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Happy (early) Burns Night!

19 Jan

Going to uni in Edinburgh and being married to a Scot, Burns Night is unsurprisingly an important date on my calendar. And, having discovered The Ceilidh Club in London, it made sense to get a group of friends together and head to their festivities – traditional dancing with haggis, neeps and tatties thrown in (the perfect ingredients for a night out, in my opinion). M came up from Southampton too and, despite feeling gutted that he didn’t have his kilt to hand – in storage – we all had the most fantastic night. Resolution for 2013 – go to more ceilidhs. They’re such honest fun and a much more enjoyable source of exercise than the gym, any day.

ceilidhclub.com

A birthday to remember!

21 Jul

Am feeling totally spoilt. It was my birthday this week (19th July) and what a fantastic time of celebrations I’ve had. From dinner with JP at Polpo in Covent Garden, which does Venetian fare with a twist, on Wednesday night, to homemade cookies, muffins, and lemon drizzle cake courtesy of my work colleagues, and a trip to see The Dark Knight Rises with post-film drinks with C on Thursday, and a night of reels and jigs with my housemates, B and other close friends at the London Ceilidh Club on Friday (I’m just back!). I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped to make this birthday one of the most special ones I’ve ever had – it truly is one I’ll always remember!

La Reve at the Cafe de Paris

26 Feb

Well, what an evening I had on Friday! Great food, great friends, and great entertainment – doesn’t get much better than that. Time Out had been running a special offer for discounted entry to La Reve with a complimentary cocktail so I’d booked up for B, A, J, K, and I to go. La Reve is a weekly night of cabaret and burlesque in the heart of London (Cafe de Paris is located just off Leicester Square, cafedeparis.com) – but so much better than I’d been expecting.

The show didn’t start until 8.30pm but seating (or in our case standing space) is first come, first serve. We nipped into Soho for a quick bite to eat – handmade dumplings, crispy pork, and an adventurous menu of drinks – at Jen Cafe then left the chaos of Leicester Square to step back into time to the golden age-style bar that is Cafe de Paris. I’m not sure what I’d had in mind when I’d first booked up but the show was so much better than imagined – a hula hooping whiz-kid, silent comic, hilarious Jessica Rabbit presenter, and fire-blazing tipple-tassing-shaking burlesque dancer. M would have loved it! 😉

Afraid to say I was so in awe of the performances I didn’t take any piccies, but check out some of the performers on YouTube (links below).

The boy with tape on his face

Craig the incredible hula boy

Raymond and Mr Timkins

Kitty Bang Bang

Billy Elliot and the Park Plaza

9 Feb

Hooray! At long last I can tick Billy Elliot off my list of must-see musicals. After wanting to see it ever since it opened in 2005, Tuesday night saw me treated to a night at the Victoria Palace Theatre in Victoria.

But, before I recount the show (which was great!), I have to tell you about the scrummy dinner I had first. I headed to the Park Plaza Hotel (parkplaza.com), just around the corner from Victoria station. It may be a hotel, and the restaurant was pretty quiet, but don’t be put off. This is one over-looked gem. Melt-in-the-mouth venison on a bed of braised beetroot with parsnip chips, and walnut ice cream were my choices and they couldn’t have been tastier. The venison was honestly some of the best I’ve had in a while. I got talking to the hotel manager while I was there and there are big changes afoot, with the restaurant about to receive a rustic Italian makeover. I’m sure it will be just as good but don’t miss your chance to experience the foodie wonders on offer now – and check out the unique artwork while you’re there. Can you work out what the poem is written on the wall?

Now to the show! If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know it’s the story of Billy, a 12-year-old boy with a passion, and talent for ballet – not an easy career path at the best of times let alone for the son of a miner growing up in northern England during the strikes of 1984/85. The music’s been put together by Elton John and the show is packed with catchy, toe-tapping numbers, as well as the obigatory tear-jerking ballads, but the real draw is the dancing. It’s energetic, jaw-dropping and creative from start to finish and the child stars are amazing; I felt exhausted just watching them and have left with that time-old urge I get whenever I’ve watched a bit of ballet – to take it up myself! Watch this space; that will be next up on the blogroll! billyelliotthemusical.com

The Nutcracker

22 Dec

I broke up for the Christmas holidays today and what better way to celebrate the occasion than with a housemate outing to The Nutcracker! The English National are back performing the one ballet that has become a tradition to see at this time of year. I’d seen it before when I was very small so was looking forward to refreshing my memory of what it was all about. I’m also a suckeer for ballet! And the ENB didn’t disappoint. J had managed to get us £15 seats in the balcony and although we were second to back row, our view couldn’t have been better. In fact, it was a treat to get that different perspective of the theatre (we were at the Coliseum) and to be able to fully appreciate the architecture of the building. I’d not booked  up much theate since moving to London because when you’re a one-income family with a mortgage budgets can be tight, but now I know that bargain seats can actually be decent, I’ll be going to the theatre more often! Waatch this space for my reviews. But for anyone who hasn’t been yet, do try to get tickets for this season’s Nutcracker. The performances were breathtaking – I’d forgotten and beautiful the choreography for this was – and the score, of course, is stunning. All ingredients for the perfect night. Click here for details: ballet.org.uk

Coliseum

The Cat’s Meow

20 Nov

London Swing Cats

So last night I had a night out with a difference. Instead of heading to one of London’s many clubs, I went underground to Guy’s Bar in the basement of Guy’s hospital, for the monthly Cat’s Meow (£12, londonswingcats.com), a swing dancing institution.

Now I’ve never swing danced before but that didn’t matter. There was a short taster class by the London Swing Cats where a group of perhaps 20 of us were taken through the basics of the Charlston – wave those jazz hands! After that the DJ – Vintage Bob – started playing and some total pros took to the floor. It was entertainment in itself watching them spin, skip, and swing across the floor. I used to do Ballroom and Latin American dance myself but swing is in a league of its own. It’s fun, fast and energetic – a great alternative to the gym!

But my highlight of the night would have to be the live band that came on at about 10pm. The Original Rabbit Foot Spasm Band are the most amazing jazz band ever. With great tunes like ‘I’ve got ants in my pants’ (what track title is better than that?!) and a catchy cover of ‘When the saints come marching in’. Check them out here – rabbitjazz.co.uk – and if you ever get a chance to see them play live, go! You won’t be able to sit still while they’re playing and you’re guaranteed a great night.

I went to The Cats Meow with a couple of friends and I definitely want to make it a regular occurrence – hopefully after a couple of visits I might actually be able to take to the floor properly myself. Ooh, and I should mention, retro dress is a must! Pin-up curls, bright red lips, and a swooshy skirt for the girls; braces, trilby hats for the guys. Definitely a night to remember.