Tuesday, 23 July 2013

It's the End of the World As We Know IT, But I Feel Fine. And Full of M&Ms.

This Sunday, I went to see a film I've been looking forward to for chuffing ages: The World's End.

This is the last film in the Wright/Pegg/Frost Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy, and if you are fans of the Rom Zom Com Shaun of the Dead or the cop bromance Hot Fuzz, then there's plenty of intertextual humour in this film to make you go squee. Whilst it lacks the nuts/icecream/strawberry sauce combo level of humour of the first two films, it's certainly got the lump of chocolate at the end of the cone to wrap the trilogy up nicely. See how I go about using metaphor to avoid spoilers in the first paragraph? Ah, like the cold confection itself, that's not going to last. I'm not revealing any twists, though.  

So, how was this in any way, shape or form frugal? Well, my friends, do you know about Sweet Sundays? Get a free cinema ticket by buying packs of M&Ms, or Milky Way Stars etc. Now, that's great if you were planning on buying the chocolate anyway, which I was - I got 1 ticket by buying 4 snack packs to sneak into watching the last Superman film (which I got to see thanks to a wedding gift card). These snacks were sourced at Home Bargains, which at £1 a bag was pretty much half price to the same in Sainsbury's etc. and way cheaper than the cinema foyer. The second ticket was sourced from buying just 3 bags, which I decanted into little bags and snuck into the cinema for this trip (because I needed the codes at the bottom of the bag).

Why only 3 this time?

Because my street is full of litter. Oh yes... I got one code from picking up a bag I found blowing around just outside my house. Get in!

That's nothing... I've picked up 8 empty bottles of Coke this weekend alone. I am grabbing the points and putting them to recycle. Green karma a-go-go.

Litterbugs of Northampton, you are quite literally throwing your money away. Thank you very much.

Unfortunately, you can ony claim 2 tickets per household for Sweet Sunday, so it had to be this film. I've been looking forward to it for years. And I got ready for it by watching the first two on DVD again in the morning. What a great way to spend a Sunday!

In June 1990, Gary King (Pegg) experienced the best day of his life. He and his mates from school all went on the ultimate pub crawl, the Golden Mile, in their hometown of Newton Haven. Their goal - a pint in each of the 12 pubs, ending up in The World's End. They never made it. Since that time, Gary's life has gone downhill, and he and his friends have grown apart. To Gary, though, the key to resolving all his woes is that pub crawl. He is determined to get the gang back together and finish the job. There's only one snag: they all think he's a cock. And the town is not the same anymore either.

 Pegg's character in Shaun in Shaun of the Dead was being kept back by his irresponsible friend, Ed (Frost), while the rest of his friends were beginning to grow up. In this film, childhood is definitely over for all but Gary King, and his buffoonery is a mask for a tragic life. Hence with this film there is scope for a lot more pathos.

I'm not going to talk about any of the jokes, except to say rather a lot of them are callbacks to the other films and intertextual references to other films that you might expect (Terminator, Mad Max, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, Enter the Dragon, Stepford Wives). There are even a few scenes that recall Spaced... and videos by Fields of the Nephilim. Not quite as funny as the other films, there's still plenty to laugh at in there, and it's a very enjoyable film to watch. I loved it. And being rather distracted at times by the most excellent soundtrack, I daresay if I watch it again, I'd pick up on little things I'd missed here and there, because they always pack little treats in.

There's a bit more social commentary in this film too... Newton Haven is a freakishly white town. Not to give too much away, but the end of the film makes you think about this, and what it says about our attitudes to 'others', now and not so long ago in our history, as well as saying something about 'clone towns', and the bleakness of trying to blend in and grow up.

It's pointed out how shabbily the boys treated girls when they were young, and though there's some karmic revenge, it's still a bit of a 'for the dads' moment. Rosamund Pike is not just a 'love interest', but could be in the film a bit more... but they gave me Paddy Considine, and I'm made up with that.

The Intrepid Fox is not a pub in the film. But it is a rather cool rock pub...

 On the way home, we were reminded of how much better the music was circa '87-92, which was the time period from which all the non-score music in the film was gleaned.

New boy band member hides the only good tattoos in the band.

Shit tattoo boy band mock my shortness. Rude!
... and then en route home, who should we bump into but one of the extras. Aw!

Thanks for reading... that's what you typically get with this blog: passion for geek stuff; genuinely useful tips for enjoying more of what you love for less; pictures of hedgehogs. This blog is a love letter to life, love, friends and the whole world. I've no room for misery or hate, and I'm hopeful that if you follow me or read this it's because you love 'stuff' too. I hope you enjoy, and that you feel included. Even One Direction fans. I'm only saying I know plenty of really good tattooists round here, and they could have helped.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ooh la la, le Fromage Puant!

