We’re out!!!

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Clock symbolising EU exit

It’s 11pm here in the UK and midnight in Brussels
– and after 47 years, we’re out! OK, technically, we’ve got a period of ‘transition’ (whatever that means!) but the people have spoken!

I voted remain, and I can’t help think that this is the worst decision ever for our country. Our children (and children’s children) will surely look back on this day in years to come, and wonder what drove us to this madness! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Doctor Who โ€“ Series 12, Episode 5 โ€“ โ€œFugitive of the Judoonโ€

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We’re exactly halfway through this series, and after last week’s very satisfying episode, I wonder if this week’s will be as good?

SYNOPSIS: The Judoon have marched their way into modern Gloucester on the hunt for a fugitive. Who are they pursuing and why is the Doctor involved? Reserve your space behind the settee for tonight’s slice of Sunday Sci-fi! ๐Ÿ˜


Initially, it looked like tonight’s yarn was going to be another ‘Doctor v Monster-of-the-week’ yarn, but wow!, what an episode it turned out to be!!!

Written by showrunner Chris Chibnall with Vinay Patel, and featuring more twists and turns than any Who-episode I ever remember – and I’ve seen a few – this was the best JW episode so far. I don’t think even the most dedicated Whovian could have guessed how tonight’s story would play out! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Without revealing too much here (for those who have yet to see it), this week’s, I predict, will be the most talked about episode so far – maybe ever??? Wholly unpredictable, especially the second half, it kept me riveted from start to finish – as a result, there are now so many questions to be answered!!! ๐Ÿค”

On one level, it was simply a good Who story, but on another, the surprise return of a much loved character from Who-past, put it on another level, together with all the plot-twists. And if that wasn’t enough, by the third act, a massive plot reveal that impacted on everything we thought we knew about Who has got fans wracking their brains and trying to work out what it all means!! ๐Ÿ™„

Suffice to say: remember the impact on the Who-community when the War Doctor first appeared? Well, it might be time to re-write the Doctors’ timeline again! Ouch! My brain hurts! ๐Ÿฅด

I don’t think they’ll top this one, but who knows?

Verdict: The best story in a long time, with easily enough unanswered questions to set the Internet on fire! ๐Ÿคฉ

Doctor Who โ€“ Series 12, Episode 4 โ€“ โ€œNikola Tesla’s Night of Terrorโ€

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After an enjoyable (and thought-provoking) couple of opening episodes to this new series, last week’s was, for me, a real ‘yawn-fest’ ๐Ÿ˜ด. I’m hoping therefore, tonight’s story is going to get Who back on track… ๐Ÿค”

SYNOPSIS: It’s 1903, and someone (or something) is sabotaging Nikola Tesla’s generator plant at Niagara Falls. And in a possible spooky crossover between a Captain Scarlet episode and the novel, War of the Worlds; has the inventor received a message from Mars?
<< cue: intro music >> ๐ŸŽต Da-da-da-dah… Da-da-da-dah… ๐ŸŽต


Ahh, that’s better! ๐Ÿ‘.
Convincing CGI and SFX worked well together, with a story that moved along at pace. It was good to watch an episode that was based on some real people from history too! A reference to the ongoing story-arc (albeit ‘blink-and-you’ll-miss-it’) ticked an important box for me – so that’s another plus! More episodes like this please BBC!! ๐Ÿค”

Verdict: A very satisfying yarn, that felt very Who. Perfect Sunday evening fodder ๐Ÿ˜

Film: 1917

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We drove over to Cineworld at Rushden Lakes to see the recently released flick ‘1917‘ (after having to cancel last Sunday).

Sam Mendes directs and shares writing duties for this World War 1 adventure. It’s based on stories recounted by Sam Mendes’s grandfather โ€” Alfred Mendes โ€” and stars a host of famous faces โ€” Andrew Scott, Daniel Mays, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Richard Madden.

The story however, pivots around two not-quite-so-well-known faces from the world of movies โ€” Dean-Charles Chapman and George MacKay playing the two central characters. I’ve not ever seen them in anything else, and they’re on-screen most of the time, playing their parts very convincingly.

1917 tells the story of two soldiers with an important message to deliver โ€” a message that could save the lives of 1600 British soldiers in Northern France. And that’s all I’m going to say about this just-under-two-hour slice of excellent entertainment!

What makes the film unique is the way it was shot. The term ‘immersive’ is a bit over-used these days, but under the assured direction of Sam Mendes, the camera work and soundscape make you feel like you are there, experiencing every twist and turn (literally!), of our two heroes!

