I’ve just got back from London Sculpture Workshops 3 hour ‘Introduction to Welding for Artists’ class.  It does was it says on the box and demystifies the art of welding. What an awesome experience!

It’s funny how quickly you adjust.  At first even the safety helmets were foreign feeling, they have a weird light-reactive bit that you look through, so when the arc is formed (that big-bang-like light) the visor goes black and all you can see is a green lava-like glowworm, flying sparks and a sizzling storm of a sound that is kinda like death metal cooking bacon – know what I mean?  Probably not.

I’ll admit to being a bit freaked out and thinking something along the lines of “shit, oh shit, what the hell am I doing here, if I continue to stand here watching I’ll lose my nerve, let’s get this over with…”  so I volunteered to go first.

Setting up the MIG welder calmed the nerves, as did our lovely tutor who serenely talked me through the safety procedures again, then walked me through setting up the machine again, and was at my shoulder explaining the good, bad and ugly of my efforts.  OK so my 1st attempts at welding weren’t pretty, pretty shit would be more accurate, but each oops teaches you something until there are moments of ahhh, when I could see how cool it would be to get a whole heap better and work on a bigger piece.

Dreamscape: I imagine finding ‘the rhythm’ with your vision tunneled on the molten drop you’re zig zagging smoothly along the steel while the crackle, spark and zap of the instrument your holding sings it’s spiky serenade; its like taming lightening in your hand. Artisan Welders you should swagger, you are cool as shit!!!

So back in the real world,  6 of us took turns at the 2 MIG practice bays which meant that when you weren’t welding you could be cutting up bits of steel plate and piping on the cold saw or trimming and polishing your pieces with the angle grinder, or just watching and helping where needed, I learnt a lot from my fellow students struggles, we were all happy to share our lightbulb moments.  A couple of people made things vaguely resembling sculpture but mostly we just practiced welding bits together at different angles and trying out the zig zag and reverse E methods.  There was also a demonstration of TIG welding and a few people had a  go on that too.

It was fabulous fun working with all the machinery and taking the 1st step in developing this creative technique (with the added bonus of meeting lovely new people), stomping all over that fear of flying hot spark (turns out that they’re not that hot and if you wear appropriate clothing you can’t even feel them) was just an added bonus.

I would totally recommend London Sculpture workshops, they have loads interesting courses, I’ll defo be signing up for more. I should  also mention the fabulous Obby website, they’ve got a course for every whim and I found this workshop via them.

For more good tips on rut-busting websites (including Obby) check out my earlier post ‘Never Be Bored Again’

Laters navigators

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My time at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Restaurant is one of those never-gonna-forget-it days, though it’s a tricky one to write about because you might want to go there yourself and part of the magic is in the wonderment and surprise of it all.

As a self-confessed lucky cow, I am fortunate to have dined in several Michelin starred restaurants.  Before I went I was struggling with the justification of this one – it’s a lot of money for one meal….but I must confess, 2 courses in had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat and taking the ribbing my friends were giving me about my ‘lost morals’ on the chin.  Also, there is soooo much attention to detail, breadth of skill, imagination and creative flavour/ texture combinations involved that I feel the costs were justified.

From the minute you enter you get the sense that this is something a bit quirky; we walked from the bright sun outside into a small dim and fully mirrored cupboard-like hallway where we were greeted by one of the very friendly team of staff.

24 small courses of wonderment and WOW ensued and when I left, five and a half hours after arriving (it flew by!) I had been taken on a journey through Heston’s childhood excitement of summer holidays at the beach and in doing so had revisited innocent joys from my own childhood that I had forgotten – the wonder of picking up a shell and hearing the sea, juicy peaches that drip down your arm when you take that first bite, car trips to Nana’s with 4 kids in the back of the Ford Falcon, my stepsisters prickly legs as we were crammed together in the back seat (pre-teen years), running wild all day and only going to find your parents for lunch and dinner, exploring rockpools…..

I have nothing but praise and admiration for team at the Fat Duck, our service was professional and attentive yet playful, the incredibly knowledgeable staff noticed the things that fascinated us and went out of their way to explain elements further when questioned.

If you are lucky enough to be able to go to The Fat Duck, may I offer some advice?

