F.R.I.E.N.D.S Fest 2017 - Clissold Park, London

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Back in May I bought tickets for Dan & I for F.R.I.E.N.D.S Fest 2017. I'd seen it advertised on the new home of F.R.I.E.N.DS., Comedy Central, and read up on previous years events and knew we had to go! Like most millennials we love F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and I, for one, could watch every episode on repeat. I'm not ashamed to admit I'm one of those people who know most episodes word for word.


I expected it to be something similar to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour, but as it is a pop up event in a park I imagined it would be in a make shift studio.
It actually turned out that F.R.I.E.N.D.S Fest was set up just like a festival; there was a big stage in the centre playing clips from the show, surrounded by deck chairs and there were booths with photo opportunities around the edges; Central Perk, Ross and Rachel's Vegas Chapel, the opening titles sofa, Phoebe's grandma's cab and more. Thankfully the weather was dry or it would have been a bit of a washout.

There were also various food carts around; 'My Sandwich' where you could buy the sandwich Ross has a literal break down over (including the famous 'moist maker'), the 'MoonDance Diner' which served burgers, fries and the like, 'Mockolate' - serving mockolate crepes, waffles and more, as well as a pop-up 'Chick and Duck' bar, offering cocktails and mocktails. They were all quite pricey, as expected, but it was a fun touch to have themed food rather than your standard fast food carts.

When you buy your ticket you are also asked to book a studio tour time slot  (this is included in the price of the ticket), I wasn't really sure what this was but 4:40pm was the earliest available so I selected that one and thought I would wait to see what it was all about once we arrived - unfortunately we were severely disappointed.

We were promised 10 minute tours of Joey and Chandlers Apartment as well as the famous hallway and 10 minutes in Monica's apartment in small groups so we could have the chance to explore, test out the sets and snap pictures. It wasn't like that at all. We were pushed into the set - New York apartments of course, so not very big - in a group of around 30 people and it was literally 20 minutes of mad panic trying to push your way onto the lazy boys, or onto Monica's sofa for a crappy photo op with tons of bodies in the background. It was just chaos and we ended up with very few photos that were just mediocre - you'll see from my pictures above. I was so deflated. It was brilliant to see the sets in person but unfortunately most of it was seen through our phone screens as we blindly panicked to get pictures of everything before the ridiculously short time slot ran out.

10 minutes would be plenty of time to look around if the groups were of 10 people, but it just didn't work with such a big crowd and was so disappointing.

We visited Central Perk for a few more photo opportunities and to sit for a coffee. You could pose in front of the coffee shop window, stand behind the counter with various pastries and mugs, sit on the gangs couch and play the guitar that made Smelly Cat a Central Perk sensation. There were staff on hand to snap your pics for you but unfortunately they either hadn't had much training or just couldn't be bothered because once again you were rushed through everything and the photos were shoddy.
Granted the photos were just taken on the phone you handed them but you can see from the couch photo below that they just weren't paying attention - half of the sofa is cut out and there is no background, we could have been sat anywhere, and believe it or not this was our second time round as we thought the first photos we had done were bad. We would have asked for it to be done again but no sooner had your bum hit the couch then you had to be up and out again. I cant imagine what it would be like on a weekend.
I took the photo of Dan on the guitar, and I'm certainly no pro but at least I got a bit of context in it with the Central Perk logo.
It's little things like this that really make a difference, for me anyway. I wanted to be able to look back on these photos and smile, not remember how disappointed I felt.

Although this has seemed like a pretty negative post we did have a fairly nice time. We enjoyed wandering around together and looking at the goodies in the gift shop. We liked sitting in the pop up Central Perk and drinking a coffee. We loved sitting on the deck chairs watching the funniest clips from the show and admiring a rather brilliant Phoebe tribute. It was fun to see people learning 'the routine' and there was a happy atmosphere around. It was a good day, but not one that I would be in a hurry to relive should the event be on next year. 
F.R.I.E.N.D.S Fest had the potential to be brilliant but there were just too many little things that let it down. I would have loved to see more props from the show, and just be allowed more time to enjoy what was on offer rather than it being a one-in-one-out affair.

One thing is for sure, I now need a Hugsy in my life!

MUA Fire Vixen; The perfect Autumn palette

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Autumn is on its way, and with that comes my unstoppable urge to prepare for the season; I'm talking clothes shopping; sweaters, hats, cord skirts and new boots - and of course, makeup. Autumn calls for fiery reds, earthy browns and metallic hues and little did I know I'd stumble across the perfect palette when shopping in Superdrug recently.

