Lifestyle

Adventures that don’t require a long-haul flight

Is there anything better than a week off work in the summer? Maybe when I get to leave behind the hustle and bustle of London and exchange it for the peace and quiet of home in Shropshire with my family.

This year, we decided to go on a mini break to the Peak District. We stayed in the spa town of Buxton and used it as a base to visit some beautiful towns and villages throughout the National Park. It was a great two days and we discovered some lovely places that I can’t wait to share with you.

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Recently, this has question has been sticking in my brain. How many people wear make-up to work? Do most people do their normal routine every morning? The more that I realised that a lot of people wore no make-up at all, the more that sounded appealing for me. So this week I’ve been doing a little experiment.

I already don’t wear any eye make-up to work, and there’s a good reason for this. My eyelashes are quite long, and it’s impossible to wear mascara without it rubbing off a bit under my eyes, giving an unappealing zombie look. At the weekends and when I’m doing something fun, this is very manageable, but I can never be bothered when it’s 7am on a Monday morning. So I have my unframed eyes, but all my foundation and powder usually finished off as usual before work every day.

But this week, the foundation has gone.

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Dreamgirls the Musical has caught the eye of London’s West End, and much of the attention has been due to the leading lady. Amber Riley is best known for her role in Glee, where she admitted that the script writers mostly got her to come on at the end and belt out the big number to wrap up to episode. She’s certainly getting to do a lot of belting in Dreamgirls – not that I’ve got to see her yet.

The main role of Effie White is hugely demanding vocally, and it has meant that an alternate has played the role on many occasions. In fact, I’ve been to see the show twice, both on days when Amber was scheduled to perform, and I’ve now seen both of the alternates.

There’s no need for concern if you’re coming to see the show, though. Both of the Effie’s that I’ve seen have been amazing. My favourite is Marisha Wallace, who has perfect comic timing and can belt out ‘And I’m Telling You’ like it’s no-one’s business.

The music – and vocals – are definitely why I will keep coming back to this show. Think Elphaba’s Defying Gravity riffs are good in Wicked? Come to Dreamgirls and prepare to get your head knocked off. These women give it everything on stage with performances so powerful and captivating that it’s impossible to not feel the emotion. There is a lot of deep emotional moments in this show, too. Singing about rejection, loves and friendships that are lost, and being true to yourself are all key moments.

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This video was so much fun to film! It started with an intense (and hilarious) competition while having lunch. My sister and Alice and I were in a tough battle to find out who is the Disney song expert.

We quickly decided that it needed to be settled on camera.

How did you do compared to us? I like to think that we’re both pretty good, guessing the film and song title of nearly every round within a second or two.

Did you do better than us? Or do you need to brush up on your Disney song knowledge?

Even as a casual reader, the cost of buying books can quick add up. Gone are the days of picking up a new book for a little over a fiver. Nowadays, a bestseller will set you back £8 or £9, with new releases in hardback costing well over £10. Reading should not be an expensive hobby.

When I was growing up, I would always look forward to Sunday mornings as my dad would take my sister and I to the local library. My clearest memories of mornings spent in that historic building involved me taking over the teenage section. I would always be affronted if someone else was browsing too. What if they took the next book in the series I was working through? I would painstakingly sweep through every shelf of every bookcase, looking for something that was becoming increasingly rare – a book that I hadn’t read yet. I would select 10 at a time – the maximum that the library allowed people to borrow – and usually read one from cover to cover that afternoon and evening. That was the magic of teen books. I could get through them incredibly quickly and they usually weren’t hard to digest.

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