Rogue Orchestra presents: Drive

When your favourite movie has such an iconic soundtrack as “Drive” does it’s impossible not to get excited about ANY event and even more so seeing it performed live by an Orchestra in London.

The Drive soundtrack has long established itself as something special developing quite the cult following. So much so that Radio 1 took the chance to completely remaster the soundtrack with new performances from bands such as The 1975 and Foals to give it an update in 2014. Having seen all this it’s fair to say I was expecting big things from Rogue orchestra.

The event was in XOYO club in Shoreditch in the basement bar and despite the ticket outlet I used advertising it as an unreserved seated event it was very much a standing event. Moreover the event actually ended up starting late. My high expectations were lessening by the second.

The “Green” room in XOYO

Anyone who has seen the movie would recognise the opener in a heartbeat with its perfect electro-pop beat. Rogue orchestra only highlighted this more by showing the opening credits to the movie alongside the performance; a very thrilling touch.

The orchestra continued on through the soundtrack with lead vocalist performing on maybe one in every three tracks. It was clear they didn’t have the licensing agreement to show most of the movie but rather repeating a lot of the same clips over and over. With a soundtrack that Drive has and the amount of instrumental only songs this felt like an oversight. It quickly killed the atmosphere and took a vocal performance to pick it back up momentarily before it only dropped again at the next track. They ended the first half with probably the most well known song on the album “Real Hero”. As the most well known it did seem a strange decision to end the first half on this.

The opening song accompanied by some movie clips

The second half seemed to only cover off a few more songs on the album before moving into more generic and general synth-pop songs from the likes of Eurythmics. None of which were familiar to me and ultimately I was left generally disappointed with the whole event. If it had been sold as a celebration of synth pop I might have understood but it was an orchestral performance of the Drive soundtrack which didn’t include eurythmics. Overall I feel like they had the opportunity to do A LOT more with this than they did. I would have much preferred a theatre venue with the orchestra on stage and screens at the side relating the scenes of the movie to the music. Even though it’s my favourite film I’ve only seen it a handful of time so it was difficult for me to match the movie to the music which felt like a shame (and has subsequently made me watch it again).

I’d certainly return to another orchestral performance though I may choose to read up in future first exactly what I’m attending!

NG x

REVIEW: The Book of Mormon

I have a confession. I don’t like any animated comedy TV series. Family Guy, Simpsons, American Dad, Futurama and even South Park. I’m not just talking an “I don’t find them funny” kind of dislike; oh no. I’m talking full scale them actually being on in the background borderline angers me kind of dislike. So why on earth would I go to a musical created by the same people behind such TV shows I hear you cry. Well, it was the top of Tom’s list and recently his birthday so I decided to put my personal opinion aside and get him tickets. Also part of me was curious. I mean with nine Tony Awards and a Grammy I couldn’t possibly hate it could I?

The Theatre

The Prince of Wales Theatre in the heart of Leicester Square is the BoM’s home. A Mackintosh theatre it has multiple bars with a surprising amount of room as far as theatre’s go. I’m also a big fan of the fact that like many of the London theatres they serve Yorkshire crisps and popcorn #represent. We had dress circle tickets and I have to say the gradient of the rake was quite impressive. It certainly helps make the theatre feel intimate and you can pretty much guarantee a decent view right from the back. Added bonus that you don’t have to be concerned about someone tall sitting in front and as a shortie this is a regular concern for me.

The view from our ‘Row E’ seats

The Music

I don’t know where to start. I went in to this pretty much blind. I’d only ever heard the opening song “Hello” and that was from a video from Facebook a few weeks before my theatre visit. Needless to say that one video was enough for it to be on repeat in my head EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. But “Hello” is only one of the many incredible songs in this show. It has a remarkable way of taking some controversial subjects, putting a joke into and still making the music sound like an absolute broadway classic. Seriously impressive stuff. Though good luck picking a favourite song AND not having “Hello” in your head for daaaaays.

