Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Books

February saw a total of 6 books added to the list (including The Radleys which isn't in the picture as I wasn't sure if I'd finish it in time, but yep, it did just sneak on there with a few hours to go). That takes the total to 14 out of 52, with 52 being my GoodReads challenge for 2015.
February Books

The Land of Decoration by Grace McCleen
This one had an interesting premise, a young girl (Judith) creates a land of creatures and people and somehow her surroundings end up mirroring what she makes in her fantasy land. Is she a miracle worker or is it just coincidence? It's quite an enjoyable story, even with a fairly bleak storyline and the little girl in it is quite a likeable character. A fairly quick and not too challenging read.
To Hull and Back: On Holiday in Unsung Britain by Tom Chesshyre
I like reading travel books about Britain, you usually find out some obscure bit of information (handy for pub quizzes) and a lot of history as well. This one follows the author as he visits several 'unsung' towns, places such as Milton Keynes, Salford, South Shields, Coventry, Slough and Croydon and tries to discover their touristy bits. It's probably not the best tour book of Britain out there but I definitely know things about those places now that I didn't know before.
Mad About You by Sinead Moriarty
Can't remember why I picked this one up but it made for a quick and easy read. Emma has moved to London with her family and needs a nanny for her children. It's set in a land of posh afternoon teas, ladies who lunch and people with large amounts of money and soon Emma begins to get threatening texts and suspicious packages, seeming like someone is out to break up her relationship. There's a few side storylines as well, one about her sister who's taken up with an unsuitable man and a friend's marriage which is on the rocks for example. It's a little bit of a who-dunnit type story except for the fact that it seems fairly obvious early on who is behind it all. You spend the rest of the book wondering if it really is that simple and suspecting everyone else, only for the ending to be an bit of an anti-climax and yup, it was who you thought in the beginning after all. Oh well.
The Great White Palace by Tony Porter
I spotted this one on someone's blog last year (apologies but I can't remember who it was, if it was you, let me know and I'll pop a link in) and thought it would be quite an interesting read. I remember staying near Kingsbridge on an awful A Level Geography trip (loved the subject, hated the field trips with all the other students), visiting Bigbury on Sea and looking across to the island, thinking how mysterious it looked. It's quite an enjoyable read, not focussing too much on the history of the place but more on the restoration and running since Tony Porter and his wife bought it. Reading the book, they certainly had their work cut out to get it back to the magnificent state it's in now! Strangely out of my local libraries area (which includes over 100 branches) there was only one copy of it and even then, that was in large print. It doesn't strike me as a very long book even if it had been in normal print so if you're interested in the restoration of 1920s architecture, then this might be a good quick read.
Knits: for you and your home by Debbie Bliss
Lots of knitting patterns in this one, for beginners and for experts. All very well explained and easy to follow and I've scanned about half a dozen patterns to try out at a later date.  
The Radleys by Matt Haig
The last book I read in February and probably the one I enjoyed the most from all the ones I read that month. The Radleys are a seemingly ordinary family on the surface but look below and you'll find a family of abstaining vampires, except that the children don't know it yet. It's quite well written with an intriguing plotline (and various bits from 'The Abstainer's Handbook' for vampires scattered throughout) and one I finished in a day!

Anyone read any of these? What did you think?
(also next month, I will actually remember to photograph the book covers before handing them back to the library...)

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Here Is The News #34

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance

Janet's done her own excellent version of '10 things I'm already good at' - I particularly like 2, 3 and 9.

Danielle's shots of her pooch, Baker are stunning - he is one gorgeous woof!

Kezzie's explained all about the chazzer-crawl (which should definitely be an actual phrase) and shared some of the excellent bits and pieces she picked up along the way.

It's Betty's time of the month over on Michelle's blog and as always, she manages to create a proper laugh-out-loud tale from what must have actually been a very frustrating time!

Sarah's post about how smugness and happiness are not the same thing is well worth a read (listen to her, she speaks the truth) and her post about how to involve the other parent during pregnancy is brilliantly written with lots of excellent tips (and I hope one day, I'll be able to make use of them).

