Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Cabaret at The New Theatre, Peterborough *Review*

{Gifted tickets} Come hear the music is a cabaret old chum, come to the cabaret..... It's a very well known lyric isn't it, an iconic musical but would you believe as a lover of musical theatre it's not a show that I've ever watched, shocking I know! This is no longer the case as last night I had the pleasure of watching Cabaret at The New Theatre, Peterborough.To be honest I wasn't really sure what to expect, I had thoughts that it would be similar to Chicago and to a degree the performances are with that 'Fosse esque' dancing and leave little to the imagination costuming but that is where the comparison ends. Not really knowing what the show is about prior to watching it meant I could really become immersed in the seedy and intriguing world of the Kit Kat club. 

So, if like me you've never seen Cabaret either on stage or screen the show is adapted from a short novel called 'Goodbye to Berlin'. Set in 1931 Berlin, around the time that the Nazis are rising to power, the show is centred around the risque Kit Kat cabaret club and focuses on the relationship between American writer Cliff Bradshaw and English cabaret performer Sally Bowles. The master of ceremonies, Emcee takes us on the journey through 1931 Berlin and draws the audience in to the decadent but almost sinister world of the Kit Kat club. On doing a bit of reading around I found that the club is essentially a metaphor for the developments in late Weimar Germany. It is so much more than the goings on at a cabaret club. Before I get too much into that let me talk to you about the cast......

As mentioned above, Emcee, the master of ceremonies, the host is played by the extremely talented John Partridge (ex Eastenders actor and frequent west end performer) and I have to say what an excellent choice for the role, he can sing, he can dance, he's flamboyant, humorous and draws the audience right into the Kit Kat club. His enthusiasm for the role is plain to see.

Kara Lily Hayworth as Sally was superb, what an actress, I was captivated watching her, relatively new to the theatre scene I believe, she played Cilla in the West End for a couple of years and was met with high praise for the role. The rest of the cast is unbelievable, what those guys and gals do with their bodies is unreal! The dancing and staging is just everything that ticks my boxes and the songs and lyrics are powerful and have such meaning to them. I felt like I was watching it in the west end, it's such a slick production and thoroughly enjoyable. 

The show is risque, it's raunchy and a bit naughty! I don't think my Mum was expecting full frontal nudity, so it is worth mentioning that there is an age restriction of 13+ for this reason. However, it's not just about life at the cabaret, there is a darker side, a political note throughout and sadness, the ending is not like other shows I've seen, I left the theatre in awe that a show would make me question things so much and dissect a story line quite as much as I have! No spoilers though, you will have to go see it for yourself. What a show. What a show. 

After not knowing what to expect, I can honestly say this is at the top of my musical list, it's takes alot to beat Chicago, Cats and The Bodyguard which are shows that I have seen multiple times but I would see Cabaret again without a doubt. Overall it's a 10/10 for me, the story is intense, the songs are fantastic, the dancing is fabulous, the cast are professional and make the show what it is. I absolutely loved it. 

Cabaret is showing at The New Theatre until the 25th January, I'm not sure on the availability on this but head over to the website for further booking information. It's a must see.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

How to Choose your Bridal Party

{collaborative content} As a bride, you’re in charge of choosing your party of girls (or guys) to follow you and help you with the preparations for your big day. Of course, you don’t have to have a bridal party at all if you don't want to have one, but you do need to consider whether you want someone standing up for you on this big day of yours. Given the number of guests you may have, you could choose your bridal party size based on the guest list. A more extensive guest list often lends to a more formal event.

Your groom is likely to have a best man, and for the photos, you may choose to have one bridesmaid to balance that out. However, if you have five bridesmaids in their pretty iris color bridesmaid dresses, then it stands to reason you’d like five opposing groomsmen with matching irises in their buttonholes. Below, we’ve got some essential tips for ensuring that you are choosing your wedding party wisely for the biggest day of your life.

More? Or Less?
You could have twenty best girlfriends, but it doesn't mean that you have to include them all in your day. You could have your closest best friends standing up with you, and then have the other girls involved in some way or another in the actual day. You’ll need their input for flower arrangements and table favours, and you can really use their help on your hen party night, too!