Boy! was it tense in places!!!! ๐Ÿฅด ๐Ÿฅด ๐Ÿฅด ๐Ÿฅด

To keep the audience engaged, the movie looks like it was all shot in one take giving a very ‘here and now’ live feel to it. Quite how they managed to film it at all, given the camera-unfriendly environment, and in some scenes, the sheer number of cast, is beyond me. If they release a ‘making of’, I’ll be first in the queue!

Go see! The best film I’ve seen in ages
(and I’m a Marvel fan!)

Doctor Who โ€“ Series 12, Episode 3 โ€“ โ€œOrphan 55โ€

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First class CGI together with the scariest monsters since the ‘Weeping Angels’, all supported by a plot line that moved at pace! Every actor gave it their all, and the production qualities were akin to a movie. ๐Ÿ˜Š

The Dregs

So, I’m not sure why this episode bored me rigid! I guess it all felt a bit preachy with ‘the big reveal’ message being linked to global warming. It all had the subtlety of a Dalek death-ray, informing us that the future of our planet is all down to us, the viewer. Stop it BBC, we can make up our own minds thanks! ๐Ÿฅฑ

With no further development of that significant story-arc briefly introduced last week, it meant that this was nothing more than a ‘monster-of-the-week’ story.

Verdict: Scary, but boring and preachy! ๐Ÿ™„

Update, Wednesday, 15th: The numbers are in! Just 4.19m viewers tuned-in for this episode! That’s low! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

The RSC: King John

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This afternoon was a unique opportunity to see Shakespeare’s rarely performed production of ‘King John’ at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon.

We met Chris and Gill at theirs and headed over to the Theatre in time for a spot of lunch followed by the performance at 1.30pm. (The lunch incidentally, was superb!)

I wasn’t familiar with this production at all, but any performance that features a live food-fight (warning those in the front-row that they ‘may not escape the fallout‘ gets my vote! ๐Ÿ˜„).

On a more serious note, it’s billed as: ‘a tale of a nation in turmoil that vibrates with modern resonance‘ and tells the story of John’s turbulent reign from 1199 to 1216. Now that sounded like something worth seeing! ๐Ÿ˜

So, what of the production itself? If you like your Shakespeare productions on traditional side, then this most definitely WON’T be the one for you. And unlike many of the Bard’s other works, there’s no well-known characters in this, nor any famous one-liners to hang onto!

But overall, none of this really mattered!

For me, although the plot was difficult to follow (no change there then!) the acting, costumes, lighting, music and stage were all definitely something to remember! Everyone gave an excellent performance, and the very wacky production design didn’t distract at all. In fact, the ‘dad-dancing’ (yes, really!), the additional short dance routines, the fight scenes and the encouraged audience participation, made the aforementioned food-fight feel quite appropriate! And yes, some the audience will have had a cleaning bill! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Quite a lot of blood too! ๐Ÿ˜ซ

In conclusion, a thoroughly engaging production but not one for the traditionalists

and maybe it was just me, but the fact that they brought on two Henry vacuum cleaners to clear up the stage during the interval made me giggle – ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ perhaps???? ๐Ÿ˜‚

Holiday: Israel – Day 5 (2020)

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8.15am: The View from Room 706!

It’s our last full day here and if the weather forecast is to be believed, it won’t be a day for anything outside!


A quick look through our guide-book offered some indoor-alternatives, so we dressed accordingly and headed out into a very grey day. We were umbrella-less due to ours self-destructing during yesterday’s adventures with the elements.

But hey! we like living on the edge and with hoods and beanies on standby, our plan was to re-visit the Jewish Quarter (mainly because it included places where we could seek refuge inside!) including the souqs and various museums. This 116,000 square metre area lies in the southeastern sector of the walled city, and is home to around 19000 residents. On the map, it looked like it was easy to get around (or so we thought – see later!) ๐Ÿค”

Once outside, the old city looked (and felt) very different in the damp and the cold – and the rain got worse as the morning progressed. We headed in the now-familiar direction of the Western Wall and then further than we’d been before in the direction of unfortunately named ‘Dung Gate’.

No s*** Shylock, it’s Dung Gate!

