30/03/13 - Happy Easter!

Since I personally don't have an awful lot to say about this particular festive holiday - other than "Wooo the end of Lent means I can eat take-aways again, not that I really stuck to it this year anyway" - I thought I'd leave it to some much more talented people than I.  So this post will be a compilation of Easter posts from some of my favourite bloggers...better known as 'Hannah Is A Massive Cop-Out'.  

[Disclaimer: I don't claim rights over any of the images in this post; they are all taken from the respective blogs to illustrate the posts I am recommending.  I wish my camera was this good.]

Rosie (aka. The Londoner) never disappoints with her brilliant combination of recipes, reviews and general lifestyle posts.  Reading her blog makes me hate my life just a little bit, but it's equally aspirational.  Warning; it's very easy to become obsessed and read every single post within the space of a few days, as my friends and I did on first discovering this.

Another Easter recipe, this time written by India, a university student splitting her life between Exeter and Oxford.  Again, a great mix of restaurant reviews and general lifestyle posts which are always a joy to read.

I absolutely adore these nail polishes, and this blog post about them fits nicely with the Easter theme.  Ellie's beauty and fashion blog is brilliant, with fantastic product reviews and regular 'Outfit of the Weekend' posts.

Hot Cross Loaf and Lemon Curd from Lips So Facto
Well, you may have noticed that I like food.  Specifically Easter food.  Meg's blog is a great read for any beauty fanatics with varied product reviews, monthly favourites posts and great Nail of the Day tutorials.  I particularly like it for the occasional healthy recipes.

DIY Easter Pinatas from A Pair and A Spare
This is something a bit different from all the recipes; a really fun little craft activity which would make a really cute alternative to a full-on Easter egg.  This blog is crammed with fantastic DIY projects which makes me want to give up shopping altogether and make all my own clothes.  But I'm just not a very crafty person, unfortunately.

I hope you all enjoyed this post, even though it's a bit of a change from my usual stuff, and I hope that you might discover some more fantastic blogs to read from my recommendations!

Have a lovely Easter, everyone!

29/03/13 - The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I will preface this with a confession; I am the world's worst English student.  There are so many books - classics and otherwise - which I have not read.  There are several which I have no interest in reading, a fact which many people seem to take as a personal affront.  One of the books which I have never managed to finish but really want to is Pride and Prejudice.  I know, it's bad.  And for years, I've never felt the need to read the actual book as there are so many brilliant adaptations (and some less brilliant ones) knocking around.  The number of times I've watched the Bollywood-style musical film, Bride and Prejudice, is a little embarrassing.  And of course, there are the wonderful seminal versions as well...I think most girls still have a bit of a flustered moment when they think about Colin Firth in that wet shirt.  And when you factor in Bridget Jones...basically, Colin Firth is the perfect Mr Darcy.  And the perfect man.  Got to love a bit of Colin.

But now there's a new Pride and Prejudice on the scene, and there isn't a Colin Firth in sight.  No, this one features a wonderful cast of American actors and was played out over a host of YouTube channels, Twitter accounts and Tumblr blogs - the project is entitled 'The Lizzie Bennet Diaries' and it's the brainchild of Hank Green and Bernie Su.  Pride and Prejudice for the 21st century; the narrative told by grad student Lizzie (Ashley Clements) through the medium of video blogs.  And oh, it's good.  The modernisation doesn't feel too forced, the scripting and casting is perfect, and it's just a really interesting and fresh new take on a classic.  It also enables the viewer a broader perspective on the narrative, by giving several of the more secondary characters their own videos or Twitter accounts.  Oh, and there are some very attractive people in it.

I've just watched the 100th and final episode, and I am feeling the loss already.  This series has been such a big part of my life for the duration of the videos; every time I saw a new episode had been uploaded, I'd get really excited, and I became invested in the characters' lives and intertwining relationships...some might say overly so.  Even though I knew exactly how it would turn out, it was fascinating to watch the journey towards the ending.

This blog post actually began its life a couple of months ago and largely consisted of what started as a rant and ended as an academic essay comparing this adaptation to the original.  Also, it was written at about 4am and after a couple of glasses of wine, so it was very repetitive and generally unfit for public consumption.  So I hope you enjoyed this reworked and hopefully much more coherent review.

I've embedded the first video below, or you can find Lizzie's YouTube channel HERE.  I recommend any fans of the book should definitely go and check out the series.  It won't disappoint, I promise.

Did you watch the Lizzie Bennet Diaries?  What did you think of it?

