Friday, 25 June 2010

No.12 - Watch 'Cirque Du Soleil' live

Who ever said dreams don't come true needs to think again. On Wednesday 23rd June 2010, one of my dreams came true...

I sat in an arena, three rows away from the front of the stage, and watched the show to end all shows. Cirque Du Soleil ~ Saltimbanco has just been written into my life as the most amazing spectacular that I have EVER seen. Now, we have all been to plays, musicals and shows that we rate as the best ever, but this truly was something that so totally outweighed my expectations (which were extremely high even before I went).

The day started with a morning at work. A very early start as I was taking the afternoon off... Yippee!! I am sure you have all experienced the feeling of agonising torture, waiting for the clock to reach noon so that you can pack up and escape. Eventually the buzzer went for 12:20pm, I ran out of the office, got changed and jumped into my car. I had a few chores to do in the early afternoon, before heading to Cirencester to pick up my friend. We headed to Birmingham and before long had parked up and found a Cafe Rouge to enjoy a nice meal before the show. The anticipation now tingling right through to my toes.

We eventually made our way to the National Indoor Arena and through to our seats. It was at that point that I realised how fantastic our seat locations were. Just a few feet away from the stage... and we had soooo much leg room! Unusual for for such a popular show. Nowadays, theatres and arenas always try to pack you in like sardines.

About 5 minutes before the show was due to start, the lights were still up and people were making their way through the doors and to their seats. Suddenly there was a burst of laughter and screaming, and out of nowhere a group of brightly costumed characters came running through the audience. Throwing popcorn, pulling people out of their seats, making everybody laugh. At this point I realised why there was so much room in our row. Several of the characters came stumbling through, falling over each other, looking at us all with such curiosity. What a great way to start the show!!!

After about ten minutes, the lights went out and the music started. The stage lights switched on. It was at this point, the true creativity and colour of the setting could be truly realised. The music and singing began and characters began to appear from all corners of the arena.

I would love to have had taken lots of photographs of the show but, as you can imagine, there was a strict "no cameras" policy. So I have included a few stock photographs and you-tube clips to provide you with a flavour of the evening's performance.....

The show was a mixture of comedy, dance routines, gymnastics and acrobats. Each and every one very different in their own way, yet all equally as enthralling and breathtaking....

...and one of my favourite moments of the evening, the Russian Swing...

You know when you have experienced something truly amazing, when the show finishes and you feel completely exhausted. My eyes were stinging as I barely blinked throughout the whole show, in fear of missing anything that was going on. My stomach aching from the laughter, my heart still beating with the excitement and enjoyment of the show.

We walked out of the arena and over to the car park. Both of us recounting the magical moments from the show. The journey home seemed to flash by... why, oh why, oh why did the show have to end? When was the next show coming? Where could i go in the world to see one of the other shows by the Cirque du Soleil? My goodness, if each of my 40 things to do is going to leave me wanting more, as this one did, I am going to end up with another list of 500 things to do before I am!

Well, that ends another one of my 40 things. Another one successfully completed. Another moment to look back on and smile. And next week, I am going to the Globe Theatre in London to watch "A Mid Summer Night's Dream". Well, all I can say is "life can't be that bad after all".

I have been busy over the past few weeks, and have complete some elements of some of the list, including the No.32 - Take a ride on an open top bus tour through London, for along with visiting several counties in the challenge of No.1 - Visit all 48 ceremonial counties of England. I will be sure to write about them very soon, along with some of my own photographs!! :o)

Friday, 28 May 2010

Bring on the next two tasks!

One down and 39 to go. Well I have now arranged the next two tasks and am truly excited!!!!!

The first task is "No.7 Watch a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre in London".

I have booked up to go and watch Shakespeare's "A Mid Summer Night's Dream" at the Globe Theatre in London. To make it even more memorable, I have got tickets to watch it at midnight on a mid summer's night (2nd July 2010). What could be more perfect?

The current Globe Theatre is a reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre that was build in the same location in 1578 by a gentleman called James Burbage. William Shakespeare joined the resident troupe in 1580's, putting on many of his plays that are still widely enjoyed today.

After the event I'll write a post to explain a little more about the theatre and, for those of you who haven't seen or read the play, I will also explain a bit about the storyline and the main characters too.

The second task is "No.12 Watch Cirque Du Soleil live"

I have booked 2 tickets to go and see Cirque du Soleil! I am going in just a few weeks time and am soooo excited! The you-tube clip below is from the actual show that I am going to see.

Cirque du Soleil began when a group of street performers in Quebec (Canada) decided to create a new venue for their passion. Under the guidance of Guy Laliberté, Cirque du Soleil has used its passion for creativity and innovation to redefine the entertainment landscape, and thrill audiences all around the world.

