The Tales of The Alhambra, anyone?

In two weeks time our family holiday will take us to the south of Spain, to the region of Andalusia – not be confused with the fictional place Andalasia in the movie Enchanted.

We’ll be there for 15 days and have just been going over our itinerary that Mr Esther has already been preparing…

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… and we came to the conclusion that we need to book some entry tickets in advance, like for the Cathedral in Seville that we want to visit and for the Alhambra in Granada. Every time The Alhambra is mentioned, I have this little line playing over and over in my head from North & South, when Fanny Thornton says “Ever since I read The Tales OF the Alhambra…” I love this scene, by the way, cracks me up every time and Jo Joyner is absolutely brilliant in it!

Anyway, our Alhambra entry tickets are booked and we were lucky, they were the last tickets available on the day that we plan to go! Now, I wonder, does anyone know whether “The Tales of the Alhambra” are worth a read or whether maybe a selection of the top 5 tales will do and what those 5 tales could be?  It’s nice to have that little North & South connection while we’re there. We won’t be going to Cadiz, where Margaret’s brother went to live, that’s a bit too far off from where we are staying, so that N&S connection will have to wait for a later time. 🙂

Oh, and when I speak of North & South I just have to also share these gifs…

Richard Armitage as John and Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret are still magic together, even now, 15 years after this was made…

A Valentine’s Day declaration of love

I’m not that big on Valentine’s Day – my husband and I say we prefer to show our love all year round, we don’t need V-day.  🙂 But on blog I felt I couldn’t quite ignore it, especially after I came across these very fitting Hugh Jackman gifs…

HJ Happy Valentine's DayHJ No I love you

So, a Valentine’s Day post it is. This means that, of course, one of my fave on-screen kisses ever by Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe needs to be featured here…

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And Colin Firth declaring his love can not be ignored…

CF ardently admire and love youCF I like you just as you are

The kiss I have been most pre-occupied with in recent months needs to be included. Suits finally returns for it’s second half of season 7 at the end of March when we will finally, finally see what happens after this Donna & Harvey (#Darvey) kiss…

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However, for all these things, the true love in my life really is my husband. After last year’s V-day post I came to singing his praises in the comments there and now here, in its own blog post, I want to reiterate what I wrote then, for all to see…

Mr Esther and I have been together for 26 years now and this is the first picture of us as a couple, taken during the first weekend in February of 1992, just a week after we got together (Mr Esther was close to 21; I was close to 22)…

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We were both in college at the time and from the very first kiss everything felt completely right between us. We’ve been soul mates, best friends and lovers ever since. In 1999, on our 7.5 year anniversary, we were married…

The declaration of love that I made in the comments last year still holds true today, even though we are really getting old and fat (these pics were taken last summer and 9 years ago respectively)…

I suspect I will always love this man from the bottom of my heart. Quoting from last year:

“No, Richard [Armitage or any other man actor crush for that matter] is in no way whatsoever a rival for my husband. I think even if I would know Richard in real life, who knows whether I could really love him in the romantic sense? He could be a Mr. Grumpy pants for all I know, or a work-a-holic who’s never around, whose life and career would possibly take precendence over me, etc. etc. I don’t share a 25 year personal history with Richard, I don’t have children with him, he isn’t the one who has helped me deal with losses and disappointments, he isn’t the one who supports me and leaves me free to be who I want to be, who nurtures me and encourages me, he isn’t the one who loves me completely as I am, warts and all, he isn’t the one who is there for me physically and mentally – my husband is all that and no one can replace that. And I hope I am all that to him. [It’s] a personal exchange. When my husband and I met I was already a fan girl of all sorts of movie stuff, with posters of faves all over my room, he doesn’t know better than that I am always in love with some actor or other and it never bothered him. Also, I find that the actors I love all seem to have a bit of my husband in them, so basically when I fall for an actor, I’m falling in love with aspects of my husband… Yeah, I’m so so lucky. 🙂”

We don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day but today is as good a day as any to let my husband know yet again that I love him! Maybe when he reads this post it will earn me a surprise bouquet of flowers? Or at the very least an extra little caress and/or kiss, like these from the sweet movie Something New that Simon Baker and Sanaa Lathan made in 2006…

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The RA challenge, part 1

Guylty has set a Richard Armitage challenge, and it’s taken me a bit of time to jump in, but here I am! Like some other fans, I’m answering these in batches instead of one by one. The questions posed by Guylty are these:

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So, here goes, answers to the first 8 questions…

#1 First encounter with RA

I have blogged about this before, how once when I was sick in bed in the spring of 2006, I stuck a DVD of North and South into my computer that I had gotten from my mom months before but had just never gotten around to watching. She had never seen it either, by the way, she just figured that because I like costume drama, I might like this. In this instance she was right!

