Monday, 30 January 2012

What We've Been Up To - Date Night & Chinese NY!!

Just a quick photo blog to show you all some of the lovely things we've done together over the last week or so! Ready? Okay! :)

Date Night!!

Being the thrifty girls we are, we took advantage of the amazing Orange Wednesday deal for our date night to see The Iron Lady and dinner at Pizza Express (for those of you who have never heard of this, it's two for one on movie tickets and pizzas!)! Laura loves Pizza Express, and Sarah humours her :)

We enjoyed The Iron Lady- starring Meryl Streep and about Margaret Thatcher's life and career. It was told from the viewpoint of Thatcher as she is now (old), looking back on her life in flashbacks and hallucinations. It was quite educational for Laura, as an American, she didn't know much about Maggie or what she achieved. However, Sarah thought it would have been more effective if it was not done in flashbacks. Very well worth seeing, and Meryl was amazing, as usual.

 It also had an unexpected side-effect: it made Laura really worried about death haha! Maggie's husband has been gone for awhile, and in the movie she would have hallucinations that he was there with her - and so Laura got really sad that no matter how great you were in life, you will be sad and alone one day. And she couldn't imagine living without Sarah by her side!! Wow Laura, mood killer!

Also, yesterday we went to the West End to celebrate Chinese New Year! 

See everything you need to know about Chinese New Year HERE!!

It is the Year of the Dragon (same as the year Laura was born!!) so Sarah bought her her own little dragon - Laura named it Derek.

And were part of a man's venture to have 800 people photographed in this hat. Don't worry, we kept our hats on underneath haha!

And we saw a Good Fortune Tree - you get different coloured bean bags (red is wealth!), and throw it at the tree- if it sticks, your wish will come true!! We got two wealth, one long-life and one good fortune - so we are quitting our jobs and waiting for our 'wealth' to roll in! Kidding!!

This is the best thing about London - there is always something going on, and you can happen upon so many random and amazing things! We loved celebrating Chinese New Year in London!!

Finally, we'll leave you with this hilarious video we found - talking animals, what is better??

Thanks for reading!!!

Make sure to become members of our blog, follow us on Twitter and also Tumblr!!   

Love always,
Laura & Sarah xo

Sunday, 29 January 2012

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?? 29/01/12

Welcome to this week's WHHS! And what a week it has been!

We'll start Stateside because there has been a pretty constant flow of news that we find particularly relevant. If you have seen the Cynthia Nixon (Miranda in Sex in the City) news you will know that she has been putting her foot-in-it left right and centre and not helping in the battle for LGBT equality. First of all, she's 'choosing to be gay', then she doesn't want to say she's bisexual, as 'NO-ONE likes bisexuals' (?!?!) and then she used the word 'squelch' over! We switched off reading at that point! It happened in an interview with Kevin Sessums at the Daily Beast...her statement was “Look, I understand for political reasons why some people want to kind of squelch this idea that being gay might be a choice, because a lot of the rights we want are posited on the supposition that why are you denying me my rights any more than if I were created a different color? But I don’t feel the need to cede the definition of what a gay person is to the bigots. They don’t get to define who I am.” At such an important time for the LGBT community especially, would it not make more sense to keep any such opinions to yourself than give homophobic people ammunition?! We agree that in a perfect world, it shouldn't matter if sexual orientation is a choice or not, but at the moment it does matter, and the 'bigots' do have control our rights and our future!

In fantastic, amazing, wonderful news, Washington now has enough votes to secure gay marriage legality in the state- yay! - thanks to a crucial vote from State Senator Mary Margaret Haugen who became the crucial 25th supporter of the proposed legislation. Representing Camano Island, she came out to say 'I know this announcement makes me the so-called 25th vote, the vote that ensures passage. That’s neither here nor there. If I were the first or the seventh or the 28th vote, my position would not be any different. I happen to be the 25th because I insisted on taking this much time to hear from my constituents and to sort it out for myself, to reconcile my religious beliefs with my beliefs as an American, as a legislator, and as a wife and mother who cannot deny to others the joys and benefits I enjoy.” Well put! It means that the legislation now has a majority in the state senate but opponents may still force a state wide vote in July. Come on Washington, do the right thing!

