Happy New Year!

I hope you have all been enjoying the holiday celebrations. I’ve had a fabulous time welcoming the new year. It was a bit hard to say good-bye to 2012, as it was quite a special year for me, but 2013 is already looking like it will be equally fantastic.

The lovely Rachel came to visit, and we planned some fun treats for the last few days of the holidays. We  ahhhed in appreciation of the fireworks and sang Auld Lang Syne squashed in with hundreds of people in front of the London Eye, before heading back to friends’ house party to toast with champagne.

The real highlight of Rachel’s visit was some wonderful theatre. After reading Mary’s brilliant review, we were keen to see The Dark Earth and the Light Sky at the Almeida theatre.

116690270_dark-eart_356560cThe Dark Earth and the Light Sky, Almeida Theatre 2012-13. Image via here.

I was blown away by the incredible performances of all the actors and the beautifully written script, which was touched with both great wit and heart-wrenching poignancy. The Dark Earth and the Light Sky explores the poet Edward Thomas’ complicated relationships with his wife Helen and great friends Eleanor Farjeon and Robert Frost. Thomas’ plight as a burgeoning poet and his struggle to understand his place in the world is told through the different perspectives of each of the characters surrounding him, and scenes flip from present to future so that the tragic end to his story casts a shadow from the start. I was completely gripped by the play and am now eager to see other productions at the Almeida. We had gone for the cheapest £8 seats, which were barely a restricted view and were very close to the stage. At less than the price of a movie ticket, a trip to the Islington theatre is a fantastic way to have a memorable night out.

kiss-me-kate_2410980bKiss Me Kate, Old Vic 2012-13. Image via here.

Another brilliant theatre experience was seeing Kiss Me Kate at the Old Vic. In contrast to The Dark Earth and the Light Sky, this sparkling musical was full of fun and laughter. The production was wonderful with stunning sets and costumes, and the (almost) 3 hours simply flew by! I particularly enjoyed the dazzling rendition of It’s Too Darn Hot. This show was a real feel-good, and Rachel and I left with huge smiles on our faces.

2013 is a lot of fun so far, and I’m very excited by what lies ahead.

Tea and Chekhov

Autumnal Tea: smoked salmon and cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches; quails’ eggs with sea or celery salt; scones; brownies and an iced pumpkin spice cake. 

I had a fabulous time over the weekend hosting a Book Blogger Tea Party with Rachel, SimonPolly and my Mum. I felt a bit of a fraud as I can’t claim to have ever written a book blog, but I am at least an enthusiastic reader! Although I am in the same book group as Polly, have met Simon several times and have found a ‘kindred spirit’ in Rachel, it was wonderful to spend an afternoon all together, having a proper chat, laughing a lot and munching on the treats pictured above.

Simon brought along a game that he bemoaned none of his (non-bookish) friends would play; I can’t remember the name but it was lots of fun! You have a pack of cards with a book title, author and plot summary written on each of them, and everyone has to write down what they think is the first or last line of the book. These are all then read aloud (including the real first/last line) – whoever guesses which is the true one gets a point, and if anyone guesses your version in mistake for the real one, then you get a point too. Often, it was harder than you might think – for instance, no doubt everyone can rattle off the first line of Pride & Prejudice, but what about the last? I amazed myself by winning, as I’m generally useless at games, but I’m not sure how I’d fare in another round…!

Polly, Simon, Rachel and Me. 

After tea, Rachel and I went on to the Young Vic as we had tickets to see their production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. What a disappointment! I was expecting something quite special, as had read some excellent reviews, and was still thrilling from having seen Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic (a truly fabulous production). Far from finding Benedict Andrew’s version of Three Sisters particularly radical or inspired, Rachel and I were simply bored stiff. Olga, Irina and Masha’s longing for Moscow paled against my desire to be out of the theatre. Indeed, I was only jerked out of my ennui-induced stupor when the people in front of us periodically leapt about 5 feet into the air, dramatically covering their ears whenever a large bell was rung onstage. Despite copious ‘shocking’ swear words strewn throughout the dialogue and a rather dreadful rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, the play failed to grip.

Gala Gordon, Mariah Gale and Vanessa Kirby in Three Sisters, Young Vic, London. Image via here

Fortunately, although the production was a disappointment, the company certainly wasn’t, and Rachel and I still had a fun night out, although I hope our next theatre outing will be more successful!

All in all, it was a lovely weekend, and being in the company of such lovely bloggers has inspired me to do a bit better with my own blog. I’m currently ploughing my way through the PGCE course at Roehampton University and recently moved to Kingston so life has been a bit of a whirlwind lately, but I feel I could at least do better than a post every few months…!

And now I’m off to bake yet more brownies for my next set of visitors this weekend. Happy Thursday, everyone!

Looking Forward to 2012

Rather than reflecting much on the past year, my mind is already reaching ahead, excited by the possibilities that 2012 holds. Here are a few things I plan to do in the coming months.

1. Complete unfinished projects and start some new ones. Last year, I concentrated on getting better at knitting (i.e. being able to knit at all). This year, I’d love to develop my embroidery skills.

2. Go to the theatre. I particularly want to see this and this. A real highlight of 2011 was seeing Richard III at the Old Vic – a truly fabulous production (if you are in New York, you have the chance to see it here from January 2012  – do go, Kevin Spacey’s performance is quite awe-inspiring).

3. Visit some new-to-me restaurants and cafes. Described as a ‘kind of Jewish deli with cocktails,’ Mishkin’s sounds like my kind of place. A Moroccan afternoon tea might be rather fun, and the cakes here and here certainly sound worth sampling.

4. Work my way through my TBR pile which includes: Bleak House (2012 marks the bicentenary of Dickens’ birth so I feel now is a good opportunity to read more of his novels); For Whom the Bell Tolls; Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and Greenbanks. These should keep me going on my daily London overground commute to work.

David Hockney, 'Woldgate Woods, 21, 23 & 29 November 2006', 2006. Oil on 6 canvases. 182 x 366 cm. Courtesy of the Artist. © David Hockney. Photo credit: Richard Schmidt

5. See some art. I am particularly looking forward to the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Well, it seems to me that if all goes to plan 2012 should be off to a pretty good start!