Wednesday, 15 March 2017

THE NYC SERIES: WAITRESS & BROADWAY

New York is a hub for virtually all major industries and the arts is one of the biggest of them all in the city. 

Basically, Broadway is London's West End on a much bigger scale. Yeah, even I was surprised by the amount of theatres. After falling in love with musical theatre around 7 years ago, I'd been eager to see something on Broadway, so after booking my trip I knew I had to start finding a show to go and see.

Turns out, most shows were either ending just before I arrived, or starting just after I left. Sod's law, right? The main shows on my list (that I knew would still be showing) were Waitress & Kinky Boots, one influenced by Tumblr and the other starring Killian Donnelly. I honestly had no idea what to choose.

I decided on seeing Waitress the day before I went to see it, thanks to the ticket app TodayTix (can be used globally, so download it and see what cheap tickets you can pick up!), and I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am that I took someone's advice on Tumblr. Especially for the divine scent of freshly baked pies in the foyer. I'm still craving one!

Based off a film and with the music written by Sara Bareilles, it's full of moments that have you laughing hysterically one minute and then fighting back tears the next. Jessie Mueller is unreal, I'm so happy that I was lucky enough to see her wonderful talent in this role and the rest of the cast were as mesmerisingly incredible too. I'm a new Drew Gehling fangirl right now, I just love Dr Pomatter.

I'll tell you this now, the soundtrack is addictive so its definitely up to you if you want to listen to it. Thankfully I'm no longer crying into my Cheerios over She Used To Be Mine and You Matter To Me.
To the amusement of my friends (yeah guys, I know you're just kidding) I ended up finding myself amongst a tonne of theatregoers outside the stage door and met this sweet chap, William Popp, who plays Mr Nasty aka Earl Hunterson. I was also lucky enough to meet Joe Cassidy who plays Cal and Ella Dane Morgan who plays the adorable little Lulu (no picture evidence for either, soz).

I'm not sure if it was the thrill of Times Square, the buzz of a new city at night, the theatre adrenaline or a mixture of all these combined, but I couldn't resist wandering from theatre to theatre to see the places I'd only ever heard about. How incredible to see these influential places up close?
The following evening, after abandoning my friends on the last evening after dinner, I all but ran over to the Al Hirschfeld theatre to catch Killian Donnelly after the evening performance of Kinky Boots. Yes I did fall and sprain my ankle, but I met this little gem and I'm only so ecstatic about it. I think the highlight was him seeing my phone's lock screen photo of George Bladgen & I and calling out 'Blagdog!'. (My Les Mis obsessed heart cried a little. I just really love Grantaire & Combeferre okay?)

Once again, I found myself back at the Brooks Atkinson theatre just as the evenings performance of Waitress was ending, the kind security guy gave me 5 Playbill's and I was the first to stand at the stage door, so I managed to grab a fair portion of the cast to sign a copy.
Tips / Recommendations

1. Look for tickets on TodayTix
I'm recommending this purely because this is what I used to find my ticket, it was cheaper than Ticketmaster and it was a fairly decent seat too.

I'm not sure how much street vendors charge but shopping around would be a good option.

2. Grab a Playbill
Playbill's are an iconic piece of Broadway, I only wish we had them in the UK, or something similar. A few years back I paid £10 + postage for a How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying one with Darren Criss on the cover which is insane because at the theatres they are FREE. They're available on the seats in the theatres so everyone is given one and if you ask they'll most likely give you more.

When I went off to meet Killian I realised I had nothing for him to sign, I popped my head around the door of the theatre, politely asked them if they'd let me have a Playbill and they were more than happy to help me. The same went for Waitress, like I said earlier, they gave me a stack of them! I've also heard many stories about tourists asking for them at theatres and most have been successful.

Next time I'll theatre hop for them.

3. Wander around the theatres after 10pm
I know this sounds dangerous and irresponsible, and anywhere other than NYC I wouldn't recommend such a thing but there's so many people (!!!), and once the shows let out you have no idea who you'll bump into.

I wandered past one theatre that Nathan Lane was currently appearing at (y'know, Timon from The Lion King?) and whilst I didn't see him, tonnes of people were outside the stage door with cast members. It's very easy to see people there.

4. Make the most of Broadway
I understand that not everyone loves musicals like I do (what a crying shame) but theatre isn't just musicals, find another production or play to immerse yourselves in. Trust me, there's plenty to choose from.
Have you guys heard the Waitress soundtrack of been lucky enough to catch a performance? What shows do you love/would love to see?

S xo
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Thursday, 9 March 2017

WHEN BLOGGING FEELS LIKE A CHORE

It's time to get deep. 

