Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year! Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake & Stef's Italian

New Year's Eve is always a bit of a downer...all that hype, and you usually end up sitting around your house and clinking glasses with a couple people, watching the fireworks online. Well, this year, as Sean was up from France, we decided to pre-plan to have a blast. Turns out that entering into a bar on New Years Eve, without any drinks, will cost you £25 to £40! So, of course, we decided to spend thirty quid on a show instead.

Swan Lake - Matthew Bourne's Adaptation

Photo: Bill Cooper, from Obviously we couldn't take our own photos.

Beautiful. Visually stunning. Modern. Critically acclaimed. Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake was a twist on the theme and a bit of a role reversal with male swan dancers, not female.  We both wished we had a better understanding of both the original and adapted storyline, though! With no subtitles like opera, dialogue like a play, or singing like a musical, my first ballet was quite the experience. 

For anyone considering skipping a show because they can only afford the "cheapseats" - definitely go ahead and book those anyway! We were seated at the very last row and there were only two disadvantages  1) It was SO HOT because our "restricted view" was underneath the second gallery overhang and the air doesn't circulate well there and 2) We couldn't see the orchestra and at times, I really wondered which instrument they were playing for some of Tchaikovsky's pieces, but couldn't see!

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Stef's Italian
Logo  from

Stef's Italian was a beautiful place for a 3 course New Year's Eve set menu. Only £30 per person (this was definitely our student "splurge" day!), the meal included a porcini mushroom soup for me and proscuitto melone for Sean, beautiful vegetarian mushroom crespelle for me and steak and potatoes for Sean, and a lemon tarte for Sean and of course, tiramisu for me. Delectable tiramisu! My favourite dessert of all time!

Thankfully, we were sitting a few tables away from the table of drunken teenagers/uni students who proceeded to (at 8pm) throw up all over their table. Gross. You can't even hold your liquor in until you get to the bar? I felt bad for the restaurant owner, who chased them out yelling that they were the worst table they had ever had (you could tell he really, really wanted to yell in Italian).

So, our ingenious plan to "beat the rush" and catch the bus back to Oxford to celebrate at Raoul's cocktail bar was a FAIL.  Turns out while buses to London run until 3:30 am, the local buses stop at 7pm. SEVEN PM. Eek.  So, our planned £6.5 cocktail would have turned into a £22.5 drink.  After scoring the cheap-seats in the ballet and the cheapest NYE 3 course meal we could find (Mango Tree, a thai restaurant which I've been dying to try, was going to charge us £55!), we really couldn't justify it. So, we walked home in the pouring rain!

Ironically, guess where Sean and I ended up?  Sitting around our house, clinking glasses with a couple people and watching the fireworks online. It was lovely, though! 

The Resolutions 

I'm not much of a New Year's resolution girl; I like to set my goals every 3 to 6 months, to keep me focused.  However, here are the highlights of the year ahead, in case you were wondering:

  • Get a youth work visa while on my two week trip to Canada and love my new contract job in Oxford, which starts in February . Make enough money with that and tutoring to love and enjoy London, and pay back student loans before they charge me too much interest!
  • Get into a funded PhD place this September or October term in either England, Holland or France (I better get cracking on the French applications!)
  • Get back into writing (something, anything, perhaps poetry?) and hopefully read a couple books that aren't textbooks
  • Get better at German (my exam is in February, and then I'll be at first term second year university  level!) and improve my pronunciation and fluency in French
  • Get back into photography and  find a lighting class I can afford on a British wage!

Here's to a wonderful 2014  the one where all my dreams come true, and yours too! Happy New Year, loyal readers! 

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