Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Peter James' Dead Simple

The theatre was buzzing as we took our seats and the audience were gripped from the very start.
I've not read Peter James but I knew that the play was based on his book Dead Simple which features a recurring detective Roy Grace.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be buried alive. I guess many of us have thought about it, maybe had a nightmare about it. This is what happens to Michael Harrison (Jamie Lomas) on his stag night. He's a bit of a joker and has played many pranks on his friends so this is their ultimate revenge. They put him in a coffin in a  shallow grave in the woods and plan to return when his 'punishment' is up. They leave him with a walkie talkie and he has his mobile phone but no signal. Soon he has no connection at all and is all alone in his shallow grave with no idea what is happening and why his friends have not returned for him.

The first half of the play focuses on the characters and how they react when they find Michael is missing. His fiancee Ashley Harper (Tina Hobley) is distraught but his best friend Mark Warren (Rik Makarem) appears to know where he is but appears unwilling to admit it or help him. We are also introduced to Detective Superintendant Roy Grace (Gray O Brien) and Detective Sergeant Branson (Marc Small) who are on the missing person case. The superintendant is currently in disgrace after seeking the help of a Psychic Zoe Frame (Sarah Baxendale).

Another character is Davey Wheeler (Josh Brown) who I admit confused me a little. At first I couldn't make out if he was meant to be really young or older and autistic. I think maybe he was somewhere between the two. He finds the other walkie talkie and becomes the only contact that Michael, locked in his coffin, has.

The first half ends with a twist which had the audience gasping!

The second half was much faster moving with so much going on it was almost difficult to keep up with it all. There were so many twists and turns and a lot of bloodshed too. Some plot twists I'd managed to work out, some where a shock. I'm so glad I hadn't read the book! The ending was quite predictable but still good.

The play didn't really focus much on the talents of the DS Roy Grace which I felt is a shame because he seems a very likeable character. In fact I am keen to read some more of the books now that I have had my introduction.

The Set design, by Michael Taylor, was quite brilliant. The stage was split into three and the lighting skills of Mark Howett made focusing on the area of action easy. I loved the forest area which I actually thought was a film when it first appeared on the top left hand side of the stage. It was also really clever how they showed Michael trapped in his coffin.

Overall I felt it was a really good performance. The pacing felt a little off with the second half moving so fast compared to the first, but then you tend to find that in Murder Mystery type stories anyway. There were so many twists and turns of plot that maybe too much was left to fate, but I guess not everything is planned to perfection, even murder!

I would recommend the play to anyone who likes a good murder mystery, with some very nice looking actors. Be prepared for a few shocks along the way, with a little bit of horror and even a little humour at times.

The New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham is a building full of character and atmosphere. The staff are friendly and helpful and the place is clean with lots of toilet facitilies. There are several car parks nearby, we chose to park in the Town Hall 'Cage' car park just a couple of minutes walk away. It cost just £3.20 for the evening as we arrived after 6pm.

Peter James' Dead Simple is on at the New Alexandra Theatre until July 4th. Tickets cost 12.90 to £38.90. For more information or to book tickets go to ATG Tickets

I attended the New Alexandra Theatre to review Dead Simple for What's Good To Do. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Monday, 29 June 2015

I Did It!

Yesterday I took a walk in the park. A 5k walk to raise money to beat cancer!
When I woke it it was piddling down with rain. My heart sank. I was looking forward to the walk but imagine how awful it was going to be doing it dripping soaking wet! I didn't even know if it would be feasible to take an umbrella?

The rain continued while I got ready and we all climbed in the car. It continued all the way to the park. Then as we arrived it stopped! 

I've not done the Race for Life before, I didn't really know what to expect. I arrived in my pink t-shirt with my number attached to my front and my name banner on my back. I also had my 'beautiful' fake tattoos applied.

First came the warm up. We were entertained on the stage by singers, radio DJs from Heart fm and a zumba lady. People got up to tell us of their stories of cancer, good and bad. We listened, we danced, we got in the mood. There was also pink smoke but I didn't get a photo as I was having a last minute...well, you don't really need to know....

Then it was time to queue up ready for the off! The runners first followed by the walkers. There were lots of both.

The race was started by the Little Man's school friend aged five. He was diagnosed with cancer at two years and has had a kidney removed. He is now in remission.