  1. before you go you receive a questionnaire, fill it out! Be thorough and thoughtful – you will get more from your experience if you do.  My friend and I shed a nostalgic tear at one point as our heart strings were pulled.
  2. Go easy on the bread, it’s awesome but remember you’re in a marathon and not a sprint.
  3. Our party of 4 shared the 2 wine pairing’s with the meal and it worked well, I think a whole one each and we’d be too hammered at the end to remember what was eaten – we did have a bottle of champers to start though.
  4. Go to the Toilet – seriously, it’s an experience in itself, check out the glass to the wine area on the way.
  5. Get someone else to pay for the bill if at all possible, it’s so much less stressful that way. LOL
  6. When finished, there’s a lovely pub a minute down the road called The Crown (also owned by Heston), gorgeous beer garden out back and perfect for a post-fest tipple.
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Dear lovely people…..So, I thought I’d throw myself off a building – don’t worry it’s for all the right reasons, I’m raising money for St Mungo’s  homeless charity.

Living in London breaks my heart sometimes, I walk past people sitting on the pavement begging for money – I usually don’t carry cash and I don’t know what to say to them.  I try to make eye contact as I say sorry and no, it’s the least I can do, acknowledge them…but it’s not enough.

There’s an urban saying that if you give money to people on the streets it feeds addictions, did some tight person make that up to appease their conscience?  There may be some truth in it, I don’t know, I’m no expert.  So I got to thinking, what can I do? Homelessness is a complex problem that I am ill equipped to tackle…. but I can (probably) abseil down 210 ft from the top of Senate House on Saturday 10th June, and I can raise as much money as possible so the good people at St Mungo’s may continue to support some of our society’s most vulnerable people.

Please donate and give hope to people so much less fortunate than ourselves….and donate for me, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and will be bricking it for charity on June 10th!

I’ve made it easy for you, just click on the link – you can even use paypal

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Abseiling4StMungos

Guilt trip over.

Laters navigators xx

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I seem to have had this reoccurring life-theme of late about not judging books by their covers and this post is yet another example of the rewards you can receive if you just open yourself up to the new.

The company I work for is in the process of developing a partnership with the ‘Leap’ who are an award-winning national youth charity that provides inspirational conflict management training and support to young people and the professionals working with them.

I have to confess, teenagers in general give me the shits, my usual exposure to them is in the form of those obnoxious little F’ers on the bus shouting and palvering while they play music over their phone speakers.  The music is questionable enough but the sound quality out of those speakers, now that is a crime against all things aural.

I realise I come to these views from a place of ignorance and that there are many sweet young people out there, I just don’t come across them in my everyday life.

So when the opportunity to meet the team at Leap, along with some of their young participants came about I had my reservations, especially when one young man stepped in to our offices and immediately got up in my colleagues face demanding a phone charger.  Okaaay.

So, having laid bare my prejudices before you I’m happy to say that within the first few minutes of our meeting my walls began to crumble as I started to see not just a group of youths but individuals with character and shyness and humor and sweet natures with positive futures ahead of them.

The ice breaker was the key, we went around the table to introduce ourselves and along with our names had to share something that not many people knew about us.  So, the mouthy kid at the end of the table became a young man with a fondness for maths and a longing to become an accountant, and that austere woman on reception became less scary because she likes to program dance music in her spare time….you get the picture.

In the end I was really impressed with the young people we met; coming in to a fancy office in the city and meeting oldies from a totally different world than them – they overcame nervousness and supported each other through those mind blank moments with encouragement and kindness.  Yes you could say they’re still a bit rough around the edges (so was I at that age) but I came away with hope in my heart that these select-somebodies were being given the life skills to overcome whatever obstacle life may put in front of them.  I really wish someone had taught me those lessons earlier in life, you cant regret life lessons but if they could’ve come to me a little easier, well, that would’ve been nice.

Last night I attended Leap’s Lighting the Fire 2017 awards event, which was presented and hosted by young people that have been through the program.  they did everything from standing on stage comparing, checking coats, serving canapes and drinks and clearing dishes – and they did themselves proud.

