Day Trippin’ á la France!

As you may or may not know, I have horrible anxiety. I am working towards conquering the effects and symptoms of GAD, but it is still a very new diagnosis and not one I can switch on and off. One of my biggest problems is travel. I have the most horrendous travel anxiety. So what did I challenge myself to do… go to a foreign country for a day, of course. Nothing like a knee trembling excursion (and not a knee trembler in a good way thank you matron) to a different country with different money, language & customs to get the fear flowing, especially when you have handed over the reigns to your pals and barely know where you’re going let alone specifics. Jesus Christ with knobs on… here we go!

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So, I was up and ready to roll at 6am. Into the car and off to Dover to get the ferry… first hurdle: we missed it. It was fine though, they just booked us into the next one. Parfait! Brekkie on the ferry: Sausage, beans and hash browns. God, I love a PBG (potato based goods.) After an hour or so of not acquiring our sea legs and falling over, we were in France. Back in the car and after a few teething issues with the satnav and getting used to driving on the other side of the road, I promptly fell asleep, so no comment on the journey. Oops. If, in this moment, I need to point out that I wasn’t the one driving, that speaks more about you than it does me.

Fun Fact: France seems to actually value it’s workers and their rights. We arrived in Boulogne-Sur-Mer at lunch time and it was a ghost town. Everywhere was closed for an hour so the workers could have a proper lunch break. That’s right they could eat LUNCH and have an actual BREAK… not continue to sit at their computer and stuff half a sandwich in their mouth whilst still having to answer the phone, Stephanie! Yes France, come thru!  We went for the longest walk through the cobblestone streets and stumbled upon a little art installation all about luck. There were black cats and ladders, salt throwing and four leaf clovers, just to name a few. It was beautifully done and intertwined with wild flowers, all which had a connection to luck in some way and as a superstitious Sally, I bloody loved it.

COBBLECKCAfter walking for another small life time we hit the river and things had begun to re-open. We spied a large Carrefour and decided to have a nose around it. Now, here is where we learnt the hard way that backpacks are not allowed in the supermarkets. This is also where I realised that there is a staunch difference in fashion choices between England and France. From the serious amount of eyeballing, pointing, whispering and obvious gossiping, ripped jeans and doc martens are too punk for the people of Boulogne-Sur-Mer.

Anyways, I bought a bag of Maltesers bigger than my head and we pootled on back to the castle. Another fun fact: when you think you’re docs are sufficiently broken in enough to wear them on what is essentially and urban hike, they’re not. Honest to God, I had lines of blisters around the bottoms of my calves where my docs had been rubbing, nasty little blighters. I mean I love ’em, I just don’t necessarily like them right now… kinda like a naughty child.

We decided to take a break and have a car-nic – translated: a picnic in the car. Being the mother duck that I am, I had to make sure to bring enough car snacks for everyone and a large variety, so we had pastries for breakfast, sausage rolls and chicken strips and some crips for lunch and some cheese crackers, gummies, chocolate, mini colin the caterpillars (courtesy of my pal)… what ever you fancied. I even packed a bin bag. After some serious snackage we decided to hit up the museum and the crypt. €10 each for the museum, the new, temporary exhibit and the crypt… um, yes please, sign us up!

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There was a lot of pots. Like A LOT of pots. The museum had a lot of Greek and Egyptian artifacts, including a real mummy. Like woah. Fun fact numéro trois: museums are far more fun when you can’t read the captions. It’s like being in an episode of ‘Drunk History.’ So, everything is obviously in French… but my limited french meant that the translations were hazy at best and let’s face it… we were having way too much fun thinking up alternative facts, le président des États-Unis style. Who knows, the seafaring virgin could be the inspiration behind a future ‘Pirates’ film. You just never know these days!

Another car nap later and we were at the Pas De Calais (at least I think that’s what it is called) – the french equivalent of the white cliffs of Dover. We caught it just at golden hour and oh boy, was it beautiful. Windy, but beautiful. We spent a bit of time getting windswept and soaking up the view, but then it was back in the car and off to Cité Europe… essentially a big ole Bluewater. We had a little mooch about, popped into a party store and got scared by the robotic clowns… who spoke English btw?! Went into another massive Carrefour and bought a few bits and bobs, got my mum some stinky cheese and croissants. I know, how stereotypical of me but sometimes the stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason! Something I noticed here was that, whilst the cashiers did not speak English, which we didn’t expect them to, they did realise we were English and spoke much slower and in more simple sentences for us… meaning I could actually understand them, translate for my friends and respond in French too. Result!

