WIN Unicorn Headphones from Cozy Phones on The World of Kitsch!


Okay folks, here it is, quite possibly the coolest giveaway I've hosted yet, as not only do I have a really great set of headphones as a prize, said headphones are in the realm of being unicorn themed. 

Cozy Phones are an American based brand, who make clever headband shaped headphones. There are three main categories of Cozy Phones, kids,  sleep and active, and I will go into all three telling you the benefits of their headphones over regular in-ear, or over-ear designs.

Then you can enter to win a pair of unicorn kids' Cozy Phones, which if you are a unicorn loving adult like me, you may want to squeeze your head into anyway (I will give you size stats in this blog too). But first let's see what Cozy Phones are all about, shall we? 


KIDS COZYPHONES:  The benefits of a headband style of headphone for a child are easy to imagine. Regular in-ear 'bud' style headphones are too big for kids' ears, which will make using them uncomfortable from the get go. There's also a risk of your child playing their music or device output at too high a volume, directly into their eardrums, not good.

With kids Cozy Phones, which you can buy for around £15.99 directly from them on Amazon, you have a soft fleece headband, which won't fall off, be too big or small, like their over-ear counterparts can be. The little speakers inside can be adjusted by poking your finger inside the band from the rear. You line them up with where your child's ears sit, and you have a tailor made set of headphones that your child will love because of the variety of colourful designs. 

Long road trips will become a peaceful nirvana, with Cozy Phones on and noisy Youtubers muffled! Your child can also rest their head back, or even stand on their head if they want to, and the headphones will stay on. 

The manufactuing is sturdy, with a 36" braided cord cable, and regular 35mm stereo plug.


Cozy Phones were kind enough to send a set for Smix & he has been using them religiously since they arrived. He says the sound quality is excellent, and the headband is more comfortable than the Dan TDM over-ear headphones he had been using. 


SLEEP CONTOUR COZYPHONES: Moving onto the adult size Cozy Phones, looking first at the sleep Contour and Original sets. Both are similar in that they have soft fleece, but the contour design has a cool mesh lining which helps the speaker stay in space should you toss and turn.

I tried the original fleece only set and found no problem with movement anyway. The specs are similar to the kids' Cozy Phones, the difference being you have a 1.5m corded cable with the adult ones, which is tangle-free and sturdy. 



I always listen to YouTube videos at night to fall asleep to, so I gave them a go to see if I liked them. Firstly they were super comfortable and non-intrusive. Cleverly they can double as an eye mask by just pulling the band down over your eyes. I fell asleep easily wearing it.

They come with their own lovely little bag, so they'd be perfect for travelling and an essential for long plane journeys. They can also be used for sports, such as yoga, and because you can adjust the speakers' positions, you can also remove them completely to wash your headband if it gets a little dusty from continued use.  

Again they seem to be priced around the £15 mark directly from CozyPhones on Amazon


SPORTS COZYPHONES: Lastly the sports Cozy Phones for adults. Similar to the sleep set, but the band is lycra, and shaped slightly differently. I've tried regular headphones for running before and they can be a bit of a pain, but with a band you can listen to your music or sprint timing easily, not worrying about an ear bud flying out as your jog along. 

They come in a variety of colours, and again are around £15 on Amazon.  


So, fancy winning a set of kids' unicorn Cozy Phones? It's hard to give these away quite frankly, if I didn't have such a giant head myself, I might just keep them!  

They are kids' size, but check out the sizing if you are an adult who wants to try their luck winning this beautiful pastel unicorn with a golden horn, for themselves! 

Good luck everyone! 

Did You Know Scrabo Tower Is The Result of a 1855 Design Competition? The Prize Was £20! Plus a Mysterious Disappearing House.



It's so hot & sunny today, so I dragged Smix away from the computer and up to Scrabo Tower in Newtownards to plane watch. We sort of did the real life little Newtownards logo. You can spy the little plane below.

There wasn't really anyone else around. Just three other bunches of people, and the crazy father & son in the pic below, doing sprints on the hill we struggled just to walk up.  


Looking back down you could even see the Mourne Mountains in the distance. We will have to get down there at some point during the summer. 




Sadly the tower itself was closed today. It recently reopened to the public after closing due to water damage in 2014. 

You can visit on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, between 10am & 4pm. Entry is £3 for adults, £2 for kids, £10 family ticket. As it's National Trust owned I would reckon if you have a annual pass, entry would be free. I have a media pass, so I might go and check that out for you in a blog soon.

The history of the tower is pretty cool. It was actually the outcome of a design competition, launched in 1855. The brief was to design a memorial for Charles Stewart, the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry. The design was not to exceed building costs of £2000, and two prizes were offered, £20 & £15.



