Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon Book Review

It's been a little while since my last book review, which was Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon back in March, which to me feels like ages ago! I had every intention of posting more before now but life kind of took over and I had quite a big break from reading, well for me anyway given how many books I'd read since the start of the year. The ones I'd picked up since Everything Everything had also all left me a little disappointed too and some I even gave up on halfway through which I hate doing so I was just a bit meh about it all. Because of that I thought I'd try another book from one of my new favourite authors Jane Fallon. I've loved the last two books I've read from her, Tell Me A Secret and Faking Friends so I picked up Strictly Between Us and I had high hopes for it.
Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon book at an angle on pink patterned background
'Rumours, secrets and lies. It's all in a day's work. Tamsin and her best friend Michelle have been inseparable since they were teenagers. Even now they spend all their time together, along with Patrick, Michelle's handsome husband. So when Tamsin hears a rumour that Patrick is having an affair, she is furious. Unwilling to ignore it, Tamsin plots a scheme to catch Patrick in the act, using her assistant Bea as live-bait. It should be fool proof. After all, Tamsin can trust Bea with anything. From her daily coffee order to fetching her dry-cleaning, writing reports and doing all the filing - Bea does everything with a smile on her face. Except Tamsin never considered Bea might have her own agenda. And if she does, then Tamsin really needs to watch her back.'

My review

From the beginning I felt so invested in this story, despite not knowing what to think of the main character Tamsin. As you can tell from the synopsis, Tamsin takes it upon herself to try and catch her best friend Michelle's husband cheating after hearing several rumours. Straight away the way she went about things was a bit dubious and I didn't really think it was going to end up helping Michelle in any way. She then ends up making a huge mistake herself, within the first few chapters, so it was hard to feel sympathy for when things got difficult later on. That being said, the hate I felt for Patrick was on another level! How either Michelle or Tamsin ever thought he was a good man, I honestly don't know. I was willing throughout the whole book for him to get his comeuppance. One thing Jane always seems to do so well is write unlikable characters.

Speaking of unlikable characters, Tamsin's assistant Bea also wasn't to be trusted and we get a better insight into why when the two person narrative starts in the second half of the book. I actually liked being able to see her point of view too just to give the book a bit of a different spin and see the whole situation between Tamsin, Michelle and Patrick from another perspective. I do think this is when the book really started to pick up the pace and that's when I was really starting to think 'it's getting interesting now.'

From there I then ended up finishing the book in a matter of hours as I was just hooked by it. I genuinely didn't know where it was going to end. Tamsin had got herself in such a mess trying to do the right thing, as had both Patrick and Bea for other reasons, and Michelle was still none the wiser to any of it. There was always a thought in my head though that she had to find out at some point so I was just constantly tense waiting for that. I genuinely couldn't see how there would be a happy ending (not that every book has one but I prefer it when they do!)

Following on from that, I have mixed feelings about how it was rounded up. As much as Tamsin probably didn't deserve to go on and live a happy life as if nothing had happened, her intentions were good so I was a little disappointed that her story seemed to be going one way then went another right at the very end. It also left a little mystery around it all for Michelle and I'm not sure if I was in her situation that's what I'd have wanted, it did feel a bit like Tamsin, Patrick and Bea all didn't quite get what they deserved. It just didn't feel completely finished.

Overall though, I did really enjoy the book. I went back and forth on every character, as I'm sure you can tell by this rambly review but I like that it made me question things and wonder myself what I would do in Tamsin's situation. Jane is just a brilliant writer and every time I read one of her books it always makes me want to read another.

I'd love to know if you've read Strictly Between Us or any other books from Jane Fallon?

