Three Plays. Three Reviews.

So as I mentioned here I went to three plays in just one week, yes three. Even I can appreciate that this is slightly excessive. I mean honestly I spent more time in a theatre than I spent awake in my flat. That’s just obscene. In my defence it certainly wasn’t planned like that – it just happened. We booked tickets for The Cripple of Inishmann about six months ago as soon as tickets were available because it starred Daniel Radcliffe – it would have been rude not to. That was on Wednesday night. Then we wanted to take our Dad to see The Hot House with Simon Russel Beale and John Simm for Father’s Day as he’s a massive fan of SRB and the only free night that we could get tickets for was the Monday (as we left it soooo late, oops – must plan better). The final theatre trip was on the Friday to see The Ladykillers and this was very last-minute (tickets were only confirmed on Friday morning) and these were free through work – one of the few and far between perks of my job! So yes a pretty fantastic week of theatre! Below are my mini reviews on each – you definitely have to see every single one of them as they are all absolutely fantastic. All very different but all awesome.

The Hot House – The staging of this play was awesome – they’d split it in to two, and would darken half of it when it wasn’t in use (with the actors still on there). The play itself was random to say the least, but beautifully acted and actually heart-breaking and too realistic at times. As per usual Simon Russell Beale was on fire and the rest of the cast were a revelation too. Well worth a watch.

The Cripple of Inishmann – it was really refreshing to see a play that I couldn’t guess the ending of or one where I didn’t know what was coming next. This unexpectedness was made better by the hilariousness of the play and the absolutely amazing performances by everyone. Daniel Radcliffe was absolutely out-of-this-world and amazing. You actually believed he was an Irish cripple, he was that good. The rest of the cast was just as good and there were some brilliant moments with eggs!

The Ladykillers – The best thing about this was the set, which was completely amazing and contained all sorts of extras that you weren’t aware were there until they used them. The cast was absolutely brilliant and really made the farce aspect of this play work without it being too silly. As for the little old lady in this play she was sensational. She was on stage pretty much the entire time and was just unbelievably good.

I have to say going to the theatre is one if my favourite things about London. I’m so lucky to be near such lovely stuff. Have you seen anything particularly good lately? Any recommendations?


Theatre trips, the zoo and burgers

Over this last week I’ve barely been in my flat, it’s been absurd. I think I’ve forgotten what it even looks like and let’s not even think about the absolute mess it is in – it’s in desperate need of cleaning (and hoovering)! So as I’ve not been in my flat, what have I been up to I hear you ask? Well there was:

  • The Hot House play at Trafalgar Studios – AMAZING!
  • Drinks and dinner on The Southbank – Wonderland, The Prop Store and Pizza Express – with good friends. Only slightly stressful to organise and to find somewhere to eat…
  • Lunch at the Shake Shack – absolutely scrumptious burger, fries and peanut butter milkshake. The perfect way to spend lunchtime I think!
  • Dinner at Belgo’s before watching The Cripple of Inishmann starring Daniel Radcliffe – absolutely brilliant
  • Work, work and more work. In fact two days involved 10 solid hours of work. Not my favourite thing.
  • An evening run – just over two miles so not THAT bad considering the heat
  • Friday afternoon off – hooray for a bit of sofa time
  • The Ladykillers at the theatre – we were only five rows back. Excellent!
  • A saturday morning run before cake baking – could I be any more domesticated?
  • BBQ time at the parentals to meet the sister’s boyfriend’s parents – they were lovely FYI. BBQ food, sunshine, hammock time, giant garden games and cake: my favourites!
  • London Zoo with the cousins we saw penguins, giraffes, llamas, camels, turtles, fish, a hippo, tigers, gorillas and loads more! Such a lovely day in the sunshine, despite the resulting sunburn.
  • The Diner for good ol’ burgers and chips – yum!
  • Collapsing on the sofa for two hours of TV before sleep.
  • What an exhausting week!

Last week of June shenanigans

I fear that every time I start a post that discusses the start of a new month I say something along the lines of: ‘How is it [insert any month name here] already? This year is going so fast!’. So for a change today I’m not going to say that, I’ve instead settled on: ‘Hooray July is here. Let the summer begin!’. Before I can fully welcome July though I need to take a moment and digest whatIi got up to during the final week of June. I’m feeling lazy again today so we’ll go for bullets and pictures (for a change!).

  • More than one morning walk to work – it’s almost becoming a habit!
  • A failed gym trip – definitely a new habit!
  • Baking: freezer cookies and a two tier version of these peanut butter and chocolate chip cupcakes. One word: EPIC!
  • Lunchtime trips to Leon. The new meatball lunchbox is lovely FYI.
  • A picnic on the Southbank on one of the colourful concrete blocks.
  • Othello at The National Theatre starring Adrian Lester and Rory Kinnear. It was phenomenal. I’d never read this play and I’m glad because that just makes the performances and staging all the more impressive as I had no prior expectations.
  • A mad dash to Oxford Street on a lunchtime, horrific.
  • Leaving laughs and tears for a departing colleague – not to mention scrumptious cake!
  • Lovely works drinks before a family trip to Westfield.
  • Spending too much money in the Zara sale.
  • Finding a dead fly in my half eaten bowl of salad from Tossed. That’ll teach me to be healthy and ignore the Chinese outlet!
  • The Nashville finale. OMG. I can’t even. I need more time to work through my thoughts and deal properly.
  • Brunch with the lovely work girls at The Cellarium at Westminster Anbey. This place is amazing and a must visit. It’s in the old crypt of the abbey and everything is yummy – the apple juice, the mochas and the scrambled eggs. Yum.
  • Friday afternoon off. Cue sofa time and cereal for dinner. Rock and roll.
  • Oxford street and Forever 21 meant I spent far too much again!
  • Park time with an iced latte, a Dublin guide-book, good music and the sis.
  • A very short run – I blame the heat.
  • A How I Met Your Mother marathon, I may have watched the entirety of series seven in a weekend.
  • A morning spent in Starbucks catching up on life admin and work stuff.
  • A DVD night featuring 10 Things I Hate About You accompanied by Pringles and mochas. A winning combo.
  • Wanders around Clapham Common.
  • Burning my hand whilst making popcorn. Sad face.
  • Not tidying my room for yet another week.
  • An epic pile of books to get through.
  • Buying new baby and new big sister gifts for my god-daughter and her new sister. So cute!

Touristy times. Take one.

After very little deliberation I have come to the conclusion that I would be quite happy to spend my entire life being a tourist. There really is something wonderfully enjoyable about wandering around and ticking sights off of a list, and I don’t even need to go far away to enjoy it, being a tourist in my own city is good enough for me. I reached this conclusion after last weeks four days of touristy shenanigans with the Aussie cousins. Having them over for the first time in forever was the perfect excuse for some time off and a lovely four-day weekend. So what did we get up to, I hear you ask?

Well, Thursday started with a riverside walk from London Bridge to The Tower of London and then a rest stop at Zizzi’s – it’s a well-known fact that you can’t get fully into touristy fun without a full stomach!!! The next stop on the tour was the wonderful Tower of London, that place really is amazing. It’s been years since I’ve been there and I’d forgotten how fantastic it is. I could have spent hours there looking at the impressive buildings, gorgeous crown jewels, brilliantly shiny armour, searching for the animal sculptures and learning all about the history of the Tower and the original mint. It really was fascinating. The jewels are absolutely stunning, imagine wearing them! The other artifacts were impressive too, I particularly loved the massive punch bowl, which can hold something ridiculous like 50 bottles of wine – wow! Although it was sad that the King who commissioned it was unlikely to have ever used it as he died before it was completed.

After the Tower (and the obligatory photo of Tower Bridge) we headed on the river boat – my favourite form of transport – across to the Globe. I always love seeing that building, as it’s such a contrast to the surrounding buildings – it’s like being transported back in time. Sadly we didn’t have time to pop in and do the tour or museum, but one day I definitely will do it! From the Globe we went along to the Tate Modern and ambled around the different exhibitions. Whilst there were some interesting displays and paintings, a lot of it I just didn’t get – I’m sorry I just don’t see how it’s art. The view from the cafe at the top on the other hand, that is definitely art. It’s just amazing – you’ve got half of London laid out in front of you, beautiful! After the Tate we hopped across London to Harrods and explored the shop, saying hello to the giant bears and Playmobil people along the way – how cute.

