Billy Elliott, Victoria Palace

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Set in a northern mining town, against the background of the 1984/’85 miners’ strike, Billy Elliot is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Follow Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and whole community and changes his life forever.

When my mum and niece were visiting I really wanted to take them to a show as they’d never been to one in London before. My mums vote was for The Lion King but with a ticket price of around £60 each I couldn’t afford such extravagance so started searching for alternatives and was able to score three tickets to see Billy Elliott for under £100 total. I’d heard wonderful things and believed it to be suitable for children aged 8+, the former was correct while the latter not so much. There is a fuck-tonne (excuse the language) of swearing throughout the show and in retrospect I probably wouldn’t have taken my ten-year old niece to see it had I known this in advance. I think it’s particularly jarring because a lot of the crude words are coming from the mouths of children.

However I think it would be a disservice to the real story to have removed this as it was just part of life at the time. The story itself is almost as beautiful as the dancing and for a cast with so many child stars it really is incredibly just how good they all are and I think it is a great lesson for children to be shown that they can and should follow their dreams just perhaps for teenagers rather than younger children!

BitBS Rating – ££

The Weekend #7

So my weekend started off with a bit of a bang on Thursday evening when I came home to find one of my flatmates packing up and moving out. They had broken up the night before and he was moving home immediately. To say I was shocked was an understatement, I had no idea that they were having problems and had never heard them argue except for the occasional bickering that comes with being in a relationship. He came back on the Friday night for the last of his bits and pieces and to leave his keys behind. It was all incredibly quick.

My remaining flatmate works in a bar/restaurant so I knew I wouldn’t see her until the weekend and was ready to provide a listening ear for her should she need it. Given that I woke up to the squeaking of her bed frame at 4am on the Saturday morning it turns out that wasn’t required in the slightest. It was incredibly awkward and I felt like I couldn’t even leave my room so, apart from to make pancakes, I didn’t.

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Sunday, believe it or not, was more of the same! Over the course of the weekend I watched the entire first season of How I met your Mother on Netflix and I’m not exactly sure what to make of it to be honest! It’s alright but I don’t really get the hype of it all and it’s not a patch on Friends!

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In the afternoon Matt came over so that we could go to the cinema and see an encore performance of A Streetcar Named Desire starring Gillian Anderson as we’d been unable to get tickets to see the real show. It was simply stunning! I’d never seen Gillian in anything (despite having met her at a convention before) but she was simply amazing. The entire cast was and it was awesome to see a packed out cinema coming to see a sold out stage show. I really love that the National Theatre have taken this step to get people more excited about theatre as there is something just so electric about live acting.

Matt ended up crashing for the night as we were both off for the week; I had my mum and niece visiting and we were all going to Legoland at the end of the week but more on that soon! How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

Ping Pong, Stratford

I’ve often walked past Ping Pong at the Southbank near Waterloo and fancied giving their dim sum a try but it’s one of those types of food that you really need someone to share with so when I was looking for somewhere nearby my flat for Matt and I go to dinner this was one of the options we came up with. It turned out to be a reallllly good choice.

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You get given the menu and a pencil with which to cross off the items you want to order. Some of the things we wanted to order weren’t available but there’s so much choice on the menu that it’s easy enough to pick others! They suggest that you order one fried or griddled item, one baked item, one rice dish and two baskets of steamed dumplings. We ordered a little more than this and it was perfect for us. To start we had some edamame beans because I just love these little suckers.

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These were a little different to the ones I usually have at Yo!Sushi as they arrived warm but that just made them even more delicious. Matt wasn’t a fan but that just meant more for me \o/

The mixed vegetable spring rolls and the crispy prawn balls arrived at the same time and both were very good. The spring rolls were not at all soggy which is always a bugbear for me and the dipping sauce that they came with was delicious. They didn’t hold a candle to the prawn balls which were like NOTHING I have ever tasted. So good I snagged two of them and could have easily eaten more.

Not a fan of pork I skipped the char sui buns in favour of the chicken and cashew nut dumplings which were delicious and made me wish we’d ordered other kinds. On my must try list are the chicken and garlic ones, the seafood ones and the monkfish and lime. Pretty much any of them with chicken or fish!

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Finally we had the king prawn and scallop sticky rice which came wrapped up in bamboo leaves which was a really cool touch. The prawns and scallop is embedded right in the middle of the rice but there wasn’t a lot of filling and this was the least impressive item on the menu and I would much rather have had more dumplings instead!