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Thursday, 25 April 2019

Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry Recipe

I'm on a bit of a roll at the moment with recipes and I am so happy about it. My blog primarily started out as a place for me to share recipes so despite swaying away from that for quite a while, I've really got my love for cooking back recently and it's meant I've been making loads of new meals that I want to share. If you haven't already seen, I've shared recipes for Posh Sausage and BeansChicken Biryani and also perfect roast potatoes over the last few weeks and today is all about a sweet potato and chickpea curry.
Rice on plate topped with sweet potato and chickpea curry, gold cutlery to right side
Ingredients: for 2 people
1 onion, finely diced
2 sweet potatoes
1 tin of drained chickpeas
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
Salt & pepper

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and line a baking tray with foil. Peel your sweet potatoes and chop into cubes, pour onto the tray, season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Give everything a good mix and then cook for around 50 minutes. Check on it half way through, tossing the sweet potato to ensure they cook evenly
2. While your sweet potato is cooking you can get started on everything else. Finely dice an onion and gently fry in a pan
3. When the onion has softened, pour in 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 tin of drained chickpeas, 400ml of chicken stock, 2 tbsp of curry powder, 1 tsp of cumin powder and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and leave to simmer for the time the sweet potato has left in the oven (around 40/45 minutes)
4. When the sweet potato is cooked through, add to the curry, mix well and check if it needs any extra seasoning and then serve!
Closeup of sweet potato and chickpea curry and rice
We had ours with rice and naan and it was so filling. The addition of chickpeas to anything like this is always a winner in my eyes. This is a great meal if you're trying to cut back on meat, or just want something a bit more budget friendly. A good one for leftovers too! You could even change up some of the ingredients if you're not keen on sweet potato. One of my favourite curries which I've not made for a while actually is potato and cauliflower so it really is one you can adapt and chuck in whatever you fancy!

Have you tried any new meals recently?

Other recipes - Sausage Cassoulet // Pizza Pasta Bake // Shepherds Pie

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Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Random Question Generator Q&A #2

A while ago I did one of those Random Question Generator Q&A's on my blog and I absolutely loved writing it. So, why not do another one? I had no idea what questions were going to come up so they're all just a bit random!
London Eye view from Westminster Bridge
What's the ideal way to celebrate your birthday?
I always dread my birthday a little bit so I like to keep it quite low-key. Maybe breakfast in bed then a trip to the cinema or out for a meal, followed by cake that evening. Going to see a show in London would be pretty perfect though!

What is your favourite drink?
Definitely not something alcoholic. I'm a fizzy drink addict, honestly it's so bad. I've definitely got better with it but you can't beat an ice cold glass of coke. Pretty much any pop. I do love fresh juice though too, so refreshing.

What is one thing you would change about your home?
Ooh I'm pretty happy with most of it now to be honest but our bedroom is the one room I walk into and feel a bit flat about. It's not awful, we've done our best with it but ideally I'd love a whole new load of furniture, a fresh carpet and a new colour on the walls. That's one room I really can't wait to make our own when we eventually move.

Do you prefer to travel far away or closer to home?
Closer to home. I love going away for weekend breaks or little holidays but the thought of being too far away just makes me anxious. There are so many places in the UK I'd love to visit one day and so many city breaks that aren't too far which are on my list. 

What was your least favourite subject in school?
Probably science. I didn't love maths either but science was something I could just never properly get my head around. I dreaded each lesson.

What's your favourite book?
How do I possibly choose?! I've read so many great books over the last few years so I might have to narrow it down to a few instead. The Tattooist Of Auschwitz by Heather Morris, Tell Me A Secret by Jane Fallon, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon and really anything I've read from Paige Toon has been a winner. 

If you were at home on a rainy Sunday afternoon, what film would you want to see on the TV?
Definitely Harry Potter. Those films always make me feel so warm and cosy and they just make me long for Christmas! I love when they're on the TV in Winter.

What are you most thankful for this year?
Our little puppy Bear. We'd wanted a dog of our own for so long, and so many times I felt it was never going to happen so to have him sat curled up on my lap while I write this just makes me want to cry. He is the best thing to happen to us.

What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Most things really but musicals are definitely my favourite. It's not often I'll put anything other than a musical soundtrack on when I want to listen to something.

What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
OMG I love all ice cream but you can't beat chocolate. Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie in particular is heaven.

I always love taking part in tags or Q&A's like this, and they're some of my favourite to read too. Feel free to use any of these questions if you want to take part in something like this too.

