Saturday, 27 April 2013

Matilda the Musical by the Royal Shakespeare Company

Roald Dahl has been a permanent fixture in my family's life ever since my sister and I were old enough to open our eyes. As young children we were read (and later read to ourselves) 'Revolting Rhymes' so relentlessly that to this day, I can still recite 'Cinderella' from beginning to end without missing a beat. Next of course followed 'James and the Giant Peach', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'The Witches' and later still, Dahl's more sinister adult short tales such as 'Skin and Other Stories'. Dahl's imagination for the twisted and the fantastical has never failed to amaze me, so imagine how excited I was to discover that someone had transferred a pinch of his brilliance into song and dance, in the shape of one of the best stories of all, 'Matilda'.

For those of you who are yet to discover Roald Dahl, Matilda is the story of a very special little girl born into one of the least special or appreciative families. Taunted and ignored, she turns her attention to the friends that never failed her- books. Then, using her extraordinary mind, Matilda sets out to perform a child's justice in a very adult world.

This uplifting story is one that transfers spectacularly onto stage. The quirky songs (which I wasn't surprised to discover were written by comedian and musician Tim Minchin), tight choreography and wonderful set design all helped animate the characters to larger than life proportions. Miss Trunchball made you want to cower in your seat while Matilda's loathsome parents made you squirm in your skin.

The set at the start of the show. If you want to see more photos from the performance, the Matilda website has a few. 

But the thing that amazed me the most was the performance of the children. Each under 13, they sang, danced and acted as if they'd been doing this job for years beyond their own. They managed the transformation from repulsive little squirts to miniature heroes seamlessly, lead by a resolute Matilda, captivating the hearts of the audience left, right and centre.

I throughly enjoyed the flamboyant performance and I think Dahl would approve, as in his own words he once wrote, "Matilda said, "Never do anything by halves if you want to get away with it. Be outrageous. Go the whole hog. Make sure everything you do is so completely crazy it's unbelievable..."" I think the RSC's interpretation of 'Matilda' might just fit the bill.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Sri Lanka

My exams aren't over until June and consequently (as you may have noticed) I've failed to do anything interesting in the last few weeks. To make up for this, I thought I'd take you all on (another) trip down memory lane. Please, don't try too hard to contain your excitement...

A few summers ago, my sister, Mum and I went to visit Sri Lanka. This was not to be a lounge around on the beach style holiday, but more of a 'get up and go' and 'lets see everything there is on offer' affair. We'd heard tales of golden temples, elephants roaming wild and ancient tea plantations so wanted to see  everything for ourselves!

Despite our intention to explore, this didn't mean we had to stay in anything short of luxury, so we picked the Jetwing Beach Hotel as our base. Here, we were in the costal town of Negombo, not too far from the cultural treasure trove of the city of Colombo, putting us in the prime spot to start our adventures. I found the mix of food at the hotel rather fascinating as there was the standard unsurprising western foods next to the much more interesting Sri Lankan cuisine which, although not all to my taste, was interesting to try. There were also some fantastic themed nights and a beautiful restaurant called "Black Coral" where we were served stunningly tasty dishes by engaging and knowledgeable staff which really completed the dining experience.

Anyway, moving on from food...

After a day or two recovering from our flight by soaking up the Sri Lankan sun, we started our explorations in ernest. We hired a driver, a local man who knew about everything there was to know and discussed with him what we wanted to see and where he thought we should go. Then we set off.

We were shown some magical places although I'll only share with you my highlights, otherwise we'll be here all day!

The Dambulla Cave Temple was a truly spectacular sight. You had to climb up an enormous rock (while wild monkeys skittered around your feet) to reach the cave networks, where you were faced with giant statutes of Buddha throughout the stages of his life. The view from the top was also beautiful.

Another stunning temple we visited was the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. This temple was so ornate you had no idea where to look next! Everything the light touched glittered gold.

