A lifestyle blog all about Birmingham, UK.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

REVIEW: Grease at Wolverhampton Grand

Even after 40 years since Grease made it's silver screen debut with fresh faces John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, the rock and roll musical is still attracting huge crowds with numerous productions taking place around the world every single year. 

For me, Grease was a huge part of my early-teen years, back when I had no idea what some of the crude remarks meant, and it is a musical that will never get old in my eyes. So when I headed along to the Wolverhampton Grand this week to see the latest young talents taking to the stage in Grease The Musical, I wasn't disappointed. 

The audience was unlike any other show I have been to before; with a whole host of ages and genders. If you need to remember what makes Grease so popular, you only have to look at the people enjoying it - it's timeless.

Although I have had the pleasure of watching Grease a handful of times at various theatres before, and have seen the film more than I've had hot dinners, this particular production stood out for me. Thankfully, it doesn't stray too far away from the original story line, with everyone's favourite scenes like the Rydell High dance and the timeless Greased Lightnin' still taking to the stage with huge cheers and claps from the crowd.

The production saw a few big names taking to the stage, including The Wanted's Tom Parker, who the women loved, taking on the role of Danny, Over The Rainbow winner Danielle Hope, who captured the audience's hearts as Sandy and EastEnders' Louise Lytton, whose role of the sassy Rizzo was simply made for.
Music wise, it was everything Grease fans could have wanted it to be. Particular stand out's were by far Grease Is The Word, that really got the audience ready for the evening, and We Go Together. I also really enjoyed lovable Doody's, played by Ryan Heenan, 'Those Magic Changes', the ultimate love song Hopelessly Devoted To You, which was performed beautifully, and the cheeky Beauty School Dropout. 

I'll also admit, I was actually more impressed with the supporting roles than the main characters. Controversial it may be, but I thought Kenickie, played by Tom Senior, had an incredible voice, as well as infectious Jan, played by Rosanna Harris. I also totally fell for Doody and his voice was absolutely stunning. 

Although Danny, Sandy and Rizzo all put on one hell of a show, I felt that at times, they lacked the emotion that I was desperate to see. I also have to say a huge stand out of the show for me was the lovable geek Eugene, played by Callum Evans, who had the audience in the palm of his hands.

However, the choreography and the stage itself was undoubtedly brilliant. Scene changes were quick and smooth and it was really enjoyable to see all the cast on stage for the big dance numbers. They had clearly practiced to perfection and it was great to see how much fun they all seemed to be having on stage. 

I also must give a special shout out to the band, who were absolutely fantastic. Not only did they bring the whole production together, they really made the show special and the audience couldn't get enough of them.
It may have had it's not so good moments, but in my eyes, Grease isn't supposed to be absolutely perfect. I really enjoyed the production and would definitely recommend it to those who fancy a great night out.

Grease The Musical is on stage at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday, 2nd December.

Grease The Musical: 8/10


Sunday, 26 November 2017

REVIEW: Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker at Birmingham Hippodrome

Beautiful choreography, opulent costumes and decadent sets; there's a reason why Birmingham Royal Ballet have been choosing to bring The Nutcracker to their local stage for 27 years. It never goes out of style.

This particular joyful version of The Nutcracker, which was created by Sir Peter Wright shortly after Birmingham Royal Ballet was founded in 1990, has seen huge success for many years, with sell-out runs and high praise for every single show. This year is proving no different. I headed along to see the show on Sunday (26th November) matinee performance.

Upon arrival, it was incredibly heart-warming to see so many kids dressed up for the show. Although I knew the story of The Nutcracker, I had never had the pleasure of seeing the Birmingham Royal Ballet perform and seeing the kids so excited to see it, reminded me of just what makes the production so popular. It's magical. It's Christmas come to life. It's a feast for the senses, and opens your imagination. If it managed to make me feel these things, just imagine how an eight year old would feel.

Alongside Tchaikovsky's timeless score, performed by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia, the story begins on Christmas Eve at the home of the Stahlburn family, who are hosting a huge lavish party. Dr Stahlburn and his wife's 15 year old daughter Clara is training to be a dancer and her friends from the ballet school are invited to perform for the guests.

One of the guests is charismatic magician Drosselmeyer, who gives Clara a Nutcracker doll. Clara becomes fascinated by the Nutcracker doll and believes that it has magical powers. 

Later that night, Clara is unable to sleep, so heads downstairs looking for her Nutcracker doll. However, strange things begin to happen and as the room grows bigger and bigger around her, she is attacked by a hoard of giant rats. Clara's Nutcracker doll springs to life and defends her, before becoming a handsome prince.

