Sale at Sotheby’s helps restore sight in Ophthalmology Times Europe (cover story!)

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A Gerhard Richter painting donated to CBM by an anonymous donor has raised 44,500 Euros at a Sotheby’s auction.

The artwork exhibits German painter Richter’s familiar layered and squeegee technique – a cool, colour photographic landscape with a spell of speedy, but splendid brush strokes spanning the surface and distorting the vision.

The sale of the piece last month will go toward cataract surgeries in developing countries, the secret art admirer donating the artwork to the German charity Christoffel-Blindenmission (CBM) for a good cause. The proceeds will finance sight-saving surgeries for 1,483 people who were blind due to cataract.

The inspiration behind the auction of Richter’s artwork is German ophthalmologist Dr. Omid Kermani. He and his colleagues from the eye-clinic Augenklinik am Neumarkt in Cologne already support the work of CBM. The ophthalmologists started a project called “eyes for eyes” to fund cataract surgeries in Nepal. For every cataract operation he and his colleagues perform they donate the money for an operation in Nepal. In the CBM – supported hospitals in Lahan and Biratnagar (Nepal), a staggering 97,000 people received cataract operations in 2014 and regained their sight.

Named “Untitled (23 ‘Jan. 2015)” the artwork is an oil on colour photograph, sized 11.1 cm by 16.4 cm and was auctioned in the “Contemporary Art Day Auction” in London on the 11th of February. “This artwork helps us to save eyesight! A cataract surgery improves lives sustainably,” said CBM-Director Dr Rainer Brockhaus. “We thank the donor and the acquirer of the painting very much”. Sotheby’s also contributed to the good cause, by arranging all the logistics, including transportation, free of charge and waiving their commission, enabling all profits to go directly to the charity.

Worldwide, there are approximately 20 million people who are blind due to cataract. It costs just 30 Euro to perform a cataract surgery at CBM-projects in developing countries. Ophthalmologist Dr. Kermani adds: “Eyesight is so precious. It costs so little to give it back.”

See the full article here

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10 amazing places to see in India’s Golden Triangle published in Metro

India is a culture-filled, spiritually-steeped country as vast as it is colourful.

Cities burst with energy, rickshaws speed through crowded streets and crumbling ancient history neighbours tropical paradises.

Here’s 10 must see stops in and around Delhi, the Golden Triangle and the ‘Pink City’ of Jaipur.

1. Old Delhi, Delhi

Serving as the symbolic heart of Delhi, this walled city was founded by a Mughal Emperor in 1639. Today, it’s a burst of the brightest people and buildings.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Old Delhi (Picture: Getty)

2. Red Fort, Delhi

Overlooking the river Jamuna, the Red Fort was built when the Mughal Empire was at its peak, between 1638-1648. It houses a number of museums so you can take in some more splendid history.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Red Fort (Picture: Getty)

3. Taj Mahal, Agra Fort

The world’s most famous temple and not without good reason. Its white marble exteriors will have you awestruck.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Taj Mahal reflected in the Lotus pool (Picture: Getty)

4. ‘Baby Taj’, Agra

Also known as the “jewel box” and sometimes called the “Baby Taj”, the exquisite tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg is often regarded as a template of the Taj Mahal.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
The Baby Taj Mahal (Picture: Getty)

5. Amber Fort, Jaipur

A honey-hued fortress palace in the Aravalli Hills, Amber Fort is perfect for those who love forts and old monuments. It boasts a chamber of mirrors and the interiors are covered in decorative arts. You can also visit for the striking views of the gorge.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Amber Fort, Jaipur (Picture: Getty)

6. Fatehpur Sikri, Agra District of Uttar Pradesh

This magnificent fortified ancient city was the capital of the Mughal Empire between 1571 and 1585, during the reign of Emperor Akbar and abandoned on the emperor’s death.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Fatehpur Sikri (Picture: Getty)

7. Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

This majestic building is known as the Palace of the Winds and was built by King Sawai Pratap Singh in 1799.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Hawa Mahal (Picture: Getty)

8. Raj Ghat, Delhi

Resting along the banks of the Yamuna River, and just South of the Red Fort, a simple black-marble platform marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. It’s inscribed with what are said to have been Gandhi’s final words, Hai Ram (Oh, God).

