Thursday, 21 April 2016

Farewell Victoria!


Sometimes you just can't believe someone has gone. I can't believe we've lost Victoria Wood. She was my favourite female comedy actor, writer, song writer, basically she was a comic genius. Luckily we'll be able to watch her amazing performances over & over.

Hard to pick just one piece from her vast repertoire of TV comedy but I love this song. This isn't my favourite version I prefer the earlier ones which were longer but it's still great. What a lady.

Thank you for the laughter!


Monday, 18 April 2016

Dementia Awareness Week, 15 – 21 May


My first Twiddlemuff!

Dementia is something that scares us all whether it's the fear of developing it or coping with a family member who has this awful illness. 

You feel so helpless at times when you see a member of your family slipping away from you. This year 15 - 21 May is Dementia Awareness Week when The Alzheimer's Society will encourage people who are afraid of dementia to contact them for advice and support.

Last week I joined a knitting group who meet at a local church to knit things for local charities. One of the things we are making is a Twiddlemuff.  They are designed to sooth restless hands & reduce agitation by providing stimulation for active hands, while promoting increased flexibility and brain stimulation.  So they are ideal for people with dementia or other mental health problems.

You can find out more on the NHS website here and the pattern is there too. It's a very simple one and knits up quickly using up spare wool and other bits and bobs.

The picture at the top is my first attempt.  Have to say it is quite addictive holding it, I used really soft wool for the interior and put satin ribbons inside and outside. I will be loathe to part with it next week so might just have to make one for myself! 

Thursday, 3 March 2016

World Book Day!


Well just got back from dropping Lauren off at school today. They were letting the children dress up as a character from books. Have seen lots of princesses, Spidermen (& women) Darth Vaders, elves, knights etc. (Not all of these were characters from books methinks! There was one boy who was inside a cardboard box which was painted like a wall. It looked great but we couldn't think which book it was meant to be. Lauren suggested Humpty Dumpty more a nursery rhyme character but maybe it was a book we didn't know.

We laughed as we were driving to school listening to the wireless, it was reported that an Umpa Lumpa had been seen on the M6. Probably caused a major traffic incident.

Lauren was dressed up as Black Beauty. Well not exactly as the horse. She had her riding gear on hat, jumper, joddies & riding boots. She also had a crop which I warned to to be careful with! She was in one of those strange step into toy horses similar to the one below & it was brown not black. Reminded me of Bernie Clifton & that ostrich he used to have. 


She had wanted to go as Belle as she has a beautiful gold costume she got for going to Disneyworld about 18 months ago however she decided it was too cold to wear it. 

I think it's great that they encourage the children to focus on books & give them vouchers for books. It's hard to believe but some children just don't have any books in the house at all so the vouchers give them an opportunity to have one of their own. Also sometimes there's just too much emphasis on telly, films and computers which may stunt their imagination. 

As for me I'm ashamed to say I haven't read for a while, got out of the habit & into watching too much telly whilst I crochet. So last week whilst I was clearing out the little bedroom I found a bag of the Camilla Lackberg series of crime books which I had forgotten about. I decided to read them again. BIG mistake! It's a couple of years since I read them & I discovered she has written a couple more so I thought I'd go back to the beginning again. I really enjoy her style contrasting the normal lives of Patrick & Erica Hedstrom (police officer & writer) with the horrendous criminal characters form the past & present in that lovely little Swedish coastal town of FjÀllbacka. I'd love to visit it sometime. I'm now up to the fourth book, The Stranger and I can't put the books down which means I'm getting very little work of any kind done & she keeps me guessing right to the end. What an imagination! I'll never get that bedroom cleared and decorated at this rate & I only have a few weeks left before I start the rail tours. Better read faster & for longer!!!!!!

Friday, 19 February 2016

I'm Getting Hooked on the Telly!


I can't believe it but after moaning so much about how terrible the telly has been for months it's great at the moment. My problem is my husband doesn't like the same programmes that I do so I have to wait until he's out to watch them on iPlayer. Thankfully they're all on the BBC so no problems there, we don't have anything to record programmes. When we had a video recorder I used to record programmes & never watch them!

However I've been hooked for weeks now on a number of programmes, mainly BBC ones that I think are really good.