I do like this DIY jewellery hanger which Emma created, although I think I'd need to make a few of them for my necklace collection.

Jen discovered a very old sketchbook belonging to her great uncle, prompting her to delve deeper into doing a spot of family history research.

Rachael wrote all about the things you shouldn't assume your blog followers do, excellent advice and certainly the first item on her list (about Bloglovin) annoys me too!

I could do with Becky's advice about how to write an excellent book review as for someone who's training to be a librarian, I really am pants at writing good reviews.

After Jen's post about her time in New York, we all need to start a campaign to get 'photomentary' into the dictionary!

How cute is Elise's Cornish dormouse tea cosy?

Kerri's take on a 'favourites' post is simply brilliant, it's very Kerri and I was certainly nodding along to all the questions about how to do one.

And if you'd like a crafty Instagram challenge, Kate is running a #makeitmarch one. Lots of prompts and a chance to showcase your craftiness!


Interesting Info

Nice to see that librarian is one of the most desirable jobs in the UK!

An interesting take on disability over on the BBC the other day, telling the story of a woman bringing up her children (one with Down's, one without) without the non-Down's child knowing the other is any different. You don't really think about it but of course, it does make sense as children just see the other person and nothing else.

Food Porn

Cecilia's Coffee and Banana Cake looks delicious - I'm not a fan of coffee the drink but strangely I do like coffee the flavour.

Gwen's Hot Chocolate recipe includes cayenne pepper which I've never actually thought about including before.

Clare's Mars Bar Brownies are just oozing chocolate in her pics!

And after reading Kerri's attempt at Apricot Chicken, I'm quite intrigued to try it myself!

Blogs I've followed this week...

What's new with you?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A Photo Every Hour - Saturday 21st February

This month it was Jane's turn to set the date for the photo an hour challenge and she picked Saturday 21st - a day which saw me out and about meeting people, drinking hot chocolate and making crafty things.

9am - Sunshine!
9am - sunshine through the curtains

10am - Breakfast this morning contained hard-boiled eggs with an oft-used recipe in our house - Bacon and Eggs Kedgeree-style (which I'm sure I've done before on a photo an hour day).
10am - hard boiled eggs

11am - A quick hop in the shower in an attempt to look half decent before heading out to Bath to meet the other people on my degree course.
11am - shower time

12pm - Just about to head out of the front door to catch a bus to Bath.
12pm - ready to go out

1pm - The bus was late so by 1pm we were only halfway to the city centre. It's only a 45 minute journey but (unbeknown to me until I got on) Bath Rugby were playing Northampton Saints that day and the bus was packed.
1pm - bus journey to Bath

2pm - I met up with the other distance learning students at the Chapel Arts Centre Café which I've never actually visited although I have been to a gig in the arts centre itself.
2pm - Chapel Arts Centre cafe

3pm - I had a hot chocolate at the café which was very nice indeed and ended up with what looked (and tasted) like liquid chocolate at the bottom of the cup.
3pm - hot chocolate

4pm - We finished chatting and all headed our separate ways, me off to wait in a pre-arranged place for Andrew to pick me up. Despite the gorgeous sunny weather only 3 hours earlier, it was chucking it down and due to my dodgy ankle, I couldn't run to shelter!
4pm - walking in the rain

5pm - Back home and just enough time for a cuppa before heading out again to the local church for a craft evening.
5pm - making tea

6pm - When we arrived at the church, we were given a little bag of card and embellishments and told to take our seats as "all would be revealed later!"
6pm - craft evening supplies

7pm - The little bag contained everything we needed to make these little collapsible decorative boxes which I think we all did fairly successfully (at least, most of the PVA glue actually ended up on the cards and not over us or the rest of the table).
7pm - craft boxes

8pm - The evening also included a dinner of baked potatoes and various fillings followed by puddings homemade by ladies from the church. I couldn't decide whether to have a slice of Banoffee Pie or a slice of Chocolate Cream Pie but the lady dishing it out overheard me and slapped a slice of each in my dish - bonus (or possibly just greedy).
8pm - banoffee pie and chocolate cream pie

