Monday, 24 January 2011

North East's Young Reviewers 2011 Introduction

Every year the 'Evening Chronicle' runs a competition for budding young writers in the North East area, and this year I entered. I'm fortunate enough to have made it to the final group, and in today's issue of the newspaper a small article was printed introducing its readers to this years contestants. Please find below images from the Evening Chronicle website, and a snap of the publication.

It's a 12-month competition, so it will run until the end of the year. Now for those of you who have been asking, I'm not actually aware of what the prize for the winner is, but at this stage it's not important. This is going to be a great experience and definitely a help for my career path!

I shall inform those of you who are interested as and when my articles are published in the newspaper. As it stands, I am unaware of which areas of the Arts I am to cover, but as soon as I know I shall let you know!

Until next time.

Amy x

Saturday, 15 January 2011

David Tennant - engaged and expecting baby!

I'm trying so hard to be pleased for the happy couple, honest!

When I heard a few weeks back that David Tennant and Georgia Moffett recently became engaged, I was devastated. Sure, I want him to be happy, but Tennant has been my Doctor for over five years. He stole my heart and squished it into pulp, before leaving it to frazzle in the heat he provides.

Yet I never held that against him, and my heart still longed for that very man. His smile, so warm, his eyes so deep and loving. I refused to be a 'fan girl'; no posters were put up, never did I sprawl 'I <3 David Tennant' over anything, and no photos of him were carried in my purse (well, just the one!). Unrequited love, it's painful!

A mere five minutes ago, the news was broken to me that Moffett is in fact expecting her second child, Tennant's first. Well, I'm thrilled for Tennant. I really am. That child is going to be the finest specimen ever known, it's guaranteed. I'm just...well, I'm raging with envy!

Would I trade places with Moffett? Sure, why not? But I don't want her life, not really. I want my life, and my life is incomplete without Tennant. In my heart and in my head, he'll always remain. I hope life throws a continuous amout of joy towards the happy couple, but no matter what happens, Tennant will always be 'mine'.

Amy x

(On a less insanity-driven note, congrats to the two! I hope everything works out perfectly!)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

♥ Stars and Stripes! ♥

For the first time in my life, I have actually made a decision!

Yes, really! It has come to that time in my life when I need to start planning for the future. It may not be the most relaxing of tasks, but it has to be done! The first hurdle was to decide on a 'theme' for my future accommodation, be it a flat or a house. I'd initially set my mind to 'pink', and so invested in a pink towel. However, I sharp changed my mind.

And now, well now I've set my heart on an entire house splurged with 'Stars and Stripes', an American theme if you will. Needless to say, locating pink items for a house would be a much easier challenge than trying to find specific items with Stars and Stripes on it, but where's the adventure in that?!

I've managed to source two things so far for my 'future' collection. Perhaps they're not the most exciting of items, perhaps they are! The first is just a little set of bath and hand towels, some blue and some red, to fit in with the colour coordination. And the second? Well that made me yelp with delight! For it is a bin! Yes, a bin! But this is no ordinary bin, as it has 'Broadway' written on the side of it! How exciting is that?!

I shall keep my eyes widely open for lots more exciting US items. A large flag would be nice, a rug perhaps. Various websites online have the odd suitable household item, which I'll definitely look into buying as soon as I come back from the States later this year. I'll dot New York City canvas pictures around the walls. My obsession could even draw me to sticking receipts from the States into red or blue frames and dotting them around the house, we'll have to see!

For now, this is as far as my 'future' collection goes. In good time, it will grow. But I am sticking by my decision. I will live in a Stars and Stripes home for as long as I live! ♥

Amy x

"Stars and Stripes 'til I die"

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Econococolocopuss, Car'Rhea and a big Balloon

Friday 13th August 2010. A day I will never forget...

"Why, I hear you ask?"
Good question! In fact, no. It's a wonderful question, as you've now openly invited me to share with you my most treasured experience. However, before I get into that, we must strip the bones bare and head back to the day where my story began. Are you sitting comfortably?

Once Upon a Time...
My fairytale begins on a seasonably warm afternoon in Spring, as I sit at my table, browsing lazily through Facebook. It was then that I noticed on Costaki Economopoulos' profile that he was coming to Edinburgh. Well, that was it. My heart stopped beating, and I raced to send him a message (yes, I know they're not exactly brilliantly juxtaposed!). The message went something like this...

"Costaki, you're coming to Edinburgh? As in, Edinburgh Scotland? As in, Edinburgh Scotland just two hours from where I live?!"

It wasn't long before I received a reply from his greatness, a confirmation message that he was indeed coming to Edinburgh, Scotland (just two hours from where I lived!), for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Now there is something you need to know about Costaki. Not only is he one of the greatest comedians of all time, but he is also the partner of, and father of the child of, Caroline Rhea. My greatest love in life is 'Sabrina the Teenage Witch'; it dominates 100% of my thoughts (that's 0.1% greater than the germs Dettol eliminates), and now I had just been told that my Witchy 'Aunt Hilda' was coming across from America with her very funny parter to perform at the Fringe. I'll tell you something, it took me a while to breathe properly again after I'd found that out!

