Friday, November 16, 2018

The Sound of… Bookends

After picking up Jo, Janet & Carol, we headed off to Kilworth House this evening for a spot of nosebag and evening with the Simon & Garfunkel tribute act - Dan Haynes & Pete Richards aka ‘Bookends’.

Simon & Garfunkel at Kilworth
We haven’t been to Kilworth for over a year - last time was in September 2017, to see Top Hat and of course before that, in December, 2011, at the Hotel itself on our pre-Oz Honeymoon.


Well,  Kilworth’s legendary Christmas ‘decs’ looked fantastic and the event was certainly well supported with around 150 all sitting down to enjoy the pre-event Dinner. Our Table of eight was shared with Paul and his wife Lynda and their friend (who was too far away for me to chat with her).

Food was well presented and tasty - and to make the evening work they served Starters and Mains before the event with Desserts and Beverages after the Boys had finished.


Back to the main event…

After an easy-to-miss low-key stage entrance at just before 9pm, Bookends were straight into their repertoire - and boy, from the off, did they sound like Simon & Garfunkel! - they were fantastic!! But you didn’t need to have 20/20 vision to spot that they didn’t look like them - and they made light of that in their intro (pointing-out their collective lack of hair) explaining that their focus was on S & G's music itself.


Luckily our Table was closest to the the Boys and we got to enjoy their great sound (with a great view!). I can’t emphasise enough how good the harmonies were and although they’d only been going around seven years, it was a very polished act.

Initially, some of the tunes were unfamiliar, but we were soon into well-known staples such as ‘The Boxer’,’ ‘The Sound of Silence’, ‘Mrs Robinson’ and of course, the piece that everyone was waiting for: ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’.

We learned later that they also tour with a Strings section too - and I found this on YouTube


After Bookends departure, a lot of people left immediately, but we hung around. In fact, we didn’t leave until just after 11pm. It had been a GREAT show and in spite of the misty/foggy driving conditions, we we were home just before midnight.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

John Lewis Christmas Advert (2018)

Here we are then: the second Friday in November, 8am, and the new John Lewis Christmas advert for 2018 has been released.

The Boy and the Piano…

Here is the official storyline from JL…

“This year’s story is about the power of a gift. And how that gift inspired, changed and influenced the course of a little boy’s life. That little boy just happens to be Elton John. The film begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton’s life right until the moment on Christmas morning when he received the special gift that changed his life…”

What do you think? Not quite as tissue-grabbing as previous offerings, but worth a watch ehh??!!
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For your viewing pleasure, here are all the previous Christmas TV offerings by JL…

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2017 - Moz the Monster

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2016 - Buster the Boxer

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2015 - Man on the Moon

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2014 - Monty the Penguin

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013 - The Bear and the Hare

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2012 - The Journey

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2011 - The Long Wait

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2010 - She’s Always a Woman

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Doctor Who - Series 11, Episode 6 - ‘Demons of the Punjab’

Doctor Who Series 11, Episode 6
Oh dear! For me, this series is just going from bad to worse. Nothing wrong with the acting, it’s just the very simplistic scripts and the lack of any real tension, resulting in truly FORGETTABLE episodes. The Media too, are now starting to ask questions about the Programme and its overall tone.

Last week’s: The Tsuranga Conundrum was a case in point, where the ‘monster-of-the-week’ looked more cuddly than deadly!

Let’s hope this week’s yarn starts to pull things round. Here we go then…

7pm. The opening-credits have rolled, and we’re straight into the story - and it looks (and sounds) promising! There’s some tension already, with a proper time-travel mystery (the significance of Grandfather’s watch) to be solved, involving the time-travel ‘no-no’ of crossing your own timeline. Oh! and that briefest of glimpses of the monster-of-the-week suggests they’re a lot more scary than last week’s!
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Just learned that the episode is set in 1947 specifically on The Radcliffe Line - at the time of the Indian Independence Act that resulted in the dissolution of the British Raj. The two self-governing countries of Pakistan and India legally came into existence at this time (for the Pedants: midnight on 14–15 August 1947). So, top marks for a story set during a significant historical milestone. A nice touch using the real Mountbatten Speech on the radio.

But what about the monsters?
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22 minutes in - and our first real glimpse at this week’s threat! Yep, they’ll do! Nice and ‘other-worldly’! If you’re collecting names, these are The Vajarians. The music is good too!

24 minutes into it, and (oh dear!) here we go, the one-on-one, heart-to-heart bit (this time featuring Yaz and Graham) that seems to be a regular feature in this new-Who. Don’t care for these much - it’s not EastEnders!

