Vacation or Staycation, The Original Factory Shop Has Got You Covered & For Up To 70% Less on Big Brands!

Hat £6 : Bag £6 : sunglasses £4 : inflaTable £4 : Towel £8

Hat £6 : Bag £6 : sunglasses £4 : inflaTable £4 : Towel £8

The World of Kitsch has been around for while now, but would you believe that my blog turns ten years old at the start of August this year? Someone else celebrating a big birthday is The Original Factory Shop, who are a splendid fifty years old this 2019, with their first store opening way back in the swinging sixties; they’ve been bringing the U.K. bargains ever since. So with our celebratory coincidence, it’s exciting that I’m partnering with them for the first time to share my favourite finds from their Bangor shop’s summer line.

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The Original Factory Shop, if you’ve never visited a branch, has a simple premise, big brands in fashion, beauty and home, at up to 70% off. That means your local store will have a little bit of everything. From clothing for all the family, including brands like Rocket Dog, Wrangler, Nike & Adidas, to electric items for the whole home from well known brands, to make-up from brands like Barry M, Rimmel and Revlon. There’s soft furnishings, gardening bits and bobs, children’s toys, and even food and drink. The best part, it’s discounted and cheaper than you’ll find in most other supermarkets or bigger chain stores.

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I popped in to The Original Factory Shop in Bangor this morning and took a voyage of discovery around their huge store to choose from the plentiful summer range and show you what you can save money on for your holiday checklist. Speaking of checklists, The Original Factory Shop even has you covered for that. So you won’t forget to pick up or pack the Factor 50, the sunglasses or the phone chargers, their current special offer leaflet very cleverly includes a holiday checklist. There’s also a printable version on their website.

As you can see, I spotted summer staples like sandals and swimsuits, sunscreen, and aftersun, but also lots of items if like me you’re spending your holidays at home this year- like the bright and breezy raincoats.

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One of my favourite picks from my bargain haul has to be the huge, luxury towel, top photo, which was £8 but can be bought mix and match with other prints two for £14. There are flamingo print, rainbow prints, floral prints, but I chose the tongue in cheek ‘Reserved’ design, which will keep your pool-side sun lounger safe all day long. Sticking with the top photograph, I chose the gorgeous navy straw hat. It was only £6, but again it’s available in an offer of two for £10 and comes in a classic cream straw colour-way. I’ll be using mine for keeping shady when I’m gardening. Ditto the big brand purchase of my haul, the £4 Foster Grants’ sunglasses I scooped, RRP £10.

Still with that top picture, I couldn’t resist that stripy beach bag and it was only £6. For that price it also zips closed, which is so handy if you are taking it to the real life actual beach. It’s amazing how easily things can go missing in the sand. Lastly, I’m sure you spied that inflatable doughnut, it comes in pink or brown and is only £4. The Original Factory Shop has many more pool floats, plus paddling pools for your garden, and water pistols. It’s always worth checking their special buys to see what’s in store.

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Thinking of poolside, the Bangor store had swimwear for everyone in the family, but I have to talk about this style of swimsuit I found, because it’s the cut I wear when I would swim regularly at Aurora two years ago and the number of times I would be asked by other women where could they find that sort of costume… I could have made a fortune on commission let’s put it that way! So hopefully anyone who has been looking for this style of swimsuit will stumble upon this post, because more modest, cover up swim wear is hard to come by, and sometimes it just feels more comfortable to be a little more covered. These swimsuits have a little skirt, which isn’t clingy and doesn’t weigh you down when you swim. There’s also tummy control and loose fabric around the stomach area. I was a size fourteen when I was swimming and wearing my one, and I’m a size ten now and would still wear these designs of suits, so it isn’t really about size, it’s about feeling comfortable. Anyway, The Original Factory Shop Bangor had a couple of different colours in the suits, as well as more traditional swimwear for ladies of course.

Gold Top £10 : Magnetic Door £5

Gold Top £10 : Magnetic Door £5

Going back to my picks, I chose a sunny, golden yellow top with contrasting navy detailing, which was RRP £20, but £10 here. I love the crochet effect, it’s very retro and yet on trend. I was saying to the manager as we were checking out that I will have to call back during the week and stock up from their fashion department, as they have such a great selection of jeggings. I spied a pair of jeggings in a bluebell baby-blue colour that I’ve never seen anywhere else, so I’m going to call back and buy those for sure. Also a much needed ‘staycation’ item, and something I’ve been looking for all over, so maybe you have too- a Magnetic Screen Door. I’m in and out non-stop watering my plants and gardening, so I’ve needed one of these since last year and not been able to find one. This one was only £5 and has a stylish Mediterranean tile design.

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Back to those jetting off for their summer break, and if you are looking for luggage, The Original Factory Shop has plenty of options there too. There’s branded luggage, cabin baggage, great deals and even personalised cases in store.

Travel set £5 : fan £2

Travel set £5 : fan £2

You’ll also find your family’s sun care at a great price, with the big brands at a discounted amount for sunscreen, aftersun, and tanning lotions. I picked up a travel ready Malibu set for £5 with three different products inside, sun lotion, and aloe Vera gel, and a dry oil. I also got a handy battery powered hand fan for £2, with batteries included.

Lastly I chose some more staycation goodies, and The Original Factory Shop has a wealth of items for your summer BBQs and parties. There’s lots of paper partywear, and plastic plates and cups at great prices. I found this ‘Aloha!’ Water dispenser which will work great for making up my son’s Kool Aid he likes to buy, and it’s only £3. You could make some really nice summer mockfails in this and chill in the fridge with ice cubes.

Water DispeNser £3 : napkins £1 : straws £1

Water DispeNser £3 : napkins £1 : straws £1

I also grabbed the matching napkins and straws because I love the tiki flair of the green monstera leaves. I’ll bring them along to the next family BBQ. You’ll also find garden games like croquet, badminton, and more in store to get prepped for a family afternoon in the back garden.

So now it’s time to explore your local The Original Factory Shop, check out where your nearest one is, and see what treasures you can find. Stock up for your summer holiday for up to 70% less, or get some bits and bobs for your staycation like me.

M&S’s Pan Fry Range Will Transform You Into a Super Summer Stir-Fry Chef, Plus New Street Food Wraps and Salads

Beef burrito £3.30 : Southern Fried ChiCKen £3

Beef burrito £3.30 : Southern Fried ChiCKen £3

A little bit of a mixed bag of what’s new from Marks and Spencer this month, as I like to show you what catches my eye in store from the new launches, as well as products I think are nifty. I’ve two ranges I want to tell you about, the first being found in the sandwich aisle.

Marks & Spencer’s ‘sandwich aisle’ is a bit of a misnomer, certainly an understatement, as my local Bloomfield Bangor store’s sarnie fridge is home to wraps, artisan sausage rolls, protein pots, quinoa salads, regular salads, vegan options of all of the previous, and more varieties of sushi than you can shake a chopstick at.

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The latest addition to their luncheon menu is a Street Food range. Inspired by food stalls in markets around the globe, the new items include some absolute flavour favourites like a Beef Burrito Wrap for £3.30, or Southern Fried Chicken for £3. There are also vegetarian options like the Veggie Falafel & Spinach Wrap with Feta Dressing £3, and a Veggie Samosa you could enjoy either hot or cold for lunch for £1.50.

Other Street Food sandwiches include Katsu Chicken £3, Chicken Vindaloo £3, and Hog Roast, which has a pork, sage & onion stuffing filling, for £2.80. Why I mention the stuffing is that with a little tweak at home (or your office desk!) by whipping out a jar of cranberry sauce, you could DIY a ‘Christmas in July Sandwich’.

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There are also some fresh recipes from this range if you like an M&S salad on your lunch break. Bang Bang Prawn Noodle Salad is a Vietnamese inspired dish with a spicy peanut & coconut dressing. There’s also an Indian Style Spiced Chicken Salad, Both are £4 each. Street Food also has a vegan option, the Roast Butternut & Tabbouleh Salad, for £3.50.

I also picked up a couple of their Super Waters, which are priced between £1.50 and £2 a bottle. I chose the Watermelon & Lime flavour infused with Protein & Collagen, and the Apple & Elderflower which has Vitamins C,B3,B5,B6 and B12.