SUNSETCKCThen it was time to miss our ferry again. So we sat in the car for an hour waiting for the next one before returning to good, old Blighty. It was an adventure and whilst I wasn’t always comfortable and did panic a touch, which I fully expected as I really pushed myself out of my comfort zone agreeing to this excursion, it’s true what Winnie the Pooh says, “being brave is easier when you’re not alone.” It was a grand adventure and, whilst I’m not crazy into politics and don’t know all the facts and figures, I am dreading the end of the month. #bettertogether

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Pretzel Buttons!

So it was family day, meaning all hands on deck as all my cousins and auntie descend on my 98 year old Nan’s house. She’d baked a Victoria sponge, Mum had bought all the different drinks for each different person, the kids all have their different favourite foods and the adults are even worse.

My schedule has been nuts and I needed something quick and easy to whip up that morning, as it was the only time I had spare. As I was laying in bed, meant to be asleep but actually just scrolling mindlessly through Instagram, I saw a post by Frances Quinn, the winner of the fourth series of The Great British Bake Off. It was the hottest day of the year and so, in the sun, she had melted some large, Bournville buttons, stuck salted pretzels on top of them, put them in the fridge to set and made ‘Pretzel Buttons’. Perfect.

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So, the next morning, off I pop to Tesco, scour the chocolate aisle in search of Bournville buttons. I have to say, I’m not a massive fan of dark chocolate, so why stop at dark chocolate buttons I thought? So I got a pack of every kind of chocolate button available: Giant Dairy Milk Buttons, Milky Way Buttons and Caramac Buttons. I grabbed some salted pretzels and was ready to rock.

 

So, following Francis’ instagram story, this is how it went down.

  1. First, pre heat your oven to 150ºc (or equivalent), grab your baking tray and cut a section of greaseproof paper to fit. Francis suggests screwing up your greaseproof and flattening it out again to stop it from curling up at the edges. I tried it and I can confirm, this trick works!
  2. Lay out your buttons evenly, and pop in the oven for 30 secs to a minute to melt. (If it’s a hot day, just stick them by the window for a couple of minutes  and that should do the trick!)BUTTONS CKC
  3. Whilst still melted, pop a pretzel on top of each one, pushing it down ever so slightly to make sure its right in there and sticks.
  4. Shove ’em in the fridge until they’re set and peel them off the paper. Et voila! Pretzel buttons. Simple and delicious.

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I made four baking trays worth of these bad boys. A mountainous bowl of them… and there was not a single one left when the family departed that evening. SUCCESS!

Get on the pretzel hype! It’s so easy to do!

ckcsignoff

Why I’m A Weirdo… and You Probably Are Too!

Being weird, eyy? I mean, what is weird exactly? Something or someone who does not confirm to what society perceives as “normal”? Wow, bound by social constructs much?There’s no such thing as normal anyway. Honestly, some of the things I do would have made the popular girls at school roll their eyes, flick their perfectly GHD’d to within an inch of it’s life hair, smirk demeaningly and raise their eyebrows… then use it against me for the rest of our lives. Yet, I couldn’t care less. You Judgey McJudgersons can go live your perfectly “normal” lives… which, by my standard, might be a bit weird. We’re all secretly weird.

It’s less about being weird and more so an individual or just a human being with a personality. Alright, sometimes the things I do could be classed as awkward, nerdy, stupid or, you guessed, it a bit weird – but I bet you any money you’ve done something similar, if not the exact same thing. Here’s some weird things I do on the regs that people would definitely call me a weirdo over, but maybe, just maybe, we all can’t be united in weirdom together and admit we might appertain to one or two ourselves!

1. I do make up out of context. Yes, I do an MC Hammer happy dance every time my eyeliner matches. Yes, I turn into Alyssa Edwards and pull faces in the mirror when my highlight AND lipstick are on point. Yes, I get incredibly cross and huff like a horse when I spend ages blending my eyeshadow to perfection only to see it’s turned into a poo brown glob across my eyelid in approx 24.78 seconds (and yes I use primer!) But the weird bit is that I love OTT makeup. SFX, theatre, festival, fancy dress, I just love it all.  I mean, my mum once walked in to me with a half finished SFX flesh wound ripping through my face. She also arrived home one day to see my friend in full, BAD, drag. I didn’t have a working glue stick so her eye brows looked like porridge, which is where our problems started. It was bloody funny though.

