Aurevoir Manchester

Preping my return to homeland after a decade spent in this amazing city,  I have been extremely lucky to be involved with Manchester International Festival, working with the marketing team in the lead to the festival and as a festival fronteer as well during the 18 days of extraordinary works. All I can say is it was amazing!

I saw: Bjork on the preview night (pure joy), Dr Dee (confusing yet with stunning staging), Life and Death of Marina Abramovic (as expected crazy and wonderful – Dafoe is my hero), 11 rooms (different – loved hoping from one room to another, went about 4 times), Crash of the Elysium (scary and brilliant action packed play), Amadou and Mariam Eclipse (a unique  uplifting surprisingly very experience all in the dark, really enjoyed it), Alina Abragimova (second piece was a highlight for me), 1395 days with red and the projections at Whitworth Art Gallery (film was too long but interesting, the room with the film set up was incredible and the outdoor projections magicals), John Gerard led display (not for me), Audio Obscura (one of my favorite 30min) enjoyed some drinks at the festival sq and Bjork’s choir and few other bits and bobs.

I really enjoyed all the shows, some more than others but I overall thought it was a great success. I cannot wait for 2013!

The last few weeks have been incredible, making even more attempts at catching as much of Manchester’s spirit before returning to France.

Cycling around, visiting Chorlton’s eateries – went to Charango and was quite disappointed by the main but the rest was ok, not a transcending experience like walking the Inca trail though, drinks at gorgeous Hanging Ditch, enjoying soaking up the sun for Manchester Jazz festival, picnic/ing, dancing, breakfasting, shopping, lunching, cupcaking, chilling and dinning, the lot, amongst others. Full of Manchester me.

For those out there who thinks there is nothing to do in Manchester, open your eyes, you’re either lazy, boring or plain moany. Get your act together and get out there. There’s loads  for those who make the effort to find out.

Now, only a few more days and I am driving up from South of France and loading 10 years of life in a 9cubic m van. Interesting prospect.

I will certainly miss Manchester immensely and then Francunian will retire.

The art of meditation – How I reached enlightement or…


6 weeks of meditation and a few months later.

I completed succesfully my course and took some time off to think about it.

What have I  learned from our teachers?

1) How to sit properly

But never really did as it wasn’t agreeing with my back so I kept moving hence creating self disturbance. Not great but I could definitely see an improvement by the end of the 6 weeks. I was fidgeting slightly less.

2) How to use breathing to concentrate

The “Mindfulness of Breathing” helped me the most. It is the only method that helped me controlling my thoughts. The last 2 weeks have been very challenging for me and this exercise has really helped me dealing with stress in a better way that I would normally have. I still sruggled with some aspects but overall I have managed to go back to calm quicker.

3) How to apply Metta Bhavana

This took me a good three weeks to really get the grasp of it but on the last attempt at meditating I reached the meditative state expected. I really concentrated on each stage and the relevant person that goes with it. The difficult one being the hardest of course but it really helped gaining a calmer and more rational approach to people we don’t like.

4) How to think about emotional states

“We create them and we can change them” (see week 5)

I am aware of the power we have over our own thoughts and how our attitude can change dramatically how we perceive things although it is always much easier to say it than to actually do it.

According to our teaching, our emotional states arise in the following manner:

“Contact – Feeling – Craving and aversion – Grasping and becoming”

Since the end of the course a few months back now I have actually integrated some of the learning into my everyday life and I have found it to be extremely useful. I recently read the interesting scientific study about the luck factor by Dr Wiseman who recommended meditation technique as one of the four principles – Boosting intuition. I would agree meditation allows a calmer state of mind and would help making better decision.

Living in stressful environment, meditation offered a oasis of complete calm a few hours once a week – a real luxury these days. I would recommend it to anyone.

Check the Buddhist center in the northern quarter, the staff is great too and could guide you to a suitable course for you!!


Ready for festivalities?

Manchester 2011. Summer. Season of festival. Let’s go!

What are you going to see in the next few weeks?

I am impressed as always by the amount of things happening in the city. Every year there seems to be more and more.

K.O. Manchester International Festival 2011 with amazing Bjork tonight for the preview night. I cannot wait for this.

Launching  her new tour starting in Manchester in an old victorian warehouse, it looks amazing from what I’ve seen this afternoon during prep.

Then from the 30th, Manchester International Festival and Not part of fringe festival are offering festival goers a myriad of fabulous events for 18 days.

With over 170 events to choose from for the next 18 days, your only problem will be to choose what to see.

copyright – MIF

Copyright – Not part of

Is Manchester really turning green?

It seems to appear Manchester is turning green. Not with envy but with environment.

Last weekend was Envirolution (also on Facebook) at Platt fields park in Fallowfield. I popped up to check it out.

It was a very lovely little gathering of econscious peeps, getting the bikes going (bike fashion show, demos, raffle to win one), fresh home grown/made food, games, clothes swap, all in a very friendly environment.

The sound system was powered by bikes. I even had a little go at it. Not bad. Could see this working for British homes; powering tv while losing weight. WIN-WIN.

Following this, I joined my local Northern Quarter Greening group on a gardening Sunday. They meet up every week to look after all the plants and lovely flowers you see around you in the area. How nice?

It was my first time with them and what a relaxing experience. Deweeding the planters and exchanging some tips on how to look after plants (tendency to overkill personally).

All this is very well but it seems to be so small comparing to the majority of shameful literers the city put up with. I wish people took more pride in their city and stop throwing rubbish on the streets. Enough said.

A bon entendeur. Salut.

La vie dans le Park – ParkLife 2011

A mixed bag due to the weather but festival goers kept the sun shining throughout the ParkLife 2011.

A very well organised festival,with hardly any queues for the usual suspects: entrance, toilets, bars, food outlets. Which makes everyone much happier to start with.

