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!

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5 decades of musical favourites

The latest Mach’ was challenge is to do something with your favourite song or piece of music… That is soooo difficult! Where to start? I have so much music that I love and I have so many, many favourite songs! While thinking this over, I found myself going back to different periods of my life and remembering what songs, artists and albums I liked at different times. As I was born in 1970, it somehow comes naturally to think of music during certain decades: the 70s, the 80s, the 90s, etc. (eek, I’m in my fifth decade now!). So, instead of limiting myself to one song, which I really can not do (sorry, Herba!), I decided to instead recall some absolute favourites in my own personal history.


The 1970s – Childhood 

The first record I remember absolutely adoring was a record of English language nursery rhymes. It was narrated by a man with a deep, melodic voice (is that where my love for deep voices stems from?) and started with a very cheerful “Hello, boys and girls!” This man talked and then constantly broke out into singing nursery rhymes. My poor family had to endure this record endlessly, we only had the one record player in the house… I don’t know who the narrator/singer was but I remember especially liking “Sing a song of sixpence”. A version that comes somewhat close to what I remember is this one I found on YouTube…

Another song I absolutely adored was from my favourite Cinderella movie (with Richard Chamberlain as the prince) called “Protocoligorically correct”…

All the songs in that movie (The Slipper and the Rose) were wonderful, by the way. I blogged about that before here. Take a gander if you like, there’s a very funny one when the prince dances on the graves of his ancestors.

As the 1970s progressed I became obsessed by another song called “Ma Baker” by Boney M., I still quite like it today!

My fave childhood band was ABBA. I lived in Israel as a child where the Hebrew word “abba” means “father” and I always wondered why a band not from Israel would call themselves by a Hebrew name! And why would they want to be called “father”? It was only as I grew older that I realised that ABBA referred to the names of the 4 band members… Anyway, when I got married in 1999, my family performed along to this ABBA song for us at the evening party…

… yelling my husband’s name instead of the word “man”. My mother, in a blonde wig, and a family friend, in a red-haired wig, pretended to be the ABBA ladies; an uncle of my husband’s ‘played keyboard’ on an ironing board and my dad ‘played guitar’ on an old bed warmer. The rest of my family did backing vocals/dancing. It was one of the highlights of my wedding day. 🙂


The 1980s – Teenagerhood

Oh my goodness, the 1980s! That’s when music really started to interest me and I could name about 1000 songs here, still known today, that I loved. We moved to Germany in 1980 (I was 10) and not long after we came, the “Neue Deutsche Welle” hit with German pop songs that also became known internationally. Nena with her “99 Luftaballons” was probably the most famous and I totally loved many of those songs. However, my early 1980s favourites were a bit of a cheesy Italian duo called Al Bano and Romina Power (Romina was the daughter of Hollywood star Tyrone Power, she had moved to Italy to marry an Italian singer). They were very popular in Germany and I especially adored Romina, I wanted to look like her and sound like her… Of course, I could never admit to my friends that I loved them. Wham! and Duran Duran were just getting famous then, and here I was liking this sappy duo…

Around that time, early to mid 1980s, I also came to love an Irish singer called Chris de Burgh. He had a few hits in Germany from his album called “The Getaway”. He’s a little man with odd bushy eyebrows, but he always seemed sweet, he has a good voice and was a great storyteller. We bought the album and I listened to it constantly, then listened to his back log of songs and absolutely loved them. One of my faves was “Patricia the Stripper”. Not a huge hit, I don’t think, but I still love this song…

Later in the 80s he made “The Lady in Red”, which I think became his biggest hit and is one of my least fave songs of his. In fact, after that I soon stopped listening because I really didn’t like the electronic sappy love songs he started making then. He was always somewhat on the sappy side, but I felt that he had sold out to formulaic love songs later and I didn’t like them. I don’t know whether he has become better in later years, I haven’t listened to anything new of his, but I do still love most of what he did up until about 1984.

In the second half of the 1980s, Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album hit and, boy, did I adore that album! To this day I can still sing along to all the lyrics of every song on that album and I wouldn’t know which one to choose as my favourite. “You Can Call me Al” (I loved that video!) and “Graceland” are the biggest hits everyone knows, so let me just plug “I Know What I Know” here…

And of course, there was U2 with their 1987 “The Joshua Tree” album that I loved.  I will forever associate “With or Without You” with studying for my 1988 final school exams…

This year U2 is doing a “Joshua Tree” commemorative tour but by the time they are in Amsterdam, we will be away on holiday in England…


The 1990s – College and into adulthood

In 1990 I fell in love with Sinead O’Connor’s song (and video) “Nothing Compares 2 U”…

I loved the album it was from (“I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got”) and also bought her first album (“The Lion and The Cobra”) and played those two endlessly. I did lose sight of her after that, though.

