Sushi on the Sea and exploring the Navigator of the Seas

Sushi on the Sea and exploring the Navigator of the Seas

You may not already know this about me, but I bloody love boats. When my mum went travelling, she took pictures of boats for me everywhere she went. I used to live by the Grand Union Canal and used to sit on the bridge to 'watch the Rosie and Jim boats' go past.

Going on a cruise has always been on my 'bucket list'. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but chilling out on boat and seeing the world is most definitely my idea of a fab holiday. It was a grey day when we got to go on our mini adventure on a boat (yes, I know it's a ship but boat is nicer to say), so just imagine blazing sunshine and blue skies...

Navigator of the Seas

The Navigator of the Seas is the largest in the Royal Caribbean fleet... (is it  a fleet? Or is that just for the Navy...) and I swear to all the deities, it's like a town on the sea. It's pretty damn huge. When we boarded, it was like being in a little high street. There was a little pub that actually looked like a pub, a STARBUCKS (Which was desperately needed after a nightmare start and ridiculous O'Clock), and shops with everything you could possibly need. Like I said, town on the sea.

Navigator of the Seas Royal Caribbean

Plus... Just looking at how beautiful the dining room is. It's like being in a movie. I had to resist the urge to sit at the Captain's table for the fun of it...

Navigator of the Seas

When many people think of cruise ships, more often than not it'll be with the image of Iris and Frank going on an adventure they should have had 50 years ago. But with Royal Caribbean, it's not all about the older generation and families. There's a plethora of activities an areas to explore as well as the opportunity for little day trips along the way. With casinos ALL THE FOOD IMAGINABLE, multiple pools, a gym and even a surf machine type thing, you're not exactly going to be short of things to do.

Navigator of the Seas Royal Caribbean

Navigator of the Seas Royal Caribbean

The food is what blew me away the most. I have only recently started trying fish and it surprised my friends that I managed to have a while MEAL of Sushi. Erica thoughts I wouldn't eat any of it, but even though I avoided the octopus (I'm sorry but I can't eat Ursula) and pulled the prawns out of things (evil sea worms of death), I LOVED every mouthful. Izumi is run by Travis Kamiyama who started training back at the age of 14 which is just incredible in itself. He loves exploring different styles and fusions so the Sushi he creates is certainly not your average, always taking inspiration from other cuisines in his creations.

food royal caribbean

Seriously, doesn't it all just look delicious. AND I LOVED IT.

Being able to explore the decks and depths of (flight of...) The Navigator of the Seas has just made me want to go on a tour even more. After speaking to fellow bloggers and even some of the passengers, I've actually been looking into it. When I got home that night I was talking to my friends and boyfriend about how I desperately wanted to go on one and with mini breaks from £309pp, it's not really that much more expensive than another holiday!

Have you ever been on a cruise? What tips do you have?

*Disclaimer: I was invited on board the Navigator of the seas but all opinions are my own and I genuinely do want to go on a cruise now. No lies here!

We Are Lumos: Charity Gala and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

We Are Lumos: Charity Gala and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child London

In 1997 one woman captured the hearts of a generation and more to come. The story of a little orphan boy, his adventures and friends taught us that it's OK to be different and that there will always be a light, no matter how dark and bleak the world may seem. Now, 19 years later, J.K Rowling is putting that into practise.

Lumos is not only the spell that brings light, it's also J.K Rowling's charity working towards making the world a better place for over 8 million children (that we know of) in institutions.

Lumos Charity

I'm going to be honest here, I had heard of Lumos (obvs) but I had no idea what they really did nor the immense scale of their work. While at their charity gala as new ambassadors for Lumos, we had the opportunity to meet some of the celeb ambassadors and listen to talks from Georgette Mulheir and Bill Di Mechele who both chair the charity.

Normally when people think of orphanages (or institutions), many people will have the image of a loving environment and happy children running all over the joint. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Lumos charity

The harsh reality of the children in institutions is that 80% of them have at lease one living parent but have been placed into the system because of poverty, disability. discrimination and the need for health care that their parents may not be able to provide. Many children could then be subject to trafficking and abuse. Not only will they suffer physically and emotionally but also intellectually as their education could be considered as a sideline or they are lacking support to succeed.

