A few of my favourite things – TV

I don’t tend to watch lots of TV but there are some programmes that I make an exception for. One of my favourite BBC comedies is Detectorists with the brilliant Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones. The filming is exquisite and I love the opening music by Johnny Flynn who also appears in one of the episodes. It’s funny and heart-warming. Can’t wait for the 3rd series to come out.

There are many films that I love, but my all-time favourite is “The last of the Mohicans”. The music and the filming is beautifully evocative. I am not sure how close it is to the book as I’m ashamed to say I have not read it. But the film has a raw sensuality about it that appeals to me.

And as for Black Sails! Well where do I start –this is as raunchy as it can get! There are 4 series – I’ve managed to watch them all…. back to back! I am in ecstasies over Zach McGowan as Captain Vane. Talk about eye-candy – I’m in love – it’s all those tight black leather trousers, open-shirt to the naval and long-dread locked hair. The scene when he emerges from being buried alive, buck naked was a scene to re-wind again ……and again….and again. Ok he looks like he could do with a good wash but he has totally mastered the bad boy look and every good girl loves a bad boy!  In fact every bad girl would like Zach!

Then I discovered “Vikings”. I thought I had died and gone to “Valhalla”. Wow! With an ex-Calvin Klein model as Ragnar what is there not to love about this programme. I admit that again they all look like they could do with a good wash but….. I’m not fussy, not at my age!

I’m not sure what it is with me, but I’m the type of person who even found Rowan Atkinson as Blackadder (the Elizabethan one that is) attractive. It was the earring and the little beard that did it for me! But then again, I also liked Darth Vader. It was all the black clothing and the heavy breathing…………………



A few of my favourite things – Books

I have lost count of the times I have read Jane Austen back to back. My personal favourite is Emma although P&P I think is more rounded. But, I studied “Emma” for A level so I am afraid that I am biased. I am a classics girl at heart. For me modern literature does not come close. Each to their own but for me the classics win hands down. Plus, the fact you can usually download them for free! From time to time I do deviate but I always come back to the old favourites. Top of my leader board is obviously Jane Austen (no contest) closely followed by Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, the occasional Dickens and Bram Stoker with his classic gothic horror. I also enjoy the Bronte’s, particularly Anne Bronte and “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall”.

Last summer I re-read “Wuthering Heights”, a book I had not touched since a teenager. Then I found the Yorkshire dialect quite difficult to understand and “hear in my head” as I was reading. I enjoyed it more the second-time round. The ending was a little odd and I can’t quite understand why Heathcliff is seen as such a romantic hero. Not my cup of tea in the “romantic department”. I would go for either Gabriel Oak – steadfast, but not a walkover or Mr Knightly in “Emma “– he gets my vote every time even over Mr. Darcy.

Modern classics for me include Elizabeth Jane Howard particularly the series following the Cazalet family. I also like George Orwell’s “1984” and “A Clergyman’s Daughter”.

From time to time I dabble with Terry Pratchett especially the ones with the witches. My personal favourite is “Wyrd Sisters” because of its references to Macbeth. Hilarious!

I remember being totally bewitched by Philip Pullman’s trilogy. I read it before e-books had taken off. One Thursday night I finished reading the first book and then went rushing into town to buy the second as it was late night shopping. I was too late and returned home rather frustrated.

My other major favourites are the Flashman books by George MacDonald Fraser. I love them. Flashman is such a “cad, a bounder, a womanizer and a coward”. They make a terrific read especially if you like a bit of skulduggery with your history!

I also regularly read children’s books. I love Noel Streatfield’s “A Vicarage Family”. I remember reading this at school and then asking for it for Christmas. I am really delighted that I can now get it on my Kindle. Another book that I will read again is Moonfleet – I discovered this 3 years ago and was totally gripped. It is a fine, traditional rip-roaring adventure. The character who captivated me the most was Elzevir Block, the damaged inn-keeper, grieving for his lost son, whose own life has lost its value and who sacrifices himself for the love of his young friend. I cried. Does anyone remember the “Five Find Outer’s and Dog” by Enid Blyton? I used to love those books. I preferred them to “The Famous Five” and “The Secret Seven”. And who can forget the “Naughtiest Girl” in the school – all those liberty bodices and vests! I found the complete collection in a local bookshop and snapped them up for my daughter. I’m planning to read them later….after lights out….. with a torch…..and a snack…………

To Spread or Not to Spread?