Day two on the London sightseeing tour started at St. Paul’s Cathedral where we spent three hours exploring and learnign about this fascinating building. I honestly could visit that place every day and still find it interestingk. Now I’m not the best with heights, but I managed to make it up to the Whispering Gallery, but I couldn’t make it any further up as I started to feel a bit wobbly – apparently the views from the top are stunning. One of the great things about the Cathedral is that you get a free audio guide as part of your ticket, so needless to say I listened to every single bit of information on offer. I did a history degree – would you expect anything else? It really is amazing to see what was achieved with the building of the cathedral, especially considering the time – it’s amazing. Also, interesting fact alert, did you know that Wren’s design was built so fast that he was alive to see it finished, the first architect of such a cathedral. What a feat. From St Paul’s Cathedral we headed to Hyde Park, another must see site, where we ate lunch at the Serpentine Bar and Kitchen, one of my favourite eateries. Read more about my love for that eating place here. As the weather was so lovely – I know unbelievable right! – we walked through Hyde Park and Green Park to Buckingham Palace, before heading along the Mall, to Horse Guards Parade where we were in time for the changing of the guards. Then we wandered down Whitehall to the Palace of Westminster, always a bit of a pinch yourself moment I find. In the evening we went to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was amazing, you HAVE to see it as soon as possible. My favourite bit? The Squirrels!!

So there we have it, that’s what we got up to on the first two days of our touristy fun. Check back soon for days three and four, where we ventured west to a very rainy Wiltshire!

Work, running and cinema fun!

This week I’ve been crazy busy with work stuff, so busy in fact that I failed to take a single photo that wasn’t for my January photo challenge until Friday. How ridiculous is that?! Anyway as I’m sure you’ve guessed this weekend could not have come faster after lots of work, an early morning DVD workout and a fair amount of catching up with friends – yes I did watch Brave for the second time in less than a month, your point is?! Yes that’s been my week!

Thankfully the weekend was far, far superior than my slow work-filled week as it involved lots of fun things! Firs up was a Friday night trip to the National Theatre to see Alan Bennett’s new play People, which was absolutely spectacular. It really was wonderful and not just because they sang Sandie Shaw songs! We also had dinner at the Mezzanine restaurant in the National where the food was truly scrumptious. I had a delicious pork and duck terrine and mushroom Wellington, which was then followed by a Tiramisu during the interval of People.

Saturday started nice and slowly with a very lazy morning of eating Easter chocolate and reading before a hop, skip and a jump round the shops. Hello new shoes, jumper and leggings! Next up was a 10k run near my parents’ house, so queue gorgeous vistas and lots of mud, bogs and almost falls! Totally worth it though – 10k, hooray!!! Although I may have to reconsider letting my Dad choose the route in future – look what his route did to my nice trainers!
In the evening I finally watched Lincoln at the cinema, I feel like I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this film to be out. Thankfully I was not disappointed at all, it was superb. Both Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field were absolutely amazing, as was Tommy Lee Jones who I don’t think has been lauded enough for his portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens. It was amazing that they managed to make the film seem like it featured Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln in person rather than actors. There were two scenes that really stood out for me; the first was with Lincoln and his eldest son, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt which was perfectly done and you could see they totally understood one another even if they weren’t in agreement at all! The second scene was between the President and First Lady and involved an argument that was both heart-breaking and tender all at once. Truly brilliant

Sunday was all about the Super Bowl! After a morning of mooching around the shops and work – yes on a weekend, urgh! – I started on preparing the Super Bowl snacks of chocolate brownies and a popcorn concoction. Don’t they look delicious? Sadly I didn’t make it through the entire match – damn the silly power cut, although wasn’t it absolutely hilarious?! – but I did make it until about 3 in the morning, which I don’t think was that bad going considering I’d been up since 8am on Sunday!

Lots of theatre trips, Tim Tams and Pixar love

Things making me smile this week include:


1) My new Pixar desk calendar – My mornings are particularly smiley at the moment thanks to the brilliant images I find on my desk calendar every day. It’s so good to have it on my desk, as no matter how stressed I am throughout the day it always serves to make me smile by reminding me about the important things in life: the genius of Pixar, the classic moments Pixar have brought us and the universal truth that the monsters under our beds are more scared of us than we are of them!

2) Tim Tams – I don’t think I can explain my absolute adoration for these gorgeous chocolatey biscuits. I love them so much that I could easily chomp my way through an entire pack in one half hour sitting, hence the fact that I don’t allow myself to purchase them in Tesco’s ever. But thankfully my cousin recently sent us a packet of them (a very late Christmas present) and I spent Sunday afternoon scoffing them all – my entire month was made in that one lovely gesture and afternoon!

20130121-143543.jpg3) The Simple Things magazine – I got my first issue of this wonderful magazine over Christmas courtesy of Santa (isn’t he kind) and I finally read it over the weekend. And can I just say I’m in total love with everything in it, where do I subscribe?!?! First off I saw these gorgeous egg cups, then there were some brilliant Christmas decoration ideas (ripping those pages out for next years Christmas house decoration!) and finally some gorgeous recipes. I didn’t really digest everything that was in there in just one sitting as it’s all so wonderful, but it’s definitely one to be recommended!

4) Cheap theatre tickets – I’m so concerned about having a dreadfully dull and depressing January and February that I’m making sure to fill it with interesting things, so when I heard that you could get super cheap theatre tickets at I went a bit crazy. So far I’ve purchased tickets for Wicked, Spamalot and Shrek and what’s great is that the tickets were for £25, £10 and £10 respectively – how awesome is that! So it was Wicked this week, then Spamalot is the week after next and Shrek the week after that – I can hardly contain my excitement!

20130121-143611.jpg5) Mr. Sheep – I think I’ve mentioned this cute cuddly sheep in the past, but this week he’s really come into his own as it’s been so so so cold! Since my wonderful sis bought him for me so I’d stop stealing her pig version it’s become something of a ritual to pop him in the microwave and hug him to death each night. It’s amazing how warm this cute bundle of squidgey lavender sheep can keep me! So who cares if I wake up in the middle of the night really uncomfortable as he’s ended up underneath me? Or if I’m like a four-year old taking a cuddly sheep to bed – he keeps me warm so I certainly don’t!!

The first ‘Lately’ post of 2013!

So far 2013 has been exhausting, has anyone else found that? I mean I only worked three days last week but it felt more like 12, even with lots of lovely things to keep me going. (See last weeks Smiley Happy Things post about Surviving the First Week in January to find out more.) But apart from just surviving a three day work week what else have I been up to I hear you cry?

Well Monday was all about organising and getting prepared for the new year – a new year, how did that happen?!?! So I got rid of about 10 bags of clothes, books and bits and bobs (the lucky local charity shop, hey!) and I also reorganised my wardrobe so there’s now a space for everything! And even better space for any new clothes I might find along the way, well you never know what you might come across do you?! Talking of new clothes I got thrifty and went shopping in our local charity shop and found a gorgeous bright blue cardigan from Topshop for only £5, hooray to me! I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Eve so I spent the evening with my sister watching a marathon of The Big Bang Theory and eating baked Camembert. It was our first ever attempt at ‘making’ it ourselves and it worked perfectly and was truly scrumptious!! Look how oozy and delicious it was, mmmm! At about half ten we headed out to Vauxhall to watch the London fireworks display with our other sister and her friends. We managed to secure a really good spot near the MI6 building and the fireworks were absolutely spectacular, a brilliant way to see in 2013.

