Hello there weekenders! This month we’re launching our entertainment round up series, Show + Tell. Every month we’ll be serving up a list of what’s been keeping us entertained and what we’re looking forward to. And since A Life Loved is all about community spirit, we’d love to know what you’re enjoying too. Drop us a line, and maybe we’ll include you in next month’s round up! Until then, here’s what we’ve all been reading watching and doing lately…
With the Oscars on the horizon, I’m doing my best to work my way through the list of Best Movie nominees, starting with Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri, which has been cleaning up this awards season. Staring Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell (love him), the film treads the line between humour and heartbreak as a grieving mother searches for justice for her dead daughter.
I’ve long believed that humans should hibernate. I just don’t think we’re built for Januarys. They’re too cold, too dark, and too long. Last year I resolved to not work this January. I blocked most of the month off in my diary, determined to hunker down and do some solo hyggeing (it’s a word, trust me). Alas, the self-employment curse struck, and I ended up caving and taking work bookings for all but one week. And then I got struck down by flu for that one week. Ahhh, the universe and it’s mysterious ways. BUT, it did mean that I could indulge in a few boxsets, which is not something I usually have the time to do. Every cloud.
Amongst the many that I devoured, The Good Place was one of my favourites. It’s hard to describe the premise of the show without hinting at spoilers, but the story centres around Kristen Bell’s character Eleanor, who realises that, upon dying, she has mistakenly been sent to ‘the good place’. Hilarity, soul searching and philosophy lessons ensue. It’s a bit of a slow burner, but absolutely worth the wait.
Do audiobooks count? I hope so, as I’ve just belly-laughed, gasped and cried my way up and down the M4 and M5 listening to Dawn O’Porter’s The Cows. Following the lives of three unconnected women living in London, the book is both fearless and funny in it’s portrayal of modern women.
After coming very late to the Peaky Blinders game, I’m now obsessed with the soundtrack playlist on spotify. Nick Cave’s unmistakeable title track heads up a list filled with songs from the likes of PJ Harvey, Bowie, Radiohead, Johnny Cash, The White Stripes and Tom Waits.
I’m also wading my way through the back catalogue of the podcast Gastropod, billed as a show about ‘food through the lens of science and history’, it’s a must for any food lovers who enjoy geeking out on the whys and hows of what we eat and why we eat it.
I’m in the midst of a big interiors project, redecorating and furnishing a 4 bedroom cottage in Devon. The cottage will eventually be a holiday let, and the style I’m going for is Soho House meets Rita Konig meets Ben Pentreath. And since none of that can be bought at Ikea, I’ll be off to Sunbury Antiques Market next month on the hunt for treasure! Mirrors, rugs, books, vases and lights are top of my hit list, and I’m crossing my fingers for a pair of bedside tables.
I’ll also be writing all about how to shop at giant antiques fairs like Sunbury and Ardingly for the blog, I’m a big fan of treasure hunting, so watch this space!
Like Kate, I went to see ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing Missouri’ – a dark tale of a mother’s haunting grief. Almost comic book-esque in one sense, this film will stay with you long after you leave the cinema. Absolutely recommend, particularly if, like me, you love France McDormand (if you haven’t already seen Fargo and Olive Kitteridge, they are a must also). I took my daughter to see ‘The Greatest Showman’ recently too. I was always fascinated by Barnum and his ‘freak shows’ as a child, having seen a tv programme about him. Musicals aren’t to everyones’ taste but I found this film very uplifting; the soundtrack is awesome, it is well acted and it is brilliantly produced.
As I homeschool my teenage daughter, I’m always on the lookout for good documentaries that aren’t too lengthy. Recently, we have been watching the ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates’ series on the BBC (all available on iplayer). Some of it is pretty tough going, but she highlights in a very accessible way the plight of Mexican families attempting to reach America for a better life and the desperate situation in Russia where scores of women are abused by their ‘master’ husbands, amongst many other things. Not something for a cheery ‘Friyay’ night, but crucial viewing if you are interested in glimpsing into the darker side of humanity.
For a lighter read, I have recently finished ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine’ by Gail Honeyman – On the recommendation of so many people on the ALL group. I enjoyed it. It was well written and easy to read and I felt a maternal instinct towards the protagonist that was at times, overwhelming. However, I found the plot a little predictable and felt rather annoyed that the front cover had a picture of a house made of matches on it as it somewhat gave away rather a crucial part of the plot.
I also recently took advantage of a recent instagram subscription offer from ‘The New Yorker’ Magazine – a 3 month subscription (that’s 12 mags) for only $8 – bargain! Each mag is brimming with short and long articles that cover all aspects of life – I love it!
I’m a lifelong fan of the band ‘New Model Army’ and have recently found myself in the fortunate position to have been asked to take part (along with 30 others) in preparing for a large scale gig called ‘Night of a 1000 voices’ at The Round Chapel in Hackney, in April. This will involve almost 1,000 fans coming together to sing selected NMA tracks spanning a 35+ year career. The 15 year old me is peeing my pants with excitement – thus NMA are on repeat play in my house!
I am also a big fan of TED talks. There is a ‘Daily Ted Talks’ podcast which are usually anything from 15-30 minute discussions of anything and everything from ‘How to use Minecraft to help kids with Autism’ to ‘Developing emotional courage and using it as a powerful gift’ – always interesting.
