UK Culture and Lifestyle Blogger based in the East Midlands.


Bistrot Pierre provides great provincial French cooking in relaxed and friendly restaurants across the UK. It's a restaurant that for years I've glazed by and never gave an opportunity to, the 'French' cuisine kind of terrifies me (I usually think of snails!) so when I was invited to sample some of their food I jumped at the chance to try something new. 

The food on offer is Anglo-French, a combination of English and French flavours. The dishes are freshly prepared by their chefs daily by using carefully sourced ingredients from local producers and artisan French producers and suppliers. The restaurant does offer classic Bistrot favourites within their menu alongside some seasonal dishes too. 

The restaurant in Leicester has recently undergone a refurbishment which has completely transformed the space into an intimate, comfortable place to dine. The light sound of music alongside the noise of conversations between diners makes for an enjoyable experience. The food we tried came from the A la carte menu, inspired by the owners travels around France, the dishes are a real taste for French Bistrot dishes and there were lots to choose from. 

We got straight into the starters where my dad opted their freshly made soup of the day, it was a combination of Tomato and Pepper flavours and would be a great winter warmer dish. I sampled the Brioche et Champignons, a dish that was made up of toasted brioche with fricassee of mushrooms and bacon. I thoroughly enjoyed my dish but was glad for the extra appetisers of bread because there was a lot of mushrooms and bacon to eat. It was the perfect quantity for a starter without overdoing it before the main course.

Choosing a main dish was difficult because there was so much to choose from! I opted for trying something new and gave the Croquettes de possion a go. This dish is a fish cake with sauteed spinach, soft poached egg and hollandaise. The combination of flavours was not what I expect ed at all and thoroughly enjoyed popping the egg yolk and mixing it with the fishcake and spinach.  The only downside to the dish was that there was so much food that I couldn't quite finish it. For my dad's main meal he decided to try their Pave de Steak which was a delicious 8oz rump steak with chips. All of the food came well presented and in good timing.

As there's always room for some kind of pudding, my dad opted for the comforting taste of the apple and rhubarb crumble, Crumble aux pommes et rhubarbe which will be the perfect pudding choice as we draw closer to Winter. I decided to go for the Tarte au citron, a delicious caramelised lemon tart, served with raspberry sorbet. The flavouring was sweeter than I expected them to be for this dessert but it was still a delicious choice to finish off the dining experience. 

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed sampling the menu and atmosphere at Leicester's Bistrot Pierre. The staff were very attentive to our experience for the entire evening and made us feel extremely welcome.
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*Restaurant Review. Invited to review Leicester's Bistrot Pierre Menu. All photos, views and words are my own. 

Sometimes it's quite difficult to decide the preference in which you spend your evenings, more so now it's darker by around 5.30pm. If you do enjoy a good beverage combined with an education about the different types of specific drinks out there then I would definitely recommend you check out Veeno. The Italian wife cafe chain is the first of it's kind and offers quality Italian wines as well as a great variety of appetisers across the UK. The Leicester branch of the cafe itself is situated just by St Martins Walk. 

Hairspray is an iconic musical in its own right and the feel good, a thrilling piece has circulated through many productions over the years, even in 2016 with a UK tour. The musical production has all it should have to be a brilliant night out a quirky, tongue-in-cheek script, exciting choreography but also a cast of triple threats unlike no other. Whilst it may seem that it's a musical that is overdone, this 2017 cast has proven why it's still enjoyed by audiences throughout the country.

The story is set in 1962 where young Tracy Turnblad (Rebecca Mendoza) proves that being a big girl, with an even bigger heart can't stop you from pursuing your dreams. Tracy is determined to make it onto a popular teen TV show and win over the heart of teenage heartthrob Link Larkin (Edward Chitticks). Along the way, Tracy is confronted with continuous sneers from Amber Von Tussle (Aimee Moore) as well as wanting to create a change in segregation of race on the TV show. The topics of race, culture, class and acceptance are the backbone of this play, its issues as relevant back in the 60s as they seem to be now. Layering up with the addition of extraordinary choreography and a 5* cast. 

