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Theatre|| Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – No Spoilers/#KeepTheSecrets

In December Alex and I hit six years together. SIX YEARS!!

We always do something for our anniversary to celebrate and on this occasion I’d actually planned it a year before…because that’s how far in advance you have to get tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Trust me, waiting in that online queue for a couple of hours for tickets, and a year to be able to see the play was totally worth it!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Play London, Palace Theatre

For those who don’t know, the play portrays the latest story in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter Collection, the first made for production. The story follows Harry Potter, now at the Ministry of Magic, a husband (to Ginny of course) and a father to three, and his son Albus who is struggling under the weight of the family legacy.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Play London, Palace Theatre

In two parts, the play can be booked for both parts in one day, or on consecutive days – we went on two consecutive evenings which I think worked well. The excitement builds not only for the first night, but then again for the second as you can’t wait to find out how the story continues to unfold.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Play London, Palace Theatre

At first, I wasn’t sure how J.K Rowling would build on the Harry Potter films with success. There are so many examples of when a film has been overdone, but this truly isn’t one. It’s new and refreshing, with some of the past entwined with the current times, all brought together in one fantastic, enthralling plot which keeps you engaged from start to end.

I also wasn’t sure how the ‘magic’ and wizardry side of things would be portrayed or whether that aspect would be lessened for the play, but how I was wrong. I was wowed, left open mouthed and fully astounded at some of the magic and action scenes. From coming down and out of the fireplace into the Ministry of Magic through to spells and scenes at Hogwarts, the magic was something else.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Play London, Palace Theatre

You can tell that the cast was very carefully chosen. Those who played characters from the books/films/first seven stories had the personalities, habits and the way they carried themselves down to a tee. You’d usually feel a bit uneasy shall we say, when the actor of a particular character changes, but Alex and I did not feel at all disappointed by the choice of Jamie Glover, Rakie Ayola and Thomas Aldridge for Harry, Hermione and Ron.

The new characters were fab too, and we fell in love with Scorpious, son of Draco Malfoy. He was bubbly, hilarious and you could almost relate to some of his embarrassing moments – he really did add something to the production!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Play London, Palace Theatre

We sat in the Grand Circle in Row B so not far from the front and had a superb view. Each row above us also seemed to have a good view as the tiering was pretty steep. At £62 per seat for the Grand Circle, per performance (part), it wasn’t too expensive for a London theatre production.

Each part roughly 2 hours and 20 minutes with an interval flew by through being totally absorbed and loving it! I was hooked and didn’t see any of it coming. I don’t want to give too much of the story or secrets away, so I hope this has given you just enough info to help you decide that you if you’re a harry potter fan, even if you’re not the biggest fan, you NEED to see this!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry Potter Play London, Palace Theatre

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is sold out until the end of January 2019, with the next release of tickets happening this Spring – to keep up-to-date with release dates and the ‘Friday Forty’, be sure to sign up to the newslettter (find the link here).

Are you a Harry Potter fan? Have you been to see the play? What did you think?

Chloe xx

All photos are taken from the official Harry Potter Play London website, as as you know, no photography or videography is allowed during the production.

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Eating Out|| Brunch at The Barn, Highbury

I think I’ve heard about the halloumi breakfast at The Barn more often than any other breakfast in London. It’s the ‘go-to’ place for brunch for our friends who live in Highbury, and they ALWAYS get the halloumi breakfast without fail – apparently it’s that good. So when I decided I’d meet one of the girls in Highbury one Sunday, The Barn was the obvious choice.

The Barn looks tiny from the outside, but the restaurant itself goes far back inside. The interior reflects the natural, country feel with light woods, bare brick and white walls, and prints hanging. Cute, The Barn feels welcoming and isn’t overly noisy so it’s perfect for a catch-up.

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, LondonThe Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

You needn’t book, and one the Sunday we visited we didn’t hit a queue either. It does get busy, but the wait didn’t appear to be long – and it certainly wasn’t for our meal.