Similar posts - The PR Secrets Tag // 50 Questions You've Never Been Asked

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Tuesday, 23 April 2019

A Spring Beauty Haul

When a new season starts, I always like to treat myself to a few new bits. Whether that's clothes, makeup, homeware, or a little bit of everything, I just get a bit of an urge to shop! Over the last few weeks I've received a few PR bits and I've also picked a few things up myself so I thought it was about time for a little Spring haul.
flatlay - Sunkissed Jelly Tan to the left, Sally Hansen nail polishes in the centre, Soap and Glory face mask bottom right corner, flowery dish top left corner with Ecooking Skincare face cream on top

Sally Hansen Nail Polishes

A few weeks ago we popped to an outlet village for a little coffee date and a bit of shopping and I found a brilliant beauty outlet shop. So many big brands, product after product so of course I picked a few bits up, mainly nail polishes. I've been wanting to try some Sally Hansen polishes for ages but for the usual price of around £10 a bottle in places like Superdrug and Boots, I've just never wanted to take the risk. For that price I'd rather stick with brands I know and trust like Essie. Well I found so many gorgeous shades for £1.99 each! I picked up the shades 'Rose To The Occasion' which is a pastel pink, 'Peach Of Cake' which is a lovely coral shade and 'Hooked On Onxy' which is black, you can never have too many black nail polishes. I also picked up a Salon System Nail Lux Top Coat Polish as I seem to get through them so quickly.
Holding up Sally Hansen Rose To The Occasion Nail Polish. Background of stack of books with copper candle holder on top, eiffel tower statue in front, pink fluffy pillow in left hand side
Flowery dish in the centre with 3 nail polishes on top

Soap and Glory Pore Refine range*

I've been lucky enough to work with Soap and Glory a few times now and each time a parcel arrives, I get so excited. It's still mindblowing I'm one of the many bloggers they work with and it never gets taken for granted. This time the products I received are from the new pore refine range. The range contains a Foam Cleanser which lathers up beautifully with warm water, Blotting Sheets which are great for oily patches of skin and finally a new Sheet Mask, which you know I'm already a big fan of. I can't wait to use each of these more over the next few months, and I've already set aside the face mask for a little bit of self care this weekend.
flatlay - Soap and Glory Pore Refine range, foam cleanser, blotting sheets and face mask. Flowers in bottom left corner

Sunkissed Hydrating Jelly Tan*

Now, I never fake tan. I'm not sure I've ever really dabbled with it even when growing up it was something all the girls were doing, I just never wanted to and to be honest thought it would just be a mess if I tried. With Summer coming up though and the bouts of warm weather we keep having, it would be nice to have a bit more of a tan than I have now so I was thrilled to receive the new Hydrating Jelly Tan £13.99 from Sunkissed. I'd never seen anything like this before but the few times I have used it so far it's left a really lovely colour. I always worry with fake tan I'll end up overdoing it and not knowing what to do but this is just nice and subtle, and really easy to apply with the mitt provided.
Sunkissed Hydrating Jelly Tan in the centre. Pink fluffy pillow in the background on the left side, stack of books to the right with copper candle holder on top

L'oreal Elvive Shampoo & Conditioner

I've said many times before on my blog that I'm not usually fussy when it comes to my hair products. I'm usually fine with whatever is on offer but recently stress has been really affecting my hair which has therefore really affected my confidence and I was in desperate need of something to give it a bit of life back. Does anyone else find when they're stressed their skin and hair suffers? I usually have quite thick hair so for it to feel and look so thin actually really got to me. I wasn't sure what to try but I spotted the L'oreal Elvive Fibrology range for around £2.50 a bottle instead of £4.99, so I grabbed them. I can honestly say after just a few weeks they have made a huge difference. My hair feel thick again, it looks bouncy, it just feels refreshed and back to how it used to be. I think I'll end up sticking with both the shampoo and conditioner now as they really have worked wonders.
L'oreal Elvive Shampoo and Conditioner in the centre. Pink magazine underneath, flower dish in top right corner
So that's a few bits I've been using and trying out over the last few weeks. I've got a few skincare reviews coming up soon so keep an eye out if you're after some new recommendations!

Have you tried any of the products/ranges I've mentioned?

