Welcome to part two of my little and very overdue rundown of our trip to Amsterdam last year! In my previous post I talked about our first day exploring the city, which brings us to Wednesday already (mid week breaks seem to go so fast!).
On Wednesday we had some concrete plans. I wanted to check out ARTIS, Amsterdam's zoo. I'd heard really good things about it, though I have to say I think some of the enclosures looked a little small, which is I suppose the problem with city zoos. Two things really set ARTIS apart from other zoos I've been to, however. One is an area called Micropia, which is a 'zoo' dedicated to microbes. It sounds a bit strange, but it was really interesting and they had so many fun ways of teaching us about microbes - plus, I'm sorry, but tardigrades are cute okay?
They also had an area called the 'Forest House' and honestly? This part was worth the price of admission alone. It was only a small area but it was absolutely amazing. It was an enclosed building that had a humid forest atmosphere inside. What was thoroughly wonderful though was how the animals were just free to roam around inside, and there were so many different species to enjoy. There was absolutely nothing between you and them, so you had little dik-dik deer trotting along the floor in front of you, and if you turned around to take a photo of the sloth slowly climbing over head, you might find yourself face to face with a lizard just happily perched on a branch in front of you. It was wonderful. I could have happily spent hours there (and they even provided benches so that you could do exactly that!)
Apologies for the blurry photo - it's pretty difficult taking a photo of a skittering dik-dik as it dashes across the path in front of you!
After the zoo, we had another short wander around Amsterdam before heading to our destination for the afternoon.
We had tickets to visit the Anne Frank house, which is the actual building Anne Frank hid in during the war and the place she wrote most of her now-famous diary. I'd wanted to visit forever, and while I can't say it was a particularly nice or fun experience, it was incredibly memorable and definitely something worth seeing. I obviously didn't take any photos, out of respect, but it's an experience I won't forget for a long time even without them.
In the evening, we had dinner plans with some friends of mine! I know Daphne and Alex from UK Ponycon and when they heard I'd be in town they suggested we meet up! We went to a lovely restaurant and spent a good few hours just catching up, discussing everything from My Little Pony to League of Legends and, of course, Disney (they're Disney nuts, too!) It's always lovely having a chance to catch up with friends you only usually see at conventions! Especially when they live in a foreign country!
After dinner, we were exhausted, and finally toddled back to our hotel to get ready for our last full day in Amsterdam on Thursday, which I'll cover in my next post!
So, this post is a little late. In fact, Moose and I went to Amsterdam almost a year ago to the day. We decided to have a midweek holiday to celebrate our anniversary (we usually try to go away, as our anniversary is late January and it gives us something fun to look forward to after the festivities of Christmas have given away to miserable New Year blues.) Unfortunately, I'm a terrible blogger (though, obviously, trying to fix that now!), and I just never got around to writing about it. So, in the spirit of 2019 and resolutions of 'being a better blogger', I've decided to finally get off my butt, a year later, to try and do the trip justice! Here's hoping I can remember the details all this time later. I have our tickets, receipts and leaflets stored away in a 'to be scrapbooked' box... which is another thing I'm terrible about doing in a timely manner. Ahem.
Anyway! Amsterdam! Moose and I want to do more cheap city breaks around Europe, and I'm not really sure why we decided on Amsterdam as our first destination in this endeavour, but when we found cheap flights and a lovely hotel, it all just fell into place! We flew out of Gatwick (after our customary Wagamama meal in the airport) and were on our way!
Getting from the airport to our hotel was easy peasy. The airport is an easy train journey into Amsterdam Centraal Station, which is in the heart of the city. From there, you can walk or get a tram pretty much anywhere you want to go. Our hotel was right next to a Line 2 tram stop, which is how we got in and out of the city centre every day. It was only about twenty minutes into town, and the trams ran very regularly and late into the night. Being slightly outside the centre made our hotel cheaper, and it really wasn't that inconvenient at all .
By the time we got to our hotel, it was already getting late. The main downside with being slightly out of town was that there weren't as many dinner options as we'd have liked. We debated taking a tram somewhere, but I'd discovered a tempting Chinese restaurant around the corner, and we thought we'd give it a go. It turned out to be a good choice, because the food was delicious! We stayed there until our bellies were fit to burst, and then we returned to our hotel room.
