Category Archives: Katie Reviews

Katie Reviews: Paradise Island Adventure Golf

Happy New Year! I hope everyone has had a great festive season! I’m back in Newcastle after a little break at home where I was able to check out the new Paradise Island Adventure Golf in Cheshire Oaks. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Cheshire Oaks and, if I’m being honest, my main memories of it involves being dragged round M&S whilst being bribed with the promise of a Pizza Hut buffet. However, the course is located in a building that used to be home to an awful, sticky nightclub, so it’s an improvement already. There are two 18 hole courses to choose from. I chose the one with the least children on, that happened to be underwater themed, complete with a plastic shark head. You work your way through the ocean and find yourself in the jungle of a desert island. The other course transports you to a Moroccan Bazaar full of exotic fruits, carpets and lanterns. The decoration was fun and interesting and was a nice addition to the actual golfing experience.
They describe the courses as a “rollercoaster ride” which I think was a bit of an exaggeration, for me at least, but I can imagine children loving the adventure aspect. I was a little disappointed at the lack of windmills and clowns on the course but I feel like I may have a very stereotypical idea of mini golf. At the end of the course is a 19th hole which gives you one shot at winning a free game by getting a hole in one, which was a nice little addition. Despite the harsh reality of losing the game to my boyfriend (I hate losing) I still had a great time. The staff were really friendly and they even had a loyalty card to earn yourself a free game. I’d definitely recommend a visit to anyone, especially those with kids as it was a nice alternative to the other activities on offer at Cheshire Oaks. Shopping and the cinema is becoming a little tired.

Katie x

Katie Reviews: Swig Flasks

It’s December and we all know what December really means…getting inappropriately drunk with people you’d never normally consider socialising with. And what could make the plethora of office parties, family gatherings and awkward encounters even better? Your own personal hip flask to cut down your wait at the bar and minimise the need to converse with others. SWIG Flasks have a great range of luxury, high quality flask to make you, or your loved ones feel like royalty whilst behaving appallingly. After the initial excitement of getting drunk and calling it work, I realised that reviewing what is essentially a smuggling device would be a pretty challenging. However, if you read this blog often, you’ll notice a theme, and this instance is no different. I was wrong. This isn’t just a standard hip flask. I never thought something that could get you so drunk could look so beautiful. The packaging really makes you feel as though you have something impressive in your hands. Not only do you get a display case with a ribbon and a cushion that looks like it was made from a Viscount’s best cravat, each flask has it’s own personal serial number which grants you access to the very exclusive SWIG Club. With this, you can grab a free screw top, worth £7 as well as an invite to an annual SWIG party, although I don’t know what silly company would stock the bar for such an event.

Photo by Swig Flasks

As I first started using the flask I thought it would go one of two ways. I’d never find a need for it, or I’d become a borderline alcoholic. Neither of which happened. Most students use hip flasks to smuggle alcohol into clubs but as that type of person who couldn’t steal a pen from an office without getting caught, I didn’t think this was for me. Also, SWIG Flask are way too classy for such archaic behaviour. Instead, I took it to house parties and gatherings and felt damn fancy whilst doing so. An alternative use I found was to transport squash to various events so I could make my water more bearable to drink throughout the day. Probably not what the creators were aiming for, but it made my day more enjoyable.

Even if hip flasks aren’t really your thing, they’re perfect for Christmas presents. Ever since the flask arrived, my boyfriend has been eyeing it up. The website offers options for engraving as well as various covers so you can personalise your flask, making it suitable for all your gift-giving needs. Unfortunately for Pete though, I’m keeping mine for myself.This probably isn’t one for your average student as I’m sure a £6 flask emblazoned with “It’s water I promise” is just as likely to get you smashed on a Wednesday night. However, it’s perfect for those who enjoy the finer things in life. Especially someone who loves telling others about how much they enjoy the finer things in life. Even if you don’t like alcohol, your squash will never taste better.

Katie x

Katie Reviews: Bill Ryder Jones @ The Cluny

You will have heard of Bill Ryder-Jones. You just might not know it yet. Don’t worry though, even Bill Ryder-Jones isn’t convinced that you know who he is. Despite being on his third solo album, the poster for his UK tour still proudly states Bill Ryder-Jones (The Coral) as a pleasant reminder of his teenage talents.

I often saw Bill Ryder-Jones in my favourite café in my home town of West Kirby, the same town that inspired his latest album. I’ve always looked up to him as a reassurance that a kid from this unknown place can make it big (and by “make it big”, I mean “become friends with Alex Turner”). However, despite close geographical ties and a few mutual friends, I had never experienced his music live until now.

Bill-Ryder-Jones

It was quite surreal for me to see Ryder-Jones take his place on the stage of The Cluny in front of one of the most complicated sets of loop pedals I’d ever seen. This wasn’t a man who’s living the high life with a myriad of famous pals. This was a guy who just wanted to make music away from the pressure of the limelight. Dressed in clothes he realistically could have bought during his days in The Coral, with a beer in hand, he looked as though he belonged on the intimate stage in front of a dedicated and passionate group of people, connecting with them, rather than in a huge arena.

I was worried that Ryder-Jones’s haunting melancholy was not going to go down well in my sleep deprived state, however, his music and subtle stage presence were captivating. The set featured a mix of old and new as well as a band-free segment showcasing his dulcet vocals on songs including imaginatively named ‘Put It Down Before You Break It’, while crowd favourite ‘Two to Birkenhead’ upped the tempo and had people slightly shuffling their feet, with about as much vigour as you could reasonably expect during such a laid back track.

Ryder-Jones

Ryder-Jones plays with the effortless skill of someone who grew up with a guitar in his hands, something which is definitely true considering he joined The Coral at the tender age of 13 as somewhat of a child prodigy. It was blindingly obvious that his confidence lies in instrumental music as you saw him get lost in himself every time the lyrics paused. His closing number, ‘Satellites’ showcased his compositing skills perfectly with an extended instrumental section that blew the audience away. He looked almost disappointed to have to return to singing, however his lyrics, personal and powerful, resonated with the enchanted crowd.

I’m disappointed it’s taken me so long to see Bill Ryder-Jones play live and even more disappointed that I did so around 200 miles away from the town that shaped both of our lives, however, it was well worth the wait.

Katie x

Written for NE:MM

Photos by Matt Flynn

Katie Reviews: West Kirby County Primary – Bill Ryder Jones

Bill Ryder Jones. Picture: Matt Thomas
Picture: Matt Thomas

Bill Ryder Jones lives a double life. You may not have heard his name but you will definitely have heard his music. He’s received a Mercury Prize nomination with The Coral and spends his free time drinking pints with Alex Turner (or at least that’s how I like to imagine their friendship). He lives so close to the spotlight, even lending Arctic Monkeys his writing skills from time to time, yet always choosing to remain in the shadows. So much so that he still remains in his hometown of West Kirby, on The Wirral, which lies just across the Mersey from all the glamour and musical history of Liverpool. This scenic peninsula where he was raised is the inspiration for his third solo album, ‘West Kirby County Primary’, which was written and recorded in his childhood bedroom. However, it feels almost as though this place is more than just a lyrical muse for Ryder Jones; it’s a perfect reflection of his impressive yet understated career.

As a whole, ‘West Kirby County Primary’ can appeal to everyone. On the surface, it’s relaxing and inoffensive, the perfect background music for trudging through your work day. However, for those who choose to delve deeper, which you really should, you find evidence of Ryder Jones’s past. His first solo album was purely instrumental and, despite adding the vocal aspect, his talent for arranging and layering music is still obvious. This multi-instrumental aspect is what sets him apart from the plethora of other men who own a guitar and can grow a beard so think they can call themselves singer-songwriters.

This album is only the second time Ryder Jones has graced us with his voice, something which he claims to find difficult and uncomfortable as he has “always liked the mystery of an artist that doesn’t give too much away”. Writing heartfelt, lyrics that convey raw emotion doesn’t seem to faze him though. Listening to ‘West Kirby County Primary’ feels like a glimpse into his childhood, with his voice, although not classically perfect, transporting you there with ease and intrigue. The extended instrumental intro in the song ‘Satellites’, followed by incredibly personal lyrics, is a great example of the perfect pairing between a beautiful composition and the thoughtful, emotional stories he has to tell.

Now is probably a good time to reveal that I too grew up in West Kirby and when you have to explain where that is to every new person you meet, it is pretty exciting to hear references to the area scattered throughout a mainstream album. It may not be obvious to a casual listener (or anyone who grew up anywhere else in the world) but Ryder Jones stays so true to the place he writes of. The song ‘Two to Birkenhead’, my favourite on the album, provides me with my first ever opportunity to be positive about anything to do with Birkenhead. The lyric “desperate times call for desperate pleasures” precisely sums up everything about the place, whilst being general enough to let the listener attach their own meaning.

That’s the beauty of this album. It’s about something so specific but also so broad. The stories he tells can be interpreted in so many different ways, all of them set to a well-crafted multi-instrumental backdrop. The first listen can feel a little samey but if you power through, every song develops each time you listen. If this is what staying in your childhood bedroom can do for you, then maybe it’s time I moved back home.

Originally written for NE:MM

Katie x