Places: Paradice Gelateria, Harbourne High Street

I’ve never done a review of a place before so this is interesting!

One evening, J and Q were discussing a nice place to go eat ice cream when I realised that I, too, also had free time to go try some of this good stuff! So off we went.

Paradice Gelateria on Harbourne High Street is about 10-15 minutes away from Birmingham city centre by bus, using the 22, 23, or 24 routes which all go along this road. The Gelateria is right next to one of the bus stops. It was my first time visiting this area and I saw about ten charity shops just walking along afterwards with Q and J, so I’ve put it on my to-do list to visit again to have a look at all the shops! I really love charity shops.

Anyway, Paradice has really lovely decor with off whites, mint greens and chocolate coloured decor. It’s also well lit without a dark corner in sight, as it has large window-walls on both sides of the shop. There’s a kids play area in the corner if you are bringing little ones, and if you are not, the kids are the only things breaking the quiet vibe there.

It has an extensive menu with a variety of things to eat. Of course the highlight is the gelato, but they also serve it with crepes and waffles, and they also offer other hot desserts and savoury crepes too.

I chose to have a warm Belgian Waffle with mango sauce and a scoop of their Ferrero Rocher ice cream… And it looked amazing. I was a bit worried that mango and chocolate would be a strange combo but honestly the mango sauce adds so much bright colour and is fruity to taste, too. If I were not in public I would have licked the plate clean.

Q chose to have two desserts for lunch, an apple cinnamon tart and some warm cookie dough, whilst J chose to have scoops of gelato – Ferrero Rocher and Cappuchino being her choices. I admit I was tempted by coffee-flavoured ice cream too because I always am, but wanted to try something new.

 

Those chairs! 

 

Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at Paradice and I’d love to visit again to try the cookie dough, apple tart or fondant – there’s also the selection of gelato to get through too…

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

X

Workshop with Penguin Random House!

Hi everyone!

So, as I’m typing, I’ve been home for a few hours now and I’m currently chowing down my Penguin-branded M&Ms and rearranging my haul of freebies (I love you, Penguin <3) to take some ‘instagrammable’ photos. It’s as much a word as ‘discoverability’.

Penguin Random House held a workshop ‘Job Hack’ day for people to learn about the publishing process, bust a few myths and show us how they stay relevant to current consumers through new, innovative ideas towards storytelling. I got the promotional email through my school – the first of many that get sent out to my year group that I was actually interested in! I am very grateful to be one of the 30 people chosen to take part.

It was an 18+ event (but not explicit or anything, not to worry…) and I think I might have been one of the youngest people there, having just finished my A-Level exams whilst others were in university or already graduated. A number of people were also students or former students of English Language/Literature but the fact that I was hoping to study Psychology didn’t seem too much out of place.

There’s something about being an adult that makes human bingo less intimidating. Human bingo was our icebreaker of the day, and it’s when you have a grid of facts which you have to fill with the names of the people you meet as you quickly socialise. I’d done this before two years ago at a college induction day and that was super awkward because no one seemed to want to talk to complete strangers, but here it was more comfortable.

From a host of awesome people currently working at Penguin, we then heard all about the publishing process and how a book goes from manuscript to retail bookshelf – which was just what I’d been hoping to find out about! We also had to think of creative blurbs for unusual audiences and fresh campaigns to promote cool books. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any of the prizes up for grabs but it was a lot of fun and challenging to do.

(That’s me in the denim blue top!)
By ‘fresh campaigns’ in the tweet they mean marketing Pride and Prejudice to a male reader who likes discovering ‘new’ authors, or marketing Assassins’ Creed to a middle aged woman. This was hard but it provoked us into thinking about these stories from different angles to suit different kinds of readers.

In between activities, we chatted about each other, how we all got really confused trying to find the building and, of course, Pokemon Go! The cool HR guy, Neil, saw us and made an interesting face… then tweeted about it.

(In my defence: the wifi was free, there’s a Pokestop across the road and I caught a Krabby.)

