Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Frances: Things I've Never Said - Album Review

I wrote about Frances a while ago reviewing her fabulous EP but this is just another level. The debut album says everything you've ever wanted to say to yourself, your ex, your boyfriend, girlfriend, Mum and Dad. Primarily, it's a love letter to the self. You'll be dancing one minute and crying the next but that's what makes it so good. Her crafted album has featured her already released singles that I had assumed showed Frances in her best and I really loved the piano and the sweet serenading of her voice but now she's introduced so much more.

Whilst listening to the album I'll admit it was the day after St.Patrick's Day so I was feeling a little delicate. The track 'Cloud 9' was a tough one to get through. It's just beautiful. It speaks a lot more than what you hear. The track is the perfect sum up of what every single person has been through at some point in their life and it's almost comforting to know that someone else thinks the same way you do. BUT WAIT A SECOND, it's not all pretty lyrics and sweet sounds- 'No Matter' is the synthpop pick me up. It's the sassy, in the shower, girl power, marching in front of the mirror before getting ready to go out song and I'm obsessed.  Even though 'Say It Again' was featured on the EP it's been changed a little, enhanced and it sounds even better. It's still got that slight gospel vibe but it's definitely had a face lift which was risky but it's a bit gritty and it works. 

I won't lie, 'Grow' will forever be my favourite song from Frances but it's now closely followed by 'Cloud 9'. The first song I heard from Frances was 'Grow' whilst funnily enough I had just jumped into the car with some friends who were going to her gig in Glasgow and I was bored so decided to tag along. I had no plans to discover Frances but it was the best decision I made getting in that car. 

Comparisons have been made to the likes of Adele and Sam Smith and rightly so. Frances could sit with her voice and a piano and that's enough. She doesn't need anything fancy or to show off, her voice alone is sublime. I read on Twitter she felt so humbled that someone said it sounded like what Coldplay did when they first started and I can understand that yes, but she's got edge and can be gritty. She's got the ruthless truth in her voice that she's singing every word for a reason- it's just so real. What I like about 'Things I've Never Said' is that it's not an album about love and heartbreak like we listen to so much these days, it's about being OK and accepting it. This sweet sweet love letter is one of the best albums of the year so far and she's only going to get better and better.

Frances's album is available to listen on Spotify, buy on iTunes and be bought at any reputable store.

Z x


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Sunday Chatroom - Ruth Leslie: Silversmith

You know you have those friends that you're just totally jealous of because they're so arty and creative and you know it would take a small army to try recreate anything they do but they just seem to so effortlessly create the most beautiful things? Ruth is a perfect example of that person. She's an amazing Silversmith based in Edinburgh and she creates the most stunning unique pieces of jewellery. I wanted to share Ruth's amazing talents and for anyone who is interested in metal work, jewellery making or even starting your own business- Ruth is your gal.

First of all tell me the start story- what's the chat and where did it all begin?

I studied Silversmithing & Jewellery at The Glasgow School of Art, and once upon a time I had always known I would and wanted to study something creative after school. I had always droooooled over my auntie’s contemporary jewellery collection and design was more my forte SO jewellery design it was to be! I also didn’t know a thing about working with metal and the prospect of being a ‘silversmith’ seemed very, very cool to me. I loved the idea of studying such a traditional skill yet using it in a modern, contemporary way.

How did you find your niche in your product making?

It definitely came down to family influences and my constant interest in fashion, design and making etc. When at uni, it took me a while to get to grips with the style of work I am now doing. I’m talking like the full 3 years… It wasn’t until 4th year (my final year) that I felt proud and enthusiastic about what I was doing. There is quite a significant contemporary jewellery ‘scene’ / market and part of the reason I’m still creating work is because this aforementioned jewellery world has been so positive about it! 

What describes your style best?

Detailed. Stylish. Unique.

What's your process from start to finish?

