Windsor Castle

Hello Loves!

Well, what a week this week has been. I’ve been absolutely floored by flu I assume (7 negative Covid tests – no fear) but I can honestly say I’ve never been so poorly. It’s the first time ever that I’ve had time off school too. But, I’m coming round the other side now which is good. If you hear someone sounding like a seal, that would be me coughing haha! Anyway, onto more pressing matters and a very delayed explorations post!

Anyway, I want to share with you today the final part of my journey for honouring the late Queen. You’ll remember from a few posts ago that I was part of ‘The Queue’ (you can see that post here). There was just one final part I needed to do and that was pay my respects at St George’s Chapel which is within Windsor Castle. This is the Queen’s final resting place where she has been reunited in the royal vault with her beloved husband Prince Philip. My dad and I queued together and it was time for us to say bye together. My mum was also here for this too!

Windsor Castle is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. Originally founded by William the Conqueror, it’s been home to 40 monarchs which is incredibly impressive. The State Apartments are sublime, the contents are wonderful and I really liked seeing the different gifts received throughout the reign of Her Majesty the Queen. Photos are only allowed of the outside which I totally understand. You have to see it to believe it really. The one thing that has stayed with me from these state rooms is the colours: bold, vivid and flawless.

Naturally, there was a huge queue to be able to get this photo. It’s the closest you can get but we’ve all seen this on the television screens. It made me think back to the funeral of Prince Philip. The view of the Long Walk was one of my favourite bits but because this was inside the castle, you weren’t able to take photos.

It’s really quite hard to comprehend how lucky we are to have this amount of history around us. I’m fortunate in that my dad is just as interested as I am – it’s something that has been passed down through our family. It felt fitting and right to see the final resting place and to thank the Queen once again for all she has done.

I hope this little snippet has tempted you into visiting. The amazing thing is, your ticket can be validated for a whole year! And I can confirm, the gift shops are excellent. For more information on visiting, please click here.

Until next time!

Big love all xxx

Sister Act The Musical

Morning loves!

Happy half term to all my friends in education and happy weekend to all who aren’t. I am so relieved the holiday is here. Granted it’s dark and raining outside but it doesn’t dampen my spirits for the holiday. I’ve got a number of posts planned but today I wanted to share with you my review of the amazing Sister Act The Musical touring show. I managed to get tickets to see this at the Birmingham Hippodrome for my mum’s birthday.

The Plot

For those who are familiar with the 90s classic film (I grew up watching that and feel a sense of pride at knowing every single word…) the story isn’t too dissimilar. Deloris Van Cartier finds herself in a bit of trouble as she witnesses her partner murdering someone. She’s therefore taken to protective custody and hidden in one place she shouldn’t be found – a convent. Struggling with the confines of her new life, she’s given one job to do: help the convent choir. As she helps the sisters find their voices, she realised just how fabulous she is herself.

The Cast

There are some absolutely treasures forming this cast and actually as a whole cast body, it really felt like they were a group of best friends. Sandra Marvin plays the lead role and my goodness she was fabulousness personified. I also thought that Lesley Joseph, playing Mother Superior, was incredible. She really hit each comedy note and it was just hilarious to see the on stage battles between the two. The casting of the sweet, quiet Sister Mary Robert had to be perfect – and it was! Lizzie Bea was divine. Another high note was Eddie Souther, played by Clive Rowe. Basically a massive cast with big souls and big voices. Amazing.

Staging, Singing and Dancing

Considering it’s a touring company, the staging was excellent. The lights, the moving pieces, the way there’s a bucket on stage for the leak in the roof. It’s all highly powerful. The overwhelming message of this show is fabulousness and the staging oozes that. I loved the colours. My previous admitted knowledge of the songs from the film were redundant here because all the songs are new BUT they really are catchy. I absolutely love Fabulous, Baby and Sunday Morning Fever are my particular favourites. However, for me the most uplifting and influential song is the title song, Sister Act.

