Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ March 2022

Yep I’m a couple of days late with a ‘tales’ post for March, but c’est la vie. March has been a busy month for us with Phil doing a make-over of our dining room.

stripper
paperer

We had a new floor done too, I can’t remember why but I like it so not to worry.

job done

New music equipment was purchased at the beginning of the month, well not new, Phil rarely buys new as it’s mega bucks for what he wants, he waits until new stuff comes in and then buys stock that’s getting sold at a bargain price in order to make room for the next things. We went off to Stockton on the River Tees for his latest aquisitions, a phono cartridge pre-amp and a regulated power supply. He tries to explain to me what these things do but I just can’t. Anyways we got lost getting there or rather we didn’t but just couldn’t see it, as the building entrance faced the river and the car park didn’t. We spent some time ogling the amazing music systems they had in their upstairrs showroom

ogling
more ogling

and I took a couple of pictures out of the window,

River Tees

The cats have been their usual selves, Lord Vincent has been loving the sunshine we had last week

LV

and Winnie has been bonkers

Boxed Winnie

WInnie has learned how to get up on top of our conservatory roof, and the other morning I woke up at 7.30am to her meowing. Couldn’t see her in the room but when I opened my curtains

let me in!

there she was shouting to come in. Not best pleased as I wasn’t going to work that day so getting up at 7.30 hadn’t been the plan. Sigh.

Talking of sunshine, it’s been a mad month for the weather. Last week was like summer, and then this week we got snow and sleet in between some sunny bits. I’ve been out walking a few times with the Contax Aria, with Sophie away a lot more than she used to be there are now several weeks in between our outings, so walking out into the nature bits around where I live is a substitute. Not a great one, but better than nothing.

Phil’s sister Annette had her 70th Birthday last weekend and 13 of us went out to a local restaurant, The Lakeside (there’s no lake anywhere near it) where she had booked us in for a celebratory meal. When we arrived they had no record of the booking. That was a shock and Annette told them she’d spoken to a chap but didn’t know his name. The place was really busy too. Have to applaud the manager and her staff though, they apologised profusely and went straight into action, managed to find enough tables to cobble together for us to sit at and we were sorted and our orders taken within 15 minutes. Not a bad meal either which Annette’s husband Brian paid for which was lovely of him. Afterwards we went to their house for cups of tea and some birthday cake.

Birthday girl

Annette rang us the next day to tell us that she’s booked another local restaurant, The Green, for Brian’s birthday meal in a couple of weeks time. They asked her why we hadn’t shown up for the booking she made for the day before. 🤣🤣

My Happy Eater tree is in full bloom now, it’s strange to see the bees buzzing about on it in the middle of a snow shower.

The Happy Eater Tree

Unfortunately we seem to have aquired a herd of Magpies who are going through the bird food at a fast pace. I’ve counted 7 of them, ‘seven for a secret never to be told’, which I won’t because I don’t know what it is. Anyway I’m not keen on them but everything needs to eat so I keep topping it up. Sadly the cats are no deterent as Winnie barks at them from the windowsill and Vinnie sits under the tree but they know he’s there and wait until he goes indoors.

I drove over to the coast at South Shields the other day, managed to photograph the sea with a weather front coming in.

Incoming!

My boss was off sick with Covid last week, the guy who works for her the 2 days I don’t had picked it up and then, as he stays over at Brendas when he works for us (he lives in Scotland) she was the next in line. So far I haven’t had it, nor our office manager, we dodged a bullet there as they say.

Well that’s about it for March, I’m glad we’re into April now and looking forward to Spring springing and getting out more.

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ Feb 22

Most of my photography is being done on film, but I’ve still managed a few iPhone shots, mostly of the cats.

Winnie has a thing for sticks of any description, and apparently spaghetti is in that classification. 🙄

sticks

Winnie and Lord Vincent don’t really get on, Vinnie is quite cool and doesn’t bother with her, but she hisses at him and sometimes jumps on him when she’s going past him, but the conservatory seems to be a no-mans land, or at least there’s a truce for there. Yep I know the windows need cleaning!

Another picture of Teddy from work, he’s ao adorably cute but SO yappy, which I’m not too keen on.

