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

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

Dundee Flower & Food Festival

Once a year, all the foodies and all the flower lovers gather together in Camperdown Park, Dundee for the Flower & Food Festival. With Michelin star chefs, award-winning food and fabulous musical entertainment and some of the most beautiful floral arrangements you could ever hope to see – it’s an annual event not to be missed.

One of the displays inside the children’s tent

This year’s festival was no different. With food demonstrations from the likes of Gary Maclean, Nick Nairn and Tony Singh and entertainment from Andy Day of CBeebies fame – it’s little wonder that the food and flower festival welcomed over 20,000 guests over the weekend.

For me, the highlight of the weekend is always the food tent. Packed full of mouth-watering food and seductive alcoholic beverages – the tent is a treat for the eyes as well as the belly. I could have spent hours happily wandering through the displays, sipping glorious gin samples, whilst sampling the latest chutneys and jams.

Other highlights included the spectacular flower displays and the fabulous children’s tent, which was packed full of family friendly activities, entertaining my own two kids for at least an hour.

September wouldn’t be the same with out this event, it really is the perfect way to say goodbye to Summer and welcome Autumn.

For further information about the Dundee Flower & Food Festival, visit: http://www.dundeeflowerandfoodfestival.com/

*Disclaimer – I was given a free pass to the festival in exchange for this fair and honest review.

 

Au Revoir Edinburgh International Book Festival

They say that all good things must come to an end. How I wish that wasn’t true! With the Edinburgh International Book Festival closing earlier this week, it was time to say goodbye to my happy place for another year. For me the festival represents everything that I love: words, books, storytelling and the city of Edinburgh itself.

On my last visit to the festival on Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing three amazing events. The first one was Hari Kunzru with David Mitchell – two brilliant and inspiring authors who I have long since admired. The informal chat about Kunzru’s new ghost story White Tears, was punctuated by music from the Delta Mississippi Blues, which made it all the more interesting and memorable.

My second event of the day was Sara Baume & Oddny Eir, two female author who use nature in their writing. Both Baume’s novel, A Line Made by Walking and Icelandic author Oddny’s debut, Land of Love and Ruins, sound utterly fascinating and I can’t wait to read them.

My last event of the day was Take Me to the River at the Baillie Gifford Imagination Lab. The talk featured YA author Claire McFall, who was there to discuss her novel Trespassers and Martin Stewart, whose debut novel Riverkeep is up for the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s First Book Award. Chaired by children’s writer, Lari Don, the event explored the myth and folklore around death and loss in a light and quirky manner that went down very well with the audience.

When I left the festival to catch my train home, I took one last look around the beautiful gardens with a heavy heart.

Au revoir, Edinburgh International Book Festival. Until we meet again.