Barney Frank, a US congressman, is marrying his long-term partner in Massachusetts. He is the first openly gay member of congress and hopefully his high public profile will once again lead the way for gay marriage to be on the agenda in a positive way. Congratulations, Barney!!

Barney Frank
And in Oz, from February, gay Australians will be able to receive certificates allowing them to enter into gay marriage abroad and have it count as a domestic partnership in Oz - previously Australia had denied the permit! Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said: The real problem remains the failure of parliament to allow same-sex marriages in Australia, but the removal of the CNI ban will ease the burden on same-sex couples who are forced overseas to marry." Olivia Newton John (of Grease fame) has also come out publicly to support gay marriage - she joins other famous Aussies including Hugh Jackman! The singer said 'With respect to marriage equality I believe that no one has the right to judge and deny couples who love each other the ability to make a marriage commitment.“Love is love.”' After her 'Lets Get Physical' scene with Jane/Sue in Glee we knew we liked her :)

But England - oh England - it's not been a good week for Old Blighty. We've let ourselves down by allowing the 'Gay Leper' conference where they preached conversion from the gay life style. Furthermore, a high profile footballer- Michael Ball (not the amazing theatre actor / singer) has been caught and fined £6000 for homophobic tweets.

Protesters at the 'Gay Leper' convention
The Archbishop of York has come out against same-sex marriage saying that Government
has no right to 'gift' the institution of marriage. He goes on to say 'I don't think it is the role of the state to define what marriage is. It is set in tradition and history and you can't just (change it) overnight, no matter how powerful you are.' Having read the rest of the article in the Telegraph, the Archbishop continues to say that the reason the church supported civil partnerships was because they 'believe that friendships are good for everybody but if you begin to call those marriage, you're trying to change the English language'. Um we don't plan on getting a civil-partnershipped as friends! We find it disrespectful enough that we wouldn't be able to use the terms 'wife' or 'marriage' in the ceremony - now the church says it's not even a marriage - nice!

In Scotland there has been more publicity for the anti-marriage equality petition titled 'Preserving Marriage'. Gay rights groups are critising the petition for it's 'outdated, inaccurate and homophobic' views. Submitted by Amy King, it claims 'same-sex couples should not have equal rights to marry because of “poor social outcomes for homosexual adults” including “higher rates of domestic violence, suicide, STDs, and mental illness.” She goes on to say the most maddening comment 'Marriage should not be redefined for the whole of society given the tiny percentage of society actually affected by the issue'. It echoes the comments that we highlighted last week by MP David Burrowes (see article HERE) who said that the debate on gay marriage was not one we needed to have now!!!! As we plan to marry, it is a debate we need them to have and more importantly we deserve to have equal rights once we are married - why should our marriage mean we are any different to anyone else?!

At least the US isn't running clinics that 'cure gays' like Ecuador. You may have seen in the news that Ecuador is investigating and acting forcefully to close any clinics found to be trying to force homosexuals to change their sexual orientation. The treatment of individuals at these clinics is nothing short of torture, both physically and mentally, and now they have a lesbian health minister the mission is on! 30 have been closed so far - great work!!

The Zulus in South Africa also hit the headlines with the Zula King saying that gay relationships are rotten and a 'modern' invention - maybe he missed Hillary Clinton's speech (it's HERE!) The Zulus currently make up 20% of South Africa's population, with 11 million living in the country, and they practice Christianity as their main religion. (Gay Leper conferences must do well there!).

                                     Zulu King makes sure we know how he feels!
Finally, Laura's wonderful Dad sent us this video about the absurdity of the Bible setting traditions dictating who can and can't get legally married. Enjoy!!