The Show

Whilst it’s certainly not “family friendly” though that does depend on the sense of humour of your family I guess. It sheds light on some very important themes and messages. Religion being the obvious one, Mormon culture and values another and not forgetting the oppression and violence facing the villagers in Uganda. Though you will be forgiven for laughing at what can sometimes feel like the most inappropriate times. You’ll come away laughing as if you’ve spent the last 2 hours at a stand up comedy gig. I guess that’s the brilliance of comedy writing. There’ll be moments that will touch your heart, make you spit out your drink and come away thinking “WTF”. Never in my life did I expect to see a scene in a musical that included Hitler, giant dancing coffee cups and skeletons with doughnuts but BoM more than delivered on that front. You’ll also never think of/look at a frog in the same way.

 Considering I’ve been lucky enough to see shows at £20 a ticket BoM is certainly on the slightly more expensive side of the scale but it’s also worth every penny. Like with all the shows week nights will always be cheaper and there are plenty of websites out there with flash sales and last minute “seat filling” offers. The run time is 2 hours 30 mins with a 15 minute interval. Bookings are currently available until mid May with group bookings running longer. There is also a daily lottery where 21 top-price tickets from each day are made available for £20 each. More information can be found on the theatre website:

https://www.delfontmackintosh.co.uk/tickets/the-book-of-mormon/

NG x

 

Things to do in Greenwich for £5 or less

Maritime Greenwich is undoubtedly one of my favourite areas in London. I don’t know if I’m slightly biased because it’s walking distance for me but it has this brilliant way of making you feel like you’re miles away from London whilst also being reminded just how close you are. There’s also lots of things to do and still get change from £10.

Where to eat

Goddard’s Pie and Mash shop has been a Greenwich staple since 1890! “Eel Pie Houses” as they were traditionally known date back to the 1700s and Goddard’s still feels traditional. A single Pie and Mash will set you back a mere £4.30. Just expect the queues out of the door on a Saturday lunch time. Think the best possible ‘dinner lady’ vibes and relish in the old fashioned bench style seating. The perfect place to warm up on a chilly winter day and if you’re feeling adventurous be sure to give the jellied eels a try.

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You simply can’t beat a classic

Comedy

Up the creek comedy club is my favourite to visit. It’s hosted an array of comedians including James Acaster, Joe Lycett, Tim Vine and more recently Nish Kumar. Every Wednesday it is home to “Shoot From The Hip” a comedy improv night and if you’ve never seen a comedy improv night before you MUST. This particular one is free to visit too. If that wasn’t enough comedy for you it also hosts every Thursday “The Blackout” one of the most exciting nights of comedy you’ll ever see. 15 amateur comedians have 2 minutes to impress, succeed and they’ll carry on for a further 3 minutes. Fail? Well the crowd can get pretty rowdy for a comedian they don’t like. The first time I went a poor guy was booed off in the first 30 seconds. Brutal. Entry to The Blackout is £6 or free for students.

Markets

Weekends in Greenwich are fantastic if not for the vast array of markets available. You obviously have the famous Greenwich Market with all of it’s artwork, food and artisan coffee but just up the road you have both the vintage market and clock tower market. Be sure to stop by the vinyl stall and have a browse if music is your love. My best friend once managed to find a yellow stone roses vinyl and to this day I’m still insanely jealous! There’s everything from clothes, to antiques and jewellery. Well worth a peruse and all free to look around.

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The Park

I defy you to go to Greenwich and not stop by the park. Not only is it home to The Royal Observatory, next to The Royal Naval College and close to the Queen’s house, it’s also a great place for dog walkers, families and everyone! There’s stunning views and even a deer park. The Pavillion Cafe is a great spot for afternoon tea or any kind of pit stop. Which you’ll need if you took the ‘steep’ route to the top though it’s well worth the climb. The park itself is free to visit but entry to the observatory and naval college is charged separately.

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The view from the top of Greenwich Hill

So there you have it, just some of my favourite things about Greenwich.

