Around here lately.

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Yikes, where did the last 3 weeks go?  It doesn’t feel like that long since I’ve blogged, but whattayaknow, it is.

 

 

It’s been pretty cruisy around here lately. Since Brigadoon ended and March began, life has been pretty low-key.  I’ve spent a lot of time just chilling at home or with Dave, and it’s been kinda lovely. Reading, TV, cross-stitching… I just finished a weekend where apart from a trip to Tesco, I didn’t leave the house. And I kinda loved it. (Totally loved it).

 

 

I throw myself into projects so hard, that when they’re over, I take this recuperation time pretty seriously.  Unfortunately, I also threw my back out last week, and while it’s way better, I’m getting twinges from it today.  Behave, back!  It’s like it knew I’m almost 30. Sad.

 

 

We’re heading home to NZ in a few weeks (!) so I’m trying to be money-conscious and stay home like a Nana.  And despite all of my previous plans, I’ve failed on being any sort of exercise bunny in the lead up to it. I shouldn’t really worry that much, as it’ll only be family and close friends anyway, but I wish I looked my best. Ah well. I’ll get there.  My attempt to return to the gym last week was thwarted by my back issues, but I might still go along tonight and try and at least get some sort of fitness back.

 

 

It’s going to be really nice to see everyone and sort wedding stuff and just have some time off. We’ve both used a good chunk of leave on this trip, so we’re planning on really enjoying it!  I’m also, as previously said, turning 30, and my Dad is turning 60, and there’ll be much cause for celebration.  Dave hasn’t been back to NZ in over 3 years, so it’ll be really good for him to see people, too. Let’s hope my new passport gets delivered on time. I’m such a dick, ordering it so close to time, but my other one has a tear in it…

 

 

I also was freaking delighted to spend an overnight in London last week for a course, and despite my usual “ugh work trip to London” experience, I actually ended up having a really nice lunch at the airport, travelled to Victoria once I arrived in London, was given a free ticket to Wicked at the Apollo, had an amazing time at the show, got GBK on my way to my hotel, got up early and had a great day at an interesting conference (where I met some really nice people!) and then had a steak, cocktail and dessert before flying home.  It was the nicest work trip ever, and I felt like I had a mini London vacay. Swell.

 

 

I hope everything is going well for you all – I’ll post a few more times this week if I can, as I’ve got some good drafts sitting there to finish off.

 

 

…xxx

swhite

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Spice Up Your Life

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6 months ago, on a whim, I agreed to join a few Kiwis down in London for the new musical based on songs by the Spice Girls, Viva Forever.  Written by Jennifer Saunders, it was bound to be entertaining.

 

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It took me a while to get my tickets booked to fly down, but I finally organised them mid-November, and headed down on Saturday.  I spent the afternoon shopping and wandering London, with all of its Christmas lights, including many trips to Boots after I realised I’d lost my bag of toiletries – including expensive MAC and Lancome lipsticks – at the airport.

At 5:30pm, we met up for drinks at Grace Bar in Piccadilly before heading to the theatre, and the kind people next to us agreed to swap so that I could sit with the group (after buying my ticket separately and being a few seats over from the rest of them!).

I should preface this next section by saying that back at the height of Spice Girls mania in the 90s? I was obsessed.  I had the dolls, the polaroid camera, the sticker book, the movie, the t-shirts, you name it.  But, despite my bias, I am not a huge fan of these types of musicals, and was just really expected it to be a bit of fun.

 

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But the show? well, wow.  I am a bit of a musical theatre geek, having seen hundreds in my life (and performing in many!), and I know a thing or two about “jukebox musicals” (especially having just done one in the Fringe!).  Mamma Mia! may be fun and all, but it’s not really my thing to see.  We Will Rock You is probably the closest I’ve seen to a decent jukebox musical, in terms of storyline and creativity in how they select and tailor the songs.

However.  Viva Forever is well-written (Jennifer Saunders, I bow down to thee), cleverly satirical about the joys of fame, and uses the back catalogue of the group in a very inventive and entertaining way.  Its characters are believable and real, without a single piece of cringeworthy or unnatural dialogue (which is tough to say about any show, really!).  And the cast were just fabulous: Sally Ann Triplett (also known for Mamma Mia! and Eurovision) in particular was incredible.  The story is very funny yet moving and poignant at times, and takes some of the less-familiar Spice Girls hits to new heights.