For me, the end 1980s and early 1990s were all about David Bowie. Yes, I could’ve also put him on my 80s list, from about 1986/7 onwards, but it was in the early 1990s that he felt like a life-saver for me. I don’t recall exactly how I fell in love with him. I remember loving his “China Girl”  and “Let’s Dance” songs in the early 80s and the love slowly developed from there when I went into his back catalogue a few years later. I loved what I heard there even more than that “Let’s Dance” album. I was devastated when he died in January last year. I wrote a tribute post for him with lots of songs I love in it and the days after that kept on posting more videos in tribute to him on blog here… A song of his that was extremely special to me in the early 1990s was a song from the 1972 album “Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars” called “Rock’n’Roll Suicide”. I was going through some tough times, trying to figure out what I wanted out of life, and Bowie screaming “You’re not alone!” really helped me through that (the images in the following video are from Bowie’s 1976 movie The Man Who Fell To Earth)…

A week before he so unexpectedly passed away I saw the absolutely wonderful David Bowie Is exhibition that was temporarily shown in the north of The Netherlands. On display were also the handwritten lyrics to that song. Seeing that, some 25 years after those difficult early 1990s, brought tears to my eyes… I probably shouldn’t have photographed it but I just had to…

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I was also absolutely in love with Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” at the time. I can’t tell you how often I would lie down on the floor in my room with my eyes closed and let the music just wash over me, I especially loved the first and third movements…

I kinda lost track of music in the 1990s. I liked many songs, but nothing really stands out for me, except maybe Alanis Morissette’s “Jagged Little Pill” album which I played a lot. Here’s the very famous “Ironic”…


The 2000’s – New mama years

If the 1990s were a bit of a blur regarding music, the 2000s were that even more so! I became a mother for the first time in 2001, and then again in 2003, and music just wasn’t much of a priority (I’ve always been more of a movie girl than a music girl). I listened to whatever was on the radio and there were good things and bad things but nothing I couldn’t do without. I’d have periods where I listened to virtually nothing at all!

A song from 2001 that sticks out in my memory is one I don’t particularly love myself but it was one my baby son loved at the time! Every time he heard the chorus of this Kylie Minogue song (“La-la-la La-la-la-la-la”) on the radio he’d go all quiet and listen to it in wonder…

I remember loving Katie Melua’s “Piece By Piece” album. Very calm compared to some of the music I have mentioned so far, maybe it’s what I most needed as a new mum. 😉 I already once blogged about the Spider’s Web song from that album. The most famous song from that album is probably “Nine Million Bicyclesbut I have decided to post this song instead. Video is fascinating to watch…

But mostly I think I’ll remember the 2000s for listening to children’s songs, like songs from a Dutch duo called Cowboy Billie Boem who dressed as a Cowboy and an Indian, singing songs like “Toemba Toemba” with the lyrics: “In the forest, Indians live. They don’t know what arrows are and shoot banana’s. Oh, it’s so nice to be an Indian, dancing in the moonshine every evening”. We even saw them live with the kids two or three times!

The kids also liked a Belgian Trio that sang in Flemish/Dutch called K3 (the 3 singers’ names all began with a K). Here a hit of their’s about diversity being cool (“we’re all much more beautiful if we are all together, hand in hand, eye to eye, all the colours of the rainbow”) …


The 2010s – My forties

The 2010s are here and I’ve entered my forties. Again, nothing was really sticking out for me on the music front, although I do enjoy a whole variety of music. Then in 2012, I discovered Muse while watching the first Twilight movie. I really liked what I heard, then went to a concert of theirs in December 2012 in Amsterdam, and the rest is history. The concert completely fanned the flames of Muse adoration and I have been completely hooked since then! The 2010s for me are all about Muse. I haven’t been this enthusiastic about a music act since, well, David Bowie! I listen to them all the friggin’ time and can’t wait for the next time they’ll come to The Netherlands on tour. And now I have to pick a favourite Muse song? Impossible! I’ve already posted links to Muse songs here, here, at the end of this post here and about their latest single here. I even posted about 2Cellos covering their songs here. In all of these links I don’t see a reference to one of their absolute masterpieces “Knights of Cydonia”.  So, that’s the one I’m linking to here 🙂 …

And “Supermassive Black Hole”, the song that attracted me to them in the first place. It was featured in the first Twilight movie, in this scene…

The movie was alright, the song was something else…


So, that’s it, favourite or memorable songs during different times in my life! I’m sure I have forgotten some wonderful favourite music and in a few days I’ll be thinking “oh, I should have also posted this… or that…” But, I’m going with the first things that popped into my head and that’s what you get here. 🙂

30 Day Movie Challenge – Day 6

Day 6 – The first movie you ever saw in a cinema

The first movie I remember seeing in the cinema was towards the end of the 1970s when I was living in Jerusalem and my mother took me (and possibly some of my siblings as well but I don’t really remember that) to see the Cinderella movie musical The Slipper and the Rose starring Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven. I must have been around 7 or 8 at the time.

