Weekending

Sunday, 18 July 2010 22:03
strange_complex: (Cities Esteban butterfly)
I've had a very lovely weekend, centred around a visit from my old chum [livejournal.com profile] hollyione (aka Amy), her very-nearly-six-year-old daughter Holly and her partner Pete. It's always nice to have guests, as it provides a great excuse to go off and do fun local things which you don't normally bother with on your own, and it's especially nice when those guests are such congenial people to have around. Amy, Pete and I seemed to spend most of our time joking, laughing and sharing our enjoyment of the various things we went to see and do, while Holly was extremely well-behaved - and of course also full of laughter, high-spirits and funny observations in the way that six-year-old children usually are.

Our main excursion was to the National Media Museum in Bradford - the same place that I go to for the Fantastic Films Weekend, but this time in its everyday capacity as a museum. I've looked around the exhibits a bit while there previously for the festivals, but they're more extensive than I'd realised, and really well-designed for children. We played vintage video and arcade games, looked at televisions, video recorders and cameras from the earliest days of TV to the present day, played around in a mock-television studio, pretended to read the news, messed around with strange mirrors and lighting effects, and watched an episode of Mr. Benn together - a nostalgia trip for the three adults, but a new discovery for Holly. Amy was amazed that it was all available to visit for free, and she was right - we're very lucky to have it.

Being out with a child certainly makes you see things in a different way )

Afterwards we wandered through a surprisingly sunny Bradford, where the locals were out and about enjoying a street market and a vintage car rally, and where Amy bought Prosecco while Pete was given a free two-minute Indian head massage. Then we returned home for dinner and a local cinema trip to see Shrek Forever After, which I shall write up separately, and which Holly seemed to enjoy. And today we indulged ourselves in the charity shops of Headingley, had a nice lunch together and walked home past some Scottish country dancers strutting their stuff at a school fête, before my guests had to pile themselves in the car and hit the road for the journey back home to Bristol.

I should add that in the evenings while little Holly slumbered upstairs, we adults settled down with Prosecco and G&Ts to enjoy some more grown-up activities. Well... slightly more grown-up, anyway. We played a few rounds of Eat Poop You Cat, for which I owe a huge debt to [livejournal.com profile] whatifoundthere for alerting me to the game's existence. Unlike her, I can't scan our efforts, because my scanner is currently bust, but I can tell you that we collectively managed to transform the simple phrase "Highway to Hell" into the sentence, "You can listen to great music along the road to hell, but the reception on your car radio may be affected by lightning storms", and also "Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow" (Amy's contribution, not mine!) into "Dog punt atom mother".

We also watched a couple of episodes of Blake's 7 - though unfortunately not starting with the first one, which would have been the most logical for me, as it was missing from Amy's box-set. That meant that it took me a while to tune in to the characters, but by the end of the second episode I'd definitely warmed to Cally, Jenna, Avon and Vila (for rather different reasons in each case). I also appreciated the way that the stories didn't always end neatly or happily in the same way that they do on Doctor Who (not that I dislike that in Who - but it's nice to see a different approach). I've still got a lot of Doctor Who to watch (and write up for that matter), but I'm definitely up for some more Blake's 7 at some point.

So, yes - a great weekend. I'm a bit physically tired now, but mentally refreshed and ready to face the week. Wonder if that will last into tomorrow morning? ;-)

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strange_complex: (Ulysses 31)
With Sarah Jane covered, I'm now taking two parallel approaches to my Who viewing: returning to the early days to watch William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton's stories sequentially, while also joining Lovefilm and sticking all DVDs released to date for the Third, Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Doctors on my request list (well, except for Seven's final story, Survival, that is - I feel that particular one actually does need to be watched last).

When I said 'sequentially' for One and Two, what I'd originally really meant was 'sequentially but omitting those stories that are more than fifty percent missing'. Having watched Hartnell's first three stories back in January, then, that meant I was scheduled to sail right on past the next story, Marco Polo, and pick up at The Keys of Marinus instead. But then [livejournal.com profile] gair pointed me towards [livejournal.com profile] altariel, who had listened to the sound-track with linking narration, and she was so enthusiastic about it, actually ranking Marco Polo as the strongest story in the first season, that I decided to give it a try after all.