NG x

More information about what’s coming up at Up The Creek can be found at their website www.up-the-creek.com/

 

Where to mini golf in London

I’ve never been one for a “typical” date night. My dream date night is something different/exciting/active and mini golf is certainly up there with the best. My boyfriend actually plays golf so mini golf is the closest I can get to actually challenging him. So it’s fair to say we’ve been to a few so far in London. Here are our 3 faves:

Canary Wharf Mini Golf

Definitely one for the summer months this FREE mini golf has become a warm weather staple. Being so close to home, it’s the perfect excuse to get us out of the flat on a sunny day. It does open throughout the winter so if you can brave the cold you can get your mini golf fix and with a cafe right next door you can warm up with a coffee. It’s a great little course with tricky obstacles whilst still being perfect for families. There’s even some hole in one opportunities. Moreover, it is situated right next to the entrance to Canary Wharf tube station making it all the more accessible. Open 7 days a week until 4:30pm it’s certainly one way to get your mini golf fix.

Junkyard Mini Golf

If I had to pick a favourite it would be this one hands down. It is simply the most fun I’ve ever had playing mini golf. Located in the super cool Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch it’s within easy distance from Liverpool Street Station and Shoreditch High Street. The cocktail menu is something to behold where classic cocktails are given a hip and old school twist – AT THE SAME TIME. Be sure to check out the “Hotline Ting” for additional popping candy and party rings (and yes I do mean the old school biscuit). With 4 courses in total it’s impossible to get bored. Check out ‘Gary’ the 90’s rave course for a unique sliding experience… Booking is nearly always required so plan your visit in advance.

Hotline Ting (c) classic cocktails with an old school twist

Plonk Mini Golf

With 5 locations across London, Plonk is quickly establishing itself as the mini golfing hot spot. From putt in the park to puzzle putt, Plonk has variety. We recently paid a visit to Plonk Dalston with friends for a Saturday double date. After some difficulty finding it (it’s inside a bar and not very well sign posted) we got ourselves two rounds of mini golf for £12 each. At peak times these do have to be played consecutively but you can go for bar breaks in between. Efes bar itself was nothing to write home about but actually the golf was very good. The capitalisation on space is extremely impressive and nearly every hole had various ways to play it of varying degrees of difficulty. If all the others are this good then I’m excited to continue to explore all that Plonk has to offer.

Pizza, a DJ and Dalston

This weekend I payed a visit to the fantastic Pizza Union in Dalston with Tom and some friends. It’s the only pizza place I’ve ever visited with a resident DJ and where you can get 2 pizzas and a bottle of wine for under £30 (in London). Here’s how my experience went down.

The location

I have to admit Dalston isn’t an area of London I’m particularly familiar with and it wasn’t an area we actually intended to find ourselves in. We were aiming to visit Draughts, the board game cafe up the road in Haggerston but with a 2 hour wait for a table we quickly decided to source a new plan. So we ended up in Dalston. We actually dropped by Pizza Union after a couple of rounds of mini golf at Plonk. It’s within easy walking distance from both Dalston Junction and Dalston and Kingsland – both on the London Overground. A small venue, seating is adequate with larger benches and smaller, intimate tables. The pizza making and HUGE pizza oven all take place in front of you and the eclectic neon makes it feel like a cool venue. Not to mention the fact it has a resident DJ. It was such an incredibly unique and exciting place to spend a Saturday evening eating pizza and listening to the tunes and I could see it being an excellent warm up venue for a night out.

The menu

Pizzas start from as little as £3.95 for a margherita with options to add toppings or make your pizza gluten free for £1 extra. For such a small venue the pizza menu is impressive with many pizzas and ingredients completely new to me and different to anything I’d ever seen before. They have a variety of drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic with the option to purchase full bottles of red, white and sparkling wine. They offer sides of olives, sauces and dips to add to your order. Not content with just pizza they offer salads and one desert option. A dough ring filled with Nutella and mascarpone. As a pizza bar it sits in between a self-service/table service venue. Once ordered you collect the pizza yourself but the plate/tray is cleared for you.