Yappy

He’s a cross between a Pomeranian and a Pappilon, whatever they are, and won’t get much bigger than he is.

I took some time out from work towards the end of the month and travelled south to see Ben, Lewis & Charlotte. It was Lewis’s 12th birthday last week but he was on half term the week before when I visited so I could spend more time with him.

That’s Ben’s ‘not another photo’ face!
Happy day!

They have been adopted by a cat who lives in their neighbourhood, Mrs. Miaow~miaow.

Mrs.Miaow~miaow.

It was nice to spend some time with them, but the driving there and back was a nightmare in the bad storms. I stay in a little annexe to a converted chapel as Ben’s house only has 2 bedrooms and I like my own room and bathroom and managed this time to mix up my leaving day, so I was turfed out on Wednesday afternoon when I thought I was staying until Thursday. 🙄 I ended up just driving home from 9pm and getting in for 1am.

We’ve only done 2 movies this month, Spenser Confidential, Mark Whalberg, which was a good action romp for a Saturday night, and The Counsellor with Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz. Directed by Ridley Scott we were expecting great things, but it was a bit of a damp squib really.

Phil has started on the redecoration of the dining room, and though it isn’t a huge room, it’s where the cabinets with CD’s, model tanks and a few preciouses live, so they have all had to be emptied and packed away. Steaming off the wallpaper starts tomorrow, thankfully I’ll be at work!

The weather has been fairly abominable, Storms Eunice, Franklin were mega~windy and rainy, I did my night drive up the country whilst Franklin was doing it’s thing, and I think we were supposed to have a Gladys too and we might have but if so it got lost in the news about Putin invading Ukraine. It’s been a sunny couple of days this weekend though so there’s that. But yes, Ukraine. Scary times and it seems to be escalating god knows where. Nothing to do but wait and see, but it’s hard to think about anything else. So that’s how February ends.

Lord Vincent

Not the 365 ~ movies,cats,Spring etc

Thought I’d do a little catch up as I’ve been busy with the 365 over on the Universe Blog and I just know y’all are missing my Movie Monday reviews. We are still watching movies, so I’m going to do quick dash through what I thought about them.

Dead Presidents 1995 and Phil’s choice as he had it on DVD and I hadn’t seen it. Starring Larenz Tate, Keith David, Chris Tucker, Freddy Rodrigues, N’Bushe Wright and Bokeem Woodbine. It’s based partly on the real-life experiences of Haywood T. Kirkland (aka Ari S. Merretazon), whose true story was detailed in the book  Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans by Wallace Terry, it chronicles the life of Anthony Curtis (Tate) and covers him from high school to the vietnam war and then home again to where he and his pals rob a bank. A well made film focussing on the experences of black veterans, well acted and paced, co-written, produced, and directed by Allan and Albert Hughes with skill and obvious passion. I imagine Spike Lee watched this and made notes for his Da 5 Bloods movie. I enjoyed this one much more. Fraggle Rating: underated and well worth seeing.

The Mule 2018. Clint Eastwood produces and directs from a script by Nick Schenk. Also based on the true story of a New York times article by Sam Dolnick “The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule” about a WW2 veteran called Leo Sharp who became a drug courier for the cartel in his 80’s. Well this was fun, Clint has still got it and commands the screen even though he’s in his dotage now. Not sure how but he looks good even with that many wrinkles. Anyway it’s his movie though he’s ably assisted by Bradly Cooper on his tail as Colin Bates a D.E.A agent, Michael Pêna as Bates sidekick Trevino, Dianne Wiest as Clint’s estranged wife and a fairly small part for Lawrence Fishburn as Bates’s supervisor. Fraggle rating: Top Notch, especially for Eastwood fans.

