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Theatre|| Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre

We walked almost right up to the Savoy before I even realised Alex had booked tickets to Dreamgirls for my birthday surprise. One amazing birthday surprise.

I actually thought we might be going to see The Lion King. Yeah, we have seen it before. But Alex is dying to go again. And you know guys – everything is a bit for them too right? haha. So after burritos, and being taken the back route along to The Strand, I couldn’t quite believe that I hadn’t guessed/realised.

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre, London

Now, get yourself ready for a revelation. I didn’t know the whole story. And I hadn’t watched the film adaptation.

*gasp* all the shocks and horrors.

I knew little about the story, but had heard it was an amazing classic – it first hit broadway in 1981. And so yes, it had been on the ‘To-See’ theatre list.

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre, London

For those not in the know, the story..

Dreamgirls is set in the 1960s, a revolutionary time in the music industry. The story follows the journey of three close friends, and singing trio, the dreamettes – Effie, Lorrell and Deena.

The story starts at a talent show which is rigged for the dreamettes to lose so they can sing back-up to soul singer Jimmy Early. And that’s where it all begins. We then follow their battle to become music superstars, the highs, lows, loves and fall outs.

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre, London

Intertwined with plenty of music numbers, the story is easily followed and well played out – not a second thought or underlying concept.

The cast & characters

The actors and actresses were incredible. The passion, strength in their voices and enthusiasm radiated throughout. The dance numbers and singing was enough to cause goosebumps, which I did experience more than a few times. In fact, I think I sat smiling almost the whole way through.

Effie, lead Dreamette at the beginning, was amazing. Her voice was extremely powerful. Full of love and passion. It gave me shivers – especially the solo, “And I am telling you I’m not going”.

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre, London

Lorrell was funny, sweet and heart-warming. Deena, easily-moulded but a strong woman in the end with another incredible voice.

I LOVED Jimmy. He was funny, such a character with ALL THE SOUL. His voice was fantastic, his moves something else. He added such a humorous element to the production.

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre, London

The songs themselves, many well-known already, were performed to the highest standard and were super catchy. I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack even now!

The set

Onto the set and scenes. This is something Alex and I couldn’t stop talking about. The scene changes were swift and smooth. Some we couldn’t believe how well they were done, including transforming the scene from looking on from backstage to being the crowd in the story.

The sets were fab too – the lights and design all came together to produce some fantastic scenes. The costumes were fantastic, with some awesome flashy, and jaw-dropping numbers worn by Jimmy and the Dreamettes.

Dreamgirls, Savoy Theatre, London

Overall…

…One amazing performance. I had goosebumps several times, I smiled the whole way through, and came out motivated, inspired and SO envious of the talent. I’m not surprised Dreamgirls is a Tony and an Olivier Award-winning musical!

Sat in the stalls at The Savoy theatre, we had an incredible view – the seats I would recommend time and time again!

What’s on your must-see list? Have you been to see anything new recently?

Chloe xx

All photos taken from the official Dreamgirls website as no photography as allowed during the performance. 

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Recipe|| Lightly Spiced, Chunky Sweet Potato Hash

I love throwing stuff together and hoping it works. I come up with so many different ideas this way. Discover ingredients I didn’t ever think would work well together, go beautifully. Find tasty new combos.

This hash actually started that way. Some weekends, I just throw whatever I have in the fridge into a dish, roast/fry, and top with an egg. Ta da. The addition of the egg makes it brunch right? Well that’s my reasoning.

Sweet Potato Hash Recipe

I got some of my inspiration for this hash from a brunch we had a while back at The Diner. I had a potato hash with tender short rib, which was fab! But since trying to eat more veggie, I wanted something with no meat, but just as much flavour. And let’s face it, sometimes you do just want something simple, cheap and flavoursome!

I think I nailed it.

Sweet Potato Hash Recipe

This chunky sweet potato hash is aromatic, from the choice of herbs and seasoning, but not spicy. The onion helps bring out the flavours, and you can’t beat having red pepper in there too! Topped with a runny poached egg, some fresh and fragrant coriander, and served with fresh, juicy vine tomatoes, it’s one that’ll impress visitors – or even just yourself.

You could even add some feta if you wanted extra topping! The creaminess would go beautifully with the flavours of this dish.

