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Review: Sub Focus – why I will never understand the point of a mosh pit…

Sub Focus at UEA, picture by Jade Mynott

After a lot of excitement and plenty of waiting impatiently for October 26 to come around, I finally headed to the University of East Anglia, in Norwich, to see Sub Focus perform live for the second time. Now I absolutely LOVE Sub Focus, his music is exactly the type of drum and bass, dubstep and house combination that drives me wild when I hit the dance floor and often separates me from my friends who are not quite so excited by dance music.

Luckily going to Hideout Festival earlier this summer helped introduce me to some new raving buddies, while reinforcing for me how cool my current ones were – when going to gigs like these and planning to rave all night it is VERY important to choose pals that can keep up and will be with you until the very end of the night.

From left, clockwise, DJ Mark Malle, myself, Jade Mynott, Lizzie Russell and Vikki Kinnear

From left, Piers Walton, my boyfriend and his housemate Mark Wolverson, and myself – the three best Lil’s

I was partying with my number one raving buddy and boyfriend, Mark Wolverson, his housemate, Piers Walton, DJ Mark Malle and Vikki Kinnear – The original Hideout Festival crew, and two new additions in Jade Mynott and Lizzie Russell. All of us are big music-lovers and most of us prefer dance music and often attend nights like these whether at Fabric in London, Warehouse Project in Manchester, or anywhere else we can find – in fact some of us are currently making plans to go to Tomorrowland Festival in Belgium next summer.

I have to be honest and say that although a huge Sub Focus fan, I was not as impressed with the release of Torus, preferring the massive banger tunes like Tidal Wave, Out the Blue and Could This Be Real which feature strong vocals to an incredible beat – all three are powerful songs in their own way and the reaction from the crowd when they were played said it all in terms of popularity.

I think that Torus is a bit of a grower, all of the songs sounded so much better live than they did when playing in my car, but still not up to the high quality I expected – I wonder if perhaps this is a sign that Nick Douwma is changing his sound with the times and is perhaps losing some of the qualities that I preferred about his music. I actually spoke to a couple of people later in the night who had been at the gig and they said a similar thing, that they were really impressed with the gig generally but that the quality of the music was not as they expected.

Despite this slight disappointment at the change in sound for Sub Focus, I have to say that I still have my favourite songs on the new album and amongst these are the obvious Out the Blue and Tidal Wave, but of the newer releases I also quite like Turn Back Time and You Make it Better – they certainly got me, and the rest of the crowd, dancing.

Jade Mynott, myself and Lizzie Russell at the gig

Despite my slight disappointment at some of the songs, I was very excited by the huge crowd that had turned out to see the gig and the incredible show delivered by Sub Focus. You could tell that the last time I saw him it was very early in his career compared to his success now – money had been poured into the performance which even featured a bit of a light show that dazzled and amazed the ravers as the twinkling spirals revolved – see top pic.

It was very impressive and the show led on very well from support act, Fred V & Grafix, who I managed to catch the last 20 minutes of – they were great and another pair of awesome DJs to add to my list of people I’ve seen. I love their remixes and often realise after that a great version of a song was actually mixed by them.

Overall it was a great gig in a fantastic venue with a really good crowd – everyone was really friendly and genuinely just looking to have a good time. I didn’t see any real trouble and everyone left with a big smile on their face. But, as usual, there were the small group of people who felt the need to try and start a mosh pit in the centre of the dance floor and star shoving people about. I don’t mind people having fun, but I will never understand where the fun is in a mosh pit – especially after seeing a girl get her face split open at V Festival and continuing to smash about while she bled copiously.

It is a very immature and sad way to spend a gig – especially for those who then boast about it later on via Twitter and Facebook about how they elbowed someone in the face, used it as an excuse to punch someone for fun or lost their shoes. What is the point? Fair enough at a gig you are bound to get pushed about in a busy crowd, but why does this mean you have to shove back and cause trouble? I actually broke up a potential fight in the crowd that night and am glad I managed to or me and my friends could have been caught in the crossfire. Luckily most people around us could hold their own in terms of being pushed about and we all worked together to keep enough space to breathe and have a dance.

Despite this is was an amazing gig and I can’t wait for the next one – Major Lazer in two weeks time! After the gig we headed to my favourite Norwich club, Hideout, where the great music continued thanks to  Joshua Roberts, Dunny of Toolroom Records and Pete Graham for Sadiqi: Our 1st Birthday – a top event and we couldn’t stop dancing until the club closed and we were forced to leave. An amazing night with amazing friends at great venues.

