Dreams Come True

For a long as I can remember I have loved everything girly and anything sparkly. I am pretty much a magpie when it comes to glitz and for many years, since it first began, I have always watched and loved Strictly Come Dancing. The dancing, those amazing costumes, the music and the celebrity stars make the show one of my favourite things about Autumn. And as much as I have always dreamed of watching the show live, it was something I knew would be pretty impossible to get to but as this is my wish list I decided to write it down and see what magic happened.

And that dream came true….

Yesterday myself and my friend Heather were not only in the audience for the live filming of the show, our tickets had been provided by Kevin Clifton himself so they included access to the friends/family tent after the show where we were able to hang out with and chat to the starts of the show. A magical experience.

The day began with a good lunch before making our way to Elstree Studios. We had been told to arrive after 3.20pm which gave us plenty of time to get some prosecco at the bar while we eagerly awaited our access call to the main studio. Our phones were taken off us at this point also as we were not allowed them on us whilst in the studio.

We finally were taken through to the the Ballroom at around 5.40pm. It was beautiful although it seemed smaller in real life than it looks on telly. Everyone is sat in their allocated seats and we were lucky to have seats opposite the judges desk and 2nd row back so we had a fantastic view.

The atmosphere was pure excitement. Everyone was chatty and smiley which was great to see. The pro dancers came out to see us all and wowed us all with their group routine which was such fun to watch. We then were treated to a song by the amazing Jess Glynne who was fantastic to hear live before the wait for the live show to kick off.

Bring in the audience makes you realise just how much goes into these shows. Not only are all the celebrity’s, judges, pro dancers and band a huge part of the show, there are also hundreds of bodies running around bringing new sets on to the stage, touching up the makeup and sweeping the floor in between dances. Such a slick process and so much more than what you see on the TV.

All the dancers were amazing to see and my hands were red raw with clapping so much throughout the night. The live show finished allowing us a 15 minute break before they began to film the results show where we were treated to another amazing performance from Paloma Faith and saw the dance off between the 2 couples in the bottom 2. Sadly Vick Hope’s time was up with the strictly family after losing out in the dance off but she was brilliant and such a beautiful person.

After all the filming had finished we made our way back to the exclusive tent where we spent the next 2 hours talking to and getting photos with all the stars. I must say they are all so lovely. Faye had a long conversation with us and was a delight to meet. Vick was sad to be going but was still chatty and smiley for us. We also spoke to so many others (many whom we got photos with too). And we finally got to introduce ourselves to Kevin as he was the one who made the experience happen in the first place. After a chat and a hug we also got a photo with him and Stacey. It was just amazing how each and every one of them had the time and energy to chat after such a long day dancing and filming.

A huge thank you to Hiten (from Bbc Radio 2) for being the driving force in making this experience happen and to Kevin Clifton for making my strictly dreams become a reality.

BEST DAY EVER!

to see the rest of my list please follow this link – lauraslifeisforlivinglist

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Horse Riding

For one of my 30th birthday treats, my friend Oa’s mum Joc wanted to treat us to my activity of horse riding so on a beautiful, Autumnal day the 3 of us went to Squirrel Wood Equestrian Centre for an afternoon of fun.

We began the afternoon with a yummy picnic on the farm whilst we waited for our 2pm booking. The sun was shining which was so nice and a great way to start the day. Once the picnic was over we made our way over to the farm office and met the owner, Lisa.

After a short introduction we were straight in to getting up and close to the horses. We started with grooming, learning all about the different types of brushes as we helped to make their coats and manes all neat and tidy. Once we had finished this it was time for our ride. I hadn’t been on a horse for over 12 years and so I was quite nervous but it didn’t take long before I felt amazing being back in the saddle.

We took our horses for a walk around the woods and lake which was so beautiful. We had helpers walking with us to ensure we were in safe hands and eased us back into being on a horse slowly. I certainly want to go back to have a proper lesson to learn how to control the horse again properly so I do not need to be lead.

Once back from here we got off our horses and got them ready to go back out into the field for the night. We got to walk them back to their fields, sorted out their food and finished a few jobs before our day was over.