I really liked the presentation on how the publishing industry is staying relevant today. Everything is going digital, so Penguin is now competing not just with other publishers, but companies like the BBC, and Apple in curating digital content. They create apps and websites for new releases or special days, or just to raise awareness of a story, such as games based on Roald Dahl’s ‘The Twits’. They also have a special budget for experimenting and innovating on new storytelling projects (such as Strata, linked here) that aren’t just another e-book.

You might be a person that is tired of seeing ‘YouTubers’ everywhere these days (or can’t imagine how Zoella broke records with what seems like a sappy teen romance) but vlogging is new – and so is putting it in a story. It’s also not unheard of to publish a book by a person with an already huge established audience, and is actually tactically sound, right? Such people also tend to be active online to promote their new releases – Dan and Phil, for example, popped up in presentations today (and I might have been the only Phangirl on my table, and I would love to read their book. Which I haven’t. Yet). They do live shows streamed online, they did a tour to promote the book worldwide, and they filmed a book release trailer for their YouTube channels and ‘behind the scenes’ videos. There’s a lot of possibilities there, and publishers need to make use of social media channels and technology to get ahead of the game.

At the end of the session, we were told to help ourselves to the freebies. I got a bag, a notebook, a pen, and five great titles to bless my reading list. They offered us a pile of books and told us to help ourselves; I may have stood holding my haul for a moment, a little overwhelmed with emotion and internally squealing. I’ve not had spending money for books in a while so I hadn’t read any of the titles before, and I may well just lock myself in my room for a few days to read them.

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Penguin. Branded. M&Ms. 🍫#prhjobhack

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Today’s Job Hack was the first of its kind, and it was amazing. I would really recommend this experience if this gets rolled out in a city closer to you. Penguin RH Careers did a great job on putting this together and their passion for publishing and its many divisions shone through.

This experience has certainly inspired me and sparked lots of new excitement. I attended the session not as someone who was considering it as an career path (although it does sound very appealing now!) but as a writer who would hopefully be sending in the manuscripts one day that would go through that publishing process. It’s given me more motivation to work on and develop the very many projects I have, to build up my social media ‘brand’ and bring back the writing side blog that I foolishly abandoned last year right after starting it. It has been newly renamed Swan Sentences and is undergoing a bit of a reboot – stay tuned!

Here’s to more of the super-cool projects from Penguin that I will now definitely be keeping an eye out for!

Until next time, when I may have stopped gushing about the free books,

X

P.S. Afterwards, a group of us went for a Poke-walk around the city centre. When someone calls out ‘Stop! There’s a Squirtle!’ You stop. You must stop. It was the first time I’d been in the city centre since PokeGo came out and wow, it’s a lot busier!

P.S.S. I wrote a short tale for SONG’s Citadel and you should totally check out what we wrote.

Inktober Weekly Round Up #1: Days 1-10

I may have mentioned in passing that I’m taking part in Inktober 2015, which is a social media hashtag project thing in which artists everywhere draw an ink piece once a day. This could be a doodle or a huge thing depending on time constraints, and in biro, india ink, pen or brush, whatever, but pencil is outlawed unless it’s for the outlining/under-sketch-thing. Ink is a very bold and versatile medium and definitely requires its own set of skills that I need to work on.

Even if you don’t have instagram, search up #inktober2015 wherever you can hashtag things, because some of the works people so are absolutely stunning. It’s a good way to find amazing inkers for inspiration.

Anyways, this weekly round up is really late as I did run behind on the drawings themselves…

If there’s anything I have learnt so far, it’s that I don’t have a specific style. I can draw chibi figures and semi-realistic faces, and my ‘style’ takes a lot of influence from the large variety of manga out there. Basically, my definition of manga drawing has broadened as I’ve read through series like Assassination Classroom (close, but with a sort of twist that makes it different) and Claymore, both having a manga feel but definitely not the style you are likely to see almost everywhere. Now my drawing style kind of reflects that variety.

Speaking of which, there’s an Anime Club at my school now, and we watched the first episode of Ouran High School Host Club. I love the manga series, and the anime, whilst it doesn’t quite follow the same plot, is just as entertaining. I haven’t watched the anime since possibly two years ago, so watching it with my friends was a new experience. As in, I almost choked on my lunch because I was so excited! A surprising number of people came to the club and filled the classroom, and although it was a teeny bit chatty (but we all shushed each other), everyone else laughed at the right places and.. it was fun. We’ll probably be regulars now.