Me and Mark in Hideout

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Zombie Apocalypse – What would you do?

From left, clockwise, myself, Mark Malle, Lizzie Russell, Jade Mynott and Mark Wolverson, with our prey in the centre, picture by Vikki Kinnear

The world has been infected by a deadly virus. It’s finally happened, the zombie apocalypse has happened. Everyone you know and love is dead, or has been turned into one of these undead, bloodthirsty creatures. The question is, when it’s your turn, do you run or do you turn?

On Saturday I headed to Norwich’s University of East Anglia to join in the second annual Zombie Fun Run, organised by student fundraising association RAG (Raise and Give). I was joined by the boyfriend and a group of friends from home as a little warm-up before we headed to the Sub Focus gig later that eve – review posted tomorrow morning.

From left, Mark Malle, Mark Wolverson, myself, Vikki Kinnear, Jade Mynott and Lizzie Russell – looking good!

We were warned to prepare for a scare and sign up as a runner or zombie – of course we wanted to be zombies! Once we were made up in full terrifying make-up by the RAG team, we were sent along the course to hide in the undergrowth of the woods alongside Earlham Park and the university grounds where the aim of the game was tofind devious hiding positions to ambush our prey as the runners made their way around the 2.5k course and tried to keep their lives intact.

We decided our best chance of success of grabbing the red tags worn by the runners was to hide around the whole of the outside of a clearing in the woods so that the runners would not see us until it was too late, and so that we could attack from every angle. I don’t think that any zombies took it as seriously as we did – in fact we even took a guy out and ended up scaring him to the floor before he limped off – oops.

I like to think that we were really quite terrifying and we had plenty of fun finding hiding positions in the woods, scaring dog walkers and chasing the runners into the woods. One of the funniest moments was when Mark Malle chased one runner deep into the woods until we could no longer see him, then re-emerged slowly, groaning and dragging himself back through the bushes in full character with the band hanging out of his mouth – no sign of the runner. We were a little nervous until the runner came bounding out of the bushes and promptly tripped over a log.

After a while there didn’t seem to be any runners heading our way so we decided to head back along the trail and towards the university square – the promise of a BBQ just too much of a lure for our meat-starved zombies. Along the way we checked our bands and found we had collected a respectable about between us – not sure exactly how many because we had to give some back but I caught at least six zombies myself! Although we did bump into another team that had caught a ridiculous amount of runners – we couldn’t believe how many bands they had but they did have an excellent hiding spot and the runners had no choice but to go straight through them.

Myself and Mark in full zombie make-up

When we finally reached the main field, we did stop to catch a final few runners and entertain ourselves by having pictures of us attempting to eat someone – see top pic which has now become my favourite picture – before heading to the BBQ and back to get changed before the night’s events.

Overall it was a great event – really well organised and so much fun. A perfect Halloween event with just the right amount of blood and gore, and a great way to get us warmed up for the night ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing some more of the pictures and videos that were captured on the day.

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Childhood sweethearts: Me and my beau

I don’t often write about my relationship – perhaps this is why it has survived so well through our teenage years and until now despite the demons that are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogging… But now I just feel it is time to introduce one of the most important people in my life to my readers.

I met Mark when I was just 16, we met through our sixth form where we both ended up in the same groups for our Gold Duke of Edinburgh and CSLA Leadership courses. At first, we didn’t really get on, in fact he really bloody annoyed me! But after a lot of winding each other up and flirting, we finally went on a date and as they say the rest is history! The funny thing is that at the time I had just been on a date with one of his pals – I think that was what sparked him into making a move to be honest, but I’m glad he did because by that point he was all I could think about.

We were together all through sixth form and despite several people warning me about Mark, I had never met a funnier, sweeter, more romantic guy. We were crazy about each other, still are, and spent all of our time together. Despite skipping a few lessons to spend with him instead, I still made it out with an A and 3 B’s! But then came the real test – it was always on the cards. I had been dead set on my own plan of going to university as soon as I finished school and I couldn’t wait. I chose the University of Hertfordshire, and unlike many I refused to make this decision based on my relationship – I simply loved the university and the course.

I’ve been asked by many people in the last few years about how we coped, and I’ve since bumped into old school friends who were amazed we had survived university – but I never saw it as much of an obstacle. I don’t know if perhaps it was just because we were so crazy about each other, but still more mature, that we realised we had the rest of our lives to be together and that being apart for a short time didn’t matter! He came to visit nearly every other weekend, sometimes we had a longer break, but we spoke every day while he worked at home as an engineer.

