Remember back in November when I said I’d be back to see Tool ASAP? Well, I’m a woman of my word.

When Tool announced their Western USA tour dates for 2016, I couldn’t resist a sneaky weekend to visit my friends in San Diego to coincide with their San Diego date (9th January 2016 at Viejas Arena), haha!

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I had no luck getting a ticket, they sold out pretty quickly, and were straight on Stubhub, some even up for thousands of dollars! But I managed to call in a favour which was lucky since I’d already booked my (very cheap!) flights.

3 Teeth, a band completely new to me, opened. And they were awesome. I’d not heard of them before they were picked by Maynard to accompany Tool on tour (allegedly he met 3 Teeths vocalist at a wedding and they became friends), but I will definitely give them more attention from now on! Their sound is quite dark, industrial, and interestingly they have no bassist – using keys and samples to fill the gaps. Definitely worth checking out.

Just like at Monster Mash festival, which I attended last Halloween, Primus joined Tool on this tour. I think they’re a good warm up for Tool really, although I would have been interested in seeing a different band rather than the same combination again. And I guess the focus on the bass with Primus was a nice contrast to the bassless 3 Teeth!

Yet again, Primus brought the giant mushrooms on stage with them, haha! They also made good use of the huge video screen behind them, showing home movies, random animations, and other videos during their set. For ‘Mr Krinkle’ Les Claypool wore a pig mask – I did hear he did that for Monster Mash too, but I missed it that time.

Since seeing them at Monster Mash, I’ve listened to a lot more Primus and I enjoyed their set a lot more this time around. Now knowing their back catalogue a bit better I can tell you that they mostly played really old stuff, I think all but one song was before 1995s ‘Tales From The Punchbowl’. They closed with one of my favourites of theirs – ‘Jerry Was A Race Car Driver’. Pretty sure this was the same setlist as at Monster Mash? If not, it was VERY similar.

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So, Tool. Another flashback to Monster Mash, since they opened with Led Zeppelins ‘No Quarter’ again. And the deja vu carried on for the rest of the show – the setlist was EXACTLY THE SAME. Oh, except this time they missed out ‘Ions’. I mean I had heard that they don’t vary their setlists much, but really?

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I know I sound like I’m complaining, but lets face it, I was there for the experience and I can never hear anything Tool do enough times so I was still a happy bunny. I can’t remember if I mentioned this in my Monster Mash post actually, but both times they did play some new material, which has the working title ‘Descending’. I liked it.

Unlike Monster Mash, this time we were treated to an elaborate laser light show – seriously, I have never seen lights so perfectly timed to the music. When you add this to the incredible sound, intricate artwork and video concepts, it was pretty much the perfect show. They may be samey, but Tool have their performance perfected. And what Tool fan really cares about samey?

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So chances are I might go back to the States for Tool again in the not too distant future, who knows. Although I’d much rather they come to London, it’s a bit easier on my bank balance.

L xx

All photos my own (yes, they suck, I was caught in the moment!)

 

Last time I was in California, in October, I meant to visit the (now closed) Donut Bar in Orange County, because I’d heard great things, but didn’t get round to it. I hadn’t realised there was another (the original) Donut Bar in San Diego so was crazy happy when my friends took me there for breakfast donuts!

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Donut Bar has a menu which changes daily, and is written on a chalkboard at the shopfront (it’s also uploaded daily onto their Facebook page).

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They do sell out though, and queues can be long, so it’s best to get there early! Luckily it wasn’t too busy for us on a Friday morning, but I am told it gets pretty bad! You can place a order here to pickup the next day though.

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On the day I visited the menu was quite varied, featuring everything from a basic $1 ring donut to a $5 Monte Cristo (if you don’t know what a Monte Cristo is, it’s a deep fried ham and cheese sandwich – now imagine that in donut form…).

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I was surprised at how Vegan friendly Donut Bar was – they had four Vegan options which were clearly marked. There was a basic ring, a creme brulee, an apple fritter, and the one I went for – the Strawberry Split. At $4 this spectacular donut, I’m told, is one of the ones that put Donut Bar on the map. Seriously, look at it. It’s ginormous, and delicious, and I would never have guessed it was Vegan. I’m trying to find out what the cream substitute is but so far I’ve not had any luck.

