Southern Yacht

My little take on plus size fashion, life, travel and smurfs

Friday, 19 July 2019

My blog is 5 years old

I can't quite believe it - but my little blog is now 5 years old! And what better way to celebrate than by buying a ridiculously over sized balloon from Amazon and prancing around the garden (btw - buying a balloon when it's windy outside... not a great idea)

What started as a hobby all those years ago has now become such a huge part of my life.

It all started with me googling ways to remove gel nail varnish (a long and disastrous story for another day). I stumbled across so many blogs with hints and tips and consequently spent a lovely evening falling into a rabbit hole of blogs, twitter and instagram.

One though really caught my eye, Leah wrote about plus size fashion amongst other things and wow! Being plus size myself, it was amazing to see such a confident blogger wearing exactly what she liked and looking great. So for the next 6 months or so I stalked her blog and found as many other plus size bloggers as I could to follow.

In the back of my head, I kept thinking, I'd like to write about that, I could talk about this. So one day I just did. I'm sure like most bloggers, my early posts and photos were, shall we say, interesting? But you know what, I've kept them all live because at the time I loved them. And all of those early wonky photo blog posts help make the blog I have today.

And so, because there's nothing I like better than a list, here's the top 5 highlights of my blog.

Number 1 - Remember I mentioned Leah and other plus size bloggers? Meeting them in real life, becoming friends with them and working together makes this whole blogging thing real and worthwhile.

Some of the many lovely people I've met over the last 5 years

Number 2 - walking the catwalk at Style XL in 2015. This was such a scary and exciting day but so glad I did it, even if I did have a severe case of resting bitch face in most of the photos (tbh, I was concentrating on not falling off the stage).

Wearing Voodoo Vixen at Style XL 2015

Number 3 - sharing opportunities with family and friends. One highlight that comes to mind is being able to take my other half on a day out on the Watercress Line last year. A day riding steam trains? He was in his element.

War on The Line - a day out on the Watercress Line

Number 4 - confidence. Not just with going to events (years of working in the Civil Service and endless meetings and conferences helped sort that) but confidence with clothes and personal style. Generally just being me - a plus size, 50+ person finding her own style.

Finding my confidence as a plus size blogger

Number 5 - numbers. This seems an odd one. I know in the grand scheme of things, I'm a very little fish in a very big pond. But seeing viewing numbers and interactions rise over the years makes me think that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing ok.

On holiday in Devon

To everybody that has read my ramblings online - a very big thank you. Here's to the next 5 years!

Thanks for reading



Friday, 12 July 2019

Daily Goal Setter Planner - my review

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

Do you ever find you need a helping hand to focus on the positive rather than dwell on the negative, maybe the whole process of setting and prioritising goals is feeling like a bit of an overwhelming task? If you're like me and the answer is yes (and even more so since returning from holiday!) then the lovely people at Mål Paper have the answer.

They kindly offered to send me a copy of their Daily Goal Planner to review. First impressions on receiving the planner was just how professional it looks. I opted for the black finish as I wanted something smart enough to use on the go and at meetings while still being small enough to fit into a tote bag along with a laptop. It also has a sturdy back pocket perfect for keeping receipts in or any important keepsakes.

The planner is split into monthly, weekly and daily pages with a rating score on each page. The daily pages have a section to note down great things that happened that day. This is such a good idea - it's all too easy to focus on the negatives in life and this really helps you to focus on the positives whether they're big or small. You could have finally got that long awaited promotion or simply had lunch with a friend, either way, they're all positive things in your day.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

At the front of the planner is a very helpful section on getting started. We all have dreams and ambitions but sometimes they feel a bit overwhelming and unreachable. By breaking them down into realistic and achievable goals - it helps you declutter your mind to reach those goals.

It talks you through setting effective goals:

  • Identify the goal
  • Identify it's importance/value
  • Write it down
  • Review your goals

Are your goals SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

There's also a section on routines, helping you to rate your tasks using the ABCDE method which prioritises tasks from A (must be completed) to E (no consequence if task isn't completed that day). Also suggested daily, weekly and monthly routines so that you can get into the habit of practising daily gratitude and daily affirmations. All of which helps to create a positive mindset.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

One feature I particularly like is that the pages are undated. There's no pressure to make an entry every day and if you forget, go on holiday or are ill, you don't start again with blank pages making you feel bad about what you missed! 

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

The planner is available in black, grey or pink from Mål Paper for £20.95. Perfect if you want help to focus on a more positive outlook and realise your dreams.

Daily Goal Setter Planner from Mål Paper

Thanks for reading


(Planner was gifted for the purpose of this review)


Friday, 31 May 2019

The Audience at Nuffield Southampton Theatre, City

The Audience stamp image

Last night I was invited to the Press Night* of The Audience at Nuffield Southampton Theatre City, to spend the evening with the Queen and 9 prime ministers (which isn't something you can say every day). On arrival we were met with a red carpet and the royal car - I could get used to every evening at the theatre starting like this!

The Audience at NST City, red carpet and royal car

The Audience tells the story of the weekly meetings between the Queen and her prime minister. No-one ever knows what is discussed, there are no minutes or records of the meetings. But wouldn't we all love to be a fly on the wall and know what they talk about? Do they get on? Is there tension, laughs? Does she, or did she have, a favourite prime minister?

This award winning play by Peter Morgan (writer of the TV series The Crown and the film The Queen) comes to Southampton in a new intimate version directed by NST Director Samuel Hodges. The production is bought right up to date and even incorporates the very recent resignation of Theresa May.

