Tuesday, 20 December 2016

A Christmas Illustration to You From Me

When I was a young girl you would often find me doing something creative. Whether it was drawing, painting or colouring my artistic supplies were always out and scattered everywhere. 

 

I got such satisfaction from giving these pictures to relatives and friends meant for the door of their fridge's (even if they didn't end up there), but most of them were left out on a regular basis for my mum when she returned from her overnight shifts at a supermarket.

Anyhow, my passion for art continued into my teens, which was when I discovered a likeness for design too. During this time I studied both subjects at school and not long after left college with a diploma in Graphic Design.
 
Even though I don't work in this area of job people are not expecting a shop-bought card from me at Christmas, so all of the artistic supplies come out once again.
 
 
Here is the finished result for 2016 - A barn owl perched on a stand in the blustery winds.
I do own up to the fact that I have to look at a picture for inspiration first, then I do a sketch, photocopy it, paint that piece, scan it into the computer and finally, use some minor editing tools.
 
Either cards or gift tags are what I have used this on. The latter completed with a candy cane and ribbon.
 
They normally get positive feedback, which is nice to hear after hours of effort.
 
 
So, I guess that I'll end this post here by saying that I truly appreciate any of the stops that you have made at my blog since its launch in October 2015 and I really do hope that your Christmas and New Year are both full of cheer (hey, that rhymed!)

What are your plans for this Christmas season?
Do you have any projects on the go?
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Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Fun and Calming Ways to Approach Christmas 2016

If, like me, Christmas is your all-time favourite seasonal holiday then you most probably won’t have difficulty in finding ways to bring tons of festive cheer into your life up until the big day.


Even so, I do understand that for some it can be hard to know just where to begin.
So, scrap thinking about the big supermarket food shop, who you have presents left to buy for and any other ‘priorities’ that most of us get in a panic about.

Here are five ways I like to approach Christmas with that get me into the swing of things after a year since the last December 25th.
 
 
Crank Up the Seasonal Tunes:
Whether its whilst driving, in the kitchen when cooking, or at your work place (I'd ask permission on this last one first though before you hit play), these tunes really create a better atmosphere. My personal selection is 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

Sweet Treats:
Mince pies are all ready and waiting for you to purchase off of retail shelves, but if fruit tarts aren't your type of thing there are multiple alternatives to please your appetite. Gingerbread men and candy canes seem to be popular with all ages, as do a tub of assorted chocolates (just maybe not the whole box at once, eh?).

Practice Your Handwriting:
Still have some Christmas cards left over from the previous time around? Great! And if not, these, envelopes (if they didn't come with them) and stamps are what you need prior to sending out your Xmas greetings. Listing the names of those people would be a great help too - And don't forget to check the last posting dates for your country!

Delve into Your Creative Side:
Channel your inner Mary Berry through some informal baking or dig out any craft supplies that you might have hidden away to hand-make something fitting. Whatever it is, you'll be surprised how much friends and family will appreciate what they receive. Plus, you'll reap the benefits during and after completion - It's a win-win on both parts.

Open a Window:
Those belonging to an advent calendar, obviously. Every household should own at least a singular type of these chocolate holders - To collect an edible treat from and to see how many days there are to go until the big celebrations.

What jolly things are you likely to do in the countdown to Christmas?
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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Five Good Things… November

I know, I know, I haven’t posted anything on my little space on the web for two weeks now (tut-tut). The main reason being because my eyes have been hurting a fair bit recently (an opticians appointment is already booked for next month), so I’ve been having minimal contact with my laptop screen.


Anyhow I have been met with some mood-lifting things in the past four weeks. So if you have been feeling a bit down lately, I hope that: 1.) The thought of Christmas is bringing out even just the teeniest piece of joyfulness in you, and 2.) My little happenings can add to that in Five Good Things... November. 



Harry Potter Colouring Books:
I cannot hide the fact that I get satisfaction from entering competitions. If you follow me on Twitter I apologise for my retweets that are often daily, however most are too good to miss. Maximum Pop Books are a company that I follow who hold regular giveaways. Going by their name, the majority of the prizes are books and my most current win was four Harry Potter colouring books. Each one features amazing picture outlines to pencil away in to your hearts content.

Dreamgirls - The Musical:
From one film to another - but live on stage. In December my parents and I will be catching the train to London to see this production where I am expecting to hear some incredibly powerful voices. If you haven’t seen the original 2006 release, the stellar cast that consists of chart-topping divas Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson, the songs alone are worth getting a listen of.

Glee’s Amber Riley is starring in the show, however as we are booked in for a matinee performance it is yet unknown whether she will star in our afternoon slot (fingers crossed that she is present).

Yazoo Milkshakes:
These liquid delights must have been on the market now for years, but they still seem to be flying off of retailer’s shelves. I for one love a milkshake, in pretty much any flavour, so when I saw an offer on the Magic Freebies website for a free bottle, I was straight onto it and printing out my coupon.

Let the Festivities Begin:

Right, the Coca Cola ad has officially been aired, which now allows me to merrily declare that Christmas is just around the corner! I will soon be opening the first door to my (Disney Princess *cough*) advent calendar, pressing the record button for Xmas movies that I don’t own on DVD and writing out my seasonal cards. Oh, and I’m looking forward to digging into my Christmas pud with custard closer to the big day.


Greggs App:
I don’t have a lot of apps on my phone, but this is one that I definitely give a thumbs up to.
In just October and November I was sent a number of rewards to get in-store the bakery giant at absolutely no cost! These included a pack of their Hand Cooked Crisps, a Granola Bar and a Balanced Choice where I chose the Strawberry and Granola Yogurt (these really are delicious to eat for breakfast, lunch or dessert).

A Birthday Treat was also ready to redeem due to my change in age a very short time ago, for which I couldn’t not have the amazing Pudsey cupcake that were available especially for Children In Need, plus they came with a free ring too! (At just 85p to buy it’s a superb deal).

What good things have happened to you this November?
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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Next Destination... Almeria, Spain

Travelling abroad in October worried me slightly. Like the majority of people, I hope for sunshine when going away to another country – especially as autumn has well and truly arrived by this time back in Britain, making it colder.


Obviously I have no control over the weather, but the 25 (plus) degrees Celsius heat caused delight for me indeed when my mum, dad and I settled in upon arriving at our accommodation. The temperature was actually better than when we have been to other parts of Spain in May.

 
 The four-star rated Playadulce Hotel is where we were booked in for a seven-night stay.
With approximately 237 guest rooms, this building was a lot larger than the apartment structures that we usually opt for.

The decor inside was definitely unlike anywhere else we had been before too. While some of the rooms were dressed in a usual manner, ours had, wait for it… a Western theme!

We didn’t require the double-decker bus bed, however a flat screen television with cable and two bathrooms (one with a shower) were all very much appreciated. As well as posters advertising famous films of this genre lining the corridor, there was also saloon music too when you walked along this area (thankfully it couldn’t be heard throughout the night).


Overlooking the seafront, our location in Aguadulce was really great for visiting places.
You could either walk along the stretch of pavement next to the beach (which was pretty much empty!) or catch the bus, which came regularly, to take you elsewhere. There were two castles nearby completely free to get into - one in the main town of Almeria that took under 30 minutes to get to via four-wheeled transport. This was probably the best place for shops and where my parents bought me a pair of tan earrings with a crystal frame for just a single Euro.

Now, let’s talk food, which to me, is a big part of any holiday.
Due to my acid reflux I eat extremely slowly, but I still get satisfaction from eating my favourite meals and those that I haven’t tried before either. Unfortunately, this was the only letdown for our duration because there aren't many restaurants nearby, and those that there were either served tapas (small Spanish dishes) or charged around £10 or more per person - adding up to quite a hefty total price when done every evening.


I would recommend going for an All Inclusive or Half Board package if you think of journeying over to this part of the country. We had Bed and Breakfast, which included continental choices like cereal, fresh fruit, toast and cooked options such as pancakes, omelettes, fried egg, bacon etc. Most mornings we plated up something hot and then had cold food and snacks (purchased from the local supermarkets) at lunch and dinner.

Taking a look back at my last post and you will know from what I wrote that it was my 23rd birthday two days before we were due to fly home. After taking a pleasant hike, we settled down at the marina close to us for an afternoon meal where I cheerfully tucked into spaghetti carbonara and home-made bread topped with yummy tzatziki sauce (and tomato ketchup of course!). The hotel was also kind enough to leave an iced bottle of bubbly in our room too, which was a nice sight to return to.

If you have been to Spain which part was it?
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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

My Blogs First Birthday and Turning Twenty-Three

Once upon a time I didn't think it was possible to have two birthdays, and logically its not, but my blog hitting the one year mark is still enough of an excuse to bring out cake (and candles).


 
The weeks seem to fly by these days and it's been a whole twelve months since I first launched this online personal space. Opting for a Mr Kipling Bakewell slice and a hot cup of water (my regular heated drink) I reflected on my active posts.

Although I aim to, I don't always publish every single week. This is because all that I do make live I want to be proud of and this takes a lot of work - From the writing to the images, to making sure that the content is appealing to my readers. Truly, I try not to fret about my audience number. I just hope that what they do read encourages them to revisit - this is my prime goal.
 
My cards - The little one was from the hotel that we stayed in. (Check out the second next paragraph).
Gifts - Tartan bow clip + DVDs: Jonas - Volume 3 | Georgia Rules | Family Guy - Season One | Collage Road Trip | Princess Diaries 2.
 
Just 48 hours later and it was my own birthday.
I have a much more relaxed approach to celebrating growing older now. Like most kids, when I was under ten I had little parties with my school friends where there would be a bouncy castle. Then in my teens I made the effort to have a concert or show booked around the date, such as seeing Katy Perry live for my 18th. 
 
 Bow Pyjama Set: Patchwork rose print crop trousers & plain black t-shirt | Navy blue polka pom-pom slipper boots | Owl sock trio | Crystal flower clip | Killer Sudoku puzzle book | Disney's Sonny With a Chance CD album.

Last year I was full of cold on the actual day, so (even though it sounds mad) my mum and I wrapped up warm and went for a walk in the local area and then watched 'The Santa Claus 3' with the wood burner lit. Not long ago my mum and dad surprised me by arranging a holiday to Almeria in Spain during the week of my twenty-third. Disney movies were not forgotten about though, with me sticking 'The Hunchback of Notre-Dame' and 'Mulan' in the DVD player a few days before jetting off. (There will be more on our sunshine break soon).

 Most of the gifts that I receive from my parents are those that I have seen at our local boot fair throughout the year, which are then put by for my birthday or at Christmas. They do this to ensure that I'll like the items that I am given and I've usually forgotten about what we've picked up.

Floral top | The Worst Witch storybook | Special K cereal bars: Hazelnut & Almond | Ice-cream scoop | Bear socks | Hair bow clips | Writing pad & sticky notes | Animal lid lip balm tins.
 
As you can probably tell I like many different things and I was really pleased with the thoughtful pieces that I opened (including the two meant as a little joke) - especially when all I asked for was some new pyjamas and slippers! 
My parents had also put great effort into wrapping everything with NYC, London and Marilyn Monroe paper.
 
I'm just happy with a meaningful card when changing age, but how about you? 
Are you all about the prezzies, claiming the first slice of an enormous cake, or is hosting a
get-together with family and friends your type of thing? 
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Tuesday, 4 October 2016

It's Simple Really!... Me, Myself and I: From A-Z

If you read my first EVER post, or the follow up '5 Facts About Me... Continued', then you will have a few points on what I like already.


Back then it came quite easily to mind what to write, however would it be the same if I were to set myself the challenge of going through the whole alphabet, linking each letter with something that relates to me one way or another?


Let's see, shall we? - Challenge accepted!


 I couldn't whittle it down to just one on a lot of these, so you've got some extras.

A.
Art: Getting creative - Drawing (especially of the illustration kind), painting, colouring. This subject and Graphic Design (which I continued on a two-year course at college later on) were my absolute favourites at school.

B.
Bootfairs: Everyone loves a bargain, don't they?
Border Terriers: I've only had one dog. His name was Monty and he was a cross of this breed. They are perfectly adorable.
Blogging: I couldn't pass through this letter and not mention this hobby that allows me to get what I want to say out there.

C.
Concerts: Katy Perry, 1D, Jonas Brothers, Lady Gaga... My ticket book is quite impressive to date. Seeing the musicians that you hear regularly on the radio live in real life - well, it doesn't get a lot better than that. Musicals are what I have attended a large number of also.
Cottages: My idea of a dream home. I've said this before elsewhere, but it was worth mentioning again.
Christmas: Another I've already stated. Some of us can't wait until it's all over - I'm the total opposite! Enthusiastically waiting for this festive season to hurry around again.

D.
Disney: Visiting the Disney Store was a highlight of my childhood. There should be no age restriction on welcoming these fun characters into our lives.
Dresses: Cute summer frocks in various patterns and prints are an item of clothing I could never own enough of.

E.
Easter: Any excuse for chocolate, eh? Cadbury's Cream Eggs gooey deliciousness = mmm.

F.
Family: I couldn't be without my parents or the close friends that I think of as relatives.
Fiat 500: If I won the lottery, I would get this model (in New Age Cream) over a sports car.

G.
Guitar: I've played this instrument since I was ten. I own an acoustic, but I haven't picked it up in a while.
Greece: I value this part of the world, and having been to multiple islands there, I can say this with total confidence. TIP: If you go, order a Greek salad - the feta cheese is luscious.

H.
Hair bows: These or flower clips are typically what you will find slid into the side of my locks.
Hopes: Of course I have lots of these for the future. Most, if not all, I aim to achieve with sheer determination. I'm just in the process of getting there.

I.
Ice cream: I'm not really fussed on the flavour, although having said that, toffee would be my first choice. Croatia serves the best of this chilled dessert. Trust me, I had a cone or bowl of the stuff six days out of the seven that I was there.

J:
Just Dance: In our household the Wii is only really switched on to play this fun game.
Jacqueline Wilson: The author I have read the most books by. To this day she continues to put together such imaginative stories.

K.
Kangaroo's, Koala's: Trip to Australia? Yes please. 

L: 
The Lion King: As a child I was obsessed with this film. Oh, and I should mention that 'The Little Mermaid' has a dear place in my heart too.

M: 
McFly: Everyone who knows me personally (and some of those online) would have had the answer for this one without even a word from me. I have had so much devotion for this band since their 2003 emergence. 

N:
New Places: Journey to as many areas as you possibly can, whether its in your home country or abroad. This is what I'm trying to keep on doing.

O: 
The Orient Express: Again, if money was no object I would book a seat on here and order a cream tea, expecting a butler to deliver these very British goodies.

P: 
Primark: My shop I forever turn to on the high street.

Q: 
Quizzes: Features of this sort in magazines and newspapers are what I tend to fill in daily. I can't get enough of them, or puzzles.

R: 
Rings: I own an ongoing collection of these jewellery pieces. I'm hardly ever without at least one on my fingers.

S: 
Sunflowers: It's brilliant how tall these grow and how just the sight of their bright yellow colour makes me happy.
Scuba diving: Something else I have noted down on the bucket list that is stored in my head. I really would like to do this in a clear blue ocean surrounded by tropical fish.

T: 
Tasmin: I was named after the singer Tasmin Archer... Nope, I hadn't heard of her either.
Taylor Swift: If I had the chance to meet anyone in person, without a doubt it would be this lady.

 U:
USA: This is the spot of the world that I hope to explore the numerous states of in the future.
Unicorns: Now riding bareback across a beach under the glorious sunshine sounds ideal to me, but so much wondrous on this mystical creature.

V: 
Victoria's Vintage: This bloggers website: www.victorias-vintage.co.uk has a mixture of interesting topics and I often enjoy reading the newest of these.

W:
Walking: Letting your mind wander to gather ideas or having a chat with a friend are both examples of two good things that can be gained from going for a stroll. Plus, it’s a bonus when extraordinary views are in your sights.

X: 
The X Factor: When August is nearing I get excited for the return of this singing competition programme.

Y: 
YOLO: You Only Live Once! Amazing straightforward advice.

Z:
ZZZ: Getting, a great night's sleep where you wake up all refreshed! Aah.

Could you manage to do a personal A-Z?
Have we chosen the same on any letters?
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Thursday, 22 September 2016

Grab the Remote... September

At last! What's showing on the TV has now begun to improve.

 

During the summer months, it is believed that most people will be out enjoying the 'nice weather' (when we get it, that is, here in England). Fair enough, but when it gets to the evening I would like to find something to watch other than repeats or new shows that leave me yawning into my dinner.


So, without further ado, here is what my eyes and ears have stayed alert for these last couple of weeks...


Just what it says in the title, the 60-minute duration of an individual episode features members of the public who have come to regret an inking that they have had done in earlier years. These skin designs are usually a horrendous sight that were chosen: a) when that person was under the influence of alcohol, b) as a sign of revenge to get back an ex or c) without thinking. Sometimes someone will come into the teams London (or most recently, Spain) studio to get a brand new tattoo, usually with a fantastic story behind it.

Luckily, for those who are in desperate need for their wrong to be put right, the creations of tattooists, Alice, Sketch and Jay, are phenomenal. They really are a likeable bunch, as is their receptionist Paisley, who has an infectious personality too.
When: It's said to be returning in December.
Channel: E4.

 
Now, I don't think many presenters can get away with saying even half of the things that exit Keith Lemon's (the alter ego of Leigh Francis) mouth. Yes, there is bound to be at least a single rude saying / action every week in this comedy game show that has two panels, one lead by Holly Willoughby and the other by Fearne Cotton (although the incredibly funny Gino D'Acampo has been a regular on the last few series). Both ladies are then joined by a couple of famous names and then presto! They battle it out in multiple rounds that should make you LOL (just don't watch with elderly folks around, okay?).

My all-time favourite challenge is 'Don't Show Keith Your Teeth', basically saying as many answers as they possibly can to the question asked, without them, you guessed it - showing their teeth!
When: Thursdays @ 10pm.
Channel: ITV2.
 
War can be such a sensitive subject to talk about and I have so much admiration for the British Army. More women seem to be enrolling now alongside men and this drama follows the experiences of Georgie, a medic played by Michelle Keegan.

There are some familiar faces too, rumoured to be Coronation Street bad boy Callum (actor Sean Ward) and from the first series, Ben Aldridge as Captain James. Although Lacey Turner's respectable character Molly, (the main role in the original production) is a thing of the past, Michelle is still providing us with a courageous woman in the battlefield.
When: Wednesdays @ 9pm.
Channel: BBC1.

 
4.) Can't Pay? We'll Take It Away!
This documentary reminds us of why it is so important to keep up with our bills and to also think wisely when buying things with money that we have saved for something else. If we don't there is a harsh reality that comes with an expensive lesson.

It may be that a landlord hasn't been paid any rent for months, or a business didn't complete the full work promised to a customer. Either way, the High Court Enforcement Officers track down the debtor who is then given the choice to pay, or their personal goods, such as a car, will be seized to settle the total, or some of the amount owed. When the full cost isn't dealt with, there will be a return visit at some point in the future.

I am slipping away from all of this serious business for a moment to inform you that one of the officers, Paul Bohill, is a regular at my local boot fair. Fact.
When: Wednesdays @ 9:00pm.
Channel: Channel 5.

Pretty much like the initial idea, but with the contestants other half. Together they host a dinner party at their house where they cook three courses for two more partners to eat and praise - or absolutely slate!

Regularly they will have some kind of entertainment, but what is a must, after all the dishes have been served the attendees score the overall evening. Whoever has the highest rating at the end of the week wins £1000.

This is a broadcast that I don't mind catching again and again.
When: Weekdays and weekends at various times.
Channel: Channel 4.

 Tell me. What have you been pressing the record button for this month?
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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

What I Learnt From... Getting Through Life's Challenges

    I openly admit that day-to-day existence is sometimes a struggle for me. Just one little thing can set all of us back, whether it be accidentally getting a stain on your best top, overcooking the dinner, mislaying your keys... It is so frustrating. 


    Yep, so we tend to deal with nuisances like this, get over them and move on, but when they happen by the bucketload, that's when our state of mind is really tested.

    What I learnt from getting through life's challenges, which could help you too.

    Last year it all came at once for me. I was made redundant and after being unwell for eighteen long months, got admitted into hospital where I stayed for five nights and was diagnosed with acid reflux.
    Although being poorly at any time is obviously not nice, I was just grateful that a solution was found.

    So what was ahead of me now? (A walk up the Yellow Brick Road or a ride on the Hogwarts Express wouldn’t have been declined) Well, I had a bad reaction to the tablets prescribed, was unemployed, single, and didn't have a lot of friends my age to depend on. BUT, I had a lot to be thankful for – My incredibly supportive parents, the roof that was kept over me, food on the table, washed and ironed clothes - All examples of what can often be taken for granted.

    Don't worry, this post isn't all going to be doom and gloom, because I can tell you that it does get better, however you need to help set the ball rolling.

    Never would I ask you to follow my advice, though, I would like to tell you about a few ways that I have 'turned my frown upside down' (please, excuse the pun) and made an improvement to how I'm feeling.

    1.) Eat Breakfast.
    I live by the saying that 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day' - and this is directly from a person who always used to skip this essential meal, instead, snacking through half of the morning. I alternate between having porridge or Fruit and Fibre (I love this bowl of goodness!), but even a slice of toast is great. We all require a bite to eat that will give us fuel right up until lunch time. 

    2.) Have Some 'Me' Time.
    You. Yes, you, deserve to have a wind-down, whether this is by watching a couple of episodes of the latest T.V series you're totally hooked on at the moment. Maybe its thumbing through the next chapter of a book that you can't, won't, but must put aside before you read it all, or painting your nails in a vibrant shade (one for the girls! - or a few boys) whilst listening to that playlist of upbeat songs you have saved.

    3.) Look After Yourself.
    Most of us appreciate a pyjama day - me included, although I don't make a habit of doing it regularly. Even when I have a rubbish sensation, fixing my hair into a side plait (my trademark appearance), adding a swipe of lip gloss and a change of outfits can lessen this.

    4.) Put a Bad Mood to Some Good Use.
    Knowing that I've helped another human being makes me smile. I absolutely despise gardening, but the realisation that I've contributed to a task that my mum and dad typically do alone, or together, presents self-worth. There are also other pluses - getting out in the fresh air and being surrounded by nature. Even assisting a friend or family member with sorting through their household items for a boot fair will take a bit of the weight off of their shoulders. 

    5.) Orgainisation Is Key.
    Jotting down what I would like to achieve over the upcoming couple of weeks gives me a direct aim that I can focus on and tones down the pressure for when I might not know where to steer towards next. Where I suffer from anxiety and I like to know what I'm doing, it is so beneficial for me to write a plan for what to fill the hours with.

    If you have ever made any adjustments to better your lifestyle what were they?
    Did you notice any progression?
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    Saturday, 27 August 2016

    I've Got My Ticket... Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical

    Just the mention of this extraordinary movie and I break into the song. It really can’t be helped when the featured lyrics are so snappy that not singing along would be incredibly difficult, even if you wouldn’t exactly call yourself a fan of them.


    The accompanying melodies are what push the film way above a magnificent rating. Although it might shock me to be informed if people my age hadn’t seen the 1968 release which was initially a book, the title theme tune must at least ring a bell for them.

    When it comes to musicals there has always been three that I have wanted to catch live on stage – this being one of them. I was in high spirits after the announcement that the UK tour would be making a stop at a nearby theatre. Shortly after my entry passes were confirmed, and I was raring to go…


    Show Name: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical
    Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
    Performance Dates: Wed 24th July – Saturday 3rd September 2016
    Starring: Lee Mead, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Andy Hockley, Claire Sweeney, Matt Gillett
    Musical Director: Andrew Hilton

    Brief Information:
    Established from the novel written by Ian Flemming, this adventure starts out on British turf. Caractacus Potts is a struggling inventor with the wackiest of ideas and whose father is far from boring either. Both of these enthusiastic personalities live with the younger of the two’s pair of children, Jeremy and Jermima. Given their money circumstances the family is still, overall a happy one indeed. However, when the brother and sister find a non-functioning Grand Prix car that they would like as a toy, their dad scrapes together all that he can to purchase the vehicle.

    After a fair amount of mechanical tweaking the vehicle begins to demonstrate some unusual behaviour (and eventually takes to the air to fly). The important character of Miss Truly Scrumptious has some motor issues of her own, but in the form of a bike. Caractacus offers to take a look, except instead of a 'thank you' and 'you're welcome', multiple disagreements are what follow. Still, this doesn't stop his children’s from asking her to join them on their picnic outing to the beach. When all goes well, she accepts to a repeat of this plan for the very next day, prompting an unpredicted romance between Truly and their dad, Caractacus.

    When word gets around about the astonishing car that was once thought of as useless, a lot of attention is gained and a scheme is made to steal Chitty. If this wasn’t enough drama, then a false identity kidnapping, an encounter with a buffoon controller and plenty more are sure to hold your attention.

    My Opinion:

    Who could ever live up to the outstanding performance of the lead actor, Dick Van Dyke, in the original film? Lee Mead (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) had big shoes to fill, as did Carrie Hope Fletcher (Les Misérables), of whom I didn’t expect to be selected for the head female role, being that she appears slightly younger than twenty-three. Nonetheless, my concerns were soon whisked away by the stellar performances on both parts. You also couldn’t fault what great energy TV actress Claire Sweeney (Brookside) had as Baroness Bomburst and the whole cast too.

    What did you like?
    I was curious as to how Chitty was going to be presented to an audience on a platform, however the production team managed to pull it off without this appearing overly pretended. All of the songs of course! The ‘Toot Sweets’ scene was a standout moment for me, probably because I get wrapped up in it whenever this segment is on my electronic screen. Even though I was aware that Carrie possessed an amazing set of lungs from watching her Youtube channel, it was wonderful actually acknowledging this in the flesh.

    A mention of the duo who played the two spies and the wonderful Andy Hockley (Grandpa Potts) I feel is a must. Whilst all three had me laughing a fair bit, I was also very impressed by the acting of the main child stars.

    What would you change?
    I wouldn’t make any adjustments to the show. It was just a teeny bit disappointing afterwards having to return to a normal mode of transport, which will forever have to travel on the road by its four wheels and nothing else.
     
    My star rating out of five:


    Find out more about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The Musical, including ticket prices and performance times:
    http://www.marlowetheatre.com/page/3179/Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang/977
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    Friday, 12 August 2016

    Next Destination... San Antonio Bay, Ibiza

    It often gets to a certain point in the year when most of us feel ready for a break, some time off, a holiday perhaps? And if you are a British resident like me - some sunshine wouldn't go amiss either.  

     

    Our family try to go abroad at least once every twelve months, sometimes twice, depending on whether we can find a low cost deal or not. This May we packed our suitcases (well, luggage trolleys) and took an outbound plane to the Balearic Island of Ibiza.

    Minus the 2am wake-up call because of our early departure time and the two-hour-and-ten-minutes (leaving via London Gatwick) flight journey was overall quite pleasant. The weather was absolutely glorious and reached 29 degrees Celsius at one point, which was a lot higher than what the forecast had been reporting back home (nothing to complain about).


    The three-star-rated Playa Bella Apartments in San Antonio Bay where we stayed provided all of the simple items that we needed, such as a fridge, kettle, toaster and so on. This 155-room building was also connected with a swimming pool, plus multiple facilities like a newsagents and an eatery. From a disco to a game of bingo, all sorts of entertainment were advertised each night here too.


    Aside from our breakfast and lunch, we like to eat away from our accommodation, visiting different restaurants and tasting the local food, which are the reasons for us choosing the Self-Catering option. Although, we did order at the snack bar on a couple of occasions when we felt like having a 'lazy' night in. When we did have dinner the menu at The Old Tavern appealed to us the most, as did their live music and quizzes, typically held after 8pm.

    We saved money, especially on our midday meals because of the supermarket down the street from us that sold pretty much everything you could require at really cheap prices.


