Playing Tourist with London Duck Tours

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I’m a big fan of London, and visit whenever I can – especially in Summer. So when I was asked whether I wanted to play tourist and go on a London Duck Tour, the answer was a resounding YES!

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I’d heard of Duck Tours before but wasn’t really sure what they were, having just seen the big yellow boat-like vehicles cruising through the streets of London. I was definitely intrigued. Me and hubby arrived at the Southbank on the day of our tour, and basked in the gorgeous sunshine until our transport arrived.

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The DUKW vehicles (affectionately referred to as Ducks and painted an appropriate yellow) are so-called thus: D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942, U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious), K = Front wheel drive, W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle). These vehicles were used to carry supplies and were most suited for this due to being able to go on both land and water. Fitted with a lovely roof, they are very accommodating on both grey and gloriously sunny days.

We hopped onto our Duck, Titania (all the Ducks are names after female characters from Shakespeare plays) and got comfy in our seats. Our tour guide Mark quickly gave us a brief of the journey ahead and then we were off!

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The tour started in Waterloo, then Westminster;

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Parliament Street, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly;

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Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace, MI5 and Lambeth Bridge before splashing down into the Thames next to MI6.

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We then travelled by water past the Tate Gallery, underneath Lambert Bridge and then turned around beside the Houses Of Parliament before heading back to dry land. Back on solid ground, we passed through the Vauxhall area and then back towards Waterloo.

Considering I’m a regular visitor to London, it was great learning so much about places I’ve seen many times, as well as noticing things I’ve never seen before and travelling through parts of the city I’ve never seen. I even learned that the Thames isn’t as dirty as I’d once thought, and its only the colour it is due to the constant churning of clay and soil on its bed. Who knew?! (Well, obviously Mark, our guide knew….)

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I loved the tour. Our guide was informative, funny and really knew his stuff. I honestly felt like I was on holiday, and the time we spent on the water was so relaxing!

I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to take this tour. I’ve seen that London Duck Tours also do themed tours including James Bond and D-Day. I might have to look those up! I visit London so frequently it’s so easy to forget about the landscape and history surrounding you in such a fast-paced environment. I LOVED playing tourist!

I was given the opportunity to take this tour for free by London Duck Tours, but at under £30 per adult ticket I’d say it’s worth every penny, for such a unique way to see and learn about London. You can find out more about their tours, and buy tickets and vouchers here, at their website London Duck Tours

Have you ever been on one of these tours, or even one of their themed tours? I’d love to know what you thought. Leave me a comment below, and tell me about it!

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I was given two tickets to the London Duck Tours for free, in return for my honest review of the experience. All views are my own and totally unbiased. If you like the look of the tours, go try one and see for yourself!

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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This past couple of weeks has been filled with glorious sunshine and warm weather (for the most part!) It meant I’ve been able to get stuff done and generally feel more productive just because they weather has put me in such a good mood!

A couple of weeks ago I met up with a couple of friends, one of which I hadn’t seen in a LONG time and we sat in the pub garden and enjoyed the sunshine on what was, at that point, one of the hottest days of the year. The sun shone, the cider flowed and the bunting flapped in the breeze. It was bliss.

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Last weekend was Glastonbury festival, and I watch it every year. It holds a special place in my heart, being the place I met my husband and every year I watch and wish I was there. This year was no exception, and I really enjoyed what I saw on the TV, my highlights being Radiohead, Chic and The Foo Fighters – all of whom I’ve seen live before and all of whom never fail to impress.

In true honour of Glastonbury and Somerset, I had to have a few ciders during my watching time, and I picked this little beauty up from the supermarket just to try it.

 

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In true Role Models style, I like the idea of Jack Daniels more than I actually like the taste of it, so I was intrigued by the idea of Whiskey Cider. I have to say, I was very impressed. The whiskey takes the acidic edge of the cider, and the cider takes the burning from the whiskey away so they compliment each other beautifully. I need to pick up some more!