The Alamo 2004. I’m sure someone out there will say this isn’t as good as the original Alamo movie made in 1960 starring John Wayne as Davy Crockett (perleeze 🙄🥴 blerk, I do NOT like John Wayne one bit) but Phil wanted the 2004 version as he really liked it so that’s what we did. No need to explain the plot I think, but just in case. In the 1830’s Texas had a revolution, small groups of Texians (that’s what they were called back then) gathered at a little town on the Mexican border called San Antonio where the Alamo compound is, and the Mexican army under the President Santa Anna came and killed them all. Dennis Quade plays Sam Houston, Billy Bob Thornton ~ Davy Crockett, Jason Patrick ~Jim Bowie and Patrick Wilson as William B Travis. I enjoyed this, the characters are well drawn and acted, and John Lee Hancock directs with a steady hand, giving the main characters room to breath. It’s a good history lesson too as we are ‘doing’ American History documentaries at the minute and it all ties in. Fraggle Rating: Good +++

Aquaman 2018. A D.C superhero movie that I hadn’t got round to. Well I have now and it wasn’t totally great, however it does have good points. Firstly it is stunningly beautiful to look at. The CGI under sea world building is easily as good as Avatar which sprang to mind straight away. Jason Momoa who plays him is well, how to put it, built like a brick s**t house as my Mum used to say, has a twinkle in his eye and gave a committed performance, as did Amber Heard as Princess Mera of Atlantis who wants to stop her brother King Orm (Patrick Wilson again) from going to war with humans and needs Aquaman (named Arthur Curry of all things) to step up, return to Atlantis and save the world. William Dafoe is phoning in a performance as the Vizier of Atlantis, and Nicole Kidman looks entirely out of place as a renegade queen who escapes atlantis, washes up at a lighthouse where the keeper Thomas Curry (Temuera Morrison) rescues her, falls in love with her, impregnates her and then shortly after has to be a single parent after Atlantian soldiers come to take her back to marry whoever she ran away from. Also Dolph Lundgren is in the mix as an ally King to King Orm. There’s plot holes, a daft script and some dodgy dialogue, BUT this is one of D.C’s more light hearted movies after the darkness of Batman et al, and it was a blast from start to brilliant finish. Fraggle Rating: A mixed bag but well worth seeing.

That’s it for movies!

As most of you who follow this blog also follow the Universe blog, you already know I’m doing a 365 weekly post over there, but other life still goes on of course, and I take photo’s of that along the way. Last Sunday was Mother’s Day here, and Phil’s lovely daughter popped over with an afternoon tea for Phil and I to enjoy for the day. So nice of her to do this.

Afternoon tea. And dinner. And sandwiches for work the next day!

We still have Sophie’s cats! It’s been over 3 months now and Sophie isn’t back until at least the end of May/beginning of June so we have a ways to go yet. They are a pain in the arse and a total joy depending on what mood they are in, and I can’t resist taking pictures of them.

Sofa Day
Vinnie in default position
For two of these shots I had to get the stepladder out to retrieve her 🙄
looking for mischief.
ready for action

I’ve been enjoying having a few non rainy days and getting out to take photo’s for the 365, and also found other things along the way.

Swans on the muddy day!
Target Rocks, South Shields
Badass Crow

I found these fragments on the coast. I think it’s a letter of heartbreak, or castigation, I can’t make it all out, but it’s on a broken plate or something. Strange.

broken

The hedgehogs have woken up and are visiting every night now, but we’ve also had a little one that visits during the day, so managed to get a couple of shots.

Lucy

Hedgehogs are not usually out during the day, and this one is quite small, but she appears to be well, eating, drinking and running about well, so we are not too worried.

And finally, Spring is happening, at last, and soon the Happy Eater tree will do it’s glorious display, I can’t wait for warmer times!

Springading!

Corona Chronicles ~ 9

It’s been a few weeks since I did an update, so here’s number 9. I’m now in my 8th week back at work and it’s not letting up. I’m getting through 48 patients a week, and have got a routine down pat now. Masks are compulsory of course and I’ve got used to wearing one for most of the day, though when I have a plastic apron and my headlamp on I get uncomfortable and hot, but I’d rather that than be unprotected. So far no virus detected so although I’m certainly not blasé I’m also not too worried.

Phil is more worried as it’s so difficult in the full bifta, with face shields, masks, gowns and xray lead gowns to cope with, he is dreading a 2nd wave.

