The Color Run™ and Me

It’s been a busy last few weeks and I fear that I have been burning the candles at both ends. Is it perhaps the time of year? The disgusting UK humidity (we gothic-types do not do well in Summer and heat)? Work has been pretty full on and I haven’t had much time to rest on my weekends… Case and point being last Sunday (4 September), in which I took part in The Color Run™ Presented By Skittles. This is a 5K run in which participants turn up at the starting line in a plain-white T and get splattered with coloured paint powder every 1km. I was invited along by some of my work colleagues a mere three weeks before the event took place at the London O2 on the Greenwich Peninsula, and I did fear for a little while that I had taken total leave of my senses for the following reasons:

  1. I didn’t think I could run 5km without training.
  2. Despite knowing this, I still didn’t train because I am a masochist.
  3. I hate wearing colour. My aesthetic is somewhat gothic, it’s just not my thing, OK?
  4. More than wearing colour, possibly more than anything else… I hate mess!

Well, as it turns out, I actually can run 5km — albiet very slowly — and being spattered in colour and mess is actually a lot of fun! OK, so my hands did feel all grimy and gross as my sweat mixed with the powder and became poster paint, but I did shower immediately as soon as I got home and it was one of the best showers I’ve ever taken, so it was worth it.

the-color-run

The Color Run™, founded in the USA, host a number of 5K running events across 60 different countries. The next UK event is taking place in Brighton on Saturday 17 September with more to follow, so if you get the chance, head on over to their website and see if there’s a run coming up soon near you. Speaking as someone who by no means runs long-distance on a regular basis, anyone — and I mean anyone — can take part in this event. I saw kids about a third of my height taking part, and there was even someone just doing the whole thing in a motorised wheelchair. It’s not a race, it’s just a bit of fun for a good cause!

Money was raised from the event towards the official charity sponsor, the NSPCC. I also set up a Just Giving Page to raise a bit of extra money for them, so if you are feeling charitable, please do consider donating either by pressing the Just Giving button on the right-hand side of this screen, or by clicking here.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


Visit The Color Run™ official websites to sign up to an event near you:

http://thecolorrun.com/ – USA (main website, with links to other countries)
http://thecolorrun.co.uk/ – UK

NSPCC’s website:

https://www.nspcc.org.uk/

My Just Giving page:

www.justgiving.com/seemerunincolour

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A Few Things to be Excited About!

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 22.44.50
Highlights from the beautiful Vatican City, Italy, including Michaelangelo’s Pièta, the Swiss guard and the simply gorgeous artwork in St Peter’s Basilica, all of which is mosaic.

I have just returned from my holiday – a rather swanky trip around Europe on the biggest cruiseship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, with my  lovely boyfriend Mark and my cruise-addicted parents. We set sail from Barcelona, stopping in Parma, Marseilles, La Spezia, Rome and Naples. It was bloody hot and extremely expensive, however there was much history to observe and lots of antiquity and culture to immerse ourselves in. My day on the Imperial Rome tour with Mark was without a doubt the best day, visiting such major sites as St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.

Alas however, the holiday is now over (which is probably for the best because Mark and I were spending a fortune…) and I am now back at home with my wee beasties Petra and Edgar, whom my writing partner, K.F. Goodacre has been looking after in my absence. I have to admit, it is very nice to be home! It’s just such a shame that my holiday can’t go on a little longer.

This also now means that I can crack back on with my Camp NaNoWriMo project, which I have extended by a week to make up for the time I lost whilst on holiday. Wish me luck! K.F. Goodacre promised to write me a torture scene if I meet my word goal.

In addition to looking after my cats and house, K.F. Goodacre also went to the Young Adult Lit Con (YALC) on Saturday and waited in line to meet Derek Landy for 50 minutes just to get my first-edition hardback of Skulduggery Pleasant and a flyer for #SPX signed by the man himself! Isn’t she wonderful? Thank you so much, Kimothy!

Finally, more exciting news, Epica’s new track ‘Universal Death Squad’ dropped on Friday and pre-orders have been opened for their upcoming album The Holographic Principledue to be released 30 September later this year!

