My Week In Happy: Skipping a beat

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My intention with this blog is to write an update each week. In reality, this doesn’t always happen. I try not to give myself a hard time about it as it invariably means there is something else more interesting going on in my life…

A round up of recent events

Theatre in the ‘burbs

Checked out The Garrick Theatre, Altrincham for a performance of The Lieutenant of Inishmore on Saturday 7th March. The setting of the venue is very suburban – just a short walk from Navigation Road tram stop.

The comedy, begins when local pussycat ‘Wee Thomas’ is murdered. His owner, the unpredictable Padraic of the Irish National Liberation Army, returns to the island of Inishmore to seek vengeance for his beloved feline’s demise.

Despite the dark nature of the material, physical comedy and fine performances by young cast members Megan Johnstone (Mairead), Charlie Gallagher (Davey) and Adam Gonet (Padraic) made for a winning formula.

Let’s talk about sex(ology)

Dr Tommy Dickinson's book 'Curing Queers' at MOSI

Dr Tommy Dickinson’s book ‘Curing Queers’ at MOSI

I was excited to hear that this was coming up when I first heard about it at the launch of Manchester Science Festival last year. The event, on Wednesday 11th March, boasted ‘scientific speed dating’ along with a variety of activities and talks taking place at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI).

I ran into a couple of friends who had signed up for speed dating and were filling in the scientific survey after ‘voting’ for who they would like to see again. The twist? After they had chosen they were told how popular each potential date was and given the opportunity to switch votes.

There’s more on this, including Hannah Fry’s ‘Mathematics of Dating’ TED Talk on Ian’s blog here.

The MOSI event also featured some quirky activities including a challenge to draw genitals in three seconds (harder than you think) and a tasting of foodstuffs considered to make us feel sexy.

There were some great talks including Dr Tommy Dickinson’s discussion of his research for the book ‘Curing Queers’ which looked at mental health treatments for homosexuality in the last century.

The closing act on the main stage was Dr Matthew Mears from the University of Sheffield who gave a very illuminating talk on the physics of ‘pole fitness’. This was demonstrated by an experienced athlete and Matt even got up there himself a couple of times.

It turns out there is a scientific reason why pole fitness requires a lot of bare flesh – it provides superior friction therefore allowing more advanced moves and acrobatics…

My Week In Happy: The Theory of Everything and Chinese New Year

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Chasing memories

On Wednesday I decided it was time to boost my girl geek score by going to see The Theory of Everything. The film charts the life of Professor Stephen Hawking, the celebrated theoretical physicist and cosmologist and author of A Brief History of Time.

I was expecting there to be more ‘sciencey bits’ but the story shows Stephen living and loving with a diagnosis with motor neurone disease while acing it academically.

Stephen’s relationship with his wife Jane was the main focus of the film and reminded me that I had in fact seen his daughter Lucy speak at TEDx Salford last October. Lucy is an author and works closely with her dad to write adventure stories for children explaining the science that is the foundation of the wonders of the universe.

I came across a talk that Lucy gave at the World Science Festival in 2014 and related to her feelings about chasing memories of childhood – she’s just a couple of years older than me, so maybe it’s a life-stage thing?

Perhaps there’s something about being in mid-life that fuels the desire to go back and put things in order and revisit the connections that have made us who we are today?

A trip into China Town

As it is Chinese New Year I arranged with a few friends to share a meal in Manchester’s China Town. We shared a delightful meal at Yang Sing on Princess Street. This place offers an extensive menu including many vegetarian choices. Thanks to Angie Chan and Adrian Lunsong for recommendations.

There was  a great buzz about the place and the restaurant was decorated with red lanterns. I noticed many of the women customers wearing red jumpers in honour of the New Year.

We are entering the Year of the Sheep (usually represented by the ram). If you’d like to know more about the Chinese signs of the zodiac check out this iWonder guide.

Manchester has really gone to (China) town in terms of the scale of the celebrations this year. For details of the main event on Sunday 22nd February, and everything else that is going on visit the Celebrate Chinese New Year in Manchester website.

After our meal we headed to St Ann’s Square to see a taster of the ‘Hong Kong Pulse 3D Light Show’ being projected onto the side of St Ann’s Church. A spectacular burst of colour and culture played out before us.

You may notice in the films below a transport theme as the film of the show at Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong is sponsored by Cathay Pacific, Manchester Airport and the Hong Kong Tourism Board. WARNING: Films contain flashing lights.

 

My Week In Happy: A White Christmas and 25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015

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In her fab blog, my friend Lynsey White explains how she uses gratitude lists to help her stay positive – actively searching for three things each day that she feels thankful for.

So, taking a leaf out of Lynsey’s book, I’ve collected my thoughts and put together a list of things I’m grateful for that will sustain me into 2015 and beyond.

To get me in the mood for writing this list I’ve taken inspiration from the cosy cheer offered by Lynsey’s daughter Lucy Lou White in her very own vlog series.

And, with a nod to punk legend Ian Dury, I’m dubbing these my ‘reasons to be cheerful’.

25 reasons to be cheerful in 2015

  1. Cheeruplove.com
  2. My loving family
  3. Fantastic friends – old and new
  4. Brilliant and talented colleagues
  5. Work I truly believe in
  6. My wonderful mentees
  7. Wearing beautiful, colourful clothes
  8. Birthdays / any other reasons to celebrate
  9. Cooking delicious and healthy food
  10. Trying out new places to eat
  11. Pokusevski’s deli – my second home
  12. Developing compassion for everyone
  13. A wonderful yoga holiday in Spain (hopefully another in 2015)
  14. Rocking circuits on a Sunday morning
  15. A strong immune system (touching wood)
  16. Great arts scene in Salford and Manchester
  17. Mindfulness exercises
  18. Northern soul dancing
  19. Relaxing and remembering to laugh
  20. 90s dance classics with Robin on Saturday
  21. Being a part of Manchester Girl Geeks
  22. Becoming a Google City Expert
  23. Lovely neighbours
  24. A beautiful, light and airy apartment
  25. Knowing my cat Cosmo lived a happy life

My Week In Happy: Digital creativity, Future Everything

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Make it Digital

bbc-webwise-elite

I created my first web content on a BBC Micro at age 12.

One of the things I really like to do is step outside of my world as a BBC web producer and find out how other people are being creative with digital media.

Writing this entry feels particularly timely as my department, BBC Learning, is looking for external partners to work with for ‘Make it Digital‘ – our focus on digital creativity for 2015.

In the 1980s the BBC Micro computer landed in schools across the UK. I was lucky enough to get my hands on one and contributed to the Domesday Project – an ambitious initiative to crowdsource local information through pupils.

domesday

In 2011, the BBC ran a project to surface all the data captured on the huge laser discs that came with each computer, and I was delighted to see that my name had been included in the credits – my first contribution t o web content at just 12 years old.

Building on the huge success of the BBC Micro in the 1980s, the BBC are looked for partners interested in our project to ‘create a hands-on learning experience that allows any level of young coder from absolute beginner to advanced maker to get involved and be part of something exciting’.

If you want to apply for this you need to do it right away!
Expressions of interest close at 2pm Monday 8th December.

Hyper Island

So, on Wednesday I visited Hyper Island to take part in their very first ‘Learning Lab’. Hyper Island offers students an alternative to conventional academic institutions, with opportunities ranging from apprenticeships to MA programmes across the globe.

Learning takes place in Hyper Island’s own studios and, vitally, within industry settings. The Learning Lab was a teaserf for their latest MA programme, Digital Experience Design, which launches in April 2015.

The evening was hosted by Lauren Currie, Catherine McHenry and Tash Wilcocks from Hyper Island and Tom Higham from Future Everything (Manchester’s annual festival of ideas).

We quickly broke up into teams and got started with rapid idea generation (Post-It notes and marker pens at the ready), we worked rapidly to identify ‘broken’ aspects of further education, locate ‘pain points’ and work up a solution.