Teriyaki Beef £4 : Fajita chicken £3

Teriyaki Beef £4 : Fajita chicken £3

Moving on from lunch, to dinner. I enjoy cooking, but I don’t often follow recipes, I’m very much a chef of two disciplines- 1. throw it all in the oven, or 2. throw it all in the pan. So when I was browsing the aisles of the Food Hall and spied this range, I’m not sure if it’s brand new, but I hadn’t noticed it before, and it’s right up my street.

The Pan Fry range has beef, chicken and lamb options for stir frying, which come complete with pre-cut veg and sauce and seasonings. All you need to do with the pack is follow the three or four step instructions on the labelling.

Tandoori lamb £6 : coconut & lime chicken £3.50

Tandoori lamb £6 : coconut & lime chicken £3.50

You can make a quick meal for two in minutes, and add the side of your choice. No washing and chopping veg, marinading meat, it’s all there ready to go. Ideal for busy folks, or those who just would like a hand in the kitchen.

Even better, they are really well priced. The Fajita Chicken pack is only £3, which you would struggle to find chicken, veg and seasoning for two for less than that yourself. The Teriyaki Beef costs £4, with the Coconut & Lime Chicken at £3.50, and the Tandoori Lamb Chops for £6.

A stir fry makes a great summer dinner, and with these M&S tricks up your sleeve, you’ll have more time to enjoy the sun and not be stuck in the kitchen.

Karen Mabon Does Crufts, Cakes & Cowboys in Her Summer 2019 Collection

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It wouldn’t be The World of Kitsch without checking in on what the new Karen Mabon silk scarf collection has in store for the season, and for summer 2019 she has added even more variety with umbrellas and shirts adorned with some of her classic designs too.

The shirts, like Karen’s iconic scarves, are 100% silk. The summer collection sees shirts in print favourites like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, ‘Garden of Earthly Delights’, ‘Lucky Cat in Olive Green’ and ‘Tiger Blossom’, as worn by Kate Hudson, and seen on screen worn by Elizabeth Gillies in Netflix’s Dynasty.

The postcard mosaic ‘Wish You Were Here’ design has also transformed into a sleek shirt, for sophisticated travellers, as has the very apt ‘Fashion’ print, which was originally a small silk scarf in two colour-ways sold both on Karen’s store and in Anthropologie.

There’s also a brand new print for summer 2019 for the silk shirts, ‘Bookworm’ which has dozens of book covers illustrated in pretty summer tones (below middle photo).

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Three fresh scarves for the summer collection, first a silk and wool blend in a long wrap style, ‘Vegetable Plot’ is pastel violet with hopping bunnies. Next is ‘Bake Off’ decorated with busy bakers on a production line making buns, cakes, treats and sweets so very tempting that this scarf is sure to be a sell out.

The last of the early summer 2019 scarves comes in three colour-ways and is on the lower price range for one of Karen’s pieces at only £55. ‘Rodeo’ is a Wild West themed cowboy print available in red, orange or lilac.

There may of course be some surprise pieces added to the summer line as July and August progress, you never know what Karen has up her stylish sleeve. To be in the know it’s best to keep her close at hand by following her on Instagram, where you’ll also be able to catch sneak peaks behind the design process, and follow Miss Mabon on her adventures to fashion shows and exhibitions all over the country, and fashion world!

Lastly, there’s a new addition to the Karen Mabon family, umbrellas! The ‘Tutti Frutti’ umbrella has a tiger print and features Karen’s traditional colourful style. I think it’s my favourite piece out of the new summer collection.

I Found The Coolest Doodling Downtime Distraction For My Summer Holidays- The Wallpaper Colouring Book

I do enjoy a colouring book. I’ve blogged about them often before as I go through little phases of indulging in them. I’ve pondered about the adult colouring book market, along with adult advent calendars, as maybe being a sign of the fall of our species and the apocalypse, but once again double down on taking part all the way. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen my 1980s’ style My Little Pony duvet from my stories yesterday, so I am very much one of those adult children.