Of course I immediately downloaded the song as soon as I got home, listened and then treated myself to this baby:

Screen Shot 2016-07-31 at 23.08.58
THP Deluxe Boxet Bundle

First impressions of the song so far is that the instrumentals sound great. There is a stunning piano bit right in the middle that just blows my mind, with some stirring choir pieces and a real orchestra at last ♥ Initially I felt that Simone’s vocal melodies were quite weak, but after watching the full lyric video I’ve decided that they fit. Literally, the song is about a draconic takeover by a technologically advanced robotic race, however knowing Epica this undoubtedly has a double-meaning. Cyber and drone warfare? The internet of things? The zombifying effects of political apathy? Watch and listen below and decide for yourself:

And now, if you don’t mind, it’s been a very long day, I’ve been up since 4:30am GMT time, and I am absolutely knackered. Time for me to get some sleep so that I awake fresh and eager for a new working week tomorrow.

Goodnight and take care,

S.E. Berrow


For pics of my cruise around Europe, please feel free to visit my Instagram. See such wonderful things as a Whirling Dervish, molecular gastronomy, badly-assembled balloon animals and perfectly preserved porn from a Pompeii brothel:

https://www.instagram.com/sallyella79/

For more information about Derek Lady and #spx, visit Derek’s blog:

http://dereklandy.blogspot.co.uk/

For more information about Epica, please visit their website:

http://www.epica.nl/

Gothic Adventures in Nottingham

I can’t believe this was over a month ago now, but I wanted to talk about how I spent much of the Easter weekend in Nottingham with my good friends Beth and Mandy. Beth and Mandy are both still at university doing their History PhDs (poor things) so we were looking to celebrate the end of term in style! We did this by attending an Amorphis gig at the Rescue Rooms on Good Friday, visiting the Kitty Café on Saturday, and then checking out The Pit and The Pendulum pub on Easter Sunday.


Amorphis

We had briefly seen Amorphis support Nightwish at Wembley Arena, 19 December 2015, however back then we had only managed to catch the tail-end of their setlist, much to Beth and Mandy’s disappointment. It was good to see them play a full gig of their own this time. Though I have been known to blast a bit of ‘Bad Blood’ upon occasion, I am not particularly au fait with Amorphis’ stuff and due to some train issues (i.e. it never showed up) we also missed both support acts, so I didn’t feel qualified to write a full gig review. What I did see and experience however was quite good, though not especially distinctive or exciting. Amorphis have a very steady, rhythmic sound that blends death and prog metal with folklore-based lyrics, specifically taking inspiration from the Kalevala; the Epic Poem of their home-country, Finland. Whilst I had a lot of fun and it was by no means a bad show, I feel as though I may as well have gone home and put one of their albums on. They were technically very good, but the sound and performance were very rote; not dramatic enough for my personal tastes. I did manage to dig up a copy of their setlist for the night though, so if they sound like your bag check out the below. I recommend ‘Bad Blood’ and ‘Death Of A King’, both of which were gig highlights:

Amorphis1. Under The Red Cloud
2. Sacrifice
3. Bad Blood
4. Sky Is Mine
5. The Wanderer
6. On Rich And Poor
7. Drowned Maid
8. Dark Path
9. The Four Wise Ones
10. Silent Waters
11. My Kantele
12. Hopeless Days
13. House Of Sleep

Encore:

14. Death of a King
15. Silver Bride
16. The Smoke

 

Amorphis, Nottingham, Rescue Rooms

Verdict: 3/5


Kitty Café

The following day, we all had a bit of headbanger’s neck, so we took it easy in the morning, mainlining episodes of How To Make A Murderer on Netflix before making our way into town for the thing I’d been looking forward to most about my visit… lunch at the The Kitty Café!

Kitty Café

Cat cafés, for those who don’t know, are places that serve up food and drink – often of the high tea variety – to customers whilst they are surrounded by adorable rescue cats, all of which are up for adoption. The concept originated in Japan – because all things cute, crazy and a little bit genius start there – and since then, they’ve begun to spring up all over the place.

Kitty Café - catsObviously, if you’re planning on visiting a cat café, make sure they’re reputable and put the health and well-being of the cats first (I’ve read some real horror stories). In keeping with this, the Kitty Café in Nottingham has strict rules about what will and will not be tolerated during your stay. It was very clean environment with a calm, relaxed atmosphere, and the cats were all very contented. A £5 donation fee was charged upon entrance (£3 for concessions), and then the food and drink was all very reasonably priced inside. I had a pot of tea to myself, with an absolutely enormous tuna and caramelised onion melt topped off with an indulgent slice of banoffee pie. It was absolutely delicious! On our way out I also bought a branded teacup and a cute cat scarf as souvenirs, the proceeds of which go towards the welfare of kitties.

The only downside of our visit was that due to the place being so completely booked up, we only had a time limit of one hour to enjoy ourselves. Still, it was more than enough time to eat our food and we had an absolutely lovely time. I cannot recommend it enough! ♥


The Pit and the Pendulum

The Pit and the PendulumLast on our list of must-see places to visit whilst in Nottingham was the Victorian-style Eerie pub, The Pit and the Pendulum.

We went here for lunch on the Easter Sunday, shortly before Mandy and I departed by train to our respective home towns. Considering that we had positively gorged ourselves on take-away pizzas and oily curries already that weekend, I’m not sure any of us were in the mood for a greasy pub lunch… Nevertheless, the pilgrimage had to be made! Named after a short story about dread and torment by horror writer Edgar Allan Poe, The Pit and the Pendulum is a gothic themed pub run by alternative members of staff decorated in the style of a torture chamber. As well as stone walls, heavy gothic tables and chairs and artwork paying homage to Poe all over the walls, there is an actual pit with a great bladed pendulum hanging from the ceiling in the spiral stairwell.

PendulumIf I am honest, the food in here was not that great. I had a fish finger sandwich and it was pretty dry and dire. However, it was lunchtime on an Easter Sunday – the town was completely dead – so the kitchen probably resented us being there at all. I have been well assured by Beth that the place really comes alive at night, and they specialise in gothic club nights and a couple of drinking challenges called The 7 Deadly Sins and The 7 Contrary Virtues (you get a T-shirt for completing them). A return visit is definitely on the menu!

Many thanks to Beth and Mandy for a wonderful Easter weekend. I had so much fun and hope to do something equally as awesome soon.

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


For more information on the locations that we visited, please visit the below links:

http://www.rescuerooms.com/
https://kittycafe.co.uk/
http://www.eerie-pubs.co.uk/pit-pendulum

Amorphis’ official website:

http://www.amorphis.net/

Fancy a listen? Check out these officially-released videos from their latest album, Under The Red Cloud:

‘Sacrifice’: https://youtu.be/oiOX2axSWvg
‘Death Of A King’: https://youtu.be/Kc-gEds3eTM
‘The Four Wise Ones’: https://youtu.be/nkqj4vbwdIw

All photos included in this blog were taken by me, except the photos of Amorphis which were taken from the band’s official Facebook page.

Happy International Women’s Day!

I love you all. Thank you for being such an inspiration to me and for making me who I am today! ♥

Take care,

S.E. Berrow

 


These women are (clockwise in each block):

  • Alissa White-Gluz of The Agonist(ex)/Arch Enemy
  • Anette Olzon, extremely stylish, fiercely feminine ex-Nightwish singer
  • Emilie Autumn, classical/industrial/metal violinist
  • Meg White, childlike drummer of the White Stripes and all-round awesome badass
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider extraordinaire and groundbreaking gaming heroine
  • J.K. Rowling, writer of the Harry Potter series
  • Melora Creager,founder, singer and lead cellist of baroque-rock band Rasputina and quirky historian of awesome women
  • Mummykins ♥
  • Simone Simons of Epica, fashion blogger and unashamedly beautiful metal goddess
  • Tarja Turunen, ex-Nightwish singer and amazing classically-trained solo artist in her own right
  • Robin Hobb, author of the Realm of the Elderlings epic fantasy series

Belated Birthday Blogging

How I Spend Money|Sarah Andersen
‘How I Spend Money’ by Sarah Andersen. Or, an unintentional biography of my life.

