We went to Edinburgh on Friday, to the Scale Scotland Model Show, which was held in the amazingly big Murrayfield Rugby Stadium on Saturday.
for a while I thought the chap in the middle was called Peter Vardy, but there were pictures of other chaps wearing shirts with Peter Vardy on them so I realised Mr. Vardy must be a sponsor or suchlike. Because of Corona the show hadn’t been on for a couple of years, so it was good to be back, and it was very well attended.
This was our exhibition table
Some of Ren’s busts..
Paul’s cars, and Phil’s tank and busts.
Paul’s cars are amazing pieces of work
Phil’s Tank battalion on display..
Phil put his model in the competition and came out with a Gold medal and 3 awards!
We saw a lot of modelers we hadn’t seen in ages, and had a grand day. The chaps running the show are Lovely Scots, not pesky in the slightest, and we’ll be back next year for more of the same.
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.
Liddy loves horses and has riding lessons everyweek, but on bigger ones than this chap.
They loved the marmasets and Cal turned his camera round so the little guy could see himself! 🥴
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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’.
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.
The beginning of July didn’t start out too well for me. Whilst walking Teddy (the dog at work) around the block I stepped on a manhole and fell down a drain, which is a sentence I didn’t expect to ever write, but there it is. The Manhole looked fine but the setting of it was secretly broken, so when my foot went on it the damned evil thing flipped over taking a fair amount of my shin skin with it and I ended up half in half out of the drain it covered and in a world of pain. I’d managed to hold on to Teddy’s lead and got us back to the office, missing one of my clogs which had deserted me for the dark deep comfort of the aforementioned drain. Iodine and dressings were applied from an out of date 1st aid kit and I’d just about stopped shaking when my next client arrived and I got back to work. In fairness my boss asked me if I wanted to cancel my clients and go to the walk in centre, but the thought of sitting in there for 3 hours was prohibitive when I knew I’d be home in a couple of hours and Dr.Phil would sort me out.
Don’t look at the photos if you’re squeamish BTW.
4 weeks on and my left leg is just about healed now and hasn’t needed dressings for 10 days, but the right leg still has a stubborn hole in it that’s taking it’s time, so everynight we are still cleaning and dressing it, but that’s fine, it didn’t get infected at least.
We had a 2 day heatwave here where temperatures went to 33-35 degrees C, though it went on longer in the rest of the country. We closed down at 2pm at work on the 35 day and went home. I will never moan about cool, grey days ever again. (That’s possibly going to end up being a fib.) Phil and I sat in the coolest room and wilted through the afternoon until it cooled down in the evening. It’s still getting pretty warm this week, but it’s bearable.
That reminds me, my MOT is due this week and I’m going to enquire about having my air con fixed. Driving isn’t fun when you’re being roasted.
Half way through July I went for a lung scan. Both Phil and I were contacted by Gateshead Hospital to see if we would like to have lung screening, and we both did so it happened. 4-6 weeks for the results. I’m quite amazed really, our NHS is on it’s knees but it still keeps going with the screenings, boobograms, poo sticks, cervical smears, lungs, prostates, you name it, they’ll screen it. It makes sense financially of course, catching things early means less long term costly treatment. Anyway results in 4-6 weeks, and then we’ll know if our hedonistic unhealthy youth and mid years have done for us.
In the last week I went on a course to Rotherham to learn how to use a new ear irrigating machine. It was an NHS run course rather than a manufacturer’s course which I’m more used to attending. The differences made me smile, on a Manufacturers training course you get put up in a nice hotel, have Danish pastries and coffee before you start the course in the morning, nice buffet lunch provided, free pens and leatherbound folders for your notes. On the NHS course it was get yourself to the course, coffee and biscuits, bring your own lunch, paper and pens 😊. That’s how it should be though, can’t have the NHS buying our lunches! The course was OK, the teacher went over a lot of stuff I already knew from my original training, but nice to see what I’d forgotten, and apart from an NHS audiologist and an RAF nurse, the other people, were GP practice nurses or receptionists wanting to add this string to their bow and didn’t have that depth of knowledge. I stayed in a Welcome Inn the night before, cheap and no breakfast included. To amuse myself I did a photo shoot which I’m entitling “Cheap Hotel”
I’m using the new machine at work and loving it, though I forget to take my foot off the pedal sometimes and shoot water everywhere. I’ll get the hang of it.
A lady came to my clinic to have wax removed a couple of weeks ago, but I found an earring~back in her ear instead. 🙄 Don’t wear earrings to bed people!