Family Conflict
Some people believe that if they don’t invite every female relative to be a bridesmaid, there will be drama. Here’s the thing: it’s YOUR day. You can ask them to avoid hurt feelings, or you could explain your budget is limited, and you want your childhood best friends with you at the front of the church. Either way, you should have the people you want there, not those you think you SHOULD have stood with you.

Know Your Budget
When it comes to having bridesmaids, you need to budget for the dresses, the flowers, hair and makeup, and their shoes. Please don't assume that they’re going to be able to afford to pay for their own outfits. Don’t ask anyone to stand with you if you can’t provide for them to be there with you on the big day.

If your best friends are boys, you can have them stand with you instead. Suit and boot them and put the right flowers in their buttonholes, and they can represent you just as well as any girlfriend would have. Is it unusual? Absolutely - and who cares?

Ask Those You Truly Want
You don't have to ask someone who has asked you before - a common mistake most women make. Yes, it’s polite, but imagine if you haven't spoken to that person for years? The critical thing to note is that you’re choosing those you love.

Your wedding is your big day. Choosing your bridal party is simple: pick the people you love the most and let them stand for you.

Thursday, 16 January 2020

Are you Sleeping Enough?

{collaborative content} Sleep is important for your body to function properly. But with over 50% of people in the UK struggling to fall asleep or get sufficient sleep it’s any wonder how any of us function. At this time of year, we can all look to set some goals, and a focus on sleep could become a priority for you. With a bit of a change in habit and trying a few new things, we could soothe those night time blues. So if you need more rest, then here are some tips to help you do just that. 

Switch off the technology
Technology is one of the leading reasons why people struggle with sleep. It can have an effect on falling asleep as well as staying fully rested throughout the night. This is why reducing the amount of technology you use in the evening is a great tip to try. Or trying not to use it all. Social media and internet browsing is the number one thing people do in bed before attempting to fall asleep. But it can often mean that are minds are still working rather than relaxing ready for sleep.Try and not use technology for at least an hour before heading to bed and see the difference it can make.

Tire yourself out in the day
It may sound crazy, but a great tip is to actual tire your mind and your body throughout the day. You can do this through regular routine of work, but also taking on exercise and becoming more active can help to improve getting to sleep and actually allowing your body to fall into a deep sleep. Maybe enlist the help of a personal trainer such as Andy Griffiths to help you come up with a training plan and schedule that can fit around your current routine and commitments. If you don’t want to have the commitment of a trainer, then getting out for regular walks or even making conscious decisions such as walking instead of driving can make a massive difference to your exercise output, and in turn can help you to feel more tired at night. 

Clear your mind
Many people struggle with stress and worry throughout the day and often this can translate into our sleep and dreams. The best thing anyone can do is try and clear their mind of worry. Talk things out with your partner. Write a list to attempt to download everything from your mind on to paper. A great way you can attempt to clear your mind is through mediation. This is where you get yourself in a quiet area and focus on breathing techniques. 

Try sleeping aids
Sleeping aids can be a great resolution to troublesome sleep. Especially if you suffer from pressing anxiety issues and even panic attacks. They can appear in the night and cause you to wake and feel symptoms of anxiety and panic. Sleeping aids can relieve some of these issues helping you get a more restful night's sleep. Essential oils and room sprays, even sprays that you can use on your pillow can all help to give you a sense of calm when it comes to falling asleep at night.

Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can have an adverse affect on your sleep. They are both seen as a stimulant, making it even harder to relax ready for a restful night's sleep. Caffeine can stay in your system for several hours after consumption. Try and avoid drinking it in the afternoon if you can. 

Create your own bedtime routine
We may have routines in place for bedtime when it comes to our children, but what about a routine that you can follow? It may be as simple as switching off the TV and technology, enjoying a warm bath and reading a book. Maybe having a conversation with your partner, a hot drink that isn’t caffeinated like chamomile tea and generally relaxing your mind and body ready for bed. You could even include some meditation in there. Create a routine that works for you that helps you to relax. This can help you get to sleep and stay asleep. 

