Seeing Hamilton in London

So for the past year or so I’ve been living with Hamilton lyrics stuck in my head on repeat.

A colleague was playing some Hamilton songs at work, I knew of the show and the songs sounded nice but I had no idea what was going on. One song he had played a few times suddenly had me intrigued. In the song one character was begging another to take a break, and this other character (who I assumed to be the love interest) had come all this way to see him. I cannot stand not knowing the answer to something so with nothing else planned that evening I sat and listened to the whole musical on Spotify. I then immediately bought the CD from Amazon and it played in my car on repeat on my commutes home.

The words get sucked into my head, and James ended up singing along to ‘The Room where it Happened’ in the house having never heard the CD due to my constant rapping! So James searched the ticket websites a few times in the lead up to Christmas and managed to get us reasonably priced stall tickets. He tried to play it off that he’d bought my tickets for Matilda, but I knew from the way he dashed up the stairs to check we were free on a particular date that we had Hamilton tickets!

Backstory (mine, not Hamilton’s) aside, James and I went to see the incredible show at the Victoria Palace last night and I was not disappointed. I’m not going to explain the story, it really doesn’t need to be said again, but I’ll give you my experience here in case it helps any other fans have a smooth experience.


Arrive early!

As the paperless tickets tell you, aim to arrive an hour before the show starts. The theatre opens 90 minutes before but I couldn’t convince James to go any earlier! Getting into the theatre is swift, slight queue outside (took longer as James became entranced with a police officer’s explosive detection dog’s snazzy curly haircut) but at this point they briefly check your confirmation email and direct you to the correct door. Then a thorough bag check and another person takes your payment card, swipes it and these beautiful Hamilton tickets come out for you to keep! Then you’re in!


I’d talk about them, and they are fancy, but there wasn’t anything to say form my personal experience. We arrived at 6.30, when straight to the stalls’ loos and I went straight into a cubicle. At intermission though James said the sight of the ladies’ loos queue was awful! I never go mid show so couldn’t tell you.


There is a nice orderly queue for merchandise outside the ladies’ loos opposite the doors to the stalls. As you queue there are laminates showing the merch and prices, however I had done some research on the newly opened Hamilton London online shop. I’d decided I wanted the £10 brochure and the £8 keyring for my keys. No last minute panics for me!

But I never saw online that there are two brochures, the £10 picture one with images of the original Broadway cast and the £4 programme containing the details of the London cast. I decided I would get both, for an extra £4 it was worth it.

Then James returned from the gents and got hold of one of the laminate cards and was reminding me of all the other things on offer. ‘Do you want a t-shirt? Look, they do a ladies’ tee? What about a hoodie then? Aww, they have a bauble. And a water bottle. How about a magnet for the fridge. You’re not getting the badges?’ With so much choice I decided to get the magnet too. I asked for these items and then from behind me James appears and buys the bauble as well (doubling the price of our merch just like that! You might notice, I’m the saver and James is the spender!). I didn’t fight it though, this was a special event for me and I never treat myself to stuff like this.

Everything packed into a cute Hamilton plastic bag and to our seats we go!


The stalls opened at about 6.45pm I believe. Just as we arrived after loos, merch and the bar (just bought a bottle of water, nothing to report). The seats are fairly tight. James is about 6 foot and his knees were just about touching the seats in front. Much taller and I bet it could get uncomfortable.

View is great, we were about 5 rows from the back and could see almost everything. (Big headed guy in front meant I missed some action from the left of the stage.) We took loads of photos before the show started.


The show itself

Just amazing. I couldn’t believe I was watching the show I had pictured in my head for the past year in it’s full glory. Being FA Cup final day, I was concerned we would have understudies! We did, for both Burr and Hamilton. But aside from the videos on YouTube I didn’t have much to compare them to. Sifiso Mazibuko as Burr was brilliant. I had read an article about him a few weeks back, he also understudies for Hamilton and Lafayette/Jefferson so has to know his stuff. His portrayal was just as I expected Burr to be and I wonder if I’d be disappointed with Giles Terera’s take when I come back. My slight gripe with Ash Hunter’s Hamilton is that he looks down too much. At the start I hoped it was a part of showing his growth, so by Act 2 he’d be standing upright and confident but it didn’t really happen. But aside from that he was excellent in the part.

The rest of the cast were amazing too. Not a weak person. Madison repeated a line in ‘The Adams Administration’ instead of another line, but I asked James afterwards and he didn’t notice. I really liked the actor playing Hercules/Madison a lot, I never picked up from the CD how different the two characters come across physically. Seeing Madison and Jefferson together in the second half was a highlight. There is a lot more physical comedy that you cannot pick on from the CD either, lines got laughs that I hadn’t imagined. Something that sounded intense and moody on the CD could come across light and pull a laugh on stage.


There were parts that I’d directed differently in my head too, some lines are washed over rather than emphasised as I do when I’m singing along in my car. It almost felt like watching a film of a beloved book! I’d pictured so much in my head that it wouldn’t compete in some ways, but in others I was excited to see how it looked on stage.