The pair then head into a magical world, which has all been conjured up by magician Drosselmeyer. Clara is shown performances from different cultures and is eventually transformed into her dream; the Sugar Plum Fairy. 

To say that the staging of the production was good would be a total understatement. Although it was a very fast paced two hours and ten minutes, the smoothness between scenes was perfect and I was fascinated by the Christmas tree and fireplace transformation, as well as the gorgeous snow scene and Clara's sail across the winter sky on a giant swan, which left the audience in awe. 

The dancers were, of course, wonderful. So much so that it is difficult to pick a stand out performer, as it was obvious that each and every one put their whole self into the production. However, Karla Doorbar, who took on the role of the heroine Clara, was outstanding, as was the Sugar Plum Fairy, performed by Miki Mizutani and the magical Snow Fairy, played by Alys Shee. 

Although an innocent and family friendly show, there is also just the right amount of comedic timing from the dancers and cheekiness from Clara's younger brother Fritz, performed by Archie Mathias. All of this alongside the beautiful uplifting score, makes it a simply wonderful production. 

It's no surprise that the show has become a tradition for local families, and I can only hope that it continues for many years. The Nutcracker is not just the perfect festive show, which will really get you ready for Christmas, it is also charming, colourful and above all, mesmerising. Christmas time is magical for all of us, but The Nutcracker adds that extra sparkle every year. 

The Nutcracker is on stage at the Birmingham Hippodrome until Wednesday, December 13. 

The Nutcracker rating: 10/10

Friday, 24 November 2017

Magical Lantern Festival launches at Kings Heath Park

After celebrating huge success last year, The Magical Lantern Festival has returned to Birmingham in time for the festive season at one of the city's most idyllic locations. 

Following on from their stint at Birmingham Botanical Gardens in 2016, the festival has moved to Kings Heath Park for an even bigger and better event and is set to be a huge success once again. 

The popular event see's the park lit up with a huge variety of larger than life lanterns, with everything from castles and frogs to reindeer's and polar bears available to marvel at, and of course, take lots of photos of.
At the launch of the event this week, a huge group of us were treated to a spectacular of colour, fun and a real celebration of culture. The festival was opened with traditional Chinese music, performances and the switch on of the lights from Birmingham's Lord Mayor.

With plenty of drinks, vegan food offerings and Christmas music beforehad, we set upon our journey around the park to explore all the different lanterns and take in a few surprises.

The lantern festival IS worth the hype. I didn't manage to attend the event last year, so it was a real treat to see it all in the flesh. Many of the lanterns are absolutely huge and I was amazed by the detail of each one. My favourites, however, had to be the polar bears and the flamingo's because they just looked so real. 

The event is ideal for families to say the least. There is a large amount of food offerings, from BBQ flavours to a steakhouse and even ostrich burgers, as well as plenty of sweets, there is something for each member of the family to enjoy.
My favourite part though was the marshmellow section. Sat next to the School of Horticultural Training, which is also a cafe perfect for a few minutes rest, is The Marshmallowist stand where you can choose a marshmallow flavour of choice, and then head over to the open fire to toast it. It's a lovely little touch, and the Popcorn one is particularly tasty. 

There is also children's rides for the little one's to enjoy, as well as the opportunity to meet the big man himself: SANTA! You will find his grotto half way round the trail, and from what I've heard, he also hands out gifts. As well as that, there are a handful of pop-up shops selling merchandise and traditional Chinese gifts. 

Whether you live close by or fancy doing something a little different, I can't recommend The Magical Lantern Festival enough! It is a wonderful night for both family and friends to enjoy, and a great opportunity to get into the festive spirit.
The Magical Lantern Festival is at Kings Heath Park from today (Friday November 24th) until Monday January 1st, 2018. The festival is open from 5pm-10pm from Wednesday to Sunday every week and prices can be found here

Thursday, 23 November 2017

BMAG partners with British Musuem for ‘Finding Faith’ programme

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is launching a pioneering programme of events and activities, in partnership with the British Museum, to explore the role that faith plays in the lives of many of people in Birmingham and across the UK. 

Launching on Saturday November 25th, with a day of free performances and workshops, the Finding Faith programme will run until March 2018 and includes performances, debates and live panel discussions. 

Finding Faith aims to encourage people to reflect on their own beliefs, celebrate the city’s multi-faith community and learn more about how faith and belief can help us understand the world around us today. 

