What have I been watching?

I have to say that the new season of TV programmes have been very entertaining. I’ve been enjoying watching The Bodyguard despite the fact that ten minutes into the first episode I turned to Jack and said – If I had realised this was about terrorism I wouldn’t have started watching it. But it dragged me in and I’m beginning to think that Richard Madden who plays the bodyguard police sergeant David Budd would make a great new James Bond. Well the best Bonds are always Scottish!The Bodyguard
Mind you I tend to watch anything with Keeley Hawes in it too.

I’ve also been watching Vanity Fair. I had a bit of a moan when I saw a trailer for this new version, it doesn’t seem long since it was on TV in another version, but I enjoyed the book and I think that Olivia Cooke is a perfect Becky Sharp. As this one is on ITV we’ve been watching it on catchup, that way we avoid most of the adverts.

The Great British Bake Off is a must watch and although I still miss Mary Berry it’s really the personalities of the bakers who are entertaining so I’m sticking with the show.

I wasn’t sure about watching Press and after watching the first episode I’m still not sure about it. It somehow has a very old-fashioned feel to it, a bit like newspapers would have been like in the Fleet Street days, but I’ll watch the next episode anyway.

The Repair Shop is a very gentle programme featuring talented craftspeople who can restore just about anything that’s broken and damaged it seems – whether it’s an old teddy bear or a Georgian table. People seem to get very emotional when they’re re-united with their treasures. It’s just fascinating watching people work and having so much pride in the end results.

On Saturday evening I watched a film that was only made in 2016 called This Beautiful Fantastic – and I loved it. I believe that the whole film is available on You Tube but you can see a trailer below which will give you an idea of what it’s about.

Have you been watching any of these programmes and is there anything good on now that I’ve missed?

National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, North Berwick, part 2

The National Museum of Flight at East Fortune, North Berwick is home to commercial aeroplanes as well as military ones, and most of those ones you can actually board and have a look around.

Below is a Dan Air Comet.

Comet
Its interior.
Comet interior

And its cockpit.

Comet Cockpit

A British Airways BAC 1-11

Bac 1-11

Now I have to admit that I had never heard of Sheila Scott, but she flew solo around the world in 1966, in 33 days in her ‘plane Myth Too.
Sheila Scott

It’s a Piper Comanche and as you can see from the photo it’s quite bashed up, but this damage was inflicted on Myth Too by the man that it was sold to! You would think she would want to hold onto that ‘plane but maybe she needed to sell it to buy another one.
Sheila Scott's Piper Comanche

And now for Concorde.
Concorde

Concorde Nose

Concorde’s engines and fuselage.
Concorde Engines + Fuselage

Jack standing underneath Concorde.
Concorde

Concorde’s interior.
Concorde Interior

Concorde Interior

And Concorde’s cockpit which I have to say looks absolutely terrifying to me.
Concorde Cockpit

This Concorde had to have its wings temporarily removed when it was put on a barge on the Thames as part of its journey to East Fortune, the landing strips there aren’t quite long enough for Concorde to be able to fly there. You can see the photos here.

You can read about it here.

RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

I’ve been enjoying watching the BBC’s coverage of RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show this week. If you haven’t managed to see any of it click the link if you want to see some lovely plants and gardens.

In my own garden this week I’ve not been doing an awful lot, just dead-heading really as it has been too hot here to do anything much more taxing – and I never thought I’d say that as I really thought that our summer weather had disappeared forever!

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading, so this week I decided to begin reading King Hereafter by Dorothy Dunnett. It’s 720 pages long with quite small print and I hate reading books over a long period of time so I planned to read around 100 pages a day, and I managed that although some days I could hardly put it down so read even more. With the World Cup football on TV and Jack watching three matches a day – a great read was the perfect distraction for me – and it was a great read. But more about that next week.

Winter garden and trees

Winter garden 2

As you can see the snow is back, luckily it has been coming and going, just hanging around for a couple of days and returning after a few weeks, I can cope with that – and so can the garden.

Winter garden 1

Just a couple of days after this lot melted I was able to get out there and plant some spring bulbs. I’m itching for the spring to come – as usual I have so many garden projects I want to get stuck into, a garden is never finished, and I have to move a tree or two to make way for – more exciting trees. But as I type the snow is back, mustn’t grumble though as it is January after all.

Winter garden 8

The trees in the photo above though – I get for free as they’re the woodland just beyond my back garden. My favourite is the larch which is just left of centre, but I love them all.

Winter garden 9

There are two birds flying in the centre of the photo above, I think they might just be magpies but they may be buzzards, we get a lot of birds of prey around here.

As a bit of a tree-hugger I was interested in watching a recent BBC programme about Judi Dench and her love for trees, she has a six acre garden which is mainly woodland and commemorates deceased family and friends by planting trees in memory of them, such a lovely thing to do. If you get a chance to you should watch Passion for Trees, there’s a wee taster of it below.

