Thursday, 28 April 2016

Adele - Birmingham UK, April 2016

We saw Adele. Maybe that should be, we experienced Adele.

Seeing Adele in concert at Birmingham NEC was certainly an experience, that's for sure. Unlike most concerts there was no warm up act, there was no delay to the start time - this was an evening of precision....well almost.

On arrival we had half an hour to find our seats and get comfy. A large screen with Adele's eye watched the audience. There were people of all ages milling around but it was clear that every single seat had been sold. We couldn't quite tell you who we thought would be an Adele fan but if this crowd was anything to go by it's clear that just about everyone is an Adele fan.


From the moment the lights dimmed and the band started, the atmosphere was electric. There were two stages set up, the main stage where the band were and a smaller circle platform - it was on this platform that Adele arrived.

There was no introduction - it was straight into 'Hello'. The perfect opening song and a great way to get everyone singing. From there, the hits kept coming, 'Home Town Glory' had the screens showing shots of Birmingham. Simple, effective and touching - it's amazing being in a room full of (predominantly) local people and sharing the pride as famous Birmingham landmarks were shown.

By the end of the song Adele was on the move, walking from the platform back to the main stage. The audience either side of the walkway were screaming and reaching out but Adele did not miss a single note of One and Only. Professionalism indeed. On the main stage, a cup of honey water was available and while drinking this, the music stopped and Adele took to the mic to say hi. Neither of us had really thought too much about Adele as a person - we'd laughed while watching her on James Corden carpool karaoke but in person she was brilliant. Hilarious while being self deprecating. She told stories about certain songs, she talked about the stage fright that had plagued her and how different things were now that she's a mum. While surrounded by thousands of others, she made the concert feel intimate. While being a superstar, she appeared normal and down to earth - you couldn't fail but to love her.


After the chat we were warned that if we wanted to dance that this was our opportunity as she was going to bang out her upbeat songs in quick succession before getting totes emosh. As the music for 'Rumour Has It' started the noise in the arena made it feel like everyone was singing their hearts out. 'Water Under the Bridge', from her new album also kept everyone standing.

'Skyfall' had the stage taken over by clouds and a bond theme while 'Million Years Ago' had a more reminiscent feel with notes from school being shown. 'Don't You Remember' then ended this part of the concert and everyone calmed down.

Her faces, the emotion - we loved it all.

Our favourite Send My Love (to your new lover) had us singing at the top of our voices and after hearing Adele explain that it was about letting go of people who had hurt you in the past we felt that it held extra significance.

And then on to a highlight (another one), when covering make you feel my love Adele asked that all switched our torch lights on, it's not a new thing, I have seen it done plenty but coupled with the request that we all think of someone you had loved and lost or loved but hadn't told them recently we were balling, seriously balling.


From there to the end it was flood gates. Having been sat between my sister and Laura it was a race to see who could hold it in longest, on Sweetest Devotion Laura cried first, on Chasing pavements Fiona went first and I was blubbering because they were. It really was totes emosh!

Someone Like You was another crowd pleaser, when the sound cut off the audience kept going, Adele was oblivious but someone captured this: Video

When Set Fire to the Rain came on the platform Adele had appeared on was shrouded in rain for a spectacular finish and then silence.

Unlike other concerts there was no foot banging or chanting for an encore there was almost stunned silence. Adele was impressive.


And then just when we'd finished talking about how amazing the concert had been All I Ask started up and Adele re-appeared. And for 15 more minutes we sang When We Were Young and Rolling In the Deep before the confetti cannon signalled that it really was the end.

As if the show wasn't enough the confetti itself had song lyrics and thank you's - from our experience though we were the ones thanking Adele. For the show, for letting us into her world and the songs and for turning three grown ladies into blubbering wrecks.

Thank you Adele!

Our video highlights....
  video







Sunday, 24 April 2016

UK Day Trip: Wollaton Hall, Nottingham

Have you heard of Wayne Manor? If you are a Batman fan you may well have heard reference to the house as that of Bruce Wayne or if you watched Dark Knight Rises it was used as the setting.


'In DC Comicsthe residence is typically depicted as a huge mansion on grounds outside Gotham City, maintained by the Wayne family's butler, Alfred Pennyworth. While the earliest stories showed Bruce Wayne buying the house himself, by the 1950s at the latest, retroactive continuity had established that the manor had belonged to the Wayne family for several generations. It was without exception referred to in the 1960s TV series as "stately Wayne Manor." (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Manor)

However in reality Wayne Manor is Wollaton Hall, an Elizabethan country house built in the 1580's. It is located just outside Nottingham in its own park. It is a stunning location. As you drive in there is plenty of parking (£2 for up to 3 hours or £4 for all day), an extensive playground and this beautiful house overlooking it all. Walking around the park you will bump into wild deer, they are not bothered by the groups of people taking their photos and i'm pretty sure I saw one move to get in our picture!
Oh deer!
The park itself is also dog friendly so we were able to take Bisbee, who not only loved the deer but found it great fun to run towards the lake at great pace - only to pull out before the edge.
Happiness is......
The Hall itself was owned by generations of the Willoughby family from 1580 to 1925, it was then sold to the Nottingham City Council. The family included explorers, naturist, mathematician, members of parliament and a High Sheriff of Yorkshire.

