NOISE at The Old Rep

From up-and-coming Midlands writer and director Thomas Moran and his company presentabsence Theatre comes “a new LGBTQ+ and deaf play.” NOISE follows the lives of five first-year university students in their shared flat, in particular Evan (Nicolas Ancelin) who is deaf. The play sees the development of Evan’s relationship with flatmate Harry (Dominic Holmes) and how they both deal with his impairment.

Despite their young ages and small number, the cast light up the stage of The Old REP, bringing energy and authenticity to their characters. The group work well as an ensemble, being totally believable as housemates and friends, but this is perhaps better shown through the several examples of physical theatre and montages in which all of the cast have co-ordinated their movements to fit with one another, avoiding any slip-ups (not an easy task on The Old REP’s small stage) whilst still managing to create dynamic sequences. Continue reading

An Urban Decay Makeover in Selfridges, Birmingham

Urban Decay

Last week I received an email, inviting me to a bespoke Urban Decay makeover at their Selfridges store in Birmingham.

Urban Decay: beautiful products, cruelty free and the primary contributors to my ever-growing make-up collection.

Awesome.

I was advised to attend without any make-up on at all (eek!), so I made sure that I had thoroughly exfoliated and moisturised before my appointment, arriving with my red and windswept face on display in all of its blotchy glory. I was greeted by the manager, Ranjeeta, who then introduced me to my stunningly-gorgeous-with-flawless-skin make-up artist, Sana. Continue reading

Getting Glam for Christmas: Rush Hair Salon

imageParty season is just beginning, and I began mine by attending the launch of the new Rush Salon in Birmingham.

It was my first visit to the salon, but with a deep blue frontage and shiny black floor, it immediately stood out amidst the stores on Martineau Place. I was the first to arrive, so was given a tour by the store manager, Liam, of the beautiful interior, along with the tranquil and beautiful treatment area at the back. There were numerous stations set up ready to cater for individual styles and hair types, along with some lovely snacks and glasses of prosecco. The salon was clean and elegant, the staff were extremely welcoming and friendly and I could immediately feel that it had a great atmosphere as soon as I walked in. Continue reading

An Incredible Foodie Evening at Dewsall Court with Ping Coombes

Those of you who follow the blog regularly will know just how much I love good food, so I was absolutely delighted when The Bloke and I received an invitation to a dinner party at Dewsall Court, with the menu designed and created by the Masterchef 2014 winner, Ping Coombes.

With a colourful history that dates back to 1644, the building was in a derelict state by 1989 until it was purchased by the Robinson family, making them the first family to live in the property since the reign of Queen Anne.

They spent a decade restoring the building and lived there happily until 2007, when the patriarch Joe sadly passed away. In 2009, the decision was made for the home to be turned into an exclusive use, 10 bedroom venue, which is run by Jane, her children Joseph and Samantha and Samantha’s husband, Julian. Set within 15 acres of land, overlooking the Black mountains, every aspect of the house has been completed to an exquisite standard, being the epitome of country house charm and elegance. As most of my pictures haven’t done it justice, I have used most of these directly from their Instagram page (@Dewsall.Court) – click on the images for full view… Continue reading

Motherly Love – Skincare for Pregnancy and Beyond

imageA little while ago I told you that my youngest sister is pregnant with the first grandchild in the family. She’s currently at 26 weeks, and thankfully both mum and baby are doing well.

I was delighted when I was contacted by Motherly Love, a company that specialises in oils for pregnancy and beyond. Founded and created by Jan, a mother, grandmother, midwife and nurse of over 40 years, all of the oils contain natural products and are made in the UK and the packaging is 100% recyclable. Continue reading

Gruhme No.14

imageFor those of you who follow the blog regularly you’ll know that The Bloke enjoys a lot of the perks that the blog affords me, particularly when it involves reviewing a restaurant, piece of tech equipment or a show. There are certain elements, however, such as make-up samples and beauty products that he has never got as excited about – this is a guy who can’t differentiate between eyeliner and lipstick (mainly because he doesn’t wear either) – so when I was asked to try out a new fragrance for men, he stepped up and got his review hat on to test it out for me.

As a woman, I’m quite picky when it comes to men’s fragrances, as I find many of them to be rather strong and overpowering (particularly when half a bottle is used on one go as many of my teenage students do), and The Bloke only wears aftershave when we go out, so I was interested to find out what he (and I) thought.

