The Nutcracker by Russian State Ballet – Preview

After being absolutely mesmerised by Swan Lake a few years ago, I’ve been desperate to see The Nutcracker. So, when I heard that the Nutcracker was coming to Dundee’s Caird Hall on Thursday the 9th of November – I knew I had to see it.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a trip to your local theatre for a dazzling production of the most famous Ballet in the world, The Nutcracker. Based on The Nutcracker and the Mouse King written by E.T.A. Hoffmann, it tells the story of Marie, a rather sad little girl, whose godfather Drosselmeyer gives her a nutcracker doll as a present on Christmas Eve, which turns into a prince. When midnight strikes, the world turns all magical in the wintry glitter of Christmas Eve.

Toys come alive, the Mouse-king and his mouse-army battle with the Nutcracker Prince and we travel through the Land of Snow to an enchanted place where the magic really begins. Snow flurries, sweets, princes, magic, love, victories and defeats, and Tchaikovsky’s rousing score, are just some of the ingredients that will be brought together by this renowned Russian State Ballet. The Russian State Ballet and Opera House is a gem for the Russian cultural traditions, bringing as they do the passion and vibrancy of Russian character to this well-known ballet. It has built an international reputation for delivering performances of outstanding quality, and never fails to delight audiences.

I’ll be reviewing the production on here at the end of next week!

For further information on the Russian State Ballet, please click here: www.russian-state-ballet.co.uk

To book tickets for Thursday’s performance of The Nutcracker at Dundee’s Caird Hall, call: 01382 434940 or visit: https://www.dundeebox.co.uk

Review – Dundee Literary Festival 2017

Last weekend was my favourite annual book festival, Dundee Literary Festival and as usual it didn’t let me down. Jam packed full of wonderful authors and glorious bookie events – it’s little wonder that literature lovers return to it year after year.

I attended this year’s festival with my fellow Chasing Timers, Sandra Ireland and Elizabeth Frattaroli, who are also huge Dundee Literary Festival fans.  Together we went to see a number of wonderful events including: New Worlds: a writing for young adults workshop with author Joan Lennon, Talk: Literature in Britain Today with Tim Robertson, Director of the Royal Literature Society, In Conversation with Graeme Macrae Burnet and Louise Welsh and In Conversation: Beyond Our Times with journalist and author Mark O’Connell.

Each event was unique and riveting in its own way. We listened, considered, debated and learned something new at every talk and discussion. As always the standard of speakers and the organisation of the event was phenomenal.

One of the best things about the festival is the sense of community there. It’s a fabulously warm and engaging event, full of friendly faces who all share the same love and passion for reading. When I first started attending book events a few years ago, I knew no one, but now I recognise so many lovely bookish people. It’s wonderful to feel part of a community that is so warm and special and welcoming.

Sadly this year, we say goodbye to Peggy Hughes who is leaving for pastures new. I’d just like to say thank you to Peggy for all of her hard work over the years, I know how much myself and the rest of the bookish community in both Dundee and around Scotland, appreciate all of your dedication. Your passion for literature has really helped the Dundee book scene come to life. We’ll miss you dreadfully, but we wish you all the luck in the world with your new bookish adventures.

Book review: Maggie’s Mittens

I’m always on the look out for books that are going to engage my five year old, so when I stumbled across the new title: Maggie’s Mittens, I was immediately curious. With beautiful words from Scottish author Coo Clayton and charming illustrations from Northern Irish artist, Alison Soye, I just knew that this title would be a big hit in my house.

The picture book, which was penned by author Coo after she walked her daughter Maggie home from nursery on a dreich day last autumn, features locations from around Scotland including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Falkirk, St Andrews and Dundee.

The fact that my daughter could sit with me and recognise some of Scotland’s famous sights, made this a really exciting read for her. It also gave us the chance to plan lots of new adventures together – we’ve still not visited the Kelpies, which is just disgraceful! So, that has been added right to the top of our never ending to do list!

