Wednesday, April 19

Wonderland | Mayflower Theatre, Southampton


I've been super lucky to see a few shows recently, and I have really fallen in love with the Mayflower, it's the biggest theatre on the south coast with over 2,300 seats in the auditorium. The staff are always so warm and friendly, and I know I'm guaranteed to have a great evening. When I was kindly invited to see Wonderland yesterday, I honestly had no idea what to expect. There have been so many adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, that I was intrigued to see how it would be portrayed on stage.

Following sold out seasons in Tampa, Texas and Tokyo, the multi Grammy, Tony and Drama Desk Award nominated Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland receives its UK and European premiere in this brand new British production. Hailed by the New York Times as “inspirational”, Wonderland is an enchanting adventurous exploration musical of who we are, who we want to be and the power of everyday magic in our lives.

It follows Alice as a divorced single mother, played by Rachael Wooding at Mayflower Theatre from 18-22 April 2017. In the tradition of the best stage musicals, Wonderland boasts a catchy score full of songs by Frank Wildhorn.

After reading the press release, having many tweets telling me the show was amazing, and learning of the awards it had won and the actors they'd cast, I did have high hopes which sadly, did not live up to my personal expectations. At half time, myself and the fellow Southampton Bloggers discussed what we thought so far, and we were all a bit torn. I was very 50/50 with it. There were elements which I really enjoyed, but I mostly found it cheesy, and lacking that real magic and imagination Alice is known for.

Rachael Wooding has an exceptionally good voice however, she gave me goose bumps! No surprise as she went to the live finals of Britain's Got Talent last year, and did make a good Alice. She wasn't the only good voice however, Wendi Peters (Cilla in Coronation Street), played Queen of Hearts and was brilliant. I was disappointed she wasn't on stage more to be honest, as she was cast so well and her voice was equally as beautiful. Finally, Natalie McQueen as Mad Hatter was another huge talent. Rachael & Natalie's (Alice & Mad Hatter) duet of ‘This Is Who I Am' is a song I'd genuinely listen to over and over again. Their vocals together was amazing.

Overall, the show was very polished, I didn't spot a single mistake and the choreography with perfectly in sync. However, I found I was comparing it too closely to the original Alice story that I know and love, and therefore didn't enjoy it as much as I know others might. It's a little cheesy at times, but bright, fun and worth a watch if you'd got little ones too.


Tickets for Wonderland are on sale from Mayflower Theatre Box Office tel: 02380 711811 or online at mayflower.org.uk.
*Complimentary Press Tickets.
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Monday, April 10

Beauty & The Beast Afternoon Tea | Town House at Kensington Hotel, London


Located in the heart of one of London's most most desirable neighbourhoods, Town House at The Kensington Hotel is located on the corner of two of London’s iconic thoroughfares, Queen’s Gate and the Old Brompton Road, and is spread across three classically designed drawing rooms, serving locally-sourced, seasonal modern British cuisine.

With open fires found in nearly all the hotel’s ground floor reception rooms, entering The Kensington feels rather like walking through the doors of a lovingly restored London mansion. The beautiful high ceilings and heritage décor make it feel extremely welcome.


To celebrate the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated Beauty and the Beast film, Town House at The Kensington is offering a special Afternoon Tea with a twist. Named Tale as Old as Time, complete with Lumiere, Cogsworth (although he was too delicate for the table!), Mrs. Potts and Chip Potts dishware, it's a perfect treat for any Disney fan.


For starter, we had a variety of savoury delights to enjoy, including a hearty Bite-Sized Venison Pie, Cheese Soufflé with Roscoff Onion Pissaladiere, and a rich and delicious Beef Ragu & Saffron Arancini served with Lemon Crème Fraiche. They melted in my mouth. I could have had ten more. Absolutely delicious. We also opted for a glass of Champagne each, as Charlotte & I were celebrating our Disney Dining Reservation Day in preparation for our Walt Disney World Trip in September!


The various sweets and savouries featured are inspired by the characters and scenes of the film. Highlights include Vanilla & Gold Jelly, presented in shot glasses with the ever-symbolic rose petal immersed inside, served with cream poured from Mrs. Potts spout.

Other treats included a Spiced Snow Ball Macaroon; Coconut & Chocolate, referring of course to the classic scene featuring Belle and Beast’s playful snowball fight. Also available is a Chocolate Clock Tart; Chocolate Ganache, featuring an image of Cogsworth’s face. Taken from the song ‘Be Our Guest’, Town House’s ‘Try the Grey Stuff’ White Chocolate Mousse, was super sweet but certainly - delicious! (we didn't even have to ask the dishes, haha.)

As an alternative to scones for this Afternoon Tea, we had Marie’s Sweet Brioche Baguette with apricot preserve & chocolate pot, referring to the local baker from Belle’s hometown in the film. I have to admit, even with the jam/chocolate I found the Brioche dry, and normally prefer scones however, I did like this nod to the film. Clever!


 Full Menu:

Savouries 
Bite-size Venison Pie 
Beef Ragu & Saffron Arancini 
Lemon Crème Fraiche 
Cheese Soufflé 
Roscoff Onion Pissaladière 

Sweets 
Vanilla & Gold Jelly 
‘Try the Grey Stuff’ 
White Chocolate Mousse 
Chocolate Clock Tart 
Chocolate Ganache 
Spiced Snow Ball Macaron 
Coconut & Chocolate 
Speculoos Dress 
Marzipan 

A Selection of Sandwiches 
Potted Argyle Smoked Salmon & Crème Fraiche 
Roast Devon Red Chicken with Cranberry 
Cucumber & Cream Cheese 
Egg Mayonnaise & Cress 

Marie’s Sweet Brioche Baguette 
Apricot Preserve & Chocolate Pot

£35 per person or £45 with a glass of Champagne.


The Tale as Old as Time Afternoon Tea Menu will be available until end of November however, I believe it is currently sold out. You can however check the website for any cancellations and leave your email for details if this changes! I had an amazing afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed all elements of it. A real special treat.


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Thursday, April 6

Miller & Carter Review | BH2 Leisure Complex, Bournemouth


Last Friday night, my boyfriend Benji & I were invited to dine at Miller & Carter in the new BH2 Leisure Complex area of Bournemouth. Conviently located in the centre of town, the complex has an Odeon Cinema, a new car park and is next to Bournemouth Gardens and close to the beach, ideal for an after dinner walk. I've only heard good things about Miller & Carter, and had walked past the outside a few times since recently opening, so I was very excited. I am huge meat lover, and steak is one of my favourite dinners, so I knew it would be good, but I didn't appreciate just HOW good. So much so, I've invited one of my best friends Gary to go back with me tomorrow.


We booked for 7.30pm and arrived a little early, kindly greeted by the staff at the front desk, and instantly shown to our table by the window. We had a view across the street for a bit of people watching, one of my secret guilty pleasures! We were slightly below road level though, so had some privacy at the same time. Miller & Carter really have a great location in the new BH2 Leisure area.

When we sat down, I instantly noticed the seats were super comfortable. I have a really bad back, so it's one of my pet peeves when a restaurant has poor furniture and I feel rushed to want to leave because I'm uncomfortable! The ambiance and atmosphere was really lovely, it wasn't not too quiet or too noisy, and although a busy Friday night, it didn't feel crowded. We could easily have a conversation and not hear the people behind or next to us either.

I loved the ability to see the chef's cooking away too, I got an instant friendly vibe of their chemistry working together, and when I started taking a few photos, they joked to me about getting their best angle. A lovely way to stay the evening!

Our waitress Rhianna introduced herself, and didn't rush us making our wine and food choices. She was absolutely fantastic, and a real asset to Miller & Carter.


Drinks
Benji & I love our wine, so we went for a bottle of The Bulletin Zinfandel Rosé which was very reasonably priced. It was selected as 'highly recommended' on the menu and rightly so, it was gorgeous! Sweet, light and easy to drink. I'd definitely order it again. Their wine list had plenty of great choice, and our waitress was very knowledgable on what she recommended ordering too.


Starter
For starters, I had to try the king prawns (£6.95). Being in Bournemouth and living by the sea makes me a huge seafood lover, and these did not disappoint. Cooked in garlic butter and served with toasted ciabatta, this was a perfect starter. Benji went for the baked cheddar mushrooms (£5.75), also in a creamy garlic and cheddar sauce with a piece of garlic ciabatta. I could have eaten a whole bowl of these! Delicious.


Main
The fillet steak was a no brainer for me (£23.50). It's generally my favourite meal to order and it did not disappoint. I asked for it to be medium cooked, and I can confidently admit it was pretty perfect to how I like it. The portion size was generous too. I opted for the peppercorn sauce, whilst the meat was served with parsley butter, seasoned fries, a slice of onion loaf (just like a onion ring, so delicious!) and a balsamic glazed tomato. Miller & Carter also serve it with a lettuce wedge and your choice of seasoning, so I went for garlic mayonnaise and parmesan.