9pm - Waiting for our lift home with the chippy opposite smelling rather delicious.
9pm - the smell of the chip shop

10pm - Part of my twice-daily physio routine is to balance on a cushion for 30 seconds on my bad leg. I can't do the whole 30 seconds just yet, I have to steady myself using the kitchen side but it certainly creates some entertainment for Andrew!
10pm - balancing on a cushion

11pm - And just before we headed to bed, I went through Twitter and Instagram to make a list of all you lovely people who had taken part in photo an hour that day.
11pm - making a list of photo an hour people

An amazing 23 people joined in this month and I think that's the highest amount so far. I said to Jane last month, "I wonder if we can make 20 by the end of the year" but I certainly didn't expect to beat that the following month so a huge thank you to everyone who took part or joined in the fun on the day by commenting on Twitter or Instagram.

So who did we have then?
Jane from Is That You Darling joined in on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog
Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines joined in on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog
Rachael from Dear Ms Leigh joined in on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog
Janet from Words That Can Only Be Your Own joined in on Instagram, Twitter and on her blog
Rebecca from Just Me joined in on Twitter and on her blog
Susie from Second Hand Susie joined in on Twitter and on her blog
Amy from Fluffy Owl's Adventures joined in on Instagram and on her blog
Lizzie from Lizzie Dripping joined in on Instagram and on her blog
Rachel from The Inelegant Wench joined in on Instagram and on Twitter
Kim joined in on Instagram and on Twitter
Josie from Tales from the Finch's Beak joined in on Instagram
Rebecca from Writing, Fatshion, Me joined in on Instagram
Chelsea from Love in Modern Life joined in on Instagram and on her blog
Emma from Miss Pond joined in on Instagram
Hannah joined in on Instagram
Kerri from Crumbs in the Bed joined in on Instagram
Laura joined in on Instagram
Lucy joined in on Sunday on Instagram
Hazel from World of Joy joined in on her blog
Bev from Confuzzledom joined in on her blog
Eileen from In My Playroom joined in on her blog
Elise from Elise and Life joined in on her blog
Lucy from Lucy in the Clouds joined in on her blog
And of course, myself here on this post, plus on Instagram and on Twitter :-)
I hope I've managed to include everyone, I'll update the list as and when blog posts appear but give me a shout if you took part and I haven't included you. If your blog post goes live at a later date, that's absolutely fine, just let me know and I'll pop you in.
I'm going to keep it simple for March and choose Saturday 21st March as the date, the same as February. Pop it in your diaries and I'll also tweet everyone the day before as a reminder - see you then!
Also, check out what I was up to in...

Monday, 23 February 2015

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Participating - in February's photo an hour challenge which ended up being a day filled with two outings.

Tea making during photo an hour

Meeting - up with a couple of other students also doing the Aberystwyth MSc Information and Library Studies degree (the first outing). Doing a course by distance learning can get pretty lonely so it was good fun to see a couple of others, tuck into a hot chocolate and have a natter about how far through (or how far behind!) we are with the all the modules.

Hot chocolate

Making - some little decorated boxes at a craft evening held at the local church (the second outing). Mother in law suggested it a few weeks ago and lured in by the offer of a free evening complete with dinner and cake, I went along and took part. We were all given a pack of pre-cut card and embellishments and shown how to make little 3D collapsible boxes. Mother in law's is the one in the middle, her friend's is on the left and mine's on the right - the plain looking one as I seemed to be the only person on our table with less interesting bits of card!

Church craft evening

Church craft evening

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Sunday, 22 February 2015

An A-Z of Me - R

A-Z of Me - R

Rent – I first saw this musical back in 1998 when I was 15 on an overnight GCSE Drama school trip. We saw Rent in the evening and then a matinee of Cats the next day. Can't say I was that impressed with the furry felines but Rent was just spectacular, one of those shows where you're so transfixed by what's on stage that you honestly have no idea there's anyone else sat around you. The majority of my classmates fell in love too and we all spent the next few years singing every song from the show and reciting lines at each other. I've seen the show 17 times since and even now, 17 years after I first saw it, I can still sing (albeit very badly) each and every line.