It is now a natural history museum complete with the discoveries of the Willoughby explorers. They were clearly fans of taxidermy but we appreciated the fact that none of the additions to the collection were caught for game, they all died of natural causes. It was fascinating seeing the size of certain birds and animals up close. We even learnt that sloths have a greeny fur as an entire ecosystem exists in their coat - a fungus grows on their fur and this is eaten by insects - weird but now you know.

It was the perfect trip for our friend who studied tropical diseases as their was also a room dedicated to insects and how they have survived and evolved. The other rooms included the natural connections gallery, Mineral gallery, Africa gallery and Natural History Matters gallery.

The house has also been maintained so it's like walking around a history gallery - great for a geek like me!

Wollaton Hall also hosts events. We were lucky enough to catch it when a science fair was on but they host art collections, craft fairs, vintage high teas and dog trails.

Outside the hall is England's oldest greenhouse - which we hear hosts beautiful weddings - and formal gardens that are maintained all year. It really was a stunning location.

We will be back, picnic in hand when the sun is shining and if you are ever in the area we suggest adding this to your to-do list.

Check out their website here: http://www.wollatonhall.org.uk/


Thursday, 21 April 2016

Snapchat - What's It All About?!

We are not down with the kids. We are not trend setters. We are not ahead of the curve. We are not trailblazers or early adopters. If anything we are slightly slow to notice anything particularly cutting edge - ironic as I work in an industry that likes to think it is the next big thing or at least has the next big thing.

That brings me to Snapchat. You have probably heard it mentioned. You may even know someone who has it - (especially if you associate with the youth of today) but having recently joined we thought we'd add our perspective.


Snapchat, in its simplest form, is another social media app, but rather than following the previous format that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram did to gain followers, likes, or friends, Snapchat is almost the opposite.

And rather than collating memories, Snapchat erases them - almost instantly with chats or within 24 hours on your 'story'.

It's a hard concept to get your head around - or it was for us - so at the start we had it down as an app to put all the 'not quite good enough for Instagram' pics. As you have to take the picture or video in the app, there is way less chance to edit them (not that we do that much on Instagram :D )

The messaging part is also super hard to get used to, you read a comment and just like that, it's gone. You can't go back and check it, you can't figure out what a reply is to and worst still if you actually click when someone is typing you erase the message - forever.

Or maybe it's just us - I just reread that paragraph and I sound like an old timer!

I think almost anyone who has chatted with us on there will have at one point had us request a message is resent - we are still learning!

Oh and then having a joint account is almost impossible. We have a joint account on all forms of social media because we aren't convinced we would update them enough if we had separate ones! While we easily and jointly update all other forms of social media, Snapchat logs us out when accessing it on each other's phones. That means only one of us can be signed in at any point and that we have to log in A LOT!

Add on the fact that you have to be online to post / capture (though I have found that you can capture it and try to upload and usually it allows you to upload when you are on wifi) and that it requires a ton of data and uses a lot of battery it is not ideal to use outside of the house. I am figuring out that is why fair amount of the content I've seen is in peoples homes.

Finding friends is also a challenge you have to add them by username. Sounds simple right but you can't search a username you actually have to know it - it explains why people are always publicising their SnapChat accounts on other Social Media - it's the only way to do it!

Having said all that we have found the point of SnapChat.

Within SnapChat you are shown stories - of people you follow but also of events, new and other things of interest. The Milan Fashion Show story was brilliant - it felt like you were there. The Oscars story was also brilliant, you got quick clips of the stars arriving the show itself, the after party - it was like watching a quick highlight film of the night. Actually that is exactly what it was.

SnapChat allows you to feel like you are really experiencing the life of the person creating the story. It's not glamorous, in most cases it's mundane clips of everyday life but it can be insightful. It takes the mask off  - it's no way as filtered as other forms of Social Media and that's why I am coming around to the idea.

In the case of our stories it has shown just how filtered our other forms of Social Media are - seriously SnapChat is 50% Bisbee - imagine if our Instagram or blog was the same!!!! But when the content is gone in a day we are less fearful of boring anyone checking us out.

Oh and you can download stories and pictures so don't have to lose it forever. Like these treasures:

And nope this isn't isn't one of us :)
Then there are the filters - have you seen the many faceswap pics, or the ones where you can become a dog or a drag star or a racoon or a snake or a unicorn or having a big nose, small mouth - okay you get the idea there are A LOT of filters and they change daily so your story could just be with different filters every day if you so wish.

There are tools to edit photos, emoji's, scores (based on how many people you share content with) and a host of other features but to be honest if you are taking it seriously then there are tons of user guides and blogs on it (ironic as Social Media is meant to be really simple to use :))

In our summary SnapChat is for those with time on their hands and a wish to share pretty pointless content with their SnapChat world and why not.

We will continue to use it for the time being - we have trips it will be cool to create stories for but it's limitations won't be making it a favourite App any time soon!

We may be alone though:
Snapchat has shown remarkable growth. From its debut in September of 2011 to today, the service has amassed 100 million users. In June of this year, its users sent 200 million photos per day. By September, two years after launch, friends were sending each other 350 million photos per day.  (http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/11/what-is-snapchat/281551/)

We'll leave you with this: