Biggles Flies Again

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Biggles? More like Giggles! as I took control of a real aeroplane courtesy of last year’s birthday pressy from  Ian and Mags – a 45 minute flight over the skies of Northamptonshire!

Ian & Ann, Ralph and Karen and my Ann were there to witness my performance as just after 11am, I ‘took the stick’ after some calm but expert tuition from my Instructor, Phil.

First impressions? Wow and more wow! I was warned that the take-off would be quite quick and the rate of ascent very steep – and Phil wasn’t wrong, as we were in the air, looking at the beautiful countryside of Northamptonshire within seconds rather than minutes.

Maybe more surprisingly, once we’d levelled-out, it actually felt very calm and tranquil high above the airfield as we slowly headed off towards Kettering and then onwards to Pitsford Reservoir.


That’ll be Kettering ahead (apparently!)

I learned that rather grabbing the stick like my life depended on it, it was better to gently tweak it using just my finger and thumb – and it certainly worked, as the plane ascended, descended and banked with very little action from me in a rather graceful way. In fact, it all felt very unhurried, precise and just simply glorious taking in the whole of Northamptonshire – in less than an hour! For me, the most memorable part was when Phil demonstrated how the plane behaved if the engine stalled – BY TURNING OFF THE (SINGLE) PROPELLOR! My initial reaction was ‘Oh Dear’, as I could now see the single prop in all its detail, and it’s fair to say, l briefly, I had a ‘moment’. I shouldn’t have been worried though, as the laws of physics prevailed, and rather than a fateful plummet to earth, the plane continued on its trajectory – and for about 90 seconds we became a GLIDER! (and a perfectly manoeuvrable one at that! – Amazing!!!) 

And then, in what seemed like an instant, my 45 minutes was up, and we headed back to base. Phil took the controls for landing (I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be expected to try and land the plane on my first lesson!) and we soon were shaking hands and saying our goodbyes.


Captain Biggles Giggles

Fantastic! It had been an experience of a lifetime and I enjoyed every second of it – even the ‘glider moment’. Safe to say, I haven’t found a second career as a test-pilot – but if any of you get a chance to do this for yourself, I’d thoroughly recommend it! It’s like nothing else
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We then headed back to ours where Ann had laid on a salad lunch followed by her Sunken (deliberately) Chocolate Soufflé with a Prune and Armagnac sauce. Ralph showed off the videos he’d taken of my inaugural flight and then we watched a bit of snooker on the TV before Ian and Ann said their goodbyes.

With the dishwasher on overtime, we four dug out the garden seat cushions from the garage and soaked-up a few rays before it came over a very grey. We finished the evening, watching my first 4K UHD movie: Sicarioan ultra tense political thriller set in Mexico – all washed down with a few G and Ts!


four star

 

 

This was a good movie, with some especially ultra-tense moments in it – I don’t think I’ll ever look at queuing at the Dartford Tunnel in the same way again!

Ralph and Karen are staying over and heading home after breakfast tomorrow.

Lock up your Saucepans!

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David and I decided to collaborate on cooking a meal for our respective other halves tonight – today being Valentine’s Day!

We kept it mostly a secret, having planned the nitty-gritty earlier in the week. The plan was to offer three courses plus a cheese-board, and then finish with a movie to round off the evening.

After a quick visit to Sainsbury’s in the week, we secured al the raw ingredients and on Saturday afternoon at 3pm, the hard work really started. We tried to strike the balance between complexity and variety – and take advantage of cooking from scratch, whilst using what kitchen equipment was on hand to speed-up the process.

Slow Chicken!

Soup Machine!

And the result looked something like this…

Valentine Meal 2015
Click on the pic for a larger version


So, it was round to David and Valerie’s for Starters and the Main

Spectacular Soup! Melt-in-the-mouth Chicken
I think the plates said it all!
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…and then back to ours for Dessert, Cheese Board and the chosen film for the evening. Well, although the Dessert and Cheese Board went down well, that’s more that I can say for our chosen film: Trance, on Blu-ray, starring James McAvoy, and directed by Danny Boyle. It started well – a heist at an Art Auction – but then rapidly turned into one of those films that demands 150% attention, no leaving the room or blinking (for fear of missing something important), and complete concentration! Having said that, the acting was very good, it’s just that my poor little brain just couldn’t keep up!

DVD-Trance
four star
    For the acting

one star
     For the plot

In spite of the disappointing film, it was a great evening, and the food went down well!!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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DVD Frenzy

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The weather’s been rubbish, the washing and ironing is done, there’s a new web-site on its way, so there’s nothing left to do but catch-up on all those Christmas DVDs!

DVD - Parker “Parker”
Statham, six-packs and a stetson..oh and quite a bit of blood, but not as much as normal in JS’s films. Nice open-top Bentley Continental out-acts most of the stars
three star
DVD - Worlds End “World’s End”
The last of the ‘cornetto trilogy’. Silly story, but great fun to watch.  Thought the ending was really daft! One for a boys’ night in!
three star
DVD - Pacific Rim “Pacific Rim”
Incredible special effects, paper-thin storyline, but great to see the Americans saving the planet (again!) Yee ha!!!
two star
DVD - GI Joe

“GI Joe”
Ooo, the ‘extended action’ edition. So how come I nearly fell asleep? Script-writing and action-scenes  ‘by the numbers’. Oh dear! zzzzzzzzz!

one star

DVD: Fast and Furious 6

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DVD_Fast_and_Furious6

one star

Those that know me, know that I like my cars – the faster, the shinier, and the more more unusual, the better!

