Lifestyle

Home For The Summer

Is this a less-flamboyant parody of Demi Levato’s banging odyssey of sexual discovery ‘Cool For The Summer?’ Not quite.

As I am writing this, the time on the clock chimes 6 pm.  Today has been overflowing with productivity, a staggering number of sugary mugs of tea and a good talking to by my boyfriend.  I am upset about my weight (again) but that is a different story and I bought a ticket to see The Cribs in December earlier, so, all in all, I am pretty darn okay.

As you might be able to tell from the title of this blog post, I have been home, home for the past four weeks.  Home is my beautiful lil’ flat in Castlefield, Manchester, however home, home is basically my bed in rural Northumberland.  I needed a serious break from Manchester and I was so fortunate enough to be allowed it from work, so home, home is where I am at right now.

Sometimes, I allow things to get on top of me.  Piled up so high, the weight of the world crushes my bones and I find it difficult to breathe untainted sighs of relief.  The final straw of this year in Manchester – leading to me trekking up to the real north – came from the aftermath of a night out, when I looked at myself in the mirror and questioned who I even was anymore.  I had no idea what had come over me but I had relapsed into somebody I once was.  I had put everything (and I mean everything) on the line for something which lasted a short spell of time and caused a lot more bad than it ever will good.  Spur-of-the-moment bad decisions that I do not regret, but just wish had not have happened under the circumstances.  Unfortunately, I will always have the wound, but my momma’s Sunday roast has definitely has cured the pain.

I have done enough tarot card readings to know that the six of swords frequently tells me “do not run away from your problems” however, running away has possibly been the best thing I have bloody done all year.  I have regained myself, rekindled my passion for productivity and put on a few extra pounds with all the food I have been eating.  I am extremely happy and beyond content, gaining a little bit of weight around my middle is not a huge price to pay is it?

Like everything, I totally take where I live for granted.  Seriously, the view outside of my bedroom window is insane.  If you follow me on Instagram (@ellalascott) you would have seen it more times than none over the past few weeks.  There is nothing better than waking up on a Tuesday morning, bright and breezy to hear and see sheep being driven down my road by quad bikes and collie dogs. The bleats and the stamping of hooves remind me that I am not in Kansas (Manchester) anymore.

People talk about going on holiday to the countryside for “fresh air” and I honestly never got my head around the idea.  Duh, there is air everywhere, what makes the countryside’s so fresh and so great wah wah wah?  Yeah so basically long story short I am now one of those people who tell e v e r y o n e how great the air is up here!! Does this mean I am old? (say it is not so!)

Since being home, I have been spending a copious amount of time in the hills with my big woofer as well as writing constantly.  I have also been on a night out in the town of Alnwick (if you are thinking about it, don’t), been for food at the most a-m-a-z-i-n-g restaurant in Newcastle Upon-Tyne – The Earl of Pitt Street – spent some quality time with my mom and am 100% ready to get stuck into round 3 of Manchester.

Everything is finally coming up, Millhouse

ELS X

Food · Manchester

Just one Solita, give it to me

Roll up, roll up – get your puns out and your buns out, get that water running from your mouth and dig into a meal that will leave you lusting for an age, at Northern Quarter’s own, high-profile burger palace, Solita Bar and Grill.

If you like the idea of a pulled pork sundae, fancy a taste of authentic fairground fried onions and think that Coney Island mustard mayo-drenched burgers could be your thing then seriously, look no further than this established heart-attack hotel.

The perfect date night location, pit-stop for a quick sup or a dive-in for a spontaneous grub night with your nearest and dearest, Solita has people in mind and caters for the masses.  On quiet nights, you will be able to find yourself nestled on high stools upstairs in an intimate restaurant setting.  On evenings where it seems the whole of Manchester has dressed themselves up to the nine’s and swooped to Solita however, the mammoth downstairs seating area opens, meaning there is always somewhere to sit and tuck into Charcoal Grilled Seafood Skewers or a Hallou Me? Burger.