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Raj Ghat (Picture: Getty)

9. Qutab Minar, Delhi

The tallest stone tower in India stands 238 feet tall. Built between 1193 and 1369 it symbolises Islamic rule over Delhi and commemorates the victory of Qutab-ud-din over the city’s last Hindu king. The tower is made from two distinct stones for an artistic feel – red sandstone, and the upper two, white marble.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Qutab Minar (Picture: Getty)

10. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

One of the most majestic tombs built in Delhi during the Mughal rule, is the Humayun’s Tomb. It’s a feat of Persian architecture. Commissioned in 1526, it come into being nine years after the death of Humayun, by his widow Hamida Banu Begum.

10 amazing places to see in India's Golden Triangle
Humayun’s Tomb (Picture: Getty)

You can take in all these sites on the Taste of India 7 day tour with Virgin Holidays. Prices start from £999pp for September 2016.

14 reasons to visit the Cotswolds published on Metro Online

Rise with the Lark, play with penguins, get creative in the countryside or doodle a design under a blossom tree.

Whatever wholesome fun takes your fancy, the Cotswolds are a fairytale dream of charming landscapes and crafty pastimes.

Go for exotic wildlife, rolling hills and the quaintest of villages smattered with thatched cottages and olde worlde watering holes.

Here’s 14 reasons you need to visit The Cotswolds this weekend.

1. Chavenage House, Tetbury

(Picture: Chavengage House)
(Picture: Chavenage House)

Majestic and grand, Chavenage House was used as a setting for Lark Rise To Candleford, the great British drama set in the 19th century.

2. The Gordon Russell Museum, Worcestershire

(Picture: www.gordonrussellmuseum.org)
(Picture: http://www.gordonrussellmuseum.org)

Gordon Russell was a design pioneer.

Experience his objet d’art at this museum dedicated to his discerning work.

3. Birdland, Bourton-on-the-Water

P-p-p-pick up a penguin! Birdland has the only breeding group of King Penguins in the country.

Spike the King Penguin, who was hand-reared, is a popular resident with his own Facebook and Twitter following.

4. Tewkesbury Heritage Centre

Fun for all the family, and free to boot!

Wandering through this 17th Century building will take you from the days of the earliest local settlers, through the Wars of the Roses, the Civil War and the industrial revolution and into the present day.

5. Burford village

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

I love Burford for its cute boutique shops, alley retreats behind the high street and pubs.

Experience craft-brewed and locally-brewed beer and friendly publicans as well as tasty food – the 16th Century Angel pub and restaurant’s my favourite for that!

6. Sudeley Castle and gardens

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

Perfect for a picnic, the 10 gardens at Sudeley feature creations by landscape designers Lanning Roper, Rosemary Verey, Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, Charles Chesshire and Sir Roddy Llewellyn.

7. Gloucester Cathedral

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

Enjoy the sound of the choir or light a candle for a loved one in the splendid surroundings of this cathedral – which also starred in the Harry Potter films.

(Picture: Getty)
Look familiar? (Picture: Getty)

It’s easy to find in the centre of the city, and you can while away hours simply adoring the opulent interior and exterior.

8. Gloucester Docks

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
(Picture: Getty)

Drink or eat in modern bars and restaurants set along the old brick docks in Gloucester.

9. The Cotswold Falconry Centre

14 reasons you need to visit the Cotswolds
You can see a bald eagle, owls, hawk and falcon (Picture: Getty)

Experience an hour or two of flying owls, have them land on your hand and feed them.

It’s genuinely something different and fun for all ages at just £45 a head.

10. The Dovecote cottage, Tewksbury

(Picture: www.holidaylettings.co.uk)
(Picture: http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk)

Charming and romantic, send a love letter to your partner through one of the original pigeonholes that adorn the two double bedroom walls, or contemplate life in front of the pond outside.

The cottage is reasonably priced, and in a good rural yet central location for exploring the Cotswolds.

11. The Cotswolds Distillery

(Picture: Cotswolds Distillery)
(Picture: Cotswolds Distillery)

Visit a craft distillery within the Cotswolds Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Here, they produce a range of spirits including whisky and gin. Tasting tours start from £6 per a person.

