Thursday, 23 April 2015

The General Election: Arts and Culture

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you probably know there's an election looming and the battle for Number 10 is ON. People say this is the most unpredictable election of our times, with another coalition almost certain.

There's been TV debates, interviews and social media campaigns covering the usual 'big' issues: the NHS, the economy and the deficit, immigration, unemployment, the housing crisis. All these have been discussed at length and I think it's pretty clear where each party stands on each issue.

However, I don't think funding for arts and culture has been brought up at all. For people in the arts and culture sector or the creative industries, or even people who enjoy going to the theatre and having access to a free library - where the parties stand on the arts may be the deciding factor when May 7th rolls around.

It's been a dismal few years for the arts in the UK, with companies losing funding, theatres closing and the level of competition for jobs in the industry soaring. Everyone is hoping that this can be reversed in the next government, especially as the current one keep going on about much money they have saved and how the economy is booming thanks to them. (Raised eyebrow).

So the Arts Council have helped us out here, by scanning all the major parties' manifestos and pulling out the important bits when it comes to commitments and spending for arts and culture. Looks like the Greens are the only party willing to increase arts funding, and they also want to give local authorities powers to support local performances. Ed Miliband has also pledged to put the arts "at the heart" of a Labour government, by setting up a special committee which he will chair himself. Read up on all the political parties and their summaries here. 

So who will you be voting for? J x

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Restaurant Review: Fazenda, Spinningfields

Last night Rik and I had a Saturday night off together (a rare occurrence) and so decided to head into town and try out one of the many new restaurants in Spinningfields.  We were spoilt for choice with so many amazing eateries in the area, but we decided on the rodizio style restaurant Fazenda - mainly due to our love of meat!

Rik refusing a beard-on photo

I have to say I'm at a loss for words at this place. When seated we were explained how it all worked, with the carvers continuously coming to your table with fresh cuts of meat until you turned your card over to red for a break. We were quite greedy so we were mostly on green to be honest! I have a never ending stomach so an all you can eat situation like this is pretty dangerous for me!

On to the actual meats - they were out of this world. All the beef/steak cuts were cooked to juicy medium rare perfection (although they will take requests if you prefer it a different way). I never expected to be eating large chunks of fillet steak on tap, or trying chicken hearts which are a Brazilian delicacy. The staff who came to the table to carve the meat were also extremely friendly and really made an effort to make you feel at ease and answer any questions about the meats being served.

With so much attention paid to the rotating meats, you'd be forgiven in thinking that the sides would be somewhat lacking in variety or quality. But yet again Fazenda performed better than expected, with skin-on fries being delivered to the table and an all-you-can-eat salad, rice, bread and vegetable bar to accompany the main event.

We couldn't sample the desserts as of course - we had stuffed our faces too much - but for those who intend to leave room the menu looked lovely. Fazenda gets five stars from me for the food, the service and the value for money. We'll be back!
Manchester is becoming an incredible dining destination - does anyone have any suggestions where we could try for our next date night? J x
**As always I haven't been sponsored or offered any freebies for this post, all views are my own and impartial**

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Cheering My Way to Croatia!

So recently I've found myself accidentally in a cheerleading squad. Yes, it just kind of happened! Although I'm a dancer it's very different from cheerleading, and I can safely say I've never really had an interest in it. But one of my friends runs a squad nearby, and he asked me to stand in for someone on his Masters team for a competition at the start of the year.

Always eager to stay active and try something new, I said of course I would help my friend out. Although I was a bit apprehensive - naturally I thought it would be full of people looking like this and being bitches of the year, Bring It On style.

But guess what? It wasn't! As I was part of the Masters team, that meant it's the over 25's team, so most of us have grown out of bitching. In fact I'm the youngest person in the squad - most of the women are in their 40s or older, so it's not your typical intimidating cheer squad :) The routine is really fun, and we competed at Manchester Velodrome in March.

We won 1st place and so did my friend's Senior Team in their category - winners all round for Fever Elite. So here comes the really exciting news...I'm going to Croatia!!

As we qualified in the UK Championships, both teams now get a chance to compete in the European Championships, which this year are being held in Zadar, Croatia. The Masters team have been incredibly lucky to get fully sponsored - which means a free trip to Croatia for us in June. I'm so lucky, and fingers crossed we bring home that trophy too!

However, the Fever Elite Seniors - who are really the main, younger cheerleaders who are extremely talented and deserve this chance - they have not yet been sponsored. The costs associated with this trip are huge, even though the competition is only for a weekend. Flights to Zadar are expensive and hard to find, and the accommodation is also pricey as it is in peak season and at the same time as Hideout Festival. (Which, by the way, I really wanted to attend after the comp but there's no way I can afford it and no one will come with me!)

So anyway, the cost of getting the Senior team is going to be huge so we're in the process of organising fundraising events to try and make sure all the girls can go. Here is the Go Fund Me page if you'd like to help out: 

Fever Elite seniors in action at UKCA Competition
But I am so excited for this amazing opportunity. I've always wanted to go to Croatia, and now I can add it to my list! I'll post all the photos on here of course and keep you updated.