Monday, May 21, 2018

Walt Disney World | Day Two

Our second day at Walt Disney World really has to be one of my favourites. This was meant to be our first day before we booked the additional night at All Star Music, so we decided to spend the entire day at Magic Kingdom.

We woke up nice and early in our Royal Guest Room at Port Orleans: Riverside, and got ready for the day. I decided to do a Peter Pan bound, and Sophie did a Cinderella bound, which was later confused as a Wendy bound.

The weekend we arrived was the same weekend as the Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend, and as the half was that morning, some of the roads were closed. We decided to hop in a Lyft instead and got dropped off at The Contemporary Hotel. As we wanted an excuse to get the monorail (and because we didn't know it'd be quicker to walk) we hopped on and did the hotel loop before ending up back at Magic Kingdom.



We realised at this point we were going to miss our first fastpass of the day - Big Thunder Mountain - and managed to switch it to a later fast pass just before it ran out. We got into the park, got some photos out front and on Main Street, and then headed to Sleepy Hollow to share a waffle for breakfast.

We stumbled upon Mary Poppins' meet, so stopped to have a catch up with her, before heading to catch Move It! Shake It! and Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire. Our second fastpass of the day also didn't go to plan, as Space Mountain was down, but we managed to go and ride Big Thunder Mountain instead, and then used our next fastpass for Splash Mountain straight after.












Next up was our lunch reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table. I'm going to be doing a separate post about lunch, but the food was lovely and it was such a fun experience. After lunch we headed into Fantasyland to meet Peter Pan, which was definitely one of my favourite meets of the trip. We headed over to Liberty Square to get a spot opposite Ye Olde Christmas Shop to watch Festival of Fantasy. I absolutely loved the parade, and I'm sad that we only managed to squeeze it in the once this trip!





We then went to use our fastpass to meet Ariel (this is what we exchanged our original BTM one too whilst on the monorail!) before heading to get a LeFou's Brew from Gaston's Tavern. As we were finishing up our drinks, we met up with my friend Emily, who I've spoken to online for a good few years. We met Gaston, and then headed over to Storybook Circus to ride The Barnstormer.



We strolled back along Main Street and headed to meet my favourite fairy Tinker Bell, which was one of my bucket list meets for the trip. It was just such an incredible experience and she loved that she'd been painted on my ears. We also met talking Mickey, which was a bizarre but super fun experience.



It was then back to Storybook Circus to ride Dumbo, before heading over to the Tangled toilets to get our photos with the lantern. We booked another Space Mountain fastpass, so ended up doing the People Mover, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor and then finishing our day on Space Mountain.

As you can tell, it was a very busy day and we were very happy to be heading to bed that night!

Sophie x
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Theatre Round Up | January

I know, I know, I'm blogging about January, and we're already in May. I'm behind. I get it.

Anyway, one of my goals for this year was to see twenty shows at the theatre. To begin with, I had decided that it wouldn't matter if there were some repeats in there, but considering I've seen fifteen shows alone this year, I definitely think I'll make it to twenty unique shows.

As this blog is as much for me, as it is for you, I thought I'd use it to keep track of what I've been to see so far this year, starting with January. January was a great month for theatre, as I went to four shows.


Mamma Mia

Even though I'm a big fan of the movie, it took me a good while to get round to seeing Mamma Mia on stage. I'm so so glad that I ended up going, as the show is phenomenal. I booked a ticket through the app TodayTix when they had an offer on towards the end of last year, and only paid £12.50 for it. I was sat in row J of the dress circle, and although there is some overhang from the grand circle, it didn't block any of the staging of the show. The show itself was like a breath of fresh air. It was nice to see a story that I loved in a slightly different way, and in fact, in the way that it originally came about. The real highlight for me was Georgina Castle. She was a phenomenal Sophie, and really made the role her own.



