Barcelona

So i’ve just celebrated my 23rd birthday. Obviously I haven’t written a post for like a trillion years and I can’t lie, I’ve been busy, but my time off has also amounted to sheer laziness – its been fab! So Summer is upon us, and Ive just touched down on a flight back from Barcelona, a city I feel I’ve left a tiny piece of my soul…and a whole lotta dignity.

The first day was pretty manic. On arriving, my BFF and I found ourselves standing gobsmacked in the Barcelona marina whilst 20+ police riot vans and biker fedz sped in and out of pedestrians as they chased down over 100 illegal immigrants who had just reached the harbour. I was completely lost for words. Standing there like an absolute idiot. It was disturbing to say the least, seeing it happen, not through the safety net of my Guardian phone app.

Then like that it was over. We talked about it for about 10 minutes, and before I knew we were back onto the mundane things like which beach bar we should check out first, or which bikini am I gunna wear tomorrow.

The world can be shit.

Still the holiday continued as normal. Until about 4 hours later, just as the clock chimed midnight and my birthday was upon us…and my phone got stolen.

Some cute as hell gay guys come over to me on La Rambla, WHERE EVERYONE WARNS YOU PEOPLE WILL STEAL YOUR SHIT DUHHH, and start dancing with me pretending to be club promoters. I get twirled around like a little wide grinned princess, five minutes later,

‘Oh no Rich, I think those guys stole my phone. FUCK.’

Classic, day one in Barcelona.

The coming days weren’t quite as colourful as the first, and to be fair I drank so many of those 1 litre pints that it all just sort of blurred into one big mess. I did a lot, the obvious like Park Güell etc, but I kinda don’t remember most it. Instead I’ve come up with a list of my favourite naughty bits (that I do remember) –

Favourite restaurant – Ocaña. If you stay on La Rambla, or you find yourself on it – which at some point you will because its sort of the epicentre of Barca, check out Plaça Reil Square. We found the most amazing restaurant/tapas bar there. On arrival you’re greeted by two of the most TRANzfabulous women dressed to the absolute nines. One woman had on a pvc leotard with this fucking fantastic tutu, with a birdcage atop her magnificently made up head…the cage had a crow in it also – how FABBBBB. The food was great, the service mehh but who gives a fuck with a restaurant that cool. Staff were lovely, cocktails were flowing, and it’s made known that you’re there to eat, drink and be FILTHYGORGEOUSSS.

Favourite Bar –La Penúltima. It’s a little bit cute, a little bit too cool and a little bit kitsch. Obviously that means I loved it. A tiny bar with a lot of character and one of the few places full of people before midnight.

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Favourite ‘is this a bar or is the a club’ – Museum. Give me a room full of screens that are all playing Britney’s ‘Work B**ch’ and i’m so down.

Favourite club – Metro. For a few reasons, the first being I had another favourite club but I can’t remember the name. Second, I love a club with a dark room. Ha, you won’t find me in it, but I enjoy knowing it’s there.

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All of these, except the restaurant, are Gay. My BBF Rich who I went with is Gay, so I experienced the ‘fag hag’ side of the city, and of course it was marvellous. I would like to go again though, there are some amazing secret cocktail bars (I think I went to one Papillon – opens at 3am and you have to knock on a big metal door before they let you in) and live music joints. Sexy spanish men and their sexy guitars. Another time perhaps.

What an amazing city though, I made some great friends and I truly could have stayed forever.

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The Voice

So I’m doing a little PR work exp for Ian Johnson Publicity (I like to dip my fingers into many many pie, I wanna know how and why things go down the way they do, in everything). They’re a creative PR agency for British TV and are currently looking after The Voice England, Season 4 – which had its live final Sat just gone. If you don’t know what The Voice is you must be a bloody Martian – it’s that talent show where the coaches sit on those big fat chairs and have a big fat button and they push it if they think someone has THE VOICE. The auditions are blind see, so they can’t see the person, just hear DUN DUN DUNNN -THE VOICE. If I make an effort to tune in start to finish, a talent series can be amazing. You become so invested in these people because you sorta feel, well, that you are them. Or your best mate is them. But deep down I always felt it was some sort of façade. Like dude this isn’t actually happening. But alas, it is. I had the pleasure of doing press with the four finalists, Sasha, Lucy, Stevie and Emmanuel, the day before the final. And let me tell you, everything you see on your screen, every tear, every look of dispair, every damn fist pump, it’s all real. These ‘regular’ people give themselves up to world, to be tested and mocked and cheered and loved – if for a short time only, and I realised it must be one of the most harrowing things anyone could go through. If you watched The Voice 4 you’ll know Stevie, lovely, sweet, gorgeous, fightin fires ‘n’ shhhhit Stevie, won the show. He absolutely deserves it and I’ve been honoured to have spent some of these winning hours with him whilst he promotes his winning single, which is currently midweek number one, uhh, winning. I continue to have the pleasure of getting to experience some wonderful, random shit in my life. And to meet Stevie, and be enlightened into the hard process of competing in and winning a show like The Voice, it’s been very cool. I think I thought it was all a bit naff this time a week ago, but I realise now that that was just another ignorant thought waiting to be stamped out. All in all major props to the individuals who put themselves out there on a show like The Voice, for the world to see, in order to perhaps step closer to their dreams. Do you dare to dream? Maybe you do, but I bet you wouldn’t do a fucking thing about it. YOU SHOULD. Stevie, all the best.