Birmingham Museums is the British Museum’s only regional partner outside of London for this project and the extensive programme of events and activities was developed in partnership with the British Museum’s ‘Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond’ exhibition, which explores the practice and expression of religious beliefs in the lives of individuals and communities around the world and through time. 

Birmingham Museums’ cprogramme aims to bring the discussion outside of London and directly engage with people about what faith means to them. 

Engaging performances and activities on the launch day begin from 11am and represent a range of faiths and beliefs. Opening with an expressive Hindu dance performance from artist and choreographer Jaivant Patel, which explores his relationship with personal faith and spirituality. 

The day will continue with a Rastafrian drumming workshop, uplifting gospel music from artists AffieJam and Jabez Walsh, spoken word poetry by Carl Sealeaf, who identifies as an Atheist, and a Bahá'í craft workshop, which aims to introduce children and families alike to one of the world’s youngest major religions. 

Until March 2018, events will take place at BMAG and at other venues across the West Midlands as part of Finding Faith, such as Coventry Cathedral and University of Birmingham, to encourage interfaith conversations in a range of settings. 

To encourage discussion, there will also be live-stream discussions; including a panel event called Can I find faith? in which national faith leaders will explore what it means to live in the intersection as an LGBT+ person of faith.

Dr Andrew Smith, Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham, will also lead an informal discussion with youth organisation The Feast exploring what it means to live in an interfaith city. 

Other prominent events include The Birmingham Conversation, a series of discussions between representatives of different faiths, an artist installation and performance from leading South African artist James Webb, a faith and disability talk led by disability rights activist Hannah Eldritch, and Recipe for a City Feast Celebration, which will see different faith representatives take part in food swap with the public encouraged to try different recipes. 

Suriya Roberts-Grey, Finding Faith Programme Coordinator at Birmingham Museums, said: “Faith and belief is a key human characteristic and this extensive programme of exciting and though-provoking performances, workshops and discussions will bring to life the spirit of living in a multi-faith society. 

“Working with the British Museum and being selected as the only regional partner outside London for this project is a testament to the Birmingham Museums Trust team, who have forged vital links with faith groups and communities across the region.” 

Inspiring visitors until March 2018, Finding Faith aims to bring together people of different religious backgrounds and communities to start a UK wide conversation about the human nature of belief and the role that faith plays in today’s society. 

For more information, head here.   

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

REVIEW: A Christmas Carol at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

I'll be honest, I had my reservations about A Christmas Carol, which is taking to the stage at Wolverhampton Grand until Saturday 25th November. I questioned more than once why on earth it needed to be a musical, when the Charles Dickens' classic is perfect as a play.

I was proven wrong. The show is being put on by the hugely talented Bilston Operatic Society, who are celebrating 90 years since it's first production. You see, what I didn't expect was that the music brings a whole new lease of life to the classic and it actually really works. For me, stand out songs were by far Place Called Home, Nothing To Do With Me and Mister Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball. 

It may still be November, but the production really does bring Christmas to the Grand and with the help of incredible staging, lighting and wonderful costumes, the audience are transported to Victorian London. 

Although it is a musical, the cast have very much stuck to the original storyline which follows Scrooge meet the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Scrooge, played by the brilliant Nicholas Sullivan, is by far the star of the show. With fantastic comedic timing and very believable emotions, I was very impressed by his performance and take on the timeless Scrooge.

Of course, with the help of the ghosts, Scrooge realises what he has become and wakes up on Christmas day a whole new man. It may be a classic story, but it is still wonderfully heartwarming and emotional, seeing as we can all have the occasional Bah Humbug moment. 

The three ghosts all put on a brilliant performance, but Lydia Tidmarsh, who took on the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past, was a particular stand out and her voice was truly beautiful. As was Isobel Checketts, who took on the role of Emily.
The different ghost scenes were incredibly entertaining and some moments were quite scary! Especially when Scrooge's former business partner Marley came out onto the stage. The clever lighting really captured the imagination of the audience.

When the cast all came together for Mister Fezziwig's Annual Christmas Ball, it was then that the audience could really appreciate the talent of the operatic society. It was also the most enjoyable bit for me personally as it was so much fun. 

There's also no denying that the children really made the production what it is, many of which will no doubt be future theatre stars, especially Harry Lewis who took on the role of Tiny Tim.

It may be a play with a twist or two, but A Christmas Carol is a wonderful production and one that is definitely worth the watch. It is on the stage at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday November 25th, 2017.

