Friday, 31 January 2014

Twelve Angry Men at The Garrick.


When I heard that the play Twelve Angry Men was coming to the West End, I knew I had to go. It's one of my favourite films, but I'd never seen the play before, so when I heard they were selling half price tickets, I grabbed one. I went along on Wednesday evening, excited to see if it was as good as the film. It's one of those that you can watch over and over again and there's always something new you didn't think of before or properly listen to, or have even forgotten since the last time. 

The Garrick Theatre is probably one of the smallest I've been to, it's similar in size to The Savoy. It was tiny, and I was shocked to see it was quite empty. Sadly I think many of the tourists just tend to see the big musicals rather than the plays that make up the West End of London. I'm a musical girl myself, but every so often a play is on that I just have to see, I'm still upset I never got to see Hedda Gabler before it finished.

Twelve Angry Men's headliners include Martin Shaw, Jeff Fahey, Nick Moran, and the brilliant Robert Vaughn. The play itself was just fascinating, it was even better than the film, and it still amazes me how it just pulls you in and I had my eyes glued to the stage for the whole 2 hours despite it being simply twelve men in one room discussing the court case that they're on the jury for. 

If you're not familiar with the storyline, it starts with the twelve men on the jury being led into the room to discuss the trial and determine whether a 16 year old boy is guilty of killing his father or not. If found guilty, the boy will be sent to the electric chair, if not guilty, he'll be released. To begin with just one member of the jury thinks he's not guilty, and gradually after deliberating for hours, they all come to a final decision. 

It really is something special when a play can absorb you and hold you captivated with just twelve men talking. Through the script you discover the huge backstory behind the boy on trial, you find out snippets of the jurors lives and how their own experiences influence their decision of whether the kid is guilty or not. It's raw and honest; you see the jurors who don't particularly care about the boy's life and just vote guilty to hurry up and get out of the court in time for a ball game, and then there's the sensitive guy (Martin Shaw), who points out that they're deciding on a life and death situation so should discuss it a little more.

The actors are just incredible, not just the headliners but the rest of the cast too. The play closes in March, so if you want to see it you don't have much time left. If you want to see it you can get tickets from lastminute.com, I just got the second price grand circle tickets, and I could still see 90% of the stage even though they were marked as restricted view seats!
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Thursday, 30 January 2014

Special K Challenge Update #4.


Remember how I took part in the Special K bloggers challenge back before Christmas? Well I'm finally doing the things I pledged to do, and I couldn't be happier about it! I've really been enjoying my past week or so off work before I go to Australia in 2 weeks, I've been going swimming, getting to some exercise classes (legs bums and tums definitely almost killed me), and I've finally gotten back into ice-skating! 

I took skating classes for six years, I did my grades 1-10, and then did my bronze, silver and gold after my grades. I absolutely loved it, it just felt so freeing, but I had to stop when we moved to Australia. After a year of living in Australia I got back on the ice...and broke my sternum. Smooth move huh. Since then my confidence plummeted, so this week has been pretty big for me.


Those first tentative steps on the ice I felt like I was 10 years old again. I felt like bambi, but after a few steps I felt that familiar freeing sensation as I glided (with a couple of small stumbles) around the rink. It took a while, but before I knew it I was gliding on one foot again and I finally relaxed a bit. It really was a big accomplishment for me this week! 

It also reminded me about everything bad about public skating sessions, every time someone with hire skates stumbled past me I'd freeze up and just stop, terrified they were going to crash into me or fall and grab hold of me. And what is it with hire skate people who skate right behind you like a shadow!? GTFO! I need my personal space! Also, ice hockey guys. I hate them with a passion, they destroy the rink so there's clumps of ice everywhere and cut it all up. And they skate so fast it feels like a tornado rushing past you almost knocking you over! 

Anyway, apart from that I had a great time and can't wait to get back on the ice tomorrow! I think I'm gonna go to the sessions on weekends though as well, they're for figure skates only, so that way I avoid the hirers and ice-hockey people. My aim for my next session is to get the confidence to try crossovers (literally the simplest move ever...they just require you to trust yourself, which I really need to re-learn) and skating backwards again. Wish me luck!
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Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Easy Nutella Muffins Recipe.


My latest baking creation has been one I've been dying to try for absolutely ages; the 'Easy Nutella Muffins' recipe that is always floating around Pinterest, which only contains three ingredients. Surely it can't be true?! Delicious Nutella flavoured muffins with just three ingredients!? Well it is true. And they are truly scrumptious!

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Sunday, 26 January 2014

Things to Look Forward to 2014 Edition.


Every year I do a 'things to look forward to' post, just to remind me how lucky I am if I ever have a down day. It's January, we all get them after months of being stuck in darkness and rain every day! So here's my 2014 edition, we're not even at the end of the first month of 2014 and already things are looking pretty good. *Fingers crossed* it stays that way!

Career

I start my new job in just 5 weeks, and I can't wait! I've wanted this position for months, and after a lengthy interview process I've finally got my start date and I'm so excited to be joining such an amazing company! I'm going to miss my colleagues from my old company loads, they've become true friends, but I'm very excited for the future now and can't wait to get stuck in in my new position!

Australia

In just 2 weeks I'm going back to Australia! I booked it right after Christmas as a 'need sunshine asap' trip. I'm so excited, there's so much to look forward to for this trip!

1. I get to see all my friends again, and I'll be staying with a couple of them
2. I get to see my bestie who I haven't seen for 2.5 years due to her travelling!
3. I'm spending a lovely 2.5 weeks back home in Perth
4. I'm gonna eat my way around my favourite cafes and restaurants
5. Mini-roadtrips, obvs
6. The girls and I are finally going to the beautiful Lake Leschenaultia!
7. I'll hopefully be heading over to Rottnest Island again for a day
8. Sailing on the swan river
9. Beach
10. Sunshine and super hot weather (30's-40's!)
11. I get to do and see all the things I've missed
12. I'm heading over to Sydney for 2 days for some exciting meetings
13. I'm staying at the amazing Shangri La in Sydney, which has epic views of the Opera House!

Cuba

Just a week after booking Australia, I also booked Cuba (yes, I'm now broke and living off my credit card - bring on payday!). Ciara, Jasiminne and I are off to Havana and Cayo Largo for 10 days in May over the bank holiday weekend. We went for dinner a coupla weeks ago to plan it all and discuss the most important thing...what we're going to pack! So, things to look forward to in Cuba;

1. After about 10 years of wanting to go, I'm finally going!
2. Havana
3. Riding in a classic car
4. Going to a show at the Tropicana Club (uber touristy, but you gotta do it!)
5. Visiting Hemmingway's house
6. Going to the original Floridita
7. Staying in a Casa Particular and seeing how the locals live
8. Flying to Cayo Largo, a little paradise island, for some R&R
9. Visiting the sea turtle sanctuary/hatchery
10. Visiting Playo Paraiso, one of the top beaches in the world

Randoms

- I'm seeing Twelve Angry Men this week (finally!)
- I'm also finally seeing Giselle, next week at the ROH
- I'm off for a weekend away with my family just before I go to Australia
- By the time I get back from Australia summer will be on it's way!
- Lots of events to look forward to in the spring and summer months
- My birthday in April! Sad I'm getting old, but also very excited to celebrate!


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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Steam and Rye, Bank.


Steam and Rye has only been open since November, but is already causing a storm in the City. A 1920s American bar and restaurant, it's open from midday-3am on weekdays, and 6pm-3am on Saturdays, so is the ideal place to take you from work to dining to partying. I'm currently in-between jobs at the moment, and don't start my new one until I get back from Australia (2 weeks til take-off and counting!) in six weeks time, so Sarah and I decided to check out the Steam and Rye lunch menu while they have a 50% discount offer on.

A short walk from Bank station, it's easy to get to from the main areas of London. We decided to make the most of being ladies who lunch and started with cocktails! I had the 'Maize Balls (Mount Gay XO, Lemon, Coconut, Caramel Popcorn Syrup), while Sarah had the Mile High (Pampero Rum, Honey Syrup, Lemon, Bubbly). When they arrived my jaw dropped...mine was in a popcorn bucket...with popcorn on top! It definitely lived up to it's name! Sarah's on the other hand came in a more traditional glass and had a paper airplane on top, which was an excerpt from Fifty Shades of Grey.

The staff were absolutely lovely and left us to gossip and catch-up while we took ages browsing the menu. After all that talking deciding, I went for what I felt like - the cheese and bacon burger and fries. I mean if you're in an American restaurant, someone has to sample the burger! Sarah went for the Lobster Brioche roll with fries, and being a New England girl she is very fussy with her Lobster...so I was a little worried it wouldn't be up to her standards. Thankfully she was pretty impressed - they even use the correct roll!

Sadly the lighting in there was that annoying dark lighting that makes it impossible to take photos without using the flash! Hmph. Anyway my burger made up for that, it was delish! It was too tall so I had to eat it with my knife and fork, but it was mouthwateringly tasty and the meat was so juicy! The fries were good, but could have done with a little less salt.

We decided we had just enough room for dessert afterwards, so Sarah had the Ice Cream Sundae and I had the Banana Split. The caramelized banana made my banana split, it was incredible. I love caramelized anything!



The decor at Steam and Rye is awesome, it feels like an old and really glamorous railway station inside, it was like a bar out of Gossip Girl! They have really cool features like a railway carriage which has booths in it, and a bull and two upside down statue of liberty's.


We had a really lovely lunch at Steam and Rye, and the 50% off was an awesome bonus - our huge lunch came to just £20 each for two courses and a cocktail...in the City! If you have some time over the next week, head down and let me know what you think. Their 50% off offer finishes on Friday 31st January, but it's only available for lunch on weekdays, and it only includes food, not drinks. 

After lunch I went on the Waterloo & City line for the first time ever, and loved it, it's so quick! Then I had a Comedy Night at The Savage Club, where I was lucky enough to see Paul McCaffrey perform live. It was really cool seeing him do stand-up in such an intimate surrounding (The Savage Club is only one room!). It was weird because almost exactly a year ago I was sat next to him in Waterloo station wearing a ball dress (me, not him), and a load of teenagers ran up to him asking for photos, at the time I had no clue who he was, so when I got home I watched some of his stuff and couldn't stop laughing!
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Friday, 17 January 2014

Ultimate Salted Caramel Brownies Recipe.


I'm a notoriously bad baker. Just ask my old Uni housemates. Ask my mother. Ask my best friends. They've all experienced my concoctions, and they've all been left a bit horrified by them. Well, I can now officially say I made salted caramel brownies...and they taste amazing! Learning to bake was one of my new years resolutions, and I promised to take you on my journey. So without further ado, here's the recipe for these incredibly moorish salted caramel brownies.

Salted Caramel Brownies Recipe
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Thursday, 9 January 2014

VIP Ben Sherman Party for LC:M.


After rushing around between Victoria House and The Hospital Club yesterday at London Collections: Men, I then went to meet my colleague Dan at Cafe Royal. He was no where to be found, but thankfully I found Jaime, Leroy and Prince Cassius there so sipped cocktails and had a catch up with them. When Dan and Jasiminne finally arrived but couldn't get in due to full capacity, I decided to leave before the show at Cafe Royal started to go to the Ben Sherman VIP party with them.

Photo from Jasiminne.

We taxi-d it over to the glamorous and gorgeous London Edition Hotel, and waited for Edd to get there so he could get us our wristbands. While waiting Jasiminne and I ordered cocktails, wine, and triple-cooked chips....sadly we misheard the barman and thought he said 'truffle cooked chips', so we excitedly ordered them and then were a little disheartened when they arrived and definitely weren't truffle chips. Anyway, they were delicious anyway, but I'm pretty sure we were the only people during fashion week feasting on chips!

Eventually Edd arrived and escorted us down the stairs with our wristbands. The event itself was awesome, mannequins showing off Ben Sherman clothing behind glass cases, whilst everyone mingled and eyed up the AW14 collection. The music was brilliant, and we had great fun celeb-spotting! I had my DSLR with me but was told I wasn't allowed to take photos (boo!), so I managed to sneak some on my phone, and Jasiminne got some pics of the clothing on her little Leica.

Photo from Jasiminne.

The most awkward faux kiss photo ever. We love it.

Edd and I. Not as photogenic as usual (we're literally the most photogenic non-couple ever), I look exhausted!

An excellent night Mr Sherman, thanks for having us!

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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

London Collections: Men - A/W 2014.


This year I was lucky enough to get a press pass for London Collections: Men, which is the biggest event in the men's fashion calendar. Three days of menswear...and three days of good looking men wandering around near my work in sharp suits. Sadly I'm not special enough to go to the actual shows, so my special little LCM pin badge just allowed me into the venues to see the showcases and exhibitions, but that was good enough for me! 

I headed down after work, first stopping off at Victoria House to see the accessories, before running to The Hospital Club before the exhibitions closed at 7pm, and then powering over to Cafe Royal for cocktails, and then The London Edition Hotel for the Ben Sherman VIP Party (more on these two events tomorrow!)

Phew, it was a busy evening! For now I'll give you an insight into the venues. I started off having a peruse of the Cambridge Satchel Company's new men's collection, which features a lot of camo, both on the bags themselves and on the straps. I'm not a huge fan of the big green camo on the actual bags, but I do like it on the straps - understated yet on-trend!

Cambridge Satchel Company have also just released the 'Explorer' Collection, which is a collection of rucksack style satchels with round bottoms to provide maximum comfort for the wearer. The straps on the front also allow items such as a towel to be held in place and carried, without the need to put it inside the bag and take up vital space.



Next up I wanted to go and see Tomasz Donocik's jewellery, and on my way found some gorgeous accessories from Lagerfield, as well as a bright and funky Richard James exhibit!


Finally I found Tomasz Donocik's exhibit!

I first saw Tomasz' jewellery at a jewellery event, where I tried on a signature bracelet of his that costs £15,000. The thing I love about his jewellery is it's totally unisex, I'd quite happily wear some of his 'men's' pieces - I love the star bracelets!


After browsing the accessories and chatting to some of the designers' reps, I grabbed a glass of champers and downed it, before heading over to The Hospital Club.


The clothing in the Hospital Club I liked much less than the accessories in Victoria Place, I'm not a huge fan of 'alternative' men's fashion that's really out there. I much prefer style over fashion on men. But that's just my personal opinion. I did however manage to get to the House of Nines exhibit, who are one of my favourite men's fashion brands. They just get it right, it's a good mix of fashion and traditional style.


Also how cool is this t-shirt!? I have no clue who the designer is. I'm such a bad blogger.

Also I'd just like to say how much I am completely and utterly in love with my new camera! Totally worth splashing the cash on it. Just look at these photos compared to my old ones!

Stay tuned - tomorrow I'll be telling you all about the Men's Fashion Week parties I went to!
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Saturday, 4 January 2014

2014 New Years Resolutions.


I'm not usually one for making New Years Resolutions, but I've decided this year I want to. The past couple of weeks I've been so busy I haven't really been out much, I've been holed up at home with the family, and I've loved it. So apologies for the lack of restaurant and event reviews, but I promise I'll be back on it in the next couple of weeks!

There are a number of things I want to do in 2014, but the main one is travel related. Every year I aim to visit a new country, in 2013 I did pretty well, I visited three new countries, so I'm looking forward to adding to it in 2014!

