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Showing posts from April, 2017

I Capture the Castle, Bolton Octagon

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When I was younger, I loved Dodie Smith's 'I Capture the Castle', so the news it was being turned into a musical was very welcome.

On Thursday evening, I took my first trip to the Bolton Octagon and was transported right back into that world my imagination had loved.

This adaptation is a beautiful one - whimsical, innovative and performed by a highly accomplished cast.


It was always going to be a challenge to transfer to the stage a story that plays out largely in the head and diary or 17 year-old Cassandra, but this play handles that obstacle well.

Early scenes saw her writing in her diary, with the rest of the cast pausing in freeze frame as she added extra commentary and asides. This went on for just long enough to let audiences realise we were viewing events through her eyes, and set up the idea that what we were seeing maybe wasn't 100% truth, but a truth through the eyes of a young woman.

Adding well to this effect was Cassandra's very 'realistic' cha…

Ghost, The Lowry

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Post update: Since publishing this review, Carolyn Maitland has let me know she was unwell and didn't perform the role last night. Frustratingly, we were not told this. Maybe this was part of the answer as to why the show didn't feel at its full energy. Hopefully Carolyn feels much better soon and can return to the role!

After having first seen Ghost performed at GSA a couple of years ago and being wowed, I was so excited to see the touring production was coming to The Lowry.

As we took our seats last night, I was ready to be swept along again in the emotion and pace of the show, which is packed with great songs.

Unfortunately, I came away so, so disappointed.

I'm not sure if everyone was having a bit of an off night, but it was one of the most disappointing professional productions I've seen for a long time.


I'm not going to spend a long time tearing it apart as that just feels negative and unnecessary, but I just wanted to share the five things where I felt the s…

Chain hotels in Central London: Travelodge vs. Premier Inn

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A few weeks ago, we spent a weekend in London, and trying to keep costs down we opted for a Travelodge night (we had a voucher) and a Premier Inn night. Usually, we spend a long time hunting and often stay in independent hotels in London as it can work out cheaper, but this weekend we needed easy and functional!
I've stayed in hotels of both chains many times, all over the country, and do quite like the fact you always know what you're going to get. Travelodges tend to be more simple and very functional, whereas Premier Inns feel that little bit more comfy, so it just depends on the reason for your stay.

Travelodge, London Central Kings Cross
This was not my first stay in this particular hotel. When I used to live in Macclesfield and have regular work trips to London, this was often where I stayed as it was so close to both the train station and the London office. It was always exactly what I needed, and I never had any issues.
But I've never stayed there on a Saturday nig…

The Recipe Post #11: Spiced Chickpea Burgers

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Earlier this week, I tried out a new recipe on my family which went down an absolute treat.

After a failed chickpea burger attempt the week before (a Jamie recipe calling for FAR too much sweetcorn), I wanted to redeem myself and offer up a good burger.

The winning recipe came from the 'Homemade By You' section on the Sainsbury's recipes website.



You'll need:

1 small onion, chopped4 garlic cloves, chopped1.5tsp each of ground cumin, chilli powder and garam masala2tsp ground coriander2tsp grated root ginger2 cans chickpeas, drained2 slices wholemeal bread, in breadcrumbs To serve: Whatever you like! We went for chunky sweet potato and normal potato wedges with a simple salad - and ketchup of course.
 Pop some oil into a pan and gently cook the onion and garlic for a minute, before adding in the ginger, dried spices, salt and 50ml water. Cook until the mixture is dry. Add in the chickpeas, and again cook until any moisture has evaporated. This happens fairly quickly.

Pour …

My sister is running the marathon!

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Tomorrow, on the 23rd April 2017, my younger sister is running the London Marathon.

About 8 months ago, she had never been on a run.

Tomorrow, she will run 26.2 miles as a part of Team NSPCC, and I could not be more proud if I tried.


Anyone who knows my sister will know she is stubborn, determined, fiercely independent and highly ambitious.

If she puts her mind to something, she will do it, even if she has to alter the plans a little along the way.


Interviewed yesterday on BBC Radio Newcastle, Kitty recalled watching the London Marathon on TV with our dad last year, saying she couldn't think of anything she would want to do less than go and run a marathon.

Two months later, she was a member of Team NSPCC.

Eight months of training later, the day is almost here.


Kate being Kate, taking on the challenge of going from non-runner to marathon runner was not enough, so she decided to combine it with a complete lifestyle change, adopting a plant-based diet, and removing gluten and refined…

Spoiler free: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Earlier this month, 18 months after the day I purchased the tickets, the time finally came for us to take our seats at the Palace Theatre, London, to experience five hours of theatre set in the wizarding world.

It's been a long wait.

One of the things I think has been truly wonderful about this play is that people really have been sticking to the 'rules', following that principle of '#keepthesecrets'.

Even since the release of the script in book form, I've heard no spoilers whatsoever, and was able to head into the theatre having no idea what to expect.

For that reason, this will be nothing like my normal theatre reviews, and will instead focus on my feelings about the day and the experience.


Like many people around my age, I grew up with Harry Potter. I read every book eagerly on release, have reread the whole series multiple times and have seen all of the films more than once.

I've visited the Warner Brothers' Studio Tour, and marvelled at J K Rowling…

Made in Dagenham, NK Theatre Arts

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I had been told before seeing last week's production of Made in Dagenham that NK Theatre Arts is not just another amateur theatre group. I was told 'the production is professional in every respect apart from the fact the actors are unpaid'.

After watching that show, I'd chime into that discussion and say it was one of the best 'amateur' productions I've seen, and NK Theatre Arts has definitely got something special going on.

The Romiley Forum is a great home for productions, with a roomy auditorium, tiered seating and a large raised stage. There's a small bar area and those that work around the theatre clearly love what they're producing.

I saw Made in Dagenham when it was on in London and already knew I loved the musical, but was aware that timing is everything and it's a very strong ensemble show, so would demand a lot of the cast.

NK Theatre Arts well and truly rose to the challenge.



I'll start with that ensemble element, because Made in …