We have had an entertaining 4 weeks at home however. At the beginning of June Sophie got on a plane and went to Spain to visit her chap Mentat. They hadn’t seen each other for 3 months due to the lockdowns first there and then here. She was only going for 2 weeks and asked me to have her 2 cats whilst she was away and of course I said yes. Then the flight she was on got cancelled but they gave her an earlier one so that made it 3 weeks, and then her home flight was re-arranged for later and we’ve ended up with them for a month! Today when I get home Phil and I will return them.

They are a funny pair, Vinnie is HUGE and just wants to eat and sleep

Vinnie

and Winnie is small, doesn’t eat a huge amount and is mad as a box of frogs, chasing balls, up a height, here, there and everywhere!

Winnie on top of a door 🙄

They’ve been no trouble, well maybe there was an incident when Winnie climbed the curtains

😆

and a few times we couldn’t find her

🧐

they like sleeping a lot, especially in the sunshine

💤

and Winnie loves being in a box

or in a plastic bag

but her favourite spot is our Herky’s old place of preference

Vinnie really liked Phil

🙂

and he can do the cute thing too

and he made us laugh as he is too big for the cat toilet Sophie provided and has to stick his head out the door!

😂

It took Vinnie 2 days to come out from under our bed when he first arrived, but Winnie just got straight into everything. We’ve had to keep doors and windows shut as she is an escape artiste extraordinaire, which hasn’t been easy, so am looking forward to opening up the conservatory again when it’s warm. But we will miss them when they’ve gone home, it’s been so nice to have pets for a while.

But no, we won’t be getting our own, we still haven’t forgotten the trauma of Skye & Storm, and are not ready to be open to that again, and maybe one day we’ll be able to go on holiday again too!

Talking of which, it’s my birthday next month and it’s traditional to go away for that. We’re going to stay in Jedburgh for a couple of nights, a place not too far away but somewhere I’ve wanted to take my camera for a long time, so will look forward to that.

The garden wildlife is still ongoing, not as many hedgehogs as there were in spring when it was hot, but June and July have been pretty dismal regarding rain so the Hedgeies probably have enough natural food, the bugs and stuff. We have had an unexpected visitor though,

He was a bit of a surprise!

And that’s all my news!

February 23rd ~ Movie Monday

Well this one was a bit of a surprise, Phil’s choice for Thursday was Rambo First Blood (1982), a blast from his past. I have never been a Rambo fan, Sly never did it for me, too many bulging veins and his face is a bit too wonky, (nice hair though) but this is the deal, Phil does Thursdays, I do Saturdays. So in we went, tooled up with some beverages, and me ready for a rampage through the jungle. Except it wasn’t, that’s Rambo 2 or 4 or maybe 5, this one is the story of when John Rambo returns to America from Viet Nam, goes to visit an old comrade who has since died, and on walking away then gets picked up by the big bad Sherriff played brilliantly by Brian Dennehey. Things go bad quite rapidly, the Sherriff is a meanie and arrests him, the cops at the station treat Rambo like a piece of poop, Rambo is suffering from wartime flashbacks, and PTSD so bad-a-boom it all kicks off. Lots of fighting, survival stuff, some fantastic explosions, and then the unexpected ending, which really made the film for me (and which I’d love to spoil but someone somewhere might be living under a rock when they read this). Mixed views from the critics, but it won at the box office.

Sly did OK, he looked the part and grunted well, Dehenney was great, and though Richard Crenna in the part of Rambo’s old army boss Trautman won lots of praise for his performance, Phil thought he came across cartoonish, but I could apply that to quite a bit of the film.

Fun Fact: in a 2011 article for Blade Magazine by Mike Carter credit is given to the Rambo franchise for revitalizing the cutlery industry in the 1980s; due to the presence of the Jimmy Lile and Gil Hibben knives used in the films. (wiki)

I really enjoyed it, our version is a remastered one on bluray, but it still looked old school analogue, and if nothing else it shows how far action movies have come since 1982.

Onwards to Saturday, and while we have got to the end of the Marvel movies until the next phase begins, we can always go back to DC movies, and in this particular case, the best one yet. Wonder Woman (2017). Gal Gadot takes the title role, and she is just wow, drop dead gorgeous, fit as a duck, and can really act too. Chris Pine is the hero and he’s quite nice to look at too, but this is Wonder Womans movie, and it’s in my top 2 Superhero movies of all time so far.