So in regards to my more gallery-based work, I hand twist each wire with an old-fashioned hand drill and attach them individually. I use traditional metalworking methods such as soldering, rolling and hammering for both my gallery work and my ‘commercial’ work. 

What are the best bits about what you do?
Without sounding totally cheesy, I get lots of creative fulfilment out of the gallery work AND the commercial work. I love seeing people in my designs, whether that is the one-off pieces or, for example, the Circle and Bell Jar earrings, which I make more regularly. They are popular designs and it’s so good to see not only my friends like and wear them, but new customers who I have never met before and find my work through social media etc. 

Tell me THE greatest achievements through making jewellery and the coolest thing you’ve made.
Kind of what I mentioned before... It is such an achievement being able to make designs that are both unique (or so people have told me) but also very wearable and that people actually want to wear! In terms of the coolest thing I’ve made, I’ll be quite specific and say that would have to be a large-scale neckpiece, which I’ve now made a few times. It consists of lots of twisted wires and can take me about a solid week to make, but its so worth it!

What's the jewellery making world like and what are it’s difficulties and opportunities too? 

It’s SO hard to make a living from being a wee self-employed jeweller. A lot of jewellers tend to feel they lose their prestige and/or creative fulfilment (cleverly put by a fellow jeweller friend Heather Woof) when they start making smaller, commercial work: that sells faster. But it seems to be a necessity if you want to be full time! It’s like you either continue to be considered an ‘art jeweller’ and only make unique, large scale or one-off pieces, but have another part time job. Or you start producing smaller, less unique work that is valued less… It’s a tough one. There’s also the difficultly of trying to pay for normal things like a mortgage (snore!) but not having a salary can really hinder being able to do these normal things…

In saying that and in regards to the creative industry, it can be easier to set up your own business with jewellery compared to other subjects like textiles etc. Everyone wants jewellery at some point! And a lot of people value handmade, precious metal work. 

I meet SO many lovely, creative folk in what I do. The Edinburgh / Scotland jewellery scene is full of very talented people, and we get a lot of support up here from companies like Craft Scotland, Crafts Council, Creative Edinburgh and so on. It’s a wee creative hub and I love it.

Haha AH the big dream! It’s pretty humble but I am currently taking baby steps towards it… I want to be able to be a full time jeweller with two lines, so both gallery work and commercial, easily wearable work. I would love to be able to sustain myself through solely working as a jeweller. I have so many ideas and designs to come and I actually take pleasure in going to work, which I don’t think many people can say! 

The goal would be to have my jewellery business, potentially do some other creative work on the side like photography/fashion stuff and hopefully one day have a boutique come workshop, selling my work and other contemporary makers! Dreamy…

Any advice to other people that are keen beans for making jewellery?

Just GO FOR IT. Utilise social media to the highest cause it’s invaluable in gaining publicity and making those connections and sales. Stay true to your style and try to create work you’re proud of and want to sell, because that’ll keep you interested. You CAN have ‘prestige’ AND create commercial work at the same time! 

Ruth has just started a course with the Crafts Council / Craft Scotland called Hothouse which is teaching about getting started up with her business. She's currently moving into an amazing new studio in Custom Lane – which is the new place to be for designers. They host regular exhibitions and a sweet coffee shop so is totally worth a visit to anyone popping down for a visit! Ruth also has pieces of her jewellery in an exhibition in Glasgow at the Roger Billcliffe Gallery. But is currently making jewellery to order and mainly selling through Instagram and her personal website. If you're interested in any of Ruth's beautiful work, please contact her through Instagram or by e-mail to place any orders. Her online shop is coming this year!