Last week wasn’t so warm, and we had some rain too, but it was a nice break in the humidity and a chance for me to get some decent sleep – which I didn’t really achieve, for one reason or another.

We were gifted some beautiful flowers are work, which helped to brighten the office even when it looked grey outside.

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Thankfully, this weekend the weather has picked up a little more, which was fortuitous because I had plans in London which wouldn’t have been all that great had it been rainy and grey. I’ll share more about what I was up to in a later post, but I will say (and I’ve said it many times before) that there’s nothing like London in the Summer sunshine. If you haven’t visited in the summer before, you really must add it to your travel bucket list.

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We spent the majority of our day by the Southbank, however we ventured off to Covent Garden and Soho, and had a lovely vegan lunch in Veggie Pret (the vegan brownies are the things dreams are made of!) followed by a stroll through China Town before we headed home.

I keep alluding to things on my twitter account, that I don’t want to jinx by telling everyone (fyi. not pregnant) and I’m hoping to be able to share things with you soon. I’ve put a lot of things on hold for the time being, but soon I’ll be back to my blogging/vlogging social media self (I hope!).

In the mean time, I hope you’re enjoying this gorgeous weather! Stay tuned for my upcoming post, on my trip to London. It’s a quacker! *wink wink*

London, Manchester and Carrying On

Just under two weeks ago I had a couple of days off work booked, because I was supposed to be seeing Ariana Grande at the O2. As you might know I’m a huge Ariana Grande fan and it was going to be the highlight of my summer.

I don’t need to tell you why the concert was cancelled, and I don’t want to go deep into my feelings about it here. We had a hotel booked (the Intercontinental O2, which is right next to the O2) and we’d paid already so we decided to go and have a couple of days in London in the sunshine despite the attack.

I’m really pleased we did. London in the sunshine is beautiful. Our room overlooked the O2 and we could see the people walking over the top of it – we were that close!

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We had a lovely time wandering around. We never really have the chance to just mill about, since we’re usually in London for a particular reason. Stands selling fresh fruit, juices and waffles pop up this time of year, and they look and smell so inviting.

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We ate dinner at The Diner, and I had this yummy corned beef hash.

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The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien and sat outside on Covent Garden markets – it was already too hot to sit in the sunshine, but we had a lovely warm breeze from our table.

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I won’t lie, the police presence was both reassuring and scary. I have an issue with guns, they make me nervous just by seeing them. I know they’re in capable hands in this circumstance but they can still be used in error. Besides that it was a lovely couple of days and a nice way to spend it in lieu of the events.

As I type this, the afternoon after the London Bridge attack, my heart is heavy once more. The Ariana Grande concert for Manchester is this evening, and I don’t suppose my eyes will stay dry. The whole situation is frightening and frustrating. No one knows how to behave in these kinds of situations and people are sensitive for varying reasons. Arguments are being caused because of people’s differing opinons in situations like this and no one knows what to do. No one feels in control. All we can do is do the right thing and continue to live our lives.

I’m glad we decided to keep our reservation in London and continue our day. London is beautiful in the sunshine, everyone was happy and it was lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves.

Glamour Beauty Festival, London

On the 11th March Sophie Kate and I headed to the Saatchi Gallery on London’s King’s Road for the Glamour Beauty Festival.

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Sophie won tickets on Pixi’s instagram competition and chose to take me along, so I was ecstatic. Not just to go to the event, but to finally get to meet Sophie!

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The weather was fantastic, and promised to be around 17c which made choosing an outfit a lot easier – no need for the bulky coat!

Our slot was in the morning so we arrived and got our wrist bands. The event covered three floors, with treatment stands in every room. In the first room was OGX and GHD. We grabbed some free samples of shampoo and watched people getting their hair braided and curled on both sides of the room.

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There were also a few good selfie opportunities!