This post contains PR samples. Affiliate links used in this post

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Friday, 19 April 2019

My Perfect Roast Potatoes Recipe*

So, I say this is 'my' perfect roast potatoes recipe but I originally got this recipe from Jamie Oliver a few years ago. It was around Christmas so I was planning everything we needed for the main event and I really wanted the roast potatoes to be amazing, the star of the show, anyone else think they're the best part of a roast dinner? In Jamie Oliver's version he has a few different options for these but this is the one I stick to with just garlic, olive oil and seasoning - I could make them in my sleep! So whilst this may not be a main meal, I really wanted to share how I make these little bits of heaven. They go great with so many dishes and I genuinely plan meals around what we can have with these rather than the other way around!
Closeup of roast potatoes, one on fork
Ingredients: for 2 people
Maris Piper Potatoes, around 500g
3 gloves of garlic
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Mixed Herbs (optional) 

1. Peel your potatoes and chop in either halves or quarters depending on the size of them. Wash the potatoes in cold water to get rid of any starch and then add to a large saucepan. Add cold water and boil for around 10 minutes. 
2. While your potatoes are boiling, pre-heat your oven to 190 degrees and add a good glug of olive oil to a large roasting dish. Pop in the oven for around 5 minutes so the oil can heat up
3. Drain your potatoes after 10 minutes, shake up a little to rough up the edges and then add to the hot oil. It's really important to get the oil hot as this will make the potatoes sizzle and instantly catch the sides. Also sprinkle with salt and pepper
4. Roast for 30 minutes
5. Remove dish from oven, give it a good shake, add in 3 gloves of garlic and then gently squash the potatoes with a potato masher. I then add some extra salt and pepper, a drizzle of oil over the top and sometimes I'll add mixed herbs at this point too.
6. Roast again in the oven for a further 45 minutes.
7. Serve up with whatever you like! Of course they go perfectly as part of a Sunday roast. Roast chicken, stuffing balls, veg, yorkshire puddings, ahh it's just heaven. We have them with all sorts of things though, they go great with gammon, fish, even things like chicken casserole. I could just eat them by themselves though, so moreish and delicious.
Dish full of roast potatoes
- It has to be Maris Piper Potatoes! I've tried so many varieties and nothing works as good as Maris Pipers. They are so soft and fluffy but crisp up beautifully on the outside. 
- Always add in the garlic after 30 minutes, somehow it releases the most delicious flavour in the second bit of cooking but this way it's not overpowering. 
- Don't skip the mashing step! Just a small push down on each potato allows for all of the garlic juices to seep in and add so much flavour.
- For extra flavour, you can add salt from Salt Pans to the top. I was sent the Sea Salt Flower Flakes with Oregano and Pink Peppercorns £6.95* which is ideal for all sorts of things - homemade bread, roast meats, fish, salads, even things like risotto. Just sprinkle a little over the top for an extra salty hit. For more info and to see the other products available, click here.
Jar of sea salt from Salt Pans in the centre, flowers to the left side of it, stack of books in the background to the right
What's your favourite side dish?

*Product provided from Salt Pans

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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Meet BEAR!

I can't believe I finally get to write this post and introduce you to the newest addition to our little family, BEAR 🐶 He's only been home with us for a few days now but we are so in love with him. We've wanted a dog for such a long time so now it's happened, I couldn't wait to share it all with you! I thought a little post introducing him might be nice and then I'll probably update on him every few months or so.

So, why now?

If you've been a long time reader of my blog or if you follow on me on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc, you'll know how much I've been wanting a dog. Both George and I grew up with dogs and we've been hoping to get our own for such a long time. It's one of those things though where everything just has to fall into place. As much as I've literally yearned for a dog since we moved into this flat, it's only over the last year or so things have really been right. We're so happy in our flat now, we have a car, we've had lots of trips away, we're both able to be at home more, it was just important that we had a lot of things sorted before bringing a dog into our family. We wanted it to be right for them and right for us. 

