Tuesday, 31 March 2015

March Buys...

Well, April is here already! Where is this year going?!
I thought I'd share with you some of the stuff I bought last month, as I bought quite a lot (whoops) and I love it all. I've put it into two categories - beauty and home.

So I definitely had a splurge on home interior things this month, but it's about time really! As you can see a few things are travel related too, I can't help but love everything with a map. I've always wanted a vintage globe, and I found this one on sale in Laura Ashley. However I was rather disappointed with the size, as I ordered it online and picked it up in store expecting it to be a lot bigger! Oh well, what was I expecting for twenty quid  from Laura Ashley really?!

I'd spotted a print on Etsy a few months back which I really liked, and finally got round to buying it. It says 'Home is wherever I'm with you' and I thought it would look nice in our bedroom, which at the moment has very bare walls indeed.

Then the cushions were a spontaneous buy from one trip to the Trafford Centre. We'd already bought new cushions for the sofa that day when I spotted them as we were walking through Marks and Spencers at 9.30pm heading back to the car. (Yes, I wasn't even browsing but saw them from the escalator!) I knew they would look really cute if we could find a J and a R, but after searching the stock it looked like we were out of luck. Until I looked underneath a cushion and there my initial was! So I decided it was fate and had to buy them there and then. £10 each from M&S, but apparently Next are also selling something similar.

So this month I've had hair troubles. It was so long and knotty all the time, just getting completely unmanageable. Even with conditioning and deep intense conditioning treatments, I couldn't get a brush through it after washing. So I decided to buy this Aussie conditioning spray for 'Luscious Long' hair to detangle. It made it a bit easier, but didn't exactly detangle my thick mane of hair at first. However, now I have had my hair cut - mainly layered - and it is much better now and I can notice the effects of this leave-in conditioner more.

At the same time I invested in a blow drying spray, which has a number of benefits but the one which I was most bothered about was it cutting the drying time. As noted above, I have stupidly thick long hair and it takes me FOREVER to blow dry. Seriously, I can wash it in the morning and it will still be damp when I go to sleep at night. Again, I have noticed the effectiveness of this spray more after my recent hair cut, and I think it really does dry faster now.

On the left there is my new moisturiser which is part of my Aesop skincare regime. I've already written about this once so click here for my Aesop review. I love how the jar looks rather old fashioned, like something my Nana would have in her medicine cabinet. This is the Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream, and it smells absolutely divine - really fresh and perfect for the morning. It's specially designed as a lightweight moisturiser so it's good for people like me with an oily complexion or combination skin.

I also picked up these little beauties from a shopping trip while I was in Lisbon. How adorably cute are these toiletry bags? They came together as a set with the words 'Your summer, your dreams, your holidays' printed at the top. So simple, but so effective, they are a holiday essential and I knew I needed them as soon as I saw them. They are also really thin and light, made from a cotton material or something similar so are perfect for travelling light. I picked them up from Zara in Portugal, but I'm sure they'll have them in the UK too.

So those are my favourite purchases from this month. Now I can't wait to get shopping for clothes next month as my wardrobe didn't get much attention in March! What are you planning on buying this month?
J x

Thursday, 26 March 2015

City Break in Lisbon

This month Rik and I had the pleasure of exploring Portugal’s capital city in our “mystery getaway.” I was so captivated by the thought of a European mystery getaway, I knew I had to buy it straight away. There are so many parts of Europe I have left on my list to visit, and this would make it so much easier than picking somewhere! Budapest was high on my list, and I also would have been happy with Prague, Dublin or Barcelona. In the end we were given Lisbon, which I felt rather indifferent about – but after a wonderful, sunny few days I’m glad we got the chance to stay in a city I probably would have never bothered to visit.

We were so lucky with the weather – even though it was early March it was gorgeous and hotter than expected. Rik even got sunburnt! We weren't so lucky with the hotel... as it was a mystery we had no control over the flight times or accommodation, so I did expect the worse. But I have stayed in better hostels than this Lisbon "hotel!" A few weeks too late, I've just found about the Hostel Geeks website which features 5 star hostels around the world. There's one in Lisbon which I really wish we could have stayed in, it looks awesome!

On the first day we did all the touristy stuff – first we climbed the excessive hills of the city’s streets to reach the beautiful Castelo de São Jorge which looks knowingly over Lisbon. The views were incredible on that clear day. Then we took a ride on the tourist tram route through the city, noticing every cobbled street and piece of laundry which was hanging out of the apartment windows. We finished the afternoon relaxing on a park bench, before heading out for dinner and finding a spot with an idyllic view – a view so perfect that I knew I recognised it, and soon matched it up with the front cover of my guide book!

Tram Selfie

Stopping off at a stunning viewpoint on the way to the castle

Which brings me to my next point. On this trip I had a rude awakening, and learnt to never 100% trust a guidebook! I’m one of those travellers who LOVES to grab the guidebook and consult it at every turn. I memorise it on the plane journey and decide exactly what attractions we are visiting and where we are eating for lunch and dinner every day, according to the location and description. But Lisbon and Lonely Planet rumbled me this time. I chose a bar with a ‘stunning rooftop’ view for before dinner cocktails, followed by dinner at a Portuguese restaurant offering local food at local prices. We got lost looking for this rooftop bar, only to arrive and to be told it was shut on Mondays (not what it said in the book). So then, feeling very annoyed we jumped into a taxi to take us to our second stop – the restaurant. After arriving at a “road” which was simply a set of stairs, we walked up and down it twice and couldn’t see a hint of the place we were looking for! Tired and hungry with aching legs, we settled for another nearby restaurant which didn’t disappoint! This is where we ate alfresco and found the best view in Lisbon with the castle lip up at the top of the hill:

So I have learnt my lesson and next time I won’t rely heavily on guidebooks and other travel advice. Sometimes it’s better to be spontaneous, get lost in the backstreets and see what you discover. The following day we headed for the suburbs and the beaches, where I was pleasantly surprised. Just 20-30 minutes out of the city you’ll find Carcevelos, a huge surf beach with crystal blue waves and white sand. I didn’t think our city break could turn into a beach holiday so rapidly, but it did! We also got the chance to meet up with my friend Luke from uni, who is living in Portugal at the moment so that was lovely too.