James’ favourite songs were always King George’s on the CD, and he didn’t disappoint on stage. This was James’ favourite parts of the musical. It is such a laugh.

When am I going back?

I always knew this wouldn’t be a one off visit! I don’t have tickets yet but I’ll certainly be looking out for more reasonably priced ones. There is so many layers to this show, there was lots about the choreography that went over my head that repeat viewings would make clearly, same with the lyrics and music on the CD. But when? It is only a matter of time.



How to make slime with Brownies (UK!)

I don’t think you can spend time around a Junior school aged child and not hear about slime at the moment. It seems to be everywhere!

At Brownies we have a tradition that the girls moving up the Guides attend one final evening at the start of term and stay on for Guides straight after, a double session. We also use this as an opportunity to let the leaving girls decide the meeting’s activity, whether it be something new or repeating an old favourite.

Last summer I asked two girls due to leave at Christmas what they wanted to do, and they were excited to make slime! I was nervous as I’d tried a recipe the previous year and it did not work at all, but I wanted to be able to give them a special last session.

I did some research and found an awesome UK recipe (For lack of a better word!) using items easily found in a local supermarket.

How to make slime at Brownies!

Per four Brownies you’ll need:

The links will take you to the exact products I used, you’ll probably find similar in other shops. We gave the choice of green or pink food colouring.

  1. Split the Brownies into groups based on what colour slime they’d like to make, then group the Brownies into threes or fours depending how many bottles of glue & eye solution you have.
  2. Give each group one food container box to create their mix. Start by giving each group the 150ml of PVA glue to pour into the food container.
  3. Supervise each group as they drip a couple drops of food colour into the mix (less is more! Most of our pink slime turned out brown!) and instruct the Brownies to use the plastic spoons / wooden lolly sticks to mix the colouring into the glue.
  4. Give each group a spoon and let them put the headed teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the mix and continue mixing.
  5. Finally, a few drops at a time, add the eye lens solution / eye drops. Mix and then add more as needed. As the Brownies mix it’ll become thicker to the point they can pick it up and squish it. Keep going until it looses stickiness and becomes a solid mixture you can stretch and mould.
  6. Split the mixture between the Brownies and give each a food container to take it home in.
  7. Warn the Brownies that the mixture will become watery in a day or so unless regularly moulded, so keep it in the container!

This was such a brilliant evening, much better than I’d imagined. Many of the older Brownies had made slime at home, and were surprised at the amount of bicarbonate of soda they needed to add. But they were very pleased with how it turned out, saying it was the best slime they’d made, and were thanking me for introducing this version to them!

I wish I could show you images but they all have the Brownies very shocked and excited faces in them!

At our Brownies we split it between groups of three or four due to the cost of the eye drops, you might find cheaper so that the girls can have more slime, but I also felt working in groups helped the Brownies learn about team work.

My 1000 adventure list

Yeah, 1000 adventures. I’ve not thought of them all yet but that’s my impossible goal! I’m so inspired by reading other people’s bucket lists, and I get a sense of achievement when I look over the experiences I’ve had in my life so I’m combining the two into this ultimate life list. This has been a piece of work over the last few months, and I’ll continue adding to it as I think of new ideas and achieve new things.

Some of the completed experiences have links to my corresponding blog post, perhaps a new goal will be to write about each one too!

The list below includes future goals and past achievements, the ones I’ve completed are in bold.