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Across the hall was skincare, featuring fresh and Pixi. In here you could get a luxurious facial from any of the brands.

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Then to makeup, one floor up and as well as shopping for makeup you could have your makeup and eyebrows done professionally or get a manicure – all for free.

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The top floor was the theatre for talks and though we didn’t have time to attend one, we still wanted to pick up our goodie bags – worth a whopping £190!

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The event was great and there was a lot on offer, if you were prepared to line up for a while. I could imagine if you turned up hair undone and makeup free you could leave looking ready to attend London Fashion Week! Personally I’m not a fan of treatments, I like to do all those things myself, but you could really get bang for your ticket price if you spent the whole day there.

It was an awesome morning, and I’m really pleased I got to go! Thanks to Pixi Cosmetics for the tickets, and to Sophie for bringing me along! Same time next year?

 

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

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It’s been a busy few weeks and feels like I haven’t slowed down! With so much to do it’s important to plan in down time, and thankfully I feel like I’ve managed to book in some of that too!

Two weekends ago I spent a lovely evening with my Mum and Sister at a local pub for a girly meal. It was a really great evening, despite the waitress mixing up the drinks and telling us the alcohol was in the wrong one. Doh!

Then this weekend I had an awesome Five Guys on Friday evening, Saturday was spent in London, at the Glamour Beauty Festival. I met up with a fellow blogger Sophie Kate, who had won tickets to the event via Pixi Cosmetics and chose to take me along!

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The event was really great – we didn’t have much time due to prior engagements, so skipped on our talk, but got to see all the stands and grab our goodie bags. Stay tuned for a post dedicated to this event, coming soon!

There was also an awesome food market just outside the Saatchi Gallery that I had a little look at before heading off.

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After the event I met up with Gary and we headed to get some lunch at Bodeans in Soho. We love this place, as it’s really authentic BBQ, done right. The food is so good, and they have Key Lime pie on their desert menu – so we had to go there, really 😀

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After lunch we wandered towards Covent Garden, and Neal street as there was a store Brandy Melville I wanted to pop into. On the way we came across a really powerful women’s march, against male violence towards women. It was really wonderful seeing women of all colours, races and cultures marching together. Many of the banners spoke of first hand experience and really struck with me.

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Ironically after we’d been to Neal Street (where I bought I lovely grey and so so soft sweater at Brandy Melville) we came across a load of police standing by as a group of drunk, aggressive football hooligans threw cups of beer into the shoppers and made utter fools of themselves. After seeing the women’s march, to see this from these men was like seeing two polar opposites of human nature. It’s amazing how humans can be both so strong and inspiring, and so disappointing all at once. It was a really grounding experience.

We also popped into the Minalima store and exhibition in Soho. We’d been given a flyer when we saw The Cursed Child, and hadn’t had the time to pop in, but it was great to see what they had in there. The building was 3 floors up, creaky floorboards and all, which really suited the theme.

After this we wandered around for a bit and then decided to head home because we had gotten up super early, eaten too much were really tired! It was a really awesome day. And once we’d gotten home I had a root through my goodie back from the festival, and OMG. You’ll have to check back for my post to see what I got!

I also posted my ColourPop video to my YouTube channel, so make sure you have a look if you are interested in seeing what I picked up. I’ve linked the video below.

The next few weekends are really busy too, so I don’t know whether I’ll have videos to go up for a couple of weeks. Next weekend is a family wedding, and then the following weekend I fly to Rome. The weekend after we’re off to Secret Cinema Moulin Rouge – Hopefully I’ll have video of some of that to go up afterwards.

In the meantime, keep up with me on instagram and twitter!

 

Shopping in London!

Recently I took a trip into London to have a little shop and walk around. It’d been a long time since I’d been to London on my own and I wanted to take advantage of having a good old browse in shops as I came across them.

