My Christmas list

AGH IT’S DECEMBER!

Sorry family… you’re not getting anything. Well you won’t if I don’t sort myself out. Luckily, I started panic buying tomorrow so hopefully it’ll be alright come the 25th.

For the past couple of years, I’ve publicly drooled over my laptop and I finally found time to resume the tradition – I’m in my last two weeks at Radio Comedy before moving to Eastenders, so things are hectic!

First things first – and this is totally career related, right? I’m hoping for a tuning pedal for my new telecaster guitar. There’s a Korg one here that seems like a bargain, although I’m not too fussy – I’d like it to a) work and b) withstand being stood on, as that’s a key part of its purpose.

As usual, I’m hankering after jewellery by Tatty Devine. I have two name necklaces – a plain black ‘Frankie’ and a large tortoiseshell ‘Get Frank’. However, I’m always hungry for more, so I’m hoping for some different takes on ‘Frankie’ from anyone generous enough to give it a go! They’ve also created new charm bracelets, but they’re exclusive to Selfridges in London and Birmingham.

I’m having a bit of a CD renaissance at the moment, so I’m buying music whenever I can afford to – I currently settle for listening on Deezer when I can’t. I’d love the new albums from Lorde, London Grammar, The National (in fact anything from their back catalogue, it’s a guilty former secret that I only get to listen to them on Spofity or Deezer), AlunaGeorge, Arcade Fire, James Blake, King Krule, Laura Marling or Savages. I wouldn’t be disappointed to unwrap Salute by Little Mix. Move is a TUNE.

In terms of cosmetics, I’m always happy with anything by Lush, haircare by TIGI and makeup by MAC or NARS. I’m on the lookout for a new blusher and orgasm or deep throat (no sniggering at the back!) are two suits-all shades that I’d love to try. Get me False Lash mascara from MAC and I’ll be your friend for life.

The two biggest things on my wish list – and no I’m not really expecting either – are a Fender Blues Junior amp and a Canon 5D camera. The former is to go with my telecaster, which I need to be able to play through an amp at long last, and the 5D is so that I can start making films independently of work and branch out on my own a bit more. I currently work with a 7D – which I’ll miss terribly when I leave the Radio Comedy team!

So that’s me, but what do you want for Xmas?

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Making like a model… sort of

The other day I bumped into Claire from luxury hair accessories brand, Stone Bridge.

I volunteered my hair for their website but didn’t think I’d actually end up being needed however a couple of months later I was asked to pop down to Tonbridge in Kent to lend myself to shooting pictures for their latest batch of hair clips, bands, barrettes and slides.

Shooting some 'hard profile' product images with photographer Neal

Despite getting up at 6.30 am Claire, who’s not only a hair styling maestro but a trained makeup artist, managed to make me look like I’d had a generous lie in with her box of tricks, and company founder Melissa managed to keep my hair looking fluff-free for the majority of the shoot. In fact, I loved the ‘messy chignon’ she teased my hair into so much that I wore it out that evening. (When I took it out finally about 22 hairpins emerged from my barnet!)

Melissa put a proper spread on!

The day before the shoot, Melissa popped over to Bluewater and bought some a-may-zing cupcakes from Buttercup. I love cupcakes that actually taste of something other than sponge – the coffee and caramel flavour was especially spectacular.

Possibly the only time I'll rest my hands on the steering wheel of a sports car... but at least I got to do it wearing my favourite piece; a leather hair band

As well as the more traditional product shots (mostly shot in a dead-on profile), we popped outside to take advantage of the fabulous weather. The only downside to shooting outside (which involved posing with Chester the dog, ‘driving’ an Audi and nearly breaking a china cup) was the bright rays that nearly blinded me via the silver and white reflectors. Hopefully the final shots will be worth the squinting discomfort!

Squinting and bearing the September sunshine with Neal, Melissa and Chester

I definitely enjoyed the experience more than I expected to – and it’s something I think others should try. Why not go out with friends and snap some portraits – whether for a direct purpose or not? As well as helping out a great new company, I got the experience of being in front of the camera for once rather than being behind it (or writing about it). I’ve never seen myself as particularly photogenic so it’s nice when something like this comes along and gives a bit of a confidence boost. Aside from managing the sunlight, I actually found the most difficult element of the shoot was allowing myself to smile fully (I’ve seen rather unflattering photos of myself laughing so was a tad paranoid), but I think I got there in the end!

Find out more about Stone Bridge and their range on their website – and I’ll let you know when the proper photos are unveiled! Also, don’t forget to check out photographer Neal’s site too – he’s a genius!

New Blinginnings

I’ve recently moved into East London and am quite stunned to find how close in proximity I am to some of the favourite stores of my teens.