We shall leave it there - after celebrating Chinese New Year today we are in need of an early night! We will put up a post with some photos from the fun we had at the celebrations early in the week.

For those shoppers reading this we will leave you with our latest discovery... LOVE IT!!! Seriously as soon as we save up some $$$...

If you have enjoyed this post check out other WHHS HERE!

Until next time,
Sarah & Laura xo

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Sarah's Fun Fact Friday - Happy Chinese New Year!!

Welcome to a Sarah's Fun Fact Friday that we hope brings you lots of luck, love and happiness!

We love Chinese takeaway above all others - in Laura's case it's a bit of a novelty, as it's one of the types of takeaways they do slightly differently in the USA- think Panda Express (which we love), but it's more 'throw in a box all together' rather than get different dishes in plastic boxes and take home to eat. But on top of noticing that our favourite takeaway is closed, we've also been keeping track of the celebrations for Chinese New Year - it is, after all, the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays!

This year we will be celebrating the year of the Dragon (also the animal of Laura's birth year woohoo!). For the Chinese, the image of the dragon is of a highly revered mythical beast that is admired for its uniqueness, beauty and auspicious powers (much like Laura). Although the dragon tends to look angry, it is actually meant to be inspiring for society- the dragon's anger is aimed at wrong-doers. So watch out!

'They say the streets have rights upon you. If you hang around on the streets and see some evil you then it is upon you to stop it with your hands if you have the might. If you don’t then at least make an attempt to stop it with your tongue. And if you cannot even do that then at least in your heart know that the act is evil and this is a very low level of faith.'
I'm the year of the pig - definitely not as cool- although the pig is associated with fertility it also represents generosity & goodwill. The pig is honest & trouble free- ah now that kind of sounds like me!

Funny how true these are :) 

The Chinese New Year falls at a different time to the Western world, as the west makes use of the Gregorian solar calendar and the Chinese have always maintained the use of the lunar calendar. Their New Year depends upon the cycle of the moon and falls on a totally separate day than the western New Year. 

Here's a couple of fun facts that you may not know about Chinese New Year: 

  • In China, it is known as the "Spring Festival".
  • Spring season in Chinese calendar starts with lichun, the first solar term in a Chinese calendar year. 
  • The festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with the Lantern Festival which is on the 15th day. 
  • Chinese New Year's Eve is a day where Chinese families gather for their annual reunion dinner, is known as Chúxī or "Eve of the Passing Year." 
  • Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year". 
  • Chinese New Year is the longest celebration in the Chinese calendar.
The origin of Chinese New Year is itself centuries old and the New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, such as Mainland ChinaHong KongMacauTaiwanSingaporeThailandIndonesiaMalaysiaPhilippinesVietnam, and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. London is hosting their annual celebration this weekend - and we'll be there! Look out for our next post about it!

Each region and area of China celebrate the New Year in their own way. Like the Western world at Christmas, the Chinese will pour out their money to buy presents, decorations, material, food, & clothing. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly cleanse the house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for good incoming luck. (Just like the Scottish and their first-footing!!).Windows and doors will be decorated with red colour paper origami and couplets with the most popular themes being "good fortune" or "happiness", "wealth", and "longevity".  The Chinese New Year tradition is to reconcile, forget all grudges and sincerely wish peace and happiness for everyone. A message we could all do well to echo.
That just leaves me to wish you a very Happy Chinese New Year and I'll be back soon with more SFFF! 

Until next time, Sarah  xoxo

If you've enjoyed this read and want a few more facts check out my other SFFF HERE!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

What We Love Wednesdays!! Powerful Women

Happy Wednesday, everyone! 

Welcome to What We Love Wednesday! Watching 'The Iron Lady' at the cinema last week about Margaret Thatcher got us thinking about other powerful women we admire. So we decided to make a list of our favourite influential women out there today. 2011 was (in our opinion) the year of the woman, so we have a lot of lovely ladies to choose from! For the record, we didn't intentionally look towards the gay community for this list - it just so happens that a lot of the women listed represent this community, or have made an impact in it. 