I had a really good look in all the shops I wanted to and picked up everything from my list (and more!) I grabbed lunch in EAT and it gave me the chance to have a flick through my newly acquired copy of Blogosphere magazine.

A stopped into the Oxford Street Disney Store because I’d heard their Beauty and the Beast display was pretty special. You’ll have seen these (and the video I took) on my instagram if you follow, but here’s a few pics of the displays

That window in the centre photo had snow falling between the panes. So pretty!

I stopped into Forever 21 and almost bought a whole heap of tops I would never wear. The most tempting of all was this

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A Gudetama hoodie! It was way too expensive and had something written on the back so I didn’t buy it, but still – Gudetama!

But enough of what I didn’t buy, here’s what I did buy!

I picked up the Pixi Glow Tonic to replace the one I’ve just finished. I had to buy this in Liberty since Pixi in Carnaby Street were all sold out. I also picked up the Pixi Glow Mist. I bought a new Better Than Sex Too Faced mascara. I’m giving it one more try since the last one I bought appears to have been a dud – always clumping and flaking from the start. Fingers crossed this one’s okay, because no one I’ve spoken to has this same issue.

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From a store called & Other Stories I bought this gorgeous mermaid toned nail polish called Liquid Sky and two pairs of the prettiest earrings.

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Again, from Liberty I picked up the C.O. Bigelow Cold and Flu Soak as a gift for Gary. We saw this a while back but didn’t buy it. Then when we went back to get it they’d sold out. Liberty is the only place in the UK that stocks this brand and we assumed we were out of luck. Then when I saw it on this trip I knew I had to buy it! I also picked up a Kikki K magnetic meal planner, and of course the Blogosphere magazine.

It was a really fun trip, finished off with a fun meal at the Rainforest Cafe with Gary after he’d finished work (we were having Disney withdrawals!).

All in all I spent slightly over what I’d budgeted, but it’s all in the fun, right?….. eek!

December Favourites

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And here we are, all of a sudden, at the end of the year! So, it’s only fitting that I do my December favourites, right?

This December I was lucky enough to receive a Liberty London advent calendar as a gift from my husband, which meant that every day leading up to, and including, Christmas Day I received a little gift from the Liberty beauty hall. It was an amazing gift and exciting every single day to open the huge drawer and see what was inside. I’m not even joking when I say the cost of the calendar was paid for in product a few times over. So needless to say, some of the items I’m talking about this month were a result of this calendar, however I’m only talking about things I have loved and been using regularly.

It was a fantastic experience because I’ve been able to try brands and products I would never have tried otherwise. A resounding success, I’d say!

Let’s start with these products:

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The Votary Facial Oil came to me pretty early on in the month so I’ve been able to give this quite a few tries. I have combination skin with an oily t-zone so the idea of putting oil on my face seems really backward. But that being said, I’ve been totally converted to oil in my hair despite having a greasy scalp, so I was willing to give this a try. I use this after doing a proper cleanse in the evening. You drip 4 drops onto your hand and then lightly move it over your clean, dry skin and finally tap what’s left on your hands onto the under-eye area. I have found that this isn’t greasy, sinks in fairly fast and doesn’t leave me oily. It also smells gorgeous which is lovely. I feel like I’m giving myself a real treat when I use this, and I look forward to using it more!

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The Aveda Hand Relief cream has found its place in my handbag as my go-to every day hand cream when I’m out and about. The rosemary mint scent was a little odd to start with but I actually really enjoy it now. It offers long lasting moisture and sinks in fast which is what I need when I’m not at home.

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As you know, I’m always looking for something to fix my ever-dry lip issues, especially in the winter. I got this C.O. Bigelow rose salve and I’ve been adoring it. It’s basically fixed all my problems (well maybe) – it smells amazing, is hydrating, and when I use this I can go ages before my lips feel dry again. It’s also perfect for tapping onto my lips if I’m wearing lipstick and I feel like I need a moisture boost. I’ll be re-buying this!