To spread or not to spread?  That is the question.  In my case “not”.   Butter that is…… in case you’re wondering.  I can’t bear the stuff or spread of any type.  I suffer from Butter Phobia!   It started many years ago at the age of two.  Both my sister and I revolted against Mum’s insistence of spreading butter on soldiers and neither of us have eaten it since. Apart from some unfortunate incidents which I don’t like to recall as it’s the stuff of nightmares (for me anyway).

I can’t bear the taste, the texture or the smell.  My children tease me by putting their fingers into the tub and gobbling it down whilst I’m reaching for the sick bowl. I heave every time I make a sandwich for them and have to get the spread out from where it lurks in the fridge.  I stand at least a foot away from the counter, my arms outstretched before me, trying not to breathe in!  If I so much as get a bit on my bare fingers then I go into lock down mode. Hospital scrub room comes to mind!  If we go to a restaurant as a family, inevitably they will choose dough balls served with a pot of garlic butter.  I then have to deal with their greasy little fingers as well as trying not to puke as they guzzle down golden globules of it.

When a recipe says butter – I tend to substitute olive oil.  You can do a lot with oil!  Unless of course it’s a cake and then I bravely soldier on!

I have such a phobia that if I make myself an egg mayonnaise sandwich I will double check that the bread has no butter on it!  It’s just that mayo looks so much like the yellow stuff and I like to be on the safe side even if I’m the one whose made the damn sandwich in the first place.

Last time I ate butter was on a drunken night out 30 years ago.  Someone made some cheese on toast and used butter on the bread.  I was too drunk to notice and at that time of the evening I would have eaten anything.

I can just about manage garlic bread but I like it quite well done – that is burnt to a crisp!  If it’s a baguette I will only eat the end bit.  Had a shock the other day, bought some garlic bread from Marks  & Sparks;  wished I’d gone to Tesco for their economy range……………

To Spread or Not to Spread? That is the question.


Being a Neurotic

I remember as a young child, my Dad had a book called “How to Live with a Neurotic Wife”. Some of you may recall it especially if you grew up in the 70’s. I loved flicking through it and thought it hilarious at the time although now you won’t see it gracing the shelves of Waterstones as it is certainly not PC. There was a series of them as we also had “How to Live with a Neurotic Dog”.

I am a bit of a neurotic and I am sure my family would agree. I have Continue reading

Embracing Hygge

Have you heard of Hygge? It is fabulous. It is the Danish concept of contentment and comfort. I am now a convert. I’ve bought the book and everything! I am now avidly crocheting lots of blankets and throws to give my 1950’s built house that feeling of warmth and cosiness in my quest to replicate Denmark in Buckinghamshire!

It seems to me a great opportunity to slob around in the evenings in my jim-jams and woolly socks, scoffing the remains of the chocolate trifle and glugging back lots of wine. I’m not quite winceyette in the bedroom but it is heading that way!

The other day my Hygge Continue reading

Horsing Around

At the age of 47 I took up a new interest…………horse-riding. Since September of last year, Lydia has been having lessons. I’ve really enjoyed taking her and the ladies at the stable are lovely. In fact I was enjoying it so much I was determined to give it a go.  I had some lessons 25 years ago, but never got on well. This time was going to be different.

In my imagination I see myself competently taking my pony over the jumps, long hair blowing in the wind (mine not the pony’s) as I canter across a sandy beach, bottom pert, thighs toned. Then reality kicks in. Continue reading

Tiny Tears, Baby Annabell and …ummm Chucky!

Back in December an elderly neighbour gave us a ring. He had some old dolls that belonged to his late wife and did the children want them? Well, you can’t really say no can you. Diligently I took Lydia round to see Uncle Clive. There on the kitchen table were a number of dolls laid out……. all of them large.  “Take what you want” said Uncle Clive. Lydia’s eyes lit up at this. I staggered back over the garden wall laden down with what seemed a tonne of dollies. Tiny Tears and Baby Annabell they are not. One of them is at least 18 inches tall. Lydia’s name for her is ”Daisy”. My name for her is “Chucky”.

Chucky’s first night with her new family was spent in the car. I’m sorry but I don’t do dolls, never have done. Cuddly, fluffy toys are more my thing.   My imagination was running riot and as Chucky was making me feel uncomfortable she had to go! Steve put her in the car, strapped her in (clunk, click every trip!) and then double locked the car (to be on the safe side!).  She looked Continue reading