2. I become an array of celebrities and characters at a moments notice. I love to sing. I sing all the time; when I’m on my own, in a crowd, at home, at work, studying, cleaning, whenever the fancy takes me. Often, when I get the house to myself I will crank up my lung capacity and sing really loudly and, often, really out of tune and, on occasion, this becomes a full blown production number. Headphones on, hairbrush microphone at the ready and “HELLO WEMBLEY! ARE YOU READY TO ROCK?” Sometimes I’m hoovering and suddenly I am into the opening number of “Clean the Living Room: The Musical.” I’m telling you it’s Olivier award winning stuff. Riveting. Will she be able to dust the top shelf of the bookcase without a ladder? Let’s sing a heart felt ballad about it. Why the hell not? If pretending to be Mary Poppins as I tidy makes the job a game, then by George, I’ll play it. Anything to brighten up a dull task.

3. I laugh at myself. All the time. I laugh at my own jokes too, even if no one else finds anything I say or do remotely or vaguely funny. I find some situations so bizarre and some of the things that come out of my mouth or brain so random that I can’t help but laugh. I also laugh at my own incompetence or even just a funny memory. Other times I just think I am damn funny. We all think our comebacks are funny, otherwise we wouldn’t say them. A-duh. But in any scenario, there I am, laughing on my own, at myself, like a lunatic.

4. I often say my thoughts out loud. My brain is a busy place, sometimes I just have to list out loud what I’m doing to clear my to-do list from a million and one other thoughts flying around! Other times I might be worrying about something, so I’ll say it out loud to myself. Then, if it sounds ridiculous out loud, it must be more ridiculous than my brain is admitting to. Also, if I’m deep in thought, I’ll often start thinking aloud, answering my own questions, using my own hands as predictive text to copy down my thoughts as I say them when I’m using my phone/laptop. It works for me… although, I do sound bonkers sometimes, having an almost full blown conversation with myself!

5. Social Awkwardness. I am forever making social faux pars: waving at a stranger I thought I knew and just pretending to fix my hair when they look and it’s most definitely NOT the person I thought it was. Being so prepared at the till with my money but then waiting awkwardly until the cashier tells me how much it is, counting my correct change again before handing it over and waiting to see if it’s correct. Realising I’m walking the wrong way but instead of just turning around I will either a) pretend to get a text telling me something meaning I just HAVE to turn around or stopping and doing a Charlie Chaplin-esque scene of realising I’m going the wrong way, just so everyone around me knows that I’m going the wrong way and I also know I’m going the wrong way. What a dip stick eyy? Walking the wrong way! Corr dear! Minor offences also include: walking into things, swearing at inanimate objects, tripping over nothing, saying something completely weird just to try and fill completely normal silence, breaking the ice with a shit joke that would sink the titanic or points 2, 3 or 4 but just in public.

6. Makeover meltdowns. Whilst I am burdened with many forms of meltdown, the oddest one is the one that sounds like this: “I have nothing to wear.” ‘I look like a troll.” “Why is my hair so disobedient?” “Why does nothing fit?” “Where is that top I had five years ago?” “Why is my back fat fatter today than every other day ever?” “I’ve broken out and my make up is literally being repelled by every blemish.” “That’s it, I’ve staying in my cave until I turn into a Victoria Secret model,” – So forever then. This is such a common occurrence, my friends actually factor in a 40 minute meltdown period for me to make sure we actually leave to get anywhere on time. Ugh, they know me so well. Weird thing is – It’s totally unwarranted and I have no need to hate on myself that much.

7. Word Vomit. Every time I see someone I want to impress I open my mouth and it becomes the driest cavern on the planet. Then word vomit. Weird, embarrassing word vomit. Honestly, I’ve had two job interviews in my life (both long term positions) and both times the interviewer noted that I “had a lot to say” or I “was very chatty.” Got both the jobs though, didn’t I?! Wheyyyy🙌

8. Childish TV habits. Sometimes I watch rubbish kids films and I do not even feel guilty. I mean, A Christmas Prince? Check. The Princess Switch? All over. Scooby Doo? Totally underrated. Sleepover? A farfetched masterpiece. Life-Size? Gimme that sequel, Disney! (Special mentions are: Mean Girls, High School Musical, She’s the Man, Princess Diaries – all of which are not actually shit but incredibly well made films from my childhood.) Weird part of this – I’ll admit it and actively recommend people watch them if they want a chill, easy watch. I don’t care. I drown out the judgement with a rendition of Humuhumunukunukuapua’a thank you very much.

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GIF credit: giphy.com

On ‘Being Enough’…

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Well, my brain has gone off on a tangent of fuckery, buffoonery and shenanigans. For the last few weeks I have felt constantly on the brink of tears and I don’t exactly know why.

I guess I feel a little lost, a little hurt, a little betrayed, a little useless, a little unloveable and well… just little. I feel small. I don’t feel like I am enough. I don’t feel like I am strong enough, nice enough, brave enough, clever enough, pretty enough… just not enough. It’s almost as if my self worth has devalued some what and now I am only worth mere coppers; easily used when you want something badly enough and easily tossed aside into someone’s charity bucket.