23/03/13 - Lonely Musings

So it's the Easter holidays.  For most students, this means three weeks of free food at home, catching up with friends you haven't seen since Christmas, and overdosing on chocolate.  But for third years, it entails much more stress than this - writing dissertations, organising revision notes and generally having a minor breakdown over the ever-encroaching graduation day.  And I've spent the first week of the Easter break 'getting lots of work done' by myself at uni.  While it has been mildly productive, it has mostly been a week of me desperately trying to eat healthily (difficult with no one here to judge me for eating a whole packet of biscuits) and belting out various musical theatre songs without worrying about disturbing anyone.  And while that was great for a couple of days, I feel like I'm going slightly insane.  This has ingrained in me the fact that I don't think I would cope well living totally by myself - honestly, it's a good job I haven't got enough money to buy wine, because loneliness and boredom could easily turn me into an alcoholic.  I spend most of my time feeling like I really need a large gin and slimline.  I've been substituting alcohol with copious amounts of black coffee and it's just not quite the same.

I've had a couple of fun breaks; coffee with a lovely friend who is also here trying to work, and I went to see 'Oz the Great and Powerful' on Wednesday night.  I enjoyed the film much more than I expected to, having not heard great things about it.  Normally 3D gives me a headache and I don't really see the point of it, but I found that it actually enhanced the watching experience.  And the cast is very good - James Franco for the ladies, and Mila Kunis in the tightest leather trousers for the blokes...and the ladies, as I have a self-confessed girl crush on Miss Kunis.  I'm considering writing a full review of the film, so if that's something you would be interested in, let me know in the comments!  That was a really fun evening as the two friends I went to the cinema with (Matt and Alistair) are always a bad influence on me - the early night and productive morning I had planned went right out of the window, and I ended up walking home from Matt's the next day at midday having gorged myself on Disaronno and McDonalds.  I'm definitely going to miss the student life.

I've also been exploring career options for after graduation.  After searching through endless graduate schemes and internships which didn't catch my fancy, I then spent getting on towards three hours watching YouTube videos about being a Disney cast member.  So that's that decided.

Sorry that this post has been a bit dull and all over the place.  I really just wanted something a bit different to do, and it's been a while since I posted something on here...largely because, as you can see, not a lot has been happening.  Any photos that I could include would just feature endless bowls of cous cous and me in my pyjamas dying in a nest made of notes and guilt.  And no one wants that.

I hope you're all having a lovely Easter break and aren't as stressed as I am!

12/03/13 - The Script #3

The Script are probably my favourite band.  They have everything; well-written lyrics, catchy tunes, Irish men...really the Irish men are enough for me, everything else is an added bonus.  So seeing them in Nottingham on their arena tour following the release of their third album '#3' was amazing - and, appropriately, the third time I've seen them live.  

(Quick warning: my camera is very old and definitely not up to taking decent photos under these circumstances, so bear with me.)

The Script tend to get unknown bands, usually Irish ones, to support them and we were treated to the musical stylings of the Original Rudeboys.  While I wasn't familiar with any of their songs, they were pretty good and I am a big fan of any band which features a ukulele.  Their YouTube channel is here if you're interested in checking them out - I intend to give them a further listen as I enjoyed what I heard on Friday.

And then the Script came bursting onto the stage.  Their appearance was prefaced by a long video montage which I can't remember clearly but we all commented felt a little like we were being inducted into a cult.  While this may not seem like a good thing, we came to the unanimous decision that if there was a cult led by Danny O'Donoghue then you could sign us all up, there and then.

Their set was full of energy from start to finish and the band were clearly buoyed by the crowd's reaction.  The highlight of the concert was probably their best-known song and second single 'The Man Who Can't Be Moved'; after a short piano intro, the crowd sang the entire first verse of the song back to the band before they broke into it properly.  The response from the audience was incredible with clapping and whooping which, at the time, felt like it might never end.  Danny, Mark (guitarist) and Glen (drummer) looked absolutely overwhelmed and ecstatic.  Even though it was immediately followed by their latest single - a much darker song about the death of Danny's father, 'If You Could See Me Now' - the mood didn't seem to drop.  As Mark said, it is difficult to know when is the best time to play such an emotional song - "our albums are usually sold with razorblades and wine" were his exact words.

I won't recount the entire concert as; a) that is likely to be dull, and b) might ruin the set for anyone who intends to see them on another date of the tour, but another personal highlight was the song 'Nothing', which Danny identified as being about drunk-dialling an ex, urging the crowd to do just that as he sang and even going so far as to take a phone from a girl near the front before proceeding to sing the entire song to her ex-boyfriend down the phone.  He manfully continued even after he "hung up twice...I had to try and ring him back while singing to a stadium full of people!"

The encore was like a force of nature.  Starting with a less famous but one of my favourite songs 'You Won't Feel A Thing', the lights came up to show Danny standing up on the seating not far from where we were on the ground.  He sang the song whilst walking through the seated audience and then down to the front of the standing area, touching people's hands and totally unphased by the numerous girls crying and trying to grab hold of him.  

