Saturday, 24 January 2015

Winter: A Dirge by Robert Burns

In honour of Robert Burns and the freezing temperatures that have hit our shores this past week, I thought I'd share with you Burns' Poem Winter: A Dirge. It's always struck a chord with me, whilst others dread Winter I embrace it. I complain about the cold, ice on the car in the mornings. constantly cold hands, but nothing beats a crisp clear day such as it was today to replenish the soul...

The wintry west extends his blast,
And hail and rain does blaw;
Or the stormy north sends driving forth
The blinding sleet and snaw:
While, tumbling brown, the burn comes down,
And roars frae bank to brae;
And bird and beast in covert rest,
And pass the heartless day.

"The sweeping blast, the sky o'ercast,"
The joyless winter day
Let others fear, to me more dear
Than all the pride of May:
The tempest's howl, it soothes my soul,
My griefs it seems to join;
The leafless trees my fancy please,
Their fate resembles mine!

Thou Power Supreme, whose mighty scheme
These woes of mine fulfil,
Here firm I rest; they must be best,
Because they are Thy will!
Then all I want-O do Thou grant
This one request of mine!-
Since to enjoy Thou dost deny,
Assist me to resign.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

2015 Resolutions, oh and knitting...

I've never been one to wake up on New Year's Day with a long list of New Year's resolutions. I know only too well how good intentions fall by the wayside as the year progresses, so why beat yourself up about it in public by announcing a long list then renege on?

Secretly though I do create a tiny list in my mind, one of my resolutions this year is to explore my creativity through photography and crafting. The main ambition this year being to learn to knit. As a child my Mother taught me to sew and crochet which I loved, I made clothes until well into my 20s but then the career took over leaving limited time for creative pursuits.

Knowing my little secret, the husband kindly bought me a course for Christmas at the wonderful Craft Days in Saffron Walden, I began my 4 week course yesterday morning. I know I'm far from knitting a jumper or even a scarf but I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge. I realised that knitting is rather like Maths which was never my forte so it will be an upward struggle but one I'm determined to conquer!

Watch this space to track my progress throughout the year...

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

A Day out at Lisbon Zoo

One of the biggest highlights of our recent trip to Portugal was a visit to Lisbon Zoo (Jardim Zoologico de Lisboa). The last time I'd been there was many years ago when I was thirteen years old. If only my old family photos weren't all packed up in the boxes we have in storage I could have shared with you...

Our visit was courtesy of my niece Vanessa who is responsible for the PR of the Zoo, she delighted in taking us round sharing her extensive knowledge of the numerous conservation projects they are currently investing in. The Zoo sees itself as less of a Zoo and more of a centre for preservation as well as the reintroduction into their natural habitat of more endangered animals. Their latest focus being on the Iberian Lynx that is facing extinction, a huge area has been constructed imitating their usual homes where they will breed until eventually they will be released back into the wild.


Cherished by the nation the zoo has been a part of the Portuguese capital Lisbon for over 130 years. There are 2000 animals belonging to 330 different species currently residing here, alongside an impressive collection of Iberian Flora and Fauna. This was sadly not at it's best given that we were there in the Winter, it didn't nevertheless take away from the beauty of the space. The animals have space to roam, are well cared for. We spoke to some of the staff who are clearly passionate about their vocation, most of whom have been working here for years, they treat the residents with compassion and love.

We had a lovely day wandering around, reading all the very informative descriptions whilst observing the animal's behaviour. Like most zoos around the world they struggle for finance which is further compounded by it's family run philosophy so they do rely heavily on the numbers coming through the gates and generous donations. Therefore if you are thinking of visiting Lisbon do consider spending some time here especially if you have children. Education plays an important part of any visit with many learning activities and entertainment including a rather wonderful Dolphin show which was a huge hit with Matilda.

For more information on location, tickets and events do check out the website here.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Art of the Portuguese Tile (Azulejo)

Portugal has always been synonymous with beautiful hand painted tiles (Azulejos). Influenced by their Moorish invadors, where ever you travel up and down the country tiles decorate all manner of buildings and open spaces. 

Decorating tiles is an art form in Portugal, millions of exquisite tiles are exported worldwide on a daily basis ready to adorn the walls of many of luxury home. There is even a museum dedicated to this Portuguese art right in the middle of the capital city, Lisbon where examples can be seen from across the centuries.

One only has to stand in any street in Portugal to witness the intricate work that goes into creating these works of art from the traditional blue and white to the more modern designs. Remember buy Portuguese if you're looking for quality tiles for your bathroom or kitchen, there are a number of UK suppliers but you can also buy them directly from the artists via Euromkii.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Save the Curzon Soho!