As you can tell, you can really tailor your steak experience, there's even extra options for extra sides however, this was absolutely plenty of food. Benji went for the 50 day aged grain fed ribeye (£19.95), with the beef dripping sauce as recommended by our waitress Rhianna. We later found out this is hugely popular, and I can totally understand why. A perfect combination!


Dessert & After Dinner Cocktails
I have a huge sweet tooth and anyone who knows me understands I love my dessert. I normally give up starter for dessert, but this was a special friday night treat! Generally when I read a menu, there's always one thing which jumps straight out to me, but the Miller & Carter Dessert menu is to die for. There is so much fantastic choice! Therefore, it was inevitable I opted for the tasting plate (£8.95) including a selection of the Chocolate Brownie, Raspberry Crème brûlée, Glazed Passion Fruit Tart and fresh berries. I am not joking when I say I was in pure heaven. Benji went for the Raspberry CCrème brûlée too (£5.25), and it was definitely the best choice. Madagascan vanilla glazed brulee, with fresh raspberries and a raspberry sugar crunch, served with a home baked vanilla biscuit. I am definitely ordering it again next time, it was beautiful. The brownie was a little dry and definitely needed the ice cream, but the Passion Fruit Tart was a perfect palate cleanser. A close second favourite!

As we were keen to try a bit of everything, we also ordered a cocktail each. I had the After Eight-Thirty, a silky, smooth and refreshing Baileys, Crème de Menthe and Crème de Cacao, shaken with cream. Once again, I'd order this again. Baileys is one of my favourites. Benji went for a Vanilla White Russian, an updated classic, Smirnoff Vanilla vodka shaken with Tia Maria, milk and cream. I have to admit, he was very torn for choice between the Chocolate Martini and Espresso Martini too, we'll give our verdict on those next time!


I enjoyed our dinner so much, that I'm already going back less than a week later. For the quality, service and general ambiance, I feel our meal was good value for money. It would make a perfect date night or birthday/anniversary meal. I have absolutely nothing bad to say, it was genuinely a gorgeous dinner and we both thoroughly enjoyed our evening. If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a £100 gift card to eat at a Miller & Carter near you, head on over to my Instagram, it's only open until next Tuesday! Be sure to follow their Instagram & Facebook too.

Huge thank you to Miller & Carter, big welcome to Bournemouth and I look forward to coming again soon!


*This post is kindly sponsored by Miller & Carter.

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Friday, March 31

bettybox Monthly Period Essentials! | April Box Review 2017

I love subscription boxes. The element of surprise makes opening them feel like your birthday or Christmas, and is a great way to discover new brands, products and items you may not have picked up or bought otherwise. I haven't had a beauty or skincare subscription box for a while, as to be honest, it felt like a bit of a luxury I didn't necessarily need. That was until I discovered bettybox!


The bettybox is a specially tailored box with all your monthly period essentials. You can choose the type of period products you'd like, from pads to tampons or a mix of both. With a choice of several dates to match roughly around the same time as your period, it arrives with all your essentials, plus a range of beauty products from top brands and sweet treats for that much-need pick me up!

In this month's April box, I received the following:

→ Bakedin Belgian Chocolate Brownie Mug Mix
→ So...? Body Mist (Watermelon, White Petals or Vanilla Milkshake)
→ Punky Pins (Pizza, Flower or Peace Sign)
→ Native Unearthed Natural Deodorant
→ New CID Cosmetics i-Fix Pencil
→ So Susan Haute Light Highlighting Pencil
→ Choc Affair Easter Bunny
→ Beauty Papier Green Tea Blotting Paper



I have to admit, I was a bit over-the-moon when I saw a pin badge in there! If you follow my YouTube and watch my Weekly Vlogs, you'll know I collect pins! I tried out the brownie in a mug, it tasted absolutely delicious, and my favourite item was by far the White Petals So...? Spray! I throw it in my gym bag and it's so fresh and perfect for spring.

This is actually my third bettybox and so far, I am genuinely really loving it! I look forward to it every month; it saves me loads of hassle of purchasing my period products at the shop and always makes me feel good. I adore the little draw string bag the products come in, it's perfect for my gym or handbag. 

The box is cleverly designed with items for day and night, alongside all your extra goodies. I've had things from brands such as Burt's Bees, Lottie London and even Betty branded socks to name a few! I adore the design and colourful packaging, bettybox really are fab.


I've actually shared a video on my YouTube channel all about Periods and more on Betty, so be sure to check it out below! In the meanwhile, browse Betty.me and discover more on a subscription box here!

*This post is kindly sponsored by bettybox.
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