29 August 2015

Matilda the Musical

Dress - Topshop       Bag - Urban Outfitters (similar)        Shoes - New Look (similar)

I convinced myself that this building was 12 Grimmauld Place
Before the Theatre mum and I went for a lovely meal at The Covent Garden Hotel's Brasserie Blanc. They offered one of my favourite dishes - Tuna Nicoise - and the fact they asked you how you like your tuna steak cooked was a new one for me! Medium rare isn't just for beef. Yet possibly the highlight was the mini ketchup bottle they brought out (because I ask for ketchup with everything except roast dinners).

When it comes to theatre I am a snob - no two ways about it! I refuse to go to Pantomimes, while 'happy-clappy' style shows don't interest me at all. I would go to Mama Mia under sufferance, let's but it that way (the film is an exception - anything with Meryl Streep is an exception!

The first musical I ever saw on The West End was Phantom of the Opera when I was tiny. I didn't think anything could top it. However, when I saw Les Mis around the age of 12 it blew me away; I now truly believed nothing could ever surpass this. Billy Elliot on Broadway (bonus comedy points in the 'Yankie-Geordie' accent) and Wicked at The Bristol Hippodrome both came close…

Then along came Matildaand I wasn't blown away…

I was spellbound. There is a difference: with Phantom and Les Mis, I was captivated watching the stories unfold. With Matilda, I was in the story. I don't know quite how else to describe it, but from the very start you are invested in the story. The stage - which had no curtains, so the entire set was visible from the start, definitely helped this.

Then you're off, and you're whisked away into the pages of one of Britain's most beloved books (if you don't agree we can't be friends), yet now given whole new chapters you've never seen before. One of my favourite twists with the stage production, was the focus on storytelling.

Above all else, Dahl is a storyteller, and this is an element of Matilda the producers brought out so vividly. The government should send kids to this show on mass!  Storytelling is so important when you're young; incidentally it's one of the topics I am considering for my dissertation, and am veering more towards after seeing this musical! So many people will disregard or scorn this view, but in my eyes thee are few things are more powerful or nurturing than a book. When it comes to Dahl's story, imagination is the strongest light. This musical sees the light burst into a firework of laughter, tears, suspense, shock, then more tears, laughter that comes uncontrollably at the most unexpected of times.

Craig Els' turn as the Trunchbull is comedy gold, as is as Bruce Bogtrotter. The ending had mum and I in stitches, partly from disbelief that we were truly watching this. I felt comforted that people still exist with an imagination  as random and whacky as can be - in the best way possible!

The one thing you do have to put aside, from the beginning, is any association with the film version. Rereading Matilda again this summer, I realised just how different the two are; the West End version is, in many ways, closer to the original. I was slightly disappointed they didn't show more of Matilda's tricks, such as the talking parrot in the fireplace, especially when they have a song titled "Naughty"!

Nonetheless, the storytelling twist with librarian Ms Phelps was a real highlight of the production, and truly captured Matilda's love of books in an innovative way. I was shocked to learn that the Matilda we saw - Violet Tucker - was making her debut performance in this show! She was a convincing lead throughout; her projection in the storytelling parts was remarkable for her age, and you warmed to her from the be inning.

I also liked how different she was in appearance from Mara Wilson. When my mum commented that "she was incredible, but not as I expected", I responded that she actually resembled the Quentin Blake illustration quite a bit - and Blake made the original Matilda! 

Most of all, I loved how the children still sounded like children. Sometimes on the West End, kids can be made to sound like adults; this wasn't the case at all here. As I mentioned earlier, it all contributed to this more intimate setting; as an audience member you felt truly invested in the production. There was nothing commercial about it; even the decor outside the main theatre had a homely feel to it, with quotes in vintage frames and the cast names written up on a chalkboard!

If there's one slight criticism I had, it was that at times comedy compromised the emotional execution, such as Matilda's story; the end didn't tug on my heartstrings quite the same way as the film. While The Trunchbull brought humour, I felt a far stronger sense of hatred towards her than Mr Wormwood; he was almost too caricatured. When Miss Honey sings "this is my house", the waterworks started!

Nonetheless, there were still tears; during Matilda's performance "quiet" you could have heard a pin drop. There is a line towards the end that still gives me goosebumps.

This project couldn't have been in safer hands than the RSC, given that Shakespeare is one of  Britain's greatest storytellers. My next hope is that the BFG might come onto stage - the film already had a hit song (in my eyes), but it's another story that would thrive in The West End.

The fact it was created by the Royal Shakespeare Company - with Tim Minchin behind the score - says it all really. So do the awards! This is a musical I would go and see again tomorrow. The soundtrack is nearing triple figure plays, since being downloaded 2 weeks ago. 

I am quite certain I will keep playing it when I grow up too. But for now I'll happily stay little. It turns out you can do a lot.