I hadn't been on the lookout for a new palette (in fact I'd just bought myself the MUA  'Rusted Wonders' mini palette), but that changed when my eyes spotted the MUA Fire Vixen palette. My heart skipped a little and before I knew it I was carrying it along the high street in a little pink bag. It was fate - that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

In true MUA form, this little palette is ultra affordable. Just £5. It features 15 highly pigmented and blendable shades in a variety of finishes; matte, pearl and metallic which layer together perfectly for the ultimate autumn wear.

The warm tones in the palette make my green eyes pop and when used with a primer I have found that the shadows really stay put until removal at the end of the day, which is very impressive considering the pricing. I had expected this from MUA though as I've loved other products in their line, so I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed in this palette.

Another touch that I was pleased to see on this palette was that each shade has a number (check the back of the palette to find these), this might seem like something small but it really does make things easier when applying - or if you're a blogger wanting to clearly reference a certain shade. I personally have been loving using shade 8 as a perfectly autumnal inner corner highlight.

You can pick up this bargain palette from the MUA online store or in Superdrug right now.

Why I Have an Affinity for Comics

Monday, 24 July 2017

Flashback to 2008. I took my seat to watch Christopher Nolans 'Batman; The Dark Knight' for the twelfth time at the movies - literally. I think that's where it all started, my love for comics and the comic book world.
I loved the exhilaration of seeing a bad guy taken down and defeated (and sometimes thriving!), I loved the thrill of a regular, everyday person standing up for the little guy; sometimes you just need to believe there are people like that in this scary world of ours.

I wanted to learn more. I spent my time delving into to the world of endless possibilities; of impossibly rich tycoons creating suits of power, and ultimately destruction, of time travellers finding their way onto other crazy planets, of people who had been done wrong rising the ranks and doing something about it. This was about the time that the MCU (Marvel cinematic universe) exploded onto our screens and rapidly expanded; and so did my love of all things involved in it.

These days you'll often find me daydreaming in a comic book store (Southampton Comics at the Loft Ladder is my fave), flicking through the issues on offer, painstakingly deciding which ones will come home with me. Or I'll be on my bed, leafing through page after page, absorbing their stories, imagining I might be part of it all, drifting off to worlds unknown and wishing I could stay there just one more minute when reality kicks back in. I'll spend an evening sat on the edge of my seat watching a dramatic story play out in front of my eyes for the millionth time but still relishing every moment.The characters; heroes and villains, their back stories, the adventures, the elaborate costumes. Everything about a comic draws me in.

Theres something about coming across a new character too, it ignites a spark in me and I cant put it out. This happened a lot for me recently when Netflix began producing their own shows for some Marvel favourites; Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. 
I tended to stick with what I knew, the bigger heroes; Spider-Man, Iron Man and the like, but discovering these new people was just exhilarating, a breath of fresh air. I learned there was more to being a hero than wealthy parents or an expensive suit, and I fell in love all over again.

We (Dan and I) started attending comic cons and I learned that there were others like me - lots of them - with a deep passion for adventure and seeing the world through a different set of eyes, and I felt free. We could discuss plot theories and shop merchandise until our hearts were content. We'd dress up (or cosplay) and photograph the pure skill and effort people put into these events. 
I had often thought of comic book readers as lonely - I think there's a kind of stigma around like that, but I was oh-so wrong. This is a welcoming group of people. People who can become friends in a matter of hours and who are accepting, people who will encourage you and lift you up without judging. I think thats what made me love this world even more and I cant wait to attend our next con in October.
Im still relatively new to all of this, and thats whats exciting; there is a never ending amount of stories left for me to discover. Worlds I haven't yet touched and people I haven't yet met.

Whether you love comic books, novels or even home decor books; I encourage you to read. It is such a beautiful form of escapism. You can use your imagination to delve into an unknown place and really explore it. You won't regret it!

The Addams Family Musical Comedy

Friday, 21 July 2017

Prepare for a night of ultimate spooky kookiness when you take your seat to watch the spectacular Addams Family Musical Comedy! I was recently invited along to the Mayflower Theatre Southampton to enjoy this visionary show along with the wonderful Southampton Bloggers crew, and I seriously could not have loved it any more.

We took our seats. Dim lighting. The stage set for mischief and quirky adventures galore. Towering walls surrounded the stage, aged to perfection with eerie light creeping through fallen slats, the ultimate stately home complete with intimidating gate. Every detail of the set was immaculately thought through. The only way to top such an atmosphere was when the orchestra broke out into that oh-so familiar Addams family theme tune. Smiles spread and hands clapped and snapped along - we were well and truly ready for action!

