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.

ckcsignoff

 

 

 

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.

ckcsignoff

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

Travel & Me.

There were two subjects at school I could never get a handle on: maths and geography. I didn’t like them, didn’t enjoy them and I couldn’t wrap my head around them.

As the years have gone on, I’ve found ways around maths and the stuff I never really understood, I’ve never had to use. I always keep a calculator handy too, just in case. However, I still have trouble with geography.

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Yes, people of the internet. My name’s Kate and I’m geographically challenged.

That’s part one of why I really struggle with travelling. I get confused and disorientated easily. Even coming out of a shop on the high street I can’t figure out which way I was walking. In short, I get lost very, very easily. My internal GPS is broken and there’s no hope of fixing it.

Part two follows on from part one, I don’t like feeling out of control or and I have a fear of the unknown… the same as most people. However, if I plan a route from place A to place B, using a certain mode of transport, at a certain time and then suddenly that route or mode is not available to me, I freeze up. My brain can’t compute. I just have a meltdown.

I suddenly have no control, I have no idea where to go, what to do. I feel lost. So not only do I have a tendency to physically get lost, but I also can, very easily, feel lost mentally too. Then comes, what I can only describe as, an anxiety attack.

Late last year I went on a plane for the first time in around seven years. I got all the way to the airport only to discover that all the cash I had drawn out for taxis, food, spending money, emergencies, I had left on the side, at home, where it was waiting patiently to be put into my purse.  Cue the meltdown.  Now I was relatively composed. No-one had clocked I was completely blinded by panic. I cried silently into my sleeve whilst my rational side said not to worry and reminded me I had my debit card. I could use that and get some more cash out at the airport. I had pre-paid for the taxi I was in, so really there was no problem, only that I had been a bit of a spanner.  BUT NO!  My brain couldn’t handle being rational.

The airport was fine. I calmed myself but I still felt sick and was fighting tears. As soon as I could, I leant over to my friend and whispered my dilemma, to which she said, “it’s ok, we can find a cash machine and if worst comes to worst, I’ll lend you some cash whilst we are away.” Don’t ever let me tell you I have crappy friends. Turns out that forgetting money ran in the group. My other friend forgot his entire wallet, so we were lending him dollar all weekend, which I had no problems with. Maybe I’m just a control freak or a perfectionist, but my brain is convinced that rational answers in these situations don’t apply to me.

We flew to Disney earlier this year and me, like an idiot, thought it was a good idea to spilt my money between my hand and hold luggage, so if one went missing I still had some. Yeah, my best gal, who works in travel insurance, gave me a right dressing down about it. Apparently, thats not something you should do. You should keep it all on your person. So heads up guys, don’t let anxiety over being mugged or pick pocketed allow you to invalidate your insurance. I spent the entire flight worrying about it until I got my bag the other end. I won’t be making that mistake again. The train was another story entirely. I was ok because I was with friends who weren’t nearly as worried as me and took control of the situation. Had I been alone though? Meltdown. We got there with only one minor hiccup that did nothing other than make us walk a few meters – I can live with that.

Slowly, I’ll get myself through it, I mean I’ve survived being thrown in to situations that were almost vomit inducing for me, and I didn’t vomit either (just for a bit of TMI.) I survived them – unscathed. There’s hope for this world traveller yet.

 

ckcsignoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise Birthday Party at a Speakeasy!

Every year I do something for my birthday… every year, without fail.

Except this one.

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I’ve had a bit of a tough time. Not as tough as others, I am fully prepared to admit. Although I haven’t had to weather the eye of many storms, I have certainly been caught up in them and things keep going from bad to worse. Needless to say my birthday was the least of my worries. I went away for a couple of days over my actual birthday and had a nice enough time – there were absolute highs that made my spirits soar and devastating lows that made my blood boil, soul freeze over and heart smash to bits. Yeah, it was an up and down experience.

But one of my gal pals said to me, “keep this day free, I have a joint birthday surprise for you and my Mum!” I was beyond excited! (I’m also close with her mum, in case the fact we were going out with her parent sounded weird.)

So, the day rolls around and my curiosity is getting the better of me.
I’ve been theorising all week. Maybe, just maybe, I could sneak a peek at the taxi drivers sat nav… but do I want to ruin the surprise? OH, I’M SO CONFLICTED! However, sneaky peaking wasn’t an option. My friend had explained to the taxi driver that it was a surprise and all traces of where we were going were wiped from the cab. No sat nav, no address, no mobile phone – nada.