Solstice Bells – Jethro Tull – Top of the Pops 1976

It is indeed the Winter Solstice which always makes me feel cheery, it’s psychological I know because the nights still take quite a while to get noticeably lighter at night, but as far as I’m concerned the worst of it is under our belt. I can look forward to evening walks in daylight or night time gardening.

Jethro Tull performed Solstice Bells on Top of the Pops in 1976, the year we got married as it happens. The words are below if you feel like singing along!

Happy Winter Solstice.

Now is the solstice of the year
Winter is the glad song that you hear
Seven maids move in seven time
Have the lads up ready in a line
Ring out these bells. Ring out. Ring solstice bells. Ring solstice bells

Join together ‘neath the mistletoe
By the holy oak whereon it grows
Seven druids dance in seven time
Sing the song the bells call loudly chiming
Ring out these bells, ring out. Ring solstice bells. Ring solstice bells

Praise be to the distant sister sun
Joyful as the silver planets run
Seven maids move in seven time
Sing the song the bells call loudly chiming
Ring out these bells, ring out. Ring solstice bells. Ring solstice bells
Ring out, ring out those solstice bells. Ring out, ring out those solstice bells.

Praise be to the distant sister sun
Joyful as the silver planets run
Seven maids move in seven time
Sing the song the bells call loudly chiming
Ring out these bells, ring out. Ring solstice bells. Ring solstice bells
Ring on, ring out. Ring on, ring out. Ring on, ring out. Ring on, ring out.

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively

Life in the Garden cover

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively was just published earlier this year and it has also featured on BBC Radio 4 extra, you might still be able to listen to it here if you’re interested.

I loved this book and this time of the year made it a perfect read for me as it has suddenly got too cold to do anything in my garden, reading this was a good way of dealing with my withdrawal symptoms.

Penelope Lively was born into a family of keen women gardeners and from them she inherited the genetic tendency to plan and plant gardens wherever she could. Her first garden experiences were in Egypt where she grew up but eventually her family moved back to England where her grandmother, a very wealthy woman, gardened on a grand scale. It sounds like it must have been a wonderful place but as is often the way with gardens, it no longer exists, having been built on. I think that this is something that all gardeners realise – no matter how much work you put into them, in the end they’re very ephemeral and all it takes is a few seasons of neglect and that garden begins to disappear back into a wild state.

Penelope Lively talks about the various large gardens she has planned in different parts of England before settling in her vintage years in a small London garden. It’s a bit of a memoir of the gardens she has known and the books she has read. This is one of those dangerous books that mentions lots of other books and I found myself noting titles down for future reading, in fact I’ve already purchased one of them, English Flower Garden by W. Robinson, but a lot of the fiction books she mentions because they feature gardens. They’re mainly classics and most readers have probably read them all – Alice in Wonderland, Tom’s Midnight Garden, The Secret Garden. Authors such as Beatrix Potter, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West and lots more.

She talks about the changing fashions in plants, and roses of course feature quite heavily. She mentions that as she’s now 83 she can’t do everything in her garden herself and sometimes has to rely on getting a man in to do some jobs, with some disasters ensuing. She has admiration for gardeners in other parts of the world who aren’t lucky enough to have a climate such as Britain’s as we don’t have to cope with really awful low temperatures.

I really enjoyed this one, I’ll give it 5 stars on Goodreads I think, the only gripe I have about it is that although it’s a hardback and has an attractive cover, it was published by Penguin and has been bound so tightly I found it quite difficult to hold it for any length of time. I was the first person to borrow this one from the library so probably it will ease up eventually, but the actual paper used isn’t very good, I don’t think it will age well. Having said that I will probably buy Life in the Garden at some point as it’ll be great for dipping into during bad weather.

If you haven’t tried Penelope Lively’s fiction you should give her books a go!

Guardian links

Here we are at another Saturday already, I can’t believe how quickly each week flies past nowadays, there’s another Guardian review section to read today, and I found quite a few interesting articles in last week’s that you might find worthwhile reading too.

If I find a novel features a house to such an extent that it becomes character then that’s usually a big plus for me. I love houses in books, art, crafts, bookcovers — whatever, I’m right there in that house, so I enjoyed this article about famous fictional houses, there are a lot more than Manderley. Do you have a favourite fictional dwelling? Or just a favourite house? Do tell!

I’ve never read anything by Louise Welsh but I read this article about her working day. I hadn’t realised that she lives in Glasgow, near our old stamping ground.

The American author Robin Hobb features in the interview, interesting although again I haven’t read anything by her.

There’s a good article on picture books and novels for tots to teenagers. Although I don’t have any small people in my life nowadays (well not in this country anyway) I’m still drawn to children’s books and sometimes I just have to buy them if the illustrations are particularly gorgeous.

Sarah Dunant’s article is amongst other things about how the historical research that she used for some of her books hadn’t been done 25 years ago. Mainly though she’s writing to promote a BBC Radio 4 podcast – When Greeks Flew Kites, and I believe that anybody in the world can listen to the radio programmes in general.

