Friday, 11 November 2016

Gabrielle Treanor: The Green Gables

The internet never ceases to amaze me. Every day it teaches me something new, helps me find an answer and connects me to new people, places, ideas, news....

Earlier this year I came across Gabrielle Treanor and her website the Green Gables. In her own words Gabrielle is a writer, designer and avid researcher and practitioner on the subject of happiness.

Happiness is a tricky word because it means something completely different to everyone. It's definitely something I've enjoyed exploring through her "Choosing Happiness E-Course" which covered everything from wellbeing to mindfulness and both the outdoor and indoor environment.

I was also intrigued by The Happy Paper Club - this is a monthly stationery subscription service that delivers boxes filled with papery goodness, happy and inspirational messages, and more to boost your happiness and spread a little joy. Along with a selection of the green gables’ stationery, each box includes exciting new items that are exclusive to Happy Paper Club.

The Green Gables online shop is exquisite - I bought a note pad and greeting cards - so useful and a wonderful way of being able to put pen to paper and drop someone a line - actual post (that isn't a bill) always makes anyone's day.

Here are her cards of encouragement:

Her new course on Gratitude started this week - appropriately named A Thankful Heart. She believes that gratitude is the keystone to happiness and making it part of your everyday routine is the core to living a happier life. I couldn't agree more....

For more information go to

I am so grateful to my friend Betsy Benn for pointing me in Gabrielle's direction. I also met Betsy Benn on Twitter. Go figure.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

US Election: TODAY

I didn't write a blog post for the whole of October, and I genuinely missed doing it.... I've resolved a technical glitch on my computer / performed a major Apple software update and it now works like new. I didn't know there was such a thing as Apple Support, where you can ring about any device and they'll talk you through it. I was blown away by their help....

As I type this, millions of Americans are queuing to cast their vote in the US Presidential Election... and by the time you read this, the result might be final.. I listen to Radio 4's Today Programme every morning and it feels like, for 18 months, they have talked about nothing else.... even Brexit feels like a distant memory (its not!).

I urge you to watch this YouTube video - it is the full episode of Ruby's American Pie, the one where she interviews Donald Trump on his private jet at 30,000 feet. This article is also an interesting companion to the YouTube clip if you can't bear to watch it.

Whilst it is not for me to say who the people of America should vote for, and it is clear that NEITHER candidate is perfect for the job, I am genuinely scared about the outcome and hope my nerves can be calmed. 

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Dominique Ansel's bakery in LONDON

I have written about my love of Cronuts before.... I first tried one from Cocomaya in October 2013 (approx)...

If this is totally meaningless to you then picture the most delicious / sweet / gooey pastry which is half doughnut and half croissant bursting with filling (flavours vary - my favourite is salted caramel or chocolate or vanilla).... See below pic. Its not just any old doughnut - its like nothing you've ever had before.

I have just shrieked with delight to discover that the founder / inventor of this great pasty is opening in Elizabeth Street, London - Dominique Ansel London will open its doors on Friday 30th September.

Amazingly, this is not TOO far from my office so I can't wait to get myself down there and will report back. Queues are likely most days.... and its not just the Cronuts that are worth trying - I've seen the menu and could have almost anything on it...

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Forever Liesl

Some would say that I had (and still have) a worrying love and obsession with the Sound of Music - whilst growing up, it was my absolute most favourite film in the whole world and I always wanted to be Maria and Liesl...

So I was distraught on Sunday to discover that Charmian Carr has died at the age of 73. Charmian played Liesl - the eldest Von Trapp child.

She wrote two books commemorating her role in the film - Forever Liesl and Letters to Liesl - neither of which I have read but will try and make time to.

Someone hold onto Julie Andrews and never let her go....

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Dolly's Advice

Every week I receive an email - known as Dolly Mail - from the brilliant writer and journalist Dolly Alderton... it is always thought provoking, funny, meaningful and an email I genuinely look forward to receiving every week. This week's is SO good that I wanted to share it here for you to read.

