Showing posts from June, 2016

The Reading List #41

A couple of the books in this week’s reading list were much-hyped when they first came out, which I think sometimes makes me judge them more harshly. When I’m told a book is fantastic, I set such high expectations that sometimes it’s easy to be let down.
This week’s list was a bit of a mixture – some I loved, and others just didn’t wow me.

A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

This is the diary of Nao, which has been transported via a tsunami, and will change the life of its reader. The only way I can describe this book is stunning. It calls into question things like what it means to be human, to be alive, and to live in the moment. It’s a story of loss, growing up, and family, and stories which have been left behind. I’d call this a must-read: it’s beautiful.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, Therese Anne Fowler

Set against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties, this is a story of a woman trying to find her own identity from behind her husband’s shadow. The jazz and indulgence throughout per…

Titanic the Musical, Charing Cross Theatre

Titanic the musical has made a triumphant return to the West End, taking up residence at the Charing Cross Theatre. A beautiful venue seating up to 265, you feel close to the action wherever you’re seated, which is helped by the fact the actors use the aisle space around the theatre throughout the show.
I’ve seen an amateur production of the show before which I absolutely loved, and while I expected a professional production to wow me even more it honestly went above and beyond anything I expected.
Let me start by saying Titanic has one of the most stunning scores of any musical I have seen. A bold statement, considering how often I’m at the theatre, but this music really is phenomenal. Entirely sung with only a few moments of spoken dialogue, it’s a rich tapestry of work which builds to create the extremes of emotion necessary when telling such a tale.
This cast do that music justice. I will talk about some individuals and songs in more depth, but overall the sound the cast made was…

DoubleTree by Hilton London Excel

Last weekend, my dad came to London for our trip to Funny Girl, and we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton London Excel.

The weekend started with confusion as we actually went to the wrong hotel first (DoubleTree by Hilton London Docklands) - apparently the two hotels are often confused as they both have Docklands in the name or address. After a cab ride with a pretty rude driver, we made it to the right hotel, in the Docklands area near the Excel exhibition centre.

It's a pretty handy location tube-wise, taking about 30 minutes to get into central London.

However, I've stayed in this area a couple of times and it's worth being aware that although the area is 'accessible' time-wise, you actually are a bit out on a limb. When we got back from the theatre at gone 11pm, the short route back to our hotel from Prince Regent DLR station was closed, so we had to walk all the way around the Excel which is extremely poorly lit and doesn't feel safe.

At night, the area is…

Funny Girl, The Savoy Theatre

How do you revive a classic musical with wit, flair and a feeling of originality?

Just ask the creative team of Funny Girl, at the Savoy Theatre.

I was blown away.

Funny Girl was a show I knew little about, which makes a pleasant change for me as I know most musicals I see inside out before I take my seat. All I knew was the iconic 'Don't Rain on my Parade' - nothing else of the story, the songs or the themes.

I went expecting a fantastic show, but was unprepared for just how much I would fall in love with Fanny Brice and her story.

I've tried to play it cool and not launch in with my praise for Natasha J Barnes but my goodness, what a star. Effortlessly funny, likeable, charming and with one of the best voices I've heard in a long time, I couldn't imagine a more perfect role for her.

I was with her every second, every sideways glance to the audience, every stunning note, every happiness and every heartbreak.

In 'Don't Rain on my Parade' and its rep…

Where have I been?

I could write a lot here, but a lot of the thoughts in my head don't really have much structure yet.

So really all I'm going to say is it's ok to struggle.

I've spoken on here about my anxiety a number of times, and over the past few years I've been learning to deal with it and control it.

But sometimes you can't control everything.

Sometimes, your thoughts can take themselves a little too far, and the struggle feels a bit too much.

I've spent two weeks doing nothing but attending appointments, reading, writing, and trying to look after myself a bit.

I had become so good at putting on that mask of pretending everything was fine that I had neglected the fact there were still issues there I really needed to work through and couldn't keep ignoring.

About two weeks ago, the anxiety reared its head with full force, and it was a blow to hear that has now been joined by depression.

A blow, but also an explanation, because those I'm close to will know the m…

When you work with your dad...

It seems an appropriate day to share a story about my dad.

Soon, I'll fill you in a bit on why there's been two weeks of silence... but right now it's a space for a story about my dad.

Or rather, a story about my dad and me.

Of both of us, of a period of 15 months where we were both father and daughter, and boss and employee.

When I first graduated, I worked for my dad for just under a year and a half, and in that period we learned a lot about each other and about ourselves.

Not only were there new boundaries to navigate, and the need to establish that line between work time and family time, but I was in a period where I was struggling.

Towards the end of university was when my anxiety first decided to properly rear its head, and the Sophie that was working with dad then was not the Sophie of now or the Sophie of six months before.

I was cautious. I was apologetic, I had forgotten what my talents were, where my strengths lay and how strong I could be.

We were trying to fig…

Fitness via YouTube

I've never been great at the whole fitness thing.

I used to swim when  was younger, and that was then replaced by dancing.

My parents weren't the kind of parents to let us just laze around in front of the tv all weekend so we would go for walks and be out in the fresh air.

I'm happy walking to and from places where that's an option. In fact, in my first job out of university, I used to walk to work, which was 3.5 miles each way!

Anyway, I think what I'm trying to say is I've always had some kind of activity going on, but I've never had a 'regime' of my own, where  self-motivate and actually do the work myself.

When I left school and university and the dancing stopped, I realised no one was going to tell me what to do any more, but that in itself didn't push me to change too far.

When I lived in Darlington, there was a pay-as-you-go gym and I think I went a grand total of three times in the two years I lived there.

I went through a phase of think…

On having excess 'stuff'

I’ve got a bit of an issue with ‘stuff’.
I like having stuff.
Then I feel overcrowded and want it out.
I go through phases of collecting things, then feel the need to purge and get them all out. It happens with everything.
I used to buy so many magazines you wouldn’t believe. When I had no room to keep them, I’d keep a folder of the front covers. One day, I recycled them all.
I went through a phase of buying loads of (fairly cheap) clothes, then had a day where I needed to sort through everything and keep only the things that were flattering and that I loved.
I bought so much makeup and so many toiletries there’s no way one person could use it all and I was running out of space to store it. Then I suddenly couldn’t bear how many products were crowding me out. I’ve been using everything up, so I can get to the point where I have one of everything, plus a backup if said item is close to running out.
I’ve always been like it.
I feel such an urge to collect or buy a certain thing, which is followe…

Hello, June

May was about realising when I need a break.

The week in Kent was a bit of a wake up call, reminding me how important it is sometimes to switch off from everything.

The month ended with a beautiful evening at Lambeth Palace for a masquerade ball.

And what about this month?

The theatre trips are back, for a start, which is good because I'm having withdrawal symptoms! My dad's coming to visit so we can head to Funny Girl, and I'm also seeing Titanic the Musical later in the month. I saw an amateur production of it a few years ago and was really impressed, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in the West End, complete with one of my sister's friends as a cast member.

There are films lined up that I want to see, including the new X Men and Race, plus the excitement of looking forward to my birthday month in July.

I want June to be about enjoying the things I have lined up whilst remembering what I took away from Kent: the need to slow my mind down and try and actually r…