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Ahhh, it is so nice to be tapping away here again! You’ve probably noticed that this blog has purely become a little hidey-hole of the internet that I only update when I know I will really enjoy scratching the itch and have a rare solo afternoon like today. Nick is wearily making his way back across the country from his stag do! And so, charged up on a millions cups (bowls) of tea and having completed all my wedmin / wedding crafty tasks I thought oh! Like a Skeleton Key! Let’s do this old friend. I stick mostly to posting about my travel adventures over on TwentySomething Burnouts and this really is a place for more intimate and ramshackle brain ramblings. However with the total-plot twist life change news that I am moving to LA (as in, this time next month I will be a fully fledged living-working resident of Los Angeles – woooah) I have a feeling that I will be recording my life a little more fully on the internet again. That said; I don’t know if it will be blogging. I LOVE it, don’t get me wrong, and having kept a diary since I learnt to write, and an online journal since I discovered Livejournal at the age of 17, I’ll always do this. That said, writing a blog entry takes quite a bit of brain power. Working in marketing I regularly write long form content (blogs, press releases, campaign round-ups, copy etc) all day long which means that in my downtime I am slightly more reluctant to sit at my laptop continuing to work. After quite a bit of thought I decided I’d like to document my move to LA a little more visually; so will be setting up some sort of home to post videos. I feel like since I’ll be on the other side of the world it might be an easier way to share my new life with friends and family than attempting to do it justice with fancy words. PLUS! I will find it much easier to sit and natter at a camera than typing away; although I have no editing skills so might need to sweet talk my husband (!!) for help there.
But that’s enough of that, back to life right now. Well having said goodbye to London before; you’d think I’d be doing a better job of it this time but it seems to be a similar gut wrench of excitement to leave the pesky bits (tube traumas, grumpy folk, crazy creeping rent costs) and sadness to face the fact that realistically this may be the last time I live in the big smoke. Those pangs hit me at the funniest of moments. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am ridiculously blessed to be moving to a place that sounds like a dream to live in… but London has been my home for a decade. So I’m totally allowed a long goodbye! I even found myself gazing adoringly at Piccadilly Circus the other day – having spent 10 years desperately trying to avoid that particular patch. I think it boils down to the fact that I know who I am in London. I know I like to treat myself to a mocha from The Fields Beneath if it’s a dreary day. I know I like to wow visitors by taking them to Kings Cross Dishoom & nattering over pink drinks. I know I can pull on some trainers and be at the top of Primrose Hill in 15 minutes looking out over the whole of a toy-town skyline in the distance. I know that the cat who lives next door is called Thomas and where he likes his belly ruffled. I know Craig and I can go dancing at Archer Street at any given moment and they’ll play Taylor Swift and everything will feel ok again. I know I’m only a 3 hour train journey from Yorkshire and the wilderness when I need a brain break. I don’t know how to live my life in LA. Where will I go to make sense of myself?
It’s ok though. Because I had all these feelings before I quit my life and backpacked around the place and they dissolved within about a day of me stepping foot off the plane. It’s hard to be all wistful and emo when a new culture and adventure is demanding every ounce of concentration! I’m also a bit over-whelmed and run-down from: a) leaving my job/downloading my work brain b) preparing for a new job c) planning a (very DIY) wedding and d) preparing to ship and move my life to another country. I’m sure all of these feature on a “most stressful life things” list somewhere and I’m a bit like a bingo card of THINGS TO THINK AND DO right now. I honestly don’t know how I would function without To Doist. Every second I spend my time right now feels like it’s been colour coded, tagged and categorised in that app right now (even writing this – cringe!) Luckily Nick has been on hand to save me from myself and make sure that I have downtime. This week he surprised me with tickets to see Empire Records at the Camden Market Backyard Cinema Film Festival! Let’s not talk about the fact that Empire Records is TWENTY years old this year (it’s ok though, Pretty Woman is 30 years old). Nick splurged on some sort of lux (so LA!) tickets that included a free whopping Honest Burger and a giant cider. We cosied up under blankets on deck chairs and not even a decent dose of British Summer rain could stop us bopping along to the soundtrack (which I used to have on tape cassette in my first car) and talking along with the unforgettable quotes that are taking up valuable GBs in my bee brain. Attention Rex Manning fans, to your left you will notice a shoplifter being chased by night manager, Lucas. This young man will be caught, deep fried in a vat of hot oil and served to our first hundred customers. Just another tasty treat from the gang at Empire Records! The festival is running for another couple of weeks, including the chance to see Amy in Camden which would be pretty fitting and a screening of Teen Wolf which sadly clashes with my work leaving shindig so please go and watch it on my behalf!
Something else that’s been making me happy is flowers! When Blossoming Gifts emailed me to ask if I’d like to sample their delivery flower service I obviously said yes please and then swooned over the fact they had a bouquet of Apricot Rose & Hydrangea. I am having hydrangeas for my bridal flowers so the thought of having some in the house whilst I did the final bits and bobs of wedding planning felt really special. And no I haven’t walked up and down the side of my bed holding the vase as if it was my bouquet and smiling sweetly at the walls pretending they were guests. Nope, no siree. I was super impressed with the delivery bouquet options; it felt like they had some really unusual colour and flower combinations and are clearly experts in what works well together. The flowers arrived in a very sturdy box and lasted a whole week without wilting, even in the tropical London smog we had lately. In fact the apricot dalidas are still going strong so I’ve transferred them into a little glass vase that Nick bought me which is actually a wine carafe that is given to Italian army officers as standard kit (snazzy!) which he picked up at the local Army Surplus Store.
Blossoming Gifts have kindly passed on a discount of 33% off if you’d like to treat yourself! I’d definitely rate them and the ease of being able to pick a bunch online and know they will be delivered safely and swiftly is so easy. No more scuttling around a service station hunting out a crummy old carnation creation when in need of thanking someone! You just need to enter the code BGIFTS33. You can check out their flowers by post here and their cheap flower selection (which don’t look cheap – score!) here. I’m already desperate to order myself the orangery selection – those giant daisies are cute as a button.
One thing that is also concerning me greatly about the upcoming move is WOE I will not be in the UK for the Great British Bake Off final. And apparently there isn’t a Great American Bake Off to fill the (cake) hole so I am going to need to work out how to use Tunnel Bear properly and work out the time zone different for watching it as soon as possible and hope it doesn’t involve being awake at 4am or something. Everybody without exception in my team at work is GBBO mad; so for the last couple of years I have helped to organise a team bake off where a different person bakes every Wednesday. Last year I burnt my arm so badly whilst making a Chocolate & Yorkshire Ale cake that I had to go to A&E when it made my veins turn red and angry! This year I managed to avoid any hospitalisation and also managed to make a random thought that had popped into my head a baked good reality. I had wondered if I could make a cake that looked like a watermelon using some kind of mystical food colouring / dark chocolate drop combo. And well… it kind of worked!
Before I sign off I just want to share a few final things that are currently floating my boat, since I have been absent for a while. Mainly – PODCASTS. Serial was my gateway drug, which led onto podcasts about that podcast (still totally hooked on Undisclosed, Serial Dynasty, Serially Obsessed and Crime Writers on Serial) and about the same time I discovered Welcome to Night Vale and This American Life which tend to also be the big gateway podcast pathways for the less crime oriented types. Oh and I loved listening to Grantland’s Watch the Thrones almost more than watching this season of Game of Thrones. Podcasts have completely revolutionised my life in terms of how much more fun any sort of travel or chores now are. Whereas previously I might have put a few tunes on to motivate myself to do the washing up or my commute; now I honestly track my walk to work against how many episodes of podcasts I have to get through and get extremely excited about that time alone in a totally immersive world of audio. I feel embarrassed, as an audio book lover, why it took me so long to figure out that podcasts were swiftly going to become my favourite form of entertainment.
Recently I have got deep in to three podcasts that I wanted to share; given that basically all my podcast discoveries have come via recommendations. They all have something in common and have unearthed a part of my tastes, likes and interests that had somehow become dampened as I have grown into an adult. That thing is… MYSTERY! As a child I was absolutely obsessive about mysteries. My sister and I would count down the excruciating seconds for Strange but True with Michael Aspel to come on each week. We had various books of unsolved mysteries including the classics like the Bermuda Triangle, Jack the Ripper and Mary Celeste and I would paw over them every night after lights out using the old torch-under-the-duvet trick. I can remember the giddy-terrified sensation of hearing about a new spooky story or unsolved mystery and laying awake for hours trying to unpick the details and try to solve it; not for the good of humanity but in order to not be totally freaked out and need to do the shameful climb into bed with my sister! As I’ve got older I have developed a more control-freak-ish personality and therefore all things mysterious have slightly gone out of the window. That said I have still always had a curiosity for true crime (mainly in the form of an addiction to Erik Larson’s Devil in the White City and always reading the headlines of Chat magazine when lurking at the supermarket checkout) and maintained a love for zombies and b-movies. All of these long lost loves have been re-ignited through my three top podcasts; hooray! Childhood me is so happy to feel that spooky goosebump skin once more!
- Lore : Sometimes the truth is more frightening than fiction. This bi-weekly podcast explores topics such as real life zombies, folklore, mysterious beasts, asylums, cabins in the woods and haunted hotels. I almost squealed when I saw episode 9 pop-up in my feed as it covers the story of the Devil on the Roof; the story I remember terrifying me into a near catatonic state when I first read about it with sweaty palms at a stupidly young age (blame having elder siblings!) It’s hosted by Aaron Mahnke who has the worlds most soothing voice and is also a supernatural thriller author and resident of Boston (known for the Salem trials and being Lovecraft heartland; so a pretty good place to start) and I can’t recommend it enough. Just make sure you have an Ovaltine lined up for bedtime after listening.