 Then the walk began and I can honestly say I really enjoyed it. I did ache a little, funnily enough it was my right hip and my left ankle that hurt the most so I kind of balanced out. Thankfully my feet did not hurt at all, although they were throbbing a little by bedtime.

It was the best feeling ever crossing that finish line!

If you are thinking of doing the Race for Life, or are doing it but have never done it before, here are a few things I've learnt from my experience.

  • It's ok to do it alone, whether a runner or a walker there are lots of others doing it alone too.
  • It's ok to take an umbrella, probably not if you are running, but there were lots of walkers carrying them although it didn't rain again. 
  • Remember your water, it's very thirsty work.
  • You can wear headphones with your music on, but the atmosphere is great and I feel you'd be missing out on a lot.
  • A lot of walkers had little bags, phones and basically anything that you would take on a walk in the park. I felt a little empty handed but I'd just come to walk.
  • You don't have to take anyone with you but it's really nice to see a friendly face as you approach the finish line.
  • Finally, the obvious things...make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing and trainers. I heard so many people complaining on the way around that they were too hot or their trainers were rubbing their feet. 

Thank you to everyone who donated for my walk.
I'm so proud to be a member of the #Pink Army

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Kids in the Kitchen - Macaroons (again)

Welcome to this weeks Kids in the Kitchen. This week Boo made macaroons. I know the Little Man made macaroons for kids in the kitchen before but Boo was really keen so how could I say no to her.

Last week we were joined by J from the Free From Farmhouse who made some delicious looking Cinnamon Rolls. I was so tempted by them that I went and made some myself, I didn't even wait for the kids to come home from school, naughty mummy!

This is the last week of the month but you still have plenty of time to join in. Come and share what you have been doing with your kids in the kitchen. All posts are pinned onto my Pinterest Board which is a great place to go for inspiration, and I will tweet them and give you a mention here the following week. I've also started to 1+ the posts on Google plus which I am trying to use more.

Follow Anne's board Kids In The Kitchen on Pinterest.


Boo wanted to make these because she had seen them in a cookery book. When she's not watching Masterchef or the Great British Bake Off re-runs, she's looking through my cookery books! So I said she could make them but she had to do it all herself.

We came across a little problem straight away because the recipe was for making two batches of macaroons in two different colours, but we only wanted to make one. So she had to do some maths to work out the recipe. It's a little different to my previous recipe but I think it worked a lot better, the mixture was thicker and the final macaroons much more crunchier.

Boo working out her recipe


  • 2 egg whites
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • drop of food colouring

  • Filling: whipped double cream


Put the egg whites and caster sugar into a mixer and whisk until thick and foamy and stands in soft peaks.
whisk in the food colouring
mix the ground almonds and sifted icing sugar together
Add half of almonds and icing sugar to egg mixture and continue whisking
Add the rest of the almond mixture and continue whisking until stiff.
Put the mixture into a piping bag with a 2cm plain nozzle
Cover two baking trays with baking paper
pipe on mixture in 5cm circles leaving plenty of space between them.
Leave to settle for about 15 mins
Bake at 170C/gas mark 3 for 12 to  15 minutes

When cooled remove from tray and sandwich with the cream.

So now it's over to you, get in the kitchen with your kids and come and share what you've cooked,
I'd also be mighty grateful if you included my badge in your post so others can see it and come along and join in. (although adding the badge is not compulsory to joining in)

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You can find out more about Kids in the Kitchen by clicking here.

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Cancer, I'm Coming to Get You

This is what I will be wearing on my back on Sunday when I do the Race for Life.
It's the names of all the people I know that have been affected by Cancer.

Purple names are my family members that have been taken
Green names are friends or relatives of friends that have been taken
Pink names are the ones that I'm really doing this for, these are the fighters and survivors.

My dream is that we find a cure for cancer.

The youngest person in pink is the Little Man's school friend, aged four years, currently in remission.

I can't heal these people, I can't make the cancer go away.

I can help to raise money to find a way of helping them though and that is what I will be doing on Sunday. So if you can spare even just a little then please, please sponsor me on my Justgiving page.
Or you can text JSBA71 and £5 to 70070

Thank you xx

Sunday, 21 June 2015

My Sunday Photo

This week we took a trip to Digbeth, Birmingham and I took this photo outside The Old Crown, the Oldest pub in Birmingham.
It claims to date back to 1363 but most of the current building was constructed between 1450 and 1500. It really is a lovely old building, in walking distance from the City Centre. It also has a very lovely beer garden!


Sunday Snap