I worked with a graphic design lecturer, digital creative and filmmaker to prototype ‘Dean’s Den’ – an informal, non-hierarchical space (think bean bags and throws), where pitches for small sums of money for project can be made by students and lecturers, but the decision has to be made there and then within the Den and not deferred elsewhere.

It was great to meet so many enthusiastic and friendly folks and I’m very much looking forward to Hyper Island’s next Learning Lab.

Manchester Digital

Popped my head round the door of the Manchester Digital Christmas party on Thursday at the Cane & Grain in the fashionable Northern Quarter. Didn’t intend to stay for long but got chatting to lots of friendly people from across the industry from hosting companies to recruiters and games developers. It’s great to feel part of such a vibrant tech and digital scene in Manchester.

We often talk about making Manchester a Top 5 city in the UK for Tech, but for me it already has the top slot.

My Week In Happy: Where the magic happens

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Monday

"Where the magic happens" in big bubble, "Your comfort zone" in smaller, separate bubble.

After my holiday, I went back to the Ashtanga class at my gym with renewed enthusiasm for my practice, and even managed a headstand!

Because I love this diagram and know it to be true I am sharing it again with you lovely people.

Last Saturday, I summoned up all my courage to pop my head round the door of newly launched alcohol-free venue The Dry Umbrella in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter (MFNQ).

I was knocked out by the warmest welcome ever – and got invited back to a comedy night (more of which below).

Wednesday

As a qualified City Expert for Google Local Manchester I get to go to some of the cute and quirky events they put on from time to time.

I this occasion I was joined by friends @angieokchan and @Frimkron and also got to meet up with fellow City Experts +AdrianLunsong, +IanBotterill, +ChrisBrads and the ever fabulous Chrissie from The Fabulous Times.

The Craft & Draft event was held in art supplies heaven, the venue being Fred Aldous in MFNQ. Guests were treated to a range of locally produced drinks and nibbles and invited to get an old skool photo booth picture taken, try screen printing and even make a collage which was turned into booklet using a risograph copier.

Thursday

Back to MFNQ again for a night of inspirational talks at a @SheSaysMCR event held at SpacePortX – with the provocative theme What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”.

lou-roll

First up was Lou Cordwell (@Loucordwell) of the highly successful digital design company Magnetic North.

 

She talked about being prepared to take educated risks but to trust that you can manage if you don’t succeed in the way you hoped to.

Ines Lopez (@milopezcom), a creative facilitator working in digital, then followed on from with this with an insightful talk on ‘managing fear’. A refreshing look at how we can remove the stigma from failure as part of the creative process.

Friday

Went to see Robin Ince do stand-up at MOSI. I’ve followed Robin for a long time and it’s good to see how his material is evolving as he moves towards some of the more ‘touchy feely’ aspects of science.

robin-ince-pano

MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, if you’ve not heard of it), provided an intimate space for the gig and I really hope they put on a few more evening events.

Saturday

lizzie-allanSo, I went back to The Dry Umbrella, this time with a friend. Again, a very warm welcome coupled with an extensive tea menu, soft drinks and cakes.

Lizzie Allan, ably introduced by MC Ali Khan, told us her story, which was times dark but at others chaotic and hilarious.

 

Lizzie opens her set by saying that she has been clean of drugs and drink for around 5 years.

It is remarkable that her recovery from addiction and the psychosis that resulted from her abuse of drugs and alcohol have led her to a place where she can reflect on all of that with warmth, sincerity and a cutting dry wit.

After partying a bit too hard in India and Thailand, Lizzie found her 19-year-old self sectioned and detained for treatment under the Mental Health Act.

While that does not sound like a laugh a minute, Lizzie playfully recalls the effects of psychosis – specifically her belief that (despite no experience) she was about to land a major recording deal as a rap artist.

She also talked a lot about The Law of Attraction (which I think I do believe in) and the power of the alignment of the planets (which I’m not so sure about), but one thing was for sure – Lizzie caused her own brand of hysteria when I challenged her to perform an impromptu rap.

Upcoming events at Umbrella Cafe, Nexus Art Cafe, 2 Dale Street, Manchester.

This week I also updated the About Cheer Up Love page.