Can’t Turn Back

So I’ve mentioned before about my project with Stigma Global, and Sound Minds. If you didn’t read the deal is that I’ve been working with the two charities to produce a short film that could possibly be played at a Stigma Global music event. My aunt has dealt with bipolar for over 30 years. She’s the lead vocalist in reggae band Channel One but she’s also one of the most amazing people I know. Keeping this short n sweet I’m just gunna post the film below. Have a watch, have an insight into what it’s like to live with mental illness. + I’m super proud of it!

Summer Shenanigans

So as I’ve made it super clear in previous posts I am a big lover of fun Summer shenanigans. I do the whole UK festival thing and I make sure I get at least 2 holidays on the cards. This is my me time, from September onwards this is what I look forward too (obz chrimbo too because what crazy person doesn’t dig chrim?)

So last year I did Croatia; spent 10 days in HVAR island hopping, sun lounging, looking at all those lucky f***s on their yachts. It was an absolute beautiful madness and I loved every second of it. It’s sort of a party town for the elite, with normal poor people like me flapping about also.

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ULTRA BEACH – HVAR

I spent my birthday, May 14th, in Italy, staying on the Amalfi Coast. Gorgeous. Albeit my ex and I did go at a time when it was hot, but not sweltering, and the golden oldies were out in full force. We were the youngest in the hotel by at least 30 years. I kid you not. But that turned out to be part of the magic. I met some amazing people, and sat through about 1 million anecdotes, all very sweet, some a little cheeky. From Amalfi we travelled to Ravello, a town in the mountains, to see its famous gardens, Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. And we also took a boat down to Positano. The highlight for me. Watch The Talented Mr Ripley, a lot of it is shot there. So cute.

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I also spent NY in Amsterdam. That needs to telling. YOU KNOW.

I’m not gunna go on about past years but lets just say i’m feeling like this summer is all about fun fun fun. Party fun. Before I hit a point where I can’t be bothered anymore and party people annoy the f*** out of me.

 

 

Guest Post – Kaya Collingwood – My time spent as a student midwife in Malawi

I’ve asked my lovely friend Kaya to do a short post about her time spent in Malawi. Partly because I remember when she was there and the stories she told were quite amazing and quite unbelievable. But also to share a first person account of the strain on hospitals in countries like Malawi.

Hello all! Laya has asked me to do a small guest post about my time spent in Malawi. Last summer, after a crazy three years at Manchester University, I finally graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Midwifery. The process was a long and hard one but I learnt some amazing things and feel extremely privileged to be a midwife where I am able to support women and their families as they go through the most incredible and life-changing journey.

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In the summer of my final year, as my degree was coming to an end and all 20,000 words had been handed in I headed to Malawi, East Africa to undertake a midwifery elective placement. I was based on the delivery suite in an extremely busy hospital where there were up to 35 babies born there a day. The unit was split into two: a paying side and a non-paying side although the differences between the two were minimal. There were 14 small cubicles on each side each with a bed and a curtain for privacy, although often these were left open. The most noticiable thing that stood out on the unit was how quiet it was. It is the cultural norm within Malawi for women to endure labour and childbirth in silence, most often without any pain relief.

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Coming from a high-tech state of the art hospital, where gas and air, diamorphine and epidurals are used frequently, this was quite an alien phenomenon. Although pethidine was available, I did not see any women request it.  I did recognise how remarkably resourceful the midwives were, given the lack of medical supplies that we are so use to using in the UK. Whilst I was there, there were 2 midwives and a few students caring for around 14 women in labour. The UK norm is one Midwife to one Woman in labour. Again this showed how strained their resources are. Overall I had an amazing experience and will never forget my time in Malawi. The country was so beautiful and the midwives were all so kind and welcoming. They worked extremely hard and it was clear they were proud of their jobs. The experience provided me with an incredible insight into midwifery practice in a low-income country. Although it may be a cliche it made me so grateful for all we have in the UK, especially the NHS. My published article in Nursing Standard

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For more info into the improvement of maternal health outcomes in Africa go to http://lamrn.org

Sound Minds

Today I had the pleasure of wiggling my way into the rehearsal space of a very inspirational band. Not only that but they allowed myself and my group to film them whilst they played. That band were Channel One. Heard of them? Probably not. They don’t mind though.

