Theatre Trip: Blood Brothers in Belfast.

I don’t think there is anything that excites me more than a theatre trip.

It’s no secret that I love the theatre. I see a lot of shows. I’m aware that it can be an expensive pastime. I’m aware that I am very, very fortunate to be able to go to the theatre as often as I do. I make so many wonderful memories each and every time I go to see a show, and there’s just no other place that gives me the same excited buzz as when I am sitting in my seat just before the curtain rises.

Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers is a masterpiece. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love this show, but I am determined to try. I studied speech and drama for years. I have been in several productions and choirs. I have watched this show many times. I’ve seen every professional production that I could. I’ve watched amateur productions. I’ve been in this show myself, and performing in a production of Blood Brothers will always be one of my fondest memories of drama class. It was incredible, and the material has stuck with me all these years.

I saw Blood Brothers when the show came to Dublin in 2020, just before the pandemic hit Ireland and everything changed. I remember how excited I was when the five minute call was announced over the speakers. I was buzzing with anticipation. I thought the show would never start. I love it that much, I just could not wait.

I don’t tend to speak about my personal life. I try not to, just because it’s not really relevant to my literature discussions, however always typing “a friend” just feels ridiculous. The reason I’m even adding this information is because this theatre trip was fairly spontaneous. I wouldn’t call it last minute as we did have time to make plans, but the way this little city break came about was all very sudden and seeing as this is a theatre/city break piece I want to explain properly how this trip came about. Unlike my holiday to Italy, this trip was not planned months and months in advance.

This may come as a shock, but I talk about literary things quite often as a love of film in particular is something that I have in common with many of my very close friends. I was talking to my boyfriend about Blood Brothers because it is a show that I thought he would really enjoy, so we decided that the next time the show comes to Dublin, we will definitely go to see it.

I was thinking about how the last time I had seen the show was in 2020, so I thought it could be a while before it comes back to Dublin. I don’t know why, but I decided right there and then to look up “When will Blood Brothers tour again?”

Immediately I saw that there was in fact a 2022 tour happening. I was so excited, and also surprised that I hadn’t heard about it until this moment. I don’t think I’ve ever made plans so quickly. I viewed the tour dates and as soon as I saw that the show was going to be on in Belfast, I just knew that a little mini break was happening. Yes, it is a mini break. In my opinion, if you are leaving your city with an overnight bag then yes, that is a city break, even if it is only for one night.

Let’s talk about the cost. I am a full-time masters student who is about to face a mountain of work when the academic year starts again in September and I have to tackle my thesis. This means I budget. I really try to save my money and only splurge when it is really worth it, and for the most part, theatre trips are really the only thing that I do spend money on. I tend to save money from work, my birthday, and Christmas in order to be able to go to a few different shows every year, and sometimes the tickets are birthday or Christmas presents.

I am a firm believer that you can still find nice places even if you don’t want to spend a fortune, and lovely places don’t always have to cost a ridiculous amount of money.

I’m being very realistic here when I say that it is easier to do things if you are splitting the cost with someone, and when you are splitting the cost with someone, you can decide together what is worth a splurge and what isn’t.

When planning a theatre trip specifically, my thoughts are as follows; there is no point in paying a lot of money to go somewhere and stay the night (if you’re going outside of your home base), and then not have great seats at the show. Theatre tickets are theatre tickets, and they cost what they cost, and there is a price range that differs depending on where you sit, but sometimes the seats at the back of the theatre are still very pricey and if I’m going to spend money on seats, I would rather spend a little more and sit in the stalls. I’d rather an expensive seat that I have a really great view in as opposed to a less pricey, but still rather expensive seat that I may not be able to have a great view from.

Something to note here is that I am very short so I am speaking from personal experience. I find that the further back I sit, I have a harder time seeing. Honestly even when I sit in the stalls I have to hope that someone very tall does not sit directly in front of me. I’m not bashing any seats. Some people may prefer to sit further back. My own mother doesn’t like being super close to the stage, and everyone has to decide what price option works best for them, but if I’m explaining where I’m going to splurge, then I am going to be honest and say that if I can, I will sit in the stalls.

On this occasion, we decided that the hotel was worth a splurge more than transport so we booked a bus ticket from Dublin to Belfast instead of getting the train even though a train journey is usually a bit more comfortable, and even though it was only going to be for one night, we decided that we’d like to treat ourselves to a slightly pricier hotel even though there were budget options that would have been perfectly fine. If we had have been staying for a few nights, then we would have had to choose a more budget friendly hotel, but when we were talking about just one night, and one hotel was just so much nicer than the other, and the difference between the two places wasn’t absurd, we decided that we would splurge a little and treat ourselves to a really nice night in a gorgeous place.

I am going to be completely transparent and create a breakdown of costs for anyone who is interested in the table below. Feel free to skip ahead if travel breakdowns don’t interest you.

Personally, I find them helpful if I’m reading about trips so I can get an idea of prices if I want to do something similar myself.

The below table is a breakdown of costs from show tickets to accommodation, and it is all based on what we paid individually. For example the show tickets are not £40 in total, they are £40 each. Everything is divided this way.

Show Tickets£40 per person > approx. €50 each.
Transport€20 per person. Round trip. This makes it €10 each way per person. Extremely reasonable.
Hotel€65 each.  
  Total cost  €135 each.

Overall, for a plan that was put together in a very short amount of time, I am extremely happy with this price. If you look at it and compare it to a night out in Dublin, it becomes clear that we found some great prices.

Tickets to see a show in the Bord Gáis can start at €50 each, and depending on the show, I’ve sometimes paid €80 to sit in the stalls. On a night out to the theatre, we will usually get a few drinks and we sometimes go to dinner, although we don’t do this every single time. For the sake of the comparison though, let’s say we had dinner before the show and had drinks after the show. I’ve often split a dinner bill down the middle and paid €45. That usually covers my food and a cocktail or two and a soft drink.

Even before adding post show drinks, if you take the €50 for the tickets and pair it with at least another €40 for dinner and drinks with the food, that’s €90 already.

If I spend roughly €90 on a trip to the theatre (to be fair, the tickets are usually purchased far in advance so on the night of the show itself, I’m just buying dinner and/or drinks but I’m including the ticket price as part of the overall theatre trip expense) then this entire mini trip to Belfast, tickets, transport, and accommodation is costing me another €45.

If the tour had have come to Dublin, I would have absolutely bought tickets. There’s no doubt about that, so even though the tour coming to Dublin would have saved me the trip, I still think that getting a cute little break away in the month of august to stay in a nice hotel and see an amazing show and make a wonderful memory out of it for an extra €45 is so worth it.

That is really how I decide whether or not something is worth the splurge. I sit down and I think about it and I add everything up, and sometimes we go for the more affordable option or sometimes we decide that we just cannot justify something and we don’t do it, but when we find the right prices and we think it through and we compare, if it works out that we can do something really nice for not a ridiculously extra amount, we do it, and we always have an amazing time.

I want to take a moment to state that this theatre trip was not sponsored. It was not gifted. No part of this piece is an ad. We chose to go on this mini break. We paid for everything ourselves and anything that I have chosen to discuss, I have chosen because we really enjoyed it.

Now that the logistics are out of the way, let’s talk about the fun stuff.

We stayed in the gorgeous Hotel Belfast. This was a great choice because the hotel could not have been in a better location. It was a ten minute walk away from the Grand Opera House. The Botanic Gardens were just down the road. We were right beside so many little coffee shops, pubs, and book shops. It was a twenty minute walk to Victoria Square. The bus from Dublin dropped us off right beside the theatre, and as I said the theatre was only a ten minute walk away so this meant that the hotel was easy to find and we did not have to walk for very long with our bags.

I’ve shared pictures on my Instagram grid – @katelovesliterature is my handle for those who don’t know. I will share some snaps below, but you can also find them on my Insta, along with many snaps from the trip itself in my highlights.