One of the four final architectural designs chosen was by W.J. Barre. When he took the plans to be priced by Belfast's McLaughlin & Harvey, they estimated it as 20% over the £2000 Barre claimed it would cost. He was outraged and said the competition was rigged. He reused the design for the Dawson Monument in Monaghan (pictured right), and I think it would be rather grim and more like a tombstone to have that perched on the hill.

In the end three of the final designs exceeded the £2000 budget, so Charles Lanyon's design which didn't, was chosen. Ironically it then ran over budget, ending up being OVER £3000 to build, with the plans scaled down and turrets & tower itself made smaller, the buttress walls in the sketch you see above were left out, but it is his design which was completed in 1857 which we see today. Many people think the actual design was by Lanyon's assistant W.H. Lynch (maybe he got the £15!). 

I said to Smix as we drove up this morning, how odd would it be to see that hill without the tower there? Everyone alive today has only known Ards as it sits in the shadow of Scrabo Tower. It's strange to think of that hill without the tower at the peak. 

The photo below shows a more barren hill, before the golf course added the landscaping. 


From the top of the hill you can see Belfast, all of Craigantlet, right down to Bangor, over to Donaghadee, the Ards peninsula and the whole way to the Mournes. Smix was most interested in the small Newtownards' Airport (runway very bottom of pic below), where you can watch small private planes take off and land. There were quite a few today because of the clear weather.


Just before the turn off to the golf course, is another house I've always loved. It's a farm house and I think it's the combination of the balcony, the strange little tower and the green appeals to me. 


I thought it was quite amusing that Streetview caught a tractor right outside it.


I also did a bit of rubbernecking from the car, as just past the road to the right, there was a new build I hadn't seen before. It's all glass and modern shapes and I was hoping to nosy further on Streetview when I got home, then share it with you here. Thing is, it must be so new, it isn't on Streetview! In fact where it is seems to be a field! I wish I had tried to take a photo now.

Tagged on and making it a little bit like a jumble sale of a blog post today, I noticed a vintage Ulsterbus in the bus station. I also like that the station has the old fashioned 1980s' Ulsterbus font and logo.  


Finally, if learning the history of Scrabo Tower has made you fond of seeing it more often, then local artist J.S. Kelly has a wonderful print of the tower to buy. I love love love his work, as I have a couple of vintage travel posters myself, and his work is in that style and of dozens of Northern Ireland's best known landmarks. Go support him!


My Favourite Houses in Holywood, Plus A Real Life Grey Gardens in Bangor?

I'm starting off with the red herring. It would be an easy guess that this George McDermott designed, positively mansion-esque, flat-roofed home in Cultra would be my favourite house in Holywood. 


Sitting alongside the Culloden Hotel on the main road from Belfast to Bangor, it's as luxurious inside as the size would imply. The interior has been fully modernised, but I would love to see photos of its original 1970s' stylings, especially the pool room, which it's rumoured George Best frequented back in the day. Best loved this place so much that he has his home in Cheshire based on some of the wilder features.

The home went on sale a few years back for £1.2m and includes vast grounds and an outdoor pool. 


While I admire the modernist design, it alone isn't my favourite house in Holywood. There is a cluster of split-level, reverse-rooved wonders just a little further up the road and on the opposite side.

The Marino area on the hill side, not the coast side of the main road, is home to half a dozen parallel streets with these family homes of 1960s & 70s quite innovative designs. 

Because of the hill, split level is used frequently, as well as lovely big windows for the views. 


Here is one of the homes that's been modernised in the last decade, although the others don't look too dated. 

I do wonder if this style of modernisation I've seen on bungalows in Bangor West too, will soon look more dated than the original homes, the way the cladding fad has. 


This one isn't terribly design heavy, but I love it because it is true , right this minute Kitsch. A small family home overdecorated to the point it looks too much. Anything too ornate on something small is kitsch. 


Finally, I'm not sure if this would be of interest to anyone, but there is a real life Grey Gardens really close to my house. Someone really lives in this house, year round. The house is as it was when the street was built. No upgrades or double glazing, in fact the top further window is broken and just has card in place.  

I wonder how much it would cost to repair the place to how it should be? Would it be cheaper to tear down? 


So now I think I've featured all the houses I know of and love, but does anyone know of any others I might like to look at? I've a feeling there's a patch over in Greenisland with similar houses to Marino, I just don't know where to look on Streetview to see them. Let me know! @rudedoodle

Grey Gardens Scrapbook, by Sara & Rebekah Maysles


My Grey Gardens book arrived! This huge tome has been put together by Sara and Rebekah Maysles, daughters of Albert, one of the brothers who filmed the famous documentary in the 70s. It's clearly a labour of love, and a must buy for any serious Grey Gardens fan.