Rowena Cade – If I had to write a list of inspiring people, she'd be pretty near the top of it. The force behind the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, the very fact that she conceived such a magical and amazing place whilst building it well into her eighties makes her one cool lady. If you've ever been to Porthcurno, you know those 90 steps from the beach up the cliff to the theatre? Yup, she helped build them and even carried 15ft beams of wood and allsorts up and down that hill. The Minack definitely does have an amazing atmosphere and you should definitely try and see a show there at least once in your life.

Rocky Horror Show – Another fabulous musical. Also in my list of top 5 musicals to see, although of course you do have to dress up in something themed and shout all the taglines ("slut", "arsehole", "that'll be a first", etc. etc).

Railways – I've always liked journeys, anything where I can be nosy and watch the world go by is fine by me. I do like long train journeys though and had a dad who liked steam trains so it was a bonus that Andrew was a fan too. Andrew knows a lot about the history of railways in Somerset as well, our ill-fated Somerset and Dorset line was shut by Beeching in 1966 but the local town was immortalised in that classic Flanders and Swann poem 'Slow Train' written in 1963.

Recipes – I can follow a recipe pretty well (in fact following any sort of instructions are good for me) and I have a habit of collecting bits and pieces from magazines and books, more things than I'll ever have time to actually cook. I have a large box file with all my recipes sorted by type and I use that to meal plan and do our fortnightly shopping. Give me a bunch of random ingredients and ask me to make something though and I'd be completely lost.

Red – My favourite colour, with green being a close second.
Running – I did complete a beginners 5K running (more like jogging) course about 5 years ago and managed to do the circuit in a fairly okay 41 minutes - not amazing but not bad for my first time. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with running though - I love the idea of just being able to step out from your front door and go but I hate the reality actually doing it when it's too rainy, too dark, too cold, too sunny, not enough time, etc, etc. Me and Andrew have started the NHS Couch to 5K course in the past but have only managed to get as far as week 3 before the excuses start creeping in. We had started it again just before I broke my ankle but when I spoke to the physiotherapist, she said it'll be "a long time" before I do anything like that again. However the whole concept of finding an exercise you love because you'll stick to it for longer is completely true - I love swimming and could happily do that forever, apart from the fact that (unlike running) it costs money, also (unlike running) you have to go during set sessions and again (unlike running) our local pool is always really busy in the evenings and weekends, meaning that you have to take it in turns to swim one length. Of course, none of those reasons apply with going running. I reckon the solution to all this is just to move to a house that has a swimming pool!
What 'R' things sum you up?

For the rest of the alphabet click here!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Cooking Crimes - In Defence of Chinese Takeaway Boxes

Not sure this is strictly a 'crime' as such, more of a dirty little secret.
Chinese Takeaway Boxes
At the last count, we have 53 of these nifty little boxes. And that's not including the ones that've cracked and been recycled or the ones containing a slice of cake or portion of dinner that we've given away to friends and family. But why is that wrong, I hear you cry?
Well, yep they are incredibly handy for storing stuff and great for being able to portion out large meals and chuck things in the freezer for a rainy day.
But….when you add in the fact that these boxes came from our local Chinese takeaway…and that each box contained one meal…and that to get an empty box, you have to eat what's inside (obvs)…it doesn’t put me and Andrew in the best (or indeed, most healthy) light.
So a bit of quick mathematics, say 52 boxes, divided by 2 (one meal each) equals umm…26 times we've succumbed to the idea of a chicken chow mein or some noodles and egg fried rice.
The only thing which makes this whole sticky sweet-and-sour-sauce fiasco marginally more acceptable is that we have been customers of our local for about 3 years. Taking into account the boxes which we've lost along the way, I still reckon that works out to be one visit every month. I can't decide if that makes us big fat pigs or incredibly restrained!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Here Is The News #33

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance (far too many fabulous posts this week, you lot all need to stop writing such good stuff!)

