Thursday 31 July 2014

West Side Story.

(Photo from my Instagram

On Tuesday I went to the theatre to see West Side Story. As you probably already know, West Side Story is a modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1950s New York city. Romeo and Juliet here become Tony and Maria, respectively. Maria's brother, Bernardo, is head of a Puerto Rican gang called the Sharks and Tony is an ex-member of another local gang called the Jets. The gangs mostly fight by dancing and clicking their fingers a lot but it's not as silly as it sounds, I promise.

I saw the movie of West Side Story for the first time a couple of years ago and honestly it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I did enjoy it but maybe I just had my expectations set a little too high. That doesn't even really matter anymore though because in my opinion this production totally blew the movie out of the water. If you've seen the movie but didn't enjoy it as much as you thought you would then I would definitely recommend trying to make it to a live production because I really do think seeing it live gives the whole story a more intense kind of emotion. And if you're near Plymouth before the 9th August then I would definitely recommend this one! I was particularly impressed with the acting and the musical direction in this production and completely floored by the singing of the actors playing Tony and Maria, who both had really gorgeous voices.

Of course I cried throughout the curtain call. I mean I usually do but this was almost at Blood Brothers levels. Almost. Nothing will ever be at Blood Brothers level but this was pretty close.

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Sunday 27 July 2014

Garlic and rosemary focaccia recipe.

I've been so busy learning about film making this week that I've barely stepped foot in the kitchen at all, but a friend of mine invited me to a BBQ yesterday evening so I immediately knew I had to bake something delicious to take with me.

There only ended up being four of us at the BBQ but the focaccia bread went down a storm anyway and between the four of us we basically demolished it (although there were a few slices left for my parents, which went some way to appeasing them over the fact that I was baking things for other people and not them for once.)

I used this recipe from the BBC food website but added a little extra garlic because in my opinion you can never have too much garlic!


For the dough
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 7g instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • oil, for greasing
For the topping
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle after baking
  • 3 rosemary branches, needles only, finely chopped
  • 2 (or 4) large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt with up to 350ml lukewarm water, until you have a soft dough. Knead for 10-15 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for at least 30 minutes.
  2. When the dough has risen to about twice its original size, place into a lined and slightly warmed baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and top with fresh rosemary, chopped garlic, sea salt, and a little pepper.
  3. Press your fingers into the dough to make dimples and leave to rest for another 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 140C/450F/Gas 8/Fan 120C
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until evenly golden-brown.
  6. Once cooked, remove from the oven and immediately drizzle some olive oil all over. Leave to cool, then cut into slices.

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Tuesday 22 July 2014

New shoes

I've been shopping again. I also bought some t-shirts and a hat but none of those are quite as photogenic as these lovely shoes. The pineapple ones are still available but the brown ones are sold out, although there are still a couple of sizes available in a black version.

I'm taking part in a film making course over the next three weeks so posting might be a bit sporadic during that time. Sorry in advance!

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Thursday 17 July 2014

TBT: Rome/Paris/London

This time last year I was right in the middle of the most amazing holiday. I can't believe it's been a whole year already since I ate croissants in Rome and gelato in Paris (yeah we did things a little backwards) with Alex and Jess, who are two of my favourite people in the whole world. Today I thought it would be fun to do a little Throwback Thursday and show you a few of my favourite pictures from that trip, instead of just spending the day rolling around on the floor and complaining about the fact that I'm not in Rome or Paris right now.

Jess and I started our trip by flying out to Rome, where Alex lives. Due to a small mixup when booking our flights we ended up only being in Rome for three nights but, of course, Alex knows her way around and she made sure we saw everything.

On our first day in Rome we bought bottled water from a corner shop and the woman behind the counter took one look at us and asked Alex if we were from Northern Europe. When Alex said yes the woman told her to make sure we wore plenty of sunscreen. Clearly our paler than pale skin gave us away.

This is Alex herself drinking from the most ornate public drinking fountain I have ever seen in my life, which is at the bottom of the Spanish Steps (we stayed at the bottom. It was way too hot for climbing steps for no good reason.)

