Sunday, 28 July 2013

Thanks for the memories

It's been a busy few weeks and I'll have to fill you in on them next weekend but, for now, I'm falling asleep full of ALL The Happy after a wonderful day at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with my family for the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games.

What a brilliant way to re-live the sheer amazingness that was London 2012I miss it.

Check out my memories of the Olympics and Paralympics at these links!

Friday, 19 July 2013

Big Brother - I'm (not) watching you

I haven't watched it for years but I used to be really in to it.  I mean really in to it. Shouting at the telly-and-calling-friends-to-discuss in to it. Sitting-up-all-night-with-them-on-the-telly-but-asleep in to it.

Big Brother eye logos from over the years - C4 and C5 ones!

Big Brother started when I was at the end of a Sociology A level and so, with its bona fide "Social Experiment" status, the original series held great interest for me.

After that, I fell in love with the concept as I've always said that my dream home would be a ma-husive mansion house, full of separate apartments and communal spaces, where all my family and friends could live together in perfect (Coca Cola-sponsored?) harmoneeeeeeeeeeee.

I know the concept of communal living scares the bajeezus out of most people, but I just love the idea. The theory that you have your own space when necessary but the rest of the time you can mingle with others.

I think I love it because, due to Mr G's job I spend a lot of time on my own wishing there were more people about to chat to. I spend a lot of time planning trips, excursions, parties, meet ups and days and nights out and almost every weekend and every evening is packed with people to see so that I don't get bored in my own company. So not only would it keep me happy, it'd probably save me a hell of a lot of money as well!

I love the idea of waking up in the morning and wandering out of my room to find people to talk to. Or perhaps not my room. Perhaps I'll have stayed late chatting with a buddy and snoozed in their room for the night. You never know! I love winding down at the end of the day in a pool of low light in the corner as everyone is heading off to bed in dribs and drabs. I love being part of a big group. I love falling asleep to the sounds of life and activity, knowing that if I want to, I could get up and join in.

It's why I love Christmas in my parents' house. It's why it was actually really lovely moving back in with my parents for a short while last summer. It's why I adore big group holidays, trips and hen dos. It's why I won't be upset when my family puts me in an old people's home when I'm old. It's one of the only things I about university I look back at and wonder if I should have opted in for... and then realise no... I like living amongst people, NOT in (student) poverty! I watch reality TV or sitcoms where everyone just congregates together in one person's house and wish my life was like that (also for the fact that no one is working, cleaning, doing chores, etc, but that's by the by) and when my friends come from big families and always have a house full of family members, friends and even randoms I just want to pack a bag and move in!

Anyway, I digress. Over the years I watched Big Brother thinking about how much fun it'd be to spend the summer hanging out in a big house with all my buddies. I watched it almost obsessively from series one through eight (except, strangely with the exception of series four, of which I watched zilch. Sorry Cameron). At series nine, ten and eleven I kind of checked out, watching it less religiously and keeping up with updates mainly via the media.

But it wasn't just the fantasy living arrangements I tuned in for, nor the sociological/psychological analysis on Sunday nights, the weird human behvaiour, the big personalities and the exhibitionism, the fun camaraderie (and the not so factions that then developed) the crazy tasks or the fact that I fell head over heels in love with Davina, Dermot and Russell and needed my daily/nightly/weekly fix of them. The other thing that I just LOVED, and perhaps still love, about Big Brother is the interior design.

I love colour. I love a theme. I love kitsch and so I love all the crazy random crap that they just stick everywhere for, well, just because, really. Check out some of the BB house design schemes over the years here. Ah, the memories!

Even on the most recent Channel 5 episodes, I've completely avoided anything to do with the people, but have still gone looking for pictures of the house interior.

Imagine how excited I was, when the other day I found this little section of the website. Now you too can decorate your house to look like.... well, like what? How on earth would you describe the BB houses over the years? 

Anyway - think of all the multi-coloured, crazily-patterned, non-matchy, useless-but-fun, kitschy junk I can buy now for my house?  Excellent!

So who wants to come and live with me for the summer? I promise there are no cameras... well, maybe some instagramming...

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Out and about: Two shows, one night

Last Friday I had a bit of a theatre marathon. Starting off at the Aldwych for Top Hat and ending up at Shakespeare's Globe for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Not only did I roll in to bed at 4.30am, but I stood for over three hours... now that's dedication!

Two shows, one night!

Top Hat

I bought super-cheap seats on as I'd heard mixed reviews and didn't want to risk a pricier ticket. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed... well maybe a tiny bit disappointed that I didn't act sooner and manage to catch Tom Chambers and Summer Strallen as the lead characters. That and sit one or two rows closer. Cheap seats means cheap. We were in literally the back row of the upper circle. A slight turn of the head meant I could see what the sound and lighting guy in the box was reading that week. But still, at least we had seats, unlike later in the night! Looking for the positive, it meant that we had a great aerial view of the chorus choreography!

Top Hat at the Aldwych
I haven't seen the film, but was vaguely aware of it, catching snippets on those Channel 4 countdown programmes or excerpts of the dances from the archives whenever someone references Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers. According to my mother the show replicates the film almost word for word - so if you didn't like the film, don't bother with the show!

I recognised lots of the songs, mainly from my own dancing days, and happily hummed along with Putting on the Ritz, Top Hat, White Tie and Tails and Cheek to Cheek, but it was only when Let's Face the Music and Dance came on and I realised that it was that famous dance.

Oh yes, I've seen this before!

It was beautiful.

The story is silly, funny and farcical, and great fun to watch but I would have liked to see a bit more dancing. I was, however, so excited by all the tapping (the one style of dance I never tried, and so still makes my jaw drop when done well) that I would happily see it again.

For me though, after the tap dancing and classic dance numbers, Vivien Parry as Madge Hardwick stole the show.

Oh, and the costumes.

The beautiful, swishy, feathery, fluffy, floaty, sequinny, sparkly and shiny costumes!


A quick cab journey back across the river for a swift dinner and a glass of wine (with a gorgeous view) at The Swan at The Globe and then we were ready for our second show of the night, or in fact morning...

Dinner with a view at The Swan

A Midsummer Night's Dream

Last Friday I finally managed to do something I've been trying to do for almost half of my life. I went to a midnight showing of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Shakespeare's Globe.

A midnight showing of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Alongside Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of my favourite stories from my childhood, and in fact my adult life. I think it's the theming, the dual character roles, the transition from real life in to fantasy life and back again and the mixed undertones of silly alongside serious.

Every year I mean to get tickets, and every year I miss it. This year, having recently sat next to an extremely knowledgeable Globe theatre staff member at a Midsummer Night's Dream themed wedding, I was spurred in to action earlier than usual and managed to bag myself, my family, some tickets.

Sadly they weren't seated tickets, so I was slightly worried about having to stand up for over three hours but I needn't have worried. I've done longer stints standing (festivals, concerts, on stage myself) and in less comfy shoes but in the end I was so engaged and invested in what was happening on the stage I barely noticed the standing. I think I could have been wearing five inch stilettos and I'd still have stayed until the very end.

The beautiful stage
I've never been to the the Globe before and I was as excited about the setting as I was the play itself. A modern glass exterior leads you through in to a replica Elizabethan open air theatre with wooden seating, a yard for us plebs to crowd in to and a raised, covered stage with beautiful decor. It would have felt magical at any time of day but arriving in the dark, as the previous audience were heading home for bed, for a midnight showing was utterly enchanting.

At 11.59, prompt, a band of Ye Olde Englishe musicians came out and played some music to set the scene, and from the first note at the open to the last hum at the close I was spell bound.

I laughed out loud, I grinned, I gasped and I sighed as the hugely talented actors brought Shakespeare's words to life and in the spine-tingling finale, as the fairies bless the temple, tears pricked my eyes and goosebumps appeared on my skin with the emotion... and perhaps a little fatigue!

A little rest in the interval

I loved it so much that I don't think I'll ever be able to watch the play again, for fear if it disappointing me in comparison.

So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Obsessed: Inappropriate headgear

I've mentioned before about loving hats. But I suppose it's not just hats... it's all head gear.

I love a comedy head piece, a flower garland, fancy dress involving something stuck to/on my head.