I posted about this movie once before while reminiscing about Richard Chamberlain (go to that post if you want to see some more delightful clips). Seeing this movie sparked a love for Cinderella stories that I am still susceptible to today and an admiration for Richard Chamberlain.

I could have written about this movie in yesterday’s category as well (‘A movie that reminds you of someone’) as I always have to think of my parents when I see this. My mom loved this movie as I did (I think she had a crush on Richard Chamberlain too) and my dad’s nostrils would quiver with pleasure when he watched the “Protocoligorically Correct” song. I even still have the accompanying hard cover children’s book, worn for having been read so often, with beautiful full colour images of the movie that my mom gave me as a present around that time.

Richard Chamberlain is so charming as the prince, I can watch him forever in this! Michael Hordern is a wonderul scatterbrained King, Kenneth More is a lovely, pompous Lord Chamberlain and Annette Crosbie is the bubbly, ever so rushed and overworked Fairy Godmother. Cinderella (Gemma Craven) is admittedly almost too sweet but that doesn’t hinder the fun! She’s the pink princess any 8 year old would love (except my daughter who unlike me never liked princesses).

OK, yes, the film is very sugary, I do realize that, and I can understand that many people would find that a bit much to bear. But there are also some nicely fleshed out characters that make me laugh every time (I mean, come on, I defy anyone to not enjoy that silly king and the pompous Lord Chamberlain) and the cleverly rhymed and fun songs (despite two or so very sappy ones) make this movie such a joy to watch! I think it is mostly a forgotten film now and I find that to be such a shame…

(30 Day Movie Challenge – the full list of questions)

 

Richard and Richard

So, I have been a bit out of it of late and there is a bit of catching up to do. What did I miss in Armitage-land the past few weeks?

The day of my father’s funeral The Crucible download became available – I think that’s the only Richard-thing that made it through the fog of the past few weeks. That night I started the download, went to bed and voilà, the next morning there it was, all downloaded and ready (I’m one of the lucky ones with a problem-free download, I realize now)! A few days later, by way of trying to get my mind set on other things, I watched some bits of The Crucible here and there – still so very powerful even on the small screen! I couldn’t take it all in on top of everything else, so I left it at that… the fog is clearing a bit, so I hope to watch it all again in its entirety soon!

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Other than that I now see that more has been going on in Armitage-land. There was “Nipple-gate” (is there really such harm in admiring the physical attributes of Mr. Armitage next to his acting talent?), what looks like the end of Hannibal filming, start up for filming Pilgrimage and announcement of further cast members (does anyone have any clue where in the Belgian Ardennes region the filming will take place?), the burial of Richard III (yes, I know that’s a different Richard, but there’s a link…) and yesterday Andy Serkis beating RA in the Empire awards acting category (maybe Richard didn’t win because I didn’t vote more than once?).

With all the talk of this Richard, honesty dictates me to say that the past week or so another, older Richard has re-captured my attention… he was possibly my first crush ever! I am speaking of Richard Chamberlain. I know, the mind boggles but I find that I still find him quite appealing. Let me explain how he popped up again after many many years…

In order to get my mind on more cheerful things my daughter and I went to see the new Cinderella film by Kenneth Branagh a week ago. In hindsight not the most cheerful choice as 3 (yes three!) parents die in this adaptation! Sigh… but it was still cheerful and happy enough and it made me think of my all-time favorite Cinderella film. I don’t think that film was very widely known; it was called “The Slipper and the Rose” starring… Richard Chamberlain! When I was about 7 years old I went to the cinema with my mother (and possibly some siblings and maybe even my father, I can’t remember) to see this film. Very saccharine in parts but also a lot of fun! Especially all the scenes at court with a scatterbrained King, a pompous Lord Chamberlain, and the scenes when the prince wants to be two people:

or dances on his ancestor’s graves:

And I do so enjoy the romance of that first dance the prince and Cinderella share:

We watched “The Slipper and the Rose” several times since then as a family, it must have been on German TV as we didn’t own a video recorder at the time. My father, not a movie lover by any means, simply adored the “Protocoligorically correct” song. It’s a very definite highlight of the film and I can still see him watching it with his nostrils quivering, as was his way when he was utterly amused!

So, yeah… Richard Chamberlain… I also remember loving him in The Thorn Birds and in Shogun that we watched as a family as well (yes, even my dad!). He was The Count of Monte Cristo, The Man in the Iron Mask and he was in The Four Musketeers. He even played Raoul Wallenberg, which I have seen once but never since. I really liked him in my early teens, I know my mother loved him (in hindsight he may have been ‘her’ Richard, just like Armitage is ‘mine’) and I know my dad liked watching the things he’d done. And when I researched Richard Chamberlain the other day I realized that he’s only 2 months younger than my dad, his 81st birthday is tomorrow! Wow.

So, for me watching some of Chamberlain’s work again, brings back fond memories of my dad. He links to my dad… just as Richard Armitage does in an Oedipus complex kind of way!