We paid a little extra for deluxe rooms, simply because I fell in love with the mid-century decor. They were so cosy and comfortable, and the bathroom had a heated floor, which was just heavenly. The hotel even had UK plug sockets and USB plugs, which made life a lot easier for a techy couple who travel with a hundred gadgets!
Day two was our first 'real' day. We had a pizza canal cruise booked for dinner that evening, so we decided to spend the majority of the day just wandering about the central area and exploring what Amsterdam had to offer. We found a lovely place for lunch called 'Pancake & Burger Bar'. We actually liked this place so much we returned to them on our last morning. I hate to say it out loud, but Amsterdam wasn't really that great for food. It felt like everywhere was a pancake place, sushi restaurant or sold burgers and steaks. Which, y'know, that's fine, but one of the joys of going abroad is to try out unusual cuisine. The food we did eat was delicious, though. I opted for a mushroom and Swiss cheese burger while Moose had a pizza. And of course, I had some Heineken. I would end up drinking a lot of Heineken on this trip! Hey, it's cultural.
After lunch, we had a long walk around the city. One of my favourite things to do on the first day of a holiday is just explore, with very little planning. I like to get a feel for the place. (Conversely, I try to have solid plans set in place for the rest of the trip, or else I feel like we're missing things and not getting the most out of our time! I get quite neurotic about it!)
I absolutely love the tall buildings in Amsterdam. I think I took more photos of them than of anything else. They just had so much character. And yes, there were a lot of bikes!
I also seem to have taken a whole lot of photos of trams. I know they're not very exciting to a lot of people, but here in the South West of England we don't have trams! I'm excited when I go to Croydon or Sheffield and get to ride a tram, let alone fancy Amsterdam trams.
Before long, it was time to get to the pier for our dinner cruise. I actually don't have any good photos of this, because we were too busy enjoying the views and dare I say unlimited Heinekin. Amsterdam may not have been the place of a thousand cuisine options, but I put on half a stone in beer. Oops.
I've been blogging since 2001, because I am Very Old. I started on Livejournal, a platform I still adore, and one I genuinely wish would come back into favour, because nothing has matched it in terms of community. There, we'd discuss our daily lives, and we'd upload messages from the heart. One day, you might post an entry just a few sentences long; a rant about school or a joke you'd heard that day. It didn't matter that it didn't look 'professional' or that you wouldn't turn heads with your astoundingly fresh content. You posted it because you wanted to, because Livejournal was your digital diary, your home online to share with the world.
I really miss that, in a way. The rawness and realness of it. And that's not to say anything negative on the blogging world today, because I love this world, too. But back then it was utterly amateur, and full of quizzes and memes and silliness. These days, people, myself included, try to make their blogs a little more professional, a little more 'curated', and I suppose in a lot of ways that means we're restricting our creativity. Or maybe we're just restructuring how our creativity surfaces.
I still post silly memes and quizzes, but they go onto Facebook, Tumblr or Twitter. Here, I try to keep things a little clearer. I blog here because I want a place that represents me. It's still a diary, which is why I post my travel updates, adventures and daily musings, but now it's also a portfolio. A front of house. A face.
Every day I strive to try my best, to be my best and to be a positive influence on those around me. I like to show the world that it's okay to be a giant, stinking nerd in the blogging world. I want to prove that niches aren't for everybody. That there's nothing wrong in being a contradiction. That blogging from the heart, like we did back in 2001, can still be relevant and interesting even in the new, glistening world of lifestyle blogging.
I blog because I like to share my life. I blog because I have a degree in English, dang it, and I want to use it. I used to spend a lot of time agonising over my content, figuring that I didn't fall into the general niches and, therefore, wouldn't get readers. Since then, I've discovered so many bloggers like me, who post a whole mish-mash of topics. I've discovered that fashion bloggers can also be gamers, and that gamers can also love makeup. Travel bloggers don't have to go to exotic climates every weekend and Disney bloggers don't always talk about Disney. The blogging world is a kaleidoscope of writers and topics, and I'm so happy to throw my cap into the ring.