Meet Bear 

So, after looking for months we finally found Bear. We were always intending to get a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which is what I had when I was younger, just because we knew what to expect, they are of course absolutely beautiful and with us living in a flat, we didn't want anything massive. Unfortunately they are very hard to come by. We did also look into adoption too. I know there's always a massive thing when someone buys a dog rather than adopts but it just wasn't the time for us. I can't even tell you how long I was looking for a dog that we could adopt but because they've already gone through so much, there are lots of restrictions on who can re-home them and with us being in a flat, being first time owners, and a few other things, nothing ever really felt right. And I'd hate more than anything to have adopted and given a dog a home, for it to then not have been the perfect situation for them or us. I'd love love love to adopt in future but for our first dog, we wanted to be 100% sure. So now that's out of the way, because I did feel I had to mention it, we eventually started looking for other breeds and that's where we found Cavapoochons. I'd seen these bundles of fluff online countless times before so when I saw the advertisement, and a few things lined up for us, it just seemed like fate. If you didn't know, a Cavapoochon is a 1/4 Cavalier, 1/4 Bichon Frise and 1/2 Toy Poodle.
There were 6 pups when we went to visit and pretty much instantly we fell in love with Bear, though it was such a tough decision. He was actually called Bailey when we first met him, turns out the mum was obsessed with sniffing alcohol or being near it when she was pregnant so all of the pups were named after different alcoholic drinks! We'd had a few names in mind for both girls and boys just in case but Bear just seemed to fit. We spent ages sat with him, basically just staring and stroking him and it was so hard to leave. He was 3 weeks old when we first saw him, you can see from the photo below how small he was!
We then saw him again at 5 weeks and he had already changed so much. His little curls we're noticeable, his face looked so much older and he had already doubled his weight! He loves his food so he's going to fit in with us incredibly well 😂 
The next time we saw him was when we went to collect him! I'd imagined that moment so many times, and it was just everything. That was last Thursday so he's been here with us for almost a week and he's settled in so well. I just can't believe he's ours! The nights have been a bit up and down, sometimes he cries for ages and wakes up several times and other times he's a bit more calm and sleeps through til around 6, but it's one of those things that will just take time. He loves to play. Each day he seems to have mad half an hours throughout where he's trying to bite everything and running all over and then he'll crash and sleep for at least an hour at a time afterwards. He seems to go into such a deep sleep each time so if he's comfy, there's no moving him!
Aswell as loving his sleep, he's also always after a cuddle. He is like our little shadow. He's always waiting for us to sit down so he can snuggle next to us. He gets himself in all sorts of positions, he especially loves sitting near my neck like a scarf! He's just a bundle of fluff, so soft and warm. His little eyes when he looks at me just make my heart burst.

I'm sure it won't be long until Bear is featured on my blog again but for now if you want to keep up to date and see allllll the cute photos, feel free to follow my Instagram or Bear's. Yes I am that person who has made an account for my dog.
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Thursday, 11 April 2019

Waitress At The Adelphi Theatre London Review

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we saw two musicals when we were in London last week, those being Come From Away and Waitress. I'd been listening to the Waitress cast recording for well over a year and it was a show I was desperate to transfer to the West End so when it was announced, I wasted no time in getting tickets!
Outside of the Adelphi Theatre with Waitress poster
Waitress might not be hugely well known over in the UK just yet but it's about Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her town and abusive marriage. After finding out she's pregnant and then a satisfying run in with her new doctor, she realises there might be chance for a fresh start after all if she just believes in herself. The musical is actually based on the 2007 film of the same name which was written and directed by Adrienne Shelly and starred Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion. Again, it's not massive over here but it's a lovely film and it's been brought to life by a female-led creative team including Sara Bareilles who I think we all know for hits like Love Song and Brave.
Waitress poster and Waitress review outside the theatre
Having Waitress move into the Adelphi Theatre definitely softened the blow of Kinky Boots leaving earlier in this year and I was so excited to see how the story would come across on stage. Despite having a few reservations about some of the casting choices when they were announced, everyone in the show is outstanding! Katharine McPhee after a successful run on Broadway is our current Jenna and she is out of this world. If there is anyone with a note perfect voice it's her, just crystal clear and a pleasure to listen to. She just seemed to get the character of Jenna, her portrayal was so believable. Marisha Wallace and Laura Baldwin were both hilarious as their characters Becky and Dawn too, the three of the women just go together perfectly. Now onto the men in the show. David Hunter who we saw in Kinky Boots last year is currently playing Dr Pomatter, and I was so happy when this was revealed. There was so much chemistry between him and Katharine and he was incredibly funny throughout. Talking of funny though, one of the stars of the show has to be Jack McBrayer who you might know from 30 Rock and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He got the biggest laughs throughout and I honestly didn't want his scenes to end, absolutely perfect for the role of Ogie. Special mention to the rest of the cast too who were all just brilliant - Peter Hannah, Shaun Prendergast, Kelly Agbowu, Piers Bate, Nicole Raquel Dennis, Chris McGuigan, Olivia Moore, Charlotte Riby, Michael Hamway, and Mark Willshire.
Now the music! Omg the music. Each song is absolutely perfect. From upbeat songs like Opening Up and When He Sees Me to the funny Never Getting Rid Of Me and Bad Idea, and then the songs that genuinely make you want to just cry She Used To Be Mine and Everything Changes. I have to mention What Baking Can Do though. I've always loved that song but Katharine sang it beautifully, each note just seemed effortless. She really brings something special to each song.