Z x

Instagram @ruth_lessly
Twitter @ruth_lessly

Friday, 17 March 2017

The Gentlemen of Glastonbury 2017

If any of you have read my post on Glastonbury last year you probably got my very obvious and total adoration of the festival. If you haven't, I basically just rattled on about how amazing it was and how perfect it is and it's where all happiness in the world lives. Anyway, moving on, it was released yesterday that Ed Sheeran is the last person to be announced for the line up of 2016 joining Radiohead and the Foo Fighters. Now, obviously as i'm sure you have noticed this is an all male line-up of headliners. I have no doubt in my mind that there will be numerous articles about how it's unfair that there are no female acts headlining but I really hope that people will understand that this is an incredible line-up. Last year everyone just expected the Foo Fighters to be headlining but they never so it was inevitable that this was going to happen. They are an international power band and are totally and utterly incredible- no room for arguments. Whether you're a fan or not, Dave Grohl is a legend. Radiohead are Radiohead and there's always that semi-old 'classic' headliner. Last year weirdly it was Muse that filled that spot and even though I'm not the biggest fan of them, I respected them enough to know it's a once in a lifetime kind of thing so I just watched it, enjoyed it and can say I saw Muse. This is a similar feeling I feel would be the same if I saw Radiohead. Then obviously, there's big Ed. No back-up really needed about it or reasoning to why he's headlining. He's one of the biggest selling artists in the world, his whole album filled the Spotify top 10 singles, his album is sitting quite comfortably at number 1 AND he's a really nice guy and deserves it. 

Although, yes, it's an all male one-up there are literally over 100 other stages within the festival and there's a ridiculous amount of other artists headlining the other 'big' stages. The pyramid stage is huge and admittedly is really really cool and the main one BUT, there's The Other Stage, Silver Hayes, John Peel among a million others that have big headliners too. Don't pay attention to these three headliners too much because there's a lot more appreciation needed for the other artists. It's not about ALL MALE HEADLINERS, it's about having the best weekend of your life and really the music is a big part but there's so so much more to it. Don't get shadowed out by the music, there's a really cool cheese van that just serves food covered in cheese. So really they deserve more attention. 

Z x

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Podcasts you have to Listen to..

I have always kind of dabbled in podcasts listening to my favourite vloggers appearing on things or listening to something that has been popular but recently I have become hooked! Whether I'm tidying up my flat, cooking, on the move or just chilling out I have an episode on. It' so easy too and completely free with an Iphone and I am sure similar with another device. With that in mind I thought I would share with you the podcasts that I can't get enough of.

1. Serial is a podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, released as a spin-off of the radio program This American LifeSeason 1 investigated the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee an 18 year old high school student from Baltimore. Lee's ex-boyfriend Adnan Masud Syed was arrested and charged for her murder and over the episodes Koenig dissects the case and offers alternative theories and ideas about what happened to Hae. The podcast is gripping from the first minute as the story has so many holes and twists and turns. If you like crime novels and CSI this one is definitely for you and it isn't extremely unnerving or scary but it is a true story so it definitely has upsetting moments throughout. 
2. Missing Richard Simmons is an interesting podcast that has gained notoriety recently as it is about how American fitness guru Richard Simmons has completely disappeared from the public eye over the last few years. The podcast tells the story of the wildly eccentric, popular and friendly Simmons cutting off all his friends and family and disappearing into his mansion in the Hollywood Hills. The story is really strange and gripping so far, as it is actually only around four episodes in but I already find myself waiting desperately to hear what the next turn in the tale is going to be.

3. Casefile is probably my favourtie of the group and this is the podcast that got me hooked on listening to them in general. Be warned these episodes are not for the faint hearted some of them are quite grizzly and pretty terrifying at parts. With that in mind the episodes are all true crime story's and a lot of them are unsolved which makes them even more gripping for audiences. You have to check out; Case 42, Case 03 & Case 47 I could not believe my ears listening.

4. Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People is for those of us out there that love a bit of gossip and hearing the intimate details of peoples personal life. Chris Gethard hosts and discusses the deepest darkest secrets of people's personal lives over the phone and the only rule is he can't hang up first. It is such a guilty pleasure for me but there hasn't been an episode I haven't been hooked to.