The other day, by way of – ahem – crucial experiment, I timed my walk to vintage warehouse, Beyond Retro. It was approximately several minutes. Now, I should be overjoyed at this geographical revelation but, I have to admit. I’m scared for my finances!

Another happy discovery made earlier today was that Tatty Devine, who I thought were based purely in Covent Garden, also have a store at the top of Brick Lane (5 minutes away on foot) and had just launched a sample sale. Needless to say I practically ran there after I got back to London post driving lesson in Kent.

Dress by Zara, shoes by Schuh (donated by mum) and necklace, £30 (sale ptice) by Tatty Devine

In the shop I picked up a present for someone (and it’s so cool, but unfortunately I can’t discuss as I’ll spoil the surprise) and couldn’t resist buying the necklace pictured above. I got it for £20 (hypnotised  on the spot by the shiny-ness and sheer scale of the thing) but when I looked it up online it seems that they’re selling it for £30 (reduced from £90).

I’ve been far busier than I expected to be since moving hence the reason for my lack of recent posts but I’ve recently completed the second of my Get Frank podcasts.

I’m going to write about the bands and the show in more detail very soon, but I have to say a huge thanks to Vets in Hong Kong for meeting up with me and chatting for the show – but again, more on the guys and the other contributing artists very soon!

I’m going to go and unpack another suitcase…

Two and a half weeks

Any of you that follow my You Tube channel will be aware that I’ve made a video account of my time without employment.

I wanted to do this as a record for other people who, like me, have been made unexpectedly unemployed and have no idea how the system works. In some ways it was a difficult process and there were phone calls and meltdowns that I caught on camera but decided to keep out of the final edits. In the end the result was a simple vlog.

I probably come across and stubborn and ignorant in some videos, but I honestly did not know how the system worked for jobseekers. At the entrance to the job centre there’s a big banner that tells you that the idea of the place is to ‘find you the work you want’ but in actual fact they just want you in work. This is an understandable desire, but possibly one of the reasons people stick to signing on. If they are forced into a job that they don’t want and therefore have no time, help or resources to find their ideal vocation, they’re going to be even more adverse to steady employment.

Earlier this month I made the final of a competition held by Primula Cheese and Capital FM North East. The idea was to create a recipe for four on a budget using a variety of Primula cheese. I went for the simple, yummy bean enchiladas recipe I once made for my former Amazing Radio show. I knew I wouldn’t win the £1,000 prize but it was a fantastic day out that really made me feel ‘normal’ again. They even made a film of the event which is hilarious as I couldn’t stop laughing before they announced the winner. Priceless.

Ready Steady Squeeze Final from Adam Troup on Vimeo.

Another thing that kept me occupied over the last two weeks was the wonderful UMT: Play course, run by North East music agency Generator. I met two fantastic girls, Mary and Harriet, and together we formed ‘Mary Sends Out Warning’ and wrote three songs for a performance to friends and family in a mere four days. We also recorded our mini masterpieces and hopefully I’ll be able to share those with you soon!

Here are some pictures from the ‘Big Day’ as taken by the wonderful Jazzy Lemon (who I shall miss very much when I head South).

Tourism in Tynemouth

On Saturday I headed out to the North East coast to check out the lovely town of Tynemouth.

Without realising, I’d actually had some chips in the area before when visiting friends before making the move proper to Newcastle. However, I didn’t really get to explore the many kitsch giftshops or the Metro station market. My friend Matt was quite shocked at this, and defying the grey skies and miserable rain, gave me a guided tour that began with roasted med veg and goats cheese paninis at Hugo’s bar/restaurant.

I kind of forgot to be ‘touristy’ and make like Pete Hall (ie take the hallowed foodie picture) so you’ll have to make do with a sample of the leftovers!

It came with chips too!

After lunch we went to Gaf, which stocks one of my favourite t-shirt brands, Lazy Oaf, plus loads of other delights such as scented candles, solid perfumes and cards. I even tried on some glasses, but they certainly weren’t as pretty on me as their rosy tint suggested…

Gaf - marvellous and fabulous in equal measure

Rose-tinted Yoko glasses are not a good look on me!

After Gaf we headed over to Raspberry Bazaar, which reminded me of a shop called Salamander in Maidstone – all mirrored trinkets and wooden beads (with incense on the side). Aside from the hippy clothing department (featuring festival-staple label Rico) the whole shop is arranged not by item but by colour… it’s quite a dazzling effect as you walk around the store as if walking alongside a rainbow! I bought a new piggy bank to replace the one that smashed during my move to Newcastle from Birmingham last June.

After Raspberry Bazaar we headed over to the Green Ginger Shopping Arcade which is actually a converted church filled with shops (including a hair salon and a cafe).