What are your favourite musicals? 

Did you read Matilda as a child?

25 August 2015

Whitehall & Windsors


We weren't able to get tickets to tour the Palace until the afternoon, and we discovered the hard way that NOTHING IS OPEN ON A SUNDAY MORNING. I kid you not, OXFORD STREET TOPSHOP WAS CLOSED! I am still recovering from shock. Instead, what some stores do is a preview hour, where you browse the items between 11-12. No wonder our economy isn't recovering faster - first people aren't paid properly and now they can't spend! 

We cheered ourselves up with a breakfast stop at the holy grail, Pret, than took ourselves on a stroll up Whitehall. Westminster was calling and the weather was balmy; it was the perfect remedy for deprived shoppers. 
Then came my 2nd discovery of the day (well technically the 3rd - the 2nd was Pret's tropical green tea, aka paradise in a cup). There are NO BINS in this area of London. I walked from Buckingham Palace to Wesminster Abbey, empty prey cup in hand, without spotting a single bin. Mum told me this is due to bomb risks; one of those things that makes complete sense when you hear it, but never would have guessed.  

Dad would have been thoroughly disappointed if we'd  returned from our trip without a selfie, so here was the only acceptable one (aka both of us being in the frame). We felt slightly deflated that we couldn't go inside Wesminster to see Poet's corner, but the sign below kept us entertained … 
Just me whose thinking Osborne got a bit carried away with the Tory victory? Now we know where all the construction investment's going. By George, clearly no SW1 is safe... 
Before we knew it, the clock stuck lunchtime. It's a bit of a Harrison family tradition to go to Carluccio's when in London. Now of course it is one of the most well-known chains in the country, but we went when you could count them on one hand! I must have been 5 or 6 when we first went; 15 years on the love is still going strong.


From parliament to palace, it was a very official day. So it seemed fitting to channel my all-things-England with Wimbledon white and Royal blue, which just so happened to be identical to my Wearing Wimbledon outfit. The English rose look was complete with my Hattie brogues and takeaway green tea… unlike the Queen I don't have Messrs Fortnum and Mason on speed dial, but with a Pret on every corner I'm content. 

The Buckingham palace tour was brilliant; it's been another little bucket list item for mum and I. When we found out from a family friend that the current tour - A Royal Welcome - shows how they put on a state banquet, we knew we had to go. This could be the closet we ever get to Downtons, let alone the Windsors! 

You can't take photos inside the Palace, but I was glad of this as it made the Downton fairytale far more realistic (let's overlook the walkie talkie). Unexpectedly, my favourite part was the art gallery. I was blown away by the extent and calibre of the Royal Collection, especially those amassed by Charles I. With 7,000 paintings, artists range from Raphael and Titian, to Reuben and Van Dyck - not the Mary Poppins one, although that would have been the berry on top. Speaking of berries… 
This might possibly be one of the happiest photos I've ever seen of my mum; it's clear the Royal magic took over! We ordered tea - obviously - which came in Fortnum & Mason style blue cups. We actually still have the cups, and have kept using them, although mum was slightly crestfallen when she couldn't purchase the tea tray in the gift shop!
The tea tent is just outside the back of the palace, where you can also get cakes and pastries perfect for afternoon tea. Mum and I tried their version of a victoria sponge, mostly because of the golden raspberry. Confession time, it tasted more Mr Kipling than Masterchef! 

But it was part of the experience, and with crown-stamped chocolate /gold-dust you're practically eating ambrosia. Shame about the rope in the background. Nonetheless, as my next post on Matilda the Musical will spotlight, imagination is one of the most powerful things… 

In my royal blue I was feeling quite regal indeed, and every girl deserves her Princess moment. Mums included. 

Have you ever been to Buckingham Palace?

Did you know all shops are closed Sunday Morning?!

What is your favourite breakfast stop in London?

Matthew Crawley (alive) or Prince Harry?

19 August 2015

Notting Hill

As much as I loved the market, other areas of Portobello also captured my heart. Buried throughout Notting Hill are the most wonderful little boutique shops, not to mention former houses of literary legends….
And there I was thinking bloomsbury was the place to be. I can definitely see Notting Hill providing some wonderful story inspiration - besides films starring Hugh Grant, that is. 
Now that the book lover in me was happy as Lary, it was time to find the shops… As far as alternative fashion  labels go, London is a treasure trove - turns out Notting Hill has oozets and what sits galore - go to the end of the post to shop my favourites! 

Yumi was the first port of call and purchase of our trip - besides Pret because, well, Pret is love. Now here is a prime example window display wonder. I fell head over heels…


Come autumn, I will be back for this hedgehog jumper! They also had one with a retro telephone on the front, but parisian style + cute animals = living fairytale. The overall decor of the shop was also on point. A hat light? How have I not thought of this before?!
If Orwell and hedgehogs weren't enough, Tolkien quotes and foxy purses stepped in to hit the brief.