Ellen DeGeneres: It's hard to remember the early 90's when Ellen was the lead character on 'Ellen' and wasn't out & proud. In fact, she came out on Oprah during the airing of the 4th season in 1997. Since then, she has hosted the Emmy's and Academy Awards and been in a number of films including voicing Dory in Finding Nemo. She also hosts her own talk show, the Ellen Degeneres Show every weekday. As much as we admire all of this, it is actually her gay-visibility and charity work that put her on our list. As a recognisable media figure and a lesbian she has made huge strides in making the gay community more accessible and understood. Her mottos of kindness & love shine through her show and you can't help but smile as she helps and supports so many people EVERY day. She's actually won 13 Emmy's for her charitable work! Ellen was lucky enough to marry the ever-so gorgeous Portia De Rossi in 2008 after the Proposition 8 ban of same-sex marriage was briefly overturned in California. Together they show that same-sex marriage can be 'normal'! 

Jane Lynch: Currently doing an amazing job playing Sue Sylvester on Glee, Jane is another high-profile lesbian in the media. We first saw Jane in Julie & Julia and then regularly in Two and a Half Men and thought she was brilliant. Jane's also been in Talladega Nights, The 40 Year Old Virgin and Role Models - all hilarious films. In 2005 she was named as one of Power Up's (Professional Organisation of Woman in Entertainment Reaching Up) '10 Most Amazing Gay Women in Showbiz' and she is being honoured with the Vanguard Award for her contribution to lesbian visibility by NCLR (National Centre For Lesbian Rights). The Vanguard Award recognises women who exemplify 'values of equality and justice'. We admire Jane for being a great comedic actress and showing that being a lesbian (or different in any other way, for that matter) shouldn't stop you from being the best in the business! 

Tabatha Coffey: Known for her hairdressing show 'Tabatha's Salon Takeover' (where she takes failing salons and turns them into successful businesses (we love it!)), Tabatha is one fiesty business woman. At no point has Tabatha hid her sexuality and, though little is known about her partner of 10 years, she is a leading lesbian. Her high profile has lead her to play a public role in LGBT support - including being photographed for NOH8 (like us!) - and in 2012 she will appear as a presenter at the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards! She has even hinted that her future plans may include running for Governor in New Jersey, where gay marriage is currently opposed. VOTE COFFEY!!

Hillary Clinton: The current Secretary of State and wife of previous President Bill Clinton, Hillary has always been a strong woman in her own right. We were actually hoping that she would beat Obama in the primaries back in 2008, but at least she is still playing a leading role in the government. The reason we admire Hillary is for her strength and commitment to her beliefs. There are far too many good things to mention about her here, but in her latest speech on gay rights (in Dec 2011) she made history. It's beautiful!!

Michelle Obama: We are lucky enough to have two influential women in the US government at the moment. Barack's lovely wife has proven herself to be a trend setter in her own right. She has gotten a lot of media attention for her choices of clothing - she is always classy, and she is the first First Lady to wear clothing from the high street. Mrs. O is not afraid to rock H&M! We find her incredibly inspiring because of her 'Let's Move!' legacy. Her goal is to reverse the scary trend of childhood obesity by serving healthier meals in schools, better food labeling and encouraging kids to do more physical activity. It's an incredibly worthwhile cause, and we are happy someone is tackling the issue and saving the next generation!

Cristina Fernadez Kirchner: In case you haven't heard of her, she is the current President of Argentina. Now, this is a controversial choice as she is in the recent news with plans to fight for the Falkland Islands -forcing an interestingly timed (thanks to the Thatcher movie) repeat of history, when Argentinian pirates took the British owned Falklands in 1982, sparking a war between Thatcher's Britain and Argentina to get them back. However if you want an example of a powerful leader, this woman has it! The UK government needs to take note. She wears more make-up than Katie Price, never leaves home without high heels and owns at least 200 little black dresses (the only colour she'll wear since the death of her husband) - oh and she is a ruthless politician. She is a strong advocate of human rights, and signed a same-sex marriage bill into law in 2010. Christina says her inspiration is Eva Peron (Evita) as she wants to make an impact on her country's history just like she did. As a mum-of-two on top of all that, she has to be admired!

