Awkward Moment #25: Climbing


As someone who has never been particularly sporty, the idea of physical activity always seemed a bit scary. But earlier this year, I discovered Bouldering, a type of free-climbing without ropes, and it’s one of the most empowering, motivating and relaxing things I have ever done.

I’ve been climbing at The Climbing Hangar in Liverpool, which is a huge, bouldering-dedicated climbing centre with 1000 square metres of weird and wonderful climbs, which they switch-up every week to keep you on your toes. 

What I love most about climbing is how you could be the world number one, at the top of your game, just in for an afternoon of training, or a complete and utter beginner, getting to grips (weeey) with the simplest of runs. Your experience is exactly the same, you’re treated exactly the same and your love of the sport is exactly the same. They place the most challenging climbs next to some of the most straight-forward, meaning those of all strengths and abilities can climb together – which has come in handy for me with the alarming amount of friends I have who are amaze-balls at it.

So, I rock up (weeey) on a Monday night after work, gross from a day at the office and ready to get even more gross with some chalk and some climbing shoes. I scan myself in at the front desk and walk towards the changing rooms, when I spot Shauna Coxsey – one of my heroes and the current Bouldering female world champion – chilling like a villain in the hangar cafe.

Ohmygod.

OHMYGOD.

Stay calm, keep walking, she’s surrounded by people admiring her, just keep walking, go and get ready and look like a pro, it’s totally fine.

I continue to the changing room and – you’ve guessed it – get changed. I lock my stuff away and head back to the cafe, assuming Shauna to be gone and the opportunity to chat to her missed and forever lost to oblivion. Shame, but at least I can now grab a bottle of water from the cafe. But lo and behold – there she is, no longer being mobbed, but people watching. I LIKE PEOPLE WATCHING TOO, WE HAVE SO MUCH IN COMMON.

It happens before I realise I’ve actually had the courage to go and speak to her. I catch her eye and smile goofily.

“Can I just fangirl over you for a second?” I ask, approaching tentatively (did I just ask her permission to fangirl?).
“Um, yeah?” She replies (OH MY GOD I’M TALKING TO SHAUNA COXSEY).
“It’s so cool to meet you! I’m a big fan, I’ve not been climbing for very long but when my friend Tom told me you were his future wife, I found you online and saw that you train here and I think you’re awesome.” I gush.
“Aha! Well, my boyfriend may not be too happy about that…” We laugh and I can feel the friendship growing already.

I think I’ve creeped her out sufficiently, so I say goodbye, shake her hand and leave her be. I buy a bottle of water, head over to the nearest wall and immediately scale it like Spiderman (because after chatting with Shauna, I automatically became amazing at climbing – it’s true).

Had I not been so goofy and embarrassing, I would have said something more along the lines of:

“Shauna, you’re my hero. You’re an awesome role model for young wome and the things I’ve seen you do are practically superhuman. You make me believe in myself and in the things I’ve been able to do since I started climbing, and I want to thank you for giving me the most self-belief and strength I think I’ve ever had. So yeah, you’re great and it’s really nice to meet you. Now, here’s my number, let’s hang out and be best friends some time, yes?”

Maybe not exactly like that…

I texted Tom after I left to tell him of my encounter with his future wife. He was less than impressed.

To find out more about Shauna, click here.

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Shauna Climbing

Shauna doing her thang.

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The Climbing Hangar Liverpool

Awkward Moment #24: Tennis and Bitch Slaps


Wimbledon.

The two weeks of early summer when this famous tournament takes place is a very, very big deal in our house.

The kettle is on round the clock, the phone is unplugged, we’ve moved the comfy armchair into the living room and Mum has even put her Wimbledon hand towel on display in the downstairs loo.

See what I mean? Big deal.

This weekend, amidst the rain and the Sunday Times, the three of us are watching Andy Murray playing John Millman and fighting his way through a set-deciding game. To say it was tense is an understatement.