“And as a sister and a friend,
I’ll be a sister ‘til the end,
and no one on this earth can
change that fact –
I’m part of one terrific sister act.”

Overall

I was so gutted to have missed this show in London but wow, it was so worth the wait. It’s touring all over the UK and Ireland and if you can, I urge you all to go and see it. You’ll leave feeling uplifted and high on life. The talent of this cast reigns supreme. I enjoyed it so much that I’m off to see it again next year in Leeds. If you need a boost, go see this. You wont regret it. For more information and to bag yourself some tickets, click here.

See you in my next post. Here’s to a week of reading, relaxing and adventures.

Big Love xx

Telephone Box Libraries / Book Exchange pt 3

Hello Loves!

I hope you’re all well. I’m back in the UK now with a special post all about one of my favourite things: telephone box book libraries! I think the one I’m sharing with you today is my favourite so far! This one is in Snitterfield, near Stratford upon Avon.

What makes this one so special, I hear you say. Well, there’s books everywhere! But they’re organised and there’s a really good range too. So far, so wonderful. However, the keepers of this phone box have also added two plastic tubs for people to share seeds. I love this! I found some dahlia seeds (one of my absolutely favourite flowers) and planted them with my dad. I think it’s genuinely so lovely of people to share extra seeds that they’ve got left over.

I left a few books for people to hopefully read and enjoy but I’m super excited to show you how beautiful these dahlias are. Fast forward a few weeks and ta-da! Aren’t they just gorgeous? So whoever was kind enough to leave the seeds there, thank you. The colours bring a smile to my day, seriously! I always find it amazing that a little seed can flourish into such beautiful flowers.

These flowers are so lovely and the weather is divine. It’s made coming back to the UK a bit more bearable. The littlest things really can make the most difference. I hope these flowers bring you a little joy too.

See you next time for my book choice for August – spoiler – it’s amazing!

Big Love all xxxx

Blog Tour: The Wild Year – Jen Benson

Hi Book Lovers!

I hope you’re all well and had a restful weekend. Today I’m very excited to share with you another blog tour I’m part of. This time, the book really appeals to my restless side. Have you ever just sat back and felt that you want to change jobs or move house or make a big decision in some way? Are you a lover of the outdoors, adventure and camping? Then this book is very much for you! A huge thank you to @jenandsim, @aurumpress, @clairemaxwell and @quartobooksuk for the chance to be a part of this phenomenal book tour! I hope you love the book as much as I do!

What’s it all about?
Starting at home in Wiltshire, the novel is Jem’s voice and narrative. We hear about her husband, Sim and her children, E and H and their experiences in the great outdoors in their ‘Wild Year’ where they completely and utterly changed their lives. The pressure of mounting debt and having a family led the couple to making some drastic decisions. Surely life can be much easier than their current life? And more importantly be able to live by their own rules too. The joy that camping brought during various weeks in the year on holiday, surely that could be replicated and repeated long term? So their journey begins…

‘Camping was a basic way to live, but there was such joy in its simplicity. And such freedom in it being all ours: our warmth, our shelter and privacy, wherever we chose to pitch out tent. It was in that moment that I felt the first tinglings of a thought that made my heart race, and my mind jump at the possibility of hope…’

Having an idea is one thing, what was next needed was a plan. Thankfully, with the help from friends, family and kind strangers, various opportunities were created: book writing, a roof over their heads during bad weather, new friends along the way. The destinations were just as exciting, places like Dartmoor, Jurassic Coast, New Forest, the Cotswolds and the Lakes. They bought the biggest tent and gathered together all the items they would need for their experience. As you read the book, there are many lessons learnt all through experience. I found the honestly quite humbling and refreshing to be honest and supportive for those who wish to try something like this. The biggest barrier was always the weather. There’s nothing as unpredictable as English weather! However, this gave the couple the opportunity to regroup and start again, enabling them to come back even stronger.

