Music Monday: Mark Lanegan

mark lanegan notebook

I once had a friend telling me they would probably turn up to hear Mark Lanegan sing the telephone book! But then I agreed because Lanegan just has one of those voices, deep, soulful, soothing to the point it quelled even my horrendous foul and ill-tempered mood on Thursday when we went to see him perform at the KOKO.

mark lanegan gargoyle

 

With nine studio albums and a plethora of collaborations under his belt, there is quite a back catalogue to choose from but I never get tired of hearing my favourites. Sometimes I purposefully don’t listen to a new album if I’m going to see an-artist live shortly, sometimes I just like going to a gig and hearing a song for the first time. I bought the new album whilst I was there, no surprises I chose the red coloured vinyl edition and a notebook. Maybe I’ll write that ercury prize-winning album now!

mark lanegan gargoyle red vinyl

I have I think seen Lanegan perform maybe 10/11 times over the years in various guises, The mark Lanegan bans, The Gutter Twins, with Soulsavers, with QOTSA, by himself. He’s not you average front man, there is no charismatic jumping around on stage, or joking around with the audience. He walks on sings, says thank you every now and then, introduces the band, gives a small wave and walks, not always necessarily in the order but trust me this is enough. Some artists you go to see perform, others you go to listen to, he falls in the latter category.

mark lanegan gargoyle back sleeve

I didn’t stick around for the signing, I’m not good with queuing but I have my album and notebook, and he ended the show with two amazing covers of Joy Division songs which is all good. Love will tear us apart is one of my all time favourite songs. Cover versions are one of the rare things I get snobby about, I hate a terrible cover versions but then again there are some really good ones out there. I doubt that there is a song that Lanegan could cover that wouldn’t be just as good as the original, in fact due to him covering other songs, I discovered some amazing artists to add to my back catalogue.

So until next time I have Gargoyle to listen to along with the many others but some artists are just better heard live, Mark Lanegan is one of those artists!

mark lanegan notebook inside cover

 

It’s Been Three Years…

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…Since I quit my job and became self-employed! Three whole damn years, can you believe that, and guess what? I almost forgot! I won’t lie it’s been a struggle and I’m still nowhere near where I wanted to be but I’m still going. The last three years have been a learning curve and I have learnt so much. Some days I have just wanted to jack it in because I couldn’t see the point of struggling so hard or it was because I had no idea or clue what I was doing or where I wanted to go! Other days I’m like yeah this is the best and I’m a total boss! Freelance/self-employed life is a roller-coaster of emotions sometimes, like everything it’s full of highs and lows.

Every little sale or get a good feedback slowly erases away the self-doubt but every week of slow sales is a reminder not to get cocky and to keep at it! Not to give up if you fall at the first hurdle or even the second or third hurdle. They say behind every overnight success is at least five-ten years hard work most us won’t ever get to that level of success and will just get by day-to-day.  There will be many ‘failures’ a long the way. Some of them won’t even be failures just bad timing, trends come and go and the bat of an eyelid, blink and something new has taken over.

People will still think that you working for yourself is a doss, and that you pretty much free to drop everything and do stuff because hey working for yourself doesn’t mean you have a work schedule to keep at,  or they ask as an after thought (ie when you mention it) oh how’s that going for you than like they’re asking about the weather or even better, oh you’re still doing that then! or that your silly little craft fairs are not important (yes someone actually said that to me), or customer at markets who declare loudly that they could make this for far less, or customers requesting commissions declaring that there design is a big improvement on yours and expecting you to agree with them! And so on and so on, these are the things that keep you grounded and determined. Proving people wrong has always been my number one motivator.

Yes with freelancing comes a certain level of flexibility but you still have to haul ass to the post office regardless of the weather, there are no sick days, sick benefits or paid holidays. You do end up working longer hours and longer weeks but hey you’re leaving the dream so it doesn’t count, tell that to the bills that need paying.

Comparison is definitely the thief of joy, never compare your journey to anyone else’s, numbers are arbitrary, just because someone has 10,000 followers doesn’t always necessarily mean they are doing better than you, we live in a world where the number of likes seemingly make people look popular but at the end of the day it’s not a true indicator. people obsess over them for the wrong reasons, they paying attention to the wrong numbers,

This year I finally managed to settle on a path after much experimenting and somehow now have two shops to run. Two very different styles of shop which equally reflect my passions in life. Well I say two shops, I’m spending a lot of time setting up one with plans for another but obviously having to do everything myself means this is taking a little longer than I expected. I’m hoping to launch my handmade shop in time for my birthday. It seems kind of nice to start a new venture in a new decade.

I’m feeling a lot more settled, though being self-employed there is always the worry where the next sale/commission is coming from but I’m happy with where I’m at, I’m grateful I never gave up thanks to support of my customers and more so to my excellent cheerleader of a husband, reminding me that I can do this and I’m better at this than I think I am.

Everyday I learn something new and everyday I’m grateful I get to do this, some people have viewed my strong will and stubbornness as a negative but in this case it’s working to my advantage, and I guess that’s all that matters.

