Hi everyone

Christmas has come and gone in a flash – it’s all over now. This was the last morning view of the Christmas tree, which we dismantled yesterday and the decorations lovingly put away for another year.



I am always astonished that our very old decorations have lasted through the decades and weren’t smashed during our many moves! Btw, son and daughter-in-law are now testing negative and our 2nd Christmas (minus the Christmas food) will be the following weekend. So we do have that to look forward to.


I always feel a slight sense of melancholy after Christmas especially as these Twixmas days now seem to stretch to beyond New Year’s Day. However, we’ve put up a couple of our old paintings that were stored at our daughter’s while we lived in the two smaller flats in Brighton. With our larger flat there is now space for them and what with re-arranging some of our ornaments I feel that we are starting afresh a new and hopefully better year.


So do I have some New Year’s Resolutions? No! I feel that making ‘resolutions’ that are so easily forgotten is rather yesterday, however, I do have some plans and thoughts about how I am going to tackle 2023 and will share those thoughts in my next blog.


Also on the next blog I will share the amazing haul that I got a couple of days ago from that the best charity shop for miles around, which has the best ever quality pre-loved clothes. I give you Outfit@Emmaus based in Emmaus, Portslade  Here’s a taster.



This is a pair of Ryker boots that appear to be unworn. They are soooo comfortable and cost all of £12 – what a bargain!


Now for the books, tv, and films watched and read during 2022.

We watched 59 films this year, three more than last year, I am quite the film fan and love the fact that we have returned to seeing films on the big screen. As well as the size of the screen, which gives those films with good cinematography a chance to come into their own, it’s the deep base of the sound system that is for me such a huge part of the film-going experience. I love being surrounded by sound, something you can’t do satisfactorily in your own home and we have tried.


So because films are so important for me, I’m giving you, some thoughts on each of them, while books and tv are listed below with the odd comment here and there.


Best books

I’d like to nominate a laugh-out-loud book. It’s Diary of an MP’s Wife, by Sasha Swire. You might be astonished that I like it as the Swires are true-blue Tories, but this book is hilarious!


Can I recommend anything by Helen Dunmore. Last year I read, Exposure and The Greatcoat. Both good.


Also, Star of the Sea, by Joseph O’Connor, The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck, Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky,


I like anything by Rose Tremain, but in 2022 read Music and Silence, and her memoir Rosie. And anything at all by Margaret Attwood is a must-read for me. Last year it was The Testaments, the sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and Burning Questions – that women’s mind! I  can’t get enough of her.


Best tv

I think that when American television gets it right, it gets it very right. And Better Called Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad, was way and above so much television this year. The transformation of Jimmy McGill into Saul Goodman over six seasons was stupendously good and very much down to the writing of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. I felt seriously bereaved at the end of Season 6, but what an ending. I cannot give enough praise to the acting of the principal characters but the writers were simply outstanding.


Nearly as good, was White Lotus, Season 2. Why oh why include a series about very rich people being horrible to each other? Again it’s down to the writing and funnily enough you come to care about these characters. Also, as the episodes were released weekly you were on tenterhooks to get to the next events, crises, relationships with which each character became involved. Along with the writing, the acting was exceptionally good, especially Jennifer Coolidge as the wonderful Tanya and Tom Hollander as the creepy Quentin. Compelling viewing.


Also recommended: For All Mankind, an alternative view of the space race, Bad Sisters, a remake of a Belgian noir, and don’t forget The Outlaws, which was hilarious, not least because it was an ensemble of actors with no-one in a starring role. Nothing new there until you realise that the one and only Christopher Walken was one of this otherwise very British ensemble. With two seasons it was a fabulous watch and very funny too. Sherwood was good too.


I did not watch The Crown, nor did I watch I’m a Celebrity!  But I always recommend The Great British Sewing Bee, which is so sweet, also Who Do You Think You Are?, and Masterchef Professionals and the Celebrity version. Ted Lasso is also the loveliest and nicest tv to watch particularly after a grim Nordic Noir. I love all those dysfunctional detective series set in the north, e.g. Arctic Circle. And finally do watch Babylon Berlin, we are on the 4th Season.


