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Theatre|| Little Shop of Horrors, Regents Park Open Air Theatre

There are so many theatre productions to see. Which kind of adds to the magic of it. You can never possibly see them all surely. But also it means there’s always something new. Something you didn’t know the story to. A production you can go to see, to be transported to another decade, era, place or world. To give you that elated feeling, where you can’t stop talking about it, and your favourite parts, after, that awe towards the whole cast (set designers too). The urge to go and join a drama troupe. Ok just me? I don’t think I’d ever really make it. 

Little Shop of Horrors was my recent find. I know, I know. How did I not know about it. Well, I didn’t. However right now, it’s on at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre. My friend Abi treated me to tickets to cheer me up – she’s super thoughtful!!

Little Shop of Horrors, Regents Park Open Air Theatre

First things first. The Regents Park Open Air Theatre. It’s so much bigger than I expected. Located in the inner circle of the third largest of the royal parks in London, it’s one hidden gem! With 1,200 seats, all positioned in a quarter circle style fashion around a stage in the corner, I wondered how it’d work – sound, sight, etc. But we were sat up on the nearest side ( I.e. stage right), and the view was fab! As well as the sound. So I don’t think it would matter where you sat.

The story…

Not actually knowing the story myself, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s quite a weird one.

It starts with a florist and it’s owner, Mr. Mushnik, Seymour, an orphan he took in when he was little, and the damsel in distress aka. Audrey – an assistant at the florist. There are the three singer-dancers who help tell the story, and live on Skid Row, as well as Orin, Audrey’s crazy boyfriend, plus all the extras.

Seymour finds a rare plant on a shopping outing one day, during the eclipse, and it all stems from there. The plant grows and grows, becoming a phenomenon, but at an expense. It was such a strange story line, but it kind of added to the fun. It was funny, light-hearted and I didn’t see the end coming.

Little Shop of Horrors, Regents Park Open Air Theatre

As for the set…

They managed it so well for a static space – you can’t change the backdrop. With set pieces moving in upon scene changes, and each changing slightly during the production, it was really well thought out. Very creative.

The cast…

The team of actors and actresses were all very talented. The three singer/dancer/narrator types, were fab. Very confident, cool and edgy. The main three characters all fantastic in their own spotlight – I really liked Mr. Mushnik’s husky voice. And Seymour was so nerdy, you could tell through all of his actions, songs and dances. It radiated off him.

Orin, the crazy boyfriend, was eery. As he was supposed to be. He actually made my skin crawl, and that’s from back up on row R. The actor was amazing. He took on a few roles, each slightly different. Each quirky and flamboyant in its own way. And the energy he had was incredible.

The costumes…

The costumes were great too! They tied them nicely to the characters and storyline. The plant costumes, and the ones for the final song and dance scenes were amazing! They were so creative, eye-catching and vibrant. Totally different.

As for the tunes…

The songs were really catchy. Proper theatre tunes. Very boppy and songs you could easily sing along to.

The dances were great. Especially the ones at the end. It just looked like SO much fun! High energy, a little crazy, all so upbeat. I actually wanted to get up myself.

Overall..

…one fun, weird, and quirky story, and a fab production! The songs were catchy, the dances great and we really enjoyed it. The Regents Park Open Air Theatre was one fantastic spot – I definitely need to book in for something else.

What have you seen recently? Any recommendations for me?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| Cattle & Co., Euston

Meat lovers this one is for you.

Cattle & Co. is just off Euston Road, the main road connecting Euston and Kings Cross. It’s pretty big, with an outdoors space too. The inside is contemporary, dark and minimalist. It gives off a relaxed steak-house/ranch feel.

The team were all friendly from the get-go. We got seated away from the family buzz and the hyperactive little ones, showing they really were thinking about us. A nice little quiet corner by the window made for a comfortable place to enjoy the end of our busy day exploring.