I really didn't want to post this now, two weeks into 2019. I have a really weird thing about posting about the previous year when we're already into the next one. I like the fresh slate, that everything from January 1st onwards should cover only this current year. However, I was useless and a terrible blogger and I didn't get around to showing our Christmas decorations back in December. I thought I'd be okay with that, that I'd focus on 2019 and make up for it next Christmas.
I'm not okay with that.
This year, our Christmas felt so magical and special. It seemed extra pretty, so much so that I found myself spending so much more time in our living room than I usually do, just to experience the twinkly lights and beautiful festive ambience for longer. It's already the 10th of January and I'm still looking at our Christmas photos, and they make me feel so happy and, well, the bottom line is that I really want to show them off. I want to show the world our little Christmas. And, I gotta say, getting a Pixel 3 from Santa really sweetens the deal too, to be honest. This thing takes some gorgeous photos. (Not a sponsored post! I just really, really dig this phone.)
So, I'm sorry to bring Christmas back just when you thought it was all over. I'm one of the few people that could quite happily live in a world permanently surrounded by twinkly lights, rich food and magic, however. I hope, if nothing else, this out of date photo spam filled your feeds with a little bit of colour on these dull January days. I'll try and make the rest of my posts this month a little more 2019-ish, but for now, I'm enjoying looking back on these and wishing it was December already. Oh well, only 325 days to go!
I'm a few days late, but that’s okay. I figure 2019 doesn’t really start until next week, as we’re still eating leftovers and we’ve refused to take the decorations down until today. It was such a wonderful Christmas this year, I don’t really want to say goodbye to it just yet. The next few months are very long, and very dull and Summer is far too far away.
Still, I have good feelings about 2019! I guess I go into every year an optimist, making resolutions and setting goals. I love New Year's Resolutions. It’s a fresh slate. I love making lists and having concrete plans. I know New Years is an arbitrary date, but it’s as good a time as any to put a plan in action, right?
Every year I set myself the same resolutions; I’m going to draw more, blog more, vlog more, lose some weight, save some money. I’d be lying if I said those weren’t still my resolutions this year, but I think I’m going set some new ones, too. They’re very simple and humble.
I’m going to watch more movies. I’m going to play more games.
Over Christmas, I spent a lot of time in the living room on my new PS4, playing Red Dead Redemption 2. It was so nice disconnecting from my PC for a while, where I spend most my time as a digital artist and as a gamer. Even though I was still staring at a screen playing a video game, it was nice take time away from constant browser tabbing, Facebook checking and notification popping. I very, very rarely play single player games anymore. My evenings are spent in Teamspeak, playing League of Legends or Destiny 2 or some other multiplayer game with my friends. It’s awesome, and I love it, but it means I rarely take time out to play something new.
I also took time out to watch a lot of movies this Christmas. Even though I go to the cinema very often thanks to our lovely Cineworld Unlimited cards, I very rarely sit down at home and dedicate two hours to a film. It’s just easier to watch an episode of something on Netflix, a Youtube video or even a Twitch stream than it is to sit still for two hours and focus on a movie. So, I’d like that to change this year, too.
Otherwise, I’m just plain excited to see what 2019 brings. Last year I finally got on top of my financial situation by paying off my credit card and overdraft which had both been looming over me since my student days. Now is the time for savings, so that Moose and I can finally get a place together and start a new chapter of our lives. I know I said this last year, too, but with my debts finally cleared, I think this is the truest and most real it’s ever been! Bring it on, 2019!
It's no secret that I love Autumn. I sure talk about it a lot. It is by far my favourite season, so when I saw this 'Autumn Tag' over on There Might Be Coffee, I absolutely had to give it a go!
What signifies the start of Autumn for you?
Autumn begins when the leaves start turning on the trees and the world is surrounded with rusty oranges and beautiful golden browns. It's when the shops start selling thick, woolly dresses, knee high socks and jumpers, and when the nights start drawing in earlier each day.
What is your favourite Autumn scent?
I love so many scents traditionally associated with Autumn or Winter - ginger, nutmeg, salted caramel, toffee, but my absolute favourite of them all is cinnamon, hands down. I have loved cinnamon for as long as I can remember. It reminds of me Halloweens spent in America. It's just the nicest scent in the world.