Best films

I have to admit I’ve watched some rubbish and very few films come up to my strict (but very personal) 5* standard. Little Women starring Meryl Streep with a stellar supporting cast including Florence Pugh and Saoirse Ronan nearly got 5* but Laurie being played by Timothy Chalamet? Please no, that was so wrong so 4 and half stars from me. You can still catch this classic tale and quality film on Netflix.


Four and half stars also for The Joker starring Joachim Pheonix, which absolutely won’t be for everyone. But it is a well made film. It is, of course, an origin story of the character, The Joker, who appears in the Batman series. For what it’s worth I enjoyed it, but avoid if you don’t like jeopardy and violence. Still available on Amazon.


Not until the month September did I think a film deserved the accolade of 5* but this film? Oh yes, this was so good, so finally, I give you a 5* film, it’s Untouchable or The Intouchables, which is a truly lovely film made in 2011 about a quadriplegic who’s life is turned upside down by a street smart young man who becomes his carer. I believe there’s been a remake of this. We showed it at the Hillcrest Cinema (the film society that we are once again helping to run) and everyone loved it. Please, please, though, watch the original (with subtitles) as it is absolutely wonderful. A buddy, buddy film it’ll just uplift and delight you to watch it. Available on Netflix. And did I say, it’s based on a true story – even more reason to watch it.


Shortly after we watched Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, which is another utterly delightful film. And why? Well with the cast including Lesley Manville playing Mrs Harris you can’t go wrong. But as Mrs Harris is going to Paris to buy a Dior dress I absolutely swooned through the entire film at the sight of the frocks. Watch on Amazon if you missed it.


Now here’s a film that I initially gave 5* but on reflection I have reservations, so it misses the heights of 5* but is included it as I thought it good. Also it has had countless nominations for awards and is a front-runner for many Oscars, so it must be excellent? Then why do I have these reservations? The film is The Banshees of Inisherin starring Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell, I mean what could go wrong with these great actors in it? The thing is it is a quality film and very beautiful to look at. But. It is a tale of male friendship going sour and wrong told in a slow, melancholic and macabre way and after the film had finished I rather wondered if it was such a good advertisement for Irish culture. Rather too much hype around this film, I think, but don’t listen to me, you might love it.


Ditto, another film that oozes melancholy amidst the poverty in rural Ireland. This is the film The Wonder, which is again beautiful to look at, and, yes, you know you’re watching a quality film, but there is a but! This is the tale of young girl who has apparently not eaten for weeks and it is a miracle, and she is a ‘wonder’. But, oh my goodness, poverty and ignorance rules – almost – to the end. There is, I’m glad to say, in the final moments of this film, some light and relief from the relentless misery. Florence Pugh, again, is magnificent in her role as the nurse. Available on Netflix if you missed it in the cinema.


A documentary this time and a beautiful film to boot was Ravilious: Drawn to War. Eric Ravilious, was a British artist who painted numerous water colours of the Sussex Downs. In the documentary he is depicted as a grossly undervalued artist and so very quintessentially English with his soft washed landscapes of the English countryside. He became a war artist and sadly died in a plane crash in 1942 whilst on a flight over Iceland. It is a lovely film to watch.


For the penultimate best film I give you a much lighter, sweeter, and seriously, a better film you could not find in The Living, starring the indomitable Bill Nighy. If I say it is about a dying man resolving to live as best he can in his remaining months you might think, hmm, maybe that’s not for me. But it is delightful, and if you leave the cinema with a tear in your eye, you also know you’ve watched a truly lovely film. Btw, it is also very, very British in a kind of stereotypical way. Our hero is exactly what people outside of this country think all Brits are like when they’re not, of course. I wonder if it will translate and be popular elsewhere? Have any American readers of this blog watched it? If so what did you think?


And now I’m cheating, as this film, which gets 5*++++ from me, we watched on 1st January 2023. This is the latest version of All Quiet on the Western Front and I include it as it is the best film I’ve watched in a long time. The futility and horror of war, it’s all there and for me it is a truly great film. I have seen some criticism of it as unlike the film made in 1930 it doesn’t wholly follow the book of the same name, there are some changes, but if you haven’t read the book recently I don’t think the changes will have any impact on you. What does impact on you is the suffering the young soldiers endure and the waste of their young lives. Yes, one of the greats in my view and should be watched by all politicians and be compulsory viewing for anyone who thinks war is a suitable means of nations gaining power. Astonishingly it wasn’t seen on the big screen but is purely a Netflix film. Do see it if you can, as it is still on Netflix and will be for some time – you won’t regret it.