5. Scummy Mummies okay so I admit this is a bit strange. I'm not a mum but I am listening to a podcast aimed at mums, shoot me! I find it entertaining and I love Clemmie Hooper who has been a guest a few times. The hosts are hilarious and it is all a bit of light listening while I'm cooking or tidying and I find it so relaxing and entertaining. Plus I feel as though its preparing me for when I hopefully become a mum one day, so its educational really isn't it?

Let me know in the comments what podcasts you like tuning into as I am always in the market for some new stuff to listen to!

Lyndsey x


Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Ultimate Guide to Brunch & Coffee in Edinburgh Part 1

Okay so if you are anything like the team at TQR eating out constantly is a habit we just can't quit. Brunch & coffee is one of the best way to relax at the weekend, catch up with friends and family and best of all recover from a heavy night. We have decided to do a bit of a guide to brunch, lunch and coffee in Edinburgh, of course there are so many places to visit that we can't include everywhere so here is part 1...

Grab & Go 

Project Coffee - 196 Bruntsfield Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4DF
Great for something quick whether you want to sit in for a bit or takeaway and the portions are huge. Perfect if you are after a breakfast or something light like a bowl of soup or a sandwich. Fab selection of cakes too.

Wellington Coffee - 33a George Street, EdinburghScotland
This is a fab place to grab a truly fantastic coffee that isn't Costa or Starbucks before work as it is on 
George St right in centre of town. At the weekend if your shopping its a great place to go for a little 
refreshment. The carrot cake is particularly good in there. 

Twelve Triangles - 90 Brunswick St, Edinburgh EH7 4AQ/300 Portobello High St, Edinburgh EH15 2AS
Twelve Triangles is one of Edinburgh's best little gems and not spoken about nearly enough. You can get a really good coffee there and I love the almond milk ice coffees they do too. The donuts are the star attraction though, so if you go you must buy a donut and be adventurous as they have some fabulously unique flavours!
Settle that Sweet Tooth

Corro Chocolate Cafe - 5 Howard St, Edinburgh EH3 5JP/13 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 2EY
I have eaten here an embarrassing amount of times because honestly it is to die for. The pancakes, the waffles, the cakes you just can't go wrong. It is a build your own business regarding the menu and the add ons are amazing, pretzels, white chocolate, fruit, whipped cream, oreos you name it they have it. Visit with caution, it is not for those on diet but worth every morsel! 

Pappi Cafe - 101 Hanover St, Edinburgh EH2 1DJ
This lovely little cafe was a great find one afternoon. It is right in the centre of town and if you go mid week or super early you can catch the place quiet and really relax with one of their gorgeous waffles. It is also really reasonably priced so you can't go wrong!

Do I want Breakfast or Lunch?

Meltmongers - 80 Bruntsfield Pl, Edinburgh EH10 4HG
Okay so I saw this place hyped a lot on social media and when I finally managed to get a long to try I was not disappointed. If you love cheese, want a quick bite around 12ish possibly hungover, look no further. There is decent choice of breads and fillings as well as amazing sweet potato fries if you are super hungry.

The Pantry - 1 N W Circus Pl, Edinburgh EH3 6ST
I often meet friends here for a light lunch or some breakfast because it really does just suit anybody. The food is amazing, it's really child friendly and the atmosphere and staff are relaxed and super accommodating as well as friendly. Great place to visit if you are in the Stockbridge area of the city.

Cafe Miro - 5/25a Promenade, PortobelloEdinburgh EH15 1HH
Cafe Miro is a recent find of mine, situated on the gorgeous beach front in Portobello it is brilliant, 
place for brunch and a coffee. The menu caters for even the fussiest of eaters and has a great selection 
whether you want a meal or just a snack. They also have some to die for homemade cakes that you
just have to try, mint aero tray brake was unbelievable! 

Healthy Extras 

Grams. - 16 Clifton Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 5JZ
Okay so we have already raved about grams in our full review here but we had to include it again because it is one of the best brunch spots in Edinburgh. If you are after dairy, gluten and refined sugar free as well as being all raw natural ingredients and totally vegan this place is for you. Healthy, in the centre of town and delicious, what more can you ask for?

