Getting Your Garden Summer Ready

A few days of sunshine and blue skies and it suddenly feels a lot like Spring. I don’t know about you, but when the days are as lovely as they are at the moment, I want to spend as much time as I can outside, and I start to think about the garden. The best gardens are a haven, a beautiful place where you can enjoy the seasons, relax and feel at peace, they should be an extension of your home space and somewhere all your family can enjoy.

The garden basics are obvious, the weeding, replanting and general clearing up after the cold of winter all need to be done before you can start to think about what else your garden needs to bring it to the next level. But whilst you are getting on with this, you can forward plan and imagine some of the things that could make your garden perfect.

A Garden Hammock

Hammocks and hanging hammock chairs used to be something you’d think of from tropical climates (we have family in Spain who have a hammock on their large balcony, I found it hard to get off it when I visited – sooo comfortable.) But last years glorious summer showed that a cool hammock is a fabulous way to relax in your garden, and that the fact that you can now get very sturdy and hand wearing metal and wooden hammock stands means that you no longer have to worry about your garden’s lack of trees.

The great thing about modern hammocks are that they are portable, meaning you can move them around your garden to find that best bit of sun, and if you happen to move house, it will move with you. They come in a vibrant range of colours and patterns, and can often be stored in a carry bag so you can put it away if terrible weather is suddenly promised. You can get a single version, which your child will love and commandeer, or a double version to share with your babe.

Hanging Chairs

If you don’t want to opt for a full hammock (maybe you have a smaller space), then a hanging chair can give the same level of comfort and relaxation. Hanging chairs are cute and lightweight, a definite hit with teenagers who often opt for these in their bedroom as they are fine for both indoor and outdoor use.

You could either have a chair on its own as a garden feature, or match it to a hammock for a garden suite feel. Either way it is a stylish touch to add to any garden, one that will definitely make your garden more comfortable and the place you want to be when you just want to relax with a glass of wine and a good book.


Museum Fun: Da Vinci and Too Cute!

The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is one of the second city’s treasures, a stunning Victorian building that is home to a gallery dedicated to ‘The Staffordshire Hoard’, a wealth of Pre Raphaelite treasures including my most beloved painting of all (The last of England by Ford Maddox Brown) and a brilliant gallery that is a tribute to Birmingham and its people.

I spent a rather wet and miserable Friday soaking up these treasures, and also checking out to rather fabulous exhibitions that are currently taking place. The Leonardo 500 exhibition is a joint enterprise between some of the UKs most important museums and art galleries that is celebrating the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. Birmingham has a collection of 12 of the master’s drawings on display, showcasing the artists interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

The collection is beautifully curated and displayed, and it was lovely to see such a diverse range of people enjoying the work, from children in school groups, to art lovers pouring over the work. Da Vinci’s attention to detail was incredible, and the works, although extremely fragile now, still show the brilliance of his accuracy and imagination.




The second exhibition I went to see couldn’t be more different than the Da Vinci one. ‘Too Cute – Sweet is about to get Sinister’ which has been curated by Rachel Maclean is all about how the fine line between cute and, quite frankly disturbing is a very fine one, and how the things that some people love (like porcelain dolls for instance) other people will find decidedly creepy.

The exhibition is fabulous, a frothy confection of pink and fluffy that is also wonderfully weird and makes you look twice.

West End Treats – What To See in 2019

For me, nothing beats the thrill of seeing a show on the West End stage in a beautiful theatre, the treat of catching the latest must see show, the thrill of watching the hottest ticket in town. 2019 is already promising to be a vintage year when it comes to new shows and must see hits, with so many new shows that range from adaptations of TV shows and cult movies, to perennial favourites and brand new classics. It truly is a fantastic time to see a show, you are quite literally spoilt for choice, with musicals truly having a golden era.

Here are a few of the shows that I am just so excited about for 2019.

Only Fools and Horses – The Musical

Now, this is one show that truly promises to be ‘lovely Jubbly’, a much loved TV comedy classic that should translate beautifully to the stage. With Paul Whitehouse perfectly cast as Grandad, Tom Bennett as Del Boy, and Ryan Hutton as Rodney, this is one show that has a heart, but with the jokes and funny moments coming thick and fast. Expect to see Boycey and Marlene, and the eternally deadpan Trigger stealing scenes.

The stage show is the brainchild of John Sullivan’s (the original writer) son Jim Sullivan and Paul Whitehouse and it recreates iconic series into a brand-new, home-grown British Musical spectacular that is sure to delight fans of the show, and those too young to remember it the first time around.

9 to 5 The Musical

‘It’s enough to drive you crazy if you let it.’ I’m a huge fan of the 1980s movie of the same name, a real celebration of women taking control of a situation with a nasty misogynistic boss and showing him just how well a company can be organised and run when they are given a chance.

Dolly Parton, who starred as Doralee in the original movie, created the Tony nominated score, and the warm and often hilarious musical has a truly starry cast, with Louise Redknapp*, Caroline Sheen^, Amber Davies, Natalie McQueen, Bonnie Langford and Brian Conley all gracing the stage. It is one of the current must sees in the West Hand and is sure to have you cheering on the ladies who are ‘doing it for themselves.’

Mary Poppins

Fresh from thrilling audiences with the new movie ‘Mary Poppins returns’, the greatest nanny of all is returning to the West End stage in October 2019, with the Disney and Cameron Mackintosh musical returning to its original West End Home, the Prince Edward theatre, for its latest run.

The role of Mary will be played by Zizi Strallen, who played the role on the International tour, with everyone’s favourite Chimney Sweep Bert played by the award winning Charlie Stemp.

Mary Poppins is all round family entertainment at its most magical, and is definitely not to be missed.

Come From Away

If ever a musical has captured hearts through positive and vibrant word of mouth, it is ‘Come From Away’. Taglined ‘the true story of the small town that welcomed the world’., Come From Away is the story of the town of Gander in Canada, and how it coped and reacted when it faced an influx of 38 flights landing there in the aftermath of the attacks on America on September 11th 2001.

It is a story that is a powerful reminder of how people can work together in the most terrible of circumstances, of the spirit of human kindness and resourcefulness, and it has resonated with its audiences to become a modern favourite – a true new classic. This was reflected in its nominations for seven Tony Awards.

Another must see for me!

With classic shows like Wicked, Les Miserables and Mamma Mia still delighting fans each night, now really is a golden age of musical theatre.