In case you're new, or have never interacted with me on social media, I BLOODY LOVE SPACE, ME. 

Introvert designs FTW, NASA. 

Space is not only fascinating, beautiful and educational;  it gives you great perspective about life, who you are on this planet, and the size of this planet. It makes me think we really should all be pulling together, not forcing ourselves apart. There are people orbiting the earth every 90 minutes in a science lab RIGHT NOW ABOVE YOUR HEAD and we're pissing about whinging about boys or twitter likes, or dress sizes. 

Fuck that noise, get some perspective. Get some space. 

Sit under a Saturn V or lay under the butt of a Space Shuttle, you quickly realise how tiny you really are. 

Saturn V @ Kennedy Space Center, FL

Space Shuttle Discovery @ Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, VA 

(Photo credit to my official #spacetours photographer: Martin Greaves)
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Life Happens

When you give up big things in your life you wonder how you're ever going to fill the void that they leave behind. This is true of so many things; relationships, diet culture, social media - when they've taken up so much of your time what happens to the void left behind when they're gone? 

The answer is always the same, the void isn't left hanging there. In fact there isn't even a void, the space is instantly filled up with other things.

I've realised this is also the case with blogging. I stopped writing and the void got filled with life happening. 

Life is happening, though. At a fast pace. It's ridiculous and fun. I wouldn't want it any other way right now. I am completely happy. 

I'm sure I'll have something to write about again in the future, I just can't commit to what or when that will be. The blog stays, though. I don't want to lose my creative outlet altogether. After all, girl is always entitled to change her mind. 

I'm still somewhat active on Twitter and Instagram, you can find me there if you'd like to. Otherwise, I'll catch you later and thanks for reading. 

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Doctor Who: BFI & Radio Times Television Festival

As part of the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, I went to the Doctor Who panel a couple of weekends back.

With Executive Producer for the show, Brian Minchin and what was advertised as cast members (but with no confirmed names). This is quite usual, as when I went to the Yonderland S3 launch at the BFI we were due to have a few members of the cast but ended up with a full-house. 

Doctor Who is going through a regeneration this year, in every sense; there's two new companions onboard (Pearl Mackie and Matt Lucas) and in the near future a new writer taking over (Chris Chibnall of Broadchurch fame) and a new Doctor soon to be at the TARDIS helm (place your bets; Kris Marshall is current favourite at the time of writing), so I expected this event to be more than just a chat about the new series and some previews of the epsiodes to come (due to air a week after this panel happened). 

Doctor Who panels can always be a bit cloak-and-dagger, though. They tend to never give much away (I was at the panel at DWF in which Sarah Dollard spoke in great depth about her trap streets episode without giving away which character she had to kill off in the episode, and she was so tactful) but give enough away to let you know something is going on. Anything can happen, basically. You take a gamble when you book these tickets as to what you're going to get.

But that's all part of the fun, innit?

On the day, Brian was joined by Stephen Moffat, Pearl Mackie and, Mister crushed-velvet-jacket himself, Peter Capaldi.

We were treated to an IMAX viewing of the latest trailer and some scenes from the first episode of series 10, all designed to give us a good introduction to Bill and the relationship she develops with The Doctor.

It was clear from the discussion that series 10 is another fresh start. A new companion always seems to trigger that, Moffatt said it was the closest in feeling to 'Rose' of all the new companion episodes to date. I'm excited about that. I love a new companion episode as much as I love a new Doctor one, and I'm already pretty fond of Bill, so I can't wait to see her how character plays out this series.

Obviously, we're also saying goodbye to Peter this series (on the Sunday I attended this panel he'd just finished filming the series on Friday) and he did seem a little subdued. I assume it was mostly due to sitting in a dark room talking about Doctor Who for the millionth time, but I guess you can read into it as much as you wish. One thing he did do (which I've noticed in previous panels as well) is that he comes alive the Q&A sessions with the audience. That man loves his job and the relationship the fandom has with the show, and as soon as someone asked a question about Old Who he was off talking about Patrick Troughton. Bless him, he's still just as big a fan as he always was.

