Lifestyle

Lifestyle news and stories.

Hello everyone,

recently I’ve spent more time sleeping on the sofa then it being my go to place to write, chat and be.

Like everyone from time to time I needed to consolidate and learn to love my content again and in the background I have been writing some excellent stuff. A lot of it is quite personal and writing it down has been cathartic and I’m almost ready to share.

On May 1 I will be starting to publish and here’s a few things what you can look out for;

Learning to love, in my case my tummy and many more things.

Learning to let go and forgive myself.

A 40 plus view of New York including a blast from the past Sex and The City Tour

House renovation (when plans need to be fluid but ideas set in stone)

The A-Z of my life

and so much more.

 

Happy reading…

There was a little kitten who needed a home and a little girl and boy who were ready to show their love. The brother and sister waited patiently for days and days. The little girl, Emily hoped she didn’t have to wait as long as she did for her little brother, Luke aka Mr. Fox or Mr. Moo Moo to arrive. The kitten’s sleeping basket was prepared, nothing was too good for this new addition.

After school one night Emily asked her mummy,

Has my, I mean our, kitten arrived yet?

And the mummy replied,

It has and we’ve been waiting all day to share her with you.

The glee on the little girls face melted her mummy’s heart. Instant love appeared as Emily nuzzled her cheek to little kitten and the little kitten purred in a much louder voice then expected.

Mummy can we call her Snowy?

Of course Emily that’s a lovely name.

Welcome Snowy, our newly adopted Little Live Pets Kitten.

Snowy was aptly named as she’s white and soft and it’s the lead up to Christmas was sent for us to review. A lovely little bundle of fun without the need to feed or clean up after. Snowy has been tried and tested by my seven year old and also secretly tried out by my two year old (I know this is below the recommended age but I was with him when he was loving the kitten).

Snowy loves to be handled and is robust enough to be thrown around by a toddler (and carried around by her neck). Snowy cuddles into the cheek and responds quickly to changes in position and depth of touch. She likes her tummy tickled and I’m so envious as to how quickly she can fall asleep too.

Overall, Snowy has six different play modes and 20 kitten sounds, plenty to keep the little ones entertained but, for how long?

I’m so glad you can’t overfeed this kitten as both children are a little eager to provide food and water (Luke can often be found sharing his snacks). It comes with a little bowl but don’t worry if it goes a miss as it’s the positioning of the kitten that makes the lapping sound rather than any connectivity between bowl and cat.

I’ve found both Emily and Luke sitting cuddling Snowy without her being turned on and it’s so nice to see. Also Mr. Fox is calmed down during the night by stroking Snowy previously he’d often want our dwarf hamsters out and with a sleep deprived mummy and a lively but sleepy toddler this wasn’t a great combo.

Would I buy this toy? Prior to the review the price would have put me off but because of the opportunity and living with the kitten I would buy it, sorry adopt a Little Live Pets Cuddles My Dream Kitten for my niece and nephew to share.

Pros of the toy:
Easy to fall in love with, children can play with it independently.

Great for allergy sufferers.

Lots of variety.

Cons of the toy:

The price may be restrictive to some.

This cat moults lots.

The mechanism is very loud indeed which the two year old didn’t mind but annoyed the seven year old a little.

Little Live Pets My Dream Kitten Cuddles is available from many toy shops including Smyths Toys. RRP £54.99

 

We visited Northern Stage in Newcastle to watch the ballet production of Rumpelstiltskin by balletLORENT and here’s our review story…..

A time upon once, is where this story starts, Rumpelstiltskin, Rumpelstiltskin, Rumpelstiltskin a name like no other, this once Grimm tale has been rewritten by another.

A golden Queen and a handsome King spend a lot of time caressing and kissing. Watching over their beautiful flock in a rural world of balletLORENT.

Frolicking and free from babies to grannies this idyllic world is one in which you would want to be.

Alas tragedy occurs at the birth of their son. The sun goes down and the golden love has gone. The King is now an angry man, denying the child, his only one. A raging man who blames his son for the loss of his wife, a boy desperate for love but shunned from the King’s life. Little lambs and mummy sheep playfully watch and keep a smile on our faces when the King’s actions are a disgrace.

Left to roam among the countryside the boy becomes one with nature; a little feral and wild. The children are kind beckoning him to play and a shepherd’s daughter brightens his day.

As the mourning continues the villagers embark to make the King happy and have a lark, but alas the King was now mean and dark; far from the passionate bright light that we saw at the start. The only thing that kept him going was the thought of gold which sets the scene for a story retold.

A shepherd not a miller be the boasting father of a little she. For the man gave up his daughter, a lie could lead his sheep to slaughter. As of course it can’t be true, to weave straw to gold…can you?

