Afternoon tea at the Thistle Hotel, Brighton

Friday, 22 May 2015

Afternoon tea, Thistle Hotel, Brighton
Afternoon tea at the Thistle Hotel, Brighton
Around Mother's day earlier this year, my sister suggested the three of us go for some relaxation; Me because of the stressful past year, Sister to take a rare day off, and for Mother to try to switch off. We rarely do anything just the three of us, especially since Ophelia has been here.

We stayed local and headed to the Thistle hotel, which was incidentally where my Sister threw my Mum's surprise 60th party last year.

First we headed to the steam room for a while before heading to the sauna.  It's probably a good time for me to mention that I never, ever.... ever? go on these sorts of days out or do this generally of my own volition, but I always really enjoy it when I do.  I could've easily spent a few hours more dipping in and out of the steam and sauna before completing far more laps than I did.

I was incredibly self conscious about wearing my (maternity!) swimming costume for the first time since having Ophelia, but it's really interesting how much my insecurities have changed since having Ophelia.  Whilst I do feel insecure about the way I look, it doesn't generally prevent me from doing things anyway.  Whereas in the past, I would've let it get to me so much I would've probably made an excuse and hidden away in the comfort of my bed.



After, we headed upstairs for some sandwiches and cake.  Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's not up there with Sketch or The Ritz, but for my first ever (crazy, I know!) afternoon tea experience; I think it was a good intro!

I was in fact, very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the foods; fruit scones with real clotted cream and jam, a variety of fruity and chocolate sweet treats and a variety of (of course), crustless sandwiches.  Whilst there was not doggie bag refills of the food, there was endless pots of tea or coffee.  On this occasion, a classic filter coffee was sufficient.

 Its definitely given me the taste of afternoon tea, and next on my to do list is either Sketch or the charlie and the chocolate factory themed tea.

Do you like afternoon tea? Where was your favourite?







Liebster award!

Monday, 11 May 2015

Big up to Christina for the nom for a Liebster award! I've answered questions for this award before, but it's always nice to answer different questions. 

What’s your current job?
I'm an Occupational Therapist for adults with physical health needs. Basically I encourage people to remain independent and meet their goals in life.  It's such a massively rewarding job but also physically and emotionally draining.  I don't want to work in this setting forever and not really sure which direction I want to go except that I am passion about supporting people to find wellbeing and happiness, whether that's new mothers or people at work.  Work makes up so much of our time yet people aren't supported to get that work life balance we all crave.  

What’s your favourite food?
That's such a hard question and seems to change over time, at the moment I love sweet potatoes, butternut squash, pecan nuts...

What’s your plan for the next five years?
Wowzers this is a hard question and my instinctive internal reaction was "aghhh I have no idea?!", but when I sat and thought about it, I realised we have a kind of plan.  I don't like to live my life knowing what's coming too much, because I always feel like I might jinx something.  We both would like to experience living abroad for at least some period of time, so that's the plan at some point before Ophelia gets too much older.  I'd also like to study again at some point and start my own business, how realistic either of those are i'm not sure. 

Tell us about something that changed your life for the better.
Mindfulness.  Mindfullness has for sure changed my life; how I react, how I feel, how I cope and how I see the world. 

How does a perfect day look like for you?
A lay in (but not too late).  Sitting in the sunshine reading a book or doing some craft. Heading to the beach or to some woods, and then finishing the day with a bbq or just eating an early dinner outside with friends and family and a glass of wine. 

Tell us something special about you.
I sat and thought about this one so so much but really cannot come up with a single thing! 

Top five countries you want to travel to?
Ones i've not been to before? Canada, Japan, Poland, Denmark, Iceland.

Favourite band and genre of music?
Another impossible question.  My favourite genre is probably pop punk and one of my favourite bands is Thrice. My favourite songs to listen to at the moment are all female vocal led, I find they really help me to relax. 

You have been granted three wishes. What are they?
For private rental prices to be reduced and capped.
For the dishes to self wash.
A cure for cancer.

If you could live anywhere besides the city/country you live in, where would it be?
Berlin mainly, but I really want to explore living in different countries and soak up the cultural differences. 



Brighton: Fringe festival. Interview with Chris Lynch from C&D Productions (Macbeth).

Saturday, 9 May 2015





For those in Brighton and Sussex, you might be familiar with the Brighton Festival and Brighton fringe festival that happens every May.  Every year, creative talent from all over the country, nay, the world, descend on Brighton to celebrate and perform their talents and passions.

I'm not sure if i've mentioned it before, but not only is theatre and drama how and where I spent most of my childhood and early adulthood, I also used to work in the Theatre Royal Brighton box office.  May was always such an exciting time with so many likeminded people milling around, soaking up every ounce of creative juice.  I miss those days! But I admit, it's nice to now be able to focus on the event for pure enjoyment without the stressful build up.

C&D Productions have made their way South from Kettering, to perform their adaptation of Macbeth at the Rialto theatre as part of the fringe festival, and I was lucky enough to grab Chris Lynch to answer some of my questions......


CWS: Lets start with an easy one shall we?! Tell us a little bit about C&D professionally- what's your theatre background and what led you to start the company?

C: I became involved with theatre about 5 years ago, doing some am-dram musicals and shows such as RENT, JCS and Spring Awakening. I started out doing small and minor parts, steadily growing in ability and confidence till I was getting larger, more involving roles. I hadn't done anything drama related at school as I was a very shy kid and wasn't really encouraged to take part, which in hindsight would have helped me so much. I nearly died 6 years ago from an orbital tumour and that was what prompted me to seek out new challenges with Dan which included a series of fundraising for Cancer Research and then us deciding to get involved in theatre.
What prompted us to create C&D Productions was a variety of factors that we had come across throughout the shows we had done elsewhere. We had worked with groups across several counties and we saw a startling lack of straight acting theatre companies in our vicinity. We picked a play with a purposefully small cast, 'A Doll's House', so that the risk was minimal in terms of investment and uptake. Soon we had a fine debut cast, a rehearsal space in the short-term and thankfully when it came to performance we attracted good numbers who were generous in their praise and support.

CWS: And personally? If you could use three words to describe yourself, what would they be?
C: I'd rather focus the attention on the theatre company and describe that in three words if I can as I'm just a guy who happens to have a great team around him. Three words would have to be.. Welcoming, Family and Nurturing.

Banquo being slain (Pete Bing)

CWS: C&D productions have been praised for bringing a freshness to the theatre scene- what would you say it is that has given you this reputation?

C: Consistently delivering quality theatre, free of the cliques and favoritism that some groups can struggle with. I use favoritism in the terms of 'samey' casts, which doesn't reflect on the talent of those individuals however, I do like to see groups evolving both on stage and behind the scenes. You can't allow ego to stand in the way of creativity and I'm very passionate about providing a platform for theatre practitioners and creatives to gain experience and build their skill-set.
We've got some news initiatives starting over the summer which builds on this pledge and will provide a variety of opportunities to those interested. 'New Voices' will create a home for those interested in writing, with a focus on theatre, and will encourage people of any age to get involved. It's statistically proven that writing, like many forms of communication, can help people deal with issues and struggles, especially those having to deal with depression and bullying. Some of the short plays developed will then be taken to the stage so that the creatives involved can see their work realised.
I'm also going to be heading up 'Future-Proof' which will provide opportunities for people to get experience in directing and other roles in production or backstage. They'll be teamed up with an experienced member of C&D and be given a project to work on, which could well be in time some of the writing coming out of 'New Voices'. I feel it's important not only giving opportunities to gain experience, but also to provide the necessary support to ensure they succeed. Success and growth on both a theatrical and personal level is vital when growing a culture of creative freedom which lifts the barriers to ensure access for all and where ideas can become reality.

CWS: The classics, such as Macbeth come with such high levels of expectation, what is it that attracts you to this genre of theatre?

C:The first reason which has a multitude of benefits is that they are well-known. The plan was always to try and produce theatre that the public would have heard of and had good levels of familiarity with. We picked 'A Doll's House' as we wanted to start on a good theatrical footing and have integrity in our choice of work. Where we are based we don't have a great theatre-going public when it comes to straight theatre so we were really starting from scratch and were trying to form a nucleus to base the theatre company around.
New writing, which as I've mentioned is a direction we are moving towards has quite a few challenges attached to it. Folk are much more inclined to come see a play based on a story they know as opposed to something from an unknown author with a plot-line that is alien to them. Of course working on new material is fantastic for actors and creatives as you don't have any expectations to try and meet when it comes to how you present the work and actors can have a lot of fun exploring a new character and making it their own. This is of course possible with established characters to as our Lady Macbeth will be a contrast to say, Sybil Thorndike who portrayed the role at the Old Vic a hundred years ago. 

Lord & Lady Macbeth (Tom Heritage & Becky Hawksbee)
 
CWS: What should the audience expect from your production of Macbeth?

C: Well first of all, it is a stripped down version. With fringe theatre there are typically time constraints attached which mean that productions usually have to be under an hour long. This ensures a packed and varied schedule for the performance spaces and challenges companies and groups to have an impact in the time they do have. We have had to reduce the cast and character list significantly to comply with this, but this doesn't say it has lost any of the core plot and well-known dialogue.
We've made good use of the witches so that they take on several other smaller parts each and the flow of the play is very fluid. Shakespeare can have the reputation of being quite heavy and sometimes hard to relate to as the language used can sometimes act as a barrier between the cast and audience. I'd like to think that my cast portray the story in a way to ensure it's accessible to the audience and the reduction of length and time will prove vital to maintaining a relationship between those on stage and the theatre-goers at the Rialto.

Laura Riekkola, Witch in Macbeth

CWS: Tell us about the rehearsal process and devising of the piece-how long have you been rehearsing?
C: We had a base platform provided to us thankfully and we built on this to create a piece that would be fun to perform, comply with fringe guidelines and hopefully be successful commercially. We've been rehearsing for about two months, two evenings per week and this has allowed the cast the time to explore their characters and work on the way they will be portrayed. I'm not a fan of 'over-setting' actors as you run the danger of them seeming to be just going through the motions. I much prefer to make it a collaboration between the cast and the production team of myself and my co-director John Whitney. This allows the actors to have an active role in building the play and gets their perspective on how scenes feel on stage, while giving them a platform to suggest ideas.

CWS: What's next for C&D?

C: The key for us now is to keep the momentum going and continually giving opportunities to those that want to be part of the C&D family. We've got a modern adaptation of Sherlock Holmes - A Study In Scarlet coming up at the end of the month which Dan created, a series of youth plays focused around well known children's tales (Alice in Wonderland, Hansel & Gretel and Red Riding Hood) and we've got a contract for a series of dates in July and August.
This will all be in conjunction with New Voices and Future-Proof which will be hopefully taking off soon and has attracted a lot of interest already. Towards the end of the year we will be performing The Seagull by Anton Chekov in September, which will be followed by Dracula for Halloween. I am really keen to return to Brighton at some point after the festival as I love the city and would welcome the chance to create more theatre down there. 

CWS: Thanks very much for taking the time to have this interview with me. If anyone wants to come to see Macbeth or contact you about it or future projects, how do they do so?
Tickets are still available for three of the performances. Thursday night is 100% sold out and Friday night is probably close to 90% sold, which is a great achievement considering this is our first time in Brighton performing. Tickets can be bought online at http://ticketing.brightonfringe.org/theatre/8990/macbeth and anyone wanting to contact me can email me on chris@cd-productions.co.uk Thanks for having me and we can hopefully grab a cider after the show!