Now I don't mean to be gross but it was the kind of hot where deodorant started to become useless as we zipped around from one end of Rome to the other, visiting all the major landmarks and the neighbourhoods were Alex grew up. As beautiful as Rome is (and as much as I desperately want to go back!) I think my favourite times were the hours we spent in Alex's air conditioned apartment, eating cheese, and discussing terrible TV programs. We're simple folk.

And of course we met some "Romans". Hilariously, one of these guys happens to be related to Alex so insisted that Jess and I had to have our picture taken with them.

A few days later the three of us zipped off to Paris, all amazed that Jess and I had both managed to survive the Italian heat without sunburn, to a little Airbnb apartment in Montmartre, on the same street as the cafe from Amelie and just around the corner from the Moulin Rouge. I know, so Parisian.

Jess and I had both been to Paris before with my parents but it was Alex's first time, so I took the reins a little with planning our activities, getting way too excited about being with Alex the first time she saw the Eiffel Tower and looked out over the city from the Sacré Coeur (I know, I'm such a nerd.) I insisted that we start with the Sacré Coeur but of course had no idea where I was going so it took us a while to get there. Luckily the view is always worth trekking up those steep Montmartre streets.

We had an amazing time in Paris and completely wore ourselves out. We made the mistake of spending an entire afternoon wandering around the Louvre, which was amazing fun but definitely not the smartest idea. By the last day I think we were all dragging our feet a little, although none of the excitement was gone.

The still moments were also my favourite in Paris. Dipping our feet in the water by the Eiffel Tower, (and trying not to notice the rubbish floating at the edges) reading in the Tuileries Garden, and watching the Eiffel Tower light up and sparkle in the evening. Oh and the time when we all went crazy fuelled by caffeine and exhaustion and just buzzed around laughing at everything for hours. That was probably my favourite thing of all.

I feel like it's such a cliche to love Paris so much but I can't help it! It really is just so beautiful. I'm already trying to plan for the three of us to return there this winter because, as we all know, winter is gross, but hopefully winter in Paris will be a lot less gross.

After Paris we had to say goodbye to Alex (I'm still upset about it) and she flew back to Rome while Jess and I took the train to London and Hogwarts!

We actually stayed with family friends (one of whom happens to have been our first school teacher when we were teeny tiny) in Essex and had the most lovely, chilled out time with them when we weren't dashing into London and back.

The entire London detour was about 75% motivated by our desire to finally visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour and oh boy, was it worth it. I know that it's crazy expensive but I would still totally go again. Hopefully the second time I will cry less. Who knows.

We didn't only go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, of course, we also had a great time in Camden Market and a lovely dinner in Covent Garden (where we got free sparkling wine with our meal because of the birth of Prince George), which is quite possibly my favourite place in all of London.

There's me, on the Knight Bus, totally not pretending it's heading to Hogwarts.

And there's our names, written on entirely the wrong lock bridge in Paris. Typical us.

I hope you didn't mind this super image heavy post of me basically just reliving my holiday memories too much. Have you been to any of these places? Tell me about it in the comments! Clearly I love reminiscing about them.

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Tuesday 15 July 2014

Stithians show.

Yesterday I got up at seven in the morning (!!), put on my dungarees, made the decision to just let my hair be a mess, and went to the Stithians Show with Jess. The Stithians Show is an agriculture show similar to the Royal Cornwall Show (which I realise is probably not as well known outside of Cornwall as it is inside Cornwall but basically just think animals and fairground rides) only much smaller. Also there weren't any cows at Stithians. There are usually a lot of cows at Royal Cornwall.

On the coach I happened to sit next to two lovely people I went on holiday with about six years ago and haven't seen since. I didn't even recognise them until they asked if I had gone to France with them once but obviously as soon as they said that I knew exactly who they were and it was so nice to see them again. Cornwall is such a small place these things are always happening, although usually to my parents not to me. Does this mean I am officially an adult now?