Three rooms filled with straw and a challenge with each one and Rumpelstiltskin was the hero elevating him from a position of zero. The gift of changing anything to gold was given by his mother; a gift like this can’t be squandered nor smothered. With each challenge, he won a prize. The Shepherd’s daughter had nothing to lose yet and agreed to a ring, a kiss and her first baby (she lies).

The marriage was quick and so was the baby as nine months later she was in labour. The gift of her baby was now long forgotten but Rumpelstiltskin still wanted the offering.

The distress that this caused to the Shepherd’s daughter, made him think of the past the games and laughter she’d taught him. Three days were given to find this youths name otherwise who knows what would be the baby’s demise?

The whole kingdom searched for the name but none were found true. But the shepherd didn’t give up and did all he could do. He heard a youth in a clearing dancing around a fire and suddenly heard the name of desire. The shepherd rushed back to his daughter and told of his news now a game with Rumpelstiltskin did infuse.

Upon finding his name memories of fondness came flooding back – this youth was boy she had loved in the past. The King saw it too and the hate turned to love and he was released from his life to be with his queen above.

Rumpelstiltskin and the shepherd’s daughter now became a happily ever after.

The venue:  Northern Stage Newcastle – big enough for impact and small enough for intimacy.
My plus 1:  Daughter aged 7 who has been connected with Northern Stage since she was a bump in the 40 year anniversary ’40 babies’.
The cast:  Aged 4 to 79 both professional and from local schools, care homes, day centres, community groups (including some people from a knit and natter group). Anne Mead (see the video I shared on Sofa Stories Facebook page), reminded me of my gran and that made me smile.
Rehearsal director: Caroline Reece sat directly behind us during the performance and it was lovely to speak to her during the interval about the performance.
The audience:  A truly eclectic mix spanning generations. Bring everyone you know!
Advice:  If you are taking children do stick to the seven plus guideline as there are some dark parts that may cause younger people a little distress although these scenes didn’t seem to bother the younger cast members).
In show highlight: There were so many moments for me and I found my breath taken away as Rumpelstiltskin is a beloved dark fairytale in our household the added parts and adaptions of the story worked. When the little childhood versions of Shepherd’s daughter and Rumpelstiltskin appear on the
edge of a scene with the adults my heart was ablaze as childhood memories of friendship always seem to be the most special.
Interval highlight:  An avid fan of Ben Crompton was gushing over him and wanting to nab my pen to get an autograph in her programme whilst I was still using it (I was completing the feedback form).
Unexpected:  The level of emotion felt by both myself and my daughter. balletLORENT you brought me to the edge of emotion, made my heart pound and my eyes weep. And I thank you for that.
Warning:  Moral dilemmas of abandonment of a child. Violence towards a child (no one was hurt in the performance – it was very strongly implied). Verbal and threatening abuse of a girl and her father and his livelihood.
Quirkiest moment:  The dancing sheep, mmmmmmm it lightened it a little too far for me but I’m sure it will be loved by most.
At the ballet:  The thought of ballet can often turn people off or bring connotations of a non-inclusive club with membership only given to the truly gifted and well off. balletLORENT are far from this. They are a company so progressive and all-encompassing and embracing that it may drive  many of us to try and partake in ballet again (Dance City here I come) or at least in a knit an natter group and hope that in years to come the production comes around again and I too could be one of those grannies.

Overall:  I simply adore watching my daughter being drawn in and absorbed in a story, searching for my hand and putting my arm around her to hold her closer in the darker parts. Her naivety is a breathe of fresh air and she pointed out the kissing and the naked top half of Rumpelstiltskin. Emily loved it and clapped until the last person left the stage. She underlined her love by popping her gold coin in the heart bestowed emoji feedback cup to prove it.

Dates:  Rumpelstiltskin productions run at Northern Stage Newcastle until 28 October. Tickets are available from £10 so be part of the next well deserved standing ovation.

Disclaimer: We received complimentary tickets for the production but all content and thoughts our own.

Images included are by Khara Pringle and Bill Cooper.

The Lowry Bedroom

A little reminisce…..

Where do you go to spend some time with your partner before baby is born or infact whenever the fancy takes you? A five star hotel that’s where.

When I put my cast out for a localish babymoon to mark our last date night before baby two arrived several hotels got in touch (how lucky am I?). Since our last visit to a ‘Leading Hotels of The World’ in 2013 in the form of The Landmark London we’d been craving to stay somewhere else from the prestigious selection so when The Lowry Manchester got in touch we accepted their kind invitation.

So the date was set for Friday 24 July (31 days before due date) and Tiffany Rose the gorgeous maternity and nursing brand were sending my dresses of choice, well a woman has to look good no matter what stage we are in our lives.

We were so excited bags were packed in advance (a first for me). We wanted to make use of every minute so even the school run had been sorted so I didn’t have to get up and rush to get me plus one ready (being 34 and a bit weeks pregnant was depleting my energy lots).

