Posted in Reflection

Finding Me

I have wondered, perhaps too much, if I am a good person. If I’m a good daughter. A good sister, a good girlfriend, and friend.

Many have told me that I am, but I myself have never felt sure. In the past, I have made decisions that were good for me but were bad for others. But then, I have heeded to other peoples opinions and advice too, which has led me down paths only of anguish, loss, and heartbreak.

So which is true? Which is right?

There comes a point in every child’s life when they find their voice, their true voice that will see them through every trial, every success, every argument, every kind exchange. They find a self that will forever define them. I don’t think I ever experienced that. I have never found my voice, the self that I can portray to everyone.

I have played so many people in my short life. I was the humble and sensible friend everyone went to for advice and a hug. I was the good daughter who did as she told, who looked after her little sister, who did everything I was supposed to. I was the student, who followed the rules and did the work I was set and to the best of my ability. I was the worker, who again followed rules and regulations and who was often talked down to because of my lowly status in the business. So how, despite all this, have I managed to lose friends, and lose family?

I don’t know if it’s right to say, but I honestly feel I have done nothing wrong. I have lived, trying every day to make it better. I earn my own money, I live comfortably, I eat well, I love unconditionally, and I forgive even when I shouldn’t. I went to university and worked hard to graduate with an incredible 2:1. I moved into a wonderful little flat by the sea with my boyfriend. I couldn’t be happier with what I have achieved.

So, why doesn’t this make others happy? Is it the fact that I did this on my own terms? That I did it by my own means? I have never been the sort of person to go running and asking for help, more when I know I can sort it out myself. I have never been that person, but somehow people in my life seem to want me to be – just so they can feel needed. I’m sorry, but I thought the idea of growing up was to be able to stand on your own two feet and to be independent. Am I wrong? I don’t know, but that is not me. And never will be.

I have always longed for change. And no greater change came then when I left home and moved to Canterbury to study. It didn’t take me very long to realise that this is the place where I will live and make it my own. It didn’t take long at all and I was determined to reach that goal no matter what it took. Even if it took working long shifts in retail to do it. I was fully prepared and committed to it. I was ready for it because it was something I desperately wanted. And I did it. Three years, living and working and studying side by side and I did it.

Of course, meeting my boyfriend was a big help as he helped that dream become reality. We moved in together and have started building a good life for ourselves. We both work so, unfortunately, we don’t see each other as much as we want to, but when we are together, there is nothing but love and laughter and childish games. I have never felt so cared for, so wanted and so appreciated in my life. And while it’s not really your business, I feel the need to state, once and for all, that there is no malice, no manipulation, no abuse going on in our relationship, as people in my life believe. The only manipulation and stress in my life has come from you. And you probably didn’t realise you were doing it.

Since being with him, I have finally found a self that I can nourish. A self that reflects who I truly am inside. Someone who is strong, but needs looking after. Someone who is mature enough to handle life’s problems, but is a big kid at heart who knows and loves to laugh. I am someone who loves the little things. A drive with the windows down. The sound of the sea. A clear night sky with millions of stars. A clear mind and a clear conscience telling me I am on the right path. It’s these things that make me, me. No material goods will replace the sense of wonder within. No amount of money will replace the love I have in my heart for those who deserve it.

This self, this girl has laid hidden for so many years but now it’s her time to shine. Regardless of what people think. Regardless of what people expect. And I think it’s only right to cherish and nourish her, as I have done with everything and everyone who has come into my life.

So if you think you know me, the real me, then you are mistaken. I haven’t known me for a long time, but I think it is time to find out what I can do and what I can be.

I hope you’ll join me on this ride.

Hannah
Xx

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Posted in Reflection

If the walls could talk….

(I wrote this on July 1st 2017)

Today’s the day. I’m moving out and officially leaving student life behind. I’m sitting on the stairs at the moment, admiring the place I have just cleaned, hoovered and dusted and perfected, and I find myself quite taken back by it all. Surprisingly.