Make your bedroom an inviting place to rest
Finally, your bedroom needs to be an inviting place to rest. This means trying to use a more calmer colour scheme and even consider getting rid of clutter. Try and set the scene for a relaxing environment so include scented candles, lots of pillows and keep a regulated temperature in the room. Maybe even treat yourself to some new bed linen or pyjamas to help set the scene of bedtime. 

Let’s hope these tips help you get a better night’s sleep. 

Looking After you is a Priority!

{collaborative content} A lot of the time, we find ourselves making other people the priority in our lives, but we forget that looking after ourselves needs to number one. It is all well and good to want to look after others, but at the end of the day, you are the primary person that you have got to take care of, and that’s why we have written this article. Down below, we are going to be looking at some of the things that you can do to look after yourself, even if only for a short time! Keep reading if you want to find out more.

Find What Helps

Looking after yourself might not always feel easy, which is why you have got to find something that helps. This is really going to be about trial and error more than anything else because you won’t know if something is effective until you have tried it. For example, some people like to use cbd to help here, and Vsavi offer a quality cbd vape kit for you to try. Obviously, there is no guarantee that this is going to have the same effect on you that it does on other people, but it is always worth giving it a shot and see if it can bring you some kind of relief. Whether it is stress, anxiety, or some physical conditions, it could be the thing that you have been waiting for.

Or, it could simply be doing something like exercise. This is a natural way for your body to release endorphins and help you to feel better. Give this a try if you can, and see if it helps at all.

Take A Break

The next thing that we are going to suggest is that you simply take a break. Life can get hectic. Everyone gets busy, and sometimes it can feel as though things are piling up, and you are never going to see the light again, but even when this happens, you have got to take a break. Don’t feel bad for giving yourself a rest, we are all human, and we all need one from time to time. If you don’t give yourself this well-deserved break, you could find yourself on the brink of a breakdown, and this is not what you need.

So, whether you take a long hot bath, sit down with a good book, or even just put on the TV and zone out for a while, the benefits that you experience could be amazing. It’s not a weakness to need a break, it’s normal.

Treat Yourself

Finally, you can treat yourself. This doesn’t have to be anything extravagant, just something small to make yourself feel better. Getting yourself a little gift is a great way to enhance your mood, and give yourself that little boost that you have been looking for. Even if it’s just a bar of your favourite chocolate and some wine, you’ll feel so much better.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see that looking after you has to be a priority and some of the ways that you can do this.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Create the Ultimate Kid Friendly Garden.

Photo by Andy Kuzma from Pexels

{collaborative content} If you’re lucky enough to have some outside space, it’s a great idea to turn it into a relaxing area that the entire family can enjoy. Life’s so busy when you have kids and you’re expected to spend every free minute visiting soft play centres or parks. By making your garden child-friendly, you always have a place for them to play safely outside. Whether you’re intending to do a complete garden overhaul or just spruce up your existing garden, these tips will get you started.

Make it safe and secure

Plants - make sure you remove any poisonous plants and nettles. Children will put anything in their mouths if given the chance so make sure there’s nothing that can make them really ill. Check out this list of poisonous garden plants so you know what to look for

Devote space to a play area

As the garden is for the entire family, you’ll want some areas devoted to different things. Have a designated play area when you can put the kid’s swings, slides, mud kitchen or trampolines.

This frees up other areas of your garden to devote to relaxing or entertaining.

Giving your garden a kid-friendly makeover may seem like a lot of work but it will be worth it. Your kids will love their new space and will have so many happy times playing in the garden.  

Water features - families with young children shouldn’t have water features or any areas where water collects. Toddlers have no fear of water and it’s just not worth the risk.
Security - you don’t want your kids escaping through a gap in the fence or hedge. Make sure your garden is secure so that no one can get in or out unless you want them to.