Do subscribe to the Dolly Mail by going to this link....

"Have you lost weight?" my flatmate Belle squawked at me as I walked past her bedroom in my knickers last month. "You have, haven't you? Stand there," she demanded, beckoning me into her bedroom. 
"Maybe, I don't know," I replied. 
"How do you do this?" she says. "How do you lose weight so quickly? It's not fair, it's like you bend down to pick something off the floor and you lose another five pounds." 

So, reader: this is the point where, up until now, I would usually agree with her. This is the exact moment I would say: yeah, just really lucky, me. Fast metabolism. All I have to do walk a bit faster and chew a bit slower for a week and BAM I'm down a dress size. I'm just like one of those French women who chain-smokes with a pouty, downturned mouth and shrugs at the word "diet" because it's so bourgeois.

But here's the truth, which feels odd to admit so plainly: I have barely eaten a carbohydrate since July. I've gone to the gym three or four times a week. I went to Italy, my culinary Mecca, for most of August and ate tons of fish, seafood and vegetables. I barely winked at a plate of linguine. I did yoga on the beach every day. I'm taking my lattes skinny or soya. I went for a run at midnight when I finished writing last week. 

I tried something, for the first time in my life - I told Belle the whole truth and nothing but the truth about how hard I am working to lose weight. No shrugging, no myth-making. 
"I think I probably have," I said. "Because I'm, like, doing squats in my bedroom like a dick. And I'm not really eating sugar or bread or butter or any of my favourite things actually, unless it's a treat or a special occasion. So, yeah, I've tried. It's not that fun. But it works." 

Since then, since I got it out in the open, I am quick to say it nearly all as one word. If someone asks if I've lost weight, I reply: "yeahihavethanksIhaven'teatenpotatoesintwomonths" in one breath. I can tell it makes some people feel uncomfortable; I can tell they'd prefer for me to do go "oh, um, I don't really know I haven't really weighed myself!" then move onto a different subject. But after much reflection, after many years of reading interview after interview with Hollywood actresses telling me they eat peanut butter from the jar for breakfast and don't exercise, after years of me not understanding why I'm not a size eight, why my body doesn't work; why when I eat peanut butter from the jar and I don't exercise I feel like crap; I have decided I would prefer to tell the truth and appear smug than push a damaging lie and seem modest. 

Wanting to be slim is not a crime. Wanting to feel fit and healthy and like you are fully inhabiting and celebrating your body is not a non-feminist act. Lying about it is. It is the lies that pile onto the heap of contributing factors of why women end up seeking to be slim through dangerous, damaging, unmanageable routes.

It is not a grand act of bravery or politics but, for me, being honest if you're on a diet is the first rule of the shared economy of truth telling, of which we all have our part to play. These are the truths that must be told because it could benefit someone else. The things that may be uncomfortable or embarrassing to admit, but you must because you have a responsibility not to perpetuate lies that reinforce unhelpful, useless, self-loathing behaviour in others. 

When Liz Hurley first admitted in an interview that she regularly goes on "watercress soup fasts" and that she goes to bed hungry nearly every night, the world was understandably judgemental. How irresponsible was the general consensus; what an awful thing to encourage. But here's what I took from it: Liz Hurley is not encouraging anyone to go to bed hungry every night, in fact I feel she's doing the total opposite. By highlighting how ridiculous the demands of women in Hollywood are, she's making a depressing, thought-provoking statement. Emma Thompson has also said in interviews that she watches what she eats and exercises regularly for the sake of her job, even though it's boring. Amanda Seyfried once said that all she eats for lunch is spinach and seeds. Spinach and seeds. 

Of course I would prefer to live in a world where women in the public eye don't have to starve themselves to maintain work; of course I would prefer to live in a world where there are as many slim women on screens and in magazines as there are average-sized and large women. I want all women to be able to take any shape they want healthily, without judgement or patrolling from anyone. But as we get there incrementally, with these women's careers at the mercy of their shape, I really appreciate them telling the truth about it. It puts the problem into much starker, colder relief rather than glossing over it with a cheery grin and saying it's "just good genes and a lot of Evian". 