New Years Day itself was actually quite chilled out, really that date is the perfect excuse for doing nothing! There was an early morning run (well not that early I suppose, but still 11am on Jan 1st is quite early!) followed by lunch at Nando’s (check out the gorgeous sofa I saw at Nando’s and that I’m in total lust with) and then sofa time. I had a long list of things to do and achieve before going back to work, yet I couldn’t quite face any of them, oops! I did make a bit of a dent on my remaining Christmas chocolates though!!

The 2nd of January was that dreaded day of heading back to work, eurgh, it’s definitely not to be recommended. It was so hard and the week felt so long and difficult, which is ridiculous really as it was quite quiet, so it should have been easy and not to mention productive. However somehow that wasn’t the case, sad times indeed. Despite my whinging I am glad I went back to work last week, it was probably a lifesaver to get back into things slowly rather than starting back today and being thrown into the fire and hundreds of emails to catch up on. I think that would definitely be a LOT worse – or that’s what I’m telling myself anyway!

As for the weekend it was lovely and relaxed, which was certainly needed after going back to work! Saturday saw more organising, a 3 mile run (woohoo!!) and a marathon of The Hour – the entire second series in pretty much one sitting. It was absolutely phenomenal and I can’t recommend it enough if you’ve not seen it yet. It’s so stylish, informative and interesting, not to mention perfectly scripted and acted. I cannot believe how they ended the series – heartbroken doesn’t even come close to describing my thoughts on this! I also got super excited about my two new books – The Hairy Dieters Cookbook and the new Harriet Evans book – I can’t wait to get reading Happily Ever After and making more of the food from the cookbook. We did get started on the recipes at the weekend actually, we tried the lemon and blueberry cupcakes, which by the way are absolutely scrumptious and amazing. I can’t recommend them highly enough, they are delicious.

On Sunday I attempted some circuit training, but failed after 5 minutes….oops. Then it was off to Hyde Park and The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen for a late lunch before the Royal Albert Hall to watch the latest Cirque de Soleil extravaganza – Kooza. I had a delicious fish finger sandwich, which was on foccacia bread – an inspired idea. The combo worked together perfectly! As for Kooza it was simply amazing. Some of the feats they do are unbelievable there’s one bit with two giant spinning metal circles (called the WHEEL OF DEATH!) that these guys then proceed to jump all over. How they didn’t fall off I don’t know – absolute craziness! There were also clowns, some tightrope walkers, a guy who balanced atop chairs piled 7 high!, a uni-cycler and of course the contortionists. Honestly I’m not such a fan of the contortionists (or the super bendy women as I like to call them), as they make me feel quite ill. I mean if you’re sat on your own head how are your organs all fitting in to your body, eurgh!

So there we have it, that’s how I spent my first week of January. To be honest it could have been a LOT worse than it was, but still I don’t think I want to repeat those three days back at work again!, no thank you! How was your first week back, are you struggling too, or did you enjoy getting back to reality?

My highlights of 2012

I haven’t been writing this blog for that long, so I can’t really justify a 2012 round up post, but I still love the idea of looking back over my year and sharing the good, the bad and the beautiful with you. So that’s what we have below! These are all the things that I know I would have shared with you had I been blogging when they happened. I hope you enjoy my look back over the last twelve months, I certainly enjoyed reminiscing as I compiled this post!

January: I went for my first run in about 5 years and survived! Although apparently it’s debatable whether or not it was an actual run, it may have been more of a fast walk. I also baked scrumptious brownies, had my first go at creating a homemade pizza (it was delish!) and had a very lovely friend visit from the US of A so a trip to the beautiful Natural History Museum was in order. Gosh I really do love that place, the interior is just stunning, and of course the exhibits are excellent too!


February: Snow fell, I was in serious pain with my wisdom teeth and needed drugs asap, I worked out my brain on a number of pub quizzes, karaoke happened – there was a lot of screeching, giggling and plentiful cocktail consumption! – and I found a super healthy recipe for cupcakes.


March: March was the month of a trio of trips. A trip with friends to beautiful York, a trip to the Royal Albert Hall (what a beautiful building) to listen to Lang Lang and a trip to the Hammersmith Apollo to see the hilarious Jack Whitehall. There was also lots more running, the kicking in of my holiday countdown and I got my purple havianas out for the first time in 2012 (always an exciting moment)!