Despite absolutely loving from Come From Away the night before, and wondering a little if Waitress could live up to that, we had such a lovely night and the show was just wonderful. There has been a bit of negative press around the show and how it's unlikely to be in the West End for a long time but I really do hope it has a long life here. The story comes to life beautifully, each song pulls you in and the cast clearly absolutely love being up there each night. It's a show I know I'd go back to again and again if I could!
Photo of pie at Waitress, stage in the background
If you wanted to know, our seats were in the stalls (P13 and P14) and the view was perfect. You don't miss a thing and they're actually not priced too badly so if you're booking a ticket, I couldn't recommend those enough. Also when you're there, you have to treat yourself to a pie! Not cheap at £6 each but it's all part of the experience, and I love the little touches like that they've brought to the theatre. The whole theatre also smells like fresh pie and cinnamon when you walk in too!
photo of the stage at the end of the show
Have you seen Waitress too? Have you got any shows planned?

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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Come From Away At The Phoenix Theatre London Review

So whilst I might not be fully back into the swing of things with blogging, and I'm not gonna lie, I'm seriously struggling to see how I'm ever going to get my love for it back, it's tradition now that when George and I see a show, I'll post a review on my blog. These theatre posts are some of my favourites to look back on so there was no way I could miss out this time. Our latest trip to London was full of lovely things but of course the highlights for me as always were the shows we went to see, and this time we chose Come From Away and Waitress. My Waitress review will be up soon so keep an eye for that, but for now, let me try and find the words to do the wonderful Come From Away some justice.
outside of the phoenix theatre, come from away sign
So, Come From Away is a pretty new musical. It's been doing well over on Broadway for a few years but it only opened in London in January so there's a high chance you might not have even heard of it yet. And if you haven't, when you find out it's actually about 9/11, you might wonder why someone would want to go and see it, but it's about so much more than that.

'This joyous new musical shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 air passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Canada during the wake of 9/11, and the small Newfoundland community that invited these 'come from aways' into their lives. As uneasiness turned into trust and music soared into the night, gratitude grew into friendships and their stories became a celebration of hope, humanity and unity.
come from away sign and poster collage
Whilst you might think this would just be all doom and gloom, it's actually really uplifting and leaves you on such a high. From my first listen to the cast recording last year, I soon fell in love with it so I was honestly thrilled when it was announced it was transferring to the West End. It's currently playing at the Phoenix Theatre so we got tickets pretty quickly and I'd been counting down the days for months. It's now just over a week since we saw it and I'm still thinking about it. I actually keep struggling to find the words for it because it was just everything a musical should be but more. We've been lucky enough to see several amazing shows over the last few years from Kinky Boots to Hamilton, and more, and they were all going to be pretty tough to beat but this is just special.
First of all the music is incredible. The lyrics, the band, just everything. Each song makes you feel such a range of emotions from upbeat tracks like Welcome To The Rock which gives me goosebumps, to #girlpower Me And The Sky and then songs like Something's Missing which breaks my heart every time. It's a 100 minute show with no interval so it's quite full on, you do literally feel everything and have no time to process it all but I love that. It meant each time you could react, the atmosphere was incredible. There are only 2 times before the end that I can remember where there was pause for applause but that meant by the end as soon as the final song finished and it went dark, there was an instant standing ovation. I've never seen anything like it, and in fact when the band were playing out, the room literally felt like it was shaking. It was insane but so deserved.
welcome to the rock neon sign at the phoenix theatre
On the whole the story is just amazing to watch unfold. When you think of 9/11 you don't often think about the 'smaller' details, like where the stranded planes went, who took them in, how people found out about what had happened, this musical tells you that story. The wonderful people of Gander took in over 7000 people for several days, they fed them, clothed them, gave them a place to stay and supported one another in such a terrible time. In the show you find out the real life story of Beverley Bass who was one of the pilots that day who had to divert her passengers, Nick and Diane Marson who met and fell in love whilst they were in Gander, and just so many more. Surprisingly a lot of good came from this and the way it has been put together just tells their stories perfectly.