I can count off the top of my head six women I know who are not truthful about how they stay slim. One of them eats five high-protein meals a day, one of them leaves a quarter of food on her plate, the other does regular juice cleanses. All of them lie about their conscious, daily lifestyle choices. I wish they'd be honest about them, because then a lot of women would look at those choices rationally and say: "that's not a life for me" or "that could only ever be a short-term method for me because I like Shepherd's pie on a Sunday too much", rather than spending their lives chasing a hologram of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

Here's another one I think we have an obligation to be honest with each other about: if our parents have bought or helped us buy homes. Every young person I know has, at some point, been gripped by a total and utter despair or despondency over the housing crisis. Nearly all my working life, I've tortured myself with a very real fear that I may never be able to own a property in the city I was born and grew up in. Many of my friends have had deposits, mortgages or whole flats funded by their parents and all of them have the grace to admit to it, which means I never feel a sense of judgement. Very brief skin-tingly jealousy, yes. But judgement, no.

Because telling the truth about your parents' financial assistance with buying a flat goes beyond the duty of checking one's privilege; it's about helping someone not detest their life by pointing out that yours is a result of sheer, dumb fucking luck. It's a very small act of altruism that saves your friend from sitting on the bus after leaving dinner at your house, biting their nails until they bleed while they think how come I don't own a place like that? How come I can only rent a shoe box? Is my salary shit? Is my career going nowhere? Why am I so crap at being an adult? It's a moment of embarrassment for you that will reassure that friend that they're doing just fine; that you, through no fault of your own, were dealt an extremely rare hand of good fortune that they are not entitled to just because you have it. So they better keep working hard and hope one day they have the same. 

Here's another one: couples who meet online and don't tell people: they're not doing anything for the shared truth economy. I am not saying we all have to wander around with megaphones, shouting to any willing listener about the ins and outs of our relationship, but here are the facts that I've seen for myself: a lot of people online date. There is still a strange taboo around online dating. A lot of single people who are holding out to meet people offline are only doing so because the people who meet online are not being truthful about it. These single people are staying single for a very long time searching for the perfect real-life rom-com meet-cute that very rarely happens. If you met your partner online and you tell one of these single people about it, they'll either decide they want to stay offline and feel a huge sense of relief that it's taking a bit longer than everyone else OR they'll create an online dating profile. Only good can happen. 

We are told lies constantly by strangers; whether it's the sponsored post on instagram telling us how to get thicker hair in 30 days or Iain Duncan Smith's pathetic: "series of promises based on a series of possibilities" in post-Brexit Britain. It's our responsibility to be truthful when it matters; particularly to those we care about. We do not need to be oversharers; we don't all have a stake in each others choices. Everyone is entitled to privacy and absolutely everyone is ripe for hypocrisy (it's too hard being human not to be). But it's important we reexamine the lies we tell, hand-pick the few that might be detrimental and start afresh with honesty. Not only will lifting those lies lift potential hurt, it will bring us the greatest sense of relief.

The older I get, the less I perform. My teens and early-mid twenties were a one-woman cabaret Dolly show of aren't-I-fabulous, with my defensive ego bashing away on a tinny piano, hoping that even the total strangers in the cheap seats will adore me. And here's the thing I'm learning with every coat of pretence that I peel off - as I stop lying about how fine I am, how fantastic I am, how unbreakable I am: the truth is sacred. The truth is useful. Telling the truth is the only way we can ever feel true freedom. It's the only way we can find graspable, sustainable happiness. It's the only way we can form real, deep connections with people. And we all owe each other as much of it was can spare. 

You can follow Dolly on Twitter here

Friday, 2 September 2016

More from It Affects Me

In August, I wrote a blog post about the It Affects Me campaign.

