Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ August 2022

The end of August is nigh, and the official the end of summer. According to meteorological seasons, the first day of autumn arrives on 1 September and then according to the astronomical calendar, autumn will begin on Friday 23. Oddly, The Meteorological Office, which forecasts our weather (or tries to anway) uses the astronomical calendar. 🤷‍♀️

My autumn begins when the green leaves turn gold/red/brown and that isn’t happening yet, so I’m still in Summer, albeit the latter stages. August has been full of the drought, and then torrential downpours which did nothing to alleviate the problems drought is causing. Up here we haven’t had too bad a time of it, no hosepipe bans, and the crops and fields look healthy when I’m driving about anyway, though ponds have dried up across the way.

I got the results of the lung screening back, and whilst I haven’t got lung cancer, there’s a different issue shown up which has to be addressed, and is being. My hedonistic past catching up with me 🙂 . I may, or may not write more about it later, but it’s all a bit new at the minute, anyway I’m not at death’s door so yay!

Work has been mad busy as always, there’s a lot of ear wax in this world! I’ve got a week off coming in September which I’ll be glad for, it will be a staycation as no-one sensible would try and look after our cats, but we’re having a night in Edinburgh as the Scale Scotland Model show is on and it’s one of Phil’s faves. We’re only staying for one night and our lovely next door neighbour Cheryl will come in and put food down for them.

August is when the schools shut for summer, and I had Cal and Liddy to stay and took them out for a trip to the Northumberland Zoo whilst their Mum went to a funeral.

us at the zoo
snack break

Liddy loves horses and has riding lessons everyweek, but on bigger ones than this chap.

Mini horse

They loved the marmasets and Cal turned his camera round so the little guy could see himself! 🥴

selfie

This is a Scottish Wildcat, and the first time I’ve managed to see it as it hasn’t appeared on the other occasions I’ve been, it’s usually hiding, which is pesky, surprise surprise. Caught it at feeding time though.

Pesky Scottish Wildcat

The café at the zoo is pants, so I took them to Northhumberlandia which has a nice one, and hadn’t expected it to have 300 Harley Davison riders in it’s grounds. I got chatting to one of them in the café queue and he was telling me that most weekends, chapters of the riding groups meet up and go riding to places together. Their next event was the following weekend in Scotland, which is apparently the most anticipated and best of the year.

Angels of Hell, (and Scotland and Wales).

It was nice to spend some time with the kids and they had a sleepover.

Winnie and Lord Vincent have been enjoying the nice weather

Winny and Vinnie

also their assassination rates have gone up somewhat. Winnie has brought home 3 shrews and a rat and left them on our dining room floor mat to be admired, her modus operandi is unknown as they are always perfectly intact with no sign of damage.

a shrew

Lord Vincent is a different matter. He has caught two small mice which he announced by mewing loudly so we’d come and look, but he wouldn’t give them up and ate them 🥴. Sigh. Vinnie also caught a small bird, parts of which we found one morning in the living room along with copious amounts of feathers. I don’t mind about the rodents really, they’re not endangered species, (well maybe to Winnie and Vinnie), but I hate it when one of them gets a bird. What can you do? They both have noisy bells on their collars at least or it would be a massacre out there.

It was my birthday last week and I got taken out to dinner, to an Italian Restaurant over the train tracks in Pelaw. It’s called the Olive Verde and is above a rough and tumble pub in the main street, it does a small but very nice menu, has friendly staff and the food is good quality and (so far) is reasonably priced.

Happy Birthday to me

The big plus is it’s only a 10 minute walk from home and we were treated to a little sunset over the metro station on the way home.

I haven’t done much with my Fuji, and Sophie has only been home for the Raby weekend but I’ve been employing the iPhone camera and hipstamatic app when necessary, and am still taking my Contax Aria in hand, with a film sent off and one on the go. But I do belong to The Scavenger Hunt group on Flickr where there are 50 items to shoot within a year’s timeframe. I particularly liked my attempt at ‘Spices’.

Spices.

I’ve watched a few films this month,

The Gray Man starring Ryan Gosling.~ Netflix. A so-so action movie, a good review HERE by Dix/Eddie/the Pesky Scot, delete as applicable.
Samaritan starring Silvester Stallone. The reviews I read liked it better than I did- nicely filmed, minimal CGI but hokey script and acting veering between OTT and wooden. Still, it’s Sly, so there’s that.
Dog starring a wonderful dog, and Channing Tatum. Highly recommend it, did I mention the wonderful dog? She is fab, Tatum does OK too. Eddie has an excellent review HERE.
The Railway Man starring Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine and Nicole Kidman. A true story about a chap called Eric Lomax who becomes a POW in a Japanese POW camp in Singapore and has to work on the Thai-Burma railway. In spite of being tortured for a spurious offence, he manages to survive the war, but suffers PTSD for a long while after, until there’s a reconciliation at the end. (Trying not to do a spoiler but it’s a true story so that doesn’t matter really 🙄). Phil had read the book, and felt though it was told in a different way than the autobiography the movie was based on, it was all there, the flashback sequences being particularly good. Definitely recommend. Eddie wasn’t as keen so for a different POV his review is HERE.

So that’s about it, I’ll be back when September ends, so stay tooned.

Tales from Fraggle Towers ~ April/May 2022

I’ve been rubbish at keeping up the monthly Fraggle Towers posts, but hey-ho, life and all that. Anyway here is a potted update on our doings.