Downstairs you entered the world of Sass & Belle, aka one of my favourite decor labels on this earth - if you've seen my instagram you will already be familiar with the cushion on the right...

Well I now have a second Sasss & Belle quote cushion to my name! When I see a quote I can't help myself. Some call it obsession. I call it happiness.


I LOVE this brand! I've seen it on ASOS a few times, and have always been very taken by the elegant cuts and pastel colour palette of their clothes. If you are loving the 70s throwback, or simply like beautiful dresses, it's worth paying a visit. When I saw the store signposted, I convinced mum to do a little detour and we were both glad we did. 

For one thing, it was like stepping into an art gallery. The spider-style light gives the hat bulb in Yumi a run for its money. I loved a lot of the clothes, but my eye was most drawn to the shirt below… 
… but they didn't have it in my size! I was gutted. An online search by the lovely sales assistant revealed that neither ASOS, nor the Sister Jane site itself, had this top left in size small. I keep checking on ebay and live in hope. I've found some alternatives, but on this one I don't know if I am willing to compromise! 


The Saturday we were in Notting Hill was seriously hot! The poor cupcakes outside Hummngbird Bakery were melting before our eyes, and even stepping near the crepe vans made you feel like you were in a sauna! Then we saw this sign. Fro Yo. Aka one of America's best exports! This definitely helped me cool down/ recover from my Sister Jane heartbreak, plus the window seat was great for people watching! 

Mum, bless her, is trying her best with blogging life - she moved her pot next to mine, along with the plant, for snap time. She just forgot to wait before tucking in… to be fair, I was struggling to wait too!

* * * 
From market strolls to literary finds, my Notting Hill experience was one I will definitely be repeating! If anyone is planning a London trip, definitely put it on your bucket list. You won't regret it.

What are you favourite markets in London?

What are your favourite Froyo toppings? 

Have you ever visited Sass & Belle or Sister Jane? 


15 August 2015

Portobello Market

Street where the riches of ages are stowed…

Ever since I compulsively watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks as a child, way back when video existed, Portobello Market has been up there on the bucket list. to paraphrase Angela Lansbury in her other iconic role, it's a dream as old as time… well finally, 15 years on, it came true!

As you can see, I'm resumable chuffed about this. Now all that was needed was to commence the hunt for antique bedknobs and brooms I can pretend to fly on… Okay, I really will try to contain myself with film references in this post. Starting… now. It shouldn't be too hard; the photos speak for themselves!


My obsession with floppy hats is no secret, so I was devastated when the one I finally ordered from ASOS was too small - yup, apparently I have a large head. You learn something new everyday. This was the first thing we saw entering the market, and my mum was almost as excited as I was! The end of this post shall reveal my hat of choice...

The one slightly sad reality check to my storybook afternoon was the bookstall of all places - the stall owner was so rude to customers, I was adamant I wasn't giving him a single penny. Funnily enough a similar thing happened to me at the YSL counter the other week… earn your money where you mouth is. 

The dog card was a winner though - this is Millie in a picture! My comment to mum "let's buy it and we can just rip of the baby" was met with a slightly concerned glance by the male seller;' however, in my defence, the man did say "the baby's leg is lightly broken". Poor baby.

Despite my slight obsession with teasets, I walked away from my market experience having purchased  not a single teaset. If that isn't willpower I don't know what is? These market boxes from Alice's, however, couldn't be overlooked. This shop is near the entrance to the market;  if you go to Portobello it is a must!

In the centre of the Portobello was the indoor market, which required teacup restraint the most! Nonetheless, if money was no object and trains had endless storage, the two items below would not have escaped operation make-Sophie's-room-a-lifesize-treasure-trove-of-wonderfulness

Book boxes are another love I have charted on this blog, but as lovely as they are I didn't let the moment carry me away - I was on a Portobello hype, but on some things Etsy will always do it better!


I finally got my floppy hat and it made me so very happy! I've also been on the hunt for a makeup box but have been beyond fussy in settling on what I want. I do become anxious buying things, in case something better comes along, but when I saw these boxes I knew it was love.

I am aware my DIY skills on the jam jar box leave something to be desired - recycled Whittard tea label and wrapping drawer ribbon scream more shabby than chic - but I love it and that's what matters!

* * *

Tomorrow I'll share more of Portobello, but for now I will bask in happy market memories. If Ariel thought she'd found gadgets and gismos, she'd clearly never visited Portobello! Nonetheless, like Ariel I did leave wanting more… I wanted to buy a bedknob and dance down the street singing my heart out. I also wanted to meet Angela Lansbury and a talking Lion. I am still left in dreamland on this one.

I did say I would try to avoid film references. I didn't make any promises. Portobello was still pretty magical though. Come back tomorrow for some non-market rambles! 

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