Here is a documentary about the viral campaign - an interview with the founder Laura Darrall about her journey with mental health and the impact the campaign has had. Do watch and spread the word.

Also: her brilliant Huffington Post blog: Mental Health Affects ALL of us.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Gene Wilder

Such sad news about the death of Gene Wilder. The wonderful girls at Addictive Daughter tweeted this picture and I love it so much I thought I would share it here:

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Rio 2016 Olympics

The opening of the Rio 2016 Olympics bought back happy memories of this time 4 years ago when we were celebrating the London Olympics. 

I dug out my Games Maker uniform (and put it on) and the letter from the Prime Minister AND the silver relay baton I received as a thank you.

During my recent visit to Wimbledon, I was given access to the Media centre and sat in the bar near Seb Coe - I WISH I had gone up to him to say I was one of "his team". 

It involved lots of early starts and late nights but without doubt the best job I've ever ever had.

Monday, 1 August 2016

It Affects Me

The following short piece of writing was bought to my attention by one of my favourite Twitter accounts - @itaffectsme - their aim is to encourage people to talk about mental illness and I strongly feel this is something we should ALL be aiming for. 

Stigma will always win if we don't fight it and talk. 

They are organising a super sounding I Am Normal Festival on 28th August - sadly I can't go but you should !

Their website is great too -

Friday, 29 July 2016

HateMail: Alastair Campbell

Re my post last week about gossip and the dreaded Daily Mail, I came across this video that Alastair Campbell made about his hatred of the dreaded newspaper publisher. Very entertaining.

HateMail | Alastair Campbell | #Hatemail #RipItUp from Silverfish Media on Vimeo.

And my tweet about it went slightly viral.... 

 Which lead to AC sarcastically asking for it to stop being so widely spread in order to "not" hurt Paul Dacre's feelings - the more he asked, the more it was viewed and enjoyed...

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Letters Live

Inspired by Shaun Usher’s international best-selling Letters of Note series and Simon Garfield’s To the Letter, Letters Live is a live celebration of the enduring power of literary correspondence. Each show always features a completely different array of great performers, reading remarkable letters written over the centuries and from around the world.

One of the joys of Letters Live is that one never knows who is going to take to the stage or what letter they are going to bring alive.

I remember reading about it last year – after the event – so it was too late to go. I immediately signed up to their newsletter and to my delight last week, they emailed to say they are doing it again in the Autumn – and newsletter readers could buy tickets in a presale, so I’ve nabbed four.

This is the most extraordinary sounding event. Time Out says “Clear your diaries” for it.

The likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliet Stevenson, Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue, Russell Brand, Caitlin Moran, Tom Hiddleston, Stephen Fry, Jude Law and Sir Ben Kingsley deliver unique and extraordinary performances.

The last time I checked there were still tickets available so hurry and come – on for five nights only!

More details and tickets -

Monday, 25 July 2016

First Time in History

If Hillary Clinton wins the U.S. presidential election, it will be the first time in history that two U.S. presidents have slept with each other.

If Donald Trump wins the U.S. Presidential election, it will be the first time in history that a billionaire moves into public housing vacated by a black family.

Go figure.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


I remember seeing the photos of Jennifer Aniston a few weeks ago, where the tabloids were sparking rumours that she might be pregnant.

I have only just seen this article that she published via Huffington Post last week confirming that what the tabloids are saying is NOT true. I urge you to read it. She is not pregnant. But that's not the point. And its not all about her. This is one part of a much wider, ongoing discussion about the need for being less judgmental of women and the way females are seen through the lens of the tabloids.

And whilst starting off by saying that she doesn’t usually address the gossip, and she’s not officially on ANY social media platforms, she felt she needed to set the record straight.