- Generation Why : Murders, myths, monsters and miscarriages of justice. I have come to this cult podcast at a shamefully late date considering how much it’s my cup of tea. That said; it now means I could binge on about 50 incredible episodes in the space of 3 weeks – covering everything from the disappearance of Madeline McCann, the case of D B Cooper, the Zodiac Killer and Robert Durst. Amongst these more contemporary cases though are sprinkled a ton of old classics from my reading-by-torchlight days which I have gleefully revisited with an adult brain – Loch Ness Monster, Bermuda Triangle, Big Foot and the Bermuda Triangle! The podcast is so well produced and presented by Aaron and Justin that you soon feel like you are sitting down with a couple of old chums for a natter about the weird and wonderful. I like the fact that the more grizzly / grim cases (multiple homicides or violence against kids/women) often focus far more on education around the legal implications or the culture surrounding the circumstances than just fear-mongering or focussing on the gory details. For example I listened to the podcast about Lucie Blackman; a story I felt really affected by at the time when it was all over the news, and was relieved that the podcast was super respectful and featured a real expert in Japanese culture and lifestyle to explain the context of the case.
- The Mystery Show : A podcast where Starlee Kine solves mysteries. This podcast is a ridiculously simple concept – Starlee Kine investigates mysteries that cannot be solved by the power of Google. On the journey to solve the mysteries however; it’s the people and the places that Starlee is taken that create a rollercoaster of emotions, unexpected forks in the road and twists & turns that become so unexpected you almost forget what the original mystery way (for example the SPECTACULAR Phil Spector story that is revealed whilst looking for the source of Welcome Back, Kotter lunch pail artwork) it’s adorable, it’s engaging and it’s a must-listen.
Ah that was nice. See you again sooner; I promise.
Tags: 20th Anniversary, Apricot Roses, Archer Street, Backyard Cinema Film Festival, Bermuda Triangle, Best outdoor cinemas, Best podcasts, Bigfoot, Bloggers, Blossoming GIfts, Camden outdoor cinema, Camden Town Film Festival, Chalk Farm, Crime writers on serial, D B Cooper, Delivery Flowers, Dishoom, Empire Records, Favourite Things, FLowers by post, Generation Why, Generation Why Podcast, Ghosts, Gimlet, how to make a watermelon cake, Hydrangea, Kentish Town, Kings Cross, Life after serial, Like a skeleton key, likeaskeletonkey, London, London lifestyle blog, Lore, Lore Podcast, Mary Celeste, Michael Aspel, mystery podcasts, New outdoor cinemas, North London, Picadilly Circus, podcast recommendations, Primrose Hill, Rex Manning Day, Serial Dynasty, Serially obsessed, Starlee Kine, strange but true, summer, The Fields Beneath, The Generation Why, The Mystery Show, Things to do in London, This American Life, TwentySomething Burnouts, Undisclosed, unsolved mysteries, Watch the Thrones, watermelon cake, Welcome to Night Vale
It’s been a while, huh? If you feel out of touch with my goings on, I have been wittering away about recent travels such as BERLIN over on Twentysomething Burnouts; so don’t forget to subscribe over there! Life is feeling pretty settled at the moment; which is a rarity for me and something that usually means I am going to do something crazy to unsettle things! But for now I am still here in my lovely treehouse flat in North London, which I’ve lived in for a year this month. I’m still working away at Penguin Random House and pinching myself that I get to read books for a living (although there is a little more to it than that) Oh and still wedding planning. The big day is 133 days away (I am obsessed with the Big Day app!) (and brackets it seems) and after finding wedding planning a little bit stressful initially, I have now hit my stride and am really enjoying the process. It helps that all of my friends are pitching in so much and letting me delegate, which is a skill that does NOT come easily for someone with Monica-from-Friends-control-freaking-syndrome. The most helpful of all has been my beloved Craig or should I say… my Creative Director! Who is helping on the decor front; from hunting out treasures on eBay to setting up on the day so I can concentrate on getting my hair done and drinking bubbles. What a wedding gift!
I don’t know how other people have approached wedding planning but Nick and I have a system that works pretty well. Firstly; broadly speaking I am organising the wedding, he is organising the honeymoon. This has kept things really clear and plays to both our strengths. I was worried that wedding planning was going to grow into a monster and take over my whole life; which isn’t really possible when I have a full-time job and busy year (2015 has already been an insane one for other weddings/anniversaries/30ths etc etc… in fact I have been away every weekend since the beginning of March! Phewf!) so my method has just been to IGNORE wedding planning on a day to day basis; and then set aside one Sunday every month to get up early and spend the whole day planning, booking, paying bills, filling out forms and all of that stuff. It’s so productive and I have a list up until September of what I need to tick off each month; so I always know what’s coming and what to power through. Then I have a week off in June where I can sit around in my PJs listening to Taylor Swift and doing all the crafting and little details for the tables and guests. This has kept the whole thing feeling incredibly manageable and dare I say… fun!
One thing I’ve had to do is get a little bit fit this year. I didn’t want to do the predictable bridezilla dieting and being miserable for the year leading up to the wedding (I love cheese way too much for that) so instead I have just carried on eating what I want, but focussed on exercising. I pay for an expensive London gym membership but in November and December I only used it twice – once to use the free Wifi and the other time to use the VENDING MACHINE (!) so honestly it was time for a change. That and the fact that when January rolled round, I had a wedding dress fitting and couldn’t fit in the dress I had altered the previous October. From that point I made a vow to do some form of exercise 5 out of 7 days. My problem is I get quite grumpy and bored at fitness of most kinds and am basically huffing, puffing and pouting before I have even laced up my trainers or stepped into the pool. By switching up what I do, I have managed to trick my brain into not hating it because there isn’t a predictable routine. Some days I just walk into work (just over 5k/3miles) and then it’s done for the day before I’ve even really woken up. Other days I swim, spin, pilates or if I’m feeling really brave, I go to step aerobics set to 90s music. I’m also doing one run a week. I have had such a love/hate relationship with running but after reading Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley it really re-ignited all my warm fuzzy feelings. I can’t run very easily in winter because cold air is my main asthma trigger, so now the warmer days are here I am actually enjoying the chance to race about a bit. I am SO spoilt to have Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath and Regents Park all on my doorstep, so it’s nice to be making the most of that.
Even though it’s May, and I have shed the excess Christmas pounds and am feeling fitter than ever, I have found it hard to accept that this is a “permanent” shift. I’ve been stubbornly wearing the same crummy old band tees and old running leggings that I’ve had for six years and are peppered with moth munches because I’m still in the mindset that this is just a phase. Finally last month Nick talked some sense into me and I invested in some running tights, proper fitting/quick-dry tops and basically things that don’t fall down/off when I do any sort of movement. It’s amazing how this has revolutionised my running particularly; how feeling good about myself carries me through on days where I feel less like getting out there. Primark has actually been my best source of nice-looking but nicely-priced sports kit; so it’s worth going there for a dig around if your gym kit needs an overhaul.
As well as feeling chipper on my wedding day, I wanted to put this new found energy and zing to good use. A month ago an email came round at my work, and before I had chance to convince myself of all the reasons I COULDN’T do it, I signed up… to climb the Three Peaks in 24 Hours! This is happening in just over a months time, so I’m stepping up the training with a few 20 mile walks planned in May. Oh and climbing the stairs at work every day, as I am on the 7th floor and it’s two-flights per floor. I mean that is totes the same thing as Snowden… right?! I am obviously quite intimidated by the challenge that lays ahead of me, but as it’s with a bunch of colleagues so I feel like it will be an incredible bonding experience and I just know I’ll feel so proud every time we reach one of the summits (even if I only learnt for the first this week that err, Ben Nevis has SNOW on it, that’s how high it is) I need to wake up to the fact I’ll need to invest in a bit of kit, our list includes things such as 2L hydration system… and I am not naive in how gruelling this will be as not only is it lots of steep walking and scrabbling, but it’s also 24 hours with no sleep (the second peak is done in the night, with only a head torch to guide us… so hopefully that one will kind of be like sleepwalking?) but I just plan to stock up on jelly babies, flapjack and a few audio books to tune into if I need distracting. Wish me luck and if you could be ever so kind; donate a few pennies? I’m raising money for Mind; a charity incredibly close to my heart who always need more funding to do their amazing work. I’m only at the half-way mark of my compulsory £550 sponsorship target so even if you only donate the cost of a pint that would still be hugely appreciated! Sponsor me and my legs HERE. If you do, I will be THIS happy and you can see how happy that is!
All of this gadding about the place in trainers has got me a little sore; so when a different kind of email came round work offering reduced price sports massages; I booked myself in. Imagine my horror when I turned up to my session and the masseuse is a 20 stone body builder, with a body fat ratio of 5%?! He even enters in professional body building competitions and eats 40 eggs a day. it made my jaunts around the park look small fry. It certainly was not what I expected and I was scared he might permanently break me, considering he resembled the incredible hulk. Obviously he didn’t, because he is a professional masseuse, but I sure could feel the work he did for days afterwards!
Well that’s probably most of the new news for now! I turn 31 on Monday and am quite excited to inch further away from my twenties and into a decade that feels like it’s fitting pretty well. I told someone yesterday that it’s my birthday soon and their response was “well you don’t know how many you have left to celebrate; so enjoy it!” which at the time totally destroyed my feel good celebratory vibes and put me into a bit of a downward mortality-questioning spiral. However, she was right in a way. We are so lucky to have every day, birthday or not, so it’s nice to feel like I’m trying to squeeze the most out of them right now.
Tags: 2L Hydration Kit, Alexandra Heminsley, Bloggers, Cheap gym kit, Cheap running gear, How to control wedding planning, Like a skeleton key, likeaskeletonkey, London, London lifestyle blog, Mind, Mind sponsorship, Primark running gear, Running Like A Girl, Running Regents Park, Stress free wedding planning, Things to do in London, Three Peaks Challenge, Three Peaks in 24 Hours, TwentySomething Burnouts, Wedding Planning
Why is 2015 in such a hurry ey? Maybe it’s because I am planning a wedding and so hyper-aware of the days left to get my bum in gear and organise things are speeding past in a blur of well… doing everything but organising things. I just can’t believe that it’s mid February, that the days are getting long and that things in April (like my next dress fitting) suddenly seem uncomfortably close rather than dark distant days!
