The Weekend – Sponsored by the letter ‘f’

A weekend of fun, friends, fine food, F1 and err, a fone!

Friday

Ralph and Karen are joining us for the weekend. We haven’t seen each other for a while and there was plenty to catch-up with! Probably the most important task was to begin finalising details for joint trip to China including understanding the Visa process.

Arriving just after 10am, they’d had a remarkably good journey from theirs – and they’d also managed to not get stuck in all the local mega-roadworks! After a quick natter, whilst Ann and Karen then went into town to sort out some bits-and-bobs, us boys took a closer look at Ralph’s new phone – the rather impressive Huawei P20 Pro. (Pity it wasn’t called the F20 though! 😊

It’s an impressive beast of a phone with a spec to die for… and more! πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘

In other phone-related news, we also fashioned a plan to beat the internet restrictions in China by using a VPN and we’re going to firm-up the specifics nearer the time, after narrowing down the various providers. Given that the Chinese State is pretty active in blocking/restricting use of the internet – especially with social media and blogs – it’s a challenge and a half!

…but we do like a challenge! πŸ˜‰

11.55am: Just before Noon, the girls arrived back from town and we sat down to a sandwich lunch. A lazy afternoon followed (for some of us!) leaving Ann busy in the kitchen, weaving her magic for tonight’s meal!

6.30pm: David and Valerie arrived bang on time to join us for the Meal – and Ann’s hard work didn’t disappoint… πŸ‘

Starters 1: Tartlets with Asparagus, Chorizo and Manchego Cheese
Starters 2: Mackerel and Rhubarb Salad
Mains: Tray-bake Chicken
Dessert 1: Blackcurrant Clafouti
Dessert 2: Elderflower and Lemon Posset

10.25pm: As expected, it was all delicious – and only David managed to resist NOT having TWO Desserts! 😁. It was good to catch-up with everyone’s news and the first time we looked at the clock, it was almost 10.30! Time to say good-bye to David and Valerie, quickly followed by us all calling it a night.

11.00pm: zzzzzzzzz!

Saturday

8.15am: Me, still in bed? Surely some mistake! 😁

10.30am: Next stop? Breakfast! πŸ‘πŸ˜‰

12.10pm: Following our my long lie-in, after breakfast, we took the short drive to Kirby Hall (where we last visited back in July 2009).

Kirby Hall

It was good to re-visit the Hall after all these years, I’d quite forgotten how interesting a place it is – and it’s especially quirky given that the roof was err, ‘liberated’ to pay off gambling debts! As expected, nothing much had changed, but we were surprised by the welcoming committee on arrival! We quickly moooooved on!😊

Moo!
A spooky-looking Kirby Hall

2.45pm: After a quick Lunch, Ralph took us through their photographs from their trip to India – all the more impressive as they we beamed wirelessly from his phone to our TV.

3.45pm: Movie time! Courtesy of Amazon Prime, we (re)watched The Imitation Game having originally seen it at the cinema back in November, 2014.

4.5 stars
As good as we remember it first time around!

Tonight, to give Ann abreak from kitchen duties, we ate out at our fave local Pub/Restaurant… The Tollemache Arms in Harrington.

6.35pm: We were last here for Ann’s Birthday back in March, and it was good to looking over their excellent Menu again! We arrived earlier than our 7pm slot and it was already heaving! (Surely a good sign!) – but they were still able to seat us. Service with a smile was clearly in evidence and we were soon making our foody-choices.

A couple of Sharing Platters to start…

…and then when it came to the Mains, we naturally did our own thing: Karen chose the Salmon with a Lemon Citrus Dressing; Ann munched into the Macaroni Cheese; Ralph, the Pub’s signature Tolly Burger, whilst I managed the truly melt-in-the-mouth Beef Bourguignon.

Beef Bourguignon

Each dish proved to be delicious, and combined with their excellent service, this, our latest pub-find is becoming our regular haunt! πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘. Room for a Dessert? Well, it would have been rude not to – but I forgot to take any photos, so here’s the Dessert menu instead! πŸ˜•

Desserts – Tollemach Style!

Ann chose to skip the sweet stuff, whilst Karen wrestled the Raspberry Sorbet (I say ‘wrestled’ – it was so cold it caused her some short-term brain-freeze); Ralph, the Sticky Toffee Pudding and me, the Affogato.

9.30pm: By the time we left, the place was (still) pretty much full in the Restaurant – well deserved! All in all then, a great experience (again!) – a habit we could get used to!! We headed for home and spent the rest of the evening listening to Amazon Music via the TV.

Killer Tracks

10.45pm: Here we go aga…. 😴😴😴😴 – we left Ralph watching the recorded F1 Qualifier highlights (I’ll catch it tomorrow!)