School of Rock

One show that I'd really contemplated seeing was School of Rock, but again, we got such a good price on the tickets, so I couldn't resist. In contrary to Mamma Mia, I went to see the show with six of my friends, and I'm pretty certain we all loved it. We were split between row A and B in the circle, and we had a side view. Although it could be distracting seeing things going on in the wing, it was still a great seat and we saw everything happening on stage. I can't talk about this show without saying how absolutely phenomenal the kids are in it. Every single one of them played their various instruments live, and they're honestly some of the most talented kids I've ever seen, especially in a show. The storyline follows the same plot as the movie, however it has an entirely original soundtrack, full of great musical numbers from an array of characters. It's definitely one I don't regret seeing, and I've caught myself singing some of the numbers in the months since I went to see it.



Hamilton

Now, if you've seen any of the hype around this show, I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how utterly brilliant it is, but my word is it just that. I actually saw Hamilton for the first time back in the previews in December, however, that was a very spontaneous booking, and I was in the second to last row of the upper circle. The tickets for this show were the ones that we'd booked back in January last year. Sophie and I paid a lot for them, but we went on my birthday, were sat second row of the stalls and it was so worth it. The show itself is incredible. I'd been obsessed with the soundtrack for about two years prior to seeing it, and it was just amazing seeing it come to life. Back in December I saw alternate Hamilton, Ash Hunter, so this was my first time seeing Jamael Westman. As somebody who couldn't imagine anyone other than Lin-Manuel Miranda playing him, Jamael was absolutely phenomenal and is the perfect Hamilton. The other stand-outs in the cast had to be Tarinn Callender, who plays Hercules Mulligan & James Madison, and Cleve September who plays John Laurens & Philip Hamilton. I've seen the show again since, and have it booked another three times this year. Obsessed? Maybe, but it's the best piece of theatre I've ever seen.



Annie

The last show of the month was Annie, which we squeezed in knowing it was ending it's run just a few weeks later. Although I would have loved to have seen Miranda playing Miss Hanigan, Meera Syal did an incredible job, and actually made the perfect Miss Hanigan. Again, just like School of Rock, the kids in the show were incredible. We were sat in the middle of the grand circle, and although we got a full view of the stage, it was, at times, difficult to really make out facial expressions. It was a shame that we weren't closer, but all in all I'm glad I actually got to see it before the run ended, and it'd be a shame if it didn't end up making a return to the West End in a few years.

That's all for January, but there's definitely more to come over the next few months whilst I catch up on these posts! Have you seen any great shows recently? I'd love to know!

Sophie x
Monday, May 14, 2018

Walt Disney World 2018 | Travel & Day One

Hi friends!

It's been a while, I know, but I've decided it's time to properly get back to blogging. I've got a lot to talk about from the last few months, but I thought the best place to start would be by kicking off my trip report from Walt Disney World.



Sophie and I went to Walt Disney World at the end of February, for 8 nights. It was my first ever trip, and I completely fell in love. I knew that I would, but the trip was honestly so much more magical than I could ever imagine.

We flew on the 23rd Febuary, with Virgin Atlantic, and had a nice and easy journey there, followed by a speedy trip through customs, and a fairly smooth trip on the magical express. We spent the first night at All-Star Music, after adding an extra night to the start of our trip, due to an issue with flights. The hotel was lovely, and the room was a perfect size for the two of us. We would have loved to have had a room in the country fair or broadway sections, but ended up in Rock Inn. We were extremely tired when we arrived, so after dropping our bags off, we took a quick walk round the hotel, and then headed back to our room and ordered pizza to our room.



The next morning, we got up bright and early and checked out, leaving our bags in our room ready to be transferred to our new hotel. We left our bags in our room to be transferred, had another quick walk around the resort to take some pictures, and then headed over to Magic Kingdom. About a week before we left for our trip, Sophie checked Be Our Guest on the off chance, and we ended up getting a reservation for breakfast on that first morning. Beauty and the Beast is one of my favourite Disney films, and although we had a dinner booking later on in the week, it was the perfect way to kick off our trip. I'll be doing a review of Be Our Guest soon, so keep an eye out for that!



As we were already in Fantasyland, and it was still quite early, we headed off to do some post-breakfast rides. First up was Peter Pan's Flight, which was my first ever ride in Disneyland Paris too! I was honestly close to tears in the queue. It's such a lovely ride experience, and I'm glad we got to do the queue the once, instead of just using a fastpass. We then went on to do Small World, Journey of the Little Mermaid, Winnie the Pooh, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean (which closed two days later for their refurb!) and Jungle Cruise.

After that, we headed over to Animal Kingdom, as we booked our fastpasses for the day there. We had the honey chicken at Yak and Yeti for lunch, before riding Expedition Everest, which is definitely one of my favourite Walt Disney World rides.



As we're both big musical theatre geeks, we then headed in to watch Finding Nemo The Musical, which was incredible, before exploring Pandora and riding Na'vi River Journey for the first time. It was such a beautiful ride, and (spoiler alert) I loved when you could see the creatures jumping on the leaves above your head. We couldn't visit Pandora without trying Night Blossom, which was absolutely delicious!



Our last ride in Animal Kingdom for the day was Dinosaur, which, again, I loved. It's such a fun ride, and I'm a little gutted that our photopass pictures didn't work all of the times we rid it! We then headed to Hollywood Studios for park number three of the day, as we realised that would be our only chance to see Fantasmic.



As you can see from our pictures, we were progressively getting more tired by the hour, and so we quickly headed over on the boat to Epcot, to get in our fourth park of the day. We got a fastpass for The Seas with Nemo & Friends (even though it was a 5 minute walk on) to make sure we got on at least one ride in the park, before tucking into some poutine from Canada, and heading back to our hotel.



We checked into our hotel for the rest of the trip - Port Orleans: Riverside - and after a slightly delirious hour or two, we got a good nights sleep. A hotel review will also be coming soon, so keep an eye out for that!

We vlogged the whole trip, so if you'd like to see what we did (as well as read it here) don't forget to check out our channel!

Talk to you soon!

Sophie
Monday, February 05, 2018

On Sophie's Shelf | January

Hello!

I know I said I'd be blogging more regularly, but life got the better of me and I've just not got round to it. I promise I'll get better this year!



One of my goals for twenty-eighteen was to read twenty-six books, which is the equivalent of one every two weeks. Last year I aimed for fifty-two, and lets face it, I failed badly. I went for the smaller goal this year, because I have no idea where this year will take me, and how much time it'll give me to curl up with a good book.

To my surprise, I got ahead of the game in January, and managed to get through FOUR books. I'm super happy to be ahead of my target, and I thought I'd share what I'd been reading with you guys!

The Sun In Her Eyes by Paige Toon
Now, if you've seen any of the books I've read and reviewed before, you'll know I'm a HUGE fan of Paige's writing. This book was no different! The Sun In Her Eyes was beautifully written, and I absolutely adored it. I really loved Amber. She was likeable and was very easy to relate to, but at times she also made really stupid decisions, just like any human does. When it came to the two main guys in the book, I definitely had my feelings towards them at the start completely opposite to what I thought of them at the end. The entire book was like that, really, as I had a few ideas of what I thought might happen, and in the end I was completely wrong. If you're a fan of Paige's books, or if you're wanting to give one a try, this is definitely one to pick up!

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern
I'm also a really big fan of Cecelia's books, and have read a few of hers. Lyrebird has been sat on my shelf for a little while, so I decided to give it a go. I really liked the plot of this book, as it was so different to anything I'd read before. It was warming, funny, and also made me cry at times. I loved Laura, and seeing her personality come to life. I also loved Bo, and reading about how her feelings towards Laura grew, but it broke my heart to see her treated the way she was. I'm not sure if I'd put this up there with my top three Cecelia Ahern books, but I definitely enjoyed it!