‘It was hard not to feel despondent as we dragged everything out of the truck and tried to find places to hang it all out to dry. We were lucky that no rain was forecast for the next week, so we spread the tend out in the little field behind the cottage and spent hours sorting through the kit… In the end, destruction wasn’t as bad as we had feared.’

After the hiccups with the weather and potential damage to the tent, the family finally got going again and Christmas was soon around the corner. The family had a wholesome Christmas together, embracing their new lives and experiences. Despite the setting being dark and cold, it was one of the best Christmases because it was new and exciting. It meant more to them being part of the natural world rather than the commercialised one. As time rolled by, the young children also learnt more about the natural world they live in.

‘I noticed she was becoming fractionally more independent as each day passed, like a flower that starts as a tiny bud, wrapped up within itself, but in time opens its arms to embrace and engage with the world.’

After twelves months of camping, the Wild Year was coming to an end. The emotional pressure, the experiences, the growth in both Jen and Sim as well as their children E and H have been so worthwhile. I found myself gripped to this book because there is plenty that I could do to be more appreciative of the natural world. I found it remarkable and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in not only reading this novel, but being the first stop of the blog tour.

‘…it was a time unlike any other in our lives. One that changed everything.’

Final Thoughts
I really loved this book for so many reasons. I always respect those who want to change their lives for the better and Jen and Sim absolutely did that. They took all the challenges they faced and turned them into learning experiences. I was surprised to learn that it took Jen five years to collate all the experiences together and write this book. I admire her as a mother, a woman and a writer. What this family achieved is nothing less than a lesson in resilience. It was a great read and one that I’ll be sharing with my friends and family.

Explorations: Brick By Brick – International Lego Brick Art

Hi Loves!

I can’t wait to share this post with you all this evening. One thing I think unites us all is Lego. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t know what it is or hasn’t had any experience of Lego. You may remember a post a few years ago now where there was another Lego exhibition in Hull – Brick History. That was so cool and used Lego to create different sculptures and scenes. Brick By Brick is an exhibition currently held at Ferens Art Gallery which brings together work by a whole host of international artists, designers and photographers who use Lego as their medium or inspiration.

As well as a range of differing artists, there’s also a huge variety of sculptures, pictures, jewellery and constructions. The humble Lego block is just the starting point to create a range of eclectic masterpieces. Each piece is thought provoking and sometimes humorous. I found myself thinking and contemplating a whole host of things when I was viewing the exhibition. The ‘Stop Wars’ piece is one of my favourites for its message but I also found the image below, ‘Dangerous CORNer’ hilarious.

I also felt incredibly inspired and in awe of the sculptures too. In the centre of the gallery is a stunning female piece. I can only imagine how many hours, let alone the number of pieces of Lego used to create it. It’s quite overwhelming in a way. The close up on the head shows you the detail involved in this piece. She takes centre stage so you have to look at her when you enter the gallery.

My favourite piece though includes one of my favourite things: food. Aptly named ‘Popcorn Time’, this huge model of a popcorn tub and popcorn pieces literally brought a smile to my face. There’s something incredible about seeing small Lego pieces but seeing them ginormous is also really cool! This is such a playful piece – perfect for younger audiences too!

Useful Information:
If you’re interested in seeing this exhibition, it will be on display in Ferens Art Gallery, Hull from 28th May – 11th September 2022. You can find out more information here so you can plan your visit. Also, check out a gallery near you because this will be travelling!

Who doesn’t love Lego? You never know, with the interactive parts of the exhibition, you too may be inspired to create your own pieces using Lego at home. All I know is, Lego seems to be a universal thing and it really has united us all together in the world of play and creativity, not just in a child’s world. Lego is perfect for adults too!

Have you ever created anything with Lego? I hope this little snapshot into this exhibition has brought you a little joy on this Tuesday evening, like it did me.