The recipe is below – hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Chloe xx

Sweet Potato Hash Recipe Sweet Potato Hash Recipe

Lightly Spiced, Chunky Sweet Potato Hash

Aromatic, not spicy. Delicious veggie brunch dish!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato medium
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ red pepper
  • ½ onion medium
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp garam masala powder
  • ½ tsp all purpose seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fresh coriander roughly chopped
  • black pepper for seasoning
  • 2 vine tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Prepare the egg, cracking into a greased square of cling film, bringing the corners together and tying (or using a food bag clip), ready to poach. Leave to the side. Bring a small saucepan of water to boil, and leave simmering ready. 

  2. Top and tail the sweet potato. Cut into thin chips/small chunks (1cm squared). Bring to boil in a separate saucepan and cook for 5 or so minutes until just soft. 

  3. Whilst the potato is cooking, slice the red pepper and onion into thin strips. Place in a frying pan, with 1 tbsp oil, and fry until softening.

  4. Drain the sweet potatoes, drizzle with the remaining oil, sprinkle and stir in the cumin, garam masala, all purpose seasoning and black pepper. Add to the peppers and onions in the frying pan, and continue to cook over a low-medium heat for 5 minutes, to allow the potatoes to crisp slightly, and the spices to infuse the dish.

  5. Whilst the hash is cooking, place the egg in clingfilm into the first saucepan of simmering water. Cook until the white looks just cooked - Approx 4 minutes, but keep an eye on it as not to overcook. You should be able to tell by wiggling the clingfilm a bit to see if it's just formed. The middle (yolk) should still look like it's moving. 

  6. Serve the hash on a flat dish, top with the chopped fresh coriander and the poached egg. Accompany with fresh vine tomatoes. Enjoy!

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Fitness|| Kickboxing @ Flykick

I’d been dying to try kickboxing for pretty much as long as I’ve been in London. I remember one of my Aussie friends, who’d I’d made through adult ballet, raving about it and how much of a good workout it was. Her feet were shredded, arms killed, body ached so much. It sounded awesome!

A new kickboxing studio opened up right near work, which gave me literally no excuse to give it a try.

Flykick, Kickboxing, London

Flykick is actually kickboxing inspired fitness class, combining HIIT, non-contact kickboxing, core workout and mindfulness.

Wrist wraps at the ready, bare foot (yes I did paint my toe nails especially haha), and kitted up in my gymwear, I was ready to tackle the hour.

Flykick, Kickboxing, London

It was tough. So tough. But extremely fun. The warm-up had me bouncing about giddy for more,then the HIIT completely broke me. It pushed everyone. Challenged even the fittest. But it’s your workout, so you do you, and push as much as you can. You don’t have to keep up with others, so it does work for beginners through to the more experienced.

Luckily there’s a stretch (mindfulness) section before you hit the bags. Limbered up, we did roughly 4-6 different routines, each in rounds, paired up on the bags so you had a speedy rest between each burst of energy. The routines combined, jabs, crosses, hooks and kicks, twisting your body, keeping your balance and thrusting your power towards the bag. It was so therapeutic. I loved it.

Flykick, Kickboxing, London

What worked well, was although the class was full and pretty packed, there were two instructors wandering around checking out your stance and technique to make sure you’re doing it right and getting the most out of your workout. Being total beginners this definitely helped guide our moves.

Just when I thought we were done (I had thoroughly pushed myself to the limit), we had a core section, with sit-ups, holds and bicycles. If your core wasn’t ripped apart during the main section, it sure was after this.

Flykick, Kickboxing, London

The hour ends with a cool down/stretch which is truly needed. My body was really tired but I was feeling SO good. I felt like I’d achieved. Let’s not talk about the fact that I nearly fell down stairs in the tube due to jelly legs haha. 

SUMMARY:

  • Price: Usually £21 a class, which is quite pricey, but you can buy class packs of 10 or 20, saving you money on each class. I think it’s worth it.
  • Fun/serious: I guess a bit of both. It’s tough but so much fun! Great for punching out the day’s frustrations
  • Level: suitable for all. You do you and push as much as you can. There are 2/3 instructors in each session, on hand to help guide you through
  • Recommend? Yes! It’s an amazing workout, combining so many different elements. It works different muscles to my weekly spin classes, and I always ache afterwards – sign of a good workout.
  • How to book: Buy your classes and reserve your bag (book in) via the website. There are several classes each day.

Flykick, Kickboxing, London

Exercise is great for you mentally anyway. But kickboxing (and other martial arts) is well known for its strong ties to relaxation, meditation and self-esteem. All areas I want to build on, as well as my overall fitness. So I’m definitely keeping up this new workout.

