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.

hammy

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!

Loos

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.

Merchandise

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!

Seating

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.

20180519_184911

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.

Jefferson

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.

 

Advertisements

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

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.

20170626_151100

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!

IMGP0065

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.

20170628_144914

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!

20170629_123702

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.

20170630_111932

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.

20170701_151710

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!

20170702_122055

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

Our adventures in Reykjavik

One month ago I was in Reykjavik. A four day trip with mixed feelings of highs and lows, it has taken me a while to tell the tale. Unfortunately that means my memories of such events has started to diminish, and unlike Paris I don’t have a fully detailed travel journal to refer back to. So here is four days in Iceland from memory.

Day one. Getting through the blue lagoon.

Our early morning flight got us up and awake at 2.30am. Arriving at Keflavik airport we spotted the name of the tour company we were using and got our tickets to the blue lagoon. By mid morning we were at the world famous spa. So here is a story in itself as a spa is something I’ve never done before in my life! James and I split into our single sex changing rooms and I now had to fend for myself and figure out the dos and don’ts of spa life. I managed to get myself changed, four days worth of luggage in tow, then had to figure out the locker system. We had wrist bands to open them but I hadn’t realised I was looking for an open locker, I was just wandering around pressing my band to the scanners expecting it to find one for me! Once I had found a convenient corner locker a nice American lady helped me shut it and I headed onto the showers. After a quick wash and lots of conditioner I left the changing area to find James waiting for me. Apparently I’d taken ages and James was worried I’d melted down in anxiety in the middle of the lockers!

The blue lagoon was lovely. So nice and warm and calm. We tried on the face masks, floated around the whole area looking for warm spots, enjoyed a blueberry skyr smootie, and James went for the sauna. After a couple hours we left, changed back and went exploring the outside area and enjoyed the views. This was a little off the beaten track so was also very quiet. We returned to the bus and got ourselves dropped of in Reykjavik.

20161116_145413

When we got dropped off though we managed to get ourselves to the wrong hotel! There are lots of Foss Hotels in Reykjavik and luckily our one was only round the corner to the one I mistakenly thought was ours. After checking in and dumping our bags we explored the city and had an awesome dinner in this little pub themed restaurant. We headed back to the hotel for a nap before our bus was due to pick us up for the Northern Lights tour at 10pm.

We were downstairs at the hotel by 9.20pm, as it states pick up starts half hour before. But the bus never picked us up. To cut a horrible story short, somewhere between the travel agent in the UK, the holiday company they book through and the tour operator in Reykjavik someone printed us tickets for our chosen time of 10pm, but we were actually booked on the earlier 7.30pm. The 10pm didn’t event run that night, and we would’ve been happy to go at 7.30pm had we known. It was very frustrating, left me feeling very worried for the rest of our excursions and disappointed not to see the lights. We were able to go on the tour the following two evenings, spent 1 hour 45 mins standing in the freezing cold watching the sky both nights and saw nothing, and we were aware that people had seen the lights the night we were booked for. That explains the whole story, so I won’t be mentioning it again.

Day Two; Reykjavik city life

The next morning after our lovely breakfast at the hotel we wrapped up warm and headed to the small city to explore. First we went to the coast and watched the waves crash onto the rocks that stood before us. We walked along to the new Harpa building. A place to get out of the cold but we were surprised by the inside. We explored the shops, all at this time of year with beautiful Christmas decorations. Wandered the building and its interesting architecture.

Next we headed into town and found many Christmas themed shops. James took to one in particular and discovered the story of the 13 Yule Lads of Christmas. We now have this cute little Christmas story in our living room, and it shares the secrets of this family who visit in the run up to Christmas day. After the shops we had a drink in a coffee shop and read the new book. Next we walked up to Hallgrímskirkja, the church at the centre of Reykjavik and the tallest point in the city. We paid to go to the top and looked out at the views. The wind was so strong that day we had to hold onto the bars across the windows to hold ourselves up!

20161117_140426

Leaving the church we explored further to find a strange little bridge to another venue holding events, explored some more and found ourselves in a cosy little coffee shop again for a rest. (Somehow James led us in the staff entrance, James insists he is correct but we definitely left through the public entrance!) As we sat I read through our guide book and found the few sites I wanted to make sure we visited during our short stay. One was the art museum,Hafnarhús, showing the works of Icelandic cartoon artist Erro.

Leaving the coffee shop (through the correct door!) we found ourselves opposite the art museum from my book! Being close to 5pm we walked in to look around the shop, but we then realised the gallery stayed open late on Thursdays and decided to visit there and then. The works of Erro were very thought provoking and showed a lot of dark feelings, giving the time period he was creating this work. We visited the rest of the gallery too, I also enjoyed the work of Örn Alexander Ámundason and their blunt explanation of the art you were looking at, James was not quite as impressed. We both enjoyed Yoko Ono’s ‘One More Story’ exhibition, which promoted working together, peace and activism. This exhibit included a lot of opportunity to take part, but I especially liked the chess set all white and the implications of keeping track of the game if everyone is the same.