“What’s with those noises they make? When they hit the ball?” Dad asks to the room. I make a mock-vomiting sound, which escalates into a back and forth of throaty and guttural ooffs and guffaws, resulting in both of us giggling like schoolchildren. Mum, the teacher, brings our attention back to the match with a “Come on now, people. He won’t win if we don’t concentrate!” (Mum firmly believes that when Murray has previously lost  at Wimbledon, it’s been down to her not concentrating hard enough on watching the match. But that’s a story for another time.)

So, we return to silence and continue watching as Murray struggles to keep the advantage. A line judge calls the ball out. Mum jumps out of her chair, screaming “Oh for GOD’S SAKE. I’m gonna BITCH SLAP the next BLOODY LINE JUDGE who calls the ball OUT!” It’s safe to say, Mum gets a bit enthusiastic.

“COME ON, MURRAY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD,” she continues, sitting back down in her chair and sighing. Once everyone’s blood pressure has returned to normal, we watch as Murray reclaims the advantage and wins the game, bringing him closer to winning the second set. I get up to leave.

“What exactly IS…a bitch slap?” Dad asks slowly, typing the words “bitch slap definition” on his iPad.

“I think it’s like a forehand – backhand, rapid ‘psssh – psssh’ slapping situation?” I tell him, waving my hand in a bitch-slapping-esque motion. Can you imagine the YouTube tutorials?

“…And is that the appropriate way to slap bitches, would you say?” He asks me.

“Well, I can’t say I’ve slapped many, if any bitches, Dad, but I do believe it’s the approved method of the Chartered Institute of Bitch-Slap Relations.” I reply.

“I see.”

Never a dull moment in our house. 

A line judge is hurt when she is hit in

Chronicles, Longtime: A Story of Music and Friendship


They come together on a chilly February evening in Delamere Forest.

Studio 73B is powered on portable heaters, builders tea and old friends doing the thing they love most: making music.

Colin Broadfoot (Vox and Guitar), Phil Bush (Guitar), John Price (Bass), Steve Goynes (Keys) and my dad, Phil Eccles (Drums) are Longtime.

Think a bit of Portishead, a pinch of Elbow and a touch of Fleetwood Mac and you’re on the right track.

With the incredible stylings of Phil Bush and John Price on lead guitar and bass, the twinkling of keys from Steve Goynes, the empowering beats from Phil Eccles and to top it off, the smooth tones of Colin Broadfoot, whose lead vocal lends itself so well to a harmony, to say that Chronicles has been long-anticipated is the understatement of the better half of the last century.

Nine stunning tracks, five incredibly talented musicians, 40 years of friendship.

With live performances a rarity for the band, each member has gone down a different path in life, forging professional careers in different fields – from Sales Management and Social Research to AV and Academia. Chronicles is a testament to their passion and commitment to music. 

But hey, don’t listen to me. Listen to Longtime. 

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Available from iTunes and Amazon now. Live dates coming soon.

Awkward Moment #23: Mum’s Birthday


If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my parents are often at the centre of my stories. This is due to the metric tonnes of comedy gold they churn out every other day. Living with Mum and Dad can be a challenge at times, but more often than not, it’s just a gateway to hilarity.

Mum’s birthday was this week.

Mum’s birthday is arguably the most important one in the family. As the matriarch, it’s vital that we get it right, because it’s Mum, and she deserves the best. This means that it can be a logistical nightmare.

Dad and I have been co-ordinating gifts. I knew he was going for the gift voucher option, always a winner…but I thought it’d be nice for her to have something to unwrap on the morning of her birthday with her cup of tea and the dog wrestling with the wrapping paper. So I picked her up a couple of bits and bobs – a necklace and Suits Season 1 – and wrapped them up ready for Wednesday (her birthday).

It’s Tuesday night. Mum has gone to bed and I’m ebay stalking mic stands, neglecting a bad cup of tea (how hard is it, Dad – a HEAPED teaspoon), when Dad strolls in.

“I’ve, er…I’ve also got something for your Mum to unwrap tomorrow.” He says in a hushed voice. I look up, he looks at me with a sense of gravitas. “Oh?” I reply.

He nods. Gravitas. This is serious.

I close the laptop. “Great, what did you get her?”
He looks around, checks that the coast is clear and looks at me again. His voice is even more hushed than before. “Do you want me to tell you?”

The anticipation is now killing me. What the heck has he bought her? A chocolate house? A car? The moon?

“Yes!!” I whisper, almost overwhelmed with the possibilities. This is great, he’s finally bought her something HUGE. Something that will kick all other birthday presents’ butts.

He leans in. I lean in. Heck, even the dog leans in.

Raising his eyebrows with glee as he tells me, “two, brand new, state of the art…slow closing toilet seats.”

*facepalm*

slow closing ts blog

Get Out Your Wallets


There comes a time in every young girl’s life when she realises she has a girl crush on one of her friends.

Thursday night, I was that young girl. And my crush was on Leigh-Angel Bevan.

Leigh is a drummer and just one of an incredibly talented four-piece band. Sam, Alex and Joe join her to make (ATLAS), an atmospheric/alternative rock band based in Liverpool, UK.

But (ATLAS) is not just a band, it’s a feeling. It’s infectious.

It’s music that is so carefully considered, but also – for want of a better phrase – doesn’t give a flying.

It hits you right in the chest, deep in your rib cage, reaches in and grabs all the emotions and feelings you could ever imagine feeling, folds them up into harmonies, pounding drums and pinching guitar riffs, and then hurtles them across the room like a paper aeroplane.

The only word you can use to describe them is “YEAH!”

Watching them on stage, I’m not sure if I want it to carry on forever or if I just want to be part of it. These are people who have really felt things, real things. Things they’ve then articulated beautifully and passionately into an absolutely cracking EP or three. They know when to be reserved and delicate, and when to go full throttle and at the end of their set, you’re left standing there, wondering what to do with yourself now that it’s over.

You don’t have to be right at the front to have a good time with this bad, you just have to be in ear-shot. But hey, what do I know? My iPod still has Lou Bega on it (Mambo No. 5, what else).

Don’t listen to me, listen to (ATLAS).

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All of the New


Well hello there! Didn’t see this coming, did ya? OH DAYUM!

A new post, how exciting. But what to write? What. To. Write. whattowritewhattowritewhattowritewhattowritewhattowriiiiiiiite. Well, those three words have now lost all meaning.

So! What’s new? I’ll tell you what’s new, I have a new title! *oooooooh, aaaaaaaaah*. Musings was nice, but it became less about musings and more about my sporadic thought processes and random moments I deemed worthy of documentation…but that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Secondly, I (technically) legit have a new title – I am now Emily Eccles, Bachelor of Arts. In the immortal words of our Lord and Saviour Alan Partridge, Har Haaaar!

I am also the proud owner of a full-time job! Communications and Engagement Boffin in the NHS – super-de-duper worthwhile organisation to work for, lovely office companions and a wicked-ass pension scheme. Ballin’.

So yes – how about this brand new layout, eh? WordPress are nailing their new templates at the moment. Good job, guys. I thought with it being a new year, this dusty old blog could do with a new look, a new(ish) title and even a new post – SO MUCH NEW STUFF OH MY LAWD.

But to kick off this new start in this new post of this new year, I’d like to recap over the last, absolutely mental year that was 2014 for me and my favourites:

  1. I finished my degree, graduating with a 2-1 in a couple of foreign tongues.
  2. My beautiful best friend and big sister married a very nice man and we all got very drunk to celebrate. I had a dance-off with the Father of the Groom and lost(/was robbed).
  3. We lost one of the most vibrant, hilarious, sassy members of the family shortly after her 85th birthday. She’s now back with the love of her life and probably doing his head in as we speak. Go’ed girl.
  4. I started my first ever, full-time job, and subsequently started paying tax and repaying my student loan. Yay real life!
  5. My brother went and got himself a fiancée. She, like my sister’s husband, is very nice and has set the date for drunkenness and dance-offs for next year.
  6. I met Mark Wright. His tan wasn’t as impressive as I was led to believe and he was actually kinda short.
  7. I went to Rome, ate a lot of gelato, got very sunburnt, took a lot of pictures and spoke actual Italian with actual Italians.
  8. My sister and brother-in-law moved up to Scotland, to live there. Apparently. (I’m still in denial).
  9. I finally achieved my ambition of becoming the lead singer in a funk band, giving me an actual excuse to be sassy front-lady a-la Paloma Faith/Whoopie Goldberg in Sister Act 2. (We’re called Too Funk to Drunktion.)
  10. The Stowaways won Battle of the Acoustics and it was glorious.
  11. I got back in touch with an old pen-pal, of sorts (you know who you are).
  12. I visited several friends across the country in their various, non-Liverpool habitats.
  13. I finally found a coca-cola bottle with Emily on it.

As you can see, it was definitely one for the books! 2014 saw new levels of blood, sweat, tears, laughter, slut drops, sassiness and selfies…but 2015 has now begun and I find myself staring into the unknown – but amongst my many New Years Resolutions, there is one I am determined to keep: don’t look back. After all, we’re not going that way!

Awkward Moment #22: Fangirling


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Tomorrow night, it will be a year since I first saw La Alma Sucia play at a Bandsoc Open Mic Night. It was one of the first nights of the year and I was a relatively new face in the society, I hadn’t been in front of a microphone for about nine months but I’m an old fan of open mic anyway, so I thought why not?

Jessica Cody and Alex Atkinson got up to play and I had no idea who they were or what they were about. My friend Beth leaned in and said “These guys are really good, they got to the final of Battle of The Acoustics last year”. I gave her a look, that kind that says “Ooooooooo-eerrrr”.

And then they started to play. First they did Daft Punk’s Get Lucky, and I didn’t expect those harmonies. Then they did a mash up of Fever and Hit the Road Jack, and I didn’t expect those voices. And then they played Favourite Cliche, and I couldn’t breathe.

After they finished their set, I went home and found that both of them had added me on facebook. I have no idea how but without even thinking, I messaged Alex and said: “OMG YOU’RE THE DUDE FROM LA ALMA SUCIA YOU GUYS WERE AMAZEBALLS”

A somewhat shocked and bemused Alex replied with “Haha, thanks!”

And then I realised what had happened and I hid behind a cushion for a while, before summoning the courage for a disclaimer: “Wow, that came out a lot crazier than it sounded in my head…” I think it’ was safe to say the ship christened “HMS Fangirling Everywhere” had well and truly sailed.  

Their lyrics are so powerful, so passionate, so….filthy. I love it. I mean, you know when you hear a song and not only are the lyrics dictating your life and every emotion that has ever confused you, neatly summed up by a rhyming couplet, but the harmonies just make you want to tear your shirt off in the rain and scream “YEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAH”?

J-Cod and Big-Al have always been one of my favourite acts to watch. Every word they sing is drenched in emotion, wisdom and soul. Their new song, in particular, is written about my favourite book, The Great Gatsby. I was lucky enough to have a sneaky cheeky peaky at it around a month or two ago and I suddenly realised just how talented these two are.

Aside from their musical prowess, Jess and Alex may be described by three words. Humble, Empathetic and…Chemical. Their friendship is impossible to miss in the conversations you have with them and it’s not a pretentious, in-joke kind of conversation, it’s a shared passion for what they do and how they do it. And even though it shouldn’t be, that’s quite rare these days.

After hitting their EP Launch Party tonight at Maguire’s Pizza Bar in Liverpool, I bought their CD.  Never before has 50p been better spent in the history of the universe. I got home with aching fingertips.

A year on, and the pair on on top of their game and I have the honour to call them my friends. The world needs to hear La Alma Sucia, and it needs to hear them now.

Click riiiiiiight here.
Or even here.

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