If you like to take pretty pictures like I do, then you’ll see that House Belfast was a dream. It is so pretty. I fell in love with the blossom tree in the bar. I love the design. I love the deeper colours mismatched with lampshades and lots of florals. I love the out there patterns clashed against the grey and rose gold hardware.

I did talk about this already on Instagram, but it is worth repeating. I have to say how impressed I was with the staff. Everyone was so kind to us, especially everyone in the bar and restaurant.

Our lovely waitress, (whose name I won’t share for obvious privacy reasons), was brilliant. She was able to tell me exactly what was nut/peanut free on the menu. She went back to the kitchen and double checked with the chef for me. She gave recommendations. It was so kind of her, and it meant that we could enjoy our meals without any second thoughts.

I wish we could have stayed longer. It was such a lovely experience. The overnight stay has also made me really want to do a staycation in House Dublin so I might look into that closer to Christmas or maybe for one of our birthdays.

When we arrived in Belfast, we checked into our hotel and then we headed out for a walk.

We had planned to eat dinner in the hotel so we had a table booked in advance so our plan for the afternoon was to just have a wander. We grabbed a coffee and made our way to the botanic gardens.

If you need to kill some time on a sunny day, botanical gardens are a great spot. We had a lovely walk through the rose gardens and then we went through the greenhouses. It was a really nice way to spend the afternoon. We really enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh air.

I will talk about the performance of Blood Brothers in a separate piece because this show deserves its own piece. It is incredible. The show is iconic. It is heart-breaking. It is gripping. It is filled with highly emotional themes of poverty, class differences, religion, and fate.

The score is stunning. Each character serves their own purpose. Every line is so intentional. Every move is so intentional. I have studied this show intensely. I’ve been in an amateur production of this show. I’ve read the material too many times to count, and the thing that always stands out is how detail orientated this show is. It is precise. There is so much foreshadowing and this is something that the music reflects. It is just a masterpiece and I intend to speak about it properly in what will be a very long discussion.

Keep an eye out for that as it will be published soon.

The theatre itself was beautiful. We had great seats. We had a drink at intermission. The Grand Opera House in Belfast was a lovely venue. I love visiting different theatres and I would happily see a show there again in the future.

The next day we explored. We had a great time. Our bus back to Dublin was not leaving Belfast until the evening so we had all day to explore.

We went to several book shops. We explored Victoria Square. We had ice cream at Taboo Donuts. It was delicious. The highlight of my day though was when we got to Victoria Square and came across a fairy tale exhibit. This was an amazing coincidence. We did not know about this exhibition in advance, but if I’d have known about it, it would have been on my to-do list for sure, so the fact that we stumbled across it was brilliant.

The exhibition is called Into The Forest and you can go on this journey through fairy tales until the 29th of August 2022.

It was amazing. I was looking at each fairy tale display like an excited kid on Christmas morning. It was so sweet and it felt really magical. I also love the idea behind it.

Fairy tales are so important and we should never be too old to enjoy them.

I’m sharing some snaps here, but most of my pictures can be found in my highlights on Instagram so check it out – @katelovesliterature.

Overall, we had the best time. It was just one night, and although we said that we could have easily stayed another day, the fact that it was such a spontaneous mini trip was what made it so fun. We went with zero plans aside from seeing Blood Brothers so all of the other lovely things that we did were things that we just stumbled into, which made it all the better.

What is your favourite fairy tale? I’d love to know.

Have you seen Blood Brothers?

Where is your favourite place to go on a mini break?

Kate xo.

House Belfast
Our hotel room... I loved this wallpaper.
Dinner … yum!
Our dessert …this was delicious!
The beautiful stage at the Grand Opera House before act one started. I was so excited.
This is one of the beautiful fairy tale displays at Victoria Square.
Little Red Riding Hood’s House at Victoria Square.
My ice cream from Taboo Donuts. I’m a vanilla with sprinkles gal.

Note that all of the above pictures are pictures that I took myself with my own phone. They may not be shared without my permission.

Reviewing Children’s Literature.

September is fast approaching and before we know it, it will be time to head back to school and back to college. I am getting ready to enter my final year of my masters. I’m going to be very busy writing my thesis, and I am slightly apprehensive about all the work that is to come, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I’m very lucky because I truly love my course. I’ve gotten to learn from some brilliant people and I’ve made lovely friends. I’ve also gotten to meet lots of fascinating people.

If you are a consistent reader of my articles here on Katelovesliterature.com, then you will remember that a topic that I am very passionate about is the idea of inspiring and celebrating a sense of wonder and curiosity in young readers. Children’s literature is so important because the books we read when we are young can have such a lasting impression on us, and we take those stories with us into adulthood. I believe that developing a love for reading when you are young can open so many doors for you in life. Reading encourages you to use your imagination, and reading expands your vocabulary. Reading also allows you to read about different people, different places, different cultures, and when you read about experiences that are different to your own, you develop a sense of empathy for others, even if those characters are fictional, you can take that skill with you into the real world.

Children’s Books Ireland is a national charity and arts organisation and I have been very fortunate as throughout my course, I have gotten the opportunity to hear members of the Children’s Books Ireland team speak about the wonderful work that they do.

I am going to provide a link to the official website below. I highly encourage anyone who enjoys reading to go to the website and read about the brilliant work that Children’s Books Ireland does. A brief summary is that Children’s Books Ireland is a brilliant organisation that strives to help young people develop a love for reading, and engage with stories.

If you go to the Children’s Books Ireland website, you will see that the organisation’s mission is to inspire a love of reading in children and young adults. Children’s Books Ireland believes that every child has the right to access wonderful books so that they can understand the importance of reading. The vision of Children’s Books Ireland is that every child is a reader, and this is a vision that I personally love.

The more I’ve gotten to learn about Children’s Books Ireland and the work that they do, the more impressed I’ve become. I think that all children have the right to read, and it is so important that the resources are available because the benefits of being a book lover should not be inaccessible. I love seeing children fall in love with books, I love hearing their thoughts and their opinions. I feel that children so often remind rooms full of adults that they are more intelligent and more insightful than they are given credit for. I also love seeing that childhood love of reading develop into a love for literature as an adult, and as we grow, our literary interpretation skills grow alongside our critical thinking skills, so I know that I will forever be an advocate for stressing the importance of reading in childhood.

Children’s Books Ireland is an organisation that does many things, but one of my favourite things about the organisation is their book gifting scheme. All of this work is detailed on the website, you can go online and read all about their various projects, one of them being the book gifting scheme which allows Children’s Books Ireland to gift books to libraries, schools, educational and healthcare settings, and other children’s charities. This scheme alone allows Children’s Books Ireland to help ensure that resources are available and accessible to those who need them, and Children’s Books Ireland also strives to share knowledge so that adults can learn about various different books and ideas so they can then go on to influence and teach children in the best way possible.

I’m very excited to share that I have also gotten involved. I am now a reviewer for Children’s Books Ireland. I’ve been lucky enough to receive some lovely books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and reviewing. It has been a joy to receive lovely new stories and being a reviewer has allowed me to read stories that I may not have ever chosen myself. It is a new experience that I am thoroughly enjoying. I hope to continue to review books as I want to keep learning. I want to continue to expand my knowledge of all kinds of literature from children’s to YA, to picture books etc.

I’m really enjoying this opportunity to engage with new authors and illustrators whose work I maybe haven’t seen before. The books are always different so I am getting to engage with different kinds of stories and different kinds of lessons. It is a joy and I truly feel that it is a pleasure to be involved with this organisation even in the smallest way. I’m very excited to keep learning, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.

Two of my reviews are now available to read on the Children’s Books Ireland website.

I’ll link them here as I am so excited about this. It is surreal to see my name in print on a platform of this calibre. The fact that my reviews are there to be viewed by all is really special. I couldn’t be happier.