A Christmas Carol: 8/10


Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The REP gets tails wagging with fundraising efforts

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has announced a joint fundraising partnership with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. 

The city centre theatre will be raising funds during the run of their production of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, which bursts to life on stage from Thursday 30 November until Saturday 13 January. 

There are various fundraising activities planned during the run of the show, which will help to jointly fundraise towards Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s million pound campaign REP First and the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. 

REP First is a three year campaign which aims to raise vital funds in order to ensure that the theatre can continue to nurture the region's talented young artists, commission exciting new works, welcome new audiences and reach out to the communities of Birmingham and beyond. 

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, now in their 35th year, trains dogs to alert deaf people to sounds they would otherwise miss, like simple sounds that many people take for granted like the doorbell, alarm clock and even danger signals like the fire alarm. 

A hearing dog can also give a deaf person a newfound sense of independence and confidence helping to overcome the feeling of isolation and loneliness experienced by so many suffering from hearing loss. 

Twenty pence of every pound raised will go towards the work of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, with the remainder going towards REP First initiatives, such as providing interpreters for the REP’s youth theatre in order for Deaf children and young people to take part, as well as allowing the theatre to stage more accessible productions for people with a variety of additional support needs. 

Steve Heyes, Marketing Manager of Hearing Dogs for Deaf People said; “It’s wonderful that Hearing Dogs has been chosen as the official partner charity for The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s production of ‘101 Dalmatians’, especially in this, our 35th year. 

"We’re working closely with The REP on a number of fun and exciting plans to engage families and visitors coming to see the show, to help raise awareness of the amazing work our hearing dogs do, completely transforming the lives of thousands of Deaf people in the UK. 

"We’ll hopefully raise some important funds for the two charities during the show’s run.” 

As part of The REP’s commitment to making theatre accessible to everyone, the entire run of The Hundred and One Dalmatians will be Audio Described and Captioned, meaning that audiences with visual or hearing impairments can enjoy these services on any performance. 

The show will follow the story of the popular Disney movie, where Dalmatians Pongo and Missis enjoy an idyllic life with their humans, Mr and Mrs Dearly. Then one day, the house is filled with the patter of tiny paws when Missis gives birth to a litter of adorable puppies. But just as the Dearlys get used to their new housemates, the puppies mysteriously vanish. 

With the help of the canine community and an Old English Sheepdog, Pongo and Missis set out on an adventure to find the missing puppies. 

Their quest, of course, leads them to the vicious Cruella de Vil. She hates dogs but loves fur coats and has set her sights on a certain black and white spotty pattern. Will the animals be able to get home safely in time for Christmas? 

The show is set to capture the imagination of both children and adults alike, who will be gripped by this magical tale as it comes to life live on stage, complete with beautiful staging and mesmerising puppetry from Director Tessa Walker and Designer Jamie Vartan, who collaborated for the record-breaking 2015 production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 

Dodie Smith’s delightful and much-loved tale, adapted for the stage by the Writer and Director of the hugely popular Nativity! films, Debbie Isitt, is sure to get tails wagging this Christmas. You can get tickets here

Monday, 20 November 2017

Dash into the festive spirit with charity’s Jingle Bell Jog

Hundreds of Santas will be taking over Moseley this Christmas in a bid to raise vital funds for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. 

 The charity’s popular festive fun run – the ‘Jingle Bell Jog’ – is returning for its fourth year with a new venue and an even bigger route. 

Taking place at Birmingham Moseley Rugby Club on Sunday December 3rd, the seasonal sprint will see hundreds of runners dressed in Mr and Mrs Claus suits, which will be provided free of charge by the Hospice. 

Participants can choose to run, jog or walk the 2.5k and 5k routes, and will be rewarded with a medal and tasty mince pie once they cross the finish line. There will also be a festive market for runners and spectators, the perfect place for picking up last minute gifts.
Organised by Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, the Jingle Bell Jog will help raise crucial funds for the local charity which provides expert care to individuals and families living with terminal illness. 

Lucy Watkins, events manager at the Hospice, said: “Our Jingle Bell Jog is a lively event which really kickstarts the festive season. Seeing hundreds of Santas dashing about really is a sight to behold and everyone always has lots of fun on the day. 

“Whilst Christmas is definitely a time to celebrate, it can also be a time to help others. It will cost £22,000 to run our Hospice on Christmas day and so we really value the generous support of the local community.