Söderberg Pavilion - 1 Lister Square, Edinburgh EH3 9GL
We recently went to a bloggers brunch meet up here on a Sunday afternoon and we fell in love. It is in a great spot on quarter mile and it is such a bright and beautiful place to eat and chat. They have some really tasty healthy options and their sourdough bread is fantastic! 

 I hope I have inspired you to brunch this coming week!
Lyndsey x 


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Lovage Restaurant

I have passed this place on a number of occasions and it's always caught my eye. It does however look really small from the outside so if you happened to blink as you were walking by, you would probably miss it. Luckily for me, I have passed it regularly enough with my eyes open to have been drawn in by it. After reading a few of the different menus, it was inevitable that I would book a table as they always sounded amazing.  The restaurant prides itself on the fact that it uses local and seasonal produce and so the menu changes regularly.

Upon arrival, on Valentines night no less, we were greeted warmly and welcomed into the very cozy atmosphere of the restaurant (I would however request a table through the back if possible, the front next to the door was a little breezy). The service was quick and the staff were lovely, there was also a very good selection of wines on offer. The food was absolutely delicious, cooked to perfection with a perfect balance of flavours. As you will see below, there were so many different elements to each dish, which all just worked so well together. The price was very reasonable for the quality of food we received, 2 courses for £29.95 or 3 courses for £34.95.

Obviously I had three courses, so here they are in reverse order because we all know pudding is the best...

Dessert: Chocolate Cremeux orange, sesame, banana ice cream

So I ordered this dessert because to be honest I'm obsessed with desserts. Unfortunately my other half isn't a fan of desserts what so ever, but even he could not help himself but devour the majority of this little plate of deliciousness. I think that says it all.

Main Course: Lamb lamb saddle, plums, almonds, celeriac, dates, kale

This was 100% the most tender piece of lamb that I have ever tasted. Absolutely delicious. And although this looks like a very little, delicate plate of food, it defies perceptions as we were both completely full after our second courses. Obviously we couldn't resist overindulging and continued to have dessert anyway.

Starter: Livers chicken liver pate, cranberry, fried lamb liver, onion, potato

This was the first time that I have tried liver so I didn't know what to expect. The texture was unusual,  but the flavours like the sharpness of the cranberry and the richness of the liver were amazing and every element of the dish complimented each other perfectly.

I definitely recommend this little gem of a restaurant, I had such an enjoyable experience there and enjoyed some really exceptional tasting food. 


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sunday Chatroom Actress Rachel Flynn

Last week I found myself in a what we thought was a traditional working mans pub that turned out to be a quirky and Pinterest worthy bar on Lothian road accompanied by two of my oldest and dearest friends. We drank over-priced but delicious cocktails and found ourselves discussing everything from body image, showmances, dream dinner party guests and dairy free diets. I almost should have had my voice recorder on from the minute we sat down as dining and drinking with the beautiful, eloquent and seamlessly talented Rachel Flynn enables me to just chat away about her life as a successful actor without feeling like I'm interviewing anyone at all. Between myself and our other drinking mate Kirsten we grilled Rachel on the trials and tribulations of auditions, agents and London life in between the completely necessary love life analysis and intense examination of the lengthy cocktail menu. 

Rachel who this Christmas fulfilled a childhood dream of playing the princess in the Edinburgh King's Theatre Pantomime, and has been a successful working actress since graduating from the prestigious LSMT theatre school in London in 2014. 'I was about sixteen when I thought actually I want to be an actor, after convincing my mum that I wasn't going to be a lawyer. Then it was sort of all go from there'. From growing up with Rachel I knew that she was probably more than capable of becoming a lawyer as she was very academic, admitting to being part of the debate society and maths club. 'I think the more understanding you have of the world in general and knowledge you have the better actor you are. You are just a lot more well rounded and equipped to research a character and understand this other persona you are taking on'. 