If you’re a book lover, if you’re a parent/guardian of a book lover, if you believe in fostering and encouraging a love for reading in children then get yourself over to the Children’s Books Ireland official website and educate yourself about the organisation. Learn about what they do, learn about their events, learn about all of the support they provide, learn about how you can get involved if you’d like to.

Links below:

Click here to visit the Children’s Books Ireland official website https://childrensbooksireland.ie/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_7KXBhCoARIsA

Click here to read my reviews on the Children’s Books Ireland website

https://childrensbooksireland.ie/our-recommendations/kings-ship

https://childrensbooksireland.ie/our-recommendations/princess-olivia-investigates-wrong-weather

Always remember #everychildareader.

Kate xo.

English Grinds.

Are you sitting your Leaving Certificate in June 2023?

Are you dreading the English paper?

Do you struggle with poetry? Is your set Shakespeare play confusing you?

Let me help.

Starting in September 2022, I am going to be offering English grinds.

You can contact me for details by emailing katelovesliterature@gmail.com.

I got a H1 in English. I went on to study English Literature in college after doing my Leaving Cert.

I graduated with a BA in English Literature. I got a distinction and I ranked 3rd in my college course. I am currently studying English Literature at Masters level, specialising in children’s literature. I’m very calm, very patient, and I believe that I can help you form a better understanding of whatever it is you are finding difficult, whether its poetry, prose, or grammar.

I like to take things step by step. I believe in explaining things in the most straightforward way possible. It doesn’t matter if you ask me to explain the same thing ten times, the goal is to help you feel the most confident you can about sitting your English paper.

I know that many people dread the English paper. It can be intimidating as there is a lot of ground to cover and people can feel stressed about running out of time, so if I’m giving you grinds, not only will we go through your material, but we can also talk about time management in the exam.

The Leaving Cert is a stressful time. English is a daunting subject for some. If you’re struggling then please contact me because I’d love to help.

For any information about my English grinds, such as times, session plans, and session rates, please contact me via email – katelovesliterature@gmail.com.

Kate xo.

Only Murders in the Building #2: Episodes 5 & 6.

The mystery is getting more intriguing with each episode.

Let’s dive into episode 5. I really liked this episode.

I knew that I would like this episode as soon as it started because I like the idea of people having “tells.”

Oliver introduces a party game that he used to love called The Son of Sam.

How do you play?

Well everyone at the party is given a card, someone will get the killer’s card and when the lights go out, the “killer” will kill someone else in the game.

The game then becomes a process of elimination as more and more people drop out, the remaining players have to try to keep from being found out.

I really like this idea because this kind of game allows one to see who has a good poker face and who doesn’t, or as Oliver would say, this game allows you to see if someone has a “tell”.

What is a tell? A tell is a nervous little habit that one does when they’re lying. Someone might subconsciously play with their hair or fiddle with their clothes or bite their lip when they’re lying, and this little “tell” is how you know that this person is being untruthful.

So, we know from the very start of this episode that this game is important and it will likely come up again, and it does, in Mabel’s apartment.

I mentioned in my discussion of episodes 3 & 4 that Mabel has been getting to know Alice. The two characters are dating, and while Charles and Oliver are happy for Mabel, they are also a little wary.

Charles and Oliver are unsure of whether or not they can trust Alice. They are being extra cautious because of all the chaos that is taking place in their lives at the moment, and they also find the timing of Alice’s arrival a little suspicious. It is important to say that it is Oliver who is more suspicious. Charles is happy for Mabel and he just wants what is best for her, however he does agree with Oliver’s questioning.

Personally, as an audience member, I agreed with Oliver’s suspicions.

I’ve said it already, but I want to say it again, I think that Cara Delavigne is doing a brilliant job. I think she is playing Alice very well. Alice is a slick, sexy, confident character and Cara delivers every line in a very intentional manner. She is a very engaging presence, especially when she is speaking to Mabel, and Cara has this very intense stare that is almost piercing. I just think that she makes such an impression every time she is onscreen. You cannot help but pay attention to her, so I really like Alice’s character, however I also felt the timing was questionable.

Mabel and her friends are being framed for murder, they are being questioned, Mabel in particular is trending on social media, there is a lot going on in her life. If I were Mabel, I wouldn’t exactly be jumping into a new relationship, and Mabel has opened up a few times this season about her trust issues. Mabel wants to explore art, she wants to become more of an artist. She wants her life to be about more than just violence and death. She wants to move on. Alice understands and shares her love for art. Alice makes her happy and makes her feel normal. Mabel enjoys her company, so she sees this new development in her personal life as a welcome distraction. Fair enough, however because at this point in time, the writers have kept Alice fairly vague, I’m still questioning if she can be trusted.

Oliver says no. He thinks that Alice is hiding something and to prove it, he gets everyone involved in a game of The Son of Sam.

This part of the episode is fabulous. Charles and Oliver have crashed Mabel’s artist party in her apartment and during the game, everyone is transformed into a 70s look. It’s a quick process of elimination, lights on, lights off, again and again, until only Alice and Mabel are left. Oliver accuses Alice of hiding something, he points out her “tells”, he puts her on the spot and she finally confesses her truth.

Alice has been lying to Mabel…about her background. Alice didn’t go to a fancy school or come from a privileged upbringing. She felt the need to embellish her life story in order to make an impression in the art world, in order to make a name for herself.

Oliver feels guilty as he thought he would be exposing something more murderous, however Mabel is still furious with him for embarrassing Alice in front of everyone.

Mabel makes Alice promise that from now on there will be no more secrets between them and Alice agrees, however the episode ends with the camera showing us, the viewers, the inside of Alice’s bag, where she has hidden the Son of Sam card.

This moment shows us that Alice managed to cheat in the game and hide that she was the “killer”. This indicates to us that she is still hiding something and not being completely honest with Mabel.

In the meantime, Charles has his own love troubles. He’s still visiting Jan in prison and he reveals how inept he is at relationships because he says that the two never officially broke up even though she went to jail for murder. He has mixed feelings because he’s lonely and despite everything, the romantic feelings he once had for Jan didn’t just disappear.

Deceit seems to be the common thread of this episode because Oliver is faced with a DNA test when he learns that his son may not actually be his biological son.

Let’s jump into episode 6.

This is another character episode. The show likes to give us an insight into different characters. This time, we got a glimpse into the world of Poppy. Cinda Canning’s overworked and extremely underappreciated assistant.

Cinda is determined to air a podcast that will get big numbers tuning in, she does not care about the truth, and she is happy to paint Mabel as a violent loose cannon with a history of snapping.

The gang face some more personal issues in episode 6, alongside putting together a plan to try to trap the killer and figure out at last who is trying to set them up.

Oliver takes his DNA test and anxiously waits for the results and Charles realises that he must end things once and for all with Jan.

This leads me to my favourite part of this episode. That’s right everyone. Jane Lynch is back. She is utterly brilliant in her role as Saz, Charles’ stunt double. I just love Jane Lynch. I think she is a fantastic comedian. The way she delivers lines with such a straight face always cracks me up. I love the running gag that Saz is a better Charles. Saz does what Charles cannot do, physically and emotionally, which leads me to discuss the glorious scene in which Saz goes to visit Jan in jail, to break up with her on behalf of Charles.

Jane Lynch commits to this bit. She embodies this role and everything is perfect, from her lines, to her mannerisms, to her costumes, it’s just brilliant.

I never once imagined that I would see a show in which Jane Lynch is acting as the stunt double for Steve Martin, but it has happened, and it is the bit that I didn’t know I needed.

I would imagine that these scenes were so much fun to film, and I’d like to think that the actors had a great time working together because the energy onscreen certainly comes across that way.

Remember when I said that episode 5 implied that Alice is still lying?

Let’s talk about how episode 6 ended.

