My birthday weekend

This time last year I was on a psychiatric unit, so I was pretty apprehensive about my 25th birthday. It couldn’t be any worse, right? My boyfriend was taking me somewhere for the weekend, but I didn’t know where.

We first met back in September at Festival Number 6. Based in Portmeirion on the North West Wales peninsula, the Italian style village was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975.

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Usually the phrase ‘tourist attraction’ would have me running for the hills, but Portmeirion  is truly spectacular. I’d remarked on how amazing it would be to stay there all those months ago, and thought no more about it.

I was blown away by my surprise of a night’s stay in our special place.

Guests have a choice between the Castle, the Village, and the Hotel. We were in the Village, which I was delighted about. On arrival to our suite, we were greeted with a complimentary decanter of brandy.

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Our little flat for the night

 

After a tipple or five, we went for a wander. The only thing that reminds you you’re not on the Italian Riviera is the rain, but we were lucky. The daffodils were in full bloom.

Portmeirion is magical, with nooks and crannies galore to explore. Photos just don’t do it justice (especially mine).

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At sunset we took a woodland walk, during which my gardener boyfriend would pause every few paces  to admire a rare or unusual plant. From the viewpoint overlooking the beach and nearby town of Porthmadog, we drank cheap champagne (from the bottle, obv) in the spot we’d snogged all those months ago.

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It was dark by the time we made our way back through the forest and  stumbled upon the Dogs’ Cemetery. Let me tell you, a carving of a gigantic dog is not what you want to find in the dark. The Dogs’ Cemetery was established by one of Portmeirion’s eccentric tenants, because she preferred the company of dogs to human beings. Fair enough.

There are two places to eat at night in Portmeirion; the beachside Hotel, which is very bloody fancy, and the Castle Brasserie on top of the hill. Despite supposedly being more informal, we were intimidated by the Castle. We were starving, though, and none of the local takeaways delivered (I KNOW, RIGHT?!)

The Brasserie is deceptive. The food was great (‘these chips are the Angelina Jolie of chips’), and our meals cost less than £20 each. There was even a pianist! Very bloody fancy.

An overnight stay in Portmeirion doesn’t come cheap (I glimpsed the bill during checkout), but it’s an indulgence I think everybody deserves to experience once.  Despite only driving an hour down the coast it genuinely felt like being on holiday.

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Source: Google

The next day, we drove on to Criccieth to check out the new branch of Dylan’s. The original is based in my hometown of Menai Bridge, which with its Straitside location you’d be hard pressed to beat. Renowned for their fresh seafood, they have won many awards including the Michelin Guide 2016. Snazzy.

Dylan’n 2.0 didn’t disappoint. Situated overlooking the beach with views of Criccieth castle, according to my boyfriend ‘it looks like the building from Telletubbies, doesn’t it?’ He wasn’t altogether wrong.

On the recommendation of my friend and barman Dan, I ordered the herb & Parmesan crusted hake fillet, served with creamy mustard leeks and new potatoes. It’s been said that Dylan’s is too expensive, but at £14.95 I thought it was bloody lovely and good value.

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Sean, meanwhile, opted for the Menai Strait Pizza (crabmeat, prawns, chilli, basil, tomato & chive oil). To quote, he hadn’t had pizza that good ‘in about two years, when I went out for my birthday’. Belter.

 

 

Life: an update

Last night in Waitrose I spotted my A level Welsh teacher. Having finished school 6+ years ago, people tend not to recognise me. But I was made up when she knew exactly who I was! Imagine my mortification when I couldn’t remember the name of this woman who had taught thousands of kids across the years.

I told her I’m a writer now, and she was delighted. She remembered I’d been a good writer at school. I felt a huge glow of pride being able to tell her this. Okay, so maybe I don’t always get paid to write about the most exciting things (boilers, DIY, carpets) but I’m doing the only career I’ve ever wanted.

I finally did it: my first burlesque solo!

Phew! What a manic ten days. A trip to France, Switzerland and Italy, two performances in Liverpool, before rushing off to Cardiff to watch Meilyr Jones perform (again).

Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I want to tell you about Lemon Tart‘s first EVER solo burlesque performance, which took place at the Jazzesque Showcase in the Buyers Club, Liverpool.

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Being a writer by trade, I’m big on burlesque which demonstrates strong storytelling. For me, an act needs specific plot points which extend beyond ‘remove gloves/dress/bra’. No matter how visually pleasing the performer, I will inevitably get bored without a quirky story and a few laughs.

I started toying with the idea for my act back in August. A lifelong fan of fairies, I’d lusted over an extremely pricey pair of fairy wings at Green Man festival and after a few too many shots I finally caved. It was the perfect excuse!

I sat in my tent mulling it over with my friend Jonny, who suggested the song ‘It’s Oh So Quiet’ by Björk  – GENIUS. An idea was born. Wouldn’t it be great if the tooth fairy fell in love?

I hadn’t shown my act to a soul before the big night, which I predicted would be a grave mistake. Although I’m reasonably confident in my acting skills and comedic ideas, the thought of showing anyone whilst not onstage made my blood run cold.  My fruity sister Little Peaches got a sneak peek that very morning, but as predicted, I fell to pieces.

There was just one thing for it – I would hope for the best.

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Mandatory backstage selfie

Being first and foremost a comedy writer, humour was a must.

On the big night my pal Mike stepped in (i.e. was bullied into) the role of a bloke suffering from toothache. He did a fantastic job of setting the scene by wandering onstage gesturing at his toothache, before knocking himself out cold with paracetamol and wine.

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Image by AB Photography

To make the tooth fairy suited to an adult audience, I wandered onstage drunk (partly acting, partly thanks to three glasses of wine for courage), clutching a bottle of 22% alc. Listerine.

Other props included a giant sparkly tooth brush I used as a magic wand, and chocolate coins to chuck into the audience.

During the act I became flustered and forgot SO MANY THINGS.  My timing went to hell, and I was so eager to do my big reveal – teeth falling out of my bra – that I whipped it off far too early – WHY ARE YOU TAKING YOUR BRA OFF PUT IT BACK ON RIGHT NOW!!?!!

Yep, things went wrong. But you know what? I bloody did it.

I got on that stage and I carried on until the end. My bra didn’t get caught in my hair, I didn’t slip on my skirt. The audience pissed themselves when I used a white g-string to floss my teeth (and other regions). I came alive on that stage.

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Image by AB Photography

Afterwards, I was still shaking as strangers congratulated me. One person said she really appreciated the small touches – glitter “fairy dust” falling out of my opera gloves – which meant a lot.

It was only later that I realised I FORGOT MY BLOODY FAIRY WINGS. Raging!

There are plenty of things I can improve for next time, but I’m proud that as someone with such low confidence I actually did it. It felt great standing up there practically in the nuddy, proving that women of all shapes and sizes can be creative, witty and beautiful.

Love and Lemons,

Lowri XOXO

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Image by AB Photography