It was so lovely being up close to the horses again and a real treat so a huge thanks to Joc for organising it for us. It certainly won’t be the last time I do it. x

An Unexpected Surprise

On Thursday 6th September I was looking forward to 2 pretty chilled days where I could sort the house and get on with wedding plans. But little did I know at 8am my name (alongside friend and founder of littlelifts charity, Oa) had been nominated for a chance to win a place on the BBC radio 2 vintage bus with Chris Evans for the following day.

I only discovered we had been nominated when the receptionist at the hospital said she had heard my name on the radio but by 2pm I hadn’t heard anything so I guessed we had not been chosen.

Roll on half hour and I received a very exciting phone call. Due to them not originally having our phone numbers they couldn’t offer us the nomination tickets however they finally tracked us down and offered us 2 tickets as there had been a set of tickets auctioned which couldn’t be used so they chose us to come along. We immediately said yes then the panic set in about how we would get there, where would we stay etc etc.

Only 3 hours later a small case had been packed and I met Oa at Norwich station where we began a very exciting 24 hours with a train down to London. We managed to track down a place to stay after kindly being offered a friends place and once there crashed for the night ready for our 6am start in the morning.

Up and dressed in the most vintage looking clothes we could find in our wardrobes at such short notice, we made our way to the BBC radio2 studios for 7.45am.

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On arrival we were offered a cuppa then within only a few minutes we were chatting to Jamie Oliver and Jack Black which was a pretty cool start to the day. Then we headed into the studio with Chris Evans where we watched him interview them live on the breakfast show. Actor John Simm joined in the line up and we were treated to 4 songs by Razorlight who were awesome. Not a bad beginning to the day and certainly something I am glad I got up for. We even got to taste some of Jamie Oliver’s Bread which was so yummy.

Then after the show had ended we were all taken onto a vintage bus which was to take us to the Goodwood revival event.

The journey was such fun. So much banter and laughter between everyone. We arrived finally about midday to a huge crowd gathered to see our arrival as Chris Evans drive the bus into the event.

Here we were treated like VIPS. We had a room set up for our lunch which we had access to all day. Our tickets for us in any area of the event, even places the general public couldn’t go and we had champagne alongside our 4 course lunch. Our room was track side so we could see the racing live whilst enjoying some wine in the sunshine.

After lunch, after some people waved some magic wands after finding out all about my Lauraslifeisforlivinglist, myself and Oa were treated to a drive around the racetrack in a vintage Jaguar which was a fabulous experience. Be car was beautiful.

Then afternoon tea awaited us on our return. We managed to have a wonder around too where we got access into the car paddock and saw some amazing cars on show.

I just want to give a huge shout out to all those who came on the bus with us as they helped to make it a day to remember. Everyone was so friendly and fun to be around. The chat flowed, the laughter continued all day and the kindness shared was amazing. You all helped make our experience complete.

We left Goodwood and headed back on the vintage bus to Chris Evans pub, the Mulberry Inn where we continued the fun with a few drinks before making our way to the train station for our journey back London.

It was mad to think just over 24 hours before we were only just finding out about the nomination. We had such fun and see so thankful for the experience.

Thank you to Andrea Jacob for nominating us in the first place!

Chris Evans and all the BBC radio 2 team for organising an amazing day out and inviting us along.

All the staff at Goodwood, especially Louise for making our visit to you one to remember and organising our ride in the car.

The other 18 lovely ladies and gents who so came along for the ride and made it such fun.

To Jamie Oliver, Jack Black, John simm and Razorlight as it was so brilliant meeting you all.

And of course Oa for coming with me and just being bloody awesome. I’m so pleased I got to have this experience with you. Xx

To see the full video of our day click here.

My #lauralifeisforlivinglist can be found here

A Huge Suprise

So like many other women, I from young age have thought I’d like to get married one day, wear a beautiful dress and say I do to a man I love. But at 25, after actually talking about the idea of this being a thing, both mine and Brad life was turned upside down with my cancer diagnosis and hasn’t really ever righted itself over the past 4.5 years. He has always said it may happen one day but was a bit anti the engagement thing and to be honest with everything we had gone through, the fact he was still by my side through my illness has been good enough for me (although secretly I hope it may still happen one day).