Tracy's parents Edna (Matthew Rixon), who is a huge presence from the beginning (and so confident in heels!) is complemented well by her partner Wilbur (Norman Pace) whose charm warms the heart. Their rendition of You're Timeless to Me is a truly beautiful piece that brings out the best in their relationship. 
Brenda Edwards is a force to be wreckened within her role as Motormouth Maybelle. The strength in her characteristics and vocal range, particularly in her solo number 'I Know Where I've Been' are spectacular and the audience roars in appreciation of her power. 
Seaweed's character, although usually in the forefront, is packed with a punch under the direction of Layton Williams, known for his character's own individual dance flare. He completely commands the role with his fun, energetic attitude and it's hard not to feel wonderfully exhausted from the amount of energy he presents. 

Tracy Turnblad is a character that demands a lot from its actor, particularly in the first half when she barely leaves the stage, but Rebecca Mendoza does a brilliant job in the title role, and also her professional debut. Her vocal range is flawless, as well as having both the sassiness, confidence and humour needed to execute this role. The production also recognises other incredible talents starting out in professional debuts with Tracy's best friend Penny Pingleton (Annalise Liard-Bailey), a remarkable voice and delightful knowing innocence makes her a real delight to watch. 

The only downfall is the set, which is slightly sparse and dull, at times slightly clumsy and did dampen some of the sparkles of the production. It definitely makes up in performance and that alone steals the show. You'll definitely be dancing along to You Can't Stop The Beat at the end and is definitely worth a watch! 

This review was also written for the Underdog Reviews website which I now contribute to. The reviews aren't copied but are both written by me. You can find my review on their website as well as more great reviews from over the UK by visiting their website here

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*I was gifted this ticket in exchange for a review, but all words and opinions are my own.
I've been to London a lot of times in my lifetime, usually visiting to take in the smells and tastes of Camden Market, shopping along Oxford Street or heading to see one of the London's West End shows. I've visited a few of London's attractions but never been to ZSL London Zoo before, so when Attraction Tix* invited me to check it out for myself it was the perfect opportunity for me and Jordan to take a well-needed day out. 

It's hard to believe that it was nearly 10 years ago that we saw George Sampson win the 2008 series of Britains Got Talent at only 14 years old. Admired for his cheeky and cheerful attitude to his break and street dancing routines that saw him win the series. George has gone onto featuring on TV programmes such as BBC's Waterloo Road and even in Emmerdale. He also appeared in movies Streetdance and Streetdance 2 which saw him once again showcase his Dance talents.

He has recently started appearing on the stage in pantomimes and now is undertaking his first major role within a musical, starring as the role of Reecey in the new production of Our House, The Madness Musical currently making its way around venues in the UK. I caught up with George recently about taking on this new challenge and whether the Madness music stopped playing once the curtain goes down. 

The musical is considered as a jukebox musical, a new genre that celebrates popular hits on the stage, Our House is exactly that but celebrates classics provided by Madness over the years. George explains that "it tells the story of sixteen-year-old Joe Casey (Jason Kajdi), but more importantly about the decisions he makes". The musical is set on the night of Joe's 16th birthday and how a split-second decision will force him to choose between himself and his heart. There are two very different paths that unfold for him, the consequences of that specific choice will change his life forever. "It's a fight between the good and bad Joe to make a decision, there's Reecey or bad Joe which is played by me. It's a nice story though, it has a love story intertwined with it and also focuses on various other relationships too". 
"Our House was our theme tune to growing up".
Playing young people is something that George has really enjoyed doing within this musical, "it's nice to be 16 again" and it's very much a throwback opportunity for him and the other cast too, "It's like going back to high school or college days, we all enjoy the opportunity to do that". 

The most iconic element of the musical is the soundtrack filled with Madness music, the 70/80s English ska band who I can guarantee has had you up and dancing at some point during a family gathering. For George it's music has always played an important part of his childhood, "I grew up listening to Madness, I grew up in a big family in a small house and Our House was our theme tune to growing up". The music is what brings in the audience and George mentioned that "it's nice to have people come to the show that have a similar connection to the music too". 