    While there was shops on either side of the road from us, the main outlets in San Antonio were either a forty minute walk from us or around half an hour by the bus that made regular pick ups and drop offs throughout the day. Along with places to get your souvenirs or grab an ice cream from was the harbour where you could book trips for entering caves, going inside an aquarium and extra things. Drinks and snacks were also included with these excursions. You could also catch the public transport to the Old Town, which was combined with newer structures and had further retailers and nail salons there as well.

    A fair amount of our holiday was spent walking. My mum, dad and I have trouble keeping still for too long. Give me a couple of hours sitting down with a book and I'm done. Feeling the sunshine on my face, a soft breeze through my hair and stretching my legs whilst admiring the beautiful views around me - That is more like it. 

    I was met by the glistening sight of the sea when a journey on foot took us to Port d'es Torrent. This was a shorter hike compared to when we had a trek over to Cala Bassa, taking three hours in total (there and back). But it was SO worth it upon seeing the gorgeous beach that gave the impression of being a private spot because of its quietness.


    There is such a misconception about Ibiza being the area of the world to go partying in, and while this might be true, there is more to explore than just that. Travellers, especially families, can now be reassured knowing that relaxation and other ways to have fun (nowhere near the nightclubs) are within reach on this fabulous island.

    Have you been to Ibiza or some other location that has taken you by surprise?
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    Wednesday, 3 August 2016

    I've Got My Ticket... The Rocky Horror Show

    You know that anything featuring the classic dance floor anthem 'The Time Warp' is going to be enjoyable. Well, I think so anyway. Looking back on most of the birthday parties, garden barbecues and New Year celebrations, which I attended as a child and this tune wasn't ever missing from the playlist.

     

      Nor is it absent from the musical that popularised the track. The Rocky Horror Show had its first performance at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1973 and it hasn't paused for a break since. At some point my parents went to see one of the performances, which I clearly recall because they spoke very highly of it. Both also communicated that many of the audience had been dressed up. We're talking men and ladies in corsets, stockings and other daring women's lingerie - the same as those on stage.



    Show Name: The Rocky Horror Show
    Venue: The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury
    Performance Dates: Monday 1st August – Saturday 6th August 2016
    Starring: Lauren Ingram, Richard Meek, Liam Tamne, Paul Cattermole, Norman Pace
    Director: Christopher Luscombe

    Brief Information:
    This production, which was written by Englishman Richard O'Brien, is the story of Brad and his fiancée Janet, two college students who avoid anything that might land them in trouble. Sometimes people change however and the couple are about to discover this when they have car trouble outside the home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Unalike anyone they have ever associated themselves with before are a bunch of the houses quirky characters, eager to ask the pair in for a lively experience where fun is always present.

    My Opinion:

    It was unfortunate that Diana Vickers (who was originally cast for the role of Janet) sustained an injury prior to the opening night, though Lauren Ingram did an excellent job filling in.

    Music, comedy, science-fiction and, well - horror, were each introduced into various parts of the two-hour (including a 20-minute interval) duration. These subjects aren't your usual blend, but were still appealing when brought together. Focusing on the wardrobe side of things, I had a vague idea of what would be flaunted. Yes, there were more than a few daring get-ups - both from the cast and seated viewers.

    What did you like?
    I respected the great quantity of silliness involved, how a lot of imagination had obviously gone into the whole staging and that ticket holders seemed to have their own role, such as joining in with the additional rhythmic numbers like 'Dammit Janet'. Another contribution by those in the audience were multiple gags thrown in whilst the entertaining Norman Pace (of comedy duo Hale and Pace) was narrating, of which he chuckled at and responded with even better comebacks.

    To date this is definitely the most startling production I have ever seen. I was utterly transfixed, especially by Liam Tamne (a former contestant on series 3 of BBC1's The Voice) and the masterly act he gave. Then at the end, an encore of 'The Time Warp'/'Sweet Transvestite') was an inclusion that I'm glad was repeated.

    What would you change?
    No improvements are required, but personally, there was enough freakishness to last me a year or so before wanting to relive this experience again.

    My star rating out of five:
     
    Find out more about The Rocky Horror Show, including ticket prices and performance times:

    Tuesday, 26 July 2016

    Applying The Finishing Touch… Estée Lauder - Double Wear Foundation

    Never before have I had a make-up feature on my blog. Why? You ask. Well, it's not because I don't use any cosmetics. In fact, it's seeing that since the launch of my online diary nothing new I've tried has impressed me enough to comment on it.

     

     I like to keep my make-up routine as simple as possible by using a few dots of foundation, a flick of mascara and a swipe of lipstick combined with a balm over the top (to make the colour last longer).


    A little while ago I was scrolling through the Magic Freebies website where there was an advertisement for a sample of Estée Lauder's Double Wear Foundation, and to be honest, if I could only have one beauty product it would be a cover-up for my skin.