Lumos Charity Gala

On the even darker side of things, shocking figures show that 1 in 7 children raised in institutions will resort to prostitution later in life and 1 in 10 will be driven to suicide, One. In. Ten. It's enough to send a chill down your spine and the look of sheer shock I saw on Jason Isaac's face (who is also new to the campaign), really said it all.

During the talks, Warwick Davis and Evanna Lynch told us more about the work they have been doing with Lumos, most recently in Moldova, what they have seen and how they are working with Lumos to get these children out of the institutions. It made me desperately want to help more.

While we were there, we had the opportunity to actually meet Evanna Lynch ( LUNA BLOODY LOVEGOOD) who is hands down one of the nicest people I have ever met. She came right over to our table and started chatting away and we all ended up huddled around her phone watching videos of Chris Martin singing a song about wanting to be in Gryffindor.

Gryffindor for the win.

Lumos Charity Gala
From left to right: 1. Mugglenet 2. Alex, 3. Katy 4. EVANNA LYNCH, 5. Katie, 6. ME 7. Charlie

Warwick Davis is in pretty much everything and sums up my childhood in movies so just being in the same room as him and working towards the same cause filled me with joy. Jason Isaacs... well, I have no words.

*cue silly giggles*

So very dashing, in a nutshell.

Following all the talks, photos and general nattering, we all filed over to the Palace Theatre for a special Gala performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There, the experience was opened by the one and only J,K Rowling giving is a speech about Lumos and their goal and their work.

J.K Rowling is just inspiring. Did you know she covers all costs of the charity out of her own pocket? I did not. Did you know that this then means that all proceeds go directly to the charity and their work to help those 8 million children (that we know of) one by one? I did not. The way she spoke so passionately about Lumos' goal to get those children out of institutions and into loving families really struck a chord. I've been privileged enough to grow up in a very loving family and this has made me want to do more. Already there have been discussions with the Bangarang Girls about what we can do. All. The. Ideas.

If you also want to help the work of Lumos, you can buy one of these AMAZING t shirts right here.

They're absolutely fabulous and I will continue to wear mine with pride. They're only available until October so you'll have to be quick and, remember, all proceeds go directly to Lumos and not into someone else's pocket.

Lumos Charity Gala
Don't we all look fabulous in these tops. You should buy one.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child London

When it comes to the play itself, I will obviously #KeepTheSecrets. I'm going to be seeing it again VERY SOON and will be sharing a completely spoiler free  review. In the meantime, for those of you who have read the script and had some sad #opinions, remember that it is not the finished project, There are so many elements that cannot be portrayed on paper. It's just the dialogue and stage directions so it's far from the full experience on stage. In short, it's an absolute delight. I laughed, I cried, I screamed. Charlie, Distracted, who has already seen it, thoroughly enjoyed watching my reactions!

Really, you just need to see it for it to completely make sense.

I am beyond thrilled that I have been given the opportunity to work with Lumos as an ambassador for their work. This was honestly one of the best days of my life and, despite how long this blog post has become, I really don't have enough words.

Earlier on, I described J.K Rowling as inspirational but, looking back on it, I don't think that word is big enough. She created a world that made mine, and so many other people's lives, better through a work of fiction and now she's using her influence as literary queen and icon to make this a reality for those who so desperately need it. Be the Light with Lumos and J.K Rowling and remember that children need families, not orphanages.

* Disclaimer: This post is on behalf of Lumos and to raise awareness of their latest campaign. I was not paid for this opportunity, just really bloody happy! 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Midnight Book release

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Midnight Book release

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child launch

This post is a long time coming. Sometimes I wish Time-Turners were real so I could give myself a little more time... that and I wouldn't have to be rewriting this post because blogger deleted it. #Rude.

Back in 2007, Charlie, Distracted and I attended the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We were a part of history. We were doing something that we never thought would be possible again. It started a love for midnight releases, ever since that first one, I have been to many midnight releases for books, films and videogames. Most recently I was one of the first people in the country to leave Waterstones clutching my copy of Go Set a Watchman tightly to my chest.

I have to say though, nothing really compares to a Harry Potter midnight release.