The menu features breakfast and lunch options which are served all day, as well as a few salads, hot plates and sweet treats.  Being the weekend, breakfast was the only option for me. It’s all about the brunch at weekends right? 

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

The Halloumi Breakfast had a lot to live up to, but boy it sure did. Squeaky perfectly grilled halloumi, roasted juicy tomatoes, a huge mushroom, creamy sliced avocado, two runny poached eggs and a slice of lightly toasted artisan bread, it was one beautifully compiled veggie breakfast.

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

Having halloumi for brunch was a game changer and paired with all of the other ingredients it really was one delicious breakfast. Filling, it would have been the perfect cure for a hangover – and so I see why our friends go so much!

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

My friend Sandy had the Pastrami Sandwich. A sourdough ciabatta filled with pastrami beef, mozzarella, gherkin, rocket and American mustard, it was served with a small fresh and leafy salad. A pretty chunky sarnie, it looked delicious – nothing being left at the end is always a good sign too!

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

The drinks menu featured all the usuals for a coffee shop/deli, as well as freshly squeezed juice. The orange juice, and orange and carrot, were both tasty and refreshing. The flat white was pretty on arrival, and deliciously creamy as you’d expect – not bitter at all.

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

Whilst we sat finishing up we eyed up other dishes being delivered to tables around us. The lasagne smelt amazing and looked like a huge portion. The Eggs Benedict also looked really good.

We did feel a little rushed at one point when a queue had started to form and we’d just finished eating. But after about 10 minutes, the waiting staff returned to their relaxed and friendly nature. I like to sit and allow my food to settle for a little first before dashing off. 

The Barn Highbury, Brunch, London

Summary:

  • Price: £30 for one brunch, one lunch, two juices, a coffee and service – it’s pretty reasonable for brunch in London.
  • Food: Delicious, fresh and portions are good.
  • Drinks: What you expect for a coffee shop/deli – Go for the freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Atmosphere: relaxed, welcoming
  • Wait: We were seated straight away (no need to book), although there can be a small wait

I think this is going to be a new fave spot – I want a chunky ciabatta sandwich next time!

Have you got any new recommendations for me for the Highbury area? Have you had halloumi with breakfast?

Chloe xx

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Lifestyle|| My Little Sister Got Married!

My LITTLE sister is married. No longer a Hutchinson.

It’s taking me a little while to get used to this fact and I still search for her on social using her maiden name.

Do I feel old. Yes. Like I should be a grown up by now. But we’re not talking about that right here.

Emma’s wedding day, back at the beginning of January, was so magical that I was dying to share all the details, tying in some tips from a bridesmaid first hand. Yes…get ready for the wedding pics.

My sister got married

Venue:

The whole wedding day took place at Gainsborough House Hotel in Kidderminster. Coming up the road, it didn’t feel like it would play host to a beautiful wedding venue. However, once you turned into the car park you could see why. The front of the house and garden area made the perfect spot for photos, and the inside could host the whole day. Yes – the ceremony, the wedding breakfast and the evening. All under one roof. With relatively quick changeover of the main room for all 3 parts of the day.

My sister got married

There was a separate bar area, for those inbetween times, and 42 rooms for guests to stay too.

We managed to pay extra for early access to a room so we could get ready. Whilst the groomsmen arrived almost two hours ahead of the ceremony to welcome the parties in the bar area.

Emma did have a wedding coordinator, Jill, who was fab. Emma said it is the one thing she really recommends as Jill thought of all the little things she never would have, like how and when to cut the cake.

Wedding Dress & Prep:

We were in the room from about 9, allowing enough time for the hairdresser, makeup, naps for the girls and getting into dresses.

Emma’s wedding dress was a Wed2Be number and she looked like a princess. Stunning. Words cannot describe. Yes I cried.

My sister got married

Bridesmaid dresses:

I’ll let you into a secret. These are from eBay. £26 each. Yes you read right. The straps just chiffon strands which you can tie as you please so this isn’t the only way to wear them.

My sister got married

The Shoes:

This has to be one of my favourite parts. The bridal party had personalised converse. Don’t get too jealous now. My feet still hurt by the end of the night from all the dancing but it was so much better being in pumps!