#2 The moment that made you fall in love with RA

It has got to be this moment that triggered me to find out everything I could about the man behind the John Thornton character…

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I liked him from episode one, but was doing OK not actually falling in love. Then came episode four and ‘Look back at me’ and I felt myself falling down the rabbit hole after all. Really, everything about Richard in that 4th episode of North and South was sucking me in irrevocably. After watching the series (and watching it again and again) I tried to find every interview, every scrap of info I could about the man behind the character. Would I like him? Everything I was finding seemed to suggest I would and then I also saw this interview with him about N&S

At 5 minutes in he is chuffed to be compared to Colin Firth (my then no. 1 crush) as Mr Darcy and very modest about it, at around 7.5 minutes in he mentions “Look back at me” as one of his fave scenes as well and then he has this amused knowing smile about filming the train station scenes with Daniela Denby-Ashe. Yes, I really liked him. Later that year (in 2006) The Vicar of Dibley came around, a comedy that I already very much enjoyed, and it was then that I knew this was not a passing fancy anymore. He was briefly interviewed in the extras on the Dibley DVD (The Story of Dibley) and when I saw him in stitches behind the scenes, I completely lost my heart to him forever (stills source RA Net)…

#3 Favourite piece of fan art

In my North and South craze in 2006 I was hooked on N&S fan fiction (even wrote one myself) but I didn’t document which ones I liked best. I was also hooked on fan videos which were emerging on a then quite young YouTube. I’ve already blogged about which videos I used to love in those early days of Armitage-passion:

Now, in more recent years, I don’t really follow the videos or fan fiction that closely anymore. I see those things, and other creative output such as drawings and paintings and photo edits and plushies and lovely shrines, as they happen upon my path. I truly admire them and love that the fans do this, and sometimes I even covet the art! There is no single piece made by fans that I can really single out but there is one specific piece of art I do love above all others, not made by a fan but by my mother: it’s the watercolour painting she did for me of The Crucible that is now also used as the header of this blog; I even have it as my mobile phone cover!

#4 Something you did because of RA

I travelled to London just for him to see him in The Crucible; I read certain books just because he was going to be in the movie (The Hobbit or Brain on Fire or Summer by Edith Wharton – whatever happened to that project?);  I watched certain shows I otherwise wouldn’t have watched because of him (Hannibal or Spooks); I tried listening to audiobooks because of him (but yeah, failed… audiobooks just aren’t for me); and because, due to my blogging, I am a little more out there in the fandom than I used to be, I have now also even met two fellow Armitage fans in person!

#5 Favourite / Least favourite romance

My favourite romance still has to be John and Margaret in North and South...

But honourable mentions for Harry and Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley (I mean, come on, that proposal scene was epic!)…

… and, although tragic, the story of John and Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible really touched me…

My least favourite romance is also part of my least favourite character, see next answer.

#6 Least favourite character

Percy Courtenay in Marie Lloyd. The romance went sour very quickly also due to Percy being such a despicable character. I’ve seen this only once and feel no desire whatsoever to see it ever again.

#7 Something you bought because of RA

Flight tickets to London and theatre tickets for The Crucible (see #4) but also DVD’s, Hobbit soundtracks, posters, cinema tickets. I even bought something for Richard once! I gave him typical Dutch syrup waffles in a Delft-blue pot when I met him at the stage door of The Old Vic, something like this:

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I do wonder whether he himself ever ate any of them and where the pot ended up…

#8 Favourite / least favourite rivalry

Off the top of my head, the one that sticks with me most and that I think is developed very nicely is the rivalry between John Porter (Richard) and Hugh Collinson (Andrew Lincoln) in Strike Back.

Least favourite rivalry is probably Guy of Gisborne and Robin Hood (Jonas Armstrong). Yes, Richard was nice and broody in this, but I could never warm up to the series. I saw most of series one, then gave up, only watched the Richard bits and fast forwarded through the rest.

 

Right, that’s it for now! More to come in the hopefully not too distant future. 🙂

BBC’s Pride & Prejudice – 20 years!

I was celebrating Colin Firth’s birthday here two weeks ago and now it’s time to celebrate the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice!

20 years ago today, on September 24th 1995, I eagerly tuned in to BBC One to see what they had made of the latest adaptation of one of my favourite novels: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I had at that time only ever seen one screen adaptation of the novel, the Laurence Olivier one, and I didn’t much care for it. So, I sat down to watch on that Sunday evening and the first episode opened with Lizzie Bennet walking outside and watching two horsemen ride in the distance: Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy…

I immediately took to Lizzie and her sisters, Mrs. Bennet was a hoot and Mr. Bennet was her tormentor, oh what a joy to watch!

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And  then… Mr. Darcy appeared in all his brooding glory!

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Lizzie took an instant dislike to him and I was sold. We saw the introduction of Mr. Bingley…

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…and his acerbic sister Caroline who forever was seeking the attention of Mr. Darcy (like here when he is admiring Lizzie Bennet’s ‘fine eyes’ from afar)…

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And the episode ended with Lizzie staying over at Netherfield and her head-on verbal collision with Mr. Darcy. Better than any action movie out there! That first hour was over all too soon! I fevered towards the next episode, counting the days, hours and minutes.