  1. Visit Disney World, Florida
  2. Ride underwater in a submarine
  3. Visit the Louvre
  4. Have a caricature drawn of me
  5. Complete a life journal
  6. Ride in a dune buddy
  7. Make a YouTube video
  8. Make pastry from scratch
  9. Get a tattoo
  10. Complete a scrapbook
  11. Eat pizza in Naples
  12. Ride in a helicopter
  13. Keep a line-a-day journal for one year
  14. Complete all coding lessons on Khan Academy
  15. Try stand up paddling
  16. Play human table football
  17. Take a Bookkeeping course
  18. Get a promotion
  19. Earn my Girlguiding leadership qualification
  20. See sunset and sunrise in the same night
  21. Attend Comic Con
  22. Go on safari
  23. See Hamilton
  24. Ride the vomit comit
  25. Attend a cooking class
  26. Attend a baking class
  27. Visit Reykjavik
  28. Shoot paintballs with a slingshot
  29. Camp at a music festival
  30. Tour the Houses of Parliament
  31. Win a big game of Monopoly
  32. Visit the Colosseum
  33. Ride a Segway
  34. Take an indoor skydiving lesson
  35. Be able to recite all the Commonwealth countries
  36. Take a creative writing course
  37. Try archery
  38. Workout every day for 3 months
  39. Donate blood
  40. Tour a police station
  41. Try caving
  42. See the northern lights
  43. Watch all the Disney classic films
  44. Do yoga
  45. Take a fencing class
  46. Swim with dolphins
  47. Ride a jet ski
  48. Take a bushcraft lesson
  49. Publish a novel
  50. Hold a plank for 5 minutes
  51. Get the high score on an arcade machine
  52. Visit a castle
  53. Play Basketball
  54. Attend a Formula One race
  55. Eat a croissant in Paris
  56. Go white water rafting
  57. Witness a wedding proposal
  58. Learn to use chopsticks
  59. Visit Pax Lodge
  60. Read one novel every month for a year
  61. Attend a secret cinema event
  62. Attend a Brazilian carnival
  63. Complete the Girlguiding ‘Going Away’ qualification
  64. Go up a volcano
  65. Visit Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  66. Run 5k
  67. Visit Universal Studios, Florida
  68. Take a skiing lesson
  69. Be able to tread water
  70. Visit another Scandinavian city
  71. Drink beer at Oktoberfest
  72. Buy a house
  73. Go to a driving range (golf)
  74. Go zorbing
  75. Be fluent in another language
  76. Visit New York
  77. Complete the Golden Circle, Iceland
  78. Visit the Tower of London
  79. Go on a ghost hunt
  80. Eat chocolate at Cadbury World, Birmingham
  81. Organise a tombola fundraiser
  82. See a tennis match at Wimbledon
  83. Learn the periodic table
  84. Gut a fish
  85. Go camping
  86. Try clay pigeon shooting
  87. Design and paint a games room mural in my home
  88. Be able to recite all the European countries & their capitals
  89. Have a palm reading
  90. Attend a wine tasting
  91. Have Afternoon Tea
  92. Mosh in a mosh pit
  93. Contact someone with the same name
  94. Have a dolphin perform a trick
  95. Visit the Vatican
  96. Learn ballroom dancing
  97. Make soap
  98. Watch all Studio Ghibli films
  99. Tour the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms
  100. Attend a murder mystery
  101. Ride Kingda Ka at Six Flags, New Jersey
  102. Travel first class
  103. Play laser tag
  104. Ride The Smiler at Alton Towers
  105. Go on a cruise
  106. Take a life drawing course
  107. Put on a bet at Newmarket
  108. Tour the Globe Theatre
  109. Attend a concert
  110. Complete all statistics lessons on Khan Academy
  111. Bury a time capsule
  112. Be a Girlguiding Peer Educator
  113. Act on stage
  114. Go zip lining
  115. Walk along the Great Wall of China
  116. Go paintballing
  117. Draw a web comic
  118. Learn to crochet
  119. Visit the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  120. Go rock climbing
  121. Ride The Ultimate at Lightwater Valley
  122. Explore a cave
  123. Do a high ropes course
  124. See Mount Rushmore
  125. Read all of ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’
  126. Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain
  127. Visit Porta Ventura theme park in Spain… three times!
  128. Escape an escape room
  129. Race a Go Kart
  130. Collect and donate school equipment to Malawi
  131. Stand at the top of Mount Vesuvius
  132. Learn to start a campfire
  133. Send flowers
  134. Visit Australia
  135. Hold a Tarantula
  136. Learn basic origami
  137. See Blue Man Group live
  138. Be a Post Pals Fortnightly Writer for a year
  139. See the red arrows
  140. Visit ICANDO
  141. Be able to recite the 50 American States
  142. Attend the Edinburgh Festival
  143. See WWE live
  144. Eat a cannoli in Italy
  145. Take a Jack the Ripper tour around London
  146. Visit an Ice Bar
  147. Find way out of a corn maze at night
  148. See a Boxing match
  149. Go to a horror maze experience for Halloween
  150. Ride in a limo
  151. See Derren Brown live
  152. Visit Pompeii
  153. See the New Year fireworks in London
  154. Learn to spot constellations
  155. Eat at a dark restaurant
  156. Visit Niagara Falls
  157. Lead a campfire
  158. Organise an event for over 100 people
  159. Try kayaking
  160. Visit Platform 9 & 3/4
  161. Attend a demolition derby
  162. Build snowman twins
  163. See a show / musical from a private box
  164. Visit Stonehenge
  165. Try a reflexology treatment…reluctantly!
  166. Complete the Commonwealth Award
  167. See an event at the summer Olympics
  168. Ride the London Eye
  169. Go to a Japanese theme park
  170. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  171. Go parasailing
  172. Visit the catacombs of Paris
  173. Walk over the o2
  174. Try a corn dog in America
  175. Climb Stealth at Thorpe Park
  176. Understand Macbeth
  177. Create a family tree going back at least three generations
  178. Make a hummingbird in origami
  179. Watch experiments at the Science Museum
  180. Run 10K
  181. Visit Disney Land, California
  182. Complete the Chief Guide’s Challenge
  183. See a Basketball match
  184. Watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
  185. Change a flat tyre on my own
  186. Write a children’s novel
  187. Organise a Girlguiding district event
  188. Eat a Macaroon in Paris
  189. Carve a pumpkin
  190. Know how to solve a Rubik’s cube
  191. Be able to mix three cocktails
  192. Be a Girlguiding Mentor for a new leader
  193. Count the vote in an election
  194. Play Hockey
  195. Run a half marathon
  196. Visit all capital cities in the UK
  197. Learn five songs on the guitar
  198. Be able to comfortably touch my toes with straight legs
  199. Complete a 365 Day photo challenge
  200. Co-ordinate and produce a 40 page brochure
  201. Attend the live filming of a TV show
  202. Learn to juggle
  203. Meet a sloth
  204. Bake a creative cake I’m proud of
  205. Paint a Christmas bauble for our tree
  206. Eat churros in America
  207. Drink Limoncello in Sorrento
  208. Make beaded pattern bracelets on a loom
  209. Tour the Blackpool Tower
  210. Learn to knit (and complete all the knitting kits I’ve been given!!)
  211. Have an illustration published
  212. Attend a TED Talk
  213. Complete a NaNoWriMo
  214. Sit on a jury
  215. Understand chess strategies
  216. See a Cirque du Soleil show
  217. Attend an equestrian event
  218. Eat McDonalds three times in 24 hours!
  219. Try disc golf
  220. Make a piñata
  221. Go geocaching
  222. Figure out crosswords
  223. Buy art at an auction
  224. Spend 24 hours at an airport
  225. See the Trooping of the Colour
  226. Be able to complete a full car check
  227. Sponsor a child for 5 years
  228. Complete a Wasjig puzzle
  229. Publish a blog post every week for a year
  230. Eat chocolate and waffles in Brussels
  231. Walk the London Bridges
  232. Hold a snake
  233. Learn five Christmas songs on the piano
  234. Make slime
  235. Celebrate Christmas in Lapland
  236. Make some balloon animals
  237. Be interviewed for a magazine article
  238. Make an advent calendar
  239. Complete my camp blanket
  240. Go to an aquarium
  241. Eat a Grande Big Mac
  242. Bake Lebkuchens
  243. Become a Girlguiding trainer
  244. See The Little Mermaid statue in Denmark
  245. Be visited by the 13 Yule Lads of Christmas
  246. Learn to shuffle cards properly
  247. Build a website from scratch
  248. Organise an international Brownie pen pal exchange
  249. Build a bird table
  250. Volunteer at a national Girlguiding event
  251. Visit a planetarium
  252. Design a charity Christmas card
  253. Go to a silent disco
  254. Take a photo at each Monopoly location in London
  255. Attend a self improvement class
  256. Complete a cryptic crossword
  257. Volunteer at a Peer Educator training weekend
  258. Beat James at table tennis
  259. Scare someone in Madame Tussards
  260. Learn Morse Code
  261. Complete a 30 day yoga challenge
  262. Build a gingerbread house
  263. Bake a gingerbread house
  264. Watch a full season of LOST in 24 hours
  265. Attend Big Gig
  266. Volunteer at Wellies & Wristbands
  267. Attend a Girlguiding international trip
  268. Own a pet axolotl
  269. Ride in a hot air balloon
  270. Carry the Olympic torch
  271. Raise a child
  272. Go to space
  273. Add 1000 experiences to this list