We ended up at a fancy hotel, however we didn’t go in. In fact, we walked away from it. 50 yards from the main entrance, concealed in the front of the victorian building, was a spiral staircase – heading down to what I expect was the servants quarters back in the day. Following it, we ended up at a totally inconspicuous looking door. I guessed that was it. I had no idea where we were but here goes nothing – literally nothing. Behind the door was just a corridor with ceiling to floor portraits hanging in it (I later found out these were all secret doors. HOW FREAKIN’ COOL IS THAT?!) However, tucked around an almost non-exsistant corner was another staircase.

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Heading down, cabernets and bureaus filled with oddities and trinkets started to appear and then suddenly, “SURPRISE!” There must have been 20 of our closest mutual friends crammed into this tiny, little, art deco, cocktail bar. A speakeasy – they arranged a surprise afternoon tea at a speakeasy! Be still my beating heart. I genuinely almost cried. What they had arranged was beyond words. It was an emerald green cave of wonders, like genuinely stepping into a 1920s film. There were crazy paintings, curiosities and knickknacks crammed into every corner (my favourites being the typewriters, old books and a random tiny bath tub filled with icing sugar and barbie limbs – so weird!) There was champagne on all the tables, from tall tables for leaning against casually to booths tucked away in corners.

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 The food I could go on about for eternity. There was the most beautiful afternoon tea laid out for everyone to dig into, with everything you could ever want; sandwiches, scones, macarons, tiny apple pies, truffles, crostini with mushroom pate, lemon tarts, sausage rolls and an ENTIRELY home made Harry Potter birthday cake, complete with chocolate frogs, a fondant Hedwig and chocolate sorting hat. Can we also have a moment of silence for the blessing that was our very own mixologist, who made up two special cocktails in our honour: a Golden Snitch (which was passion fruit & chilli based, finished with edible glitter) and a Cinderella’s Castle (which was far more delicate and fruity, garnished with an edible flower.)

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An 80s cheesey playlist was playing in the background, they had hired a caricaturist who could draw you as any character you could imagine. I challenged him with Winifred Sanderson, to which he was surprised and excited about, as we both subsequently fangirled over the divine Miss M for the rest of the session. (He also said I have a very cute nose to draw 💁 #humblebrag.) Our friends had prepared special birthday sashes and hats for us and fun party accessories for everyone else. It was just the most wonderful surprise. I didn’t stop shaking from shock all afternoon.

I have never felt so loved. I didn’t want it to end. Everything was so perfect. I wasn’t expecting it and not only did it put a smile on my face, but it put a smile in my soul too. Sometimes you can forget how much people care about you, think of you or even like you. I had gotten to a point where I was so convinced I was dispensable to every person I knew, that I wasn’t worth the effort, time or thought, that at first I was flabbergasted that someone had bothered, in fact many, many someones had bothered. They had not only bothered but gone out of their way to do this for us. I mean, I would have done it for my friends Mum, she’s an absolute legend, but for me? I didn’t get it.

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This was the second time in my life I had been thrown a surprise party and much like the time before, I was convinced the party was thrown for my friend, but they included me as it would be awkward to include one without the other, however I reminded myself – they didn’t have to include you.

 There were many people in attendance who’s birthdays were around the same time, in fact on the same day as us, who were not included in the surprise, but had come along as guests. It made me remember, you are loved Kate, and you must have done something right to not only have these fab people as long standing friends but for them to do something like this for you. Sometimes I think that my rubbish view of myself is exactly how other people see me, and that because I don’t always love myself, no-one else does. It’s acts of kindness, such as this one, that make me remember that actually I am loved and cared about. It’s not always about the scale or the material value of something either, it’s the thought, the effort, the care and kindness put into any gesture that are so heartwarming, overwhelming and reassuring.

Remember to practice gratitude gang and remember that you are loved and cared about. You are important to someone, even if, right now, you feel so unimportant to everyone, even yourself. Dumbledore was right you know, “happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light.”

 

ckcsignoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GIF CREDIT: Giphy // giphy

Disney’s Newport Bay? Ahoy, Captain!

Ahoy land lubbers! Ok, that may be a little too pirate for such a swanky place as Disney’s Newport Bay Hotel.

Honestly, it took my friends and I a hot minute to decide on a hotel for our most recent DLP adventure. Did we want to save money and stay in an affiliate hotel? Did we want to spend a bit more but still err on the side of financial caution and go for Disney’s Santa Fe? Did we want to go all out and just book a room in the Disneyland Hotel? These were the questions that haunted us. We ended up choosing the Newport Bay Hotel, as we had heard such good things. I also had a friend who had upgraded to Compass Club and said it was totally worth it, which it is… if you use it.