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Adult colouring books are proven as useful stress relievers. I find them fun to do while listening to a podcast or audiobook. You can pick them up super cheap from places like The Works, or used book sellers on eBay. That might sound odd, but big resellers like WeBuyBooks and WorldofBooks on eBay have grading systems, and with the colouring books they are guaranteed to be blank.

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I bought a handful of colouring books I had my eye on from those two sellers and similar on eBay and got them for £2 rather than £6 each new, and sure enough they’ve turned up as new. I got three Mid Century print colouring books (naturally) but the book I wanted to share with you that might have a broader appeal is ‘The Wallpaper Colouring Book’ curated & edited by Natalia Price-Cabrera, with illustrations by Gemma Latimer and Jessica Strokes. 

 It’s an absolutely fabulous book even on its own, uncoloured, as the pages are a nice thick quality, and there is a wealth of information about the eras of wallpaper design starting as early as 1730 right through to 2004.

Each era has a description of wallpaper of that time, with 2 pages of the print to practise colour schemes & combinations. You turn the page & have the most unique part of the book. The wallpaper print from that year is printed as if ‘hung’ on a 2 page spread, blank for you to colour, but there are full colour, photographic image ‘props’ of furniture from the period to stage the ‘room’ you are decorating. 

It’s such a simple, but such a clever idea, and it really helps bring the book to life. It means you are doing more than just repeating a pattern. You can really have fun decorating an imaginary, tiny, little, two page spread room. You can use the colours you’ve practiced on the pages previously, or go by the furniture props. 

Each room also has a furry friend, pugs, sausage dogs and cats will judge your colour coordination! If you need a guide to the trends and tones of the eras, then there is a swatch colour guide at the end of the book to help you match your pens, or pencils if you don’t want to wing it. 

 Amazon has The Wallpaper Colouring Book, but I got my copy from a used book seller on eBay for a few quid, and it was as new.

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The Most Unusual Pet Beds For Cats & Dogs on AliExpress

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I’ve always been a bit of a bargain hunter. I can’t leave Tesco, even if I’ve just gone in for milk, without a quick nosy at each of the reduced sections, and you better believe that I know which aisle in every supermarket in town each markdown shelf is located.

So when I discovered AliExpress, the Chinese website and app where thousands of small businesses and sellers can sell their products worldwide, and found their minuscule prices, I was hooked. So much so that now after a few years of buying from the site, I’m a platinum member. That’s a lot of 99p scarves, knic-knacks, and anything & everything they’ll print the Roblox logo on for my son.

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What I like best about the app is if an item arrives and it’s broke, defective, the wrong colour, print, or anything else, you can open a claim with customer service rather than the seller, and send them a photo. You usually get a full refund, no hassle, within 24 hours. So it takes the risk out of what otherwise might be paying for a T-shirt for example, then the print being bad quality. If it is, you simply send customer service proof and the seller’s money is refunded to you by AliExpress, you don’t have to try to haggle with someone in another language.

Ditto if an item fails to show up. Whilst items shipping from Asia will take a few weeks to arrive, so you will have to wait longer, if your expected time expires, you can claim a full refund for that item, even if it shows up afterwards (although I got in touch with the seller the one time that happened to me, and resent the payment cause I felt guilty!)

Anyway, this post isn’t even sponsored by AliExpress, I’m just a huge fan, and I was spying out some cat beds for Mrs Meow this afternoon, so thought I would share some of the most fun designs I spied along the way. Who doesn’t enjoy some comical photos of dogs and cats inside funny pet beds after all? All beds were priced under £20, with the majority being under £10. I used the search “pet beds”

Challenge Your Dad This Father’s Day To Take On M&S’s ‘Daddy of All Burgers’. The 1kg Hunk of BBQ Beef That’s So Big, They Had to Bake A Special Bun To Hold It.

Tomato Mix £2.50 : Sauce £1.50 : Steak 3 for £10 Offer (or £5)

Tomato Mix £2.50 : Sauce £1.50 : Steak 3 for £10 Offer (or £5)

 

It’s Father’s Day this Sunday, June 16th 2019, and usually this time of year when we gather at my parents’ house at the weekend, the BBQ is whipped out with the weather being so nice. That’s when it hasn’t been raining for three weeks straight. I don’t know what’s up with our spring this year, but I’m just hoping that once July rolls around surely it’s got to stop.