They finished with 'Hall of Fame', the perfect choice to leave the crowd on a high.  The performance, for some reason, involved Danny bounding around with what looked like the Olympic torch in his hand (unfortunately, he didn't stand still long enough for me to photograph it)...an interesting choice, but it certainly worked.

All in all, an amazing night.  I love basically all of their songs, so in terms of the setlist they could never do anything wrong, particularly since they played a mixture of songs from across their three albums.  The performance was endlessly energetic despite mentioning that they were hungover - this didn't stop a stagehand dishing out bottles of Corona to the band halfway through the gig.  The crowd interaction was great; not too much, but both Danny and Mark showed themselves to be witty and charismatic as well as wonderful musicians and performers.  I am so glad that we scraped ourselves some tickets together, despite all of the more accessible shows being sold out...the extra driving time was definitely worth it, and a massive thank you to Charlie and her car Polly for getting us there and back safely!

10/03/13 - Happy Mother's Day!

This post will be short and sweet...just a little chance for me to be a bit soppy about my wonderful mother.  I don't say it enough, but she really is one of the most important and inspirational people in my world.  While I clearly didn't get my love of having my photograph taken from her (it has been such a struggle to find any photos for this post, let alone any of just the two of us as you can see!), I like to think that I take after her in a lot of other, less narcissistic, ways.  If nothing else, she instilled in me my love for reading and gin...two of the most important things in my life!

I won't lie; I can be an absolute pain to live with and I have no idea how she's coped with it for the past twenty years.  We know exactly how to wind each other up and the state of my bedroom often becomes a huge point of contention between us, but that's the stuff I miss when I'm at university on the other side of the country.  

To cut a long rambly post short, I love her.  And I don't tell her enough.  And I hope I can manage to make her as proud of me as I am to have her as my mum (cringe!).  And chances are she might not see this, because I'm not convinced my family read my blog.  But that isn't the point.

Literally the only photo of both of us I could find,
and it's nearly four years old!

I hope all the mums out there have a lovely Mother's Day and get thoroughly spoiled; I'll be very disappointed if I hear my brother isn't taking good care of my mum while I can't be there.  Don't forget to go and tell the most important woman in your life how much you love her!  Because mothers deserve to be appreciated.

03/03/13 - Hairspray UK Tour at Hull New Theatre

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Anyone who knows me, knows what a sucker I am for musical theatre - the cheesier the better.  So I was in my element when I went to see the current UK tour of 'Hairspray' with a group from my university's Performing Arts Society, of which I am Social Sec.  I love going to the theatre in any situation, but with something like Hairspray, it's best to go with people who will be willing to sing and dance along with you.  And in that respect, I definitely made the right choice of theatre partners. 

The show itself was everything I had hoped.  It was colourful, camp and everyone left the theatre with a beaming smile on their face with sore hands from clapping along with the finale.  I'm a big fan of the film and the music but had never seen the stage show before, so when I saw the production was touring, I knew I had to go!  Behind the glittery costumes, the exaggerated comedy acting and the energetic dance routines is a very touching story which deals with all kinds of important issues.

In 1962 Baltimore, 'pleasantly plump' and idealistic Tracy Turnblad dreams of becoming a dancer on the cheesy Corny Collins Show.  Not only does she struggle against the sizeist attitudes holding her back from TV fame, she takes on the monumental task of attempting to integrate the black and white dancers at the height of the American Civil Rights movement.  Not bad for a teenager who wants to grow up to be "the first woman President...or a Rockette!"

The only really big names in this production were Waterloo Road actor Mark Benton who donned housecoat and blonde wig of Tracy's larger-than-life mother Edna (who was much better than expected him to be), and X-Factor finalist Marcus Collins making his professional theatre debut as Seaweed J. Stubbs, the coolest of Patterson Park High's black dancers.  While some people were initially sceptical, Collins definitely proved that he was cast through talent rather than the need for another celebrity name on the posters.  His performance was fun and energetic, and I can definitely see him bringing his smooth voice and sensational dance moves to other musical theatre productions in future.  And it's always great to see a Scouse lad taking the UK by storm!

Overall, it was a wonderful feel-good performance and the final song 'You Can't Stop The Beat' had everyone standing, clapping and dancing...led, of course, by the Performing Arts Society, who were some of the first to start the standing ovation.  The show-stopping dance numbers are interspersed with hilarious dialogue and some truly inspirational themes.  If you're interested in seeing the touring production, check out the website and see when it's coming to your local theatre!  I would seriously recommend it.  

Not a great photo, but Lauren and I thought we would
make a wonderful Edna and Tracy pairing!
Have you ever seen Hairspray onstage?  What did you think?