Tuesday, 30 August 2011


I used to love birthdays. A feeling of joy for several days around my birthday would appear and lift me to a higher plane of living. Birthdays meant parties, presents and fun. When I hit 21 the feeling increased. Finally there were no restrictions; I was legitimate. Being asked for ID was no longer a problem: I could legally prove that no matter what situation I drank, visited or otherwise ended up in, I was old enough to handle the responsibility.

But when 25 came along the days of happiness turned into weeks of depression. I couldn’t help but question why this had happened to me. How could I possibly be 25 when in my head I still felt 17? Doom and gloom filled my world. It was over. That was it. No more fun. No more enjoyment of cards, balloons, birthday badges and cakes, dressing up and blowing party poppers with guests. I lost interest in birthdays. I can’t explain the reason. For years before I had berated my father for the exact same behaviour: not looking forward to birthdays. But here I was suddenly doing the same thing.

30 was the low point. Yes indeed. For months I had a knot in my stomach. How could I be 30 when in my head I still felt 21? Doom and gloom continued, grew, morphed into such an exaggerated state of sadness. I would have happily hidden in a cave for the year and vanished into oblivion. Thankfully there were a few people and a few reasons that made life just bearable enough to stay in the real world, and I survived the dreaded day.

Now 31 is looming, fast, and I’m not sure how I really feel about that. Sure, being asked for ID now gives me a happiness to last a day or more. Sure, I can call myself mature, a woman of the world, a proper adult. But how can I be 31 when in my head I still feel 22? I’m starting to dread the anticipation of aging again. I think the only answer is to count backwards and hope it works. Fingers crossed.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Quirky eateries…

I treasure a love of the unusual and am always on the lookout for new places to visit. The most recent find was a very quirky pub in Rosebush, Wales. Invited out for lunch with a relative, I arrived at Tafarn Sinc expecting decent quality pub grub and a good spot to eat it in.

Whilst I did get good food – the home cooked ham and faggots were very tasty, although the request for a cappuccino did bamboozle the barman slightly and I had to settle for an old fashioned coffee with cream thank you very much – the real reason to visit this pub would be to enjoy immersing yourself in a piece of history. Within, the floor is covered in sawdust, the walls adorned with original artefacts and photographs. Real log fires and a wood burning stove provide warmth and cosy meals in this corrugated iron building – a relic from the slate quarry industry of the 1800s.

Outside, the picture is not so homely but definitely full of the ghosts of Wales past. Close to the site of disused quarries and in an area that was once a heart of industry, the old railway tracks sit amongst waxworks depicting how life was once. Eccentric? Yes. A little scary? Perhaps. But certainly atmospheric and definitely a talking piece so this gets my prize for a quirky eatery. I may make this topic another miniseries of this blog and see what other quirky eateries I discover on my travels.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Running late…

I confess I am one of those people who cannot stand to be late. It sends me into turmoil. If I know I am running late I panic, can’t think straight, my heart pounds harder than usual, just to rub in the fact that I am late. I hate being late.

But somehow, when I am running late, I seem to adopt a superhuman ability to perform everyday tasks with much more efficiency than usual. The dithering ceases and I manage to move myself from sleep to readiness in an amount of time that seems to make no sense in the real world.

It must be the adrenaline or sheer panic that spurs me into action. Why can’t I be this efficient in my normal life? I seem to drift away hours in procrastination (I also like to call it planning for my next piece of writing) seemingly without actually achieving anything.

I am formulating a plan to be prompt which may involve a complicated system of altering the time on all of my clocks, and streamlining my daily activities. Can I get dressed and brush my teeth at the same time? We shall see.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Festival Arts…

Festival Arts is a Birmingham based theatre troupe that relocates to St. David’s, Pembrokeshire, every summer to perform an open-air Shakespeare in the ruins of the abbey, a show for children at a local church hall, and the Sunday show – an evening of poetry, prose and music as they deem it.

This year I was lucky enough to catch both the kid’s show and the Shakespeare and got my yearly reminder of how much revenue and quirky entertainment the group brings to this seaside city. I have been watching Festival Arts summer performances for years and highly recommend it for a great summer seaside break with a difference.

Tuesday night gave me the colourful, musical extravaganza that is The Quest of the Jumblies. Based on the strange and wonderful poems of Edward Lear, this story is engaging enough for children while at the same time appeals to an adult’s love of the unusual and the lyrical. In fact the programme encouraged me to write my own Lear-ish limerick, which led to hours of post-show pub entertainment.

Thursday night I wrapped up warm and took up my place among the local birdlife in the atmospheric Bishop’s Palace for a performance of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The play was executed to a high standard and greatly enjoyed by all, but ever humbling is the effort and energy that goes into the shows from the performers, musicians and stagehands. They transform the ruins of the palace into a fully lit stage for a totally unique open-air show and the effect is truly magical.

Elloise Hopkins.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Funny signs…

I am indulging in the countryside for a week in St David’s, Pembrokeshire, Britain’s smallest city, and yes it is small. But it cannot be denied that there is a cathedral (a rather spectacular one at that) where I will be watching Festival Arts perform open-air Shakespeare in the ruins of the old abbey on Thursday.

The purpose of this blog though is to celebrate my favourite funny sign ever, which is a permanent fixture on the coast road here in this wonderfully quirky place. Since first laying eyes on it, I have wondered what on earth was going through the designers mind when it was produced. Yes, I know, I can hear you saying that the purpose of the sign is of course to alert the innocent walker to the cliff edge and encourage them not to fall off. However, does this person really look like they are falling? Is it really a serious warning or a designer’s joke?

This person is clearly enjoying a relaxing and exhilarating dive off the cliff top into the sea and they have strategically planned their dive to avoid the rocks and hazards. This is in fact a popular spot for coasteering and I did once witness a coasteering leader encouraging her troops with the words “let’s go coasteering dudes!”

So for the moment this sign wins the most bonkers prize in my book. Feel free to contribute your own. Why not post them alongside this one on my facebook wall?

Elloise Hopkins.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Broken Promises…

There is perhaps nothing so distressing to the human soul as a broken promise. It certainly has potential to cut deeply and leave a trail of emotional wreckage behind.

I am a firm believer in keeping promises. If you say you are going to do something, do it. If you make a promise, make it sincerely. If you know you might break it, don’t make it.

There are many kinds of promises ranging from the promise equivalent of the little white lie to a promise of such magnitude that it can change lives.

Today I have witnessed a mid-range broken promise. It was not at the more insignificant end of the promise scale and did not have potential to cause detrimental effect. It would have made someone’s life a little easier and taken some of the tedium out of a situation. The broken promise has perhaps not greatly affected the person’s everyday working life, but it has left a far greater mark of disappointment akin to the irritating sugar coating on your teeth after an indulgent dessert.

It seems every broken promise leaves behind a little more than is visible on the surface and ends with a stab of broken hope.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

What colour am I today…

Well this is a tricky one to answer. Anger is my primary emotion today. It is simmering beneath the surface, the result of working in an environment that conducts itself with a severe lack of professionalism, amongst other things, and has annoyed me greatly. When did we become a world where everyone is out for themselves and no one supports their colleagues anymore?

So in terms of colour moods, black and red spring to mind first. They are dark, moody, dangerous and definitely representative of anger. Think the red mist, the black cloud, the dark angel and angry flames. The face flushes with red when we feel angry.

Red is a strong colour and so is fitting that it is used to represent such a strong emotion. Black on the other hand is more of a void, the possibility for more or less than emotion so today I am going to go for red.

In sticking with my Crayola colour reference, today I am Orange Red. A vibrant, simmering shade of vexation.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Inspirational art…

Architecture has great power and there is one place in the UK that never fails to inspire me. Portmeirion. The Village. This little Welsh nook was made iconic by the cult TV series The Prisoner in the 1960s and to this day it retains its quirky charm and is a popular tourist attraction.

Created by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion was built in the style of Italian villages and is infused with a Mediterranean feel. Colours, textures and interesting juxtaposition of styles clash and combine to produce a result that is unique. Where else would you find a mermaid and Buddha overlooking a giant chessboard?

To me, Portmeirion embodies fantasy, possibility and inspiration. It gives exactly the impression that I would wish my own work to be rich with. It really is “almost like a world on its own” as described by The Prisoner’s infinite Number 2. Real life pauses upon arrival.

Stepping through archways and tiptoeing across curved cobblestones, sailing a stone boat and walking winding pathways through sculptures, never fails to instil a sense of magic in me. From the moment I arrive until long after I leave I harbour a desire, a need to create. My muse possibly does reside there in the form of Neptune, immortalised in brick paint.

Elloise Hopkins.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The great detectives…

I recently wrote an adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood in a noir detective thriller style (you can read a version of it on my website). The wolf was bloody and cruel, the detective brooding and quietly powerful, the epiphany the crux of the story.

That, coupled with watching re-runs of BBC’s Sherlock series, reminded me just how good a good detective story can be. The TV guide these days is awash with crime stories, laden with good cop, bad cop, private cop, funny cop, tired cop and washed out had-it cop.

With so many formats out there, stemming back to the original dark detectives, how do you separate the mundane from the copycat?

My theory is that the broken detective is the most powerful and so the most intriguing. The detective that is hindered by an internal struggle is always more interesting and dynamic to watch/read than your bog standard clone of a detective. I shall wait with excitement for the next great detective and remember that Sherlock was a drug addict after all.

Elloise Hopkins…