Monday, 26 October 2015

Sheffield Park Garden

How did I only just find out Sheffield Park Garden is such a fabulous place for seeing Autumn colours?!  

Judging by the queues yesterday, the world and his wife already knew.  We arrived at exactly 10am, opening time, yet we had to park in an overflow area and the entrance was closed shortly after.  The park is huge but even so it was hard to take a photo of the gorgeous trees without a stranger in it.  


The weather was crisp and sunny, the best day in quite a while, so no wonder everyone had decided it was a perfect Autumn colour viewing day.  

'Capability' Brown helped shape the park and next year will be the 300th anniversary of his birth so the Trust is planning themed events.  We will certainly make another trip or two because it felt like we barely tickled what the park has to offer.  

When we left to begin the journey home, there was a long queue of cars in the driveway waiting for parking spaces to come free, the entrance had been closed to cars and the country road had dozens of cars parked up on the verge.  Yet all around the countryside is awash with equally gorgeous coloured leaves.  Beautiful natives with leaves in mellow yellows, oranges and browns rather than those flashy red 'look at me' acers!

BTW, if you fancy a coffee while you stroll, there is no need to join the long queue in the cafe tucked away in the car park as there is a coffee cart set up by one of the lakes.  Wish I'd known that! 

Monday, 22 December 2014

Mapp and Lucia

from Telegraph website
from BBC website

This remake made the grade but will this one?

I loved the 1980s series when I was a teenager and then devoured all the books. I often visit Rye, where the series was filmed, and still see it, not as an attractive south coast town but as Tilling, a hot bed of petty goings-on!  Over there is 'Mallards'; these are the narrow streets that Susan Wyse travelled by Rolls Royce to order provisions from the grocer, relayed through her chauffeur of course; that's the church tower from where Mapp saw Lucia doing callanetics in the garden when she was meant to be too ill to meet Countess Faraglione, who might realise Lucia actually doesn't really know a word of Italian........

I will watch - but with trepidation.  Geraldine McEwan, Prunella Scales and Nigel Hawthorne were absolutely perfectly cast as Lucia, Mapp and Georgie. Oh I really don't want to be disappointed.  

Au reservoir!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Paddington The Movie

I grew up with Paddington.  With those five minute programmes which were shown on the BBC at the end of Blue Peter and before the evening news.  Paddington was a cute and cuddly bear and the Browns and the surroundings were 2D drawings.  Michael Horden narrated in his posh actor voice (Paddington carried a "sssueew-T-case").  Ahh, fond memories!

So when I saw the trailer for the new Paddington film, I was horrified.  What had they done to him?!  Why did Nicole Kidman want to stuff him for heaven's sake?!  I really was in two minds about seeing it but when I had first heard that a film was being made, I told my little girl we HAD to see it and she was holding me to my promise.  

Well, within the first minute I was absolutely hooked. I laughed and laughed.  BUT.  Call me an old prude, but the bits where Hugh Bonneville dressed as a tea lady were a bit much.  Funny at first but it went back for more.  I can't recall the exact lines but they were a bit fruity!  My daughter was more concerned with telling me it was the man from Horrible Histories but I was more worried that the Natural History Museum could have such an old letch on the pay role.  Where was HR?!

The thought of Paddington being stuffed also sent my seven year old on a crying and yelling session, the like I've never seen.  While she was disturbed at the time, ever since she has kept referring to all the funny bits and pointed out that while Nicole Kidman's father, the hunter Montgomery Clyde, had been very kind, she was not!

So I thoroughly enjoyed the film after all but it could have done with more Paddington hard stares (there was just the token one), more of kind Mr Gruber and of grumpy Mr Curry too - a bit of a waste of Peter Capaldi.

Perhaps next time.......

Monday, 8 December 2014

Edwin Smith - Ordinary Beauty

I was so fortunate to find out about the exhibition of photographs by Edwin Smith, held at RIBA, just before it ended last week.  It was fabulous and such an education.  I like to lug my camera around with me, taking pictures of anything that takes my fancy. I attempt to see things differently, to see beauty in the mundane and to home in on the details. Seeing is more difficult than you would think! There is so much to learn but what a lot this collection of photos taught me.  

Part of the charm of the collection was of course that it showed how life used to be, the clothes we wore, the transport we used, the pre-makeover show gardens and interiors, the empty roads with no double yellow lines or parked cars and signs.  So nostalgia may cloud my view I suppose.  