Almost half-an-hour in, and we now get an even closer look at the monsters - proper scary (but great customers for SpecSavers!)
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7.33: Oh good! Some good ol’ fashioned ‘timey-wimey’ conversations - that’s more like it!

7.37: A scene with Poppies - timely!

7.40: All a bit mushy now!

7.44: The final Act - and the baddies are coming (but it’s not this week’s monsters!)

7.47: The monsters re-appear (briefly)

7.49: Some real tension here and probably not the ending you’re hoping for.
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For me, the best episode of the series so far! Segun Akinola’s  music was spot-on (especially the part over the closing credits - beautiful!) and the acting as confident as ever. The writer was Vinay Patel and although the story had a similar feel to the episode: Rosa, it held its own with a good dollop of education and entertainment.

4star

Friday, November 09, 2018

Floats my Boat!

International Model Boat Show 2018

Another first today for me, as David & I travelled over to Leamington to visit the Annual International Model Boat Show for 2018 at the Warwickshire Events Centre. Today was the first day, and the event runs until Sunday.

Programme and more information HERE (.pdf)

We arrived just before the doors opened at 10am - and the car-park was already looking busy. As we took the short walk, we could see there was also a queue forming outside the doors.


Luckily, it all moved pretty quickly, and we were soon inside out of the cold wind that was blowing across the parking area.

First impressions? Pretty good actually!
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There were exhibits as far as the eye could see together with a indoor pool ready for the demos later.


From Speedboats, Frigates, Lifeboats, Ferries, Cruise Liners and Yachts, most types were represented, some were static and some were remote controlled. A few looked home-made whilst other didn’t and were works of art.

They even had a 3d printer on the go making parts to order! Around the perimeter, there stalls selling kits and all the parts to make a boat from scratch

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..but my favourite by far was this little beauty…

…the ThunderTiger. A fully equipped submersible complete with GoPro camera and floodlights allowing it to dive to 15 feet and beam the image back to the Owner’s remote control!

We stayed for about two-hours having watch one of the pool demos and checked out each display in detail. All-in-all a surprisingly enjoyable experience.

On the way home, I treated David to lunch - Greggs off the A14 near Kettering for the princely sum of £7.05!
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Sunday, November 04, 2018

Doctor Who - Series 11, Episode 5 - ‘The Tsuranga Conundrum’

Well, we’re halfway through this series and for me so far, it’s all been a bit underwhelming - except last week’s, which was even worse with its Pantomime bad-guy, a plodding script and characters who I just don’t relate to) - a real snorefest!

The Tsuranga Conundrum
© BBC

Well, let’s hope tonight’s episode is an improvement. I’ve deliberately NOT watched any of the trailers, so I’m going in cold. In its favour: the title, at least, sounds intriguing! It’s another written by Chris Chibnall, who as head honcho for the new Who has had a mixed reception to his previous scripts (his first: Series 3, Episode 7’s ‘42’ anyone?)
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Five minutes in, and good news, this already feels more like a Who episode; and although the plot isn’t yet clear, there’s plenty of air-time for the new Doctor and JW is doing a great job.

After 10 minutes, the plot is becoming clear - I think! Someone or something has managed to get on-board the hospital ship.

15 minutes later, and this week’s monster appears! Convincing? Scary? Put it this way, I didn’t need the sofa to hide behind… Its USP is that it eats anything NON-organic. Hhhmmmm… not very convincing! A real laugh-out-loud monster-of-the-week
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There’s a sub-plot about an alien who is about to have a baby - what make it unusual is that he’s male  and the pregnancy term only lasts a week!

7.25: We’re now about halfway through tonight’s episode and it’s turning out to be very simplistic and child-like. As a result, two things now spring to my mind. First, the series feels like it’s most definitely aimed at kids and second (and I can’t believe I’m writing this), I’m starting to miss the more complex storylines of CB’s predecessor, Steven Moffat.

Five minutes to go and the alien has been thwarted and the baby has been born. Ho-hum!
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So, what do I think of it so far? In short, I expected the new-look episodes and series in general, to grow on me by now - the acting is good - but for me the scripts are just too obvious.

Oh dear!!

3 Star

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Doctor Who - Series 11, Episode 4 - ‘Arachnids in the UK’

Ooo-err missus! As the title suggests, it’s not an episode to watch if you’ve any issues with spiders!

More importantly though, four episodes in, did this story have legs? Well, the straight-into-the-title-sequence still takes a bit of getting used to, but that’ll pass, so back to the story itself. Unlike last week’s episode, this one is set firmly in the here-and-now. The opening scene sees the Doctor’s Companions Friends arriving home in Sheffield - and saying farewell to our titular hero.

