Nice to see you again! It's your friend Adam Stoner here, telling you what I've been doing, reading, watching and listening to since we last spoke.
If you’re ever in Gloucester, I heartily recommend this routine: Go for breakfast at Jane’s Pantry – the staff are chatty and vibrant and the food is beautiful. Wander around the Cathedral for the morning (entry is free) and then stroll through town for coffee at Guru Coffee House. Pop down to the Quays, a five minute walk away, for a spot of afternoon shopping and grab dinner whilst you're there – I recommend Coal. Go for the Coal burger, add pulled pork!
Almost right after our last email, I picked up a new pair of shoes from Grenson in London. I opted for the Sneakers. They've taken some breaking in but they're the best pair of shoes I've ever owned. I went back a week later to get some polish for them, and a week after that to pick up a cardholder – I really like it!
Along with Grenson, Bellroy make some beautiful leather goods. I’ve had a couple of phone cases from them in the past but for the last six months I’ve been rocking the All Conditions Essentials Pocket in Burnt Orange. The zip has become a bit frayed over the last half-year and without missing a beat, they offered to replace the whole thing free of charge. That is how you do customer service.
Great Western Railway have launched touch-card ticketing. It means that I can ditch my paper season ticket and opt for what is essentially an Oyster, loaded with a travelcard. With a new financial year underway, I’m also making some money-based resolutions, one of which is to go paperless – cashless, getting digital statements and bills, declining receipts, and using this touch-card where I can. I'm doing well so far!
If you're looking for a drink to unwind with this weekend, I heartily recommend this, which I had at The Greyhound in Besselsleigh, near Oxford. Beefeater Blood Orange Gin, over ice, with Fentimans Valencia Orange tonic water. If you get the chance to visit, here's a tip: the mini creme brûlée is the same size as the normal one but comes with a coffee. The menu changes daily, so check before you visit, but be sure to make a reservation – it's popular!
And to close this opener, in a world where complaining is so easy, I urge you to give praise where it’s due. A habit I've adopted over the past few months is to send an email to the manager of a store or the customer service desk of a company to say ‘hey, a member of your staff is awesome and here’s why’. Not only does it help brighten their day but expressing gratitude is good for you also! Of course, Twitter works for spreading the love as well but blackmailing a company on a public platform is never a good look (for you, as well as them) – take complains to the DMs.
What I've been reading:
I’ve been picking up a lot of magazines recently as I create a one-off mag for Fun Kids, the children’s radio station I work for (cover below).
Everything in this mag is designed by me and most of the words are mine also. It’s for an event we’re doing at the Birmingham NEC Arena later this month. The magazine is kindly hosted here by our printers, if you want a (digital) thumb through.
My magazine of choice at the moment is Delayed Gratification, a quarterly publication that revisits news stories from the quarter before. Oct/Nov/Dec ‘18 came out last week. Also worth checking out is Weapons of Reason, published by design company Human After All, and Positive News, which does what it says on the tin.
If you want to pick up some print on your way to or from work, Kioskafé, about 250 steps from London Paddington, is a nice place. They'll print newspapers from around the world on-demand and they also have a small selection of clothes in stock for the traveller, or more likely the commuter that's spilled coffee down themselves. I hold my hand up. Four times this month.
I paid a visit to Persephone Books in London just before Mother’s Day. Their best seller, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, proved a nice present last Sunday. Persephone have a bit of a social mission in which they reprint neglected works by predominantly mid-20th century female writers. The store is cosy and the staff chipper; it’s just down the road from Grensons.
Oh, and Oranges by John McPhee is what I'm reading at the moment. Unsurprisingly, it's about oranges.
What I've been watching:
I’ve re-subscribed to a few of my favourite creators on Patreon. Matt D’Avella is one of my favourite at the moment. He knows how to tell a story. Simple videography and casual humour make something that might ordinarily feel ‘preachy’ very friendly and approachable.
I also rediscovered a few old favourites on YouTube. Kai and Lok previously presented DigitalRev’s photography channel but have since left to create their own. Their videos, old and new, are Clarkson’s Top Gear meets the Gadget Show and are good for any photography fan.
This video from another photographer on how to remember your memories is eye opening and instructive. It actually led me to open a Lightroom CC subscription. The app is undoubtedly powerful and full of value but it’s an expensive photo-backup option at £9.99 a month, especially when Dropbox, OneDrive, and iCloud/Apple Photos all offer automatic phone camera uploads at similar or cheaper price points. Increasing your iCloud storage to 2TB (double that of Lightroom) costs just £7 a month and OneDrive and Dropbox (from ~£9.99 a month) both support uploads of other file types, obviously. Back to the video though, the bit about the hamster got me.
What I've been listening to:
On the audio front, I’ve really been getting into live albums. There’s something nice about that audience atmosphere in the background that accompanies a live performance; there’s an authenticity there that studio versions fail to capture. Plus they’re more fun to dance around your bedroom to.
I bumped into university friend Adam Spragg wandering around Cheltenham on Wednesday. He fronts up Sad Boys Ltd with three friends. Drop them a listen and let me know if you enjoy the tunes.
I’m also into jazz at the moment. The Apple Music jazz playlists are well curated, if that's your streaming platform of choice. The Window by Cécile McLorin Salvant and Sullivan Fortner is what I'm playing as I type this newsletter.
Podcast wise, I've had a bit of a quiet month. Krishnan Guru-Murthy's Channel 4 podcast Ways to Change The World interviewed author Matt Haig on March 27th – that was good.
Around The Open Fire (not to be confused with the fire industry's 'The Open Fire' podcast, which isn't as exciting) is an interesting podcast concept whereby the interviewee one week hosts the podcast the week after with an interviewee of their own choice. I imagine the idea requires a lot of admin work and I imagine that's the reason there hasn't been a new episode for a month...
My monthly newsletter is a summary of what I've been reading, writing, listening to and enjoying. Get it on the first Sunday of each month.