The second I bought tickets, the eager countdown began. When the day came, I donned my Gryffindor colours with pride and, wand in hand, made it hastily across London to Piccadilly to join my fellow fans, cosplayers and Potterheads.

Harry Potter Cosplay

Standing in the queue with Leanne, Charlie and her sister, gold enveloped were handed out, we drew lightning bolts on our foreheads and we waited anxiously (well, I was) while we waited for Katy to arrive and the doors to open.

As we stepped through those double doors of my all time favourite bookshop, I was overwhelmingly happy for the first time in weeks. We were greeted by a String Quartet playing music from the films and I ended up with butterflies in my tummy.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child launch

 Seriously, hats off to the visual lot who organised the Launch. They had made everything perfect down to the tiniest detail. There was a pub quiz, Quidditch, Butter Beer, a mini version of Hogsmeade and THE THIRD FLOOR WAS OUT OF BOUNDS. Guys, you're all legends.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child launch

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child launch

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child launch

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child launch

 After all our exploring and missing out on top points in the pub quiz... (George lost his left ear, not his right *Face palm*), we joined the winding queue up the stairs.

Midnight arrived and after a ten second countdown, there was an immense cheer throughout the shop. Tears were shed for a variety of reasons and I finally ha my hands on a copy of the script.

Once again, I was a part of literary history and I cannot thank Waterstones enough.

 I made my decision before the release to not read the script until after I had seen the play and now, thanks to the #WeAreLumos campaign, I finally have. The whole situation has made this year 1000 times better. There will be a new post shortly to tell you all about Lumos and the amazing work they do to improve the lives of children around the world.

At the Theatre: From page to stage

At the Theatre: From page to stage

Theatre London

Let’s face it, the West End s pretty much the best place to ever go to the theatre. I’m sure Broadway is awesome and everything but we are a country of performers, writers and musicians that is steeped in so much history, you can’t help but be in awe when you walk down the Charing Cross Road or Shaftsbury Avenue. As based on recent performances, and some past, London is the ultimate place to make the name of a new production, especially one that has been lifted straight from the page.

In 2003 we had Phillip Pullmans ‘His Dark Materials’ brought to life through the master of puppetry, in 2014 Harper Lee’s iconic To Kill aMockingbirdcame to the Regents Park Theatre and was so popular it continued to sell out at the Barbican, and now we have the legacy of ‘Harry Potter’ continuing beyond page and screen, with a two part spectacular at the Palace Theatre in ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’… I say ‘spectacular’ but I’m just assuming as I’m not going to see it until the end of September…

Any way… Harry Potter is beyond the point… at this moment. Watch. This. Space.
As an avid book lover, one of my favourite things is to see my favourite stories appear in front of me as though they were real life and London will always be the place to see it happen. This is not just your standard listicle but it is a collection of tales that I love and have continued to love since I see the characters I have always imagined take their first step onto the stage. These are not in order of preference but are just a group of plays I have seen and WILL see. Some reviewed, some just hoping. Either way, I love them (already).

A lot of these will already have appeared on the blog but, meh!

The Phantom of the Opera

If you know me in anyway, you would have known that this would already be high on the list. It’s just a given. The Phantom of the Opera was originally written as a novel by Gaston Leroux in 1909 and back in the 1980s, it was turned into the production we know today; a musical love story of (doubtfully) unreciprocated love, splendour and beauty by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Everyone knows of the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and guaranteed you will know at least one of the songs even if you don’t know it. ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ is one of those plays that I will go and see as often as I can. I’ve actually lost count of the number of times I have sat in the audience of Her Majesty’s Theatre  (where it has performed since 1986. Dude, it’s older than I am!) to watch that chandelier come crashing down but I will always keep going back. I even went two weeks ago and I am adamant it’s the best version I have seen to date.