The moment I started a blog, I was in love. I've always been a writer, from a young age, writing stories, keeping a diary (okay, that's been more miss than hit over the years), letter writing and using words to be creative. It's the enjoyment of language.

But the biggest fear I've always had is, not only losing faith in my blog, but losing interest in it too. No one should feel that their self-built creative platform has become a chore. You especially shouldn't prefer to do a mountain of ironing instead of sitting down and typing away your thoughts. 

Sadly, this is where I'm currently at. 
The thing about blogging is this; when you have a successful post, you feel on top of the world. You've created something others can engage with, something they can share on their own platforms and raise wide-spread awareness for something you have created. There's this overwhelming buzz.

Then there's the flip side to that, the one where the post you worked so hard on has flopped - you were so sure it would be a hit -  and suddenly you feel like you lost the battle and that nothing you say has any importance or relevance to your audience. You can't help but feel like you've failed, no matter how much you tell yourself that that post was written for you and you were so proud to hit publish. 

The biggest obstacle I personally have is forever wanting to share my outfits, and fashion with you because that was the original premise of this blog, but not having anyone to take those pictures for me makes me feel horribly frustrated. Bedroom mirror shots can be cute for Instagram, but it doesn't really work in the blogging world anymore.

Blogging becomes the biggest chore when you feel like you've fallen down a well and you're drowning, you're battling to swim to the surface with each new post, but they're becoming less frequent and suddenly you start to question why you're even bothering. 

Does it matter if I let this go?
There have been multiple times over the past year or so where I've honestly come so close to logging out of Blogger and leaving this all behind, something I've spent countless hours, days, months working on and forgetting about it all together. 

But I don't want to. It's as simple as that. I really don't enjoy that feeling of failure, I hate to be a quitter and quite frankly, if I leave my blog what will I have left?

I've read countless posts and tweets over time that state the blogger felt so refreshed and inspired after taking a short blog break, and really if that's how your time away made you feel then that's wonderful. But that's not how it made me feel and don't think that because it worked for others that it will definitely work for you too. One blog break for me lead to two, and three, and four until eventually I didn't even feel like a blogger anymore. I was just someone who used to write a few posts, post a few pictures and I've never felt so disheartened in my life.

It's great to take a step back and re-evaluate your content, make sure you're heading in the right direction, but don't stay away too long because it's so much more difficult to find your way back.

I've just read a really helpful post by Victoria from Inthefrow about finding inspiration and helping you get your blogging mojo back. And I honestly think it's about time we really took these tips on board and acted on them.
After this week, once my deadlines are out the way, I'm going to take my camera into the city and start filling my memory card, I'll spend a whole day wandering and when I return home I'll go through all of my pictures to see what is post-worthy and what passed the time. It may inspire me, it may not, but even so it will have got me off my ass and outside exploring Cardiff. If I have to go back and re-shoot then so be it, in fact that's great because I'm more likely to find something I previously missed which will spark some more ideas.

Why not give it a go yourself? We all live such busy lives, and as much as we'd love to spend every day off lying in bed and immersing ourselves in a new tv show, how terrible do you feel at the end of the day when you realised that you essentially wasted it? That's not to say you shouldn't have down time, because you absolutely should, but use some of your free days to be productive and find your passion again.

That's what I intend to do.

For those of you who are bloggers, how are you feeling about the community and your own blog at the moment? How do you overcome this feeling? Please leave comments below because I'm really interested in hearing your thoughts.

S xo
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Friday, 3 March 2017

THE NYC SERIES: ABOVE THE CITY

Happy Fri-yayyyyy! I cannot believe it's taken this long to bash out a new post, but alas it did so imma move on and forget about my super busy week this week.

This is the fourth NYC-filled post (I promise, there's only 2 left) and I'm getting high for this one. No drugs, obvs. Bad move.

I mean, I'm getting high in the sky with the Empire State Building & the Rockefeller Center because holy moly, that was some stomach-lurching business.

We took the ascent up the Empire State on the morning of the most glorious day of the trip (seriously the busiest day ever, how was it even real?!) and the view was unreal. I honestly thought that nothing could top the view from the Eiffel Tower, but it's in some serious competition.

I'd really rather forget the near death experience via falling ice though. A January trip might be in my 'not recommended' list.

Our last night we took the trip up the Rockefeller Center tower (I know that everyone normally does this during the day) and I've never seen such a breathtaking view as NYC at night. The bright lights, the Empire State lit up and the world moving by. I'm seriously contemplating doing that every trip I ever take to the city.
Tips / Recommendations

1. Travel to the top of BOTH
Normally I wouldn't have done either of these trips, or maybe I would have done only one, but seeing as I've had the experience of both, I think everyone should. See one by day and one by night. Viewing New York from both perspectives is stunning and 100% recommended.