The menu itself is ridiculously vast.  There’s US Grain-Fed Flat Iron Steak from The Inka Grill, the likes of Sea Bass Fillets and Salmon, four innovative 10 inch hot dogs to choose from, an extensive list of beef, buttermilk fried chicken or fish burgers to boot and enough listed sides (such as Charcoal grilled corn on the cob and Smoked brisket chilli) to have you coming back to Solita forever.  You will never have to eat anywhere else ever again, just work your way through this stunning menu.

The choice of Cigarette Sounds on a fine Tuesday evening (yeah, we got the high chairs in the window, we don’t want to boast or anything…) came firstly in the form of Solita Nachos (£5.50) and Cheeseburger spring rolls (£6.75).  Demolished so quickly we couldn’t even get photographic evidence, both starters were made to the utmost standard.  Both ridiculously tasty with intense flavours coursing through, we couldn’t recommend either of these two appetisers more.  The Solita Nachos are corn tortilla chips sprinkled with a helping of cheese with dollops of guac, salsa and sour cream, served with hotter-than-hell jalapeños while the cheeseburger spring rolls… Well, you can probably guess what those might be.  Both of these were washed down by two (!!) gigantic Aperol Spritz by myself (it was a Tuesday, alright?) and a couple of 4.2% ‘Solitabrau’ house pilsner for my boyfriend.

Playing it safe with the main courses, burgers were chosen.  The menu lists twenty staples however, all beef burgers can be doubled-up (£2.90), swapped for buttermilk fried chicken (£2.50) or a chicken burger can be added (£4.90) making your delectable Solita main course one for the history books, and probably the most food you have consumed in an age.

One-half of the table was decorated with an oven bottom roll, stuffed with thick, succulent black pudding and pastrami – topped with lashings of Coney Island mustard mayo and melted cheese.  Better known as the Manc-Hattan (£11.50), this ludicrously delicious treat was definitely right up our street.  The other, the KFB (£11.90), seen a classic burger bun being chock-filled with melted Monterey Jack cheese, smoky BBQ sauce and ‘Kentucky Fried Bacon.  This was then altered (nothing is ever easy where I am concerned) to substitute the beef patty for buttermilk fried chicken, rising the grand total to £14.40.  In the words of Babybird, “because you’re gorgeous/I’d do anything for you”.

As if we had not ordered enough food already, we went for the mammoth 3 X bacon-rapped onion rings (£3.90) and a bowl of the house coleslaw (£1.50).  The onion rings were ridiculously dense, leaving us to take them home for a late-night snack, and the coleslaw itself was a standard creamy slaw, nothing too fussy yet nothing to write home about either.  Next time the Mac N Cheese (£3.00) and Salt Baked New Potatoes (£2.90) is definitely on the cards to enter our stomachs.

Brilliant food with a fantastic atmosphere, there really is nowhere in Manchester serving up killer burgers like Solita. Other than the remaining Solita sites, of course. Every bite transports you to heaven and you know that the hype is real.  Now  I have a raging ambition to work my way through the cocktail list and munch on some chicken wings!

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Food · Manchester

Veggie Indian goodness with Bundobust

Can you believe the last time I posted about food; glorious restaurant food was in April? That means a lengthy four months ago was the last time I documented what edible things I was putting in my mouth.  It seems I have had some time off extenuating my waistline… E Scott, who have you become?

Today I am chaat-ing (get it, get it) all things vegetarian with Bundobust.  If you know it then you LOVE it, if you don’t love it then you don’t know it well enough. The restaurant – which has made lists such as the ‘Top 25 Vegetarian Restaurants’, ‘Best Casual Indian Restaurants in the UK’ and the ’20 burgers you need to eat before you die’ – literally sits in a basement on Piccadilly around the corner from the infamous Northern Quarter.  If you haven’t waltzed down the basement steps and plonked yourselves at one of the long tables then what have you been doing, Manchester? Continue reading “Veggie Indian goodness with Bundobust”

Music

Preview: The Libertines & Blackwaters | Live From Times Square 2017

The kings of the 00’s, The Libertines, do not need a recap of their legacy nor do they need to be presented in a false, glittering light of fantasised praise in order to sell some show tickets. Even though the enthusiasm surrounding their ‘return’ is beginning to curb, and ticket holders are slowly segregating themselves as the ones who haven’t travelled for a live glimpse of the boys in the band – if you put them on, the fans will buy their way in, they will hound the bar staff for more beer and there will be a showcase of unruly jiving under the stars.