Cattle & Co , Euston

Whilst this is definitely a place for the meat lovers, the menu doesn’t just feature meat. Alongside the pulled pork, steak and burgers, there’s also blackened cod, tuna steak and veggie options too. So plenty for all.

The sides keep true to the American influence, with mac and cheese making the cut, along with a variety of fries and onion rings.

The starters section isn’t as extensive but still enough choice, with buttermilk wings and cauliflower cheese balls being just two of the six.

Cattle & Co , Euston

The Devilled Deep Fried Squid was lightly coated, served with chilli and spring onion. There was lemon too ofcourse, as no fish dish is complete without it. Each piece had a slightly spicy kick. They were a little more tough than squid we’ve had before. But the flavour made up for that. The dip on the side tasted like a tangy cross between a ketchup and a BBQ dip. It was delicious with the spicy flavours.

Cattle & Co , Euston

Sharing a starter is the way forward here as, trust me, you don’t want to fill up before the main event.

Going rogue, the Cajun Tuna Steak was absolutely delicious. It was cooked rare which enhances the flavour. The seasoning was potent but not overwhelming either so the fantastic flavours of the fish could come through. The bed of roasted vegetables the tuna came on tasted like they’d just come off the barbecue. Beautifully cooked. The BBQ drizzle spreading the flavour further throughout the dish.

Cattle & Co , EustonCattle & Co , Euston

The sweet potato fries were good too. Crispy on the outside but still pretty fluffy and soft. It’s all too easy to get these wrong.

Safe to say, I did not suffer even a tad of food envy. Although the ribs did look good.

Cattle & Co , Euston

Pairing the baby back ribs with sweet potato fries, the choice from the starter menu can quite easily be turned into a main.

The ribs were reasonably meaty, but actually pretty tough to bite or cut. Whilst they were tasty in flavour, the texture did let them down. I don’t think I’d order ribs again, but we’d definitely consider going back for something else!

Cattle & Co , Euston

There is a dessert menu too, but we were too full to even look.  However, having done a bit of insta-stalking, the deep fried Oreos look amazing – go take a look on the restaurant instagram page. It’s a shame that snacking and late lunching meant we filled up too quickly.

Of course, with all this food, you need drinks too. The drinks menu is dominated by cocktails, with a variety of classics and twists. One of the cocktail menus even has funny names for each drink, including Moo’ve Over, What’s Your Beef and Honest Mis-Steak. There is beer, wine and soft drinks too, with plenty of options for all.

Cattle & Co , Euston

The Kalf-eine, Cattle & Co’s take on an espresso martini, consists of Absolut Vanilla, Vanilla syrup, Kahlua & Espresso. It’s verging on creamy, really strong and the coffee taste is delicious. One awesome espresso martini. Just the kick we needed over dinner to keep us going. Yes, we both had to have one as we couldn’t resist. 

We did stop at the one cocktail, but there were so many more I wanted.

Cattle & Co , Euston

Summary:

  • Price: Roughly £60 for two mains, a starter to share and two cocktails, including service. Pretty reasonable.
  • Food: We weren’t overly impressed with the ribs, but the cajun tuna was amazing. Definitely go for that!
  • Drinks: Plenty of choice – cocktails (with funny names too), beer and wine, as well as soft drinks. Definitely recommend the Kalf-eine (espresso martini)!
  • Atmosphere: Chilled, relaxed steak-house feel.
  • Wait: No wait. Seated straight way on a Saturday evening. Service was friendly and quick.

Cattle & Co , Euston

Where’s your fave meaty spot right now?

Chloe xx

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Lifestyle|| Single in a city he calls home…

Yep, that’s me. As of the beginning of August I’ve been single. One early afternoon we were making brunch, settling in for a day snuggled up on the sofa finishing Luke Cage. Late afternoon, we were both in tears at the prospect of a life without each other. And all in a city I moved to, over five years ago, to be with him.

I won’t go into it but we had obviously had our ups and downs over the 6 years. We just weren’t meant to be. We wanted different things. It hadn’t been right for a long time! It’s something I came to realise very quickly is definitely for the best. But it was still a shock. A complete change to life.