I've also always been a bit obsessed with forehead bands. Or forehead jewellery. Or whatever you want to call them. It started back at primary school as I had a brilliant book of illustrated fairy tales. My favourite story from the book was the frog prince. Mainly because the princess was a spoilt little brat who ate off golden plates and drank from crystal goblets (there's something so magical about the words "crystal goblet" isn't there? I got some as a present once, and I can't bear to use them for worry of ruining the magic) and had a golden ball for playing games in the manicured grounds, which was how she came across her frog prince, in the lily pond. I so want a lily pond. This chance encounter with a talking garden amphibian, who would one day transform in to a royal husband, was wonderfully caught with a beautiful wishy-washy watercolour picture.

That picture has stuck with me for years. In that picture the princess has a sneer on her face, a cocktail ring on her long elegant index finger (remember my obsession with Maleficent?) which appeared ballerina-like from a tapered medieval-esque sleeve... and a circlet on her head.

And so began my obsession with adornments for my forehead.

After sneery-princess-circlet envy, I graduated to wanting a transducer like the Girl from Tomorrow (or just an alice band slipped down across my face and a lump of Blu-Tak and silver foil in the middle) and then on to a full on super hero obsession with She Ra and Wonder Woman because of their forehead crowns.

Following the princess phase, the futuristic phase and then the superhuman phase, I moved on to the ethereal phase with a mini elf obsession – think Galadriel and Arwen rather than Dobby and Winky...

Sadly, without fancy dress as an excuse, there's not much cause to wear forehead jewellery or crowns. Not even as a bride. When I got married, I toyed with the idea of something extravagant on my head... not a tiara. I don't do tiaras. I like edgy and different, whereas tiaras make me look like a Swan Lake extra or a Princess Diaries wannabe. I wanted something like a mini white top hat, Satine-from Moulin-Rouge style, a twenties beaded hairnet or a Priscilla Presley style veil.

In the end I went for a veil. A big, fat veil, and then a small pouffy veil in the evening, but looking back, it just wasn't enough.

And then along came Daisy, or just flappers in general, and now they're everywhere.

ASOS flapper head bands
Which is a problem for me, as I keep *adding them to cart* and then pondering the fact... where on earth would I wear it?

Not to work (unless you're the Queen or Duchess Katie), not on a night out (bit much for the local pub). No special parties coming up (one last 30th to celebrate, and that's going to be fancy dress). Not to a festival (imagine the weird sunburn and how hot that metal'd get against your forehead all day) and not to the beach (I'm just not boho enough). Maybe to a wedding... but unless you're the bride, is it acceptable to turn up with a ton of diamante in your hair?

Lulla Bellz hair pieces: Nicola, Abelie and Mitzy

I need a reason to wear one of these?

Is Vegas a good reason?

Everything and anything goes in Vegas, right?ntentious Regulatory development group

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Out and about: Soho

About a month or so ago I met up with my usual afternoon tea crew for afternoon tea with a twist - BURGERS!
Check out my review here, on Florence Finds:

The Afternoon Tea Crew Soho - boy-friendly afternoon tea!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Releasing my inner child at The Fling Festival

This weekend, some friends and I took ourselves in to our local town centre under the premise of "releasing our inner children" at The Fling Festival.

I'd heard good things and was excited about the promise of just being silly and having plain old simple fun in the sun. I like a good cocktail bar, a pretentious venue, a swish restaurant, the next big thing on the club scene and a dressy night out more than most (if I can afford it!) but I hate the "too cool for school" mentality.

I like to go out and have fun for having fun's sake, and not to have fun because someone else thinks it might be cool. I'm a geek, a goon and a bit fat goof.

I like fancy dress. I like cheesy tunes. I like being silly. I like hanging out with people who think the same.

Turns out The Fling Festival is my new silly happy place (after Disneyland and Vegas) and I fitted right in.

We turned up, collected our wrist bands and did a quick reccie of the site to discover, amongst other things giant water lilies, a chaise lounge set up for sung riverside therapy sessions (Melodies for Maladies anyone), an interactive metal "tree" and an army of moving bins that squirted water at passers by, a Human Juke Box (pay 10pence and Juke Box Jenny'll sing for you!), a story telling tent, a debating tent (I had to stay away from that one), a stand for checking in your "emotional baggage", an interactive puppet show with a full whizz-banging Roald Dahl style chemistry set and puppets, a skating rink, a school sports day arena (5-legged race? girls vs boys tug of war?) faery wand-making workshops, a tent teaching different styles of dance (from burlesque to hip hop and everything in between), a Bollywood tent (with food, music, stories and dance), body painting (both painting for your body and using your body to do the painting), a party bus (complete with conductor and tickets), a silent disco and a giant sandpit with buckets and spades in amongst your usual festival stands, stages and tents offering an array of food, drink, cocktails, music, comedy, cabaret and burlesque.

