Billy Elliot At Manchester Palace Theatre

On the 12th of January I was lucky enough to visit Manchester Palace Theatre with my mum and two friends to watch Billy Elliot the musical. If you haven’t watched the film (why not?!) you really should – it is one of the most uplifting, feel good films I’ve seen; even despite the parallel story of the mine closures. For those who haven’t seen it, Billy Elliot is the story of a young boy growing up in a North East mining town in the 80s with a penchant for ballet.

The story has been adapted for the stage and an extra emphasis put on dance and music – as you would expect. Even with these changes the emotion and turmoil of the miners story still came through, although I do think there was a little bit of shock value with the amount of swearing (slightly uncomfortable when sat next to a vicar!). All the best lines from the film are still in there, but it has more joy and expression to it in my opinion. If you have the chance to go and see it I would highly recommend it

As you are not allowed to take photos in the theatre all my images have been found online.

Growing Pains

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Image courtesy of Google Images

Billy’s story is one of a boy growing up without a mum in a very male dominated world, so the portrayal of his conversations with his mum’s ghost certainly got me a little misty eyed. And actually I think the father’s grief for his wife was more aptly portrayed on stage than it was in the film.

The best part for me however was seeing the characters freedom to be who they are and the eventual acceptance of their loved ones. Michael, Billy’s best friend, plays a very camp gay little boy (I assume he’s gay he was in the film) who experiments with cross dressing. This made for a wonderful musical number with dancing dresses, tap dancing and  a distinct cabaret feel. I loved every minute!

Mine Closures

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Image courtesy of Google Images

A huge part of the feel of the film, and explanation of the culture in which Billy was raised, was the story of the mine strike, the ‘scabs’ who continued to work and the pressure it put on the community and individual families. It wasn’t as prominent in the stage show but knowing the original story you certainly got a feel for what they were trying to portray.

Directly after the interval was a scene depicting the miner’s Christmas party. Having been on strike for almost a year they sang the song Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher. I understand the relevance and that at the time of the miner’s strikes the feeling would have been high, but wishing death on someone still makes me feel rather uncomfortable, even if that person is already dead.

Big Finale

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Image courtesy of Google Images

My favourite part of the film is the big finale where Jackie (Billy’s Dad) sits teary eyed in the stalls while Billy performs in Swan Lake ballet, so I was somewhat disappointed when the finale of the stage show was a cabaret number. Especially after earlier in the show there was a moving ballet scene with an incredible male ballet dancer who could have easily played the role. The show however ended with Billy leaving for ballet school rather than his first major performance, so it was apt to include the entire cast in the final number even if it wasn’t personally what I would have chosen.

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Image courtesy of Google Images

While the musical was wonderful and I would happily go and see it again, it felt a bit like watching a film after you had read the book; enjoyable but not quite what you imagined. Being a story about ballet I perhaps expected there to be a bit more ballet in there.

Have you been to see it – what were your thoughts?

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Christmas Traditions in Spain

This year G and I were lucky enough to be able to spend our Christmas and my birthday over in Spain. Not only was it wonderful to soak up some vitamin D and warm up a little, it was eye opening to see how our European neighbours spend their Christmas.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve in Moraira was beautiful. Throughout the day the weather was lovely and warm and expats and Spaniards alike all sat out in the winter sunshine on the beach front enjoying the festive atmosphere. With the town being a small one we expected it to be very quiet and were surprised yet happy to find so many people out and about.

During the evening things died down a little as we expected, and we saw many of the locals getting dressed up to attend family meals and midnight mass. The atmosphere was festive and friendly ~ I only wish I knew Spanish so I could join in!

Christmas Day

We thought that on Christmas Day everything would be closed like it is here in the UK but we were wrong. We had planned a quiet little picnic on the beach but found several shops and beach front cafes open with people enjoying a drink.

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We had also heard about a get together on a local beach – El Portet – where people shared a drink and a chat. As we didn’t know anyone I felt awkward going (probably something to do with my anxiety) but the  idea of spending Christmas on the beach with friends and neighbours was phenomenal.

Boxing Day

We decided to venture further afield on Boxing Day (especially since it was the first time we had a car abroad) and spent a little time in Denia and Xabia. The roads were relatively quiet but the town centres weren’t. We sat out in sunny squares drinking coffee and even had a bite to eat overlooking the sea in Xabia before we headed home.

It may have something to do with the weather (80%) but I think I much prefer the way the Spanish spend Christmas! I know I won’t be there next year as G is working but nonetheless I’m trying to learn Spanish and get out there as much as possible.

Where’s the best place you ever spent Christmas?