Who was the real American Vandal? (Netflix theory)

No, actually, not a theory but the obvious truth!

I’ve just finished watched the complete 4+ hours of the new Netflix mockumentary ‘American Vandal’ – a parody of true crime documentaries such as ‘Making a Murderer’ and ‘Serial’ where the film makers try to clear a convicted criminal. But set in a high school where someone has painted 27 dicks on teacher cars. I loved this show and watched the whole thing in two sittings.

So now come the spoilers, so please go and watch the show first and then come back…

Who actually did the crime?

The show leaves it open ended. It implies Christa did it to get back at the school for ignoring her complaint about the coach. But film maker Peter only gives this as his best guess, knowing how speculation ruined Dylan and many other students lives during the series.

It could also be taken that Dylan may have been involved, having drawn the same doodle on Ms. Shapiro’s driveway. But this seemed more like Dylan yearning back for the life that he thought he had to live up to (and the balls were different, a very good subtle clue!). Plus he has a concrete alibi.

I think the true American Vandal is Peter Maldonado – the film maker and narrator to the show. Here are my reasons why:

  1. Peter’s alibi means nothing without video evidence. He had a cinema stub showing he went to see a film at 1.45pm. How easy would it have been for him to enter the cinema, have the ticket ripped, and left again to commit the crime? And no mention of who he was with at the cinema.
  2. He had access to the security tapes and proved he knew how to delete it.
  3. Peter benefitted from the crime. He could create a documentary following his efforts to exonerate Dylan (or whoever got the blame), knowing he was innocent and could very likely find evidence if he keep looking.
  4. When Sam did his investigation into whether Peter could have done it, benefitting from the documentary is discussed among jokes about liking dicks as his motive. Peter was clearly annoyed about this part and wanted Sam to do a proper investigation – perhaps he was just concerned Sam had hit the nail on the head and didn’t want it public?
  5. The final episode spends a lot of time on Dylan and how he adjusts to life after being exonerated. The documentary briefly goes back to the crime, but under the guise of ‘not implementing another person without hard evidence’ Peter offers his best guess and the question isn’t answered. That’s because Peter has done his job, got the story he wants, and doesn’t want anyone else looking into it.
  6. (Here we get a little more farfetched) The girl who held the party at her Nan’s house – she was surprised when Sam said they hadn’t been there. This was supposed to be taken as a hit at their popularity as everyone was there – but what if she remembered seeing Peter there but was too drunk to be positive about it? This is flimsy though, he isn’t in any videos, and why would he go there just to steal the spray paint, unless he saw the prom-posal on Facebook Live and thought it’d be good for the documentary? (Maybe ignore this one!)

I bet with another watching there would be more clues. From early on I was suspicious but from about episode 4/5 I was certain he did it. I spent the whole of the last episode waiting for some clue to come about that showed it was him, with Sam completing the documentary. But perhaps the way it ended was even better. The clues are there but being an unreliable narrator we have to find the real conclusion ourselves!

I’m not seeing much about American Vandal online just yet, but I suspect this will be a major theory!

Taking Brownies to Kidzania

Yesterday we had an awesome day out to the Kidzania centre in London, and while I was concerned about many aspects following reviews online we actually had an amazing time! Here is everything I wish I knew beforehand… even just to cure some of my worries!


Make sure to do the research on how to find Kidzania within Westfields, it isn’t signposted too well but there were staff around to help point us the right way. While I’d looked at the Westfields map online, being in the centre looked very different! The entrance is beside some lifts, you’re greeted in a rather small entrance that leads to escalators, after taking four of these you’re at arrivals.

The Brownies and adults are given security tags, and the Brownies are given Kidzo money and hair nets (which some will proceed to put on straight away! But they’re for the food activities and I believe they put them on before putting on helmets for the climbing and air conditioning.)

As we go into the centre we’re greeted by a staff member who explains to the Brownies how the system works, how to check how long an activity will take and whether they have to pay Kidzos to take part, or of they get paid!

The only disappointment here is that the time it takes to get your security tags is included in the 4 hours. We walked into the Kidzania town itself at 11am (our booked time slot) but were told as we started checking in at 10.45am we would finish at 2.45pm.

Setting up a base:

We decided to set up base in the Town Square, an area with tables and chairs designed for resting and eating. The Brownies dumped their bags on and under our table and as leaders we took turns staying at the table and going around the centre and seeing what the girls were up to. This meant the Brownies always knew where to find an adult, it was placed very close to the toilets, and often the Brownies would pass by anyway between, or during, their jobs.

Security tags:

A major disappoint for us was that the security tags did not work. For a start, no one even mentioned this aspect of the Kidzania experience to us, I was only aware of this from a colleague who had previously taken her daughter. At the Job Information stand, right next to where you first walk in, there is a screen. Press the green ‘tracker’ icon and then scan your wristband and you should be able to see on the map where all the young members of your group have last scanned in (those running each activity scan the kids in and out). Great for leaders and for the girls to be able to find each other, but none of our tags worked. We were told it was because we were a large group and to go to the airport to fix it. A fellow leader discussed this with a manager for a little while, it didn’t get sorted which was a shame (if it had included getting all the girls together to scan their wrists again it wouldn’t have been worth the loss of time).


As of when we went in Summer 2017, youth groups and schools are allowed to take packed lunches into the centre. This was great as organising 16 kids buying lunch would’ve been a nightmare! We kept their lunches at our base and the girls came and sat with us the eat their lunch when they were hungry between activities. This worked so much better than trying to collect up all 16, and meant there was more space for other families.

The Activities!:

There was so much to do! We gave our Brownies parents the list of jobs to read through before the day, and again to the girls on the journey up, so they could decide what their preferences were.

There really was activities to please everyone and our girls did such a variety. Reading reviews online I was concerned about queuing, being a sunny, hot day may have worked in our favour as the queues weren’t very bad at all. Many were just waiting for the previous group to finish and were next in. But some activities seem to have a constant queue, such as the firefighters and the chocolate factory.

Some activities were a little disappointing. A few younger ones were excited about the Smoothie Making Lab – but as ‘fruitologists’ their job seemed to be about identifying fruits rather than actually making smoothies – they did have some to taste though.

The air conditioning unit was tunnelling with tasks to do along the way, like counting up broken light bulbs.

Many were dashing around as couriers making deliveries, some were looking around for units to measure up to sell as estate agents, and some were looking after new born babies in the special care unit. Some were fashion designers and using a select number of clothes had to design an outfit for a client based on ‘tomboy’ or ‘girly girl’. Some became vets, although I was told the staff were a little unenthusiastic which made the session feel boring, I think the right staff really does make the activities as some others were fantastic.

One Brownie became a reporter and wrote an article on the dance studio, she selected the images to use and then her report was printed in front of her, hot of the press!

After a couple of the little ones went to university and got their Kidzania degree, the Brownies soon realised they would get paid more money in some jobs if they had one too! After achieving their degree they receive a little photo card which was a nice souvenir in itself.