Lighting - in your mind’s eye, you’re probably imagining long summer days spent in your garden with family and friends. The reality is, that’s not going to happen very often. During the darker months, you’ll need to think about lighting so you can enjoy your garden even when the sun isn’t shining. Most garden centres stock pretty solar lamps that you can scatter throughout your garden and create a lovely effect when the sun goes down or stronger solar light like this one that also provides some security light features too.

Using solar means that you don’t have potentially dangerous cables to contend with. Plus you’ll save on electricity.

Use artificial grass

You’ll want a lawn for your kids to run around and play ball games on. This is where artificial grass is your best friend. New products are coming out all the time that look and feel more like natural grass.

While having artificial grass is more expensive initially, you’ll save time and money as its really easy to maintain. You don’t need to mow it, weed it or water it. It’s much easier to clean (great if you have pets) and a bit of rain won’t turn it into a mudbath.

You’ll be amazed how artificial grass can transform your garden. Have a look at some of these amazing before and after photos for inspiration

Friday, 10 January 2020

Foam Alive *Review*

{Gifted} We have recently been sent some  Foam Alive (double flip pack) (RRP £10.00) to review. Foam alive is the coolest stuff ever, fluffy, squishy, soft, foamy stuff that magically appears to come alive as you use it, it seems to flow through your hands and mysteriously moves in 'flow motion'. The double pack has two colours 'pulse purple' and 'go green' in a handy hour glass shaped storage container providing the perfect place to store this therapeutic stuff!

I did have a little bit of an issue getting the wrapping and lid off the package to begin with and it's a shame there is no easy way of getting the colours out separately but this did not stop us having a go with this crazy, magical foamy stuff! We weren't quite sure what to do with it so we experimented with different ways of making it move such as squashing it, rolling it, squeezing it and dropping it. It was really quite therapeutic, I loved watching it seem to flow through our hands.

I thought it was going to be like kinetic sand but it really isn't anything like it, it's much more fun and mesmerising. I also expected to be one of things that was going to create a ton of mess but it didn't we simply just picked the bits up and popped then back in the container. Anything mess free is a huge bonus to me! It's also of a nice size to be able to store away, the hour glass aswell is also fun to turn up and down and watch the foam alive flow through. 

What did we like? 

- It's relaxing to use, therapeutic even and we all enjoyed feeling it, squishing it and watching it magically run through our fingers (I have no idea what it's made from but it's so cool!)

- The colours are bright and it stimulates creativity from children, it encourages  imaginative play and lots of questions as we found....'why is it doing this', 'what is it made from', 'can we feed it to the cat?'.....errrr no haha but I did like that encouraged curiosity from the kids.

- A very reasonable price with lots of playing opportunity. We liked the aesthetics of the item and it will definitely appeal to those imaginative kids!

- It's mess free, wahoo! It isn't sticky and doesn't leave any residue around either.

Anything we weren't so keen on?

- As mentioned above it was pretty annoying that there was no way of covering the separate colours, a different lid is needed, I ended up having to cover one side with my hand to enable us to get each colour out on its own. It was quite tricky to not mix the colours up because of this! 

Overall, we really enjoyed playing with Foam Alive, it is the toy with endless options. It really is so cool to watch how it seems to flow and expand, crazy stuff and quite unique. I'm interested to know what everyone else does with theirs? Please do share! 

*Please note we were kindly sent the item free of charge in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are our own.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The New Theatre *Review*

{Gifted Tickets} Ahhh Joseph is one of those musicals that evokes so many childhood memories for me, would you believe the first time I saw it was in London with my parents and Philip Schofield played the lead which was from 1992 to 1997 and I went at some point during these years (wow that makes me feel old!). Is there anything better than the music and lyrics of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber? Nope I think not and last night I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at The New Theatre in Peterborough and clearly so did plenty of others as there were queue's out of the door when we arrived and it appeared to be a sell out.  I have to admit, after seeing it a couple of times when I was a child it wasn't actually a musical that was at the top of my list to re-watch. However......this is my Mums absolute favourite musical show and when I invited her along with me she was delighted! 

If you're not aware of the story it's essentially the retelling of the biblical tale of Joseph, his eleven brothers and his coat of many colours through an epic music score and performances.