What is your favourite Autumn colour?
I'm a sucker for them all, to be honest! But I love burgundy a whole bunch. I think they all look so lovely together - burgundy and mustard doesn't sound like a winning combination, perhaps, but it is!
Are you a fan of PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte)
Honestly I'm not a huge fan of overpriced chain-store coffee shop coffees! Sure, they're absolutely delicious, but I can't bring myself to spend nearly a fiver on a luke warm drink! On the rare occasions that I do drink at a Starbucks or a Costa, though, I'll find myself opting for their gingerbread or cinnamon spiced drinks. Nothing against Pumpkin Spice - that's lovely too! - but cinnamon is where it's at.
What is your favourite Autumn drink?
I don't really have a favourite drink so much, but Autumn is for sure the time when all the flavoured hot chocolates and coffees come out to play, and even though I don't drink them often, they sure do remind me of this season! I also love love love mulled wine, but that's more a Christmas drink, I think! Can't really beat a hot chocolate topped with cream and marshmallows, though, can you?
What’s your favourite coffee shop and their drink of choice?
Like I said earlier, I'm really not a huge fan of chain coffee shops. When I'm out I'll rarely pay for expensive coffee (I'd rather get a glass of wine!), so I don't have a favourite. Some do offer some very tempting flavours though, it has to be said!
Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie?
Apple Pie when it's completely doused in cinnamon, haha! I like them both, but I rarely get the chance to try Pumpkin Pie as it's far more of an American thing. As long as it's got cinnamon in, though, I'm good to go.
What TV show, new or old, are you looking forward to in the next few months?
The Good Place season three is coming out weekly on Netflix and it's awesome! I don't think there's much happening on regular TV lately that I'm eyeballing. Doctor Who starts tonight but I'm not very excited about it, sadly. On Netflix, there's The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina coming soon, and also The Haunting of Hill House, both perfect for this spooky month!
What is your favourite Autumn fashion trend?
I am always a fan of thick woolly tights and knee-high socks. This year, the shops are flooded with pinafore dresses which are adorable, especially with polo neck jumpers and knee-high boots. There's loads of tartan around at the moment (I may have bought myself an adorable pinafore wrap-around that looks just like something out of The Heathers) which is lovely, and I'm digging the thick corduroy flares that are starting to appear, too.
What is your favourite comfort food to enjoy in the colder months?
I mean, I'll eat all the food, all the time, but in Autumn (and Winter) it's nice to have roast dinners and stews with big thick dumplings. Yum!
What is your favourite Autumn activity?
I love going out and doing something for Halloween. Last year my friends and I were all renting an apartment in Bristol for the week so we decorated and played horror themed boardgames like Mysterium and Zombies!!! I love going out to bonfire displays in November, too. I've never been pumpkin picking - there's no local farms that offer it sadly, but it's high on my bucket list for sure!
Do you like horror movies?
Of course!! My Mum and I are both suckers for horrors. She prefers the more paranormal spooks to the slashers and murderers, but I'll watch 'em all! I think I prefer paranormal stuff too, to be honest. You can't beat an evil house or poltergeist! But, I'll also take the silly teen screams, too. The only stuff I'm not really a huge fan of is the 'gore porn' style stuff - Hostel, House of Wax, etc. They're fine, if you're into that, but they're more 'cringe' than 'horror', to me.
Do you ever do anything fun for Halloween?
We always try to! My parents love Halloween - my Mum is especially into Halloween and Christmas - so we've always tried to do something. We've spent a lot of Halloweens in America, which is great because they go all out over there. I've spent Halloween night rocking out to my favourite band in California, we've been to Knott's Berry's Scary Farm, and we've even been to Sea World's after-hours Halloween event! (We wouldn't endorse Sea World these days, but this was a very long time ago!) I adore being in America for Halloween. I especially adore shopping in Michaels and spending my entire holiday budget on Halloween themed scrapbooking supplies. Ahem.