It’s odd. I’m alright but I’m not alright at the same time. There’s a tightness in my chest and a lump in my throat that will not go away.

Recently I have been trying to deal with lots of things. My mental health is a bittersweet situation. I’m taking steps in to the complete unknown with it, but it is all for the better. I’m determined to be ok and whilst it is a little scary and a makes me a bit nervy, I am getting the support I need to conquer it. There are moments that I sit and judge myself negatively. I feel like I’m not good enough, that I am weak or abnormal, that I’m not worth knowing or that I’m a lost cause. It passes, I acknowledge it, I move on.

I have also been told I have to have an operation on my back. I’m terrified.

Thankfully I have never been ill enough or broken enough bones to be admitted to hospital before, but my current problem is not fixing itself. Instead it’s picking away at my insides and working it’s way into my system, so if it wont leave voluntarily, it will leave by force. That fully makes it sound like I have worms or am possessed or something. No, no, it’s nothing major. Just a reoccurring problem that makes me poorly whenever it rears it’s head. According to the consultant I have just been “incredibly unlucky.” I am not the type of person who this usually affects. There are no logical reasons as to why I have it, just sheer, bad luck.

I’m getting better slowly, but allowing myself to be vulnerable in order to heal and face my fears has made me more vulnerable day to day and things are hurting more. Things I could brush off before, now cut a little deeper. Random things with no meaning, now have significance. Instead of reading the lines first, I’m reading between them.

I’ll be ok. I’m stronger than people give me credit for… including myself. It’s just such an odd feeling. I can’t express it, but I needed to try. I needed to get all those niggling fears off of my chest.

I just need to chill, put my blinders on, stop focussing on the inconsequential and focus on sorting my shit out.

Peace and love ✌️

ckcsignoff

BRB, Becoming a Bawse 💋

According Urban Dictionary, the term ‘Bawse’ means, “… a human being who exudes confidence, turns heads, reaches goals, finds inner strenght, gets hurt efficiently and smiles genuinely- because they’ve fought through it all and made it out the other side. The double-handed praise was created for them” and was coined by the Youtuber Lilly Singh.

Recently, life has been hell. It’s been one crisis to another and we (‘we‘ being my family and I) are still not out of the woods. Working, assisting with the full time care of a family member, looking after myself as I take a rickety old journey on the mental health rollercoaster, taking care of my parents & the house and on top of that battling a bad case of Norovirus really isn’t the one. It’s been hard. It’s tested all of us and we can only put the survival of our little family unit down to the tenacity of the human spirit and the fates that be. None of us are quite sure how we are all still going, but we are.

Throughout all this however, I am endeavouring to turn my life around. On my birthday last year I promised myself that this year I would change my life, and come my next birthday I would be able to look back, see a positive change and be proud of what I have achieved.

So far I have taken steps forward, I have, all be it slowly, begun the steep climb up Mount adulting in order to reach it’s summit. I have taken steps to advance myself, to give myself more security. To improve my own mental health and wellbeing. To up my confidence and independence.

I’m going for Miranda Priestly but less mean and more Mamma Mia. Calm, collected, confident, know my own power, know my own strength, keep my tears to myself and whip everyday’s arse. I want to be smiley and approachable. I want to be caring and kind. I want to remember to ask after a friends mum or ask how my colleagues sports competition went but I also want to be able to take care of myself and have others care too. I want to be organised and be someone who is noticed, someone who’s presence is felt in some way. Yet, above all, I want to be happy within myself. I’m practising my affirmations, I’m putting down my peanut butter KitKat (for now), I’m picking up my water bottle, I’m putting on my big girl pants, I’m painting my nails, I’m washing my hair and I’m becoming a Bawse.

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GIF credits: Lilly GIF // Miranda GIF

Potions Class at Cutter & Squidge

“There will be no foolish wand waving or silly incantations in the this class”… or quite the opposite actually.

I took one of my bestest gal pals and Potterhead extraordinaire on a surprise, birthday adventure into Soho, down into the dungeons of Cutter and Squidge where we donned our robes, whipped out our wands and had a spellbinding afternoon tea. I had been planning this for some time but refused to let slip as much as a hint. This woman could give the pink panther a run for his money, so I let no secrets fly. No, there was no peep out of me… and trust me, it was bloody hard to contain my excitement.

After wandering around, getting lost, going the wrong way, the right way, back and forth, eventually we found it and took a seat in the cafe. Soon someone came around to check us in and then gathered us together to take us down to the dungeons… or more so, the potions room.