Finally, the cats of course,
Winnie in the heatwave days
and Lord Vincent found some cool shade
So July, on the whole I’m glad it’s over and we’re in to August. I’m looking forward to taking the grandkids out for a day shortly, to the zoo and see the snow leopards. Also my birthday’s coming up, always good for a nice dinner out courtesy of Phil. Sophie is back for a weekend and bringing her hubby Mentat with her and we’re all going off to visit Raby Castle, Phil too. Hopefully I’ll keep upright and have a good month!
Life has been somewhat eventful at Fraggle Towers over the past couple of months. To start with in the first week of June we had a new visitor to the Happy Easter tree
He was very good at getting the peanuts.
He only visited for 2 weeks, don’t know what happened to him, hope not road kill. There’s lots of greenery and trees across the way from us so I’m thinking he went back there.
I had some time off and went to Leighton Buzzard to be in charge of my grandson whilst his Dad and girlfriend went off to the Isle of Wight festival. It was cool to spend some time with Lewis and we had a fair few laughs along the week. Of course I had to take a million more pictures of him playing football.
I wish there were a few kids his age around where he lives, but the ones that play footy on the green are a fair bit older and intimidating.
I was amazed at how many Red Kites were flying above the park, and in fact all over the south on my journey down and around. They are gorgeous to watch in flight.
One of the neighbourhood cats has adopted Ben’s house, and so I’ve had Mrs.Miaow-Miaow (🙄) to feed as well. She belonged to one of the neighbours but got chucked out for some reason that’s beyond me.
Although we’ve all been banging on about our 2 day heatwave, the week I was at Ben’s was really hot, so much that other than taking Louie to school, I didn’t go out much for the first couple of days, but sat outside in the shade and made the most of it. On the Monday before I came home I got to walk along the canal (Grand Union) and took the contax with me for some shooting, I’ll do a film friday post with those.
On the Sunday when Louie was off school, I took him up to Milton Keynes and the big indoor play area there
We also went to visit with my friend I haven’t seen in ages, Helen, who lives in Biggleswade and we went out for lunch in the Conservative Club of which Helen is somehow a member without being a Tory supporter. Apparently they’re not allowed to ask you which party you support when you apply to join, it makes parking in town dead easy and the lunches are really good! 🤣
There was a fair on in the town centre and Lewis went on a flight simulator and the ghost train ~ I don’t think he was impressed with the latter.
Then I came home, to my cats
Phil’s giant tank was coming along, it’s nearly fully built.
I’ll finish with two life lessons, the first being, if you need a heavy doorstopper, bake a loaf of bread and forget deliberatley leave out the yeast.
the second, if you suffer from old-person weak grip and like a glass of sparkly, long nose pliers are your friend.
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.
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.
Newcastle at night is lush for photos
The Band were great
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.
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 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.
The cats:- Lord Vincent has been his usual zen self, eating, sleeping, sitting under bushes and plodding about.
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.
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.
and also makes us laugh
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.
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.
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!
I follow a couple of great photographers on youtube, and one such person is a guy called Sean Tucker. He recently made this inspiring, and incredibly moving short film about photographer Jack Lowe and his project to photograph every lifeboat station on the British coast, using the wet plate collodion technique. If you have a spare 20 minutes and are into either photography, film making or the RNLI, give it a watch.
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.
We had a new floor done too, I can’t remember why but I like it so not to worry.
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
and I took a couple of pictures out of the window,
The cats have been their usual selves, Lord Vincent has been loving the sunshine we had last week
and Winnie has been bonkers
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙄
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.
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.
They have been adopted by a cat who lives in their neighbourhood, 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.
Now that the abominable 365 has ended over on the Universe blog, it’s time to re~open The Other Place and pop in with some thoughts and pictures.
January has been a fairly busy month, Phil had 2 weeks annual leave and has done house jobs in between playing his bass and starting a new big tank, not sure where he is going to put it when it’s finished.