Our trio set a trap for the murderer. A glitter bomb, however the three are so busy chatting that they get distracted and they miss the murderer. Annoyed that they missed their chance to find out who this person is, Mabel decides to go home however when she gets to her apartment she is greeted by a strange scene. Alice has recreated moments of Mabel’s life, specifically tragic moments. There’s a party scene from the night Oscar was arrested. Alice herself is dressed up as Mabel from the night of Bunny’s murder, and she has an actor playing Bunny lying on the floor. Alice panics when she sees Mabel, because Mabel “wasn’t supposed to see it like this”.  She starts rapidly throwing out an explanation, something about examining trauma through an artistic lens however her voice becomes muffled as Mabel drowns her out. She stops listening. She feels lied to. She leaves the apartment so hurt and so upset. A distraught Mabel is sitting on the subway when she sees a figure dressed in all black, and covered in glitter. It’s the one who got away from the trio earlier. Mabel decides to confront him. The episode ends with bizarre footage of Mabel supposedly stabbing this person on the subway, footage that ends up on TikTok so “Bloody Mabel” will be trending once more.

I enjoyed episodes 5 & 6. I’ll be honest, while I thought it was an okay story, I wish more was done with Poppy. I appreciated her storyline. Poppy represents so many people who are overworked and underpaid by arrogant bosses who will never admit that they could not do what they do without their assistance. I hope she decides to ditch Cinda and help our trio discover the truth. Maybe this moment of Poppy seeing Cinda’s true colours will be important later. I’m not sure yet. I enjoyed her as a character, it just felt a little side-tracked in my opinion. I will say, Tina Fey does a good job of playing an arrogant boss. She is not in the show too much but she always makes her mark.

I’m very interested to see what the writers do with Alice. It’s safe to guess that Mabel will feel used and betrayed. I’m curious about the angle that they’re going to take with Alice. Is she just an artist who had this grand idea and then she got swept away in it? Are they going to try to spin this as a positive thing? I hope not. I love art and I understand that acknowledging one’s pain can be a cathartic part of the creative process but Alice deciding to study trauma through an artistic lens by specifically studying and making a piece out of Mabel’s very personal trauma is wrong, especially when Mabel opened up to her about her trust issues. At the moment, I feel this move makes Alice’s character feel disingenuous. Did she reach out to Mabel because she liked her art and wanted to meet? Or did she reach out because she was fascinated by Mabel and wanted to make art out of her story but felt that she needed to get close to her to do that? Is this her only secret or is she connected to Bunny’s death? I want answers.

I’m also curious about Oliver and his son. It looks as though Oliver’s wife had an affair with Teddy Dimas and Oliver’s son might be Teddy’s son, but he’s still waiting on his DNA result to come back. I wonder where this storyline will go if Oliver’s son turns out to be biologically Teddy’s and whether or not this plot will have anything to do with the murder.

As I’m writing this review, I have watched episode 7.

I plan to write about episodes 7 & 8 together. At this point in time, I still don’t have a guess about who I think the killer is. I think it is a man, based on height, build, and the hands of the figure who Mabel was chasing, but I don’t know who it is. I don’t even have guesses about who that figure may be.

Is it someone we already know? Is it someone who we don’t know but they’re connected somehow? I’m determined to lock in a guess before the final two episodes, and by then I hope the clues start coming together.

If I’m remembering correctly, this time last season, I had guessed Jan. I didn’t lock it in until the second last episode but I always felt that Jan protested too much and tried to put the focus on others a little too often, and that made me wary of her. This time I don’t have an idea yet, but maybe others do so please, if you have thoughts and theories, let me know.

Oscar still has not appeared, nor has he been mentioned. I’m losing hope that he will appear.

I’m aware I could look it up and find out if the actor left the show, however I don’t want to look up anything about the show at all because I want my discussions to be based solely off of my thoughts after watching the episodes. If I found out now that Oscar isn’t in the show because the actor couldn’t come back for whatever reason, that’ll just disappoint me more, so I’d rather watch and hope he arrives, or at the very least, I hope he’s mentioned in more detail.

I’m planning to talk about my overall thoughts on season 2 once all the episodes have aired and I get my answers, but for now I’ll say that in my opinion, the show has done a really good job of building a suspenseful mystery in season two. I feel it’s more complex, and I think it has been much harder to guess this time, which is impressive as this demonstrates how the show has upped its game since season one.


What has been your favourite moment of season 2 so far? I’d love to know.

Kate xo.

Only Murders in the Building #2: Episodes 3 & 4.

Season two of Only Murders in the Building has done a good job so far of taking characters that we either knew about or heard of in season one and expanding them. 

I’ve just finished watching episode 6, and while I’m very intrigued by that episode’s ending, I think that my favourite episode of season two so far has to be episode 3, The Last Day of Bunny Folger. 

I’m going to start this discussion of episodes 3 & 4 by saying that I hope Bunny appears in more flashbacks. I don’t know if Only Murders in the Building will go on to have a third season because realistically, how many murders can happen in one building, and how many times can our trio be framed? 

Season one had a great premise, avid podcast listeners decide to create their very own murder investigation podcast when someone in their building ends up dead and this dynamic worked really well and it also allowed the show to build up towards a second season that had a reasonably logical premise. Podcast trio got too close to the crime, they exposed the truth, and now someone wants revenge so season two follows our trio as they try to clear their names after being blamed for Bunny’s murder. 

The show is still satirical. It very much breaks the fourth wall and acknowledges that it is in its second season. The characters make jokes about how things are heightened, evolved, they’re clearly aware that season one’s formula worked and so they’re doing the same thing, just on a slightly bigger scale because as the old saying goes, if it isn’t broke…

Bunny Folger is a character. When I say someone is a character, what I mean by this is that this person stands out. Bunny had a reputation of being the mean lady who was very strict, she didn’t like Oliver, and she had certain standards for the building that she grew up in, the building she inherited, the building that is her family’s legacy. Bunny takes great pride in the fact that her home has not been turned into just another modern building that could be anywhere and I said in my last review how I really enjoy the fact that the apartment building itself is just as much of a character as everyone else in the show. 

Episode three gives audiences the details of Bunny’s last day alive. In this episode, in my opinion, we learn that Bunny was a firecracker. She was determined, she was opinionated, she knew her own mind, she didn’t suffer fools. Bunny was a New Yorker through and through. She was very generous when she wanted to be, a fact that she didn’t flaunt, she even seemed to have a sense of humour tucked away. It was a side that she didn’t share with many, but throughout this episode I found myself saying “I love Bunny.”

Bunny is planning to retire and so she spends a lot of time in episode three thinking about moving to Florida however after a few moments trapped in a hot elevator with Charles and Mabel, she declares that she hates the heat. It was my favourite moment in the show. The line was delivered so perfectly. 

Bunny’s character arc also showed the downside of keeping your caring, funny side hidden away from so many because when she ventures out of her apartment with a bottle of bubbly for our trio, they completely miss the hint that she would like to drink with them, and then when they hear how upset she is, they feel too awkward to go into the hallway and get her, and this awkwardness is topped by the fact that because of their less than perfect relationship with Bunny, she is not exactly someone they want to celebrate with in the first place. With that being said, my heart broke for Bunny when she cried in the hallway because that moment showed that she is not heartless, she does not want to be friendless, she is just a woman who has built walls to protect herself. She has a hard job. She deals with every problem, every complaint, and it is not always fun to have to be the responsible one, the one who gets things done. She runs a tight ship, and it is often something that people don’t appreciate until the person running that ship is no longer around, but also when you have to be so firm, you won’t always be someone that people feel they can let their hair down around and while this is unfortunate, this is very true so those uncomfortable scenes with Bunny trying to fit in after being firm felt painfully realistic. 

I enjoyed episode 3. It felt like a character episode rather than an episode fuelled by new clues, however I enjoyed this. I felt this episode rounded out Bunny’s character because honestly even though it is Bunny’s building and she spent season one being less than best friends with our trio, I originally thought she was an odd character to kill off even though I will say I think killing off a character we already knew worked much better than it would have if they brought in a completely new victim but I still think it was smart to include Bunny flashbacks, especially since I feel they were designed to allow us as the audience to warm to Bunny a bit more. 