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Another donut, I just have to mention is the Big Poppa Tart Donut. Costing $4, the Big Poppa Tart weighs in at a huge 1lb, and has a whole pop tart in the centre. On the day I visited three flavours were available – S’Mores, Strawberry and Blueberry. Try this one heated up…

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Next time I want to try the Jim Beam Maple Bourbon…

Donut Bar also have an outlet in San Diego airport Terminal 2, and I may have had a takeaway box for the plane…

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L xx

All photos my own.

 

Donut Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As an animal lover my visit to see the sea lions at La Jolla Cove was hands down my highlight from San Diego this time around. And being there as the sun went down made it especially magical.

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La Jolla (pronounced La Hoya – it means ‘the jewel’ in Spanish) Cove is part of La Jolla Underwater Park, a marine refuge area.

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La Jolla Cove really is beautiful. It’s a popular spot for swimming and snorkelling because the high cliffs mean there is rarely high surf. There was on my visit mind you, as San Diego was recovering from El Niño (a strong band of warm water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator increasing the likelihood of rain storms), and there were plenty of surfers taking advantage of it!

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The small cove inside the cliffs has a white sandy beach, and you can often find sea lions there, or on the rocks. The cove was originally meant as a protected swimming area for children, but it attracted the local wildlife.

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lajolla4There does seem to be an ongoing argument as to whether the sea lions should be removed as they’re apparantly multiplying quite rapidly. Personally, I’m on the side of the sea lions – why mess with nature just so kids can go swimming?

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Above the cliffs is a lovely big grassy area, the perfect picnic spot. I definitely plan on returning to La Jolla when the weather is a bit better.

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There is so much more to see and do there than just observe the sea lions, so watch this space!

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L xx

All photos my own.

 

I actually didn’t eat a lot – not for me at least! This may have something to do with a terrible hangover I had on day two…

Day One

I arrived at Gare Du Nord station at about 10.15, and was starving, so we just went to a little cafe opposite – I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called!

I just had a croissant (delicious) and the BEST HOT CHOCOLATE I’VE HAD IN MY LIFE. I think this cafe will definitely see me again.

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We then headed to Hard Rock Cafe for an early lunch. I do like Hard Rock Cafes, and I’ve visited them in a lot of different countries. I usually prefer to find local gems, but sometimes it’s good to go for something familiar that you know you’ll enjoy. I normally like their cocktails, but I didn’t want to start too early, so I didn’t indulge this time.

Both myself and Chloe went for a starter as a main – the Tupelo Chicken Tenders. They’re normally served with mustard or hickory barbecue but we were awkward and asked for the Heavy Metal sauce instead. This sauce is seriously SO GOOD.

I went for a side of the parmesan fries with garlic aioli. Chloe had the biggest side salad known to man. It was a good meal.

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After dropping my bag off at Chloe’s adorable apartment, we hit the touristy spot of Montmartre after research led us to some rock bars in the area. It seemed most things in Paris were closed on Mondays, at least until later on, and a few of the bars we looked for were closed down permanently. We finally found a promising one, but went for some dinner to kill some time.

When in Paris, there are some things you just have to eat. Steak tartare is one of them. We were seriously picky about where we had dinner. We left the first cafe because it didn’t seem clean. We left the second because a Yelp review mentioned insects. And we finally settled on one down one of the shopping streets, Le Saint Jean, because it seemed to have a lot of locals in, which is always a good sign.

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We also saw the cutest thing, check out this dog at the counter!

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After dinner we finally found an open rock bar – Rock & Roll Circus. I loved it. Happy Hour was 6-8pm, and had 3.50 caipirinhas. Strong caipirinhas. And we had too many. Quite a few too many. Oops.

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Seriously though, if you’re looking for a dive bar with good music (of the heavier persuasion, you know my taste by now) and well priced generously poured drinks, this is your place.

Day Two

Well, this is embarrassing. Day One ended on an eventful note with a lot more alcohol so Day Two was a lazy hangover day! We did go to a local supermarket in Jourdain to get comfort food – mine was in the form of speck (Austrian ham) and some amazing bread from a little bakery. I also had this delicious ‘chocolate snail’.

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Day Three

Things got a lot better on Day Three. We started with a Burger King at the metro station (which I didn’t photograph- but I had an XL Bacon Cheese) before we headed off to Versailles.

At the Château de Versailles I was excited to find a branch of Angelina and even though I wasn’t hungry, I had to have cake there!

We shared some macaroons in dark chocolate, pistachio, caramel and blackcurrant.

