Doctor Who – Series 11, Episode 4 – ‘Arachnids in the UK’

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Ooo-err missus! As the title suggests, it’s not an episode to watch if you’ve any issues with spiders!

More importantly though, four episodes in, did this story have legs? Well, the straight-into-the-title-sequence still takes a bit of getting used to, but that’ll pass, so back to the story itself. Unlike last week’s episode, this one is set firmly in the here-and-now. The opening scene sees the Doctor’s Companions Friends arriving home in Sheffield – and saying farewell to our titular hero.

No evidence of any spiders initially, although they were strongly hinted with the occasional scene containing a cobweb or two. Twelve minutes later, things changed and the title’s eight-legged star made its first appearance! Pretty good CGI and a big bugger too! Some yukky sound effects too!
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This was a pretty tense episode and away from the spiders, that mysterious American character added to the tension!

Twenty-four minutes in, and if you thought the first one was big, check out a larger member of the family with a penchant for American bodyguards!
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The new Who music is growing on me, but I haven’t heard a genuinely beautiful piece yet, as it’s all been very dramatic (to suit the scenes). Here’s hoping! Ahh, now we know who the American is!
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We’re now into the final ten minutes and the spiders are getting bigger. In fact that big mother-of-a-spider is apparently called the Mother Spider. A bit of American stereotyping followed with our across-the-pond guest wanting to shoot his way out of trouble.

What’s this? Rapping to attract the spiders???? Really? Didn’t get that at all!!
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It’s now just five minutes to go before it ends and the big spider has been killed (by guess who..? No, not that Who!) …and then we seemed to be in the final scene with the Companions Friends re-joining the Doctor to accompany him on his travels – no doubt it’ll referenced as a tear-jerker in the press tomorrow!

Oh, and the Friends are now known as ‘Team Tardis’… Shades of Scooby-Doo I fear!

Nope, didn’t enjoy this one at all! A bit lightweight and superficial.
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Lee’s Memorial Lunch

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Today was a very special day. Our good friend Lee, who passed-away in June was remembered and celebrated at a very special occasion.

We booked a table in the Oak Room at The George Hotel in Stamford and invited all the people she was really close to. We sort of went in convoy: David & Valerie with Jo & Janet; Us with Roger, Jane & Oliver, whilst Denis and Bev headed south from theirs – all planning to arrive around 12.30-12.45.

The Menu (as always) didn’t disappoint with the show-stopper being the massive side of Beef (about the size of Corby!)

..and an equally impressive range of Desserts too!

The Service also impressed with perfect service from start-to-finish. Stefan was in-charge, but he didn’t have to exercise any of his management/supervisory skills as the Staff are, as always, a ‘well-oiled-machine’.

Ann did a short speech closely followed by Nicki thanking US for getting it all organised. We ate, drank and were very merry for this very leisurely affair. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the table plan (although slightly mis-interpreted by The George) worked a treat.

When we left just before 3.30, the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it became a very swift walk back to the cars as it was raining quite heavily.

We said goodbye to everyone and made our way back to ours. Roger, Jane and Oliver are staying over until after lunch tomorrow.

A lazy evening followed – Ham Sandwiches followed closely by Cheesecake, Oh, and a few drinks! Movie time too, where we settled for 2010’s Shutter Island.

I vaguely recall the storyline, but not in sufficient detail (so ultimately, it didn’t spoil the impact!). It’s a VERY tense story, and bound to leave your nerves in tatters! Powerful performances from all concerned, but on reflection, maybe not the best film to watch before bed-time!
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With the clocks going back an hour, we had an extra-lie in – and no nightmares either!
I was up first (no change there then!) continuing to faf-about with Ann’s PC that ever since the new SSD and extra memory was fitted is experiencing TWO identical log-ins at start-up. One of them displays ‘wrong password’ and won’t let me even reset it, whilst the other login seems to work OK. Not the end of the world but irritating in the extreme!
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Scrap that! A quick search via Mr Google using ‘ghost account’ as my search term revealed a simple command-line tweak that solved the issue – worth a read HERE if you’re also struggling with the same challenge!
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Once the others has stirred, we had a lazy-ish morning including some help for Jane comparing Word and Publisher for her work at School. Roger, Jane and Oliver then took a drive over to nearby Kirby Hall, whilst we assembled Lunch.