Let’s talk about episode 4. 

In this episode, we finally got to meet Lucy. We learned a lot about Lucy in season one. Charles dates her mother. He was part of Lucy’s life for a significant amount of time. He clearly cared for her as though he was her father and he found it difficult after the relationship ended and Lucy was no longer in his life. We had that very sweet moment in season one where he reached out and his face lit up when Lucy texted him back. 

I will pause here and say that I think Steve Martin is the dad of all dads in dad roles. 

I cry when I watch Father of the Bride. I just think he plays the doting dad part so well. He’s very endearing, and so seeing his character Charles have to navigate seeing Lucy again now that she’s older and her mother has married someone else was really interesting and really sweet. 

Something that I didn’t love is how they made Lucy almost cartoonishly “young.” 

I’m saying “young” because the show is never afraid to mention generational gaps. Mabel is obviously younger than Charles and Oliver and now Lucy is much younger than Mabel, but they made Lucy, for the first few minutes anyway, impossible to talk to. There is a scene where she talks to Mabel about TikTok and she speaks so quickly about so many different things that even Mabel finds it hard to have a conversation with her. 

I understand the joke here is that Mabel is saying “she makes me feel old, and I’m the young one”, but I’m very glad they calmed this down because if Lucy continued to speak this way for the entire episode, it would have become very grating. In my opinion, this would not have been fair because Lucy so far is a very intelligent young girl, who is dealing with a lot, and she articulates herself very well and I think having her reconnect with Charles whom she loved as a stepfather figure would be a really lovely arc.

Spoilers ahead, although if you’ve read this far then you either don’t care about spoilers or you’ve watched the episodes but it turns out that Lucy was hiding in the passages the night that Bunny was murdered so I’m intrigued to see how that storyline will play out as the season continues. 

Based on Lucy’s flashback to the night of the murder, a figure snuck into Mabel’s apartment by going through the secret passages. In my opinion, I think Bunny’s killer was a man based on the tall, broad figure that Lucy hid from in the passageway. 

I think it is a little bit interesting that the show is almost backtracking a bit on season one because in episode 4, Lucy explains how she came to the building and hid from Charles and left after the chaos, but I think I would have preferred if we had have seen her in season one. It would have been better if there was a shot of her entering the building and then we could have wondered who that was, where did she go, and then when she came into the show properly in season two, we could have said “that’s the girl who walked into the building, so she was there that night, ohh what happened?”

It’s just my opinion, but I feel that although it is an interesting storyline and I’m interested to see what the show does with it, it feels a little bit as though the show decided to say “Look, see. Lucy was there too!” 

Out of all the new storylines in season two so far, this one just feels a little clunky, but it is not ruining my overall enjoyment of the show. 

Still no Oscar. I am disappointed. 

I am writing this review of episodes 3 and 4 having already watched episodes 5 and 6, but I am going to write about 5 and 6 separately, so I already know how things take an odd turn with Alice, but at this point, in episodes 3 and 4, I like her. I like how we are not sure yet if she can be trusted or not. I said already, I have no problem with Mabel dating other characters, but I am disappointed that Oscar does not seem to be appearing after everything they’ve been through. They don’t need to date. They can be friends. Oscar was acknowledged so briefly that I think it does season one a disservice. I’m hoping that he is at least mentioned more before the season ends. 

Things have taken a turn in episodes 5 and 6 and to be honest, while I have some thoughts, I don’t have a clear guess yet on who I think the killer is. I’m hoping that I will be able to guess because when I watch any kind of mystery I like to lock in a guess and see if I am right or wrong, but I’m not ready to lock in a guess yet so I’m still wondering who killed Bunny? 

Let’s keep watching and find out. 

Do you have any ideas about who the killer could be? I’d love to read some guesses/theories so let me know. 

Kate xo. 

Only Murders in the Building #2: Who Killed Bunny?

Season two of Only Murders in the Building is fianlly availible on Disney plus. Last night I sat down with a drink and some popcorn and I eagerly watched the first two episodes. 

I really enjoyed the first season. I’ve written about it. I thought the show was really fun. It was quirky, it was a bit satirical. I thought the premise was interesting and I have said many times that I am a fan of Steve Martin. I think that he and Martin Short are a dream team and the addition of Selena Gomez made for a really fun dynamic. 

Warning! There will be spoilers ahead so if you still have not watched the first season, you should. Season one ended on a cliffhanger. Mabel finds Bunny in her apartment. Bunny has been stabbed with Mabel’s knitting needle. The series ends with our three favourite podcast hosts, Mabel, Charles, and Oliver being taken away in handcuffs by the police. Mabel is covered in Bunny’s blood. It is safe to say that I was extremely excited that the show was going to have a second season and I can’t wait to see what happens so I have very high hopes for season two. 

Season two picks up right where we left off. The gang are in the police station being questioned and they are firmly told; no more podcasts. The trio however can’t help themselves and they are determined to figure out what happened so they can clear their names and not let anyone else tell their stories. 

We are introduced to some new faces in season two. Amy Schumer has moved into the building and she is playing herself. Schumer wants to buy the rights to the podcast so that she can make a show and Schumer has decided that she wants to play Jan, our season one villain.  So far Schumer has mostly just had scenes with Martin Short and this works because Oliver is the character who is the most obsessed with the recognition the trio receive from doing the podcast. He is the one who stops to speak to the press when the three leave the police station etc. so it makes sense that he is the character who would be excited to see Schumer and discuss projects. It is an interesting dynamic and I am intrigued to see how the show incorporates Schumer as the season goes on. It is clear to see that because this show did so well, they have been able to get more big names in their second season, and I have no doubt that Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez have many connections, however personally I am not Schmer’s biggest fan. Her brand of humour doesn’t really land with me. There are times that she can be funny, but mostly I find her type of humour to be a bit too “try hard” and even in the few scenes she was in, there were moments where I just found the over exaggerated version of herself irritating. That’s not to say she’s not talented. Schumer is talented, and her timing and line delivery has been very good and her quirky humour does fit the show quite well and the clash with the stardom obsessed Oliver is funny, but overall she wouldn’t be my favourite and I was surprised when I saw her on the screen for the first time. I’m very interested to see how it plays out, I could end up loving her. We’ll see. 

The other new addition to the show is Cara Delevinge as Alice and it seems like she will be playing an important role. I was so impressed by Delevinge as Alice. Alice is an artist. She is effortlessly cool. She seems to be somebody that Mabel can relate to and open up to. They both share an appreciation for art, they’re both creative. They both find the other easy to talk to. Spoiler warning – I sensed from the second that Alice and Mabel spoke so easily in the art gallery that we would see a kiss before the episode ended. I was right. The two share a kiss after Alice encourages Mabel to destroy a sculpture as a way to let out all of her frustration and anger. 

It seems like Alice and Mabel may go on to date in this season, but we’ve just met Alice, and it will be very important that Mabel knows who she can trust at this difficult time. All eyes are on her. She is trending online and she has been given the nickname Bloody Mabel and something about the way she was recorded destroying that sculpture with an axe doesn’t sit right with me. I feel like that footage could be used against her somehow. I love Alice as a character. She’s got such a cool energy about her and I hope that she becomes someone Mabel can trust and rely on and she may even help solve the case. We shall see. 

In season two, we are learning about Bunny’s mother who is played by the fabulous Shirley MacLaine and we are learning about Charles’ father. We are also learning more about the apartment building itself and I love that the Arconia is almost a character itself. The trio have already discovered a secret lift in Bunny’s closet so I’m sure that there might be some more hidden places to come. I love a building with secrets. 

Let’s talk about season two’s plot. It is clear that the angle the show is going for is that someone is trying to frame the trio for Bunny’s murder. It also seems like the motive behind Bunny’s murder could be fuelled by money. It seems that Bunny owned a very expensive painting. 