The plot is ridiculous, of course it is, there are badass wonderful Amazon ladies, a bad Greek God, funny- haha spy type people, and a mad woman poisoner, not your average movie characters. But Superhero movies are not really about plots, like James Bond movies are not, there are goodies and baddies and the goodies win. Wonder Woman is set in World War 1, and Phil was impressed with how they filmed the trenches, and the accuracy of German WW1 uniforms ( 🙄🤣 ) London was done really well, they made it look like London in wartime, and we paused on the long shot to see all the detail of what was going on.

Gal Gadot shines, you can easily believe in her as Wonder Woman for a couple of hours, she underwent a diet and training regimen for the part, practiced different martial arts and gained 17 pounds of muscle for the role. Originally cast in Justice League, with Batman et al, Gadot got a bit of backlash from the ‘fans’ about her appearance, 😳 but Zach Snyder the director defended his choice well when he said Gadot “is strong, she’s beautiful, and she’s a kind person, which is interesting, but fierce at the same time. It’s that combination of being fierce but kind at the same time that we were looking for”. Gal Gadot pulls that off with great aplomb.

Well directed, well acted, beautifully filmed and a fab score by Rupert Gregson-Williams, what’s not to love?

Feb 01 ~Tales from Fraggle Towers.

Not the best of weeks, Phil has had a bad cold, and gave it to me so am not feeling the best. I also gave up alcohol last Sunday which (apparently) made me grumpy at work 😀 . I stopped giving up last night so I must be happy again, but I’m feeling poorly so I can’t tell.

In spite of that, Sophie and I had a little outing today, to see the visiting Knife Angel. We also went into the Baltic art gallery, and went to lunch in The Empourium just over the river in Newcastle. I took the Rollei but I noticed after a few pictures that the counter has not moved, though it feels like the film is being wound on, so not sure what’s going on. I’ll take a few more to see if it gets to the end of the film and it’s just the counter not working, but it may be the film isn’t being wound on and I’ll have to retrieve it. 🙄 I should just stick with the Minolta, no problems with that little baby.

The Knife Angel is a 27ft sculpture crafted out of 100,000 knives that have been surrendered to police forces across the country. It is also known as the National Monument Against Violence & Aggression. It was first unveiled in 2017 and has been touring the UK since. Artist Alfie Bradley worked with The British Ironwork Centre who contacted the Home Office requesting permission to collect knives from police forces in the hope of prompting new knife amnesties with the Ironworks offering to supply each force with knife bins free of charge. Permission was granted and the campaign took off.

Once the knives and weapons were delivered to The Centre’s workshop in Shropshire, artist Alfie got to work. He created a structure out of steel and formed the basic shape which the knives could then be welded onto.

He then disinfected every blade, some which were still blood-stained.

He then blunted each knife before welding it onto the sculpture. The wings were created using the blades only, creating a feather like appearance.

Knife Angel at The Sage

Jan 25th ~ Tales from Fraggle Towers

Today was the beginning of the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) garden watch, where anyone and his dog is invited to sit in their garden, a park or outside space, and spend an hour exactly counting and registering the birds they see. You can join in or read about it HERE. Herds of people take part every year and it helps the RSPB monitor bird populations across the country. I of course sit and take part, camera to hand. I was a little excited as for the past three days a Greater Spotted Woodpecker has been visiting the Happy Eater tree, which was such a surprise as we’re quite suburban here, and I hoped he’d turn up again today.

I saw sparrows, blue tits, great tits, long tailed tits, blackbirds, collared doves, a woodpigeon, a robin and the beautiful woodpecker. Unfortunately the woodpecker has made a quick getaway everytime I lift the camera, but I did manage one shot of the back of him.

Bird watch day
Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Did anyone else get given a mountain of chocolates for Christmas? We were given loads from family (they know Phil is a chocoholic) a huge box of Lindts, and a tub of Hero’s, a client gave us all a little box of posh chocs each (still in the fridge) also my boss at work gets migraines if she eats chocolates so she gives all that she gets to Phil. This year his favourites were given to my boss by a hearing aid company, and they are still undergoing consumption.