My Golden Ticket
One of the worst things in the world is waiting. I'm so incredibly impatient, so when I realised that tickets for the Festival weren't on sale for over a month, I had a very anxious wait ahead of me. On the morning of their release, the Gilded Balloon website (linked below) was actually down due to technical issues, so I ended up biting my finger nails into non-existence. I finally bought my ticket nearer to midday, slyly on my mobile phone's lousy internet connection at college. Perhaps I should have been studying for an exam instead, but life's all about prioritising!

Once the glitch on the website was fixed, purchasing my ticket was quite easy (even from a small mobile phone!). Navigating around the website is straight forward too, with the sections all marked out colourfully. The information you need to provide is the basic name, address etc, as well as your card details for payment (all major cards accepted). You can then choose to have your ticket delivered, or pick it up. As I lived a little away from Edinburgh, I opted for delivery. This meant I had to pay a little extra on top of my ticket price, but for Caroline, I'd have paid it thrice over. If you do choose to collect your ticket, you can do this via the ticket office in the Gilded Balloon. My friend who accompanied me on my little trip chose this option, and we found that the staff in the ticket office were very friendly and helpful. The customer service is definitely something to shout about - I contacted them a few times on Twitter (@GildedBalloon) beforehand and always received informative and kind replies.

A few weeks before the Festival, my ticket, in it's glorious yellow colour, arrived safely on my doorstep in its little envelope. It was real. It was really happening!

It's Hardly Marauder's Map...
The main problem that arises when visiting someplace new is trying to find your way around. Thankfully, the power of the internet has made planning our paths a lot easier (I'll be honest, I didn't exactly fancy wandering around Edinburgh with a giant map!). Before I left, I spent a little while on Google Maps, walking around the virtual area planning my route, scribbling down directions and street names. Eventually I was satisfied that I would be able to navigate my friend and I.

The Gilded Balloon is not too far from the train station itself, which is naturally where the majority of Festival goers will enter the city from, be it a direct train or a small commute from Haymarket. The building itself is right in the centre of the Festival during the time of the Fringe, and is always quite easy to spot because of its large 'Gilded Balloon' purple sign that's on the front of the building. Should you have any problems finding it, I'd suggest simply asking for directions, however it shouldn't be too difficult to locate! As I said, it is quite easy to spot and should stand out quite well.

"Will there be tables and stuff? Like a proper debate?"
Before I continue my own tale, I should probably take the time to mention the main attractions of the Gilded Balloon - I understand that not everybody may adore Caroline and Costaki, as shocking as that statement is! However, you do have to be a fan of comedy, as this is naturally their main focus. During the time of the Fringe, they have an endless list of performers, of which all are listed on their website and outside the building itself on large pink boards nearer the time. You'll need to check the website for performer information, as just with any other comedy venue, the gigs are listed as and when they're booked. You can then book tickets accordingly and proceed with planning your laughter events.

There are various rooms in the Gilded Balloon, so the size you enter will depend on the nature of the visit/ demand for the comedian etc. I was in the Debating Hall, which is the largest room seating 360 people. Now I would like to take this opportunity to humiliate my friend at this point. When she heard it was the Debating Hall, she asked me, with all seriousness, if we were going to be taking part in a debate. In her defence she had never been to a stand up event before, however nor had I... Oh, how I laughed. At her. You then have the Dining Room (188 seats), the Nightclub (150 seats), the Wine Bar (147 seats), the Billiard Room (75 seats), the Balcony (60 seats), the Sportsman (87 seats) and the Wee Room (50 seats), so it is clear to see that there is plenty of room there for various performers and comedy fans at one time!

Whilst you're awaiting the time to go into your designated room, you have the option to sit in one of the seven bars and cafes they have on site. The Teviot Bar, their main bar, is open until 5am during the Festival, so you'll never be left to wait in the cold!

"Are you little Amy?"
Seated in my front row seat in the Debating Room, my heart raced. The curtains stage right flitched, and I saw Costaki Economopoulos peer out from the side to get a glimpse of the packed room. Oh my, he's real! I'd talked to him online a lot, and have watched many video clips, but the moment you see somebody you adore in the flesh for the first time, it's so surreal. A few moments later, and he was stood in front of me, one hand in his jeans pocket, the other resting on the microphone. His voice, so fresh and American, filled the atmosphere with warmth and laughter. The evening could not be more perfect...

Oh, how wrong I was. For things just kept becoming more golden. Ten minutes later, Costaki introduced the audience to his oh-so-beautiful partner, and as she walked out onto the stage, I felt my stomach churn. There she was. Caroline Rhea. My Witchy Aunt Hilda. For eleven years, that woman has taught me everything I know (along with Witchy Aunt Zelda/Beth Broderick!), and now...NOW she was stood before me. Granted, I had to avert my eyes occasionally as she was wearing a dress (as lovely as it was!), but I truly didn't care. Eleven long years I had waited for this, and here she was.

