Hi everyone and apologies again as life and events got in the way, it’s good to be busy but I do miss my writing and blogging time, so here goes!
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas chez Frugalfashionshopper. We’ve put up the Christmas tree with all its decorations old and new.
The pink bell was made by my son (now aged 42) when he was 7-yrs-old. Further up the tree on the left there’s a half hidden gold glass dec (under the transparent bauble) that was bought when my parents first returned to England and set up home. This would make it about 74-yrs-old!
I’ve also written my Christmas card list and sent half the cards already. I am trying not to keep a few back so that I can enclose a letter. In other years I’ve done that and sometimes they never get posted!
Our Christmas meals (and the actual Xmas day) are all sorted and we are happy to say we are having a quiet time on our own on Xmas day as both of our kids have partners who have many obligations to their extended families, and we are quite happy with that. I’ve cooked enough turkeys to know that it’s hours and hours of work and then it’s eaten in a few minutes! Well it is in our household! Yes, it might shock you but we are very happy to be on our own as I find large gatherings a bit of a challenge at the best of times and in these times? I think not! But I’m also happy to say we are all meeting up on the 27th at my son’s for a lovely roast chicken meal with all the trimmings, which will be so good. Naturally, we will all do a Lateral Flow Test that morning – the new normal.
I’m actually (mostly) leaving politics to My Other Blog as I did post something last week on the recent tragedy in the English Channel and will say no more about it here. As for our PM’s tardy slug-like behaviour towards the new variant, I shall say nothing as you all know that I think we should behave far more like the French, and other European countries, and have vaccine passports and wear masks in all circumstances and situations, not just in shops and public transport.
But, I will say this, there’s far too much tolerance for people who choose not to wear a mask, and I did my bit by asking a pert young woman in her 20s to put a mask on when I was standing in a queue at the Post Office. She cheerily said, ‘I’m exempt’, so I refrained from sniffing (not wanting to breathe in her air) and pointedly walked out. But there should be a universal attitude that not wearing a mask is a very bad thing. End of rant!
However, I did say I would give you a good news story in each of these reviews and I found one this morning. In Scotland they have guardians who befriend unaccompanied young people seeking safety after travelling across the world. Since 2010 over 850 asylum seeking and trafficked children have been supported by the Scottish Guardianship Service and these adults mentor these young people through the asylum system and just about support them through everything including understanding strange Scottish customs and even stranger Scottish slang. They are considered lifelines by these children and as one of them said, they fight for you and help you no matter what. Reading about it this morning I felt glad this scheme existed. Well done that scheme.
So on to what I did during the month of November. Well, the first thing is, we went to an actual cinema and saw Dune, which was beyond excellent. I never saw the earlier David Lynch attempt at filming the book Dune, but I understand it wasn’t a particularly good film. This version of Dune, starring Timothy Chalamet, was excellent. Above all the sound in the cinema was amazing, more so because we hardly ever go to the cinema now and when I do I realise how wonderful those deep base notes are, notes that cannot be replicated at home.
I also continued to meet up with friends and of course, family. In fact I thought I was being very brave as twice in early November I met up with people in crowded places. Of course, I’ve had my three vaccines so, really, why was I anxious? Because both times I was. But for me, (and I wonder if it’s the same for you) there’s always that underlying anxiety that something is lurking amongst the crowd that might make you really ill. Anyway, now there’s the new variant I won’t be doing such a crazy thing again. If I meet friends we sit outside no matter the temperature. And indeed I’ve done that twice now and managed to eat a lunch both times.
Actually I now have ‘sitting-outside-in-the-damp-and-cold-weather’ clothes! I wear so many layers. On my upper body I have a vest, a top, a woolly jumper, a gilet, and of course, my thick long blue plaid coat, which has a padded lining. And my lower half has thick leggings, wool socks, long boots and a wool skirt. And that’s how I manage the cold and actually it’s been fun! Oh yes, and always a woolly hat!
Here are my green gloves and a new beret I bought recently.
What I’ve read and watched – films
As well as the excellent Dune which gets 5* from me, we watched Black Widow (Amazon) which is a Marvel Universe origin story starring Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh. Don’t think I can even begin to give you the plot as it’s very much for Marvel fans but we enjoyed it and I give it 4*.
The other two films were ridiculous and regarding one of them Old (Amazon) I feel I’ll never get back the couple of hours I gave to watch it. It was also slightly nasty as the plot is simple, a group of people get trapped on a beach and over several days get old until they die, and that’s it. It’s directed by M.Night Shyamalan and he often makes films that are a bit off kilter so I shouldn’t have been surprised. Then there was the very silly Jungle Cruise (Amazon) which stars Wayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. Look, it’s a Disney film so that tells you everything. It has elements of Indiana Jones (seen one you’ve seen them all) and The African Queen, which is a classic, and never to be surpassed, ever. Two stars for both of them.