The second episode brought the ridiculous Mr. Collins…

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… the charming but not so nice Mr. Wicked… er… Wickham…

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… and the ball at Netherfield where Lizzie was obliged to dance with Mr. Darcy despite having vowed never to do so! That dance scene…. ah!

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This scene is a word-duel between Lizzie and Darcy with advances and parries and jabs, all wrapped nicely into a dance. The timing is so perfect, the tension building higher and higher between them… I was breathless and in awe (still am to this day) of how good this is!

The third episode ended with Darcy proposing to Lizzie. “In vain I have struggled,” he said, “it will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you!”…

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And the episode ended with her refusal to marry him. Understandably so, but heartbreaking nonethess…

And then something awful happened: I had to travel to Germany for two weeks! I had a temp job working in the library of the international organization my dad was the general secretary of and I had work to do there! I needed the money and it paid well, which was nice, but there was a huge downside: there was no BBC in Germany! I programmed the VCR at home (these were the times before DVD, let alone recordable DVD…) and kept my fingers crossed that it would tape properly (I had had mishaps before). The two weeks were loooong, I was so desperate to see what happened next. It was just awful to be left with a refused-proposal-cliffhanger! Finally, after two weeks, I came home again and I immediately binge-watched episodes four and five.

Episode four had Darcy explaining himself in a letter to Lizzie and yes, it also had that wet shirt scene with the nipples!

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At the end of this episode, Lizzie and Darcy were finally starting to find to each other…

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Then came episode five, with the beautiful long looks of love exchanged by Darcy and Lizzie as Georgiana Darcy played the piano…. sigh…

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But evil Mr Wickham just had to spoil it all…

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“I’m afraid you’ve long been desiring my absence,” Mr Darcy said as he took his leave from Lizzie, and my heart broke…

The last (sixth) episode I was again able to watch “live” and because I had binge watched episodes four and five only a day before; the wait for the last episode hadn’t been long… I was on tenterhooks and even though I know how the story ends, I still wondered, ‘how will this end?’

After all the trouble with Wickham and Lydia was solved and after Lizzie found out that Mr. Darcy was the rescuer, he and Bingley came to the visit the Bennets again…

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And Lizzie and Darcy couldn’t help themselves, they had to sneak looks at each other…

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But before the happy end could happen, first Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine DeBourgh came for a visit. Lady Catherine demanded from Lizzie a promise that she would never marry Darcy. Lizzie, however, refused to make such a promise…

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“Are the shades of Pemberley to be thus polluted?” Lady Catherine asked in desperation. Classic! And well, yes they are! Lizzie’s refusal to promise anything finally gave Darcy the courage to propose to her again…

“You are too generous to trifle with me,” he said, “If your feelings are what they were last April, tell me so at once. My affections and wishes are unchanged… but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.”

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“My feelings are so different,” she replied, “in fact, they are quite the opposite!”

And, to boot, after a heart to heart talk, he called her his “Dearest. loveliest Elizabeth…” with such a look of love that I melted… vlcsnap-2015-09-23-23h25m02s624

So, in the end, Jane and Lizzie married the men of their dreams…

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And after the wedding there was finally a Darcy and Lizzie kiss…

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Ahhh…. Ok, admittedly, that kiss lacked the passion this one had (9 years later)…

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… but I think nothing can beat the North & South kiss of Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe! In my humble opinion it’s the best on screen kiss ever. But I digress… Lizzie and Darcy kissed! And that is more than they ever did in the book.

I already loved the book but after seeing the adaptation I became obsessed with it and with the BBC series, and yes, like so very many women who had seen this, I fell head over heels in love with Colin Firth! He and Jennifer Ehle had perfectly portrayed Darcy and Lizzie (Jennifer Ehle won a BAFTA for it and I still haven’t forgiven BAFTA for not giving Colin Firth one for this role…)

Today, 20 years on, Colin Firth is still a great favorite of mine and I still adore this version of Pride & Prejudice; for me it remains the best version ever. The 2005 Pride & Prejudice fiilm with Keira Knightley and Matthew McFadyen was alright but for me McFadyen could not hold a candle to Colin Firth’s Darcy. And the rest of the characters were fine but just not as good…

If you love Pride & Prejudice as well, you may enjoy a YouTube webseries called “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” which places the story of Pride & Prejudice in this century, this decade even! Lizzie Bennet is a grad student and one day meets a Mr. Bing Lee and a Mr. William Darcy at a friend’s wedding…It’s 100 hundred episodes that average about 3 to 4 minutes each. For me, the second best Pride & Prejudice adaptation out there…

Yes, I love Pride & Prejudice and the 1995 adaptation was key to it all… Thank you BBC and Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle and everyone who was involved in making it!