The food

I have to say it’s beyond good. I’d always like to hope that my local pub offers the best pizzas in London but I think I’ve now found a pretty close rival. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a pizza that’s quite so crisp. It’s a perfect 12 inch, thin and crispy pizza that I simply couldn’t fault. I almost feel guilty for not doing Pizza Union justice and only ordering a Margherita pizza. I’m not one to return to food places in London – since there are just so many – but if I was back in Dalston/Aldgate/Kings Cross/Spitalfields and I fancied a pizza, this is where I’d be heading.

You can find more information about Pizza Union through their website or by visiting them on social media.

https://www.pizzaunion.com/

@pizzaunion

 

6 places to get in the Christmas spirit in London

The first snowflake has officially fallen and the advent calendar windows are starting to be opened but if after all of that you’re still missing some Christmas magic, here are some of my favourite FREE places in London to help get you in the Christmas spirit:

Regent Street

Once again Regent Street have their beautiful angel Christmas lights that sparkle and glow magnificently. Nothing makes me feel more in the Christmas spirit. For true Christmas magic  follow the angels all the way to Hamleys and tap into your inner child (it is Christmas after all).

Carnaby Street

Just tucked behind Regent Street is the magnificent Carnaby Street where you can experience a different kind of Christmas. This year they have opted for a Christmas carnival theme. With birds of paradise and all the bright colours you could imagine. Pay the spectacular Choccy Woccy Doo-Dah a visit and get some Christmas chocolate inspiration. Or if beauty is your thing, get lost in the likes of Benefit, Urban Decay, Mac and Too Faced for all your Christmas wish-list dreams.

 

Liberty London

Also just off Carnaby street is Liberty London. Founded over 142 years ago it is one of the oldest and most spectacular department stores in the country. With its mock-Tudor exterior and dramatic window display it’s enough to get that warm fuzzy feeling and that’s before you’ve even visited the 4th floor. Take the lift to their Christmas shop for unique Liberty gifts and stunning tree decorations. They have everything. Think personalised baubles for your pet to stunning peacock tree decorations. It’s near impossible to resist them all.

Leicester Square Christmas Market

Whilst it may not be the largest Christmas market in London, year on year it becomes one of my favourites. At any time of year there is something special about Leicester square, so add some Christmas magic and you have a truly beautiful mix. Be sure to check out the craft stalls and the mini pancakes to feel truly Christmassy.

 

 

WinterVille – Clapham junction

Think of it as almost a mini winter wonderland. Whilst not as spectacular, it’s certainly cheaper and far less crowded. With a bouncing beer tent, ice skating and alcoholic hot chocolate on offer it is certainly not one to be missed.

And finally…

Oxford Street

For me, it’s the epitome of Christmas in London. There is no greater feeling than stepping off the tube at Bond street station and seeing beautiful lights wherever you look. Year on year the window displays set it apart from your normal London shopping street. Be sure to check out “Moz” in John Lewis and the neon “with love” at Selfridges for a true feeling of Christmas.

Northern Girl on… The Barbican Conservatory

One of London’s more secret attractions, not many people know that The Barbican centre has a conservatory that is open to the public and free to visit. Located on the third floor, the conservatory is home to some of the most amazing plants, fish and even turtles.

The plants wind through the conservatory past the fish ponds where you can take in all the varieties from pepper trees to banana plants and even the papaya plant. It then takes you up the stairs for beautiful views of the whole conservatory where you get to see the two varieties of turtles en route to the cactus room. 

If you get chance afternoon tea is a must. The food looked absolutely amazing and you’ll be hard pressed to find afternoon tea in a more picturesque and unique environment. 

Or if you’re on a budget, pack your own sandwiches and take them out to the stunning ground floor courtyard where you can sit by the water and soak up the sunshine.

The conservatory is open every Sunday 12pm-5pm (last entry 4:30) until the end of September with the exception of the 20th August and 10th September where it is closed for private events. Full information and afternoon tea booking can be found at www.barbican.org/visitor-information/conservatory

NG x

 

10 reasons why you should visit the para athletics world championships 

For the first time ever World Para Atheltics Championships are being held in London. Here are 10 reasons why you should go!

1. Be a part of history – the number of tickets sold to this games is thought to have outsold the previous 5 world championships proving that following the 2012 Olympics, London really does do it best 

2. You get to see one of countries newest football stadiums – granted if you went to a West ham game you’d get to do this anyway but if football isn’t your thing it’s still a magnificent stadium to visit and so hugely important to London’s Olympic legacy.

3. It’s easy to get to. Stratford is on both the jubilee and central lines as well as the DLR meaning it’s super easy to get to and quick it also has great bus links and is even connected to TFL rail.

4. You’ll get to see some super star athletes – team GB are absolutely smashing these championships and we’re currently second in the medal table  (go cheer them on, we might get first)! With so many great athletes you’re guaranteed to see some GB medals no matter which session you attend.

5. Tickets are cheap. And I mean really cheap. For over 3 hours worth of action tickets start at £10 and just in case you’re worried that that means being up in the rafters here’s the view from our  £10 seats

6. See world records be broken – who doesn’t want to be able to say “I was there when xxx broke the world record” it’s so astounding to see what these athletes are achieving and how close some are to even beating their able-bodied counterparts. It’s also really heartwarming to see how many athletes are smashing PBs at these championships.

7. You’ll learn a lot. Before each event they have a little infographic explaining what the disability category means so you’ll be able to tell your T11s from your F34s in no time.

8. It’ll make you really appreciative of your life – I said it on Twitter recently but nothing humbles me more than para sport. To even begin to imagine what these people have been through and to be going out there and achieving what they are, channel 4 (the official Para sport broadcaster) really do say it best when they say they’re superhumans.

9. You’ll have fun – there’s loads of great food outlets all around the Olympic stadium and the atmosphere inside is incredible they even play upbeat songs between events to keep you bouncing so get ready to sing along to some of your favourite hits.

10. You’ll get to explore the Olympic park – get there early enough and there is so much more to see. The Olympic park itself is magnificent, take a peek in the aquatics centre, stroll along the canae or be a big kid on the various climbing frames. It is such a fantastic ode to London 2012. See if you can beat Greg Rutherford’s gold-winning long jump distance or remind yourself just what was achieved on Super Saturday. As if that wasn’t enough you could even take in the views from the top of the Orbit before sliding all the way down in the giant helter-skelter-esque slide.

Tickets are currently available for all remaining sessions right up until the final sessions on Sunday 23rd July. Purchase by visiting http://www.london2017athletics.com/worldparaathleticschampionships

NG x

Northern Girl on… paddle board yoga

You may have seen my earlier post on community yoga – if not it’s here. At the start of this month I was lucky enough to be invited to a free trial of SUP yoga (stand up paddle board yoga). This is a new concept run by the same instructor and organisational team as community yoga.

Feeling like I was having my flash dance moment! – photo credit Neha Kadiyala

What is SUP yoga?

Exactly as it sounds you are doing yoga on a paddle board! The board replaces the traditional yoga mats and you’re on the water.

Is it safe?

It’s perfectly safe, even though you’re on the paddle board on the water, the boards are docked and connected to each other. Our trial group were a whole host of individuals with varying experience levels and not one of us fell in .

Team photo once we all got up on the board! Photo credit Neha Kadiyala

Do you have to wear a wetsuit?

You don’t have to. It’s all about personal choice, I chose to because if I were to fall in I didn’t want to be in soggy clothes all day but others didn’t and stayed completely dry.

Is the yoga difficult?

It isn’t.  The teacher will be on the dock rather than a board to make it easier for everyone to see but she has done it on a board so she knows which poses work and which don’t.  She will give you options to make it easier/difficult but it’s all about how confident you feel and how much you want to push yourself.