Is Sarah having a boy or a girl? Only time will tell but in the meantime, it seems like there's lots of different methods for having a jolly good go!

Jane's hosting an excellent giveaway with a chance to win tickets to the Knitting and Stitching show in London next month.

One quick way to make yourself feel better is to read The High Tea Cast's list of things which prove you're winning at life, a list guaranteed to make you feel good about yourself.

I love the sound of Elise's Aqua Spinning class (and at the magnificent Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh!), I hope they start doing them somewhere down south so I can give that a go in the future.

Toni's opened her very own shop on Etsy with lots of incredibly cute designs in stock.

How gorgeous does Angela look with her new hairstyle? Bea-uti-ful!

Danielle's photos from her day in the life post are brilliant (Danielle, you'll have to join in with photo an hour one month!)

More stunning photos can be found over on Kerri's post all about the local botanical gardens in Autumn - the colours are gorgeous!

Emma had a lovely sunny day out on the beach at Bridlington (and how big is that piece of fish?)

I love this cloud cushion Janet made for her #DIcraft swap. It's a shame it has to be sent away but I have no doubt her swap partner will absolutely love it.

Emma-Hope's written an excellent post all about organ donation, something which I signed up for last year.

Kezzie went to a swing dance weekend (and looks pretty darn cool in her flapper dress!) but also managed to find time to write an incredibly useful post about things to think about when you feel disheartened about blogging.

Chloe's post written by her other half, Simon is brilliant. He's perfectly captured what it's like living with a blogger, I showed it to Andrew and he found himself nodding along with pretty much every word.

Michelle had a little birthday last week (happy birthday lady!) and shared 31 little life lessons. She also had a little makeover (well, the blog did anyway, a gorgeous gal like Michelle doesn't need one) and spruced things up a bit.

And Sophie's been a bit awol recently but when you realise why, you can't help but laugh! She also managed to bag herself a promotion during her break - well done lady!


Food Porn

Hannah's Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake Brownies look delicious (anything with cheesecake and chocolate is a winner really).

Elizabeth's Gran's Super Simple Treacle Sponge looks tasty and dead easy to make.

And Josie is celebrating National Chip Week, which sounds like one celebratory week I could definitely get behind.

Exciting Events

It's February's photo an hour challenge this Saturday. I'll be posting on Instagram all day long and I know Jane will be too. Last month there were 15 lovely ladies snapping away on the Saturday or the Sunday and it'd be fab to get to over 20 people joining in by the end of the year. If you've never done one before, just take a pic every hour and it really doesn't matter how dull you think you day is, it certainly won't be boring to us bunch of nosy parkers. See you on Saturday? ;-)


Interesting Info

Fair play to South West Trains last weekend - they gave their passengers a romantic send-off!

Game theory is something our students get taught where I work but I wouldn't have been able to tell you much about it so this article from the BBC was quite interesting to read. A little bit of probability, a little bit of strategy and a little bit of haggling methinks.

And great minds think alike with this one - Danielle also spotted this excellent story about the first model with Down's Syndrome to grace the stage at New York Fashion Week.

Blogs I've followed this week...

What's new with you?

Monday, 16 February 2015

This Weekend at the Duckpond

We have mostly been...

Frying - duck-shaped eggs, or what would be more accurately described as 'attempting to fry'. I'd baked some bread the previous night (from a packet and done in a breadmaker, that's how I roll) and had planned on doing a nice breakfast on Valentine's Day. I ended up using the wrong frying pan though, one that wasn't completely flat meaning that the ducks turned out looked like they'd had some kind of terrible accident.

Fried egg ducks


Baking - the bread mentioned above. At the moment I'm favouring Wright's Cheese and Onion bread mix.


Licking - ice creams, bought from the local ice cream van who turned up in the road opposite on Saturday afternoon. It may have been dry and a little bit sunny but it was still cold out. Andrew ran over to buy a couple of 99's and I think the man in the van was rather surprised to actually have a customer.