She studied at Motherwell College in Glasgow and then naturally progressed to further training in London where she juggled work and intense hours at stage school. Rachel who despite from the age of 14 being the most prepared and most rehearsed person in the room felt the pressure of the industry immediately. 'Straight away I had to identify my strength and weaknesses, make sure I was on top of everything so I'm the most employable person I can be. I also think positivity is so important especially when things are tough. People want to work with happy and upbeat people, who are willing to give suggestions and put in that little bit extra work. You have two types of actors people who can look at a script then take it and put their own spin on things, really own it. I'm definitely that kind of person I want to take risks and be fearless, really delve into a directors vision. There are other extremely talented actors who work better with specific direction and guidance, which some directors prefer because they are creatives and have an exact vision they want an actor to portray'.  Rachel spoke of how as an actor this can be difficult because you don't always have the freedom to be creative and sometimes you have to put your head down and get on with it even if you don't feel like it's right. 'I would probably say that's my biggest weakness, I really need to know why my character is moving over there, not just because there is a bit of set that needs moved. It can be hard but there are so many parts where you do get that freedom and it feels amazing, and it's why you do it'.

In such a competitive industry Rachel's natural drive and determination has definitely helped her stay focused and go above beyond. 'When you go to drama school they quickly tell you what your casting is your leading lady or triple threat ensemble or the girl next door and I never really knew what I was, I still don't. You have an idea of where your own strengths lie but it is actually really important to have the courage to trust in somebody else's opinion of you.' Rachel spoke about the pressure of looking a certain way for meeting casting requirements. 'I've been told to lose weight before. It's never horrible, it's just a would Rachel slim down a little bit for this role and I've lost out on roles because I'm not slim enough. It is a lot of pressure, I know girls I went to school with have eating disorders because they think that they need to be super thin to work in this industry. In dance auditions there are girls there in crop tops and shorts with abs and I just think how can I compete? But I know that yeah these people look amazing but and I know this to be true talent will carry you through'. 

That brought us on to discussing the fact that talented women are losing out on parts due to a dress size. Should all of our panto princess' be a size 8, is it the right representation for our society? 'You know I do think there is starting to be more truthfulness in casting regarding female figures. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on Netflix is a good example it's a musical comedy and the leading lady in that is maybe a 12 or a 14. She's curvy, with bigger boobs and that's brilliant and so overdue to happen.' 

I personally think that the theatre land is maybe the most behind with diversity in body types. Arguably to be a triple threat on the West End in theatre and perform 6 or 7 nights a week you do need to be super fit but do you need to be a size 8, not really. I then went on to ask Rachel about what she thought about diversity in the London theatre world in general. 'While I was training just before I came out into the industry it was such an issue that the West End was so white and they were really trying to colour blind cast. If there is no ethnic specification then why can't Epinone be racially diverse, and it has happened a bit which is great. It's great now though because actually at the minute there are so many shows in London that offer roles to all different types of ethnicities. Motown, The Lion King, Dream Girls and Hamilton will be opening soon so things are changing and in the future hopefully there is a lot more colour blind casting'. 

'The hardest thing about being an actor is the criticism. I got really upset recently over a horrible review and felt so insecure about my performance, but the other cast members were like Rachel come and read the six other glowing reviews you have. It's so subjective, you are never going to please everyone and not everyone is going to think you are wonderful, but there is nothing wrong with that. You are in the role for a reason and as long as you are giving your all then who cares if one person wants to slag you off'. 

Speaking with Rachel about her career, training and future makes it clear why she has had such success already. She is soon to join a luxury cruise liner as one of their lead singers which will give Rachel the opportunity to see some of the world which she is naturally looking forward to. As a once budding actor myself I know it is genuinely one of the hardest professions in the world and Rachel is succeeding against all of the odds. There are so many cheesy and predictable phrases I could use but I am going to go with you saw her here first because I don't think it is difficult to predict an extremely bright future for Miss Flynn. 

L x
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