Have you tried kickboxing before? How do you like to  unwind after a tough day?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Dinner at Megan’s, Fulham

I don’t normally travel that far for a restaurant. Living in North London, most places south of the river take over an hour to get to – which I think is pretty long! When you can get your hands on something similar, closer to home, it doesn’t feel worth it. Also, my ‘must-visit’ restaurant list is always ever growing, so I’m never lost for somewhere new this side of the Thames.

Occasionally however, a little gem pops up, and you can’t resist going that extra distance. That’s exactly what happened with Megan’s in Fulham. And I’d happily take the hour long trip again for this fantastic restaurant.

Dinner at Megan's Fulham

Megan’s is about a 10 minute walk from Fulham station. On Kings Road, this contemporary delicatessen and cafe slash Mediterranean grill restaurant isn’t too hard to spot. The outside does radiate those fancy deli vibes. You know the kind, small menu, fresh to order dishes, healthy cuisine, rustic and pretty small. I’d already eyed up the seating outside, regardless of it being on a main road and a little chilly.

However as we were greeted, we were guided downstairs to the most romantic dining space.  Fairy lights filled the walls. The pastel colours of the upstairs still present, with the rustic woods of the benches, tables and chairs. There was a corner donned with bird cages, and the room practically twinkled.

Dinner at Megan's Fulham Dinner at Megan's Fulham

A location to take a date to? Most definitely. But I was with one of the girls from work, and it made a great spot for a catch up too.

The drinks menu isn’t overly extensive but has plenty of wine, spirit and beer options, with a handful of cocktails too. With Aperol listed, it was a no brainer…the need to feel summery was too much.

Dinner at Megan's FulhamDinner at Megan's Fulham

It was prepared perfectly (balance of ingredients on point), and so was the Hendricks and tonic we had too.

Somewhere you could just go for a cheeky bevvy or two. But only if you don’t suffer food envy.

The dishes all look amazing, which makes the choice pretty tough. Think open kebabs, piled with fresh and juicy ingredients, deconstructed kebabs, baked eggs (shakshouka), sweet potato bowls and grills, like chicken or halloumi skewers.

We shared. Because when there’s so many you want to try, there’s seriously no other option.

Dinner at Megan's Fulham

The posh lamb ‘doner’ open kebab was my fave of the night. The overnight braised lamb shoulder was oh so tender, but crispy in places reminding me a little of Chinese duck. This came piled on a soft flatbread, with rich feta, pistachio, creamy hummus, pickles, imam bayildi and red cabbage. The mix of creamy mild, crunchy and strong potent flavours worked so well. It was absolutely delicious. I don’t think I could go back to a standard kebab again. 

Dinner at Megan's Fulham

We had to add halloumi too, because I can’t resist. I LOVE a bit of grilled halloumi. It’s a no brainer really. 

The quinoa falafel deconstructed pan kebab was like no kebab I’d had before. The quinoa and falafel was in a rich, spicy shakshouka style sauce with roasted veg, pistachio & coconut yoghurt. The falafel was more tender than crumbly, and was actually really flavoursome. The warm, floury flatbread served alongside was perfect for mopping up the sauces.

Dinner at Megan's Fulham Dinner at Megan's Fulham

There are plenty of starters too, including calamari, antipasti and piri piri cauliflower wings. But I had to save space, with this dessert in mind…

Dinner at Megan's Fulham

The warm cookie dough. Half baked. With oozy Nutella in the centre, crunchy pistachios and the creamiest vanilla ice cream. Heavenly.

Dinner at Megan's Fulham Dinner at Megan's Fulham

A sharer, it is pretty huge! Although I still had to stop myself from having more than my fair share. It was just too moreish. And you did not want to leave any of the melted Nutella behind.

SUMMARY:

  • Price: Most mains fall between £9.50 and £15, which is pretty good for that area. Drinks were really reasonable too!
  • Food: Super fresh and absolutely delicious! Unlike any kebabs I’ve had before. And that cookie dough was INCREDIBLE.
  • Drinks: A few cocktails on the menu, several wine and beer options, along with juices, smoothies and soft drink options.
  • Atmosphere: SO romantic! A room filled with fairy lights. Perfect spot for a date night. Not too busy in the week.
  • Wait: It was pretty quiet inside during the week. Service was really friendly and efficient.

Dinner at Megan's Fulham

Have you tried kebabs which look as good as this? Where should I try next to fulfill the constant hummus and Mediterranean cravings?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along with Megan’s for the purpose of this review. All views my own. 

