Lifestyle

Lifestyle news and stories.

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.

 

These last few months have been hard to understand. Being on the planet for over 40 years means that I’ve lived through quite a lot of things that are simply too hard to grasp.

What’s different now? I’m the grownup, I’m the one who needs to tell my children what’s happening in the world around them but part of me wants to sheild them. How can I educate when I simply don’t understand it, I can’t legitimise the actions of shootings in schools, the Manchester arena bombing, people being gunned down or stabbed when they are minding their own business.

I fell asleep last night on the evening of 03.06.2017 at only 21:35 after settling down the children and I lay on the bed for ‘just a minute’. I was awoken when H2B got into bed and told me about London.

From that point on my mind couldn’t rest. Only a few weeks before we’d enjoyed mooching around Borough Market and Emily sampled her first oyster. NOTHING is going to taint those memories. I simply won’t let them.

Luke work at 02:00 and I was happy that he did. I want to hold him and love him and as he sat on my knee he drank some milk and I had a cup of tea and I watched on repeat what was unfolding on the news.

In the words of my daughter….everyone needs to sit on the naughty step and get their bad thoughts out then say sorry and then hug the world.

So could you all do me a favour please? Just be nice and look after each other and have faith in humanity as without that THEY have won.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Dad and daughterFor his 70th birthday, my dad announced that he wanted to cycle from London to Paris. And so he did with my brother and fella to keep him company. When I mentioned that I wanted to support Willow Burn Hospice near Lanchester, County Durham, by doing the Great North Run, he decided he’d do it with me. He’s 72 now. “It’s on the bucket list” says he. “Ok” says I.

And that was that. His Christmas present was sorted; entry to the Great North Run.

For many years, when I was small, my family positioned ourselves at the bottom of my gran and granddad’s street in South Shields to watch the Great North runners, specifically my Uncle Alan, run past.

If you’ve never watched 10s of 1000s of people run past the end of your street it’s a real spectacle. People of all shapes and sizes and fitness levels doing a mammoth half marathon for whatever reason they have.

And this year, the Little Dad and Daughter team will be running (well not exactly running) on behalf of the magnificent Willow Burn Hospice which provides care for people with palliative and end of life needs.

Just to be clear, Dad and I are NOT runners. This will hurt. And neither of us have ever, ever run half a marathon. To start at the age of 42 and 72 respectively is daunting to say the least. But Willow Burn is an amazing place which really cares for their patients and families and well worth some considerable effort from us to help them.

We’ll be tracking our preparations, my attempt to stay fit for longer than a few months and how much money we raise too.

Nic x

And if you’d like to sponsor us, please do!