When we're home, we usually decorate the house but sadly these days we just don't get any trick-or-treaters to make it worth the effort. Living in a rural village is pretty boring. Because Halloween usually falls around MCM London Comic Con, we've been able to incorporate it with spooky fun, before. We had a little Halloween party there and even managed to get down to the London Dungeons for their after-hours Halloween event one year, too. Last year we had some friends visit from Europe so we all rented an Airbnb in Bristol and spent Halloween decorating and playing spooky boardgames, which was really nice. This year, my parents and I are actually going to Bristol again, this time to board the SS Great Britain for their 'Spooky Ship' event!
What was your favourite part about Halloween as a child?
Halloween as a child was magical. My parents made damned sure my whole childhood was magical, to be honest, but Halloween and Christmas were the biggies. Every year I'd dress up (always a witch!) and we'd carve pumpkins and decorate the house. We'd watch old Halloween cartoons and I was allowed to trick-or-treat to the one neighbour across the road who let us, haha. Mum would make up a special Halloween punch every year (which was alcoholic, of course, so I'd only ever be allowed a sip, haha) and the smell was just divine. Cinnamon and cloves and ahhhh. Heaven.
Are you a bigger fan of Bonfire Night or Halloween?
Halloween, for sure! But they're both a lot of fun. We got really lucky for a few years that our village actually put on a hell of a fire work show for the 5th, but lately we've had to travel further afield to get to one. I love love love fireworks. I find them exciting and so pretty and honestly a little bit romantic.
Where is your dream destination to visit in Autumn?
America! California, specifically. To me Autumn is basically Halloween and Halloween is best in America! My favourite band Oingo Boingo were once very big on the SoCal scene and they have special Halloween reunions now (sans their lead singer, sadly), so I'd go see them if I could. And I'd go do all the Disney, Universal and Knott's Berry Halloween events, too. God, I miss that place. It's been too long.
Do you always forget about the clocks going back?
Actually no! But that's mainly because they always go back on the same weekend as MCM London Comic Con, so we're all pretty relieved to get that extra hour of sleep in!
When do you usually start preparing for Christmas?
Usually any time around now, to be honest. Once Autumn hits, it's fair game. I haven't started Christmas shopping yet (as usual, I have no idea what to get anyone) but I've already bought some decorations (Primark, your Disney range is killing me.) I'm a complete sucker for Christmas. I get so annoyed when everyone's so grumpy and miserable about it! I'll be honest, I've already been caught singing Christmas songs around the house. We don't like to decorate before December but only because I wouldn't want to get used to the decorations (or worse yet, bored of them!)
This tag was fun! But of course, any chance to talk about Autumn and Halloween is good to me! I'm not going to tag anybody specifically, so please feel free to take part if you, too, love this season!!
I'm 'alternative', there's no doubt about it. I'm a [REDACTED]-something female with pastel pink hair who spends her days watching cartoons, playing video games and collecting My Little Ponies. I attend comic conventions where I dress up as fictional characters. I have a gaming PC and countless consoles. I play DnD. I wear vintage clothes. I have an unhealthy obsession with Disney.
I am not what one might call a 'regular' woman.
I am also a basic b*tch.
I love shopping. I love malls. I love buying new clothes. New Look and Primark are my weaknesses. I love scrapbooking and memory keeping. I love makeup - not the expensive, collector stuff; I love wandering into Superdrug and finding some new primer that I just have to try. I love making myself feel pretty. I love hair products.
I've been known to buy Cosmo.
I love TV. Not just Netflix. I love regular, live, TV. I love 'This Morning', and my not-so-guilty pleasure is watching Jeremy Kyle any morning I'm able. I love watching the news live, and I'm a sucker for (some!) reality TV. I love The Real Housewives of XYZ. I love Eastenders. I love The Chase. I love chick-flicks. I love romcoms.
I hate going to self-service check out counters, because I'd rather talk to a human being. I love talking to people, I work part time in a cafe and hear a lifetime's worth of stories. I hate the idea of online shopping, because I like being out and about and doing it for myself. I like meeting people.
I want to get married. I want to be somebody's wife. I want to take his surname (well, double-barrel it, at least!). If I were able to, I'd love to be a housewife. I'd love to keep the home and make all sorts of disastrous dinners and desserts. I want to own a house, and have a garden with pretty flowers in it.