And yes, someone asked about the new Doctor and Peter played the pronoun game very well; 'they'll have the best job in the world' and so on. Moffat spoke honestly about spoilers being revealed (how they were very cloak-and-dagger about things last series, despite him being great at leaving production notes on the First Great Western line) and that this series they've decided just to let things roll (I immediately let this mean that if the new Doctor announcement gets leaked, it's probably accurate, like when bets stopped being taken on Capaldi back in 2013).

So, we didn't get all the gossip we really wanted, but we got to meet Pearl, and that was fantastic. Personally, I love a new companion episode as it's like having a refresh button on the show - anyone can jump in at that episode and learn who the Doctor is and enjoy the series from start to finish without getting too hung up of canon (albeit the first episode of series 10 turned out to be littered with in-jokes, but they weren't too obvious).

Let's see how the series progresses, but for this one, I am hopeful. At least we know we're in for a dramatic ending!

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The April Round-Up

Don't get me wrong, I've done a lot of things this month (as per) but the Science March was definitely one of the highlights of April.

I didn't expect it to be a massive march, I designed a very easy sign (which my friend kindly took  over the engineering side for me, did an excellent job and did it with more ease than I would have in three weeks, coz powertools) and turned up at South Kensington hoping for the best. Then so did another good 10,000 people with awesome signs. Okay, we didn't have the catchiest of chants (albeit the peer review one made me laugh so hard) but we had a calm, peaceful, fun march and a great rally in Parliament Square.

Any excuse for some Queen Gillian on my part, right?

Other stuff I've done this month includes having a quick jolly to Hull for work and getting to sneak in a dinner date with my best friend:

and going to Secret Cinema's Moulin Rouge and it was so great to see people dressed like this wandering in and out of a tube station:

I know Secret Cinema seems like a massive outlay (I think these tickets were around £70) but I promise that it's worth it. I spent an evening in France and the Moulin Rouge, then got to watch the film and singalong, plus dance the night away afterwards (hurray for night tubes, they're game changers for London).

I went to Edinburgh very briefly to see Public Service Broadcasting play at Usher Hall.

It was nice to be in Edinburgh and not rushing around to festival venues, I managed to go have a whole afternoon exploring the castle and drink a lot of nice craft beer (so maybe some things carry over from festival time).

At home we've been working on making our garden function for the summer. This means adding more functions than just hanging laundry out, it means tidying it up for garden furniture and growing some vegetables.

I might kill everything, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I've been doing a fair bit of entertainment absorbing. Of course Doctor Who started, and I went to a panel at the BFI about it the week before the new series aired (more on that next week).

All the best people have pots of sonic screwdrivers

I demolished the entire S-Town podcast, and the last series of Broadchurch and binged the entire series of Girlboss in a day on Netflix ... because what else are Sundays for?! I did spare some time to have another declutter and a restock on my eBay store too. Minimalism in still making me money, hooray.

I've had a really annoying cold for the last week or so which sucked every bit of energy out of me, so there's been no bike rides for a bit. I'm hoping this week that as it tails off (and I get back on my vitamin B complex) my energy will come back and I'll be able to get back out pedalling.

I'm writing this on the Sunday evening before the month ends because this week I have left no gaps in my schedule; a meet with one of my internet friends, a trip to the theatre (twice in week coming up, burn that disposable income, missy!) a night out with work, a day at a brewery taproom and a catch up with my cousin.

Kinda thankful I get Monday off for the bank holiday!

See you next month, kids. Eurovision and convention season awaits!

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Spoiler-free!)

Let me paint you a picture. It's November 2015 and I am on holiday in Florence. Over breakfast one morning my friend asks me if I've bought tickets to go see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child yet. 'No', I say, 'is it hard to get tickets?'.

When my friend eventually stopped laughing, I went back to my hotel room, fired up my iPad and commenced the search for tickets. I wasn't in any great rush, and when I saw tickets were available around my birthday, I bought them.

Oh, not for my birthday 2016. Hell no. We're talking 2017. This years birthday celebration was 15 months in the making. 

And so, for my 38th birthday, I went to go see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, parts one & two. Part one on Thursday night and part two on Friday night.

I'm not a monster, so this post is totally spoiler-free, what I am going to do is give you some tips for when you go see the plays, because you should do. If you're a Potter nerd, you have to. You know when you went to watch Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in the cinema last year and you felt like you got a big hug because you'd missed this world so much? It's that but with thousands of other people in the room, sat next to you, happy to start conversations about the Potter fandom and what house you got sorted into. It's like a convention in a theatre.

(EDIT: Oh god, this was such a good birthday treat, thorough pat on the back for 2015 Alex.)

Having spoken to a couple of people who have already seen the play, I knew the basics. Arrive early, you will need to be in your seat 15 minutes before curtain up and if you want merch, get there early. However, I'm going to expand on all these points because there's a bit more to it than that. 

Arrive Early 

Doors open at 6.30pm but you can start queuing to get in the doors from around 5.45pm. The queue will run down the right hand side as you look at the front of the theatre. Handily, there are two pubs opposite the theatre (The Cambridge and The Spice of Life), I recommend The Spice of Life as you can look out of the window and wait to see the queue forming before leaving your pint and joining the queue. They also do really nice food in there and the ladies toilets are next to the side door, which exits right into the theatre queue (also useful if you're in the queue and desperate to pee). The doors will not open until 6.30pm though, and only half the queue is under the cover of the theatre awnings, so bear that in mind if England is being English with the weather and it's chucking it down with rain.


This is why you're queuing. You cannot set foot in the theatre without a ticket because the first thing you see is merchandise and the merch contains spoilers. Parts one & two both have different merch and they're only for sale during each of the relevant parts. So if you spot something you want for Part one,  BUY IT. By the time Part two happens, it won't be there (yes, even if you see both plays on the same day, you have to leave the theatre between shows and the merch switches). Merch is also on limited quantities to what is there in the shop on the day, so when it's gone, you've missed your chance. I was in the first 15 people in the doors each day and therefore had no trouble getting what I wanted to buy, but things go fast. By the time the play is over, it's slim pickings. 

Also, some tills are cash only, so make sure you ask before you get things rung through. 

You also can get one of these badges as you leave the theatre, they're free and only available at the end of Part One, so make sure you look for the people with the baskets as you're leaving through the main doors.

In addition, programmes are a very reasonable £5.

Make Friends

Everyone is excited as you are so it's easy to strike up a conversation with the people around you. I was sat next to two ladies on holiday from California and Virgina, one of which was there for her birthday celebration (because all be best people are born in March, obvs), and sat behind a mum and daughter on Spring Break from Florida. If they've bought tickets the same way you have, you'll be sat with them for 6 or so hours that day, or you'll be seeing them again tomorrow night, so have a chat. Actually, do this in the queue as well. I spoke to many tourists from the US that were under the impression that the Studio Tours in Watford were 4 hours away and had decided not to go based on that bad information. (Note: it takes 25 minutes to get to Watford Junction from London Euston and the bus to get to the Studios is free from there, and only takes about 15-20 minutes, it's easily doable in a day from anywhere in London, please don't miss out!)  

Go to the Stage Door afterwards

It always seems strange to me that stage doors for shows in London can be so quiet when there's no big names in the production. Not only is this a great way to meet the cast and get your programme signed, it's a great opportunity to tell the cast how much you enjoyed the show, which I'm sure they never tire of hearing.

The guy playing Albus was the most enthusiastic stage-door-signer ever, when I told him how much I enjoyed the plays and it must be the best job he could have he responded with 'I get to be a wizard every time, my job is great!'. Right on. 

Some of the cast will do selfies, some won't. I'm more of an autograph and a chat gal, anyway. I told the actor playing Hermione that she was my new favourite Hermione and she genuinely lit up. This cast love their job; if you get chance go tell them what you thought of the show, they seems genuinely happy to stand and sign, chat and pose for selfies for as long as they are able to.

The House of MinaLima

Word is slowly spreading about this little place on Greek Street (just behind the theatre), which is an exhibition and shop of the graphic art of the Harry Potter films. Free entry, anyone can wonder in and you will want to wander in as it's so colourful. You know the Marauders Map? These are the folks who designed it. 

It's a nice stop off point if you want something to do between the shows if you're seeing them all on one day, or I went in the afternoon on Friday to get me in the mood. 

It's open from 12pm to 7pm every day. Even if you're just in London for a jolly, go and have a look around.

It's also right next door to Maison Bertaux, who do most excellent tea and cakes. 


Unless you manage to get some on release, you might have some trouble here. There's a returns queue that you can join at the theatre on the day that allocate returns on a first come-first served basis but you will pay face value for them. Remember the birthday holiday ladies from the US? They paid £400 for their tickets for the two nights. If you want them, you can get them, but my gosh, you will pay for them.

But there's also the Friday Forty lottery, which is helpful if you're a little more flexible. Every Friday at 1pm, the website release 40 tickets for every performance over the following week at £40 (£20 per part). You're limited to buying two, and you can only buy them on the website on Fridays at 1pm. It's worth bookmarking this link if you want to have a go at this.

Honestly, I waited 15 months to see these plays and I didn't mind at all. It was worth it. 

Obviously, I had a great time seeing these shows and loved them. The only way I've been able to describe them to people is it's like watching brilliant West End Theatre with Vegas-level magic making it happen in front of you. It can't be explained well and it can't be imagined (albeit we all tried when reading the script but nope, you can't). The cast are all wonderful, the production is incredible and it was worth every penny and every day of waiting. 

No spoilers, as agreed, but I'll tell you one thing, and it's something I never thought I'd say ... 

... I frigging love the Malfoys. 

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The March Round-Up

Birthday month is always a busy one, and this one was no exception!

Born on St. Patrick's Day, therefore Guinness is a birthday essential

It started well enough, with a visit to the Beavertown tap room to drink a lot of their beers with my friends (after a hard morning of nerding in Forbidden Planet with the girls):

I can't help but think that putting the Untappd app on my phone has made drinking beer a bit like a game of Pokemon now. 

I went to the Women of the World festival, to see Queen Gillian, which I told you all about in this post. 

I went to see the brilliant Pippa Evans at Soho Theatre, who was amazing. She's very funny, very quick, very musical  and very British. 

The day after I went to breakfast club at Ping Coombe's restaurant Chi Kitchen

I've developed a heavy addiction to Malaysian sweet coffee after that brunch. 

I started #BirthdayWeek at Book Slam at the Wellcome Collection

I bought myself Elements of the Periodic Table Top Trumps that night. Taking my gaming to a whole new level of nerd. 

I visited to Royal Academy of Arts to see the America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930's exhibit, because I love me some Edward Hopper and I wanted to finally see this Grant Wood piece:

When I was in Chicago in 2014 it was on loan, so I soon as I discovered it was in London I ran to see it. 

I saw Derren Brown's new-ish show, which is a bit of a mash-up of his previous UK shows, as he's cultivating a show to take to the US next month: 

And, most importantly, I finally got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 & 2.

I've got a whole post coming dedicated to this, which will contain NO SPOILERS, so look out for that next month.

I got SO MANY amazing birthday gifts. I had TWO signed books gifted to me (Buzz Aldrin and Kevin Smith), I got twinkly lights, tshirts, jewellery with stars on, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and graphic novels about physicists. I can't believe how lucky I was to get so many 'me' things. My friends know me incredibly well.

Honourable mention for my OHP birthday card. This is what happens when you go see Festival of the Spoken Nerd, your friend (Martin) mentions that he still has an OHP and you decide to lay down a gauntlet for a birthday card to be created for you (when will my friends learn that if you give in to my requests you enable my behaviour further?)

After birthday, things calmed down a bit. I did some catch ups with friends that I've not seen for a few months, went on a team night out with work to a Brazilian rodizio (and felt so full that eating went out of the window for a couple of days afterwards) and went to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again, as it needed a second watch on a big screen (and it was even better than the first). 

I've been doing great swims and lots of cycles (maximising the lack of gym membership spending). Now the evenings are lighter I'm hoping to get out on Pendletonpops (yes, my bike has a name) a lot more, weather permitting.

I seem to have gained my road confidence back and my cycling distances have been slowly creeping up. Swimming is going great guns, I'll be swimming a mile per session before I know it! 

March has flown by. I can see why but I'm never surprised when it does. I love March. I love my birthday, I love the clocks changing, I love the daylight and the sunshine, I love filling my home with daffodils, I love thinking about the summer ahead and all things coming up this year.

Looking ahead to April is exciting because I've given myself an extended Easter break this year, with six whole days off, WOOHOO! I've got Secret Cinema's Moulin Rouge to look forward to (and a costume to finish), a Doctor Who BFI event before the new series airs, Yuri's Night celebrations and more theatre. And Malteser Bunnies, obvs. 

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