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And I went for the festive version of Angelinas signature patisserie, the Mont Blanc in yule log form.

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To drink I went for their famous Iced Chocolate L’Africain. Never again, it was the richest, most chocolatey thing I have ever drunk. I left most of it.

Before I got my Eurostar back to London, we had a late dinner at a brasserie opposite Gare Du Nord, La Maison Blanche. Time for two more typically French dishes – Chloe had the French onion soup and I had rare steak.

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The food was really good, not badly priced and service was fantastic. I’d definitely go back if I’m hungry and need to kill some time pre-departure.

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And after that, it was back to London for me! I’ve decided that, with Eurostars being so cheap (my return ticket from St Pancras was less than £70!) I need to go to Paris more often, so expect more posts like these!

L xx

All photos my own.

People always ask me what I enjoy most about blogging – they usually expect ‘free stuff’ to be the answer. I’m not going to lie, you do get a fair few products thrown your way, but for me it’s the social side that I love. I’ve had so many opportunities to meet people and attend events and enjoy experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

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A recent last minute Thursday night out with Three Mobile was the perfect example. It was my first time working with the brand, and I really hope to again, as I had so much fun! Three had arranged a little tour of Camden Roundhouse for us with the Joe Strummer Foundation, followed by a private gig at The Monarch with Lyza Jane and Bless. Oh and some food and too many Desperados, haha! Sounds like my kind of event, right?

This is going to be a bit of a long post I’m afraid, as I have so much to say about the evening!

The Joe Strummer Foundation

Okay, first things first – if you aren’t sure who Joe Strummer is, he’s a British musician most well known for being the co-founder, rhythm guitarist, lyricist and lead vocalist of the Clash. Shortly after his death in 2002, the Joe Strummer Foundation (also known as Strummerville), a non-profit organisation, was established by his wife, Lucinda Garland, with the main purpose to reflect Joe’s contribution to music by supporting aspiring musicians and funding projects worldwide which create social mobility through music. You can read a little more about their objectives here.

Strummerville have so many interesting projects worldwide, and have some cool events – including a couple of gigs coming up in collaboration with Dr Martens (the London date is headlined by a band I love, Bury Tomorrow).

Roundhouse Studios

As you can imagine, I’ve been to the Roundhouse more times than I can remember (most recently to see One Direction and Little Mix at the Apple Music Festival which you can read about here).

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But I didn’t know that the Roundhouse isn’t just a music venue – it also comprises of the Paul Hamlyn Roundhouse Studios, a creative space for young people. You can read more about the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and their contribution to the venue here.

Now, I don’t think we could have a better guide for our tour of the Roundhouse Studios than Strummerville really, as their relationship with the venue goes back almost ten years, when the charity contributed funds to the redevelopment of the Roundhouse. Strummerville even have their own rehearsal room within the studios for their younger beneficiary bands to use. It’s a great little room, really inspiring, with original Joe Strummer lyrics and sketchings on the walls, as well as doodles by other bands.

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strummerville roundhouse studios

Strummerville aren’t the only ones with their own rehearsal rooms, we also saw rooms sponsored by Nandos and Gibson, among others.

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One room I particularly loved was a circular performance space, which you reach through slightly creepy tunnel like corridors.

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If you stand right in the centre of the room, it does some crazy things to the acoustics!

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At the time of our visit, we almost interrupted a spoken word group rehearsal – did you know that the studios aren’t just used for music, but for theatre, circus, and spoken word as well? Oh and there’s even a TV recording studio sponsored by Bloomberg…

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We also found out a little bit about the venues history – I don’t know about you, but I love finding out stuff like this. Built in 1847 to be used as a railway repair shed, the Roundhouse was later used as a liquor warehouse for Gilbey’s Gin before becoming an arts centre in 1960. It actually closed in 1983, and sat derelict for a while before being bought by The Norman Trust in 1996 with the intention of giving it a new lease of life. Later, in 2000 Sir Torquil Norman CBE founded The Roundhouse Trust. You can read more about the history here.

It really was a fun, interesting tour, and it’s so nice to see so many organisations taking such an active role in helping inspire and give opportunities to the next generation, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds who would otherwise be unable to develop their skills. Having previously dated someone in a fledgling band, I know how awkward and expensive finding rehearsal and recording space can be, and I was therefore really impressed how reasonable the rates are for Roundhouse Studios, particularly given its location. If you’re under 25 in London, definitely check them out!