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And lastly from the advent calendar was this Skin Laundry face wash. Rubbing this over my face for 60 seconds and then washing it off leaves my skin feeling so clean but not stripped or dry. I even think it might be helping to clear a little of my redness and texture. We’ll see, but so far I love it, and I’ve used it quite a lot and barely made a dent in this little bottle! Yay!

Next, we’ll move onto a couple of items I purchased at the end of November and have loved using in December.

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I made an E.L.F order and have been really pleased with some of the items I got. I picked up a new blush in Twinkle Pink which has been said to be a dupe for the NARS Orgasm blush. I’ve not seen the NARS blush in person, but I wasn’t expecting the ELF blush to be so glittery. I’ve tried to capture some of the fallout in the photo but it just didn’t translate.

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Needless to say, I kept this for the Christmas season when it’s okay to be glitter drenched, but I’m not sure I’ll be wearing it outside of party season. Either way I really enjoyed how it looked, and it wasn’t too sparkly once I had it on (or at least I don’t think it was!!)

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Next from ELF was this under eye setting powder. A teeny tiny pot, which came with a little brush (though I’m not sure how you would use a teeny brush so I’ve been using a fluffy setting brush as normal) I really like this finely milled powder and as long as you use the tiniest amount, it sets my under-eye area without drying, looking cakey or settling into fine lines. It’s a win!

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Lastly for makeup is a product I’m so glad I found out about. It’s changed my makeup life completely and I can’t believe no one really talks about it. The NYX Pro Foundation Mixer in white is a must have for anyone who is a little pale, or likes to change up their foundations between seasons. You just need a teeny amount, mix it into your foundation and it’ll correct the shade. I have been able to buy foundation not worrying if it’s slightly off colour, or wear foundation I’d usually save for the summer. It doesn’t change the consistency or wear of your foundation and it makes it totally customisable. I think it was about £7.50 which is a steal – go buy it!

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I was lucky enough to receive a brand-new iPhone for Christmas from G Man, to replace my 2.5 year old iPhone 6. He knew I had fallen in love with the iPhone 7 Plus camera, and surprised me with one on Boxing Day, when we went into the Apple store to look for something else. I am over the moon with it, and have very quickly gotten used to the size of the handset. I can never go back!

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Last for December, I need to tell you about this fantastic back pack I treated myself to at the start of the month. Knowing that I had fallen in love with the idea of a backpack for a handbag, since coming back from Disney World, I had been looking for the perfect one. But none of them fit the bill, so I put out a request for help on twitter, and my good friend Bushra told me about Knomo London. I’d never heard of them but had a look, and within a couple of days I’d placed an order.

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Knomo specialise in bags and purses for technology. The one I chose is a small backpack with a padded back pocket perfect for an iPad, as it offers the right size and protection. I don’t have an iPad but the sections, pockets and the size of the pockets is perfect. It even fits my iPhone 7 plus perfectly. The fabric is water resistant and wipeable and even with all my stuff inside, once it’s on my back it doesn’t feel like it has anything in it. It also doesn’t look like it has lots inside, which I appreciate AND it fits my vlogging camera inside. It’s all kinds of awesome. Go check Knomo out!

So, that’s it for another year of favourites. Stay tuned for my 2016 favourites round up!

Fun Times at Winter Wonderland!

Last weekend we headed to Hyde Park in London for the annual Christmas fair, Winter Wonderland.

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The intention had been to go the previous day but despite it being mild weather it rained hard all day. I’m so glad we waited because the weather was lovely the following day and even though it was colder, the sun shone brightly!

When we arrived at Hyde Park the line to get into Winter Wonderland was huge, but we walked a little further down the path to a different gate, and walked right in (pro tip!)

We headed to the Bavarian Village section first, because that’s where the best food is, and I was hungry! Every year I get the same thing. German sausage, potato dumpling with gravy and hot spiced red cabbage. It took a little while to find it this time around as they’d extended the Bavarian Village section massively, but I followed my nose and found the correct stall.