Sunday

8.30am: I caught up with the F1 Practice from Barcelona – another good result for Mercedes! πŸ‘

10.30am: We discussed our China holiday itinerary in detail and double-checked the visa requirements. Time well spent, as the visa paperwork is a nightmare with the added complexity of the Chinese State now insists on personal visits to one of their four UK centres where they will also require fingerprints! 😡

12.10pm: Lunch at our other favourite local Pub/Restaurant – The Olde Victoria in Burton Latimer. We haven’t been here for a while but it was good to see that the service and the food was as good as we remember it. By 1 o’clock is was heaving, with only a single empty table for two left in the restaurant.

Five-star Sunday Lunch

1.55pm: We said our good-byes to Ralph and Karen and whilst they headed north, we briefly dropped-in to John and Trish’s on the way home

2.30pm: Just time to drop off Karen R’s birthday present before catching up with a few house chores. It’s been a full-on weekend – but a very enjoyable one! πŸ‘πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘πŸ˜Š

Movie of the Year: ‘Avengers: Endgame’

If Sci-Fi is your preferred film genre, then I reckon this movie is as important as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Wars (1977)… Read on…

One of the many promotional Posters

But what makes this latest blockbuster different is the sheer scale and ambition by those responsible for its existence – Marvel Studios (more about all this later).

So, here is my review of Marvel’s latest flick – spoiler-free too! πŸ‘

But first, some background to put all this ‘scale’ and ‘ambition’ into context. Skip the next few paragraphs, if you’re already up-to-speed.

Ten Years in the Planning!

What began with Iron Man back in 2008, Marvel Studios has now turned-out 21 Movies in the series (21? yes, really!). They’ve all been part of their multi-phase Infinity Saga storyline (see the links below if you need a reminder!) – scroll-on, if you don’t!

Phase 1

Iron Man (2008)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Thor (2011)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)


Phase 2

Iron Man 3 (2013)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Ant-Man (2015)


Phase 3

Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Black Panther (2018)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
Captain Marvel (2019)
SpiderMan: Far from Home (2019)


Crikey! It makes the original Star Wars Trilogy feel like a short story!

How’s that for scale and ambition then? πŸ‘πŸ‘

And with plenty of fanfare in the media, this is Marvel’s final Movie in the ‘Infinity Saga’ series (did I mention there had been 21 Movies so far?) – and with a running-time of a tad over three-hours, (3 hours and 58 seconds actually) it promises to wrap things up nicely, given the dark and depressing tone of 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War.

Is this one of the longest Movies of recent years/ever? Well, ‘no’ it isn’t actually – not by a long way!!! See Longest Cinematic Films. So, no records broken here!

I’m still looking for box-office estimates on how much Endgame is going to rake-in, but I’ll be amazed if it doesn’t exceed a billion dollars after its full run! πŸ’°,πŸ’²πŸ’°πŸ’²,πŸ’°πŸ’²πŸ’°,πŸ’²πŸ’°πŸ’² – and that WILL set a record! Just take a look at other Movies in this saga – this is serious money!

Update: Monday, May 6, 2019Box Office receipts globally exceed TWO billion dollars!

Thanks to Box Office Mojo for the Charts

Talking of takings, Odeon will be the other winner here – with their extra food and drink sales at their (ahem!) ‘very special’ prices. It’s a pity they don’t charge for the loo too, because everyone is going to need a loo-break… or three πŸ₯΄ to get through this one!

And just because you’re NOT a fan, don’t think it’s safe to return to a sans-spandex-Cinema after tonight! Bad news then, as Marvel has already announced Phase 4, and with it, a series of films featuring the return of some existing super-heroes plus some we’ve yet to meet. Six Movies are already confirmed.


Phase 4

Black Widow
The Eternals
Doctor Strange 2
Black Panther 2
Shang-Chi
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

PS: If you’re a bit fazed by all these err, Phases, you can find them explained here – but beware, it’s a Nerd’s Paradise! Thanks Digital Spy πŸ˜‰


Do try and stay awake at the back Tompkins! 😁

As you’d expect, details of this final (and pivotal) Movie have remained a closely-guarded secret. Scripts were under lock-and-key, and some scenes were only communicated by word-of-mouth! They even filmed multiple versions of scenes, in case some leaked out. I guess it’s all part of this 24/7 Internet age that we live in. When the official Trailers started appearing, plenty of folks, looking for their ’15 minutes of fame’, began hypothesising as to how this film will play out – albeit with very little to go on!

December 2018: The first official Trailer arrives and sends the interweb into a spin. And, as predicted, everyone who had the time and the motivation (Oh, and a video camera!) uploads their theory about ‘what it all means’! πŸ€”

1st Official Trailer (7 December 2018)

Not me though! I’d carefully avoided any spoilers and/or fan theories, so I could eventually watch the Film with a genuine wonder as to what was going to happen (you know, like it used to be at Cinemas!) πŸ˜‰

2nd Official Trailer (April 2019)

April 2019: Even when the second official Trailer appeared online, even more half-baked theories clogged-up the Internet – nothing substantial reported though! And that suited me perfectly! πŸ‘πŸ‘

Final Official Trailer (Mid-April 2019)

Mid-April 2019: By the time this final Trailer appeared later in April, the same old ground was still being re-trod about what the film would be about. The biggest talking-point seemed to be whether the first Avenger – Captain America – would survive? This was prompted by a somewhat ambiguous tweet by Chris Evans, (the Actor who plays him) when Endgame wrapped last year.