Once we got to the show the first priority was food because food is usually the first, second, and last priority for me and Jess. We ate our cheese and onion pasties on the grass and I took the picture at the top of this post of the happiest, fluffiest dog ever, then we spent the rest of the day wandering around the show in the sunshine. We looked through the used books for sale (and both resisted buying any for once) and we saw lots of weird birds and adorable goats. 

Jess went on a couple of the fairground rides and I stood at the side and took pictures and films for her youtube channel because I am a a total bore and do not do fairground rides.

And we finished the day off with delicious, cold, Cornish beer and a trip around the food tent, picking up any free samples we could find, and listening to the brass band outside cover Dolly Parton's 9 to 5.

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Sunday 13 July 2014

Sunday slow day.

It's been a bit of an odd weekend. I spent most of Friday playing Cards Against Humanity with friends in a pub (I won) and most of Saturday sleeping on the living room sofa because of a terrible stomach ache. Today I went for a walk along the new cycle path at Lanhydrock with my parents and the weather was a little up and down but I did manage to get this one picture.

Tomorrow I'm going to the Stithians Show with Jess and I have to wake up at seven in the morning, which my employed friends all find hilarious because of course for most of them that's late but for me it most definitely is not. I can't even remember the last time I had to get up at seven in the morning. At university I always asked my lecturers if I could switch groups when I had seminars before ten. It was for the best: I once fell asleep in a nine am lecture and I'm pretty sure the lecturer could tell.

I know, I know. I'm terrible.

I'll mostly be trying to work on my current screenplay for the rest of the week. I'm determined to finish this one before I start anything else, no matter what!

I know, I know. Famous last words.

What have you been up to this weekend? Do you have anything fun planned for the week ahead? Let's chat about it in the comments! I hope you're having an excellent July.

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Thursday 10 July 2014

White chocolate and Oreo dream cookies.

The idea for these cookies literally came to me in a dream. I wish I was making that up but I swear to you it's true. In the dream I was visiting a bakery with an old friend (I know, even my dreams are glamorous and exciting) and when my friend couldn't decide what cookie to buy I told her to get the 'white chocolate and Oreo cookie' because I had made those.

Seriously. There are people my age who are actual rock stars and I am dreaming about baked goods.

Mundane dreaming aside, I woke up that morning knowing that the cookies in the dream were modified from this recipe and that I was going to have to make them for real. You don't turn down dream cookies. You just don't.

  • 125g butter, softened
  • 100g light brown soft sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g white chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 100g Oreo cookies, broken
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line two or three baking trays with greaseproof paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the egg and vanilla extract and combine.
  3. Sift in the flour, salt, and cocoa powder and mix again.
  4. Roughly chop 100g of white chocolate and add to the mixture.
  5. Put 100g of Oreos into a plastic bag and whack with a rolling pin until the Oreos are all broken up into chunks and then add those to the mixture too. Give it all one more gentle mix to combine the chocolate and Oreo chunks.
  6. Roll into twelve walnut sized balls and place on the lined trays.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 7-10 minutes. 7 minutes if you want them to be very soft and gooey in the middle, 10 minutes if you want your cookies to be a little more crunchy around the edges.
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven and leave them on the trays to harden for a couple of minutes before transferring them to a wire wrack to cool completely.
Let me know if you try out my magical* dream cookies. I'd love to see pictures if you do!

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*They might be magical. We can't know for sure.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

20th Century Boy.

(Photo from my Instagram)

I went to see 20th Century Boy last night and it was fantastic. 20th Century Boy tells the story of Marc Bolan (of T. Rex fame) and his tragically short life through the frame of his son, Rolan, trying to find out who his father really was from the people who knew him when he was alive, all in the form of a totally rocking musical (sorry but there is no better way to describe it.) I'm a huge fan of T. Rex's music but I didn't actually know a great deal about Marc Bolan's life before seeing the show and now I'm not sure I'll ever be able to listen to Cosmic Dancer again without getting all teary-eyed.

