family · fashion · parenting · review

Once Upon A Christmas @ Durham Gala Theatre

Hi All!

With the Christmas season approaching I have actively been looking for festive events to take Eleanor along to. I’m such a huge fan of the whole Christmas season and thoroughly believe that doing fun festive things together in the run up is just as much fun as, if not more fun than the actual day itself. With that in mind my mum booked a few shows for us to go see over Christmas period and I kept my eye open for any other shows that popped up.

One of the shows we had booked up was Snow White at The Gala Theatre in Durham. We chose this because it’s one of Eleanor’s favourite films and I knew she would love it. A few weeks later a blogger opportunity came up for both Snow White but also an under 5’s interactive Christmas show called Once Upon A Christmas. With us already having tickets to Snow White for January, I decided to request tickets for the under 5’s show. I asked for four tickets so we could bring our friends Tina and Albie along as Tina has also been looking for things to do in the lead up to Christmas.

 

So looking back at my outfit choice it probably wasn’t the most practical but I didn’t think I would be sitting on the floor in the front row!

Outfit details –

Mesh top – New Look

Longline Vest – Primark

Cord mini skirt – ASDA

Tights – New Look

Boots – Matalan (not pictured)

I plaited my hair when still wet the night before and brushed it out into soft waves, then I went for a simple make up look using my new HUDA beauty liquid lip from my Glossybox.

We made the drive over to Durham (and spotted llamas on the way!!!) and parked in the Walkergate car park. This was super convenient as the lift brought us out literally across from the theatre and the parking charges aren’t bad at all. We picked up our tickets and headed up two floors to the studio to see the show. The show had just started as we entered (we got a little bit lost in the building) and so we quickly took up a space on the mat.

The story focuses on a mother and son. The mother has a list of things to get through before Christmas and so the son decides to “help” without her knowing. The was some great audience participation with some actions relating to wrapping presents and baking biscuits. We were on the present wrapping side of the room and my little girl picked up the actions super quick. In fact, she still knows all of the actions now.

The son then went on to read a book to highlight the spirit of Christmas. The book was about a woman who owned a toy shop which was failing and only had a few materials left to make toys. Very much alike the story “The Elves And The Shoemaker”, elves came and night time and made toys which sold – thus building the toy store back up to its former glory.

The kids both absolutely loved the show. They’re both a little reserved and don’t tend to join in with interactive things or even with baby groups but they both joined in and had huge smiles. Eleanor loved shouting out to answer the questions and waving at the characters as they came into the audience. It was nice that children were encouraged to go as close as they liked and it was a really relaxed atmosphere.

 

 

On our way our we had to stop for pictures of the Elf Village. It was beautifully decorated and even had a bridge! We loved all the lighting, the snowy areas and the toy shop windows.

Our final stop was on the landing. As an extra little touch there was a couple of child sized tables and chairs set up with festive sheets to colour in. Eleanor and Albie pulled up a chair and made themselves comfortable whilst they did some colouring in.

Thank you so much Durham Gala Theatre for having us. It was such a sweet show which both kids loved (and Eleanor still talks about) and we all thoroughly enjoyed attending. Me, mum and Eleanor will see you in January for Snow White!

Have you been to any shows/pantos? Or are you attending any? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading

Hannah x

 

**Tickets gifted for review purposes, however all opinions are my own**

 

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fashion · music · plus size · review

A night filled with a lorra lorra laughs.

Hi All!

In my post last week, I mentioned I had been in touch with Darlington Hippodrome and had chosen some shows to attend. Last week was the amazing The Full Monty and honestly I didn’t think it could be beaten for enjoyment factor. I was wrong. Fast forward a week and it was time to attend Cilla The Musical which I’ve been so excited to see. As a kid I grew up watching Cilla on my TV – no Saturday night was complete without shows like Blind Date or Surprise! Surprise! As I grew older I discovered that Cilla wasn’t just a warm hearted and down to earth TV Host, she was also an incredible singer. I later watched “Cilla” with Sheridan Smith and was shocked to learn of her humble beginnings in “Scottie Road” and her ties with The Beatles. When I saw Cilla The Musical on the press list I jumped at the chance to go and promptly invited my mum to join me as I know how much of a Cilla fan she is too!

The night came around quickly and soon it was the usual decision of what to wear. My shape has been changing recently and so my wardrobe is getting more and more limited. With the show being set in the 60’s I wanted to reflect the era and went with a checked mini skirt and a flared sleeve  blouse. I bought both items last year in the New Look January sales and I think they both came to around £8 – BARGAIN!

My makeup and hair I kept quite simple. I went for eyeliner only in a dramatic cat eye with a little colour on my lips and a sparkly highlighter. My hair I wore straight (something I rarely do) and down. I had planned to wear it in a slight beehive however my hair was too clean to cooperate and I didn’t particularly want to fill it with hairspray – I’d of only had to wash it again!

I decided to “borrow” Adams coat again as I felt like it went with the outfit, I popped on my new Matalan boots and I was ready to go!

We made the journey there full of excitement and chat about both the show and the actual building. Darlington Hippodrome has recently been renovated and mum was eager to see the changes.

We parked over the road and walked over to the Hippodrome whilst taking in the beauty of the building. Mum was shocked and amazed by the renovations inside and we took a few moments to explore the downstairs before popping up to meet Julian for our tickets.

As well as a similar programme as last time, this time we were provided with a CD with a few songs on from the show. I gave this to my mam to play in her car and honestly I’m sat here wondering how many hundreds of times she’s played it so far.

We slowly made our way to find our seats whilst mum told me about how Darlington Hippodrome used to be and mentioned shows she’d been to previously.

  

Seats found we marvelled at how cool the stage curtain was and picked out our favourite bands whilst we waited in anticipation for the show to start.

The first act started with a bang and honestly the show didn’t lose momentum at any time. Kara Lily Hayworth was just the most incredible Cilla. She had the accent, the voice, the mannerisms. She put on such a brilliant show and we were hooked from the first scene “speaking to the paparazzi” in front of the curtain. The show progressed with some fantastic live music from all the bands, beautiful perfomances from Kara as Cilla and really hilarious scenes. Neil MacDonald as John White was just hilarious and every scene with him was an absolute cracker. I have to mention Andrew Lancel who I recognised straight away as Frank from Corrie. He played Brian Epstein and he really portrayed him so well. He made me laugh, smile but most of all he made my heart ache as he showed Brians closeted homosexuality.

The interval quickly came around and we went for a look around the theatre. I was surprised to see that there was three tiers of seating and fell in love with the Edwardian splendour of the first floor boxes.

We went and got our interval drinks and sat in a quiet spot at the top of the stairs taking in the beauty of the stained glass windows and all the original features.

 

We returned to our seats for the second half and we were gripped all the way till the end. The show is so clever in its use of live music, moving stages and simple scenery to transition scenes and the whole show just flowed effortlessly. Before we knew it, huge letters were coming down from the ceiling to spell out CILLA and everybody was on stage for a finale mashup. We were dancing and clapping along and we were so pleased to see so many other people just dancing and having fun because thats what theatre is about – the enjoyment. At one point I looked to my right and there was an older lady dancing in the aisles and it made me smile even more. The show ended and we were all on our feet for a standing ovation. The atmosphere in the room was electric and I could of honestly stayed for hours more just listening to the live music. The music just blew me away, I knew that there was going to be a lot of talent on the stage but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how much there was!

As we were leaving I spotted the lady dancing in the aisle. I went over to her and told her she was amazing and was my new favourite person. She kissed me on both cheeks and told me it was her 70th birthday. Rose, where ever you may be I hope you had the most fantastic birthday – it looked like you were having a blast!