Visit Cuba

Cuba is a country I've been wanting to visit since as long as I can remember, so this year I'm doing it. The girls and I are planning to go in May, when it's slightly cooler, and I'm so excited even though it's five months away! We met up for dinner last night to plan it all, and we're going to spend a few days in Havana before jetting over to Cayo Largo for some beach fun. Deciding what to pack was the highlight of the conversation, and I've decided to just take a light over-sized bag that I can take on as hand luggage, as I've heard Air France have a nice habit of losing your luggage on the London-Havana flight :/ 

Learn how to bake

I'm notoriously bad at baking, I can cook (sort of)...but I can't bake. It always goes terribly wrong...unless I do what I did with my Easy Lamington Recipe. So to encourage me to do this, I'm going to be doing a blog post every so often (probably once a month), with various recipes. There will be no sugar-coating (har-dee-har) my attempts...if they go awfully wrong, I'll document this with full honesty and photos. 

I want to be more spontaneous and adventurous

I have this awful habit of planning everything really far in advance and not doing things in the spare of the moment. Hopefully this year I'll be a bit more chilled out, and ready to take on the world at the drop of a hat! 

Follow my heart

Like with the whole spontaneous thing, I always think with my head and plan things based on what would be the 'smart' and sensible move to make. I feel like I've made mistakes in the past because I've always made decisions with my head...and you know what, it's made me pretty unhappy. The sensible way isn't always the right way, or the one that will make you happy. Well no more. From now on I'm following my heart. And one of the first ones is...I'm going to stop looking at flats in London. I hated living in the city for 3 weeks, so I'm clearly going to hate it if I move in permanently. Yes, it's a smart move to buy in London right now...but it's not for me. I'm a suburban/country girl, and always will be.

So that's it, I think these are do-able New Years Resolutions! 
What are your New Years Resolutions?

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Thursday, 2 January 2014

New Years Eve 2013.


As usual we left NYE planning to the last minute. None of us knew what to do, do we spend a fortune going clubbing? Go for dinner? Or shall we hold a party? The party won. I managed to persuade Peter to hold one in his pool house...after all, if you have an indoor pool you may as well put it to good use! 

Photo from Jasiminne.
The plan was to drink, eat, be merry, meet some cool new people from outside the usual 'clubland' circle, and swim. I did everything but eat and swim. I learnt a vital lesson this NYE. Always eat before you drink. I hadn't eaten all day, then after one glass of wine I started feeling a little woozy. Another glass...ok I need to eat. Peter got some pizza and bread for me, but it was too late. I passed out at around 11pm, missed the countdown completely, and woke up at 2am. I felt a bit better so joined the others in dancing, before feeling totally drained and a bit icky again, so had another nap. 

Photo from Jasiminne.

Not only did I learn to always eat before drinking, but I also learnt that I have some really epic people in my life, both old and new friends. I literally couldn't have been looked after any better; they gave me food, water, held my hair back, took my heels off and replaced them with flats, carried me outside for fresh air, carried me back inside, put me on the sofa, took my flats off, put socks on my feet, put two jumpers on me as I was shivering so much, put a pillow under my head, and then covered me with coats to keep me warm, gave me cuddles, and then took me to the main house when I needed 'real' sleep. 

The following day we slept in, and then the seven of us who stayed over helped with the clean up before ordering pizza and settling down to Aladdin and Lord of the Rings. The perfect New Years Day, spent with friends eating food and watching good movies. It did end with an impromptu drive from Essex to Heathrow Airport though when someone *coughpartyhost* got their flight details wrong, and had no way of getting there before the flight left unless I drove him. After two hours stuck in traffic on the M25 we made it just in time, and my first good deed of 2014 was complete, and it was time for me to head home for more sleep.

So kids, there's a lesson here amongst all this rambling. Have fun, but be safe. I don't condone drinking to the point you pass out, but sometimes it happens, if it does, make sure you're surrounded by good people who will help you. Huge thank you to all of you - you know who you are! Also you can read about what everyone got up to while I was having my nap on Jasiminne's blog, I managed to drag her along to meet some awesome new people, and she had a blast! 

I guess at least I looked pretty happy and content whilst in my slumber? Check out that cheeky little smile.

Happy 2014 Everyone!
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