No evidence of any spiders initially, although they were strongly hinted with the occasional scene containing a cobweb or two. Twelve minutes later, things changed and the title’s eight-legged star made its first appearance! Pretty good CGI and a big bugger too! Some yukky sound effects too!
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This was a pretty tense episode and away from the spiders, that mysterious American character added to the tension!

Twenty-four minutes in, and if you thought the first one was big, check out a larger member of the family with a penchant for American bodyguards!
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The new Who music is growing on me, but I haven’t heard a genuinely beautiful piece yet, as it’s all been very dramatic (to suit the scenes). Here’s hoping! Ahh, now we know who the American is!
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We’re now into the final ten minutes and the spiders are getting bigger. In fact that big mother-of-a-spider is apparently called the Mother Spider. A bit of American stereotyping followed with our across-the-pond guest wanting to shoot his way out of trouble.

What’s this? Rapping to attract the spiders???? Really? Didn’t get that at all!!
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It’s now just five minutes to go before it ends and the big spider has been killed (by guess who..? No, not that Who!) …and then we seemed to be in the final scene with the Companions Friends re-joining the Doctor to accompany him on his travels - no doubt it’ll referenced as a tear-jerker in the press tomorrow!

Oh, and the Friends are now known as ‘Team Tardis’… Shades of Scooby-Doo I fear!

Nope, didn’t enjoy this one at all! A bit lightweight and superficial.
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2star

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Lee’s Memorial Lunch

Today was a very special day. Our good friend Lee, who passed-away in June was remembered and celebrated at a very special occasion.

We booked a table in the Oak Room at The George Hotel in Stamford and invited all the people she was really close to. We sort of went in convoy: David & Valerie with Jo & Janet; Us with Roger, Jane & Oliver, whilst Denis and Bev headed south from theirs - all planning to arrive around 12.30-12.45.





The Menu (as always) didn’t disappoint with the show-stopper being the massive side of Beef (about the size of Corby!)

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..and an equally impressive range of Desserts too!

The Service also impressed with perfect service from start-to-finish. Stefan was in-charge, but he didn’t have to exercise any of his management/supervisory skills as the Staff are, as always, a ‘well-oiled-machine’.

Ann did a short speech closely followed by Nicki thanking US for getting it all organised. We ate, drank and were very merry for this very leisurely affair. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the table plan (although slightly mis-interpreted by The George) worked a treat.

When we left just before 3.30, the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it became a very swift walk back to the cars as it was raining quite heavily.

We said goodbye to everyone and made our way back to ours. Roger, Jane and Oliver are staying over until after lunch tomorrow.

A lazy evening followed - Ham Sandwiches followed closely by Cheesecake, Oh, and a few drinks! Movie time too, where we settled for 2010’s Shutter Island.

Image result for shutter island

I vaguely recall the storyline, but not in sufficient detail (so ultimately, it didn’t spoil the impact!). It’s a VERY tense story, and bound to leave your nerves in tatters! Powerful performances from all concerned, but on reflection, maybe not the best film to watch before bed-time!
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Sunday

With the clocks going back an hour, we had an extra-lie in - and no nightmares either!
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I was up first (no change there then!) continuing to faf-about with Ann’s PC that ever since the new SSD and extra memory was fitted is experiencing TWO identical log-ins at start-up. One of them displays ‘wrong password’ and won’t let me even reset it, whilst the other login seems to work OK. Not the end of the world but irritating in the extreme!
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Scrap that! A quick search via Mr Google using ‘ghost account’ as my search term revealed a simple command-line tweak that solved the issue - worth a read HERE if you’re also struggling with the same challenge!
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Once the others has stirred, we had a lazy-ish morning including some help for Jane comparing Word and Publisher for her work at School. Roger, Jane and Oliver then took a drive over to nearby Kirby Hall, whilst we assembled Lunch.

Kirby Hall

It was a late-ish lunch - just after 2pm - where a traditional Sunday Roast was the order of the day! As a first, we tried out the Aldi ‘roast-in-the-bag’ chickens and they turned out to be one of the tastiest, moistest birds we had in a long while. Everyone commented on how good they were, so we’ll be sure to buy them again. Lunchtime gave us a lengthy opportunity to put the world to rights (which we did with ease!) helped along by a number of Ann’s excellent Puds!
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After a mammoth washing-up session (and a bit more chat) it was time to say our goodbyes until we’re all together gain at Christmas.

4.15pm: We sat down over a cuppa and reflected on the weekend  - It’s been busy but a very enjoyable time - good friends, great family, yummy food and a suitable ‘farewell’ to Lee.
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