Matt modelling one of Raspberry Bazaar's hippy cardigans

Out by the arcade ‘conveniences’ I found a detailed history of the church including a wonderful description of the remaining congregation before the church was converted.

"a congregation composed largely of elderly ladies"

I bought some of my favourite incense from one of the shops and marvelled at a specialist cake decorating shop too. There was a few antique shops as well, selling furniture and smaller items of jewellery.

I think my favourite bit of my camera-touting trip was when we headed over to the market held in Tynemouth Metro Station. The market, which held stalls on both sides of the platform, featured both food and less ‘vital’ bits and pieces, from second hand paper books to vinyls and vintage furs. I snapped up a bow broach for a pound and a small structured handbag with gold detailing and a gorgeous inky blue hue (I’ll feature it on this blog soon).

Tynemouth Metro Station

Some of the lush vegetation on display!

I have no idea what this strange elf is in the above photo but thought it looked curious!

I enjoyed the juxtaposition of football memorabilia with literature on gangs and hooliganism!

Also, there were loads of 'Good luck from...' vintage postcards featuring cats and touristy photos? I have no idea why (answers on a postcard please!?!)

We bought some olives to satisfy my cravings for all things Mediterranean and Matt got some Kate Bush and Joe Jackson to listen to in vinyl format. All in all a rather satisfying trip, culminating in a bubble gum blowing display…

Hubba bubba...

(Please note that the scraping back of hair was just to stop gum getting caught, rather than a permanent ‘look’!)

Where should I go next in the North East?

Jazzy Lemon saves the day!

I’d meant to take a picture of my outfit for The Prison Library single launch at the Cluny 2 last night but headed out the door without thinking.

I don’t take a picture of every outfit I’ve worn, but I wanted a picture because it featured a few items I picked up from the Metro Centre on Wednesday. (I’m also having a wardrobe clear out and am in the midst of deciding what looks good and what would be best placed else where!)

Luckily Newcastle’s staple music photographer Jazzy Lemon was out in force and happened to take a few snaps of me at the gig (which you can see below). You can check out the full album (amongst literally hundreds of thousands of rock and roll moments) here. There’s plenty of great shots of all the acts; this Sunday’s Amazing Folk Roots Show guest The Lake Poets, Let’s Buy Happiness in disc jockey action at the decks, soulful Indie four-piece Grandfather Birds and headliners The Prison Library, who managed to put fears about the departure of brilliant Frankie & the Heartstrings guitarist Mick Ross totally at bay.

Blazer £29.99 by H&M, cropped t-shirt £9.99 by Zara, skirt £11 by Primark, headband by Stone Bridge

I saw this t-shirt on Zara’s website and experienced one of those “HAVE TO HAVE THIS” moments where I wanted to leave my desk and flee to this shop for immediate purchase. I didn’t notice I’d picked up a larger size until I got home but I think it will still work tucked into skirts or with faux leather skinnies. The blazer is one of the comfiest I own and was a complete impulse buy when a band practice was cancelled last-minute.

Shoes by Office, socks by Primark

I decided to brighten up the muted colours, ‘chic-up the geek’ and raise myself off the floor by a good five inches with my Office platform heels. I got these in 2008 when I was paid for my performance in Days of Hope by Howard Goodall at Birmingham’s MAC theatre. Although most of the money went on student rent and a new electric piano, I just couldn’t resist these. They made me at least as tall as most of the audience which meant that I could comfortably see the bands for once!

Satchel by New Look (all photos by Jazzy Lemon)

I’m starting to get rather impatient for Spring to arrive now. I’m resisting hiding in big coats and layering cardigans and my unlined parka in an attempt to be ready lest we be treated to a sunburst or two. Tomorrow I’m heading off to Tynemouth (a bit of the coast to any Southerners reading this) so I’m hoping to find a treat or two. I’ve never been before, but I’m gagging for some good ole seaside chips!

Thanks again to Jazzy Lemon for letting me use her photos!

Faceless.

I just watched Cycle 15 of America’s Next Top Model in two days.

This cycle was called ‘ANTM Elevated’ due to the incorporation of more top fashion houses (such as Versace and Roberto Cavalli) and a prize that included a spread in Italian Vogue.

Rather than ‘make like a model’ I thought I’d have a gleeful dig through my wardrobe and mix old and new bits and pieces together. I’ve been to the shops a few times since Christmas but haven’t found too much sales wise – I’ve still got Zara and Top Shop vouchers to splurge – but I’m biding my credit ’til I see something I “simply have to have, darlings!”

Trousers £14.99 by Zara, Shirt and shoes both by H&M

One joyous miracle happened recently on my 22nd birthday when I found a black version of my favourite camel trousers reduced in Zara to £14.99 from £19.99. Anyone who knows this blog at all will be aware that I’ve been trying to find ‘cigarette pants’ for an absolute age so to find them for such a bargain was rather pleasing! (Particularly as I used a Christmas voucher to buy them so it cost nada – thanks Tony!)

