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THE SUNDAY CATCH-UP & CURRENT LIFESTYLE FAVOURITES #16


I know I say it in every one of these posts, but this time I really mean it: I honestly can't believe how much life has changed since we last down and caught up...! Today I'll be filling you in on all of that and also talking about some films, podcasts, books and tv shows I've been loving lately.

- THE CATCH-UP - 

Right, the big news is: I've left my job! At the time of writing this, I'm about to enter my final week with my current company and I actually think I'm going to leave this post and not update it, so I can do an update in my next post. It's not some big, dramatic thing like I'm leaving to start a business or be a YouTuber; it's the same industry and the same area of it, but in terms of what I want to do it feels like a huge leap forwards. It's such a surreal moment for me in a lot of ways because I really didn't see it coming, strange as that sounds... I think I've maybe not believed in myself enough and seen knockbacks as some sort of reflection of myself, when perhaps it wasn't the right moment or the right move for me. I was approached about this role and, in all honesty, wouldn't have even had the confidence to apply for it myself and each step along the way I was kind of waiting for something to go wrong! Touch wood - it hasn't so far... I'm definitely very, very nervous, but you have to take chances in life and step outside your comfort zone. I've had such an amazing experience with the company I'm leaving, which is why it's excitement tinged with sadness too; I'm sure I'd have found a way to move forwards out of my rut eventually, but it's tough when an amazing opportunity is right there in front of you. The people truly were brilliant and I hope we'll stay in touch. After all, the insurance industry is pretty tight-knit and I'm still a part of the Birmingham market so fully expect to see them around!

Aside from visiting London for my friend's birthday (it's become a bit of a tradition - go for a bottomless prosecco brunch at Clerkenwell Grind and then a big party in the evening) and popping over to Warwickshire for a bit of a family reunion; I've actually spent a lot of time in Birmingham this year so far. It's been really great - as most of my family and friends aren't that local to me, I think I'd settled into a bit of a rhythm of being away most weekends, however since meeting my boyfriend (who lives in Birmingham too) I've discovered so much great stuff in this city. I've also become so much closer to the one really good uni friend who did stay here after graduation.

Back when the weather was really nice at the end of last month, we went for a lovely wander around the canals and the rest of the city - it's amazing how the sunshine makes you so much more open to just having a walk and seeing where it takes you. We went for a look around the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which was great as I haven't been in year, but more specifically to see Leonardo da Vinci: a Life in Drawing. It's such a cool idea - a bunch of galleries around the UK each have a selection of his drawings (which can't be on permanent display as light can damage the paper). It was incredible to see the fusion of art and science, the dedication to perfectly replicating and understanding the human body and the relentless perfectionism of his genius!  

In terms of eating and drinking, there have been a few recent discoveries that are worth a mention. The first is Baked in Brick, which is a newish pizza place in Digbeth. I definitely think Digbeth is still 'getting there' in terms of being an up-and-coming area, but I really think it's worth checking out if you're ever in Birmingham. I think my boyfriend discovered this place via Independent Birmingham, which is a card that gives you discounts at independently-owned bars and restaurants in the city. It's pretty affordable anyway but the discount makes it even better! They do so many tasty pizzas - including plenty for vegans - and I really enjoy the relaxed diner vibe of the place. We also recently went to Rico Libre (in Digbeth too) which is a 'bring your own booze' eclectic tapas restaurant. They don't stick to any one cuisine and have a bunch of specials on, so the menu is always being switched up. The setting is slightly odd (in terms of the decor and background music) but food was honestly so, so good and at the end of the day that's what matters! Finally for new eats and drinks finds: I'm a little bit obsessed with Loki Wine Merchants in the Great Western Arcade. It's a bar / wine seller, so what you do is load up a card with some credit and help yourself to a taster, a small glass or a large glass of any wine you want. It's all self-service, kind of like vending machines and they start from as little as 79p. Then, if you really like something, you can pick up a bottle to drink in or take away (though there's no obligation to). They also serve breads, olives, cheeses and meats sourced from some of the other amazing independent retailers in the GWA.

As far as things to do go, it's been great to explore outside of just eating and drinking out and going shopping. Myself, my boyfriend and some friends recently went to the Mockingbird Cinema & Kitchen (I'll talk about the film later!) Although we didn't eat there, I'm really into cinemas like this and would much rather go to an independent than an Odeon or Vue, as the tickets at the Mockingbird were under £5 each (without needing to do a 2 for 1 one a weeknight) and you can enjoy a nice glass of wine with your film! Myself and my boyfriend also got tickets for Sofar Sounds, which is an event where you pay £10 for a ticket to an intimate gig at an undisclosed location with surprise artists. He's been to a few of them but it was my first time and it turned out to be in the back of Cherry Red's, a restaurant / pub right in the city centre. It was definitely intimate with that amount of people squeezed into a small space! I actually really enjoyed it - we saw a folk duo, an electronica / funk band and a spoken word artist. It's really cool to just show up somewhere and experience something new.

