Tessellate Ukulele Cover

Here’s a ukulele cover of Tessellate by Alt-J. I really like Alt-J. Partly because they are local boys (big up Southampton) but partly because their music is layered and interesting. The lyrics are often wonderfully nonsensical and it makes a pleasant change from a lot of what gets put out.

I’ve been experimenting with some finger picking on this track. Not gonna lie, it was almost impossible for me to keep it up for the entirety of the song. I tried and tried and my fingers cramped and I got frustrated, so I recorded it in chunks and made the uke track that way. I stitched it all together, leaving in a beat of silence at the end of every fourth bar, which you can hear if you listen carefully. The vocals took me an hour or so to lay down, and I don’t think it’s half bad for something recorded in my kitchen. And to be honest, I’m not really sure what I’m doing. It’s just fun to make them. 

Anyway, here is the original.

 

What next? I’m thinking perhaps Toothbrush by DNCE. Hit me up with any suggestions and I’ll see what I can do. 

Lavender Reed Diffuser and 15% off at Rooi.com

paddywax reed diffuser

paddywax reed diffuser

I have a deep and eternal appreciation for all things lavender. I like a lavender shortbread biscuit, and the contrast of the dark flecks amongst the white crystals in lavender sugar. On my dressing table, I have lavender hand cream and lavender deodorant. Pair it with the parma violet shampoo you can buy from Lush, and it’s beginning to smell a lot like fancy old ladies in here. I’m not really one for gardening, but I have plans to get someone to plant lavender all over my front garden. A good day out, in my opinion, would be a trip to the New Forest Lavender Farm. Or that place in Hitchin, except that’s a bit of a mission. 

Anyway, you get the idea. My love of those tiny purple flowers knows no bounds. 

So when Rooi.com sent me a Paddywax reed diffuser to review with a lavender and thyme fragrance. Well, let’s just say, I was excited. Happily, I didn’t have to wait long, it arrived the day after I got the dispatch email. Efficient service. Hoorah!

paddywax reed diffuser

The packaging is good and robust (and recycled), and inside, each element is separate, meaning you can put as much or as little of the oil in the bottle as takes your fancy. I half filled mine, so it should last longer and stay fresher. 

And what about the scent? Because that’s, by and large, what you care about in a room fragrance, non? It’s fragrant and aromatic, and very, very relaxing. A nice lavendery-thymey hit. Far more effective than the bunch of dried lavender I stuffed inside a china cat ornament I’ve had forever a while back. Far more pleasant than the white musk (White musk? What even is this? The Body Shop circa 1993?) reed diffuser I had previously.

paddywax reed diffuser

All in all, I really rate this diffuser. It really freshens up the room, and the bottle is cute enough to easily be repurposed after my diffuser is spent. A very nice product and one I’m happy to have in my home. 

Rooi.com have very kindly given me a code to share with my readers. Just enter 15BPROMO at the checkout for 15% off your order. New customers only! 

I was sent the Paddywax reed diffuser by Rooi.com for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. 

And Just Like That, Summer Was Over

First day back

Changes are afoot in this household. Some big changes, some not so big. The international move we had planned has very, very much been shelved. I’m disappointed about it; moving to Amsterdam would have been, frankly, brilliant. But I’m also relieved. Upping sticks to the Netherlands, as exciting and gutsy as it would have been, is not the solution to the dissatisfaction I’ve been feeling for a while, and I’ve learnt this year that everywhere you go, you do, in fact, always take the weather with you. 

And besides, I am not sure how well Ruby would have coped with it all, to be honest. 

So, whilst this summer was a bit mad. Exciting and dreamlike in parts, now it’s back to school and back to normality. Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe it’s time I took stock and accepted that this is how my life is. And this is where I live. And this is what I do. And that’s it’s infinitely better to make the best of it rather than sit and dream up ways to escape (who am I kidding? I’ll always want to dream up ways to escape). This morning the alarm was not switched off and I did not go back to sleep for an hour. School uniforms were (begrudgingly) put on. PE kits were shoved in bags. Breakfast was a hasty affair. Teeth were brushed. Elliot reluctantly let me drag a brush through his hair and we were out of the door by 8:30. Just as the first flight from Amsterdam roared low and directly over my house. 

Living on a flightpath with regular flights to the place you were gleefully planning to relocate to was once so exciting. Now it’s all a little bittersweet. But I’m not dwelling on that. I’m working on making my weather sunnier and brighter. 

As I said, changes are afoot. I’m not talking about it yet as I don’t know what’s going on and things are misty and unclear. And yes, I know that’s cryptic, but never mind. So for now, here’s the First Day Of Term photo. Ubiquitous to September when you’re a parent of a school aged child. 

First Day Back

I feel you, Elliot. 

Wicked Game

wicked game ukulele cover

So this feels…. gratuitous, and I don’t know why. Probably because I am very self deprecating. To the point where I annoy myself. I’m not great at tooting my own horn. I tend to get in there first and put myself down a bit, so that no one else can. It’s by far the lamest thing about me. But then, why would I take the time and make the effort to record and (very roughly) produce these little covers and then post them up on the internet if I didn’t want people to hear them? 

I make ukulele covers and I put them up on Soundcloud. People tell me they’re good, so I’m going to try to start accepting that at face value. I like to do songs that you wouldn’t automatically assume would work on a ukulele. It’s got to the point where I hear a song on the radio or on Spotify and my first thought is, ‘Ohh, I wonder what the chord progression is?’

So here’s my cover of Wicked Game by everyone’s favourite one crooner, Chris Isaak. My friend Cory used the word ‘intense’ when he heard it.

And, over on the other side of the world, I snorted and went about my day, because it took me about 3 hours to do from start to finish and didn’t feel in the least bit intense. But now I’ve listened to it again, I really quite like it. And just maybe he’s a little bit right. 

Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door

lulworth cove

For one reason or another, the summer holiday we had planned this year didn’t pan out. We had grand plans to to take the bikes to the Netherlands. We were going to catch the ferry to Rotterdam with nowt but a tandem and the kids’ bikes and go hard or go home. We were going to come back with bigger muscles in our thighs and t-shirt tans. But we didn’t organise anything in time, and so it didn’t happen. 

Sorry kids. Looks like Mama is the only one going abroad this year. 

But in lieu of a jaunt to the continent, we’ve been hitting up beaches on the South coast. A staycation, if you will. We’re big fans of Calshot, Lepe and Hamble – all three easily accessible to us, rugged and breezy. You never leave any of those three beaches without a hefty dose of sea air in your lungs, salt in your hair and rosy cheeks. 

This bank holiday Monday we decided to head further west, into Dorset and along the Jurassic Coast, to a staple of many a geography field trip, and somewhere I’d never been before, Lulworth Cove, and slightly further up to Durdle Door. 

Or Dumbledore, as my kids christened it. Funny little creatures. 

Anyway, I can’t believe I’d never made it to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door before, being the beach lover that I am, and living where I do. Maybe because it’s a bit of a mish to drive there, especially in bank holiday traffic, when everyone is trying to get somewhere in their motorhomes. In any case, I was glad to have made the trip, because Lulworth Cove is just gorgeous. 

We ate a picnic on the green overlooking the cove, had a paddle in the sea, and then let our feet dry whilst sitting on huge chalky rocks. After, we climbed the hill and walked a mile along the cliffs to Durdle Door. You could see out to the Isle of Portland and Chesil Beach. The sea was glistening in the sunshine. The air was fresh, the sky was blue, and the Pokémon were plentiful! (Yep, we enjoy a good Pokéhunt now and then). 

Genuinely, I could have sat on that cliff all day, watching the boats and the sea and the people jumping off the rocks into the water. It was beautiful.

Next time, I’m going to take my swimmers and go for a swim. 

Things to note:

  1. Traffic in that part of the world is heavy, especially in summer and even more so on a bank holiday weekend. Leave plenty of time. Go early. Take things to do in the car. 
  2. Parking. We spent £7.50 for (I think) 6 hours parking. Take plenty of cash – when we went the machines were not accepting cards. It took a while to get into the carpark, but once we were in, marshals were on hand to direct us to a space.
  3. Toilets. Either in the visitor centre on the way down to the cove from the car park, or further down by the beach. There are no toilets on the walk to Durdle Door from Lulworth Cove.
  4. Crowds. It goes without saying. This is a major tourist attraction, and there will be crowds, especially on a nice day. 
  5. We took a picnic, but there are places to get food and drink and an ice cream if that’s more your thing. 

 
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That Time I Played Graze Festival with Toyah and The Beat

The Beat

Before I went on my blog hiatus – with good excuse *cough two novels cough* – I wrote about how I had picked up a new hobby. A sweet little four-stringed mini guitar type thing. Reader, I learnt how to play the ukulele. One of the most hipster instruments after washboards and mouth organs. I picked it up and I taught myself how to play that song by Metro Station. Then Junk of the Heart by The Kooks (which in hindsight was super ambitious for a novice). And then Every Other Freckle by Alt J. I picked up a ukulele and I loved it. 

Still do, as it happens. 

graze festival bunting

A little while later, I put on my big girl pants and joined Southampton Ukulele Jam. Which is a big deal for someone who gets anxious about trying new things. But it was a right laugh and the people were friendly so I carried on going. Fast forward a few months, and I’d got brave enough to start playing gigs, and last summer, I was picked to play at Larmer Tree Festival. How about that, then? Proof that good things happen when you put yourself out there. 

I didn’t get to do Larmer Tree again this year, because I took myself off to California instead, which is a story for another day, or maybe not. We’ll see. Depends.

graze festival forno pizza

But instead, I got to play Graze Festival, which was very small, charming, and in a field in Hampshire. We did a workshop in the afternoon, ate some jolly good pizza, and then got up on stage and played a set right before Toyah Willcox and The Beat.

 Just another casual Sunday, no?  

graze festival toyah willcox

graze festival the beat

I saw The Beat at Larmer Tree and loved them, and they were just as good this time around as well. Such a cool mix of reggae and ska and pop and soul. Honestly, they are a joy to watch. You can’t help but dance. Absolutely worth catching, if you can. 

It’s been a good bank holiday weekend. Yup. 

 

 

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