Dundee Literary Festival 2016 – Review

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When I was a little girl, it’s fair to say that I didn’t exactly fit in. I was rubbish at sports, useless at computer games and I wasn’t really the outdoorsy, go out and ride on your bicycle kind of girl. The only thing that I ever really wanted to do was just sit down and read. In front of the fire with a cat on my lap was always the best case scenario, but you know what, it didn’t really matter where I read, as long as I had a book in my hand I was happy.

It took me until adulthood to realise that being bookish was my kind of my “thing”. Perhaps I even rebelled a little against the label, because let’s face it, reading isn’t the most sociable of hobbies…

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Outer Edges with Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack, hosted by Stuart Kelly

Except sometimes it is! Once a year, when the autumn leaves start to fall, being a book geek like me is actually an extremely sociable thing to be – thanks to Dundee Literary Festival.

Now in its 10th year, the festival is THE place to be in October if you love reading. With a schedule packed full of book events for every taste right in the centre of Dundee, the event is every literature lover’s dream.

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First Writes with Shelley Day and Sandra Ireland hosted by Zoe Venditozzi

A few weeks back I attended the five day festival, fitting in as many events as I possibly could. You could say that the range of events I attended was pretty eclectic!- From A Rock & Roll Roald Dahl Party with Scots writer Matthew Fitt and Outer Edges with non fiction writers Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack to Haunting Afterlives – an event examining the work of Shirley Jackson and Josephine Tey – the subject matters were pretty diverse but I got something out of them all.

Attending debut author events with the wonderful Sandra Ireland, Shelley Day and Martin Cathcart Froden was a real highlight, especially to an aspiring novelist like me. As was seeing more established authors such as James Kelman, the only Scottish author to ever win The Booker Prize, read with such passion.

But for me, the best thing about Dundee Literary Festival is the sense of community that it has. It’s a fabulously warm and engaging event, full of friendly faces who all share the same love and passion for reading.

So thank you Dundee Literary Festival! Thank you for making me feel part of the best bookish gang in Scotland! I’m already counting down the days until next year!

Dundee Literary Festival is run by Literary Dundee as part of Dundee University. For more information, visit their website: http://www.literarydundee.co.uk/

Photographs by Bob McDevitt

Discovery Film Festival at DCA – Review

discovery-film-festivalLast Saturday my family and I headed along to the Discovery Film Festival at Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) with my family in tow for a bit of a cultural morning! I’d heard great things about the festival over the years and decided it was high time that we went along to experience it for ourselves!

Scotland’s international film festival for young audiences is aimed at kids of all ages with collections aimed at wee ones, middle ones as well as films chosen for a teenage audience. With my own little audience ranging from 4 to 7, we decided to attend both shorts for wee ones and shorts for middle ones, so that we could pack in as much culture into the morning as possible!

Having sat through both the shorts for wee ones and shorts for middle ones with my own little critics, I can tell you that both collections are just amazing and I’d thoroughly recommend watching them. Some of them had all four of us hooting with laughter while others had us oohing and ahhing in our seats whilst considering the true meaning of love and friendship. My favourite film from the shorts for middle ones collection, Rice Balls, even had this 37 year old critic moved to “happy” tears!

Both collections lasted around an hour and held our attention throughout. For me, the best part of the experience was knowing that my kids had been exposed to new ideas and different cultures from around the world – and you know what – they loved it!

The Discovery Film Festival at DCA runs until the 6th of November. For more information and to book tickets, visit: www.dca.org.uk

I Love Dundee Literary Festival!

lit-dundeeHip, hip, hooray! My favourite book event is back!

Now in it’s 10th year, the Dundee Literary Festival features the best writers in the world – and all in my sunny home city of Dundee! With a eclectic range of events for children through to adults, the festival is a wonderful place for any bookish person to while away the hours.

Three days into the five day event and I’ve already seen a stunning range of writers from debut novelists Sandra Ireland and Shelley Day right through to James Kelman – the only Scottish author to win the booker prize!