In my second year I lived at home (mainly because I was only in university twice a week and I wanted to work as well) so we were back in each other’s lives full time. Finally last year was amazing – I was so busy with work and revision, but still had time to party. He was driving and training to see me, and I had my car at university so I could easily hop in and be home two hours later. It was a great set-up and we never gave each other any reason to be jealous because there was no need!

Coming home was a struggle because we were used to living without each other, but we soon fell back into a routine and the last two summers we spent touring round festivals and travelling to Malta and Croatia. We always have the best time with each other and have never let a relationship stop us from living life to the absolute full like some couples do – we still want to go raving and dancing all night long. Sure we have our nights snuggled up in bed watching a good DVD, but neither of us can stand doing that all the time! And why go raving with others when only we can keep up with each other?

I hope there are some other couples out there like us – all the ones we know seem to be quite tame in comparison. But I’m grateful just to have my best friend and to still feel like this six-and-a-half years later! And looking forward to raving together again this weekend at Sub Focus.

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Success – How I totally owned that risotto recipe

This was the result of last night’s first attempt at making my own risotto.  I went for creamy Gorgonzola and Portobello Mushroom with roasted vegetables. It was truly delicious and very creamy, with plenty of gorgeous white whine thrown in for good measure. A winner with all the family even though some don’t like mushrooms and others weren’t sure about blue cheese. I would say a fantastic success and I’ll definitely be making risotto again very soon – next time I plan to try another recipe with chorizo, red wine and broad beans. To create the dish pictured, find the recipe further down on my blog and throw in extra wine, cheese, mushrooms and water to make it extra delicious.

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Workout: Stronger, harder, leaner

Just got home after another epic workout. Treating myself to new gym clothes has really been an amazing motivation and I am killing it again at the gym – I have totally revitalised my workout and am loving it again. My body feels amazing now that it is really being challenged again. I love how good a really powerful workout makes you feel. I’m totally hooked on endorphins and I’m not ashamed to say it – there’s nothing like the buzz you get post-workout.

None of my friends are gym bunnies like me and none of them really understand why I enjoy going to the gym so much (I don’t think three workouts a week is excessive!) because they have never given it a real shot, but if they prefer to feel tired rushing around at work and sad when their clothes don’t fit like they would like them then fair enough! Personally, I like my body to be soft and yet strong, I like being able to run and lift weights without a problem. I like that my clothes fit the way I like. And I LOVE that I can pretty much eat what I want because my metabolism is so high and I rarely put on weight now, even if the majority of the time I prefer to eat healthily.

 

Too many people think the key to losing weight or toning up is actually just eating less when in fact, I actually eat more now than ever and yet weigh less because I am eating less junk and because I am working out to burn it off. My body is lean and toned and yet I enjoyed a huge Italian feast of tagliatelle with a sauce made of double cream, brandy, prawns and vegetables with two different types of garlic bread, wine and cheesecake for afters last night. It’s all about moderation.

My current workout is cardio heavy with plenty of weights and a strong core section. I do either a 20 or 30 minute interval run (depending on how much time I have) and usually run for either three or four minutes followed by a minute of sprint walking. This interval running is great for boosting my cardiovascular fitness and building up stamina – plus its also the most effective for weight-loss. I then move on to 20 minutes of interval training on the cross trainer at a high resistance level before finishing with ten minutes of fast-paced cycling.

I then move on to weights working the inner and outer thighs to strengthen my muscles for running and to help stop my hips from clicking so much. Reps of 12 and I try to move up a weight every few weeks. This is followed by the leg press (which I can stack) and I do various exercises on there including one-legged, pyramids and general lifting to mix it up a little. Doing these weights have really helped strengthen my legs for running without building any excess muscle, my legs are slimmer than ever!

I then move on to arms and use all the weight machines working my biceps, triceps, shoulders and core as I try to build up my strength in my arms. I stick to lower weights because I tend to build muscle in my arms (especially biceps) quite easily and although I don’t mind this, it makes the sleeves of my cardigan a bit tight!

Finally, I finish with an intense ab workout. Starting on the ball, I will do 25 oblique crunches on each side followed by 20 long arm crunches with a 7kg weight, finishing with 40 Russian Twists with the same weight.

After these, I hit the floor where I start with another 20 long arm crunches with the weight, 20 basic crunches followed by 20 reaching to my knees and another 20 reaching through my legs. Then I do 40 oblique twists followed by 20 crunches where I fully extend my legs and arms. Finally I do 40 more Russian Twists on the floor and then sit on a weights bench to do 20 leg extension crunches.