In only its second season, the Live From Times Square gigs already have a cumbersome reputation surrounding them. This time around, Leftfield and Manchester darlings, James, have been seen ploughing through Newcastle upon-tynes city centre.  Following in their wake is the purveyors of havoc, The Libertines, the Manic Street Preachers – who have the mighty Cribs as a support act – and also a special performance from Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds.

So, even though the Libs performing the likes of ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’, ‘Gunga Din’ and ‘Time For Heroes’, is enough to get anybody staggering down to Times Square; SSD Concerts have gone one step further in securing an evening to remember.  Welcome to the bill: Maximo Park, Blackwaters and The Pale White.

Maximo Park

Not a man, not a machine, just your friendly neighbourhood band whose roots are still firmly planted in the cutthroat industry of music, seventeen years after they were sown.  They are a group you could see a platoon swarming too, at perhaps a Glastonbury main stage, yet are still – and probably always will be – Maximo Park from Newcastle, who continues to cut their teeth at The Cluny.  The veterans are somewhat Geordie heroes (remember how many times they managed to play Evolution Festival?) and a slot at Times Square is almost a humble homecoming.

Unlike The Libertines, who have been around for three years longer in length, Maximo Park has never called a hiatus on their project.  Expect scintillating energy from burly men when ‘Apply Some Pressure’ blasts, and prepare yourself for an electrifying assault on your perception of Maximo Park – the boys are back in town and they still have the same glint in their eyes.

Blackwaters

The pioneers in this ‘Jarr’ed up Generation’, Blackwaters, make their return to Newcastle, fresh faced from a triumphant summer season which has included Isle of Wight Festival and the ever-challenging conditions of Y NOT Festival… No bill is too intense and no crowd is safe from the savage wrath of Blackwaters’ heated punk-revival noise.  Whether this is to be your first slice of Blackwaters or your fifth riding the hazy wave; the This Feeling favourites will undoubtedly manage to suspend you in a place of sheer fear.  Keep your eyes peeled and your wits about you as Blackwaters are warming up for a murder party, and you are the next victim of the following.

The Pale White

A developing adoration for The Pale White is sprawling out across the country in a vivacious manner.  The home grown three-piece have found themselves plonked on a tour with only Readings’ Amazons later this year, allowing them to prove their weight in gold even before they begin.  Set to first and foremost open the stage for The Libertines in Times Square, what can we really expect from The Pale White?  Compelling vigour and an arousing show of dark and stormy indie rock, and that is just for starters.  The main course will see dramatised guitar riffs bouncing from the front of the pit to the back of the crowd, causing a serious stir and a resonating idea of “hey, these guys are actually areet” popping into bubbles above heads.  Ding, ding, ding – light bulb moment.

So, as you see it isn’t all about The Libertines (we are totally lying, it so is) there are a handful of bands on this bill who you can sure to expect to be in the same position in a blue moons time.  Prepare to be blown away by the sheer strength of this line-up.  We will be seeing you soon.

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Travel

A Lazy Jaunt to Madrid 2017

When I think about the beautiful country of Spain I imagine four things: the sun, sea food, sangria and the sea. However, for once, I decided to swap my idea of a perfect, lazy holiday – which always includes lounging on the beach with a mojito resting in my palm and downing buckets of sangria on a harbour front – for something a little bit… different.  I and Matty, my boyfriend, decided to travel to the inland Spanish capital of Madrid during a convenient June heat wave and my, my, my; I was falling head-over-heels in love with the sublime city of Madrid from the moment I stepped foot in it.

Madrid hasn’t ever really been a place on my dream travel list (which includes the likes of Budapest, Prague and Santorini) but with flights and accommodation on the cheap and mine and Matty’s anniversary popping its head out of the sand, I thought it was the perfect place for a mid-year getaway.  Spanish sun on a budget: let’s go Madrid, baby!