Jumper knitted by Deb, leggings 'freecycled', shoes by Dune

I borrowed this jumper from my Dad when I was cold at Christmas and his wife Deb gave it to me ‘because it suited me more’! I’ve wanted an oversized jumper for a while (thanks Deb!) but it doesn’t belt well so I have to wear with leggings to avoid looking too shapeless – I think it works though. The American Apparel style leggings were a free find at a Friends of the Earth Freecycle event I went to before I left Birmingham. Although I was primarily there to offload old clothes I couldn’t carry, I couldn’t resist these! The heels are also a thrift from my shoe hoarding mother. All in all a budget-free look.

Shirt from Oxfam, skirt from Cow Vintage, headband £1.25 (sale price) by Peacocks and boots by Melissa for Anglomania

I held out all holiday season for these boots by Anglomania (one of Vivienne Westwood’s diffusion lines). They arrived as a last present miracle from my fabulous sister Charlotte. Weirdly enough they smell pleasantly fruity so I lay around with my nose in the boots for an alarming amount of time! I shortened and hemmed the skirt so it was of more wearable length but accidentally burned a hole in it… oops! And I’ve not yet worn the shirt out of my room, so I should probably start getting more use out of it!

Dress from PDSA, heels by Office

I got this shift dress for about £3 in 2008 when I was doing work experience as a BBC Blast reporter. I had no money but a desire to spend it, so the PDSA charity shop was a good place for me to browse! The heels were my extravagant purchase from my short spell acting at Birmingham’s MAC theatre during a break from University. They are rather high so I don’t wear them out much, although I wore them for graduation. There were concerns that I’d fall over in front of everyone, but actually it was my oversized mortarboard hat that caused the issue.

Now… to the Top Shop sale! (Suggestions of what to buy, anyone?)

The first photos…

We have photos!

They were taken by the lovely Faye Green (guitarist Todd’s sister.) She’s currently studying art at the University of Newcastle. I don’t know if she has a blog but if you’d like to get in touch with her, leave a comment and we’ll pass it her way!

Yours truly: Frankie Ward

David Mabbott (bass)

Mark Edwards (drums)

Neil Andrew Smith (keys)

Todd Green (guitar)

Get Frank

If you’re interested in seeing us live please check out our Facebook page. You can get in touch about gigs by emailing me at frankiepromotes@gmail.com.

Hairy times for Holy Mammoth

I had a little spare time before going out to tonight’s Cult Image, Holy Mammoth and Fang Island gig so I got a little silly with my Macbook camera

Tee by Urban Outfitters, skirt by Zara, tights by Topshop, shoes by New Look, belt by Primark

Trying to get the shoes into shot...

Hair flower by Accessorize

Hair; a product of genetics and a bit o' serum

I really need a camera, some ‘this season’ clothes and some sense of dignity.

I also need these shoes in a size smaller as I can’t wear them without tripling up socks – so I won’t be wearing them tonight I don’t think… boo.

Although I could layer up the trainer socks and hope no one notices…. I’ve done that with my ballroom shoes before… except the judges weren’t so impressed!

See you there.


Burnfm’s Battle of the Bands

botb-poster

Finally!

We have a Battle of the Bands poster! I don’t think I can get it to display, but the event is at the University of Birmingham Guild of Students at 7.30pm on Thursday 26th March.

I’m ruddy excited…We’ve got six university acts lined up to battle for a slot at Vale Fest 2009, and a headline slot from brilliant Birmingham act 360.

The finalists are:

The July Days

Varney and Sons

Motion

Battle Stations

Jessica Sharman

Wicked Messengers

We held a preliminary round to whittle the bands down and you can here recordings from this here, simply click on the BOTB link. We judged the acts by their live performances, not recordings as we felt that this was much fairer.

The final will be judged by Aaron Wright, music editor of uni paper Redbrick, Johnny O’ Callaghan who runs InD at Walkabout and two members of another Birmingham band, the almighty Scarlot Harlots.

We would love to have you along as profits are going toward Vale Fest and its charities. Vale Fest usually raises over £50,000 for charity, we hope to make that over £60,000 this year! Tickets are £5 and are available from Joes Bar (in the Guild) or on the door. It is not a student exclusive event and is open to all, so if you’ve never been to the Guild/Uni before, or are simply feeling nostalgic and want to check out both new and established talent, then please come! Group (10 or more) discount is £4 per person and can be arranged by emailing me, frankiepromotes@googlemail.com

If you would like to review/photograph this event also please get in touch.

The live music ends at 12am and will be followed by DJs until 2am.

Frank

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