So it came as even more of a surprise when only last week, whilst in holiday in Corsica, he actually proposed. And not only proposed verbally…. He had a beautiful ring to give to me.

The day was our last day on holiday. It started out nice and chilled. I popped out to get some fresh pastries whilst brad made the tea and we sat and had breakfast in our little apartment. Then after we had got ready we headed down to the beach for a few hours of sunshine and swimming. I chose to read for a while before getting far to hot so we headed into the sea to cool off. Such beautiful, shallow and warm waters meant we swam about for some time. I decided I was going to head back on for the beach but as I was about to leave the sea brad said to stay in a bit longer as it was so nice. Nothing out of the norm. Then a few minutes he pulled me in for a hug. We chatted and I happened to mentioned how nice the week had been and how relaxed we both were. He agreed with me and said “what would make it even better would be if you would become my wife.” He then got down on one knee in the water, pulled out a gorgoeus ring and asked me to marry him. I was in shock but beaming from ear to ear. I think I said something along the lines of “are you sure” of which he replied of course. I SAID YES!! And then I think I asked if it was insured as he was waving it around in the sea so I was scared it would get lost. I quickly put it on my finger and carried on smiling as we spent the next 15 min (it seemed a lot longer) hugging, kissing and taking. He apparently had the ring in his pocket all holiday just waiting for the right moment to come along and at last it did.

It was the perfect proposal. Unplanned, personal, romantic, very us and a complete surprise. I loved it and love him and cannot wait to get married.

We celebrated with a lovely dinner that evening and look forward to sharing our wedding planning journey with you all soon too.

I shall leave you with a few picture from our

The ring is a diamond solitaire set in an open tulip platinum setting from Winsor Bishop in Norwich.

Afternoon Tea at Claridges

When making my list Claridges was one of the first ones I thought of doing as firstly I love afternoon tea and secondly I love any occasion to get dressed up and have a girly day. And when I told people about my list the group of gorgeous girls who I met through having breast cancer decided it was one of the activities they would love to do with me. These are Oa, Claire, Lorna and Becky.

Then I was contacted by Amanda and Nick, the founders of The Rachel Lane Fund and siblings of the late Rachel Lane who sadly passed away in 2012 from breast cancer at only 27. They wanted to help me complete one of my tasks and suggested sending me to the afternoon tea. Knowing the girls had also gone through primary breast cancer also and have helped me deal with my secondary diagnoses by being the most amazing support they agreed to send us all together for a girls day out.

A date was sorted months ago and left us with something amazing to look forward and something which we were could get very excited about.

Coming up to the 6th July we had many discussions about the day however although we had agreed we would get dressed up we certainly hasn’t mentioned what sort so when we all arrived at Norwich Train station in floral dresses we look like we had properly planned our outfits.

Not only did we have train tickets, we had been treated to first class which was a fabulous way to travel. I took some champers with me to open on route which started the day off well.

We arrived in London a couple of hours earlier than our afternoon tea time so we popped into Selfridges to have a look around at all the unaffordable things and enjoyed a few tasters of the chocolates in the food hall.

Then onto Claridges and of course we had to have some photos outside the entrance before we went in. Inside it is gorgeous. As it was also Wimbledon time all the flower displays were purple, white and green with some huge hydrangeas (my favourite) which were so beautiful and made a huge impact in the entrance lobby. We were greated by one of the friendly staff and shown to our table which was in a great spot. Perfect for people watching and to see the amazing centre display of flowers.

Our waitress and all the other staff were lovely. They couldn’t have done more for us. We had a cold glass of champagne to begin with whilst we waited for our sandwiches and enjoyed the soft music which serenaded us all afternoon.

The sandwiches were amazing. The chicken ones were a huge favourite but all were such yummy flavours. Second course was strawberries and cream (you must see the video to see how amazing this was), then we had scones with cream and jam, and finally some yummy cakes and pastries. So much food but all so yummy. The tea choice was also huge too so plenty to try. We were there over 3.5 hours and felt so relaxed the whole time. Such a perfect day.