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The stairs gave way to mottled bricks and knick knacks. A steaming cauldron hanging over a roaring “fire” greets you as you hang up you coats, don your robes and are assigned your desk. Yes, you heard me correctly, desk. Sat in rows like any other school age witch or wizard, a plethora of potions sit before you, as well as a your own personal cauldron and a menu. At the front of the class is the masters desk, adorned with books, scales, bottles of ingredients, boxes and jars full of strange and magical substances.

Once everyone is seated the potions master begins their lesson, explaining the history of the school and what you will be learning in your class today. He also allocates you a wand (handily stored on the wall next to each desk) to which they introduce you to some basic spells and wand waving. Next you order your drinks, whether it be something simple like a breakfast or fruit tea, a coffee or a pumpkin juice or something a little more magical Unicorn Tears Tea or the Elixir of Life. Of course, me and my gal pal went for the last two. Her’s turned up bright purple and mine was gold and a little sparkly! Ooh la la, I do say!

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Then, it was time to crack on with making some potions. The first was a galaxy juice a drink in which, following the teacher’s guidance, you had to mix your potions into a bottle to create a glistening galaxy drink. It was a passionfruit, hibiscus and ‘unicorn tear’ drink and absolutely yum. I could have 100% chugged another one! The teacher came round and graded you a pass or a fail on your efforts and for every pass in the class the student was awarded a ‘dibble’ (kinda like a house point at another famous wizarding school you may know of.) We hung onto these for later!

After a spot of tea it was time to start mixing things in the cauldron! There was a small mortar and pestle, with mystic rocks (popping candy) in it. We were instructed to grind them up as much as we could and then sprinkle it into the cauldron. Next, we must add the vial of dragon’s blood on the table (fruit coolie). Once we did the cauldron began to froth and bubble. Then it was time to dig in to our starter. It was a meringue with a cinnamon biscuit crumble under neath. Incredibly sweet but so, utterly delicious. If you’re not into sweet things, you might want to take it easy on this one.

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Then, after another session of spells and wand waving, another set of dibbles and a right old laugh tea was served. If you’re looking a magical and very British experience, this is it. The savouries were a Roast Chicken Dinner finger sandwich (complete with stuffing and cranberry sauce), a crusty roll with honey roasted ham and a light mustard dressing, a ploughmans sandwich (cheese, pickle, gherkin, etc), a miniature Yorkshire pudding with roast beef and horse radish and a hot creamy leek and potato pie (which we think had cheese in it too and was so moreish, we both could have eaten seconds.) We both had the standard afternoon tea, however they did have vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free options too, which you can select at the time of purchase.

Following on from this warm rock cakes were delivered to you in paper bags with clotted cream and jam for you to enjoy, and then it was time for the sweet treats: Knickerbocker bites and Cauldron Biskies (their speciality. It’s almost akin to a macaron, except the filling is sandwiched between two beautifully soft biscuits.) That may not seem like a lot, but, boy, it’s enough. Both were scrummy, but incredibly sweet. If it is too much for you however, if you ask one of the prefects (waiters) they will get you a little box to take any left overs home in. The knickerbocker bites are a miniature sundae filled with vanilla cake, cream, fruit and sprinkles and the Cauldron Biskie was a combination of rich chocolate and butterscotch.

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After a little more magic from our professor and some audience interaction it was time for the graduation ceremony, where you find out if you passed the class and receive your graduation certificate. Now remember those dibbles from earlier? Well I hope you saved room, because the trolley lady appears and you may spend your dibbles on a sweet treat to take home with you. Then it’s time to cast a spell and return to Soho, return your wand and robe and head back to the muggle world above… although not before a picture op, which you are free to do at the end, exploring the room and taking snaps wherever you fancy.

I was a little dubious of the experience at the high price point of £49.50 per person, or £79.50 for VIP (which includes the standard tea plus a goodie bag and X2 themed, alcoholic cocktails from the menu). For a child is costs £39.50 (£54.50 VIP and adapted for the younger witches and wizards amongst us.) Those worries were totally wiped away. It was 100% worth the money and I would absolutely go again, even with the higher price. The over all experience was so intricate and well thought out, that I couldn’t find fault with it. My friend enjoyed every second of it too, which made it even more worth while. I was worried she wouldn’t enjoy the food, however, even as a picky eater she ate everything (or at least tried it and ate over half.) It is a wonderful experience, the staff are very attentive and approachable, nothing is too much trouble, and they do their utmost to make you feel comfortable and relaxed, which for someone who tends to be on the anxious side, made things so much better.

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You really are transported somewhere magical. If you can visit the Potions Room, I totally recommend it. You can visit the website >> here << for any extra info or to book.