That’s all for now – in my next blog there’ll more about frugal shopping for clothes plus thoughts on 2023.


With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper


Tidying up after Christmas and films, tv and books of 2022
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26 thoughts on “Tidying up after Christmas and films, tv and books of 2022

  • 6th January 2023 at 11:17 am

    I am a fan of Christopher Walken and find him hilarious in The Outlaws, just fab! I don’t do resolutions either other then we want to get away more often! Those boots are so you!!

    • 7th January 2023 at 9:20 am

      The Outlaws was so good – very typical of a certain kind of English humour. It was quite coup to get Christopher Walken to be in it!

      Those boots…..

      Thanks Nancy!

  • 6th January 2023 at 2:20 pm

    We loved Better Call Saul and The Outlaws. And Ted Lasso! We have been impatiently waiting for its return. Also enjoyed For All Mankind – what interesting twists.


    • 7th January 2023 at 9:24 am

      Oh I am so glad that as an American you could get The Outlaws. It was very typical of our British sense of humour – just wonderful that they managed to get Christopher Walken in it. I thought the second series was a bit grimmer with them all selling drugs but they and the series just about got away with it.

      Awwww Ted Lasso – still haven’t quite finished watching it. That fish-out-of-water is so charmingly done and so sweet too.

      Thanks Michelle 🙂

  • 6th January 2023 at 4:21 pm

    Lots of things here to look into. I am eagerly awaiting season 3 of The White Lotus. I loved the series and the suspense of the music and water scenes. Our little Christmas tree is still up in the den, but pretty much everything else is put away. I love the glow of the lights at night in there. Enjoy your last get together now that everyone is healthy.

    • 7th January 2023 at 9:27 am

      Oh yes, I do hope there is another season as it is so addictive to watch. But what great writing – loved every moment of it.

      It’s a fresh start for a new year which we all hope is going to be a better one!

      Thanks Diane 🙂

  • 6th January 2023 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Penny,
    Christmas decorations are now packed up and put away. However I’ve left some pretty little lights which I have placed across a big free standing mirror.
    They brighten up the room which helps when the weather is damp and grey!
    Thanks for your ongoing interesting blog Penny. All the best xx

    • 7th January 2023 at 9:28 am

      Funnily enough that’s exactly what we’ve done – we’ve left the fairy lights up on two sets of shelves. It does brighten up the room and very necessary with this weather too.

      Thanks Vivien 🙂

  • 6th January 2023 at 10:14 pm

    I agree about The Banshees of Inisherin but maybe you would watch An Cailin Ciuin. Lovely Irish language film. Thanks for all the tips. Ann

    • 7th January 2023 at 9:31 am

      I shall look out for that one as I do like to watch films in their original language with subtitles.

      Thanks Ann 🙂

    • 7th January 2023 at 9:34 am

      Ah ha – I’ve just looked it up and its The Quiet Girl! Yay – it’s on my list of films to watch – will certainly watch this one – thanks again 🙂

  • 7th January 2023 at 12:15 pm

    A book to add to your list – Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. She is a huge Dickens fan, apparently, and this book is loosely based on David Copperfield and is set in rural Virginia. Am only halfway so don’t know how it ends, but it’s fascinating!

    • 9th January 2023 at 10:46 am

      Oh yes, absolutely, I’ll read that as it sounds exactly my kind of book. I really like Barabara Kingsolver as she’s a very good writer and I admire her and the stories she has to tell.

  • 7th January 2023 at 5:12 pm

    My decorations all came down on the 2nd & it took all day to put them away and clear up. I’ve put a few things out to give to daughter/get rid of but we still have 4 large boxes. My tree is tall and slim and revolves so you have to decorate it all round but it does look lovely. We’ve been to 2 local NT houses to see the fabulous Christmas decorations. What a wonderful job is must be designing and installing them.
    I’ve read a lot of books this year – how I’d have got through it without novels I can’t imagine – and one of the very best is The Dean’s watch by Elizabeth Goudge set in the 18th C. Truly beautiful, I was so sad to finish it. It’s the third of a trilogy about the same small city set in different historical periods so I’m looking forward to reading the others. Hoping to get back to the cinema this year ; I wanted to see the Lost King but missed it. Glad to see that Happy Valley is back on the TV – loved the previous series.