Unfortunately, Manchester airport doesn’t fly out to Madrid (or it does and I was looking in the sky) so I copped two return tickets from Liverpool John Lennon airport.  However, in no time at all, we were smooching around at dusk, in the stunning city of Madrid, picking up keys from our host to our own little slice of heaven.

The Airbnb I booked in Madrid was centred in the lively area of La Latina.  Literally around the corner from The Royal Palace Of Madrid and slap-bang in the middle of shops, restaurants, cafes, food markets and a wicked underground system which could get you anywhere you needed to be. We really could not have picked a better area to have our first – and definitely not our last – experience of Madrid.  If you are thinking of a holiday to Madrid, this place is your first port-of-call for digs.

I physically get sad every time I see photographs of our little home-away-from-home now, it was that phenomenal.  Everything was immaculate and white (or at least it was before we wreaked havoc) with an extensive amount of room to breathe.  The flat featured two floors in case I and Matty needed a time-out from each other too, or if we just didn’t want to share a bathroom for awhile. If I could live in it forever I would. (Not the toilet, I mean the flat.)

I love the concept of Airbnb.  I think it is a lot more personal than staying in a hotel and way more special – you do not have to wake up at a certain time and hike yourself down to breakfast with bleary eyes and awful hair, nor do you have to bide your time at the front desk for forty minutes while an angry man shouts at the lovely receptionist, while you try to catch her eye and smile sympathetically.

Your own home, your own rules and nobody is going to disturb you or come in your room awkwardly and unexpectedly. I just absolutely love the freedom.

While in Madrid, we managed to get ourselves into a morning routine – when we weren’t being lazy/hungover of course.

Head to Lidl (even in Madrid it was the most affordable supermarket) for fruits of the forest, ham & cheese and then hop on over to the most amazing bakery/café called Panishop. Woweeee: I died and had gone to pastry heaven.  A gigantic selection of bread adorned the walls behind the counter, pretzels and sweet pasty mountains decorated cabinets and I just couldn’t get my mitts off those Pain au chocolat.  My mouth is watering just thinking about them now!

After a scrumptious breakfast, we headed out into the world of Madrid.  As I previously mentioned there was a heat wave.  Not just any heat wave, apparently the hottest one in forty years I was told by a passing Spanish man.  Forty-five degree days in the sun, spent with a beer and my boyfriend? It is like this city was made for a sun and booze worshipper like me!

One of the more exciting foody joints we visited was the Mercado de San Miguel.  Situated just outside of Plaza Mayor (a square similar to that of Barcelona’s La Ramblas yet not as fancy, schmancy) the indoor market left you with eyes the size of dinner plates and opened the pit of your stomach to counter-serviced tapas, glasses of bubbly, gigantic pans brimming with black paella and fresh fruit smoothies which could give the markets of Barcelona a serious run for their money.  Hello food baby, how you doin’?

While in Madrid, we only dined at two actual restaurants worthy of a mention: TOGA and Cappuccino Grand Café Madrid.

The latter is a Spanish chain of elegant restaurants, specialising in coffee (you would never have guessed from its name) and cocktails while boasting some of the friendliest and most helpful staff I came across in Madrid.  Situated close to the Retiro underground tube stop, the outside area is shaded, warm and far enough away from bustling pedestrians – allowing the perfect setting to sip on an Aperol Spritz, munch on a club sandwich and watch the world go by.  I seriously could not recommend this place enough to anybody thinking about a lunchtime jaunt in the capital of Spain.

For more information or to just check out that killer cocktail menu, click here.

Now, moving on to the star event, let’s have a chat about TOGA. Pause your reading, grab a cuppa.  Got one?  Good, now let us begin.

Once upon a time, I and Matty had a sneaky-peek on Tripadvisor and this place called TOGA popped up in the top ten restaurants in the whole of Madrid.  To make it even more lustful, it happened to be a five-minute ramble up the road from our pretty home.  Winner, winner, I didn’t really care where I was going; I was just ready for a pint.  Little did I know, however, I was about to have the best dining experience of probably my whole entire life.  Yes, I’m being dramatic.  No, I am not going to apologise.