12. New Brewery Arts, Cirencester

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Put pen to paper in a creative writing class or channel your inner Zandra Rhodes with a textile course.

13. Court Barn Museum, Chipping Camden

(Picture: VisitEngland.com)
(Picture: VisitEngland.com)

Set in a 17th-century farm building and telling the arts and crafts story of Chipping Camden, The Court Barn Museum adds a splash of creativity and colour to your countryside adventure.

14. Painswick Rococo Garden

Wed in a fairytale red house, get lost in a garden maze a la Alice in Wonderland or daydream under a cherry blossom in these gardens founded in the 1730s.

Creative Writing: Baby Snail

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The scale of the baby snail, so small, so very sweet as it slides like wet silk along the greenhouse, brought back memories and allowed me to wallow in the past with reliable rose-tinged glasses that the uncertainty of the future doesn’t allow for. But it wasn’t just memories of pet insects kept in jam jars this baby snail had. It kept a home like a Cadbury’s swirl balanced on its back. This wobbly, sticky shell could so easily be defeated with the pinch of my clumsy fingers. It was exciting both then and now to think I could have something real, something that lives and breathes, right here and now completely at my mercy of my impulses. As I smoked a cigarette outside I thought about my partner upstairs, still sleeping, and offered the baby snail a verdant Maple leaf for feasting on or sheltering from what looked like a rain storm brewing.

Hip Trip Edinburgh Published in Fused Magazine

Edinburgh. It’s a culture vulture’s paradise with a festival for every fandom. Bookworm? Check (Edinburgh International Book Festival is on 15th – 31st of August). Comedy fan? Check times gazillion (The Edinburgh Fringe Festival falls on 7th – 31st August) Ghost hunter? They got the ghosts busted all year round (The Edinburgh Dungeons). Punctuate your trip with great food and drinks, and decorate with some of the world class art on display at one of the galleries or museums – the blue and white cross flag doesn’t seem to do this bright and colourful city justice, but the Fused Hip Trip guide should highlight some of the best it has to offer…

Hip-Trips

WHERE TO STAY…


Wallace Art House Surround yourself with art at this reasonable priced, unique B&B and enjoy the company of Wallace Shaw, the charismatic owner. 41-4 Constitution St, Edinburgh EH6 7BG 07941 343714
The Royal Britannia Less than 2 miles from Edinburgh Castle, this west End hotel is nestled on a riverside and just across the road from the National Museum Scotland. It’s also one of the few hotels in the UK where you can still enjoy smoking rooms. Behold and inhale! 69 Belford Terrace, Edinburgh 0871 221 0243

WHERE TO EAT…


Nonna’s Kitchen Established by Gino Stornaiuolo and family, Nonna’s Kitchen offer great food with a highlight being the pumpkin ravioli in gorgonzola and hazelnuts (drool at the thought). It’s modern and airy yet homely and intimate space plus the waiting staff have an uncanny knack for reciting long specials lists off the top of their heads! 45 Morningside Road, Edinburgh EH10 4AZ 0131 466 6767.

WHERE TO DRINK…


Treacle Head here for the best Edinburgh cocktails and a drinks menu that features an eclectic list of ingredients such as egg whites, sherbet with dipping lollipops and Hibiscus. 41 Broughton St, Edinburgh EH1 3JU 0131 557 0627

THINGS TO DO…


The Edinburgh Dungeon Shiver through an 80 minute journey of 1000 years of Scotland’s haunted history with actors, storytelling, exciting rides and thrilling special effects. Features the tale of murderous twosome Burke and Hare as well as gruesome details of the plague in the city’s “Streets of Sorrow”.  31 Market St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 1DF 0871 423 2250
The Fruitmarket Art Gallery Be sure to check the current Phyllida Barlow show (on until 18 October 2015) – it’s a dreamy, pink-tinged installation that brings the artists memories of the space to life and it gives you the feeling of entering the private parts of a woman’s brain (men take note!) 45 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DF 0131 225 2383
The Scottish National Museum of Modern Art Don’t miss the important paintings of modern art history on display here. Of note is Expressionistic artist Oskar Kokoschka’s Self-Portrait as a Degenerate Artist (1937), a long-term loan from a private collection. It was painted in response to the Nazi’s attack on modern art, which had deemed Kokoschka and others as “degenerates”. 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh EH4 3DR 0131 624 6200

TIPS


The kindness of strangers Allow the friendly locals to show you around: ditch the guidebooks and official tours and let one or two kind strangers be your tour guides – they’ll have insider tips, doused in humour, to impart.
A Scottish tipple Get into the Edinburgh spirit with, errr….. a spirit! Try a highland dram of whisky such as The Ardmore Legacy, the perfect introduction to peated single malt whisky with notes of creamy vanilla, followed by smoky charcoal and savoury spices. Available in multiple retailers including Tesco and Morrisons (RRP £29.99).

The Recovery Colleges Preventing a Mental Health Crisis Published in The Mail on Sunday

  • They help patients with anxiety and depression become self-care experts
  • There are now more than 30 of the pioneering centres across Britain
  • But last month, health chiefs in Essex closed one college despite protests 
  • Now, there is concern that other self-help schools may now face same fate

Recovery ‘colleges’, which help patients with anxiety and depression become self-care experts rather than relying on therapists, are under threat, campaigners have warned.

First launched six years ago, there are now more than 30 of the facilities across Britain, based in community halls, day centres and hospital campuses.

The pioneering centres – funded either by the NHS or charities – provide workshops run by and for those with mental health conditions, including people suffering from long-term illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Recovery ‘colleges’, which help patients with mental health issues, are under threat, campaigners have warned. File photo

However, there is concern that these self-help schools have hit a funding crisis. Last month, health chiefs in Essex closed one college despite protests. Campaigners say others may now face the same fate.

A petition against the axeing of the Mid Essex Recovery Hub and College, which had been running courses in Chelmsford since 2013, raised more than 800 signatures.

But a spokesman for North Essex Partnership Trust, which ran the college, said: ‘The Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group is no longer funding it.’

Clinical psychologist Rosie Beck said recovery courses such as those she helps to run in Manchester can save patients reaching crisis point. She described them as a vital resource for an already cash-strapped mental health service.

Bipolar disorder typically causes sufferers to experience periods of extreme energy or mania, followed by depression. One well-known sufferer is actress Catherine Zeta-Jones (pictured with husband Michael Douglas)

‘There’s no doubt people learn vital skills like relapse prevention,’ said Dr Beck. ‘They empower people in taking charge of their recovery. Learning from peers, others who’ve had a similar experience, is a really major element.’

It was revealed recently that more than 2,000 psychiatric beds have been lost across England since 2011, which represents a 12 per cent decline in the total number available. It also found that seven people had killed themselves since 2012 after being told there was no hospital bed for them.

‘You can’t treat mental health like a light switch – you can’t flick support on and off,’ said Paul Cook, who was a tutor at the closed Essex college. The former City broker credits the facility with helping him recover after he suffered a breakdown several years ago.

‘You can’t use people who are bipolar or suffering from severe anxiety as crash-test dummies, then switch off support and disrupt their lives,’ he added.

Bipolar disorder, once called manic depression, typically causes sufferers to experience periods of extreme energy or mania, followed by depression. One well-known sufferer is Hollywood actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. She now successfully monitors her own condition and even attends residential clinics when she needs to, to receive ‘maintenance’ treatment.

A spokesman for Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘After extending the pilot scheme for a further six months, the CCG has had to face the tough decision of whether to continue with funding.’

An American concept, recovery colleges were first introduced in Arizona in 2000 after a mental health inpatient was forcibly restrained against their will and subsequently complained.

The patient asked that they be able to work with, not against, staff and clinicians for the best outcomes, and requested a less paternal-child relationship with staff.

The first centre to open in the UK was the South West London Recovery College in 2009.

The idea is that the patient works with a tutor – or recovery coach – who has direct experience of a mental health issue.

This model of peer support is already used to help people suffering from drug addiction.

Courses can last half a day or up to six months. The sessions range from life-skills workshops, such as how to manage a budget, through to managing bipolar disorder from the perspective both of a patient and family member.

A GP referral is not necessary before attending a course. However, most of the people signing up for recovery college workshops are already known to the health services and will already be receiving treatment.

Research has shown that recovery colleges can help people develop a more positive outlook on life. More than two-thirds of those taking part said they felt more hopeful about their future than when they started the course.

A follow-up at 18 months also showed that more than four in five had been successful in developing their own ‘self-help’ plan for managing problems and staying well.

And those who attended at least 70 per cent of sessions showed a marked reduction in their use of other mental health services.

In February 2011, the Department of Health commissioned the charity the Centre for Mental Health and the NHS Confederation’s Mental Health Network to pilot new ways of helping people recover from mental health issues. These included encouraging the development of recovery colleges.

‘Provision is still patchy and not everywhere has invested [in recovery colleges],’ said Andy Bell, deputy chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health. ‘But there is a case for these to be supported on a human and financial level.

‘It’s early days and we can’t say yet that they lead to fewer hospital admissions. But for a small investment we get a lot more out then we do with old-fashioned approaches.’

14 Reasons Staffordshire Is The Best Place to Live Published on Metro.co.uk

lama Sept 2014

From Friday nights out endorsed by Pete Tong to TV’s Victorian pottery museum plus a rolling expanse of countryside with roaming monkeys – Staffordshire’s got everything you need. Plus, it’s all affordable.

1. Gladstone Pottery Museum

It’s been in the news ever since Hollywood hunk Russell Crowe took to Twitter to discover the origin of his Gladstone teacup. Now the Gladstone Museum can boast an appearance on the BBC TV programme 24 Hours in the Past.

2. House prices

Buy a four bedroom house for under £150,000. There are plenty of options in Staffordshire – from Victorian terraces to 1930s semi-detached houses.

(Picture: Flickr/barnyz)
(Picture: Flickr/barnyz)

3. Appetite

Transforming ordinary people and places into works of art or one-off performances, Appetite is a three year programme that aims to get more people to experience and be inspired by the arts.

4. Swoon

Mixmag called the clubnight ‘the best Friday dance night’. Pete Tong declared much the same on Radio 1. And Channel 4 immortalised the night on its BPM show. DJs include Roger Sanchez, Jon Pleased Wimmin and residents Mark Rowley and Angel.

5. National Memorial Arboretum

Pay your respects at the National Memorial Arboretum. Since planting began in 1997, it’s been a special place honouring those who have served, and continue to serve. Not just a cemetery, it includes 150 acres of woodland areas too.

(Picture: Flickr/Tim Ellis)
(Picture: Flickr/Tim Ellis)

6. Llama trekking

According to the website ‘you feel calmer, walking with a Llama!’ Visit this Llama farm to groom one of a handful of delightful Llamas, take your favourite for a walk and then reward your Llama at feeding time – you’ll have a friend for life!

(Picture: Flickr/Marie Hale)
(Picture: Flickr/Marie Hale)

7. Oatcakes!

Oatcakes, the local delicacy are sold in every shop and bakery in Staffordshire. They’re like savoury pancakes, only made with oats. Buy for a pack of 6 for under £2, and serve with bacon and cheese.

8. The Annual Literary Festival

This year, the second Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival brought a fantastic range of writers to the city giving local people the opportunity to find out more about the art and craft of writing and the joys of reading.

9. Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin

Local registered clown and Stoke City Football Club’s kit-man circa 1990, Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin’s life was immortalised in BBC drama Marvellous, which won a host of BAFTAs.

10. Mental health services

Mental health provisions on the NHS in Staffordshire are among the best in the country. Patients at Harpland’s Hospital find themselves with fantastic treatment – such as Compassion Focused Therapy and group CBT. St George’s in Stafford boast a Recovery College in the pipeline, too.

11. Weston Park

More famous for hosting V Festival, the stately home also offers sleep overs and dinner on occasion, beneath a gorgeous George Stubbs painting.

(Picture: Flickr/Mark Freeth)
(Picture: Flickr/Mark Freeth)

12. The Staffordshire Hoard

We have the largest hoard of Anglo Saxon gold ever found.

13. The Monkey Forest

Monkey around with one of 140 Barbary macaques roaming free in 60 acres of beautiful English Forest. Watch the monkeys playing on the ground and in the trees. Guides are positioned along the paths and there are hourly feeding talks.

(Picture: Flickr/Pete Birkinshaw)
(Picture: Flickr/Pete Birkinshaw)

14. Transport links

If you do tire of Staffordshire, Stafford train station is under 1.5 hours from London Euston, 45 minutes from Manchester and under half an hour from Birmingham New Street.

See my article on Metro.co.uk here – over 400 shares and counting!

The Swoon Story: Reminding Us How Extraordinarily Fun Dancing Can Be

tightrope

Once upon a time, way back in the 1990s, Swoon was dubbed “Best Friday night” by music bible Mixmag as well as by Pete Tong on his BBC Radio 1 show. It was always an effortlessly classy night with clubbers mimicking the smouldering 40s screen sirens on the night’s exclusive flyers.

Founded in February 1994, in its heyday it was filmed for Channel 4’s BPM and saw celebrity DJs such as Boy George, Graeme Park, Jeremy Healy, Masters at Work, and Judge Jules headlining – often globetrotting just to get to Stafford. The feel-good atmosphere, the friendly crowd, the excitement for a Friday night out are all difficult to sum up in words. But let’s just say Swoon has always had that je ne sais quoi!

And now the countdown to the next Swoon reunion is on, after a fantastic 1st year back and fresh on the heels of Swoon’s sell out anniversary show. Coming back to the Stafford venue on the anniversary’s spring night, after a twenty year break, was Roger Sanchez. With arms rising to the air like champagne bubbles, the DJ knew instinctively how to draw an utterly beguiling crowd (people talked afterwards of the brilliant atmosphere that’s even better the second time around!)

So, one year into the reunions and Swoon are now hosting a shimmering summer special on 31st July. Buy one of the few remaining tickets before they all sell out in 3, 2… weeks. The line-up for this summer special is almost as bright as the sun that’ll be setting as the DJs prepare for the night.

As well as Jon Pleased Wimmin, they’ll be Allister Whitehead, and residents Angel and Mark Rowley – all reunited under Couture’s giant glitter ball. Need a cold shower after that? Head on down to Room 2 with Sounds Collective, Mark Mac & Guests in for a cooling, more chilled experience.

While there’s no dress code, Swooners (as the promoters endearingly call them!) like to leave an impression. Swoon has always been a glitzy affair and the look harks back to glamourous grunge with metallic silver baby doll dresses, ankle socks and pigtails. The men like their tartan shirts (and many even go for tartan pants).

But Swoon has always attracted more women than it has men – indeed, it was one of the first nights to have a resident female DJ (Angel) and there’s never any trouble behind the glittering black doors.

As always, early bird tickets have sold out in record time and only a few limited standard tickets remain. Make sure you grab them whilst you can!

Swoon. Meaning: to feel a lot of pleasure, love, because of something or someone. Be part of it, come along!

Swoon nights are held at Couture, Stafford. The next reunion is on 31st July with Jon Pleased Wimmin, Allister Whitehead, Mark Rowley & Angel headlining. Tickets in advance, from £15.

Rewd Britannia – published in Fused Magazine

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Fatherhood has not fettered the fire in rapper Rewd Adams. His latest offering, Hunger Pains 2, stands testimony to this. Inspired by real life and peppered with a theme of love, Hunger Pains 2 is more melodic and mellow than his previous releases, but by no means is it any less passionate. His lyrics, sometimes wise beyond their years, are punctuated by the sort of philosophy you find down the pub on a Friday night – he’s even made a video on a camera phone filming one such night for his track Hair of the Dog. But his lyrics – his first port of call when setting about making a track – are also punctuated with a Buddha-esque compassion that comes only from walking in well-worn shoes. Shoes that his previous, more venomous work, under the name Skandal, alludes to. Fused caught up with the man to delve a little deeper…

Your new mix tape Hunger Pains 2 is very uplifting & melodic – intentional? What vibe were you going for?
I’ve always leant to the more melodic side of rap, I’m a believer that it keeps the listener engaged and that’s ultimately the aim for me as an artist. It was a conscious decision to base a lot of the songs around the theme of love, which is something I’ve not done before and it definitely made the project a more cohesive listen.

What came first in putting this mix tape together, writing? Can you explain how it got made?
Yeh. I normally start with writing, beats are an important factor because every beat will give me a different vibe and inspire different feelings and concepts. I wrote most of the demos at home and recorded the final versions at Kilamanjaro studios with Chemo (bad boy engineer).

You did an album about struggling to make ends meet (How Not to Make a Living) – does the internet hinder or help you from making a living?
Haha yeh I was pretty pissed off at the time. I don’t think anything or anybody hinders you making money other than yourself you know? There’s always ways to make money whether in music or not. The Internet is just a tool for artists to use for their benefit if they take the time to learn how to use it properly. Most of my sales have been digital so the Internet hasn’t hampered any of my revenue.

Biggest influences?
Life, my family, everyday people and conversations I have with like-minded individuals.

Do you work with any artists stateside? Are there any frustrations to being a “UK Rap Star” rather than one based somewhere else?
Thanks to the Internet yeh, I worked with a producer called Sinitus Tempo on the new project who blessed me with a great instrumental for the song ‘loyalty’. I’ve produced for a cat called Avatar Darko from Seattle as well. I’m slowly building up some contacts and I hope to continue to work with artists and producers all over the world.

Did you know in China they have a genre called C-Rap! What do you make of it?
No I haven’t heard of it, I’ll be sure to check it out…. Wait! C-Rap!? Doesn’t that spell crap?

Hunger Pains 2 features buses, hangovers, etc – inspiration from real life?
Haha 100% unless it’s a fictional character or I’m writing through the eyes of someone else all my music is in person. If I haven’t lived it I can’t really draw much inspiration from that situation. And I prefer to keep it as authentic as possible.

What’s next for you?
At the moment the plan is to keep promoting the new release, keep pumping out videos and do shows while pushing Hunger Pains 2 to as many people as possible.

Download Hunger Pains 2 on iTunes. See the post on FusedMagazine.co.uk.

Top Ten Festival Buys Published in TNT Magazine

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Summer has arrived, and with it a myriad of muddy festivals. There are some things you simply can’t turn up without – think wellies and dry hair spray. And then there are others that can leave at home in your bathroom like towels, and a hairdryer. Here Erica Crompton rounds up her top five festival buys…

Travel Perfume
Oh boy can it get smelly in festivals! You may recall an insane lack of toilet tissue, and no space for a shower other than your friend shaking a can of Carling open, over your head. Freshen up morning and night with a budget and travel friendly version of Molecule 01 fragrance from Escentric Molecules. It blends with your natural pheromones to create an individual scent that is unique to you – helping your lost mates spot where you are a mile off. £27, cultbeauty.co.uk

Dry Hair Spray
With Mark Hill’s new Big Night Out range you’ll never need to resort to pulling all your hair up in your hat. For festivals try Dirty Little Stop Out! Volumising Dry Shampoo which will zap greasy roots without having to wash, shampoo and condition. All you need to worry about, is what colour you do your hair now. Pink? Green? Or maybe a “hairs stood on their ends after a night of electro punk” do? From £6.29 for 200ml at Boots.com

Umbrella Hat
Whacky wear works at festivals and will win you points with your friends for providing a talking paint around the campfire. With so many beards, facial tattoos and sometimes even stilts and Penny Farthings to compete with, I say go for broke! Try a novelty umbrella hat that operates like a bright idea bulb hovering over your head – it’ll keep rain at bay and your now coiffured hair intact, too. £3.12 from novelties-direct.co.uk

Wellies

My cherry red Hunter wellies work well for every sundress I own – yes, the lace, floral, nautical and even tribal smocks. They also look great with jeans and, if I was Kate Moss, hotpants. The hardest part of my purchasing these this spring is not succumbing to Hipsterville and wearing them on the High Street. Try the tall red classics for a modern stamp in the mud! Buy today for a reduced price of £74.99 at cloggs.co.uk

Sleeping Bag Onesie
Your camping partner will never be able to nick the sleeping bag again with a sleeping bag onesie. Keep the warmth to yourself and cosy up with a SelkBag Classic Sleep Suit in a selection of “Get off my duvet!” primary colours. You can run around in it all night and, because it’s built for the outdoors, it willl keep you warm. Features include extra leg ventilation to keep you cool at night, an insulated collar and cord lock for extra warmth and even a little check storage pocket so that you can literally keep your valuables close to your heart. Priced at £98.99 from planetcamping.co.uk

Read more: Top five festival buys – TNT Magazine