Well loved characters made their way onto stage; Morticia (Eastenders own Samantha Womack), Gomez (Cameron Blakely), Uncle Fester (an almost unrecognisable Les Dennis), Pugsley (Grant McIntyre) and Wednesday (Carrie Hop Fletcher) - every inch of them dressed for the occasion in some of the most gorgeous and somewhat flamboyant costumes I've seen. They sung with voices oozing west-end power and had us hanging on every word. The songs were infectious, vibrant and full of feeling - and have already made their way onto my Spotify playlist! There's just something about hearing a grand orchestra playing live music; it pumps through your chest and makes you feel so alive.

The story is set around everyone's favourite little princess of darkness, Wednesday Addams, who is all grown up and has fallen in love for a normal boy from a respectable family! No way! She confides in her dearest daddy, Gomez, begging him not to tell his treasured wife before they throw a dinner to help the two families successfully mix - but do things go to plan? I wont spoil it for you!
Of course, in true Addams family style, the story is full of twists and turns, and plenty of hilarious one liners! The audience were involved in every scene, I sat on the edge of my seat, and clapped my hands to my mouth numerous times, and as the curtain came down at interval I just couldn't wait for more.

Gomez was a standout to me, his character was incredible; pure crazy, but brilliant! His songs were catchy and, sometimes, raw. He was full of one liners - he had us laughing from start to finish, but he also showed his family man side, constantly torn between the two loves of his life; his daughter, and his wife - he just couldn't win, but it was so funny to watch him try!

The show was just an all round heart-warming, feel good piece perfect for people of ages - it would make a great family night out! Produced with the audience and their love of the original Addams family in mind, it was everything you could have hoped for and more. You can catch a performance at the Mayflower until 29 July before the show moves on, continuing its tour right through November. You can also find the full schedule on The Addams Family - A Musical Comedy website.

I had such a fantastic night with the Southampton Blogger Girls, and want to thank The Mayflower Theatre so much for putting on such a brilliant show! You can check out what else is coming up through the Mayflower Theatre's website, I know I will be!

*Tickets were provided in exchange for a review of this show but all thought and opinions are my own. Some images also courtesy of the Mayflower Theatre.

Babe the Sheep-Pig at the Nuffield Theatre Southampton

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A trip to the theatre is a special occasion. You get dressed up, indulge in some treats, flick through your progamme and take a seat waiting in anticipation for the spectacle to begin. It has been some time since I last went to the theatre, but it made this outing all the more magical, as did the fact that this was Elias' first time.

On Tuesday evening we strolled down to the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton and took our seats to watch the new family-friendly show 'Babe the Sheep-Pig'. This is a tale which I enjoyed as a child and I was excited to bring it into Elias' world too.

The stage was set fantastically; a sheep pen, a grand old barn ,various hay bales and county fair Sheep Dog Trial posters lined the walls when suddenly a 'sheep' edging its way into the centre of it all caught my eye, it was bleating and baa-ing-  much to the children's delight. I could hear them giggling with excitement through all the stalls. More sheep joined, clumsily bumbling around the set, making for great pre-show entertainment.

As the lights (or stars as Elias insisted on calling them) went down and I watched his eyes light up with wonder,it brought a tear to mine.
The costumes in this production were charming - a multitude of fabrics and items carefully crafted to truly bring the animal characters to life. A personal favourite was 'fly' the sheepdog, her raggedy 'fur' hung perfectly down her back all the way to her fluffy tail. And Mr and Mrs Hogget had the chubbiest prosthetic cheeks you've seen, out-done only by their thick Somerset accents

Then came the puppets , and they were truly something else.
I was aware that Babe was a puppet in this performance, but I had no idea that there would be others included too; that was until 3 puppies bounded onto the stage causing mischief and laughing boisterously. They were simply adorable, and, truthfully, I wanted to take them home!
The puppetry was done so well that honestly I forgot I was watching puppets throughout, their blinking eyes and lifelike limb movements really brought the tale to life and it was as if these animals were really there, in front of your eyes, chatting amongst themselves and living out these adventures.
I can only imagine how magical it must have been through the children's eyes.

Every now and then I looked over at Elias' and he'd point at the stage with sparkly eyes and cheerily shout 'Yeah! Yeah!' (one of his few words) through mouthfuls of Milkybar buttons, clearly loving everything about the experience.
Accompanying the story was a brilliant set of catchy songs and original music. The audience was invited to join in with one chant in particular, encouraging a feeling of excitement and tension to the story, leaving you feeling as if you were a part of what you were seeing - it's touches like that which make a theatre trip memorable.