"All sponsorship money raised from this event will allow us to continue to provide the free care and support we offer to individuals and families living in Birmingham and Sandwell.”
The Jingle Bell Jog kicks-off the Hospice’s ‘Care at Christmas’campaign. Care at Christmas is a festive appeal to boost support for the charity leading up to and over the Christmas period. 

Tickets cost £15 for adults, £10 for children and £40 for a family. For children under five-years-old, admission is free.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Dudley Zoo to help panto be a roaring success

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and Dudley Zoological Gardens have announced a partnership that will see the two family-friendly attractions unite this festive season. 

The 80 year-old zoo and the Grand's annual family pantomime is a tradition that spans over 120 years at the theatre. Dudley Zoological Gardens have now extended their sponsorship of Grand Theatre pantomime for a further two years, making them the local partner until at least 2019/20 season. 

The Grand Theatre pantomime, which this year will see Jack and The Beanstalk take to the stage, attracts thousands of families to Wolverhampton each year, as does a collection of the world’s rarest animals who find their home in the grounds of an 11th Century castle at Dudley Zoological Gardens. 

Grand Theatre Associate Director of Development & Communications Vicky Price said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that Dudley Zoological Gardens will continue to collaborate with us for the next two years of Pantomime. 

"Both venues provide magical experiences for children and their families and together we can continue to promote this wonderful offering in Wolverhampton and The Black Country ” 

Dudley Zoo’s Winter Wonderland kicks off from December 1st until Christmas Eve and locals can head along to see Santa in his grotto set within the walls of Castle. Locals will also be able to stop off to greet his reindeer in the courtyard. 

This year’s pantomime Jack And The Beanstalk, which stars Gareth Gates, Lisa Riley, local icon Doreen Tipton and several others, opens on Saturday 9 December 2017 and runs until Sunday 14 January 2018. 

Be At One launches new cocktail menu

Be At One in Birmingham hosted a VIP Cocktail Challenge this week in celebration of their new cocktail menu which has arrived just in time for the festive season. 

On a gloomy Tuesday evening, I was invited along to the venue in Piccadilly Arcade, opposite New Street Station. I had been told previously to take along a team with me, so I grabbed some of the best girls I know who A) love cocktails and B) have reasonably good general knowledge. 

You see, this wasn't just any launch. It was one huge competition to win a whole host of prizes and I couldn't possibly say no to competing. On arrival, we experienced our first taste of the brand spanking new cocktail menu. 

I went for the 'Better Call Sol', which they say is the perfect solution if you're torn between beer and a cocktail. It's a super cool mixture of Absolut Lime vodka, ginger and lemon, black pepper, Sol and pineapple and it tastes amazing! I am not a fan of beer myself, but mixed with fun flavours, it's now one of my favourites. 

We then formed our teams, me and the girls went for the team name 'You Can't Sit With Us' (Yes, Mean Girls is still one of my favourite films of all time) and we enjoyed getting stuck in with the games. We had to name celebrities, take part in cocktail challenges, one of which included making our own and naming it, and loads more. 

One member of the team, Aimee, had to tell the bartenders what her favourite flavours are in a cocktail and then compete with others for the best tasting one. Another member, Gemma, had to compete with a member of all the other teams for how long they could shake a cocktail - she won alongside two others and I had never been so proud of my best friend - even after 15 years of friendship and two degrees under our belts!
The next cocktail I enjoyed was the 'Kiss From A Rose', which was absolutely delicious! I'll be honest, Rose isn't usually my drink of choice, but in cocktail form, it was much more Bethan. Kiss From A Rose is a gorgeous combination of Haymans Gin, Fever-Tree elderflower tonic, rose wine, pomegranate and strawberry and cucumber. It was super refreshing and I really enjoyed trying something a little different.

With a few more competitions underway, which by this point was a packed bar, we also enjoyed printing off our own Polaroid style photos. Although we didn't win any prizes, we did come third place in the quiz and got to enjoy a whole host of cocktails - what's not to love!  

Be At One's new cocktail menu is so full of fun and colour and is definitely worth a try! The bar also offer Mocktails, which a few of our team members enjoyed. The bar is open from 4.30pm Monday to Thursday, from 4pm on Fridays, from 2pm on Saturday and 4.30 on a Saturday. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Getting Christmas Party ready with Blow Ltd

This isn't the first time I have talked about Blow Ltd on my blog, and I very much doubt it'll be the last. I simply love these guys and the concept. For me, it works. 

Although Blow Ltd recently launched at Debenhams in the Bullring, which you can read about here, they do still very much take on the role of the leading beauty services on demand service in the UK. So when I got offered the chance for one of their top stylists to come to my own home recently, I couldn't say no. 