The city in question is obviously London. A city, which I didn’t think until recently, is actually home too. Well ‘home from home’.

Being suddenly single is a bludy daunting thing. No matter how long it’s been. I couldn’t say if it hurts more to have it sprung on you, as heart break is individual and very much situation dependent. What I’ve felt might be completely different. It all depends on how you get yourself through it.

Day trip to Paris

With all of my family back in the Midlands it’s been especially hard. But it’s made me realise how truly incredibly amazing my friends, my family away from home, really are. Like seriously. Everyone has been so supportive, whether meeting for dinner and keeping me busy, offering to help me move or giving me somewhere to stay and escape reality for a night or two (or in one case almost two weeks). But that’s just the start…

They’ve given me a whole new appreciation for the city. And my life here. Over the past month, I’ve had plans at least 5 out of 7 days each week. Trust me, keeping busy has been key in moving forward. Planning brunches, girls night’s, dinners, sleepovers, drinks, coffee and exploring has made me really think about again about what London really has to offer. Everything. If you want to be busy, trust me, you’ll find a way here. And that’s what I love about it. Along with the people you need on the way.

And so, whilst inside my heart I’d love to have my family close. I decided I’m staying here (at least for the near future), grabbing life by the horns, taking control and putting me first. I’m going to do everything I’ve wanted to do. London, I’m here for you.

Chloe xx

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Recipe|| Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake

The first time I baked for everyone at work, I baked something non-vegan. And there were two vegans on the team. Oh I felt the guilt. Even though I know you can’t always cater for everyone and realistically I was baking for myself. The time alone in the kitchen. The baking therapy. The pride.

Since then, I’ve tried to do a bit more baking/cooking (we do monthly team breakfasts too) suitable for vegans. It’s actually not always that difficult. I know there are a lot of recipes out there which use complicated vegan alternatives, but there are also plenty which don’t. This being one.

Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake

It started as a vegan lemon drizzle. Which I made three times. The first, I misjudged it being cooked – as it includes no egg, the cake doesn’t go golden. The second time, I thought I’d almost perfected it, but I still thought it needed more lemon. Third time lucky, but I knew it needed something else. And that’s where the blueberries came in.

Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake

The cake itself was actually really fluffy, which I thought was surprising for a vegan cake. I don’t know why I thought they’d always be like raw cakes. It’s zesty, sweet and the blueberries add a delicious flavour, with juicy bursts.

It’s quickly become one of my favourite bakes. One I’ll happily make over and over, and always seems to impress!

The recipe is below. Enjoy!

What’s your favourite cake to bake?

Chloe xx

Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake

A fluffy, zesty, sweet bake, with delicious juicy bursts

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 18

Ingredients

  • 300 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 2 lemons juiced and zested separately
  • 200 ml water
  • 100 ml vegetable oil
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 100 g fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C. Line a square tray bake tin with baking paper. Leave to the side whilst you prepare the cake mixture.

  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and zest of one lemon. Mix until combined well.

  3. Mix in the juice from one lemon, oil and water. Whisk/fold until smooth. Pour into the lined square tin.

  4. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the cake mixture, push them in slightly (you don't ant them to burn). Place the tray bake tin in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. It doesn't go golden, so the skewer test is key!

  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.

  6. Once cool you can ice. Mix the icing sugar with just enough lemon juice from the remaining lemon to make a thick, slightly runny paste. Drizzle over the cake to your desire, and finish sprinkled with lemon zest. Cut into 18, serve & enjoy!

Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake Vegan Lemon & Blueberry Drizzle Cake

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Fitness|| Fitbit 2 Charge – My Experience

My Fitbit has quickly become an extension of my arm. It lives there. Whether I’m having a slower day, taking it easy, or powering through work, gym, and life admin, it’s there. Watching. Well recording.

