What to Watch – Spring 2017

Following on from my What to Watch post late last year, here’s what I’ve been watching since then and heartily recommend:

O.J.: Made in America


Set some time aside to watch this. Seven and half hours might seem a crazy amount of time for a documentary on OJ but it’s worth it. This is NOT the David Schwimmer/Cuba Gooding Jr one (also very watchable if only for the doppelgänger-esque casting for some of the roles) but goes into the history of race relations in California and Los Angeles, OJ’s standing in the community, what happened after the “Trial of the Century” and what a thoroughly unpleasant man he was to the women he was involved with. Beware of the crime scene photos, they are horrendous but give an idea of the brutality of the attack. The whole thing cements in my mind that this killer got away with it in a criminal court. Available on BBC iPlayer.

Big Little Lies


This caught my eye with the exceptional cast, Cold Little Heart song in the titles and Monterey location (to which I’m headed soon!) and I was surprised that it held Hubby’s attention too. The female cast are everything in this. I’m a born again Reese Witherspoon fan (genuinely, her character is excellent) and even applauding Nicole Kidman for some shockingly horrifying scenes with the so pretty-he-makes-my-eyes-water Alex Skarsgard. I loved how the whodunnits story flips on its head with you knowing someone gets killed from the start, but you don’t know who or why but it could be any of the characters. Who knew parenting in beautiful Monterey was so cut-throat?! Available on Sky Atlantic.

Girlboss


I’d heard of the brand and the book by founder Sophia Amoruso but never really followed it until I’d read about the company failing – you can understand why it does from Sophia’s character. It claims it’s loosely based on reality and whilst it probably does take a huge pinch of dramatic salt to flavour things up, you get the marked impression that if this girl was your friend, you wouldn’t be friends for long. She’s rude, arrogant, narcissistic and disorganised with sparks of creative genius which of course makes her a brilliant character played by Britt Robertson. The costumes are amazing – I WANT the leather jacket – and the soundtrack is a playlist of cool, revitalising but angry rock. Plus it was so lovely to be taken back to the Noughties and reminisce my twenties! Available on Netflix.

13 Reasons Why


A girl takes her life and tells us why through recordings on a series of cassette tapes, a moment of retro-ness that comforted me as a child of the 80’s. It’s a simple premise, with a decent soundtrack and a deeply complex story. This really reminded me of the play An Inspector Calls in the sense that it is not one main cause that causes a suicide but a series of related events that leave the protagonist in such despair it becomes an option. One person after another compounds Hannah Baker’s misery until the horrifying scene in the bathroom. I actually thought they wouldn’t show it but I’m glad they do. There is nothing glamorous about Hannah’s suicide – and people who think it is, I suggest you seek counselling. It is painful, distressing, stomach churning, portrayed with care but without sheen and left me sobbing. Available on Netflix

House of Cards


I finally got round to watching this and now I see what all the fuss was about. The only problem was seeing this in a world where Trump was elected president so sometimes I didn’t know whether real life or fake life was scarier/more preposterous, or if the new administration were taking notes. Robin Wright is sensational, Kevin Spacey is tormentingly creepy and conniving. I can’t wait for the new series to air at the end of the month, lord knows it won’t be as bonkers as what’s happening in DC. Available on Netflix.

Line of Duty


I’d heard whisperings about this series and thought it might be too late to catch up, however the lovely schedulers at Netflix and iPlayer had all three series between them for me to view at leisure before waiting for the weekly installments for series four. Allow me to say this: it makes the Top 5 of greatest British crime drama series. My license fee is worth it for this quality. Excellent performances from some of the top names in Brit drama, with a special mention to Vicky McClure who is an integral part of Anti-Corruption 12. Watch this and remember “you have the right to be interviewed by someone at least one rank senior.” Available on Netflix and iPlayer. 

Party of Five

Excuse the trip down memory lane but (*puts on rose tinted glasses*) weren’t the 90’s so awesome?! Not really, but this series was my companion throughout my early teens and it was a comfort to see the Salingers, if only to half crush on Bailey again and realise that I’d go for Charlie now. I fell in love with their amazing house and now about 20 years later I actually get to see it (and San Francisco) for myself in a few weeks. Listen to the soundtrack for more retro reminiscings – Send Me On My Way and Closer To Free anyone? Available on Netflix.