A lot of effort put into the set up and a lovely attention to details with the secret garden, the tree house (come back from 2010), an hour of accoustic sets to respect the nearby church celebrations, and some lovely surprises meant fun for all.

I would say despite not looking forward to it initially and the large amount of youngsters, I had a great time Saturday to Sunday and enjoyed jumping in the puddle like a lil’ kiddie.

Well done Ear to the ground for another succesfull ParlkLife!

Gig in total darkness? Thank you Amadou and Mariam

Back from dark times. (No pun intended)

Well funnily enough I am going back to it as soon as Amadou & Mariam arrive in Manchester this summer for the incredible gig they are planning for Manchester International Festival: Eclipse but this time to experience something beautiful and inspiring.

Malian superstars Amadou & Mariam return to Manchester International Festival with their band for five totally unique performances: their first concerts staged in the dark. Eclipse will tell the story of Amadou & Mariam’s life and work together since meeting in the Orchestra of the Institute for the Blind in Bamako. The evening will be enhanced by aromas specially created for the performance, shifts in temperature, ambient sounds recorded in Bamako and a narration specially written by Malian storyteller Hamadoun Tandina.

“If you cannot see, your sense of sound becomes richer. You appreciate the qualities of sound. That’s one reason I wanted to have a series of concerts in the darkness. I wanted the audiences to try to hear the music just as Mariam and I hear it.”

Amadou Bagayoko

It is going to be incredible. An unforgetable experience let me tell you that.

I cannot wait for it.

Also, for anyone interested, Route exhibiting at the Manchester Book Market today and until Sunday 19th (Manchester Day Parade and Father’s day. Wow so much going on) on St Ann sq are selling Amadou & Mariam story. Ask Ian or Isabelle for more detail, they are really lovely and have fab sweets.

London Marathon D-2

Guys, I case you still don’t know about this, I am running London Marathon this Sunday.

Scared is one word that could describe me. Anxious and excited are two more.

I am a giant ball of contradictory emotions but I know deep down excitement is IT!

Off to London tonight and not to return until victorious of my personal best time (thanks Dawn for your motivational words and all of you out there).

I have been cutting down on a lot of things I love – wine, G&T, friends, dancing in clubs, latenights and being carefree really to make sure Sunday will run smoothly.

Let’s hope so! Training has been hard going and in all truth I could have done more if my stupid dark place hadn’t taken so much room in my life these last few months. Winter in Manchester: rain, cold, wet, bleurghh…

Fighting darkness and keeping motivated as a result was and still is hard but I WLL DO IT and past the final line so proud!!

I have not followed any guides as I felt really depressed by how behind I was so I followed by body instead.

I did pretty well at long distance without the help of a training plan. Off course I will probable feel it on the day but I have determination and courage on my side.

Until then, please help me and the Christie.

Thank you to all my amazing supporters who have already helped me reaching my targets but I now want to get even mor for the amazing Christie charity so please dig deep and support the charity and me here

I shall post some photos of the days to illustrate my effort.

Learning the art of Meditation – Metta Bhavana anyone?

What is Metta Bhavana?

Until that day I had no idea what that was if I’m honest. This is how beginner I am in learning about the art of meditation.

To quote our study guide:

” Metta – translates (approximately) as ‘unconditional friendship’ or ‘loving kindness’. Bhavana – translates as ‘cultivation’ or ‘development’
We can therefore say that the metta bhavana is the cultivation of loving kindness – OR developing ourselves through unconditional friendship. It is concerned with cultivating emotional positivity and recognising that qualities like warmth, kindness and empathy are part of our natural makeup.”

In practical terms, it is about using kindness and loving feelings towards friends and people in general.

I am not feeling very kind these days so it was difficult for me to get this one but this is the perfect time to try harder!

The practice has 5 stages, in which we cultivate metta:

1. Ourselves

2. A good friend

3. A „neutral‟ person

4. Someone we find difficult

5. All of the above in equal measure, then finally all beings

I don’t think I could explain it in much more details very well as I didn’t manage to get it but feel free to check out Week 4 of our course work for the guidelines.

Practice makes perfect!

How about this? Wha do you think about this?

Domaine Castan – Gamme de parfum d’intérieur au vin rouge

Le Domaine Castan lance une gamme de toute beauté pour créer une atmosphère de fête ou que vous soyez.

Unique, le Domaine Castan souhaite offrir à  ces clients le plaisir du vin où  qu’ils se trouvent en transformant toute pièce en ambiance de fête.

Vigneron avant-gardiste, André Castan: “J’ai toujours voulu jouer avec l’odeur et les sensations que transmettent le vin. Avec cette gamme de parfum d’intérieur il est désormais possible de transporter l’odeur de la cave chez soi.”

Une gamme composée de trois senteurs sensationnelles; Grenache – Vin rouge, Viognier – Vin blanc et Rosé.
Parfume rapidement et durablement.

N’hésitez plus et transformez votre chez-vous en cave viticole.

So cool Manchester gets a polar bear

Today as I was doing a little lunch jog, I thought I ought to check out Piccadilly Gardens as the anticipation had built since last night when the beast arrived.

A life size polar bar was to be carved out of  10-tonne bloc of ice. Brrrrr

BBC has a lovely video of the event!

No disappointment.

The crowd was there. Along with sunshine and good old Queen V overlooking the scene.

Men at work, carving.

Mark Coreth, the artist, and his team took a good 6 hours to complete the work. They are raising awareness of the effect of climate change through the not-for-profit arts organisation; the Ice Bear Project.

The event is linking with the launch of Manchester Museum’s Living World exhibition.

This, I thought, was a really lovely effort from Cityco, Manchester Museum and the artist’s organisation.

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