Ice creams

Shuffling - lots of books from one bedroom into another. These are mostly Andrew's books and used to be housed in a bit of a mess on some bookshelves knocked together temporarily (read: over 20 years ago). The bedroom we've moved out of has fitted wardrobes which work perfectly as a mini library for any guests who come to stay.


Geocaching - We went on a drive across to Swindon on Sunday planning to meet up with my parents and brother to introduce them to the wonder of Ed's Easy Diner (they really need a branch in Bristol!). Before we went I downloaded the Geocaching app and on the way I had a look to see if there were any quick and easy ones to do on our journey. We only managed the one though, in a tree at the bottom of Hackpen Hill but even so, that's doubled our total!

Geocaching box

Showing - the 'rents Ed's Easy Diner. My brother seemed to particularly like the milkshake and happily drunk most of my mum's one. I tried out the Pulled Pork Burger and then somehow managed to eat half of this amazing chocolate sundae before it defeated me and Andrew had to polish it off.

Ed's Easy Diner milkshake

Ed's Easy Diner chocolate sundae

What did you get up to at the weekend?

Friday, 13 February 2015

Nine Mushy Screen Stories for Valentine's Day

Humans like a good love story don't they? And at the heart of every good story is always a good couple, battling against the odds, triumphing against adversity and riding the rollercoaster to culminate in a fabulous gooey lovey-dovey ending.

These are my faves complete with the lines that make them all wonderful...

Brown Bear and White Bear (Brown Bear's Wedding, 1991)

Bumbling Brown Bear is in love with beautiful White Bear but how to make her notice him? After a small amount of furry stalking she falls in love with him too and they skate away to a bear-shaped heaven. There's famous voices in this little gem as well with Hugh Laurie and Helen Bonham Carter playing Owl and White Bear respectively.

This is part 3 of 3 (the others can be found on YouTube as well) and the soppy bit is about 3 and half minutes in.

Brown Bear {writing a letter to White Bear}: Dear White Bear, your eyes are like stars and your fur is whiter than the moon. You have captured my heart. Will you look at the moon and stars with me, forever?
White Bear {grabs her scarf and sends it on the wind to Brown Bear}
Brown Bear {scarf floats through the window}: She loves me!

Jack Skellington and Sally (The Nightmare before Christmas, 1993)

I'm sure everyone would have this on their list but I reckon that's simply because, well, it's magical. When Jack comes back and walks up the snowy hill to her - A.MAZING. I also can't read these lines without hearing them sung in my head.

Jack {to Sally}: My dearest friend, if you don't mind, I'd like to join you by your side...where we can gaze into the stars.
Jack and Sally {together}: And sit together, now and forever, for it is plain, as anyone can see, we're simply meant to be.

Sister Bernadette (aka Shelagh) and Dr Patrick Turner (Call the Midwife, 2012 and ongoing)

A classic will-they-won't-they story, I loved watching Shelagh and Dr Turner grow closer and there were certainly plenty of times I had "kiss her, kiss her!" screaming through my head.

Call the Midwife scene
Can't find a video of the ultimate moment, at least, I can't find one which hasn't been made into some kind of fanvid or had a soundtrack added to it...

{Shelagh's walking home from the sanatorium and Dr Turner's been driving round frantically trying to find her}
Dr Turner: What if it had starting raining? What if you'd got lost?
Sister Bernadette: I was lost. I got the wrong bus.
Dr Turner: I was on the right road.
Sister Bernadette: Yes. I know you so little but I couldn't be more certain.
Dr Turner: I am completely certain. I don't even know your name!
Sister Bernadette: Shelagh.
Dr Turner: Patrick.
Sister Bernadette: There. We've made a start.

Jack and Amy (Jack and Sarah, 1995)

I loved this film as a teenager, I mean, properly LOVED, fan-girling over Richard E. Grant and everything. I actually met him back in 2002 at the stage door after he'd performed in 'The Play What I Wrote' and he was just as lovely as you'd imagine he'd be (plus just as good looking!).