S-Town


A curveball as it’s a podcast but it’s so full of descriptive commentary and the personalities within the story are so vivid it’s worth a mention. From the team at This American Life and Serial comes the tale of John B. McLemore and the eponymous Sh*t town he lives in. It’s complex and weird and wonderful and shows how fascinating people are as well as carrying a hefty warning on never mixing chemicals for gold plating in enclosed spaces. Available on iTunes/Podcast. 

Stuck on Repeat… March and April 2017

It’s not a long list for #stuckonrepeat this time because I have been binge watching all of the TV! For the full playlist click here.

Cold Little Heart – Michael Kiwanuka

I’d caught snippets of this so many times before hearing it (and being able to Shazam it) on Big Little Lies that I genuinely thought I was being haunted by a song. The instrumental and harmonies are just… *sighs*. This is the full ten minute version because life is short so fill it with good things. 

Favourite lyric: Maybe this time I can be strong / But since I know who I am / I’m probably wrong

Lay, Lady, Lay – Bob Dylan

The first few bars of this song has me feeling warmth on my skin; it’s sunshine in musical form and makes me think of languid limbs and lovers by the sea. I was transported to my happy place one March afternoon by a busker in the South Kensington tunnel en route to a V&A exhibition and I think his song was the highlight of the afternoon.

Favourite lyric: Why wait any longer for the world to begin / You can have your cake and eat it too / Why wait any longer for the one you love / When he’s standing in front of you

Teenage Fever – Drake

We’re all still left wondering if the showmance between JLo and Drizzy was just a subtle tactic to get rights for the sample of If You Had My Love but even if it was, it was worth it. A sexy little number. 

Favourite lyric: If you had my love / And I gave you all my trust/ Would you comfort me?

I’ll Come Crashing – A Giant Dog

This was stuck in my head after watching Girlboss and it’s replaced Too Funky as the best song to get me out of bed. It’s feisty, angry and very kick ass. Need something done? Play this and feel awesome. 

Favourite lyric: Nothing in my nature tells me not to do bad things / I know that I really should be good tonight.

Sleep No More – Jack Savoretti

It wouldn’t be a #stuckonrepeat post without an appearance from ol’ Jack. The album was on loop for most of March as I went to the last gig of the Sleep No More Tour at the Royal Festival Hall; an amazing night that had everyone up in their seats and the aisles (and even me in front of the stage!) dancing. This is one of my favourites especially because of the whistling. You can’t beat a song that has whistling!

Favourite lyric: I need the love you give me 




Twelve Hours in Paris


I really don’t need any excuse to visit Paris. It is one of my favourite cities for a myriad of reasons – the river running through its heart, the gruffness of locals, the architecture, the history, the food – I could go on forever and I’ve mentioned it in various posts on the blog before, both here and here.

However, when I saw that I was running low on some French pharmacy supplies and a fantastically low fare cropped up thanks to Eurostar and @London on Instagram I couldn’t miss the opportunity.  I booked for a day trip with hubby in mid-December, catching the 7:01 train from St Pancras and heading back from Gare du Nord at 19:15.

Arriving a little after 10:00 we headed direct to the Metro. I tried to use one of my carnet tickets from a previous visit and it wasn’t accepted by the turnstile. Frustrated, we headed to the ticket machine to purchase more but noticed a man nearby trying to get our attention and say something in French. As a Londoner, I instantly adopted my commuter bitch-face; a cross between “don’t dare talk to me” and “I’m not interested mate, naff off,” thinking he was hassling for attention or money or something. I can’t tell you how utterly mortified I was to hear him say in English that our tickets weren’t working because public transport was free today due to the high levels of pollution in the city! I mean, honestly, I went full Brit and died, dead. Once I realised my mistake I practically chased after him with apologies and mercis, completely red-faced and mortified. Boo hiss to city fumes, yay hurrah to a freebie! London should follow suit and adopt this immediately. 

I’d had breakfast on the train and possibly a light snack before I left the house, but my first stop was my favourite breakfast/brunch place Holybelly. We queued (you always queue here) but not for long and got straight to ordering the Savoury Stack with a cup of London Fog to wash it all down. 

Pancakes with fried eggs, bacon, homemade bourbon butter and maple syrup. WORTH IT.

Despite knowing I’d have to lug my purchases around all day, the next stop was City Pharma, the best pharmacy in all of Paris. You get bargains, attitude, advice, squished and poor from all the things purchased in one two-storey shop. I won’t remind myself of the small fortune I spent there but let’s just say I went way over budget, like WAY, but ensured I bought enough to tide me over to mid-May so it was totally worth it. *eyebrow* 

Purchases included favourites like Nuxe hand cream, lip balm and perfume; a huge bottle of Bioderma body cream and hand lotions; cans and mini cans of Caudalie grape water spritz; blotting paper, Vichy Aqualia day cream and a few small gifty things for family for Christmas. I think that was mainly it!

Walking back in the warm sunshine along the Boulevard Saint-Germain we took our time, popping into a cute vintage/retro shop that had me having many a flashback to my childhood and stroking the soft antique furs on coats and stoles. I have a personal rule to never wear anything I wouldn’t eat – cows/sheep/pigs/rabbit are fine as it were, but fox/bear/mink aren’t.

I saw signs for Musée de Cluny – Musée national du Moyen Âge – the museum of the Middle Ages, a place I’ve walked past so many times and always wanted to go in. In the spirit of adventure we walked around the block to the entrance, through security (this is now sadly implemented in most public buildings) and into a darling little courtyard. 


Walking inside I’m left wondering why I’ve never been here before – the space transforms into a tardis of antiquities and the most beautiful light. I’m annoyed I didn’t take more photos. Rooms were so varied with lofty ceilings all in stone downstairs to cosy darkened wood galleries upstairs. 

The chapel

My other reason for visiting was to see the exquisite tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn. I’d read about these beautiful C16 wool and silk hangings in history books before and love the romance of them being lost and then found in a castle. There are six in total, much larger than I had expected, filling the room from floor to ceiling. They depict the five senses with the sixth, À mon seul désir unconfirmed but thought to be a comment on how humans are the only species with unique desires. 

Ornate wooden carvings on benches

À mon seul désir

By this time my tummy was grumbling for a very late lunch and I almost sprinted to my other must-stop for food, Cafe St Regis. I’ve spoken about the lovely vibe in this place before; I’ve even eaten here alone and felt perfectly comfortable just people watching and resting, whilst filling my belly with delicious food and a Sweet Home Alabama
Needing to walk off our feast and with a few hours of crisp sunny weather left, we ambled along the banks of the Seine like the tourists we were!

Notre Dame

Conciergerie

The dome of the Pantheon visible in the setting sun


I never tire of going through the courtyards of the Louvre. Take away the throng of the crowds, imagine the courtiers who have waked across these cobblestones. I wish I had glasses to view the past. 

With twilight came the time for us to make our way back to Gare du Nord for the train home, via the boulangerie to stock up on baguettes, tartes and macarons for dinner. Only 14.5km walked too which meant my legs and feet weren’t in bits by the end of the day.  A perfect Parisian trip!

Watching the sun setting over the Tuileries.

Stuck On Repeat… January and February 2017

Delayed and a little short for two months, but better late than never! Here’s what I’ve been playing non stop for the start of 2017.

For the full #stuckonrepeat playlist click here.

Cry Me A River – Jack Savoretti

Jack is no stranger to this playlist. His gravelly tones seduced me last year. I’ve been playing his tracks ever since and going to see him live a second time at the Royal Festival Hall later in March. This version taps in to the heartbreak in a way that JT’s didn’t.

Favourite lyric: Now you tell me you need me / When you call me on the phone

Too Funky – George Michael

I’m still gutted at his loss. Just, ugh, such a talent. Thankfully this wonderful song has been a huge motivation in getting me out of bed/conquering the world/accompanying my everyday exercise routine/general strutting around house in my pants. The video is filled with supermodels and just general 90’s excess. It’s a delight. 

Favourite lyric: Will you stop playing that radio of yours? I’m trying to get some sleep!

Wild Card – Nashville Cast (Lennon Stella)

Another Nashville hit that I got obsessed with this past season which is a little sassy and tongue in cheek. I love that it’s a little naughty but nice. We all have two sides to our personality, right?

Favourite lyric: I’m a wild card / I’m a sweetheart / I’ve got fever in my blood

Terrible Love (Alternate Version) – The National

How have I never heard of this band before? Thankfully a rather schmaltzy Nicholas Sparks movie played this (don’t judge me) and I fell in love. A thumping heartbeat of drums with soaring guitars and vocals does good things to my soul.

Favourite lyrics: But I won’t follow you into the rabbit hole / I said I would, but then I saw
Your shivered bones

Dangerous – The XX

I heard this on Instagram in a dance clip and was captivated by the funkier sound from the band, especially on this track with its brass section. It just makes me want to dance and that’s always a good thing.

Favourite lyric: Should it all fall down / You’ll have been my favourite mistake

Shotgun Mouthwash – High Contrast

Having only seen Trainspotting for the first time over Christmas (shut it, I know!) I grabbed the opportunity to see T2: Trainspotting on opening weekend for hubby’s birthday. I loved the film, loved how dark and grown up it was. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack. The film opens with this gem. I’m a huge fan of a dirty electro bass line and this has it in buckets.

Favourite lyric: A million little pieces will never be enough for you

Thanks for reading and listening!

 

Resolution Update!

I am a terrible blogger. I wrote this post about how I’m all geared up for January and F*ck Yeah! 2017 and then I don’t write a post for an entire month. Ridiculous.

So I thought I’d remonstrate myself publicly here and be accountable to make sure I don’t go another full month without posting.

I’ve listed the resolutions and how I’ve got on with them below:

  • Try a monthly exercise challenge (every other month) – I started off so well with the RG Active January challenge but then missed a few days and by the end of the month I had given up. Not good, but I did try making a start on basic fitness by getting back on my turbo trainer at least twice a week, swimming with the big boys and girls at the weekly RG Active swim sessions and joining in a weekday circuit of planks, push ups, squats and glute bridges. Hashtag buff ting.
  • Touch my toes – This fell by the wayside too, but it should be a priority especially as my hamstrings get ridiculously tight and the stretch would do me a world of good. I have added foam rolling to my routine though so I’m hoping I will be back to a looser, bendier self.
  • Drink more water when at home – I’d consider this as a semi success *glugs water* the trick is to ensure I have big bottle near me at all times.
  • Unfollow anything/anyone negative on social media – Another partial success on this and especially because I’m so much more aware of it now. Avoiding the Askholes and drama imbibers is almost a full effort job! Then the Inauguration happened and lunacy and ego entered government in America and my social feeds became despairingly awful with rumours and speculation. This too has its pitfalls of negativity and goes without saying; unless it is true and confirmed by trusted sources then don’t add to the hype/distraction.
  • …learn to be cool when someone unfollows me on social media – meh…this has actually just happened today and I still get butt hurt about it. I’m still a girl, standing in front of the world, asking everyone to love me.

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  • Stop comparing myself to people on the internet – This will be an ongoing goal of mine. There will always be beautiful people in the world, there will always be people who are more successful.
  • Learn the Five Movements from The OA – There are finally some tutorials out in the web so although I haven’t yet, I WILL!
  • Use the things I’ve kept for best – Yep, I’ve been doing this with gusto and enjoying smelling like a Jasmine Garden or wearing sunshine yellow on my legs!
  • Paint my nails at least once a month – *chortles* Major fail, I last painted them in January and have been bare nailed ever since. Let’s try this one again, shall we?
  • Blog more – Errm, well. The less said about that the better, although January did see a bunch of new posts so it’s like I preempted the lack in advance!
  • Find a job I love – *cries self to sleep* After a very positive January that saw me in my first interview in FOREVER I was pipped to the post by another candidate. On the bright side the feedback was that I interviewed really well (why wouldn’t I, I’m fabulous) but I’m still searching, still applying and either no one bothers to get back to you/the agency that were haranguing you at first suddenly fall silent or the constant searching leaves you despondent. It’s hard to feel rejected and I didn’t think I’d still be in this position at the start of March.
  • Put my phone down more – 50/50 I’m trying, I really am. I don’t need to see twenty cat videos on Instagram in a row *keep telling self that* but to be honest, it’s a companion. I spend so much time at home with the cat, I feel like at least there’s a way to communicate online with everyone as otherwise they’re at work!