There are pages and pages of conversations with the Edies, a timeline of events in their lives, not to mention the priceless collection of candid photos and behind the scenes information.


I don't want to spoil it too much by showing you too many pages, you really should go buy it if you're a fan because it's worth every penny.  This really is a tiny snapshot of the hundreds of pages of pure Grey Gardens joy.

There is a huge section on the technicalities of putting the film together, plus these photos of the premiere which Little Edie attended in her beloved New York. 


There is also the entire 'script'  of the documentary, should you wish to reenact it!


Included at the back is a 60 minute CD of unreleased recordings with the two Edies. My son is already dreading me playing this in the car!


Lastly, you might not be aware that there is a Grey Gardens sequel of sorts. The Maysles brothers released a new feature length cut of unused, but equally amazing, Big & Little Edie footage in 2006. The documentary is called 'The Beales of Grey Gardens' and you can buy the DVD online.

If you missed it last week I posted a video I made comparing the original footage of Little Edie with Drew Barrymore playing her, and also the Christine Ebersole musical version, and Bill Hader's Little Vivvy.  Drew Barrymore totally nails it!

7 Documentaries About Classic Video Gaming- From Tetris Masters to The Perfect Game of Donkey Kong, Via The Fabled Atari ET Landfill Site


Being born in 1980, I was a kid at the tail end of the golden age of gaming. Santa brought my brother and I a NES console one year, and a Game Boy the next. While I never really spent much time playing games in arcades, I did play console versions of Donkey Kong and indeed Pacman. 

So I indulged in a bout of extreme nostalgia, watching documentaries about classic arcade gaming and the original Mega Games like Tetris.

1. Chasing Ghosts

This tells the tale of Twin Galaxies Arcade, who originated a scoreboard for players to submit their high scores of video games to. We also meet Billy Mitchell, the first person to complete a perfect game of Pacman. Watch it for free here. 



2. The King of Kong

Another documentary starring Billy Mitchell, but this time he has a slightly villainous role. It sees a regular family man try to play a perfect game of Donkey Kong, and beat Billy's record.

Watch it free on YouTube. 








3. Man vs Snake. 

You'll end up really rooting for the guy in this documentary as he tries to reach the high score on an arcade game called Nibbler. Again Twin Galaxies and Billy Mitchell make appearances. 

I saw this a while back on Netflix, but there's a free copy here.  






4. Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters

Arguably the world's most played game, Tetris is the star of this documentary. It explores the highest score, the legendary kill screen of level 30, and gathers the best players for a tournament of kings. 

Watch it free here







5. Get Lamp: A Text Adventure Documentary

Now this is really old school. I remember playing text adventure games on the BBC computers in primary school. This documentary explores the history of the games and their creators.  

Catch it here. 


6. Atari: Game Over

There is an urban legend about Atari and the worst game ever made. This documentary tells that story. Atari rushed production of an ET game, to coincide with Christmas. The game was too difficult, boring and absolutely no fun to play. This led to the demise of Atari and the rumour of a huge landfill somewhere in the States where they buried millions of copies of unsold ET games. The film makers try to find the site, while explaining just what went wrong for Atari. 

Watch on Netflix, or for free here


7. Nintendo Quest

Ending on a happier note, Nintendo Quest sees two best friends try to buy all 678 NES games within 30 days, with no online purchases. The documentary also delves into the history of Nintendo and is a must watch for nostalgic folks of my generation.

Watch for free on YouTube

My Favourite Art Deco House in Bangor Northern Ireland- Plus Tonic Cinema Illustration From Hand Drawn Creative


I shared with you my favourite house in Portstewart last week, so how about my favourite house in Bangor, where I actually live.

Its this pink beauty which resides in the wonderfully named 'Beverley Hills', in the Ballyholme area. Built in the 1930s it nestles amongst a neighbourhood of otherwise regular family homes, and backs onto a golf course.

I know what you're thinking- the cladding. I know. Cladding the exterior of a house in fancy stonework was a trend in the 1970s and you would wonder who in their right mind would have altered such an already high concept design building like this, let alone all over cladding, then painting it pink.


The photo below showing the house in its original form is so much better, the corner windows to the left side are totally lost under the heavy brickwork. 


The current owner was not responsible for the cladding, or the pink, and they also say the original interiors have been stripped and changed too. So no retro futuristic interiors to observe, sadly.


David Wilson architects did some remodelling work recently extending the kitchen and living area on the ground floor. They appear to have done a good job, in keeping with the traditional design of the building.


Bangor has some beautiful Art Deco public buildings, one of which Neal McCullough from Hand Drawn Creative has featured in a clean crisp illustration, which you can buy on his Etsy Store.