Jack and Sarah scene
You can actually watch the whole movie on YouTube but can I find a clip of the ending? Of course not.

Amy {to Sarah, the baby}: I missed you.
Jack {to Amy}: I missed you too.
Amy: Oh, I wasn't talking to you but I'm flattered nonetheless.
Jack: That is, we, we missed you. Both of us. We want you back.
Amy: My rate's gone up. You can't afford me.
Jack: *Not* as a nanny.
Amy: In that case, you certainly can't afford me!

Dr 'Mac' Macartney and Caroline Todd (Green Wing, 2004 - 2007)

I'll admit, I only discovered Green Wing last autumn but it's quickly shot into my list of all-time favourite TV shows as well as all-time favourite romances. I know a lot of people like the very first kiss between Mac and Caroline but I much prefer their "proper kiss". I'm not a fan of the word 'squee' but it's highly appropriate when you're watching that scene.

Green Wing scene
I don't mind people adding their own soundtracks to clips on YouTube but I really wish they'd upload the original clip as well! Instead you'll just have to click here to watch the whole Mac and Caroline saga from start to finish (and drool over Mac of course...).

{discussing under what circumstances Mac would actually kiss his ex-girlfriend}
Caroline: Even if she was the last person left on the planet?
Mac: Where am I then?
Caroline: Oh no, no, there's two of you, one of them's you and Holly is the only woman.
Mac: Okay. If she's the last woman on the planet, I would kiss her and fall on my sword.
Caroline: You have a sword?
Mac: Yeah, it wouldn't even be a proper kiss.
Caroline: What's a proper kiss?
Mac {swoops in to give Caroline a "proper kiss"}

Joe Harper and Nina Raymond (In the Bleak Midwinter, 1995)

A bit of an obscure one, this was a black and white Kenneth Branagh film about a group of eccentric actors putting on a production of Hamlet at Christmas. It's incredibly good and stars all sorts of famous faces but for some unknown reason, it's never been released on DVD this side of the pond. Nina is the actress hired to play Ophelia, a short-sighted, ditzy but sweet girl who captures the heart of Joe, her Hamlet and director of the whole show.

In The Bleak Midwinter scene

{dancing together after the first successful performance of Hamlet}
Joe: You know, despite my immense purity of soul and being cleansed by my art, I'm still going to get depressed and mad.
Nina: Yes but we can get depressed together, that's fun!
Joe: Aren't you always going to be optimistic?
Nina: No, I'm going to be miserable and fat and have a huge saggy arse.
Joe: Ooh lovely, you can just feel it starting...

Hubie and Marina (The Pebble and the Penguin, 1995)

Happy Feet is good, but this is the film that really pioneered the way in penguin love stories. Based on the true mating rituals of Adelie penguin in Antarctic where all male penguins have to find their one true pebble to present to their mate, Hubie (the hapless star) has fallen in love with the most beautiful girl of all, Marina. Drake, the horrible penguin wants Marina for himself though and tries getting rid of Hubie for good. Cue lots of adventures across the high seas, picking up a crazy friend along the way and a struggle to get back to the South Pole before the end of the mating ceremony. It's a musical with songs by Barry Manilow but don't let that put you off, they're incredibly catchy choons!

The Pebble and the Penguin scene

 {gives Marina the pebble he's been carrying around for the entire film}
Hubie: Like it?
Marina: I love it!
Hubie: Good.
Marina: But don't you know, it's not the pebble, it's the penguin. I love *you* even more...

Laura Jesson and Dr Alec Harvey (Brief Encounter, 1945)

This was a fairly obvious one methinks: forbidden love, romance and steam? Ticks every box. Beautifully shot, evocative and a heart-breaking storyline, this is one classic romance everyone should watch.

Alec: Oh Laura my dear, I do love you, so very much. I love you with all my heart and soul.
Laura: I want to die. If only I could die...
Alec: If you died, you'd forget me. I want to be remembered.