A lot has happened within these four walls. Much of it was good, very good. Other times, not so but it was more to do with crappy people than the place itself. I mean, you live on the road full of students, of course you’re gonna have noise and the stench of weed every other day. No. This house, my last student house, in a strange way, changed my life. 

It changed the way I saw people, people who I saw as friends especially. There’s been laughter and tears and shouting and stressing and arguments. Love had been found. My boyfriend and I spent so much time here, talking and laughing and frankly, falling in love here. Hell, we even said I Love You here, and on the old, granny settee. 

But much to my regret, the house saw the end of many things, a lot of friendships and truces I thought would stand for years. But everything happens for a reason, I guess. 

As I handed over the keys, a weight was lifted. The house wasn’t mine anymore. I didn’t have to worry about it being clean all the time. It wasn’t mine to cook in and sleep in. It wasn’t mine. And that’s okay. My time at Pretoria Road was good, better than I could have hoped for really. It was in a prime location, good rent, good size, and the landlord was awesome! I hope the next tenants have a great life there as I did.

But onwards and upwards. Hopefully in the next few days, I will have another place to call my own, to make my own. And I can’t wait for the day. More so, because I’ll be making that place my own, with my very own boyfriend. Talk about big steps! 

There’s to exciting times.

Hannah x

Posted in Reflection

Amazing. Closure.

It’s nearly that time of year again where I have to sort through my old books, papers and belongings, and make ready to live elsewhere.

Since coming to Canterbury to study, I have moved three times! The first, from Ipswich to my student accommodation  (which was lush). Then, from my student accommodation to my first house with three friends (which was nice, but had more problems than I could handle for a second year). And finally, from the first house to another house, which has been amazing. (Finally!)

My landlord is awesome! When something in the house malfunctioned, he was quick to sort it. He’d be round as soon as he was able and he had a great knowledge of the house, which meant things were fixed just like that. And he is definitely more understanding of the student life than my previous landlady, that’s for sure.

Anyhow, three times now and you would think I’d be good at it. You know, pick up the item, put it in the box and forget about it until I have to open it again.

But as I learned this afternoon, I’m not. Definitely not.

Everything we own holds a memory. Everything, from the smallest thing like a lighter to something far more precious like a piece of jewellery, holds a version of yourself, whether you like it or not.

For example, I found one of my old diaries from when I lived in Ipswich. It was dated from 2011, and as I read the entries within, I felt my heart start to weigh with the same anxiety and anguish I felt back then. Eighteen year old me struggled. Constantly. Not just emotionally but mentally. She was in a bad place, especially in the ways of where her education was going, what her friends were doing, how she was treated – or believed she was being treated.

Reading this and remembering where I was and how I was feeling when I wrote it, placed a dark spot in my mind.

Even when I moved on to the little things in my boxes and drawers, I was still struck down by bad, and at times hurtful, memories.

Something as silly as a blue lighter brought me to tears. And the memory there was only from a year ago! Again, that Hannah was in a bad place. She was stronger, but rather foolishly, she let certain people into her life who did nothing but cause her unnecessary trouble and heartache. So she started to smoke as a way to relax and clear her mind.

Thankfully, those people left and I stopped smoking. Not that I enjoyed it at the time but it was the only way to cope. Pitiful really but if you were in my shoes, you’d do the same.

I found a beautiful charm bracelet I was given some years ago for my birthday. It was from my then-best-friend who I will just call E. It is absolutely beautiful and it reminded me of how close we were, what fun we had, the secrets and laughter we shared. And I was overcome by how much I missed it. How much I miss her. Then, I remembered why we weren’t friends anymore. We changed. We become different people. We went our own ways. It was also due to an argument with another friend that she stopped talking to me, but that’s another story.

Now, I could go on about other objects I found and the memories they possess and completely depress you, but I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’m going to tell you what my wonderful boyfriend did, after he saw me struggles and succumb to my tears. Instead of leaving me in my misery, he took me by the hand, led me to his car and drove us into the land beyond Canterbury. To the land where green fields roll and reign and trees grow tall and strong. And in the gorgeous afternoon sun, it was a wonderful sight to behold.

Now, being a country girl, I have always had a love for wide, open spaces and forests and just green… things! Even when I was a little girl, walking around in a still, silent forest brought me a peace I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Lucky for me, my boyfriend knew this about me and made it his mission to bring me out of my thoughts and cheer me up. He made a spontaneous decision to go to the White Cliffs of Dover where we nearly ruined his car (Poor Sydney – he endured like the badass machine he is) and we walked hand in hand, laughing and talking as if on a date.

And when we returned to the car, he reminded me in a soft and loving voice that the past is the past, and that we had a brilliant future to look forward together.

The combination of the gorgeous outdoors and my caring, gorgeous boyfriend, all the memories and feelings I had conjured an hour ago faded and my mind settled back into its excited and childish ways.

So, I guess the reason I am writing this post, is to tell you: Don’t let your past define you. Whatever heartbreaks or pain you felt, you felt it for a reason. Whatever/ whoever you lost, you lost them for a reason. Without these trials, you wouldn’t be the person you are today. Your life wouldn’t be as it is now, if you hadn’t had those experiences. Embrace them, but don’t hold on to them so much that your past becomes your present.

That is no way to live.

You are better than that.

We all are.
Lots of love,

Hannah x

Posted in Reflection

I’m Alive! Expect more postings soon.

Hey guys! I’m back. Woo hoo! It’s been a long time since I last blogged and boy, have things changed and some for the better.

The first thing I should update you on is that I have finished university. Yeah. I know right? Feels like only yesterday that I left my cozy home in Ipswich to embark on this incredible adventure to reinvent and find myself in the wonderful, home-from-home city of Canterbury.

And I won’t lie, it’s been one hell of a ride. It’s been a journey of great highs and terrible lows, but I have come out alive and with a stronger sense of self. I have discovered what I’m truly capable of. I have discovered I can endure every problem and ache in front of me, and still be better for it.

For the first time in my life, I know where I want to go and where I want to be and I’m determined to get there.

The second thing is, that I’m in a loving relationship! I know right? I still can’t believe it myself, nearly six months on. We started chatting in October of last year. Went on our first date in November. We made it Facebook official in December. We spent New Years and Valentine’s Day together. Went on our first holiday in April. And we’re now planning to move in together! It’s been a rollercoaster to say the least, but this is a ride I’m happy to stay on for the rest of my life.

In the short time we’ve been together, we have had tense and challenging moments but we have overcome every single one and have come out stronger and more in love than before. Luke is such an amazing man, who has been nothing but good to me. Sometimes more than I deserve, but I bet every girl says that.

We’ve had an amazing journey so far and i can’t wait to see what else the future has in store for us. God knows we’ve planned far enough ahead 😉

Hm what else? Oh, those toxic people I used to blog about? Gone. Forever out of the picture and out of my life. Am I sad about it? Sometimes, but I feel lighter and happier without them. And in the words of Forrest Gump, “that’s all I have to say about that.” They aren’t worth the words or the time.

That’s all the updates for now.

Will blog more when it happens. The next couple of weeks are going to be interesting.

Lots of love

Hannah x

Posted in Uncategorized

The PokeDiaries

Day One,

As a lifelong fan of Pokemon, you couldn’t imagine my sheer excitement when Niantic announced they were releasing the real-time and interactive game, Pokemon Go.

For those who don’t know, Pokemon Go allows players to go out in to the world and actually catch Pokemon! As you explore your home, local gardens, back roads and alleyways, your phone will vibrate whenever a Pokemon crosses your path. Then, using the touchscreen on your phone, you aim your Pokeball and throw! But you have to be quick. It might run away! Sounds like a dream come true.

Well, almost. Niantic  failed to highlight that the game needs a a constant and sufficient internet connection and GPS signal. Without one or both, you get nothing. No information. No goodies. NO Pokemon!

Now, I’d caught my cutie Torch the Charmander (yes, I nicknamed him! You can do that) when I first set up the game last night, so going by that capture, I thought it would easy.

But I walked around Canterbury for hours, following the map, going to the Pokestops (where you can collect Pokeballs and other valuable objects) and following the signs for nearby Pokemon, and in all that time, I didn’t see a single Pokemon! And all because I didn’t have a good connection. I tried everything. Turned off my Wifi and let my data roam, which is dangerous to the pursue. Tried connecting to nearby networks, and still nothing loaded. It was very frustrating and disappointing, considering the hype and my own excitement and expectation.

However.. as soon as I came up by Marlowe Theatre, my phone connected and a Rattata crossed my path! My patience had finally paid off. Of course, like a giddy child, I tossed a Pokeball – or two because you have to throw it at the right angle and at the right speed – and I caught it! Just like Ash, I waited anxiously as the ball jittered and jerked as the Pokemon fought its containment. Then, dong! He settled and I had my first Pokemon.

And it didn’t stop there. I walked a few more steps, closer to the River Stour, and what should appear but a gasping, flapping Magikarp. Another Pokemon in my pocket. After that, it was easy and so thrilling. I got a couple of Spearows, another Rattata, a few Pidgey and a Pidgeotto. Nothing special yet, but the fact that I got a few Pokemon on my first day as a Pokemon Trainer was an achievement and thrilling.

I’m looking forward to going out again and finding more. So long as there is WiFi and my phone battery holds out.
Note: Be sure to to take your charger out with you. Boy, does it eat it like a monster!

On the whole, an interesting idea so far!

Posted in Uncategorized

Alice Through the Looking Glass – Film Review

Starring: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Mia Wasikowska, Rhys Ifans, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Alan Rickman, Stephen Fry, Michael Sheen and Timothy Spall.
Director: James Bobin
Producer: Tim Burton, Joe Roth, Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd
Screenwriter: Linda Woolverton
Run Time: 113 minutes

Following the call from an old friend, alice-through-the-looking-glass-0Alice (Mia Wasikowska) steps through a mirror and finds herself back in Underland with the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit, Tweedledee and Tweedledum. Her friends soon inform her that the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) is depressed over the death of his family. Hoping to save his family and restore his sanity, Alice steals from Time (Cohen) and travels back into the past. While there, she witnesses a manner of secrets and events that could change everything.

What I enjoyed most about this film is Alice’s consistent and unwavering independence. From the very beginning, she stands her ground against those who doubt her, belittle her and believe her incapable of doing more with her life. In my book, her acts of defiance and bravery earn her place among the likes of Elsa, Anna, Merida, Mulan, Rapunzel and Tiana, all Disney Princesses who have proven themselves strong and capable without the aid of men, and who are defining and inspiring the next generation of women. She is surely a character young girls nowadays need to look up to.

 

Her acts of defiance also offer comic relief. One scene that sticks in my mind is when Alice and her mother arrive at the Ascot mansion. Alice is wearing a rather outrageous, rainbow-coloured dress; made for the likes of China, and not for the uptight English society. Her mother is clearly embarrassed by her choice and asks despairingly, “Must you always been so headstrong?”
Alice is unfazed by this and simply replies: “No. It’s just more fun that way.”

Well, you have to applaud the girl for her wit and honesty. Well said.

Another aspect of this film I enjoyed was the idea and wisdom of Time, who was portrayed by the somewhat charismatic, but awkward Sacha Baron Cohen. Mia Wasikowska is Alice in Alice Through the Looking Glass.His wisdom about time is both insightful and thought-provoking. Cohan provides wit and comic relief, however I fail to see his importance to the film. All he was doing was chasing after Alice and making matters worse for himself! The same goes for the Red and White Queen. Granted, it was interesting to see their origins, to see how the Red Queen’s head doubled in size, but again I failed to see their importance.

Alice through the Looking Glass clearly follows Alice’s attempt to restore Hatter’s sanity and reunite him with his family. If that’s the case, why did we need background to the Queens’ feud? Was it really needed, or was it just a storyline to fill the time?

I regret to say Johnny Depp’s reprisal of the Mad Hatter was weak and somewhat devastating. His voice was impossible high and for much of the film, he acted like a lost, moody, moany puppy. He played the Hatter so well in the first film. He was funny, impressable, and he had a dark side to him that only a Tim Burton film could get away with. I am honestly disappointed by his portrayal.

As always, the set design and CGI of the film was impeccable. I can’t fault the careful art and design of our favourite Underlanders – the Cheshire Cat, the March Hare, the White Rabbit and even Time’s minions – as well as the villages, Time’s epic castle and the Red Queen’s heart-shaped castle made of roots and bugs. One scene I found truly astonishing was the deterioration of time throughout Wonderland. As Alice, Hatter and the White Queen race to restore the Chronosphere, they are chased by, what can only be described as a living, breathing entity made of rust. It is Time itself, collapsing around them. The way it was animated and created was so well done and realistic. The finale definitely redeemed the film.

I was delighted to see Disney’s dedication to the late Alan Rickman. He reprised his role as Absolem, the erudite blue caterpillar-turned-butterfly who brings Alice back to Wonderland. His time in the film was brief, but it will forever immortalise him. He was a great and irreplaceable talent. He deserves it.

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Posted in film, Reflection, Uncategorized

Is Disney Taking Live Action Too Far?

Disney has defined and influenced young minds for decades. Tales of brave heroes, aspiring princesses, cunning villains and charming companions have captured the hearts and imaginations of children (and adults) all across the world. But is Disney’s run of timeless classics coming to an end?

Every other year it seems, another animated classic is being snatched up by an overly ambitious director and made into a live action film. The intense development of CGI has meant directors and producers have more space to play with the worlds and characters they possess. And while this adds to a stunning and realistic show, live action does not allow the subtle ambiance and timeless innocent of the beautiful animation of previous films.

In the recent years, well-loved animations like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland have been twisted and transformed; bearing new perspectives, characters and relationships.

In 2010, Disney and Tim Burton took on Lewis Carroll’s tale Alice in Wonderland; alice_in_wonderland_2010_5starring Johnny Depp and Mia Wasikowska. Based more on the novel than the 1951 animation, the tone of this live action was dark and mature. It was adventurous in its creation of Wonderland and its residences, the fearsome Jabberwocky (voiced by the late Christopher Lee) especially. In many ways, this live action succeeded its predecessor because of its talented cast, impeccable visual effects and costume design.

Even Cinderella was not spared a live-action makeover. However, under the watchful eye of director Kenneth Branagh, the film surpassed both expectations and the original. The films set design and overall visual direction allowed new life to be brought into what was beginning to become rather dated. The chemistry between members of the cast was positively palpable, allowing the actors to come across as natural and believable. Despite being live action all of the normal Disney characteristics shone through, the film providing am exciting mix of humour, peril and love. As far as love action remakes go, Cinderella is exemplary.

Whilst still masquerading under the banner of Disney, the-jungle-book-2016-31909_25889not all live action adaptations are born equal. Brannagh’s Cinderella shone primarily due to its fantastic calibre of cast. The Jungle Book by contrast was a travesty. The much loved affable bear Baloo and charismatic King Louie were very poorly acted, so much so that it detracted from the film as a whole. Their attempts at upbeat music numbers Bare Necessities and I Wanna Be Like You were horrifying and laughable. I left the cinema disappointed.

More live action adaptations are on the horizon. Should we Disney fans be afraid?

 

Posted in film, Review, Uncategorized

The Jungle Book – Film Review

 

Starring: Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Scarlett Johansson, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Walken and Neel Sethi.
Director: Jon Favreau
Producer: Jon Favreau and Brigham Taylor
Screenwriter: Justin Marks
Run Time: 105 min 

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel and inspired by Disney’s classic animated film,the_jungle_book_2016 The Jungle Book is an live-action, epic adventure about Mowgli, played by young talent Neel Sethi, who is forced to flee his jungle home with the wolves, following the return and danger of the fearsome and blood-thirsty tiger, Shere Khan. With the help of his friends, the young boy encounters many obstacles and learns valuable life lessons in his journey to self-discovery.

What really captured my heart was the unwavering love and devotion Mowgli held for his wolf family, his adopted mother Raksha (voiced by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o) especially. From the very beginning, it is clear to see that Mowgli loves and respects every member of the pack and wants desperately to become an honorary member. He is the boy who runs with wolves, but fails to find his true place among them. Raksha loves him regardless and it was utterly heart breaking to watch Mowgli leave the pack of his own accord; following Shere Khan’s threat on their lives. Though she is reluctant to give him up, Raksha lets him go; reminding Mowgli that he will always be hers, her son. Not going to lie, some tears were shed.

Following the cruel and shocking demise of one of the wolves, Mowgli is forced into action and miraculously finds the courage to defend his home and his precious wolves. If there is anything worth watching this film for, it is this. One boy’s unyielding love for his family, and their own determination to see him safe.

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What impressed me also was the incredible talent of Ben Kingsley and Idris Elba, who played panther Bagheera and tiger Shere Khan respectively. If you were to watch the animation and the live adaptation side by side, you will notice some startling similarities and differences. Take Bagheera for example. He is still the no-nonsense, caring panther we all know and love. Kingsley brings such a calm, but fierce life to the character.

Shere Khan on the other hand, when compared to the animation, is perhaps the most stunning transformation I have ever seen. Though he remains cunning, cruel and determined, this Shere Khan is also fiercely angry, blood thirsty and ruthless. His pursuit of Mowgli is obsessive and well calculated. He forces himself on the wolf pack, kills one of its members and continues to manipulate and threaten them; knowing well that Mowgli will return to save them. Casting Idris Elba as this fearsome tiger was a brilliant move, as he brings such power and presence to the character. Next to the wolves, he dominated this film for all the right reasons.

Now, being a lifelong Disney fan, it is difficult for me to criticise such a loved franchise, but on more than one occasion, The Jungle Book failed to hold my interest. For one, I found the character of Baloo rather dull and awkward. When Mowgli first encounters him, the bear seems only interested in exploiting the man cub’s “tricks” for his own gain. As payment for saving his life, Baloo has him climb a cliff to retrieve huge discs of honey. Needless to say, Mowgli was stung many times during this mission and Baloo showed little concern. His character and care for Mowgli developed greatly, after he learns of Shere Khan’s intention and when Mowgli is kidnapped by monkeys, but by this point, my opinion of Bill Murray’s Baloo was not credible.

Another aspect of this film that I did not enjoy, was the recreation of Bare Necessities. Granted, this film is intended for a mature audience, but it lacked the playfulness that bonded Mowgli and Baloo in the first place. In this live adaptation, it was horribly off key and did nothing for their friendship. Another song they failed was King Louie’s upbeat number, I Wanna Be Like You. Christopher Walken’s version was a far cry from the original and again, added nothing to his position or importance to the film, though these may be a matter of opinion.

Regardless, The Jungle Book is a brilliant film, bursting with thrills, love and laughs the whole family will enjoy.

Posted in Reflection, Uncategorized

Peace Is Just A Ride Away

It’s amazing what a few hours in the glorious sunshine can do to your mood. And your skin, depending on your type.Fullscreen capture 04052016 205311.bmp

Let’s take today, shall we? Canterbury, Kent. Sixteen degrees. All day along. Cloudless, blue skies. Birds singing. Bees buzzing. The lullaby of ice cream vans driving by. The smell of barbecues and the cries of playing children were absent throughout the day, but I didn’t mind. It just meant I could read my book in peace and in the sunshine. So, I popped on a sleeveless flora top, got my shades, sat myself at the old garden table and relaxed. It was complete bliss.