Halloumi £4.25 : Sauce £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 Offer (or £4.50)

Halloumi £4.25 : Sauce £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 Offer (or £4.50)

 

 

M&S has so many delicious BBQ products in their the Grill range, which is packed with 3 for £10 mix and match offers, and I’m dying to try them actually barbecued! They invited me to pick up some of their new for 2019 products, which I will be trying this weekend, come rain or shine, with my family. If they aren’t being BBQed by my Dad, everything can be easily cooked on the grill, or in the oven. The halloumi, which I got the pesto variety this time around, I had bought the chilli variety two weeks ago and grilled it myself and it turns out just great.

Daddy of All Burgers £8.50

Daddy of All Burgers £8.50

 

 

Their show-stopping product, which could almost be a Father’s Day present for a real BBQ-loving Dad, is their ‘The Daddy of All Burgers’. It’s a 1kg BBQ beef burger with a creamy cheese sauce in the centre, which is wrapped in bacon. That’s the size of eight quarter pounders. It costs £8.50 and there are special hamburger buns to go with it which cost £1.50. If your Dad has ever wanted to compete in one of those food challenges, now is his chance! Alternatively the whole family could share one, just pick up some sides like M&S’s Deli Coleslaw and a side salad.

The Grill 3 for £10 mix and match offer extends over burgers, steaks, chicken and fish, so you can pick up tastes that will please everyone, and there’s also and offer right now for 2 packs of premium sausages or bacon for £5. It’s a smart time to buy and stock the freezer, as most of these items can be frozen on day of purchase, so if there’s an item you really love, you could get yourself a few for over the summer for future BBQs.

Camembert £1.75 : Peppers £1.80

Camembert £1.75 : Peppers £1.80

In the 3 for £10 offer I chose the new BBQ Beef Sizzle Steaks, they are simple but look absolutely delicious (very top photo). For something a little more exotic I chose the Masala Salmon Burgers with red chilli (second photo down, above). I like trying something a bit different. I’ve had basic fish cakes before, but nothing like this, I’ll be nabbing one of these for myself on Sunday for sure.

Beetroot £1.75 : Pork Belly £3 for £10 (or £4.50)

Beetroot £1.75 : Pork Belly £3 for £10 (or £4.50)

The Pesto Halloumi Kebabs in the same photo above are £4.25 and are separate from the offer. If you haven’t had a cheese kebab before you are missing out. Halloumi is a firm cheese that doesn’t completely melt like cheddar and cheeses we are more used to. So it can be used in cooking and heated up. Just give it a try, it’s a real treat.

Buns £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 (or £4)

Buns £1.50 : Burgers 3 for £10 (or £4)

Camembert is another cheese that is traditionally cooked, and the Grill also has one available in a really intriguing sweet chilli variety. This would be a scrumptious snack in the evening to heat over a campfire or mini BBQ grill, and to have with a crusty loaf. It doesn’t need much more with it because it is sure to be bursting with flavour on its own. I will let you know over on Instagram

Back to the 3 for £10 the Grill offer and I picked up Spanish Style Pork Belly. I love these boxed meat joints as they are really good for sharing and they just easily pop in the oven, and they are packed with juicy flavour. This one comes with a roasted pepper sauce on the side. 

I also chose some Blue Cheese and Bacon Jam Burgers. I think these will be my favourites when we cook them on Sunday, I am a big blue cheese fan, especially on a burger. The M&S Brioche buns are a super accompaniment to any BBQ and you can get a pack of four for £1.50 from their bread and bakery department. 

Texan Slammers 3 for £10 (or£4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

Texan Slammers 3 for £10 (or£4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

 

 

The last two items from the Grill I picked are the Texan Style Slammer sausages, and the Thai Kebabs. The Texan Slammers are cheese stuffed jalapeño peppers which then get wrapped in bacon, which then get wrapped inside a sausage, tasty madness! The Thai Kebabs I chose because they come with a satay sauce, it’s a nut-free blend which means all families can enjoy it, and you can bring it along to all BBQs you may be attending without effecting anyone’s allergies which is handy. 

Kebabs 3 for £10 (or £4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

Kebabs 3 for £10 (or £4) : Crisps £1 (on Offer)

The fresh fruit and vegetable section of Marks and Spencer is bursting with lots of happy, in season goodies to accompany all these BBQ mains. I spotted the multicoloured Summer Selection Tomatoes (very top photo), the perfectly crisp Sweet Red Pointed Peppers (fourth main photo), and the Cocktail Sweet Chilli Beetroot (fifth main photo) which are sure to impress BBQ guests. There are also a range of the Grill table sauces to compliment your summer dishes, like the Piri Piri, or House BBQ in this blog, but also Smokey BBQ and Burger Sauce that I featured previously. They can be used as dipping sauces, or marinades. 

The very colourful, funky crisp packets are new in store too and just £1 a pack right now. There are a couple of other flavours but I grabbed the Chicken Katsu Curry, the Habanero Hot Wings and the Asian Pulled Pork. The packaging alone wins me over, I love it, very summery and they will brighten up this Father’s Day BBQ even if the sun doesn’t shine.

If you are looking for some last minute Father’s Day gift inspiration, the Marks and Spencer website has you covered from fashion to food to accessories, and don’t forget a card! 

RHS Botanical Illustration- The Gold Medal Winners, A Tome For Those With a Passion For Art, The Gardening World- Or Both Combined!

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The Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Library has a long tradition of partnering with artists to create beautiful artworks for their collection. In fact since they first started commissioning in 1806, they have gathered over 30,000 works of buds, fruits, flowers and leaves.

A new book, published by ACC Art Books, and curated by Charlotte Brooks, presents sixty botanical studies by gold medal winning artists from the Lindley Collection. The book, RHS Botanical Illustration- The Gold Medal Winners includes an essay detailing the long-standing relationship between artists and the RHS.

Each splendid, full colour illustration includes a short biography of the artist and a discussion of their winning composition. The artists are diverse, from around the globe, but the style is consistent, botanical illustration is described as, ‘a genre of art that endeavours faithfully to depict and represent the form, colour and detail of a plant’. Still you will see the artistic finesse and style choices between each gold medalist. It is especially interesting to see different people approach such a precise artistic genre I find. The subtle stylistic flairs are so fascinating. Click any image below to see detail.

Charlotte Brooks, the creator of the wonderful book, has worked as art curator at the RHS Lindley Library for over 15 years.  She also works on the judging panel, and researches Anglo-Chinese Botanical Art. 

The book itself it simply stunning and would make a glorious gift for anyone who loves floral gardening, or equally has an interest in still life drawing or painting. It would make a really good reference for botanical drawing as there is a lot of excellent work in there.

RHS Botanical Illustration Gold Medal Winners by Charlotte Brooks, available on ACC Art now.

Other Worlds- A Marvellous New Online Hub Where Geek Culture Meets Theology (Plus It’s Run By Someone Very Close To My Heart, So I’m A Bit Biased)

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I first heard about Other Worlds a month or two ago, when my brother mentioned to me he was filming with a friend at the Dark Hedges, one of the famous Game of Thrones set locations. They had plans of putting together a podcast of sorts, and Other Worlds has turned out to be the result.

This past Sunday, at our weekly family dinner he passed me a very fancy purple business card with the logo and URL, and it seems now I am not the only Spence with a web presence on the go! 

 

Other Worlds is a collab between himself, Michael Spence, who in his day job works a minister, and two friends Jonny Orr and Andrew Matthews.  

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The website will take a theological spin on geek culture and include a podcast. The ‘about’ section states-  “Other Worlds is a media project connecting theology with geek culture: films, writing and podcasts that engage deeply with the theological themes raised by our favourite media:Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Dungeons & Dragons, HP Lovecraft, CS Lewis, and whatever else we come up with.

Other Worlds is for you if you’re interested in what fantasy has to say to reality; if you’ve been inspired to adventure by The Lord of the Rings; if Harry Potter changed how you feel about death; and even if you think that Darth Vader is a bit like Jesus.”

There is some written content on the site to explore already, and you can like their Facebook page to keep up to date. If you want to watch the video podcast about Game of Thrones that was taken at The Dark Hedges, you can view it on the Other Worlds Youtube Channel here.