Category Archives: Other

A Little Slice of Light Night

The annual Light Night returned to Leeds last Friday, featuring late-night openings of galleries, museums, theatres, shopping centres and unusual spaces. Starting just as it went dark at 6pm, the race was on to experience as much of the five hours of jam-packed culture as possible.

Continue reading A Little Slice of Light Night

Culture Vulture: Green-themed cream tea at Headingley’s Bowery!

Originally published on Thurs 4 August 2011 at

Nestled by the side of a busy crossroads, it could be easy to miss The Bowery, a wonderfully unusual café in north Headingley.  One of Leeds’ hidden cultural treasures, it’s home to a fascinating little art gallery – climb the stairs and you’ll find an ever-changing range of exhibitions by local artists. If you feel like you want to get involved with making art, there are regular workshops covering everything from photography to floristry, too.

Downstairs, alongside the coffee and cake, you’ll find a boutique nestled with ceramics, textiles, jewellery and other artwork on sale from local designers and exciting emerging artists.  And if that wasn’t enough, they sell some of the finest coffee in the land, recently making it into The Times’ top 10 coffee shops in the UK.

It might be worth checking it out on Sunday 21 August, when it’ll be taken over for an afternoon quiz with a difference. Leeds University student Kristina Diprose is hosting a cream tea fundraiser for her work with the UK Youth Climate Coalition, a national non-profit organisation working to bring young people together for positive action on climate change.  This November, Kristina will be one of ten young people from the UK attending UN climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, taking the concerns of British youth to international decision-makers.

She says of her chance to attend the South Africa negotiations: “This is an amazing opportunity and I’m so excited to be involved. Young people need to make sure that negotiators and world leaders know we care about these talks.  The decisions made in South Africa will affect our generation for decades to come”.

It’s a quiz, sure, but for five pounds, this includes a tea or coffee, homemade scones with jam and cream, a charity donation and the chance to win a pair of theatre tickets to a performance of your choice – worth up to £60 – kindly donated by the West Yorkshire Playhouse.  It could well be better than a pint in a dingy bar!

It all starts at 3.30pm on Sunday 21 August. There’s only 30 places available, which must be booked in advance from The Bowery.  Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Call 0113 2242284 to book your place, or check out the Facebook page for the event for more details.

Co-producer credit

Recently, along with my friend Lee McCrae and my former Uni teacher Simon Warner, I was invited to work on a pretty interesting project.

As a lecturer in Popular Music Studies at the University of Leeds, a large part of Simon’s academic work deals with the Beat Generation of the 50s and 60s.  Through this professional interest, he has links to Jim Sampas, producer of the seminal Jack Kerouac poetry-influenced album Kicks Joy Darkness.  Released in 1997, the record features contributions from beats William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, alongside Michael Stipe, Lee Ranaldo, Joe Strummer, plus many others.  It’s an amazing listen.

Several albums on, Jim’s latest project is entitled Paint it Black: An Alt-Country Tribute to the Rolling Stones, released on his Reimagine Music label.  It’s a brilliant tour through the music of one of the world’s most familiar bands, interpreted by a range of artists that, it might be argued, don’t sound particularly that much like the Stones – and in a good way.  Among the artists are The Handsome Family, Everest, Great Lake Swimmers and much more from the alt-country/Americana scene.

Both Lee and myself were asked by Jim to assist with publicity for Paint it Black, and we’ve both received co-producer credits as a result, which I’m extremely grateful to both Jim and Simon for, particularly as I think that it’s completely unwarranted (I really don’t think I did that much!)  What a bunch of amazing guys.

So – that only leaves me to say – buy the album!  It’s available on download, and you can find it on iTunes, HMV and Amazon.

Kids’ Spring Half Term Round-up

Originally published on Weds 18 May 2011 at

The Flying Scotsman at the National Railway Museum, York
Saturday 28 – Monday 30 May

Take the chance to see for yourself the iconic and legendary steam locomotive as it returns to the National Railway Museum in York this half term. There’ll be talks from train experts, who’ll be on hand to tell you more about the train’s history, recent restoration and how it was once the fastest train on Earth! Plus, don’t miss a live bagpipe performance in celebration of the Flying Scotsman’s appearance.

Ryedale Folk Weekend, Ryedale Folk Museum, Hutton-le-Hole
Friday 27 – Monday 30 May

Fun for all the family at Ryedale Folk Weekend – with live music, workshops, sing-alongs and more in the 16th century manor house that’s home to the Ryedale Folk Museum. It’s all happening in the picturesque setting of Hetton-le-Hole, and promises to be a fantastic festival featuring great entertainment for everyone. Tickets are £40 for adults, children (4-16) £15.