Until a close friend of mine rang, gushing about the hills and landscape outside of the bustling city of Sheffield. So for a number of hours, he sent me pictures, videos and snapchats of hidden brooks and reservoirs he’d uncovered, bridges, acres of farmland and rolling hills he’d drove past. He went as far as the roads and the worn footpaths could took him, and even then, the landscape stretched on and on. Now, having never been up to Sheffield, or anywhere as far as Nottingham, I was amazed by the beauty of it all and so, naturally, I started to crave adventure.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved the outdoors, though the outdoors hasn’t always liked me. Too many encounters with stinging nettles to last a lifetime, not to mention the times I’ve fallen off my bike or tripped over a tree root. This is probably because of my upbringing. When I was young, I would go camping with my grandparents and every day, we would take the dogs, venture in the forest, and simply lose ourselves in the shadows of epic trees, the traps and twists of thickets and fields of flower and produce. I’m also from Suffolk, a well-known farming county, so you could say the country is my blood.

After many hours of exchanging breath-taking pictures and excitable phone calls, I finally decided to get my bike and go for a ride. There is a farm and apple orchard close to where I live and it’s always beautiful and bursting with life this time of year. I brushed the dandy spiders and cobwebs from my bike, grabbed my headphones and mobile phone, and was off; racing down the hill to my house at high speed. I can’t tell you the rush and freedom I felt. The wind was in my hair. I had catchy, happy music in my ears. Speed at my feet. Nothing can really beat that. Unless you drive a car, or a motorbike, which is always better.

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Now, I hadn’t been on my bike since last autumn. This was because I got a terrible cold having biked home after a late shift at work. It wasn’t because I couldn’t be asked… Okay maybe it was. Just a little.

With this in mind, I knew it was going to be tricky, getting from my house, across the estate and to the farm I had in mind. It’s not far, a couple of miles at least, but in today’s heat, I knew it would be a challenge. Boy, was I wrong?

It wasn’t so much the heat I had trouble with, but it was my own body! I hadn’t even made it up the hill by the recently vacated Chaucer Technology School before I had to jump off my bike and catch my breath. The culprit? My bloody knees. Obviously, they weren’t used to working so hard and so suddenly. As if my working in a supermarket wasn’t hard enough on them already. They should be used to it by now.

But hey, no pain no gain.

Eventually, I got back behind the handlebars and pressed on; racing down hills, avoiding the potholes and decaying roads, and looking at all the fancy houses and bungalows. And yes, I kept my eyes on the road. Obviously. Wouldn’t want to get knocked down this side of university. Only got one more year and things have been looking up recently. Too much to lose.

About fifteen minutes later, I rode past the small financial firm NFU Mutual, past a barn and some hedges and the horizon opened up to the vast, green fields, blue skies and trees. Once again, gravity pulled me that hill, and pebble and stone leaped from my path.

Riding down that hill, with music in my ears and the sun beating down, a familiar and wonderful feeling came round me like a great, big hug. A weight lifted, off my mind and my heart.

Canterbury is a beautiful city, full of culture and history. I love living here, but even I feel lost in the crowd sometimes. A city like this attracts an array of different people (French, Spanish, Dutch, Danish and Chinese amongst others) which is always good for business, but it can prove to quite suffocating and frustrating.

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So, on a day like today, I like to take advantage of the heat and the splendor and go on an adventure. True, it was to a place I had already been and I knew what to expect, but the fact is that those forty minutes I spent riding up hills, taking pictures and creeping through the bushes to get snaps of bluebells, I felt happier and freer than I have in a while. It may sound cliche, but I felt connected to the space around me and I was embracing it at every turn.

Yes, I came home hot and sweaty, but I also returned with new perspective and a new sense of peace. That one bike ride also inspired me to write this post, which is always a good thing considering I want to be a published author one day.

So, next time we have a beautiful, sunny day, don’t waste it in your room, or at work. Get outside and enjoy it. What are you waiting for? It’s rare we Britons get a day like today, so take advantage. Get a tan. Finish that book. Have a barbecue. Have a water fight. Go for a bike ride. Hop on a bus and go to the beach. Just do something and have fun. Take it from a woman who knows, you’ll feel better for it.

 

Posted in Reflection, Review, Uncategorized

The Bodyguard: The Musical – Theatre Review

It started with a bang, ended with a standing ovation, and tapped into every woman’s fantasies along the way.tb_tour_wolv_70x50

After receiving disturbing threats from an unknown stalker, pop diva Rachel Marron (Carole Stennett) is assigned a bodyguard by her manager (Mark Holden). Despite their frosty start and difference of opinion on her safety and freedom, former secret service agent Frank Farmer (Stuart Reid) becomes an integral part of Rachel’s inner circle, and the lines between client and protector become blurred.

The musical is based on Lawrence Kasdan’s 1992 Oscar-nominated Warner Brothers film, which starred the late Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner.

Carole Stennett’s delivery of music numbers was strong and expressive. She had the biggest shoes to fill, but she performed exactly how she wanted and owned the stage completely. She put her own mark, her own unique twist, on every song she sang and in the whole two hours and twenty five minutes, she never faltered. She was consistent in everything she did. And by the end, I was excited to see how she would handle “I Will Always Love You” because of its impossibly high notes. She did not disappoint. Her performance and adaption was amazing to watch, more so because of her rise over the audience on a platform. In the spotlight, she was there for all to see. And may I just say, her shimmering silver ball gown was gorgeous.

Stennett was remarkable, however I felt at times her acting and her chemistry with Reid was stiff. They played with the romance very well and shared many scenes of banter, which was fun to watch, but I think their relationship could have been improved by more scenes of conflict.

The Bodyguard is a stunning theatrical reimagining of the film, with spectacular staging in both the sets and costume design from Tim Hatley, and slick production giving the whole piece a cinematic frame.

They used a variety of different techniques to create tension and atmosphere. For example, act one opened with the sudden sound of a gun being fired, which caused a lot of the audience to jump, gasp and laugh nervously. Genius, I thought. What better way to capture their attention than with a leap in to danger?

Then, in scenes where Frank contacts his police operative (Glen Fox) to discuss the stalker, he and his activities were projected on the set behind them; highlighting key points in the story and creating a realistic and cinematic feel. This projection was also used in the finale. While Stennett sang, a fine, transparent screen was lowered, and a montage of Rachel and Frank was displayed. Another technique they used effectively was the use of slow motion. This was used in pivotal moments of danger. For example, when Rachel is caught in the middle of a riot at the Mayan and during her Oscar performance that sees Frank diving in and taking a bullet for her. Both times, amongst others, set my heart racing and it really felt as if I was watching a film. It worked very well, in my opinion.

What I also enjoyed was the actors’ interaction with the audience. Not only through humour, innuendo and song, but also through the use of props. One example, in act two, before the Oscar scene, the stalker (Matthew Stathers) takes centre stage; dressed in a sharp black suit. He reveals and loads a gun, and proceeds to aim it in to the audience. Individuals are targeted with a bright, red dot to the chest. The effect of this laser was immediate. It shocked and scared many, as again there was a chorus of nervous laughter through the theatre.

The musical closed with a lively performance of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” which had everyone on their feet, clapping their hands and dancing along. And, as it is one of my favourite Houston songs, I was shameless in my participation. The atmosphere of the whole place was infectious and it was near impossible to not get up and sing along.

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So if you’re looking for a cheeky, feel-good night out with the girls or your significant other, The Bodyguard Musical is definitely for you.

Rating: 9/10

The romantic thriller is at the Marlowe Theatre at 7.30pm from Wednesday, February 17 to Saturday, February 27.

Tickets priced from £28, call 01227 787787 or go to marlowetheatre.com