So my final point following on from that is the remarkable cast playing these people. My ultimate Elphaba, Rachel Tucker who I first saw in Wicked in 2016 is doing an outstanding job of portraying Captain Beverley Bass, Clive Carter is brilliant from the get-go as Claude the town's mayor, Bob Harms stepped in to play Kevin T and I'm incredibly glad we got to see his portrayal of the role, Emma Salvo nailed the Newfoundland accent, Robert Hands and Helen Hobson were perfect as Nick and Diane and of course the rest of the cast who all just did such an amazing job - Jenna Boyd, Nathanael Campbell, Mary Doherty, Jonathan Andrew Hume, Harry Morrison and Cat Simmons. Surprisingly it's actually a really funny show and each cast member was hilarious at times but they all also had that ability to within seconds make you want to sob. It had the perfect mix.
view of stage at come from away
This is the view from seats 8 and 9 on row E of the dress circle, so close!
Whenever we go to see a musical, it always ends too quickly but this took not wanting it to end to another level. It makes your face hurt from smiling so much to crying next and by the end I just felt like I'd witnessed something incredible. One of the first things I actually said after the initial 'omg, omg, omg' was 'I need to be a better person'. It's a musical that genuinely makes you want to do some good and make a real difference, and a show that makes you leave feeling like that is pretty special in my eyes.

It's also a show that is a real community. Clearly the cast are having a great time each night and are so fond of one another, but also everyone in the theatre makes you feel so welcome. You walk in and there are maps dotted around for you to put pins in where you live, you get given a free badge when you leave which says 'I'm a Newfoundlander' and even down to the social media teams. They sent kind replies to my tweet about the show and sent the nicest message on Instagram when I said the show had broken me. Little touches like that go such a long way and it really makes you feel as if you're part of something.
map board at come from away and close up of our pin
This review has gone on far longer than I anticipated but I could rave about Come From Away forever. Whether you're into musicals or not, this is genuinely something each person needs to see. It's actually just won Best New Musical at the Olivier Awards too and I couldn't think of another show more deserving. It's heartbreaking yet uplifting and I hope it has a long life in the West End. I'd go back again tomorrow if I could.

Have you seen Come From Away or heard of the show?

Other musical reviews - Heathers at the Theatre Royal Haymarket // Wicked at the London Apollo Victoria Theatre

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Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Quick & Easy Chicken Biryani Recipe

Only a few weeks after last my recipe post which was posh sausage and beans, shockingly I've already got another for you. I've gone months and months without any and now I have loads I want to share so if you're stuck for ideas and want some meal inspiration, keep an eye out for more soon. Anyway, this is another recipe from Chris Bavin's Good Food Sorted recipe book. As soon as I saw this, I knew it would be one we'd have to try and it ended up exceeding all expectations. It took in total about 30 minutes to make which is great for a week night where we're both tired and feeling lazy. Like with most recipes I find, I just adapted it to suit what we had in so I thought it would be nice to share in case you're after a new easy meal to make. I ended up missing quite a few of the little extras in the original recipe but the basic version I made was full of flavour and incredibly filling. 
Biryani in centre of plate, naan cut up to the left side, gold cutlery to the side of the plate
Ingredients: for 2 people
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1/2 an onion, finely diced
2 tbsp curry powder
 1 tsp chilli powder
1 bag of rice (or however much you would usually use for 2 people)
400ml chicken stock
Salt & pepper
Naan bread

1. Cut your chicken breasts into chunks and fry in a pan until cooked through
2. When the chicken is cooked, add in the diced onion and fry until it softens
3. Next, add in the curry powder and chilli powder, and make sure it coats the chicken and onion mix
4. Pour in your rice (We use boil in the bag rice so I just used one of those for 2 of us) and stir well
5. Pour in your chicken stock along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, stir and then leave to simmer for around 20 minutes
6. Keep an eye on it as it simmers to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan. Once the rice is cooked, plate up and serve with naan bread!
Closeup of the biryani on the plate with naan to the left side
  This is just my basic version of the biryani from Good Food Sorted but you if you wanted to you could add peas to the mix for the last few minutes and when served you could add a squeeze of lime and mango chutney on the side. You could even use vegetables rather than chicken, I think it's a meal you could change up however you want. I loved how ours turned out though, I can already tell it's going to be something we end up making all the time! 