So there we have it! Ta Chris for such great answers, I can't wait to see Macbeth and look forward to  hearing more about the childrens' tale plays too! If you're sitting there uhmming and ahhing about what to go see this month- wack Macbeth to the top of the list! 

The Ultimate Dinner Party

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

With the prospect of owning our first home so close and yet so tantalisingly far at the same time, i've been dreaming of  all the things I can't wait to do! Namely bbqs on the terrace, decorating and having people over for dinner in our conservatory.  Even more so when we will have a dish washer there, YAY no more wasted evenings cleaning plates and cloudy glasses!

So what would my ideal first dinner party look like?! 

Guests-

I love an indepth, thought provoking witty chat I do, and I think a combination of this lot would provide just that!


  • Louis Theroux
  • Anna Kendrick
  • Heath Ledger
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Music-


I really love listening to music whilst eating dinner, especially as background when socialising- it can really decide the mood! I love pop punk but I think that would be too distracting and loud for such a sophisticated event! I'd instead opt for a folky/chilled vibe.

  •  Garden by Wilsen
  •  Facing West by The Staves
  • Ingrid Michealson

Drink- 

  • Red wine.
  • Gin and rose lemonade.


 Food-

  •  Cheese fondue with chorizo sausages!
 For your chance to win a bundle of Finish goodies including rinse aid just enter using the form below:) and tell me who would you invite to your ultimate dinner party in the comments below!



a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

*Products provided by Finish but words my own

Brighton: Supporting local this weekend.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

It's another long weekend this weekend, fingers crossed the sun will be shining because there's a bucket loada funtastic stuffs occurring by the seaside.....

Foodies festival


If you saw my recent competition, you'll know that this weekend is the 10th anniversary of Foodies Festival! I haven't quite decided which day i'm popping down yet but fingers crossed i'll get to try some local goodies too! Cheese and cider please!

Children's parade


Each year Brighton Festival kicks off with the children's parade, which is exactly what it sounds like but oh so much more! 5,000 Local children from clubs, schools and community groups attend dressed in costumes to celebrate an imaginative theme.  Previous years have included, alphabet letters, street names and cake! This year's theme is "Taking Flight", which I think is another well thought out theme to get those imaginations going-birds, Pegasus, spaceships, balloons, bugs, butterflies, .....So go along and cheer them on! You can find the route on the Brighton Festival website. 

Ivy pop up bookshop


To help kick start the beginning of Brighton Fringe festival, Ivy kids will be hosting a pop up bookshop right in the middle of the action on New road.  I'm particularly excited about popping to this after the children's parade to chat to Bernadette Russell.  Bernadette wrote the book I picked up from a shop in Lewes last Summer - Do nice, be kind, spread happy- you may remember I got a stamp with that saying on too.  I really love that style of book and Ivy Press do lots of similar style books, plus they're local too! Head here for inspiration, making, creating and dreaming! (You might also pick up a bargain from the range of discounts on offer too!).

Free comic book day 2015 at Dave's Comics


Head on down to my favourite comic book shop Dave's comics where you can pick up some free comics to celebrate Free comic book day! Whilst you're there have a look around, I defy you to come away empty handed.  I have fond memories of this day two years ago when I ran through the middle of the Children's parade in order to get our free comic pack!

Is there anything else going on in Brighton this bank holiday weekend that I should know about? What are you doing this weekend? 

Travel: My #TransunLights holiday destination bucket list

Saturday, 25 April 2015

As I get older, I yearn more and more to travel, to experience life and forge memories.  I think having Ophelia has kick started this urge and I am desperate to give her the lived experience; teach her cultures, experience different climates and explore nature and the great outdoors:  

1. Aurora Borealis

Top of the list has got to be the Northern lights, the question becomes where? This elusive natural illuminating, green beauty, teases and likes a game of hide and seek, so a trip with the Aurora addicts across Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Finland would be a dream come true.  To hear the toddler "wow" when Aurora appears, or when she sees real life reindeer. To immerse ourselves in the traditions, bathe in hot mud lagoons, play in the snow,sledge, laugh, learn.  To experience mother nature in the purest of forms would be beyond captivating. Is there a better backdrop to learn about the stars and light a camp fire to toast marshmallows?        

