Like minds

Mr. Bsag and I were lucky enough to see Chris Wood again at the Red Lion Folk Club last week. We’ve seen him live a couple of times, and once before at the Red Lion. It’s different each time, but always an amazing experience. There are few musicians whose music I love as much as Chris Wood’s, so I will always jump at the chance to see him live. However, you get much more than music with Chris Wood.

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Christmas reading: Magic and parallel worlds

One of the pleasures of having a bit of spare time over Christmas is that I have the opportunity to get my teeth into some good fiction. This Christmas I had borrowed a couple of books from the library: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. I really loved both books, though it took me a bit longer than the Christmas period to finish both.

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Watching The Hobbit

Last night, we watched the first of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I had heard so many negative reviews of the film, that I was fully prepared for disappointment. As a result, I wasn’t exactly disappointed (because my expectations were so low), but nor was I delighted by it. I think it was a decently entertaining (though overblown) film, and despite the epic running time, I didn’t find myself looking at the clock every 5 minutes.

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Vivian Maier

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I watched a fascinating documentary some weeks ago about the photographer Vivian Maier. It seems (if you are in the UK), that you’ve got 10 days left to watch the documentary, and I highly recommend it. Vivian was an American woman (with French and Austrian roots) who worked for most of her life as a nanny in Chicago. She was by all accounts a very private person. When asked about her life, she was apt to tell rather tall tales to deflect attention from herself, and while she was an outspoken feminist and socialist, it seems as if no-one really got to know her very well.

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The workhouse

At the weekend, I caught up with the first part of a documentary about the workhouse: Secrets from the Workhouse. It was made by the same production company as ‘Who Do You Think You Are’, and the element of finding out about the ancestors of celebrities was the same. However, in this programme, they focused on one aspect: people who ended up in the workhouse. It consequently featured a number of different celebrities, each of whose ancestors reflected a different experience of the workhouse.

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Singing The Messiah

Good old George Frideric Handel! He really knew how to write for choirs. Last weekend, my Mum and I took part in the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) ‘Singalong’ of Handel’s Messiah. We’ve done a couple of other Singalongs together, and have really enjoyed the experience. Mum is a particular fan of the Messiah, and I sang it in the choir at school, so we both jumped at the chance of joining in with this one.

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Alfred G Buckham

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A few weeks ago, we went to an excellent exhibition at Compton Verney called ‘Flight and the Artistic Imagination’. It featured various works in all kinds of media from paintings and photographs to sculpture, video installations and even images from the Hubble telescope, all inspired by flight. It was a big exhibition and I loved a lot of the pieces, particularly ‘Battle of Britain’ by Paul Nash, some large format images of nebulae from Hubble, and a stitched-together panorama from the moon landings.

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Chris Wood at Red Lion Folk Club

Last week we went to see Chris Wood perform at the Red Lion Folk Club. We last saw him perform in Moseley more than two years ago at a fantastic gig, so I was really excited to be getting to see him perform again. Chris Wood is an amazing performer when you hear him recorded, but he’s even better (if that’s possible) live, because of the incredible warmth and presence of his voice, and because his banter with the audience is lovely.

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Flying deckchairs

On Monday, I watched a really wonderful documentary: The Real Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines. There’s still time to watch it on iPlayer, and I heartily recommend doing so, even if you have no interest in microlights. It was the kind of documentary I love, in which you let people with a passion for something tell their own story. In this case, the cameras followed several participants in the ‘Round Britain Rally’, a gloriously Wacky Races event, in which the aim is to rack up the most points over three days by flying over designated waypoints dotted around the UK in a microlight aircraft.

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Rex Whistler Mural

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On our way back from Anglesey, we stopped off at a National Trust Property called Plas Newydd. A very beloved Godmother of mine gave Mr. Bsag and I a Lifetime Membership to the National Trust as a wedding present, which was a generous and wonderful gift that we make use of frequently. National Trust properties are often fascinating, but the entrance fees can also be expensive, so you sometimes wonder if the trip will be worth the money or you end up staying longer than you really wanted to, just to get your money’s worth.

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