Hidden away in a back alley of La Latina, from the outside looking in you wouldn’t believe this tiny taverna-looking restaurant was anything special. White washed walls, more gin stacked behind the bar then you could dream of, concrete floors and a handful of tables made TOGA look inviting, but it didn’t immediately have that ‘wow’ factor.

In retrospect, the minimalistic look of TOGA is probably why I was so blown away by my experience there.  You’re greeted with friendly expectations at the door and you believe TOGA to be… nice.  However, nice doesn’t really cut it, try the phrase sublimely divine. The idea you have formed of TOGA from the onset is blown out of the water by eager waiting staff, which were quick to recommend beers and dishes which would be complemented by affordable wines, as well as the food itself.

For starters, I opted for a fresh goat’s cheese and spinach brochette which was succulently creamy with the melt-in-the-mouth texture one can only dream of. Can you really describe the taste of goat’s cheese to be anything other than ‘goaty’.  If you can, let me know because this wordsmith is struggling.  For the main cour, e I opted for a baby squid risotto.  I have no words of description leaping to my fingertips at this moment in time but seriously, it was the best thing I have ever eaten.  Hands down, MY GOD what a meal!  We were treated like kings and queens.  Seriously TOGA, you have my heart forever, thank you.  Squid will never be the same again!

So… Can you tell this trip was totally food based?  You went for cocktails too, Ella?  To a place that didn’t serve food? Well, why didn’t you say?

Situated in the Justicia ward of Madrid – named after the Ministry of Justice – is a hidden cocktail bar called Del Diego, which comes alive in the night-time.  A pamphlet listing over one hundred cocktails was humbly placed before us before we dived into some mai-tai’s and some kooky names of drinks we had never even heard of before.  If you are looking for a classy, late night place to get your drunk on – then Del Diego is where your heart is guiding you.

When we weren’t eating and weren’t drinking (which was pretty much never) we spent most of our time mooching around the gigantic Retiro Park.  Since Madrid is inland, this was my version of the beach. As you can see from the photographs below the park had the most amazing lake, which allowed you to hire rowing boats for 45 minutes. Easily one of the more fun things we did in Madrid.

On Matty’s behalf, we also decided to jump on the tube and head to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – the home of Real Madrid. The real-deal for any football fan, the grandeur of the stadium was unmatched by anything I have ever seen before.  You cannot go to the stadium without mentioning the sheer amount of silver sitting in that trophy room too. If you get the chance to go, it was slightly pricey but well-worth the time spent.

Like all good things, Madrid came to an end.  Not before I bagged my now-prized possession from Berksha though!  How beautiful is this bright yellow biker jacket?  How long will it be until everybody on the bloody planet has the same jacket? Stay tuned.

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Music

Gaffa Tape Sandy | ‘Beehive’

Honestly, have you heard a better band name currently circulating the indie music blogs of the internet or darting off the tongues of music moguls, then Gaffa Tape Sandy?

Their name is as cutthroat as their sound and their sound is as rough and gruff as you can imagine a band named Gaffa Tape Sandy would be.

They are a three-piece from Bury Saint Edmunds in Suffolk but their American twang, their jangly garage riffs, and overall still-wet-behind-the-ears DIY atmosphere screams the big-time.  Say your goodbyes to Suffolk guys, the renowned venues in the big smoke and those across the pond are howling your name.

To introduce you into the boisterous world of Gaffa Tape Sandy, BBC Introducing has kindly recorded an electrifying live version of the bands’ track ‘Beehive’, from that little festival down South called Glastonbury.

If you are sold on a band live then you don’t even need to hear them recorded.  Side-splitting vocal harmonies contrasting against each other create a sense of chemistry on stage.  The classic lead guitar, bass, and drums combination have been molded to sound like a collective, rather than solo attributes adding to the band.