Kirby Hall

It was a late-ish lunch – just after 2pm – where a traditional Sunday Roast was the order of the day! As a first, we tried out the Aldi ‘roast-in-the-bag’ chickens and they turned out to be one of the tastiest, moistest birds we had in a long while. Everyone commented on how good they were, so we’ll be sure to buy them again. Lunchtime gave us a lengthy opportunity to put the world to rights (which we did with ease!) helped along by a number of Ann’s excellent Puds!
After a mammoth washing-up session (and a bit more chat) it was time to say our goodbyes until we’re all together gain at Christmas.

4.15pm: We sat down over a cuppa and reflected on the weekend  – It’s been busy but a very enjoyable time – good friends, great family, yummy food and a suitable ‘farewell’ to Lee.
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El Greco

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It was over to Stratford-upon-Avon tonight to catch up with Ian, Ann McL, Mags and newly retired Alan!

Our restaurant of choice was El Greco’s in Rother Street.

It’s a family-run affair and tonight was to be our first visit.

Our journey there was a bit sluggish in places but we’d allowed plenty of time – and as things turned out, good job too!

Getting there became an ‘interesting challenge’ for TWO reasons. Although we set off ahead of schedule, an error by me, somehow, in transferring the post-code to the car, sent us to wrong side of Stratford – and a residential area! Amazing what being ‘one digit out’ did to our journey.

It didn’t end there. Even with the correct postcode now confirmed, as we headed back in to central Stratford, there seemed be an awful lot of temporary road signs as we approached warning us of closed roads and restricted turns. After obeying the signs (there wasn’t much choice!) we ended up parking in a side-street not far from the Restaurant.

So, a short walk and we’d be there! Well, not quite! As we left the car, we could hear some deep bass of music in the distance! And as we turned the corner we were confronted by a…

Fun Fair – Dodgems, Candy-Floss etc etc.

Runaway Mop 2018

How very UN-Stratford!
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Initially confused (no change there then!) various signage indicated it was something to do with The Mop (a bit of history and context HERE). But tonight, as we learned later, was in fact a related event: The Runaway Mop (more information HERE). And if you’re wondering and can’t be asked to click on the previous links, yes, it does have something to do with mop-heads!

Anyway, the upshot of all of this was that the fun-fair obscured our destination, so even with Ian helpfully describing over the phone, where the Restaurant was and its surrounding landmarks, the size of the Fair combined with the noise made it a tricky exercise to comprehend and follow his simple instructions.

We eventually found the Restaurant – and all the hassle was worth it. It turned out to be a hidden gem. Classy decor, amazing food and great service. We arrived first, closely followed by Alan and Mags, and the Ian & Ann – the band was back together!

The meal for six of us including three courses and two bottles of wine came to just £60 per couple (and that included the tip).
We eventually left the Restaurant just before 9.30 and had the best journey home EVER. Gone was the congestion we’d seen on our journey in, and were were indoors in just under the hour!

Happy days!

Unchartered Territory

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Chris A picked me up this morning and we headed for Nuneaton. More specifically, the unchartered territory (for me, anyway) of Axminster’s Tools & Machinery. Talk about ‘big boys toys’!

It made B&Q look like a toy shop!
I rather fancied some of the milling machines – and trust me to be attracted to the one priced at nearly £15000! Back to reality, and Chris picked up some more modest bits & bobs!

Then we took the short drive to The Griff House – the local Beefeater – for Lunch. Amazing value: Two drinks, and a main plus coffee each, all for a tad under £21! Chris dropped me back and I was indoors 2.20. It had been a really productive – and enjoyable – day.

Doctor Who – Series 11, Episode 3 – ‘Rosa’

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Image result for doctor who rosa

Episode 3 and the first period piece in this revamped ‘Who’.

Tonight’s yarn revolved around the civil rights activist Rosa Parks and that pivotal moment in her life.

A pretty engaging storyline followed with a fair number of tense moments. The music (that I was so indifferent about before) was perfectly suited in tonight’s episode and the linear storyline – something sadly lacking in the previous series – felt very welcome. Stand-by too, for an action-packed final ten minutes!

It was good to have a story based around a real person – anything that educates today’s ‘yoof’ about significant historical events gets my vote!