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Travel|| 24 hours in Manchester

I’ve been dying to see more of the UK (and more of the World, but you have to start somewhere). Manchester was one of the UK cities on my must-visit list. So when Virgin Trains had one of their popular rail sales, and tickets to Manchester were only £20, I couldn’t resist a 24 hour solo trip to the city in the North.

It was my first solo trip. Was I nervous? A little. Did I enjoy it? YES.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Manchester is known for being the birthplace of the industrial revolution and has a proud history in science, politics, music, arts and sport. Today, this buzzing, colourful city, strives to surprise visitors with its many restaurants, bars, museums, galleries and exhibitions, as well as street art. It’s at the centre of a number of market towns, green spaces and canal walkways, and easily reachable – which is why many love it as a place to live.

Being pretty arty, and a huge foodie as you all know from reading my blog, Manchester was the perfect place to start my adventures. Here’s how I spent 24hours up north:

Brunch

With just over 24 hours to explore, I managed to fit in two brunches.

First up, Evelyn’s Cafe Bar recommended by Spamella B. Such a cute spot, hidden away on Tib Street, the interior had a contemporary warehouse feel. With green plants filling shelves and hanging from the ceilings, an open kitchen and low-hanging lighting, it’s certainly Instagram friendly.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Food was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious. The brunch menu includes a variety of dishes, catering for many dietary requirements, and offering many vegetarian and gluten free options.

The seasoned mushrooms, wilted spinach, poached egg, creme fraiche and sumac on lightly toasted sour dough, was a combination of fantastic flavours and textures. And at only £6.50 it was so reasonably priced. Slyly people watching, those around me appeared to be really enjoying their choices too!

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Enjoyed with one of the best beetroot lattes I’ve had, my whole brunch came to just over £10, including service. Great start to my trip.

Service was quick, efficient, and friendly but not rushed. I wasn’t made to feel guilty as I enjoyed a read of my book whilst finishing my latte.

Federal Cafe Bar was my second brunch spot whilst in Manchester. An Australian/New Zealand independent coffee shop serving freshly prepared brunch all day. It’s not far from the main stretch of shops, and located on one of the main roads it’s not hard to find.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Pretty small inside, Federal Cafe Bar gets busy on the weekend! It’s gorgeous inside, with yellow leather booth style seating along the one side, dark walls, hanging artwork, wooden tables and chairs, and hanging pendant lighting. There is also seating outside, for those sunnier days, but it is on a main road, so not the prettiest of views.

The menu features everything you could want from a varied brunch menu, including Turkish eggs, smashed avo and acai bowls. There’s a variety of drinks too, from the regular hot options, to juices, iced coffees and Milo – the much-loved Australian chocolate milk drink.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

The poached egg on toasted artisanal sourdough, with tomato salsa was simple yet delicious. The yolk was perfectly runny, the salsa tangy and fresh, and the sourdough held the whole dish together. The Milo reminded me a lot of Nesquik chocolate milkshake, thin and milky – I found out after that Aussies actually put Milo on so much!

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Service was pretty quick, but so was table turnover – it didn’t feel as relaxed as Evelyn’s, but it was a fab spot for a quick brunch if you have places to be. At £7.70 for my brunch dish and drink, it’s also really well priced, so you don’t mind the speed of it all.

Exploring

Manchester is perfect for wandering around. It’s a pretty big city, but small enough to walk everywhere. And there’s plenty to discover.

The Northern Quarter has some fab street art to see, some awesome shops to explore and plenty of food & drink stops. I found a fab tea shop (which I discovered actually have a branch in London too!), a record shop, a quirky Oxfam store, a HUGE art/design store, and more!

I really do recommend just walking and seeing what you find.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in ManchesterManchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Exhibitions

There are a number of galleries, exhibitions and tours you can do in Manchester, from the broadcasting company to The Whitworth Gallery and The Museum of Science. So dependent on what you’re interested in, there should be something for you.

I went to discover The John Rylands Library – it’s a late Victorian neo-gothic building, which opened to the public in 1900 and since merged with the University of Manchester library.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

The inside of The John Rylands library is absolutely stunning. It’s worth going, just to see that. But they also hold a number of historical scripts, like medieval writings, which are beautiful – and you can’t quite believe they still exist.

There was a fab exhibition on at the time I visited. Unexpected recipes for extraordinary art:the alchemy of colour was so interesting. Giving the historical background to colours, as well as examples of the colours being used in historical texts, I was absorbed whilst taking a journey into the past.