My sister got married

The day:

Wedding coordinator on hand, it all seemed to run smoothly. Emma and Mark didn’t look stressed – nervous hell yeah. Excited. Of course. Stressed. Nope.

The ceremony was beautiful, with a touch of comedy and lots of tears. Happy tears.

My sister got married

The meal was really good. And pretty efficient. Transformation of the main room for this was great. Speeches were way more on the sweet and thoughtful side, than embarrassing and funny. I actually shared dad’s (a little motivational support for him) and although shaking like crazy, it went well – post to come.

The evening transformation was just as smooth. Dance floor in the middle, it was ready for people to get jiggy after the first dance, and I made sure the Hutchinson’s were not seen as the boring side of the newly formed fam. The first dance was such a beautiful moment. Once that had past, everyone got involved, and the fun began.

There was even a photo booth which offered plenty of fun with props, and an opportunity to leave a message in the guest book – I did 4 times!

My sister got married

At the end of the night:

After telling Emma it was all good to leave the final stragglers on the dancefloor, Alex and I headed up (taking my younger brother to bed) at about 1. A long but truly magical day, I couldn’t believe it was all over – so I couldn’t imagine how Emma and Mark felt.

My sister got married

I was so privileged to have been by Emma’s side for one of the biggest days of her life. It meant the world and I loved every minute. There are a few tips I picked up which I thought I’d share for any bridesmaids to be…

Pack spare makeup – you never know if the bride will change her mind on the colour of the lipstick or which mascara last minute. Cover all bases.

My sister got married

Food & drink for getting ready – I actually forgot this, and luckily my sister’s maid of honour had this nailed. Pack cereal bars and simple snacks, water and something sugary for if the nerves kick in.

Practise doing up the wedding dress – this obviously depends on how difficult it is. I did this for the first time on the day and was probs just a bit slower than I should have been.

My sister got married

Clutch bag – I didn’t think about this but this is so handy. You might need to carry some of the bride’s belongings throughout the day or night, and you’ll want your phone to hand too for those cheeky selfies so find one that the bride likes, or one that goes with the colour scheme.

Tissues – you’ll definitely need these for the bride or someone on the front row. Pack some in a bag or hide a couple in your dress.

My sister got married

You might have to get up close and personal – Going to the toilet in a wedding dress is a hurdle. Sitting on the toilet backwards is said to help, but no doubt you’ll have to lend a hand holding the dress up or getting under to help take off underskirts. Don’t feel embarrassed or too intrusive – we all gotta do these things.

Have a good time! This is probably one of the most important. If the bridal party is having a good time, no doubt the bride will be too. Enjoy it. Get everyone up dancing, laughing, interacting. At the end of the day, after helping with prep and being there throughout the day, you deserve to have fun too.

 My Sister got married

Everyone loves a good wedding. So enjoy every minute – and bridesmaids, don’t worry, you’ll smash it!

How many weddings do you have in the diary for this year?

Chloe xx

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Lifestyle|| The 26-30 railcard – why I think all under 40s should be able to get a railcard

26-30 railcard & trains

Yesterday marked Railcard day.

Yes. Apparently that’s a thing. Along with the countless other PR days no one has ever heard of until the Twittersphere jumps on it and makes it trend. That’s genuinely how I know about some of these. 

To mark the occasion the 26-30 railcard, dubbed the Millenial railcard, was launched on a limited UK wide trial. It had already seen success in East Anglia, and so the practise sessions widened to encompass twenty-something public transport users around the UK too.

In no time at all the website was down. Too many users. Too many keen savvy travellers desperately hoping to get their hands on the first release. I tried and tried all day long, but to no avail. At 7pm it was announced that, despite the website struggling to cope, they had indeed sold out. SOLD OUT.

They’re apparently taking on board the huge demand, and have asked people to register for updates with no mention of when more will be available as yet.

