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Theatre: Pajama Game

26 May 2014

Londoners - if you have not already caught Pajama Game at the Shaftsbury Theatre, you are in for a treat! It is playing a limited run through the 13th of September 2014 so grab your tickets now. There are several good sales on right now so now is the time to buy
There are three reasons why you must run, not walk, to the Shaftsbury Theatre and preferably before the end of the month. Those three reasons would be the amazing leads - Michael Xavier, Joanna Riding and Peter Polycarpou. 
Michael Xavier & Joanna Riding (C) Tristram Kenton.
Michael Xavier plays Sid Sorokin opposite Jo Riding's Babe Williams and together they ignite the stage with their chemistry, exuberance and dynamic vocals, especially noted in their show-stopping duet There Once Was A Man and individual solos. I had grown up listening to Joanna Riding's recordings of Martin Guerre and Carousel and so when I met her at the stage door for Stephen Ward where she rightly stole the show with her act two number, I'm Hopeless When It Comes to You, she encouraged me to come see Pajama Game and I could not be happier with my choice to follow through and buy a ticket. She is an exceptional actress who can weave a story with her voice and face -- take my word for it but why not make a night out to see her live for yourself.  Michael Xavier was someone unknown to me but what a treat! I was so taken with his voice that I describe as melted butter on bread, that I bought the mp3 for Love Story (a musical adaptation of the 1970 film co-starring Peter Polycarpou). He commands the stage at 6'3" and as you would hope his voice is just as strong and impressive as his height and good looks.
Peter Polycarpou (C) Catherine Ashmore.
Peter Polycarpou plays Venon Hines (until 31 May) and I have been a great admirer of his talent since I first heard his voice on the cassette tape of Miss Saigon.  Several of his other notable performances have included: Sweeney Todd (Beadle Bamford), Imagine This (Daniel/Eleazar), Oklahoma! (Ali Hakim) and Les Miserables (Thenardier) to name but a few. His comedic timing is perhaps legendary and at tonight's performance he did not fail giving a brilliantly executed and hilarious I'll Never Be Jealous Again. The audience was in stitches.  Unfortunately he leaves on the show after the end of the month and while I am sure the next Hines will be great too, I strongly recommend you buy tickets for this week if at all possible.
Peter Polycarpou at the stage door.
Joanna Riding at the stage door.
What a wonderful night out at the theatre this bank holiday! Go and see it for yourself -- you will be in for a treat.


London: Charles Dickens Museum

From 1837-1839, Charles Dickens lived at 48 Doughty Street in London. The home has been converted into a museum (in 1925) and made available to visit for a marginal price (£8 - adults).
There is a cafe in the back of the house (open to visitors and non-visitors alike) where you can get a good cup of tea or coffee with a sweet.
 Art Fund and Museum Association members can visit the museum for free. Upon entrance you are greeted by one of the museum's friendly volunteers where you'll receive a guidebook to the five floors of the museum. For the most part you are left to your own devices during your visit.
A favourite -- Dickens' desk.
Another of the highlights of the visit was Dickens' bed.
Amidst these original items related to Dickens' life and works there are also well-made props such as letters and manuscripts by Dickens.
We love you, Charles Dickens, and enjoy your beautiful books and lovely museum.
To visit the museum, the nearest Underground Stations are Holborn and Russell Square. Allow yourself between 1-2 hours to thoroughly enjoy the five floors of furniture, manuscripts, rare editions and paintings, etc. Last admission is at 4pm.

A Picnic in Hyde Park

On a spring day in London, one of the best chances for seeing friends and enjoying the great weather is a picnic in the park.  This past Sunday my classmate and friend, Cris, was celebrating her birthday and invited everyone to join her for a good time picnic in Hyde Park near the Serpentine.
 The weather was in our favour with a generous breeze and the sun shining with the weather being not too hot and not too cold.  If you are looking for a prime picnicking spot, a great meet-up is to the south of the Serpentine next to Rotten Row before you reach the Serpentine Bar & Kitchen.
So grab some food (don't forget the cake and wine!), paper plates and cups from the grocer and let the fun begin!  And by all means don't forget an all-time favourite picnic food -- watermelon.
The birthday girl.
And no spring picnic would be complete without some boots, high street fashion, and a camera. :)
Natasha photographing Mafe in her western boots.

 And because newly engaged couples are just too cute for words, here are a few of the birthday girls and her adoring fiancĂ©.
 Happy birthday, Cris!

xx Joy Michelle

A Lazy Saturday at Hyde Park

19 May 2014

What better way to wile away a few hours on a beautiful Saturday afternoon but by traipsing through Hyde Park with a girlfriend and enjoying the good weather, baby ducklings and delightful conversation?
Look at these adorable baby ducklings we chanced upon. Aren't they darling?
 And of course my lovely friend Natasha --
Do you have a favourite park you enjoy visiting on a beautiful afternoon?

Patisserie Valerie @ Paddington Station

17 May 2014

What is better than a visit with friends over a cup of tea and a sweet morsel?
This afternoon, I joined classmates Jing and Natasha for just that at Patisserie Valerie (Paddington Station). This was a first visit to the chain cafe for me but both girls spoke highly of the delicious food at other locations and the reasonable prices were enough for me to say yes.
Jing, Natasha and Yours Truly
If you are coming by way of the Underground, you will want to make the 5-10 minute journey into Paddington Train Station's main terminal and take the escalator (next to the Paddington Bear statue) up to the mezzanine level where there are three cafes/bars spread out in an open floor plan.  The Patisserie Valerie cafe is immediately to your right when coming up the escalator (cannot miss it!) and despite it's location in the middle of a train station there is a certain charm to the layout with ample natural lighting and big comfy red chairs dotted along the wall with ample space between tables and a great view from the windows on a sunny day like today.
Patisserie Valerie @ Paddington Station
Unlike other Patisserie Valerie locations this one has two cases of treats on hand to tempt their customers and according to Natasha there is a lacking of the usual selection of salads and sandwiches. We did find two quiche options though (one vegetarian with spinach, that I had, and one with ham, that Natasha had) and both were quite delicious after being heated at the counter.
Spinach Quiche & Tea 
They offer a takeaway deal of four slices of dessert for £10 but since we were eating in we all chose a  scrumptious looking tart (berry for Natasha and apple for me).  Unfortunately my tart was better looking than it tasted with stale apple slices on top but Natasha said hers was delicious.
Belgium Apple Tart
 The reasonable priced food and central location definitely made this cafe a great meet-up spot for an hour or two of conversation. We did not feel rushed as would be the case in a more crowded venue, were able to enjoy the sunshine albeit from within the station itself, and could do some serious people watching from the mezzanine level looking down on several other restaurants and shops below. I would definitely recommend anyone who is looking for a convenient meet-up location to consider Patisserie Valerie and hopefully my tart was the exception. They also have a number of locations throughout London so do check for the most convenient!
Of course a trip to Paddington Train Station and Patisserie Valerie would not be complete without visiting Paddiington Bear who is literally just down the escalator from the cafe!

Do you have a favourite place to meet your friends for drinks? Do share!
And for those fashionistas amongst you, my fun dress is from Sweet Liberty purchased at TK Maxx.

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