After this I’m usually a jelly mess and have to head home for a snack, today’s was a bit of brown, seeded toast with peanut butter.

What’s your favourite workout? Any tips to further my workout?

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Reunited and reliving those precious memories of university

After a long six months, the House of Boobs girls (as we were nicknamed at University of Hertfordshire) were finally reunited for a weekend of catching up, drinking champagne and cocktails, eating copious amounts of chips and dip, and most of all, making enough memories to tide us over until the next meet-up.

After living together and spending nearly all of our time together over the three years of university – supporting each other through the course stresses and deadlines, cheering each other up over boy trouble, staying up into the wee hours with drunken tears, celebrating each other’s achievements and having each others’ backs on every night out. We’ve been through a hell of a lot together over the years and we’ve all come out of it stronger than ever. Boys truly have come and gone in that time, as have jobs and other friends – but the one thing that has stayed constant is that we are all – without fail – always there for each other no matter what.

After arriving in a village near Chelmsford, Essex, at one of my former housemate’s house, we unpacked the mountains of stuff we had brought along, tucked into a delicious dinner and had a quick catch up before heading upstairs to get ready. We all glammed up in our high heels and fabulous outfits – my top is from Missguided and skirt from Ark – and after a couple of glasses of wine and making sure we had all remembered our ID’s, we clambered into the cars and headed out to Leigh-On-Sea.

Our destination was a bar called Bellinis, which was quite small but served great cocktails! To be honest, we could have been anywhere and I wouldn’t have noticed what was going on around us – we were all having so much fun dancing like loons, drinking Jam Doughnut shots and laughing, a lot! It was amazing to be surrounded by the girls again, because they are all the type of women who I wish existed everywhere – none of them will ever put you down or say a bad word about you if they have your back. It was so nice to be surrounded by such supportive friends who were nothing but happy to hear everyone’s news and celebrate everything going on in their lives. It is rare to find a group of girls who honestly act this way, who don’t put each other down, and I am proud to have friends like these.

I have such fabulous friends. Nearly all of them are in very happy, loving relationships with great guys (not something that they could boast in university!) and the ones who are not are confident and happy in going solo. Some are nearly finished battling through their PGCEs and are now teaching classes of little ones, while another is working in Asos marketing department, another travels to Germany and America regularly for work. Another is heading off travelling around South-East Asia and Australia at the end of the year and another is working as a para-legal and loving it. I am proud of everything they have achieved and have yet to.

Am really looking forward to the next meet-up and hopefully we won’t have long to wait. The main DJ from our old student union is holding a huge reunion party so hopefully we will all make it along to that.

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Communicating with the big, wide world

I’m thrilled to announce that within just a few weeks of blogging on WordPress, I already have 40 followers and have had countless visitors to my site and likes on my posts. It’s really encouraging to see that my writing and opinions are being heard and appreciated by so many people from all over the world. And I really love that WordPress offers the stats pages to show you exactly where your readers are accessing your blog from, I appear to have a lot of UK and US readers, but have even had some from Bangladesh checking out my pieces.

This morning I also reached my 5,000th Tweet which went out to nearly 400 followers on my Twitter account who are spread across the country and the globe. It is great to know my opinions and comments are going out to people in my industry and to friends at the same time, and that I can instantly share my work with the world.

On my original blog, which I now use more are a photo-diary and a log of my work at the paper, I am sharing my writing with around 300 followers on Tumblr. Although Tumblr is good for the immediate sharing of pictures and thoughts, I find that WordPress offers more of a considered approach to blogging when one puts rather more time and effort into constructing a post and decorating it for readers.

Adding my Instagram to the mix, I am sharing my regular uploads with nearly 160 followers, documenting my movements whether journalism, music or blogging-related. I also find Instagram a perfect way to edit my photos and share them on my blogs. Finally, on Facebook I have 941 friends who get all my updates relating to blogging, writing for the newspaper, editing for This Festival Feeling and living life. This is a fantastic amount of people that I am reaching on a daily basis and who are accessing my posts and work. I considered making a page for myself as a writer, but didn’t want to limit my posts to people who have liked my page because I know how easy it is to lose followers that way. Plus it makes it more personal to be a ‘friend’.

Overall, I am reaching more than 1,800 people daily through my blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts – when writing for The Lynn News and This Festival Feeling, and displaying on the websites, I am reaching thousands more.

This is an amazing feeling and it astonishes me to have collated these figures and get a real picture of how many people I am in touch with. You should try it, technology really has brought the world closer together! Click on the links to follow each of my accounts and get a slightly different picture from each!