Spoiler warning – When the gang break into Bunny’s apartment to look around, they discover that the painting has been stolen. They come to the conclusion that the killer must have the painting but that idea is quickly squashed when Charles arrives home to find the painting hanging on his wall. The gang then become determined to discover who is trying to set them up, while Mabel keeps having flashbacks to the night she found Bunny. It is all a blur but as the episode plays out, Mabel starts to remember that Bunny spoke before she died. 

She said “fourteen” and “savage”. Now, Savage is Charles’ last name and it seems that his father is the man in the painting, but we don’t know what fourteen refers to yet. 

It seems like it will be another scavenger hunt style mystery, similar to the format of season one. Mabel’s disorientated memories are really all the gang can work with so I would guess that the next episode may incorporate them trying to figure out what Bunny meant by fourteen. I also wouldn’t be  shocked if Mabel remembers something else being said. The painting is also going to be important because (spoiler) Bunny’s mother reveals that the painting that was hung in Charles’ apartment is not the original. It is a copy so now we have to figure out where the real painting went. 

I’m excited to see what the next episode does. It’s a good setup and I’m interested to see where the mystery goes as we have to do something different from season one. Speaking of season one, I really hope Oscar makes a comeback because even if he is not going to be Mabel’s love interest, I think he still should be her friend and season one ended with him watching her get taken away in handcuffs after the two characters had reconnected.  I’d be disappointed if we don’t see him again after all the two have been through and I think it would make sense if his character helped figure out who was trying to blame Mabel because they have been friends all their lives. A huge plot point in season one – again spoiler – was that Oscar had been in jail for a crime he did not commit and Mabel worked so hard to clear his name. There had been so much character development between the two that I think it would be so odd if he didn’t return. His character looked so concerned when Mabel was taken away in handcuffs. Oscar knows Mabel is not capable of murder. He knows the pain of being accused of something you did not do. Aaron Dominguez gave a really great performance in season one and his character was so important to the investigation. Oscar’s father is the superintendent of the Arconia, it just doesn’t make sense to me if he is not in season two at all so I hope he shows up. Oscar doesn’t have to be Mabel’s love interest. The show can still have Mabel explore what she wants and her feelings for Alice can still continue to grow, but I will be disappointed if Oscar has just disappeared because lifelong friendships don’t just abruptly stop, not when the two characters have clearly been through so much together. It is early days though, it is only episode two so we shall see. 

I’ve mentioned already that I am going to write in a more spontaneous way and write about what I gravitate towards rather than feeling like I have to write about certain things at certain times. My schedule has changed dramatically lately so I’m trying different things and figuring out what works best for me as I never want to publish a piece that I am not 100% happy with. 

I think I might try something new and write episodic reviews of Only Murders in the Building. 

So if you haven’t started season two, you should because otherwise my reviews will be spoilers galore. 

I am so excited for episode three. If you love the show like I do and you have guesses or theories that you want to share, leave them below. I’d love to read them. 

Kate xo. 

Dante’s Inferno: Dante’s Impact.

It has been a while since I have written about poetry. I’m exploring lots of different things at the moment. I am working on a few different projects that I will be able to mention soon so I have not been watching or reading certain things as frequently as I used to. 

I’m thinking about following a less structured approach and writing about what I gravitate towards rather than feeling like I have to watch something or read something specific. 

I will still discuss movies, books, plays, poems, and short stories, but I also want to discuss writers, writing styles, picturebooks, music and so much more so I feel like I’m going to choose my topics more spontaneously for a while. 

I have been to London and I am just home from Italy, as you will know if you keep up to date on my Instagram page @katelovesliterature

In London I went to Shakespeare’s Globe and I bought some beautiful books, so lately I’ve been reading lots of Shakespeare and I would love to discuss his works in more detail. Stay tuned for that. 

In Italy, we went to Florence and we visited the House of Dante. If you have not read my piece all about the trip then you should and you can if you click the link below. 

https://katelovesliterature.com/

That link will take you to my piece entitled Italy 2022 –  Four Cities, Six Days. 

In that piece, I spoke about our entire trip to Italy, including the day we spent in Florence. 

My boyfriend and I both love Dante. We’ve both studied his work at different times in our lives so going to visit the House of Dante was a stop that we were both really looking forward to. 

I would highly recommend it. I believe the entry fee was €8 each. It was beautiful. We really enjoyed walking around the house and seeing all of the history being displayed. Dante’s life and his contribution to literature was being celebrated. 

Dante was one of the most influential poets. His work The Divine Comedy is an epic poem and it is considered to be one of the greatest and most important pieces in the Italian language. 

Dante’s work was influential in many ways. Dante’s depictions of Heaven and Hell in The Divine Comedy have had a huge impact on how society today pictures Heaven and Hell because his work heavily influenced Western art. Dante’s work has been interpreted countless times. 

It truly is amazing when you think about how Dante wrote this poem in the 14th century and yet the poem’s themes will always be relevant. The work asks questions such as what is evil? 

I think about this question often in 2022. What is evil? One could look at the news and come up with a hundred different answers or more. People have clashing opinions about what is and is not evil. 

I take this question, a question that Dante put forward in the 14th century, and I bring it into context in 2022, and I think about what literature does with that question today. I feel that this question has been expanded. Now, we don’t just ask what is evil? We ask how does something or someone become evil? We ask, is evil born or is it made? We think about concepts like nature vs nurture. 

The questions and themes that exist in Dante’s work may have changed and evolved over time but the questions still stand. Dante could easily be studied alongside a contemporary work as I think it would be really interesting to examine how works from extremely different times tackle very similar questions. 

Dante is also highly influential because he insisted on writing his works in Italian rather than in Latin. While The Divine Comedy is indeed an epic poem that tackles complex questions and portrays a man’s physical and emotional journey to Hell before he finds divine love, the poem is written in an easy-to-understand style. When Dante was writing this work, Italian was the language of the people. At this time, most poetry was written in Latin, however only the most educated readers would be able to read Latin and Dante wanted his work to be more accessible so he wrote in Italian and by doing so, he established using vernacular and colloquialisms. He even uses cheeky, dirty humour in his poems. 

I think this is brilliant because even today, the arts being accessible to all is still a relevant topic. Tickets can be very expensive, academic journals can require a subscription, sometimes things are written in a style that is just too complex which means that not everyone can follow. Places are not always accessible to everyone. Being able to afford experiences and being able to attend these experiences is really important. 

It is so important to acknowledge history. There was a time when only the rich could read. 

Thankfully, over time, things continue to evolve. I have written about how I really loved the fact that theatre was live streamed during the pandemic so that theatre could be enjoyed from home and while I am delighted to be able to attend shows again, it is important to remember that not everyone can and we should not abandon other options just because we can be in an audience again. The arts being accessible is really important and shows were just one example of this. 

I think it is pretty cool that we see things written in easy, straightforward, everyday language, we can nod to Dante because he felt that was important all the way back in the 14th century and it just demonstrates the impact that someone can have. 

In the House of Dante, I bought a beautiful illustrated edition of Inferno. 

I think my plan is to read it and then write about it in sections as it is a big work. 

I look forward to writing more about it. 

Have you read any of Dante’s works? Let me know. 

Kate xo.

Italy 2022 – Four Cities, Six Days.

When I started planning my trip to Italy, I did not envision visiting four cities in six days; however that is exactly what happened. It was one of the best holidays, I did so much, and I fell in love with Italy.

I’m going to talk about each place we visited. I am going to share snaps so keep an eye on my Instagram grid @katelovesliterature.

Italy is a beautiful place and the cities that we visited are filled with so much history, art, and literature so it was a pleasure to explore.

I already know that I want to visit Italy again and perhaps even go on a longer trip because there are places that I’d love to return to and there are places that we did not get to see this time that I would love to see in the future.