Myself and Oa even managed to get a tour of the ball rooms, restaurants and even the in-house florist after going on a little explore and getting chatting to one of the staff. After he learnt the reason behind our visit to Claridges he also arranged for me to be given a bouquet of flowers from their florist which was such a lovely touch and made me feel very special. And as we were about to leave we were all presented with a box of handmade chocolates to take home with us. Again a lovely touch which we were not not expecting.

All in all it was the most wonderful day with wonderful friends and we all had the biggest smiles on our faces all the way home.

I have included a video of our day here – Claridges.

Huge thank you to the Rachel Lane Fund for making it happen and thank you to Oa, Claire, Becky and Lorna for coming with me. Xx

Feeding baby lambs

This was a bit of a spontaneous one as I had presumed I have missed the lambing season this year but having a day out with my bestie and her little boy we went to Wroxham Barns and got the chance to see the baby lambs and help feed them. They were a few months old so not tiny tiny but it was a lovely experience and means I can out another tick on my list.

Almost half way though now which is very exciting.

The Opera

Everyone who knows me knows that I love the theatre especially musicals and I took a keen interest in taking part in shows when I was younger. So I surprised myself when I was writing my list as the one thing I have never seen on stage before was the Opera.

So it went on my list. And to be more specific I really wanted to see one at the Royal Opera House to make it even more special.

As I celebrated a big birthday this year I was surprised by my uncle and auntie with tickets to go and see La Boheme at the Royal Opera House with dinner there too. It was such a special treat and such a lovely thing to do.

The setting was incredible. Such a stunning building both inside and out and the theatre itself was beautiful. The food there was very tasty with us having canapes, starter and a main before the show started and pudding with champagne in the interval.

And what a show. It was a bit of a depressing story line and slightly odd being set in winter with fake snow when it was so hot outside however the singer’s voices were so captivating they had me glued from the first word. We had amazing seats with a fabulous view of both the stage and the orchestra which I also loved to watch and amazing to see such huge amounts of talent in one room and a great introduction to the opera. It certainly won’t be the last time I see one.

Ed Sheeran in concert

Sometimes things come up which are not on my list but are too bloody brilliant to not blog about. And if it counts as me living life then surely it’s counts to add a post about.

So on Thursday 14th June myself and my friend Kathryn went to Wembley stadium to watch Ed Sheeran perform and it was fantastic.

We drove to Stratford to park and tubed across London to the hotel we had booked only a few miles from Wembley where we freshened up and polished off several gin and tonics (Kathryn had got us a 10 pack of pre made up cans which went down a treat) then once sorted we left for the stadium. Unfortunately our plan to find proper food in a restaurant back fired as it was also everyone else’s plan so we ended up in Tescos with a picnic selection of sandwiches, carrot sticks, chocolate and of course more gin and sat outside the stadium to eat.

We finally went in to see the very end of the first support act…James Lawson and as we had tickets for the standing pitch, we found a space to sit on the floor to save my little legs.

Anne Marie then came on as the main support act who was brilliant. She had so much energy and even with a stadium only half full at this point she got the crowd singing and dancing around.

Ed finally made an appearance at 8.45 opening the show with Castle on a Hill which we almost missed being stuck in a toilet queue (there are never enough womens toilets anywhere). But we made it before the song ended and found a spot to plant ourselves for the rest of the evening.

Considering he is a one man band he was excellent. He knows how to work an audience and he played all the best stuff. The way he builds and layers music is incredible and seeing him live was such an experience. I did manage to have a dance and although we were fairly far back we could see him, just!

The night ended with 2 encores ending on ‘ you need me, I don’t need you.’ And both were with as much energy as the first song.

Happy and smiling we headed back to the hotel which took a while. But we finally made it to bed. My feet were on fire (having neuropathy makes them so bad) but it was so totally worth it.

Thanks for Kathryn for joining me for the fun and thanks to Ed for an amazing concert.

Chelsea Flower Show

Every year I watch the RHS Chelsea Flower Show thinking I would love to go but every year I look too late and either can’t get tickets or I completely miss it until it’s on TV. And so it was added to my list to be sure I got my arse in gear and went.