They also figured out to make the most money they needed to become window cleaners. (I imagine this is because Kidzania actually benefits from the kids keeping their windows clean!)

By the end of the session the goal most Brownies had was to open their bank account. They need 75 Kidzos before they can make a deposit and receive their bank card, they’re given 50 on arrival to the centre and each activity earns 5-12 Kidzos. But watch them after they receive their bank cards, after queuing 15 minutes to deposit their Kidzos they’re straight at the ATMs trying to withdraw it all back out!

The only activity I was frustrated with was the Cadbury’s chocolate factory. One of our littlest Brownies queued by herself for so long for this, as she stood at the front of the queue we watched as the group before finished and left, and then another 10 minutes as the staff leisurely set up for the next group. When they’re finally let in (and you pay for this one, you don’t get paid) and they have their aprons on and wash their hands, then the official photographer came in to take a photo of each child holding a giant chocolate bar. It took so long to do anything. I’m not sure what actually happens during the activity, but when they finish they’re given a token, about A6 in size with the picture of a chocolate bar on it to hand in when they leave to receive some chocolate so we were a little disappointed when our girls who took part were given a ‘Heroes’ dairy milk! I didn’t understand why this couldn’t have just been given at the end of the activity rather than getting their hopes up!

We let the Brownies decide if they wanted to stay paired up or go it alone, though we did this thinking we could keep track of them but it actually worked out fine. Some stayed in groups the whole time, others had their own aspirations so split up for a bit, but they knew where to find a leader if they wanted to pair up with a group again.

Spending those hard earned Kidzos!:

Don’t expect to get much for your money. I tried to explain to some that this is the value of money and you have to work lots of times to buy the things you want. There is a shop, kids only, that sells pencils for 40 Kidzos, rulers for 45 Kidzos, necklaces for 120 Kidzos. But at the end of a session, if you hadn’t spent anything elsewhere, you’re likely to have about 85 Kidzos at most. The Brownies who had money didn’t even want to spend it on a pencil or a ruler, I wish I had advised them sooner to think about spending it on actual activities instead. It costs Kidzos to have your face painted or attempt the climbing wall. I believe there was a drum workshop too but I never saw it. Most of ours came home with bundles of Kidzo notes, so at least they can return with it in the future!


About 20 minutes before our time was up we started directing girls to the shop if they wanted to spend their money. This worked as a bit of a wind down time. We queued to have our security tags taken off and it was “bye bye” Kidzania!

In Conclusion:

Great day! Very pleased that the queuing wasn’t an issue, we had a few moans but I think this was part of the lesson they learned during the session. If I’d had the option I would’ve gone for a longer session, 4 hours goes so quickly, but actually being there the girls were starting to wind down after that amount of time anyway. The security tags were a disappointment but it didn’t ruin the day, it would’ve been nice to know where they were. Also, handing out maps would be a good idea too. There were signposts but I never looked at them so doubt ten year olds would! I never saw where the pilot and cabin crew activities were, or the music workshop. The stadium, engineering and animation studio were out of the way too so many of the kids may not notice them. But overall we had a fantastic day, we had great feedback from the girls including “this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life” – you can’t beat that!

15 Months of the Bullet Journal

At the start of September I will move into my new Leuchtturm 1917 after filling up my first with Bullet Journal greatness over the last 15 months.

I’ve organised my life through diaries for years. In 2015 I got myself a day-to-page view A4 diary and loved it, and it was necessary for noting down all my plans to complete my Look Wider challenge. In 2016 I bought another day-to-page but an A5 one, which I never took too. It was too small for all the this I wanted to note down. Then I discovered the Bullet Journal system in May 2016.

You can read up on the initial birth of this organisational phenomenon here:

Bullet Journal 101

And you can find amazing layouts, ideas and ways to decorate a bullet journal all over YouTube and Pinterest.

But I’m going to write about my experience, since the brilliance of the system is that you can tailor it to suit your own needs. While I do enjoy my art, my Bullet Journal is purely a item of productivity, motivation and organisation, there isn’t much art in mine!

What works for me:

  • A four page spread split into three months per page, this I use to keep everyone’s birthdays, annual reminders such as car tax and MOTs, and appointments and events too far ahead of my calendar.
  • A four page spread of the year,  my calendar, this is where I note down every event, appointment and day specific items. At the turn of 2017 I rewrote this into my Bullet Journal to add a further 6 months.
  • A monthly spread, the month drawn out as a standard calendar month. I input anything from the birthdays spread and the yearly spread onto the appropriate days. Plus my Brownie sessions and any annual leave.
  • I now use four different monthly pages too:
    • A spending log to note down where I’m spending, on what and how – at the end of the month I compare this to my bank account and I use this as a way of seeing at a glance my spending habits.
    • A line a day journal; every day I write one thing down about that day – it is really fun to look back on!
    • Habit tracker – each day of the month has a column and I track habits such as working out, drinking enough water, reading and no sweets. If I complete the habit that day I fill in the box. This is a good at-a-month glance of what I’m keeping up with and what I’m not.
    • Monthly goals. Lastly I make goals for the month, usually based on my long term goals or on my master to do list. This usually includes something to do with my career, finance, health and girlguiding.
  • A weekly spread on one page, on Sunday I draw this up and plan out what tasks need to be done on which days, anything from my monthly log for that week, and I have a spare box for to dos and reminders. I usually write my workouts into here also.
  • Daily pages, I’ve gotten into a system where I have the weekly spread on the left and the dailies for most of that week on the right. It is good to see the week at a glance while I write my daily to do list. I also have a water reminder, sometimes my weight and anything else I need to remember to do daily on here.