The acting and the story were great (I cried. Why do I always cry?) and the music was even better but the costumes were probably the best part of all. I want a leather jacket with bird feather collar and I want it now, damn it! The cast even did a sort of mini-concert of songs from the show after the bows and the audience all stood up to boogie and when we left my ears were ringing and my cheeks were aching from smiling so hard. It was a truly, truly great night. My mum even told me in the car on the way home that it 'made up for missing Buddy this year' (she has seen Buddy approximately 1,000,000 times so that's pretty high praise from her.)

If you're a fan of Marc Bolan and T. Rex then I think it's probably a pretty unmissable show and even if you're not particularly a fan of T. Rex (Why???) but you are a fan of musicals and glitter I'd still totally recommend it.

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Sunday 6 July 2014

Very Inspiring Blogger Tag.

I'm not sure I've ever been called 'inspiring' before but I am very flattered and delighted to have been nominated as a Very Inspiring Blogger by Aimee at Aimee Belle Blog! This is a really lovely tag that is just designed to share the love around the blogosphere, which in my opinion is always a good thing!

The Rules
  1. Link the person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the award
  3. Share 7 facts about you
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers who inspire you
  5. Let them know you have nominated them
My 7 facts
  1. I can kind of play the ukulele.
  2. I collect cameras but that sort of started by accident.
  3. I own two guitars but I really can't play the guitar. It's a long story.
  4. Baking is the best thing to calm me down when I'm stressed. Which is odd given that I'm kind of the Gordon Ramsey of baking (because I swear a lot and throw things, not because I'm the host of multiple TV shows.) On second thoughts, maybe that's WHY it calms me down...
  5. I procrastinate everything, even the things I want to do. For example, I was supposed to be spending this month attempting to write the first draft of a novel. Yesterday I wrote eight pages of the the first draft of a screenplay instead.
  6. I've been trying to learn to speak French on and off since I was about six years old and I can still only just barely get by in French shops and restaurants. It really is shockingly bad. Although how to order wine and beer was the first thing I learnt when I first started trying, so obviously my priorities have always been in order. 
  7. I still sleep with my teddy bear in my bed. His name is Ted Bear because I was a very original child and he usually sits at the end of my bed (unless it's cold, in which case he obviously has to snuggle up to me for warmth!)
Who I'm nominating
  1. Saruuh at Syntax Reviews
  2. Jen at maizeandbooks
  3. Courtney at Cupcakes & Cateyes
  4. Jillian at Jillian Lorraine
  5. Rhianne at For The Easily Distracted
  6. Jules at Everywhere, Please
  7. Helena at Helena La Petite
  8. Valeria at Gilded Butterflies
  9. Bex at She & Wild
  10. Molly at My Name Is Yeh
  11. Jenny at Sunny Sweet Pea
  12. Sarah at Daydreams of Summertime
  13. Rosie at Cider With Rosie
  14. Lyzi at Being Little
  15. Bee at Vivatramp
(I know a lot of people coil away from tag posts in horror so don't worry, I won't be offended if you don't do it!)

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Thursday 3 July 2014

The Book Blogger Tag.

I have no sense of time so I've forgotten when exactly Saruuh at Syntax Reviews tagged me in the Book Blogger Tag but I'm answering the questions now and that's the important thing, right? (I think it was only a week ago. Maybe two.)

What are your top three book pet hates?

1. Writing that tries too hard to be profound and ends up missing it.
2. Dialogue that just doesn't sound natural.
3. Writing that really obviously tries to tell the reader how they should feel about what's happening.

Describe your perfect reading spot.

Right here. This exact spot in Paris.

Well, you did say 'perfect'.

Tell us three book confessions.

1. I am almost incapable of reading most books that were written before the 1900s. I often just can't get past the old fashioned writing and my eyes sort of glaze over and I'll read pages and pages without anything actually going in.
2. Because of number 1 I finished Jane Eyre (hated it) and then a friend asked me about the part with the fire. I had literally no idea there had even been a fire in the book. I thought that character was just blind in the end because he was old. (In my defence I was 13 at the time and did read it while on holiday in Australia. So there were other things happening.)
3. I once lent a book to a friend and she returned it to me in perfect condition and told me how careful she had been with it because she knew how much I loved my books. About five minutes later I accidentally dropped the book into a swimming pool. It's all wrinkly and crispy now but still readable!