On the whole I’ve seen improvements in myself; I’ve been to a barre class, watched a sunrise somewhere beautiful and added another destination to the Topless Tour. I’ve learnt not chase my tail with the laundry, increased distance in swimming, kept up on the household filing, booked a road trip of dreams to California… I just need to get the job thing sorted, get some income and settle into a place where I can be a valued member of the team.

I wonder how everyone else has got on with their resolutions?

 

Must See Movie… La La Land

This is the easiest review I’ve ever written.

GO SEE THIS FILM.

That’s pretty much all I need to say about it. Seriously!

You want more? Fine. But no spoilers…

I went to see La La Land with my lovely friend Maddie *waves* who had purchased tickets to the London Film Festival in October as a BFI member and had a spare. I jumped at the chance to go see one of the most talked about films of the festival and see it before everyone else!


Director Damien Chazelle and two of the film’s producers takes to the microphone to answer questions at the BFI London Film Festival

 

Check out this video from the BFI’s London Film Festival premiere and you might spot me and my lovely blonde friend Maddie just behind director Damien Chazelle’s shoulder at 0:52. I’m looking down at my phone filming this video… as Maddie rightly put it, it’s very meta!

These days everything seems to be turning in to a musical. This isn’t just your everyday, regular musical though. It’s a modern musical that acknowledges the fine history of musical films but puts it in contemporary settings and themes and the music, dancing and singing enhances the experience.

There’s a richness to the colours in the costumes and sets with jewel tones throughout that are such a beautiful change from the usual seedy portrayal of Los Angeles – it almost makes me want to spend time in LA – shocked face!

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling shine in this film and I’m genuinely not surprised to see them do so well at the Golden Globes. Stone’s performance in particular is funny, heartbreaking, lovable and relatable.

Ultimately, this film is exactly what we need right now. It feels like the apocalypse is coming and horrors from the cinema are unfolding before our eyes on a daily basis. The escapism offered by the movies is very much needed now.

If you don’t leave the screen with the unbearable desire to sing and dance your way home (like I did-twirling through Leicester Square tube station thanks to a wonderful saxophonist) then I suggest you are most likely dead/nearly dead/mostly dead and require a heart and soul transplant STAT.

Go see this film.

Stuck on Repeat… November and December 2016

Yikes, this one is a tad late coming but better late than never! It’s just a short compilation for the end of the year as there was a lot of wailing along to Mariah’s classic Christmas tune. To listen to the full playlist just click here and don’t forget to follow. 

Paint It Black – Ramon Djawadi (Westworld Soundtrack)

Westworld became a must-see this past Autumn and one of the many things that made it work was the brilliant soundtrack using well known contemporary songs on a honkytonk piano. Weird, but wonderful. This is one of my favourite Stones songs which I almost didn’t recognise at first!

Favourite lyric: No actual lyrics in this version! 

Enjoy The Silence – Ki:Theory

I heard this on a trailer for the live action Call of Duty film and loved the even darker, industrial version Ki:Theory has created. Check out their version of Stand By Me too. 

Favourite lyric: All I ever needed / All I ever wanted was here in my arms

You Made Your Bed (So Lay In It) – Travis Garland

I caught this on an Instagram video that had a couple dancing bachata. It’s punchy and vengeful and a little kick ass too. 

Favourite lyric: I know you think of me tonight / When you got no one by your side

Reflecting Light – Sam Phillips

I have Gilmore Girls to thank for this one and the wonderful A Year In The Life Of specials that came out late November. It’s a beautiful song that comes at a beautiful moment in the finale (no spoilers from me here) and it stuck with me. 

Favourite lyric: And the moon’s never seen me before / But I’m reflecting light

Careless Whisper – George Michael

It feels like 2016 just couldn’t let things be, it had to take some of the most influential musicians and artists away from us. The year ended how it started, with a shock death and this one really got to me because I feel like I’ve grown up on so much of his music. This song is proof that good music never ages. 

Favourite lyric: Maybe it’s better this way / We’d hurt each other with the things we want to say