It’s amazing…

…. how after only 4 months in my new job I already feel like there is so much to do that it almost feels overwhelming! I really need to make lists, prioritize and plan. And yet, even with how busy it is, I am truly enjoying it! I have a lot of autonomy, people seem to be enthusiastic that I’m there and the organization is a very interesting one to work for. My 6 month contract that was going to end mid-september has already been extended for another year and my boss is also giving me a pay rise. It feels good to be needed, to be appreciated and to feel like you are making a small difference already. But, I am tired. It’s been a stressful few weeks, with work and with some issues at home that are now finding some resolution. I am glad I only have 3 more days of work left before my 3.5 week summer vacation starts! I am already looking forward to the down time with my family.

With all that’s been going on, what is also amazing is that I have finally been able to make time (and space in my head) to watch Pilgrimage and also Castlevania. I watched Castlevania over the weekend and Pilgrimage on Wednesday evening with my husband.  I won’t go into long reviews here, I’m a little too tired to  write a nice coherent review of both shows. I’ll just stick to impressions.

So, first off, Pilgrimage, a story about 13th century Irish monks who must escort a relic across the land, challenged by danger and menace. Richard Armitage is the baddie…

Pilgrimage

From what I had read beforehand I was expecting a lot of gross violence and I was dreading watching it. In the end, while it really was grossly violent at times, it wasn’t as bad as I had expected and I felt the violence just fit with the movie. I guess, after watching Inglorious Basterds (which I truly loved, despite the gore!), I know I can stomach it. I really only turned away during 2 or 3 scenes and even those weren’t focussed on too long, I felt. By the time you realized what was really happening, the scene was already moving on. I found Hannibal to be far more disturbing than Pilgrimage.

I thought Richard was really good in his role of Sir Raymond de Merville. The character was somewhat two-dimensional, but even so, he gave it real intensity and presence. When he came up riding in his armour (alas, not a knight in shining armour), just by how he was bearing himself on his horse, I recognized him.

His French mostly sounded good to me and I really liked that original languages were used in this movie. Richard was scowling and very intense, he does intense so well!

He even looked good with a scar…

Richard Armitage - Pilgrimage (5)

The acting by all the actors was very good, the landscapes were so beautifully captured on screen and I liked the gritty look and feel. I did enjoy the movie, yet it could somehow never truly capture me. I guess, I didn’t quite see the importance in moving this relic and when the movie ended in a Shakespearean way, I was left wondering what the message was that this movie had tried to convey. Was it just the coming of age of a young man? Maybe it was aimed to show that in the end violence is pointless? It could even be interpreted that fighting for something you truly believe in is pointless. Or that religion and relics are pointless. I guess I just missed a good ending to this. In the end, I didn’t hate it or love it, it just sat as a medium-rated movie with me. I’m sure I’ll watch it again, more often than I ever plan on re-watching Hannibal. I’ll watch again for Richard and to try and make more sense of it all, but it’s not my all-time fave medieval movie.

And then there’s Castlevania, an adaptation of a video game in animation form where Richard Armitage voices the hero. A short synopsis from Netflix: “A vampire hunter fights to save a besieged city from an army of otherworldly creatures controlled by Dracula.” I’ve seen pretty much everyone raving about it from day one, so I was getting quite excited about it!

Castlevania title

Before I say anything else, you should know that I don’t do Dracula stories very well. While I have in the past enjoyed an occasional vampires/mythical creatures/magicians or even zombies movie, mostly I just get impatient with them. It’s just not my genre. Nonetheless, I was looking forward to this because of all the positivity out there. If I could enjoy a movie like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there was a good chance I could enjoy Castlevania as well. So, last Sunday I got around to watching it and, oh dear, dare I say it? I was a little underwhelmed…

I really wanted this to be the best vampire thing I had ever seen but it really wasn’t… I even nodded off here and there… Maybe I was just too tired to watch? That would be highly plausible. In any case, the story couldn’t grip me, this whole vampire alternative universe just can’t interest me. Also, the style of animation isn’t flowing enough for me and in some places the story was really slow, I felt. However… I did wake up every time Richard’s character, Trevor Belmont, was on screen. Not so much for how he looked (although he really is quite handsome, just like the real man behind the voice is), I woke up because Richard Armitage really did do a stellar job voicing the character!

He does world-weary sarcasm so extremely well! It also sounded like he was having a blast acting his lines, some of them made me grin widely. It almost made me think that maybe I should actually try one of his audiobooks after all. Almost. (Regular readers here might already know that I really don’t do audiobooks).

So, while I don’t really like this whole vampire-story thing at all, I am curious enough to see what happens next with Trevor. And with Sypha, I really liked her (and her people) too!