War & Peace

I never thought I'd like it but I did. This is one my husband refused to watch! Not my favourite programme this winter but it's a very good production. The acting was brilliant, I enjoyed Lily James as Natasha, a bit more of a challenge than playing Cinderella. I'd never heard of Paul Dano who plays Pierre but he was good too although I can't say I admired or understood his character. James Norton was good as Prince Andrei but again I couldn't understand him, a bit of a misery and never satisfied. I kept wondering where I'd seen him before then realised he was the scary Tommy Lee Royce in the amazing Happy Valley series. 
The costumes were excellent especially those in the ballroom scene. The settings were sublime. My favourite scene was the ballroom one in Episode 3 where Natasha & Prince Andrei dance it was so romantic & beautifully filmed. One of those "moments" in film that are never forgotten.

Don't think I'll read the book though it took me ages to figure out who everyone was in the first episode & apparently the book is confusing too. Wish I'd looked at the BBC website first where all the characters are listed. Also the war scenes were awful so I'll pass on this book. However Tolstoy's book has made the bestseller list for the first time ever. 

Dickensian

This is another one I thought I wouldn't like but I'm totally addicted to it. Who would have imagined a mix of characters from a range of Dickens' books could meld into a murder & love story in 19th Century London. Excellent acting from a cast of great actors portraying such wonderful characters as Mr & Mrs Bumble, the gin swilling Mrs Gamp, Bob & Emily Cratchit, Bill Sikes & Nancy, Fagin & the Artful Dodger, Ebenezer Scrooge & Jacob Marley, Miss Havisham,  Little Nell, Fanny Biggetywitch & the wonderful central character Inspector Bucket. The make up & scenery are excellent, no Photoshopping here nor Disneyesque houses! We're up to episode 19 now & I think there's just one more to go. I'll be lost when it finishes so I hope Tony Jordan writes another series.

Call the Midwife

I still enjoy this series about a group of midwifes in the early 'sixties working in the poverty stricken East End of London which has now reached series 5. Although I preferred the four earlier series it's still quite gripping seeing how life was back then with polio striking & the realisation of the effects of thalidomide. It's funny, desperately sad on occasions but a heart warming series based on the memoirs of the midwife Jennifer Worth who worked in the East End of London in the 'fifties. 

A Place to Call Home

I found this by accident one really cold afternoon when all I fancied doing was having a coffee & watching a bit of telly. I suppose it's a bit like an Aussie Dallas soap but much better. A drama set after World War two when an Australian nurse who had been a resistance fighter in France & a prisoner in a concentration camp travels back home to Australia on a cruise ship. She meets a well to do family returning home after visiting the UK & her life becomes entwined with theirs. At the centre of the family is an interfering snobby mother & grandmother whom you love to hate along with issues of racism, homophobia, sex outside of marriage (well it was the 'fifties) teenage pregnancy & so much more! I love the settings, Sydney & the wonderful houses & clothes.  Another one I've become addicted to & it's on every weekday afternoon! 

Shetland

I didn't watch the first series of this for some reason but saw the second one advertised so thought I'd watch it to see if I recognised any of the places I visited last summer. I recognised the North Link ferry & the road crossing at the airport runway but so far that's about all. Have to say it's a bit grey & reminded me of The Bridge the Danish/ Swedish crime series where it always seems to be cold & grim but I suppose it's the atmosphere they're trying to create. It's no Hawaii 5-0 that's for certain. It's also a bit harrowing rather like Happy Valley but I really want to see what happens.

Happy Valley

I watched the first series of this last year & it really scared the wits out of me it was so harrowing. I watched the first episode of the second series and the characters are wonderful. I love the brilliant Sarah Lancashire who plays the gritty Yorkshire police sergeant. She is so funny & yet so desperately sad. I was hoping that the horrendous Tommy Lee Royce wouldn't be in it this time but I suppose he had to be but I won't give the game away about the plot. (Still can't believe it's the same bloke in War & Peace!) I'm not sure I want to watch Episode 2 but I think I'll give in.

Father Brown

This is a good light hearted TV series based on the books by GK Chesterton about a crime solving Roman Catholic priest in the 'fifties. I remember the TV series in the 'seventies where Kenneth More played Father Brown & wondered how Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley in the Harry Potter films) would fare in the role. Have to say I think he's great. Quite droll & probably more realistic than Kenneth More was. After watching a number of these set in lovely English country villages it gets a bit like Midsummer Murders! There was never that number of murders in the whole of the country in those days. We still had hanging then!

The Young Montalbano

Another series I enjoyed watching but it's another programme I have to watch on iPlayer when my husband is out.  He won't watch anything with subtitles! Think this second series has grown on me. I kept comparing the first series to the Inspector Montalbano ones, although the Sicilian settings are the same they don't seem to have the same beautiful photography that Inspector Montalbano had. He doesn't swim as much in this series but I've got used to Salvo being younger & with a mop of curly hair!