For dinner we headed over to the Hard Rock Cafe. We had a nice meal, picked up some shot glasses for our collection and James was of the impression it was fairly new. I don’t know why. But it did turn out it had only opened 3 weeks earlier.

Day Three; the Golden Circle

We headed out on the obligatory Golden Circle tour on our third day. This took us the see how tomatoes are grown in the giant green houses outside Reykjavik, watching the geysers exploding, take in the views of the Golden waterfall, and then head to the Þingvellir National park for a walk along the canyon formed by two tectonic plates. The photos do all the talking on this day, and the video of the snow storm the amazing coach driver drove us through. Still need to get the photos off the camera so that is still to come!

20161118_152423

Oh yeah, I wore my Girlguiding jacket the whole time!

Day Four; shopping and visiting the Vikings

On our final day we made our way around the shops to pick up the souvenirs we had wanted to bring home (but were too concerned about our money to pay at the time!). We also headed to the Saga Museum, a small exhibition following the early history of Iceland and the first settlers. This museum was a collection of lifelike models accompanied by an audio guide to explain the stories of these famous figures. It was very informative and even though it was a fair walk to the other side of the city it was well worth it.

Our final meal was a fancy fish and chips at this nice restaurant alongside the volcano house (which, if we had more time we would’ve taken in the film here). After lunch we took our final walk through the city before collecting our bags, and getting the taxi back to the airport.

Random Tips for Iceland!

  1. It really is expensive!
  2. The water smells of sulphur, you won’t be looking forward to your morning shower.
  3. You won’t find many bugs.
  4. Go before Christmas to enjoy the festivities!
  5. You only need a backpack, just pack lots of layers. No need to lug suitcases around.

How to spend 3 days in Paris

Earlier this month James and I had an amazing few days in France. We travelled on the Saturday, spent the day at Parc Asterix on the Sunday (blog post coming soon) and then three days sightseeing in Paris. Here is our experiences and my suggestions to those looking to do the same. Please keep in mind this is from September mid-week, and the experiences during a busier period may differ very much.

Day One: Buy three day tickets for a Parisian hop-on hop-off bus tour. We had a lot of talk about whether to buy these or use the metro but decided on the tour bus as we would see all the sights, rather than pop up out of a metro station. Plus the tour we chose included recorded commentary and included 4 different lines, and one bus stop was a fifteen minute walk from our hotel.

Head to the Arc de Triomphe and climb to the very top. It is awesome to see the sights from the top of this impressive building. In every direction there is a road heading toward you, and the traffic running around the roundabout beneath you is entertaining itself.

20160919_124647

Then head over to the Palais de Chaillot for an awesome photo op of the Eiffel Tower. From here we took the boat trip included with our Bus Tour tickets all the way to Notre Dame. (Do some extra research here, we were not impressed with the boat tour, it wasn’t open top and the plastic sheeting above you is covered in their adverts so spoilt the view.) Once at Notre Dame we took a bus tour to the catacombs. Next tip, check with each site that it is open on the day you decide to visit! (Catacombs is closed on Mondays, our entire visit was not pre-determined).

We decided to walk back the bus route to visit the Jardin Du Luxembourg where we sat and chilled for a while after all the walking of the day.

20160919_175319-copy

Day Two: We took the bus to the Musee d’Orsay and spent all morning looking at the galleries. We saw Van Gogh exhibition and the impressionist exhibition. We were shocked to see people taking photos, and even selfies with the art. This was Tuesday morning, we got there just after opening time, and the queue was maybe 10-15 minutes. If you’re under 26 you get a reduced rate too, along with many other sights in Paris!

20160920_120029-copy

We found a nice little place to pick up a panini and cake and sat by the Seine and ate our lunch. Unfortunately a gang of wasps joined us too. From here we took the bus to the Eiffel Tower and climbed up the first two tiers. You cannot walk to the top tier, but it is so high it would take so long! We enjoyed the sights of the first two tiers then joined the queue for the lift to the top. This took nearly 2 hours, be prepared to wait. Once we reached the 2nd tier was decided to join the queue straight away and enjoyed the view while we waited. It gets quite cramped when you get to the front, and there seemed to be 2 queues merging into one. The lift took about a minute and a half, then your have plenty of space to observe Paris beneath you. You can even see the actual top of the tower:

20160920_163442

Be prepared to queue to get down again too!

Day Three: We headed straight to the catacombs as I had read there were long queues to get in. By heading straight there, I still mean we got there a good half hour after it opened and the queue was already very long. They only allow a set number of people in, and as you spend roughly 45 minutes exploring it the queue will always take a long time. We queued for 2 hours, and this was from the 2nd entrance to the park. I don’t know why the area smelt so weird too. There is a McDonalds near by if you want to pick up a drink while you wait, plus it has a toilet (but not a very nice one).

Once inside the catacombs I would strongly suggest purchasing the audio guide. You can put two headphones in so you can share. Then head down the very long staircase into the tunnels.

imgp0215

There was a lot to learn in the tombs and the guide was very informative. On exiting the catacombs turn right and right again to walk back to the entrance (in case you’re confused about where you’ve left!). It is about a 20 minute walk back, which we hadn’t factored into our busy day.

We took the bus back and spent the next hour taking the blue bus line around the contemporary side of Paris.

Finally we headed to the Louvre for the evening. On Wednesdays the museum stays open late, so this fits perfectly into our schedule. At this time of day the queue was almost non-existent. And how I wish we had bought the audio-guide, as to be expected with the world’s biggest museum there was so much to see! We spent a lot of time in the ancient Egyptian exhibition, plus the Greek, the sculpture and the paintings exhibitions. You can also purchase a 3ds guide to the Louvre, I really felt I missed out by not having a guide so do consider it!

20160921_185857

On reflection there isn’t too much I would do differently. Perhaps a little online research to purchase advanced tickets like we did for Rome. But this also kills some of the excitement of exploring a new city for the first time. I wouldn’t be so nervous about restaurants either, we had some amazing meals I didn’t even go into here. The audio guide at the Louvre would be on my list, I do find it odd you cannot get one once you’re inside.

In conclusion, this was an amazing trip, even better than I had expected. It restored my faith in city holidays and cannot wait for our next one.

My current happy lifestyles

Hello world. I’m sorry I’ve been so out of touch with this blog of recent. Last year I was working on and achieved my Look Wider & Commonwealth Challenges through Girlguiding, and due to the amount of time it took this blog took a backseat. Unfortunately, as a result I haven’t picked it up again as regular as I would like. So I thought I would check in today with a life update and how well things are going at the moment.

I was inspired to write this post as I was watching a lot of journal advice videos on YouTube. I wanted to start my own, but felt very strange about it. That led me to think I should just input all my feelings right now onto here instead! This post may be more of interest to future me than those of you who aren’t me that read this, but maybe you’ll find something of interest here.

Since February of this year I have been running regularly, which has been fantastic for me. I know now that I NEED exercise to live a happy existence. It is very noticeable when I don’t exercise how rubbish I become. I really started working on my fitness when I checked my BMI and I was 1 pound away from being considered overweight. And now, since May, I have lost over a stone. I’m loving running (hatching Pokemon eggs is an additional motivation) and I had an awesome run this morning! Smashing PBs.

I also realised a few months ago that overeating bad food is another thing that triggers me being rubbish. I had a huge pizza takeaway (I’m talking stuffed crusts, mozzarella dippers, wedges and all sorts of dips) and the next day was very difficult. It actually put me off my favourite takeaway for a while, and last time we had pizza we were both very careful with what we ordered. I also started eating salads for lunch at work, which I think has had a major impact considering I used to eat cheese sandwiches everyday. Our bread goes mouldy every week now. (Put it in the freezer!)

Another positive impact in my life is using a Bullet Journal. I started one in May as I felt my current day to view diary wasn’t working for me. I love my bullet journal. If you don’t know what that is please Google it, there is so much info online I’m not going to go into details here (but plan a post about how I use it in the future). I write daily lists of what I need to get done, check my daily intake of water, everyone’s birthday and special dates are there, and I use it to show gratitude, log my planking and make sure I keep up with my comic drafting. It takes a little time each week to draw up my weekly log but it is good to review where I’m at and ensure I’m not missing things.

I’ve also been meditating. I love to meditate for 5 minutes after exercising. I think it is having a positive effect on my outlook. I do struggle to find 5 minutes (yeah I know, right) on the few days I don’t exercise, but this is what I’m hoping to improve on. Then I can extend some sessions to 10 minutes. Just need to avoid being late for work!

In the last week or so I am starting to draw more. I am in the process if drafting my graphic novel, something I started in January, and I upped the number of pages I’m drafting per week from 6 to 12 and it is pushing me to draw more regularly. Some days I am just drawing very rough outlines but it is getting me closer to drawing the final pages. My other motivation is to post on Instagram every other day, so I need quality drawings for that.

I’m loving collecting and reading graphic novels. I picked up two today, Andre the Giant (I loved WWF as a kid) and Paper Girls. The first was something I wanted to buy earlier and didn’t, the second was an impulse buy following watching the awesome Stranger Things. I’m in the middle of reading Maus (I know, it has gone unread on my bookshelf for years) and it is an intense read but I’m breathing in anything comic right now. (That includes my 1996 Rugrats comics my Mum found in the loft.)

Brownies starts back this week. We had an awesome trip to the Science Museum this summer. Perhaps something I should’ve written about. And I’m going into this term determined to run a better programme. The plan is to run this term around taster activities from interest badges that the Brownies are interested in (while following You, Community, World and Promise activities) but I’m starting with a discussion on badges to get all questions answered, and then some pulse raising Healthy Heart activities for the first week back.

James and I have some adventures in the pipeline, both Paris and Reykjavik before Christmas so I should have some more inspired posts over the next few months. Plus my bullet journal and camp blanket are other topics to cover. I want to post about my favourite graphic novels too.

So there we have it. My September check in and everything is currently running smoothly, who knows what tomorrow will bring though!