Castlevania season one feels like a teaser series, so season two is welcome (I hear it is already planned)! Maybe I will like that more? I’m sure that at the very least I will really enjoy Richard in it.

OK, yeah, so I’m not 100% in love with these two projects but they do show me yet again why Richard Armitage really is and truly remains my favourite actor! His portrayals have real presence, intensity, depth and soul, and in the case of Trevor, humour as well,  and I just love that. Richard Armitage is amazing.

I’m still here!

It’s been very quiet on the blogging front for me, I know. And I miss it! It’s just been sooooo busy in my real life, I either haven’t gotten around to blogging or I haven’t been in the mindset.

My son got his school diploma earlier this week! There was a central celebration for all those graduating and after that the 4 graduating classes split up and went upstairs to smaller rooms. That is where  personal speeches were given to each kid and where they actually received their diplomas.  My son’s class mentor awarded him a “Pun Master Award” in the personal speech she gave about him, referencing his humour. My in-laws were there as well, as was my mother and my aunt. I really missed my dad, though. He would have loved to have been there as well. Schools, learning and diplomas really were his ‘thing’…

Here are a few pictures of my son signing his diploma, the speech my son received, and the congrats afterwards (the girl with the long ponytail is my daughter).

We were very proud! Now it’s on to hotel management school for him… and this coming weekend his birthday with lots of celebrating. So much to do before then!

My daughter has been having some troubles that we’ve been dealing with and recently some things came to a head, so our energy has been focussed there (as it should be). Luckily things are a little better now. We have a plan of action and we’ve decided, together with her, to enrol our daughter at another school where we hope there will be a little more care for her than she received in her old school. We’ll see… we’re very hopeful, though!

All the ups and downs in my children’s lives that my husband and I have been dealing with, combined with work being very busy right now, means that, yes, blogging hasn’t been a priority recently. I’m really enjoying my new job, by the way, and they are happy with me too as I have just been given an extension on my contract till mid september next year and a pay rise! However, there is so much to do and I need to watch out that I don’t get sucked into unnecessary details. I need to keep on top of doing what I should be doing and not getting side-tracked by other things that people are starting to ask me about as well…

There has alas been little time for fangirling but I do try to keep up a little bit; I need to, for my own sanity. This means that I do have Pilgrimage ready to view but with all sorts of drama happening around me, I haven’t been able to stomach looking at violence like that yet. Maybe next week, when things look to be calming down a little. In the meantime, I did enjoy these Richard Armitage in Pilgrimage gifs from UltraVeloce on Twitter!

I also really liked this picture of comedian/actress Miranda Hart with her dog Peggy over on Instagram from two days ago:

Favourite photo. #dontsharefood #PeggyandMe

A post shared by Miranda Hart (@realmirandahart) on

From somewhere, and I can’t remember where, I was alerted to a Turkish cat-lover’s site a little while back. He plays keyboards and when he does, one of his many cats loves to keep him company. It is so darned cute and this week he posted another cute one, which gives me real joy! He has more videos like that on his Instagram, including one where another cat comes in as well and the video-cat gets a little jealous. Perfect little pick-me-up on a busy day.

These quick little glimpses of fun things help me relax a bit and make me smile!

Hopefully, starting next week, most of the busy stuff and private life stress will be over for a bit and I can get back to blogging more again. That is, until we leave for our summer holiday in England in two weeks time…

Anyway, this post was just a little sign of life… I’m still here! 🙂

The RA Challenge, part 4

And it’s the final part too (following on from parts 1, 2 and 3) of Guylty’s RA Challenge! Questions 25 to 31…

2017-ra-fandom-challenge

#25 Favourite Object/Prop in Context with a Character

The only object/prop that has prompted its own blog post on here was Daniel Miller’s bike on Berlin Station! Loved seeing Richard speed around on that bike. I felt it wasn’t featured enough on the show…

#26 Favourite Costume worn by RA

While researching this, I came to the conclusion that I like Richard to look grungy and scruffy in his roles! I first thought I’d answer Thorin Oakenshield here…

Thorin Oakenshield

…because I find that, although he looks fierce and magnificent, there is a huggable quality there as well! But in researching pictures of Richard in different roles (oh the chore!), I find that the costume that does something to my insides is Richard as John Proctor! I love him in that black coat with the collar standing up…

…or when he is seen without coat but with the linen shirt…

…or with no shirt at all (I even like the boots!)…

armitage proctor @washbasin

I also really liked him in civilian clothes as John Porter in Strike Back, especially in the first two episodes where he wore a scarf as well…

… and when his jacket came off, he then showed himself quite nicely in just jeans and a dirty, grungy t-shirt. The flimsy t-shirt shows off his physique and arms very well…

#27 Favourite Quote by a Character or RA

I don’t think I have a favourite Richard-quote, I’m not really one to remember quotes off the top of my head. Having said that, a few do spring to mind: “Look back at me”, or “You’ll not guess where I have been”, or “You don’t need Henry to explain”, or “You coming home with me?”, all of them from North and South. Yeah, I may have watched it too often…

Another quote that springs to mind is something he was quoted as saying in an interview once: “I was a beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into.”