So, as Ralph and I sat down to watch Fast and Furious 6, I thought I was in for a real treat! Oh dear, what a disappointment! Maybe I’m getting old, but this film just didn’t do it for me at all – quite how this franchise has got to number 6 in the series, I don’t know.

OK, the action was relentless and the stunts utterly amazing, but the whole thing just seemed to be a series of set-pieces cobbled together with a script that was sooooo cheesy and predictable, I nearly nodded-off!

The only high point (and I use the term high in a relative sense) was the car chase through the streets of London – it must have been a real challenge to film this – and for that, (and that alone), the film is worth watching. Oh, and the site of a pristine Mk1 Ford Escort used in one of the five-gazillion chases!

I listened intently at the final few lines of dialogue, hoping for some words that would resolve all issues and so confirm this franchise had come its natural end – Damn! no such luck, It looks like there’s going to be a ‘7’!!
Crying face

DVD: Star Trek – Into Darkness

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DVD Blu ray Star Trek Into Darkness

stars45

An exciting start with the pre-credit scenes in this second outing for the rebooted Star Trek franchise – and for the seven people in the world who have 3D TVs, there’s even more to enjoy – especially in the first 10 minutes.

The major characters all looked and sounded like their ‘originals’, although ‘new’ Kirk’s piercing blue eyes in some scenes (surely enhanced in post-production?), just look weird! Good news though, there’s even Tribbles!
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‘Sherlock’ makes an early appearance, but pop to the loo or make some tea, and you’ll miss it! The storyline was good, and even if you NOT a Trek fan, there’s plenty to enjoy in this film – strong acting, great cinematography and intelligent scripting. The special effects were nicely orchestrated without going too far OTT. Character-wise, there’s also plenty of nods to the original series and it was good to see the character of Christopher Pike playing such a pivotal role, although I’m not sure that the Spock/Uhura love-thang really works!
A nice surprise about an hour-and-a-half in with a short scene featuring another well known character form the 60s series. The clincher for me was the revelation of character John Harrison’s real name (I won’t reveal it here), and that created a strong link with Trek-lore.

Finally, a nice twist towards the end for those expecting the storyline to mimic the old film franchise – neat!

All-in-all, a thoroughly enjoyable film for Trekkers and non-Trekkers alike, no undue violence or bad language – and no sex scenes. One for the grannies too then!
Smile

Lyddington Bede House

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Ralph, Karen, Ann and I took the short drive to Lyddington today to meet-up with Nick and Celina. The weather was disappointing – very grey with light rain We visited English Heritage’s Lyddington Bede House before dropping into The Old White Hart just down the road for some ‘refreshment’.

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Then it was all back to ours where Ann prepared dinner, whilst I did the tricky bit and set up the DVD player for Lincoln starring Daniel Day Lewis.

DVD - Lincoln

Well, the food was definitely more exciting that the film (for me anyway). With all the raves from the Press when the film first came out, as well as an Academy Award for DDL I was expecting… well, I don’t know what I was expecting… although the visual resemblance of DDL to Lincoln was uncanny, it was one of those films that relied purely on dialogue to engage the viewer – and it just didn’t do it for me – dare I say ‘boring’?

three star

After the film we sat down to the Ann’s banquet – what a feast! The real highlight of the evening with a full three-courser including a really excellent leg of lamb. We washed it all down with numerous bottles of beer and red wine.

Ralph and Karen stayed-over (in the ‘green room’) whilst Nick and Celina left just after 11. It was a shame we couldn’t put them up in the ‘blue room’, but it still hasn’t got a bed and we’re using the space partly as a dumping ground, whilst we slowly find a home for all the c*** that used to live in the various cupboards, filing cabinet and book-shelf in the ‘old’ office.

Roast Lamb – Shaken not Stirred!

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DVD - Skyfall

five star
“The name’s ‘Lamb’, ‘Roast Lamb’”.

Nick and Celina joined us this afternoon, together with David, for a food ‘n’ film evening.

Ann prepared Tagliatelle  with Prawns and Romano Peppers to start, followed by Roast Lamb infused with garlic & rosemary – we finished with Red Plum Amoretti Pots – a sort of exotic trifle in a tall glass. As expected, it was all delicious and I did give myself the evening off from my Lent List to accommodate the Starter!!

The DVD tonight was Skyfall and in common with most of the universe, we’d seen it on release last year, (although David hadn’t). Like many things in life, I enjoyed it even more second time around. For me, it was because of its believable storyline and great acting. Ann enjoyed it too, but used different criteria!!!!!!  

To make the most of the evening, we sandwiched the film in around the three courses, and that seemed to work pretty well. With the help of our guests we even managed to get most of the washing-up done in between.

By 9.30, we’d had our fill of food, drink and Bond and as our guests got ready to leave, we noticed that the snow had settled (we’d had flurries for most of the day). It wasn’t much, but just enough to make us wish we hadn’t planned to drive all the way to Mum’s tomorrow. I hate the snow with a passion!!!!