I’ve been using mine for well over three months now. At first, I thought I’d use it for a few weeks. See if I can make new habits to ensure I’m hitting my daily quota. See how my heart rate changes during spin. And then the novelty would wear off. It hasn’t.

Fitbit Charge 2 review

The Fitbit 2 Charge has been about since 2016 and has had a number of great reviews. I’m lucky enough to get one with the wellbeing plan at work, and so had to try it.

It measures not only my steps, but distance, heart rate, active minutes throughout the day, floors (flights of stairs), calories burned, and exercise through a number of preset exercise settings – I use the spin, workout and weights settings to calculate calories, active minutes and heart rate during each session. It also auto-recognises activity too, and tracks in your log. So if you don’t set your Fitbit off to go, chances are it’ll realise you’re raising your heartbeat and getting that sweat on. It actually auto-tracked my night out dancing for a birthday recently which was great! Didn’t even think how good it’d be. It also auto-tracks all of my runs, as the pre-set exercise option requires your phone to be on you to be able to use GPS.

Fitbit Charge 2 review

It’s made me really think about the type of exercise I do, through the way it splits the heart rate into categories – fat burn, cardio and peak. I’ve now started trying to mix it up a bit rather than just doing high intensity workouts. A heart rate at fat burn, means you burn less calories, but more fat – something my Fitbit helped me learn. 

You can also set the watch up to give you reminders to move every hour – a great way to keep moving. Mine goes off at 10 minutes to every hour, between 8am and 8pm throughout the week.

There’s a meditation setting for something a little more calming, giving you a 2 min period of time to breath. Once started it can’t be stopped, and I don’t tend to use this function as much. But it’s good to help bring you back to the moment.

If you can wear something comfortably on your wrist at night, it can also track sleep. This includes amount of time in each stage. It’s really interesting to see how much I actually sleep!

Fitbit Charge 2 review

Everything automatically syncs to the app on your phone so you can keep track of your activity/sleep, as well as set goals, record weight, and keep track of food and water intake. The app is pretty simple to use with a main dashboard which features everything at a top level – how many hours you hit your step goal, number of days you’ve exercised that week, and the day’s progress. After a little play clicking through to different parts, you soon get the hang of it. And there is always google/the Fitbit website if you’re finding it difficult.

Fitbit Charge 2 review

Another thing you can set up via the app is challenges. There are a range from solo missions to group leagues, and from a day to a week. We’ve done a couple of Mon-Fri step leagues at work which certainly got me walking more in the day. It’s just too easy to sit at your desk all day! I actually walked home one night to ensure I was top haha.

You can even allow notifications through your phone app, so your watch can vibrate when you receive texts/whatsapp messages on your phone, when you’re receiving calls or when your alarm is sounding!

As for aesthetics, the strap it comes with is pretty comfy, but not as pretty. But there are plenty of different options on ebay, all at reasonable prices! I’ve got a multicoloured one, which goes with everything!

Fitbit Charge 2 review

We all know battery  power is important in something like this. Mine lasts for about a week at a time, before needing another charge. It charges pretty quickly too, so you can easily do it at your desk whilst you’re sat getting through everything. You get a notification when it needs charging too, giving enough time to get it sorted so it won’t just cut out and leave you unable to track your activity.

Overall:

  • Price: £139.99. Something I’d definitely pay for one of these. It’s not bad considering everything it does.
  • Ease of use: It’s pretty easy to get used to – the app has an easy interface, and there’s only two ways to operate the watch (a button on the side and by tapping the screen), meaning it’s not overly complicated.
  • Battery life: It says roughly 5 days but I think mine lasts about a week. I get notifications before it dies, so I’m never left without it.
  • Design/aesthetics: The strap it comes with does the job, but there are some gorgeous straps on ebay! I love the metal, magnetic loop ones!
  • Recommend?: Yes. If you’re looking to track activity, keep on the move and set new habits this is definitely a great way to start.

Do you use a fitness tracker? Or a smart phone app/smart watch?

Chloe xx

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