Gruhme No.14 (which retails at £45), is the second in the brand, and is labelled as a more concentrated version of their original fragrance (14% instead of the 10% of the original). It is the brainchild of Rob Hallmark, a former corporate lawyer who developed his own men’s products after finding it difficult to identify with a prominent male brand. It’s already proving to be a hit, winning the Beauty Shortlist Award for Best Masculine Fragrance. Continue reading

Chung Ying Chinese Moon FEASTival

imageOne of my favourite foods has always been Chinese, and yet The Bloke and I rarely visit any local Chinese restaurants, despite the fact that there are some incredible places to eat in Birmingham.

Last week The Bloke and I were lucky enough to be invited to the Chinese Moon Feastival – a celebration and a charity fundraiser for the Birmingham Big Art Project (with the objective being to commission and install a piece of high quality public art that will encourage international recognition) – that was held at three different Chung Ying restaurants across the city.

It was hosted by James Wong, MD of Chung Ying, Chairman of the Chinese festival committee and Birmingham Business Man of the Year. Continue reading

Authentic Indian Cuisine at Itihaas, Birmingham

In all honesty, I don’t cope well with spicy food, so aside from the occasional poorly-executed take-away I haven’t had much experience of Indian cuisine.

However, earlier in the week I was invited by East Village PR, along with thirty-four other bloggers, to try the new menu at Itihaas, a prominent Indian restaurant in Birmingham, and I was intrigued.

We were immediately greeted with champagne and a warm welcome, being given the opportunity to mingle and take in the beautiful decor in the Maharaja Suite on the ground floor of the restaurant, during which we sampled an enormous amount of canapes and cocktails. There were Spiced Paprika Tempura Cod with a tomato relish, Deconstructed Mini Potato Cakes with curried chickpeas, yoghurt and mint tamarind chutneys, Smoked Salmon and Goats Cheese in a filo pastry, Chicken Tikka in a Naan Wrap with spicy mayonnaise and green salad, Pastry with Gram Sev, onions, boiled potato and pomegranate and Spiced Lamb Meatballs with mint, coriander and toasted sesame seeds.

Wow.

Continue reading

RENT at The Old Rep

imageI’ve been a huge fan of the music from RENT since my teens, yet have never seen the musical live, so I was ecstatic to receive an invitation for the opening night of RENT at The Old Rep Theatre in Birmingham.

Directed and choreographed by Michael Neri, with a stellar cast of up-and-coming local talented performers, RENT tells the story of a group of young adults who are struggling to survive in New York’s East Village, dealing with issues of AIDS, drug addiction, homosexuality and homophobia.

The set is cleverly simple, with effective ideas used for projections and lighting to suit the small stage in the theatre, and we were given a lovely welcome by the staff when we arrived.

The cast were incredible, with each giving wonderful individual performances in their own right. In particular, Jessica Singer (Mimi) and Joe Ashman (Mark) commanded the stage throughout and Rhys Owen’s performance of I’ll Cover You (Reprise) in the second half was so inspiring that the audience were compelled to give a standing ovation before the song had even finished. Seasons of Love, the opening of Act 2 (and the song I’d been most looking forward to) also didn’t disappoint, with the harmonies on point and a brilliant top note from Alys Wood. Continue reading

Affordable Luxury at Farringdon and Forbes

Farringdon and ForbesThose of you who follow the blog regularly will know of my penchant for independent businesses, particularly when the products are of a high quality, ethically sourced and made locally.

Farringdon and Forbes is an independent home fragrance and interior gifting store, situated in the Resorts World leisure complex next to the NEC in Birmingham. Founded by Jules Cardozo-Marsh, the brand seeks to provide affordable luxury for the home, as well as catering for corporate events and weddings across the UK, and only opened it’s doors eight months ago.

There are an enormous range of products available, including scented candles of all sizes, tealights and diffusers. The candles are made from 100% soy, with all of the raw materials sourced from around the UK and handmade in Warwickshire. The company prides itself on supporting UK trade and being environmentally conscious, so they have stripped away the packaging from the products and offer a recycling facility, with a 10% discount offered on a future purchase with the return of empty glass jars once the candles have been used. The materials used in the production of the products means also that they last longer – the tealights burn for approximately seven hours, which is double the length of time for a standard tealight, and the diffusers can last up to six months. Continue reading