I’ve got loads more lined up over the weekend too including a Rock & Roll Roald Dahl Party with Matthew Fitt, Haunting Afterlives – an event examining the work of Shirley Jackson and Josephine Tey, Crime Through Time with Sue Lawrence and Martin Cathcart Froden and Outer Edges featuring writers Amy Liptrot and Malachy Tallack!

You could say that I’m going to have a pretty busy literary weekend!

I’ll be reporting back on my book fest experience next week, but if you’d like to join in on all the bookish fun before then, visit the Dundee Literary Festival website to book tickets! You’ll be glad that you did!

 

 

 

Dragon Matrix, Monikie Country Park – Review

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If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…especially if it’s Monikie Country Park in Angus that you visit! You see there is something lurking there, deep inside the forest, and we’re not talking about anything as tame as teddy bears! Oh no! We’re talking about terrible trolls, wicked witches and deadly dragons, and they’re all waiting in the dark to greet you…

Yep, you’ve guessed it! Vision Mechanics are back again with another brand new augmented reality theatre show for families, and no one could be more chuffed than me and my over enthusiastic seven year old!

After completing Dragon Quest last year and receiving our first special dragon protection badges, we’ve been counting down the days until we could get back inside those woods to complete Dragon Matrix! The fact that Dragon Matrix is going to be on my big girl’s absolute favourite programme, Blue Peter, next week, only added to the excitement! We (okay then I!) just wish we could have timed our visit better, so that we could have carried out our dragon protecting alongside BP’s Barney (who may or may not be very easy on the eye)….screenshot25

With the sad absence of Barney, we decided to bring along another few comrades to help us out instead, including our very own brave four year old girl warrior and Granny 5 star (another story for another day!) who is most excellent at holding little hands in the dark.

As we set out on our mission, it was clear that this year’s event, which includes actors, real life props, spectacular lighting and special effects, was even bigger and better than last year! The Dragon Matrix app has also been improved and features more interactive features, adding some extra menace and magic to the enchanting experience.

wp_20161012_19_01_55_proWhile some small children might find the notion of walking around in a forest at night a bit daunting, the Dragon Matrix always stays at the right side of scary, and my four year old warrior had a spectacularly good time, as did the rest of us dragon protectors!

Clever, bewitching and scarily good fun – the Dragon Matrix is a must see event for the whole family.

The Dragon Matrix is at Monike Country Park until Monday the 31st of October. For more information and to book tickets, visit: http://dragonmatrix.org.uk

Chinese State Circus, Caird Hall, Dundee – Review

chindragonsI’ve been to quite a few circuses in my time, most of them featuring big drafty tents with sawdust on the floor and clowns that weren’t really all that funny, but as long as they were animal free, I enjoyed them all the same for the sake of tradition.  So I when I heard that the Chinese State Circus was visiting Dundee’s Caird Hall this week, I was curious to see how it would compare to the colourful seaside affairs that I was used to. Naturally The Caird Hall with its lovely comfy seats and central heating had its own plus points, but how would the Chinese State Circus fare against the run of the mill circuses that I was used to? Pretty damn well I’m happy to report!

My first observation was just how bloody glamourous the whole affair was. The stage was continually filled with dramatic dragons, beautiful acrobats wearing delicate gowns and fearsome martial art warriors who ripping the floor up with their slick moves. There were thrills aplenty with death defying acts and humour too provided by the Chinese State Circus’s very own cheeky monkey clown, whose mischievous antics had the audience chuckling along happily.

But the biggest difference I noted was the sheer level of skill that the performers displayed. It didn’t matter whether they were jumping through tiny spaces in the air, juggling umbrellas with their feet or contorting their bodies into weird and wonderful shapes – they looked graceful throughout, making the whole thing look incredibly easy!

The final act of the show was prime example of performers amazing abilities. Some might say that the Chinese State Circus’s jaw dropping bicycle act, which sees the performers balancing on top of each other while circling the small stage on bicycles, was just plain showing off! The only thing that I said while watching it was “please, please for the love of God, don’t fall off the stage….” I’m very happy to report that they did not!

The Chinese State Circus is currently touring the UK. For further information about the circus and to book tickets, visit: http://chinesestatecircus.com