I like this quote:

“We don’t need to be married or mothers to be complete. We get to determine our own ‘happily ever afters’ for ourselves. Maybe someday the tabloids will be forced to see the world through a different, more humanized lens

Speaking of the press, I was amused this week to read via the Daily Mail that apparently the Beckham family are reportedly moving back to LA from London. Just because furniture was seen being moved from their house. Reader: if you follow the showbiz news (I read SOME of it always with a large pinch of salt), you will know that they haven’t even been here that long and are doing a large amount of controversial work on their London home – so has it not occurred to anyone that they might just be leaving their rental home and moving into the one they own when they get back from their summer holidays ?

Of course, I might be entirely wrong but Jennifer Aniston refers to these types of vicious photographers outside her home and the same can be said here.

Anyone as famous as the Beckhams or Jennifer Aniston will have accepted a long time ago that they won't be able to go anywhere without being followed. I wouldn't swap my life for theirs any day.

In conclusion, click on the following sentence:

Should I read the Daily Mail?

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Ab Fab is..... Ab Fab !

I was so excited last week when Ab Fab: The Movie opened in cinemas around the UK– and I was even more ecstatic to be able to go and see it on the opening night (not at the actual premiere I hasten to add).

Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) and Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) are back and more disgraceful than ever before. Along with the rest of the original cast which includes an additional 65 celebrity cameo roles (I KNOW!), the plot takes the naughty pair to the South of France where they are on the run having accidentally “killed” Kate Moss – that is NOT a spoiler – its in the trailer !

I love these masks we got at the Clapham Picturehouse cinema where I went to see it:

Apparently the film has made £4 million in the first weekend – which is the second biggest this year after Skyfall. If you go to Liberty, just off Regent Street, you can see fantastic window displays of some outfits from the film:

It is my favourite film of the year so far and can’t wait to see it again. 

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Hamilton: An important lesson in American History

Hamilton is the hip-hop Broadway musical which swept the board at the Tony Awards on Sunday night, winning 11 awards including Best Musical. 

Following the announcement that this smash-hit musical is coming to London in 2017, it’s about time we all need to brush up on our American History.

According to an article on the Daily Beast, Hamilton, which evokes the rise of immigrant Alexander Hamilton and the early years of America, "has received the kind of rave reviews that are usually reserved for the Pope".

A musical about one of the founding fathers of the US does NOT sound appealing – BUT this show has been a total Broadway sell-out and its biggest fan, President Obama, described it as “not only a smash hit but a civics lesson our kids can’t get enough of”.

Now - a confession... I didn't know a huge amount about this for the obvious reason that (a) I haven't studied American History and (b) haven't been to see the show on Broadway but everywhere I turn, people are talking about Hamilton - particularly after winning so many accolades on Sunday night at the Tony's.

I have been obsessed with watching their YouTube videos including their White House performance and James Corden's Carpool Karaoke - the latter of which I sent to Ruby Wax who introduced the whole Hamilton thing to me - and it made her fall of her chair.

This mesmerizing show was written by Lin Manuel Miranda (picture above) and he seems to have shot to fame at an incredibly fast pace (apparently in September 2015, he had 85,000 twitter followers and now he has 537,000...not that that's a strict measure of fame but you know what I mean!). He dedicated one of the acceptance speeches on Sunday evening to the victims of the Orlando shooting which happened only shortly before. 

I feel privileged to share my name with one of the coolest people around – and can hardly wait for Hamilton to come to London. He has starred in the Broadway show and may do the same in London but not necessarily at the start. Yikes ! I say Bring It ON.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Glamour awards 2016

This week saw the great and the good gather for the famous Glamour awards... It's a celebration of women, who - lets face it - (still) have to work EXTRA hard to get any kind of recognition...

I voted for Emma Freud to win Column of the Year and guess what - she WON! This is too exciting for words - so much so that she has changed her name on Twitter to: iwonanawardFFS. 

Another notable award was to Jennifer Saunders for her outstanding contribution....

It couldn't have gone to a more well-deserving recipient. Here is the most brilliantly funny moment that Dawn French gives the award and the acceptance speech from JS that follows (where she dedicates it to Victoria Wood):

Thursday, 9 June 2016

A different kind of bus !