June and Peter Carter (A Matter of Life and Death, 1946)

I love Powell and Pressburger's films and this one and The Red Shoes are my favourites. Peter Carter is a British pilot who's about to die and on his way down he contacts June, an American radio operator who appears to be the last person he'll ever speak to. Little does Peter know though, Death (in the form of the guide, 'Conductor 71') gets lost in the fog and Peter overstays his welcome on Earth leaving him time to fall head over heels in love with June. The Other World wants him though and he has to fight for his right to stay alive, complete with celestial courtroom, lawyers and a stairway to heaven. It's brilliant. Utterly bonkers but brilliant anyway. David Niven isn't half bad to look at as well.

This is the start of the film - possibly one of the best opening sequences ever. If you'd like to watch the whole film, you can do so here.

Far too many brilliant lines to mention although this one from the courtroom is rather good:
Doctor Reeves {in the Other World}: Yes Mr Farlan, nothing is stronger than The Law in the Universe but on Earth, nothing is stronger than Love.

What about you? Any favourite couples or stories?

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Here Is The News #32

Here is the News

Blogland Brilliance (lots of it this week!)

Both Jane and Amy wrote about their love for libraries to celebrate National Libraries Day last Saturday.

If you'd like a quick and easy Valentine's craft, Freya May has put together a DIY banner tutorial.

Danielle's first ever competition ended last week with some excellent entries and one very worthy winner - it's definitely worth checking out how inventive the pictures were!

This post by Siobhan about rootlessness, accents and your home is really interesting - where do you feel as if you're from?

For an early taste of summer (and even an ice cream!) pop over to Emma's blog so see St Ives in glorious sunshine.

Sarah's put together an excellent list of tips and advice for anyone moving home, in fact all the ideas I would've suggested are already there!

This list of modern remakes for musicals from The High Tea Cast is excellent - I particularly like Oliver, Rent and Moulin Rouge.

If you want even more fab links, check out Elise's post rounding up the best of blogland in January.

How crafty is Kezzie? She put together a brilliant package of handmade goodies for her swap partner, Janet.

And Char is holding a cheap and cheerful #spreadtheloveswap - sign up by Saturday 14th to send and receive a little package filled with love.

Interesting Info

The BBC looked at the changing face of passport photos over the last 100 years.

Ever wondered how video and DVD rental stores keep going? (our local one seems to survive on penny sweets and courier collections)

This incredibly sweet teen with Down's Syndrome has become an internet sensation after recording a cover of the John Legend song, 'All of Me'.

Things to make you hungry...

Just look at Jo's chocolate chip banana bread!

Hannah made some cute cola cupcakes.

And Debs made chicken and potato soup with bacon for a date night challenge!


Blogs I've followed this week...

What's new with you?

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Churchill War Rooms

As well as doing a tour of BBC Broadcasting House, one other attraction we visited in London last December were the Churchill War Rooms.

Churchill's War Rooms

Second World War history is something we're both interested in and always being one to spot a bargain, the War Rooms are part of the Tesco Clubcard scheme so we changed some vouchers and got in for free.

During WWII, the rooms served as the bunker which housed Churchill, his wife, Clementine and top government officials providing them with a place not just to shelter but also a space to make important decisions about the war.

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

The rooms are tucked away behind the Treasury building and entry to them even involves a baggage check (note: don't go there on the last day of your holiday and take your luggage with you). Once you're inside though, the whole pace is underneath the ground and you're free to explore all the corridors, rooms and nooks and crannies of the cabinet rooms.

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

There's a heck of a lot of history on display; original documents, maps and papers sit alongside mannequins and models showing how war business would have been conducted at the time.

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

As well as the bunker, the rooms are also home to the world's only museum dedicated to the life and times of Winston Churchill. That bit of the rooms is quite interactive with lots of things you can press or watch showing you everything he managed to do during his time in government.

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

Churchill's War Rooms

It's a fascinating place to go and see, definitely worth a visit if you're interested in Churchill or war history!
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