This blog tends to steer away from Politics or protest which is no reflection on how strongly I feel in the face of topical affairs, however I feel that my readers don't need my views imposed upon them neither is it a reason for why I began this blog.

However today I couldn't fight expressing my utter dismay in hearing the news that our beloved Curzon Soho could be under threat. The Telegraph ran a story on the 30th December claiming London Transport was earmarking the site for its £25 billion crossrail project, which would see the Curzon demolished and rebuilt as a ticketing hall! Curzon have yet to discuss the matter with TFL but rumours often turn to reality if we don't stand up and say No!

The Arts are underfunded as it is, with theatres facing loss of local funding up and down the country. Do these people not realise the millions of pounds the arts bring into our economy. Certain European countries do recognise their importance and fund them appropriately. Why can't we do the same? Why can't we facilitate and encourage the creativity in our artists? Why do they constantly battle for survival?

The Curzon Soho not only caters for the more independent film buff, it provides a beautifully inspiring space for people to meet in Central London.Having built it's reputation on screening the best of the Arthouse cinema being made across the world, this is where I often escaped to see those small yet beautiful films that never made the studio big release list. I would hate to see this place go, which would curtail a venue that prides itself on showcasing little publicised Arthouse cinema. Where will these film makers who struggle enough as it is to get their projects made, then show their finished films? Our independent film makers need a platform otherwise what is the point? They will be discouraged to take risks, make something different or worse still they could walk away into an altogether different career?

As an Ex Agent the thrill of seeing a first draft script make it into a finished film (with our client starring of course) made my job special.  Being part of something experimental that challenged the norm, that asked questions of society, was why I went into the Industry in the first place, hell it was why I decided to read Drama at Bristol University when I was thirteen. It is imperative that artists are given the credit and support they deserve, which is why they also cannot afford to lose any of the small number of venues daring to showcase non main stream work.

Let's hope the closure of the Curzon Soho is just a Chinese whispers without any foundation in reality but just in case it isn't, take a stand and sign the petition A couple of minutes of your time could make all the difference in saving this important part of our cultural heritage!

Image from Curzon Soho Website.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

My word for 2015

After a rather life changing 2014, my word for 2015 will be Grasp.

I've never really been one to take too many risks, I thrive on routine, security and comfort. My path in life so far has been pretty straightforward, only a handful of hiccoughs and hearth ache along the way, decisions have fallen into place reasonably easily. Opportunities or risks that have arisen in the past that have generally been beyond my comfort zone I've been reluctant to pursue. So this year will be the year that I grasp these said opportunities and run with them.

It is time to face the fear of change head on, trust my instinct and go with the flow. Sadly age is also no longer on my side, being in my early 40's means I need to do this now or never. Though in spirit I don't feel any older than 21 for most under 30's I'm now considered middle aged *shudders*. 2015 will be about grasping chances and making them happen for the good of my family, work and mind. Learning to not be reticent but jump head first into a pool of risk will be challenging, but as I've proved to myself last year I can do it.

Complacency doesn't bring happiness, making it happen for yourself is the only way to ensure a full life. Je Ne Regrette Rien has been playing constantly in my mind since the 1st of January encouraging me to be more aware and inspired to live my life to the full, after all we only get one chance. Finding my creativity again in 2014 filled me with excitement, too many years of being on the other side had overshadowed my potential, my confidence is growing daily by the encouragement I've received from those around me, both close and those I've met worldwide along the airwaves with whom I've developed an artistic affinity with. A wonderfully creative community that quietly gets on with inspiring and supporting each other.

So there you have it, grasp is now firmly ensconced in my 2015 agenda.

What is your word for 2015?

Thursday, 8 January 2015

roomtobreathe hits the Financial Times!

I spent most of my career as a Theatrical Agent being wary of the press,  I remember my heart sinking to immeasurable depths with those late Friday afternoon calls from tabloid journalists. In those days 'dirty tactics' journalism was widespread... Dealing with the press was the only part of my job that I loathed mostly for fear of whatever I said being misquoted or misconstrued.

What an entirely different experience I had being interviewed by Ian Wylie for the Financial Times, though I must say a small part of me still feared the worst as I leafed through today's issue in search of my interview, which I agreed to without copy approval (something I was always reluctant to accept for my clients!).

There was no need for any worry on my part. It is a lovely article and we are thrilled with it! Here it is for those of you that don't have access to the FT website...enjoy!