After that lot there was no room for dessert but we did have some flowering teas which are always light and refreshing as well as beautiful to watch as they unfurl in your glass like magic. I would definitely recommend Ping Pong as some place to go with friends who like sharing and tasting different things but it’s probably not somewhere I’d recommend going on your own.

BitBS Rating – ££

The Weekend #6

Last weekend was Destination: Star Trek London at the Excel centre and as a massive Trek fan and convention goer you’d think I’d be there. Sadly the costs were just too much for me to justify going when I’d already met the majority of them but that wasn’t going to stop me from meeting up with some friends who were in town for the event so right after work I met up with Bunny and Howard and we headed to the Harvesters at the O2 for something to eat. Unfortunately it was a show night so the place was packed but we eventually got seated and had an alright meal and a nice catchup. It’s always so nice to catch up with friends outwith events as they can be so hectic.

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I had planned to pop in by on the Saturday to catchup with a few other friends but the lure of my bed was just too great, I ended up finishing up Kyle XY which after meeting Magda Apanowicz a couple of times I’d been meaning to do for a while. It’s actually a really fun show but oh my god that ending! How annoying, I really wish networks wouldn’t cancel shows without giving them a proper ending!!! It was a perfectly lazy day until Matt arrived and we went out for dinner. We went to Ping Pong for dim sum which was amazing but I’ll tell you all about that in my next post.

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Afterwards we had an early night as we were off to Warwick Castle on the Sunday since I’d snagged two free tickets via Sun+. I’d never been before and it’s so much more than just an old castle which makes it a great day out for all the family. It was a beautiful day for exploring as well and we even saw a celebrity there; Michaela Strachan of television fame was there for the day! It was the same day news broke of her double mastectomy thanks to breast cancer so I didn’t want to disturb her day but I was a little excitable as I used to watch her on the telly loads when I was little. Warwick is about a two-hour drive from mine so it was a pretty long day and it wasn’t long before I was out for the count!

How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

September Reading

Seriously poor show this month with only one book read. The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me is the debut novel by duo Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice. Each of the chapters is written from one of two characters points of view with Laura writing as Holly and Jimmy writing as Alex. Holly and Alex both had feelings for each other as teenagers but never told the other how they felt and then drifted apart when they started university. Many years on Alex moves to London where Holly is working and their friendship is rekindled. Will their feelings be rekindled? The book jumps backwards and forwards through time to tell the whole story from start to finish. It was beautifully written, romantic, funny and charming.  One of my favourites of those I’ve read this year for sure and perfect for chicklit lovers.

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Although I only finished one book I did make a start on Death of the Poet which I was sent to review and I’m going to include in next months round-up. I’m about halfway through so I’ll give you a little snippet and say I’m not keen on the complete change of story that’s just happened as I don’t see how it fits the main storyline but I’ll reserve judgement once I’ve finished the whole thing. I’m considering filming my next post as a vlog as I’m really enjoying branching out a bit. If you haven’t watched my latest one you can check it out here, and don’t forget to subscribe!

BOOKS READ THIS MONTH: 1
BOOKS READ SO FAR THIS YEAR: 27.5
BOOKS READ FOR 30 BY 30: 12

The Weekend #5

Apologies for the unplanned hiatus, after attending Vampire Ball I was sent to Aberdeen with work for a team building day and the few precious evenings I had in London were very busy too so I just haven’t had enough time to blog! That said I’m back with my second vlog. Hope you enjoy!

 

The Weekend #4

Friday night I hopped on a train at Waterloo to go stay with my friends in Staines. It had been forever since I’d seen them and it’s always nice to hang out. Steve was out for the evening at Oktoberfest so Susie and I had a girlie night in with some movies. We watched The Lost Boys which I had never seen before and really enjoyed! I can totally see why it’s a classic.

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Afterwards Susie treated me to a manicure using her latest purchase from Camden Market, a MoYou nails image plate which creates amazing patterns on your nails when you use two different shades. The entire process is fascinating! We went for flowers and butterflies, I love them!

Saturday morning we were up early(ish) to go to Thorpe Park and it was such a fun day. We headed home just before the park was due to close with aching backs and knees to have some dinner and get ready for a night of karaoke at their local. Now, I can not sing. I am an awful singer but I bloody well enjoy it and get enough alcohol in me and I will sign for hours to my heart’s content. The never ending bottle of prosecco seemed to help with that.

