My Week In Happy: Mostly staying in

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If you’ve read My Week In Happy before, you’re probably used to hearing about a whirl of social events, but this week has been a little bit different.

Memento Moriatas

I did drop in to Helen Malarky’s fabulous Memento Moriatas soirée (part of MMU’s Gothic Manchester Festival) on Friday. It was my first visit to the The International Anthony Burgess Foundation – the perfect backdrop for the dark entertainment to come.

Memento Moriatas at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Memento Moriatas at The International Anthony Burgess Foundation

Kate Mayfield, read beautifully from her memoir ‘The Undertaker’s Daughter‘. She recounted how growing up in the home of her mortician father in 1960s Kentucky shaped her life . We lapped up Kate’s words and she very kindly thanked us for coming on Twitter.

Mostly staying in

Besides a visit to London for work this week, I’m also out every night from Thursday to Sunday night at a few different events – some related to the Manchester Science Festival.

So the weekend was very wholesome. Working out at the gym (even managed circuits on Sunday), cooking a delicious roast dinner and getting up to date with chores. Just the usual maintenance stuff.

Except, I currently have a very poorly cat. Cosmo is 16 (102 in cat years) and he’s been with me since he was seven months old. He a lovely big bundle of furry love. Cosmo’s been there for me through thick and thin – lived in three different cities with me in many different homes with different people, but I know he always loves me the best.

Cosmo is envious of my laptop and likes come between us.

Cosmo is envious of my laptop and likes come between us.

Since the beginning of the year he lost weight, it was very hard to notice because he is just so furry. But in the last month the weight loss has been drastic and I needed to spend some time with him to persuade him to eat.

Right now, I am away for work, and Cosmo has gone to stay at the vets where they have promised they will try sardines, chicken and tuna to try and get him eating again. So, digits crossed.

My Week In Happy: Addictive Comedy and BarCamp Manchester

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It’s been a hectic couple of weeks so this going to be a super quick round-up of what I’ve been up to. There’s lots going on in Manchester so I’m just going to share a couple of things I’ve been involved with this lately.

The Umbrella Cafe

This is the only ‘dry’ i.e. alcohol-free bar in Manchester (not to be confused with DRY on Oldham Street).

It’s hosted by Nexus Arts Cafe on Dale Street and offers an inclusive space where people, who are abstaining from alcohol for whatever reason, can relax, eat cake, dance, laugh and drink pop (or tea, coffee etc).

I heard about this place a few months back and, as I choose to be alcohol-free, it’s arrival in the city’s fashionable Northern Quarter was very welcome. I already wrote a bit about it in ‘Where the magic happens‘.

Full house

Filled to the rafters for Addictive Comedy at The Umbrella Cafe

I was back there on Friday to celebrate Helen’s birthday and called in for a night of ‘Addictive Comedy’ on Saturday. Yes, it seems I’ve become hooked on the place…

It was lovely to see Lizzie Allan, Ali Khan and their guest playing to a full, and naturally buzzing, house.

BarCamp Manchester

For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘BarCamp’ format, it’s basically a two-day event where people show up and get the chance to grab a slot to talk about whatever they are passionate about.

Also referred to as an ‘unconference’, no talks are scheduled in advance and everyone is welcome to take a session. However, there’s no pressure to speak if that’s not your thing – you can still listen, question and contribute in other ways.

Because I tried to do too many things last week I only lasted for the Saturday. Some people actually choose to sleep over at the venue, but for me there was no contest between a sleeping bag and my comfortable bed at home.

The event was splendidly organised by Ian Forrester and team, and hosted by SpacePortX – and despite the name is not an alcohol-driven event.

I do wonder what Josh has done with the video of Ian and Tim's chat

I do wonder what Josh has done with the video of Ian and Tim’s chat

My person highlights were Ian’s candid chat with Tim Dobson about dating deal breakers and Hwa Young’s session on detective storytelling rules (watch her talk about this at Ignite Liverpool earlier this month).

If you’d like to know more about BarCamp Manchester  and how you can look at some pictures on Flickr or catch up with the Twitter action on the hashtag #BCMCR

I’m keeping it brief this week, but I wanted to share again my mantra as a friend reminded me of it today.

Why wait for someone else to set the scene when you can run the show yourself?

My Week In Happy: Friends, food and folding

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As I (may have) mentioned in last week’s This Week In Happy my actual birthday fell this week i.e. since the last update.

It’s been a busy week, hence the delay in going to print with this edition.

Thursday

It was my birthday! Here’s a nice picture of my birthday morning haul.