    It is stated that customers with oily skin, which I am not a sufferer of, have applauded this certain selection. To be fair my natural complexion isn't too bad, apart from the odd spot that nearly everyone gets and the faint sign of a couple of grey circles under my eyes (from going to bed a little too late - oops).


    Where I have always had quite light skin the lady at the Debenhams store matched me with the shade Pale Almond 2C2, though once I had applied it I felt that it was one shade too dark. This was easily fixed by dabbing a bit of moisturizer on top to then get the finish I wanted.


    Famed as 'The UK's NO. 1 Foundation' and priced at £31 to buy, I expected nothing less than a flawless completion. Having a 15-hour staying power and not changing in appearance through heat are meant to be some of the perks to this specific product, which they were. I can also relax knowing that this item has SPF 10 in its mixture and that I only needed a small amount out of the bottle.

    The only hindrance I came across was that you have to rub the liquid in almost immediately. You can't walk off into another room and then come back to do so, like I often do. Otherwise, streaky lines are what will be waiting in the mirror to meet you. 
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    Sunday, 17 July 2016

    Reserve at the Library... The Other Alice by Michelle Harrison

    Magical. This was the word that instantly popped into my head when my eyes first met with the book ‘The Other Alice’. This was half because I link that female name with the fictional character that had more than a few stupendous adventures in Wonderland, but the summary of the story was very much spellbinding too. 

     


    Youngster Alice is a keen writer, and an extremely skilled one at that. The stories she pens are so incredible that they almost seem real. There is a catch that comes with being a wordsmith however. If she doesn’t finish what she is working on, everything on her pages literally do come alive and into the human world.

    This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if the personalities of those she had created were all friendly, but the inclusion of at least one baddie is a must for any proper tale. Meaning that when Alice vanishes with her chain of events incomplete, only she knows some of what is about to follow…


    Midge, appreciates the inventive mind of his sister, Alice, and is fascinated by riddles. When the oddest things begin to take place, this individual knows that he doesn’t just want to find his relative, but he has to. 

    Having located Alice’s secret book that might contain the vital answers he needs, witnessed a couple of the imaginary figures traipsing around the nearby area and with a talking cat in tow, an epic search is about to start.

    Midge is intent on discovering the whereabouts of his older sibling ahead of the villains and giving this unpublished piece its final closing chapter.

    There have been many of times when I have had writer’s block, I think that we all experience it at some point. Usually it is best to walk away and come back to it when a few hours have passed, or even after a day or week has gone by. To the disadvantage of Alice, this doesn’t actually play well with her, and doing so can have ruinous consequences.

    Michelle Harrison is a prize-wining author most recognised for her debut novel ‘The Thirteen Treasures’ and her prequel collection to this. Again, she has formed something purely unputdownable, with readers itching to learn what happens at the end, as much as Midge.

    ‘The Other Alice' is publicly released 28th July 2016 and available to purchase from most UK retailers. *

     Find out more about Michelle Harrison on her official website:
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    Thursday, 7 July 2016

    Time to Take a Visit to... The Big Cat Sanctuary

    The Big Cat Santuary in Smarden, Kent is home to a variety of over 50 wild felines. 

    Managed by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation (WHF) since June 2000, this 38 acre site enables all different types of cheetahs, leopards, lions, tigers and more to live in solid quietude no matter what their age. 

    That is the direct aim of the registered charity (NO. 1104420) who are proud to have helped many big and small cats in the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP), by welcoming them into a suitable environment like their original habitat.


    With conservation work needing to be done frequently it is essential that the funds are continually available to complete these. 

    In respect of the animals well-being this organisation chooses to open the site to the public just once in every twelve months, and for the rest of that duration, relying solely on donations and the assistance of volunteers to maintain its upkeep.

    Last year my family and I attended one of the four open days. Entry tickets were reasonably priced and the car park was also free. Although we didn't stay until the closing time, four hours was enough for us to get to see all of those well cared-for cats and find out more about them too through the scheduled keeper talks.


    A Birds of Prey display, arts and crafts stools and a bouncy castle were also nearby, as was plenty of hot and cold food options. The same goes for drinks too. All money spent over the Thursday to Sunday events is put straight back into the charity to allow them to carry on making a vital difference.

    While donations can be made throughout the entire year there are other ways to contribute to not only this project, but to others similar around the world too. Adoption Packages, Be A Ranger for the day, Photography Workshops and a Luxury Overnight Lodge Stay (although the cost made my eyes water for this one) are a few examples.


    2016 Open Days:

     Thursday 21st July - Sunday 24th July
    11:00am - 5:00pm

    Tickets are priced at £12.50 per person and must be pre-booked here.
     Under 5's are free.
    (Please note that Saturday and Sunday is sold-out)
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