I've also been to a few things on the stage this month! Myself and a friend managed to get last-minute tickets (in pretty good seats, actually) seeing Beauty and the Beast at the Birmingham Royal Ballet. It's a beautiful gothic production with incredible costumes and sets. It really captured the twisted fairytale magic of the story for me and I personally loved it! I also saw the World of Hans Zimmer in Birmingham - which brings the film composer's most-loved scores to the stage with an incredible, huge orchestra and live vocalists. I absolutely love his work; there's something so deep and complex about even the music he creates for animated kids' films and he manages to really capture what the each film is all about. You may recognise his scores from films such as the Lion King, Gladiator, the Dark Knight Trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean, Interstellar and Inception. The man himself wasn't conducting, which didn't bother me too much personally but could be a disappointment for some. It really was incredible to hear the music brought to life using such a talented orchestra with such amazing sound quality. My one little dampener on the night was that they didn't do any music from Interstellar! I'm a huge Nolan fan and this is actually my favourite piece of work from Hans Zimmer so it was really disappointing that it wasn't included.

- THE LIFESTYLE FAVOURITES - 

A Simple Favour | This is one of those random Sky Movies films you end up watching for whatever reason, however I actually really enjoyed it! I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to spoil it, however it stars Anna Kendrick as a Zoella-esque cutesy YouTuber mum who makes crafts and shares recipes (which plays out almost as a parody of herself)  and Blake Lively, as her super-wealthy, incredibly-glamorous but very mysterious new friend. Blake's character goes missing and Anna's character starts investigating the disappearance. This is definitely a black comedy above all else but there's real tension in the narrative and this kind of humour honestly speaks to me. It's well worth checking out on a Friday night in with a glass of wine! 

Mary Queen of Scots | I love a historical drama and I think the Tudor period is one of my favourites - after all: you really don't need to embellish history when the true story really was that dramatic! What I thought was interesting about this film is that it's told from the ill-fated Scottish queen's perspective and stars two younger but still very accomplished and talented actresses - Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. It's not doing anything new and dramatic with the narrative; it plays out as you'd expect if you're familiar with the story, but there's something about wanting to see a well-executed production that makes this worth watching!

If Beale Street Could Talk | This is the newest film from the director of Oscar Award-winning Moonlight and it's just as poignant and meaningful, though in a totally different way. Whilst Moonlight is a very intimate story of one boy growing into a man and accepting his sexuality against a backdrop of deprivation, Beale Street is much more explicit and far-reaching in the themes it takes on. This is fundamentally a love story that's told beautifully and poignantly so we understand and feel their relationship, making the trigger for the film's events even more galling. It's also a brutal story of institutional racism and injustice. However that doesn't take away from the beauty of the moments in the characters' lives the film captures, the sweeping soundtrack and lingering close-up shots of the actors' faces.

On the Basis of Sex | Myself and Dorota from Beauty Drama Queen went to the Everyman to see this film ahead of International Women's Day. This is the story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg - one of Harvard's first ever female law students in the 1950s who later rallied against gender discrimination enshrined in American law, despite being told she didn't stand a chance of winning her landmark case. This film isn't perfect, but I truly did enjoy it. I wasn't overly preachy or schmaltzy but it felt like an empowering film. What I really enjoyed about this was Ruth's personal journey to to the trial and the juxtaposition between her protesting daughter and Ruth's approach of changing the system from within. It showed me the validity of both approaches and how they are both necessary to enact real change.

Fyre: the Greatest Party That Never Happened | If you haven't watched this documentary already - please do! It's like a slow car crash of what happens when arrogance and bravado enables wholly incompetent people to dupe the world. Fyre Festival was billed as a luxury event with huge names and ticket prices allegedly going up to $10k. What it actually turned out to be was a trainwreck with hurricane relief tents sold as exclusive luxury accommodation promoted by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. If there was ever an incident to highlight that Instagram isn't real life; it's this documentary... The chaos and audacity of this fiasco make for compelling viewing.

The Umbrella Academy | I feel like some people might not like this multi-layered, genre-skipping 'superhero' Netflix series, however I found it to be a real breath of fresh air. It's smart, it's funny, it's gripping and I really enjoyed this show. The premise is: one day 30 years ago, dozens of women gave birth despite not being pregnant. The story follows seven of those children, who developed superpowers and six of them (watch the show for more on that!) form part of the famous Umbrella Academy. As adults, despite having gone their separate ways, the siblings reunite to solve the mystery of their adoptive father's death. I found the characters to be interesting and it felt like despite everything going on plotwise, you really got to know them. There are time travelling assassins, a trip to the afterlife, family secrets, a talking chimp butler, drug fuelled raves and lots more... It's bonkers but pretty brilliant!

Russian Doll | This is another slightly offbeat Netflix Original and I actually love that it's a totally new concept, not based off any source material. Unusual shows like this and the Umbrella Academy really gets me excited about what's to come on the platform! I really can't say much about this show without spoiling it but please stick with it. The show stars the brilliant Natasha Lyonne as Nadia - a woman who seems doomed to repeating the same day over and over again after being killed on her birthday... It's funny and mildly intriguing for the first couple of episodes but it's hard to see where it's going, however things get really interesting after that and slowly you begin to unlock the world the story takes place in and how it works. It's fascinating; a very darkly-humorous sitcom with philosophy and metaphysics!


The End of the World with Josh Clark | If you have even a passing interest in the universe, apocalypse, artificial intelligence, war or any related topics; this podcast is well worth checking out. It really is fascinating and explains how humanity could be wiped out in terms we can all understand. It explores whether we're alone in the universe, how an epidemic could decimate the population of Earth, the role of artificial intelligence in the future, natural disaster and more. I really enjoyed this podcast and it's sparked an interest in me to further research a lot of this information. I also think that if you write science fiction then it will help you create a realistic post-apocalyptic scenario.

What have you been watching, reading and listening to lately?


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