As she walked along the stage, interacting with various audience members, she turned to me and stopped. "Are you little Amy?!". What? How did she...? Oh! I glanced down at my shirt. I'd had a tshirt made leading up to the event, with a picture of Caroline on it. She was also aware of the fact that I was going to the show that evening, so she had put two and two together, and on this occasion got four!

Before I knew it, she had me standing aside her on the stage, showing off my attire to the audience. Was this real? Was Caroline really talking to me? Standing aside me? Wrapping her arm around my shoulders? As a child, I never imagined being in the same room as my 'Aunt Hilda', and this...well, this was something even I couldn't have imagined. Taking my seat a short while later, I enjoyed the rest of the comedy (and oh how funny it was!), Caroline still talking to me occasionally, and announcing to the audience that I am a 'big Sabrina fan' understatement from the dear there, but oh how I loved her for that!

Say Cheese!
The hour of laughter may have been over, but the insanity didn't stop there. I was blessed with spending a little time with them outside the Hall afterwards. Okay so there was other people there wanting to see Caroline, but it felt like it was just the four of us (Costaki, Caroline, myself and my friend - she seemed to have got lost in this story so I thought it was time to bring the character back!). I went to shake Costaki's hand, and he decided to hug me instead... amazing! Though I must say, my hand was very close to certain regions! For me, not a disastrous thing, but for him? Probably not the best! Caroline decided to hand me a few gifts she'd brought for me... a little keyring and a jumper from her "What is it you can't face?" line (Sound of Music joke, and my favourite ever!). That was very unexpected, and left me nearly hyperventilating; there's only so much surprise you can take in an hour and a half.

A few pictures later and it was time to head off - the friend and I had to catch the last train back to Kirkcaldly, and even that was perfect timing! I'll be honest, I didn't want to leave Caroline and Costaki. If I had my way, I'd be in their company all day, every day, they're so delightful! I don't think that would go down too well with them though!

Econococolocopuss and Car'Rhea
I've reflected on this day so many times since, and each time I feel my heart twang, my stomach churn and my head spin. It still doesn't feel real, it still hasn't sunk in. I cannot thank Gilded Balloon enough for their excellent service, for their friendly staff and their amazing customer care. And for the fact that they booked Caroline and Costaki. Without them, none of this could have been possible. I thank Caroline 'Car'Rhea' Rhea, for being the most wonderful person in the world. I laughed, I cried, and I looked generally stunned and abnormal. Because of that absolute dear. Of course, the biggest thank you goes to Costaki 'Econococolocopuss'* Economopoulos, for answering my emails and messages, for listening to me and for being absolutely perfect. They've given me a dream come true, and I truly love them for it!

Amy x

*Somebody once called Costaki 'Econococolocopuss' as they could not pronounce his surname, and so this has stuck with me!


My video about the experience

Saturday, 1 January 2011

And so 2011 begins...

Here we are, my first blog post of 2011. More precisely, it's 1/1/11, which is pretty special! It's so cliche to say that the previous year has flown by, but it seems like only yesterday that I was reading Hattie Crisell's blog post regarding the debate focusing on how we were all to pronounce 2010. It would seem that the majority of us settled for 'twenty ten', and now we have traveled into 'twenty eleven'.

I've got to say, sitting from the comfort of my living room, the fireworks display looked spectacular. What I'd give to be down in London next New Year! I can imagine it has a pretty hefty price tag to it though, which I'm fairly sure we cannot really afford! Nonetheless, it was a wonderful way to see in 2011. And then it was time for bed.

With every new year, we are given the chance to start afresh. I've no idea why we're 'not allowed' to turn over a new leaf in the middle of July, but never mind! So have I set any resolutions? Well, yes and no. My first resolution was to keep any resolutions that I decide to make. I've an incapability of sticking to plans I set for the upcoming months. However, this year, I will keep them. Or at the very least, I can try! I aim to get fitter, to 'shape up' to the extreme. Daily long walks. Eat less, move more. Simple, right? Well, we'll see!

The one thing I love most about a brand new year, is a brand new calendar (or two!). I'll be straight, I've never had a calendar that I've adored as much as my 2007 Billie Piper one, and the David Tennant one that I hung aside it. There has yet to be another Piper calendar released, official or otherwise, however I'm now on my third Tennant calendar! Last year I was the proud owner of a David Tennant calendar and a Cheryl Cole one. This year, I am the proud owner of...a David Tennant calendar and a Cheryl Cole one. Yep. That's how adventurous I am. (Ooh, and a Matt Smith slim diary, so that's perfection!).

We've been in this year for just over ten hours, and so far, so good. Let's hope it carries on this way with a better climate, both financial and atmospheric! 2010 was a big year for the media, for occasions and celebrations, and 2011 may just be even bigger. We've twelve months of this year left, so let's enjoy it!

Happy New Year!

Amy x

Accompanying video: