BIRTHDAY DINNER @ HOME SWEET HOME, MANCHESTER

For the past four years, with the exception of last year because I was on the other side of the world, I’ve spent my birthday with my friend Taylor. Although a group of us were already going to Junkyard Golf on the Saturday to celebrate my birthday properly (because working life restricts mid-week drinking), I wanted to at least go out for food on the actual day. So this year when Tay asked where I wanted to go for dinner, my word-for-word response was “somewhere instagrammable”. I know, I’m ashamed of me too…

So with that in mind we chose Home Sweet Home in Manchester’s Great Northern area. I had walked past this place before and remembered stopping to drool over the cake display, whilst making a mental note to eat there asap.

The dinner menu had just started when we arrived, so I ordered the ‘Chicken in the Basket’ and Tay opted for the ‘Pulled Pork Pile Up’. It was definitely a filling dish and so tasty (I looove me some good chicken), but from the moment we walked in my eyes were on the dessert menu.

These cakes make you gain weight just by looking at them, but it was my birthday so yolo, and you certainly get your money’s worth when you buy a slice (read: 10lb chunk). I knew I wanted to try ‘Honey I Robbed the Kids’ as soon as I laid eyes on it, covered in bright blue icing and topped like a Woolworths’ pick n’ mix section, my out-of-control sweet tooth was more than satisfied. I had to take half of it home in a box because I couldn’t finish the whole slice in one go, so imagine my happiness when I opened the fridge the next morning and ate it for breakfast!

I’m so glad Taylor suggested we go out for the afternoon, and I know my relationship with Home Sweet Home will be like a revolving door (I give it a week until I’m back in there ploughing my way through the breakfast and lunch menus). So if you’re looking for a diner-like place to eat in Manchester and can’t resist eating a dessert that’s bigger than your actual meal, then visiting this restaurant should be at the top of your list.

 

Until next time,
Liv
xo

REFLECTING ON 2016: MY TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

Hello everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are just as bummed as I am that we’ve got to wait a whole year to do it all again. The days between Christmas and New Year provide an excellent opportunity to reflect on the past year and consider one’s expectations for the future. Although 2016 seems to the world like a year that has brought nothing but doom and gloom, it’s also important to notice the positive things that have happened throughout the year.

For me 2016 has been a year full of chapters closing, new beginnings, and opportunities that have quite literally dragged me out of my comfort zone. Whilst reflecting on all of this I put together a list of 10 of my highlights from the past year. It was so hard to narrow it down and I’ve missed out so much from this post, but I doubt you guys would want to read a neverending list of them all.

1. In the first semester of my final year of University I somehow achieved 80 in my qualitative research methods module. This went along quite nicely with the 79 I got for statistics the year before and I was in pure shock when I found out. These modules, no matter how tedious and stressful they might have been, were really important to be as I need them to stand out on my transcripts for my future PhD applications. At a time when I was so stressed it reminded me that hard work really does pay off.

2. Being on my university’s Advanced Irish and Intermediate Contemporary dance teams was so much fun, but the absolute highlight of my dance career this year was at Liverpool University’s dance competition, where our Irish team debuted our Lord of the Dance routine. Nothing can even compare to the feeling I got when we finished and looked out to see the audience and even the judges all cheering and giving us a standing ovation. We then went on to win first place at both Liverpool and Manchester’s comp!

3. In March the University of Manchester’s Surf Society went on an Easter surf trip to Feurteventura. Those 10 days were some of my best from this year and if I had the money I would gladly catch a flight out to wherever they decide to go for their 2017 trip. UMSC was such a big part of my final year of uni, and even now I still miss them all so much.

4. Graduating from university was a definite highlight from my year. The day itself was great and to spend it with my family and friends made it even more special. Everyone had worked so hard over the past 3 years and graduating felt like the end of an era, which was sad but at least I can now say I have a degree in Psychology from a Russell Group university.

5. Living at Willesden Ave for half the summer was something I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Peter, Dale and Zim were some of the messiest yet most wonderful housemates, and I always find myself missing living with them (and Sophie, Taylor and Asa, haven’t forgotten you guys). Having the morning after debriefs in our duvet burritos, beating Peter multiple times at NBA 2K16 (I’m still in denial that I lost), and  cooking chicken nuggets at 2am whilst watching Wasted on E4 is something I actually really miss.

6. In August I took a 5 day trip to Madrid to visit Oscar before I left for Australia. I had never been there before and it was such a beautiful city. While I was waiting to be picked up after my flight I explored El Retiro park and stumbled across a huge, and I mean huge, crowd of people sat on the steps next to the lake. I later found out it was a Pokestop… Over the next few days I got to see the Temple of Debod, Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, the Royal Palace, and got to eat at the Mercado de San Miguel. Watching Suicide Squad at a Spanish cinema was pretty cool, but at least it was in English with Spanish subtitles. Even now Oscar doesn’t find my Cazafantasmas joke funny…

7. Aside from graduating, the biggest and most definitely the scariest thing I’ve done this year is jet off on my Australian adventure all on my own. Doing this has so far taken me way out of my comfort zone, and although I still get homesick from time to time I’m proud of myself for plucking up the courage to move to the other side of the world.

8. Getting a job at Wake Up hostel in Sydney has to be one of the luckiest things to have happened to me since being in Australia, especially because it’s so expensive to live in this city. When I tell people I live and work in a hostel they don’t seem too impressed, but Wake Up is one of the best hostels in Australia, it’s more like a hotel, and it now feels like home. We’re basically family here and when we all start going our separate ways in January I’m going to be so sad. To keep this to a nice list of 10 I’m going to go ahead and add the staff boat party onto this one, which you can read about here.

9. Spending Christmas Day on Coogee Beach was different to say the least. A few of us went to Helen’s house first for a big roast that she so kindly cooked and I think that was the first proper meal I’ve had in four months. Maya and I then spent the rest of the day on the beach as the grassy area at Coogee was too crowded and not really our vibe. I’m glad I got to experience one Christmas away from home but I couldn’t do it again. If I stayed here permenantly I’ll be coming home for two weeks every year.

10. Over the past week I’ve been receiving all the packages my Mum had sent me for Christmas and today I received a card and a letter from my Dad. I can’t even describe the joy that I’ve felt every time I’ve gone down to reception to see that I’ve got mail, and when reading the card my Mum sent me and the letter from my Dad I had to fight back tears. Being so far away from home makes the small things matter so much more. Two of the items my Mum put in my package was a big bar of Dairy Milk and Galaxy chocolate and I was so happy (Cadburys taste horrible in Aus and they don’t even sell Galaxy). Also I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see a pack of Custard Creams!

So there you have it, 10 highlights from my year! I know I’ve missed off a lot and after I’ve published it I’ll probably remember something really big that I should have put on the list, but reading this makes me realise how lucky I am to have had these experiences. Here’s to a just-as-wonderful 2017!

See you guys in the new year,

Liv

xo

BLOGMAS DAY 21: ALADDIN THE MUSICAL REVIEW

Hello and welcome to Blogmas day 21! I’ve been working on this post all day, hence why it’s a tad late, but I’m super excited for you guys to read it! It’s been a while since I’ve been to the theatre, with my last trip being to see Riverdance in Manchester’s Apollo theatre to write a review for The Mancunion.

Over in Australia you can get super cheap tickets for shows if you get them from the box office two hours before the performance starts. As Maya and I are on a traveller’s budget we thought why not do that for Aladdin at Sydney’s Capitol Theatre, so we queued up two hours before rush tickets went on sale and ended up paying $45 for seats that would have normally been $195. When we were seated in the theatre we realised how lucky we were to get such seats. We were only 8 rows from the front and smack bang in the middle with a perfect view of the entire stage!

As the lights dimmed the orchestra played the familiar sound of Arabian Nights for the opening number. Ainsley Melham and Arielle Jacobs, who were playing Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, respectively, really did their roles justice through pitch perfect vocals and their portrayal of their character’s forbidden love.

Although the musical is an adaption of the original Disney film there were loads of new songs to make the show flow more smoothly and keep the audience entranced. ‘Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim’ had me bouncing around in my seat at its catchy chorus and questionable dance moves. Instead of having Aladdin’s monkey sidekick, Abu was replaced by the three troublemaking companions featured in the aforementioned musical number. This brought a refreshing feeling to the show as their humorous input could not have been done by keeping the non-talking original character, and their rescue mission song “High Adventures” was actually one of my favourites. Iago, Jafar’s dastardly parrot, was also replaced by a sneaky right-hand man who both Maya and I thought was hilarious.

‘Friend Like Me’ was by far the most spectacular scene and longest musical number of the show. Michael James Scott played a perfect sassy Genie, and the modern, extended twist on the song along with cameo lines from other Disney classics had the crowd laughing and singing along. The stage was set with sequins and jewels to imitate the Cave of Wonders, and there was always something new and shiny that caught your eye.  

As a child I always loved the ‘A Whole New World’ scene of the 1992 classic, and as it was brought to life on stage every audience member was left mesmerised by the breathtaking magic carpet illusion on a backdrop of a starry night sky.

I felt that the final confrontation between Aladdin and Jafar was short lived and seemed quite rushed, but nevertheless that didn’t put a dampener on the rest of the show, and both of us came out of the theatre gushing about how great the night was and how we would gladly go see it again before it closes.

Obviously I couldn’t take any pictures of the performance itself but check out the few photos I did get to take throughout the day below!

Aladdin is showing at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, until the 26th of March 2017. 

Until tomorrow guys,

Liv

xo