I feel like this gorgeous Hello Dodo tee-shirt sums up my general life-vibe lately. Bear with me; I’m trying my best to be good and enthused about all the things but occasionally I just have to take a day like today where I sack every thing and everyone off and am still in my PJs at 4pm, intending to make the most active thing I do changing into a fresh pair when bedtime rolls around. Anyway! I am really keen to share with you a really neat thing I did in London lately. My friend Ianthe writes for the BA High Life in-flight magazine and got in touch a few weekends ago to see if Nick & I wanted to accompany her, along with some of Nick’s other uni buddies, to a “locked room mystery”. A few Googles later and I realised that there a craze sweeping well… the world, which London is actually a little late to the scene on. The craze actually started in 2007, when in Japan there was a sweep of turning simple point and click computer games into a physical challenge, that took place in a locked room. The participant would only be able to leave the room once the challenge had been successfully completed. This soon became so popular that the trend was picked up and soon “escape the room” adventures were popping up across Asia, Australia and Europe.
So, this led to me finishing an uneventful work Monday in January and making my way to an anonymous looking door in the city, near Bank station. The first challenge was to locate the entrance to Escape Hunt; the only signage being a small logo next to the doorbell. After plummeting 3 flights of stairs into the bowels of London, we were met by an enthusiastic lady dressed as a sort of sexy Sherlock Holmes (!) who introduced herself to us as our Games Master. We were pretty swiftly taken to a door and the process of what lay ahead of us was explained. The building contained various themed mysteries; our mystery to crack that night was the called “The Artists Bedroom”. In the bedroom we would fine an artist had been brutally murdered; and we would have exactly one hour from the second we entered the room to work through various codes, clues and puzzles in order to solve the crime. For the duration of the hour, our Games Master would be watching us on CCTV. If at any point we got stuck; we could phone her for a clue. However! This was discouraged because every time we phoned for help; we would lose a minute from the countdown clock. If at any point she felt like we were taking too long, she could phone us with a hint to keep us on track. We deposited all of our worldly belongings in a locker outside and were quickly hustled into a small infra-red lit room and the door slammed with an electronic click. We were totally locked in and we needed to get a wriggle on to escape…
In case you are planning to take part in Escape Hunt I won’t give too many spoilers about the mystery itself, because that’s obviously the best bit. Once in the room, there were various different types of tasks; from reading music, to maths, to word games to picking up on subtle clues within the room. We also had to basically turn everything within the four walls upside down in order to find keys, padlocks, hidden laminated hints and NOTHING was what it seemed (for example an innocuous looking wardrobe ended up being a door into an Alice in Wonderland style set of smaller and smaller rooms beyond it). The main theme, cheesy as it is, was team work. We quickly figured out that unless we organised who was focussing on what and where, we didn’t have a hope of getting past the first hurdle. It’s also unbelievable how quickly an hour can flit past once you are racing against the clock. In the end, we had to phone ole sexy Sherlock three times for a helping hand, and she phoned us once… and we cracked the crime with 7 minutes to spare! Afterwards we got to celebrate by a) being freed from our locked room prison and b) dressing up in tweed and posing at a photo-booth with various Baker Street appropriate props.
I cannot recommend Escape Hunt enough. It brings every childhood Crystal Maze fantasy to life! (Except not getting to go in the glass box and grab gold and silver tokens, wah) It was SO much fun! There seem to be endless iterations of escape adventures popping up across the capital at the moment, with Hint Hunt and Clue Quest amongst them. I’ve chatted to colleagues who have been to other versions and I feel like perhaps the other companies might be a little slicker; with more maths/code based tech-y type challenges. I’m not going to lie; ours was pretty hammy! And the theme was definitely steeped in detective stories, clues and observation skills; which I’d definitely prefer over anything too tech based. The Sherlock stuff and the very low budget props in the room definitely made it clear that the money had gone into the CCTV set up, central location and working out the room riddles themselves. I guess it’s down to preference; so do a bit of research of what’s available where before you buy your tickets. That said, we found the slightly low-budget-ness really charming and a good ice breaker once locked into a teeny tiny room as a group of five. There really wasn’t much I would have changed about the experience; and we were all completely high on it afterwards! It was so rare to be that focussed on something for an entire hour; with the worries of work, life and London completely vanished. In such an intense environment, with a team relying on you, it was impossible to let your mind wonder. I’m already obsessed with taking as many different groups of friends as possible; as it’s such a good alternative to a night down the pub or an expensive dinner somewhere. I also feel competitive with my former self already, and desperate to get back in a locked room in an attempt to get out of it in a quicker time. One final thing to note is that ironically, I am quite claustrophobic (can’t go in lifts, but totally fine in tubes – to give you an idea of the size of my triggers) therefore the concept of being locked in a tiny room had my heart pit-pattering. That said, as I mentioned in my 2015 resolutions, I am trying to keep my anxiety in check and was determined not to let it stop me taking part in something that sounded so fun. As it turned out, the Games Master was SO understanding and gave me a couple of reassurances such as the fact she was watching the whole time and I could just wave to the camera to be let out. So if small spaces give you the fear, don’t let it put you off this amazing experience!
What else has been occurring? Last weekend I zoomed up north to catch up with my friends and family, and take a bit of a London brain-break. I spent the Saturday in Leeds with my mum. I lived in Leeds for 5 years, so was amazed that she could show me something that had remained a completely hidden treasure the whole time I was resident there; luckily after a bit of research I realised it had only opened once I had left the city, so feel a bit less sad about the missed opportunities to while away some hours there. This most marvellous marvel is the Leeds Art Gallery Cafe and it’s certainly one of the most beautiful spaces I have ever seen, including every where I have visited on my world travel tour. It was originally a Victorian reading room for Leeds library, but fell into disrepair. In 2007 a huge project saw the hideous 60s shelving torn down and the tiled room restored to its former glory. There are wall to wall green decorative tiles, huge marble arches, gold globed roof detailing and floor to ceiling windows letting in beautiful light shafts. It’s honestly breath taking when you step foot inside, and worth going just to see in person. That said, the tea and cakes (and the company) were pretty great too.
I slept at Becca’s house on the Saturday night. Myself and her other two bridesmaids drank pink wine and ate noodles and nattered away until we realised it had gone 2am. The next day I had a slightly hazy cross-Yorkshire mission to get to visit another friend, Annette, so Becca drew me a handy map to get me on my way. Please note her use of the word snicket which is such a Bradfordism that I am proud to say I haven’t let London knock out of me.
This weekend was Valentines Day and although we hadn’t planned to do anything ~special~; actually one of the most romantic things we could do happened. We went to the town hall and gave our official Notice of Marriage. Nick had been saying all week that he thought we’d be separated and interrogated and asked hard Mr & Mrs style questions about each other. I was shaking my head and saying that sounded like something he’d seen in a movie and would definitely not happened. But sure enough, we made our way to the registrars room and within a couple of minutes had sent me packing to a chair outside whilst Nick had to give my occupation, full name and date of birth. Phewf! We had to switch up and then I did the same. Even though I knew all the answers, I found myself stuttering and stumbling because it felt like an oral GCSE exam or something pesky like that. Luckily we passed with flying colours (actual quote!) and we are now legally set to become an actual real life grown up married couple. Wow! This got us into the Valentines spirit so we decided to celebrate “Kanken-tines Day” instead (previous love letter to Kankens HERE) and head to one of our favourite little nooks of East London – The Brokedown Palace where we picked up some new Fjall Raven Joy. I also got myself the most amazing pair of socks that I have refused to remove since. After years of Primarks finest, I never new socks could feel this way! Toasty, cosy and the perfect temperature, I feel like I might have spoilt me feet for ever and might need to throw away every other pair I own.
Tags: Bear With Me T-Shirt, Best Cafe in Leeds, Best Escape The Room, Best Locked Room, Bloggers, Claustrophobic, Clue Quest, Craze, East London, Escape Hunt, Escape The Room Adventure, Etsy, Etsy Shop, Fjall Raven, Hello Dodo, Hint Hunt, Kanken, Kanken stockist, Leeds Art Gallery Cafe, Like a skeleton key, likeaskeletonkey, Locked Room Mystery, London, London lifestyle blog, London Locked Room, Love Covent Garden, Love Em Leave Em Socks, Love Lock, New Years Resolutions, Photo booth, Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock Themed, Shoreditch, Snicket, Stance Socks, The Artists Bedroom Mystery, The Brokedown Palace, Things to do in London, Trend, Victorian Tiled Cafe, Yorkshire
My name’s Bee and I’m a dress-aholic. Don’t get me wrong; I am not stating this to claim any sort of fashionista status, but more to confess that I actually find dressing up easier than dressing down. When faced with the bleary eyed pre-7am task of rooting through my wardobe, I inevitably sway towards my rack of dresses. Come summer or winter, it is just so much easier to pull on a single item and be instantly fixed up! I can then use any remaining early morning smarts to match it with one of my rainbow of cardigans or chuck on a couple of accessories. Whilst this sounds lazy; it usually ends up looking smarter than if I spend ages battling a jeans, shirt, jumper, trainer marathon outfit ensemble.
Prior to this year, I had never really thought of shopping in George at ASDA for dresses. The main barrier was that I don’t have an ASDA near me (Mozzas4lyfe) and despite being an online shopping fan, hadn’t ever thought of checking out their fashion offering. However as I write this blog I remembered that when I was 15 I had a school Christmas disco to attend and my mum took me to ASDA to buy my dress and even thinking about it now gives me tingles. It was a red tunic style dress (boy was I bolshy and brave, I wouldn’t opt for red these days) with lacey material over the top. I loved it so much that I styled it up after the disco by wearing it over a long sleeved black tee-shirt and flared jeans on a near-daily basis for about an ACTUAL year afterwards. So, it’s kind of nice that after living the same amount of years as my first George at ASDA dress (!) I am rediscovering them.
So, this year my oldest school friend Becca is getting married and I am super honoured to be a bridesmaid. Luckily enough I get to return the favour a mere few months after her big day. I love thinking how if you’d told us when we were swapping notes in class and whispering in the playground at the age of 10 that we’d be getting married in the same year, and that year would be 2015, our kiddie minds would have been actually blown. Anyway, I digress, and the point is that Becca’s bridesmaid dresses are from…. George at ASDA. And they are GORGEOUS. I won’t spoiler too much here, but they are Audrey Hepburn cute little 50s frocks with pockets and perfectly flicky skirts. That said, I haven’t yet tried mine on, because the snow up north over Christmas quashed my plans of popping to Beccas for a dress up session (which I am slightly relieved about considering just how many Guylian sea shells I managed to consume over the festive period) I know this is a rambly explanation but bear with me! The bridesmaid dresses had sold out, so Becca wanted me to order another dress of a similar style from George to check it fitted ok. I logged on, thinking (terrible… forgive me ASDA!) that I would order any old thing, try it on, and send it back. Instead I found it super hard to even choose from the selection of lovely dresses and then ordered this floral beaut that will do perfectly for a snazzy work gala dinner I’m attending later this year. Sorted!
In that weird way the world works, just a day later the lovely Lucy at George contacted me to say they wanted to gift me a dress and bag to share on the blog and wax lyrical about how dressing up is not just for the festive season. (It’s not!) What a twist of fate! Being extremely familiar with the dress selection I opted for this gorgeous brush-stroke effect dress. The pattern reminds me of abstract palm trees, and I desperately need an injection of summer in my life, and I am also really into the midi length at the moment. Too many of my dresses have gone down the route of being washed too many times and turning into X-rated bum skimmers. With a nice midi option, there is no risk of accidentally sharing my ass cheeks with the office, a fact which everyone will surely be grateful.
(Can we take a moment to discuss my chubby elbows?! I guess you never really look at your own elbows, as that’s physically impossible, but wow. I didn’t realise they were actually dimpled like little smiley faces!)
The dress feels really versatile, whilst I love it with tights and boots and a blazer for a smarter office wear look; I think it’ll be great with sandals for some smart summer roaming too.
I selected a beautiful croc textured & pink satchel big enough to fit all the bits and bobs I need for work in; which is pretty hefty. I then realised that I have basically committed a lifestyle blogger CRIME, in that I have never, not ever, done a “What’s In My Bag” post, despite the fact I devour them whole when posted by anyone else. So, for your noseying pleasure, let’s have a look at what’s lurking in my shiny new satchel:
1. Wallet: I take after my mum in needing the worlds largest purse to store the important stuff like bank card and driving license; but also my 1000 loyalty cards for everywhere I have ever eaten or drunk ever. There is also some random bits like my oyster card (aka all-my-money-sucker) a swatch of the fabric for my bridesmaid dresses (ee!) and some lovely photobooth photos from my two times in Vegas.
2. Kindle & Book: Working in publishing I now have a reading list as long as my arm. This means that I constantly carry three forms of books; kindle (where I can save manuscript PDFs), a physical book and audio, as I subscribe to Audible on my phone. During the day I usually switch between all three at some point. At the moment I am listening to “The Woman Who Stole My Life” by Marian Keyes, which is my first Marian Keyes novel and I’m excited to see what all the fuss is about having really enjoyed all the interviews and blogs I’ve read of hers. I’m trying to broaden what I read (/hear?) this year, as it’s important, now more than ever, that I am familiar with a real range of authors, titles and genres. I am reading “What She Left” by T. R. Richmond; which is an exciting proof copy as the book isn’t released until April (I still get geekily giddy about these!) and is told through a really unusual approach to fiction in that it is all written via compiled diary entries, social media posts and letters. There is no straight narrative prose. Finally, on my kindle I am reading The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes and All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I’m a quarter through each and should probably stick to one and finish it… but I feel like they both require me to be in a certain brain space to tackle the tricky topics in each. My kindle case was a Christmas present to myself from Klevercase as Great Gatsby is my favourite book. Considering my kindle is 2 years old and has travelled around the world and back; getting covered in sand, sweat and sea… I’m so impressed that it’s still battling on and am currently awaiting the liney screen of doom any day!
3. Mustard Moleskin: I keep notes in lots of places; in Evernote, To Doist and my actual notebook. I find having numerous places to tick tasks off makes it more likely I’ll do at least a few…
4. Vaseline: For a short, sweet period of time vaseline did an amazing “Queen Bee” honey branded tin. I should have loaded up because I instantly lost mine. The old fashioned label cocoa butter one is a runner up favourite though.
5. Pad lock & Underwater Headphones: I always have these odd objects on my person because I go swimming twice a week. The padlock is for my gym locker, and the underwater headphones have revolutionised my laps because now I can do it whilst listening to The National and Taylor Swift, and therefore never getting bored!
6. Washi tape: Because you NEVER know when youre going to need to get crafty!
Okay so nothing earth shatteringly secret lurking in there, but even if there was you wouldn’t be able to find it beneath the 1,0000 kirby grips.
Tags: All The Bright Places, ASDA, Asda bridesmaid dresses, ASDA satchel, Audible, Best earphones for swimming, Best headphones for swimming, Best kindle covers, Blogger Meme, book kindle covers, Brush stroke effect dress, Clothes, Dressing up, Evernote, Fashion, Floral ASDA dress, George, George at ASDA, George Satchel, How to make swimming not boring, Jennifer Niven, Klever case, Like a skeleton key, London, London lifestyle blog, Marian Keyes, Mustard Moleskin, Natalie Haynes, Office wear, Sony, T R Richmond, The Amber Fury, The Woman Who Stole My Life, To Doist, Underwater headphones, Washi Tape, What I Wore Today, What She Left, what's in my bag?, Which supermarket has the best dresses?
In the last week London has turned Arctic; and I’ve been frantically unearthing all my thermals (last worn in the ANDES!) and every piece of faux fur I own. Because I haven’t had a proper UK winter in 2 years, I am still enjoying the novelty of proper British weather; that sleety frozen rain that fills every crevice with cold and soggyness, or the air so frosty that on my walk into work – the section of scarf I have nearest my mouth has actual ice crystals on it by the time I take it off. I’ve mainly been using the cold front as an opportunity to wear my ridiculous jumper collection, and tuck up under the duvet reading about mountain disasters… because no matter how chilly it is here, I know I’m never going to be as cold as alpine mountaineers stuck up Everest at -27 degrees getting frost bitten faces.
Last weekend we had my future in-laws staying for the weekend; so rather than wallowing about reading, I was forced out of my duvet cocoon and into full on hostess mode. Luckily Sue and Nigel are the easiest, cheeriest guests around and they had a very clear itinerary of what they would like to see in London. I do love having guests to London, because otherwise I stick to the same local treasures and favourite well-worn spots. I rarely make the most of the galleries, exhibitions and museums right on the door step. Our first stop on the tour was the Imperial War Museum. Nick & I visited the museum in Manchester last year and it was an incredible experience; so we had high hopes for the London version which had recently re-opened with a whole WW1 gallery. I suppose when deciding what museum in London to potter around for a few hours, the topic of war might not be high on everyones list and places such as the Natural History or Science museum might feel more tempting. To be honest, had I been left to my own devices, I might have been lured towards a nicer offering; so I’m really grateful that the Horton’s infectious enthusiasm rubbed off on me, as it is by far the best museum exhibit I have ever been to.
Just one tip about the Imperial War Museum; you will never get through it all in one day! We took nearly three hours just to see the first floor. Part of this was because we went on the busiest day of the week, but part of it was the density and detail that there is to immerse yourself in. I did learn about the Great War at school, but in terms of my knowledge of world history, my brain is far more filled with facts about WW2 and the Nazis (talking of which… if you didn’t see The Eichmann Show
on the BBC this week you absolutely MUST catch it on iPlayer. It is one of the most moving pieces of television I have ever seen; ever.) The Great War is also the entirely new gallery, so that was where we decided to spend our afternoon. I don’t exactly know what I expected, but the gallery was curated to perfection. There is a total mix of visuals, design, haunting quotes, video, audio and artefacts. The gallery takes you from pre-war and the tension build up, right through the war, and onto the build up on WW2. The refreshing element to the experience is that it isn’t just focussed on soldiers or the British. The gallery really brings to life how war affected everyone from children, to women, to men (both in and out of the army) and to people in pretty much every corner of the world.
Unbelievably, given the subject matter, there are some real moments of light relief or curious ingenuity – such as a video depicting how the soldiers in the Somme came up with the idea to build fake “bombed out” trees that they turned into look out points. Despite being entirely man made, to a German soldier looking over the battlefield, they never once realised they were in fact being spied on by the enemy from this innocuous part of the “natural” landscape. Another aspect that tickled me, was how very British the approach to war was; in that when soldiers were battling for their lives in the trenches – a priority was still to keep hold of their special army edition shaving kit and ensure that they were clean shaven and immaculately turned out where possible.
Obviously, an awful lot of the gallery is devastating to take in. We all agreed afterwards, as silly as it sounds, that we felt like we had just lived through the war ourselves. The optimism and patriotism when war broke out is palpable; with men desperate to go to fight and represent their country. As the war goes on, and on, and on… the loss of lives reaches epic proportions and modern warfare catches everyone off guard with the introduction of gas, tanks and modern weaponry. The gallery was peppered with quotes from senior army officials at how “barbaric” the fighting was and how “un-gentlemanly and un-chivalrous” the war was turning out to be. It was quite a surreal experience to spend hours learning about every detail of the war, and dealing with all the harrowing emotions that came from being placed right in the centre of it… all whilst still being surrounded by hundreds of people taking the same journey. It’s such an important journey to take though, so I thoroughly recommend it to anyone in or visiting London.
& Now for something completely different! An event that really cheered up the gloomy grey days this week was a very generous delivery from Apple Yard Flowers
. One of my new years resolutions, that I didn’t list in my epic round up here
, is to take more care of my little flat. The flat is pretty dinky, so never really gets messy as we wouldn’t physically be able to move, but I have got a little lazy at putting up art on the walls and generally making it feel as us
and sanctuary-like as possible. Part of my resolution was to invest in decent fresh flowers for the flat every couple of weeks; as they make such a difference to our front room AND my mood! So my discovery of Apple Yard couldn’t have come at a better time. Full disclosure >> they invited me to select a bouquet from their Valentines Flowers
range to receive for free (yipee) in exchange for an honest review of their flower delivery
It was tough to choose from the Valentines selection, but in the end it was the Mimi Eden Roses
that stole my heart. On delivery day, I was really impressed that the flowers arrived in a huge box (about half the size of me!) where the blooms were well wrapped up between giant bubble wrap and with the base in a special portable tub of water to keep them fresh. It reassured me of something that has previously made me apprehensive of delivery flowers; that the would just be heaped in a pile in the back of a van getting all wilted and bashed about! The bouquet itself was a generous bunch of at least 25 pink & white rose buds, in various states of unfurling. These were propped up in a bed of Buplerum and Hard Ruscus, creating a really stunning look. It’s amazing how many skills you accidentally learn when entering the wild world of wedding planning and suddenly finding yourself creating bouquet “looks” on pinterest. I know loads about foliage and green and what goes with what these days! Prior to this, I think I honestly would have thought buplerum was some sort of cocktail.
I really can’t fault the flowers or the service. They arrived in beautiful condition and bought a real twinkle to my front room for over a week. I can’t tell you how much my mood lifted every time my eyes tracked from the drizzly dull view back to my beautiful bright flowers. It’s definitely reinforced in my head that it’s worth spending a little more on flowers that last, rather than shove a bunch in my trolley on a Morrisons dash and then be surprised when they are manky and mouldy after a few days! My only baby bug bear was that I should have picked something that didn’t need quite such love and care as roses. With roses you really need to chop a decent wedge off the stems and remove the lower leaves when they arrive (which I did… prickly business) but they then really do need the process repeating a few days in. Unfortunately work and winter whisked in and I never did get time, which meant the roses started to brown and fade at the edges. I think they could have lasted a little longer if I had paid them a little more Valentines care and attention, so if you are after something a little lower maintenance then I’d opt for a different bouquet.
Apple Yard have very kindly offered me a discount code to share with you all; which entitles you to 40% off all of their beautiful bouquets. The discount code is BLOG40,
so please do treat yourself (you totally deserve it) or someone who deserves a special delivery. I am absolutely in LOVE with this “Nutmeg” bouquet
(how sweet are the little daisies?!) so perhaps I need to drop some poorly disguised hints for Nick to use my blog discount code for a surprise
Valentines present… Ha! Can you see this being the start of an addiction? I’m officially a flowerzilla.
Tags: Apple Yard Discount Code, Apple Yard Flowers, Apple Yard Review, Bee Barker Blog, Best Florists, Best Flower Delivery, Best museum in London, Blogger Outreach, British lifestyle blog, Buplerum, Flower Delivery, Fox jumper, Hard Ruscus, How cold is London, How long does it take to look around the war museum, Imperial War Museum Review, Lifestyle Blog, Like a skeleton key, London, London lifestyle blog, Mimi Eden Roses, New Imperial War Museum, New Imperial War Museum Exhibition, Service, The Eichmann Show, Things to do in London, Valentines, Valentines Flowers, What to do in London, WW1 Gallery
Sometimes you have years that just slope by lazily, without much changing from one end to the next. Then you get those years where your life feels unrecognisable from the point that the bells struck midnight at the start, to the point where you tuck into the Christmas tree chocolates at the end. This has without a doubt been one of those years for me, in fact it’s been the biggest year of my entire life. On the first day of 2014 I woke up in Panama City. I was half way through 6 months of backpacking, starting in South America and taking in 16 countries through Central America up to the USA. I’d already seen and experienced so much; but felt like I still had so much left to go. Due to being on the opposite side of the world as the year started, I had no idea how the rest of it would unfold. Where I’d be living, what job I’d have or what my life would look like in any way. I certainly had NO idea I’d be planning a wedding! Being a total control freak; the concept of having so little idea or handle on my future is something that would have used to terrify my. But that’s what I mean when I say it’s been the biggest year of my life; travelling taught me so much about my personality and boundaries and lifestyle that basically meant I came back a different (better!) version of me.
Anyway! I could ramble on about my ~feelings~ and ~journey~ for hours but I’m guessing anyone reading this is doing it through a Baileys or mulled-something haze (if not, why not?) so I’m going to keep it simple, and just list some of the big events of this year that I most likely failed to blog about as I have been way more active over on our travel blog Twentysomething Burnouts. I’ll try and keep them in chronological order!
Why are you calling me Beyonce? I said FIANCEE!
On the 25th January, not long into the shiny new year, Nick asked me to marry him (read all about it). We were enjoying a couple of weeks holiday from travelling (I know, how sickening) on the Corn Islands off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. We’d had a lovely meal, then strolled to a secluded beach that we had visited earlier in the day. It was just as beautiful at night. The air was balmy, the sea smelt incredible, and we sat snuggled up doing some star gazing. And then… it happened! Although it’s obviously something we had nattered about here and there, I had rationalised that there was no way Nick could bring a ring with him, so in my head I had completely parked the idea of any proposal speculation. It’s the first time in my life I have been fully speechless (until I yelled YES!) He couldn’t have asked at a more perfect time in our lives and trip. Having spent every minute of every day for the 4 months prior; and supporting each other through close-encounters with scorpions, death defying boat rides, teeny tin-can aeroplanes and 32 hour bus journeys with no air con OR toilets… we certainly knew each other well enough to be confident we can take on anything else in our forever future. We get married in September 2015 and so far I’ve done a bit of planning… and a LOT of obsessively watching Don’t Tell The Bride as research.
A friendly face in deepest, darkest Guatemala
If I started writing about every highlight of our travels, it would go on for a hundred years and basically be Twentysomething Burnouts. If I started writing about every highlight with a certain Craig Heathcote in 2014, it would also go on for a hundred years. Therefore I will try to keep this section short and sweet! When we had initially announced our travel plans we had tons of people say they’d come out and see us at various points. Obviously then things like real life, work, holiday allowance and penny pinching get in the way; but despite all of those things Craig stuck to his guns and managed to wrangle over a week to join us out in the midst of Guatemala, a place I doubt would have been on his top holiday locations otherwise (to put it in context his mum kept asking, “Where are you going again? Guantanamo?” !)
By the time February rolled around, I have to be honest and admit that we were slightly waning. We had been travelling at absolute breakneck speed in order to see all of Latin America in a tiny space of time; and sticking mostly to overland travel. Two detours had held us up; the first being an excursion to the Galapagas (yay), the second being Nick’s terrifying back injury in Colombia so as we trucked through into Central America we were racing against time to get to Guatemala in time for our date with a VIP. We hadn’t had basics like hot water for 5 months. We were SHARING a pair of socks. We had gone a month without soap. Everything we were carrying around stank, had holes in it and was bleached with too much DEET contact. We were obviously still loving our adventure, but were fraying around the edges and this meant that Craig’s arrival was exactly what we needed! He arrived with a giant My Little Pony tote bag (soz Craig) that my sister and he had packed full of clean clothes, British treats and stuff to make us smell better. He had magical things like new music – we had been sharing 2 ipods with a total of about 80 songs for months. He had new news from home, updates on all our friends and just a totally different outlook on life. It was so special! You can read all about our actual adventures here and here. Those 10 days are an absolute highlight of our entire trip. Big beers, breath-taking views and places that constantly 1-up’ed each other, wild swimming, late night jungle nattering and being zoomed about in the back of a 4×4. Oh and the time a monkey threw a rock at Craig’s head (and luckily missed!)
Here we go again London
We were moving to Brighton, then we weren’t. We were done with London, then we weren’t. I wrote all about it here and despite all my previous grumbles with life in the big smoke, I’ve had such a fantastic time since moving back and am so happy that a few twists and turns of fate bought us back here… for now!
It’s my job to read books!
On the night we landed back in England, I couldn’t sleep. I had a serious case of reverse culture-shock, and a bigger case of jet lagging. Despite the fact I’d planned to avoid any semblance of job hunting for a few weeks of family time, it was 3am and I couldn’t sleep so I thought I’d just take a peek at the jobs on the market. I am so happy I did, because it’s then that I spotted the job advert for a role doing digital and social media bits at Penguin Random House; so after 6 months of not working or even thinking about work I had to attempt to pull together a convincing cover letter and update my CV. As a lifelong bookworm, it’s my dream job. I’m so lucky to work with so many inspiring people and just felt at home from my first day, it’s a very special company indeed and whilst there are challenging moments, it’s made life after travelling a lot easier to stomach. Plus, overtime is… reading! Who can complain about that?
We had only been home for a month or so when our Craig turned 30! And luckily for all his friends, he did it in serious style. We rented out a beautiful venue in Dorset (um I think…my southern geography is so dire) for a couple of nights. There were bands (including Chime Hours), dancing, ping pong, walks in the beautiful grounds, bonfire, marshmallow toasting and all bunking down in dorms with lots of chattering late into the night/morning. And not even the British weather could dampen the party!