I sometimes have other pages too. I used to do gratitude logs which were nice, but I fell off that habit. I sometimes have pages for specific goals to track such as planking or drawing, I have a page to write all the books I’ve read in 2017, one time I left a blank page so I filled it in with a motivational quote.

When I go through my bullet journal I don’t usually leave blank pages, I like to use it as intended and just use the next blank space for whatever I plan to write next – but I also found it rather productive to have the weekly spread next to the relevant dailies so now I try to plan it slightly in advance.

It took a year of testing to get myself to the system that works best for me. In the beginning I never had goal pages but began those a few months in. I started the line a day journal in January and love that addition. I only started using it for my budget a few months ago but this is a habit I should really stick to now.

Funnily enough I’ve been using the same monthly, weekly and daily spreads since I started, I used to sometimes write about my day under my dailies but I didn’t keep this up. The line a day journal pages work a lot better. I know some people like to try out different spreads, which is one of the benefits of using a bullet journal, but if it isn’t broken don’t fix it!

So what is new for my second bullet journal? To get myself started I’ve created a vision board across the front two pages, taking images from Pinterest of things I want to see myself as and quotes of who I want to be. I included my name within it so I can visualise that I’m thinking of myself when I see this page.

I’m going to try and use the index a little better in this one. I kid myself that I don’t need it as I remember where everything is but that isn’t always true!

I’ve been listening to the audio book ‘ Getting Things Done’ by David Allen, so I have included some pages at the front for my master projects list which I can review each week when deciding on tasks.

It is a little sad to say goodbye to the notebook I’ve been carrying with me everywhere for the last 15 months, just to see it relegated to the book shelf. But it’ll be a fun one to pick up in a few years and look back on. Onwards to my exciting new blue bullet journal!


Seven Days in Sorrento

Our recent week in Sorrento was a great, active break – and we felt we fitted in everything we hoped to do and one week was the perfect length of time. So here I share with you my ideal seven days in Sorrento.

  1. Explore Sorrento and find the station

We all do the same things on our arrival in a new place, don’t we? Get your bearings! First find Sorrento main town and the nearest train station.

We actually stayed in Saint’Agnello, a nearby town east of Sorrento. It was a 15-20 minute walk to Sorrento, which in the July heat was quite exhausting so if you can afford to I would recommend staying in the main town. We found our way to Sorrento, explored the winding streets and the many shops within.

Important parts of Sorrento to find is the stairs down to the port. This is on the main Corso Italia road, on the Piazza Torquato Tasso. You will see a railing with a view of the sea, to the left are the steps leading you down to a road. It is only a short walk to the port where you can pick up a boat to Capri. There are a lot of steps, however I believe there is also a lift somewhere west of this point – though we never used it.

Also find the station, if like us you’re happy to travel cheaply to the many sites around Sorrento you’ll need to find this. In Sorrento this in on a little road just off of Corso Italia. if you headed east from the steps. The road Via Ernest De Curtis is on the right, and you will see the sign for Circumvesuviana, the name of the train line.

We found a nearer station in Saint’Agnello, it was a little dirty inside but walk up those steps and the station is fine! (We circled the whole building checking it was the right entrance!) You may wish to walk to Sorrento in the hopes of getting a seat since Sorrento is the start of the line, but at Saint’Agnello we spotted the front carriages had empty seats (right if looking at the train line) so made a beeline for those.


2. Pompeii

We spent out first full day in Pompeii – this may have been a mistake as we weren’t ready for the climate, though we were aware of the vast size of the site! You may wish to move this later in your week.

We took the Circumvesuviana line to Pompei Scavi station and on exiting you will be greeted by tour companies. It is your decision if you want to use these but we did. It cost an extra 12 euro on top of entry fee but it meant we skipped the queue and had a guide to point out the important aspects of Pompeii life. (Make sure you have cash to pay for your ticket into the site.)

Our tour lasted a couple of hours, but only covered one area of Pompeii so we stayed another couple of hours to visit the Villa De Mistri and the colosseum. (Yes, they are polar opposite locations!) The Villa De Mistri is a fair walk away from the main part of Pompeii, but you see beautiful gardens and then the site itself is rather different to every other home you see. Then we headed across the site to view the colosseum, you can enter it by going around the side – it isn’t obvious at first look. There is also an indoor museum next door where you can view more artefacts.

There are plenty of places to eat around Pompeii, we weren’t shocked by the prices in our one (exiting Pompei by the colosseum) but we may have walked off the beaten track slightly. Definitely allow yourself a full day here!


3. Amalfi Coast

To visit the Amalfi Coast we bought tickets for the ‘City Sightseeing’ tour bus. We thought it was good value being 10 euro there, and 6 euro to come back again. Plus the on board commentary via headphones. Be warned though this bus is not ‘hop on hop off’ like others you may have used to explore big cities. It only stops once during the journey to a town I don’t recall the name of, and it’ll be another 6 euro to get back on at this point.

And make sure on your outbound journey you sit on the right! We were excited to have front seats on the left that we didn’t think about the fact the coast was on the other side of the bus! We sat on the left on the return to get a better view.

At Amalfi we spent a few hours exploring the town, we headed up to the shops and explored the outside of the cathedral. We were duped into buying expensive ice cream because we took a seat (it costs a lot extra to sit in at some of these places, but they do give you more and in a fancy glass, just find out prices first!)

There is a small area to sunbathe and paddle, we preferred sitting on the cliff top looking over them and enjoying a glass of limoncello.


4. Mount Vesuvius & Herculaneum

On the train again, the stop is called Ercolano. Be aware, even though a station is crossed out on the map the train still stops there! I was thinking London Underground and noticed the stop before Ercolano was crossed out so we were a little concerned when we first left the train. This must be a regular occurrence as the train driver pointed us and other tourists back on the train!

Leaving the station there is a tourist company to the left that will drive you to Mount Vesuvius. I’m not sure how regular their coaches are but we were not waiting long. We paid for our ticket in the office, and were given a little red sticker on board when showing our ticket. Mine came off my bag strap on the coach so I stuck it to my vest, by the time I was off the coach it was in my armpit so I took it off and stuck it to my bus ticket. James lost his too and we found one on our journey up Mount Vesuvius. It was fine boarding again for our return as we showed the ticket, but maybe just stick your sticker to the ticket to be on the safe side.

Head straight up! There is more walking than you realise, even when you think you’re near the top. We just had enough time to walk up and back, toilet (you need to pay the guy sitting nearby…) and a can of drink before the coach returned.

Once we were back at the station we headed to Herculaneum. If you had come out of the station you are almost walking straight ahead off you, just keep walking in that direction and you find the entrance at the bottom of the road about 5-10 minutes walk. This was a lot quieter than Pompeii and we were able to wander around at our own pace. The free guide was really useful, there are numbers around the site that link to the information in the book. We managed to go the wrong way around but it seemed everyone was doing the same!


5. Capri

There are many different options for Capri, there was a massive ferry taking people over but we went with a smaller tour. It was 45 euro and took us along the Sorrento coast, over to Capri, toured around the island, we saw the coral grotto and the green grotto. We saw the outside of the famous blue grotto, but the hoard of boats, and queue along the coast for row boats kind of killed the mood of this. We weren’t going to have the time to queue for a row boat so we skipped this, it sounds amazing inside though.

The boat trip was about two hours and following a week of sun and walking it was a welcomed rest! Once on the island we wandered around the shops looking at the Capri bells, knowing we would be buying one for our Christmas tree. We stopped for ice cream and explored along the coast to the end of the beach. We weren’t prepared for lying on the beach too long, plus our time was short as we only had about 2 hours before the return boat trip.

If you’re looking to explore the island at a leisurely pace this tour would not have suited you. We had no idea where we were going though and were quite happy just chilling around the harbour.


6. A day exploring Sorrento

Sorrento isn’t really a ‘beachy’ holiday, but you can have a day lying by the sea on a sunbed with on demand service if you like.

We spent the morning wandering the streets of Sorrento picking up souvenirs and searching for anything quirky. We walked further and further west until we came to a stretch of beach covered in sunbeds, and signs indicating the sunbeds were free to their customers so we bought some drinks and had a lie down. If you’re that way inclined you could spend a whole day in this area.

There isn’t a whole lot to do in town, we ended up going back to the hotel to change into nicer clothes for the evening meal, the only time we had done this. The shops were open fairly late too so we look around at clothes. Then a late night waffle.


7. A day in Naples

Our last full day was in Naples. The train journey is roughly 2 hours and is the full way along the Circumvesuviana Line. It is a little rough on leaving the station but the area gets nice as you walk on.

Our day consisted of visiting the National Archaeological Museum, which has free entry on the first Sunday of each month. We picked up an audio guide for £5, and they have free lockers since you cannot take large bags in with you. The museum has lots of exhibits around Pompeii and Herculaneum, including mosaic art and sculptures. It is definitely worth a visit if you spent time in one of the two sites. There are vending machines inside if you need a drink or a snack.

After this we found the Underground Naples tour and descended under the city streets to see the town it was built on. This tour was a good price at 10 Euro. We were shown the ancient Roman site and given lots of new information, which helped with understanding Pompeii a little more too.

There are plenty of places to eat around Naples, it was hard to choose somewhere for our last meal!


So this is what I considered to be a great way to spend seven days in Sorrento, and hope it inspires you!