PS: Found out today that the guy responsible for the graphics that accompany the opening theme tune was designed by a Who fan ‘John Smith’. If you don’t know his work, you should check out a clever ‘mash-up’ he did of Matt Smith’s Doctor meeting Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock – the link to the video is HERE and will blow you away! There’s also a short article on the Radio Times website HERE about the BBC hiring him a few years back.

John Smith's Intro (2018)

Bolsover Castle with Dennis & Sandra

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Bolsover Castle

We headed for Bolsover Castle today to meet up with our friends: Dennis and Sandra. We haven’t seen them since we all visited Belton House back in May, and it was good to catch-up.

9.20am: ETA was 11am, so we left just before 9.30 and had a trouble-free journey there (although the traffic on the M1 was pretty heavy in places).

Apparently, we’d visited Bolsover Castle around 20 years ago, but as usual, none of it rang a bell to me! A quick check of my blog revealed that it must have been pre-blog (2004) days as there was nothing recorded – so that didn’t help much! Sad smile Bolsover Castle is best described as a 17th Century aristocratic retreat and it was initially owned by Charles Cavendish and then, his son, William Cavendish – the 1st Duke of Newcastle – the latter better known as The Father of Dressage. In all, you have the remains of the castle, the House and the Stables, all maintained by English Heritage.

11.05am: Parking was, shall we say, ‘challenging’ with both nearby car-parks already full. Fortunately, after a couple of laps round the local road, we spotted a sign for ‘overflow parking’ – not a massive number of spaces on offer, but we only needed one – and as it turned out, right next door to Dennis and Sandra who’d arrived 30 seconds before us!

The Stables

The House

…with stunning views across Derbyshire! Inside was a treat too… …beautiful…

…with priceless interiors!

   11.55am: It didn’t take long to take it all in, but the combination of a roofless castle (a bit like Kirby Hall near us), the stunning vistas and plethora of rooms, combined to make it a very memorable (hopefully) visit! We decamped in the Café for a drink whilst planning Lunch! Bolsover isn’t known for an abundance of eateries, but a quick check of Google revealed a few Pubs that were within walking distance.

Actually, as things turned out, there was somewhere suitable right on our doorstep, that we discovered within two minutes of exiting Bolsover Castle

The Pillar of Rock – courtesy of Mr Wetherspoon! It was already busy by the time we arrived, but were able to secure a cosy table-for-four in the corner. The food and service didn’t disappoint, and we had plenty of time for a long catch-up. In fact, by the time we’d finished eating and talking, it was getting on for 3.30! Talk about a long lunch! Smile 3.45pm: We took the short walk back to the car, said our goodbyes and headed for the M1.

It had been a great place to visit, with a lot to see – and in surprisingly good condition, given its age. But I think if it hadn’t been for the Pub/Restaurant almost next door, we might have struggled to find somewhere suitable to eat as Bolsover is only a small town. Still, it was all very agreeable!

There’s a few additional photos HERE. Thumbs up

Gin and Fizz

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It was a walk down to Jo and Janet’s tonight as we’d been invited to one of their legendary ‘Gin & Fizz’ Evenings. With Paul and Karen to accompany us, it was just a short walk to enjoy (for the gin lovers) a range of Gins… and for the gin haters, plenty of Bubbly.

Janet had prepared nibbles (I say ‘nibbles’, but it was more of a full-blown buffet!), whilst Jo acted as Bar-tender offering an imaginative  range of Gin Cocktails! This was no casual get-together – it had been planned with military precision!

All yummy! And just as we downed our third, Jo introduced he first game – Guess the Botanicals. On came some tiny coloured glasses containing the mystery liqueurs, but in truth, most of us ‘experienced gin-lovers’ were all mostly rubbish (must have been the effects of the alcohol) except Ann, who, bizarrely (but impressively) as a lifelong Gin hater excelled at guessing the base ingredients!

Well, that was certainly a surprise! And just to balance things up nicely, Ann’s success was complemented by my woeful performance at The Great Gin Challenge requiring the ‘lucky contestant’ to guide the baton through the inside of the words ‘gin’ without setting off the buzzer. I was worse than hopeless, and it was a good job we didn’t follow the consumption rules otherwise Jo would have been out of Gin within the hour! Luckily I’m not a surgeon!!

My fave of the evening was Whitley Neill’s Rhubarb & Ginger creation – consequently, it slipped down a treat!

The evening flew by, and we eventually staggered up the road around 11.30!

A great evening! Cheers Jo and Janet! (hic!)
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