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The food was yummy as always, and after eating we had a little further look around the area. I was pleased to see the inside tent still there, with live singers on stage performing Christmas hits.

I got some mulled wine too 🙂

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The village wasn’t too busy at this point but it was getting more and more packed by the minute! For some reason they felt it important to correctly sign post EVERYTHING!

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The fairground rides this year were awesome. There was a fantastic looking rollercoaster, big wheel and haunted house.

Gary grabbed some sweetcorn to munch on which looked amazing.

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We had a little look around some of the craft stalls and then headed out of Hyde Park.

We wanted to see the Christmas lights on Oxford Street and I had to nip into some of the shops. If I hadn’t already been in London I wouldn’t have dreamt of going to Oxford Street at Christmas time. It was PACKED. But I’m really glad we did. We headed to Liberty and just as we walked in a choir started singing ‘Carol of the Bells’ which is one of my favourite carols. I’m so pleased we went in when we did!

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Heading home, shattered, but happy, the sunset was awesome and it was a lovely end to a perfectly festive day!

I also vlogged this trip so make sure you check out the video, even if it’s just to see the sunset at the end!

Jurassic Park In Concert

A couple of weeks ago Gary and I went to The Royal Albert Hall to see Jurassic Park In Concert.

As huge fans of the film it was great to go to this venue and see John Williams’ score performed by a live orchestra.

We’d been to a few similar events previously (Back to the Future, Pixar, Brief Encounter) so knew what to expect, but I’d forgotten we’d got box tickets which was a nice surprise.

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At events like this it’s easy to forget the orchestra are playing alongside the film, and I really think that’s a compliment to the orchestra, since you totally forget that something unusual is happening and that the music is coming from people actually playing in front of you.

The music to Jurassic Park is so classic and impactful that it was really nice to sit and watch them play. Lovely to focus on parts of the music I like in particular and see the different sections making the sounds I’m so familiar with!

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I love seeing musical performances at RAH and always love having a good look at the discs on the ceiling, which I like to call smarties. They’re to aid the acoustics but I think they just look so pretty! I actually performed at the Royal Albert Hall in a choir singing Carmina Burana, as a child, so it has a special place in my heart!

It was a really lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and I managed to get some wear out of my Jurassic Park t-shirt from Universal Studios 😀

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

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A few weeks ago Gary and I were lucky enough to go and see the Harry Potter play, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.

We had bought our tickets a whole year before when they were first released and had been avoiding hearing anything about it ever since.

For those who don’t know, this play is set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts and is shown in two plays. We managed to get tickets to the Sunday matinée and also evening performance so we could see parts one and two on the same day.

They’re actually very good about encouraging people not to go about blabbing the secrets of the show (she blogs…) and when you leave the theatre after the first part, they hand out badges stating #keepthesecrets (free merchandise, whoop!)

I’d never been to a play set in two parts before, and it was really nice going in for the second part, sitting in the same seats and being able to get straight back into the story.

So what did I think? The show was absolutely awesome. Within minutes I found myself agog with wonder. I knew there’d be talk of magic but didn’t expect to witness real magic. I kid you not, this is an impressive show.

And something I’d forgotten prior to seeing the play was that Imogen Heap scored the plays. As a huge fan of her work I found hearing her music, which is obviously hers, wonderfully comforting surrounding a world of narrative I was so familiar with.

The casting was spot on, and especially Anthony Boyle playing Scorpius Malfoy who was, for me, the star of the show.

I hadn’t bought my copy of the book before I went to see this, but picked it up the next day. I was so glad I knew nothing of the plays before I saw them, because now when I read the book I can see the staging in my mind’s eye.

If you can manage to get hold of tickets to see these plays, and you’re a Harry Potter fan, do it. Seriously. You won’t regret it.