I hadn’t expected it to be an emotional evening but there were several moments of ‘barely keeping it together’ as brave souls shared their story’s and selfless Angels were awarded plaques for their outstanding work.

We all did a brief yet powerful exercise where we paired up and shared which masks we have worn.  It was a lesson in embracing vulnerability.  One lady shared that she’d started a new job  where the previous person had been there for 18 years and for a while she wore the ‘I got this’ mask, the presenters then asked this lady how that affected her job – she said that she was so busy pretending that she knew what she was doing she wasn’t open to advice from her new co-workers and was floundering.  When she finally took off the mask and was able to show a little vulnerability she had more genuine relationships and learnt more about the new role because she didn’t feel threatened and actually listened.  So thought provoking.

Once again I was blown away by the young people I met afterwards as they wandered between groups of business men and women, introducing themselves and telling us little bits about their lives and experiences with the program – I totally struggle with small talk at the best of times so massive kudos to em.

In 2016, Leap held 76 courses which helped 759 young people.  Having witnessed a small demonstration of the course style and met the beneficiaries of Leaps support I cant praise them highly enough for this vital work.

I have been humbled and enlightened.  The seed is now planted and my eyes are open, I’m not sure where it will lead but I know it’s going somewhere.

If you would like to learn more or get involved please see their website here: http://www.leapconfrontingconflict.org.uk/

Laters Navigators. x

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One Rock Chick, straight up please?

So, this is a random co-incidence. After my recent post about the rise in popularity of Satan as a hipster bar name – the other night I ended up at Lounge 666 in Archway (London N19)! So bizarre that this keeps happening. What’s going on??

‘The Lounge’ is the opposite side of the universe from my usual hang-outs, although  I have to say the multi-layered pounding from the guitar, bass and drums, the smell of sweat and leather, and the JD and coke I was drinking took me back to my teenage self; the one that dabbled on the outskirts of mosh pits and thought the coolest person in the world was my big brother as he played kiwi-classic venues like Aucklands Powerstation with various indie/punk bands, my favorite of which was the Warners.

I found this little gem of nostalgia on you tube and just have to share. For me this represents glory days, when I was still wide eyed and bushy haired and my world was a tiny cosseted place that was ruled by my parents.

Anyway, I digress, let’s get back to the here and now. The band I went to see, Evyltye, were a revelation.

I’m proud to say their charismatic front woman, Hannah Deleany, is a friend of mine from back in the day – we were in an acapella choir together, maybe 5/6 years ago, so I’m utterly biased and this review may have been deduced though rose coloured lenses. That said, there are plenty of experts raving about them on t’internet so ….? I’ll leave that fine line up to you to figure out.

I’ve worked the door for many live music nights in London and NZ and am no stranger to all the mediocre dross that clogs the gig circuit, Evyltyde were a breath of fresh air. They take their music seriously but not themselves – there was great banter between songs, and I had a chat afterwards with them all – top ladies and gents.  Also, musically, there were several moments that had me on tippy toes peering over heads trying to see how they were making those cool syncopated beats or figure out who was playing what to get such driving multi-dimensional layers (…and you know what, I’m not even a massive fan of the genre, so I think that’s saying something) weaving her strong emotive vocals through all of this was Hannah; I also particularly like the contrasting heavy metal growls and howls from guitarist Danny Merton, in fact, I’d like to hear more of them working in tandem with Hannah -vocally they are the perfect marriage of conflicts.

As a foodie I would liken Evyltyde to a ninja-like plate of Chinese, that’s the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour (thanks, I’ll take that award for most cringe-fest analogy ever, now please).

For me this night was about supporting my friend and to do that I had to step out of my comfort zone. I hang with a differently dressed tribe these days and stepping into to a rock bar (by myself, the Jetman was ‘busy’) with all its devilish accouterments was a bit intimidating but ya know how the saying goes – fake it till you make it –  after chatting to various people throughout the night its reassuring to see we’re all the same goofballs underneath. I had a really fun evening and have penciled Evyltydes next London gig in to my diary.

For a (perhaps) less biased perspective here’s a couple of ‘proper’ reviews to tickle your fancy.

Disappear: This video isn’t really a good representation of Evyltyde’s music but the song beautiful and touching.   

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