We believe 2011 was the year of the woman (where were all the great men last year, anyway??) and we're sure, with fine role models like these around, 2012 will continue that trend.

Who else would you put on this list? Check back in a few weeks - we will be doing an influential women in music post!

Make sure to become members of our blog, follow us on Twitter and also Tumblr!!   

Love, Sarah & Laura xo

If you've enjoyed this post check out our other WWLW HERE!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Not-So-Gay Travel: Better To Be Safe Than Sorry!!

We found a very interesting article on The Huffington Post - the top 10 world destinations gay and lesbian travelers should avoid. As girlfriends who love to travel together, and who don't like having to avoid showing affection completely in our travels, we think it's very good to at least have an idea how the countries you visit feel about your love. Here are the highlights or that be lowlights: 

1. Nigeria - this comes as no surprise to us, as the country is one of eight in the world where by law, being gay is punishable by death, and they actually enforce it! In 2008, a newspaper printed the photos, names and addresses of members of a gay-friendly church in Lagos - the next day, 12 members of the church were beaten and threatened. Personally, Laura finds Nigeria's appearance on this list really sad, because pre-Sarah, three of her most recent boyfriends were Nigerian, and because of that, she's always wanted to go there. And for the record, her boyfriends were all really good about the going out with a girl-thing, except the one who got dumped in favour of Sarah, which is understandable. 

2. Jamaica - Bob Marley may have sung 'No Woman, No Cry' but apparently the rest of the country doesn't feel the same. Along with the 3rd highest ranking in the world for murder rate per capita, Jamaica also has been dubbed the worst country in the Americas for gays and lesbians. Time magazine called it the most homophobic place on earth!! Physical violence against homosexuals is commonplace by citizens and police. The hatred is attributed partly to the popularity of 'murder music' - reggae songs filled with hate and glorifying brutality towards gay people. Typically, this is another location Laura has always wanted to visit - lets hope they start to change for the better soon. 

3. Uganda - Geez, there are a lot of African countries on this list. Uganda is beautiful and full of rich jungle and safari. It'd be the perfect place to see wild animals and an un-spoiled Africa. Unfortunately, it is one of only 7 nations in which homosexuality is punishable by a life prison sentence. Neighboring Kenya is a similar risk for gay couples who prefer not to actively hide their orientation. 

4. Guyana - In contrast to a lot of South American countries with vibrant gay scenes and an open tolerance towards homosexuality, being gay in Guyana can result in prison for life. Public displays of affection between gays and lesbians has occasionally resulted in violent attacks, and they are often detained without being told what for. For this reason most of their gay citizens remain closeted. If you want to go to South America, Brazil or Argentina might be better options. 

5. United Arab Emirates - This one surprised Laura, because even though Dubai is Muslim, it is so trendy and is the tourist hot spot of the middle east! Unfortunately, their laws ban homosexuality. The punishment for an offence isn't as harsh as some others on this list, or many of their neighbouring countries, but sentences range from prison to fines. In 2008, two female tourists were jailed for one month for kissing on a public beach! But in a country where kissing someone you are not married to is illegal, I guess they aren't completely discriminating in this regard. We'll be careful when we visit our friend who has just moved to Dubai! 
6. Barbados - The birthplace of rum, and a country with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Barbados unfortunately still punishes homosexuality with a life sentence. The law is currently under review, but until it is changed, you might want to holiday elsewhere in the Caribbean!

7. Belize - With its rich history and Mayan ruins, Belize also boasts the longest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. It's a real shame then that under their Immigration Act, homosexuals are banned from even entering the country! As if there is a foolproof way to tell. Even more insulting is the double standard. Homosexual activity among men carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, but between two women, it is perfectly legal!! If you can, skip Belize and holiday in neighboring (and much more gay friendly) Costa Rica.