If you spend a frustrating amount of time in a city, stuck in traffic on a bus that looks like its going nowhere fast.... have faith! Soon, we may have such things as elevated buses that travel above the traffic.

Alleviating congestion and reducing pollution - and speeding up the commute. I say bring it on Sadiq Khan ! Fascinating video below....

Friday, 3 June 2016

Books not screens

Apparently some of us are guilty of checking our phones as many as 150 times in a day... I would love to think that I was nowhere near that bracket but am sure if you counted how many times I even glanced at it, it would probably be a very high number (I love the Do Not Disturb Setting on my iPhone).

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all perfect procrastination tools.

Feeling very conscious that I was looking more at screens than books, I have made a huge effort to read more lately and am feeling much better for it. 

Cue: An invite to two book launches in two weeks!

Firstly - Positively Primal by Emma Woolf

Due to busy diaries, I hardly ever get to see Emma but what a privilege to be invited to her book launch at the famous Waterstones on Piccadilly. 

Described at the "perfect antidote" to our 24/7 lifestyle - I have never felt more in need of a book like this. 

So much of life is spent rushing about, this book is a "re-connection" with food, work, relationships, the real world, family..... carefully researched and very inspiring, it is a breathtaking effort from someone so young and who I am lucky to call my friend !

Then - The Inner Fix by Joey Bradford and Persia Lawson

I had never met Joey and Persia before but had been a big follower of theirs since they founded Addictive Daughter - this is a brutally honest manual. 

Their book launch was magical and in order than they both had the same level of enjoyment on the night, they were handcuffed together. Also very useful for people like me who wanted to meet them together !

This is a much better and more worthy description than I could write - 

With our lives being overrun by social media and celebrity culture, being twenty-something has become pretty complicated. Wanting things we can't afford, finding ourselves stuck in a job we don't enjoy, or still living at home with mum and dad, we reach for things to try to perk us up (sex, booze and drugs) - but eventually, they turn out to be the very things that bring us down.

Having been caught in a cycle of self-destructive behaviour and come out the other side, Persia and Joey - friends, life coaches and founders of Addictive Daughter - colourfully chart their lives from childhood insecurities to adolescent obsessions. With tools and exercises to work through at your own pace, THE INNER FIX is guaranteed to teach you how to stop worrying and start living.

So much of the above will resonate with so many people - even if they won't admit it - I struggle to think of a more helpful guide to help you muddle through the maze that is 2016 and beyond.

Out next week!

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

I think this book deserves a blog post all of its own - partly because the book hasn't come out yet - but I have seen it. 

But also because Bryony came up with the brilliant "Mental Health Mates" who are a group of people affected directly or indirectly by mental illness and who wanted to meet to form their own "tribe" - sharing stories / making friends / having a support network - and I am so happy to be part of this group - and want to write about it properly along with the book launch at The Pool shortly.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse

There was no better way to spend a Monday evening than at the Donmar Warehouse watching Zoe Wanamaker performing in Elegy. I have seen Zoe performing once before on stage and was yet again completely blown away by what I saw. 

Zoe played the starring role (Lorna) in an all-female cast (just three members). 

Lorna has a devastating and terminal brain disorder, with the only treatment to cure it being a drastic method that would also remove her memories of the earlier 20-30 years - as well as the moment she met fellow teacher Carrie at a choir rehearsal.

What if every neuron in the human brain could be mapped and decoded? Every act of human behaviour catalogued and wholly understood? Elegy imagines a very-near future in which radical and unprecedented advances in medical science mean that it’s now possible to augment and extend life.

Through the beautiful and moving story of three women who’ve made the choice between love and survival, Elegy explores a world in which the brain is no longer a mystery to us. But at what cost?

Could you fall in love with someone all over again if you had the memory of meeting them first time round removed?