Overall, I feel very lucky that I was able to go on such a lovely holiday. It has been a stressful few weeks, filled with changes, and I have a really busy year ahead however I know that I am doing exactly what I should be doing because putting all the stress to one side, I love what I do so I am very excited to see what this next year brings.

Let’s dive into Italy, 2022.

Naples.

I have to be honest. When we first decided to go to Naples, I was happy with the decision, but as time went on and as more people gave me their two cents, I grew a little bit anxious about this choice as I had heard mixed reviews about the city.

I have anxiety, I don’t discuss it on Katelovesliterature.com because it is unrelated to literature, but I do have anxiety and this trip was going to be my longest trip away from home after two years. I was not travelling with family this time, so I was already a little apprehensive as I really wanted the trip to go well.

I was never happier to be wrong. All of the nerves that I had were quickly put to rest when we arrived. I loved Naples, and I would 100% go back to Naples as we only had two days there which in the end just was not enough time.

It does not matter where you go, every city has some great and some not so great. You have to be careful and you have to have a head on your shoulders no matter where you go. Naples is a bustling city. It is called the city of chaos and it is easy to see why it has such a title. It is busy, it is loud, it is hot, and yes there is a lot of graffiti however, I could say the same about Dublin, aside from maybe the hot part because we all know that Irish weather is temperamental.

Naples is full of life. It was unbelievable how one street could seem busy and unremarkable, but then you would turn a corner and be faced with a sight of beauty. The buildings were beautiful, some of the architecture, and some of the statues were just incredible. The artwork that you would just stumble upon was something else and we had the best time just exploring.

We stayed in the historical district and I absolutely would stay there again. My favourite part of our brief stay in Naples was when we found a lovely little restaurant directly across from the university. It was a perfect night. It was hot, we were relaxed. We sat outside and drank wine and ate the most delicious pizza – We’ve decided that Naples did have the best pizza although I liked how crispy the pizzas are in Rome.

The university was lit up at night, the waiters were so kind, the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed. Everyone was happy to just eat, drink and relax. We sat in that square until the restaurant closed at midnight and then we stopped at a bar for a final drink before we went back to our room. The city was busy, even at night, so I did not feel in any way unsafe while we were walking back so late. I was and still am pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed being in Naples.

It was a lesson for me – do not let others get in your head about where you are going. Their experience is not your experience and you have to be careful no matter where you go.

If you’re considering going to Naples and like me, you have heard many mixed opinions, I would say that you should go and see for yourself what you think.

Naples is filled with a bustling charm, it’s busy and it is indeed chaotic, but it is definitely a city that I will be visiting again and for longer next time.

Pompeii.

I am a history lover so I could not be only a short train ride away from Pompeii and not visit the ruins. From Napoli station, we got a train to the city of Pompeii and it was incredible.

It was hot, so hot that I went and bought a big straw hat because I am very fair and when you’re exploring the ruins there is very little coverage from the sun so if you’re going to explore then it is vital to have a hat, sunglasses, sun cream, and make sure to carry a bottle of water or two with you.

We landed in Naples on Sunday and the very next day we went to Pompeii for the day so we were still adapting to the heat and the fact that we were on our holidays. I had my first little cup of gelato in Pompeii. It was delicious. I opted for strawberry so it was more like a sorbet but I still really enjoyed it and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the shade and cooling off for a bit.

Walking around the ruins of Pompeii was something I’ll never forget. It was beautiful, but it was hard at times because it was so hot and the terrain is not exactly smooth. We did come close to twisting our ankles a few times so if you’re going to the ruins be sure to wear comfortable shoes. I had runners on with my little sundress and I was increasingly happy with that decision as I could not imagine doing that walk in sandals.

We opted to explore ourselves rather than go on a tour, this is a choice we made at several places throughout our trip. We chose to explore by ourselves simply because we like to move at our own pace and we had specific places saved that we wanted to see and so we searched for those and doing that allowed us to skip over places that we didn’t mind missing or if there was a place that we explored but then wanted to move on to something else, being by ourselves meant that we could just move on when we were ready to as opposed to having to wait for a guide to move us on. That being said, we did see some tours taking place and we overheard some guides speaking to their groups and everything they said sounded really interesting so if you enjoy tours or you want a more structured experience then there are some great tour options however exploring ourselves is what suits us best.

The ruins are huge. I think we definitely underestimated how big they are and how long we would spend exploring them. We were there for hours and I still don’t think we saw everything but we did see one of the most incredible views.

I found myself overwhelmed quite a few times on this trip. Being in the city of Pompeii was one of those times. There was something so surreal about exploring the ruins and walking around and seeing what was left of a place. There was a still feeling in the air that is very hard to explain. I think that feeling comes from standing in a place that is so steeped in history and the ruins are quite literally moments in time. It is so strange to think about how those ruins were once filled with life. It is almost hard to believe that a place has been there for so long. I would highly recommend exploring Pompeii.

Florence.

From Naples we took the train to Rome, but then we went and spent the day in Florence and because we only had one day in Florence and then a few days in Rome, I’m going to talk about Florence first.

Florence is a charming city. I keep thinking about the entire trip and I go over all the places we visited and while I enjoyed each city, and while I would return to each city, I keep going back and forth between whether my favourite city was Florence or Rome.

I think one of the most stunning sights is the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It is breath-taking. The gothic architecture is stunning. The level of detail and craftsmanship and art that went into these buildings is unbelievable. It seems as though I am repeating myself. I say stunning, unbelievable, beautiful, a lot but this is because it is true. I found myself lost for words so many times while I was in Italy. I found myself moved to tears more than once because I was just stunned by what I was seeing and at times I was almost in awe of where I was.

The highlight of my day in Florence was visiting the House of Dante. The house is on the sight of Dante’s birthplace and in the house, his work is displayed. For those who may not know, Dante was an Italian poet. He was also a philosopher. Dante is considered the greatest Italian poet. I would argue that his most iconic and most well-known work is his epic poem entitled The Divine Comedy. The poem is considered one of the most important pieces of literary work, and it is considered the greatest work in Italian.

I love Dante. I loved studying his work and so being in the House of Dante was a very special moment. There is a certain verse that always brings tears to my eyes whenever I read it and seeing it displayed in his birthplace brought tears to my eyes again. I never tire of his work. It does not matter how many times I read it. Being there was incredible. Seeing literature respected and remembered and celebrated was incredible. The world was and is filled with talented people and seeing where one of the most influential and important poets was from was really amazing.

Rome.

Rome was a dream. Walking through Rome was like walking through a painting. I loved Florence but I think Rome has to be my favourite. I found myself in awe so often in Rome. I found myself in very thoughtful and reflective moods. I found myself at peace and also incredibly happy.

From the Trevi Fountain to the Pantheon, from the Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican, Rome was a sight to behold.

The night we arrived, we got all dressed up and we had dinner outside, sitting directly across from the Colosseum. It is hard to find a better view than that. We sat there as the sun went down and the Colosseum became lit up. We just sat enjoying our drinks and the incredible surroundings. The food was amazing. I had a delicious ravioli and some really lovely cocktails and then we got a pizza to share. The pizza in Rome is very different to the pizza in Naples. In Naples, it is rich and doughier and the cheese is just falling off the pizza because it is so hot. In Rome, the pizza is thinner and the crust is crispier. Personally, I love a crispy crust so I really enjoyed this; however overall we decided that Naples did have the best pizza.

In Rome, I went on a tiramisu tour. I tried it in nearly every restaurant. It quickly became my favourite dessert. I had never had it before I went to Italy and it was one of the things that I was most looking forward to tasting. I loved it. Nothing beats starry nights, fairy lights, a lovely glass of wine and a plate of tiramisu. It was perfection.

One of my favourite nights was the night we went to the opera in Rome. We saw the three tenors at Saint Paul’s Within The Walls and it was utterly brilliant. The church was the most amazing backdrop. It was stunning. The high ceilings meant that the sound travelled in the most amazing way. The singers did not even need microphones. They just projected into the church. The pianist was fantastic, the other musicians played beautifully. The three tenors themselves had incredible, strong, beautiful voices and they were accompanied by the most lovely and graceful ballerina.

The songs were all in Italian naturally, but that didn’t matter because it was just so beautiful. I love a night filled with beautiful music and it was actually just incredible to hear these arias sung and performed in Italian. I had the best night.

One of my favourite finds was a lovely rooftop bar that was about a ten minute walk from where we stayed. It was beautiful. There is nothing better than looking out over a beautiful city that is all lit up and taking in the views with a cocktail in hand. I was overwhelmed when I was in the city on that terrace that was filled with candles, flowers, lamps and fairy lights. We had a perfect seat, right at the edge of the railings so we were overlooking the entire Piazza Navona. I had a cosmopolitan in hand and I was just admiring the views and I got utterly lost in thought and being there on that rooftop was one of my favourite moments. I was so happy and I was aware of how happy I was and I think that feeling is why I have to say that Rome was my favourite. I loved each moment of the trip and I had a brilliant time in each place we visited, but Rome gave me this incredible feeling that I don’t think I’ll forget for a long time. It was very special so that is why Rome, the eternal city, is absolutely my favourite.

That was my trip. Naples, Pompeii, Florence, and Rome. Four cities, six days, and memories that I will keep forever.

Kate xo.

Singing In The Rain.

Singing In The Rain is a show that is not to be missed. It was one of the most fun, upbeat nights I’ve had in the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. 

I’m a big fan of the movie, it was one of my grandmother’s favourites so I watched it a lot when I was younger and seeing it on the stage was fantastic. 

The plot is focused on the transition from silent film to talking pictures so the musical is filled with the spectacle, glitz, and glamour of old Hollywood. Don Lockwood, a famous silent movie actor must face the fact that he will have to do more than just mime if he wants to keep making movies in this new age. The switch from silence to speaking is not an issue for the talented and charming Mr. Lockwood, however his co-star, Lina Lamont, who is not as talented or as charming, struggles with the new requirements. While Don is exploring new career prospects, he is also exploring his growing feelings for the lovely and talented, but still unknown Kathy Seldon. The pair work together with Don’s best friend Cosmo to save Don’s latest film from being a disaster, but they have to be careful because a jealous Lina is doing anything and everything to get her way. 

The score is joyful. It is so upbeat, so fun, it makes you want to get up and dance. There is also a lovely, old Hollywood charm to the score in my opinion. I don’t think you hear too many songs like Would You? Musicals are changing and they are evolving and so the kind of song you hear in musicals now is very different, and that’s okay. It’s amazing actually. Times change, styles change, and I think it’s great that musicals are always evolving, but I think there is something really lovely about this score. 

My favourite song is You Are My Lucky Star. I think it’s beautiful. It’s light and airy, and there is a simplicity to it that I think is just gorgeous. It is a song that contains lovely long, extended notes that the actress gets to sustain, and there are moments where the voice can bounce. It is so charming, and so graceful, and so lovely. I think it is such a lovely sentiment. You are my lucky star, it is such a lovely compliment. It is a beautiful song, and I was very happy to hear it sung live.

The musical is a tap lover’s dream. I thoroughly enjoyed the dancing that was showcased on the stage. Every single member of the cast did a fantastic job. I love big, fun, loud, dance numbers. I love when members of the ensemble get to show off their skills. I love long dance breaks. I really enjoyed this old school style of show. The title number, Singing In The Rain is just amazing. The song is lively, and the joy is contagious. The number is iconic actually, I think everyone knows about that shot of Gene Kelly swinging around that lamp post. I hate to give anything away, but seeing it absolutely lash rain on the Bord Gáis stage was brilliant. I would see the show again tonight if I could. 

I never have a bad time at the theatre, but Singing In The Rain was an exceptionally good time. 

Have you seen this show? Have you seen the movie? 

Let me know. 

Kate xo. 

*The following pictures were taken by myself, on my own phone, and they may not be shared without my permission.*

My programme.

A shot of the stage before act one started.

Matilda The Musical!

It’s true, sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty. Matilda The Musical at the Cambridge Theatre is a show that I cannot recommend enough. It is joyful. It is upbeat. It is fun. The stage is bursting with life, but in Matilda, a very touching, and very important story is told. 

I’m a huge fan of Roald Dahl and I loved Matilda when I was little, and as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the story even more. As with a lot of Dahl’s stories, there is a darkness to Matilda. It is a story about a little girl who is neglected at home. She is not appreciated, she is not shown the care, love, or attention that she deserves. Matilda goes on to face more bullies at school, and this story is one that highlights how adults can abuse their positions of power. Sadly, there are people in this world who bully children, and they think that because they are bigger, and because they are older, they can do whatever they please. There are people who do not respect children, and I find that these people tend to forget that they were once a child themselves. Matilda is an intelligent, imaginative, kind little girl and she stands up for herself and for others when she thinks that something is not right or not fair, and by doing so, she is able to help others around her. 

I love the musical’s score. The music and lyrics are by Tim Minchin, who is of course known for his comedic musical style. The lyrics are a perfect mix of fun, and witty, yet I found myself emotional as some of the songs are rather poignant. 

I think my favourite song has to be When I Grow Up, because I think that this song is the perfect example of the mix of fun and poignant that I just mentioned. The stage is bursting with life, there are kids everywhere, there are slides and swings and it’s just glorious. It’s a song about children who are looking forward to growing up and they are singing about what they think growing up is. They sing about staying up late and watching tv until their eyes go square, and it’s brilliant. It is brilliant because I think this song captures what you think being a grown up is when you are little. It seems so freeing. You think you can do whatever you want, and to an extent you can, but when you are little you don’t think about jobs or bills or relationships or any of the less fun things that come with growing up. I remember this. I remember being little and just wanting to wear my Mam’s perfume and I couldn’t wait to be older because then I could have my own. The line that pulls on my heartstrings, the part that I think is very poignant is when the kids sing about how they will be braver when they grow up. They will be bigger, and braver, and stronger, and able to fight the creatures beneath the bed. This part gets me, because when you are a child, you’re dependent on the adults in your life and they are supposed to keep you safe, but sometimes we grow up and there are different creatures to face, they’re just not always under the bed. 

Matilda and Miss Honey are my favourite characters. They always have been. I find Miss Honey’s arc to be particularly touching because Miss Honey was that neglected, mistreated child. She didn’t have anyone to speak up for her when she could not do it for herself. Her monsters followed her into adulthood, and it is only when she meets Matilda, when she wants to help Matilda, that she is able to fight her creatures. I find this really emotional because I think that is a very layered moment. When Miss Honey helps Matilda, when she stands up for Matilda, I feel she is also standing up for herself, and more importantly, she is standing up for the little girl she used to be, and she does for Matilda what no one did for her. Together, Miss Honey and Matilda are able to be surrounded by people who love and appreciate them, and they stand up to their bullies together, because they’ve found strength in each other and it’s a really lovely arc. 

I have to take a moment to say that the entire cast was incredible, but I was blown away by the kids on that stage. Each and every one of them were fantastic. I love seeing talented young people getting to thrive on the stage and I am sure that all of these kids will grow up to do great things. The singing, the dancing, the timing was just amazing. It is a hard show, it is not watered down, they are on stage a lot, they’re an essential part of the show and I can’t applaud them enough. 

I hope Matilda The Musical tours again at some point in the future because I’d love to see it in Dublin. I would see it again in a heartbeat. It was just fantastic. It was a brilliant night out. 

Have you read or seen Matilda? Have you seen Matilda The Musical? Are you a fan of Roald Dahl and if so, which one of his works is your favourite? I’d love to know.

Kate xo.

* The following pictures were taken by myself, with my phone, and they may not be shared without my permission.*

My programme

The amazing stage.

I caught one of the paper airplanes that the kids throw into the audience during the final number.