At the beginning of the month we bought a new mattress for our bed, it’s very high-tech compared to ye ol’ spring and bounce jobbies. Memory foam sort of stuff. We paid a bit extra to have our old one taken away when the new one was delivered, but that all went tits up and we ended up clambering over our old mattress for a week, no small feat as it is 6’6″ x 6′. After a couple of back and forths with the delivery company and a reply of not much use from the mattress company, Phil’s final email is a masterclass in getting things sorted out…
Allow me to explain the facts again. The mattress I purchased from you was scheduled by Route 1 to be delivered between 10.00 and 1300 on Saturday 15th of January. I had also paid for the option of having my old mattress collected. The driver turned up at 0900 which we were unprepared for (we were still abed 🙄!)but nevertheless we were able to take receipt of the mattress. However, the driver explained that as the truck was full of deliveries there was no room for the old mattress. It would seem the transport manager at Route 1 was more focused on profit and efficiency than sticking to the pre arranged agreement. Being sympathetic to the driver’s predicament, I agreed to his suggestion that as he would be travelling through my area upon his return from Scotland’ he would call back for the mattress and gave me his word he would return. He didn’t, not even a phone call to explain why. I am now left with a super king size mattress that I have to clamber over to enter the bedroom. Further to your above email that Route1 would come on Thursday, I have since received a generic delivery of goods email from them claiming the next delivery date is Saturday 22nd which I have declined, I have no wish to have another weekend ruined by their incompetence, and in the meantime have received no apology or explanation despite responding to their feedback page. I will attempt to contact them again but would appreciate you explaining my situation to them directly.Thank you P A Hyslop.
They came on the Thursday 🤣.
Phil also decided it as time for a new kitchen tap (faucet USA folks!) as our old one was looking shoddy, so he purchased a new fangled jobby that has a hose and spray integral to the unit.. Our plumber couldn’t come for a couple of weeks so Phil decided he could save himself a few quid and do it himself. With me as his trusty labourer. Winnie was surprised!
So far we’ve had no leaks so a job well done and £60 saved on a proper plumber! Reee~zult!
I’m continuing to de-wax the ears of the nation, and last week our boss has gone and got herself a new puppy. Regular readers will remember her Billy, her lovely deaf spaniel who died a couple of Christmas’s ago. This time she’s gone for something called a Pomegranite or similar crossed with some other breed, I can’t remember which one. His name is Teddy.
He is very cute and funny, but he also chews things a lot and barks at clients, and his toiletting is a bit hit and miss as well. The Boss is going to Grand Canaria on holiday next week so the girl who works in the printers opposite our unit is taking him for the week, but as the printer also brings a dog to work, will leave him with Lynn and I during the day. That’s going to be fun. 😳
We’ve watched some movies and there are a couple I’ll recommend for anyone who likes true story spy movies.
First up is Mr.Jones.
In 1933, Gareth Jones is an ambitious young journalist who has gained some renown for his interview with Hitler. Thanks to his connections to Lloyd George the former British prime minister, he is able to get official permission to travel to the Soviet Union. Jones intends to try to interview Stalin and to find out more about the Soviet Union’s economic expansion and its apparently-successful 5 year development plan. Jones is restricted to Moscow but jumps his train and travels unofficially to Ukraine to discover evidence of the Holodomor (the devastating famine in Ukraine in which millions died) including empty villages, starving people, cannibalism and the enforced collection of grain. On his return to Britain, he struggles to get his story taken seriously.
The director is Agniezka Holland, and it stars James Norton, Vanessa Kirby and Peter Sarsgaard who are all top notch, as is the ciematography. Most excellent movie.
Then we did The Courier
Directed by Dominic Cooke and starring the ubiquitous Mr.Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Jessie Buckley and Rachel Brosnahan it recounts the activities of British businessman Greville Wynne in helping MI6 with the penetration of the Soviet nuclear programme during the Cold War. Wynne couriered information from his Soviet source, Oleg Penkovsky (codenamed Ironbark), which provided crucial intelligence about Soviet nuclear capabilities and the cuban missile crises. Again, superb acting and faultless cinematography, another Most Excellent.
Both of these are on Amazon Prime, Mr.Jones is free, you have to rent The Courier but it’s under a fiver and very well worth it.
Last weekend we had our pals Paul and Lorraine over for the first time since lockdown 1. We used to have each other over to dinner quite often before the plague so it was good to get together as if everything was normal. I cooked a chinese feast which went down well and everyone had too much to drink but we had a good time and will look forward to our next happeniing.
WInnie has been a constant source of amusement. Does anyone remember the Andrex Puppy?
I’s been quite cold of late and she has found a new way to warm up after she’s been out and prior to having a snooze.
She hasn’t caught any birds of late (that we know about) however, I heard a cafuffle in the garden one day which sounded like an unhappy animal and when I went out to look, saw Winnie coming back across next doors fence and on our conservatory roof, and this..
She must have chased him but there’s no-way she can climb that high. At least I don’t think she can! He stayed there a good 1/2 hour and I kept her in until he turned round and scarpered.