Last Tuesday marked the 27th anniversary of my birth. Having thrown a party for the last few years or so, this year I didn’t really feel like arranging anything, so just went for a nice breakfast at Bill’s with my boyfriend, the pair of us having booked the day off of work. I had blueberry pancakes with fruit, bacon and maple syrup and it was absolutely delicious. After that I dragged Mark to Waterstone’s, and somehow wound up with 6 new books to read and enjoy c/o Mark’s never-ending generosity and my own inability to control my spending. I actually think I own more unread books than read ones. This is either a very good thing, or a very bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

Seeing as Mark had his weekly game of football, I then spent the evening with my best friend Cassie, cooking cheesy veggie risotto and watching Season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race (my latest guilty pleasure). Cassie was also kind enough to deliver a beautiful handmade present from both herself and Kim (K.F. Goodacre): my actual wand from the Harry Potter universe.

Slytherin Pride
Slytherin Pride

Does anyone remember Pottermore? Ah, Pottermore… Everyone got so excited when it was first announced. Like many others of the ‘Harry Potter generation’, I signed up to be a Beta tester as soon as I could and was fortunate enough to be granted (very) early access. There’s some cool stuff on there, like extra little writing and character titbits uploaded every now and then by JK Rowling. Ultimately however, after I was sorted into my house, it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The interactive book explorations, although beautifully illustrated, were simplistic and lacking in true content, plus the only book available was about two thirds of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The galleons system was pointless, because once you’d bought all your books, there wasn’t anything else you could buy except for a new cauldron that cut your potion brewing times in half. Potions-brewing was of course the only way you could earn House Points, along with spell casting which was extremely difficult and required another participant. Also, whilst you were able to adopt a pet (I adopted a black cat of course), you were not able to give it a name or anything fun like that. I’ve been led to understand it’s undergone a bit of an overhaul recently with a new version of the Sorting Hat quiz and a Patronus test coming soon, but I don’t think I’ll be going back there in a hurry.

Two really cool things did come out of Pottermore though. I got sorted into the Noble House of Slytherin – which came as a surprise to precisely no one – and I was assigned a wand:

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 21.16.01

According to JK Rowling, laurel wood and Unicorn hair are both difficult to turn to the Dark Arts, which is a bit annoying what with me being a Slytherin and destined to conquer the world and everything.

Back to my present, Cassie and Kim had the above wand made for me to the precise specification of laurel wood carved into a 14 1/4″ long wand, and it came with an apologetic letter from Ollivanders wrapped up in a Slytherin-green ribbon. It’s absolutely gorgeous, and has a little skull on top of it! This was meant not only to reflect my obsession with skulls, momento mori and general all-round gothiness, but also as a nod to one of my fictional characters, James Harding, who walks around with a cane that has a skull on the top containing his soul:

An excerpt from the letter:

I remember every wand I’ve ever created, but to my (perhaps prideful) embarrassment, yours was not carved by my hand. In June 1977, a work experience student by name of Severus Snape – whom I remember listening to banshee-like, wailing muggle music and wearing only black – made eight gothic designs out of my most expensive laurel. They were all very well-made to his credit, but distasteful to many of my customers (or their parents) at the time. I altered most of the designs to make them more conventional, but each time I tried with yours I got an unpleasant zap! I hope you are not put off by the carving. The wand seems proud of it.

Genius. It’s like, the most metal wand ever and I love it.

Thank you Cassie and Kim for buying my wand for me, and to Mark for spoiling me rotten on the day! Oh, and thank you Mr Garrick Ollivander of course for sending me the wand, and the late Severus Snape for carving it for me. Mr Rickman. R.I.P. ♥

Take care,

S.E. Berrow


If you wish to be sorted into your own Hogwarts house, head on over to Pottermore, and find more information about J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series at the below official websites:

https://www.pottermore.com/
http://www.jkrowling.com/
http://www.harrypotter.bloomsbury.com/uk/

Waterstone's display

2015: Year In Review

This is a ‘thing’ I do every year amongst my friends. As www.seberrow.com went live for the first time this year, I thought it only appropriate to share it with you here as well!

1. Album that surpassed all others:

Haven by Kamelot

Haven

An amazing follow-up to the compariatively mediocre Silverthorn, Haven is Kamelot’s second album featuring their new singer Tommy Karevik after Roy Khan (one of the greatest ever symphonic metal vocalists) was sadly forced to depart in 2011 due to mental health issues. Making full use of Tommy’s capacity for vocal acrobatics, Haven is a masterclass in songwriting that quickly rose to become one of my favourite albums ever, let alone the year.

Favourite tracks: ‘Insomnia’, ‘Citizen Zero’, ‘Veil of Elysium’, ‘Here’s To The Fall’

2. Most missed artists:

Emilie Autumn… come back to the music world, please, my love! Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival was not a thing that happened in my country, sadly.

Emilie Autumn The Devil's Carnival

3. Album that really surprised me:

Unknown by Rasputina, because it appeared out of frikkin’ nowhere and also deals with some extremely heavy personal stuff, which Rasputina never do. Also, for some reason, Melora sent me a second copy that I didn’t order, so it really did quite literally surprise me.

Unknown Rasputina

Favourite tracks: ‘Unicorn Horn Mounted’, ‘Sensed’, ‘Unknown’

4. Person I would most like to have tea with:

This ugly mug ♥

Mark

5. The things I’ve completely had enough of:

Being so Goddamned housepoor. I hope 2016 will be a bit easier in this respect as I’ve really struggled this year.

6. The thing I wish I had bought myself but didn’t:

It’s been a really expensive year this year buying things like vacuum cleaners, washing machines, fridges and whatnot, so there hasn’t really been anything I haven’t bought that I wanted or needed. I guess I wish I hadn’t bought quite so much chocolate for myself!

7. Page-turner:

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

The Miniaturist cover

Brilliant book. Click here to read my 5/5 star review.

8. Album that stirred my soul:

Technically this album was released late last year (2014) but I only started listening to it in the first week of January 2015.

Black Widow by In This Moment

Black Widow In This Moment

The album just has such a huge, massive sound and Maria Brink’s entirely unique screaming-in-pitch vocal style hits such a primal core within me. It’s such a cathartic album about empowerment and standing up for and being yourself.

Favourite tracks: ‘Sex Metal Barbie’,’Big Bad Wolf’, ‘Sick Like Me’, ‘Bloody Creature Poster Girl’

9. Album that made me smile:

King of Kings by Leaves’ Eyes

King of Kings

It made me smile because it’s so frikkin’ good. Click here to read my review.

Favourite tracks: ‘King of Kings’, ‘Vengeance Venom’, ‘Blazing Waters’ (the latter has grown on me so much since I wrote that review, as I suspected it would!)

10. Most stylish person:

Emilie Autumn has got to be my winner this year for the uncharacteristically simple and positively gorgeous outfit she wore on the red carpet for the Alleluia! The Devil’s Carnival premiere. I mean… look. Just look.

Emilie Autumn red carpet

Gorgeous.

11. Best ‘thing’:

My flat – which I moved into at the very beginning of the year – even if it has made me so very very poor (see above).

12. Favourite visual feast:

Starz’ TV series of Outlander!

Outlander Starz

13. Best fictional character since Sirius Black:

Jamie Fraser, brought to life by the incredible Sam Heughan in the TV series of Outlander. He was totally snubbed for a Golden Globe nomination this year after his powerful performance alongside Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe (both nominated and rightfully so) in the heartbreaking Season finale, ‘To Ransom A Man’s Soul’.

Jamie Fraser

14. Coolest rock star:

Alissa White-Gluz of Arch Enemy fame (previously The Agonist) wins for the second year in a row for me. She absolutely smashed it at the Nightwish concert the other week (Arch Enemy were their support… I still need to write a review on this!). She is so unbelievably athletic on stage, plus she featured twice on Kamelot’s Haven as well (see above); it was good to hear her clean vocals again. Raise your horns for Alissa White-Gluz!

Alissa White-Gluz

15. Best gig:

Kamelot at the O2 Academy, Islington (14 March).

Kamelot O2 Academy

So. SO. GOOD.

16. Most special moment:

Moving into my new flat, and also being invited to my friends Rachel and Greg’s wedding. It meant a lot to be invited and to have such a lovely time, after everything we’ve been through over the last decade. Thank you so much, Guys ♥ You’re beautiful together!

Rachel and Greg

17. Song of the year:

‘Insomnia’ by Kamelot

“When the night begins to fall, I hear a thousand voices call, chasing my insanity like a fly on the wall.”

18. Biggest achievement

Winning first place in a clay-pigeon shooting contest amongst seasoned shooters despite never before having shot a gun in my life!

19. Biggest regret

Je ne regrette rien.

20. New Year’s Resolutions

1. Lose a stone in weight (damn you, Christmas!)
2. Sort out finances so I’m not so incredibly housepoor every month
3. Successfully partake in Christmas 2016 i.e. actually send people Christmas cards and buy proper gifts for everyone to say thank you for their kindness and generosity in the Christmas just gone
4. Decorate my flat

Bonus! Instagram’s #2015Best Nine:

Instagram Best Nine

Happy New Year!

 

S.E. Berrow


 

For more information on items or people mentioned in this post, please click the below links.

Music:

http://www.kamelot.com/
http://www.emilieautumn.com/
http://meloracreager.space/
http://www.inthismomentofficial.com/
http://www.leaveseyes.de/

Books:

http://www.jessieburton.co.uk/
http://www.dianagabaldon.com/

Film & TV:

http://thedevilscarnival.com/
http://www.starz.com/originals/outlander/


 

Note: The original ‘Year In Review’ structure and the vast majority of my questions were shamelessly stolen from a MySpace blog post written by the inimitable Darren Hayes many years ago. So old is it that I’m not even sure the post exists anymore (I can’t find it regardless)! You can find out more about Darren Hayes and his wonderful effervescent self here:

http://darrenhayes.com/

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me…

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 20.47.07A very Merry belated Christmas to you all! I hope you had a simply marvellous time, ate lots of food, drank lots of yummy wine/brandy/liqueurs and gave and received lots of wonderful gifts! Considering that I banned Christmas amongst my friends and family this year (everyone except my boyfriend) due to my being house-poor and unable to afford presents for so many people, I was rather spoiled in return. I really hope things will be different next year so that I can say thank you to everyone for your kindness and generosity over this festive period! Especially to Mark’s family who took me in for the second year in a row on Christmas Day, cooked me turkey and consoled me in the annual absence of my parents, who prefer to spend Christmas in the Caribbean rather than back at home (I can’t think for the life of me imagine why…).

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 21.26.54
My colouring so far of Geillis Duncan from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander

Amongst the gifts I did receive, there was a decided theme going on… BOOKS! I received so many books and book-related things that I am just in book-lovers Heaven right now! From my boyfriend alone, I received:

  • Outlander: Season One (Collector’s Edition) on Blu-Ray DVD (based on one of my favourite book series of the same name by Diana Gabaldon)
  • Hardback edition of The Art of Tim Burton
  • Hardback edition of The Napkin Art of Tim Burton
  • Fallout 4 Vault Dwellers Survival Guide (Collector’s Edition)
  • A skull-shaped USB hub
  • Guylian chocolates
  • Chocolate coins

Best of all, he also bought me a Reading Year from Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights!!! I am so excited about this gift, I cannot tell you… You’ll just have to read all about it for yourself here! I simply cannot wait for my first book to arrive… ahhhhhhh! ♥

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… I love you, Sweetiepie! I’m so grateful to have you in my life x

Snowmen love Erin Nicole Photography
Photo by Erin Nicole Photography

I also received some delicious East India Trading Company teas, some lovely gothic jewellery, an Outlander colouring book, colouring pencils, chocolate, socks, a new outfit (black of course), an old-fashioned globe and stag-design coat-hook for my study, Waterstone’s vouchers, more chocolate and monies.

So as I said… spoiled. Totally and utterly spoiled.

Tomorrow is the final day of 2015 and I plan to spend it chillaxing with my cats and all my lovely new books. If you guys are going out to celebrate, remember to stay safe and have a very Happy New Year!

Take care,

S.E. Berrow