|Posted by toby_newton on July 27, 2013 at 2:15 PM||comments (0)|
Best for Lunch Breaks and Cakes
As someone who works in a nearby office, I had already heard a lot of positive things about this little gem of a patisserie before going there for lunch with colleagues and friends, or sampling some of their cakes to take away.
La Pearle is an airy and light establishment with friendly staff and Wi-Fi access. This corner café is easy walking distance for a number of offices and businesses dotted around Millsands and Kelham Island, and from the nearby hotels.
The cake-counter itself boasts a nice selection of treats for either you to feast on if you are feeling you have earned some, or to take home to your loved ones if you are feeling like sharing the love. The quality of the pastries is commendable and I will be back to try something new again soon.
Last time I visited though, I went for lunch with a friend and ordered the halloumi cheese and freshly made humus. It was both decent value and delicious. That said, I was equally tempted by my mate’s spicy chicken burger and nicely cooked chips with just the right amount of well-presented side salad. So often in British cafes, and with burger and chips especially, you would just get some unappetising salad plonked on your plate as an afterthought. Both our salads here were fresh and tasty.
La Pearle is located is on the Wicker in central Sheffield and stays open all day and late into the evening…so there really is no excuse not to call by and treat yourself to lunch or some cake!
Review by Toby Newton for Sync City magazine.
|Posted by toby_newton on July 27, 2013 at 2:10 PM||comments (0)|
That morning Dawid's eyelids flinched before gradually opening as he felt the warmth of a new sun creep its way through the open barn door and up his bare back until the cloud was completely gone and he was bathed in soft morning light. His eyes stung from the previous night and he could not lift his head, heavy as it was from the all too familiar excesses of yesterday. Still though, it weighed less upon him than the sorrow burdening his heart.
For one hundred or more nights Dawid had yearned for release from the shadows which tormented his every waking and sleeping hour. He was cut adrift in his sea of troubles with nothing but demons to keep him company. He caught fleeting glimpses in his dreams of a damsel aboard a long boat travelling north to set him free only to be crestfallen each day break with the realisation that despite his desperate attempts to manifest her, she had not arrived to rescue him from his reality. He felt sure instead that Skadi would grip him in summer too, and that her touch would be even colder then.
Yet the sun was strangely comforting that morning after a night that had felt like a century of darkness. Still lying flat upon his fur cloak, he stared at the twinkling embers and tiny wisps of campfire smoke as they spiralled and danced upwards into the dawn air. Then he heard something he had never heard before: A female voice, singing in some unknown tongue, but so softly that it melted him to his core. It was coming from down by the stables and, suddenly intrigued by something for the first time in years, he dragged himself up and forced his beleaguered body to function...but he did not get far.
Still adjusting to the brightness, Dawid was greeted by such a vision of sheer natural beauty that he feared at first that he had not woken from his dreams. But what moved before him was far too visceral to be a dream, too radiant to be of the dark, and too joyous to allow the presence of creatures of the night. Love instantly leapt from some unknown prison in his heart and rose up in him, electrifying his very soul. The pure and strange sensation pulled at him as he strained to see the sprite like figure. She danced away through the fields ahead of him as the sun glowed behind her.
Everywhere flowers were blooming as she passed, twirling her arms gently, and brushing them as she moved. She was spreading happiness over the shattered land but seemed blissfully unaware of her magic. That sombre scene he had mournfully surveyed last night before succumbing once more to the delirium of the Agaricus, was now teeming with life and vibrant colour. Three small rabbits scampered brazenly past him and the dawn chorus was growing louder than any birdsong he could ever remember.
Dawid's senses had been heightened last night as he entertained the heathen Berserkers who had forced entry to shelter in his barn before passing out after consuming all his best wine and rarest fungi. The state of mental and emotional arousal he found himself in now though was induced purely by what he was witnessing and it was incomparable to anything he had ever experienced. Surely not even Odin himself could have conjured up such a wondrous vision for a man.
The south wind ruffled her white dress as she came to a stop at the edge of the meadow, turned and smiled at him. A smile like no other. His body and soul were powerless in the face of such happiness and he stood there transfixed until that smile slowly spread to his own lips. his sorrow was washing away amid the streams of sunshine. He was remembering joy...and then she was gone.
Never seen again in the village, rumour had it that Dawid's inspiration must have been the Kyfling girl, Sondra. She was said to have travelled from the Eastern Baltic, summoned at the behest of the Goddess Freya, who had herself been trapped by Skadi and kept out of the sight of humans. Sondra was a mortal girl, sure enough, or so the legend went. Every village she had passed through had sung songs lamenting her loss and calling for her return. She was as unknowing of her destiny and her mission as she was of her own great beauty. Herself inspired by she knew not what to travel to new lands that May, what she could not possibly have known was that only her willingness to love could inspire a transformation in the rule of the Gods, replacing Skadi's vengeance with Spring's sweet caress.
She knew as he smiled back at her though, that it had surely inspired him.
Toby Newton - May 2013 (and published in August's Sync City magazine).
|Posted by toby_newton on May 9, 2013 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
Play Ball - by Toby Newton for Sync City Magazine
With this month's general theme revolving around health and wellbeing in Sheffield, what better time to look at the SBL. Sheffield's Basketball League is going from strength to strength with new teams from across Sheffield and around joining to compete over three divisions and opportunities for new players to get involved or get back into basketball at special sessions and chances to get into refereeing and officiating.
Sheffield's basketball league was contested across various South Yorkshire venues during the 1960s, 70's and 80's but the current crop of teams can now all be seen competing at Sheffield's impressive English Institute of Sport. 'Loxley' have become the team to beat over recent years but there are a host of upcoming teams eager to establish their own runs of success. 'Goole Warriors' emerged victorious this time out (see pic) and entries are currently being accepted for the new summer season.
For more information about getting involved with the league or getting into Sheffield Basketball then why not visit the SBL website for some highlights, background and their contact information!
My team to watch for summer league is 'Sheffield Storm'...who says all writer's are biased! Oh, and also check out the great Sheffield Scorpions photo from the SBL history archives from the showtime era! Look out for the forthcoming SBL All-star event too!
|Posted by toby_newton on May 9, 2013 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Film Review - The Full Monty
Ok, so I had the misfortune of sitting through the whole of the Hollywood Jock-fest, 'Magic Mike' recently, albeit with my amazing girlfriend for company. It was about male strippers-cum-dancers and the script was about as good as you may have already guessed it wasn't! However, around about the same period, I also had the pleasure of watching 'The Full Monty' for the first time since moving to Sheffield years ago. In a nutshell, it is a film about six unemployed steel workers who decide to form a male striptease act in order to save their relationships with their partners, and in Robert Carlyle's case, with his son.
Now I am guessing your average woman is going to say the pumped-up strippers in 'Magic Mike' are significantly more attractive than the down-on-their-luck, recently redundant, chancers from Yorkshire. Unlike their testosterone-fuelled counterparts though, they feel 'real'; they are genuine characters. Even the way the film is sot feels real, rough around the edges, but ultimately proud. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of pent-up testosterone and male frustration and anxiety on show in the Sheffield of the past portrayed in Peter Catteneo's unlikely classic. Perhaps now, even more so than in recent years, we can relate to the desperate need for Sheffield-folk to use their wit and inspiration to come up with new ways to make a living in these trying economic times. The film is not all bleak though. Quite the contrary. It shows what can be done when friends come together to overcome their inner demons; their dented pride, and life's adversities.
When I first watched the film back in the day, I saw it purely as a comedy. Back then I couldn't relate to worries about work pressures and threats of redundancies. From that perspective though I think that for all the laughs, this film was certainly an original take on the male bonding experience! For the ladies, well, I guess some would swap the cheeky chaps from the Yorkshire working men's clubs for the plastic morons from Florida any day of the week. As for which of the two movies' lead actors puts on the best 'show'...Carlyle wins hands-down - I mean did you have to ask?...the other fella is called Channing Tatum for heavens-sake!
Review by Toby Newton for Sync City Magazine 2013
|Posted by toby_newton on May 9, 2013 at 5:05 PM||comments (0)|
Tarantino's latest offering is set in the southern US, before the Civil War, and the movie is essentially about a slave becoming a 'kick-ass cowboy' and riding out for revenge. Well, he actually sets out to rescue and be reunited with his wife, but it's hardly a spoiler to say there's going to be some revenge involved...come on, this is Tarantino. For whatever reason, he seems slightly obsessed with the subject that was the driver behind the 'Kill Bill' saga. This is as good as those films!
Here, he certainly pulls no punches in reminding current generations just how abhorrent even the very concept of the slave trade was. This may be an overtly stylized representation, simply punctuated with plenty of humorous scenes so as not to allow the audience to become overwhelmed by the violence on show, but I'm sure most movie goers will still feel anger that humanity allowed slavery to persist for so long while watching the tale unfold. Some people may argue that this is a director who simply glorifies violence and has cashed in on being controversial and liberal with historic accuracy but whilst he is no doubt primarily motivated by a desire to entertain, shock and show us his style, I think to say his work cannot inspire and provoke us to explore our feelings about the background subject matter would be somewhat blinkered. I guess he might argue it depends who's watching. One thing is for sure, this movie can leave adult audiences exiting the theatre feeling that twelve-feet tall sense of triumph over adversity after living through a character stripped of everything and watching him rise up and fight for it back. That doesn't mean they are all going to don a cowboy hat and head off to shoot their bank managers!
Back to the movie itself and the lead character, Django, is a slave whose experienced brutality at the hands of his former owners but his given his shot at revenge after meeting a German-born bounty played by Christopher Waltz. Waltz is, in my humble opinion, brilliant and hilarious in this and you cannot help but root for pair as they set out on their mission. Django himself is played by Jamie Foxx and, apologies to Brit, Idris Elba who was interested in the role, Foxx is perfect for the part. needless to say, the sound track and the style oozing from this movie makes it a very cool 180 minutes. One very slight complaint is that the typical, exaggerated and crazy Tarantino ending is perhaps a little too drawn out and just feels a little bit like 'From Dusk Till Dawn'. All in all though, I will pick this one up when it is out on DVD and enjoy watching it again - but go see it on the big screen, quick!
By Toby Newton - 2013
|Posted by toby_newton on May 9, 2013 at 5:00 PM||comments (0)|
Film Review - Seven Psychopaths
This picture stars Collin Farrell as a down on his luck screenwriter but you soon realise there are plenty of other stars. There were more than a few occasions throughout where I sensed the dog was going to steal the show but I should have trusted my instincts.
From the moment Christopher Walken first appears you almost can’t help but smile to yourself in the knowledge that he is more than likely going to help carry the movie home. Having not seen the trailer or checked-out the casting beforehand for once, I was also more than pleasantly surprised at the moment another cult favourite, Woody Harrleson, first appeared as a crazed mafia boss.
Another good portion of the darkly comic humour so enthusiastically dished out comes from Sam Rockwell’s dog-knapping character; the friend of Farrell's screenwriter. Indeed Farrell finds himself playing the relative straight man, repeatedly left raising his eyebrows and pulling puzzled expressions in response to the deranged wackiness that unfolds around him. You could argue he is too easily overshadowed by the performances of the aforementioned threesome but I found myself giving him the benefit of the doubt throughout and appreciating that it is not his job to compete, with Walken especially.
It is hard to decide to what extent the film playfully mocks and pokes fun at the American obsession with gun fights while simultaneously paying homage to over the top set-piece shootouts and that, I think, is to its credit. Less than half of the way through I had thought to myself more than once that the film was like an entertaining cross between 'In Bruges' and Tarrantino’s 'Kill Bill' flicks. I was only later reminded that Farrell and the director, Martin McDonagh, had teamed up for the former movie but unlike the Bride in Tarrantino’s epic doubleheader, the femme fatale in this film does not play a sexed-up or central role...albeit one with equally gory consequences. The fact that Farrell’s character struggles to write women into his screen plays is, presumably, deliberately mirrored and perhaps an admission from McDonagh too. Returning to the gore aspect, if you are squeamish there are some pretty graphic scenes scattered throughout but the dark comedy means the odd bits of obscenity don't stop you from laughing at just how psycho these characters are.
There are plenty of good scenes but perhaps my favourite involved Walken musing over a campfire about what a good Pope he would make and that provoked the same response in me as it did in Rockwell’s character….’Awesome!’ I hope for my sake that is where the similarities between us end!
One last word on the shihtzu though, I'm sure you'll agree that it should comfortably take home the 'best supporting canine in a black comedy' Oscar!
Review by Toby Newton for Sync City Magazine issue 1 - 2013
|Posted by toby_newton on May 9, 2013 at 4:55 PM||comments (6)|
The luscious green of the fields and forests had long since been replaced by the pale and weary image of a land stricken by Winter's frosty breath: the soil hardened by her icy chill; the trees lonely and lifeless, bereft of leaves, berries and bird song. Both were longing for the protection a blanket of snow would surely bring, but it was too cold to snow. Instead they remained exposed, lamenting the loss of the sun, as if awaiting the end of days in mournful resignation that Spring would not return to save them this time. For without the snow there was nowhere to hide from Winter's freezing winds. Winds that forced even the brave to recoil.
Mounted astride her prowling white wolf, Winter surveyed the field of battle, the taste of victory almost upon her blue lips. She was visible only to the animals and they quaked as she passed but humans too felt her presence and were wary of her wrath. Like Medusa, she could freeze men with her gaze. Huddled safely around their fires in their cosy huts, and merry with ale, the Norse people called her 'Skadi' and sang about her past. Out in the open though, the trees were not concerned with her story. For she was still ruthless after all these years, and often set upon them at night while they were sleeping, their stubborn resistance broken in the darkness after too long spent on a futile front line without rations, without hope. The streams that had been their supply lines had long since stopped in mid flow. Even the lakes and rivers were beginning to succumb to Skadi's diabolical will. The fish below could only wait in the dark, the roof of their world encrusted with ice and even the air above was now threatened with frozen stasis. Not even the mighty oak trees could properly shield the hibernating creatures hidden below their boughs. Their branches looked solemnly at each other, as if questioning who might be the first to fall to the ground in surrender and open the way for Skadi to finally claim control of the earth over which they presided.
Along came the robin. A tiny minstrel sent to stir the troops, to remind them what they were holding out for. Hopping erratically from one gnarled root to another as she sang in the face of danger, spreading joy with her splash of bright red breast in a world without colour. Her tiny frame demanded protection, and being serenaded by her cheerful voice, none of the trees could remain sullen for long. After the timely arrival of Spring's first inspirational messenger, suddenly it was less difficult to notice the other signs of life in this barren realm. The snowdrop and the crocus were as oblivious to Skadi's blight as the robin. Exhilarated, the stronger trees renewed their oaths to stand firm until their children could spring up and eventually stand alone to take their place as guardians of the vale. From frozen souls to warmed hearts, there would always be love in this place.
Then it happened. The sun emerged more strongly than it had for a hundred mornings, spreading light across the land and turning the grey into sparkling white. A solitary Norseman stumbled out into the brightness, shielding his bleary eyes and marvelling at the wonderful scene that greeted him. He swallowed; his mouth was dry and his head was pounding from the hedonism of the night before. He pulled his fur coat tightly around his neck and strode out towards the stables, then suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. But it wasn't Skadi who had frozen him, it was something far more powerful.
Toby Newton - December 2012 (and published in July's Sync City magazine).