Dare to Dream by Izzy Judd
I thought I'd give the fiction a bit of a break within the month, and decided to read Izzy's book Dare to Dream. Although I'm personally not going through the struggles of starting a family, I am a fan of both Izzy and her husband Harry, and that's what encouraged me to read it. It was heartbreaking but also incredibly warming, and it was wonderful to read after knowing that they've got their two little ones Lola and Kit. There were many bits of the book that really tugged on my heart strings, but I think the hardest part for me to read was hearing Izzy talk about her brothers accident, and how much it changed her family's life. For those of you that don't know, my brother also had a bad accident a fair few years ago now, and it was also a brain injury. Thankfully he made a full recovery, but the emotions that Izzy spoke about when it first happened and when he was in hospital were a little too familiar. All in all, it was a really interesting read, and whether you're going through your own fertility struggles or not, it's encouraging and warming, and gives you a great insight into what it really is like going through it.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa De La Cruz
Now, if you follow me on any form of social media, you'll know that I am a BIG fan of the musical Hamilton. At the time of writing this, I've seen in twice, have listened to it hundreds of times, and have tickets for another three shows booked. I'm addicted, I'll admit it. My lovely friend Katie bought me this book for my birthday in January (because I'm not allowed to buy myself any at the moment!) and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. I absolutely love the story between Alex and Eliza in Hamilton, and to read more about how their relationship began was wonderful. I fell in love with the pair of them even more, and this book left me laughing and crying throughout. I can't wait to read more Hamilton inspired books in the future!

I hope you enjoyed seeing what I read in January. If you want to keep up to date with what I'm reading, feel free to give me a follow on goodreads!

Sophie x
Monday, January 01, 2018

Goodbye 2017 | Hello 2018

Well hello, again. It's been a while.

I actually only wrote six blog posts between this one, and the one I wrote at the start of 2017. A lot's happened this year, and I've definitely neglected my blog, but I'm hopefully going to be back for good now.

2017 has been a pretty good year for me. Of course it's had it's low points, but there were definitely some pretty incredible moments, that I can't help but reflect on.



I got to visit my home away from home - Disneyland Paris - six times this year. I got to spend my 24th birthday there in January, experience their 25th birthday in April, ride the newly refurbished HyperSpace Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean in August, run 5K in September, spent Halloween there in October, and see their Christmas festivities in November. I've been pretty lucky being able to visit as much as I have this year, but the most important part of all six trips has to be the wonderful friends I got to spend them with.



In April, Sophie and I booked our trip trip to Walt Disney World. Although we didn't go in 2017, this was a big part of my year, and I've been counting down the days since booking. I've wanted to visit the other Disney resorts around the world for years, and naturally next on the cards after Paris was Orlando. I'm so excited for our trip in February, and if you want to see more on our plans, Sophie and I also set up our YouTube channel - SophieSquared - in April this year.



Another big part of my 2017 was moving out of my parent's house in March, before they uprooted and moved to Portugal in April. I've loved experiencing the last nine months living in London. It's made everything so much more accessible, and has definitely added to the experiences I've had this year. It's also been lovely visiting my parents out in Portugal - I'm actually writing this from their house - and experiencing the life they now have here.

Although those are some of the bigger things, my year has been full of other wonderful, smaller moments, full of love and laughter. It's been a year that I will definitely be thankful for, and it leads me nicely into 2018.

So from me, to you, Happy New Year. Here's to a 2018 full of the little moments, full of love and laughter, and full of things that put a smile on your face.

Sophie x
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Tale As Old As Time Afternoon Tea | Town House at The Kensington

Bonjour!

It's been a while. Life has been a little crazy these past few months, with me moving to London, and then my parents moving to Portugal, but I'm (hopefully) back for good!

Literally days before my parents moved to Portugal, my mum came into London to see me, and we went to the Beauty and the Beast themed afternoon tea at the Town House with Sophie and her mum. We had a midday booking, so got there for about 11:45 and sat in the bar outside for a little while. We were then taken into the restaurant, which was a lot smaller than expected, and we found ourselves on two tables next to the fireplace.



The restaurant itself was a perfect location, and the detailing inside the room was just perfect. Each table had a Lumiere light, there were Cogsworth clocks around the room, and there were red roses everywhere.

Beef ragout, cheese souffle, pie and pudding, on flambe...

Firstly, we picked our teas. I had an Earl Grey, Sophie and her mum had a white tea, and my mum had the Rooibos. We were then each served a plate with three small starters - a beef ragu aranchini, a cheese souffle and a bite size vension pie.



Marie, the baguettes, hurry up!

Then came the main spread. Starting from the bottom, we had Marie's sweet brioche baguettes, which were accompanied by a chocolate pot and apricot preserve. These were absolutely delicious, and it made both Sophie and I laugh a lot, when the waiter (whilst explaining the spread) told us with a completely straight face that they were shaped like baguettes because there were baguettes in the movie. Next we had a plate of sandwiches each, which were pretty bog standard. I would have loved for them to theme these, but to be honest we didn't eat half of them because there was so much food.



Try the grey stuff, it's delicious!

Finally we had the top tier, which was in my opinion the best! First off, we had the grey stuff, which was in fact delicious! One of the two came in a tiny chip mug, and the other in a plain glass. We then had the rose jelly, which was utterly genius. It was an edible rose petal, suspended in a clear vanilla jelly. Before we began eating, the waiter turned it the right way up and topped it with cream, which of course was served from Mrs Potts.



A broken clock is right two times a day, mon ami.

There were three other treats each on the top tier. Firstly, we had what was possibly my favourite treat, the Cogsworth chocolate tart. This was so well done, and super delicious. We then had a spiced coconut and chocolate macaron, which was to represent the snowball fight, and finally we had a speculoos and marzipan biscuit, which was in the shape of Belle's yellow ball gown.




All in all, the entire menu was so incredibly thought out, and there wasn't any part of it that I didn't enjoy.

If you get the chance to go, I'd definitely recommend it, although I'm pretty certain it's fully booked until November!

Sophie x
Thursday, March 23, 2017

Tropical Interiors | Queensgate Retail Park

I'm just going to put it out there... I love homeware.

I moved house last Friday, and one of my favourite activities both before and after has been looking for new things to decorate with. I'm living in a shared house, so mainly have to keep it limited to my room, but it's still been ridiculously fun.

Pieces from Homesense (Left, Middle and Top Right) and Next (Bottom Right)
One of the interior trends that I've been loving over the past month or so has to be the Tropical trend that I've seen popping up everywhere. And where better to shop for it than somewhere that has all my favourite home brands in one place? The Queensgate Retail Park in Harlow is home to Next, Laura Ashley and my all time favourite homeware store Homesense, as well as twelve other home and lifestyle retailers.

I decided to take a look on what they've all got on offer and show you a few of the great pieces on offer.


Two of my favourite picks from Homesense have to be their Parrot Cushion (£39.99) and their Gold Pineapple Ornament (£16.99). Laura Ashley also have some great pieces, including the Small Feather Trinket Dish (£10) which I absolutely adore, and this Tropical Bird Pillar (£20). Adding a few smaller pieces like these into a room can really give it that tropical feel, without having to change too much of what you already have.

Although it's personally a little bold (and rather permanent) for me, you could make a bigger statement with Next's Palm Tree Wallpaper (£15), or get the same effect in a slightly less permanent way with their Palm Leaf Bed Set (£52). They also have some other fun, on-trend pieces in store, like this Pineapple Lamp and Tropical Flowers Table Light.

Have you spotted any great Tropical pieces in stores recently?

Sophie x

*This post has been written in collaboration with Queensgate Retail Park. Queensgate Retail Park has 15 retailers across lifestyle and homeware, as well as food and drink outlets. Queensgate Retail Park is open 7 days a week, with most stores open until 8pm.