2. Take an extra layer - or FIVE
It was damn cold up there, and I can only assume that it would be nippy up there regardless of the season due to the high altitude. I had on a long sleeved top, a sweater, a cardigan and my coat. Basically I still couldn't feel my face. So pack a few more layers for that. And DON'T leave your scarf at the hotel like I did.

3. Buy tickets before arriving
Luckily we purchased our tickets at the hotel because the queues were craaaaaaazy. Definitely wise to purchase beforehand otherwise you'll waste the day away just waiting for your little piece of paper.

4. Enjoy the view
It'll blow you away, and not just the mad gales up there.
 I'm off to drink my 5th/6th cup of tea and fall asleep watching Life as We Know It because it's Chloe's birthday tomorrow and we're gonna partaaaay!

S xo
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Sunday, 19 February 2017

THE NYC SERIES: TIMES SQUARE

Hey hey heyyyy! I'm back with another installment in the little NYC series (I hope you're not bored yet because I'm not done with this baby) and I gonna tell you about a little low-key spot in the city.

Wait, you've heard of Times Square? Well that's awkward.

Okay okay, it's ridiculously popular and may cause a little bit of anxiety (so many real life people, say whaaaaat?) but I'm telling you, it's the most incredible place I have ever been. Standing in the middle and spinning 360 degrees, the lights whirling, the people bustling and the general atmosphere is probably something that never gets old.

I seemed to end up here at least once a day during the vacay, some accidental (although I'm not saying no to Broadway) and every time if felt so brand new, yet oddly familiar like I'd been there a hundred times over already.

And the most bizarre thing? Wandering the streets on my own at night did not have me phased. I've never felt so safe -whilst being alone - in my life. Remember; so. many. people. Literally the city that never sleeps.

Tips / Recommendations

1. Be aware of your belongings
 This may seem like a painfully obvious point, and I had absolutely zero problems with theft, but as there are so many people in the area I would really advise being careful with your handbag / backpack / pockets etc. Crowded areas are the best place for pickpockets so be safe and not sorry.

2. Take a picture on the red steps
I feel foolish not knowing this was a thing that people did, I don't even seem to remember about hearing about the red steps before I saw them. Wait - was there a scene in Glee with them? (Update; yes, Season 2)
Anyway, it's cliche and cheesy, but taking a picture with all of the billboards and lights behind you is really cool.

3. Hit the shops
There is a massive Forever 21 in the square, it's on about 3 floors and has the best selection of brand. I purchased a lush pink faux-leather jacket and a printed tee in there for $45!

4. Visit the Hard Rock Cafe
It's been 11 years since I first went to one (in Florida) and I don't remember it all too well, so when we decided one night that we'd go there to eat, I was in awe as soon as I stepped inside. 
The interior, memorabilia and layout is incredible and the seating area is like an auditorium with a huge screen playing music videos of all genres. 

Be prepared; it's very loud and not the cheapest, and be wary of tips because the servers are VERY hot on it despite the fact they hardly do anything for your table...

Other food recommendations;
Ruby Tuesday - I wish we has eaten here every single night. So reasonably prices for the city and the location, plus the drinks are refillable for less than $4 and the service is unbeatable.

Bella Vita Pizzeria & Trattoria - Again, reasonably priced. I would recommend get a bigger pizza and splitting it between 2 because the portions are really generous. So tasty too!

5. Hershey's Chocolate World vs. M&M's World
Across the road from each other, you'll be in the midst of chocolate heaven. Although I love M&M's, there is a 4-floor store in London that I've yet to actually purchase from, and I much prefer Hershey's. Especially Cookies & Cream.

Whilst M&M's World is ridiculously overpriced, I found 90% of Hershey's to be really reasonable. I'm definitely regretting not buying 4 bags for $16.

6. Broadway Theatres
This is the home of American theatre and the place that I was most excited to seek out. 41 theatres to search for? Count me in. If you're a fan, most theatres will give you free Playbill's if you go and politely ask the security on the door, or the box office. I asked at the Brooks Atkinson theatre for a Waitress playbill and was handed 5! (More about all of this in it's own post coming soon)

7. Take it all in
With so much to do and see, take absolutely everything in. Take a tonne of photos, observe the people around you and stand in the middle to soak everything up. There is nothing quite like it.


Have you been before? If so, were you as obsessed as I am? 

Leave your thoughts, recommendations and tips in the comments for anyone wanting to find out more info. There's still so much I probably didn't do so I'd also love to know for next time.

S xo
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