Not such a Twentysomething Burnout anymore
I turned 30 in May, officially hanging up my right to call myself a twentysomething burnout. I wrote about it here da da DAAAAAAA, but have come to the conclusion that the hype, fear and build up to 30 is so much worse than actually being 30 itself. In fact being 30 is absolutely no different to being 29, funnily enough! I was a total spoilt brat and milked my birthday for months. I am lucky enough that my eldest sibling Meg is my decade twin, and turned 40 this year. This meant we could throw a party for all of our friends, which Meg masterminded and did all the hard work on whilst I was still backpacking about; an amazing present in itself. The party was 80s Vs 90s movie themed… which sounds niche but it was amazing how inventive our lovely guests were. We had Ghostbusters… The Craft witches, Blue Brothers, Tank Girl, Marty McFly, Edward Scissorhands, THE TITANIC (!), Indiana Jones, When Harry Met Sally, Alien, Leon, Addams Family, Waynes World…. so many more. Meg and I took it in turns on our playlist with an hour of 80s, then an hour of 90s, and back again. I felt so fortunate to all my amazing friends who travelled from up and down the country to croon along to en vogue. The night ended strictly at 1am when the venue turned off the PA. But would we stop partying? No! And so my fondest memory is everyone insisting on screeching their own 90s hits super loudly until we were politely asked to leave… singing “this could be a case for Mald-ah and Scah-lly” at the top of our voices.
Nick indulged (without TOO much persuasion) my wish to go as Sarah and the Goblin King from Labyrinth, my all time favourite childhood movie. I bought an 80s wedding dress from eBay and he ordered a “Sam Fox” wig from Amazon. He even did an amazing hypnotic dance with the crystal ball in front of everyone. I think he really embraced a bit of Bowie! A super special memory from this year was that after the party we were staying at Meg & Eds, which was just a 15 minutes walk down the river from the venue. Having had a few G&Ts, I decided we may as well just walk despite the time. So I walked in my full on HUGE wedding dress, holding 10 helium silver star balloons, through central London at 1am. Everyone we passed obviously thought we had just got married (I really hope Nick doesn’t take that as a hint to don his Goblin King costume at the wedding for real) and we had people shouting congratulations, asking to take photos and taxis beeping their horns. It was a balmy night, and town seemed to be full of just friendly, well wishing passer bys.
In the summer I had some holiday days to use up which coincided with YORKSHIRE DAY, the most wonderful day of the year! It was a great excuse to head up north and spend a week quality time with Lol, which I never get to do. We did lots of dancing, watching Ru Pauls Drag race, perfecting or telepathicness to the point of being too lazy to talk out loud, running round giant Asda, making nachos, eating nachos and gallivanting around the moors in the rain.
End of Cougar Season
In November Nick caught me up and turned 30. We went to Paris for a long weekend of real animals and skeleton animals (and eating lots of cheese) you can read about it over here and here. I also went on lovely trips to Exmoor, Sweden and Ghent, so haven’t really had too much time to get the post travel blues.
I am still stupid at 30
Just so this isn’t a boring blog of humble brag-ish boasting (ugh I hope not) I am still monumentally bad at functioning in life. I have had 2 trips to A&E this year, an infected horsefly bite oh… and lets not forget the time I managed to drop a pint glass on my eye from a great height – I was bending down snuffling about in the fridge and knocked it off the side straight onto my eyeball. Cue black eye for a week that gradually turned into a purple eye, a green eye and then a yellow eye.
This has been such a lovely post to write, it’s been so fun reliving the best bits and remembering just how crazy this year has been. I’ve focussed on the ups here, because they are the nice bits to re-live rather than being a moaning minnie. However that isn’t to say there haven’t been downs. It’s been a really hard year in a lot of ways. My battle with the ombudsman over my messed up surgery in 2012 has cast a shadow, as has the fact I will need surgery again (wah) and the pain I still have pretty much most days on some level. A lot of my friends have had tough years and it hurts me to watch the people I love go through rough stuff; even though they are all handling it in really inspiring, impressive ways and it’s usually me wailing away rather than them! I guess this is just to acknowledge the fact that whilst the year on the surface can look pretty perfect, it’s definitely been a huge learning curve in so many ways and I’ve been trying really hard to get better at coping with my anxiety and being a worry wart. Thanks for reading the blog this year, and whilst I haven’t updated as much as I’d like, I can’t wait to tap away over the Christmas break some more.
Tags: 2014 Best Bits, 2014 Review, 2014 Round Up, 80s party, 90s movie fancy dress, 90s movie theme, 90s party, Bloggers, Blues Brothers, Chime Hours, Craigfest, David Bowie, Day Trip, Escape, Fancy Dress, Favourite Things, Ghent, Goblin King, Goblin King Costume, Guatemala, Labyrinth, Labyrinth Costume, Leon, Lifestyle Bloggers, Like a skeleton key, London, Paris, Sarah from Labyrinth, Semuc Champey, Sweden, Tank Girl, Thames, The Craft, The Titanic Costume, Things to do in London, To Do, TwentySomething Burnouts, Waynes World, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Day
I know every blogger and their dog seems to freak out come autumn; but there is a legitimate reason for that. Autumn is breathtaking! I can’t get enough of scrolling through my Bloglovin’ feed and snooping on page after page of burnt colours and leaf kicking and pumpkin carving and conkers and knitwear. In fact I am lapping it up even more obsessively than usual because last year I skipped town before Autumn hit and my A/W 2013 was spent in, well, sweltering tropical heat. This means I haven’t had an autumn since 2012 and that particular gruesome autumn was mostly spent in and out of hospital, and barely participating. Safe to say I have been refreshing the met-office weather app every day, waiting for temperatures to justify the wool tights, woolly jumpers and COATS (ahh lovely coats!) that have sat unloved and unworn for two years. I’m basically delirious because I just ordered my winter coat. What a big decision and one that I used the entire Daylight Savings hour to mull over with a cuppa.
Whilst a fair amount of my autumnal adventures have included misty ramblings around and stomping about the leaf sodden streets; yesterday it was time to give my cold ears and nose a break and plan something of the cosier variety. After accidentally spending 3 weekends in a row away from London (a hen do, a wedding, our wedding planning!) I have been so giddy all week at the prospect of an entire weekend to do whatever I wanted. So yesterday I did my annual trip to brave the city centre for some perusing up Oxford Street, window shopping on South Molton Street and to spend some time shoving my nose up to the Selfridge’s Christmas window displays. I had wondered where would be good to grab some brunch or lunch and none of my usual haunts were taking my fancy. I wanted somewhere that felt a bit more special than just grabbing a bacon butty somewhere. I wanted somewhere that wouldn’t be heaving, with a queue out the door (I love you Breakfast Club, but you need to have about 100 more tables!) but that would still have a buzzy atmosphere.
So, I have a (probably really silly) confession to make, and that is despite the fact I LOVE hotels – this was one of my first ever blog posts – and am aware that in London we are spoilt by the quality and quantity of them; I’ve never thought to head to a hotel restaurant for a meal, if I’m not staying at that hotel. In fact (and this is definitely silly) I wasn’t even sure you were allowed to go to one, if you weren’t staying. So, at the grand old age of 30, I can now share this valuable nugget of information – you are! In fact, it is encouraged! And it is such a great option for exactly my predicament of wanting somewhere to cosy up and while away a weekend in-between shops and scuttling about the streets.
With this new life lesson, I was fortunate enough to be invited by the delightful Fiona to the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill and their restaurant The Montagu to sample their new slant on traditional brunch; an Italian/New York influenced offering that is more of an experience than a meal. Oh, and did I mention it includes unlimited Bellinis? I am such a big fan of the holy Bellini that when I type it in my phone, Syri autocorrects it to caps lock and with three exclamation points which gives a clue as to how many times I must have written BELLINIS!!!
We had barely stepped foot into The Montagu before a super friendly member of restaurant staff whisked us off by the elbows and toured us around the various treats that laid ahead of us. It was a little bit like walking into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Delicious smells and heaving piles of gorgeous food covered almost every surface surrounding the dining tables. Oh and a lovely man was serenading us on guitar; playing some really haunting covers of blues, swing and jazz classics.
The first stop-off was the deli counter. To take the edge off any shopping starvation you might have entered with; this is an open plan station packed with cured meets, carpaccio, a giant cheese board, every bread you could dream up and glass mason jars of aubergine, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and picky-bits… and you are left to go WILD. I really liked this element to the brunch because it gave the meal a relaxed, luxurious feeling where it was totally acceptable to eat a bit of deli stuff, then something else, then go grazing for more. There is also a salad bar, where the friendly fellows will whisk you up anything that takes your fancy. I went for a Cobb, because I like my cheese to green ratio on the less-healthy side!
As we let our first course settle, we were given the exact amount of space to natter and chatter; but we never felt like we’d been forgotten about, as our attentive waiter was either bringing us square slices of piping hot pizza fresh out of the oven (yknow, just to tide us over through all that exhausting story swapping!) or expertly topping up our glasses.
The main course (you have to love a brunch that has a main course) is a unique offering where we scampered over to a big marble breakfast-bar attached to a vast open plan kitchen, where you can hover around and choose between fresh pastas, pizzas, risotto, steak and salmon. The great thing about the kitchen being right there, is that you have talk to the chefs about what they recommend, you can choose exactly what ingredients you want and then, if you are nosey like me, you can watch them prepare it and try to pick up hints to turn you into a chef too. I had Conchiglie (pasta sea shells to me) with tomato sauce, basil and meatballs. There is something just other-worldly about proper Italian pasta cooked by someone who knows exactly what they are doing! It was actual melt-in-the-mouth good.
Now anyone who knows me can imagine that despite troughing my way through all of this, I really had my mind and my eye on the prize. The pudding prize! As we entered the restaurant I had already clocked the staggering dessert tray and thought “well I just want everything on that”. Here is a small sample of the choices that faced me:
After an excessive amount of umming and ahhing, I opted for a slice of NYC style baked cheesecake and a tiramisu; just to be equal opportunities and trying something traditional from both sides of the ocean. The cheesecake was quite simply the best cheesecake I have ever eaten in my life. The vanilla tang, the crunchy super-buttery base and the cake itself being the perfect gooey texture. I feel like I’ll never want to order a cheesecake anywhere else in my life because there is no way it can be that good. The tiramisu was dreamy too; I loved the way it was served in a class tumbler, it means all the boozy coffee liquid had pooled at the bottom and just gave it the most amazing potent flavour. I polished both off in record speed despite being so full already. The pudding belly is a totally different thing right?