 

 

Seasonal Wardrobes

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So it’s been a while but time to start talking about clothes and style again! There will be some outfit posts coming soon, I promise I just need to finish a few bits on the first and also reclaim my sewing room back which is currently a mess and being used as a temporary store-room!

Now that spring has emerged and summer is doing its usual hokey cokey of whether it’s going to be hot and glorious and wet and miserable, I thought it would be a good time to talk about seasonal wardrobes and switching them over. I think most people by default have at least two seasonal wardrobes one for winter and one for summer and probably like me tend to crossover in transitional months when the weather is a bit more temperamental. Of course this also depends where you live the world but I’m in the UK so we’re currently in nightmare what to wear season where it’s a toss-up between underdress and you freeze, over dress and you boil to death, looks sunny so risk not taking a coat and drown from spontaneuous downpours or if your lucky you might just get it right but this rarely happens in.

I’m writing these style posts as I’m trying to get my wardrobe that I’m making/putting together to not only reflect my personality and style but to also be functional and season appropriate. At the moment I have issue with fluctuating weight which is making sewing plans a bit difficult as I have no idea what measurements to go by but this is an issue for another day and I think I have the situation in hand and the problem is being sorted. I’ve also been in a bit of a style rut because a) I work at home and tend to just wear comfortable clothes and b) despite having a fabulous selection of clothes, not currently being able to fit in them is kind of annoying but as i said working on that.

Do you have a seasonal wardrobe?

So do I have a seasonal wardrobe? Yes I do, though at the moment I’m kind of in a wear what fits kind of stage so most of the winter I’ve been layering up summer clothes with thermal socks and woolly cardigans. I hope to get a few more winter staples made before next winter, that being a few layering jumpers, some long-sleeved cardigans and a few pairs of winter appropriate trousers.

Do you switch them over?

Most of them yes. I tend to pack away most of my dresses, especially strappy ones and things like shorts, thin blouses, light cotton trousers etc as they rarely get worn during the colder months. I tend to leave a few skirts and dresses out that can be layered. Now that it’s spring I’m thinking about things to put away, like my heavier coats, boots and thicker woollen tights. Now is a good time to do a stock take of what you have, clear out non repairable items, recycle or resell things you haven’t worn for ages and see also what needs replacing.

These days it’s so easy to go into a department stores and raid the racks because things look pretty and half the time they just sit in the wardrobe, I know I’ve been guilty of this in the past. As I spend most of my time working from home I’m looking to stock up more comfortable and practical clothing. The end of season sales are a good time to grab a few bargains in prep for next year like boots or a coat, or as I’ve done stock up on my underwear and exercise clothes once the Jan/feb fitness rush was over.

How do you store your clothes?

I store my clothes in a couple of old vintage suitcases which I’ve found over the years. Depending on how much space you have you could use shallow plastic storage boxes to store under the bed or on top of wardrobe. Or vacuum bags if you have a loft.

I launder all my clothes before storing them, I line the suitcases with draw liners and I also stick in a sachet of lavender or some cedars balls to repel moths. I also hang these in my wardrobe and clothes draws regardless of the season. Make sure clothes are dry, if you put them in even slightly damp they’ll smell musty when you take them out or even worse develop mould depending on the fabric content.

How to plan your seasonal wardrobe.

So pretty much the same rules apply regardless whether you’re purchasing or making your clothes. Think about your style, what do you like? What do you wear often? And finally what do you need? Always look to invest in your wardrobe, you’re better off buying one decent long serving item than five cheaper alternatives that fall apart after a few wears. When I was at University the first thing I bought with my student loan was snorkel/parker coat and some cat boots to see me through the winters. I still have the coat, it’s been twenty years and the best 30 quid I ever spent! I may not it wear it as much but it’s still there if I need it.

These days I try to be practical when spending money on clothes. Take my wedding dress for instance, generally that’s something you where once but I went for a cocktail dress instead so I could get more wear out of it as I hate to see clothing languishing in the back of the wardrobe unworn and I have worn it again. Although I tend to make more of my own clothes now I still apply this to the fabrics I purchase and the items I plan to make. I also buy a lot of vintage, part of this is to do with style, another part is to do with cut and fit, another part is keeping clothes in circulation and out of the landfill.

Do you have any tips to add about planning or storing your seasonal wardrobes?

 

Beautiful Brutalism

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A long, long time ago in my late teens/early twenties I worked in a little restaurant/bar next door to Moorgate Station. There was a sister restaurant just behind us above another entrance for the station that led into the Barbican Estate and this was when I was probably first properly introduced to Brutalist Architecture. I would spend many a lunchtime wandering round and admiring the estate. Both restaurants and the escalators and walkway above the entrance on   street are all gone to make way for the Crossrail but the estate is still their in all its brutal glory.

look up

defoe house

tower

al fresco

On the estate is also the Barbican Centre, a cultural arts centre that houses exhibitions, has a cinema and theatre amongst many things. There is a restaurant and a terrace that you can also enjoy as a visitor but pretty much most of the estate is closed off because it’s a private residential area. It is one of my favourite places in London, smack bang in the city and a serene little oasis anyway from the hustle and bustle. I always dreamed of living there but property prices these days have killed that off! A three bedroom flat on the 12th floor will set you back at least £1.6 million!!!! You can read more about the history of the estate here.

barbican centre

stairwell in the centre

side balcony

On Saturday we went to an exhibition at Arts Centre, followed by some lunch and walk round the accessible parts of the estate so I could get some pictures. I did have my main camera with me but stupidly forgot to put the SD card back in it, so I ended up using my phone instead, so not the greatest quality but I can still show you what I saw. Mainly for me I love the shapes, the curves, the line, the way the towers loom over the city. How the estate has its own florist and residents adorn the concrete balconies with foliage. On a cloudy day it looks mean and moody and on a sunny day it’s actually quite beautiful.

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frobresher crescent

barbican terrace

stairs

semi circles

curves

hanging

barbican balconies

balconies

private

barbican fountains

curved stair

blue stairs

cross rail

This last picture is where the old walkway into the estate above the entrance on Moorfields which is just behind the entrance on Moorgate, to make way for the new crossfields. I was kind of bittersweet about my old work place being demolished, on the one hand it introduced me to a beautiful part of the city which I would explore on my breaks because I had to get away for my idiot boss, on the other hand I actually hated working at that restaurant because I had an idiot boss who used to pick on me!

Things never really the same or they get stagnant, so it is always interesting to see how the new evolves around the old. By any means the Barbican isn’t an old estate, construction was started in the 60s, so quite young by compared to some but for me it still one of my favourite places in the city. I have to visit the conservatory in there, it’s usually open on Sundays and Bank Holidays, so I will definitely be returning whether it for this or an exhibition.

I plan this summer to take more walks and photos, and next time I’ll remember to put the memory card back in my camera!

Please note that all photos remain my property, please do not use without permission or credit.

June Goals

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I know I stopped setting myself challenges etc because of pressure and work and life commitments but that doesn’t mean I’ve ruled out having goals all together, in fact not at all. I think it’s always good to have something to aim towards, even if it’s something small like saving up for new shoes or a trip to the cinema once a month. In my last post I said I was going to stop doing monthly round ups and do some more photo posts instead, sometimes it is nice to reflect on what’s been done but it’s also nice to look forward to things as well. As always my theory is if I put it in writing I’m more likely to do things, the problem is I have so much I want to do and not enough hours to them, so I breaking them down into more manageable goals.

I’ve spent most of May either trying to catch up on listing stock for the vintage store or de-cluttering the flat, which despite being a chore, I made good progress on but didn’t leave me much time to be creative, so as per my Summer of Selfish Sewing and art post I’m going to try to make more time for creativity. I’ve already pushed back the opening of my new store because I want to concentrate on that properly but that’s post for another time. So here’s what I’m doing to get my creative groove back.

Sewing

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Finish at least five items. My work in progress pile is out of control, it’s more of a mountain plus I’m behind on my vintage pledge. I’m also on a self-imposed ban until some of this fabric gets used up!

Knitting

knitting and coffee

Finish my Nuuk sweater. I started this in March and I was planning knitting an item a month but got sidetracked by a knitting commission, so that plan has gone out the window and even though it’s hot now and knitting in summer usually slows me down but I will finish this before June is out.

Reading

I’m one of those people who has several books on the go,  currently have five! I’m also a little behind on my Goodreads challenge, so my goal is to finish the ones I have on the go before starting any new ones (except the complete works of OZ because that is long!!!). Not making any promises on this one. Also I read one of my magazines that I’ve been hoarding, so many interesting articles to read and they just sit there, so time to act on that.

japan cover lodestars anthology

Writing

So I pulled out all my old writing stuff to sort out and scan and it got me thinking about how I always say I’m going to make time for writing again (blog not included) and seeing I have a lot of half-started stories my goal this month is to at least sort them out and decided which ones are going to get finished. I might also try to start rewriting one.

Art

As above I’m always talking about taking up painting again, actually this is a rolling new years resolution and have failed completely for about four years running unless you count painting backdrops for stock photography. I need to get some practice in especially if I want to start doing my own designs and I also I like painting. So my goal is to start a painting, not finish it but at least start one. Also to start sketching up some designs for my embroidery projects.

coffee and embroidery art

Photography

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I have, like most, a love hate relationship with Instagram. I confess I haven’t been paying too much attention to it lately, mostly my vintage account for obvious reasons. My main account I switched back to a personal account as I’m not sure what I’m doing with it, it’s kind of fallen b y the wayside. I tried making it look professional/themed and then I couldn’t be bothered especially when the whole algorithm/people buying followers/Instagram pod things kicked off! It just took away the point of it but until another better platform comes along that hasn’t been beaten into submission by Facebook I’ll just stick with it and try not to care too much about stats, which is kind of hard when your business relies on social media and stats are thrown around left right and centre! Anyhoo my point is take more pictures of whatever I like! Sounds like a given but apparently it’s not.

So that’s my creative goals for June.