First Doctor: Marco Polo )

I'm definitely glad [livejournal.com profile] altariel stopped me from missing this one, then, and plan to continue with audio and / or still reconstructions when I get to other stories for which the original footage has been lost. I do reserve the right to rethink this policy when I get to seasons 3-5, though, where only four stories survive entirely complete out of a total of 26. That could get kinda tedious - at least unless tempered pretty heavily with complete stories from later eras. We'll see.

Classic Who

Monday, 7 January 2008 19:06
strange_complex: (TARDIS)
Doctor Who has always been a part of my life. I suppose I must have started watching it because my Dad did - or, I wonder now that I know Who fans with children, did he start watching it seriously partly because he had a little kid to enjoy it with? Anyway, my memories of it stretch back at least to the age of three (more on this later), and I've kept up an active interest in it ever since.

Semi-fandom )

Put simply (and with a little help from Wikipedia), this is generally the level of difference between me and a serious fan:
Serious fan: It may be a controversial opinion, but I really think The Talons of Weng-Chiang is one of the high points of the Tom Baker era. I just love all the Sherlock Holmes references in it!
Me: [slight pause] Er - is that the one with the giant rat in the sewer?
Over the last year, though, my fandom for New Who has increased to such a pitch (thanks to the overall excellent series 3) that I've decided it's about time I ploughed back into the archives. Time Crash probably played a pretty big role there, actually. If New Who was going to reference Old Who so explicitly, then I decided it was about time I enhanced my appreciation of both by rediscovering the original - and maybe just a little bit of my lost childhood along the way.

Fifth Doctor: Caves of Androzani )

Fifth Doctor: Castrovalva )

Childhood memories )

Fourth Doctor: Robot )

A journey has definitely begun here, and I'm looking forward to pursuing it further. I don't think I'll ever try to be a completist, because I know that would involve sitting through an awful lot of dross. But Operation Classic Who is go! ...at least until New Who begins again in the spring. :-)

Christmas '07

Wednesday, 26 December 2007 15:50
strange_complex: (Saturnalian Santa)
As planned, Christmas Eve was spent going to see The Golden Compass in town, although I shall write about the film itself separately. I'm always surprised by how few people are out and about on Christmas Eve. I mean, I'm sure you can't really go out and party if you have kids, as there are Santa duties to be attended to. But why don't those in the pre-parental phase of life want to go out and toast in Christmas Eve? I know I used to quite often in my late teens and early twenties, but it was the same story then - a world half-deserted.

Anyway, Charlotte and I caught the bus in together, and then she went off to meet her friend Duncan while I saw my film, and we reconvened later when it was over. I met them in an 80s bar called Reflex, which I could see was probably a real swinging joint most nights of the year. As it was, though, they had about six customers, including us, for most of the evening. I wondered why they were even staying open - and by about 11:30 they'd obviously started wondering the same thing, as they shut up shop and kicked us out. So we decamped to Glamorous across the road, a gay bar which was in fact pretty full. As Duncan pointed out, a lot of gay people don't have families to go home to at Christmas in the same way as straight people do. They had possibly the world's worst drag cabaret act going on - decent enough outfits and everything, but the problem was that they weren't actually singing; just mouthing the words to other people's risqué songs, played way too loudly over the PA. And to a comedy routine about contraception, which involved two participants, but only had one person on stage, mouthing half of the words. So we grinned and bore it until midnight came round, but then made a quick exit.

Christmas day itself was much the usual sort of thing. All my presents went down well, and I got lots of nice things, including chocolate, Art Deco notecards, calendars (guinea-pigs for work, Erté for home), a vintage purse and belt, and a lovely pair of nested tables from Past Times which we're actually going to pick up from Leamington tomorrow. At the risk of sounding like an ungrateful brat, though, nothing from my Amazon wish-list. Which in fact meant no stories - no books, no DVDs, no worlds of magic and adventure. Well, actually Santa was kind enough to bring me a rather splendid David Tennant dream in the early hours of Christmas morning, and there was also the small matter of the Doctor Who special later that day (anticipation for which I think inspired the dream). But I could have done with Who season 3 or Order of the Phoenix on DVD, too.

