28 June 2014

60 seconds with Serena Ozgowicz...

This week Country Bumpkin Chic had a make-over. After hours spent Googling for a blog designer specialising in Blogger templates I stumbled across Serena Ozgowicz who blogs over at Loves Pretty Wild Things and also designs Blogger sites at Pretty Wild Things. It was great fun working with 21 year old Serena. She’s certainly in the know on everything there is to about Blogger and had the patience of a saint to put up with my demands. Can I have more teal, a Spotify playlist, some bunting etc I kept chirping. Once we launched the re-vamped site I caught up with Serena to find out more about the girl behind Loves Pretty Wild Things. Grab a coffee, sit back and enjoy!
PS. I hope you like the new site? Very apt for festival season. Would love to know your thoughts…why not pop a message in the comment box at the bottom of the blog.
Hey Serena, thanks for taking part in our 60 second interview. So, how did you first get into blogging?
When I was in college back in 2010, I YouTubed how to scrunch my hair - it didn't work. However, while I was there I discovered the beauty community and thought it was amazing, at the time I was OBSESSED with nail art and so decided to start my own YouTube channel and from there started my blog – Loves Pretty Wild Things.
Describe what your blog Loves Pretty Wild Things is all about?
LPWT is a place for me to combine my love of writing, taking photos and make up! I love the whole aspect of owning a corner of the internet and filling it with thoughts, ideas and life.
Who inspires or encourages you with your blogging?
There's no one person that I gather inspiration from but I have some lovely friends in the blogging world whose blogs always remind me why I love blogging. Such as Shona from SHONA LOUISE and Rachael from Me, Myself and...  I also get my inspiration from shopping!
Do you have any top tips for newbie bloggers or someone wanting to start out?
Write about what you know and love, don't try to and copy others to fit in you'll just get bored. If you’re passionate, people will be able to tell and they will want to stick around for more. The most important thing is not to count views but to just have fun!
How did you get into the world of blog design?
This comes down to my lack of social skills! I was very 'scared' of people as a teenager (I still am) and so did anything to keep me from having to go out after school and hang around in the park which I thought was really boring. When I was 13 I discovered PICZO which lead to my love of coding and from there I moved onto bigger and more grown up versions of graphic design and code writing. It's what I do all day, and what I do as a hobby, I love writing code and seeing it turn into something pretty! 
How many blog sites have you designed to date?
Well, according to my store I have sold 73 custom blog designs, but was doing a few via email before I started my store, so around 80.
What did you enjoy about working on the Country Bumpkin Chic re-vamp?
I loved the whole festival vibe, and I love being able to use a lot of colour. Some clients want a very minimal look which is great, but I love the more explosive and colourful designs!
What’s the future for Loves Pretty Wild Things / Serena Ozgowicz?
Who knows?! I hope to overcome my social anxiety disorder and attend my very first blogging event soon which should open more doors for me and make this a more stable career. Although I don't want BLOGGING to be my job, I really want to own my own little shabby chic homeware store on the beach front somewhere! 
Quick fire questions…
Summer fashion must have?
SPF lipbalm - anything coconut scented is a love of mine!
What magazine can you be found reading?
Usually Glamour or Company - whichever is cheapest that month hehe!
What’s on your playlist this summer?
Sam Smith - Stay with me & Mr Probz – Waves.
Favourite social media channel?
Personally - Facebook.
Blogger wise – Twitter.
Favourite blogger?
Oooh this is tough!! I like different aspects from many different blogs, I'm a sucker for anything with nail design posts or web design posts!
Thanks Serena for your time and Country Bumpkin Chic’s gorgeous new design. No doubt I’ll want a winter themed one set in the French Alps, with skiers, and cosy wooden chalet!
To keep updated on Serena and Loves Pretty Wild Things here are all the social bits and bobs you need to know:

25 June 2014

Glastonbury Festival - Where the magic happens...

I couldn’t resist it! As all those eager Glastonbury 2014 festival goers settle down to an evening round their camp fire or dancing up at the stone circle, I’ve been looking back on my photos from 2009.

It was my first experience of the big one down at Worthy Farm. Having struggled to get a ticket, my friend Kirsti and I decided to try our hand at volunteering for Oxfam and applied to be a steward. I’d previously volunteered at Camp Bestival so had a rough idea of what to expect.

Oxfam have been stewarding Glasto since 1993 and with over 2000 volunteers on site is a huge part of making the festival run as smoothly as poss. From memory we worked about x3 sets of 6-8 hour shifts. I think because we were ladies we managed to do pretty well on our shift times and got to see the acts we wanted to. Jobs included checking artists, suppliers and everyone else’s tickets on the way to the Park stage and helping people cross the road which on the Sunday with little sleep was pretty stressful!!

Anyhow, volunteering meant we had a classier field, access to showers, meal tickets and cleaner portaloos, well as clean as a portaloo can get I suppose. Oh, and did I mention a free ticket to Glastonbury?!

And the memories, well they were pretty special. In full swing Glastonbury is temporarily the 3rd largest city in the south west – that’s crazy. It’s a festival I’ll look back with huge fondness. It’s not just about the big acts, but making friends with strangers, discovering new music, comedy and embracing everything that goes with the weird and wonderful 4 day festival.

So, here’s some of my top magical Glastonbury moments:

Where did we put the tent? Punters field!
Kirsti (right) & I rocking our Oxfam hi-vis vest...
Jason Mraz in the Acoustic Tent...
Now Glastonbury wouldn't be Glastonbury without a spot of mud!
Piccie in the artist lorry/tour bus park with a sleepy Passion Pit.
Glastonbury posing!
Going mental for Kasabian!
Nothing quite beats a Glastonbury sunset...
Dancing with our new Glasto fwends to Madness...
Everyone loves a bit of Madness!
So, if you’re off down to Worthy Farm this weekend, my top tip would be - switch off your mobile phone, and go embrace the magic that is Glastonbury!

22 June 2014

Interview with Newton Faulkner at Behind the Castle Festival

Without a shadow of doubt Newton Faulkner was definitely the most popular man at Behind the Castle and created a longer queue then at the bar for signing’s, hugs and free selfies. Straight from his acoustic set and hour of meet and greets, myself and Ollie Lucas from Folkgeek.net cosied up in the press hut with Newton and his very impressive mane of locks. Whilst Ollie asked the more pertinent music questions, I continued with my Heat magazine style Q&A which made for a fun and chilled out interview. Enjoy!

As we’re here at the first ever Behind the Castle festival, what was the first ever festival you played at?
Reading Festival was the first one I attended. And played at, I think it was Radio 1 Big Weekend, I can’t remember where, but we then went on to play at Glastonbury for the first time.
So, what would be your festival essentials?
Sun cream and toilet roll – or acquire some!!
Any random or bizarre festival experiences?
Yeah, moving a 30ft inflatable frog with Mumford and Sons at Oxygen festival was pretty random. I remember we re-inflated it at 5/6am in the morning, there was another band of guys in very skinny jeans, but can’t remember their names. Although I do remember their jeans were almost spray painted on they were that tight! Oxygen at the time was the last festival of the summer, so it was a big blow out for bands and spectacularly mental!

19 June 2014

Seth Lakeman Interview at Behind the Castle Festival

You can’t help but be charmed by the delightful Seth Lakeman. I first saw Seth perform at The Old Firestation, Bournemouth back in March 2012 and was captivated then. So, was very much looking forward to seeing him play live in a festival setting. And of course, thrilled to get the opportunity to interview him before he played to the Behind the Castle audience.

Looking fresh and revitalised from a short break on the Isles of Scilly we settled into the wooden lodge or ‘press hut’ to chat all thing’s festival related and quite a bit about his van!

1. As we’re here at the first ever Behind the Castle festival, what was the first ever festival you played at?
Oh, that was Sidmouth Folk Festival. I was about 14 or 15 and it was playing on stage my brothers Sean and Sam. The likes of Kate Rusby, Luke Daniels, Kathryn Roberts (Kathryn is now married to Seth’s brother Sean) were all playing. Yeah, we had a great time.

2. So, what would be your festival essentials that you wouldn’t leave home without?
My van! Everything’s in the van that I need. It’s a TS Transporter, so it has a good sound system, beers in the fridge, wellies and a brolly.

3. Any advice to a festival virgin?
*Seth laughs* - Get a van!

4. Any random or bizarre festival experiences?
Having a stage-struck by lightning was pretty random. It was Middlewich Folk Festival, there was heavy rain, the stage was wet and then it was struck by lightning and the power went down, everything just stopped.
CBC: Wow, these days with Health & Safety they’d probably have stopped it with torrential rain.
Seth: Well, as they say 'the show must go on!

5. If you had the opportunity to curate your very own festival who would you invite to play? Who would be your headline act?
Well, it all depends on how much money you have for your acts, but it would have to be Frank Turner. And I suppose my old man Geoff!

We did look into this a year or so ago, we were going to hold it at Morwellham Quay in Tavistock, Devon, but then the twins came along!

It’s an old mining village that would hold 1,500 people. It’d be like stepping back in time, very unique. We’d have a mix of folk music, crafts and food.

6. What can the audience expect from your performance later today?
It will be the 5 of us up on stage and probably about 6-7 songs from the album Word of Mouth and of course lots of dancing.

Now for some quick fire festival questions….
  • Camping or glamping? Glamping. With the van! CBC: I really should have asked to see this van, Seth lit up every time he mentioned it! Must be a man thing?
  • Wellies or flip flips? Flip flops.
  • Where will we find you during the festival: moshing at the front, dancing in the middle, chilling at the back or at the bar? At the bar!
  • Posh loos or hole in the ground? Posh loos of course given the choice.
  • Favourite castle? Sherborne Castle. I was reading up about the castle on the way here and didn’t realise it was built by Sir Walter Raleigh. How great is that? Also, Lydford Castle is one of my favourites.
  • And finally, can you sum up Behind the Castle in 3 words? Ooh… Happy and content. Or how about 'The summer’s alive. CBC: Seth says with a huge grin and you know it's going to be a great set that evening.
A Seth Lakeman #festifie

Check out my post from Behind the Castle festival and read my review of the festival featuring the talented Seth Lakeman's set.

You really can’t help but warm to Seth Lakeman, not only is he a very talented folk musician, but he’s a genuinely top guy that you wouldn’t mind kicking back and having a pint of cider with at the bar.

Check out my interview with Cara Dillon – who’s married to Seth’s brother Sam on the blog.

Keep updated with all the Seth Lakeman news and find out where he’s performing next, here are all the key social bits and bobs you need:

16 June 2014

Cara Dillon Interview at Behind the Castle Festival

I immediately warmed to Cara Dillon. As we made ourselves comfortable in our wooden ‘press hut’ set in the magnificent grounds of Sherborne Castle as she spotted that we had the same Orla Kiely iPhone cover. I knew then, that this is a lady with style and taste and someone you could have a good old girly chat with. However, we were here to chat about Behind the Castle.

1. As it’s the first ever Behind the Castle festival, what was the first ever festival you played at?
It was a folk festival in the Scottish Highlands. I was 15 and my best friends from school and I had been doing some sessions back at home in Ireland. We were invited to pull a band together. We didn’t even have a name. So, we called ourselves ‘Ă“ige’ which means ‘youth’ in Irish. It was a big first all-round and we got the festival bug from there.

2. What’s your thoughts on Behind the Castle so far?
It’s very civilised. There’s homemade cake, proper coffee and bean bags. We do a lot of travelling, so it’s great to have a few home comforts. And the kids can run around the fields with no worries.

3. So, since that first festival you’ve obviously been to a few over the years, what would be your festival essentials that you wouldn’t leave home without?
Piriton for hayfever, baby wipes – I have twin boys and a girl, a good pair of sunglasses and some wellies of course.
CBC – Cara’s twin boys Noah and Colm and little girl Elizabeth were absolutely adorable during her set, especially Elizabeth who constantly waved to her mamma.

15 June 2014

Behind the Castle Review: sunshine, music & friends

Cinds (left) & I making friends with the Behind the Castle bull
It’s 6.30am on Sunday morning and whilst everyone is nursing their sore heads from last nights England vs Brazil World Cup defeat, I’m sat in my kitchen, attending to my achy feet as a result of some crazy dancing at the first ever Behind the Castle (BTC) festival at iconic Sherborne Castle.
And the song that’s playing on my Spotify right now is…What a Beautiful Day by The Levellers. Which pretty much sums up the whole day and was one of the songs that which everyone went a bit cray cary for including myself.
If you haven’t heard of Behind the Castle, bring yourself up to speed and have a read of my interview with festival founder Ian Lyster here. In the words of Ian, the festival was going to be all about the music and he was true to his word.
Today a lot of festivals have gone far too commercial, however, what made BTC unique was that it was stripped right back to focus around the music. On the main stage you had the big boys: Paul Brady, Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman and headliners The Levellers. Stage 2 was a mix of names you may have heard of over on Radio 2 and some to be discovered: Jack McNeill & Charlie Heys, Boat to Row, Steve Knightley, Cara Dillon, Megan Henwood and Sheelanagig. Whilst over on the Marnhull Acoustic Sessions Stage which was aimed towards supporting newcomers and seasoned performers from the likes of: Lizzyspit, Ninebarrow, Cloudi Lewis, Tinderbox to American Rodney Branigan. Musicality wise, there was something for everyone
Stage 2 set list

Food wise other than a few ‘world’ style food stalls from Japanese, Mexican to Italian, and some festi arty crafty stalls and a bar that was pretty much it. Oh and of course the beautiful Sherborne Castle in the background which made for the idyllic setting across the rolling Dorset countryside.
Mexican anyone?

As a blogger, I was very lucky to bag myself a press pass and got to interview some amazing acts: Cara Dillon, Seth Lakeman, Newton Faulkner and Sheelanagig which I will be releasing over the coming week… 
Anyway, here’s my review from some of the BTC acts. Enjoy!
Newton Faulkner
Newton Faulkner

Newton’s set was at 4.15pm, a perfect time to be chilling at the back with a cider, hanging up with friends, soaking up the sun and listening to some tunes.
It was just Newton and his guitar on the main stage, giving a real stripped back acoustic vibe which worked well with the sun blazing down and created a very chilled out vibe. He played some tracks from his latest album Studio Zoo, a few faves from when he first started out. As well as Teardrop by Massive Attack, which I think may have confused some of the younger audience, and a Justin Timberlake cover which definitely got the crowd going.

Crowds chilling out to Newton

To find out where you can catch Newton next on his festival tour head to his website.

Cara Dillon

The captivating Cara

Stage 2 was an intimate tent which made it the perfect setting for Cara Dillon at 5.20pm. Also, a popular hangout for the bar!

For those who haven’t heard of Cara, check out her website. Hailing from County Derry, Cara is very true to her Irish roots and gives the most magical ethereal performances I’ve seen from a female singer in a long time. Now, I don’t usually like comparing artists, but I would go as far as saying she has a touch of the Eva Cassidy about her.
Looking stunning in her turquoise blue dress from Rome (check out my interview with Cara when we talk festival fashion) along with her smartly dressed band and rather dishy guitarist. Cara’s set was full of light and shade with some intimate mellow numbers, along with your classic feet stomping folk from her new album A Thousand Hearts. There was also an adorable moment when her little girl Elizabeth was clapping and waving along to her mummy, whilst twin boys Noah and Colm, seemed to just take it all in their stride.  
Cara's rather dishy guitarist. Who's also her hubby Sam Lakeman. Yes, related to the Seth Lakeman!

Cara is playing at a number of festivals this summer, and is playing at the Octagon Theatre, Yeovil on 2nd July – definitely one to head to if you love heart-warming, feet stomping, clapping folk.
Seth Lakeman
The delightful Seth Lakeman and his band

Back out to the main stage at 18.15 for a spot of food and Seth Lakeman. I went for a Japanese beef burger from Not Just Sushi at a reasonable £5 which hit the spot.
Now if you haven’t seen or heard of Seth Lakeman, where have you been? He’s a folk singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, Mercury nominated (2005) musician from Devon and having met him in person is rather very lovely and easy on the eye.
I managed to drag my friends down to the front of the stage for some foot stomping, hands in the air and clapping to Seth who didn’t fail to whip the crowd into a frenzy with his set featuring songs from his new album Word of Mouth.
Seth getting the audience going

Check out Seth’s website to find out which other festivals he’s appearing at this summer. If you’re not sure about folk, go see Seth Lakeman and his band and you’ll be converted.

Sheelanagig - remember the name

Now it was founder Ian Lyster who gave me this tip to go see Sheelanagig and according to my Bristolian friend’s they’re mental! So, at 8.30pm we headed back into Stage 2 and pitched up just behind the mosh pit.
And wow, Sheelanagig did not disappoint. In the BTC programme it says ‘Sheelanagig deliver intricate, rhythmically complex arrangements of original and traditional works in a Balkan style’. Now, to me that doesn’t mean too much, but live, I’ve never seen so much energy, musicality, and comedy oozing from a male folk band. At times it was almost like a Benny Hill sketch with the flutist Adrian and fiddler Aaron doing comedy kicks up the bum, and tapping their watch whilst one of them had a solo piece. 
Sheelanagig and their crazy party antics

Sheelanagig most definitely got the festival party going, I’ve never seen so many people jumping and throwing shapes in a tent without a care in the world. And I love it when a band can control the audience to make them sit on the floor, nearly as nutty as when Mike Skinner from The Streets who got the whole of the V Festival audience to put their shoe in the air. You’ve got to love a bit of festival craziness and these guys had it in buckets. Hand on heart, these guys are probably one of the best bands I’ve seen live in a very long time and I ‘need’ to see them again just to experience those 40 minutes of pure hedonistic bliss.
Check out their website to see where you can catch them next. And if you’re in Dorset they’re playing at Abbotsbury Festival on Saturday 5th July along with Steve Knightly, Miranda Sykes and many more folk artists. I didn’t even know this festival existed…definitely one to try and attend.
The Levellers
The Levellers...rocking out Behind The Castle

So, after Shelanagig we pretty much bounced our way back over to the main stage and missed the fantastic announcement that Behind The Castle will be back in 2015 which is amazing news.
Now, I must confess, I think The Levellers passed me by when I was growing up, so I wasn’t too familiar with their songs. They’ve been going strong for the last twenty five years and even set up Beautiful Days festival in Devon back in 2003, which is incredible.

There ain't no party like a Levellers party

It’s not hard to see why they headline so many festivals around the UK, they’re a real crowd pleaser and get everyone going. It was a great moment to step back and take in the scene, you had mums, aunts, uncles, grandparents and the kids on dads shoulders all dancing care freely. There was certainly something quite special with the sun setting over Sherborne Castle, dancing in a field in Dorset with my friend from school, to It’s a Beautiful Day. Definitely a beautiful moment I’ll remember for a long time.

For a first time festival, I think Ian Lyster and the team should be very proud of themselves. I know I had a totally awesome time being part of something very special. Aside, from the great music there were no issues with parking or traffic, it was within easy walking distance, and plenty of posh toilets with loo roll.
Small little teething problems was the queue at the bar and running low on cider and wine, which must have been a stressful moment. Dorset folk sure do like their cider and with the sun shining they must have been drinking it by the gallon! And yes, apart from watching the bands, drinking cider, sunbathing and taking in the Dorset air there’s not a lot else to do, so if you have children bring some entertainment. I had an awesome pink and blue loom bracelet designed by a friend’s son.
If I could sum up Behind the Castle. It would be sunshine, music and friends. Simple, what more do you need?

So, I look forward to Behind the Castle 2015 and discovering more musical gems. Watch this space to see my interviews with Newton Faulkner, Seth Lakeman, Cara Dillon and Sheelanagig.
Note: if you’d like to use any of the photos or content featured in this blog please contact me at rebecca_wren@hotmail.co.uk

14 June 2014

Dorset Art Week on North Street

Last week was Dorset Art Weeks (DAW) which has been going strong since 2006. This is where artists across the county open their studios and homes for a week (24 May – 8 June 2014) to joe public exhibiting their art and it’s all free!

There’s a fabulous brochure which lists all the artists taking place, their location, opening times and bio. With nearly 300 artists exhibiting across Dorset – there's something for everyone to see.

Having lived in Charminster for nearly 7 years I never managed to get to attend a DAW exhibit. So, on the last Sunday of the event I decided to pay a visit to my two local DAW listings #59 Karen & Keir Francis and #60 Lesley H Phillips who are all located on North Street. Quite literally a stone’s through away from my front door.

#59 Karen & Keir Francis
Karen and Keir were delightfully welcoming and Karen took me through her glass jewellery collection. I was like a child in a candy shop and have already ear marked some very unique pieces of jewellery for my birthday.
Karen Glass
Karen layers and fuses glass with a kiln using casts to produce unique and quirky jewellery. There was a distinct marine feel running through the collection with deep blues and greens, across earrings, pendants, and necklaces. And there were some wonderful pendants and earrings in a bronze-esque colour which changed colour depending on the angle you looked at these. Now I’m sure there is a more technical arty phrase to this, but to the lay lady it was pretty magical.
Karen with her favourite piece (see necklace close up below)
This is my favourite!
To find out more about Karen’s glass jewellery check out her collection online - www.karenglass.co.uk She also makes custom orders, so you design something truly unique for that special someone.

Keir Francis – Photoart & Photography
Keir’s work was hanging around studio complementing Karen’s jewellery. His range is made up of very cleverly layered photos on canvases which to the untrained eye like mine looks like a beautiful oil painting! His collection is a mix of West Country favourites from Corfe Castle, Weymouth Harbour to Bournemouth as well as other iconic locations.
Keir in front of some of his iconic pieces
Check out Keir’s website www.cre8tiveimage.co.uk to view his imagery and follow him on Twitter @keirfrancis

#60 Lesley H Phillips
Now Lesley is a name that most people in Dorset would recognise. She’s a silver and gemstone jeweller who's had her collection featured in Vogue. See, definitely one to watch. I bet Anna Wintour knows her name. She had a delightful bespoke handcrafted collection in very affordable prices which would make a great present for any occasion or to treat yourself.
Lesley with some of her very impressive collection
Check out her full range online www.lesleyhphillips.co.uk and give her a like over at Facebook Handmade Silver Jewellery or follow on Twitter @DistinctlyDeco

For more details on Dorset Art Week and discover some fabulous unique artists head to www.dorsetartweeks.co.uk
All the best & next time on the blog Behind the Castle 2014.

Becky x 
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