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The Music

After our tour of Roundhouse Studios, we were taken down the road to The Monarch, for a private acoustic performance from two of Strummervilles up and coming talents – Lyza Jane and Bless.

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Watching Lyza Jane perform, a girl crush quickly developed! I mean, look at her – she’s just so effortlessly cool. I loved her outfit, which featured rings from The Great Frog and a tshirt from her own Etsy store, Pantsu & Pantsu (check it out, it’s a super cute range of embroidered cotton pieces, some with pom poms!). She was so lovely to chat to as well.

Anyway, her music! Lyza has a beautiful voice, you can take a look at her videos on her YouTube channel. Before branching out on her own, Lyza, was a backing singer for the band Alabama 3, and performed with them at Glastonbury. Lyza has written and produced her own music, predominantly electronica, and usually heavier than her performance for the evening which was very singer songwriter. Her most recent EP, Milk Teeth, is out now.

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Next up were Bless – a group of London guys who formed after having previously been members of two seperate bands. Their sound was very retro rock’n’roll – again not my usual thing but enjoyable nonetheless. They were a great bunch of guys and stayed for a few drinks to talk politics, songwriting influences and veganism.

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Bless are releasing their debut EP, Music Comes First (which they kindly gave me a copy of) on 11th December – and on the same night they’ll be back performing at The Monarch. If you find yourself at a loose end near Camden that evening, give them a go, they’re great fun!

You can check Bless out on their YouTube channel.

The Phone

You’re possibly wondering what Three have to do with this? Well, they kindly made the evening happen – and kindly gave me a Samsung S6 Edge which I could take my photographs of the evening on.

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Photo by Becca Talbot

Have you noticed how much better my photos are than when taken with my usual (and in need of replacement!) iPhone? I’ve been a loyal iPhone user since they came out years and years ago, so getting used to an Android was a bit odd, but it was really user friendly, so I guess it’s time for a change! You can find out more about Samsung handsets here at the Three Samsung Hub.

Now, I’ve also been a loyal O2 user for years (mainly for O2 Priority tickets) so it was interesting to try out a new network. I’m always losing signal and 3G usually with my current network, and I can tell you that I usually do at the Roundhouse. But with Three I was able to upload to my Instagram super speedily, I was so impressed!

Three have recently enhanced their network with new technology they’ve named 4G Super-Voice to tackle indoor blackspots. Now I’m no tech expert but I believe at the moment you need a compatible handset to use 4G Super-Voice but they’re due to roll it out to more handsets soon. And did you know that they were voted most reliable UK network this year by YouGov?

Another reason I want to move over to Three is for my regular travelling abroad – they’re the only network with no roaming charge! You’ve got yourself a convert Three, I can’t wait for my current contract to expire so I can change to your network!

The Food

You’ll know by now how much I love my food by now right? So I have to give a little mention of the delicious steak and cheese sandwich I ate at The Monarch!

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Well, that’s it from me for now, so if you’ve reached the end of this post thank you for persevering! And thank you Three for a wonderful evening!

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

So, this was the highlight of, and the real reason for, my USA trip – seeing Tool. Finally. The one (surviving) band I needed to tick off my bucket list. I have wanted to see Tool FOREVER. And since it didn’t look like they’d be coming to England soon, I figured I should just go to them. And what better way to spend Halloween than seeing Tool?

Thanks to a heavy night with some Canadians and too much Jack Daniels in LA the night before I actually nearly didn’t make it to Phoenix for Monster Mash (and I think it’s pretty obvious I’d have been devastated if I hadn’t!). But I got there, just in time for Primus! I was a little disappointed to miss With Our Arms to the Sun and ÆGES, but I have noone to blame but myself for that.

The Music

I’ve never really got into Primus, I was supposed to be going to one of their Primus & The Chocolate Factory UK tour dates but that didn’t quite go to plan so I was looking forward to seeing them at Monster Mash.

I started off heading toward the front of the crowd, but I figured I’d probably get more out of it if I stood back and took it all in, since their vocals are generally a bit mumbly anyway so it wouldn’t matter too much if I lost a bit of clarity. And they had lit up mushrooms on stage, so it was nice to look at.

So I settled down cross legged on the grass in front of the giant screen in the food court. More about the food court in a minute because it was a total game changer.

I enjoyed their set a lot, although as expected it was a little self indulgent in parts.