One place I really enjoyed visiting was the Tea Museum. Here, you could see all the old machinery which was used to separate out the different bits of the tea plants and learned about which different parts of the plant are used for what purpose. For example, did you know that tea bags are simply made up of 'tea dust,' essentially all the left over bits after all the good bits have been separated out?!

However, my favourite place had to be the elephant orphanage. Here we got to see a huge herd of elephants who had been brought together by the orphanage keepers. I especially enjoyed watching them all splash around in the river while they enjoyed a good rub down by their keepers.

Hats made from lotus flowers!
Sigiriya: The Lion Rock

We all really enjoyed our trip to Sri Lanka and felt we got a good feel for the island. We felt safe where ever we went, found the locals wonderfully welcoming (and we were surprised to find we weren't all that hassled at the markets!) and the sights truly awe-inspiring. Just remember ladies, take a few long shawls with you for covering yourself inside any temples you may visit!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A Host of Golden Daffodils

Today cabin fever finally kicked in and I emerged from my books to have a (quick revision break style) stroll around the garden, which to my surprise, was bathed in sunshine and was surprisingly mild! I mean, last time I looked out of my window there was a slushy mush on the ground and a chill in the air.

I'm beyond excited that spring's finally showing her blossomed head- the way things were going I was starting to think the Starks had got it right and winter was really setting in to stay. However as I milled amongst the flower beds, I could see buds starting to pop and new shoots poking through the soil. Most importantly, the sun was shining!

Anyway, I was so dizzy with happy thoughts of sun and warm weather I seized my camera so I could share this with all of you. So grab your sun hats and your April showers brollies and enjoy!

Monday, 8 April 2013

The BodyHoliday: LeSPORT, St Lucia

Unfortunately for my grades, revision time lends itself to daydreaming. One moment you're reading the tiniest detail concerning the correct procedure for obtaining a mortgage, the next you're on a sunny beach somewhere far away from all thoughts of Land Law and potentially failing your exams. In my case, my sunny beach was in St Lucia, a good 8 hour plane ride from where I am now. More specifically, at the BodyHoliday LeSPORT resort where I spent seven glorious days last year with my mother.

There is only one way to describe LeSPORT: heaven.  It's an all inclusive little slice of paradise, where you're pampered to your heart's content and then left to bake in the sun (or play tennis/golf, scuba dive, sail etc... whatever takes your fancy really) and I loved it!

My days there quickly fell into a routine. I'd get up and potter off to breakfast (a delicious array of just about every breakfast food you could imagine) and then snare my favourite poolside spot, just in time to catch the start of the morning aqua aerobics class. This was followed by a spa treatment (you're handed a time table when you arrive with pre-booked treatments, one for each day. Told you it was heaven!) lunch and if I was feeling up to it, another go at aqua aerobics. Then I could be found on my sun lounger with a book and a coconut (the gardener would climb up the tree for us and hack down a fresh one, lop off its head and give us a straw to slurp up all its milky goodness) until it was time to head up and get ready for cocktails and dinner. Total relaxation.

My Mum was a bit more on the active side. She could be found getting up for 6am beach walks, in various yoga classes and then up partying all nights- there were many occasions where I'd turned it at 9pm only for Mum to sneak in at 3am, having been singing around the piano in the bar... Talk about role reversal?!

The whole holiday is built to be the ultimate escape and it obviously works- nearly everyone we met had been once, if not twice or three times before. The focus on you- you can opt in to activities or be like me and focus on some serious R&R, away from the distractions of normal every day life. After a busy and stressful year, this holiday gave me the chance to completely switch off and that was amazing.

I loved many things about my time at LeSPORT- the food was amazing, the spa treatments relaxing, the resort a haven. I especially loved the attention to the little things. For example, our room even had a pillow menu where we could choose exactly what type of down we'd like to rest our weary heads on!

After a stressful year I couldn't have asked for a better holiday, however now that I'm in revision period, I'm wishing I'd had a slightly worse time so that Law looked that little bit more interesting!