Honestly I know there are better films around to watch but sometimes we just get in a mood to watch something frivolous to take us away from all the dire news and sometimes our choices work and sometimes they don’t!
During the month of November we finished several series: Midnight Mass (Netflix) was very well acted and crafted but ridiculously over-the-top in a schlocky, gothic way as it’s all about an old priest who, on a trip to Israel, has an encounter with a vampire, is bitten, and becomes young again. He then returns to his remote island parish somewhere off the coast of America and the fun begins. It’s interesting because as well as the blood and gore (it won’t suit everyone) there’s a lot of philosophising. We kind of enjoyed it.
We also finished Close to Me (BBC iPlayer) which is basically, ‘who pushed me down the stairs so I gained a head injury and lost my memory’, over 6 episodes. It was annoyingly watchable! It’s like a page-turning book.
We are devastated and sad at finishing Schitts Creek (Netflix) and I truly mourn the loss of seeing that family ever week. We took over two years to watch all six series and I feel as though it became part of our lives. I can tell you it is the one series that, without a doubt, I shall watch again at some point.
We’ve also finished watching Outlaws (BBC iPlayer but also on Netflix in the States) and that last bit of information is important, people from over the pond, because…
Well, let’s start from the beginning it’s been written and created by Stephen Merchant who is a gangling, rather odd looking, character actor who also writes screenplays brilliantly. The Outlaws are 7 disparate people who find themselves doing Community Service and they comprise a young Asian girl, an Instagram influencer, a militant black activist, a middle-aged businessman, a solicitor, a young black guy who is mixed up with his local gang but looks after his sister and, well, watch it to find out what happens to him as the plot ends up hanging around this character. And then there’s an American, obviously resident in the UK, also doing Community Service, and who is that American? It’s Christopher Walken. Yes, you heard me right, not any old Christopher Walken, it’s THE Christopher Walken. But is he the star? No he is not! It’s a very, very British situation comedy that deepens and has many layers. It gives you a sense of who all these seven people are, why they are there and how they all come together, and you care about them. Oh, and did I say it’s very funny too. And Christopher Walken is just part of the ensemble and fits in beautifully. It is so very, very good, so good that there is going to be a second series with all the characters back as the last episode didn’t really tie up everything – anyway yay and three cheers for a second series!!!! This is a must-watch.
Were are now watching three series on Apple TV; Foundation, which is a bit challenging to understand and you’ll know what I mean as we’ve only watched 2 episodes and that second episode – err, what. Special effects are good though. Then there’s Invasion, which takes some time (as in several episodes) to show you the aliens who have invaded Earth, but it’s quite watchable, albeit a bit mumblecore. For the first time ever, as I have very good hearing, we’ve turned on the subtitles. And finally, The Morning Show, series 2, starring Reece Witherspoon and Jenifer Aniston. The thing is, it is what it is. Again it’s quite watchable but I don’t get the adoration for a newsperson. Don’t think we have that kind of feeling for media types in the UK.
And we also watched an excellent feature-length documentary The Last Mountain (BBC iPlayer). It’s easy not to confuse this with a US film of the same name, as the title continues with – the last days of Tom Ballard. Ballard was the son of Alison Hargreaves who died on K2 in 1995 when Tom was just 6 years old. The documentary shows us several parallel storylines: the young Tom and his sister growing up without their mother, the older Tom learning his mountaineering skills and then the final climb. That and the title gives you a clue to what happens to Tom, but it is not a depressing doc as the cinema photography is outstanding and the scenery awe-inspiring. I was left with the impression that Tom was greatly damaged by his mother’s death and could not leave mountains alone – they had to be conquered with that sad result.
It looks as though we watch a lot of television – well, we enjoy what we see (usually) and watch only 1-2 hours at a time.
I read three books in November: A Perfect Spy by John le Carre which is utterly wonderful – the prose, the prose. Then a novelist I don’t know, Mary Lawson’s A Town Called Solace. This is a page-turner and I read it very quickly. I loved reading it at the time but I thought it overall a little thin as I do like something meatier to read! And finally I’ve taken two weeks to read Dune, by Frank Herbert. After watching the film I just had to read it.
That’s all for now, but one of December’s posts will be about party gear. I shall find it a lovely thing to do but I do also feel rather wistful about the idea of dressing up in party gear as i)I’m not going to any parties and ii) really should we be having parties anyway these days? What do you think?
Btw, we all know what the UK government thinks about parties – it’s have them and never mind the consequences. I shall say no more!
I’ll leave you with this dramatic sunset over Brighton beach taken by Mr F.
With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper