2015 in Discoveries

Can you guys believe that 2015 is coming to an end? I feel this year has absolutely flown by and so much has happened and taken place, so much that I have yet had the opportunity to share with you all. I feel like this year has really shaped me as a person, from personal development and overcoming turbulent situations, to simply discovering things about myself through some experiences and adventures I have had. I wanted to share with you how I feel that instead of planning new year’s resolutions that may or may not come to be, reflecting in the year that has just passed is always an important ritual for me. It is an opportunity for me to really think about all the things that I am grateful for this year, grateful to have worked my hardest to be able to experience as much of the world as possible and to see that another little section of my complete person has been chiseled.

Travel

This is very exciting! As you all know I am a lover of all things travel! I had the opportunity to go back home to Macau which was lovely, but the highlight of Asia for me was discovering another corner of the Philippines that I did not know. I LOVED Cebu! It is honestly stunning and the cross of cultures is brilliant.

I also had the chance to go to France twice! And Paris really did take my breath away. I knew that it was beautiful, I mean there are thousands, millions, billions of photos of Paris roaming the internet, plastered across travel brochures and travel memorabilia, it is one of those cities with so much iconography everywhere that it is used for everything and anything used with travelling. Still, after knowing this and seeing these images everywhere, I was still in awe of how beautiful it was, and it really is the city of love. I was such a melt the entire time!

I discovered that I really actually enjoy staycations/weekend trips within your country. It is so important to explore and love the place you live and I LOVE England.

Finally, and although you won’t hear about this until 2016, I am going to Mozambique on the 27th of December! How exciting! A post will follow on how to travel from winter to summer, and what to pack, but the trip low down will come afterwards upon my return in January. This is really exciting! I have never been anywhere in Africa, and am so excited that the first country I will be visiting there has a rich cultural heritage and Portuguese influence.

Theatre

My theatrical highlight of 2015 has to be… Mamma Mia! I know I know, it’s like saying a blockbuster film should have won best script at the Oscars, HOWEVER, I was completely overjoyed at this musical, I loved every second of it. This was pre-blog so I never wrote a review of it, but I will give you a Throwback or Flashback one of these days for you to know what it was like.

I also loved Memphis, more than I can say! I know I criticised a few of the choices, but I am quite a critical person when it comes to things like this, I like to analyse and understand and that is why I question things. You can read my full review of this awesome musical here.

Activities

I have done some things this year that I really didn’t expect to be doing. From returning to pantomime as a spectator, to joining an amateur dramatics society and performing, to going to the Adnams Brewery to taste beer! It has been a year of adventures, but by far my favourite activity, which will be featured soon, was an indoor skydive! It was ridiculously cool, I loved every second of it and was so upset that my partner was not allowed to do it due an injury, but I will do it again with him one day. Keep your eyes peeled, this is coming to the blog very soon.

Hidden Treasures

Some true little gems have been discovered, from recently speaking about the wonderful everything of Mulled Wine – not mould, I have made that mistake quite a few times – to a huge discovery which was the little village of Lavenham. Lots of hidden little treasures that I had no idea I would love or even existed have occurred.

I absolutely fell in love with a restaurant in London, Covent Garden area, called Sarastro. That was one of my favourite discoveries, I booked it for my mother’s birthday surprise that my sister and I organised, but I ended up being mostly surprised myself. It is a theatre restaurant, and you will only really get what I mean by looking at it. Tables are sat in their own little theatre boxes, and the restaurant is famous for their performances during the week. Let me not forget the FOOD! Which is just absolutely incredible and delicious, the Turkish oriented menu, with flavoursome Mediterranean dishes is absolutely divine, so much choice and it is not as costly as expected!

Mostly, I think my favourite discovery of the year, was that I learnt I don’t have to sacrifice my career or my passion for travel to see the world. You can read all about this in one of my very early blog articles, ‘Travelling on a time limit’. I have found a very healthy balance and am really enjoying my trips and staycations, discovering England has been a huge thing for me and I really want to go to Jersey next year and maybe even Scotland. I won’t let anyone name my wanderlust ‘tourism’ because my desire to have a healthy life balance does not make me less of an explorer, it just makes me practical. I think it has been a huge learning curve for me, as it has been my first year in full time employment and I have learnt that actually this profession has opened a lot more doors for me rather than shutting away my life. I am currently in the process of requesting a sabbatical from work to see if I can travel for 3 months in 2017, and if that goes through I still have my job in hand for my return as well as enjoying the trip of a lifetime in South America, hopefully.