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My latest fascination has lots of legs, no bones and a beak – can you guess?

The other day at work, a reader brought in a picture she had snapped of an octopus she had found washed up on Old Hunstanton beach, on the North Norfolk coast last weekend. Although dead, she was keen to know what type of octopus it was and how it had come to be there. After investigating and speaking to staff from the local Sea Life Centre, I discovered it was the lesser octopus – a type common to UK waters but rarely found washed up on our beaches. The display manager, Kieran Copeland, of Hunstanton Sea Life Centre, suspected the creature had died in the water and been washed up afterwards.

Angela Rudd, another member of staff from the centre, started to tell me all about the octopus in general and fascinated me with talk of the creature’s intelligence and ability to learn – I had to do some background reading to learn more.

I found the following information very interesting and helpful – there is plenty more on the website if you have the inclination to read on.

An o­ctopus’s brain is proportionally as large as some birds’ and mammals’ brains. It displays a high level of organization in order to do things like coordinate all of the chromataphores’ color changes. The brain is only part of the story though. Three-fifths of the octopus’s nerves are distributed throughout its eight arms

Octopus arms are incredibly strong and flexible. Made almost entirely of muscle, the arms possess the strength to wrestle sharks and to break through Plexiglas. And without those pesky bones and joints (like ours) to limit movement, the arms have an almost infinite range of motion. And yet the octopus can even mimic a human arm by making its arms semi-rigid and bending them in precise places.

In addition, recent research suggests those arms may have minds of their own. Studies indicate that octopus arms each have their own independent nervous system. Essentially this means that the brain can give a quick assignment to the arm and then not have to think about it anymore. Scientists tested this by severing the nerves in the arms from other nerves in the body and brain and then tickling the arms. Amazingly, the arms responded to the tickling just as they would in a healthy octopus.

Source: How Stuff Works

For more information – why not check out the following links for BBC Nature and BBC Nature: The Giant Pacific Octopus

And for this final video – I recommend you put it on silent because the American commentary is more than just slightly annoying and fast forward to around two minutes in to witness the true power of the Giant Pacific Octopus.

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Class of 2010 – University of Hertfordshire – House of Boobs reunited

I am so excited. Today is the day. This afternoon, I am to be reunited with some of my best girlfriends – House of Boobs, as we were nicknamed at University of Hertfordshire – for drinks, dancing, an almighty catch-up and plenty of snuggles. We are all so close, but unfortunately being spread across Norfolk, Essex, London and Ipswich, it is not always practical to meet up as often as we would like, nor is it easy to find a time when everyone is free! I am so looking forward to hearing all about the girls’ summers, their promotions, new jobs, boyfriends, new homes, travel plans and the rest. It is also nice that because I have so much holiday left over I am taking today and Monday off work as a treat, with a spa day booked with mum for Monday. And I’m looking forward to wearing my fabulous new outfit – velvet crop top and tartan midi/pencil skirt when we go out tonight. Will post pictures and an update after the weekend.

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Life of a journalist and its varied tales…

The Buddy Holly Story at Lynn's Corn Exchange starring Glen Joseph.

This week has been a particularly extreme example of how very varied a career in journalism can be. Of course, for those who choose a speciality such as sport, law or feature work, the writing can seem repetitive over time, but the bonus of being thrown in the deep end without formal training and working in a short-staffed office is that you really get a chance to experience as many different writing styles as there are out there.

I am a great example of such a case and despite working on a paper that covers a relatively small part of Norfolk, there is a remarkable amount of very exciting news that needs covering! This week alone I have interviewed the star of West End musical – Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story ahead of its showing at the local theatre as part of the 25th anniversary tour and was given a backstage tour by Glen Joseph himself. I then wrote a piece about drug and alcohol abuse figures which involved me talking to action teams, the hospital, police, support groups and Norfolk County Council. I also interviewed a woman about her father’s Jobseeker’s Allowance being cut off and spoke to the Department of Work and Pensions and spoke to a woman who was celebrating her 103rd birthday.

I interviewed a published writer about his book, the tale of his father’s travels and the secret life he led during World War II followed by his work spying on the Russians during the Cold War.I also wrote about Bus Awards, flood alerts, power cuts, schools, charity work and local bands and theatre productions.

All that and more is what I have been working on in the space of one week – just think of all the amazing stories you could be working on at a national paper! If that doesn’t interest more people in journalism then perhaps the fact that in my second job, as editor of This Festival Feeling, I had the opportunity to interview Charlie Hedges, the youngest breakfast DJ in the UK, from KISS FM will interest people in the potential for a writing career and where it might take you.