What’s more, it’s free! So it’s great to slot into your day exploring.

Coffee & Cake

There are so many options for coffee and cake, it’s hard to choose. Wandering through the Northern Quarter I found a number of spots I wanted to try, but not enough time.

Just Between Friends Coffee, had only been open for 11days when I visited. A super cute, little spot, in the Northern Quarter, it doubles up as a shop for caffeine related products.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Service, by the owner, was super friendly, and I found a nice little corner to relax with my book for a little while.

The almond flat white was small, bold and deliciously creamy. The coffee strong, rich and not bitter. A beautiful flat white.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

I took home a caramel shortbread too, as I just couldn’t resist. It was the perfect ratio of biscuit:caramel:chocolate. And seriously tasty.

It wasn’t the cheapest place for coffee and cake, at nearly£7 for my coffee and caramel slice, but for a cute independent coffee spot, I didn’t mind.

I also managed a quick stop at Pollen Bakery before heading back. Located behind Manchester Piccadilly station, it’s a super small bakery, inside one of the containers under the railway arches.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

There are a number of sweet and savoury freshly baked goods. The cinnamon bun, was super sweet and flaky; it went down a treat with Alex. The buckwheat, dark chocolate & hazelnut madeline, a zesty, most sponge dipped in rich dark chocolate and crunchy hazelnut, was divine! I definitely should have bought more than one!

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Not too expensive for an artisanal bakery, it’s a great pre-travel stop.

Dinner

A huge fan of Indian food, I couldn’t visit Manchester and not try Bundobust!

Located in a basement, close to the main stretch, Bundobust serves Gujurat-inspired street food. The inside is bright, colourful and fun, with sharing tables, booths, and low hanging lighting – a bit like a pop-art style factory setting.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

The food is served as small dishes, which are perfect for sharing so you can try more. 2-3 is plenty per person, but there’s so much to choose from, including many veggie and vegan options, that the choice is a tough one.

The Okra fries were beautiful. Lightly coated, mildly flavoured they’re a great accompaniment to other dishes on the menu.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

The Massala Dosa, mini rice pancakes filled with a cauliflower & potato dry fry, were a different experience. Lightly spicy, they were fragrant and not too heavy. These were served with a thin lentil, aubergine & bottle gourd soup, which was more like a broth. Together it was a delicious dish.

The Paneer Kadai however was my absolute favourite. Paneer cheese cooked in a deep cinnamon, fenugreek, red pepper & tomato sauce, it was incredible, spicy, rich and packed with flavour. Served with a bhatura, a fluffy, deep-fried leavened bread, it was great for mopping up the additional curry, and was really filling.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

The drinks menu had plenty of options too, from beer to cocktails and mocktails. The Kachumba Cooler, a refreshing, cucumber flavoured mocktail was the perfect accompaniment to the spicy and bold flavours of the mains.

At just over £25 for 3 dishes and a mocktail, it’s not too bad, and it’s totally worth it! I left full, and really happy -this is one of my fave dinner spots from this year!

Where to stay

There are a number of options for affordable accommodation in Manchester – I was looking at a few on Booking.com; and that’s not even taking into account the properties available on Airbnb. You can get a night stay on a Friday for about £80 which isn’t too bad at all.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

I stayed at the Motel One Manchester Royal Exchange which was a fantastic budget stay – more to come so keep an eye out.

Summary

  • Travel: Simple from London, and many other key UK locations. Keep an eye out for rail sales to get a cheaper offer.
  • Food: So much choice! Brunch is the way forward, but you NEED to try Bundobust if you’re into Indian food. So many veggie/vegan choices!
  • Coffee: There are some really cute coffee stops in the Northern Quarter. Just Between Friends Coffee is a fab quiet spot, with super friendly service.
  • Exhibitions/Things to see: Plenty to see and so many galleries and exhibitions. Have a look on the Visit Manchester website to see if anything takes your fancy before visiting.
  • Exploring: There’s so much to discover, especially around the Northern Quarter. The city is big enough, but not too large to explore by foot. It’s the best way to make sure you’re not missing anything.
  • Where to stay: There’s plenty of budget accommodation in Manchester so look around. Motel One was a great spot to stay, so close to the centre.

Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester Manchester City Break, 24 hours in Manchester

Overall, a fab first solo trip. Definitely won’t be the last as I explore more of the UK (and the World).

Where should I go next?

Chloe xx

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