So the 24 of July arrived and so did my little baby boy! (another story). H2B contacted the hotel and spoke to the concierge and explained that alas we wouldn’t be reviewing that evening. My hospital bag was my overnight hotel bag so check me out on the hospital ward with a slinky nightie (yes I was heavily pregnant but I looked fab so slinky and hotel worked but slinky and hospital post C Section, not so much).

Fast forward a few months and we finally made it to The Lowry!

After a car journey from Durham to Manchester we were ready for a lovely evening. The sat nav kept wanting to take us to the rear of the hotel where there is no parking so I’d advise you take a quick look at google to navigate where you need to be. One side of the hotel is classed as Salford and the other Manchester and it’s a hop skip and a jump from Spinningfields where I’d pre signed us up for one of their yellow discount cards.

I must admit that the exterior of the hotel didn’t do it for me in terms of grandeur but I was looking forward to going over the threshold.

Check in: This was seemless. Five star hotels are no longer stuffy and pompous like they were in the past, we definitely agree with the Lowry’s tag line of ‘Where things happen for the modern luxury generation’. The Lowry Hotel went through a full refurbishment in 2015 and was looking good!

The room: We checked into our superior deluxe corner room.  As we entered the room there was a walk in wardrobe on the left and a bathroom on the right. One step further and there was an orange chaise longue in front of floor to ceiling windows (of which I tweeted about immediately).

The bed was massive and conducive to having a little cat nap. The pillow and duvet were just right.

The mini bar: I was a bit peckish so H2B popped to the local supermarket to buy some supplies as we saw the five star prices of the contents. It is really well stocked but be mindful of the potential midnight feast.

The bathroom: If you are a lover of gigantic bathrooms then this isn’t the place for you ‘compact and bijou’ is what you will find. There was a good selection of toiletries by Aromatherapy and I loved the squishy bathrobes.

Breakfast: In the morning we headed to the River bar and grill for breakfast. A hotel stay can be completely ruined if this isn’t good. A fabulous selection of buffet and a la carte was available.

The buffet was adorned with cereals, breads, pastries, cheeses and some of the best smoked salmon I’ve had in a long time alongside the traditional ingredients of a full English breakfast.  My H2B bumped into someone whilst at the buffet and I heard him say, ‘after you Mr. Bridges’, yes the magnificent Kevin Bridges was at breakfast along with Romesh Ranganathan. H2B loves a bit of celeb spotting alas I of course had to trump him. As he was telling me about Mr. Bridges I lifted my head only to see the legend that is Ian Wright on the opposite table sporting a fabulous pair of moccasin slippers. H2B was beside himself and the appearance of one of the Neville brothers made his day.

The art: Around the hotel were some fabulous artwork and this gallery changes on a frequent basis.

Super touch: The Lowry staff knew that we had a baby and thought we’d be bringing him along for the weekend too so a cotbed with teddy had been placed in the room. It was so lovely but I must admit we got housekeeping to remove it. Teddy made his way into our suitcase though and sits on Luke’s drawers.

Thank you for a lovely stay with celebrity spotting included.

 

Breton tops and scarvesOn a very rare night where we grabbed a couple of hours together to plan our blog, Suz and I started chatting about all the “rules” for 40 plus ladies and how mostly we ignore them all (Suzanne got VERY cross reading that she wasn’t to wear her maxi dresses anymore – ridiculous right?).

But as we chatted about how much we absolutely hate being told what we can and can’t wear, we started making a list of our own rules that we do swear by, many of which haven’t changed in the last 2 decades despite getting ‘old’. Here are ours. And of course we don’t expect you to pay attention to any of them and encourage you to wear whatever the hell you want.

Suz: ALWAYS wear matching underwear (always buy two pairs of knickers to every bra).

Nic: Own at least three pairs of great fitting, flattering jeans.

Suz: Every women’s makeup essential item – nude lipstick.

Nic: Invest in your hair with a great colour and cut from a hairdresser you trust

Both: Breton Tops; the more the better (and they aren’t just for Spring).

Nic: BIG silver hoops. Big.

Suz: Delicate jewellery with a couple of bold statement pieces.

Both: Own at least one red mac and lots of good quality coats.

Nic: Shoes. Loads of them. Can’t ever have enough.

Suz: Boots are the essential footwear.

Nic: Cross body handbag. Smallish so you can FIND STUFF.

Suz: Own 800 pairs of tights. Must have three pairs in reserve at all times.

Nic: No tights.

Suz: Oversized tote bag that DOES NOT look like a baby bag.

Nic: Best phone you can afford.

Suz: Mum on speed-dial.

Nic: Mini-break every 6 weeks.

Suz: Expensive moisturiser (Even if it doesn’t work).

Nic: Thumb ring, toe ring and nose piercing. All or any of them.

Both: Scarves. An easy and cheap way to change any outfit.

Suz: Little Black Dress.

Both: Don’t take any notice of people who tell you what you can and can’t wear because you’re a certain age or shape.