Big Love all xxx

Explorations: Whitby Abbey

Evening all!

I wanted to share with you today a new explorations post! This time I toddled off to the beautiful seaside town of Whitby. I’ve never been and literally only know about it because of a) Dracula and b) Lucky Ducks made by the Whitby Glass Company. Therefore, I decided it was time for me to pay Whitby Abbey a visit and boy, it did not disappoint.

Standing tall for nearly 1500 years, this monumental ruin features everything you’d expect from a gothic abbey.

Whilst the history is fascinating, for me it was learning about the links between this abbey and Bram Stoker. In 1890, Stoker stayed in Whitby following a gruelling tour of Scotland. Whilst staying here, he absorbed the views that Whitby offered and excited writers, artists and ‘romantic-minded’ visitors for the past century.

Gothic Literature of the time was set in foreign lands with eerie castles and/or ruins and Whitby’s windswept headland with the ruined abbey meant that it gave its own sense of horror; perfect for any story.

You may have heard just this week about the Guinness World Record attempt at Whitby Abbey to celebrate 125 years of Dracula. The challenge: to get the most people dressed as a vampire at the abbey. 1369 people did just that. Impressive!

For more information on this beautiful abbey, it’s history and it’s heritage, please chick here.

Big Love xxx

Telephone Box Libraries/Book Exchange pt 2

Hey Loves!

How are you all? Well, what a shocking couple of weeks I’ve had: flu, foot injury and then what I think was Covid (all tests were negative but I’ve never felt that ill before and I’m still coughing…) I am here to share with you another explorations post. To be honest, I should have done this before so I apologise for it taking me so long! Anyway, rather excitingly, I’ve only gone and found another Telephone Library / Book Exchange box! I am so excited. They’ve become my latest obsession to find one so full marks to my wonderful dad for spotting this one for me!

Hopefully you’ll remember my previous post where I found one of these beauties in a village not to far from my parents house. You can see my previous post here. This is slightly further away but not by much. This wonderful (yet slightly messy) book exchange is in the glorious Bearley, near Stratford upon Avon. I did leave a good 12 books for the next person to find. I love these community projects so much because I love finding some great books and I also love leaving some books for other people. We never really know when our next favourite book will come! I am desperate to find more so please let me know if you spot anymore and I’ll have to find them!

My TBR is so big that my shelves are full and I have three piles of books on the floor. Being poorly has meant that my reading has slowed right down again but I’m hoping to get back on it now! I did pick up three books thought which have been added to the collection. There were so many exciting ones, it’s really easy to get carried away. Do let me know what amazing books you’ve been reading recently – you know I like to add them to the never ending list…

I really hope to find more of these! As I said before, let me know if you find one near you! I’d love to visit and leave books for people to find. I hope as well that you all continue to stay safe, well and read plenty of wonderful books. Thank you all for being so patient with me and supporting me in my absence. I adore you all. Until next time…

Big Love xxx

Wizarding World Wand Installation Tour

Hello Loves!

How are we all? I mentioned in my last post that I’ve got a couple of exploration posts to write and today I am presenting the first one. I love finding new places and seeing new things and today’s post is super exciting for me and my fellow Potterheads!

First spotted in London back in 2018 to promote the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, eight huge wands will now be touring the country to promote the release of the next film Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets. The installation features the wands of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, Lord Voldemort, Newt Scamander, Tina Goldstein, Queenie Goldstein, Gellert Grindelwald and the Elder Wand. These beauties are a whopping fifteen feet high so perfect for seeing the details up close!

There’s also a light display and music from the shows too so I managed to visit twice! The evenings were much busier with hundreds of people queuing to see them! I saw them outside the City Hall in Hull which was very exciting but they sadly departed today to head towards their next venue. You can see them here:

  • March 11–17 – Birmingham, the Bullring
  • March 21–27 – Stoke-on-Trent, Smithfield
  • March 30–April 5 – Reading, the Oracle Shopping Centre

A must see for any Potter or Fantastic Beasts fan, these really did bring a bright of joy and light into this week in Hull. I think one of the best things for me wasn’t just seeing them, but seeing all the youngsters dressed up. It shows you that over twenty years later, the magic lives on. Fantastic Beasts means that there’s another generation to continue the love!