And this stuff isn't always embraced in some nerdy social circles. I've seen it so often online. Only losers watch soaps. Only conceited, vain women care about their looks. Nerds are better than that! Nerds watch cult television and listen to obscure bands. The only sports nerds enjoy are esports. You can't be a nerd and enjoy football. You can't be a nerd and listen to chart music.
It's so silly! Surely nerd culture is about accepting people for who they are. A grown man who loves My Little Pony?? Sure, that's awesome! But a nerdy girl who enjoys Celebrity Big Brother? What a faker. What a Muggle! It seems that it's perfectly fine being an individual. liking whatever you want to like, until you like something considered mainstream and 'normal'. Why? Why does inclusion have a clause?
I love being alternative. I'm a big fat dork. I wear my nerdy little heart on my sleeve and proudly hoist my geek flag high. I've no shame in it, one bit.
And I also love being a basic b*tch.
Balance is the key to life, after all!
I love musicals. I've always loved musicals. From Irvin Berlin's black and white masterpieces to contemporary theatre and, of course, the occasional Disney tune. I've always been a sucker for them. However, when Hamilton started gaining traction in the theatre scene, I wasn't originally sold. Sure, some of the tracks were catchy, but I'm not really a hip hop kind of girl, and I dismissed it as a 'not really my thing'.
Gosh, how wrong I was.
A few years later, I saw some fan made anime music videos on Youtube. They featured scenes from Yuri on Ice set to various Hamilton tracks, and I suddenly found myself completely and utterly addicted to them. The songs were incredible, with sharp, witty lyrics and hauntingly beautiful numbers fuelled by a passion that made my heart ache. I found myself listening to the soundtrack on repeat for weeks. Hamilton soon found its way to the top of my list, with its inspirational story that lit a fire inside of me. It soon became the soundtrack to my convention prep work. If Alexander Hamilton could spend his days writing like he's running out of time, if he could push himself forward with such drive and determination, surely so could I? After all, I only have to paint some pieces to sell at comic conventions. It's not like I was busy, I dunno, trying to defend the newly written constitution, after all.
So Hamilton became an important part of my work process, and an inspirational mantra I'd call upon when I needed that little push.
When I heard that it was actually coming to the West End, I desperately wanted to see it. But, Hamilton is a powerhouse of modern theatre. Tickets sold out long before I even knew they were going on sale, and they were sold out until the end of time. I even looked into flying out to New York when flights came up really cheap. but Broadway prices are expensive, and again, very, very sold out.
I figured I stood next to no chance to ever see it live.
And then I did.
Hamilton has a 'lottery' app you can download, which gives you a chance to win extremely cheap tickets. The show opened previews on a Wednesday, and on Thursday I got a phone call at work. My friend Sarah, who had been playing the lottery with me, had won two tickets to see Hamilton the very next day. After a lot of screaming, crying, jumping for joy, work-shift-juggling and excitement, I was on the train on my way up to see Hamilton! On its very first Friday performance in London.
And it was amazing.
I'd initially been a little worried about seeing a different cast perform the roles I'd grown to know so well from the original Broadway run, but I needn't have been. Within moments, I was fully entranced with their performances, captivated and enthralled. I adore Lin-Manuel Miranda and I honestly don't think you could get a better Hamilton, but Jamael Westman made the character his own, too, even though he lacked the staple Hamilton ponytail. I'll forgive him. Just.
And then... I got to do it all over again!
Early this year, they extended its run at the Victoria Palace Theatre, and with the new dates of course came new tickets. My friend Archer and I dove at the chance, because the extension went through July, which meant we could see it for our birthday! Archer is one of my very best friends, and we happen to share the same birthday. Which is super ironic, because we were both born on the Fourth of July!
It was wonderful seeing it a second time around, because this time we were able to invite our friends along for the ride. Archer's sister Becca joined us, Moose and Luke joined and Sarah's boyfriend Matt came along, too. We got a Saturday matinee because Archer and Becca had come all the way down from Sheffield for the show, and this time I came extra prepared.
There's a website I am obsessed with called Artscow, and through them you can design and make your own clothing. I already own a bunch of Artscow dresses with my own art on them (and have even sold a few at conventions), but I knew I had to make a Hamilton dress for the show. I designed a simple golden dress with the famous Hamilton star logo, teamed it with a small black cardigan (which promptly came off in the extreme heat of our Summer this year!)