The Who special had better have its own post, too. It had to be time-shifted, anyway, as we have our Christmas meal in the evening these days, so we were busy serving up and eating goose when it was on. Which was very tasty. And then after Who, it all seemed to be over for another year, and there wasn't even a film that was worth staying up huddled under a quilt for, so it was off to bed at a very conservative 23:45.

Today has seen our annual Boxing Day pilgrimage to the Waltons', for nibbles and drinks and chats. I swear little Holly is twice the size she was last year now, and from certain angles looking at her is like looking 27 years back into the past, and seeing my childhood playmate - pictured here, f'rinstance - now her mother.

Domesticity

Sunday, 9 September 2007 14:58
strange_complex: (Penny Lane)
My weekend plans got changed at the last minute yesterday, when [livejournal.com profile] hollyione's car broke down, rendering it incapable of bringing her and her daughter here to stay. That was a pity, as I'd been looking forward to seeing my friend, but then again an unexpected free weekend can be pretty handy sometimes. So I've been putting it to good use attending to domestic matters.

I have:
  • Done four loads of washing.
  • Mended / shortened / hemmed five curtains.
  • Successfully extended my Sky cable, so that I can now have the TV where I want it, rather than where the wires will stretch to.
  • Vacuumed the house.
  • Bought some very tasteful paints in complementary colours.
  • Applied them to the two curtain pelmets which my Dad made for me a few weeks ago.
I've now reached the limit of what I can get done in the painting department for the moment, as each coat takes 16 hours to dry properly, so you basically have to wait a day in between them. But my pelmets are starting to look very nice already, and since I've sorted out all the curtains which need to hang from them now it is only the painting that I need to finish. By mid-week, they should be all up in place and looking very posh, and I will be able to shift my full attention to the next domestic task I need to accomplish - buying some furniture. I mean, I'm getting by, but I'm still using cardboard boxes as a wardrobe and sleeping on a rather tiny single bed. I miss the quality of weekend lie-ins you can get on a really good double, and am sick of having to rotate carefully and precisely on the spot every time I want to turn over, or risk falling out onto the floor!

So yes - there is some serious browsing of furniture catalogues to be done in my near future. For the time being, though, you will forgive me if I use the afternoon to catch up on some overdue LJ posts. Apologies for the spam, but they are only book reviews - feel free, as of course you always are, to skip if you're not interested.

strange_complex: (Claudius)
I believe I may have mentioned as much on this LJ before, but just to reiterate - my Dad is teh aces! When he arrived at 9pm last night, I only had one working telephone socket in my house - a bit inconvenient, since it was in my study, and I couldn't guarantee to hear it if I was downstairs and the study door was closed. Now, I have no less than four working telephone sockets - a little excessive for my needs, perhaps, but they were all part of an old system which was just there anyway, so he figured he might as well reactivate them all while he was at it. I am incredibly impressed at his cleverness.

He also brought a plastic outdoor table and chairs, which will be nice as [livejournal.com profile] hollyione is coming to visit me tomorrow, so we can enjoy sitting out in the garden with drinks while her daughter plays around us. We decided to take them straight through to the garden from the car when he arrived, and of course being 9pm it was dark, and the automatic light I have above the patio doors switched itself on as I opened them. And what should I see in its beam, sitting in the middle of the lawn? A hedgehog! I wasn't terribly surprised, as I see foxes and squirrels all the time, but hedgehogs are a bit more secretive, and I obviously haven't been out at the right time to encounter one yet. He didn't even seem very scared or anything - he didn't roll up in a ball, but just sat there, and after a while decided that maybe he would shuffle off somewhere a bit quieter. It was very exciting, and I hope I shall see more of him.

Anyway, now Dad has headed off towards Dundee, where he will be picking my Mum up from a Medical History conference and then going to the Moray Firth area for a holiday. Apparently the main attraction is dolphins, which can be seen by the dozen in the bay.

Meanwhile, in completely unrelated news, a film of I, Claudius is apparently on the cards. Could be very exciting if it happens, although I may be forced to kill myself if Leonardo DiCaprio is cast as Claudius. As Caligula, though... I could go with that.