I brought tickets many months ago when they were the first price tickets (closer to the event the price increases a lot) after a friend said she was available to come with me. It was great to finally have it booked and to look forward to.

Fast forward to Saturday 26th May and I woke earlier than I had in weeks. Mornings are not my thing so getting out of bed at 5.30am was hard but the excitement of the day kept me going. I left Norwich to pick Rosie up on route and off we went to London. I decided to drive as trains on a bank holiday are always useless so parked at Stratford then continued the rest of the way by tube arriving about 10.30am.

On arrival the sun came out and it turned out to be an extremely hot day. Walking around the grounds, with plenty of time on our hands so we didn’t feel rushed. There was so much to see including many little stalls with beautiful interior decorations, paintings, clothing and jewellery. So much I could have brought had my purse allowed plus the fact what ever we brought we would have to carry home which limited us somewhat.

We took a picnic and a couple of little bottles of prosecco to enjoy when we needed a sit down which saved us having to buy the expensive food whilst there although we did treat ourselves to some very yummy ice cream towards the end of the day.

The show gardens were fantastic. I can’t believe they are made up just for the show and pulled down again soon after. They look like years of dedication and hard work but alas these gardeners are just artists in their field. All the buds perfectly in bloom, the trees green and the ideas fresh.

There is also a huge tent area featuring almost all types of flowers you can ever imagine in every colourway possible. And again even flowers out of season seem to be sat there looking blooming gorgeous!

Due to it being the last day they have a big sell off of all the flowers at the end of the day meaning we choose to buy a bunch of flowers to take home with us. Even this was hard to carry back as it was huge and for just a £5 I couldn’t go wrong.

We finally left the grounds around 5pm with tired legs, painful feet and extremely exhausted but with smiles on our faces and lots of beautiful photos on our phones.

Definitely worth a visit at least once in a lifetime.

Video of our day here….

Laura x

Partying into my 30’s

Wow well what a weekend of celebrations. It’s been a long time coming but I’m finally now 30 and I intend to make my 30’s something to remember.

As most of you are aware, a diagnoses with cancer kind of got in the way of life since 25. And therefore sent me on a totally different path in life which I had not factored into my plan. However here I am, still alive and still very much living life to the full as much as my battered body will allow me to. And celebrating this important milestone was so important to me.

But I have been thoroughly spoilt. I was only expecting prehaps the odd bottle of bubbles and some chocolates however I spent a good time Sunday afternoon opening my mound of pressies from loved ones consisting of some many lovely things from jewellery to vouchers, home bits, to champagne and everything in between. And the amount of cards and kind words put a few tears into my eyes. I feel very lucky to have so many lovely people in my life. And each one is very special to me.

So back to what I got up to. Well on my birthday (12th) Brad surprised me with a trip to Cambridge with a private punt (he even remembered the bubbles and glasses) then he had booked a lovely restaurant for dinner by the river and a stay over in a hotel. It was a relaxing day and lovelt to spend quality time together.

Then Saturday brought lots of fun and the big celebrations.

Firstly lunch at the Stoke Mill with the family. It was somewhere I have wanted to go to for a while and it lived up to expectations.

Beautiful food, a private room just for us and even the sun came out for some photos later.

And then there was the evening… the party!

I booked the venue (The Fat Percy) a long time ago and although I liked it I had doubts if it was the right place. But it was fantastic. Perfect size, perfect look and very friendly staff.

I also booked a singer, Jasmine Honey Banks, after seeing her at an event I went to. And I’m so glad I did. She was amazing and made the night even better than it would have been. The songs were brilliant and she got everyone dancing.

And of course I must mention my friend Emily who took control of the organising for me. She decorated the room beautifully (helped by brad), organised the perfect nibbles for the night and got my friends and family involved in things where she needed. She made an amazing post box with photos on of all my friends and even a little memories book for people to write in.

And my sister Hannah made the yummiest, chocolate covered cake ever.

But it was having all my friends and family in the same room together which made it very special. And everyone was smiling, laughing, dancing, drinking and most importantly living. Even my 88 year old gran was still on the dance floor until almost the very end.

If you have any more photos or videos can you please send them over.

Thank you to all who came and made my birthday amazing. I love you all xxx