This UK tour is fronted by Britains Got Talent finalist Mark McMullan with a stellar cast alongside him. Alexandra Doars, the narrator  provides a superb vocal range in this top notch casting. Also supported by a local stage school (Kindred Drama) this is a truly fantastic production. McMullan is absolutely outstanding and such a talent, his voice is unreal and what I would deem as the perfect 'west end' vocal. 

From the minute the intro kicked off I settled down and enjoyed the production from start to finish, I found myself getting fully immersed in the amazing songs, production and general atmosphere, I even found myself singing along at the end and left with a smile on my face, I heard lots of people as they were leaving saying how it was one of the best Joseph productions they had seen. Seeing it as a 36 year old was actually refreshing, it took on a new meaning and I felt much more of an understanding of the storyline. It hasn't aged at all, in fact I found it still very much a relevant production and felt the revamped parts added and enhanced the show greatly. 

Overall a 10/10 without a doubt. I had forgotten just how good it is and just how talented Rice and Webber are for creating such a fabulous show. Fun, loud, colourful and with a fantastic musical theatre score it is a must see for any theatre fan. GO, GO, GO book! Joseph is running at The New Theatre until Saturday 11th January and there are several showings available. It is also touring throughout the UK until the end of February. 

N.B As mentioned in previous posts The New Theatre is located on Broadway in Peterborough, there is parking available a short walk away at Brook St.

How to Have the Best Weekend in York!

{Collaborative Content} If you are planning on going to York, then you’ll be glad to know that there is so much to see and even more to do. If you want to have the best time then it helps to plan everything ahead of time so that when you get there, you can dive right in and enjoy some of the many signs and attractions.
Walk the City Walls
If you love history, then you really won’t be able to get any closer than by walking the famous York City Walls. These are actually the longest medieval walls in the whole of England and they were built in around 71AD. It’s a lovely experience overall and there are so many key sights that you can see along the way as well. While you are there, why not visit the York Minster as well? This is a stunning sight that is absolutely beautiful on the outside. When you venture inside, you will soon find that it’s even more breath-taking. The gothic architecture alone is enough to make anyone excitable and if you are willing to spend the money, you can also climb the tower. This will give you a 360-degree view of the area.
Have a Drink at a Local Bar
If you love a drink then you are certainly going to love York. There are pubs everywhere and some of them are packed full of character. If you don’t fancy drinking an alcoholic beverage then look up where to have afternoon tea in York. You’ll soon find that there are plenty of places to choose from. In terms of bars, the Golden Fleece is the place to go. Some say that it’s the most haunted place in York. So many people have seen ghosts there, including Lady Alice Peckett. She’s the Mayor’s wife and she is also the former hotel owner. She’s said to wander the halls while also moving furniture at night. The Evil Eye is the place to visit if you are a fan of gin, as they have beverages from all across the world.
Clifford’s Tower
Clifford’s Tower is another place that you might want to visit the next time you are in York. The tower is all that is left of the York Castle. The castle itself was established by William the Conqueror. If you climb the tower, then you will be able to see some of the most spectacular views in the area. When you visit this location, you will soon find that you are very close to the Castle Museum as well. if you want to find out more about the area then this should be on your to-do list.
Of course, there are so many things that you can see and do when you are in York, and if you follow the above guide then you’ll soon find that you are able to have the best time without missing anything out. If you have the time, make sure that you visit the local shops and support the city.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

5 Ways to Avoid Procrastination.

{Collaborative} Procrastination is something that affects all of us, no matter what form it comes in. Perhaps you’re trying to work from home and you just think, hmm… maybe I should mop the floor. Or maybe, you’re at work in the office scrolling through Facebook, thinking about when lunch is going to come around. Whatever form your procrastination comes in, it can seriously affect how much work you can complete during the day, and you can find yourself in a cycle that you just can’t escape.

So how can you avoid it? We’ve noted down five tips here.