Until next time,

X

Time flies when most of the lighting in the museum is artificial.

Surprisingly, AT had never been to the local museum and art gallery before, so RZ and I took her out for the afternoon (although once we got there she seemed to have flashbacks of primary school trips).

As always, minus the selfies, there are surplus photos that I can safely share with you, this being a semi-anonymous blog and all… (Most of these are from AT, apart from the last one which is mine. RZ’s photos were 99.9% selfies, the not-selfie still had our faces in it… Soz, RZ. Much love <3)

First, browsing the modern museum that is… Selfridges’ ground floor. It’s a lot of fun just browsing all of the overpriced gimmicks.

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Look! Crocheted Egg Animals! Why!?

Then, the actual Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. In an old post I briefly mentioned my last visit a few months ago, but going with friends was much more fun. Plus, this time around we had considerably more time to browse.

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An Old Map.
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They did tell us to make our own faces…
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Hey look- a semi-anon photo of me, blurred and from the side. Clearly, I ‘dressed’ up for today…
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I captioned this one. Ever so slightly ashamed.
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The jewelry, pottery and porcelain display room.

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AT, very interested over there. She seems really at home with the historical stuff- I honestly can’t believe she’s [maybe] only visited once!
And with that, I don’t have much left to say, other than that I’m sure we only looked at one floor of the museum and the Whitehall Museum was closed… so we should do this all over again sometime!

X

Fiesta-Worthy Food

Last Saturday, some family friends came around to hang out with my parents. They left us with our Sunday evening sorted – eating out together. I’ve finally gotten the photos and things together in one place, so this post can finally go up!

The eight of us went to Fiesta Del Asado, an Argentine restaurant in Edgbaston, Birmingham. Here is their menu.
They gave us a plate of bread, vinegary olive oil and slightly spicy olives to make the wait more bearable. My brother, who hates olives, liked their olives. They were really nice olives.

My parents were mostly there for the steaks and ordered a Bife de Costilla (the largest steak) to share, but Dad cooks enough steaks at home that I knew that I wasn’t going to order it. Mom did give me a piece to try, though, and I liked it.

Bife de Costilla
Bife de Costilla

Instead, I ordered an Esternado de Ternera: cubed brisket braised for 12 hours in a malbec and salchicon sauce, served with crisp potato and corn. Reading that off the menu, I ordered on the basis of what I knew – ‘cubed brisket braised’.

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Esternado de Ternera

It looked like a bowl of beef stew.
It was potentially the best beef stew I’d ever had. The meat is really tender and goes really well with the sauce. If it weren’t for the fact that I was at a restaurant I would’ve licked the bowls and plates clean.

The desserts…

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Homemade Honey Ice Cream.

The last scoop of ice cream ended up being shared out between by siblings because it was quite rich – enough for two scoops, but having a third gave me an unsettled feeling. However, it is amazing ice cream – you know I love home-made ice creams!

Churros with a bit of Heavy Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce.
Churros with a bit of Heavy Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce.

I mostly took photos of food (using Mom’s new phone, because the camera on it is amazing!!) , but I look back and wish that I’d taken more of the decor. Their serving plates are really nice too…

The staff that served us were really helpful – they know their dishes inside out, made sure to check our allergy requirements and cleared any potentially-offending dishes with my sister before they made her food, as she has a mild nut allergy.
Also, any dropped cutlery was replaced really quickly. I thought that was nice of them. At most places I’ve been to, the staff never notice. It’s like that time when I got excited over lime in tap water.

To round off this post, a photo of the fries which get a special mention for being surprisingly, mindblowingly, amazing. The potato had a strange sweetness that was perfectly balanced with the general savoury flavour of… fries. (I’m sure I was going somewhere with that sentence.)
We ordered five bowls to share among ourselves, but we should’ve ordered more!

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*drool*

Chips, glorious chips…

X