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Trixie Mattel Live 💖// The ‘Skinny Legend’ Tour!

HONEY, OH HONEY 🐝

I don’t get star struck easily, if ever. In my line of work, the glamour and star power is sucked from fame and show business entirely, so the fact that I actually felt genuinely star struck watching legend, icon and star Miss Tracy Martel took me by surprise. A point that made this experience blog post worthy. Of course, if you’re not a fan of Trixie’s comedy or music, then it probably wouldn’t be for you, however I am a fan, and each to their own!

Now, the night before the show, the ole anxiety and depression were kicking’ up a stink. It should have felt like Christmas Eve, but instead all I felt was a sense of dread, like a brick of sadness sitting in the pit of my stomach that I couldn’t shift. It was frustrating to say the least. I had waited almost a year for this and now I was finally heading to Brixton to see one of my favourite performers, with some of my favourite people and was being a Debbie Downer about it. Ugh, don’t mind me, just your friendly, neighbourhood depressive. But hey, ho what can you do? (Well, I mean take your meds and chill the hell out Brenda, but whatevs.) Any who, the day arrived and I threw on my my Trixie tee, my pink everything else, ratted up my hair into the highest half pony I could, did that winged liner, prepared my Polly Pocket handbag and was good to go; but those thoughts just would not quit!

However, I’m happy to report that my worries and anxieties were completely and utterly unfounded.

The venue was easy to find, just a five minute walk from Brixton underground station. There was a Nandos opposite, meaning dinner was sorted and we also had somewhere warm to wait; two birds, one stone, yes mate! (Trixie pun absolutely intended.) The Nandos wasn’t great. I’m not sure if they were understaffed or overwhelmed with the amount of customers… but I’m guessing that’s not a new problem being located literally NEXT TO the O2 Academy Brixton. We queued outside the venue for a while and had a chat with the people behind us. The Trixie fandom are some of the most welcoming and friendly people I’ve ever had the pleasure of queueing with.

The venue staff were amazing. Security were great (and 100% appreciated the Polly Pocket bag and we had a good old natter about it) and the door and merch staff were approachable and helpful. Everyone made you feel totally safe and at ease. The seating was unreserved but we were in the queue early enough that there were plenty of seats available when we got in there. There was a bit of shuffling around to make sure there was no single seats left but they did make adequate announcements regarding this, amongst other rules, which were done in such an informal and friendly way. You’d be an ass to not follow them (and get burnt by Trixie too, which happened. TY TM 🙌)

Honesty hour: half way through the night I turned into a massive melt.

Right before Trixie’s set, my friend turned to me and said “are you excited?” and I didn’t know how to answer. I was so overwhelmed. So much had been going on that had dragged (pun not actually intended, but i’ll take it) me down and the sudden feeling of happiness and freedom caught me off guard. I couldn’t help but just tear up. My voice caught in my throat as I stared at the stage and then back to my friend, then around the room. I wasn’t quite sure how to process the feelings I had forgotten how to feel. What do I do now that I feel so happy I could explode? I actually felt guilty at first for feeling so happy, then confused, then as if I was just kidding myself, but no, that feeling was real and my heart soared at the realisation that I actually still had it in me to be happy.

Jesus, that was dramatic. Alright, emotions aired. Moving swiftly on.

The support acts were the absolutely incredible Victoria Secret and Miss Blair, and of course there was some audience participation, some parodying and absolutely on point lip synching. Honestly, I can’t explain how amazing they were, especially Victoria. New fan, right here 🙋. I will never, ever listen to Ariana Grande the same again.

After an interval full of bar trips, toilet trips and drag mixes, twas time to see the lady herself: Miss Trixie Mattel. No matter where you know her from, wether that be drag race, youtube, the iTunes charts or the drag scene in general, there was something for everyone. A lip synch to make any and all theatre kids squeal in excitement, some new music, some absolute classics (yes, there is both an autoharp and a guitar involved), some parodies, a fierce full costume and wig change, video segments, a bit of Disney, a clarinet, audience participation, some Drag Race anecdotes, and a hell of a lot of hilarious stand up. In fact, the majority of the show is stand up, dark and dry, just as you would expect from Miss Mattel. She definitely sees the line and takes a running jump over it, but you wouldn’t want it any other way. She’s a DRAG QUEEN. They aren’t meant to be particularly nice or politically correct! I mean, if you’re not a little offended by at least one joke, is it even a drag show?