Of course, to balance out the happy-go-lucky parts of the story where animals were singing and laughing together, there had to be the tense moments too. These were executed perfectly, keeping them appropriate for families while still demonstrating that something not-so-nice was happening. I wont spoil anything, but the 'wolf' scene was particularly striking; a giant costume denoted a sense of fright, while low lights helped to add an atmosphere without terrifying young children, even at the tender age of two Elias understood what was happening with the odd 'Oh-No' and without crumbling into frightened tears.

The performance started at 7pm and after a short interval at around 7:45, where theatre-goers were able to buy those adorable mini tubs of ice cream and quickly take children for a bathroom break, the story concluded at around 8.45pm. This was very well thought out and the ideal length of time to expect the younger members of the audience to sit and watch intently.
I was very impressed at how geared towards families this play was; although it is of course a family tale, the producers got it so right in terms of condensing the story and keeping the stage clear of clutter and miscellaneous objects. Everything was perfectly and strategically done to make for a magical and memorable time - there was even an area set up in the theatre restaurant where family pictures could be taken sat on hay bales and surrounded by 'Babe' production posters. We took a picture and it will make a lovely keepsake.

We thoroughly enjoyed this performance and happily it is set to tour the UK until October 2017, so that families everywhere can enjoy it. It will finish up in Southampton on June 4th, so there is still plenty of time to book tickets. You can find a full list of performance times on the Nuffield Theatre website - there are afternoon and evening time slots available!
In honesty, I was a little worried about taking Elias' to the theatre as toddlers do have a reputation for having some-what short attention spans, but I needn't have worried as there were plenty of other families in the same boat, meaning everyone was understanding and accepting that children don't always do what they're supposed to! Attending this performance has given me confidence to take Elias to the theatre again, he enjoyed it so much and we had such a lovely time together! I encourage anyone, with or without children, to take a trip to the theatre to see this production; its fun-filled and heart-warming - you won't regret it!

* Photographs were not permitted in the theatre, so some images used here are official ones.
*Tickets were gifted to me for this performance but opinions are all my own.

A/W17 Lust List

Thursday, 18 May 2017

It might just be getting to Summer here in the UK but what with the wet, windy weather this week I have been dreaming of those Autumn days (who am I kidding? I am ALWAYS dreaming of autumn days!) and decided to put together a little lust list. I usually tend to start my A/W shopping around this time of year as you can often pick up good bargains, particularly online. It's a no brainer!

Crochet Top (£19.99) / Fray Hem Jeans (£27.99) / Earrings (£4.99) / Mules (£29.99) / Fedora (£12.00)/ BugBag (£18.00) 

I just love to wear hats in the Autumn. Yes, I'm one of those girls. I thought the cuteness of this gorgeous crochet top was complimented perfectly by a pair of grungier frayed jeans and a good ol' pair of mules finished, of course, with the autumn staple - the fedora. This is an ideal outfit for those warmer autumn days, just before winter arrives and the bug accents add that perfect finishing touch.
Cord Skirt (£16.00) / Shirt (£19.99) / Leaf choker (£7.99) / Boots (£29.99) / Bag (£16.00) / 

Yes, more bugs. I'm thinking they're gonna be one of my go-to motif's this Autumn! 
Don't you think this blouse teams perfectly with this cord mini? You could easily dress this outfit up for the office, as well as for shopping trips or date nights. The jewel tone boots will work perfectly with seasonal colours and the fluffy over the shoulder bag is an ideal size for all of your necessities, as well as bringing a mix in textures. 

Blouse (£32.00) / Ripped Jeans (£40.00) / Boots (£20.00) / Nail Polish (£3.99) / Teardrop ring (£45.00) / Crescent moon ring (£25.00) /

An AHS; Covent inspired outfit now featuring moonstone, ripped jeans and the most beautiful zippered, chunky heeled boots. The embroidery on this billowing blouse is just darling, especially when pulled together with a loose braid and dark, berry nails.

Shearling Jacket (£22.00) / Kick-Flare Jeans (£18.00) / Sock Boots (£12.00)

I absolutely love a bit of 70's styling in the autumn - I practically lived in it last year, so keeping with that vibe I picked out these kick-flare jeans, they're a more casual take on true flares and look fabulous with a pair of good boots, like these sock boots. I have also fallen in love with this shearling jacket, the colour is beautiful and its a bargain at £22.00

Bring on Pay-Day!

GIVEAWAY - Family tickets to see BABE The Sheep- Pig at the Nuffield Theatre

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Thinking back to my childhood I have some really fond memories of family trips and days out together; the zoo, the park - and the theatre. The theatre seems to ignite something in us that sets free our imagination, making us laugh, cry and, in some cases, scream 'he's behind you!'.