Attic By Night: York Gin Bar

I almost didn’t write this post because I want this bar to stay a wonderful hidden gem where I can sup all the fantastical gins, but I decided that wasn’t fair to all my fellow gin lovers. Now, of course I will be bias because I work here (they were smart enough to hire me) but before you write me off just look at their selection of gins!

Hidden away on King’s Square, Attic By Night is a cosy, friendly little cafe come bar. Just a single door way onto the street next door to Cafe Nero leads you to a wonderful gin palace. With over 90 different gins, a fine selection of rums, whiskey’s and red wines (as well as some ale for those that prefer it) it’s the perfect little den to while away some time.

 

Choose from a range of garnishes, tonics and soft drinks or create your own prosecco gin cocktail. If you’re not sure what to choose there is always someone on hand to offer advice and suggestions. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet after a day of festive shopping or somewhere to start your night out with class then I would definitely recommend Attic By Night, I’m just sorry I only found out about it when I applied for my job!

If gin isn’t quite your thing then don’t worry. Open Thurs ~ Sat from 12 to 11pm you can pop in for an award winning coffee and a slice of homemade cake or if you’re supper peckish one of the delicious platters. The friendly, laid back atmosphere and quick and efficent table service will make you want to stay all day.

Ziferbalt Manchester

While over in Manchester visiting family for the weekend we decided to catch up with a few friends. They suggested Ziferblat in Manchester’s Northern Quarter – a cafe with a difference. Having never been before we decided to give it a go.

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York Cat Trail

Thinking of visiting York this bank holiday? While you’re here why not try something a little different – York Cat Trail. Not only is it free (unless you choose to stop for coffee and a bite to eat) it’s also a great way to see all the different areas of the city.

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Should We Leave the EU?

As you will all know (if not, how?!) on the 23rd June we will all be expected to vote on whether or not the UK should stay in the EU. While there is plenty of coverage in the media about the ‘brexit’ debate, not to mention the leaflet we have all no doubt had through the door from the government, I’m not sure that I can trust any of the coverage to be unbiased.

In fact I know I can’t because we all have our own thoughts and opinions, and no matter how neutral we try to stay we will all imply or see implications in anything that is written. So I’ve decided to do a little bit of research to help me make up my mind.

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48 Hours In Edinburgh

The first weekend of April, Mr G and I headed up to Edinburgh to meet up with friends that were visiting from New Zealand. It’s the last time they’ll be over for a good few years, so we decided to make the most of it and do a bit of sightseeing as well as catching up. Sadly, both friends had managed to catch the plague (a bad flu-like cold) on the plane journey over and weren’t feeling 100% so I haven’t taken as many photos as I would’ve done.

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How To Spend A Day In York

Valentine’s Day isn’t celebrated in my house as our anniversary is on the 20th February, although we do try and spend at least one weekend around this time doing something just for the two of us, and this year we’ve decided to be tourists in our own backyard.

I often forget how lucky I am to live in the beautiful city of York. I’m surrounded by history, beautiful parks and a whole host of wonderful cafes, shops and eateries, not to mention plenty of walks, cycle routes and tourist attractions. So here are my top 5 things to do in York…

Walk the City Walls

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Mr G and I love a good walk, but we don’t like to be too far from a little café or a local pub so walking the city walls of York is perfect for us. Not only is it free you get stunning views across York, plenty of picture opportunities and the chance to wander arm in arm whilst having a chat.

Visit Roundtree Park

Roundtree Park is en-route to York centre from our house and somewhere we visit regularly. Home to a reading library and cafe, duck pond, tennis court, basketball court, skate park, beautiful gardens and much more it’s a little haven by the riverside. We even had our wedding photos taken here so it holds a special place in our hearts.

Watch the street bands


The quality of some of the street artists that play in York is phenomenal. Usually found in the square near Betty’s Café and Jamie’s Italian you can buy a coffee, grab a pew and listen to some amazing acapella covers. One of our favourites has to be the Y Street Band.

Grab a bite to eat

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Image Credit: facebook.com/TheWhippetInn

There are nearly as many restaurants in York as there are pubs so you’ll never go hungry. Depending on the sort of meal we’re after our favourite pit stops are Bill’s, Kennedy’s and The Whippet Inn, but there are plenty of gastro pubs and cafes lining the streets, just pop in and sample them for yourself.

Indulge in a cocktail or two

With the amount of old pubs in York you might be surprised to learn there are some great cocktail bars too, all in one handy strip. Starting at Kennedy’s and ending at Turtle Bay pop into each bar along the street and tickle your taste buds with some very delicious gin cocktails.