The Bank of Ireland building is another example, right at the midpoint of Main Street. The building to the right which you can't see in the photograph has quite a few modernist qualities. I have an old Ulster Architrcture book somewhere that features it, I must dig it out to share with you on another blog post.


There's another section of Bangor, what I call the new-build sprawl of the East which is like a maze to me, but which has a pocket of home designs I've always loved.

Along the ring road and into never ending suburbia there are a couple of streets of these happy little chalets. They look like designs of the 60s or 70s, family homes with asymmetrical rooves, cute archways and novelty balconies. 

There are several designs dotted along the Pinehill / Silverbirch area.


Incidentally Neal has a print that looks a little bit like these homes- Hand Drawn Creative Hollywood Bungalow A3 for £20. Apart from his Fisher Price retro toy illustrations, I think this is my favourite of Neal's work.


The last home of my favourites in Bangor list, is one I've been telling my parents I wanted to live in since I was a little girl, when we moved to the same road when I was aged two.

"The Sugar Cube", as its lovingly named by the family who live there, is a flat roofed design house on the same road as my parents' home. I always told my parents I would love there so I wasn't too far away from them when I moved out as an adult. Ironically I actually live almost this close now, although it's round the back of the Springhill Road, rather than down and opposite from my parents' house.

So have I got all th unusual homes in Bangor? Or do you know of any that I might like to nosy at too?  Hit me up on Twitter- @rudedoodle

I may feature Holywood next- it would require a lot of time on Google Streeview going up and down the split-level, modernist heaven that is Marino!


One last bonus architectural oddity- the Ballyholme windmill, which peeks out from in between the streets of homes. 

I would LOVE to live somewhere like that. 


More Sausage For Your Sizzle- 3 for £10 BBQ & Grill Delights From M&S

Much as I love a good old fashioned sausage, I'm rather partial to the wealth of fancy BBQ treats Marks & Spencer have on offer each year. King prawn skewers, chilli & halloumi kebabs, smoky ham & cheese warmed on the BBQ grill.... I'll take one of everything please!


Handily, M&S have a number of offers on right now that means you can try more of the products. The BBQ Grill meats are all 3 for £10 mix and match, so for one bundle I got the two different skewers above, plus the Lemon & Herb Salmon Flatties. Then a second £10 selection of 12 Cornish Cove & Bacon Posh Puppies (hot dogs), BBQ Beef Brisket in a chilli glaze, and the Mixed Slider Selection- 4 chorizo pork & 4 Moroccan spiced lamb mini burgers.

Chorizo sliders, Moroccan lamb sliders & Cornish Cove and bacon Posh Dogs on the grill!

Chorizo sliders, Moroccan lamb sliders & Cornish Cove and bacon Posh Dogs on the grill!


M&S also have a range of delicious BBQ Grill sides, which fall under the 2 for £4, or 3 for £6 offers. I picked the Smokey Spiced Potatoes (above) and the Sweet Potato Wedges (below). These can simply be placed in the oven to cook while the meat is BBQed.

Weird Judy, BBQ Defender

Weird Judy, BBQ Defender


Marks & Spencer is the home of exotic salads, and their long running 2 for £4 offer on the mini boxed fresh salads includes the new recipes for Spirit of Summer 2017. The Orzo Pasta below is excellent, it will be a summer-long repurchase for me. 

Hopefully we will have lots of sunny weather for BBQs! 


She Spies Retro Futurism By The Seashore- My Favourite House in Portstewart


Houses like these make my heart soar. Just look at that staircase in the long, completely glazed hall. Look at that totally impractical reverse pitched roof. I always have to slow down to ogle this home when I'm driving past to get to the Portstewart Strand.

I did a little poking about online and found some info on Alan In Belfast's blog. In a post dated 2006, he shares a little history of the building, which he is next door to. The two photos below are his, and show the house in disrepair a decade ago. However the building is listed, and rather than be demolished for apartments, like so many old plots along the coast, today sees it as in the photo above. It's inhabited and all fixed up.


Alan's investigation found that the reason for its listed status was not the architecture alone, but the large outdoor mosaic adorning the front of the building. It's a piece by the Irish artist Colin Middleton, one of the few surrealists of the early part of the last century hailing from our island. He was heavily influenced by Van Gogh, and spent the latter part of his life living in Bangor, where I'm from.


The story of how this particular piece of his came to be is an interesting one. The story goes that Middleton had been staying in a house in Portstewart, but didn't have enough money to pay for his board, so he designed this mosaic to pay his way.

The architect of my dream house, Noel Campbell, also commissioned Middleton to create a mosaic for a home he designed in Ballymena, Scandia, seen below. 


Another of Noel Campbell's houses is just round the corner from Portstewart Strand, Little Rock, on Larkhill Road, below.


But my heart belongs to the Strand Road beauty!