With Christmas party's on the horizon - in fact, I know some people who have already celebrated with their colleagues - Blow Ltd can offer the answer to your problems. I absolutely love getting all dolled up, especially at this time of year. However, the issue I find with Christmas parties is that they tend to be on work nights - meaning that there is little time to get ready for the big night! 

But whether it is coming to your office or home, Blow offer hair, make-up and nail services in the comfort of your own surroundings and at a time that suits you. All you have to do is book via the website or the app, and voila!
For me, I was keen to discover a whole range of styles that I can enjoy from Blow Ltd on my very own Christmas party evening, so I was delighted when Jo Maria, my Blow Ltd stylist, arrived with so many hair ideas. Although I had checked out some styles on Pinterest, it was great to share ideas with Jo Maria and collectively choose three styles for me to try prior to the big night. 

For the first look, I chose a style that I would normally go for; a waterfall braid. It is one that I have previously chosen for weddings and other special events as I think it is super pretty and love how it makes my balayage flow beautifully. With the help of Kerastase K Laque Noire Hairspray, it helped secure the style amazingly and I absolutely loved the finish of the look! This look would look perfect with a super sparkly and festive outfit.

For my second look, I really wanted something super festive with Christmas parties in mind. Jo Maria suggested a bow-style look, and it was so adorable I couldn't say no! Thanks to how the bow was styled, it would be perfect for both curls and straight hair. I loved the bow; it was fun, festive and so different to what I'd normally go for. The bow would look perfect with a fun, colourful outfit as the hair style really does complete the perfect pocket rocket look.

Me and Jo decided to go for a plait style for my final look. Yet again, a style I would never go for, but I completely loved it! I think Jo did a beautiful job on this one, and thanks to her creativity and skills, she made it even better than the photo inspiration. I think this look would look perfect for an understated outfit where you want the full attention on the hair and make-up.

I absolutely loved my time with Jo Maria, whose Instagram you can see here. She was incredibly creative and it was so enjoyable to bounce ideas off each other, making it a wonderful Sunday afternoon! 

If your Christmas party is on the horizon, head to the Blow Ltd app and book the treatment of your choice. For £10 discount, use code BETH10 at checkout - enjoy! 

*I was gifted all three hair styles and treatments from the team at Blow Ltd for this blog post. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Christmas events you can't miss at Birmingham Museums

With Christmas just around the corner, we can all expect to see Birmingham come to life with lights, ice rinks, and of course, the German Market. Birmingham Museums are also getting involved with the festive action and families can enjoy themselves at venues across the city to help get them into the Christmas spirit. Here's the events you really shouldn't miss...

Santa comes to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery 

Santa Claus is coming to town… and into the doors of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery! During his weekend visits between December 2nd to December 17th, Santa will be spreading festive cheer to children and families alike in his sparkly and snow-topped grotto. 

Children will be given a special Christmas gift, as well as a memory for them to treasure, a printed photograph of themselves with Santa. 

This event is not to be missed as tickets cost just £5 per child. With many children hoping to meet Santa every year, pre-booking tickets is recommended for this enchanting experience. 

Santa will also be visiting Blakesley Hall on Sunday December 17th. Meet the man himself in the Great Hall, where all children will receive a small present and see Blakesley Hall dressed for Christmas.Visitors will also be able to make a Christmas card, a tree decoration, and add a Christmas wish to the Blakesley tree. 

Adults enter for £7, concessions £5 and children £3. Pre-booking is essential. 

Christmas comes to Thinktank as new LEGO® Education Innovation Studio opens 

Thinktank is offering free, drop-in building sessions for families this Christmas holiday in Thinktank’s new LEGO® Education Innovation Studio. From Monday to Friday, Thinktank ticket holders are invited to come along and join in the problem-solving fun, with a range of fun LEGO sets to create and build with. 

The Planetarium will also be sprinkled with Christmas joy as visitors will be able to enjoy a festive show throughout the weekends in December and every day during the school holidays. Planetarium shows are £1.50 per person in addition to the Thinktank admission price. 

The Thinktank Elf Trail will also be taking place, with the promise of a prize for whoever finds all 10. This trail around the museum is a great free added extra during a Christmas visit, along with daily festive arts and crafts sessions, entertaining Christmas storytelling, and light and colour sessions. 