Before I go on let me give you some back story. I’ve been working on a project with a small group of friends. It’s basically a pitch for a new(ish) charity named Stigma Global + Stigma 1in4. They’re a baby charity and we’ve basically been given the task of bombarding them with young, fresh, original ideas that will get them off their feet and secure there place as a top charity for mental health.

As i’m sure you’ve guessed from the name, Stigma Global are all about breaking down negative attitudes and ignorance towards mental health. Their aim is to hold concerts that raise money and awareness for their charity Stigma 1in4 and other charities. But they’re not too sure about what to do with the money they raise.

My aunt, Coral Hines (type her name into youtube she’s cool as f***), has chronic mental health. Diagnosed with Manic Depression (now Bi-polar) in her early 20’s, and one of the most creative people I know, I knew her involvement with the project was an absolute. For 20 years now she has been part of a group name Sound Minds who class themselves as ‘arts for mental health’. This stems from acting, to writing and recording music, to painting and placing your art in exhibitions. Talent resides in all of us. Don’t think because society deems you as ‘different’, that you can’t be who you want to be.

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I spent the day at Sound Minds filming her band rehearse and grabbing interviews. The plan is to create something that could possibly be played throughout a Stigma concert. It’s all fair and well having celeb musicians play to raise money, but doesn’t that only reinforce ignorance and albeit stigma. Why not attempt to integrate musicians with mental health into the equation.

Probably easier said then done I know. But lets give it a go.

If you’re a creative mind who suffers from mental illness and want someone to talk to, or even want to take an accredited course in music production, guitar, song writing or keyboard…look them up. They’re a wonderful group/charity taking the right steps in the only direction. Lets all open up our eyes. Sound Minds.

Website – Sound Minds

Website – Stigma Global 

Madonna

Soo I don’t know what y’all were doing this Thursday night just gone but I was at the Jonathan Ross show…seeing MADONNA. No other guests, just Madonna – the absolute priMaDoNnA. And after taking a tumble at the Brits I bet there wasn’t single person on the planet who would have said no to watching a live interview with her the very next day. Esp by Jonathan Ross who can be an absolute meanie. He took it easy on her though. So much so that at one point he tried to play that already infamous clip of her falling on her fabulous ass but didn’t when she said NO PLEEEEEEASE DONT MAKE ME WATCH IT – what a babe.

I thought I’d write about it because I feel like I’ve been a Madonna fan from birth. Images of a 5 year old me prancing around in fingerless lace gloves saying ‘good going stranger’ and trying to dry my pits under a hand dryer (Desperately Seeking Susan) spring to mind.

Madonna has supplied this planet with a constant churning out of well made pop music…and because she’s doing what she always has done, only now she’s 56, she’s getting ridiculous JIB for it. Why? Racism is one thing, Homophobia another…but ageism is a concept that just completely baffles me. WE ARE ALL GOING TO BE 56 AT SOME POINT. You’re essentially telling an older version of yourself that you cannot do the things you love, cannot behave the way you always have done and cannot flash your ass because you’re ‘passed’ it. Not quite the same thing goes for men though ay? Enough of the bitching though lets talk about how great she was.

She sang her new single Living for Love, and the next release off of her album, Ghost Town. And she was great. Great production, great performance, great choreography, great great great. For anyone who’s seen her live before they’ll know that this is always the case. I was in the golden circle (check me out) for her 2012 MDNA tour; watching her Vogue in that Jean Paul Gaultier is one of those life moments that will forever sit in the hall of fame in my mind. Yes it was extravagant, yes it was sexy, yes it was CON-TRO-VER-SIAL (gun wielding, boobs out, monks everywhere) – I would expect no less.

Wossy (Jonathan Ross) really dug deep during their interview, asking questions that people had previously either wanted to ask and forgotten (her career does pan more then three decades) or wanted to and been too f***ing scared. There was talk of her relationship with Guy Ritchie and how and why it all fell apart. There was also drug chat, asking how she’d feel about her kids experimenting. For me the best was something like But when you can’t really do it all anymore (‘cus yeah ok physically in 14 years time when she’s 70 maybe she won’t wanna be tightroping and backflipping anymore) what will be your next move? To which she replied…comedy. LOL. Who knows what she’ll do but she’s an innovator in music and feminism and gay rights and equality and anything else you can think of. I think us youngens should not be so quick to brush her off simply for her age. Madonna paved the way for much of what we love today…show some respect PLZ