Fangirling & family time

So, I am on a family holiday in the middle of England now with my husband and two teenage kids and already feeling very cheeful about it all! Every day brings new fangirl & family moments.

Leaving The Netherlands wasn’t too fangirly but it was family-time. We waited at the ferry that was to take us from The Netherlands to England, but we didn’t have to wait very long to board.

We had our own cabin for the 7 hour ferry trip and the kids reminisced about Titanic on board (although they refused to re-enact any Titanic scenes for me).

Once in England we had to drive on the wrong side of the road (yep, driving on the left feels wrong…)

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We camped just outside Colchester for our first night in England and did a little sightseeing there the next morning (yep, that’s me in the bottom picture)…

In Colchester I had my first real fangirl moment: we passed by a sweet shop called Darcy (of Pride and Prejudice fame)! Of course, this probably has nothing to do with P&P, but it made me smile!

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We also had our first scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam in Colchester… yumm!

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We then drove on to our current campsite, not far from Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) and set up our camp for the one and a half weeks we’re staying here for. My 16 year old son gets his own little tent to sleep in.

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When I went to the bathroom here at the campsite, I unexpectedly had my second fangirl moment. See for yourself what brand the washbasins are…

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How lovely to have the thought of Richard Armitage with me every day when I visit the bathroom!

We went to dinner at a pub in a village called Perry, which made me think of our fellow RA blogger Perry over on Armitage Agonistes

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… and when we got back, in the tree right next to our camping spot, there was an owl hooting away! We never see owls in the wild where we live, it was quite an experience for us.

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After a day of lazing away, we passed through the town of Stamford, which gave me my next fangirling moment. Stamford was used as the town of Merryton in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice (the one with Keira Knightley… yeah, not my fave P&P adaptation, but I have seen it often enough nonetheless!)…

After a little walk through Stamford, which is quite pretty with all it’s old sandstone buildings, we went on to visit Burghley House, which was used as Rosings in that same P&P adaptation (the one picture here below is mine, the other is from the movie)!

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We visited inside the huge ‘house’ and the moment I walked into the kitchen, I was reminded of my favourite childhood film The Slipper and the Rose; there was a very similar kitchen in that movie with shiny brass pot and pans!

We saw some of the interior rooms…

…and when we exited we came across a lovely tree with a wooden seat surrounding the trunk and lots of lavender around it; it’s something I would love to have in my own garden, if only my own garden were large enough!

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There were some very pretty flowers/plants in the gardens there…

There was also an ‘adventure garden’ with fountains and a mirror maze.

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After we had all passed to and fro through a gate with a very fine spray of water that hardly got anyone wet…

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… I challenged my kids to jump through the ‘Exit curtain’ fountain (my husband and I walked around it) and the little sods actually did!

It took them a little while to get dry, they took their time in the sun for that…

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The current last picture on my camera is one my son took while playing around with said camera in the car. I quite like it…

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Our holiday has only just started, but already it’s goooood!

If only…

… I had been the Esther lucky enough to interview Richard for this article

Or maybe it would’ve been more fun to be this Esther with Richard in Berlin Station

In any case, I’m liking the Richard-Esther links that are showing up – maybe the universe is starting to tell me something? 😉

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…

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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!

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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! 🙂

A song for every occasion

I have said it for years (and the BBC show Homes Under the Hammer also proves it, see this blurb about that show): every situation can remind you of a song!

I was watching current affairs on TV and came across a programme on a Belgian channel that had a far-right young Dutch politician I really dislike on their panel. I took a peek (shouldn’t have) and they were discussing something he had said a while back. They played a clip of him saying that women are often left-leaning until they meet a right-wing man who tells her how it really is and she always comes around to his way of thinking in the end… Yes, basically saying women can’t think for themselves! There was a woman on the panel who rightfully accused him of using arguments by men who were opposed to suffragettes a hundred years ago… The pit of my stomach exploded in anger at this politician yet again! I quickly changed the channel, really don’t have to listen to that garbage, and looked up a David Bowie song on YouTube that I thought of as soon as the word “suffragette” was uttered…

This came after I was reading about the latest travel ban news coming from the US, about people being banned from crossing borders after all. It made me think of this Chris de Burgh song, where he sings, “Don’t let go, I want to know, that you will wait for me until the day, there’s no borderline, no borderline…”

Before that I was reading about Richard Armitage and Michelle Forbes going to the ballet together…

Ballet tweet

… and a song from A Chorus Line came to mind…

Yes, it was quite an associative half hour!