Top Tip: If there 4 of you going and you don’t mind sharing a room or beds, most Disney Hotels come with two double beds in a room… get four of you in one, like we did, and quarter the accommodation costs rather than just halve them!

The hotel itself is b-e-a-utiful with the outsides looking like an American dream. In the rooms, everything was of a nautical theme, from the bed frames looking like Mickey ship wheels and the bedding having a nautical rope pattern to the porthole design around the freeze. It was gorgeous. The view is amazing, straight out onto the lake with the New York directly opposite. You could even see the hot air balloon from our window!  There are two restaurants at the hotel: Cape Cod and the Yacht Club. Now, confession time, we didn’t eat at either of those places. As we were Compass Club we had our own club lounge where we were served breakfast and afternoon tea every day.

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Ah yes Compass Club. Was it worth it? If you’re having splurge, yes! If you are planning spending a bit of time at the hotel, yes! If you can be arsed to walk backwards and forwards from the park and the hotel, yes! A few of the perks to a Compass Club room are:

  • Larger room
  • Hotel Fastpass
  • Private Compass Club Lounge to take breakfast, which includes hot and cold choices
  • Afternoon tea served in the lounge everyday included with your room
  • Private check-in and concierge.
  • Bathrobes and slippers.

The room didn’t feel too much larger, it was actually a similar size to the standard room I stayed in last year at the Santa Fe… although the bathroom was lush and it was big enough for us. The safe was a good size and we made good use of it (we went with someone who works in travel insurance and what she says goes!) There was only two robes and pairs of slippers, so we didn’t really bother with them seeing as there was four of us. Plus we all had matching onesies so didn’t really need them! (lame but worth it. £3 pineapple onesies. We cry laughed over them and they are so snuggly!)

Top Tip: Pop the Mickey toiletries into your wash bag each morning as they get refilled every day. That way they get topped up and everyone will eventually get a set to use or bring home.

The breakfast and club lounge were 100% worth the upgrade. The food was served buffet style and you could have as much as you wanted. There was a selection of teas, coffees, water, hot chocolate, juices and smoothies to drink and both continental and full English food options with a cereal bar and egg cooking station too. We never actually made it back for the afternoon tea, save the day we arrived, so that was a moot point for us, but what we did try was absolutely delish. The club lounge was quieter with plenty of seating, no waiting around or standing in queues for food or a table, which was almost worth it’s weight in gold.

Top Tip: Take a few extra cans of drink during your afternoon tea and take them into the park with you instead of paying out extra to buy them once you’re there. I don’t think you’re meant to, but we snuck a few into our bag the first day and took them into our rooms; totally worth it.

We went during a crossover period between summer & halloween season, before the French, English and Spanish schools broke up, so we actually picked a really decent time to go! There were still the odd few shows for the Summer of Superheroes, but aside from that there wasn’t very much going on, which was the downside to going at this time of year, however the queue times made up for it. The wait times for the first three days we were there were generally around 15 minutes. We did pretty much EVERY ride in the two parks. The reason this ties in is because, with the Compass Club, you get one hotel fast pass per person per day. These give you access to the fast pass queue on any ride with fast pass before 1pm and after 4pm.

Top Tip:  If there queue isn’t huge, don’t bother using fast passes on the Buzz Lightyear ride. It gets you no further into the queue than waiting 5 mins. However, Big Thunder Mountain? Totally worth the fast pass.

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So over all, would I recommend this hotel: Yes! I totally would. For one, the perks of staying in a Disney Hotel were worth it. We used our magic hours every day and the extras, such as the hotel meet & greets, proximity to the park and meal plan were a dream. The Newport Bay’s theming is beautiful and well thought out. Every staff member we came across was pleasant and helpful. There was ramp and lift access to every floor and most concierges spoke French, English and Spanish (at least the Compass Club guys did!) The rooms were clean and air conditioned and you can request extras, such as kettles, from reception. In the Compass Club rooms there were two french plug sockets and an English plug socket built in to the dressing table, however there was only one plug socket near the bed.

It’s one of those hotels that would benefit you more if you were having a longer trip, or if you were planning on spending some time at the hotel outside of meals and sleeping, as it does have a swimming pool and gym at your disposal. The only down side we found was that the 15 minute walk from the hotel to the park felt like hours when you had been on your feet all day! As for the Compass Club, it was a lovely luxury. If you can afford it, it is worth it just for the convenience (fast pass, concierge, club lounge for breakfast & lunch etc.) and the hearty breakfast options, however we found that it wasn’t an essential feature and we would have enjoyed our stay just as much without it.

 

ckcsignoff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Media credits/sources: Jack Sparrow GIF/ Disney’s Newport Bay Club Hotel