My favourite area by far had to be the Rubbish Area. On first look it gave me shivers as it reminded me way too much of one of my recurring nightmares about the junk yard witch from Labyrinth, but after a few Pimm's Slushies (yup, you heard me) I was brave enough to face my fears of piles of other people's junk and got settled on a floor cushion with my glue gun and did what my inner child does best... making silly costumes out of crap I find laying around!

After that I spent the rest of the day trying to keep it on my head and telling people I bought it at M&S.

I'm saving it for next year so I'm ahead of the game!

Hat and a mask

The Human Juke Box

Chemistry and puppets

Treasure from rubbish



Dancing... silently

posing... stupidly

The beach

The Forum

The End!

Monday, 1 July 2013

One year on... (part 2)

A year ago today we moved in to our new, and current, home. I had a quick flurry of activity before Christmas, ripping up floors, tearing out the bathroom, knocking down banisters and painting everything I could get my hands on.

We started with the lounge diner and got halfway through the bathroom and two of the bedrooms and then Christmas party season kicked in and my motivation went out of the window.

One year on and we are almost there. Everything we needed to address has been ripped out/up/off or just freshened up with new paint until we can renovate more fully. Putting in proper fitted (and some non-Ikea)furniture, building extensions and loft conversions and moving chunks of the house around is now the motivation for a full savings plan.

But for now it's just down to minor details and finishing touches.

The lounge remains as it was, but with more kitsch clutter collected here and there

Lounge-diner - pre-kitsch clutter-ification!

What is currently the master bedroom started as a pink girly room, with ill-thought out fitted wardrobes and a fitted desk, and is now calm and serene in grey. I'm still undecided on whether I prefer the front or the back of the house, but for now, I prefer this wallpaper, so we're staying put! It needs a picture, mirror or shelf above the head board I think and some girly prints on the facing wall.

Master bedroom - before
Master bedroom - after.
The box room started out as a nursery and is now a cute and cosy guest room. We need to properly frame the pictures and find some more colour for the bare wall and also a head board, or maybe a day bed replacement to free up some floor space. Hmmm. We'll see.

Box room - before

Box room - after

The second bedroom was full of scary seventies built-in wardrobes. Granted, they were good quality, because cor blimey did they take some welly to get them out, and they provided positively cavernous storage space, but they were hideous. So out they came, to be replaced with some funky retro wallpaper and bright yellow and teal accessories. After strip one of the paper went up I decided I hated it. But I'm not a quitter, so I finished the job (with a few deliberate errors) so I don't expect it to stay there for long! Again, we need some wall art and maybe a big chunky mirror to bounce some more light around.

Second bedroom - before

Second bedroom - after
You will notice that my dreams for an Alice in Wonderland room did not become reality. However I was allowed to indulge my crazy in the bathroom. We ripped out what was basically a brand new, but boring suite, with a silly shower arrangement (over the slanted end of the bath - I'm just not bendy enough for that!) and mis-matched tiles (but not mis-matched in a good way!) and filled it with stripes, polka-dots, glitter, pink, flamingos and burlesque girls. I love it!

Bathroom - before

Bathroom - after

Some of my bathroom details!

So now, we need to decide on some finishing touches to make the walls look less bare. I do hate a bare wall!

We also need curtains everywhere, but I just can't decide on styles, colours and sizes so I'm currently stuck in FOMO-paralysis land. I'm also umming and ahhing about art, pictures, storage and accessories.

I love this fancy storage shelf for above the bed in the master bedroom...

Baroque shelf from Design55
... and these continent prints, perhaps in yellow and teal for the second bedroom, seeing to visit them all was one of my only two life goals!
continent prints from UrbanTickle on Etsy

I also need to get my act together and get these picture cards framed and on the wall in the box room. They work well with my obsession for collective nouns, national dress (particularly a bowler hat) and travel! 

greetings card as pictures, from Woop Studios

I'll keep you updated!