These daytime photos were taken very early in the morning so there wasn’t anyone around, thankfully. I hope you appreciate them! If you’re off to visit, wrap up (it’s cold again!) and embrace the magic. Are you off to see them? Do let me know what you think! Take care everyone and I’ll see you when I’m back for my next post.

Big Love xxxx

Telephone Box Libraries/Book Exchange

Hi Lovelies!

How are we all? I really hope you’re all doing well and taking good care of yourselves and your loved ones. Naturally, I hope you’re all reading amazing books that I’ll want to add to my pile but I absolutely cannot buy anymore books…

Today I want to share with you a very exciting post based on something I stumbled across over my Christmas break. Now, the title of this post gives it away but it’s the first time I’ve ever found myself one. I’ve become so obsessed that before term started I visited three times making various donations too!

I stumbled across this telephone box library in Shrewley, Warwickshire when I was visiting my family over the Christmas break. I didn’t even realise it was there! I spotted it as I was driving past and now I’m desperately trying to find more. I think the thing I love most about it is the sense that my books are sitting there waiting to be discovered and loved by whoever picks them up next. I love the sense of community behind it too and the fact that they are there for everyone. This particular one has a whole range of exciting bits inside: fiction, non-fiction, cookery books, children’s books, DVDs, CDs and jigsaws.

Here I am, perusing the shelves! (Clearly I have no shame…) I did take three novels, one of which I’m reading now and will be reviewing next, and dropped ten off for others to enjoy. I’m really looking forward to going back there and seeing what treasures I find. I guess this is where the beautiful blogging community comes in… where are more of these gems? I’d be so keen to hear about where they are and the delights you’ve got from inside them. Here’s what I got!

If you love books as much as I do, keep an eye out for your own telephone library / book exchange when you’re out and about. You just don’t know what lies inside waiting to be discovered or quite realise what impact this will have on you.

Let me know about your experiences with telephone box libraries.

Big love all xxx

London’s Calling!

Hello Everyone!

Oh, my am I excited to be writing this post. I’ve looked back on my blog history and I’ve not written and explorations post for two years. That’s thanks to the obvious but today I want to share with you some snaps of my recent trip to London.

This trip was definitely a once in a lifetime experience because I was booked into the Shagri-La, the Shard hotel. Mesmerising and iconic, it’s the capital’s highest building with unmatched views of London’s skyline enveloped with 5* excellence.

There are so many things about this hotel that it’s quite overwhelming with where to begin. The staff are excellent, the food sublime. What made it for me was the room which was furnished with everything you could ever ask for: marble bathroom, rain falling shower, heated toilet seat. The bed was quite literally like sleeping on a cloud. (I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve Googled extensively about trying to buy their pillows…) It’s the view though that is quite literally breathtaking. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I didn’t want to stop looking at it.

London Bridge by Day
London Bridge by Night

Oh, the Shangri-La, you have my heart.

I really will never forget that experience. If any of you are around London, take a trip to the Ting restaurant. I highly recommend the breakfast and the dinner menu. (A little shoutout here for Alex and Nathanial who waited on me for the weekend!)

Lastly, this weekend reminded me of what Covid has taken away from us. The chance to go off exploring and see new places. Having the ability to be able to do that again (at the moment anyway) meant that this trip was all the more special to me. And yes, that is a free standing bath overlooking the Tower of London.

Wherever you are in the world, just know that lockdown or not, we’re never really apart because of this platform. I hope this little post has taken you off on a trip to one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

Continue to stay safe and well, especially as it’s now wrap up season!

Big love all xxx