#28 Favourite Climax (i.e. series finale, battle, conclusion of a subplot, etc.)

Well, I guess I just referenced it in the previous question. There are many climaxes that I liked that hit home with me, like the ending of The Crucible or Thorin dying in The Hobbit, John Porter rescuing the journalist in Strike Back or Harry proposing to Geraldine on The Vicar of Dibley. However, the climax I have watched most, hands down, is that train station finale of North and South. I really can’t count how often I have seen that, more than anything else in my life, I think! And it never gets old!

#29 A Moment That Made You Question Whether You Could Continue Fangirling For RA.

I was on a high when I discovered Richard in North and South and soon after I became very aware him, he also did Dibley and The Impressionists. I was Richard-obsessed at the time! But then he also did Guy of Gisborne on Robin Hood and Lucas North in Spooks and those characters really couldn’t entice me! I saw bits to start with but didn’t enjoy the shows and bailed. I postponed watching them for the longest time (even longer than I postponed watching the last 4 episodes of Berlin Station). I did later see things in Guy and Lucas that I found appealing, bits of Richard shining through, perhaps, but in those years (2008-2010 or so) I thought my Richard-obsessed days might be over. He was my fave (I’d still watch every interview and read every article and Christmas message) but not more or less so than my other fave Colin Firth. Then he did Strike Back and my attention was back into full-blown force. So much so, that he overtook Firth in my attention yet again and he has remained firmly in first place ever since!

#30 Will Anything Ever Replace RA in your Admiration?

When I was 15 I thought no one could surpass Gregory Peck…

When I was 30, I thought no one could surpass Colin Firth…

Now in my mid-forties, I think no one can surpass Richard Armitage!

richard_2a-20161016

But who knows what the future may bring? Never say never, but I can’t imagine surpassing feeling this level of involvement that I feel with Richard.

#31 What Would You Like to Say to RA Right Now?

I saw your latest tweet…

Armitage Farber tweets

Does this mean the London stage Oedipus and Antigone is happening at the beginning of 2018? I’ll so be there!

The End!

This challenge certainly deserved its name, finding answers to the questions was not always easy but it was always fun. Thanks Guylty! 🙂

Liebster Award #2

When I was quite new to blogging I was nominated for a Liebster Award and I dutifully answered the questions I was posed. Now Die Pö has nominated me for another Liebster Award. Thank you!

liebster-blog-award-2

The rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog into your post.
  2. Answer 11 questions which you have been asked by the nominating blogger.
  3. Nominate 5 to 11 other bloggers who have fewer than 1,000 followers.
  4. Add a new list of 11 questions for the nominated bloggers.
  5. Paste these rules into your post.
  6. Make sure your nominees know about your post and their nomination.

Die Pö posed her questions in German, but I’ll just translate them into English before I answer them.


1- Do you only write on your own blog or do you also write on other blogs or platforms?

For my work I have in the past written messages on our work intranet and I have written some content for a company internet page. Privately, I used to post on a few forums (parenting ones back in the day when I first became a mother and a Richard Armitage one later), I have posted some fan fiction, and I post reactions on other blogs, but basically the only place I ever really post any original content is here on my own blog.

2- Which of your posts hasn’t been clicked on enough?

Nothing really springs to mind. I don’t really evaluate the success of a post by how much it is clicked on, the value comes from my satisfaction writing it. For instance, one of my most clicked-on posts is a translation of a Dutch newspaper article on Richard Armitage but it is not my most satisfactory post – it’s just a piece of translation that actually I did not enjoy doing that much (I’m just not a translator at heart). So, I looked into my blog statistics to answer this question and I see that the least clicked-on post is this one: https://bookesther.wordpress.com/2015/09/26/where-is-my-mind/. It’s about a piano cover that I really loved in a movie I saw and that lead me to reminisce about Greta Garbo.

3- What excites you at the moment?