#1: Make lists
If you’re trying to avoid procrastination, making lists is key to your success. Having a to-do-list for the day will get you off to a good start, and you’ll be able to see what you have completed since you began working. Be cautious not to add too much to your lists or they could just cause you to procrastinate further, and be realistic about what you expect from yourself. You’ll soon find that your productivity has increased.

#2: Do the hardest tasks first
A general rule for upping your productivity and finding focus is doing the hardest tasks first. It can be tempting to do the easy stuff when you first begin working (let’s be real here, it’s pretty daunting going headfirst into your to-do-list) but once you’ve got the hard stuff out of the way, the rest of your day will be a breeze, and productivity will come easy to you. If you don’t do this, you’ll be dreading your stressful tasks all morning!

#3: Eat a healthy diet
Whilst it can seem unrelated to productivity, eating a healthy diet will allow you to stay focused and ready to go. A Monday-related chocolate binge will only make you want to go to sleep, so think wisely about those foods that will keep you alert and ready to go. Vitamins and minerals may also help with your overall focus, and researchers have suggested that CBD oil improves mental alertness.

#4: Turn off your phone
One of the worst things for procrastination is social media, and it’s certainly true that most of us have a general desire to play around on our phones instead of working. Whilst you may need your phone around in case of an emergency, delete the social media apps on it or set it to ‘do not disturb’ mode (excluding your close family members). You can go without looking at your phone, and it will help!

#5: Create incentives
Let’s be honest, it’s a lot easier to work when there is some kind of incentive there, whether it’s a bar of chocolate or, you know, money. Remember what you’re going to get out of committing yourself to working hard, and really focus on making sure that you put this centre stage. If this doesn’t work for you, then for every hour of work allow yourself five minutes outside in the garden. It’s not much, but it does help.

Monday, 23 December 2019

6 Reasons to Get a Pet

{Collaborative Content} Many families, at some point, think about welcoming a pet into their homes. Your children might be asking for a pet, and if you had animals when you were a child, you might be keen to grow your own family in the same way. But, animals are a commitment, and you might be worried about things like time, cost, and how they might impact your home.

But, there are many advantages to getting a pet, and most people never regret the decision. Here’s a look at six of the reasons that you should get a pet.

You’ll Never be Lonely

Adult life can be terribly lonely. We often drift apart from our friends as busy life gets in the way, and even people that work around people every day find themselves feeling isolated from time to time. Older adults can find this loneliness even harder to bear, and teenagers often experience loneliness as they change and grow.

No matter how old the people in your household are, getting a pet can mean that no one ever has to feel alone and that everyone has something to offer comfort and to talk to when they need an outlet.

A Pet Helps Teach Responsibility

If you have younger children, a pet can be a powerful way to teach them responsibility. Even very young children can help out with walking, grooming, and cleaning with supervision, and older children can have greater responsibilities. A pet can also teach them care and compassion and the importance of looking after things.

Not All Pets Are Hard Work

One of the most common reasons that people put off getting a pet is that they are worried about the commitment involved. When you get a large pet, like a dog, it’s a lot of work. They can be expensive, and you might have to make lifestyle changes to welcome them into your home.

But, not all pets are hard work. Hamsters and other small animals still have advantages, but they are much easier to care for, and much less of a commitment. Many people look at hamster cages and start with a small pet, to test the water, before moving onto something larger like a dog.

Some Pets Help You Get More Exercise

Dogs can be great if you are looking for a way to get more exercise, or to do more exercise as a family. Some dog breeds need more exercise and longer walks than others, but they all need walking. A dog will get you out of the house, getting your steps in and enjoying time away from screens and the pressures of everyday life.

A Pet Can Love You

A pet doesn’t just give you something to love. It will love you in return. Larger pets show this love particularly well, and it can be a great source of comfort and support. You might find that having a pet at home that loves you makes you feel happier, more confident, and more settled.

Your Pet Might Improve Your Social Life

Pet’s don’t just help you beat loneliness at home. They also get you out of the house meeting people. You’ll see other people on the dog walk or while you wait at the vet's. You could join groups and clubs and use your pet as an excuse to make new friends, or just to say hi to people and have more social contact in your life.