I, Claudius by Robert Graves

I, Claudius cover

You will probably notice that my copy of this book is the 1977 tie in to the BBC dramatisation of I, Claudius. Shockingly it has taken me 40 years to get around to reading it! The book was originally published in 1934.

I really enjoyed reading I, Claudius although I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed it so much if I hadn’t watched the BBC drama – twice over the years – as there are so many characters thrown at you. Mind you often they didn’t hang around for very long as so many people were poisoned or otherwise given the chop.

It’s a very readable history of Rome, up to A.D. 41 supposedly written by Claudius, a disabled, stammering, twitching grandson of Augustus who was despised by his entire family, but inside his less than perfect body there was a clever and quick witted brain which helped him to survive when all the rest were being murdered or banished to tiny islands.

This book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize as did the sequel Claudius the God which was published in the same year. Possibly they were originally published in one volume.

If you want a more in depth review of this book then hop over to She Reads Novels and Helen’s review of I, Claudius.

This is one of my 20 Books of Summer.

For once I think that the TV programme was just as good if not better than the book, Derek Jacobi was brilliant as Claudius and John Hurt as Caligula was unforgettable. Sadly he died earlier this year. Have a look at this excerpt where Caligula who has decided he is the god Jove has taken on his enemy Neptune.

Celtic Connections, Glasgow

Since the 21st of January Glasgow has been hosting Celtic Connections. The festival goes on until the 5th of February and as the programmes are on the radio I think they are available for people outside the UK to listen to. If you’re interested have a look here anyway.

Celtic Connections gets bigger every year and there are some amazing people performing this year, from all over the world – even Olivia Newton-John! Glasgow has become a real Mecca for fans of folk and traditional music.

TV – a great new season – so far

There have been times fairly recently when I thought I had really fallen out of love with television as I never seemed to bother to watch most of the new things which were being broadcast. I gave up on Downton Abbey because of the greed of ITV which meant that there were more commercials being screened during Downton time than actual Downton Abbey. It put me right off commercial TV altogether.

I’ve always enjoyed watching The Bake Off. I’m not a big fan of Paul Hollywood, I don’t find him objectionable though, I am quite a fan of Mary Berry however, since watching her on a TV cookery programme which was on in the afternoons in the 1970s. It was partly her old-fashioned oh so proper Englishness (but not snooty) which I liked, but now I like her for being so positive and determined to try to say something good about some aspect of the contestants’ efforts. I’ve come to realise that in life one of the most important things is to be kind, or at least not to be vicious, some people seem to think that that’s entertainment, pulling someone’s best efforts apart, but it’s not my idea of comfy viewing.

The Bake Off is the only thing of that sort which I’ve watched. I’ve never seen ‘Strictly’ or any of those jungle/island/Big Brother things, frankly I’d rather do just about anything else. I sometimes feel a bit odd, not quite part of society as all these types of programmes feature so highly in day to day living, but I don’t even recognise most of the names of the people involved in them.

So I was watching very little of ‘new’ TV and was almost always watching re-runs of old programmes if anything at all, but I’ve been drawn into new things this season and really enjoying them, despite sometimes being quite determined not to like them. The programme which comes under that category is Cradle to Grave which is apparently about the teenage years of the DJ/entertainer Danny Baker, never a favourite of mine, but it has been a really nostalgic step back into the 1970s for me, the time when I was a teenager too.

Doctor Foster was well trailed as a must view so I gave it a go, mainly because I really like the actress Suranne Jones, and I’ve not been disappointed although I just have to shout advice at her on screen, she’s not taking any of it though!

The new series of Doctor Who is fab, Missy played by Michelle Gomez is wonderful and I’m warming to Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I love it when they both start speaking in their normal Scottish accents, but David Tennant will always be my favourite Doctor.

I’ve been enjoying watching Boy Meets Girl which is about a young chap who happens to start dating a transgender woman/man. It’s funny and very well acted, with an actual transgender person acting in it. It’s very brave apparently for the BBC to take on this subject, brave it might be but it’s definitely entertaining.

Countdown to Life: The Extraordinary Making of You is a series about how foetuses develop and what happens when the development goes wrong, fascinating for the science and the people involved who have gone bit wonky in the womb but it hasn’t got them down.

I see that on Wednesday there’s a new Simon Schama series – The Face of Britain which looks like it’ll be interesting. There’s a book to go with the series and you can read the Guardian review of it here.

On Thursday BBC 4 there’s Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor, a year in the life of an oak tree.

On Friday BBC 1 – The Kennedys has been tipped by the Guardian as a pick of the day. The setting is again the 1970s, so I think it’ll be another nostalgia trip.

It looks like I’ll be doing nothing but watching the telly, but I promise you I’m still getting plenty of reading in, just don’t look at the state of my house!

Have you been watching anything good on TV recently?