I couldn’t believe it when I realised we had been brunching for almost three hours. We had completely pushed the official brunch-time-limit and passed through lunch and almost into afternoon tea territory. The fact this could happen without even noticing is a testament to the staff and the brunch. I hadn’t known what to expect from brunch at a 5* hotel; and worried it could feel stuffy. Instead, I felt totally relaxed. I absolutely loved the mixture of food you could choose yourself and create exactly what your heart desired, versus the food that the expert chefs could whip up. It meant that the experience felt really special, and like I was made a real fuss of, but it also felt really welcoming and intimate. Everyone we came into contact with was genuinely friendly, chatty and completely focused on making the occasion as dazzling as possible.
I am already trying to look ahead at my calendar of when I can go again; as I only had the stomach-space to try about a quarter of the delicacies on offer. The Montagu Italian meets New York Champagne Brunch is £39 a head; and that includes the unlimited bellini/champagne top ups and as much munch as you can muster. The Montagu also do something amazingly called “Sex & The City Par-Tea” which says it all really. I desperately want to take Lol; as she knows every word of every episode so could entertain me whilst we ate shoe shaped biscuits, by doing a one-woman performance of seasons 1-6! Thank you so much to Fiona and the staff at The Hyatt Regency Churchill and The Montagu for hosting me and treating me to such a marvellous menu.
On the way out, I mentioned how the cheesecake had been the best I had ever had in my life, and an incredibly generous chap boxed up THREE slices for me to take home and so Nick could try some, rather than have me just describe how amazing it was.
Now I am back home and whilst it’s great to have an extra hour of weekending, I feel a bit distressed about why there isn’t someone here to constantly top up my glass with BELLINI!!!
Tags: Autumn, Bee Barker, Best 5* hotel restaurant, Best brunch in London, Boden, Brunch recommendation, Brunch recommendations, Castello 4357, Champagne Brunch, Deli counter, DIY peach bellini, Favourite Things, Glitter collar breton, Hotel Brunch, Italian New York Brunch, lbloggers, Like a skeleton key, London, London lifestyle blog, London lifestyle blogger, Sex and the city afternoon tea, Sex and the city par-tea, Shopping for winter coats, South Molton Street, The Hyatt Regency Brunch, The Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, The Montagu, Things to do in London, UK Blog Awards, UK Blog Awards Judge, Unlimited bellinis, Unlimited champagne, Unusual Brunch, Where to go for a special brunch
Every year, my dearest magical friend Craig and I have our annual day trip to the seaside.This year, as we both turned 30, we decided to ramp up the activity a little and go away for a day and a NIGHT! This meant we could travel a little further afield, and so we chose to zoom off to Norfolk. We both crawled out of heavy busy work weeks, and were in need of coffees the size of our heads at the thought of the long journey stretching out ahead of us. I picked up a car picnic of cherries, crisps and fizzy percy pig tails and soon our zip car (named Charlize!) was heading the right way from London. The journey took about 3 hours; mainly because the one road that takes you in and out of Norwich is currently being expanded. That’s great news for future visitors, but less great for people who want to drive down it now and its single carriage is packed with road works AND slow moving tractors. We also hit the tail-end of hurricane Bertha, which made for some tricksy driving conditions.
We stuck to our California road-trip specialist subjects (Craig driving, Me navigating) but this time my role extended to passing him water and also pouring crisps into his crotch (!) so he could chow down and keep one hand on the wheel. Some things you really can only do with close friends, and this is one of them. There was a reason we chose Norfolk, and that’s because it’s where Nick & I are getting married next year. Craig is (among other very exciting roles) chief of decoration, as I really don’t have the first clue and he made his music-festival-30th look so chic. So our first stop for the night was my Gran’s house, in order for Craig to recce the venue and start making some plots and plans. As soon as my Norfolk-based family hear there might be fresh meat in the vicinity, they flock down, so Craig spent the first night having an official “induction” which involved a frantic card game of Racing Demon with my cousin, aunt, uncles and gran. At 95, my gran still thrashed all 3 generations of us.
After an epic sleep (there’s definitely something in that Norfolk air) we started the day in the best possible way. Home-made ginger cake for breakfast, followed by a lesson on the spinning wheel, which Craig previously thought only existed in fairy tales.
Then it was time to take a scamper around the grounds where Nick and I will be getting married. I won’t include too many photos because, well no-one wants too much of a spoiler before the big day surely. The sun was shining and the flora and fauna were in fine form; we’d be so lucky to get a day like that. I picked an apple that was as big as my entire face, and I reckon will be enough to fill a pie. There’s something so enchanting about this place!
After another slice of cake, and an hour or two of my gran telling us incredible childhood and war stories; it was painful to tear ourselves away but we really did have to get a wriggle on and do what we came to do… see the sea! Also, thanks to Craig for being my stylist for the weekend. I had stupidly forgotten a spare tee-shirt so he kindly leant me his I <3 LA one which fitted a little too perfectly and is currently being held hostage. Not quite sure I am ready to give it back! The drive from Norwich to Cromer took about an hour. My gran was born in Cromer, therefore it’s a place I visited tons as a child but haven’t been to since my teens. I stuck to tradition, and we parked on the road my gran was born on (which is also handily free parking; therefore more money for tat from the tourist shops). I had a good peer at the house where my life-idol came into the world, the original name “Yerbury” is still etched into the gate, which is also my mum’s middle name in honour of it.
Our first effort to fully de-Londonify ourselves was to head out towards Over Strand, where the beach is nestled next to miles of wild scrub. I love that Cromer has shingles and pebbles, but also soft sand and rock pools. We walked as far as we could see, stopping to scavenge for shells and to hunt for anemone. It was amazing how quickly we left the chaos of the town centre behind and were soon alone with the lapping sea and ramshackle abandoned beach huts.
I don’t know how we manage it, but every year our day trip takes place in a different month and a different day, but whatever the weather forecast (usually beefy thunderclouds or remains of hurricane) we get tropical temperatures. As we stared out to sea, I felt the most at peace since I came home from travelling. You don’t need to get on a plane to find that sunny sweet spot when we get summers like this. The one thing I haven’t missed about UK beach offerings though, is these pests. Creepy wormy weirdos!
After a good dose of salty air and stomping around, we headed back to dry land to explore the pier. Cromer is the only pier in the UK to still have a regular Pier Show, although we weren’t organised enough to catch it. We also discovered that the thing to do at Cromer pier is to go crabbing! Every inch of pier-side was packed with families who were hanging fishing rope off the edge, with bacon on the end to tempt crabs into the nets. The unlucky crabs are then collected in a bucket in order to show off to everyone else how many have been snagged. I wasn’t sure what the point was, so asked a local man who recoiled in horror when I asked if he ate them (Cromer is famous for it’s crab!) but these were just little nippers and he told me they catch them for fun, but they are all chucked back in the sea at the end of the day.
By this point in the day we both had a hive-mind desire for one thing, and one thing only. A GIANT fish (and chips). We found somewhere called the No.1 Fish & Chips, so we figured that must be the best in town and we were not disappointed. We tucked into the feast whilst gazing back out to sea and with sand between our toes; which I swear improves the taste by 80% at least. It’s so special when you have a friendship that never suffers an awkward silence. Even after spending 36 hours together back-to-back, we were nattering none stop. It feels like we never run out of conversation, I guess because we are at that age were lots of big life things are happening; which need endless analysis – in between chip mouthfuls.
After a doze in the sunshine and a stop off at the amusements and funfair, it was time to bid Cromer farewell. I was tempted by the teacups but have learnt from sickly experience that swirly-round-&-round rides do not mix well with having just eaten a giant fish dish. This has definitely been one of my favourite day trips of all time; as the town and beach were just the right amount of buzzy Vs busy; and there seemed to be an infectious good mood in the air. Almost everyone we passed smiled, said hi or just looked happy with life. This is something that is sorely missing from the London rat race sometimes! This, coupled with my gran’s endless wise sage advice and life lessons, left us both really inspired and feeling zen as we headed back to the M11. I say this every year, but I really need to do this more often. A day at the seaside felt as good as a holiday.
If you’ve never visited Norfolk, I highly recommend it. And if you have, but never went to Cromer, then do that too! Just remember to pack your sunglasses.
Read all about or previous day trips here:
2013: Rye & Camber Sands
2011: Isle of Purbeck
Tags: Beach Huts, Countryside, Crabbing, Cromer, Cromer Pier, Escape, Fluffy Cloud Nails, Giant apple, Granparents, Hurricane Bertha, London, Nail Art, Nice places in Norfolk, Nice places to visit near Norwich, No.1 Fish & Chips, Norfolk, Norfolk best beach, Pier Show, Should I visit Cromer, summer, Things to do in Cromer, Wah Nails, Weekend Escapes From London, What is crabbing, What to do in Cromer, Where to go on a weekend away, Yerbury, Zip Car
Since moving into my little treehouse flat in the North London sky, I’ve been trying to take it easy and not make too many plans so that I can spend some serious doses of time just enjoying having a little place of my own (and a shiny new Netflix account!) When this week rolled around and I had a look at my diary, I realised that it was once of those BIG weeks where I had accidentally made a million plans and booked, double booked and triple booked myself into oblivion but boy was it worth it. Here are a few of the highlights…
Monday: In The Mood For Love @ Battersea Power Station
You may or may not know, but the mighty majestic chunk of South London skyline aka Battersea Power Station is in the early stages of being transformed into luxury flats. With this in mind, Everyman cinema have moved in with their “The Power of Summer” outdoor cinema screen showing an impressively eclectic range of movies until 31st August. This will be the LAST chance to take a look at Battersea Power Station up close as after this it will turn into a building site and then turn into a swanky gated community. As soon as I heard about the Everyman pop-up, I knew I had to go, and it just so happens that they were soon playing Nick’s all time favourite movie (one of mine too – handy that) Wong Kar-wai’s In The Mood For Love. I snapped up tickets and told Nick he had to meet me at 6.30pm at Victoria station but he had no idea where we were going. I love surprising as much as surprises myself. The night didn’t get off to a very good start in that the organisation for this event is… well none existent! You get absolutely no instructions on how to reach the venue when you book, and after hopping out at Battersea Park Station there is ZERO signage. Can you imagine how maddening it is to be able to see the giant place you are trying to reach, but having no idea how to get there?! We were going round in circles and I had to stealthily ask for directions at least 5 times before someone informed me that the usual route was closed (helpful) and told us to enter via Chelsea Bridge. Even at the bridge there was absolutely no signs until you had reached the entrance, all tucked away by some railway arches. If you do go along to a screening, plan your route like an army mission and leave a truck ton of extra time.