Besides the fact that France elected Macron as its new president (and not the extremist Le Pen), I have been very happy about Portugal winning the Eurovision song contest this past weekend! We watch the contest every year and we vote in it too, but most years you just sort of vote for the least bad song. This year was different. Well, not that different, as there were so many songs there we didn’t much like! So many songs are about effects and fireworks and being sexy, with all the women screaming out high notes. However, there was one song, the Portuguese entry, that captivated me. This song was so touching in its simplicity, differing very much from most of the other entries. It was a solo performance sung by Salvador Sobral and was written by his sister Luisa. After winning he and his sister sang the song together as a duet. Not only does Salvador have a beautiful voice, so does his sister Luisa! (The song starts at 3:55 minutes)

What excites me is that such heart-felt simplicity can triumph almost unanimously (from juries and audiences alike) over bombastic songs that all sound almost alike.  (P.S. I also liked the Belgian song, despite the young 17 year old singer’s nerves – she came in 4th)

4- Which TV-series did you love in your youth?

Without the shadow of a doubt it was Little House on the Prairie. I adored everything about that series. I loved Laura Ingalls. In hindsight it was dripping in all too Christian values, but that’s OK and I still enjoy re-watching bits today!

5- The first 4 months of the year have passed: what is the best movie you have seen during that time?

May I name two? I absolutely loved both Moonlight

… and Lion.

6- What is your current favourite catchy song?

I love Human by Rag’n’Bone Man. Can’t get enough of it…

7- If you had to summarize your past week in one word, what word would that be?

Reconnecting.

8- What is your favourite photo of the past week on your mobile phone and are you willing to share it?

I was at my mother’s house yesterday and we opened a box of letters that my father had kept that had formerly belonged to my grandfather (his dad). My grandfather had been a theologian and pastor (just like my dad had been) and during the Second World War he had received many letters from parishioners, men who had been deported into forced labour for the German occupiers. In that box of letters (fascinating stuff, btw!) we also found a post-war (1946) invitation for my grandfather to attend a ceremony at Leiden University where Winston Churchill was to receive an honorary doctorate! I took a picture with my phone of that personal invitation…

Churchill invite Leiden 1946

9- Quickly: what does the word “Light” make you think of?

Candles.

10- Which book is beside your bed right now?

I’ve already finished reading it, but Michael Palin’s diaries that I received last year for my birthday is still lying there.

11- For dessert: pudding or ice cream?

Oooh, tough one! After long deliberation I will choose pudding; to be specific: crème brûlée! I hardly ever eat it because I can’t make a good one myself (and don’t have the patience for it) but when I eat a good one, I absolutely adore it!


Paying it forward

The rules state that I can now pose 11 questions myself and nominate 5-11 others to answer them. I like the questions Pö asked, so I’ll use some of them and add my own (and Pö, if you’d like to answer these as well, feel free to 🙂 )!

  1. What excites you at the moment?
  2. In one sentence: what depresses you at the moment?
  3. Cats or dogs? (Picture material appreciated!)
  4. Which TV series did you love in your youth?
  5. Who is your favourite actor or actress no longer living?
  6. What is the best movie you have seen so far in 2017?
  7. The top 3 live theatre and/or concert experiences you’ve ever had?
  8. What is the best book you’ve read in the past year?
  9. What is your favourite photo of the past week on your mobile phone and are you willing to share it?
  10. Your favourite dessert?
  11. For Armitage fans: your favourite Richard Armitage photo ever?

I am curious to hear answers to these questions but I really don’t like to obligate anyone to do anything! So, I’ll just nominate 11 people (Armitage fans one and all, who do not post exclusively about Armitage) and it’s totally up to you whether you want to do this or not!

If others reading this feel the urge to answer these questions as well, please do so, you’re more than welcome to (even if only in the comments, if you wish to)! If you’re not an Armitage fan you can substitute the name in the last question for the name of your favourite actor or actress. 🙂 I’d love to read any and all responses.

Favourite Lizzie Bennet videos

I’ve been in a Lizzie Bennet Diaries mood all day after posting that Pride and Prejudice fan video earlier and this past evening I spent a very pleasant time hunting down some of my favourite fan videos made for this show. I’m just sharing a few here for fun, in no particular order.

This first one is catchy and features I think just about every character on the show, which I love…

Another catchy one with all the characters and some nice editing…

This following video was made before the series ending, when Lizzie was still in denial…

And this one was before series end as well…

Disney musicals are apparently popular for Lizzie Bennet videos: Beauty and the Beast lyrics which feel very fitting for the Dizzie (Darcy + Lizzie) relationship…

A video about the Bennet sisters. This series was just as much about sisters as it was about Lizzie and Darcy…

And last but not least this video, which also features a few clips from two bonus videos made in 2014, a year after the series ended (the clips where Lizzie wears the white polka dot top)…

I wish I could make videos like that, mine are pretty lame in comparison.

LBD cast

For its 5 year anniversary, LBD is being released again in real time just like during the original run; this will be happening soon on their Facebook page. So, if you’re interested you can take a look there as well. I may be peeking in from time to time myself. 🙂

OK, it’s just after 1 a.m. here, I need to head to bed now. Will probably be dreaming of Dizzie tonight…