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Monday, 8 April 2019

Current Netflix Top Picks #8

Netflix are pulling it out the bag at the moment aren't they?! There are so many TV shows I'm still wanting to watch but I've been enthralled by their documentaries for the last few weeks - absolutely brilliant documentaries though that have created such a stir! Let me know if you've seen any of the shows/films below or if you have any other recommendations!
collage - Netflix logo on the top. Show posters on the bottom - the disappearance of madeleine mccann, dirty john, dirty john the ugly truth, the umbrella academy, special correspondents

The Disappearance Of Madeleine McCann

This has been all over Twitter over the last month or so, and I've found it so interesting to hear other peoples thoughts. Everyone knows about Madeleine McCann, as far as I'm aware it's the biggest missing person case in the world so when Netflix announced a documentary about it, I couldn't wait to watch it. It's hard to believe I was a child when she first went missing and now I'm 24 and there has never even been a trace. It's genuinely something that blows my mind, it's like she has vanished into thin air. The documentary is 8 episodes so quite long for a story most of us already know quite a lot about but if you've always had an opinion on the case, it's worth a watch. It's hard at times, at the end of the day, a little girl went missing and who knows what sort of life she might have gone onto have, but it really does make you think. I've personally always thought the parents had some involvement and whilst the documentary did make me think more about other possible theories, I'm still not 100% convinced they're innocent. So it hasn't really changed anything for me but I'd love to know what you thought of the documentary and if your view has changed?

Dirty John

Another shocking programme but wow, was it a good watch! Dirty John is a true crime series based on the real life podcast of the same name. Debra Newell has a perfect life, she's successful, beautiful and lives in California. Unfortunately her love life has never really gone to plan, but then she meets Dr John Meehan. He's handsome, charming and almost too good to be true. What starts as a whirlwind romance, ends in disaster. It turns out John wasn't at all who he made out to be and there starts a journey of psychological manipulation that has horrific consequences for the whole family. It was definitely a frustrating watch at times, just because Debra (played by the brilliant Connie Britton) seemed so naive and was the only one unable to see John for who he really was but each episode still had me gripped. It was hard to believe watching it that it was all based on real life!

Dirty John: The Dirty Truth 

After we finished the Dirty John series, we watched the actual documentary that Netflix had released on the real Debra Newell and John Meehan. This gives an even deeper insight into what he was really like and how he made so many peoples lives hell for such a long time. With interviews with the real Debra Newell, Terra Newell and John's past partners, we find out just how far John's lies went and what life with him was really like. If you've not watched this yet, I'd start the series above first and then end with this. I'm tempted to listen to the podcast now I've watched both of these.

The Umbrella Academy

There seemed to be so much hype around this when it was first released so we finally gave in a few weeks ago and I'm actually really enjoying it. Not quite to the extent most are I think, it's not one I feel compelled to go back to each day but when I put it on, I enjoy it, if that makes sense? I'm not even going to try and explain what it's about as I won't do it justice but it's got a brilliant cast including Robert Sheehan, Tom Hopper and Ellen Page. It's quite dark at times but I like that the characters are all a bit damaged and it's not just another Netflix comedy, though it does definitely have it's funny moments.

Special Correspondents

Since adding Dirty John, I feel like there's been an influx of films/tv programs with Eric Bana that have been added! Not that I'm complaining but they've been all over the homepage. Because of that we gave Special Correspondents a watch which also stars Ricky Gervais and it was brilliant! After a little bit of a slow start, I ended up absolutely loving it. Together they were brilliant, it's a partnership you wouldn't necessarily put together and expect to work, but it really did. They play two very different radio journalists who concoct a scheme to fake their kidnappings in South America, and it's just chaos. A great one to put on when you're in need of a laugh.

What have you been watching on Netflix recently?

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