As I wrote this piece, I was preparing to fly out (yesterday) to Huntington Beach in California alongside three others, including my husband. We go to represent the ‘Lakes International Comic Art Festival’ Team and the purpose of our visit is to support ‘The National Cartoonist Society’ to create, develop and eventually implement a comic art festival of their own. This is not the type of trip that happens often and although I have visited the states a number of times, I don’t consider myself a seasoned traveller. I feel lucky and privileged to get to hang out with some super cool people who I consider to be highly influential in both my life (I love and collect graphic novels – ok, I’m a comic nerd!) and the lives of others – I can’t wait to report back to you all about my experience.
I sadly haven’t had the time or opportunity to visit the cinema in a number of weeks now (living out in the sticks, it takes a little planning around childcare). My husband and I are looking forward to a trip out to watch Daniel Day Lewis in Phantom Thread next week however. Part of this movie was filmed in North Yorkshire, not far from where we live, and I’m keen to see how the film makers have depicted this majestic, much loved coastline.
Also, do we have any fellow solo cinema goers here? My husband and I don’t always want to watch the same things and I’m more than happy to go it alone, so, like my homegirls above, I’m hoping to sneak out at some point in the next couple of weeks to see Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Darkest Hour (Gary Oldmans prosthetics are out of this world and his performance from what I’ve seen in the trailer is Oscar worthy).
I’m popping this under ‘big screen’ though I’ll be watching it on a small screen, but after sharing this feature earlier this week, on the 100th year since (some, but not all) women gained the right to vote, I’m keen to watch the movie Suffragette.
I rarely watch ‘TV’ though I am an avid Netflix fan and love catching up whilst working out on my rowing machine (yes, that is a thing) and finally, finally caught up the rest of the Universe in the past month as I embarked on the Game of Thrones marathon via Amazon Prime.
I have to admit, I found season one and the first half of season two a little, well, disappointing. However, at the encouragement of many of the A Life Loved closed Facebook group members I’ve stuck it out and am now well into season 3. It’s getting pretty good and I’m suddenly starting to enjoy the interplay between the complexity of the characters on screen. And Daenerys Targaryen is one fierce dragon Mother. I do love a powerful female protagonist.
I have promised myself that this year, I’ll make more time for reading – but practically speaking, I find it difficult to accommodate actual sitting-still/reading time. I tend to get through more books when I listen to them via an audiobook app – which I find a most pleasurable and satisfying way to consume the written word – I highly recommend if you haven’t tried it already! It also allows you to multi-task if you need to (hello taking a leisurely bath as you close your eyes and listen your way through a good novel).
I am however, slowly making my way through this most beautiful of books called 200 Women, which interviews 200 very different women, from very different backgrounds, from all around the world to gain their views on being a woman today. It’s a beautifully produced, fascinating and inspiring coffee table book.
After having a terrible nightmare last month, and it taking a few days to ‘calm down’ and start thinking rationally about the experience, I was advised to read the book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-pa Turner. It’s not an easy read but it’s deeply intriguing all the same and explores the concept of how, despite being more connected than ever through social media and technology, so many of us feel still feel lonely and estranged. That is something I can absolutely relate to being self employed and working from home (a matter we’ll be covering in our upcoming series focussing on self employed work). The author of this book also explores the mysterious workings of and meaning behind our dreams. Fascinating stuff.
I’m an avid Womans Hour listener but am not always able to tune in to the daily 10am programmes. So today, I’ll be doing a little catching up on their Podcasts. I love the Late Night Womans Hour sessions with Lauren Laverne – she discusses all kinds of really engaging topics issues with a panel of intelligent women and there are no holds barred.
Music wise, this week I’ve been replaying some faves on Spotify including Justin Vernon, aka, Bon Iver’s groundbreaking album 22, A Million. When I first heard this album last year I was left genuinely speechless. I’ve adored Bon Iver since his break-through debut album of 2007, For Emma, Forever Ago. This brilliantly talented and acutely shy musician has broken musical boundaries with his latest album using experimental sound and production techniques that for me, combine into a deeply powerful musical experience. I still cry when I hear some of the tracks on this album, where other tracks with their distorted bass and heavy tribal beats leave me feeling fierce! Incredible. One of my favourite all-time albums for sure (even if I can’t pronounce half the track names).
So whilst my sister Camilla is off to explore California this next few days (the lucky so-n-so), I’m actually visiting her house, where my mum is staying to look after her children. I’m taking my children too, so, don’t expect much out of me for the next few days whilst I manage piqued ‘OMG WE’RE OFF TO SEE THE COUSINS!” style levels of excitement. Believe me, it is off the scale! My sister lives in Kendal in the Lake District, a sensationally beautiful part of the world, and I’m actually looking forward to the drive over, where we get to drink in some seriously glorious landscapes.
Aside from that, we’re turning our focus to a summer holiday. I’m starting to panic a little that we haven’t got anything booked yet, but we’re keen to keep it UK based this summer, and are looking to visit Scotland – partly so that I can rekindle some fond, childhood memories of holidays on the West Coast when I was a child, and partly because we really want our children to appreciate the glory this beautiful country has to offer in terms of ‘holidaying at home’.
Tell us, what are you doing, watching, listening to and where are you visiting?