George's long-standing fanbase can expect to come along to the show and see him do the stuff that he's become so known for, the choreographer Fabian Aloise who "allowed me to be what I am and what I do, he allowed me counts and solos where I can just be George Sampson".George also reassured me that despite growing up he's still very much the same "I still throw myself around and have no fear. I'm a bit older, but mentally I'm still a nutter".
"It's very high energy, it's very loveable and British". 
We'll see George take the centre stage when he performs Baggy Trousers, his favourite song in the show because it's "my big solo and big number for me. It's the opportunity for me to show my stuff" so expect to be bopping along and singing along to that well-known Madness classic.

To finish off I asked George about what he thinks makes Our House successful and stand out above other shows that are circulating around the country at the moment because there is a lot out there right now. "We're working so hard, we've got a very small cast in consideration to a lot of the shows currently around the UK. 16 is our total cast number. We're all working and playing 3 or 4 roles each, I'm playing 3 roles and as well as my own character. It's one of those shows you can get up and dance to, it's very high energy, it's very loveable and British. It's not your average musical, it's one of those musicals that you need to go and take a chance on, you would not regret. A lot of people have seen it and it's become their favourite show. It's very different to anything that's been done with Our House before".

I would definitely urge that you give this feel good, fun musical a go when it heads to a venue near you. It heads to the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry between 8-11 November. You can check out where else it's heading to by heading over to their site and list of Tour Dates

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Whenever Autumn arrives it feels like it gives me permission to set some things into motion, to start afresh and to think about any goals I'd like to accomplish. So here I am with TOWIE on as background noise (I can't help it), a fresh cup of tea and some chocolate and pumpkin spiced brownies, they're delicious by the way and from the Coop! 

2018 is on the horizon and quite frankly, 2017 hasn't been too bad of a year. Despite there being some challenging moments, I'm referring to the fact I started a new job which isn't going to plan at the moment, 2017 has probably been one of the most fulfilling years for me.

November marks 4 years since I graduated from university and I do believe it's down to this alone that I'm reflecting on elements of my life more. I also visited Coventry recently just to have a mooch around When I try to figure out what the goals are, I think of all that has already passed me by and take notice to the things which I'm thinking I want to be better.

- Try Something New  - 
Me and Jordan tend to go on our merry way in our relationship and as individuals, comfortable with how we choose to spend our evenings doing the same thing. This can lead us to staying close to the same routine, never sampling something different and trying something new, especially as a individual. I'd like to have a go at doing some more exercise, my time is limited but hopefully, there's a chance of signing up to a local gym or joining a yoga class soon. 

- Make Time For Friends - 
To some people, this may seem like the easiest goal to achieve but when you live miles away from your friends and with commitments to other things it's not always easy to get together for a sustainable time that seems worthwhile. I want to spend a couple of weekends a month going to see some friends, and maybe just making more time to have conversations with them too.

- Read 9 More Books - 
I had the challenge to read 50 books this year, it's fair to say that I set my goal too high. I've managed to read 26 books this year but I'd love it if I could reach a goal of 35, so near but so far but far better than other years when I barely got past 10. I have created quite the list of books to read but I've decided to bring together the 9 I want to read more than any others, now I just need to make sure to make time in my schedule to relax and enjoy some reading.

- Face Your Fears Head Down - 
I am struggling more than I have in months (maybe years) with my mental health, to the point where I've been shaking in tears and fear takes control of me. It's the scariest thing and I'm unable to control it. I'm 26 and don't want it to plague my life into my 30s, I've lived with it for long enough already. I've taken it into my hands, been more proactive about seeing the doctors and organising therapy. I want to face the fears that grip my anxiety and find ways of managing it a lot better.

- Hit More Number Goals - 
'Blogging isn't about the numbers' is so cliche but I don't know a blogger who doesn't feel proud of their achievements and so they should. I have hit quite a few milestones already in 2017, over 5K on Pinterest, over 5K on Instagram (I don't know how I managed it either) and 9K on Twitter to name a few but I want to inch a little closer to some individual goals by the end of the year. I've got some work to do!

What are the goals you want to accomplish by 2018?

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