Finally, we’ve had some cracking sunrises and sunsets this month, so I’ll say ta ta for now, and leave you with some spectaclier skies!
Arwen was a beautiful elf lady who was in love with Aragorn in Lord of The Rings by J.R.R.TOLKEIN (for heavens sakes NOT G.R.R.Martin you complete numpty Fraggle!) On 27th November Arwen was a storm, with winds hitting 90-100mph up in Northumberland and not much less than that a bit further down here in Tyneside. Scotland and the North East were hit the worst, but most places had it pretty bad. Lots of homes still without electricity, 8 days later, and you can’t book a roofer for weeks at the minute. We did OK, lost a few branches from the jasmin plant, one of the hedgehog’s water dishes is M.I.A presumed dead, and we gained a grey plastic lid of indeterminate origin. The lady in the corner shop told me it was like the Wizard of Oz movie in her garden as first the roof and then the sides of her garden shed went flying through the air, followed by it’s contents. She did hand movements and everything, and she was laughing as she did so. People are resilient here.
I’ve seen a couple of trees uprooted on my way to work since the storm, one ripped up the pavement (sidewalk) and was leaning against the house it had been in front of, it’s naked branches holding on to the roof, but I couldn’t see any damage to the roof at least, the tree though. So nothing hugely bad, and nothing in the same league as Hurricane This, That or The Other in America.
Today Sophie and I went off to Chillingham Castle, and as it happens it was closed, but on the walk to the car park to the castle we were astonished at the carnage that Arwen has wreaked upon the ancient trees in the grounds. Blocked pathways where bits of woodland walk have collected debris, a tree completely blocking one of the entrances to the grounds. No-one died, the castle is fine, no-one lost their home, but it saddened me so that these trees that have been there for hundreds of years, will no longer reach for the sky.
Another catch up post, as it’s been a couple of weeks or so since the last one. First let me tell you about the movies we’ve watched of late.
On Netflix ~Black Hawk Down (2001) Ridley Scott has to be my favourite director and it’s easy to see why in this movie. Based on the real life event of the US Army raid on Mogadishu in 1993, it stars Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, Tom Hardy and Tom Sizemore. Delta Force, the 75th Rangers and the 160th SAOR (Night Stalkers) get into terrible trouble when one of their helicopters is brought down in the middle of Mogadishu. It’s ‘on the edge of your seat’ stuff and a part of history I knew nothing about.
Next up and also on Netflix is the fantastic Ed Harris in Kodachrome (2017) directed by Mark Raso and also starring Jason Sudeikis and Elizabeth Olson showing her acting chops when breaking away from the Marvel franchise. It’s a road trip sort of movie and deals with the failed Father/son relationship. Ed Harris is the irrascible Father dying of cancer, and he asks his son Ben (Sudeikis) to drive him to Dwayne’s Photo lab in Kansas as it’s the last shop able to develop rolls of Kodachrome, and Dad has 4 old rolls he has to get developed before the shop stops doing it. Olson plays his put-upon nurse. It’s all a bit predictable, I’d guessed what was on the rolls of film 5 minutes into the movie, though you don’t find out why they’re so important until the end, but Ed Harris, I’d watch him act the telephone book and he is SO good in this. Nice cameo performances from Bruce Greenwood and Wendy Crewson as Dad’s brother and wife who brought Ben up.
Fraggle rating: Excellent for Ed Harris fans, good enough for anyone else who wants a nice looking American road trip movie with smiles and pathos, good acting and a well cool car.
Phil dug out his old DVD of Stigmata (1999) directed by Rupert Wainright and starring Gabriel Byrne, Patricia Arquette and Jonathon Price. It’s a supernatural horror film about an atheist hairdresser (Arquette) who gets given a Rosary once owned by a dead Italian priest who was afflicted with stigmata. Somehow the Rosary has the same effect on Arquette and we get to see her beaten and bloodied by something invisible, all stigmata marks. She also has flashbacks of Jesus getting the same wounds she receives. Bryne plays a Catholic priest & scientist who investigates miracles and the like, and is sent to see her. At first sceptical he comes to see that it’s all happening for real and has to find out how to stop it before Arquette dies. It’s all to do with a lost gospel written by Jesus himself, that the Catholic church don’t want people to know about, as Jesus writes there’s no need for church buildings and preachy priests etc as God is within you and everywhere. Some nifty special effects in this without CGI so kudos to them for that. Byrne and Arquette have a good chemistry but the plot really is a bit daft. (Says she who loves Marvel movies 🙄 ) I should imagine it naffed off a lot of Catholics but it did really well at the box office, not so much with critics.