By the time Tool came on at 10pm, the venue was packed. PACKED. I’ve never been in such a crammed crowd. 30,000 people in a not very big park all around one stage. There were people standing on bins, climbing up trees… security had their hands full.

Again I started off near the front, but it was little me surrounded by lots of much bigger guys so I basically saw a load of backs. So I found a little space on the grassy hill to one side, which was much better. Sound wasn’t great at this venue if you go too far back, so I was happy I got lucky with a good spot.

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Tool opened with Led Zeppelins ‘No Quarter’, with Maynard dressed as Robert Plant. Check out this image from Puscifers Instagram

Went as Rupert Plant of Fred Zepplin last night.

A photo posted by Puscifer & Caduceus (@puscifer) on

I couldn’t really see much of the band themselves though (so if I hadn’t seen the Instagram I wouldn’t have noticed the costume!) as the screens were only showing graphics (yes they were awesome graphics and lights but still). Straight after they finished the opening song, Maynard said ‘Thank you, good night!’, and left the stage. Awkward.

Obviously they weren’t going to leave it at that but there were some people around me who genuinely seemed to think they would. Admittedly I could kind of see Maynard doing that…

Anyway, they came back. And it was awesome. It did feel pretty special hearing Maynard sing ‘Learn to swim, I’ll see you down in Arizona Bay’ during the Bill Hicks tribute ‘Ænema’, since we were in actually in Arizona Bay and everything.

I don’t usually post setlists, but this is Tool, so for anyone interested; No Quarter, The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Opiate, Schism, Ænema, Descending (I think that’s just a working title for now), Jambi, 46 & 2, Vicarious, Ions, Stinkfist.

I had hoped to hear something from Lateralus. So I was happy.

Vendors

I didn’t really have time to check out the vendors.

But I did make sure I stopped by the 98KUPD stand where my friend was working. Rob Zombie was the next days headliner and the radio station were running a competition to win a gorgeous red motorbike with Rob Zombie artwork.

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They let me sneak behind the barriers to take a closer look, check out the details!

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Food

You’ll have seen in my posts about Aftershock and Knotfest that I’m always impressed by the food at American festivals. But they were nothing in comparison to Monster Mash – it had a great little food court with really interesting options, a nice clean grassy area to sit in, and big screens showing what was going on on stage. Perfect.

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After doing about three circuits of the food court, I finally settled on a gyro. It was possibly one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Seriously.

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And I had a vodka spiked black (mixed berry) lemonade. Bit bitter but different.

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The Venue

I don’t know how I feel about Tempe Beach Park really. It has some really great points – the main stage sits in a sort of bowl, so the grassy knolls surrounding it make for a great view. You can actually see and hear quite well from even outside the park, I noticed on my way in that if you stood next to the road at the perimeter it was a better experience than some people had inside. And there were a lot of people taking advantage of that.

The facilities at the park are great too. Actual proper toilets. Additional portaloos too, but mostly actual toilets. And it was a great layout, to allow for separate areas for vendors, food and the stage.

It just couldn’t really cope with 30,000 people. For a smaller event I think it’d be great.

I had such an amazing time at Monster Mash, even if I only managed to make it for a few hours. And I will definitely put the effort in to see a Tool show again, the sooner the better!

I also met some awesome San Diegans on the walk back to my hotel, who bought me In N’ Out!

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L xx

All photos my own (other than the Puscifer Instagram pic!)

You know what it’s like, you never do anything touristy in the city you live in, do you? Well, given that I live in London, one of the most incredible cities in the world, I realised not long ago that I really was missing out. So, when Joe Blogs invited me along to a Haunted Theatre walking tour in conjunction with Every Hotel Piccadilly I jumped at the chance!

Did you know that ghosts are, apparently, common in theatres as they’re drawn to places of creativity? Anyway…

The Tour

I’d never been on a walking tour before, not in London, not anywhere. So I didn’t really know what to expect. I was a little dubious, on a dull October day, that we may get caught in the rain. But Every Hotel had thought of everything, and provided us with umbrellas, just in case! It turned out we didn’t need them (thankfully!) – although our tour guide, Diane, had her bright green one up anyway so we couldn’t lose her!

everyumbrellaAfter meeting up at Every Hotel Piccadilly, our first stop was the Royal Haymarket Theatre (currently showing ‘Mr Footes Other Leg‘). It’s actually quite fitting that this play was on at the theatre at the time, as it related to Diane’s story as to where ‘break a leg’ originated from. Samuel Foote was the actor-manager at the Haymarket Theatre, and was desperate for ‘Royal’ status for the theatre. He managed to get his wish from the Duke of York after losing a wager, in which he lost a leg!

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I was particularly taken with the rear of the theatre, by the stage door, where a Blue Plaque is displayed – as this was the location where Oscar Wildes first performances (of ‘A Woman of No Importance’ and ‘An Ideal Husband’) were presented.

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Royal Haymarket Theatre also apparently has its own ghost – as witnessed by Dame Judi Dench and Patrick Stewart! Believed to be the actor John Buckstone, the Victorian ghost is said to walk through walls.

Our second stop was the London Coliseum, home to the English National Opera. I love the location of the Coliseum, right opposite the National Portrait Gallery. The theatre has a large spinning globe on its roof, which attracted visitors, particularly soldiers during World War One. It’s said that the theatre is haunted by these soldiers – in particularly one is said to be often spotted in row G.

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From the side entrance of the Coliseum, we could see the Duke of York’s Theatre. Now, the interesting thing about the Duke of York’s actually relates to a piece of clothing – a jacket (once worn by Thora Hird) is said to tighten around the neck all by itself! There’s also allegedly the ghost of a former actor-manager, Violet Melnotte, who messes around with the door locks!

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En route to our next stop, we took a little walk through Goodwin Court which, as a Harry Potter fan, I was quite taken with, as it reminded me of Diagon Alley! Diane explained to us that it was in fact an alleyway used by prostitutes back in the day, and part of Soho’s infamous Red Light District.

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This led us to the Adelphi Theatre, which had one of the more interesting ghost stories. Actor ‘Mad Archie’ (full name Richard Archer Prince) blamed colleague William Terriss for losing his job, and stabbed him in the back – the ghost of Terriss apparently haunted both the theatre and nearby Covent Garden station (which stands on the spot of a former bakery Terriss would frequent), until his exorcism in the 1950s!

The Lyceum Theatre (currently showing one of my favourites, ‘The Lion King‘) has a very famous ghost – Madame Tussaud herself! She is said to be seen watching a show, with a death mask in her lap!

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On to the theatre with the highest number of ghosts in London – the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, with a whopping three ghosts! As well as a creepy clown who appears in mirrors and a man in grey, the Drury Lane is haunted by comedian Dan Leo – allegedly you can tell when he is near by the scent of lavender!

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Finally, and possibly my favourite – the Fortune Theatre, where ‘Woman In Black‘ is currently being shown. I loved the movie, so I really want to see the stage version! Anyway, not only is the Fortune showing the Woman In Black, it has its very own woman in black ghost! About ten years ago, the Victorian female began to appear in the wings. Perhaps coincidentally, the theatre is adjacent to a children’s playground, which is built on an old cemetery.

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The Hotel

Every Hotel Piccadilly were fantastic hosts, and put on a lovely buffet and open bar for us on our return to the hotel after all that walking! In particular I enjoyed the chicken burger.

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Perfectly located just off Leicester Square, the hotel itself is lovely – and the rooms are sound proofed so you don’t have to worry about all that central London noise when you’re trying to nod off. And I love a good rainfall shower.

Newly opened, Every Hotel pride themselves on their amenities – all rooms have a free (non-alcoholic) mini bar, Smart TVs and Nespresso machines. They also claim to have the world’s fastest hotel WiFi – now I can’t tell you how accurate this is, but I can confirm it was pretty damn speedy! They really have paid attention to the details – as well as the usual three prong plug sockets, there are also direct USB plugs in the wall to charge phones (or whatever else).

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They also have a ‘Techno Gym’ (which unsurprisedly I didn’t check out, although I wish I had because what exactly is a ‘Techno Gym’?).

Now, I’m not a believer in ghosts, I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a non-believer either, but I very much enjoyed Diane’s tour, and I would recommend it, or one of her other tours, if anyone has an afternoon spare.

Thank you very much Joe Blogs, Diane and Every Hotel!

L xx

All photos my own.

You can check out Every Hotels own blog post about the event here.

After spending Saturday at Aftershock, which you can read about here, we made the 6 hour drive from Sacramento to San Bernardino for Knotfest (who knew California was so big?!)

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The Music

We arrived a little late so missed some of the earlier bands but made it in time to catch a little Cannibal Corpse. After that we skipped the music for a bit to check out what else was around.