I teamed my dress with a badge from H0lyhandgrenade, another artist in the UK con scene, and an official Hamilton pin I'd purchased my first time seeing the show. I'm not too modest to say that my dress got a lot of attention! While outside waiting, a guy approached me and said he loved my dress and that he loved Hamilton. He wasn't even going to the show, he just knew what my dress was about! In the auditorium I had comments from the staff and some audience members, and a guy even found me on Twitter by following the hashtag and said his daughter had fallen in love with my dress at the show. It made me so happy! I'm so glad I took the time to design it. I really, really recommend Artscow if you ever want custom clothing. They've never let me down yet.
This performance of Hamilton had a couple of cast changes, including Hamilton himself. We had a different Lafayette/Jefferson too, who I think was a stand in for the main cast member, and I honestly preferred him to the regular guy. He was so dynamic and so fancy in both roles, absolutely perfect for the part. The main actor for the part is incredibly talented, but I just think he doesn't fit the role as accurately. Lafayette, and especially Jefferson, are such huge, showy characters. By contrast, I wasn't quite feeling the substitute Hamilton. Again, that's absolutely not to rain on their abilities at all. They are all phenomenally talented, but sometimes they just missed the mark a little, in my opinion.
Hamilton is absolutely my favourite musical, and I'm blown away with how lucky I've been to be able to see it twice in such a short space of time. Technically, because I saw it first in December and then again the following July, I've seen Hamilton once a year since it opened in the UK. 2019 is just around the corner. Y'know, it'd be a shame to break a now-annual tradition...
Anyone who knows me knows just how much I love Autumn. It is absolutely my favourite season. I find the changing colours so beautiful, I love the long, cosy evenings and Halloween is second only to Christmas for fun, festivities and magic. I love big chunky jumpers, knee high socks, misty mornings, cinnamon scented candles and, so help me, I love pumpkin spiced anything. I've always daydreamed of an Autumn wedding, with tables decorated in fallen leaves and mini pumpkins, with twinkling fairy lights and flickering lanterns, Christingle oranges surrounding a bowl of warm punch for the guests to enjoy. I love Halloween, when people find joy in the spooky and macabre. It's all just so pretty, and so much fun, and it paves the way for Christmas, which is officially the most wonderful time of the year, after all.
For sure, I'm happiest between October and January. It's when all the fun stuff happens! And I mean, don't get me wrong, I love Summer, but I always find the promise of Summer (visits to the beach, cold cocktails, picnics and outdoors adventures) a little disappointing against reality, where everywhere's cram packed full of people, where we squish the entire season into our two allotted weeks of sunshine, and where I don't feel body confident enough to wear half the skimpy, adorable clothes I see on sale. Summer, I love you, but gimme the season for woolly tights and ankle boots any day.
I've taken my love of the season to mark today as a 'relaunch' of my blog. I've been focusing a lot on my personal Instagram account lately and it's really made me miss blogging. I hope to be as active here as I am on there! I've spent the past week editing links here, revamping some old posts and trying to sort out my blog categories. Things are still a little messy so please stick with me - I honestly didn't realise what a difficult task it would be. Note to future bloggers: sort your tags out before you write hundreds of blog posts with dumb categories! Your future self with thank you!
As somebody who regularly attends comic conventions and often immerses herself in other worlds, there's really no greater thrill than dressing up and playing 'let's pretend' for a little while. I'm always thrilled to find new ways in which us grown ups (apparently) can let our hair down, dress up in silly clothes, and leave the real world behind far behind. One of my absolute favourite ways to do that is by attending the 'Secret Cinema' event that take place each year in London.
I adore Secret Cinema. I've attended five of their events now - Star Wars (The Empire Strikes Back), Dr. Strangelove, 28 Days Later, Moulin Rogue and now I've just come back from their 2018 offering; Blade Runner.
In short, the whole event was incredible, but I've honestly come to expect nothing less from Secret Cinema. After watching Luke Skywalker land above us in a life-sized X-Wing, after evading zombies while running through the streets of London, and after drinking absinthe in a bohemian cafe on a dark Parisian street, I had faith that this event would be just as immersive and exciting as the others. I'm a sucker for cyberpunk and urban dystopia, and while I wasn't immediately familiar with the movie (we all made a point of watching the film before attending Secret Cinema, as I believe your experience is heightened if you know what's going on and who the key players are), I knew that Blade Runner was the granddaddy of the genre, and I couldn't wait to see what they would do with it.