I hope you continue to join me on my journey, as I will be undertaking more of my challenges over the forthcoming weeks and months.

Warmest wishes to you all,

Thursday, 20 May 2010

No.29 - Be a member of the audience in a TV show - Part 2

I can now proudly announce that I have completed one of the 40 things that I have to do before I am 40. Pop that champagne bottle, it's time to celebrate!!! Yippee!!! :D

It all started with a usual Thursday morning. Waking up, showering and going to work. The usual morning briefing with my team, checking my emails, a couple of meetings, a cup of coffee, more meetings... then the day became less ordinary. Lunchtime came but instead of wandering into the canteen to eat my packed lunch, this day I changed out of my white uniform, back into my jeans and shirt and jumped into my car. Within an hour I had picked up my friend and was on the road heading for London.

After driving in circles several times when arriving in Hammersmith, we finally found the NCP car park and jumped on the underground tube! For those of you that know me, you know that I have a ritual when visiting London. There is one place that I just simply have to go to first. So, after about an hour of tube hopping (with hindsight,I should have caught the Piccadilly line rather than the Circle Line), we arrived in Covent Garden. A place that feels like home from f home. We headed directly for the nearest out-door Italian restaurant. Unfortunately as I was the driver for the day, I was on diet coke (you can't even begin to imagine how much I wanted a big glass of red wine! lol!). I ordered and devoured a rather delicious spaghetti carbonara whilst we watched the street performers entertaining the crowds.

A couple of hours later, we paid the bill and wandered over to South Kensington and headed for the Royal Albert Hall. Below are a couple of rare photographs of me, both stood outside the impressive structure of the Royal Albert Hall.

It is the kind of building that oozes with grandeur even from the outside. You know you are going to have an amazing time before you even walk through the impressive entrance hall. Drinks were ordered along with our pre-order for the interval drinks (the one I was most looking forward to, as it was going to be alcoholic!). We were soon then greeted by the usherette who showed us to our balcony box.... let the show begin!!

As the show was being filmed for TV, nobody was supposed to take photographs whilst anything was happening. So, I took the opportunity to grab a few snaps from my seat before the fun started. Here are a few that I managed to grab.

Unfortunately, the quality of the pics aren't that great, but hopefully it gives you a flavour of my view. I have also added some of the moments from you-tube of the actual show itself.

The show was a spectacular, surpassing my expectations. The atmosphere was electric, for those few hours I actually felt like I was living somebody else's life. At the end of the day, I am somebody who is more at home in hiking boots and a lumberjack shirt, wading through fields, forests and rivers. However, this night I was dressed in a suit and tie, supping champagne, sat in a very expensive balcony box, listening to some of the worlds greatest opera singers and musicians perform the most beautiful pieces.

So, here endith my first of 40 challenges before I am 40. The purpose of setting myself those said challenges was to broaden my horizons, improve my knowledge of the world, live more, and ultimately enjoy myself. Well, looking back at this first challenge, if all the others are even 5% as enjoyable, educational and fulfilling as this one, I am going to be the happiest person on the planet on the day I turn 40.

The fun doesn't stop here. I am already in mid planning for another couple of challenges. I will reveal more soon!

Monday, 10 May 2010

No.29 - Be a member of the audience in a TV show

Now things really get exciting. My first big challenge.... To be a member of the audience in a TV show.

My choice for this challenge was quite easy. Very late one evening in 2000, I was flicking through the channels on the TV whilst waiting for tiredness to creep up on me. Mildly fuming that there was nothing on any of the channels, I was suddenly confronted with the most energetic piece of violin playing imaginable. My finger froze, my feet started tapping on the floor, my eyes opened wide and my jaw dropped.....

The piece of music I was listening to was "Storm", the artist was "Vanessa Mae" and the TV show was the Classical Brit Awards 2000.

Much to my delight, I was searching the net in preparation for writing this post and actually managed to find that very clip of the show. So without further ado, here is that piece:

Ever since watching the Classical Brit Awards on that summer night in 2000, I have wanted to be part of the audience, put on my suit and tie, sit in one of the boxes and sip champagne whilst enjoying the spectacular. Every year since, I have sat in front of the TV set yearning to experience the electrifying atmosphere, absorb the splendour, feel the vibrations of the music and the voices resonate through my body.

Below is just a small handful of my favourite moments from previous Classical Brit Awards....

I have just had a peek at the attendees at this years show, and am going to be spoiled with what lays ahead. None other than Andre Reu will be performing, along with Rolando Villazon, Angela Gheorghiu and many more.

