Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Exciting or what?

It's happened! After a year of writing, proofreading, copy-editing and revising, today sees the launch of "Life with our feet under water"!

For a mere £2.99, you get 340 pages of story, plus links to a collection of almost 2,000 photos to accompany it. It's published on Kindle, and can be read on any device - Kindles (of course), computers, tablets and phones. Apps are free from the Amazon page on which the book is to be found.

"A tale of life on a narrowboat, enriched by quotes from the famous and the absurd, and illustrated with an online gallery of nearly 2,000 photos. Narrowboat Kantara was a dream come true. A 20 year-old dream, made real when retirement and redundancy coincided. Ahead lay a steep learning curve in this new home and way of life; but also a great deal of fun and excitement, travel and adventure."
I thoroughly enjoyed writing "Feet". I trust you'll enjoy reading it, too! It's a book of four parts. I've already started work on Part 5, which I'll publish as a cheap sequel sometime in 2016.

Oh, and just in case you've not noticed the links to the Amazon page where my book is to be found.... YOU CAN FIND IT HERE! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

More films

Grace and I don't watch much live TV. Whenever we're back at the house, we watch any series we've had automatically recorded for us while we were away. And we might use one of the catchup facilities both on Kantara and in the house for the odd one-off we want to see. But live TV is something of a rarity. Over the years, we've missed some really good cinema films, and we're making up for that now by buying used DVDs at silly prices on Amazon or Rakuten on the web.

These are some we've watched recently.

Silver Linings Playbook

"After losing his job and wife, and spending time in a mental institution, Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) winds up living with his parents (Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver). He wants to rebuild his life and reunite with his wife, but his parents would be happy if he just shared their obsession with the Philadelphia Eagles. Things get complicated when Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who offers to help him reconnect with his wife, if he will do something very important for her in exchange."
Fascinating, engaging, amusing, poignant. We liked this a lot.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

"A team of extraordinary figures culled from great adventure literature (including Alan Quatermain, vampiress Mina Harker from Dracula, the Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, an American secret service agent named Sawyer, Captain Nemo, and Dorian Gray), are called to stop a villain intent on turning the nations of the world against one another."
Strange, fantastical, dramatic, though slow in places. Not one of the best films we've seen recently. 

"Oliver (Craig Roberts) is a Welsh teen who has some things on his mind. First is losing his virginity before his 16th birthday. He sets out to woo his feisty classmate Jordana (Yasmin Paige). Then Oliver focuses on holding his family together. His father (Noah Taylor), a depressed marine biologist, seems unequal to the task of preventing Oliver's mother (Sally Hawkins) from succumbing to the dubious charms of a spiritual guru (Paddy Considine) from down the road."

Very comical, but surely more than a little inspired by Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole. Which wouldn't be a problem if you've not read any of those books, nor seen the film or play! I'm in the process of reading the books.

"While exploring a Mississippi River island, Arkansas boys Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey),a fugitive who needs their help. Though Mud killed a man in Texas and has bounty hunters on his trail, he is most concerned about reuniting with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon), the love of his life. Ellis, who is suffering the pangs of his first crush, agrees to help Mud. He and Neckbone do all they can to protect Mud and help him reunite with Juniper."

We enjoyed this a lot. The acting is first-class, especially that of the lead boy. The story's a good one, and well told, and a good mixture of emotions are stirred.

Last and most certainly least, RIPD
"Veteran lawman Roy Pulsifer (Jeff Bridges) works for the R.I.P.D., a legendary police force charged with finding monstrous spirits who are disguised as ordinary people but are trying to avoid their final judgment by hiding out among the living. When Roy and his new partner, Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds), uncover a plot that could end all life, they must discover a way to restore the cosmic balance or else watch the tunnel to the afterlife start sending angry souls back to the world of the living."
Very silly, but it knows it. Funny at times, but really too focussed on the blasting to bits of almost anything that moves, with big guns. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Castle but no Roses!

While we were in Powys, we visited the castle (Castell Powys). As with the Hall at Abaty Cwm Hir, we'd been here before, in August 2011. This time, however, we toured the interior. Some of it, anyway. A family still lives in part of it, and not all of the rooms are always open to the public. Unfortunately, photography's not allowed inside, and I didn't take many photos outside because of poor weather. So some of the pictures below are from our 2011 visit.

It's a lovely place in a wonderful setting, steeped in history and interest.

Leaving the castle after lunch in the restaurant, we drove back to Rhayader via a scenic route through the Elan valley. There was a lot of flooding in parts, and some of the reservoir dams were overflowing wildly. It was quite a sight, and an awesome sound.

And now we're back, with just a few things to get done to be ready for Christmas. If we're lucky!

Well, that was fun!

On Monday last, we drove into wet Wales (although, to be fair, not nearly as wet as many other places further north) to a small town called Rayader, Rhaeadr in Welsh, here to stay at The Bear Inn. This is an ancient building, dating back to the 16th century, and retains many of the original features. The bedrooms have been superbly modernised whilst still having exposed oak beams and areas of stone wall. The friendly proprietors, Sian and Gwil, gave us a warm welcome and made us feel at home. Bed was really comfortable, and Breakfasts were lovely, too.

As I said in a previous post, our main reason for going to this area of Wales was to visit the Hall at Abbey Cwm Hir (Abati Cwm Hir in proper Welsh. Goodness knows why the English decided the name should have a bit of both languages). The visit was guided, and the tour of the 52 rooms, all festively decorated, and each with a Christmas tree, took nearly three hours. Paul, the owner/guide, was both very amusing and informative, and our group of about twelve was thoroughly enchanted by the whole experience. These people are collectors of... well, anything old, beautiful or both!

The weather wasn't conducive to an exploration of the grounds, but Grace and I had done that the last time we visited, back in 2011, just before we took possession of Kantara.

It's a quirky, eccentric, crazy place! You really should visit.