2015 has been an incredible year and a stepping stone for me. I can tell that this is a strong foundation for the way I want to build my life and I have so many more lessons to learn. I am already dying of excitement to discover 2016 and share it all with you guys. How was your 2015?

Discovery Friday – Adnams Brewery

This weekend just gone I had the pleasure of discovering the Adnams Brewery!

Sat at James’ house wondering to ourselves what on earth we should do for the day, we came across the tour online for only £12. It is James’ favourite beer and I was all up for any activity and cultural experience.

This was honestly lovely and such a pleasant surprise, as I did not expect to enjoy it at all because I do not actually like beer. That being said I found the scent of the factory intoxicating, with Hops from all over the world being brewed into the highest quality beer. We got to try some of the seeds used in the production of the beer, smell the most tropical of hops, and we were even invited to taste some of the finished product.

Personally, I preferred the lagers, one of them had the taste of mangoes and passion fruit and it was my favourite, though I still don’t think I could have stomached a whole glass of the stuff. We also tried some of the award winning Gin and Vodka they produce at their very young distillery and the Limoncello. We were all given vouchers to take a free beer home, which was great for James because he took mine and his, and we also had 10% off in the shop afterwards. I got my father some red wine produced in Argentina in a vineyard owned by Adnams, as well as some Mulled wine.

It was actually one of my favourite activities, because it was something so far from what I would have typically chosen to do and be interested in, but I truly enjoyed it. I would recommend it to any boozy person or couple to go, as well as anyone who just wants to try something new and different!

Adnams also offer Distillery tours and a make your own gin workshop.

Christmas Adventures

It is that time of year again, where 10 days from now whole families will flock to their living rooms to find masses of gifts, wrapped in various papers and bags, surrounding a beautifully decorated Christmas Tree. All this to celebrate the birth of a child 2 millenia ago, who’s ideals have built the principles of many civilizations today. Christmas is a truly beautiful time of year. Not only for its incredible decorations that add a little charm and romance to every town in the world, but because of all the loving spirits, giving and caring attitudes of all the people that choose to celebrate the holiday.

For me one of the most exciting things about Christmas is the opportunity to see so many of my loved ones and catch up in some truly quirky and wonderful adventures. So without further delay I want to share with you some of my top Christmas activities to mark every festive occasion of the season.

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is an unmissable place. I have gone every year for the last 5 years, and yes it is crowded and much of it is noise and parents that cannot control their kids, but here is my tip, GO DURING THE WEEK. Seriously, when I have been there during the week during the day the place has been deserted and a true wonderland to walk through. I love the smell of all things sweet, mulled wine, the sound of Christmas, the hand craft tents it’s just my favourite thing to do every year, at least once. Winter Wonderland is held every year at Hyde Park from the last week of November to January and it is FREE admission, just show up in your festive best and have some fun.

Christmas Concert

This year I went to my first ever Christmas Concert held by the fabulous (I am totally biased) Hitchin Thespians. Now I know that this is my society and this may seem oddly suspicious, but I can honestly say it was the most beautiful evening, spent with my mother in the audience assisting to some fantastically sung performances and even joined in with some Christmas Carols. It was the most stunning little festive concert, sung with a lot of love and care from the choir, some great pieces were chosen, from traditional carols to more obscure foreign carols and cantatas, some hilarious Christmas readings and we were even served mulled wine and warm mince pies in the interval. I was honestly never introduced to the festive season in such a style, and I loved every second of it. I felt so warm and happy and glowing with true Christmas Spirit. If you are not a spiritual person at all but love a good Christmas event, please search for your local amateur dramatics/theatre/musical theatre or choir societies as I can guarantee they will be putting on some sort of performance to mark the season.

Pantomime

After working at the Richmond Theatre for a year, and starting my job there with 8 consecutive weeks of 10 weekly performances of Aladdin the pantomime, I thought I would despise panto forever. You tend to get sick of hearing the same songs, with the same dance routines and the same wasted jokes being repeated to audiences who are none the wiser. However, I was wrong! Sleeping Beauty at the Gordon Craig in Stevenage was by far the BEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN PANTOMIME. It was everything and more I could ask for, with all the local jokes, the newspaper headlines being mentioned, the typical pantomime devices, all the current songs and hype dances like the whip nae nae, an actual moving dragon and a tardis! I honestly felt so happy after this and it was such a beautiful thing to see the whole audience sing along, dance along and play along with the whole situation. The kids loved it and I was the biggest kid of all.