Christmas through the ages at the Heritage Sites 

A Christmas trip to one of the Birmingham Museums’ Heritage Sites is an ideal way to get in the festive spirit. At Aston Hall this festive season, the past is no longer just a memory. On Saturday December 16th between 3pm and 8.30pm, visitors will be able to experience the sights and sounds of the festive season, from the 17th century right through to the 1940s. 

Adult tickets are £12 and child tickets are £6. With only one chance to see this event, pre-booking is essential. 

Another chance to step into the past will be at Christmas Through the Ages, which will take place at Blakesley Hall on Saturday December 9th. The St. Barnabas handbell ringers, Choir Divertimento and costumed Tudor musicians will be there to fill the hall with festive sounds. There will also be Christmas foods in the tearoom to indulge in. 

As well as this, Blakesley Hall will also be holding ‘Tudor Christmas Tours’ in December, every Wednesday and Thursday before Christmas. 

Soho House Georgian Christmas tours will also take place every Wednesday and Thursday throughout December. ‘Soho by Moonlight’ will give visitors an exclusive chance to see elegant house after hours. The guided tours of the House will show how Christmas was celebrated in the 18th century. 

Taking place on Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th December, and tickets are £12. 

Christmas creativity

If you’re feeling creative, there is a great choice of workshops to get stuck into for adults this December. Join the Millers at Sarehole Mill to bake your own Christmas treats or attend a crafting workshop to make your very own glass bauble to hang on your tree. 

You can also celebrate with traditional carols at Sarehole Mill’s Carols in the Courtyard. A free event on Sunday December 3rd, join a communal sing-song of famous festive carols to ring in the season. 

Alternatively, get into the Christmas spirit at the Edwardian Tearooms, with a screening of It’s A Wonderful Life on Saturday December 2nd from 6pm. For a full festive experience on Saturday  December 6th from 6pm, head to BMAG for sing-a-long Christmas carols, mince pies and mulled wine and the chance to shop for unique gifts. 

See the full list of Birmingham Museums Christmas here

Monday, 13 November 2017

Christmas set to arrive early in Wolverhampton

The festive spirit is set to arrive a month early in Wolverhampton, thanks to a Christmas show taking to the stage at the city's Grand Theatre. 

Local popular theatre company, Bilston Operatic Company, who have seen huge success at the theatre in recent years, are bringing A Christmas Carol to the stage, with the hope of bringing festive cheer to the people of Wolverhampton on the lead up to to Christmas. 

The classic Charles Dickens story has been given a full Broadway treatment and follows Ebenezer Scrooge, who believes that money and wealth is far more valuable than the happiness and comfort of others. 

Scrooge summates his feelings of Christmas tidings and charitable giving, but is forced to face his selfish ways when three ghosts of Christmas Eve lead him through his past, present and future. Thanks to their guidance, Scrooge recognises his faults and greets Christmas morning with joy, before spending the day reconnecting with loved ones. 

The festival musical will feature the music of Alan Menken, who is behind classics Beauty And The Beast, Tangled and The Little Mermaid. 

Taking the role of the timeless Scrooge character is Nicholas Sullivan, who has played the role  before in a musical version of Scrooge!. He is set to be joined by local talents Amy Frost as Mrs Cratchit and Alastair Smith as Bob. 

They will be joined on stage by a whole host of other local actors, singers and dancers who have taken to the stage at the Wolverhampton Grand before in 2016's production of Our House and Hairspray two years ago. 

A Christmas Carol takes to the stage at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Tuesday November 21st until Saturday November 25th. As well as evening shows, there will also be two matinee performances. For tickets, head here

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Blow Ltd launches at Debenhams

Having previously used Blow Ltd, the UK's leader in beauty services on demand, back in July to have my nails done in my own kitchen, I was super excited to head along to their launch at Debenhams in the Bullring this week!

Although Blow Ltd was first launched in London, it worked it's way up to Birmingham earlier this year and has since gone even more up north by launching in Manchester. 

Blow Ltd not only offer a whole host of beauty services in your very own home, office and more, they have now launched at Debenhams so that you can treat yourself to a treatment or two whilst on the move. 

It is set to be super popular, especially with Christmas parties on the way, and a quick and easy solution to having to wait weeks for your nail technicians and hairdressers to be able to book you in. All you have to do is book via the website or the app, and enjoy being beautified within hours later. 

The services on offer include Kerastase blow dry's, make-up, nails and more for both individuals and groups. At the moment, Blow are also offering Christmas party packages.
At the launch this week, as well as enjoying a glass or two of Prosecco and a few macaroons, I also was treated to a face of make-up, as well as a stunning manicure. 