Dream Bigger Dreams, All Saints’ Square, Rotherham
Tueday 31 May – Friday 3 June

A roadshow with a twist! The University of Sheffield will be holding a series of performances and interactive sessions in Rotherham town centre. It’s a chance for kids to find out what the university does, meet students, and try out a range of activities ranging from archaeology to electronics to medicine! Activities will be running from 10.30am – 2.30pm each day, and are completely free.

Half Term Fun Days in the Energy House, Heeley City Farm, Sheffield
Wednesday 1 – Thursday 2 June

Come along to South Yorkshire Energy Centre to have fun discovering more about recycling and saving energy! Based at Heeley City Farm, there’s pigs, goats and other animals for kids to meet. Suitable for all the family. Free entry – open 11am to 5pm.

Wetwang Scarecrow Festival
Saturday 28 May – Sunday 5 June

To many people, Wetwang is famous for appearing in Look North’s weather map, whenever its honorary mayor Paul Hudson presents the forecast. However, it’s also home to a scarecrow festival – previous entrants have included Noel Edmonds in his ‘Deal or no Deal’ guise, a representation of the ‘Dancing on Ice’ cast and – wait for it – ‘Status Crow’, last year’s winner, depicted in performance of ‘Rocking All Over The Wolds’. Who will be ‘crow’-ned the winner this year? Head to the village hall, Wetwang, between 10am – 4pm during the festival, and pick up a festival guide.

Bridlington Arts Festival Finale, The Spa Bridlington
Saturday 28 – Monday 30 May

Bridlington Arts Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, so head over to the newly refurbished Spa and take in its impressive sea views. The Spa Gardens will feature street entertainers, a colourful array of continental market stalls and a host of free entertainment (weather permitting). The fun kicks off at 11am, and is free.

Zoolab Animal Roadshow, Dewsbury Museum
Friday 3 June

Meet snakes, spiders and other creepy crawlies and creatures at the Zoolab Animal Roadshow! A team of rangers will deliver hands-on workshops which use animals as a way to encourage kids to explore the natural world. There’s four one-hour animal handling sessions during the day, with a charge of £2.50 per child.

Kaleidoscope Mask Making, The Hepworth Wakefield
Monday 30 May

Come and make a kaleidoscope mask at the brand new Hepworth Wakefield gallery! The Hepworth is Britain’s newest major art gallery, the largest purpose-built gallery space outside London, and will undoubtedly become one of the country’s most important galleries – housing hundreds of works from the late legendary sculptor Barbara Hepworth and other major artists. Drop in from 11am – 4pm. Free entry.

Fissure by Louise Ann Wilson

Originally published on 10 May 2011 at

As art installations go, this one is about as far away from the ordinary as you can get. There’s no gallery, no ‘piece’ to look at, and certainly no queuing. Instead, there’s a 12-mile walk, stunning Yorkshire scenery and live performance – all in the aim of provoking new thinking about the landscapes in which we live.

Based on a walk around Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales, the performance involves composers, artists, poets and choreographers. Even more unusually, neuroscientists, geologists, dancers, choirs, and cavers were consulted to piece the work together, fusing together the ideas of the brain and the landscape.

The walk meanders across rivers, over hills and moors and into caves, exploring philosophical notions of life, death, grief, resilience and renewal over two days.

Fissure has been commissioned as part of The Re-Enchantment, a national arts programme exploring the relationship between people and place. Those wishing to take part need to make their own way to either Settle or Kirby Stephen railway stations, and can choose to stay over at either a B&B or a bunkhouse.

Everyone involved will need to be relatively fit to manage the walk, which is planned to go ahead regardless of the weather – so bring your wellies just in case! It’s certainly a break from the norm, even if it’s a bit of a mystery what’s going to happen.

Find out more at the Fissure website.

Easter Holidays Round-up

Originally published on Weds 30 March 2011 at

Haxby Scarecrow Festival
Saturday 30 April – Monday 2 May

The scarecrows of Haxby near York have been a fixture in the village for the past five years, and now locals have ensured they’re back for another outing this Easter. Organised by the Haxby and Wigginton Methodist Church, there’ll be five different trails of varying lengths, with a large number of scarecrows to be seen (there were 182 last year!). It’s all for a good cause – this year, the church is raising money for Phambili ngeThemba, a South African organisation working in impoverished townships, in addition to local causes around the region. You can find out more information – and register your scarecrow – at

Skipton Waterway Festival
Saturday 30 April – Monday 2 May

Over 100 canal boats will be making their way to Skipton as the picturesque Yorkshire Dales town hosts its annual Waterway Festival. The Leeds-Liverpool canal which runs through the town will be transformed into a menagerie of craft stalls and art exhibits, with music, dancing and comedy acts throughout the weekend. There’ll be plenty of opportunities to take a look round the colourful narrowboats – you could even take a ride in one too!