Before we flew home we did something cheesy and locked our love away in Rossio square. I love all the lover’s padlock stuff, and I’ve always longed to go to Paris to leave our mark on the bridge (even though I’ve heard about the negative effects this is having on the architecture). This was a little different – it was a temporary structure, spelling out the word LOVE and asking for donations for the special padlocks which go towards a Mozambique-based charity. As we were celebrating our anniversary, it was the perfect excuse to join in with the cheesiness! Even though it won’t stay there forever as it was like a temporary art exhibition, we have the memories and photographs to cherish and I don’t have the guilt of knowing I have contributed to ruining the city’s structures.

It might not be as popular as Rome, Venice or Amsterdam, but Lisbon is definitely a city break destination which should be on your radar. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Dance Review: What the Body Does Not Remember

13/3/15 - The Lowry, Salford

Fierce, visceral and relevant. If I had to describe this Ultima Vez revival in three words those would be my chosen ones, which is quite an achievement for a work which debuted 28 years ago. It is difficult to believe that this piece was made in 1987, before I was even born. The gripping choreography, the experimental and physical way of working with bodies must have been ground-breaking, as I still find it utterly compelling today.

Wim Vandekeybus is the ultimate movement experimenter, and to think that this piece was his first work – well it’s understandable why he’s had such a long and impressive career. Each scene slowly builds into a perfectly timed crescendo, with dancers hurling bricks, throwing themselves into one another and writhing around on the floor. Every action involves a huge risk, and every dancer executes each movement with a powerful intention. The intention in their bodies is real – it is not performed deliberately as part of their act, in fact none of What the BodyDoes Not Remember feels like a dance performance created to please the audience. The dancers’ intention is real, as if they don’t move exactly when they need to or exactly as rehearsed, they are likely to get hurt.

Aside from the dramatic and thrilling aspects of the performance, it is equally as enjoyable to notice the more stripped back side of Vandekeybus’ choreography. Subtle humour is included in most sections, and best of all the set didn’t include wings. Dancers strolled off stage, casually undressed and collected props at each side of the stage which are usually hidden from view – further establishing bodies purely as vehicles for movement, and breaking down the barriers of performance.

There are two duet sections which stand out for me – the first is primal, animalistic, aggressive and provocative. The final scene includes a number of duets with one dancer on the floor and one in a standing position, the standing body manipulating and intimidating the body on the floor in what seems like a million different ways. Bodies stomp and jump ferociously around their prey, as the audience is transfixed by every intense movement.

Personally I really enjoyed watching the female dancers in this piece. They are just as strong as the males, performing all the same movements, risking just as much and executing just as much power and control. Strong and fierce, I believed they could do anything on that stage.

For me, I’m not sure anyone has really pushed the boundaries of dance and physical theatre like Wim Vandekeybus. His first piece, nearly three decades on, holds more standing and is more impressive than anything I have seen recently. That includes Jasmin Vardimon’s Park, which I watched at The Lowry the week before. As much as I enjoyed it – I love her political and social messages which are entwined with powerful yet intricate choreography - overall the work seemed to lack coherency and structure, the meaning and intention getting lost in parts. With Ultima Vez each scene or section has a clear ending and a new beginning, and you are so captivated by what the bodies on stage are doing that it doesn’t really matter why. But of course, delve deeper, and you will always find a satisfying interpretation.

The revival of What the Body Does Not Remember is currently touring the UK – catch it while you can.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Hello March!

So, I have a very exciting month ahead and I just had to vent my happiness about it all!
Of course, it's the start of spring but it's doubtful we'll see any sunshine anytime soon. Nope, I'm excited because there's an amazing line up of dance theatre at The Lowry and I'm off to Lisbon for a city break with the fiancé. 

First off, next week I'll be seeing Park by Jasmin Vardimon and I can't wait. The last - and only - piece of hers I have seen was 7734, and it pretty much left me stunned so I hope the dance theatre company can thrill me again. Watch the trailer and stuff here.

Then it's time for me and Rik to jet off on a well deserved break (we haven't been abroad together since our year of travelling - I know it's scandalous). We actually booked a mystery getaway so we didn't choose Lisbon but I'm pretty happy with the destination. Neither of us have been before so it will be a nice adventure, and hopefully it will be a bit warmer than it is here in Manchester.

No words can describe my excitement for the next performance I have tickets for - What the Body Does Not Remember by Ultima Vez. I love Utima Vez, I studied them at university and have seen my friend perform with the company in London. But this work is significant as it was the debut piece of choreography from Wim Vandekeybus in 1987. 25 years on, it is still wowing audiences worldwide and I see him as the forefather of physical theatre. Check out dates and more info about the UK spring tour here: http://ultimaveztour.co.uk/ 

I'll definitely be reviewing this theatre duo - maybe together so I can compare - so check back to see if my expectations are lived up to.

Happy March! x