Les Miserables

Another of the longest running performances in the West End/ the world... but I didn't get to see it until 2014! Madness. Following the release of the film in 2012, Les Miserables has become even more famous/popular in some ways that many tend to forget about the book. It is a bit of a beast and I have lost count of the number of times I have tried to read it but the stage version makes everything so much more interesting. I'm the kind of person who always says 'the book was better', but with Les Misrables, that's really not the case. Just listening to the soundtrack makes me cry, let alone see the full performance.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

I first read this book when I was sitting my A-Levels... a bloody long time ago now. Charlie, Distracted  knew how much I loved it and booked me tickets to see it for my birthday a few years ago, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time is an exploration of adolensence, curiosity, life with aspergers and so much more. It's very difficult to explain the concept on page, let alone how they do it on stage. It's just amazing. If you're going to see it for yourself, I strongly recommend getting seats high up. You'll thank me later when you see why.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Briefly spoken about it just now and also previously reviewed it here. To Kill a Mockingbird is my all time favourite book. When the stage version originally opened at the Regents Park Theatre, I tried desperately to get tickets but failed. When it came back to the Barbican, Charlie, Distracted succeeded because she's amazing like that. It's difficult to put into words just how good this was, all I can say is that it's always a good thing when you see something you love so dearly not tarnished by someone else's vision. They used the whole stage in such an imaginative way and truly brought the story to life, just as we always wanted it.

War Horse

When I read the book, I cried on the train. When I saw the play, I cried pretty much throughout the whole thing. It's strange to think that puppets can be seen as real. Seriously, the way they move and they noises the actors make as they control it, make the whole thing seem more real. With a minimal set design, it's all you can focus on. The whole thing is raw and beyond beautiful, it's no wonder it was around for so long. I was lucky enough to see this adaptation right before it ended and it will be going on tour in 2017. Do yourself a favour and see it before you miss it again.

I'm lucky enough to already have seen a bunch of my favourite books on stage, but there are still a fair few I am anxiously anticipating (in the good way).

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

If you know me at all, this doesn't really require much explanation and I'm counting down the days... and planning my outfit.


This is coming to the Vaults and Charlie and I obviously couldn't pass up the chance to get tickets. We'll be there in November

The Red Shoes

A short story by Hans Christian Anderson turned into one of my favourite films by the Archers is now the latest spark of genius by Matthew Bourne. I will be getting tickets VERY soon.

What's your favourite book adaptation?

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post with but all opinions and excitement are my own

Camping in Europe: Childhood Memories

Camping in Europe: Childhood Memories

When I was little, holidays mostly involved camping in Europe. You know, little Caravan Holidays with the whole family in the South of France and further. If you ask me, they're the best kind of holiday as you have a whole new adventure ahead of you from the very second you wake up at ridiculous O'Clock.

One year, my dad decided we were going to DRIVE to Italy. Even though  was very annoyed with the two day drive initially, this is probably one of the best holidays I have ever had. We had two cars, drove through 6 different countries (maybe...) and basically had our adventure last an extra two days while we were driving through Europe and jumping out of the car each time we reached a new border so we can stand there and say we had officially been in that country. It totally counts.

Sitting on the steps of a caravan, eating our sandwiches while wearing goggles... BECAUSE WE CAN

You may have noticed another post recently where I go on about being rubbish at camping, camping in Europe is different though as strange as that may seem. Rather than pitching up in essentially a field, European camp sites such as those from Yelloh! Village , can come with everything. In one place we were staying, there were barbecue pits, swimming pools, night entertainment and a private beach. Plus we got to stay in 4 caravans right next to each other and had our own private little world.

One of joys of camping, rather than staying in a hotel, rather than being restricted to certain areas or timings for things, you're left completely to your own devices. One time, rather than go to the on site cafĂ©, my mum made a whole roast dinner using the ovens from multiple different caravans, we got to explore the country we were in and one time jumped in a car and drove ffrom our camp site in France to spend a day in Spain. Just because we could.

During the years of camping holidays, I have made a bunch of friends from around the world and done things I had never even thought of... Like that time I went on a quad bike, crashed into a tree and was continuously sprayed in the face by a sprinkler... Typical me. Dressing up as Rocky Balboa (because I was a cool kid) and winning a prize in a fancy dress competition, and actually learning how to play pool...

Yeah, we're awesome

As an adult these are some of my fondest memories and I am constantly looking for the opportunity to go on another camping holiday. My dad has been saying for years we'll all go on one and I know for a fact I'll take my children (hypothetical right now) on adventures across Europe just like I had.

*Disclaimer: This post is in association with Yelloh! Village but all stories and stuff are mine. I do genuinely love camping and yes I did crash into that tree...