I loved every, Goddamn second. My face and stomach hurt from laughing (and my bank account hurt from the merch stand visit.) Even through the technical hitches, she just styled it out. I mean, props to Brian (the man behind the lashes) for pulling it out of the bag with so much energy after being so poorly he was on a drip in half drag hours before the show. Honestly, he’s a consummate professional. Can I also say, I am 100% in love with the way he handled the audience so bloody well. I’m so glad he told people to shut up so everyone could hear, to sit down because the person behind them didn’t pay to look at their arse and to put the damn fan down before he snaps it over his knee. It’s a drag show, sure. Have fun, drink, be mad and merry, but it’s seated, in what is a venue akin to a theatre. It’s majority stand up comedy. You wouldn’t expect to get away with standing there screaming drunkenly at Lee Evans or Kathy Griffin, would you?

Who knew a bloke from Wisconsin, singing folk and stalking about in a knee length blonde wig, covered in glitter, eyelashes bigger than my future and bell sleeves and flares to match, could bring so much happiness to a sad, little, English girl, who forgot how to smile. I guess the moral of the story here is, ‘you never know the impact you have on someone else just by being you and doing what you do’… and also ‘go see Trixie Mattel live!’

GIF credits: Spockette/tenor.com  //  Bethandonovan/tenor.com  //  tumblr.com

Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea!

Come with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination! Well, I guess if you were with me you’d have ended up at the Indigo Bar at the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea.

Two words: bacon jam.

Honestly, it sounds hideous but it’s my new favourite thing.

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We felt a wee bit awkward walking in (as we were actually dressed to head out to a drag show later that evening. Not too obnoxiously, but I was in rainbow glitter DMs, hoops bigger than my future, a leather skirt that was a touch too short, Polly Pocket handbag and had ‘NOT TODAY SATAN’emblazoned across my boobs.) However we were shown to our table without an ounce of judgement. Each place was finished with a menu that had an original costume design sketch on the back of it. Nice touch Indigo.

Our first choice was our tea. What to have? Well, it’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, why not have the chocolate tea?! I mean, I don’t like tea, it makes me gag, however chocolate tea could be the one. FYI, it wasn’t the one, but the trick is to let it brew and add sugar. I actually did manage a whole cup without gagging and that’s a big deal for me and tea! They even offered me coffee, I just did that awkward thing of just going with the menu and not actually taking them up on any changes – but they were offered people! Take note!

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First were the savouries – Sandwiches, mini quiches and scones. You heard me right, scones. This is the first time I have genuinely said yes to a second helping. It was honestly the most delicious thing: salmon with lemon mayo on poppy seed bread, coronation chicken on onion bread, egg mayo and cress in a small brioche bun and an caramelised onion, sage and chestnut mini quiche (full crust and still warm… be still be gurgling stomach) and a cheese scone (again, still warm) with bacon jam. I honestly could have had thirds. It was the most delicious set of savouries I think I have possibly ever tasted at an afternoon tea. It was perfect in that it had a traditional element, but there was a touch of more modern flavours with the brioche and coronation chicken and onion bread and a bit of Wonka stylings with the savoury scone and jam.

Then the fun bit, the bit everyone is waiting for – the scrumdiddlyumptious part. The sweets. We had a stand each and, oh boy, it looked like something out of the Chocolate Factory, from the mind of Mr. Wonka himself. A golden egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and a mango yolk, a tiny bottle of chocolate caramel milk with a little paper straw for added adorability, bright pink bubblegum Eton mess covered in lucky charms, homemade candy floss, blueberry cake pops (“Violet you’re turning Violet, Violet!”) and a little basket with banana bread, cocoa bean financiers, and more traditional scones served with cream, berry jam and lemon curd.

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Oh. My. Good. Lord. I was in heaven. The chocolate milk and the golden egg were the most delicious things. The candy floss was fun but a touch messy, you’ll need to wash those hands after! It wasn’t just delicious food but it was fun to look at and fun to eat. The whole thing was an experience. The staff were absolutely wonderful, attentive but not overbearing and nothing was too much bother. The food – I’ve gone on about enough and the over all experience was amazing. I would go again and again. It was 100% worth the price tag!

I believe that One Aldwych is currently closed for renovations and they have adapted the afternoon tea slightly, making it less Charlie themed and more ‘sweet shop’ themed, but looking at the menu it’s almost identical, so I think for anyone that wants to try it, it will still be a wonderful experience!

ckcsignoff

Silent Struggles

I’ve gone silent. I know. I keep opening up the tab. Hovering over the write button. Opening blank post after blank post but nothing comes out.

I’ve been feeling broken. Totally broken. I couldn’t keep the lid on my negativity anymore and out it poured and tarred every inch of my being and affected every area of my life.