All the stomping around in the humid heat paid off when we got into the station and were met with this view. It’s such an iconic, epic piece of London history and really is breathtakingly vast up close and personal. The big white “pipe” like structure up the left side is the lift shaft for the builders. It reminded me of the lift up to The Wall of the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones. It must be nearly as high, right? Upon arrival we had about half an hour to grab some grub and we were really excited to hear that Street Feast were putting on the catering. Disappointingly, out of a capacity of about 20 food trucks and stalls, only two were open when we were there. Maybe because it was a Monday, but that meant the queues for both were insane. I pitched up at the one selling brioche buns of braised beef, and I ordered. Then I waited… and waited… and waited… and Nick had nearly lost his mind with impatience and I had nearly lost my mind at the slack service by the time we received our cold food 45 minutes later! GAH! The worst part was that there wasn’t even a flicker of apology from the staff that we were missing the start of the movie because they were being soooo slooowwwww. I think part of the problem is that when you book for the Everyman thing, you can pay double for “premium” service which means that you get waitor service from the street feast trucks to your cinema seat. As you can imagine this meant every waiter service order got shoved to the front of the queue and us commoners just had to suck it up and wait. I wouldn’t be such a whinge bag, but they ban you taking your own food in; so could at least offer a decent service in return. Oh and it was £2 to have ONIONS on your hot dog. £2?!
And breathe… As crummy as the service and the welcome was, once we hit the cinema we found front row bean bag seats with a perfect view and you listen to the movie through nifty headphones connected to some new-fangled audio system. That bit all worked perfectly and looked something like this.
It was such a special experience to be snuggled up outside in the summer air, watching such a beautiful film, with one of the most dramatic backdrops possible. Sometimes I’d be distracted by birds flocking into the chimneys or planes diving through the clouds to land, but that was ok because I know the film backwards and forwards. We both left the film feeling so alive with the memory, it’s one that will definitely stick around longer than the summer does.
Tuesday : Hays Galleria and Hills Balfour & Caxtonfx Summer Party
On Tuesday night Nick & I had been invited to a travel industry mixer and summer party hosted in London Bridge by Hills Balfour and Caxtonfx (off the back of my other blog; Twentysomething Burnouts) I surfaced from the Jubilee Line sticky and sweaty and with time to kill before Nick was due. I fancied grabbing myself an iced coffee from somewhere and pitching up to spend 30 minutes with my bookclub book Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton (which is SO good, and bleak in all the right, gripping ways) after ducking out of the crowds, my feet seemed to take charge and before long I was in the company of a long-lost love; Hays Galleria! When I first moved to London 7 years ago, I lived in Streatham and was much more likely to be found lurking in Southern spots. Hays Galleria was a home-from-home, I spent SO much time there and always took guests there for a nose around and to grab a cheap eat. It’s funny how London life evolves and expands and you can totally forget places even exist? I had entirely blanked it out of my brain until I stumbled across it again, and really enjoyed spending some time re-discovering such a London treasure.
After finding Nick, we made our way to the party. It was hosted in a third floor open plan office, giving a 360 degree view of London Bridge as the setting sun hit magic hour. The views were glorious (but I was too busy chatterboxing to snap any photos, woops) and the party was so much fun. Travel blogging is still relatively new to us, and having spent the first year of doing it… well… travelling, we haven’t met much of the UK-based community yet. It was great to put that right, and we met tons of lovely people. I think it’s always a great sign when the last dregs of prosecco have gone and the night has ended, and the hosts are having to encourage the guests out of the door! We were having such a good natter to everyone we didn’t want to leave. We also had the added bonus of the pleasure of Wish Wish Wish Carrie’s company on the tube home. I’ve been reading Carrie’s blog for over 5 years now (and about half my wardrobe is inspired by her!) so I was slightly starry eyed to meet her in person. It tuns out we are neighbours and have a bunch of shared interests (cheeseburgers, mainly) and she is such a swell, sparkly, down to earth beaut of a girl. Exactly what I’d have expected from reading her blog.
Thursday : Wolf Hall and Mishkins
Back on one of our first days of London re-living (I wrote about it here) Nick and I both had first interviews for jobs we really wanted and met up afterwards; realising we had dressed identically! We were walking from South Bank to the British Museum, when something on the Strand caught our eye… Wolf Hall was coming to the Aldwych theatre. Wolf Hall was a book that had a little home in both of our hearts; as we read the Hilary Mantel novels when we were both suffering from a tropical fever in Peru. They were dim days, and Wolf Hall had really kept our brains in a magical faraway place. At this point we were lodging with my Godmother, were unemployed and had a lowly £100 left in the travel budget. We had no idea what our lives were going to look like from week to week and it was really unsettling to be dropped back into crazy capital city life after 7 months in a hammock. We both swapped a knowing look and marched into the theatre, and spent the last of our travel budget on two tickets to Wolf Hall for the 18th July. We picked the future-date completely at random because we felt like by then surely we would both have jobs, we’d have a home, and we’d be able to look back at the date we bought them and see how far we’d come. And we sure could!
We had nose-bleeder seats up in the Grand Circle. I love the hierarchy of old London theatres; we weren’t allowed in the front entrance, we had our own pauper back-stairs! Our seats had a perfect view though, as a lot of the action took place at the back of the stage. It was 30-degrees in London on Thursday but amazingly the theatre had air conditioning, so it was a haven to escape into the dark for a few hours. I barely ever get cultured enough to go to the theatre, and it’s something I really want to do more of. There is something so mesmerising about the actors performing just for ME (well, and a room full of strangers but I just ignore that bit.) I thought it was a fantastic stage adaptation of an even more fantastic book. I think it definitely is a benefit if you’ve read the book; as if you haven’t there is so much texture and detail cut-out. The way the characters are portrayed would really bank your sympathies with different people if you hadn’t read the book to colour in the context a little more. That said, it’s an issue with any adaptation. The casting and performances were spot on with what I expected, and everyone gave it some serious welly. There was a scene from the book that I remember when reading I thought would translate really well to stage (the court mimicking of Thomas Wolsey’s demise) and it didn’t disappoint. The production design was simple, but very effective. I was completely captivated for the whole two halves and was so sad when the lights came up at the end. So sad… we might have picked up tickets to see Bring Up The Bodies next month.
Leaving at 10.30pm with rumbling tummies, we headed to a behind-the-curve recent discovery of mine; Mishkins “A kind-of Jewish deli with cocktails”. It’s the perfect spot for some late night munching, especially when out for a night in the theatre district. We had the place pretty much to ourselves, whereas the nextdoor Opera Tavern was heaving out onto the streets. The staff are always so welcoming, and the menu hosts an epic choice of cocktails (diamond fizz for me every time! Gin, prosecco & lemon) and the food is a really casual choice of comfort eats like sliders, macaroni cheese, salt beef everything, deep fried bits and open sandwiches. You can get large or small cheaper portions of all the options, so it’s easy to mix and match and order tapas style tastes of everything.
We got an extra side-serving of excitement when half way through our meal, the lead actor Ben Miles, who plays Thomas Cromwell and was sensational at it, walked in with two friends and sat opposite us. I snapped a very uncool stealthy shot; he’s the bloke behind Nick er… covering his face. I’m a terrible paparazzi.
With the courage you get from a glass or spirits down our necks, we approached him on the way out and told him how fantastic he was. His friends were really welcoming and clearly chuffed to have had him recognised! So we joined them briefly and told Ben about reading the book in poo-ru and he is an equally avid fan of Hilary Mantel, which you can tell in his performance. It was such a perfect surprise ending, to a night that had been a long time coming.
And that ends a big busy Bee London week, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the next one! I’ve been suffering from really bad Sunday-night blues since we got back from travelling, but this is the first weekend that I am actually feeling ok and looking forward to a week of rat racing and more out-of-hours adventures. Having a salary again is fun; as it means I allow myself one pay day Topshop treat and last month it was this palm-tree print shirt dress, which is the perfect new home for my Tatty Devine parakeet to reside.
Tags: A kind of Jewish deli with cocktails, Aldwych Theatre, Battersea power station, Bee Barker Blog, Ben Miles, Best London outdoor cinemas, Best macaroni cheese in London, Bethan Barker Blog, Bring Up The Bodies, Can I visit Battersea Power Station?, Carrie, Caxtonfx, Caxtonfx Card, Cinema at Battersea Power Station, Diamond Fizz, Everyman, Game of Thrones, Hangover Square, Hays Galleria, Hilary Mantel, Hills Balfour, In The Mood For Love, Is Battersea Power Station open to the public?, Is Wolf Hall worth seeing?, Like a skeleton key, London, Luxury Flats, Mishkins, Outdoor cinemas, Parakeet Necklace, Patrick Hamilton, Royal Shakespeare Company, RSC, stage adaptation, Street Feast, summer, Tatty Devine, The Aldwych, The Power of Summer, Things to do in London, Thomas Cromwell, Topshop Palm Tree Dress, TwentySomething Burnouts, What is Wolf Hall like at the theatre?, Where to eat after the theatre?, Where to eat near London Bridge, Wish Wish Wish, Wolf Hall, Wolf Hall at Aldwych, Wolf Hall Review, Wong Kar-wai