With Dung err, done, our first stop was the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. There are lots of Roman remains and a unique Herodian shopping street from the late 1st century BC. According to iTravelJerusalem, it’s “one of the Jerusalemโ€™s top tourist attractions due to its historical and archaeological significance and, of course, its beauty”. But first we had to actually gain access to it! The crappy weather didn’t help, but the poor signage added to the challenge, together with various padlocked gates! There was no obvious reason for it to be closed, but it certainly looked like it was! ๐Ÿ˜ค
We asked a nearby security guard, who helpfully pointed us in a particular direction. It helped (sort of), but it only gave access to a small part of the whole site.

Photo #1

In the end, we simply gave up! – but at least we got TWO photographs, just as the rain eased temporarily!

Photo #2

Onwards and upwards, as they say! We headed deeper in to the Jewish Quarter and as we did so, the weather returned to the drizzle variety!

Into the Jewish Quarter

As we passed another Security Guard, a nearby signpost confirmed that we were on the right road…

The reconstructed Hurva Synagogue. More information HERE

We carried on walking, as the rain got wetter!

We eventually stumbled across The Cardo. A site originally laid-out by the Romans but these days it’s a well-known historic Jewish shopping arcade in the old city. Completely under cover, it instantly felt attractive, and we spent a bit of time looking in the brightly coloured shops proudly displaying their wares.

Another surprise was that in amongst the shops was a deep excavation revealing part of the history of this location.

Ahh, refreshments!

Our first pit-stop of the day offered “the best coffee in the old city of Jerusalem”. It didn’t feel very Jewish inside, and we realised we had somehow wandered into the Arabic Quarter. Still, the coffee lived up to the advertising, and we stayed a while, as I took time to fully appreciate the actual volume of a ‘large Americano’ served here (err, VERY large!) ๐Ÿ˜

West Cardo – Part of the old Jewish shopping street

A short walk later, we appeared to have returned to the Jewish Quarter, where we spied some more old ruins.

Next on our ‘voyage of damp discovery’ was a real Jewish Bakers. In the photo on the left, you should be able to just make out a Baker working with his industrial-sized oven.

Five minutes later, we discovered The Four Sephardi Synagogues in Hakehuna Street. It was now pouring down, so a perfect excuse to wander inside. Fully restored in 1967, this complex consists of the Yochanan Ben Zakai Synagogue, the Istanbuli Synagogue, the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, and the Emtsai Synagogue. In spite of its uniqueness and the biblical rainfall outside, we only stayed a short while because there was a celebration going on inside, and the music volume was set to ’11’!

The Wohl Museum was next for us (located in the Herodian Quarter) within the Jewish Quarter. During city re-development work in 1967, the remains of several large Herodian houses were discovered. These were found 22 feet below the current street level!

Although it was just another excuse to get out of the rain, it proved to be fascinating visit! The un-assuming entrance revealed a deep excavation, uncovering some seriously old buildings and their contents, some dating back 2000 years! The houses contained ritual baths and cisterns to catch rain (would have been great today!) from the Roman era.

I managed to grab these photos BEFORE I saw the CCTV watching me ignoring the ‘no photography’ signs! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

As we left the Museum, a short walk later, we realised that we’d come full-circle, and we were back at The Western Wall (albeit ‘up a level’).

Al Buraq – A unique dining experience

In spite of our diving in-and-out of buildings all morning, we were both quite wet, so we looked for somewhere close to eat. It was approaching 1pm, so for us, it was perfect timing. Conveniently located near the Western Wall Tunnels, Al Buraq looked like it might be a good choice.

Err, it wasn’t! ๐Ÿฅบ

The food so far, during our short time here has, on the whole, been good, but today WASN’T one of those days. Almost zero customer service combined with a Salad that looked like it was more at home in the archaeological finds from the Museum earlier, we ate at speed mainly because we were hungry! The Salads lived died to fight another day, and remained on the plate (no doubt ready for the next poor souls!). They didn’t take plastic and the bill was a hurried creation scribbled on a nearby piece of paper! Oh, dear! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

We left as quickly as we arrived, and for the last time walked back through the Souq, Jaffa Gate and finally Jaffa Street on the way back to the Hotel.

It’s been a great break, just slightly marred by the weather today. We’ve spent five days here, but we reckon it could be done in four. Prices seem cheap compared to the UK, but eateries are a tad tricky to find (unless you like soup!). Language was never a problem – everyone speaks English – and the Souqs are quite lay-back with no assertive sales techniques to encourage you to buy that teapot you always wanted! ๐Ÿ˜

All that’s left to do now is pack and get ready for our flight back tomorrow

Shalom Jerusalem! ๐Ÿคฉ

All the photos from this holiday
(and none of my chat!)