What they did with it was incredible. If you aren't familiar with Secret Cinema and how it operates, it's pretty much a fully immersive interactive experience that puts you smack bang in the middle of the movie. Prior to the event, you get given a character and role to play that all unfolds on fully themed and completely authentic-looking websites and social media pages. They advise you on costume choices, but generally you can wing it a little so long as you look the part and as long as you wear a few key items that help their actors identify your role. When you actually get to the event, everybody, and I mean everybody is in character, from the security team to the barmen, and sometimes it's even difficult to tell the actors from the more dedicated attendees.
From there, the night is up to you and entirely dependent on how much you want to put into it. You can absolutely go straight to the bar, find some food and sit back to enjoy the atmosphere, but I really would recommend just plain throwing yourself into the moment and having a little fun. At first, you might feel silly talking to actors (who are all incredible and put up with even the most reluctant attendees), but it really doesn't take long to shed your regular self and become your new persona. I put that entirely down to the sheer talent and improv skills of the actors, as well as the detail to every set you'll encounter. And boy, were the sets in their Blade Runner event amazing.
My role was a 'professional friend', a companion or, as Hannibal Chew addressed me, 'sex lady'. My partner, Moose, and my friend Sarah were both Tannhauser Industrialists while my friend Luke was a Tannhauser Technician. In the paperwork we were sent before the event, we were all sent a contact to find (each one a key character in the movie), and items to bring that we might use to interact with them. I won't spoil too much of what we did in the evening, because the event is still running and I really don't want to ruin it for anybody else, but it was all absolutely incredible. We spent most of our time running between the Snake Pit (one of the bars in the film) and Chew's laboratory, tasked with various activities that we got so involved with that we ended up taking a moment out just to plan how best to manipulate it all to suit us and our individual roles best. I ended up with a hilarious interaction with Mr. Lewis (the owner of the 'Snake Pit' bar) that set me off into hysterics (while Mr. Lewis himself was 100% professional, in character and incredible, despite my completely melting down on him in an uncontrollable giggle-fit at my own poor performance.)
I can't speak too highly of the event. The atmosphere inside was thick and loud and neon, just as you would imagine the atmosphere of a futuristic dystopian L.A might be. They advised us to bring umbrellas and raincoats to protect us from the 'acid rain', and boy, did it rain - even though the whole event took place inside (apart from the queuing area, which is the only place you were allowed to take photos as, per every Secret Cinema event, cameras and phones are strictly forbidden and you're forced to seal them away in baggies before you enter).
Secret Cinema is Disney World levels of stage design, actor professionalism and immersion. People wince at the prices (this latest event had three ticket tiers, £48, £60ish and VIP passes at around £100) but when you compare the night to a trip to the theatre, it really isn't that extortionate. For that money, you get an interactive show, a game that lets you completely lose yourself in the moment, and, of course, a movie screening at the end of it all.
I'm not actually a huge fan of Blade Runner - it's 'okay', and I'm grateful for what it did for the cyberpunk/dystopian genre (uh, y'know, by creating it) - but it's not a movie I'd actually plan to ever see in the cinema or make any special arrangements to view again. However, because I love the setting and the world it presents, I loved this Secret Cinema event just as much as the others, even despite not being the biggest fan of the film. That's all down to the sheer level of work and attention to detail that the Secret Cinema company puts into their productions.
Honestly, if the show wasn't entirely sold out, I'd go back. I'd go back if only to experience the world they've managed so successfully, yet again, to create. Let's face it, where else in this world can I dance in acid rain or eat noodles under a neon soaked sky?
I'm Selena, an artist, blogger and gamer - but maybe not always in that order! Dream Somehow is a blog dedicated to travel, art, geeky adventures, vintage style and a little bit of Disney Dreaming! If you'd like to know a bit more about me, click here!
Adorable icon of me by Tinrobo ❤
Want to see my art? Click here to go to Reaperfox.com!