And of course, the lovely Myleene Klass will be hosting the show ~ another reason I wanted to go ;)

If I happen to bump into her backstage I'll be sure to offer her my!

So, the big night is Thursday 13th May 2010, the venue is the Royal Albert Hall in London, England and one person in the audience will be no other than.... Moi!!! Hurrahhhh!!!! :D

I'll be sure to post a report of the evening soon!

Bye for now!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

No.16 Read 25 Best Selling Novels That I Haven't Read Before - Book One

So on with the challenges. The first one for me to commence is reading the 25 Best Selling Novels. Initially this challenge was going to read 25 books from the BBC Big Read Top 100 list. However, after reading through the list, I realised that I had already read most of them at least once. The whole purpose of this "40 things to do before I'm 40" list is to do things that I haven't done before, and for this challenge was to broaden my literary knowledge. So, to this end, I decided to adjust challenge #16 to be "Read 25 Best Selling Novels That I Haven't Read Before".

Without further ado, the first book I am going to read is the Man Booker prize winning 'Life of Pi' by Yann Martel

I'll be back soon to let you what I think of it!

Bye for now!

Friday, 30 April 2010

40 things... 26 months... 1 man!

Well, there comes a time in everybody's life where you simply need to get off your butt and try something new or do something different. It happened to me when I was in my late 20's, when I decided to explore the world. Within the next few years I trekked through the Sinai desert, canoed through the Amazon Rainforest, bartered for goods in Marrakesh, wandered along the railway platform in Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland, fell over the edge of a quarry in Wales, and many other life enhancing experiences along the way.

So here I am, 10 years later... ...time for another set of challenges. And that is where this blog begins, in the middle of April 2010 the gauntlet was thrown and I came up with a list of 40 things that I wanted to experience and enjoy before I hit the big "40"!

40 challenges, 26 months, one man. I hope you join me along the way!

So, without further ado I officially announce the list of 40 challenges:

40 things to do before I'm 40

  1. Visit all 48 ceremonial counties of England

  2. Climb a mountain (without falling off this!)

  3. Improve my cooking skills with a culinary course

  4. Publish a book of photographs

  5. Sample wine at vineyard in France

  6. Learn 3 new crafts

  7. Watch a Shakespeare play at the Globe Theatre, London

  8. Meet somebody really famous

  9. ‘Do lunch’ in Paris

  10. Dine in Bruges

  11. Party in Barcelona

  12. Watch ‘Cirque De Soleil’ live.

  13. Photograph the ‘Big Five’ whilst on Safari in Africa

  14. Do a good deed for a complete stranger (Pay it forward...)

  15. Master the art of Sushi making, sausage making and pasta making

  16. Read 25 best selling novels that I haven't read before

  17. Replace the bathroom in my house

  18. Eat in 25 restaurants recommended by the good food guide.

  19. Have afternoon tea at the Ritz

  20. Walk along the F1 road race circuit in Monaco

  21. Do an evening class in something fun (not work related!)

  22. Take a ride in a hot air balloon

  23. Go to a music festival

  24. Learn to juggle 3 balls (at the same!)

  25. Sleep in a haunted house/castle

  26. Invest in the Stock market

  27. Have a BBQ on the beach

  28. Enjoy a day at the races in style

  29. Be a member of the audience in a TV show

  30. Drink a pint of Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

  31. Host a Murder Mystery dinner party

  32. Take a ride on an open top bus tour through London

  33. Sample 100 different single malts

  34. Enjoy a boat trip whilst drinking champagne

  35. Ride a rollercoaster at a theme park (my worst nightmare!)

  36. Gamble in a casino

  37. Visit all the squares of the Monopoly Board in London on one day (with a pub crawl thrown in)

  38. Walk along Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England

  39. Build and light a camp fire without matches, then cook sausages and marshmallows on it.

  40. Take a journey on a Steam train

So that is my list. Each item has its own little challenge. Some requiring travel; some requiring varying levels of ingenuity, dexterity and/or creativity, some requiring rather a lot of food and alcohol; and some simply requiring a sense of humour and sense of adventure. I am writing this first blog post at the beginning of the challenge. I will write plenty of posts as I work my way through the list, sharing plenty of the trials and tribulations, the laughter and the horror (I'm still having second thoughts about the roller coaster and the haunted house!!!), and there will be plenty of photographic evidence on the way too!

Where ever you are, I do hope you can join me on my journey! Oh, and if you already have your own list or you decide to start your own list of things you are challenging yourself to achieve, then please let me know.

Best wishes and see you on the way!!!

A big shout out and thank you to Design Bug for designing this blog site for me!