When was the last time you cried during a book?

When I was reading the last few pages of Landline by Rainbow Rowell yesterday.

How many books are on your bedside table?

I don't actually have a bedside table but my desk chair is next to my bed so I tend to just throw things on there before I go to bed and right now there is only one book.

What is your favourite snack whilst you're reading?

I don't usually tend to eat while I'm reading (I do most of my reading in bed before I go to sleep or in the bath) but I guess it would probably be some kind of sweets.

Name three books you would recommend to everyone.

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
3. Maus by Art Spiegelman

Show us a picture of your favourite bookshelf on your bookcase.

(Sorry for the terrible picture quality. My bookcase is right in the corner of my room, as far away from the window as possible.)

Write how much books mean to you in just three words.

That's too difficult!

What is your biggest reading secret?

I don't know. What constitutes a 'reading secret'? My main bookshelf is really deep so all the shelves are stacked twice back but that's not much of a secret, you can kind of tell that in the photo up there. But I guess you can't see what books are in the back. ~Secret books~.

TAG - You're it!

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Tuesday 1 July 2014

#ReadWomenMonth book reviews.

I think we all knew that I was not going to get around to all six books on my TBR this month but I did manage to read four of them so I'm calling that a success!

1. Campari for Breakfast by Sara Crowe

I knew just from the synopsis that I was going to love this book. I've been eagerly awaiting it all year and I was so excited to finally be able to read it that I just sailed through it, barely putting it down. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. Campari for Breakfast is full of interesting characters, especially the protagonist, Sue, and her aunt Coral. It's incredibly funny and very sweet, and there's even a little mystery involved that just kept me coming back for more. Crowe's writing style switches wonderfully between Sue's narration and Aunt Coral's common place book, and really it was all just incredibly charming and well done. Before I'd even finished it I knew it was going to be a firm favourite. 5/5 stars.

2. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford

I read the precursor to this book, The Pursuit of Love, earlier this year and while I did enjoy it I found that I enjoyed Love in a Cold Climate a lot more. I enjoyed Polly's story line in the first part of the book and absolutely loved the arrival of Cedric in the second part. I also found Jassy and Victoria to be a lot funnier in this book and they were definitely a big part of why I preferred Love in a Cold Climate to The Pursuit of Love. I'm very much looking forward to reading Don't Tell Alfred next, but I'm not sure it'll be able to live up to this one, not unless Jassy, Victoria, and Cedric make as many appearances. 4/5 stars. 

3. The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

At first I wasn't sure what to think about The Rehearsal. Much of the book is written almost as though it is a script rather than a novel and that took some time to get used to but I'm glad I didn't let it put me off because once I did get used to it I started to really enjoy the story. If I had to use just one word to describe The Rehearsal it would be 'unique'. I've never read anything else quite like it and I'm pretty sure that I never will. Now it's got me considering reading Catton's most recent novel, The Luminaries, which is frankly just frightening in size. 4/5 stars.

4. Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

If I had to use one word to describe Tigers in Read Weather it would be 'unputdownable' (which is definitely a word.) I can hardly believe how quickly I read it but it really was just a wrench to stop reading every time I had to. I stayed up way too late too many times in a row reading this one. The book is split into five sections, each section following a different character, which I really enjoyed because it was a great way to see all the sides of the story and really helped when fitting the puzzle together of what was going on at Tiger House. My only complaint was that while I really enjoyed all the other sections, I wasn't so keen on Hughes's section and sort of found myself speeding through it a little to get to Ed's section quicker. It was still an absolutely fantastic read though and one I would definitely recommend to everyone. 4/5 stars

I can't believe Read Women Month is over already. I hope you all had as much fun with it as I did and I'd love to hear what books you read! I'll definitely be doing Read Women Month again next year.

(Actually, seeing as my preorders of Landline and The Silkworm recently arrived, I might accidentally be doing Read Women Month again next month!)

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