Ooops!

Update: 17 April 2019: With just a week to go before general release here, someone apparently leaked the story online with some images – the Directors (The Russo Bothers) pleaded with the fanbase NOT to share the details! And, maybe surprisingly, as a result of their plea, the leak saw virtually no air-time at all. I’m definitely sensing a backlash against those who do all this spoiling!

#DontSpoilTheEndgame

Update: 21 April 2019: No more Trailers, but a handy timeline, courtesy of Marvel, appeared on the BBC News website. It explained the best order to watch all 22 Movies so far, to make sense of how the bigger story unfolds. If you’re wondering about the years shown – that’s the year in which the film is set. And yes, in America, some Cinemas were showing all the Movies in one sitting (that’s 1 day, 23 hours and 48 minutes)! Really?

Yeesh! I’m not that much of a fan! 😁

Update: 23 April 2019: The World PremiΓ¨re was last night and the invited few were exceptionally positive – and best of all, no-one gave away the plot either! Having said that, based on quite a few comments, it looks like Kleenex are the other winners here! πŸ˜ͺ

Sadly, no invitation!

The Odeon, Kettering

28 April 2019: So, finally, here we are, and there’s nothing left to do but sit-back, break open those sweets smuggled-in from Aldi, and enjoy the Movie. Although it was released a few days ago on the 25th April that was OK, because it meant all the super-super (super!) fans – you know, the ones who cos-play at these events, will have been and gone. So, that’s a positive! 😁😁

I picked up Jo and Janet and we headed off for what promises (for me, at least) to be the best film of the year. πŸ‘πŸ˜‰. But first there was the small matter of parking the car. Normally, it’s usually not a problem, but in all the years I’ve been going to the Odeon, I have NEVER seen the car-park so full as it was tonight. In fact, it was so full, some helpful buggers had created their own parking spaces in amongst the official white lines just to make it even more tricky to get around.

As expected then, our screen was a full! And considering we’re only three days in, and it’s showing every half hour, makes me even more confident that it’s going to smash all previous Box Office records.

So, we hung about whilst they bulldozed the debris of refreshments from the previous sitting, and whilst waiting, we learned that a couple of young dudes in front of us were there for their THIRD screening. Kerchinng! Eventually we were let in, and we found our seats. Just as the lights went down, an individual who could only be described as the Hulk’s long-lost brother squeezed into the seat next to me – I’ve never seen a guy that big before – apart from in an Avengers movie!! Oh joy! No chance of me stretching-out then!

Back to the film – and this, to remind you, is spoiler-free, so it’s safe to read on…

  • In spite of a three-hour+ running time, it didn’t feel like it
  • This isn’t a movie for casual Marvel viewers, as there is loads going on most of the time
  • There’s plenty of stuff online abut the best time for a visit to the loo, but I’d say ‘go before you go‘ because there is very little that’s NOT important
  • I expected the movie to invoke a lot of emotions, but wasn’t expecting so much humour
  • Those in lust with Chris Hemsworth will see a part of him that will bring you back to your senses
  • The movie is worth a second viewing (or maybe even three) to take it all in
  • Some characters don’t make it to the end, but maybe not who you think!
  • Someone cashes in that rain-check for a dance
  • The final scenes will make Kleenex very satisfied with recent sales. Even my cinema-neighbour: “Hulk’s Brother” was blubbing!
  • There IS a post-credit scene (of sorts) but it’s easy to miss, and only lasts around 10 seconds – and you need to be eagle-eared rather than eagle-eyed. It either means nothing, something …or everything! Does it look forward or back? Only time the internet will tell
  • Oh, and there’s a free poster waiting for you when you leave!

Well, maybe not surprisingly, it turned out to be excellent! The Movie successfully pulled together all the loose strands of the previous flicks and in doing so, took the audience through the complete spectrum of emotions. Considering the sheer number of characters (and costumes!) it was all very enjoyable, although it did require a high level of concentration and ‘joining of the dots’.

For those of you that are interested in the numbers: This Marvel blockbuster has become the fastest film ever to break the $1bn barrier – in just 5 days. Its opening takings easily beat the previous global dΓ©but record of (only!) $640m (set by last year’s Avengers: Infinity War) and was also the UK and Ireland’s biggest opening ever, with takings of Β£43.7m.


Worldwide Box Office as at Sunday, 28th April

$1,200,000,000

Phew!