Bridlington Royal Wedding Celebrations and Easter Treasure Trail
Monday 25 April

Bridlington’s Old Town is a quaint area of cobbled streets, quirky shops and historical relics – including a set of stocks! It’s an ideal place for not one, but two events taking place in the town this Easter: a treasure trail, and a Royal Wedding party. There’s bound to be plenty of local stalls and entertainment too – but don’t get too carried away, or you could end up in those stocks!

Bridlington Easter Hockey Festival
Friday 22 – Sunday 24 April

For the last 67 years, Bridlington has held an annual Easter Hockey Festival, a 7-a-side tournament for both men and women. Held on grass pitches, the men play for three days (Easter Friday, Saturday and Sunday) and the women play for two (Saturday and Sunday). This year’s event is scheduled to be held at the Bridlington Astro Centre, a new facility at Bridlington School. There’s food, a bar and family entertainment too – so why not check it out?

Graves Park Easter Dash, Sheffield
Sunday 24 April

Had one Easter egg too many? Splashed out a bit too much at the end of Lent? If you think you’re up to it, you can join hundreds of others in a 5-mile run around Graves Park in Sheffield on Easter Sunday. Once part of the ancient Norton Estate, there’s been woodland at Graves Park since the age of William the Conqueror – nowadays there’s also tennis courts, a café and an animal farm to be found in the grounds. All money raised from the run will be donated to The Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline charity – plus, all runners get an Easter egg!

Easter Lambing at Whirlow Hall Farm
Thursday 21 April

Spring is in the air, and that means that lambs are on the way! Come and see the newborn lambs at Whirlow Hall Farm in Sheffield – there’ll be talks from the keepers, pony riding sessions and a craft fair. Plus, stick around for some food (hopefully lamb won’t be on the menu). Visit for more information.

Hebden Bridge Easter Duck Race
Monday 25 April

Sadly not real ducks – rather those of the bathtub variety. Hundreds of yellow little rubber ducks will be released from St. George’s Bridge at precisely 3.15pm. A bit like a raffle, you can ‘buy’ a duck, all of which will be numbered. The first ducks to cross the finish line downriver will be noted down and the winning ducks will be ‘crowned’ 45 minutes later. Fingers crossed!

While you’re there – check out the rest of Hebden Bridge, there’s tons of independent shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants – plus there’ll be live jazz, charity stalls and face painting – something for everyone!

Yorkshire Sculpture Park Easter Fun Trail
Saturday 23 – Monday 25 April

Take a wander around the magnificent Yorkshire Sculpture Park this Easter – there’s works to be discovered from Henry Moore, Turner Prize winner Martin Creed and many more. Set in 500 acres of rolling countryside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park has attracted thousands of visitors since opening in 1977, and it’s often while wandering around that you might chance upon an unexpected sculpture in an unusual place. Plus, there’s a stream, a lake and two indoor galleries to explore while you’re wandering!

Heeley City Farm Spring Fayre

Originally published on Weds 23 March 2011 at

Thirty years ago, Sheffield’s Heeley City Farm opened its doors on a patch of derelict inner city land. This wasn’t what the planners originally had in mind – a few years previously, rows of Victorian terraces that stood here were demolished to make way for a bypass.

Fortunately, that bypass was never built – and Heeley City Farm has become one of the UK’s most celebrated urban farms, picking up numerous national and international awards over the years for its work on inner city sustainable development.

You’ll be able to visit the farm and take a look at its progress over the decades at the Heeley City Farm Spring Fayre. There’s something for everyone – you can explore the farm’s renewable energy centre, enjoy some live entertainment, and take a browse through local food, craft and gift stalls. And – as it’s a farm – you’ll be able to meet the animals, too!

The farm works closely with young and elderly people, people with disabilities and long term unemployed adults in growing and cooking local food, developing sustainable energy and organising healthy eating projects. The farm’s renewable energy centre is full of ideas and practical examples of how to save energy and fuel costs, drawing power from solar panels on the roof and a wind turbine in the garden.

Heeley City Farm has come a long way over the past 30 years – head to the Spring Fayre and support it as it heads into the future. The fayre takes place on Saturday 2 April, 11am – 4pm. Entry is free. For more information, visit Heeley City Farm’s website.

My writing portfolio: an update

Since November 2010 I’ve written reviews, previews and events listings on the cultural website  Here’s a portfolio of my work so far.

For the latest, I’d recommend that you subscribe to my site via RSS using something like Google Reader – it’s dead easy.  Watch this video for tips on how to do it.

You can find this page in the writing section of my site, too – take a browse!