Swan Lake, St Petersburg Classic Ballet, Storyhouse Chester

I've wanted to see Swan Lake for years and years, and over the weekend at Storyhouse I had my chance.

Presented by the St Petersburg Classic Ballet, Tchaikovsky's iconic music was brought to life for a couple of performances at the wonderful Chester venue.

We were sitting right at the top of the Gallery, which I have to admit was a perfect position from which to view a ballet - we could see all the formations and dances from above, but the layout and clever tiering at Storyhouse meant we didn't feel far from the action.

I also enjoyed being able to see straight into the orchestra pit, as when it comes to watching a ballet, the music is just as important as the movement.

Maybe the orchestra is where I will start: I was so impressed. The full orchestra created a wonderfully balanced sound and the familiar music filled the auditorium beautifully. I want to particularly mention the clarinet player, who had some brilliant lead moments.

There were also some standout dancers. As …

Mental health update: back to the doctor (but it's a good thing!)

I went through a long period of feeling like asking for help meant I had failed.

And that asking for MORE help because I hadn't yet had enough was greedy, or an example I had failed even more.

Both of those beliefs were wrong.

One thing I've been consciously working on so far in 2018 is asking for and accepting help.

A couple of weeks ago, I went back to the doctor to chat about my mental health once more.

For some context, I finished my last period of counselling in December 2016, which is when I left London and moved back up north. My counsellor was brilliant and I made huge progress, but with the amount of issues I had to work through I had been told from day one I was likely to need more than one 12 week course of sessions. For more on those sessions, head right this way, where I've shared about that experience in full.

When I finished my final session, the counsellor suggested a period of a few months over which I would continue putting into practice the techniques we…

Time blitzes

If you asked a lot of people I've spent time with over the years, both in and out of school and beyond, they'd probably agree that I was an organised person. I've always done well at creating that illusion.

The truth is, I really battle with myself most days to get anything done at all.

I've always wanted to get things done, not let people down and do everything to the best of my ability, but inside my mind there is a master procrastinator.

Don't get me wrong, some things I don't struggle to get done. There might be an immovable deadline or something of huge importance; if there's absolutely no choice or a clear deadline, I'll get that thing done.

As soon as there's some uncertainty, the desire to be efficient starts to duel with the master procrastinator.

I've tried lots of things over the years to help, but this year decided things really needed to change. I'm juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities across many areas of my life, and if…

The Reading List #50

This reading list is a real mixture: a thriller, an old favourite, mental health and a study on the position of young men in today's society. I'm continuing to enjoy always having both fiction and non-fiction on the go, so this post definitely reflects that.

Here are my latest four reads...

Five Quarters of the Orange, Joanne Harris

I first read this book years ago, but always knew I would return to it as the writing is so beautiful. Framboise's nephew is trying to use her success, built upon recipes she inherited from her mother. From this starting point, the novel falls into a story of wartime childhood, a mother deteriorating fast and a pivotal tragedy. There's also some extracts from her mother's journal and notebooks throughout to add another layer to the narrative.

There are running themes of food, family and growing up, but beneath that is the lurking threat of illness and of German occupation. It's just a beautifully written novel, with some great observ…

Accountability partners

I've never really done the whole 'accountability partner' thing before.

Truth be told, I don't like being told what to do. I've also always been the best at keeping in touch out of most of my friends so it would always have been me doing that chasing for check-ins.

On a related note, I've never quite been on the same path at the same time as any of my friends. Certainly not aligned enough to be true accountability partners and understand each other's goals and motivations.

Because being an accountability partner isn't just about cheering your friends on or having a bit of a catch up; it's about pushing one another forwards and helping each other to be honest about what we're actually doing and whether or not that's best serving us.

Enter Emily.

Emily and I went to primary school together, and this time last year ended up getting back in touch and realised we're in very similar places mentally, with goals that are very different but fit i…

The Play That Goes Wrong, Storyhouse Chester

I can't remember the last time I laughed so solidly throughout a show before this Tuesday.

The UK tour of The Play That Goes Wrong swept into Storyhouse in Chester this week, and it more than delivered the hilarity the posters promised.

Let me start by saying I love a show that gets the audience involved before the show even begins. The stage managers and director were all over the auditorium, a member of the audience was pulled up to help fix the set, and the atmosphere of excitement was rippling across the stalls before curtain up arrived.

I'm not usually the biggest fan of this style of humour - slapstick, quite 'silly' humour - but for one evening my mind was changed. I think I've usually only seen this kind of thing on TV, but seeing it on stage gave me a whole new sense of appreciation because you realise just how difficult it must be to have so much 'go wrong'. From stunts to collapsing sets to unconscious actors, there was so much going on which dem…

Hello, February 2018 - Time to Talk Day

We are on our way to Spring!

I've got to say, I didn't find January as slow and dreadful as lots of people seemed to be saying it was, but I'm not going to complain about the days getting longer and stepping closer to the warmer months.

January was absolutely action-packed this year, full of family and friends and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

February is already looking pretty booked up, so I'm looking forward to doing more of the same.

I couldn't write a post today and not mention that it is Time to Talk Day 2018. I'm a huge fan of this day every year, because I cannot emphasise enough how important talking has been in my own mental health journey.

Whether it's been finding the right words to express my own struggle, opening up to a counsellor or using my own voice to begin conversations with others around me who have realised they need help, talking has been the essential ingredient.

I'm not going to go into my story as so many will be telli…