The Wreath Box
yummy’s
more yummy’s

This winter has been quite mild so far, though the nights are cold we are not dropping much below 6 °C (42.8°F) but even so I think the Happy Eater tree is a bit keen, or is confused.

Too soon little flower.

Film Friday will resume soon, I’ve sent rolls off to be developed. I gave up on the instants as I’m also doing the 1 second a day video thingy again this year and it’s too much overlap to do both.

I’ve started another mosaic project, this time a jewelry or nik-nak box, which went quite well, until the grouting when it all went pear shaped. That does seem to be a thing with me, but it’s sortable, fingers crossed.

urk.

It’ll look nice in the next picture! 😀

Jan 6th – Movie Monday

Here at Fraggle Towers we have 2 movie nights a week, Phil’s ‘Grim Movie’ night on a Thursday, mostly consisting of war movies so far, and my ‘Fun Movie’ night on a Saturday, so this year I’m going to tell you what we’ve been watching, and maybe you’ll be inspired to see one, or most probably inspired to miss them!

Last weeks Grim was possibly the grimmest yet that Phil has subjected me to, the title of which is City of Life and Death (2009. It is a chinese production directed by Lu Chuan and is set in 1937, not long after the start of the 2nd Sino-Japanese war. It tells the story of what happened when the Japanese Imperial Army overran Nanking, and the dreadful acts carried out over several weeks by the Japanese on the Chinese civilians, and captured soldiers, historically known as the Nanking Massacre. The only other film I’ve seen about this is another chinese movie, Flowers of War (2011), but that had Christian Bale starring as John Rabe, the priest trying to save chinese refugees in the city, so that it would appeal to western audiences. City of Life and Death does not pander to Hollywood. It is beautifully shot in black and white, and won several awards for the cinematography by Cao Yu. There is no music soundtrack, and it didn’t need one, you can’t set this much awfulness to any score. The acting is far beyond anything I’ve seen in other chinese movies, and the actors and actresses involved invoke emotional responses that touch the depths of the soul. It caused a fair bit of controversy in China when it was released, as part of the movie is told from the perspective of a Japanese soldier, and he is humanised, compassionate even, and conflicted by the events unfolding around him. It was nearly pulled from theatres and the director received online death threats. The movie is both brutal and gentle at times, visceral and sensitive. It is one of the best films I’ve ever seen, and if you can handle it, so worth seeing.

Most of you know I’m a Marvelholic, and for several Saturdays now we’ve been doing the MCU movies starting with Iron Man, and we will eventually end with Spiderman Away From Home. This Saturday we watched the first in the new Spiderman movies, Spiderman Homecoming (2017). Firstly I’m going to have to say Phil is not a Marvelholic, but he has a softspot for Spiderman from when he was a lad and he has mostly enjoyed the movies we’ve done so far. Unfortunately this version of Spiderman in the MCU is really disappointing, and neither of us were sad to see it end. The cast is fine, lovely to see Marisa Tomei as Spidermans Aunt, and Tom Holland as the new Spiderman does a good job with what he’s given, but for us it was all a bit juvenile (I know, he IS a teenager!). Spidermans sidekick Ned is played by Jacob Batalon, and the dialogue between them is annoyingly superfast and hard to follow, and quite asinine , unless you are under the age of 12 when perhaps it sounds cool. It was funny though to see a former Batman, Michael Keaton playing a bad guy in a ridiculous flying wrap around tank. Spiderman Far From Home has had a much better reception, so I am hoping it is a damn site better than this junk. I have seen the earlier Spiderman movies with Andrew Garfield in the 2012 and 2014 versions, much better than the 2017 one, and also the Tobey Maguire 3 movie series which kicked off in 2004, and those are far and away the ones I would recommend.

Back to work today, and the rather droopy plant, (some kind of orchid I think) that I chucked some water on before I left my clinic, has produced a copious amount of flowers whilst I was away, somethings are better left alone it seems. Especially Spiderman. 🙂