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Electric Castle review: Have Franz Ferdinand still got it?

If any of you saw this post three months ago, you’ll know that I have just arrived back in the UK following a five night extravaganza at one of Romania’s biggest and best festivals, Electric Castle. You may also know that as well as being treated to a massive amount of world class DJs and acts, the band I was most looking forward to seeing was, you guessed it, Franz Ferdinand.

Although I’m going to make you wait a few days to hear ALL about the festival and just how incredible it was (it really did surpass any expectation that I had) I’m going to tell you about Franz Ferdinand and the first show I had seen them play in four years.

Sadly, I wasn’t as fresh as I would have hoped, having spent the previous four days and nights partying and sleeping in a tent that had earth shattering bass streaming through it 24 hours a day. But there was no way I was going to let this deter me and before I knew it, I was being ushered into the photo pit in front of the main stage, along with fellow photo pass holders, each brandishing enviable equipment. The stage lit up, a colourful Franz Ferdinand logo adorned with shooting stars, the band energetically ran on stage and as the music began, us photographers danced around each other, moving up and down, side to side, effortlessly managing not to bump into each other.

After the three-song limit, we were thrust back into the crowd, and I spent the rest of the set dancing to songs I have been singing along to in front of the band for the last thirteen years. Earlier in the week I dismissed new members Dino Bardot (guitar) and Julian Corrie (keys, vocals and guitar) without even giving them a chance. To me, Nick McCarthy was an integral member in the band, his unmistakable high tones and jagged rhythm guitar enjoyable every step of the way.

Questioning my stubbornness (is it because I don’t like change, perhaps?) I realised that I can’t deny that Bardot and Corrie really did prove to be a good replacement for McCarthy. And looking at the outfits and lighting during the show, I wondered whether the fact that Bob Hardy, dressed in all black, hiding away in the shadows, whilst Bardot and Corrie wore loud shirts and danced around in the spotlight, was a deliberate attempt to show that this band is not about to give up and that they really are just as good without one of their founding members.

Franz Ferdinand clearly has longevity. Since forming in 2002, the band has recorded four studio albums; the first two released in consecutive years, but with four year breaks between the third and fourth. The fact that ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ was released in 2013 makes me excited at what is potentially to come this year. Not many other bands that I obsessed over as an excitable teen are still around today and none are still able to headline festivals all across the world.

But despite enjoying a sing along with thousands of other revellers, my negative mind just wouldn’t pipe down. As Kapranos drawled the lyrics “let it go” in his soft Scottish lilt during new song ‘Always Ascending’, I thought to myself that maybe I should finally let this band go. Since I first saw them opening the NME tour when I was a fresh-eyed seventeen year old, they have been firmly in the number 1 spot on my favourite band list. But despite enjoying the show, I just didn’t feel the same. Was it that they didn’t have the same presence on a big festival stage as they did in the small intimate venues I’m used to seeing them in? Or could it be that the band isn’t as accessible to me as they once were? I don’t know, but as these thoughts travelled through my head, the song changed pace, becoming more like one of my ultimate favourite Franz songs ‘Van Tango’ with each chord and drum smash. It was almost brilliant and I thought perhaps they could draw me back in again. I’m unsure, but I’ll await their new album with open-minded patience.

As is usual with every time I have seen Franz Ferdinand play over the last few years, they ended with crescendo building ‘This Fire’ and before we knew it, they were gone. Months of waiting for a solitary hour. And an hour that left me questioning what is next for me musically. Will I ever feel that way about a band again? Are the feelings you feel for the first band you ever truly obsess over, the same as that of a first love? Who the heck knows, but it has made me determined to watch more and listen to more new music, as I’m sure that diamond in the rough is out there somewhere.

Head to the Electric Castle website for more info on the festival

All photos taken by Sarah Kemp, Editor, Life’s Loves


Brixton Beach

Brixton Beach Summer Pop-Up

© Photography by Jake Davis (

© Photography by Jake Davis (

Brixton Beach Rooftop Pope’s Road,
Brixton London,

Brixton Beach is back, and just in time for the heat wave! In the words of our favourite Wham boys ‘all that’s missing in the sea, but don’t worry you can suntan’! Or sit in the shaded huts, whatever.
On a roof in the heart of Brixton Market, Brixton Beach hosts some cracking food stalls. Among them are my favourite New Yorkers from Del74 serving up tacos and margaritas to liven up your beach trip. Del74 has a permanent restaurant on my road in Clapton which I rave about SO much I was given two ‘vouchers’ from my pals for my birthday (but shhh…it’s my little secret!)
I arrived before my friend, but took the opportunity to begin my wander around the rooftop. It was a feast for the eyes and ears. The DJ was playing Cuban beats, the sun was shining and the cocktail list was tropical. I ordered two beers from the bar, grabbed my friend from the entrance and sat in a wooden open booth to bond with some other newbies to the beach. The four of us shared some delights from Mac to the Future (mac ‘n’ cheese with tata tots) and sliders from STAKEhaus which were jaw-droolingly good. We followed the sun to the other side of the roof to end our evening conveniently next to the Chandon Bubbles bar.
If you like beats, sun, sand and street food then look no further. There is too much going on this summer at Brixton Beach to talk about – check out the diary here.

£10 will get you grub
£5 will get you beer

Good Luck from Bill Nighy – Vitality 10,000

There are some moments in life that leave me speechless with their perfection. This morning I had of those moments. I woke up, had a shower and made myself some toast with peanut butter and banana. Afterwards I pulled on my running gear, grabbed my backpack and headed to the tube.

I was on my way to the Vitality 10,000 race in Central London. And in all honesty I wasn’t exactly in the mood to run. I arrived at Green Park and, along with 100’s of other runners, queued to exit the station. As I shuffled towards the escalator, I saw a lone man walking down the escalator on the other side. As he edged closer, I recognised the face as the one and only Bill Nighy. Being alone I had no one to tell and no one around me seemed to notice.

My face lit up and as I opened my mouth to tell anyone that would listen, he caught my eye, nodded, winked, blew me a kiss, mouthed ‘good luck’ at me and carried on walking. It was as if he was secretly saying, “I know you know who I am, but I don’t want anyone else to notice, so I’m going to acknowledge it secretly.”

What I loved most about this little encounter was that, based on what I had read about Bill Nighy’s brush with fans in the past, this was 100% his style. I seriously hope he walked away in the knowledge that he made my day, if not my year. And boy did that help kick me into gear for my race.

I arrived around an hour early, which gave me time to meander around the grounds, before joining a long snaking toilet queue and finally dropping off my bag. The whole event was very organised and I made it to the start line with a couple of minutes to spare. I had given my time as a sub 50-minute 10k, so I was at the front of the pack and as a result there was limited congestion once we set off.

I don’t think I have ever run in such hot and humid weather and this made me nervous. It’s no secret that heat and me do not go well together and literally as soon as I set off I was thirsty and counting the steps to the first water station at 3km. It came quickly and I was soon sipping and pouring the contents of the bottle over my head.

Every time I run a 10k race, I groan and grunt all the way around. If anyone who has experienced this happens to be reading, I’m sorry. I have tried all distances and find 10k the hardest. I would even go so far as saying that I found the London Marathon easier. Why? Because I haven’t learnt to pace myself for a 10k yet and always run off much faster than I should. By the time I get half way, I’m cursing myself, wishing I’d have set off slower. Today was no different.

The route however was perfect for sightseeing. I live and work in Central London, but even I get tingles when I see sights such as Admiralty Arch, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral, Mansion House, the Bank of England, the Old Bailey, Somerset House, Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. I have to admit though – I didn’t see all of the above sights because, and if any of you have ever experienced a race like this, you’ll know what I’m talking about – my mind is usually concentrating on how horrible my body feels, rather than how lovely the sights are.

Having struggled with injuries during my Marathon training, I was slightly nervous that my IT band, or shin splints would rear their ugly head, but no. The only pain I had to endure was a mental one – counting each km, as each one seemed to be longer than the last.

I always find km’s 6 and 7 to be the hardest, and once I passed the 8km mark I sped up, leaving only a small amount of energy for my last km. And as I approached the last 100m, I looked at my watch and felt a pang of terror, similar to how I felt at the London Marathon when I saw the seconds ticking by towards the 4 hour mark (I came in at 3:59:57). Today I wanted to get sub 49 minutes and kept glancing at my watch as it edged closer, each second ticking by quicker than I hoped. At the last minute I found a little bit of much needed energy in the tank and sprinted, as fast as I could, to cross the line at 48:55. I did it. And after picking up my medal and race t-shirt, was off to be pampered with a free massage, hosted by Urban Massage.

I want to thank Magdalena for giving me 20 minutes of pure massage bliss and a few exercise tips to strengthen my legs ready for my next race. Once done, I wandered out of Green Park, down into the tube and smiled as I retraced the steps where my magical Bill Nighy moment had happened earlier in the day.

The breast time at KERB – The Bucket List

“Who of my friends likes chicken and is free on Saturday?” read my Facebook status last week. Purposely cryptic, I wanted to dangle the proverbial chicken wing and see who would take a chunky bite. Unsurprisingly a lot of questions followed and after a short time, I had a willing participant.

Jasey and I arrived at KERB – The Bucket List on Saturday night, tummies empty and a severe raging thirst threatening to ruin the chances of us swapping niceties until fulfilled.

Luckily we were ushered straight in, given our chicken buckets, tokens and free chicken cards and let loose. We pushed our way through the crowds to sort the first problem and minutes later we were hydrating with a can of Beavertown’s finest Session IPA.

Only once we had started sipping did we settle in to really check out our surroundings. Situated in West Handyside Canope, next to the swankiest Waitrose I had ever seen on one side, and the industrial exclusivity of Central St Martins on the other side, this two day festival featured eight fried chicken stalls, a couple of bars, a small seating area and some very loud music; not to mention a pen featuring robotic remote control operated chickens.

The idea? To taste a chicken dish from each of the vendors, decide on your favourite and vote on your way out. Easy, right? Yes. Who would have thought there would be so many different variations of fried chicken? Surely, it’s all the same, right? WRONG. Over the course of three hours, we politely queued for each stall and duly tasted every single bit of free chicken that was on offer to us.

We started off so well with Mother Flipper’s Korean Spiced Wings. The next few went downhill, reaching rock bottom with Only Jerkin’s strips of ginger beer battered toughness with sickly lumpy Jerk gravy. After being so impressed by Mother Flipper’s Korean goodness, it was hard to eat, and as I don’t like leaving food, I picked out the tough innards and threw the exterior in the bin. Sorry guys, but you won’t be receiving my token!

Another highlight was the Szechuan miso tenders with fermented green chilli hot sauce from Bill or Beak, but there was only one clear winner for both of us on the night. We stood at the bar, took a big chomp on our Masa fried pieces with guava glaze and habanero mayo and jumped around on the spot, faces squirming as the heat continued to rise, and rise, and rise. I looked over to my left, mouth on fire, face red as a sunburnt Brit in Marbella, to see ‘habonero chili mayonnaise’ plastered all over the boards. Oh. Neither of us had read that bit. Oops. Laughing, we blew furiously and gulped our beer to try and calm down the heat. And although we had our faced blown off by the guys at Petare, they undeniably made the best tasting chicken of them all.

After what felt like more chicken than I had eaten in years, countless beers and a dance to the Maratchi version of Spice up Your Life, we were well and truly battered, so we popped our token into the box and clucked off into the night.

I woke up this morning and it seemed many others also placed their token in Petare’s box and they were crowned KERB Bucket List ’17 Colonels. CONGRATULATIONS GUYS.

Bridget Jones does Snowbombing

“I feel like Bridget Jones does skiing”, I mutter to my friend as we near the top of the gondola escalator, skis ever so elegantly slipping out of my grip and ski boots digging into my shin causing me to walk like John Wayne in his worst form. She turns around, giggles, and promptly agrees with me. “Let’s do this”, she said. And as those three empowering words escaped her mouth, I knew that the next few days were going to be unforgettable.

You may be wondering how I ended up at a banging dance music festival, with skiing as an additional activity no less, three weeks before the London Marathon. Well, let me tell you. I’m a weak ‘yes’ person who will not turn a fun opportunity down. And when I received the text asking if I was up for a week of two of my favourite things combined, music and skiing, I just had to say yes. Five days of hungover skiing and five epic Jäeger Bomb fuelled nights of debauchery. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

I have to put in a disclaimer here; I didn’t quite make it to see everything the festival had to offer. Over the course of the week, revelers are treated to an incredible amount of activities, spread out across the resort and up on the slopes. Things I missed included the street party, chair lift speed dating, Voga (a fusion of Yoga and Vogueing) and the Smirnoff Arctic Disco, but I hear they were pretty shit hot.

So what happens when two kindred spirits collide and decide to go to Snowbombing together? Sadly I can’t divulge exactly what happens, but let me tell you this – they have an inordinate amount of fun, create cute little rituals, partake in ab-defining laughter for days on end, talk to nearly everyone they meet, help each other out in that time of need (there’s always one) and of course come to sleep deprived blows in the final hours, making up with ‘I love you’s’ almost instantaneously.

Before heading out to the Tyrolean Alps, I only so much as glanced at the line up a couple of times. And there were two acts that stood out – Mike Skinner and Pat Sharp. I never thought I would write those two names in the same sentence, but that slightly surreal mixture completely epitomises the Snowbombing experience. One day you can be dancing to serious house music, the next you can be engulfed in a mosh pit singing along to the Antarctic Monkeys, and the next you can be watching Pat Sharp DJ whilst dancing the Macarena in the Fun Haus.

And that’s just the evening. In the daytime, you can ski with your friend one day in your own ski suit; the next you can borrow an 80s all in one masterpiece and ski without your friend, while she picks up Eddie the Eagle on a ski lift, only to spend the day pootling down the slopes with him and Pat Sharp. Not to mention skiing down to Rompa’s Reggae Shack for a spot of lunch and a boogie with Mr. Motivator.

This is Snowbombing, so the more surreal the better. At midnight that night, my friend received an invite to ski with Eddie and his random clan again the next day. And let me tell you, having had an eye watering two hours’ sleep and no chance for the alcohol levels to subside, skiing with a group of people that didn’t know each other, led by Eddie the Eagle, was very surreal.

So, how do you get there? Getting to a ski resort is never straightforward and my lack of planning related anxiety was very appropriately fuelled by the fact that neither of us decided to plan our travel very well. Luckily my friend had read the pick up location for the shuttle bus at Munich airport, but without tickets we were unsure whether we would be able to get on it. To my surprise we weren’t the only idiots to rock up without a ticket and with a short wait, we were given the last two seats on the bus. Result. The way back wasn’t so lucky and we ended up paying £80 each for a shared taxi to the airport. Trust me though, reader, at that point it felt like the best £80 I had ever spent.

Right now I’m sitting here having completed the London Marathon almost a week ago. Back when I started training, I wanted to complete it in 4 hours. I will admit I felt like I might regret my skiing festival trip, undoing all of the months of hard training I put myself through. But on Sunday 23rd April 2017, I pounded the streets of London and finished one of the world’s most famous Marathon courses in 3 hours, 59 minutes and 57 seconds. So what does this tell me…? I think I would be stupid not to include unforgettable festival holidays into my training plan from now on.

For more information, head to the Snowbombing website.

Dancing in Transylvania: Electric Castle Festival, 12th-16th July

It has taken me four years to realise that to have fun; the real kind, not the ‘how can I make myself look like I’m having fun when really I’m just an anxiety attack waiting to happen’ kind of fun, I need to do two things.

Number 1 – Just Say No. The FOMO is real, people. But it doesn’t need to be. It took a 40 year old journalist I met recently to tell me that getting over FOMO was one of the best things he had ever done. “It takes time, but it will come”, he said to me as we departed a ski lift on the top of a mountain in Mayrhofen.

We were at Snowbombing festival and he was there to cover the festival for an online music magazine. He was having fun, not drinking, skiing loads every day, and most importantly left the festival with an average of 40 hours’ sleep during the week. I, on the other hand, drank my body weight in Jägermeister and beer, danced until 5am every night, skied probably more than I should have and averaged about 10 hours’ sleep during the week. I confided in him that I was absolutely having fun, but trying to ensure that I didn’t have a nervous breakdown in the process. He laughed and said that he would include it in his piece – sure enough he did. My mentality was identified as a nugget of information that would amuse his reader. And although I’m secretly totally down with that, I shall take his advice and probably increase my life expectancy in the process.

Number 2. Launch myself into situations without over thinking them. Now, the ‘doing’ bit is easy for an impulsive lady. And an impulsive lady I am. But the over thinking – woah, that’s going to be hard. Or is it?

A few weeks ago I received an email with information on a festival taking place in an old castle in Transylvania. Yes, I did just say Transylvania. You know, the place where those twins who look a bit like Dracula come from, one of whom had a sordid affair with a British MP in the naughties. Yes, those two.

Sadly, there will be no Cheeky Girls performance, or any cheesy pop for that matter. No, this festival is for the serious dance music heads out there. I opened the email, popped on across to the website and saw before my eyes a lineup like I haven’t seen… probably ever. Claptone, tick. Maceo Plex, tick. MJ Cole, tick. Moderat, tick. My fingers froze for a second in awe, but once thawed, typed an email to the PR so quickly that I think I could have got myself into the Guinness Book of World Records, if I had been recording.

As if that wasn’t exciting enough, a few weeks ago I jumped back onto the website and saw the name of a band that not only have I not seen for around 4 years, but that completely changed the course of my existence back when I was a 17 year old at college in Nottingham. My friend Ross had dragged me along to the NME tour at Rock City and as if by magic, we walked into the venue at the same time Paul Thomson from Franz Ferdinand whacked his drumsticks to create a sound that will never leave me – the intro to ‘Shopping for Blood.’ I’m slightly gutted that Nick McCarthy won’t be there, swaying quickly from side to side and gracing us with his awesome rhythm guitar, synth and high-pitched vocals, but I’m bloody excited nonetheless.

So, as of now, I have booked our flights and posh camping for the festival, and my friend has booked us into a hotel for a couple of nights afterwards so we can explore Cluj-Napoca, what is billed as the region’s unofficial capital, packed with bohemian art & culture and a café where all the furniture is made out of cardboard.

If you like dance music, history and charming cultural European cities off the beaten track, I urge you to look into joining us this summer on our Electric Castle adventure.

For more information on the festival, visit the website here.

For more information on Cluj-Napoca, click here.


Craving Chicken? KERB Has the Answer

If you haven’t heard of KERB, you don’t deserve to be reading this. So if you haven’t, move along, please…

London’s Street Food Market pioneer, KERB has announced The Bucket List, a clucky two day chicken fest, which brings together London’s breast bird bosses under the same roof to give you all the chicken you need for a year. The bad news is that tickets have now sold out, however the GOOD NEWS is that you can join the waiting list and be in with a chance of WINNING one of three pairs of tickets.

The Bucket List:

Mother Clucker – Tea-brined, twice buttermilk soaked Cajun chicken strips with hot sauce

Other Side Fried Cocoa chilli and maple fillets with coriander mayo

Only Jerkin – Ginger beer battered jerk or mango nuggets with jerk gravy

Bill or Beak – Szechuan miso tenders with fermented green chilli hot sauce

Daja Chicken – Double coated & double fried Asian tenders with modern flavours from the Far East  *GF

Killa Dilla ‘KDFC’ in chipotle salt and crushed Chilli Heatwave tortilla chips

Mother Flipper – Korean spicy wings

Petare – Masa fried pieces with guava glaze and habanero mayo


Every ticket receives a portion of fried chicken from each Bucket List trader,  plus a complimentary drink of choice.

When you’ve tried it all, vote for your favourite at the Bucket List Wall of Fame

Extra sides, extra chicken creations and extra sauces can be bought throughout the event.

Kids under 12 can enter for free during the Saturday lunch session, but does not include food.


Cheese fries, hot waffles, pickled slaw, street corn with fermented pineapple hot sauce, Bill or Beak’s off-bucket-list soy brined fried chicken Rancher burger with hot cheese sauce, jerk cauli-wings, feta topped fried cassava sticks, and look out for South East Cakery‘s special Sundaes.


KERB’s Bucket List bar serving classics from over the years, Bacardi‘s Mojito bar and Beavertown London craft beer.

Live Music:

Live band, Mariachi El Pinche Gringo, plus KERB resident house-party DJ’s carrying the party on ’til late.


Robo-chicken racing. What?!

Friday 5th May (Evening Session)
6pm – 11pm
Saturday 6th May (Lunch Session)
12pm – 5pm
Saturday 6th May (Evening Session)
6pm – 11pm


West Handyside Canopy, King’s Cross, N1C