Sadly the karaoke ended a bit too early for our liking (although not before Steve got through to the karaoke final in December!) so we popped back to the house where Susie & Steve have their own karaoke machine with a lot better choice in songs. So much so that it was almost 4am by the time we put down the mics! Safe to say the next day was pretty much a write off! After a desperately needed lie in we all went to lunch back at the local.

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Afterwards I had planned to visit the Hobbycraft out there (do you have any idea how hard it is to find a good craft store in central London? Next to impossible.) and set off walking towards town down the river. Incidentally I passed the 48KM marker from last weekends Thames Path Challenge which made me smile. Unfortunately I wasn’t even half way there when my Crohns started acting up and I made the decision to head to the railway station (where I knew there would be a loo) rather than go shopping. I got home about 5pm and then just crashed out for the entire night waking up at about 1am – joy! Not.

I also had my first ever experience with sleep paralysis which is some weird shit. I work up in the early hours of the morning with the feeling that someone was wrapping their arms around me and pinning me to the bed so I couldn’t move. I knew this wasn’t the case and my brain thought that perhaps the cat had got into my room and was on my bed but I still couldn’t move. Eventually I was able to roll over onto my back, awake but still not able to move my arms. There was a shimmering in the air above me that I decided was a ghost, a friendly ghost but a ghost all the same. (I don’t even believe in ghosts!) I knew if I turned on the light it would go away but I couldn’t even raise my arms up to turn on the bedside light until about the sixth attempt. You’d think after that I’d be fully awake and scared to go back to sleep but I wasn’t, instead I fell straight back asleep and slept soundly for a few more hours. Weird huh?

How was your weekend? Any exciting plans for this one?

Thorpe Park, Chertsey

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Thorpe Park is just 20 miles from Central London and easy enough to get to if you fancy a day trip to a theme park while in the city. I’m lucky in that my friends Susie & Steve stay in Staines which is just a few miles away so I spent the night before (and after!) with them and we drove to the park on the Saturday morning. As it was the weekend it was quite busy from the get go but not overly so. The weather was also perfect, it was supposed to rain in the afternoon but it didn’t and instead remained overcast but warm throughout the day.

Thorpe Park is quite a small theme park (I’m comparing with LegoLand here) but man does it pack a punch with 5 major rollercoasters amongst its ranks as well as a multitude of other rides that are sure to thrill the whole family. The distance between rides isn’t far which is great for those who find the walking part tiring but be warned queues are inevitable!

I was really lucky to be there with my friends as they had been to the park before (although not for a while) and had a rough idea to the layout of the park so we were able to make our way around quite easily and hit up a good number of rides in the time that we had. If I had been there on my own I would still have been trying to figure out how to get out again!

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We managed to go on four of the big five as well as a couple of water rides and a few of the smaller ones too. My favourites were the crazy fast Stealth, the amazing Nemesis inferno and the terrifying Saw the ride. The latter of which we waited in line for over an hour for (the longest we had to wait all day which I was pretty impressed with). It was so much fun and I felt like a child again.

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Tickets aren’t cheap but if you book online you get a good discount and there are always 241 vouchers floating around the internet if you have someone to go with. Also if you enjoy yourself you can upgrade to a season pass for just a few pounds more and visit as often as you like over the year. Oh and this year they’ve opened up an onsite Shark Hotel so if you’re coming from further away you should definitely check it out!

BitBS Rating – £££

Heavenly Hotels: The Chelsea Harbour Hotel

The Hillarys blogger event that I went to last week was hosted at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel in the exclusive area of Chelsea Harbour which is part of the Millennium Hotels chain. Unfortunately there wasn’t time for a snoop around any of the rooms but when I got back I did have a browse on their website and holy moly are these rooms gorgeous or what! And the ones that overlook the lovely harbour I showed you on that other post are doubly awesome for the view alone.

chelsea chelsea2I try to steer clear of chain hotels on my Heavenly Hotels feature as I always assume that they’ll be rather generic and boring but The Chelsea Harbour proved me wrong and has opened up a whole new world of hotels to discover and lust over! The bar on the top floor which is where our event was held is a real gem with stunning views and a cosy atmosphere (although I’m not certain if this is open at all times) and the pool area in the basement which I got a quick peek at through the windows looks lovely and relaxing.