Is it fun?

It’s great fun. I really enjoyed it and I was impressed and just how much I was able to push myself into the more difficult poses. I was doing shoulder stands that I didn’t even know I could do on land – let alone on the water!

Where do I sign up?

All information can be found on the DSWC Facebook page or by contacting the centre direct. There will be 2 sessions on Saturday mornings starting May 27th 10-11am and 11-12. Each session is  £25 (£20 for members) with special offers available. Full details and dates below.

Photo credit courtesy of the DSWC

Places are very limited so get booking! Ng x 

REVIEW: Northern Girl on… Sh*t Faced Shakespeare

Me and Tom decided to have a date last Friday after securing ourselves tickets to the Leicester Square Theatre to see Sh*t Faced Shakespeare. We got our tickets on Time Out Offers so they were discounted to £14. Bargain.

We’ve been to  LST a few times already since moving here and I have to say we really like it. It’s incredibly tiny and intimate with stalls only seating for 400 (there’s also a second 70 seater lounge theatre) and the room itself has two bars at either side of the seats. They tend to hold a lot of comedy shows here but due to it’s limited seating you really have to keep an eye on the listings!

When we arrived at the theatre we simply had to swap our Time Out Vouchers for actual physical tickets at the box office which was a breeze and the box office staff are always extremely friendly and helpful. Once collected it was time to head in and enjoy the show.

We took our seats and had a quick view of the programme provided – great touch. Sat back and waited for the show to start. From that moment on, I don’t think I stopped laughing once. From the build up video right through to the final dance sequence was constant laughter.

 

For background info, Sh*t Faced Shakespeare are covering Much Ado About Nothing this summer with various shows throughout the year. There is a rotating cast of 10 classically trained, shakespearean actors playing 7 roles in each performance with one catch, one actor has been drinking for approximately 4 hours before the show. It is never the same actor on consecutive nights and they will never drink on more than 3 occasions in any given month (that is when they’re performing, I have no idea what they do in their spare time or after the show).


The show starts with the actor who is playing the compere/safety warden role warming up the crowd. Musical instruments and a bucket are handed out to members of the front row with the rules explained. If at any point the audience member with a musical instrument thinks the drunk actor is getting too sober; they sound their instrument, the compere comes back on stage and hands the drunk actor another drink. This can only happen on 3 occasions during the show so picking the right moment is key. The audience member with the bucket is told that if anyone shouts bucket at any moment they have to be alert and present said bucket – I think you can figure out why. The compere/safety warden then goes on to show the audience how much the actor has had to drink “ooooooh”. It’s fair to say our actor was truly shit faced. From memory I think he had consumed a can of lager, a bottle of cider and 2/3 of a bottle of Gordon’s gin; top effort. From there, the show starts.

One thing I think they did exceptionally well is they don’t actually tell you which actor is drunk and who they’re playing. Given that the opening scene starts with 3 out of the 6 characters you spend the first scene trying to work out which one of them is actually drunk. That was until the appearance of the other 3 characters where the safety warden/compere quickly appeared back on stage to replace a sword with a swimming noodle – safety first and all that. That moment in itself was just perfect hilarity and you now knew who the drunk was and what to watch out for in the show.

From the moments of confusing the characters in Much Ado to Macbeth, to calling the actors by their real name and discussing the actor’s watch which he forgot to remove – the actors are all in full shakespearean dress after all – the drunk Benedick provided some absolutely hilarious moments but what also blew me away was how incredible the other actors were to adapt to his drunken ramblings.

I don’t want to give too much away but I cannot recommend this show enough. It’s one of THE funnest nights in theatre I have ever had and I can’t wait to take literally every family member/friend who visits throughout the summer because the beauty of it is no two shows will ever be the same!

Just don’t sit on the front row if you don’t fancy making a spontaneous guest appearance… #otter

Have you seen Sh*t Faced Shake before? Let me know.

Ng x

Tickets available here: https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873562224 The show is on until the 16th September 2017.