Saturday, 11 February 2017

Signs of Spring

I am desperately seeking signs of Spring.  The mornings and evenings are definitely lighter of late and, after this week, the forecast looks a little warmer.
So, here are some cheerful specimens currently to be found in the gardens of the members of my gardening club:

 I have some snowdrops and polyanthus brightening up my garden with many bulbs presenting.

This is what RHS Harlow Carr was displaying on a recent visit.

I am now pouring over my packets of seeds and mood boards for my 2017 garden ......... one can but dream!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Farewell to 2016

I like to review the year which has ended before making plans for 2017so here are some experiences from 2016:
Family and friends play a significant part in my life and I think it important to mark occasions with a celebration whether it be a birthday, holiday or just a time we can get together.  Proud of them all but particularly my brother for receiving a doctorate from Leeds Beckett University and a OBE in the Queen's New Year's honours list

Gardening brings me much enjoyment.  I managed to visit some inspirational gardens and, as a judge for Yorkshire in Bloom, met some wonderful gardeners of all ages at schools, care homes, railway stations and allotments and saw the amazing results of their labour.
Writing also brings enjoyment and despair!
Not many acceptances this year but, to be fair, not many submissions either.  However I did write a piece each month for the programme we present on local radio and also a radio play which was read by actors.

Out and about:  Walking through stunning countryside and visiting new places both here and abroad is always a joy.  We spend much of the summer at the Yorkshire coast and never tire of the scenery.
The social enterprise in which I am involved, Yorkshire MORE, supports mental health.  We make 8 flavours of jams and chutneys at a community kitchen and sell to local retailers and at various food fairs, including the BBC Good Food Fair at Harrogate.

There are still many items left on my “to do” list which I wish to fulfill.
I would be interested to know what new and exciting things you have done during this year and your hopes and dreams for 2017.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Film Reviews

Last month I was fortunate enough to see some good films rather than having to cherry pick from the usual blockbusters.  Next year I shall definitely clear my diary for local film festivals.  I give brief descriptions of each below but, as I don’t like to know much about a film before I see it, I have kept story and plot to a minimum.
I, Daniel Blake (2016)
Directed and written by Ken Loach, starring Dave Johns and Hayley Squires
This modern day drama set in Newcastle shows how people can fall on hard times, through no fault of their own, being let down by the bureaucracy of the benefit system.
Trying to maintain their dignity, forced to tick boxes which don’t always apply and a sense of frustration, it made me realise than anyone could find themselves in a similar situation.  This film is the Cathy Come Home of today.
Keep Quiet (2016)
Directed by Sam Blair and Joseph Martin
This film tells the story of Hungarian politician Csanád Szegedi, who became vice-President of Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party and an MEP.   Played by himself, this vocal antisemite and Holocaust denier then discovers that he is in fact Jewish and his grandmother survived Auschwitz.   We follow him as embarks on his search for self-discovery. 
Interestingly, there was a young Hungarian, Jewish student in the audience.  She was able to answer our questions and told us that this story was not unique and that a good proportion of the relatively few Jews who survived the camps returned to Hungary and preferred to “Keep Quiet
Here is Harold (2014)
Directed by Gunnar Vikene
This Norwegian tragic-comedy follows the decline of Harold, the furniture shop owner, as an IKEA store opens opposite his and his journey to Sweden to kidnap the IKEA founder.  The plot contains plenty of twists and turns.  
Directed by: Jim Jarmusch, tarring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani
This gentle and almost hypnotic story, without an ending as such, revolves around the man Paterson who lives in Paterson, New Jersey.  His humdrum life as a bus driver is only enlivened by his poetry writing, whereas his eccentric wife is forever dreaming of what might be.
The first two films were thought provoking, whereas the second two just took me along for the ride.  What I liked in all of them was the lack of pretension of the appearance of both the actors and the sets that are evident in most of the films from UK and US.  We can watch Disney for perfection and happy endings, if that’s our thing. 
I would just like to mention a wonderfully acted series on TV called Moving On.  Easy to miss as they are shown in the afternoon (I record them), there have been at least three series and each episode presents a different dilemma, leaving you wondering how you would have reacted in such a situation. 
If I have read a book which is then made into a film, I have no desire to see it.  If it is on the TV, I might dip in out of curiosity to see how the lead parts have been cast.  This reminds me of the time when I was in a shop and, on spotting the book Pride and Prejudice, a customer turned to her friend and said “Look, they’ve brought out the book”!
What films have made an impression on you?