April saw Phil and I attend our first gig since the Covid thing began, and we went into Newcastle and met up with Phil’s son Carl and his Missis Karly, to see the band Stone Broken, which I’m sure you’ve all heard of 🤣. Phil and I started out in our regular pub Rafferty’s on Pink Lane, which has cheap alcohol and a floor your feet stick to.

Rafferty’s

The venue was The Riverside, which is beside the river Tyne (not being funny, we have a Lakeside pub that’s nowhere near a lake 🙄) a small venue which gets packed. I must admit to a certain amount of trepidation at being stuck in a room with a few hundred people, none wearing masks. I had one on, but it seemed overwhelmingly pointless as I had to remove it to have a drink so ended up maskless too.

Family outing

Newcastle at night is lush for photos

Tyne at night
The Bridge and the bridge.

The Band were great

Stone Broken

and a good time was had by all, plus we didn’t get Covid and die, so result!

Phil and I went back there in May to see a brilliant American Southern Rock/Soul band, Robert Jon and the Wreck and they were fantastic.

Robert Jon and The Wreck

We’ve been checking out a couple of local restaurants we hadn’t been to before, the first one was pretty poor food-wise, though a nice looking pub, in a lovely setting near our wildlife reserve. It was cheap, which was probably why we got oven chips and frozen veg with our main course, Phil had a microwaved pie (soggy pastry) and I got away with scampi which it’s hard to ruin really. Won’t be going back.

The Cock Crow Inn at Hebburn

The other one is called Le Olive Verdi and is a lovely Italian restaurant on the top floor of The Pelaw Inn, had a fab dinner, steak in 3 peppercorn sauce and it came with fresh veg, not cheap, but worth the money, and we can walk there so it’s all good and we will be returning.

clock at Le Olive Verdi

The cats:- Lord Vincent has been his usual zen self, eating, sleeping, sitting under bushes and plodding about.

Lord Vincent

WInnie has been on a killing spree. I came downstairs one morning to find a dead mouse on our dining room mat, it wasn’t mauled, just looked like it was asleep. A few days later Phil found a dead blackbird in the TV room. Then one day whilst Phil was at work she came running past me with something in her mouth, I chased her upstairs to the bedroom where she had something under the bed which was tweeting. It must have got free from her and hid as she came charging around to the other side of the bed whereby I picked her up and evicted her. I couldn’t see anything under the bed and it’s too heavy for me to move so I shut the door and left as I had to go out for a couple of hours. When I came back I could hear a constant tweeting from behind the bedroom door. I opened it and something ran very quickly under a chest of drawers, so I left it alone again. Still could hear the tweeting. I tried again a couple of hours later and this time it ran into the bathroom.

Tweety Pie

I shut the door and waited for Phil to come home. Phil managed to pick him up and gently carried him into the bushes over the road, where, we hoped forlornly, his mother would hear him and come and fetch him, but Lord Vincent had sneakily followed Phil outside and as soon as Phil’s back was turned, well, need I go on?

Finally I came downstairs one day and saw

😳

which was a bit of a shock. I couldn’t believe Winnie had managed to catch this big magpie and get him through the catflap without a sound or feathers being every where and thought he must have managed to get himself in through it. But then when I checked our hedgehog camera, well… you need to set it to a slow playback speed to see it as she’s fast as fek! Keep your eyes on the top right corner right at the beginning.

So she dropped it through the catflap and it must have got away from her pretty quickly. Her ambition is boundless and I dread the day she decides Woody the wood pigeon is her next victim.

Even though she’s lethal, she’s still cute.

Killer Queen

and also makes us laugh

It’s all gravy.

Work is still full on, and I’m busy as a tree. Little Teddy is worming is way into my affections and I take him out for a walk when ever I have 10 mins spare, which is about twice a day. He mainly sits with Lynn our office manager barricaded in as he’s apt to escape.

Teddy and Lynn

Phil’s Giant Tank is coming along, and this weekend is his clubs model show, so I’ll be attending on Sunday to photograph the competition tables and winners for the club’s Facebook page.

phil’s giant tank.

Entertainment-wise I haven’t seen any movies I’d recommend, maybe The Contractor as it has a good cast- Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Kiefer Doodah. It’s a serviceable action movie, but nothing new. Bird Box with Sandra Bullock started out well, and she was great all the way through but there were too many good coincidences at the end. Phil wanted to re-watch Oblivion with Tom Cruise as he got the blueray but we gave up before the end as we’d had wine/whisky and couldnt get our heads around what the fek was going on. I’ll wiki it one day. 😃

TV has been better, we got through to the end of Ozarks and are currently in the last season of Better Call Saul, both have been outstanding. We are now rewatching the first 2 seasons of Das Boot as the 3rd one is out and we forgot a lot of 1 & 2 as it was a couple of years ago, looking forward to seeing the 3rd, it is excellent.

Reading, well I’ve read all 47 of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series twice, and am starting again at the beginning, I just love these books. I have bought other books in the meantime, but as yet I can’t let go of Wolfe to read them instead. A strange addiction!

That’s all folks. More tales from Fraggle Towers to come, eventually. If/when I remember!

📷 😊

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. 🙂

Day 321

Had a busy day, this morning sorting kids out, and this evening preparing a book of my visit to Tuscany this year. So am making do here with my Sunday challenge shot, the theme of which was -something worn (as in old and knackered).

I chose Phils boot, as it’s 15 years old and has bits missing 🙂

Day 321 ~ worn out