8. Malaysia - Despite Kuala Lumpur's infamous reputation as a trans and gay hotspot, be aware when visiting - 'unnatural offenses', or sodomy and oral sex, for homosexuals (as well as heterosexuals) are illegal and carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years and whippings!! That's a steep charge if you ask us!! In fact, a former Deputy Prime Minister received a 9 year sentence in 2000 for sodomy. We hope it was worth it haha!

9. Egypt - Typically, as we are going there later this year, Egypt is on this list. Homosexuality isn't expressively outlawed in the country, but as Egypt is majority Muslim, the subject is taboo. Because Islam does prohibit homosexuality, you will come across a lot of discrimination and homophobia. In fact, the police are sometimes the worst, harassing and sometimes torturing gay individuals. Luckily we will only be staying long enough to see the Great Pyramids!

10. Montenegro - The Eastern European country decriminalized homosexuality in 1977, but anti-gay attitudes continue to be present, as well as in other former Soviet nations. The government often reinforces this prejudice - for example, in 2009 Montenegro's Minister of Human and Minority Rights (of all people) said on a TV broadcast that he 'would be unhappy' to discover the presence of homosexuality in his country. Terrible!! We were worried before going to Moscow because they had just introduced fines for homosexual activity/promoting the agenda there - but we still managed to kiss at midnight on New Years Eve in Red Square!! We figured on our last day that a fine would be worth the good story afterwards haha!!

So there you have it! 

This list isn't meant to scare you - we've posted it merely to raise awareness. If PDA doesn't come naturally to you, then you shouldn't have a problem in any of these countries. However, knowledge is power, and it can't be a bad thing to know the rules and attitude regarding homosexuality in the places that you travel. 

Hopefully sooner rather than later, these laws and attitudes will change. Until then, we want to make an effort to travel and spend our money helping the economies of countries that accept our love.

Have you had any homophobic or bad experiences in your travels? Or on the flip side, have you been to any of the places on this list and had a positive experience? We'd love to hear from you!

Happy travels, Laura & Sarah xo

If you liked this post check out our other travel posts: HERE!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

What's Happening, Hot Stuff?? 22/01/12

Welcome to this week's WHHS!

There has been SO much news relating to the cruise liner sinking off the coast of the Tuscan island Giglio killing 13 people and we hope that the boat's Captain gets the punishment he deserves for abandoning his ship with people still aboard. While the news is both terrible and shocking, the actions of the village people where the distressed survivors arrived on land show that acts of kindness still happen everywhere - they just don't get as much press!

It turns out that there is actually an entire week dedicated to Random Acts of Kindness - February 13th - 19th! Our landlord's sister actually did us a great RAK yesterday - we had left our parking lot gate key in Sarah's car that was being fixed (so we had another one with us) and as we jumped around in front of the gate trying to make it open (as you need a permit to park on the road) very late at night, she spotted us (as she lives in the next block), got out of bed and let us park in her space. We were SO grateful.

We are now on a mission to complete our RAK!

In other news, have you seen the coverage around Sherlock Holmes being gay? Apparently, in the films and the new series, the title role has been portrayed as a gay man! We love the films with Robert Downey Jr. & Jude Law, and the BBC series set in 21st Century London. The best bit is they have scenes filmed around SOHO and the characters write a blog!

Great news for Glee fans too - Jane Lynch (love her!) and Matthew Morrison are the latest actors to sign up for a one night play in LA about the Proposition 8 ballot. The play revisits the measure which banned gay marriage in California. The play also stars Jaime Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday & My Girl (Laura has just announced she's never seen this film OMG OMG!)), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family - love him too!) and George Takei (Star Trek). It will be great publicity for the NOH8 campaign!