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The line up for me later in the day was basically the same as that at Aftershock. Clutch were excellent, again. A MUCH bigger stage for them this time.

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Bring Me The Horizon played the exact same set that they did at Aftershock, and got pretty much the exact same crowd reaction. I’m still surprised that they’re so popular in the USA (not that it’s not well deserved) and also that Americans don’t know Chelsea Smile. But maybe the lack of knowledge of their older stuff is more of a new fan thing, rather than an American thing? Whichever.

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After the little bit of a disappointing show at Aftershock, Slipknot were back on form at Knotfest. It seemed much more of an enthusiastic performance, from Clown in particular – he actually walked through the audience at one point. And I was happy that they changed up the set list.

The sound at San Manuel Amphitheatre, in the actual fixed main stage area, is excellent and I think that made a massive difference. I actually really like the way the main stage is set up – it has a semi circular pit area (on concrete – ouch!) with tiered seating behind, both of these areas are for premium ticket holders. General admission ticket holders can watch from the lawn area at the back – but with the MASSIVE screens, that is by no means a bad view. I’ve been in both the pit area and the seats (because I’m a bit pathetic and girly and also sometimes my feet hurt) for varying bands, and both were great.

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As usual, apologies for the awful/lack of photography. Taking pictures just isn’t at the front of my mind when I’m watching a band. I know I need to improve on that…

Knotfest Museum

Despite being at Knotfest for the whole weekend last year, I managed to miss the Slipknot Museum, and this year I got lucky – I didn’t realise they were closing it at 7pm on the Sunday, and I managed to be the last one in!

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It’s basically a circus tent with a load of Slipknot paraphernalia (with no explanations), curated by the band themselves from their own collections – old jumpsuits, masks, art, previously used equipment etc.

I’ll leave you with a few photos.

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Outside the entrance are frozen goat heads on spikes – I was so lucky that, just as I was about to kiss one for a selfie, one of the security guys pointed out it was real…

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Here’s the outtake, haha!

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Vendors

One thing that struck me about Knotfest 2015 was that it was almost exactly the same in terms of layout as it was in 2014 – even the majority of the vendors were the same.

Quite a lot were generic festival stalls, and having browsed similar at Aftershock I didn’t spend too much time on them.

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I did buy the most me tshirt ever from the Bring Me The Horizon merch stand though. It’s a really colourful sublimated print with the umbrella motif, new for this tour. I absolutely love it.

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VIP Area

Like with the vendors, the VIP area was the same as last year, even down to having the same (very good!) Mexican food truck. The only real addition this year were clown statues, and not particularly Slipknotty ones.

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I like the VIP area at Knotfest a lot. It is handy to be able to access it – unlike Aftershock, Knotfest has no real shaded areas in the main arena, so the sun can get a bit overbearing. The VIP area has a lot of gazebos and covered areas. It also has a pool table, sports on TV and a decent bar.

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It is however a lot more expensive (about $100 more I think) to upgrade to a VIP ticket, but I think if you can afford it (especially if you aren’t used to the heat, like me!), do it.

Food

Last year, as it was my first American festival, I was really impressed with the quality of the food. The choice wasn’t huge – basically Mexican, Chinese or Italian, but it was all really good! And it was EXACTLY the same this year. I won’t talk about the food anymore really, other than to leave a pic, as I posted in details about what I ate here.

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And I really like the drinks on offer at Knotfest…

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Camping

Now, I didn’t actually camp at Knotfest this year, but I did last year, so I wanted to stick in a little section about that experience. It was completely different to camping at a UK festival – well, general camping anyway. It follows the format of VIP camping at UK festivals, where you camp next to your car. Except you pay for a camping pass per car, rather than per person, and it allows for up to 6 people. I think it’s around $120 per car. You can see here how idyllic the setting was! It did get surprisingly cold at night though.

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Other Stuff

Knotfest had a lot of other attractions on offer. I didn’t have time to see them this year, but they were repeats from last year so I didn’t miss out. They included the Ring of Fire ride, flaming carnival games, the Thunderdome fighting arena and steel drums. If you’re interested you can read more about them here.

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Overall, Knotfest is a great festival, and a must do for a Slipknot fan. But I do think that once you’ve been once, you don’t necessarily need to go again. I think I’ll give it a miss next year for an alternative event.

L xx

All photos my own.