We drove home on a high, listening to the Cilla CD which took away from the fact it was absolutely bouncing down with rain. I made my way to bed and must of sang myself to sleep with Cilla songs. Even a week later they’re still stuck in my head!

Thank you again Darlington Hippodrome for having me. Cilla was just incredible and I feel so lucky to be one of the people who has been to see such a wonderful show.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

family · fashion · plus size · review

Taking A Walk On The Wild Side – Featuring Primark Green Leopard Skirt

Hi All!

I’ve never been a fan of leopard print. It’s never appealed to me at all and it’s always reminded me of people like Kat Slater and so I’ve just avoided it completely. This year I’ve seen leopard print creeping in and becoming more and more popular – there’s been a ton of different colours available and the print has been used in ways I’ve not really seen before. So, imagine my surprise when I walked into Primark a few weeks ago looking for something to wear for my nephews christening and fell in love with a leopard print skirt!! The skirt is part of the Stacey Solomon collection and is stunning. In fact, most of her collection is stunning.

Stacey Solomon x Primark green leopard

I picked the skirt up because I loved both the pleated style, the green colour and the scattered leopard print and spent the next half hour walking around the shop with it trying to decide if it was me or not. I decided to purchase it but made sure to leave the tags on and hung it up whilst I decided what I would wear with it.

As much as I intended to wear it to my nephews christening, I decided to give it a road test on a date night with Adam. We headed to Uno’s in Middlesbrough and at first I was going to go casual in a jumper but Adam came down the stairs looking all fancy and so I decided to dress up a little. I popped my new skirt on with a ribbed black eyelet opening and some suede loafers.

My hair is looking very blonde at the moment!

We had a lovely meal (well Adam did, I still can’t eat much) and just enjoyed spending a little bit of time together after a crazy few weeks.

I next wore my skirt for my nephews christening which is where I intended to wear my skirt in the first place. As it was a special occasion I made the effort to put makeup on and went with a smokey gold eye to pick out the colours in the leopard.

This time I went for a bardot top with long flared sleeves and a pair of sock boots with a block heel. It was a comfy choice but I still felt quite smart. Not as smart as my mum though, how gorgeous did she look?!

Some more snaps of the day! With two of my favourite men, first with Adam and secondly with one of my brothers and the father of my nephew who’s christening it was!

I felt super confident all day. All my cousins are absolutely beautiful and so sometimes I feel a bit intimidated standing next to them because they always look so glamorous and then there’s me with no makeup and a mum bun – however I felt just as beautiful as them.

After the christening we headed back to our cousins house and hung out before we went out for some dinner. When we went to head back out it was absolutely freezing so Adam offered to borrow me his coat. Big mistake! Huge! It’s never fit me before so I’ve never tried it on and honestly camel isn’t a colour I would of chosen for myself but I love it! Adam has kindly told me we can share, so I’ll definitely be wearing it again! I felt like it actually really went with my outfit and finished it off nicely.

I’ve definitely been taking more risks and been quite out of my comfort zone with the outfits I’ve been choosing lately but I’ve loved trying new things. Who knows what I will try next?!

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

fashion · plus size · review

Getting back on track – Featuring Topsy Curvy Khaki Sports Stripe Tracksuit

Hi Everybody!

So as you know I’m a huge fan of independent brands and so I was so pleased to hear that my favourite girls over at Topsy Curvy had returned to being an independent again!

With them returning to their own website they put up a code for 10% off your first order and so I decided I would make use of it. The code is HELLO10. Being newly post op my immediate thought was to buy something comfy, to lounge around in but also something I could wear whilst doing the school run as Eleanor has just started nursery. I eventually decided on a tracksuit but couldn’t decide between the black and the khaki. After consulting my lovely followers on Instagram I settled on the Khaki Sports Stripe Tracksuit. I placed my order, got the discount and eagerly awaited my new tracksuit arriving.

The tracksuit arrived quicker than anticipated – perfectly in time for Eleanor’s birthday outing to the cinema. We planned to have a walk around the shops in town after and so I thought that this would be the perfect opportunity to wear my new tracksuit as it’s comfy, cosy and practical. I ordered the 22/24 and found it true to size, if not a bit generous – depending on how you would want to wear it. I liked to wear mine fitted but still found that I had a bit of wiggle room.

 

Despite it being quite a thin material it was surprisingly warm and I didn’t actually wear the jacket I took out with me. I also found it really comfy just to sit in because the waistband is elasticated and so it doesn’t dig in when you sit down. I wore the tracksuit all day and then till I went to bed that night and I didn’t want to take it off (I soon put it back on the morning after though!)

I’m definitely glad I went with the khaki. I feel like it’s a bit different from the safe black I would usually choose and it really suits my current hair colour too. I’ve since worn this tracksuit a few times and have loved wearing it every time. It’s just so easy to throw on and it’s practical but still looks quite smart. I think as the colder days are coming I may invest in another Topsy tracksuit because I’m definitely going to get my moneys worth out of them! I have to say, I was a bit uncertain when I bought this tracksuit thinking it wouldn’t suit me because of my shape. I’ve never worn a full tracksuit before and tend to avoid things that are high necked and generally prefer things which a button/zip front but I felt surprisingly good in this. I pushed what is my comfort zone and ended up with something that I actually love. I’m definitely going to try more things that I wouldn’t usually wear because it seems that sometimes a gamble can pay off. I think as a plus sized woman I have really stuck to “safe” clothes and tried to dress for my “body type” but I’m actually sick of wearing the same things. I’m ready to take more chances with my wardrobe and try new things.

 

Thanks for reading!

Hannah x

Community · fashion · plus size · travel

A return to The Curve Fashion Festival.

** This post is in collaboration with The Curve Fashion Festival **

Hi All!

I’m so excited to announce that I’m going to The Curve Fashion Festival! Really didn’t think I was going to make it this year but I’ve decided last minute to book a train and travel all the way to Liverpool to attend. I can’t wait to see all the brands including my friends at Topsy Curvy and to watch this years catwalks. This year Debenhams will be talking about all things lingerie which I am super excited about as I just love lingerie. As a plus size woman I’ve found it quite hard to find lingerie in the past but the market is expanding and I’ll be interested to see what the catwalk will bring. With my changing shape I’ll definitely need some great lingerie so I’ll be paying attention to both the catwalk and what the lingerie stalls have to offer.

Last year Debenhams talked about all things beauty . I didn’t attend last year which I was really disappointed about however I do love Debenhams beauty and regularly shop there in my home town of Middlesbrough as it has the best selection of different make-up brands. I’m also signed up to their beauty club which is amazing. Not only do you accrue points for every purchase, they also do regular freebies from different counters, you get birthday bonuses such as a free Benefit brow wax and a facial from Elizabeth Arden. Best part is – membership is free!

Like I said, I didn’t think I would be attending this year but when tickets became available I decided at last minute to attend. I’ve not been for a few years and every year I get quite gutted that I didn’t end up going. I think the worry of travelling such a distance alone has always been the key factor in me not going but this year I’ve decided to put my big girl pants on and just go.

I first went to TCFF in 2015 when I was quite heavily pregnant – 35 weeks in fact! SPD had set in and I was actually in a wheelchair by this point. Adam decided to take me to cheer me up as I was struggling at the end of my pregnancy and he drove us to Manchester where it was based that year. I’m so glad that we made the effort to go because it was just incredible. There’s nothing like being in a room with not only other plus sized people but with a load of brands who want to dress us. Where I live there’s literally one plus size shop you can physically go in and so it is quite surreal to go into a room which is literally full to the brim of beautiful fashion that is all available to you.

On top of all the stunning clothes on offer, TCFF is the ultimate place to meet up with friends that you may only talk to online, with other bloggers and where you can actually meet brands face to face. As much as I love the big brands, there’s nothing quite like meeting the small independent brands and meeting the people behind the clothes. A big example of this is Topsy Curvy. I’ve been friends with them for a few years now and I can’t wait to see them again at TCFF. I’m a part of their community group and a very active member. I’ve made friends in the group who I will be meeting up with at TCFF and I really just can’t wait.

I’ll be travelling down on the train. Can’t say I’m looking forwards to the three hour journey there and back, but it will be well worth it to see the brands, the people, the clothes and of course the goodie bag!

No doubt I’ll be posting on here once I’ve returned, so keep your eyes peeled for my post. I’ll try my best to take lots of pictures!

Are you going to The Curve Fashion Festival? Let me know! I’d love to meet up with as many people as possible.

Hannah x

fashion · personal · plus size · review

Jumping on the trend. Featuring THE eBay dress.

Hi everybody!

It’s been a hot minute since I’ve blogged and honestly I’ve missed it. Long story short is I’ve had a few different bouts of illness, I’ve been super busy at home as well as stressed because – I’ve bought a house! We complete today and get our keys and I’m so excited. It’s going to be so cool to be in our own home and be able to do anything we like to it – you all know I LOVE to decorate. I’ll post lots of pictures on here because we have a few DIY’s we’re going to do and I’ll be posting before/after pics of how we decorate. We’re even going to be installing our bargain lino flooring ourselves!

Speaking of bargains, it’s no secret that when it comes to clothes I love a bargain. I generally buy everything either on sale or with a discount code. I hate paying full price and I will shop around for the cheapest version of something before I commit to a purchase. It’s something I’ve always done as I’ve grown up with not a lot of money, then I was a student with zero income and lately we’ve been saving for a house deposit so haven’t really been spending as much on ourselves that hasn’t been essential.

As it got to summer this year I looked at my wardrobe and realised there wasn’t much casual stuff I could wear day to day which wasn’t shorts. I started looking at options and loved the look of the strappy summer dresses with buttons down the middle. I saw loads of people getting them cheap from Primark but being plus size Primark cuts off at a size 20 and I figured I’d never get into one. I did find a few plus size versions in places like New Look but they were around £23 for a plain dress and I really wanted something with a print.

My friend Tina added me to a facebook group called Mrs Gloss & The Goss which is a group centred around hair/clothes/makeup and I saw these eBay dresses popping up on everybody. There was a ton of prints and people were saying they were generous sizing so I decided to see what size they actually went up to. When I looked they went up to a 3XL or a size 20 but the size chart was quite high and I’d read that there was a lot of stretch in them and so I decided that cause they were only £7.49 each I’d just go for it and order the two I was really lusting after.

  

  My first was this beautiful navy sunflower dress. I’m pretty obsessed with sunflowers and they’re my favourite flower so when I saw this print I just had to have it.

The second dress I bought was this pineapple print dress which is just the cutest thing ever. I love anything kitsch and pineapples are definitely one of my favourite prints.

I tried them on straight away expecting them not to fit at all and was pleasantly surprised when they not only fit but really looked nice. I’m a size 24 and the ones I’ve bought have been a size 3XL/size 20. I initially tried them on with no bra but have since worn then with a normal strap bra which does show the bra straps slightly and a strapless bra. I did also worry about the buttons gaping but they’re actually just for show!

I went on to purchase 3 more, white/black/pink stripes, blue/white stripes which I haven’t pictured and a plain khaki one. Now the khaki one never arrived and so I was refunded but I’m almost glad because I’ve read the plain ones are a completely different material and have no stretch. So be mindful if you do order one that plain ones have zero stretch.

These dresses have been a godsend this summer and each one has been well-worn. From family days, meals out and even nights out the dresses have been perfect for different occasions and have been easily dressed up or down.

 

I even wore the dress for a beer garden date with one of my good friends Claire. It was perfect for sitting in the sun drinking hooch.

I’m tempted to buy more of these dresses because there’s just SO many prints and I know I’ll wear them not only in summer but also autumn with boots and a cardigan and even winter with tights and a t-shirt under for a more 90’s look. Such a versatile dress and for the money they are SO worth it. I couldn’t recommend them enough and I know a few people on my instagram have since purchased them because I do bang on about them so much!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

family · fashion · food · plus size · review

Mothers Day Bottomless Brunch @ Hope & Union

Hi All!

I’ve never really been one for going out on Mothers Day as I find that it is generally over priced and too busy and so I tend to do something with our mums before/after Mothers Day or cook a meal at home. This year however we decided to change it up and actually went out just the three of us. We had planned to do something at home but when one of my favourite independent pubs announced a Mothers Day bottomless brunch then how could I resist?

There was two options for the brunch. You could go non-alcoholic for £15 or you could include bottomless cocktails for £30. We decided to go non-alcoholic as we had plans for the rest of the day. I messaged to ask if it was okay to bring a 2 year old and I was assured it would be fine to bring her and they would provide a highchair and that she would be free of charge. We booked up and got excited.

The day came around and I got ready to head out. I put on this dress from New Look Curve which I managed to grab in the sale for about £9! I wore it with nude flatform sandals from ASOS and my handbag from Primark.

We drove over to Hope & Union for the first sitting starting at 12pm. We took our seats and started to look at the menu. This is where our confusion started. We were expecting to be able to order as much as you like and that it would be small versions. We were wrong.

Whilst we viewed the menu we ordered a coffee each and Eleanor drank milk.

We both ordered the Union Breakfast with the thought that we’d also try the H&U Eggs Florentine.

And then started the waiting game. We waited for an hour for food which was ridiculous considering there was only four tables in there – it was by no means busy! Eleanor was getting super bored and she was hungry. We then asked if we could order the H&U Eggs Florentine too as we were concerned our 90 minutes time slot wasn’t that far from ending and we were told we had already ordered. We said that we thought it was bottomless but were told this only applies to the drinks.

We were a little annoyed at this. It wasn’t super clear on the online posts and as much as we were fine just having one meal we felt that £15 for a cooked breakfast with coffee and orange juice was really steep. The food quality at Hope & Union IS amazing but £15 was definitely too expensive for what we got.

They agreed to bring us a H&U Eggs Florentine to share which actually came before the meal we had ordered and we were happy for it to come as we were all quite hungry by this point. The dish was delicious and they put a twist on it by serving them in puff pastry cups.

Our actual meals came and we thought they were a little on the small side for the price paid. They were really delicious and again the quality was fantastic but they were small (to us) and they had taken an hour.

 

Eleanor was happy enough with a sausage and some toasted brioche.

We finished our meals and after over an hour and a half we were ready to leave. Eleanor had 2 sausages, a glass of milk and toast off my plate and the person serving tried to charge us £5 for her meal. I was a bit taken back! I explained that we had been told we wouldn’t need to pay for her and so the bill came to £30.

Now I don’t think £30 for two meals is unfair by any means, however I do think that it wasn’t worth it. To wait for an hour for food when there’s only four tables in, to be promised on their online posts “you will not be left hungry” and to then be served two small breakfasts and a couple of coffees I just felt like it wasn’t great value for money. I’ve always had a great experience in Hope & Union and you can’t argue about the quality of their food as it is fantastic and this is what attracted us to attend in the first place – however on this occasion we felt a little frustrated. Having said that, we’ll still be back in the future as we like to support smaller local businesses and their food is fantastic. We love their Yorkshire pudding wraps and they have a grapefruit beer which Adam is obsessed with. I’ve always found their staff welcoming and knowledgeable when I’ve asked for gin recommendations which is great for me as I like to try as many new ones as possible.

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x