Another beautiful feature of the book was the fact that there is a red squirrel hidden on every page, which added a bit of extra joy to the book.

The story, is one that’s familiar to every parent! In fact, I used to stich my daughter’s mittens into her coat to stop her from discarding them every time we ventured out for a walk! But, while I empathised with Maggie’s mum, my daughter was rooting for Maggie all the way!

Maggie’s Mittens is a lovely read, full of fun and charm and I’d recommend it to any parent looking for a great book to share with their kids. It would also make a wonderful present for children abroad, who are looking for a wee tour around Scotland.

Maggie’s Mittens is published by Black & White and is available in all good bookshops now!

Dundee Literary Festival 2017

Hip hip hooray! Tomorrow marks the beginning of my favourite bookie event, Dundee Literary Festival, which takes places in my native city.

This year’s event which takes it’s inspiration from the great thinker, biologist, mathematician and classics scholar, D’Arcy Thompson whose book On Growth and Form, celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, peers inside the books and stories featured at the event, analysing their structure, form and secrets too.

Jam packed with literary stars from crime writer Denise Mina, Man Booker Prize shortlister, Graeme Macrae Burnet and Tracy Beaker author and Honorary Graduate of the University of Dundee, Jacqueline Wilson – there really is something for everything at this extraordinary book festival.

I’m looking forward to attending a number of events over the long weekend, including a writing tutorial with YA author Joan Lennon on Friday, Literature in Britain Today with Tim Robertson, Director of the Royal Society of Literature on Saturday and Beyond Our Times with Irish author Sara Baume and Journalist Mark O’Connell.

It’s going to be a fabulous few days and I’m looking forward to reviewing the events that I see, next week!

For more information and to book tickets, visit: https://literarydundee.co.uk/festival

Public Service Broadcasting at True North

Everyone has something that makes them tick. For me it’s books and theatre, for my other half it’s music. Now don’t get me wrong, I love music. But, I don’t live for it. I don’t spend hours and hours listening to it. I don’t dedicate time to discovering new bands or sounds that I might just love. I’m lazy. My musical tastes have all been handed to me on a plate – artists that I’ve heard on the radio, or songs that I have become familiar with through other people’s musical tastes.

That’s how I became acquainted with Public Service Broadcasting. My husband must have been listening to them for a while without me even realising it, because one day I discovered that one of their songs had managed to worm itself inside my brain. That song was Progress.

So, when I discovered that the band were opening Aberdeen’s True North music festival at His Majesty’s Theatre, it seemed like a pretty good idea for the two of us to check it out.

After watching the brilliant and very quirky support act, BDY_PRTS perform , it was time for the Public Service Broadcasting to come on. I was hoping that they would be good, I hadn’t expected them to be phenomenal – but they were.

The three piece band, consisting of J. Willgoose, Esq, drummer Wrigglesworth and multi instrumentalist JFAbraham, performed their back catalogue, which pays homage to historic events such as the miners’ strikes, missions to space and Hillary and Norgay’s quest to conquer Everest. Using AV transmissions, archive footage and samples from old public information films, Public Service Broadcasting’s performance was an absolute feast for the eyes as well as the ears.

Playing old favourites such as Go, Spitfire and Everest (my husband’s fave) as well as new tracks from their album Every Valley, the band’s set had the crowd in the palm of their hands. Seeing Public Service Broadcasting live was an immensely intense experience that I will remember forever. And now, after spending the morning listening to every song they’ve ever made, I can proudly say that music makes me tick too. Well PSB do anyway…

True North Music Festival runs from the 7th to the 10th of September and includes acts such as Arab Strap, Dutch Uncles and Rumours, a celebration of Fleetwood Mac’s iconic album. For further information and to book tickets, visit: www.aberdeenperformancearts.com

*Disclaimer, I was provided for a ticket for this performance in exchange for this fair and honest review.