been providing much needed smiles and fun:

I seem to have discovered a lot of new (to me) music recently. Top top top recommendation goes to Hugh Laurie's new album 'Let Them Talk'. This is genuinely brilliant for anyone who has even a passing interesting in old school proper blues. The musicianship is astonishing. My favourite track from it, I think, is Swanee River for which the superlative has yet to be invented. Buy it. Now.

Also rocking my socks has been Alexis Jordan's eponymous début album (top track: How You Like Me Now), which is much better than it has any right to be given it came from an American Idol reject, and the excellent Bomb Shelter Sessions by Vintage Trouble. You may have seen these beyond fabulous retro rockers on Jools Holland - if not you missed a treat. Here they are doing my favourite song from the album, Blues Hand Me Down:

Not that I've had much time to read, but when I have I've been absorbed by either travel guides for Malta (the destination of my much anticipated October break this year) or the thoroughly excellent 'Behind the Black Door' by Sarah Brown. This book is a completely compelling, very entertaining account of life in Downing Street by the former 'first lady'. I've not quite finished it yet, watch out for a full review when I do.

One political book I have finished recently is the amazing '22 Days in May' by the equally amazing David Laws. If you've not read this book and have the faintest interest in British politics at the moment then you really need to. The epilogue in which he outlines his hopes for the coalition explains what I believe and why I'm a Lib Dem more eloquently than I ever could.

First of all, yes I did watch - and enjoy -  every second of the Royal Wedding. Let's just say that and get it out of the way. Apart from the bits with Fearne Cotton, I thought the BBC coverage was pretty good. (And, if you're wondering, my picks for Best Dressed Guest go to Lady Frederick Windsor - AKA Big Suze off of Peep Show - in deep blue Georgio Armani, Sam Cam in beautiful Burberry and Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and that amazing embellished turban.)

Second of all, yes I did watch - and enjoy - every second of Eurovision, including the two semi finals. My favourite songs were from Switzerland and Iceland. I also adored Lipstick by the ever youthful and energetic Jedward. So shoot me.

Finally, if you have Sky and enjoy trashy shit as much as I do then I implore you to check out Spartacus: Blood and Sand on Sky 1. It is... well, it's awful! It's kind of like what would have happened if a 13 year old boy had written HBO's excellent Rome. There's a lot of (fairly graphic) completely gratuitous sex and all the violence you could ever want, inexplicably shown in slow motion. I'm not really making a good case here am I? But seriously if you have a spare hour and it happens to be on then do have a look. It will make you giggle.

Finally finally, if you have Sky and enjoy properly good drama then look out for In Treatment on Sky Atlantic. Another HBO export, it stars the uber dishy Gabriel Byrne as a therapist - and he is mind blowingly good. It's not always an easy watch (each episode is a simple double hander between Byrne's therapist and one of his patients, or occasionally his own therapist) but it is just supremely good.