Every article we read on gay marriage makes the challenges we will potentially face even more real. Thus far we have been lucky enough to not have received any discrimination - in fact most people are fascinated by our relationship and interested to know more. However, a story we read recently really highlighted just how much this isn't the case for everyone. When we joined our gym we got a couple's discount and our personal trainer LOVED asking about us and our relationship - how sad that in Ohio not only did a gay married couple get denied the 'family discount', when they complained to the state they got told 'The state of Ohio does not protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and the state doesn't recognize same-sex unions.' Ouch! Outrageous! This. Must. Change.

Discrimination is awful wherever it happens and it's good to see that if you stir up hatred in the UK you will be punished. A group of Muslims who were caught handing out anti-gay leaflets were the first people convicted under a new law. 'The Public Order Act 1986 was amended by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 to create the offence of intentionally stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.' If found guilty the maximum sentence is 7 years. Sue Hemming of the Special Crimes & Counter Terrorism Division followed this up with this statement 'Everyone has a right to be protected by the law and we regard homophobic crimes, along with all hate crimes, as particularly serious because they undermine people’s right to feel safe. While people are entitled to hold extreme opinions which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious, they are not entitled to distribute those opinions in a threatening manner intending to stir up hatred against gay people.' 

A UK backbench revolt against equal marriage has started ahead of the government's consultation in March.  The Independent paper reported that Conservative MP David Burrowes (for Enfield-Southgate) says that the debate/consultation should be about 'how we view marriage rather than about homosexual rights, and that there was no public outcry for marriage equality. Many colleagues are worried that it would fundamentally affect how marriage between a man and woman has historically been viewed in this country. There are strong doubts that we need to go down this path. It would open up a can of worms and a legal minefield about freedom, religion and equality legislation. Gay marriage is a debate we don’t need to have at this stage. It is not an issue people are hammering us on the doorstep to do something about.'  Erm, where has this guy been living? It's not an issue?! It would open up a can of worms?! Do these people really play a role in the government of a country!?
MP David Burrowes

You may also have read the coverage about whether footballers should 'come out' or remain silent if they are gay. As a football fan (Sarah is a loyal Reading supporter), we can see the pro's and con's. Ultimately no-one should have to hide who they are BUT it is imperative football club managers support players, should they come-out. This is the first challenge to address. One of the UK's more out-spoken players Joey Barton has explained to a BBC3 documentary: “Certain managers will discriminate,” and “these archaic figures think if they had a gay footballer there would be all kinds of shenanigans in the dressing room.” Max Clifford, who has apparently known several gay players too frightened to come out, said: “When they have come to me to protect their identity, they have made it very clear that their career would be finished if they were known to be gay.” Coming out in the world of football has been a topic in the news recently after the Head of the German Football Association promised to support any player who chooses to come out. The documentary on BBC3, about sexuality in sport, shows on the 30th of Jan. It should spark an  interesting debate as there are currently no openly gay professional football players in Britain, and only two in the world.
Stateside, in Glee, Rachel's gay Dads have been announced as Jeff Goldblum and Brian Stokes Mitchell, and they will be singing a duet in the Valentine's day episode. Exciting! Obama has also been caught singing.... *swoon*

And there were some states this week, including Idaho, who got snow! Boise got six inches, but unfortunately it was all melted a day later!

Until next week
Sarah & Laura xoxo

If you have enjoyed this post check out other WHHS HERE!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Blackpool, Northern England, UK, April 2011!

Jewel of the North, Hen party destination and home to 'The Big One' - Blackpool. Our good friend Blakeley left us to start a new life in Australia last year (and the one whose wedding we will be attending in Thailand later this year) and before she left we decided to have an impromptu hen party weekend in Blackpool with just the 3 of us. We road-tripped via Manchester and it took about 7 hours from London.

There are a couple of reasons why you should go to Blackpool:
1) It is entertainment central - whatever time of the year
2) It has Blackpool Pleasure Beach (we would say the best value theme park in the UK)
3) Blackpool illuminations
4) It has a lot of sandy beach
5) More random events than your average seaside resort including: Carnival Ball Burlesque, Comedy Carpet, Showzam....if you want to read more about these check out

Our trip was in April 2011 - make sure if you are going at a peak time you book your accommodation, we stayed at a B&B and managed to get a room for all 3 of us. It was a couple of streets away from the Pleasure Beach but as we arrived in the evening Sarah thought it was only fair to introduce Laura and Blakeley (also an American) to the British delight of traditional Fish & Chips, complete with wooden forks!
Giving the Yanks some Northern culture
The next day we took on the Pleasure Beach - if you check online they do A LOT of offers including half price tickets - the great thing about the Pleasure Beach is that it is jam-packed, and we mean roller-coasters winding around each other kind of packed, and more rides that we could get around in one day. The amount and diversity of rides means that the queues are limited and there is something for everyone.
Just a few of the rides behind the girls!
The Americans were somewhat shocked by the age of some of the rides and the 'lack' of safety harnesses. In particular the Steeplechase....if you have never ridden a horse I would imagine this is a little bit like that. For safety there is a strap across you lap but as you are suspended on a horse, that's on a bar, that's 10ft in the air it doesn't feel quite enough - especially as you take the corners!
There are too many awesome rides to list here but here are some of our favourite pre, during and post ride shots.

If you go to the Pleasure Beach DO NOT leave without trying the Big One - you'll get the best view of Blackpool from the top! It's the tallest and fastest roller-coaster in the UK and it is AMAZING!

There is also great nightlife in Blackpool; they don't attract the hen parties for no reason! We aren't normally leading the way on nights out that include cheap drinks, cheesy music and fighting for dance floor space but we hit the town (dressed appropriately) and had a GREAT night. The nice thing was everyone was friendly and in the cafe where we had our late-night snacks we made a few new 'friends'.

On our last day we played mini-golf in the beautiful sunshine before strolling along the beach. There has been SO much regeneration in the area that it doesn't look anything like it did 10 years ago. Well, you still have Blackpool tower and the other traditional sights but it is SO much cleaner and everything has been modernised. They even have Nandos :)

If you head to Blackpool after 31st August you will be treated to the best light display in the country. This year (2012) will celebrate the Centenary of illuminations. Here's some facts about the lights!

  • The Illuminations started with a display of eight arc lamps back in 1879.
  • The event was so innovative it even preceded Thomas Edison’s patent of the humble electric light bulb which didn’t arrive until the following year.
  • In 1879 the Illuminations were described as artificial sunshine and 100,000 people came to see this first great light show.
  • The equipment weighs more than 711,000 kilograms which is equivalent to 350 Blackpool trams.
  • There are over a million lamps in the display.
  • In 1939 the lights were erected but never switched on because of the outbreak of war.
  • In the 1960's electronic controllers were pioneered in the Illuminations. Rope light or "linear light" as it was originally known was also pioneered here.
  • Cable and wiring in the display stretches more than 200 miles.
  • The Illuminations cost £2.2 million to stage.
  • The equipment itself is worth about £10 million. 
  • Wind turbines at the Solarium on New South Promenade contributed to powering the llluminations for the first time in 2004.
  • In 2002 the display included a world’s first in exterior LED technology.
  • Altogether 65,000 staff hours are used on maintenance, preparation, erection, operation and - finally - dismantling the features, fixtures and fittings.
You must have a ride on the Blackpool trams too. As Blackpool is laid out along a seafront (known as the Golden Mile, but its actually over 3 miles) there is a lot of walking so we would advise using the trams. The trams have 'killed' a few Coronation Street (a UK soap) characters in their time but ultimately they are fun, (safe), unique and you can't miss them. And don't forget to see the pier if you want to get a full view of the promenade.

It doesn't matter how old you are or how many times you've been to the seaside Blackpool is well worth a visit - any time of the year!

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Lots of Love, Sarah & Laura xoxo