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So there you have it, just some of the Christmas activities that aside from the obvious like decorating, buying and wrapping presents, writing Christmas cards and figuring out the festive menu for the year really get me into the Christmas spirit. What Christmas adventures have you taken part in this year?

Discovering Mulled Wine and Mince Pies

I am so pleased to be launching this new segment of the blog! Discovery Friday will feature every week with something I have discovered in the last week. We should feature 52 of these a year and at the end of next year I will reveal which one of the discoveries was the most poignant.

They could be a variety of things, from a new food recipe, to a new location, a film, music, a piece of art, a book, or even something personal about myself. This will be a fun way to remind ourselves that every day we are exposed to something new and every day is its own unique adventure and journey which begins when you wake up and ends in dreamland.

Some of the posts might fit into other sections of the site as well, such as travel, arts and food, so it will be an interesting crossover and a little added feature to my continuous journey to Discovering Diana. I believe it is small things like this that add to the person that you are constantly growing to become, small moments that seem completely insignificant but can somehow shape you entirely. Hopefully it will also help you realise that you continue to find new things every day. Please join me by telling me what you have discovered in the last week, every Friday.

To kick us off, a very festive discovery for me was Mulled Wine and Mince Pies.

Not exactly a discovery, I was aware that these things existed, but in nine years living in the UK I never tried them and always decided that no they were not for me. How wrong I was! Mulled wine is officially the best way to drink Red wine in my opinion. The spices, the warmth, the fruity flavour and the alcohol, all combined perfectly into a warm cup of Christmas. It is truly joyful. And with a mince pie, EVEN BETTER.

Now who knew Mince pies don’t actually contain any mince meat? Am I being completely blond here, but that was the the idea I had was that it was some mix of dried fruits, nuts and mince meat into an almost jam like consistency in a pie. That does not sound appealing, but the actual thing is lovely and is complimented beautifully by a glass of Mulled Wine.

This discovery is very small and simple, but actually showed me that a) I can drink wine and b) I can eat things with sultanas in without wanting to surgically remove my tongue and taste buds. Small and simple, but it has made me feel a bit more of an adult than before, with a mature enough palette to appreciate its goodness. Plus it really does put you in that Christmas feeling.

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Photo found on Google

Into the Hoods remixed – theatre review

Saturday 24th of October, The Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London

How can I review something that was I was already pre-disposed to love? I am suppose to be unbiased here and give a critical analysis, but I am afraid that in this case I might fail. So this is a short one but good one, full of love for a company that I completely biased towards.

Zoonation is my favourite dance theatre company. They are mostly a hip hop dance company who reinvent and re-write very well known scripts, musicals to fit their genre. They put together narratives that not only fit the genre and the dramatic nature of hip hop, but also use stories that that still have some sort of echo in current times and issues.

Into the Hoods is a hip hop take of the popular Sondheim musical Into the Woods – if you had not guessed that already. The story in this case took place in a council estate in East London. The parallel was drawn with the witch as the Landlord who refuses to help two kids who are lost get home until they acquire 4 items for his daughter’s birthday.

Now none of this sounds extremely amazing, but it is quite outstanding to write some fantastic adaptations to fit such a specific genre. This is huge and Zoonation do it incredibly! I cannot say much more than continue sharing my love for Zoonation, a company that I try to always see shows from. As a lover of hip hop dance and theatre, this company really is everything I love in one and it makes me completely inadequate to form any coherent opinion about them.

I took my boyfriend with me to watch them and he was very constructive and had some opinions on the performances, but his opinion in this occasion matters not to me as I was as always completely mesmerised and taken by the company. I thought the dancing was fantastic, the characters embodied perfectly through the dance moves and shapes created with their bodies. I loved it. If you hadn’t guessed that already.

I would have to say that I was a bit upset that the show started a bit delayed due to technical issues, but only because I was getting a bit too anxious, other than that it didn’t deteriorate the performance at all. I would have to say as well that narrative wise, it is not the strongest production of Zoonation, Some Like it Hip Hop continues to be their best one and my favourite. However, the performers were incredible and really carried the piece through. I can’t say much more as I will just continue rattling on about my love for them, so I am going to leave you here with some trailers of their shows! Try to watch them live, it is pure joy on stage.

Zoonation, Into the Hoods Remixed

Zoonation, Some Like it Hip Hop

Note: The images are from Google and the videos from YouTube, not owned by me.