    • 9th January 2023 at 10:58 am

      I remember Elizabeth Goudge as I used to read her a lot. Will have to look her out again. I rather think I might have read that one, but can’t recall any of it, so will look that trilogy up first. There are some very good books out at the moment, there was quite a sparse period over the last couple of months before Christmas, but the ones that came out for the Christmas period are all on my list including the new Barbara Kingsolver and Jessie Burton.

      I’m waiting for the Covid and flu cases to go down before I resume going to our local cinema. If you haven’t got the streaming platforms there’s always BBC iPlayer which has many good films on it.

      Oh lordy, you’re going to think I’m a philistine, but I’ve never watched Happy Valley! Isn’t it a bit angsty and dour? You see, I always prefer foreign angst, like the Nordic Noirs. My reasoning is that they’re angsty but it’s not happening near me so that’s OK. It seems I can watch a lot of stuff that others wouldn’t like but actually any domestic nastiness based in the UK I find quite upsetting – it’s daft but that’s my rationalisation!

  • 7th January 2023 at 10:40 pm

    You know what is so funny Penny is that you really like American TV and I find that I mostly watch stuff from the BBC . And I watch altogether too much cable news. It’s become kind of an addiction, and it’s so repetitive. perhaps I am hoping for some good news which is few and far between. I too feel a bit sad when the holidays are over, but it is also a kind of relief, even though this year the holidays were especially quiet and I did not put that much effort into them. the family did get together on New Years Eve. My son and his wife cooked delicious diner. we did a secret Santa and then my son, grandson, granddaughter and my daughter had a jam session, guitar, drums and vocals. I was the audience. Christmas was very cold but now the weather has been more moderate so I am able to walk regularly. I have few things planned for 2023, My daughter and I plan to attend the interactive exhibit of Monet’s garden on the 23. My learning in retirement group will have an intersession, one day a week, during January starting nest week. I am hoping my book club will go back to in person meetings soon, Zoom is just not the same to me. Right now I am reading the newest Louise Penny crime novel, A world of Curiosities, which I am liking and have the new Donna Leon inspector Brunetti mystery on deck, a favorite author of mine. Sadly, the animal shelter where I have volunteered for over 10 years is closing, so that door is closing, waiting to see what new one will open. Wishing you and your family the happiest of New Years, Darby

    • 9th January 2023 at 11:20 am

      I do like a lot of American television, and there are two reasons for this. One is the reason I’ve just outlined in my reply to Lynda’s comment. I can watch any amount of angst and even violence (not gratuitous violence) if it’s in another country, as in, this unpleasantness or whatever is occurring in this script, is not happening anywhere near me or near my experience of life, so it’s) interesting because it’s different and ii) it’s Ok to watch. And second, and I may horrify a lot of Brits here, but there’s something about British sitcoms that I really don’t like. I also see the class divisions and that irritates me no end. So a small part of liking American television is that it’s kind of different, exotic even!

      Of course, there’s a lot of American television I don’t like, particularly anything meant to be funny, and I don’t like the wise-cracking sit coms either as I just don’t get half of the humour. Our humour is best exemplified in a series like The Outlaws, which is why it was so extraordinary to see Christopher Walken in it. The hybrid fish out of water humour of Ted Lasso is also typical of our humour and is rather sweet too.

      But the long form television series made in the US are absolutely outstanding and British television cannot even begin to compare with The Wire and it’s fore-runner, Hill Street Blues, then there’s The Sopranos, was there anything better? And finally Breaking Bad and then it’s prequel Better Call Saul. This is American television at its best. White Lotus was very good but mere froth in comparison to these series.

      Sounds as though you have lots of cultural activities going – good for you! Btw, I found it really interesting to think through why I like American television – thanks for that 🙂

  • 9th January 2023 at 4:59 am

    We have just finished The Witcher so we need to find a new series. We did watch the first season of The White Lotus and really liked it. I know everyone says the second season is really good, but we just couldn’t get into it. We have been watching the Great American Baking Show which is filmed in the UK with Paul Hollywood judging along with an American baker (can’t recall her name, but she reminds me more of Mary than Prue). I’m going to see if I can’t get on it…hahaha!!!

    I hope your new year is wonderful and filled with good things, Penny!


    • 9th January 2023 at 11:29 am

      Oh gosh Marsha – go for it, yes try and get on that programme. I personally can’t get on with the Bake-Off series, as I don’t do any baking whatsoever, we just don’t eat cake now, but I do like Master Chef programmes, which includes every type of cooking you could think of. I rather like it because I think, I really could serve and plate out food for guests, better. So perhaps rather like your Baking Show, it kind of makes you want to improve ones cooking.

      I hope you too have a wonderful year 🙂

  • 9th January 2023 at 8:00 am

    Was eager to hear your take on Banshees! Over hyped to some extent but I think life on a small island is often very melancholy and challenging. I loved Living, and it was the first time I’d been in a cinema for years.
    Haven’t seen any of the TV programmes except Babylon Berlin, Sewing Bee and Ted Lasso (I only watched a couple of episodes because I felt everyone was too mean to Ted!). Looking forward to Mrs Harris, and also with Rose Tremain.
    Thanks for linking x

    • 9th January 2023 at 11:32 am

      Yes, the more I think about that film the more I actually dislike it. In the first instance I was seduced by the beauty, but on reflection the poverty, the ignorance, the melancholy, the macabre way it panned out – no, not nice! Too much hype and I shall be really annoyed it if wins loads of Oscars!!!

      Oh, Ted Lasso gets round all of that – it all becomes OK for him and now it’s more about how can the team get its mojo back. Really love it.

  • 10th January 2023 at 12:27 pm

    Hi Penny, agree with many of your film choices. Especially Untouchable. I love the young man in it, he is brilliant and I sometimes watch the dance section to September by Earth. wind and Fire just as a treat! Lupin on Netflix has the same guy and I loved that. Better Call Saul was brilliant, sometimes I just got list and had to stop and think about what had happened, what was happening, certainly not a passive, veg out, relaxing TV watch but so good.
    Love Babylon Berlin too I have yet to watch Series 4 but I don’t mind waiting. I read the first of the books too, equally good.
    BTW I listened to Rob Delaney reading five episodes from his book. It was on Radio 4 so I discovered it on iPlayer. Gosh, it was heartbreaking but so worth listening too.
    His love and grief for his son is so deep.

    • 11th January 2023 at 9:19 am

      Omar Sy is so good in Untouchable and yes, Lupin too, which I really enjoyed. Better Call Saul was the best televisions around and I really mourn it’s ending, but of course it had to! On the other hand, what an ending – that also was brilliant!

      I’ve heard Rob Delaney talk about his son but could I listen to this – not sure. It’s heartbreaking.

      Thanks Carole 🙂

  • 11th January 2023 at 6:55 am

    Hi Penny, just popping in to say hello as we’ll be co-hosting Gail’s ‘Tell us About…’ soon. I enjoyed your update and have taken note of your movie suggestions as I’m often wondering what to watch when there’s so much cricket or tennis on over summer here in Aus!
    I watched the Untouchables a while ago and it really was good. I like anything with Bill Nighy so will keep an eye out for that one too 🙂
    Thanks again. Debbie from https://debs-world.com/

    • 11th January 2023 at 9:24 am

      Hi Debbie – it’s lovely to meet you!

      The Untouchables is wonderfully uplifting isn’t it and it’s so good to realise it’s based on a true story.

      Bill Nighy is very very good in Living. We’re showing Hope Gap at our local film club in February. Now that will be interesting as it’s filmed in Seaford a seaside town not far from where I live so we will be looking at where everything is! I believe that this is where Annette Bening had her first taste of fish and chips! On the other hand, I realise it is quite the misery fest, so have mixed feelings about the film. But anything with Bill Nighy…. 🤣

      Thanks Debbie 🙂

  • 11th January 2023 at 8:13 pm

    Hi Penny, thanks for stopping by. I watched The Joker and thought it an amazing film and Joaquin’s acting was just brilliant. He really is a fantastic actor. Thanks for sharing on the link up. Jacqui x

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