The audience sang and danced in their seats as the show progressed, and to our delight, ended up being the only singers on the echo section of the chorus of 2 Become 1 (“…wanna make love to ya, baby…”) which spurred on even more and louder singing and a comic, deliberate emphasis on “…get it on, get it on!” – I think even the cast were laughing a little on stage.

At the end of the show, I was thinking to myself how amazing it would be (and so so appropriate for the audience’s enjoyment) if the encore involved some repeated songs the audience could really sing and dance to.  And they delivered!  After curtain calls, we rose to a standing ovation, cheering and clapping and whooping, and stayed on our feet to dance to hits like StopWannabe and Spice Up Your Life.  Fantastic.

So Londoners? go. Go see it. GO!  If you loathe the Spice Girls, then fair enough, but if you want a good time laughing, dancing and singing along to a great musical, it’s well worth a night out.

 

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Then on Sunday I wandered the Southbank Christmas markets and walked along the Thames on my way back to Victoria to get my train to Gatwick.  It was a stunning day and rounded off a great (if not expensive!) weekend in London.

Now I just need to get the Spice Girls out of my head!

 
 
…xxx
swhite

20 hours in London

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Yesterday I headed to London to see a live show of the popular podcast “The Complete Guide to Everything”.  If you don’t listen to the show (like most I know!), you won’t get the excitement, but I was very keen to see these guys in the flesh, after listening to them every week for over a year.

After a featured period on iTunes UK, the guys suddenly became very popular in the UK, and had their first “meet up” with UK fans in October 2010.  Then last year, they performed their first “live podcast” shows in New York and London, which sold out. So they came over to do it again.  Tuesday night they were in Manchester, then they had two nights of shows in London. I attended night one only, purely because the first gig they announced was London on the 12th, then after that sold out, added the show on the 11th. I planned my trip around that show before Manchester was announced (which is closer and easier, but oh well!) and if I’d realised I could have had Friday off as well (which I now do!) I would have gone to both London shows, as they ended up releasing more tickets for tonight! Ah well.

So that’s how I ended up spending just 20 hours in London.

Yesterday I planned out my morning to get the airport bus from near my place to the train station, and left with loads of time. I had laid out my train reservation, accommodation details and had packed everything I needed. Except my TICKET to TCGTE!   I remembered in a cold panic on the bus by the zoo, and had to get off, call a cab, get it to take me home then to the station. He was an amazing cabbie, though, and got me there with a few minutes to spare to pick up my tickets and board the train. £17, though!

Laptop ready to go
Leaving Newcastle
Coloured field and clouds

I had a pleasant journey, running to time of 4 hours 45.  Once I got into Kings Cross it was a very simple hop onto the Victoria line south 2 stops to Warren St, then a 5 minute walk to my accomodation, which was on the beautiful Fitzroy Square in Soho.

 
It was a lovely night with just a soft breeze so I headed out to Itsu, which was supposed to be a superhealthy Japanese place.  Unfortunately all of their hot pots had mushrooms (and annoyingly couldn’t be prepared without it…) so I ended up with an amazing salmon sushi set..:
 
Yum!

On my walk back I was really amused to see how bundled up the Londoners were (as they were today as well) – so many layers. It was 12C! I was very happy, after last week’s snow.

After getting ready using the awesome No. 7 lighted makeup mirror (see left, I want one!), I headed out at around 6:45, back to Kings Cross then over to Kings Place, the theatre for the show.  And here is where my latest bout of self-confidence really helped: I approached two random young guys at the bar who looked a bit lost, and asked them if they were there to see the show. Luckily they were, so they joined me for a few drinks.  They were from Reading, a half-hour train away, and one was a fan, the other just along for the ride.

 
Show time!

At 8pm, we were seated and ready for the show.  It was great, like watching two friends talk shit on stage and full of old, inside gags and fun.

At one stage, Tom was doing the Tim & Tom Solve Your Problems segment with a guy named Neil, who’d been sitting right in front of me. It was quite fun having part of the show right next to me!

It was also kinda fun to see Tom up close. Little did I know, I didn’t have to try hard to do that..

After the show, we headed back to the bar, and not too long afterwards, the guys came in. After they’d been chatting to others for a while and had a free moment, I went up to say hello. I started by telling them how far I’d come to see them, which they were impressed by (Tim: “You’re crazy”.  Tom: “5 hours is how long I travelled!”) and then mentioned that I was the one who had written their drinking game.  After which the following conversation happened:

Tim: What?
Tom: Wait. Wait. What’s your name?
Me: Kat!
Tim: Oh yeah!
Tom: Oh we love you! You’re awesome!
Tim: Yeah, that was amazing! And you’re always tweeting such hilarious stuff at us!

After which my brain imploded. And I died. Post over.  No wait.

We chatted the rest of the night, on and off, with them circling the bar chatting to lots of fans. Occasionally one of the staff would hang around, and Tom would be like, “Oh hey, by the way, this is Kat. She’s awesome.”  It was so surreal. Sure, these guys are random internet quasi-celebrities, but their podcasts have been a big deal to me, and a huge source of entertainment and laughter in shitty times.  Their voices are distinctive in my mind, and standing in the bar talking to them after so long, and having them think I was awesome and worth introducing was really brilliant.

They also obliged me by taking a photo:

So all in all, it was a really fun night and well worth the trip.  We continued drinking until around midnight when the bar kicked us out (venue closing), and I headed back to my room.  Buzzing from the evening, I slept about 1:30.

The next morning I had plans to visit the London Jewish Museum, and have a wander through Camden Markets. I left the flat at 9ish and grabbed some breakfast before getting the tube to Camden Town. It was only 9:40, so things were just starting to open up. I got some cheap sunglasses at a stall, then headed to find the museum.  I arrived at 9:55am, so walked around the block a little, where the blossoms were out in full force:

 
Albert Street has these great knobbly trees that remind me a bit of Levin, New Zealand (a pass-through-only town). I was happy to sit and wait for opening in the sun.
 
 
After planning an hour or so at the museum, I spent nearly two.  The history parts were great, the festival section had some amazing pieces in it (including a ridiculously-beautiful ark from the Venice ghetto), and I spent some time in the Holocaust section, which chronicled the life of Leon, one survivor of Auschwitz, whose wife and young son were gassed and after he was liberated from the camp, he spent the next 60 years of his life making sure everyone knew his story and what had happened during the Shoah.  He never remarried, and he had an amazing vibrant personality.  The video interview with him was incredible, and I held it together until he pushed up his sleeve to show the camera his wrinkled and faded but still very visible tattoo: his number. 98828. What a man, what a story.
 
After that I was pleased to get upstairs to the photography exhibition by Judah Passow. Called No Place Like Home, it had captured “moments” of Jewish life in Britain, and it was just truly astounding. When the book is released, I will definitely get it.  It’s there until June 5th, and I strongly urge any visitors to London to go.
 
In the gift shop I purchased this wonderful bag:
 
Can’t wait to take it shopping!
 
 
After I left the museum, I had just enough time to go back to Soho, get my bag, get accosted with a pro-life pamphlet outside a women’s centre (see below!) and get back on the tube to Kings Cross.
 
 
 
Oh, this was my room, and one of the pieces of art! The gay couple I was staying with had loads of brilliant pieces.
 
 
 
And then it was back on the train, and back to Edinburgh.
 
 
 
But what a trip! what fun. I’ll be back in September, probably staying at the same place (Airbnb = awesome).
 
 
 

Ahoy-oy.

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Right now, Dave is watching a football game streaming on his PC, while chopping carrots, potatoes and swede for the casserole, and swearing like a sailor at the screen. I guess we’re not winning anymore.

I’m on the bed, with the laptop on a small side table, flicking between internet windows and Buffy.
 
(Must be Sunday).
 