April: Well this was certainly a month of two halves. First off it was bloody brilliant with 20-something birthday celebrations – we’re talking scrumptious cake decorated with m&m’s – what else! – beautiful flowers and lovely presents, um hello Matilda the musical! And then a wonderful trip to Australia to see family which involved just over two weeks with family and friends, seeing the beautiful sites, eating glorious food, paddling in the sea, meeting new family members and attending a beautiful garden wedding – I felt so lucky. The other half of this month was tinged with sadness as my Gramps passed away before I managed to visit him in Oz, we’re talking 6 days before I flew out – big time suckage. So yes fun tinged with sadness, but at least he didn’t suffer further and at least I was able to spend lots of time with my Nanna when out in Australia.


May: May was mostly about being in Australia and chilling at Coogee Beach, baking Lemonade Scones (four ingredients I tell you!), a bountiful trip to Borough Market and most excitingly (at the time) running for 25 minutes without dying – miracle of miracles!


June: Four things: The Monsters University trailer launched (cue much squealing as I love the original!), I treated myself to pretty new shoes, a trip to Greenwich by riverboat and much Jubilee fun, including biscuits.


July: Well July was possibly my busiest and greatest month of 2013. There was hen weekend madness in Bristol, lots of hour long walks to work, I completed the 5k and managed to run the ENTIRE way (get in!), I went to the Proms, experienced the best ever Olympics and saw the Best case of bad social media I’ve ever seen! Olympics Shenanigans (or as I like to call it THE GREATEST SPORTING EVENT I WILL EVER WITNESS) included: Watching beach volleyball at the greatest venue ever created, seeing the Olympic flame twice (once on the River Thames and once as it went past the Olympic Stadium), watching the UK team fly past us leading the pelaton during the road race, the most amazing Olympic opening ceremony ever (there may or may not have been tears of pride), a 4.30am start to watch the hockey at the Riverside Stadium with a fantastic view of the London skyline behind.


August: More Olympic Shenanigans occured, most notably tickets to the first evening of the athletics which meant snazzy union jack nails for me and a close up of the Olympic cauldron. I also had two full on shopping trips. One to buy clothes for the new trimmer me and the other to Ikea with the little sis who was off to Uni, go her! And then some cultural trips to watch Yes, Prime Minister and Hamlet at the Globe to balance out the (non-cultural) shopping fun!


September: The Paralympics happened – hello wheelchair basketball at the O2!, I had a week long trip to Portugal with SUNSHINE, sunbathed outside the National Theatre and attended another gorgeous wedding, this time it was vintage inspired. I baked a delicious stripey cake, the Olympics officially ended 😦 and I watched golf for three solid days to witness the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history – Ian Poulter is my hero.


October: Highlights of October included a brilliant weekend in Sheffield and the Lakes, watching ‘Bond, James Bond’ (Daniel Craig, I love you), A Great British Bake Off Send Off party and cheering on The Patriots at NFL London at Wembley Stadium.


November: November featured lots of things including the reappearance of the Starbucks red cups, my first visit to watch Les Mis at the theatre (how have I not watched this before!), an Emile Sande concert, torrential rain and thunder storms in Portugal, delicious afternoon tea and the baking of this wondrous Giraffe Cake!


December: The last month of the year was epic, not just because Christmas happened but also thanks to a weekend to Nottingham, a very relaxed hen night, scrumptious reindeer cupcakes and the Harry Potter Studio Tour occured – BEST MOMENT EVER!


One thing that doesn’t fit into the handy round up above is my biggest accomplishment of the year, which was losing 37 pounds. Now losing doesn’t quite describe it correctly, it’s not like I mislaid that weight, I worked damn hard to get rid of it all. I started running, walking and eating less; I even put away the peanut m&m’s at times and I feel so proud of myself for doing it. In fact check out the results below, I honestly barely recognise my old face! Hooray for my hard work in 2012, now I just need to keep it up for those last pounds in 2013!!

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