Fraggle Rating: Not so good for Catholics. Not so good for horror afficionado’s as it’s probably a bit tame by today’s gory standards. Good for horror-lightweights like me though.
Last and possibly least, Wild Horses (2015) written by, directed by and starring Robert Duvall. I found this when looking for Josh Hartnett movies and he is in it too, as is James Franco. I think this must have been a vanity project for Duvall. It’s a Western Crime movie and also stars his wife Luciana Duvall as a Texan Ranger investigating the 15 year old disappearance of a young man who was found by Duvall in bed with his youngest son (Franco). Hartnett plays his older brother, and Devon Abner as the eldest brother. Duvall’s character is the main suspect for offing the missing young lad, as he hates gay people. The gay issue is actually well addressed, and Franco makes his gay character just a normal guy, no camping it up.
Fraggle Rating: Apart from those wishing to ogle Mr.Hartnett, I can see no reason to recommend this one for anyone really, the script is hokey and the acting wooden in places, perhaps because he gave some parts to actual real people not actors. You need subtitles to understand Mr.Duvall’s mutterings, and the plot has more holes in it than a packet of Polo’s. There are a few scenes with the brothers and Duvall, collectively and individually where it’s really good to watch them play off each other, but they can’t save this from being a dud.
OK onto Books I have read.
I’ve just finished reading for the second time Child of The Morning by Pauline Gedge. Never mind your Cleopatra/Anthony/Caesar romp, this is about Hatshepsut, one of the first female Pharaoh’s and lived 3,500 years ago. Her life is equally fascinating as that of Cleopatra (who’s been done to death) if not more so, and deserves a great movie, but so far no-one has picked this up. Gedge’s writing is just beautiful, lyrical yet straightforward, and reading the book is like stepping back in time. The characters come to life in your head as you read it, and you can feel the breeze from the Nile. It’s impeccably researched and I highly recommended this for anyone who loves tales of ancient Egypt.
A short story from blogger Mae Clare called In Search of MacDoogal about a chap who sells his girlfrends favourite painting, and then has to retrieve it. This took me an hour to read, and I smiled or laughed all the way through it as he and his friend encounter much upheaval along the way. A fun read on a rainy afternoon.
Work and life go on much as normal. We’ve managed to visit Shelley and the kids last weekend and sat in the garden in a cold wind with a flask of coffee. It was nice to see them though, it had been quite a while.
We still have Sophies cats, and still don’t know when Sophie will get back. They’ve been indoor cats up to now, but Winnie has been trying to escape, and has managed a couple of times. We’ve got her vaccinated now and so are allowing them out. We thought Vinnie wouldn’t be so bothered as he never seemed to be interested,but boy were we wrong! He loves it! He has a little patrol he does around the back garden, then down the side of the house to the front where he sniffs every plant and bush, then he comes in for a snack or a kip and then does it all again, all day long. Winnie is beside herself, climbing fences, on top of my shed, on top of next doors fence and shed, but she runs in every 30 minutes to make sure we are still here, and then goes out again. Everyone happy, and we can now have our doors and windows open when the weather gets warmer!
Most of you who visit here also know my 365 is going on over at the Universe Blog and have seen the Blossom tree doing it’s thing and Lucy the visiting Hedgehog, so I’ll skip those but it has had me off on walks for photographs and Phil and I trotted over to the Nature reserve, and I went one day to the secret lake, so here are a few from our wanderings.
The Blackthorne blossom was in full bloom when I went over to the secret lake, lovely to walk through.
Some of the route is lined with gorse bushes.
Mr.Lonely at the secret lake, hope he finds a mate.
Phil has had to take time off work as he is having great problems with his eyes, possibly a flare up of his glaucoma, so we went out for a walk to the nature reserve to get him out for some excercise.
The male ducks were all chasing the lady ducks at the pond, and this lady was not in the mood. Well maybe she was but playing hard to get! 😊
Two swans live on the reserve and have swanlets every year, I think Mr. Lonely must be last years offspring. Lady Swan was hidden in her nest, could only just see her, but Lord Swan was patrolling the perimeter and keeping an eye on her.
When we got home my little 500 looked so cute next to the Happy Eater tree.
and lastly, this little long tail tit is a daily visitor the the H.E.Tree
So that’s my catch up for now. I’ll be back at some point .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!