It got me thinking. It’s marked the Millenial railcard, but what about the 30-somethings who fit this category too? I have plenty of colleagues who would fall into the same category. Have a Google, and it says there are no precise dates for when the Millenial cohort ends, so why are they excluded? All my 30+ friends in London are keen travellers, love visiting other cities and seeing new places too! They’re not tied down. They don’t stay in the same city.

Travel is EXPENSIVE. Now my young persons railcard has expired, it will cost me £50 every time I want to go and see the family. FIFTY POUNDS. Five – zero. Everytime I want to see my one and a half year-old niece (I already worry I’m missing so much), my sister (and best friend), my little bro, my parents, my aunties and uncles, and my grandparents. If I go home once a month, that’s £600 a year!!!

I tried to book a weekend in Manchester/Edinburgh for the coming months, and it costs over £80 to get there. And that’s booking in advance! It’s cheaper to fly Ryanair and go abroad!

They want us to use public transport more, and yet it costs an arm and a leg to get anywhere. Quite literally.

We’re a generation of experience seekers. A group of wandering souls looking to see the World.

And this is exactly why I think railcards should be available for all under 40, or banished completely and all travel to be reduced. It should be more accessible to all. Urging us to travel more in our own country, and build spend here, rather than making us drive more or consider short and cheaper trips abroad!

What do you think?

Chloe xx

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Recipe|| Easter Galaxy Caramel Egg Blondies

Easter is the perfect excuse to bake. Everything chocolatey.

Last weekend I was feeling a bit itchy to get back in the kitchen as I hadn’t baked for a while. Although I love cooking too, baking is really therapeutic and relaxing. I could spend hours whiling away the time. And so I thought, with Easter coming up, it’d be the perfect excuse to create something sweet and indulgent.

Easter Blondies with Galaxy Caramel Eggs Recipe

I love a blondie. I don’t find them quite as sickly as their sister bake, the brownie. And they’re pretty versatile as you can add so many different ingredients to them – I’m pretty sure this won’t be my last blondie recipe. 

I topped my Easter blondies with halved mini Galaxy Caramel Eggs – thinking small squares are perfect for a little pick-me-up without being overly big and indulgent.

Easter Blondies with Galaxy Caramel Eggs Recipe

I already knew that caramel and white chocolate is one delicious pairing. So this was a no brainer. And it sure went down a treat.

Moist in the middle, not overly sickly but sweet, these were delicious served warm alone, or with a little cream and extra caramel sauce for dessert.

Easter Blondies with Galaxy Caramel Eggs Recipe

If you’re thinking of whipping up some Easter treats too, do give these a whirl.

Are you cooking/baking this Easter?

Chloe xx

5 from 1 vote
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Easter Caramel Egg Blondies

Indulgent, sweet easter themed bake. Perfect for a little pick-me-up or dessert. 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 15

Ingredients

  • 125 g butter
  • 300 g white chocolate
  • 80 g light brown soft sugar
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder heaped
  • 8 mini galaxy caramel eggs

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200° celsius. Grease a rectangular traybake tin. 

  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. Add half of the white chocolate, and continue to heat until melted. Leave to the side.

  3. Whisk the sugar, vanilla essence and eggs with an electric whisk on a high speed until thick and creamy. This should take about 5 minutes.

  4. Add the butter and white chocolate mixture into the eggs and sugar. Sieve the flour and baking powder into the bowl, stir with a spatula until well-combined. 

  5. Chop the remaining white chocolate and stir into the mixture. Pour into the greased baking tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes.

  6. After 20 minutes, it should start to look a little more golden on the outside. Cut the mini Galaxy Caramel Eggs in half along the seam, and push them into the top of the blondie (5 x 3), spaced evenly so when you cut them once cool, each square will have a caramel egg. 

  7. Return to the oven for 5 minutes or so, until a knife comes out clean. Remove and cool on a wire rack before cutting. 

  8. Serve warm on its own or with cream and caramel sauce. 

Easter Blondies with Galaxy Caramel Eggs Recipe Easter Blondies with Galaxy Caramel Eggs Recipe Easter Blondies with Galaxy Caramel Eggs Recipe

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