2.Tianzi Mountains at Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China 


No that isn't a still from Avatar, that is a photo from Tianzi mountain nature reserve in China. China has previously never even made it on my (long) "To visit" list but this photo speaks of itself and may quite literally make you breathless.  Tianzi Mountain takes its name from a man, Xiang Dakun. He was the leader of the Tu ethnic group during the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 -1279). Xiang Dakun led a revolution and avowed himself as Tianzi (Son of Heaven).  On a clear day, the cable car views to the top must be both terrifying and once in a life time.  

3. Bavarian Forest. 



The Bavarian forest with it's tumbling streams and unspoiled beauty would be spectacular to visit by train from London, stopping at the woodcutters cottage for lunch.  Famous for King Ludwig the 2nd's "sleeping beauty" castle, I would love to geocache along one of the many hike routes, some of which are buggy friendly!  Neuschoenau has more than 40 species of animals including brown bears and lynx, not only would I love this but I think Ophelia would lose her shit! She loves animals (sadly her BFF animal-whale, is unlikely to be there) and I'm so keen for her to explore the textures, smells and sounds of nature outdoors. I think this one would be much more achievable in terms of fight length and cost! 


Where would your bucket list take you? If you blog about it, pop a link in the comments for me to read. 
 
If you fancy going to see the Northern lights, Transun are running a bloggers competition, all you need to do is write a blog post on your three travel bucket list destinations, tweet about it to @transun and #TransunLights, it closes on 30th April.


*Post written in collaboration with Transun

 

Merrydown fruit cider chutney

Friday, 24 April 2015


It doesn't  take a rocket scientist to know my love for cider (ER, HELLO name of the blog?!) but my love for chutney has been carefully concealed (unless you count making it for Christmas).  Truth be told, I LOVE a good spread, my bestest chum Scillian puts on THE. BEST. SPREAD and this usually includes divine shop brought chutneys with an outstanding turn out of cheesey, oozy goodness.  And do not get me started on cheese and wine. Anyhow! When Sussex cider makers Merrydown got in contact, the words CHUTNEY CIDER screamed at me louder than a hungry toddler. 

The challenge was to create a chutney using some of their cider.  I went a bit off piste with this one, I thought i'd try the fruit cider in the recipe- this was probably the best decision I have made to date.  The result? A gorgeously sweet, tangy and moreish chutney perfect for Summer picnics on the downs!

So without further ado, here is the ins and outs of my work of art.  Don't blame me if you find yourself eating chutney smothered brie slices for your dinner.  In no way did I do that.


Fruity Merrydown cider chutney recipe:



Ingredients- FYI I didn't measure so approximates are fine!
  • 400g apples, finely diced
  • 300g pears
  • 300g onions, finely chopped
  • 150ml cider vinegar
  • Half a bottle of Merrydown fruit cider (plus a little extra, if needed)
  • 175g honey
  • 150g prunes, destoned and chopped
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced


How to do it:
1.
Put all the ingredients into a large, heavy pan.
2.  Slowly bring to the boil. Lower heat. Simmer for 30 mins to 1 hr. Stir regularly. If it starts to dry out towards the end of cooking, trickle in a little more cider.
3. The chutney’s ready when it’s glossy, thick and nicely melded together, though you want to keep discernible pieces of fruit/veg throughout. To test it’s done; drag a wooden spoon through the pan. If it parts enough to reveal the base of the pan, it’s done.

4. Place in sterilised jars with plastic-coated screw-top lids while it’s still warm.

*Cider gifted from Merrydown cider