Daily function got hard. I would drag myself through life and my body would almost go into cruise control. I would wake up and leave my brain in bed. My mind wouldn’t follow me, it would simply sit in a state of permanent panic. Everything was hard and it still is.

I was actually brave for once. As idiotic and non important as it sounds, I actually put myself first for once. I feel awkward even saying that, as I’m sure someone, somewhere will think that I always put myself first, that I’m self absorbed anyway, that this is just me attention seeking or finding an excuse to not do things. But I actually got the courage to ask for help and admit that I’m not ok.

I will be. Ok that is. I will be ok. I’m actually focussing on getting myself back rather than on keeping everyone else happy even if it is completely to my detriment. I’m focusing on getting rid of my raincloud. I’ve done it alone for so long and it stepped into high gear and I couldn’t do it alone anymore.

So I’m still here. I have some posts in the works. I have a few exciting things happening, and hopefully there will be so much good stuff on the horizon.

 

Peace & love

Kate

xx

 

 

Over the Wall #2019Goals

Well, well, well… happy new year blogosphere!

Am I glad 2018 is over – kinda. Am I excited for 2019 – eh.

I usually have a gut feeling regarding the new year. Sitting there, watching Jools Holland’s Hootenanny and sipping my sparkling wine and Chambord concoction, my psychic colon often informs me if it has any kind of hunch, good or bad, regarding the new year. Last year, I had nadda, nothing, not so much as a gurgle or a twinge. It freaked me out a bit to be honest. I tumbled into 2018 like Alice down the rabbit hole. I had no idea where I was going, what was happen and even lost track of who I was. This year, however, my gut instinct reared it’s head. It feels like a year of searching, of figuring things out and tying up loose ends. It doesn’t feel like there is much magnitude, or motivation, so instead of rocketing myself into 2019, I bobbed over the boarder thinking I’m not sure what lies in store, but whatever does come my way will lead on to something bigger. I feel like I’ll gain something small in 2019 that, come 2020, could turn out to be a much bigger thing. That feeling could be right, it could also be gas, who knows?

By the end of 2018 I felt a little bit broken. I had made decisions that I thought were the best for me, but ultimately turned out to not be so great and I have suffered physically and mentally for them. I have always put a pressure on myself to excel at things and I don’t take leaps of faith or big changes easily. Because of this, it is the first time I’ve ever really, really considering giving up and it made me feel like a failure, however I’m too stubborn to be considered a quitter and so have carried on putting myself through it.

I just need to get a handle on my brain and the anxiety and negativity that cages and controls it. Once I’ve got that, I’ve got my life back. I can start building up my self confidence, go out and conquer my fears, regain my motivation and crack on with creating memories and finding opportunities.

One of my favourite discoveries (well personal discovery) of 2018 was Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – which has jumped to share the number one spot on my list of favourite shows ever (alongside Book of Mormon!) Entering into 2019 I listened to this one song from the show that has gone round and round in my head since my second time seeing the show in December. Whilst the situation the song refers too isn’t one I can relate to, the idea that words and hurt and they build up into a wall in your head you’re forever climbing is.

“… Don’t fall, I’m finding my feet, there’s shoes to be filled, but this wall, is harder to beat when it’s one you helped build.” This line is so true.

It’s much harder to overcome an obstacle you have ultimately helped to put it place. The world may have built and laid the bricks, but I have dug the foundations and churned the cement. I try to be genuinely self aware, and through all the self loathing and soul searching, I remind myself that for every one person who has put me down, I’ve had two who have tried to help build me up. I need to return to the me before the panic and worry. The girl who shook things off, who had dreams she was so intent on reaching. The girl who had a hard exterior and a heart as soft as putty. Who would be an ear for everyone, a voice for those who couldn’t be heard and a shoulder to cry on. I’ll get there, that’s what fresh starts are for.

Slowly but surely I will climb over the wall in my head.

My goals for 2019 are simple:

  • Take time for myself. Towards the end of 2018 I stopped allowing myself time for simple things and ended up looking, and feeling, like Stig of the Dump. Not again. Self care shouldn’t take a back seat.
  • Focus on my health & fitness, which I have let slip dramatically and am suffering for it, but also I must face my fears and possibly brave a hospital stay or painful procedures for the greater good.
  • Try to have more of an understanding of any negative moods or thoughts and not allow myself to become consumed by them. It’s almost like interacting with an antagonist – I just need to step away, see the situation from the outside, extrude my emotions and then say to my inner negative Nancy, “I understand your point, but I don’t agree and no longer want to be part of this discussion.”
  • See the positives in situations, not just the negatives. Whether the glass is half full or half empty… there’s still a drink in it!

 

Here’s to a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous new year gang!

Enjoy every minute.

ckcsignoff