The exhibition included a short film of architects, curators, photographers talking about Smith's work.  Many referred to this particular photo.  It doesn't look particularly interesting at first glance but where does that staircase lead? Look at the light filtering in and the way the benches are at an angle as though they got pushed back as the occupants hoisted themselves to their feet.  The eye is drawn to all corners of the shot. 

As one commentator said, the interiors look as if the people have just left the room and that there is something else happening now just out of shot.

I liked how some bits in the pictures were cut off or left out, such as this cathedral spire.  It made me realise I would probably have unnecessarily tried to include it, to include more. Having a person in the shot, even if from a distance, also completes the scene perhaps to give scale or just to add to the story.  Where are they going?  Where have they been?  Who are they?!  A photo that is meant to be of a building can be enhanced by a person or two, especially if their features cannot be seen. 

Shafts of light also appear in many of the pictures but my favourite was this one of the shirts positively glowing on the washing line.  A mundane scene but still fascinating. 

My mind was flitting all over the place as I looked at the photos.  Each one setting up a story.  The trip into the past was lovely but the photography lesson was an eye-opener.  (As you can see from these 'snaps', I have a lot to learn!)

I left invigorated - and determined to find the black and white setting on my camera.  I might even start a photo log too!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Christmas Hypocrite

No sooner had the last firework been set off and while the bonfires were still smouldering, the glossy Christmas tv ads hit our screens.  Indecently early in my opinion.  In fact, I fast-forward through the whole lot of them on principle.  And as for the fuss made over John Lewis each year - well!  They get more annoying each year.*

So why is it far too early for tv ads but just right for the Christmas sandwich?  

Because the Pret a Manger Christmas Lunch sarnie is the best ever, that's why!

This article in the Independent made laugh and I'm glad I'm not alone!  A couple of weeks ago I saw a large display of Christmas sammies in M&S.  Great, I thought, the Pret one will be out too.  So I went straight out of the M&S food hall and into a branch of Pret.  (I told you I liked them!)  No (Christmas) joy there though so I ended up getting the M&S version.  V disappointing, soggy even! Luckily Pret joined in a couple of days later and I have been taking full advantage ever since.

Merry Christmas! 

* IMHO the only JL ad worth watching is Always A Woman from 2010.  It had me in tears at the opening bar every time I saw it, including just now when I was looking for it online!  Can't beat a bit of Billy Joel, that's for sure.

So, what do you think of the Xmas sandwiches on offer and is The Stranger by Billy Joel one of the best albums of all time?!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Signs of Old Age

It's official.  I am finally turning into my father.  My dad took me to see the first Star Wars film when it came out in 1977.  I was riveted.  Dad?  Fast asleep.  I was incredulous.  How on earth could he sleep through such an exciting, noisy film?!

Well now I know because in the past month it has happened to me not once but twice!

Pre-baby, I used to go to the cinema after work and at the weekend, seeing everything that took my fancy.  Then once my daughter was born, I made an effort - I even had membership to the Curzon - but the visits soon dwindled.

I realised the other day that I had been to the cinema twice in nearly a year and that was to see Frozen - twice!  (which I thoroughly enjoyed, especially the outdoor sing-along one, but that's not the point!)

I chose Gone Girl as my first step back into the world of cinema.  Thank goodness I'd read the book as I wouldn't have known what was happening when I finally awoke.  Mr Turner was my second and I was floundering rather once I'd had my nap.

I blame the comfy seats, the glass of wine, the overly-hot auditorium - and perhaps my genes?! I'd like to see The Imitation Game but I hardly dare!  I think my best chance of watching the whole thing will be to go to a matinee.

Just call me Gran (or John!).

Monday, 17 November 2014

I positively pounced on this one when I saw it on the 'New Titles' shelf at the library.  A new Ann Cleeves!  What a day!

You know what it's like when you find an author you like, drink up all their back catalogue and are then left gasping for their next offering.  Can't they write any quicker!!!

Thin Air is the latest  in the Jimmy Perez saga, set in the Shetlands.  I confess I much prefer the Vera Stanhope stories.  Both series of books have tv adaptations and for me  ITV's Vera, played by Brenda Blethyn, is far superior.  What I see on screen tallys more with the written word.  Oddly, I haven't managed to sit through a single episode of the BBC's take on the Shetland stories.  Douglas Henshall looks absolutely nothing like the description of Jimmy Perez in the text.  Where are the Spanish good looks?!  

Shetland is so far removed from my own interpretation of the text that I shall stick to the written word.  I just wish there were more of them!