DWJ day in brief

Tuesday, 13 June 2006 12:43
strange_complex: (Spike tied up)
Meep! I blatantly have no time to write up the DWJ day, and indeed my weekend in Bristol generally, because I have a friend coming to stay in half an hour, and when he leaves on Thursday, I'm straight off to Rome. So I'll try for a brief account, and aim to fill in more details from my notes at some later time.

The day started off with a group discussion on Howl's Moving Castle, led by a joint member of the Classics and English departments, who also turned out to be an LJer, and friend of a friend! All sorts of very interesting themes came up, especially about things turning out to be other than they seem, and quite a few emerged later in some of the things Diana herself said, too.

Then all four of the day's featured authors appeared for the first time, taking part in a panel discussion on writing and receptions of their work. I was very excited when Diana Wynne Jones was suddenly there in the room with us! And she said lots of interesting and insightful things, too.

Next was lunch, and finally the best bit of the day for me - another group session for people particularly interested in DWJ, in which she answered lots of our questions, and read a whole chapter from the next Chrestomanci book, The Pinhoe Egg!! I had told her earlier on in the day how excited I was about that book, while getting my copy of Howl's Moving Castle signed, but she'd merely commented at the time that she was afraid I'd have to wait until the autumn. So I had to fight hard to suppress a big SQUEEEEE!!! when it turned out we were actually going to hear an extract from it.

Two pictures of me getting my book signed )

After the DWJ day, I hooked up with Amy WINOLJ, and spent the rest of the weekend with her and her nearly-two-year-old, Holly. We had an excellent time, shared between playing with little Holly and snatching time for 'grown-up' chat while Holly was either a) distracted or b) being baby-sat by Any's sister, Milly. On the Saturday, we attended a street barbecue, watched Doctor Who (which Holly found scary, but still carried on watching anyway), went out for a nice Chinese meal, and then shared a few drinks in the Hatchet pub with Amy's friends Alex and [livejournal.com profile] strangesam before heading home.

Sunday saw bath-time for Holly, which she enjoyed apart from the bit where she had to have her hair washed, and then shopping in Sainsbury's to get pizza components. We taught Holly how to make her very own baby pizza, which she covered with mozzarella, sweet-corn and olives (which she calls 'Os'), and then Milly and her partner, Rob, came round to help us eat pizza and contribute salads and kebabs. After lunch we played a devious trick on Holly - a 'trip to the park' turned out to be a sneaky way to get her to fall asleep in her push-chair, so that we could go home again, and chat in the cool while she snoozed! And by then it was time for me to head off home on the train.

I am going to have to go and meet my friend at the station now, But I would like to add that a tiny baby squirrel is outside my window right now, scavenging for nuts and berries in my garden! Aww, teh cute!
strange_complex: (Tonino reading)
I'm going to Bristol tomorrow, and need to be there before 10am. I'd quite assumed I would need to catch a train at about 8am, possibly a shade earlier. But, thanks to a rather tedious gap in the timetable, I shall in fact have to catch one at 07:06 tomorrow morning. It's either that, or wait until 08:45, and be late for the thing I'm going to. *grumble*

Still, it will all be worth it, 'cos what I am going to is a day-long workshop at Bristol University's English Department, focussing on Diana Wynne Jones' book, Howl's Moving Castle. There'll be a morning discussion led by a member of the English dept, and then a lunch-time panel featuring Diana herself in conversation with three other authors also being covered by the day, and an afternoon session in which we get to ask her questions. I've never met her before, and am very excited. Any suggestions for questions to ask her are welcome! Shall be frantically re-reading Howl on the train tomorrow morning, and trying to think of a few goods ones of my own...

And, as if that's not enough, afterwards I shall be hooking up with my oldest friend, Amy WINOLJ, to spend the rest of the weekend with her and her cute-as-buttons daughter, Holly. There'll be a street barbecue happening, going out for food and drinks in the evening, and, of course, a scheduled slot for Doctor Who! Little Holly is already watching this with her Mum, at the tender age of nearly two - and she could hardly not be, since Mum is a former Bristol DocSoc president! Apparently, Holly doesn't much like the Ood, and needs reassuring that all is OK. But I think that will kind of add to the fun, bringing back memories of when Amy and I used to get scared by our Dads pretending to be various Dr. Who monsters. After all, what was Bristol's DocSoc officially called, if not 'Behind the Sofa'?

Yup, should be a good weekend.

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