The expert who did my make-up was absolutely lovely and incredibly welcoming. I noted down that the majority of the make-up used was Urban Decay, which is a favourite brand of mine, and I went for a smokey eye look with a gorgeous statement lip. 

I particularly loved the lipstick, which was called 'Tilt', a comfort matte that the expert recommended to me as my lips can get very dry, especially in cold weather! I loved Tilt so much that it has gone right onto my Christmas list! 

Soon after, I headed over to the nails section and was treated to a manicure. Again, the nail expert was incredible and made me feel right at home, letting me take my time to choose which colour I fancied. 

In the end, I went with a gorgeous red OPI nail polish with just a touch of sparkle in, to really get me into the festive spirit, and of course to match with my lips! 

The launch was a lovely evening and it has been super exciting to see Blow Ltd grow in the past year. With prices starting from just £10 for party lashes, a range of 15 minute looks, £25 for 30 minute make-up, £29 for a 30 minute blow dry and £25 for a classic mani, as well as whole host of other treatments on offer,

I truly believe that Blow offer great value for money, as well as brilliant expert knowledge and a very welcoming and fun atmosphere. 

To check out what is available on your doorstep at Debenhams in Birmingham, head here


Friday, 3 November 2017

Press for Champagne service launched in Birmingham

Those who enjoy the finer things in life are in for a real treat thanks to the launch of a 'Press For Champagne' service at one of Birmingham's most exquisite venues. 

Champagne will be available at the touch of a button at the Edwardian Tearooms, a unique setting within Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, meaning those who would prefer a glass of champers than a cup of tea are in luck. 

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery have partnered up with award-winning House of PIPER-HEIDSIECK Champagne for the service so visitors to the tearoom with a twist will be hand delivered a glass of their finest. 

Inside the Edwardian Tearooms, each private booth has been installed with its own Champagne buzzer where once pressed, a server will be on hand to guide the table through the full PIPER-HEIDSIECK menu. 

The menu includes the Brut NV which embodies the house style, the complex Vintage 2008, and award-winning and very exclusive Rare Millesime 2002, which can be pre-ordered for special occasions. 

Alex-Nicholson Evans, commercial director at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: "Birmingham Museum andArt Gallery and the house of PIPER-HEIDSIECK have a long history of excellence in their respective fields, and this partnership just further demonstrates each company's innovative talent. 

"We are thrilled to be able to offer this new service to our customers - they can enjoy sipping champagne whilst knowing they are helping the city's museums, as all profits from the Edwardian Tearooms go to support Birmingham Museums Trust."

The 'Press for Champagne' is available at the venue now, and is set to go well alongside the Edwardian Tearoom's festive menu which arrives later this month. 

The Edwardian Tearooms is open Saturday-Thursday 10am-4.30pm and Friday 10.30am-4.30pm. 


Thursday, 2 November 2017

Kinky Boots set to strut into Wolverhampton next year

Kinky Boots is set to strut into Wolverhampton next year as the multi-award winning musical have announced plans to bring the electric show to the West Midlands.

The hugely successful production will take to the stage at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre next Autumn.

Since Kinky Boots has been on stage at London's Adelphi Theatre, the show has become a favourite amongst UK theatre lovers, having won three Oliver Awards for Best New Musical, Best Costume Design and Best Actor in a Musical.

With a book by Broadway legend Harvey Fierstein and songs by pop icon Cyndi Lauper, the joyous musical celebration is about the friendships we discover, and the belief that you can change the world when you change your mind.

Inspired by true events, Kinky Boots takes the audience from a gentleman's shoe factory in Northampton to the glamorous catwalks of Milan. The story follows Charlie Price, who is struggling to live up to his father's expectations and continue the family business of Price & Son.

With the factory's future hanging in the balance, help arrives in the unlikely but spectacular form of Lola, a performer in need of some sturdy new stilettos.

With direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell, who is behind the likes of Legally Blonde and Hairspray, it is set to be a hugely successful tour.

The tour will begin in Northampton in September 2018, before making its way over to Wolverhampton the following month.

Book writer Harvey Firestein, said: "The inspiring story of Kinky Boots will soon complete its full circle journey from Northampton to the silver screen to Broadway and London and now, at lest, back home to Northampton as it embarks on a national UK tour. How often does that happen?

"It's been an absolute thrill to witness the giant heart of our show raise audiences up out of their seats in clamorous joy night after night in the West End."

Kinky Boots takes to the stage at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre from Tuesday 16 - Saturday 27 October, 2018. Find tickets here
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