For the most part, settling in to life here has been relatively simple. I must admit that I still struggle at times with the pure distance that I am from home, and the small amount of contact I have with my loved ones. Add that to the infuriating internet updates that come in the wrong timezone, so disappear off of my current Facebook homepage, or the emails that I never seem to be able to reply to as fast as I’d like.
 
(I am also typing this while I watch Dave chop without looking which makes me slightly nervous.)
 
In good news, however, I did just have Chris to stay. I took some time off work and went down to London, and surprisingly, still remembered where everything is, so was able to be a little bit of a tour guide for him. Then I dragged him up here on a cheap orange plane to Edinburgh, where miraculously, the sun came out and no one tried to stab him. We saw the castle for free, went dancing on a Tuesday night ’til 2am, and ate at the local greasy spoon, where he tried black pudding for the first time.
He also seemed to enjoy the vegetarian haggis we served up. Pity it was only a 3 day visit, but maybe more next time.
 
Next month I’ll have 2 visitors, almost back-to-back, and while I can’t really take the time off of work to show them around like I could Chris, it’ll be good to have people with me again. I was starting to feel a little bit like an island, with only one tree for fruit, but soon it’s gonna be a whole cocktail.
 
And winter is coming! winter here means actual holly on the Christmas table, and possibly snow next year, and coats and scarves and gloves and ears with flaps. I might get to go sledding.
 
Music, vlogs, posts, love to come. It’s been far too long and not expressing myself is starting to make me twitchy.
 
I hope you are well. Send postcards.

London

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When we arrived into London we’d been travelling for over 30 hours. We’d only finished packing in the morning, and had ended up early at the airport in Wellington, and were transferred to an earlier flight at the last minute. Checked all the way through, which is a rarity for staff travel, but a benefit of leaving from your base airport, where the staff all know you.

Our Hong Kong transit was hot but relatively painless, and I vowed never to bring a jacket when travelling again. What a hassle. Once we arrived in London, the tube was fairly warm also, so I didn’t really wear my jacket until later in the evening. Point taken, and I definitely didn’t bring it on my way home and was much more comfortable.

Arriving in London, we were astounded by the customs queue. I’d heard about Heathrow, but not to that extent. Craig was picking us up, and it was good that he left late, as we took an hour and a half to clear the customs arrival point. He was waiting at the arrivals entrance, and we waved enthusiastically at each other. So nice to have a friendly face welcome us!

My time there was spent touristing it up. Sarah showed me all those monuments and buildings that American sitcoms show you to convince the audience that they’re actually in London filming this! really! It was surreal but so fun at the same time.

What blew me away about the city is the amazing amount of people there are everywhere. Well everywhere that is central. I’m so used to little old New Zealand, I guess, that the tourists, Londoners and tube-hoppers were a little baffling at first. I grew to get used to it, however, and push my way around the tube when necessary.

I also saw a couple of places that are pretty neat, such as the Globe Theatre:

And somewhere very exciting and special to me, that I dragged Dave out to: Abbey Road.

What a dream it’d be to record there sometime.. to know the history; the legendary musicians that have recorded there. It was fun enough walking across the famous zebra crossing.

Overall, I’m looking forward to seeing Londontown again when I return to Scotland, and spending more time with the Burkes there after they move over. I never saw myself moving to the UK or liking it this much but it was a fun adventure…

Scotland travel stories soon.

Oooh-kay

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Or the UK. Whichever you prefer.

I am here. Well. I have been here for nearly 3 weeks – I am leaving on Monday. I feel very torn about leaving. There is so much to do in preparation for coming back next year, but at the same time, returning to New Zealand means going back to work and going back to being without Dave.

Add that to the fact that I’ve kinda fallen in love with Edinburgh. What a beautiful city. Photos to come.

London was great as well – so much to see and the weather was fantastic. Sarah was an excellent wee host and I felt like I actually got a taste of the city. Looking forward to going back and not doing so much touristy stuff, now that I’ve done that, and starting to see the lesser-known areas. Sooo many tourists. I was blown away.

But yes. When I get back and have loads of time and am sad sad sad I shall post the photos of my trip and give you more of a rundown. Right now I have to spend time with Dave, get some rest in after travelling back from the Highlands today, and well, sort out my stuff.

Packing is not going to be fun.