Taking these two elements of Gaffa Tape Sandy allows you an insight into what they sound like.  Not who they are, not what they do, not what they are interested in: what they sound like.  They breathe life into the idea of being a band – not three solo artists up on stage together. They are the brash Gaffa Tape Sandy, not just three friends who thought it would be cool to make a band in 2015.

You sense this detailed idea immediately in the introduction to ‘Beehive’.  The drummer timely chimes the symbol, the bass player follows the lead guitar and the lead guitar lends itself to the drummer to keep time. The track is then enhanced by the lead singers vocal, another layer to this well-oiled machine.  The foundations are set and sturdy. 48 seconds in we see the cogs of Gaffa Tape Sandy spin: the raucous noise takes over and we immerse ourselves in this pleasurable experience.  We burst with excitement.

‘Beehive’ is set to be Gaffa Tape Sandy’s next single.  What this means is that ears of the world are about to be flung open and this three-piece are about to have an almighty boost. Catch them now while you still can.

Listen to ‘Beehive’ below.

Ella Scott
@ellalascott

Music

Repetitive Rhythms: Songs of the week (3-9 July)

Mahalia – Sober

Has eighteen-year-old Mahalia perhaps just soundtracked the feeling of coming to terms with not being in love? In a whirlwind of hate-fuelled snapshots of women rising above toxic relationships and calling time on negativity, Mahalia is a breath of fresh air for those of us who just need to come to terms with a situation of change.

Honey-suckle vocals cocktail with a cool slice of 90’s R&B, bringing Mahalia into the foreground of 2017.  The retro track plays like a slightly warped record; the fuzziness combines with the crisp, harmonising vocal to make a seriously sweet, modern ode to a bittersweet epiphany. An updated break-up track everybody needs in their artillery, we are tipsy on Mahalia’s radiating tone of realisation.  We cannot help but aspire to deal with our troubles the way Mahalia does so passionately.

Maddy Storm – Tempest

Anybody who rises above the odds and expectations of BIMM (British Institute of Modern Music) is a golden ticket in my book.  However, ethereal songstress, Maddy Storm might just be the leader of the starry-eyed pack.  Her brand-new single, ‘Tempest’ is a nothing less than a power ballad, used to form the ideology that Storm’s voice reigns supreme, and is far beyond its years.  Guitar riffs with a gothic edge and the mysterious – what sounds like – synth creeping in the background pale next to Storm’s resounding vocal.  If you ever needed a voice, you have bloody got one now.

Storm’s ‘Tempest’ is released on July 14, with a special launch night planned at Jimmy’s MCR on the 15.

Liam Gallagher – Chinatown

If LG keeps releasing mega tunes at this rate, he is going to be featured on Repetitive Rhythms every week.  We at Cigarette Sounds are definitely not sorry. ‘Chinatown’ is the official second single to be taken from his imminent solo record As You Were.  Although the abstract lyrics are raising eyebrows (“Well the cops are taking over/while everyone’s in Yoga”) and the simplicity of the guitar lines can be brought to our attention; we can’t help to appreciate ‘Chinatown’ as one of LG’s softest, heartfelt tracks we have heard to date.  Can we believe that the voice is back?  No.  Will we ever stop banging on about it? Probably not.

The Roov – Dreams

There is no sweeter feeling than pride swelling in your chest from seeing that band you are head-over-heels in love with rising from rock bottom to the tip-top of any festival bill.  Believe in the unsigned, because ultimately they are the future of music.  An untainted four-piece with a twinge of DMA’s in their vocal chords, The Roov, have recently put out their debut single, ‘Dreams’.

Poking at the idea that they could perhaps be your unsigned claim-to-fame, ‘Dreams’ is the ultimate jangly ode to progressive rock.  Seriously 70’s-influenced percussion makes up the body of ‘Dreams’, perfectly paired with the 90’s style vocal of gruff frontman, Frankie Ralph.  A song dripping with era trends is an excellent showcase to what The Roov is about – now to square up and swim in their own current.  Cigarette Sounds will be keeping their eyes peeled.

Ella Scott
@ellalascott