The Audience - Faye Castelow (Queen), Sharon Singh (Equerry). Lizzie Hopley (Bobo)

With only 5 actors and a double sided stage, you feel like you're right there in the room looking over the Queen's shoulder. Paul Kemp plays all of the 7 male prime ministers and what a task that is. Quite how he shifts seamlessly from one character to the next is mesmerising. Especially the transition between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in the same scene. No fancy prosthetics are used or needed - as soon as Paul Kemp walks on (or glides, thanks to the moving walkway) he perfectly captures the physical traits of each prime minister from Churchill's bent gait to Blair's smile.

The Audience - Paul Kemp (Harold Wilson)

Likewise, with Faye Castelow who plays the Queen, no prosthetics are needed here either. From just her style of clothing, movement and speech alone you could tell the age and era of the play. Ranging from youthful exuberance during her first meeting with Winston Churchill where he affectionately calls her by her childhood name of Lilibet, through to the slower, cautious movements of a Queen in her senior years meeting David Cameron.

The Audience - Paul Kemp (Harold Wilson), Faye Castelow (Queen)

I found the scene with Harold Wilson where he tells the Queen of his decision to resign very moving. He was a prime minister I remember from childhood and I didn't appreciate fully the difficulties faced during his second term. And although we never know exactly what was discussed, I can truly imagine the conflict portrayed in the scene with Margaret Thatcher (fiercely played by Lizzie Hopley who in a stark contrast also plays the gentle role of Bobo, the Queen's nanny).

Faye Castelow conveys a true portrait of a woman dedicated to a lifetime of service despite the conflicts and doubt in her youth. Fay Burwell and Maddie Farmer who share the role of the young Princess Elizabeth portray the sense of duty through a child's eyes.

The Audience - Faye Castelow (Queen), Fay Burwell / Maddie Farmer (Princess Elizabeth)

The Audience - Paul Kemp, Faye Castelow (Queen), Sharon Singh (Equerry). Lizzie Hopley (Bobo)

The Queen's vulnerability is demonstrated during the costume changes on stage scenes aided by her equerry (Sharon Singh, the lynch pin of the whole play). With haunting music and balletic movements, the shift between scenes was beautifully choreographed.

The Audience - Faye Castelow (Queen), Sharon Singh (Equerry). Lizzie Hopley (Bobo)

The Audience is at Nuffield Southampton Theatre City until 22nd June and I would definitely recommend going. I took my partner who normally shows very little interest in politics and I could hear him chuckling away (and without giving away any spoilers, let's just say we will never forget Theresa May's moment on the stage!). There really are some laugh out loud moments.

Thanks for reading


*Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review

Friday, 10 May 2019

Welsh National Opera - The Magic Flute at The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton

WNO The Magic Flute

I was invited by The Mayflower Theatre, Southampton to watch The Magic Flute* performed by The Welsh National Opera. The Magic Flute is an opera with music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart that was first performed in Vienna in 1791. The Welsh National Opera's current production gives us a quirky and modern twist on the timeless story of love and friendship.

WNO The Magic Flute. Tamino played by Ben Johnson

The story starts with Tamino fighting a monster and being rescued by Three Ladies who work for the Queen of the Night. Tamino meets Papageno the bird-catcher and together they go to rescue the Queen's beautiful daughter, Pamina who has been abducted and imprisoned by Sarastro. Guided by Three Boys and aided by a magic flute and a set of magic bells, the two friends start their perilous journey.

WNO The Magic Flute. Tamino played by Ben Johnson, Papageno played by Mark Stone

We soon learn though that all is not as it seems. Sarastro is not the evil character initially portrayed and instead invites Tamino to join his Brotherhood by undergoing a number of trials. Together with Pamina they succeed and they are united in love. Even Papageno, the comical bird-catcher finds his own true love Papagena at the end.

WNO The Magic Flute - Pamina played by Anita Watson, Tamino played by Ben Johnson

WNO The Magic Flute. Sarastro played by James Platt, Monostatos played by Howard Kirk

Sarastro's guard Monostatos played by Howard Kirk is gloriously evil and judging by the applause and boos he received at the end, he relished the role and the audience loved his portrayal.

The production is wonderful visual feast. The sense of depth on the stage and the use of deceptively simple props all helped with the surreal feeling of the show.

WNO The Magic Flute - Papagena played by Claire Hampton and The Three Boys

The Three Boys are played by young singers and their self assurance and confidence shone through in whichever scene they were in. I can't imagine that singing and performing while on an elevated cycling fish was the easiest of tasks!

WNO The Magic Flute - The Three Boys

This performance by The Welsh National Opera really does change your perception of what a traditional opera is. It's a performance for all ages and I noticed both young and old in the audience. I think as a child I would have been mesmerised by the effects and costumes on stage and I hope the children in the audience were too.

WNO The Magic Flute - The Animals

This was a magical and playful performance with plenty of humour. You could hear people chuckling throughout with some laugh out loud moments. The bird-catcher Papageno played by Mark Stone had some of the best lines and interaction with the audience and even when wasn't singing, still stole the scene. Samantha Hay's portrayal of The Night Queen, as my friend commented, gave you goosebumps. Her voice was beautiful in what seemed to my inexperienced ears seemed to be an extremely difficult role to sing.

I have to admit, this was only my second opera and although it was sung in English, I did worry a little about how I would keep up and understand all that was going on. I needn't have worried though. The singing was loud and clear and above the stage there was a discreet digital sign with surtitles (lyrics and dialogue projected above a stage). Certainly for me, this really helped and meant I could concentrate on the music and the story line without worrying about what I was missing. I'm excited to explore the world of opera at future shows.

A big thank you to The Mayflower Theatre and Southampton Bloggers for the invite.

Thanks for reading


*Tickets were gifted for the purpose of this review.
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