It was one of the most thought provoking plays I've seen in ages, quite short - only an hour and a quarter long - but with so much emotion and so many questions raised in such a short time, I don't think I could have coped with it being any longer in length.

Covering love, death, grief... its a very personal story. I'm not sure what I would do in Lorna's situation - but who better to discuss it with than with Zoe herself afterwards. Such a treat.

Hurry - Elegy is only on until 18th June and I think its pretty much sold out...

Friday, 27 May 2016

Maltesers Advert: Leaving

Everyone loves Maltesers. Crunchy, chocolatey, comforting joy. 

The formidable Beattie Edmondson (Jennifer Saunders's daughter - FYI) plays the starring role in their new advert and it is very funny.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Sir David Attenborough at 90

As well as the Queen recently celebrating her 90th birthday, Sir David Attenborough has also reached the same milestone.

I can't help but feel so incredibly lucky to be living on this planet at the same time as this extraordinary man.

He would be the perfect dinner party guest - funny, riveting, modest and someone who you would never run out of conversation with. 

I remember going to see the Queen when she came to Richmond Park in 2012, and he was there too. It felt like a double wammy in terms of being in the presence of Royalty.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Several trips to the theatre.....

My plan to try and do less / slow down is really not working at all. I have been lucky enough to feed my theatre habit quite a lot in the last few weeks and thought I would share some of it with you.

Deliciously Stella

Comedian Bella Younger has created a parody account Deliciously Stella on Instagram. I started following her last summer and she now has 120,000 Instagram supporters! I went along to her first ever stand up “in role” performance. She hadn’t quite learnt the material and it will invariably chop and change as the character develops, but I can see her being a much loved and popular face in the next few months / years. I guess she was also testing material for her Edinburgh show later this year. Do follow her on Instagram – she brightens up any grey morning with her FAB ABS.

Billy Elliot the Musical

Perhaps one of the greatest ever pieces of theatre to hit the West End stage has been the musical version of Billy Elliot. Three hours long and a total roller coaster of emotion – soaring (literally) highs and crashing lows. Very sadly, it has now left the London’s Victoria Palace theatre to start a big UK tour (which I think has already started?). But I spontaneously went to see it just one more time with a friend and I am so so glad I did. I have seen it maybe three times before but not in the last 5-6 years so had forgotten how incredible it was. All is not lost – you can buy an incredibly well filmed version of the stage show (unbelievably cheap given the quality of the performance). I have already bought it and watch it once since I saw it live. Mind blowing.

Felicity Ward's stand up performance at the Soho theatre was highly entertaining and Ralph Fiennes in The Master Builder at the Old Vic deserves a blog post all of its own. Such a privilege to see him live.

In the coming weeks, I am seriously excited to see Elegy starring Zoe Wanamaker and the much talked about play called People, Place and Things. Denise Gough has just won the Olivier award for Best Actress and gives “the greatest stage performance since Mark Rylance in Jerusalem” so it is not to be missed...

Theatre is definitely NOT a summer thing – unless you go to the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park, which I did a few years ago on a glorious summer’s evening - but when there is seriously good theatre around, its hard not to miss out. Also, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival happens in August which is also the middle of summer and I did that last year in (mostly) glorious sunshine. Hoping to go again this year....

This might sound mad but I’m a big fan of paying as MUCH as I possibly (and reasonably can) when I go to the theatre – there’s no point in sitting on a tiny and cramped balcony with a restricted view for £15 and if you think of all the work and complexities that go into putting on a mammoth production, and how hard actors have to work to “make it”, I always try and pay as much as I can afford, to sit in a good seat in order to remember it for the right reasons and not for feeling uncomfortable or being distracted throughout.  Having said that, I do think it’s important that theatre should be affordable for everyone..... and it often isn't. 

London's Wonderground is starting on the Southbank soon - often affordable and some really high quality shows. 

I'm also getting back into reading and really enjoying the time I'm spending away from a screen - and it forces me to sit down. Will save another blog post for books at a later date !