Presents! Thanks everyone :)

Presents! Thanks everyone 🙂

Once in the office, my a-may-zing colleagues Karen, Flavia and Kathryn had loaded my desk with more pressies and cards. My last two birthdays have been fairly low key and I really appreciated all the fuss – especially when I was presented with a huge chocolate birthday cake and a chorus of ‘happy birthday’ in the office kitchen.

And just to milk my birthday celebration a little more we (me, Karen, Flavia, Kathryn) headed into town to Italian ‘tapas’ place San Carlo Cicchetti – where I ate a lot of tomatoes and couldn’t finish my dessert!

I feel truly blessed to have such kind, clever and funny friends and colleagues.

Sunday

In last week’s This Week In Happy: The many gifts of girl geeks I described the satisfaction I get from being part of this volunteer group that exists to offer women and girls a place to develop their interest in science and / or technology.

As part of Manchester Science Festival, Manchester Girl Geeks are taking part in a global effort to build the ‘MegaMenger‘ – a cube-based fractal using over a million business cards which “may be the largest fractal ever built”.

Inset names here

The ‘Menger Girls’ get folding – ably assisted by @Frimkron and @aPaulTaylor

Katie Steckles, the chair of Manchester Girl Geeks donned her ‘Think Maths‘ hat and hosted the pre-folding event with Sam Headleand at MOSI where the scale of the task in hand soon became apparent.

With 15 volunteer folders, fuelled by cake and caffeine, we just about completed 13 out of a hoped for 20 of the the ‘Level 1’ fractals we were aiming for.

Want to know how much folding is involved in building a Menger Sponge? Katie has made this ace tutorial explaining exactly how to fold your own Menger fractal.

We also started putting together some ideas a Menger folding playlist, which will grow in the build up to Manchester Science Festival. So far we’ve only come with Living In A Box by Living In A Box, and anything by Ben Folds Five.

Please do get in touch with any suggestions for additions to the playlist in the Comments section below.

My Week In Happy: The many gifts of girl geeks

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I want to spend some time talking about one particular thing that makes me happy so the diary entries for this week will be briefer than usual.

When I started off writing this I was inspired by the small gifts my friend Angie (@angieokchan) often presents me with. As a graphic designer, Angie always finds a novel way to package anything from a homegrown chilli to some ticket money.

I first met Angie through my involvement with Manchester Girl Geeks – a group of volunteers that puts on and supports events that provide a friendly place for women and girls to find out more about science and technology.

Angie designs a lot of the Manchester Girl Geeks (MGG) branding and publicity materials and also came up with a fantastic illustrated instruction sheet for our soft electronics workshop.

Manchester Girl Geeks

As I looked back over my entries on the MGG blog and the numerous photographs that I’ve taken at our events it made me realise that I was not only grateful for Angie for her generosity but Manchester Girl Geeks in general.

We are all volunteers but put our heart and soul into creating an supporting events that will reach more and more women and girls.

This degree of dedication was demonstrated recently when our chair Katie (@stecks) hosted a Sunday afternoon ‘Show & Tell’ event minus the use of her vocal chords (due to a cold), even giving her own talk on binary nail varnish!

So I would like to celebrate the commitment and hard work of the wonderful women I’ve met through Manchester Girl Geeks:

Other stuff that happened this week

Thursday night saw the launch of Manchester Science Festival at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) where former Happy Mondays’ dancer Bez made a surprise appearance and I got to pick the brain of a (very charming) academic involved in an upcoming sexology project.

My dear friends Erinma and Caroline then whisked me off for a pre-birthday curry.

On Saturday I celebrated my birthday early at a new club night ‘NQ Working Men’s Club’ held at Night & Day Cafe in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter.

Top Northern Soul Dance School teacher Tobin Lochrie (@TobinLochrie) made it a super night out with dance classes, a raffle and 80s musical bingo. He even got the crowd singing happy birthday to me and gave me the honour of drawing the winning raffles tickets (I’ve never seen a woman move so fast to collect her prize of diet Spam!).

On Sunday I managed to make to TEDxSalford with my good friend Lord Toby Mildon (@tobymildon). It was great to see talks by:

  • Kate Russell (BBC Click presenter, on crowdfunding)
  • Jack Andraka (inventor of early detection kit for pancreatic cancer)
  • Jack Sim (founder of the World Toilet Organization)
  • Lucy Hawking (writes stories for children about astrophysics and astronomy) and
  • Professor Bruce Hood (cognitive scientist and father of the killer cardigan stunt)

Bonus gallery