So, as you can imagine, I am oh-so pleased to be able to offer you, my lovely readers, the chance to WIN 4 tickets to see the stage production of the heart warming tale of Babe the sheep-pig at the Southampton Nuffield Theatre. This adorable story is perfect for all the family including themes like friendship, adventure and, of course, bravery. Children and adults alike will be enchanted by the story and its original music.

Babe is classic story written by Dick King Smith , which has now been re-imagined for the stage by the fantastically talented David Wood and Michael Fentiman. My little family and myself are going along to see the show on opening night in a couple of weeks and we are so very excited. The memory of a trip to the theatre lasts a lifetime.

I am making this giveaway super simple for all families to enter, so for your chance to win you simply need to visit my Facebook page where you can;

. Share the giveaway 

The Giveaway is open now and will close on Wednesday 24th May 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and will need to supply me with names, an email address, a home address and the number of tickets needed. Performances run from 30th May-4th June and you may choose which performance best suits you.
For now, you can get more info and watch the full trailer for the performance here to get you in the spirit!

Good Luck x

Lush Portsmouth Re-opening Event

Friday, 31 March 2017

If you know me well, or follow my social media you might know that I have a *slight*  LUSH addiction .. okay maybe its major but who's keeping score? So, as you can imagine I was thrilled to be invited along to the re-opening of the newly re-furbished LUSH in Portsmouth Cascades shopping centre. The store has benefited from being made more spacious and has had an improvement in the layout.
I pulled on my adorable bumble bee blouse and painted my lips ready for an evening of fun and excitement. Myself and Karen (from LifeofHearts blog) attended together on Thursday 23rd March a day ahead of the official opening and we were well and truly spoilt.

Upon arriving we were handed a glass of Prosecco each and treated to some divine vegan canapes provided by The Hungry Herbivores. There was everything from bruschetta with fresh tomatoes to the most flavoursome banoffee pie puddings you've ever tasted. As we stuffed our faces we wandered around the fabulous, spacious new store, marvelling at each jam-packed shelf, filled bath and skin care treats in every colour of the rainbow.
LUSH Portsmouth is, excitingly, the only store alongside the Oxford Street store to carry Easter eggsclusives - favourite products shaped as Easter eggs. And let me tell you, I'd happily skip out on my chocolate egg for any one of them.

The new re-fit was stunning. Fresh, clean, modern and vibrant; it was everything you'd expect from a even the flagship store. It was truly a feast for the eyes with fresh flowers and fruits lining the shelves along with LUSH products new and old displayed in the most creative ways, stacked up as far as the eye could see.
We watched demonstrations of bath bombs fizzing away leaving behind bowls of vivid colour and I couldn't help but dip my hand in, covering it in a plethora of colour and sparkles, looking like some kind of pop art. We trialled products with out-of-this world friendly, knowledgeable staff making our arms smell like a candy shop, sniffing them every now and again and feeling a million dollars; personal favourite - 'Scrubee'.

Browsing through the products there was an intoxicating atmosphere, people were smiling, laughing, cameras were flashing, various scents filled the air and up-beat music played, it was a truly happy place.
The cult fave Golden Egg Bath Bomb Melt from the Easter range was something I was hoping to get my hands on and, thankfully, there were stacks of them available. My fingers got covered with golden lustre as I popped one into a paper bag and I smiled thinking about how magical my bath would look with this in it.
Other stand out items from the Easter range were the adorable Bunch of Carrots Bubble Bar and the Which Came First Bath Bomb with a little surprise inside - I was kindly given one of these by a member of staff who saw my eyes light up when I saw it, but I won't spoil the surprise for you!

After spending more time talking with staff, learning as much as possible about the products and how they are made, and trying on some of LUSH's cruelty free makeup range we made our way to the tills and paid for our choices, kindly being handed a generous gift bag too. We left the gorgeous new store through the back entrance where another LUSH staff member asked us if we had a nice evening and handed us an extra bath bomb each for our gift bag. How kind!

We were well and truly spoilt at the LUSH re-opening event and I was so pleased to get the chance to see the new store in all its glory as well as learning so much about the products - I love to spend time in the store on shopping trips but its not always easy with an idle husband and toddler in tow, so I took full advantage of this time we were given.
If you are in the area then I'd highly recommend a visit to the new store. Take your time browsing and really take advantage of the knowledgeable staff there too, they are so friendly and always happy to demonstrate and answer questions. There is a much more relaxed vibe than before as the store is so much more spacious and welcoming, so you're sure to enjoy your time there.