I've been watching Le Tour this week and feeling all nostalgic for all things French... I lived in Alsace for a year for the obligatory immersion-phase of my French degree, and it has been a favourite holiday destination for my family too. I know - almost makes us middle class!

Sadly, I've not been able to go back for leisure for years, but a little taster came to Northampton yesterday with the travelling French Market.
Blackadder was right: 'Sausage' is not in the first English dictionary written by Dr Samuel Johnson... but saucisson is. Not sure about cassoulet...

Crowds loving the Gallic ambience.
Beautiful tablets of savon de Marseille

Tempting cheeses!
I needed some cheese, so I decided to get it here, as quite frankly it was a bargain. I chose 3 good-size cheeses for a fiver: some creamy blue cheese, some Pont L'Eveque and a cheeky little Munster.

Ah... and thereby hangs a tale!

Munster is one of the smelliest cheeses in the world, but it is very nice. When I lived in France as an assistant in two schools, I and my fellow assistants in the town got invited to a cheese and wine evening where we got to try beaujolais nouveau and some lovely cheeses, including Munster. In fact Hugh loved it so much, one day he went out to buy some.

Now, in our flat, my room was next to the kitchen on the east side of the building, and Hugh and Reinhard had rooms on the west side. Hugh had been a bit concerned that his purchase of Munster cheese would offend us, Reinhard having already had a go at me for grating some emmental into a bowl he liked to use, because, you know, emmental - a very mild cheese - was to him incredibly stinky and washing up the bowl seemingly would fail to redeem it to its unstinky natural state. He was, to be frank, a bit nuts.

So Hugh decided not to put his Munster in the fridge.

The first I realised was when I woke up before the alarm on what was going to be a very warm day, the sun already piercing through the shutter blinds. So was something else.

A most bizarre, sweaty-feet-like gaseous odour. I swear there was a yellow mist in the room.

What Hugh had done, to be considerate to his fellow flatmates was to put the cheese in a bag and hang it out of the kitchen window - next to my bedroom window - where the sun's rays had worked their magic on the warm and ripe cheese.

Comme dit les francais - pew.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Summertime Picnic Treat at NNestival on the Waterfront

Wowsers, I am a busy bee! I've been so overloaded that the following blog post was begun last Monday. So get aboard the TARDIS and let's go back to the weekend before this one just gone...

The following images constitute about 50 per cent of my weekend. The initial part was spent cooped up in the house, feeling sad that I couldn't join my friends on a camping trip to Wales, and working like crazy on a book ahead of a weekend deadline. But I promised myself that if I hit my target I would take a little time out and go to the Waterfront festival.

We went out to watch the telly.
 We set up base camp with a prime view of the Wimbledon final. How posh we were with our Fortnum and Mason hamper, and our glasses of chilled Chardonnay with strawberries! And our cheese sarnies and homemade jam tarts... what, what.

Attempts at frugality were slightly undermined when OH spotted the zorba balls, and paid a fiver to look like a hamster in a ball in an oversized paddling pool.

Did I want a go too? Er... no.

Spot the conical bras - very Lost in Space

 There was also lots of games and amusements, and a marquee packed full of Most Marvellous vintage, crafts and lovely things to buy. I was hugely tempted by the cake-like soaps, which smelled divine. Apparently many small children had tried to eat them. Honestly, I'm trying to Google Saucy soaps for the link, but I just get back loads of stuff about Hollyoaks.

The lovely Sarah Spade performed a couple of sets. Click her link and give her a listen - a Bestival favourite, she sings vintage-style songs with a sweet and soulful voice, and is often backed by her band The Joyful Noise.
I just wanted a pic of the cushions.

Nanna's cafe corner - with a sheep.

Northampton's answer to 'Murray Mound'. I haven't thought of an alliterative name for it.

A lady being vintage. I think the dude in shades may have spotted me...

Ah - remember Madchester?
After the tennis - and how amazing was it to be watching that at a festival? Cool as.  - we decamped to a second festival in the next field, which had a bit of a different vibe. Fewer doilies; more dreadlocks. It took all my powers of persuasion to stop OH from buying a 'paint your own' TARDIS moneybox (reminding him that I bought him a TARDIS moneybox already... mmmm).

Some band, gigging on a truck.
Sadly, we'd missed The Mobbs.  I'm full of good music suggestions... They're jolly good, and have been on BBC 6 dontcherknow, and that's a free download link on their front page, there.

In no way is this the same as drinking in public. Adding a strawberry makes you look soffisteekatid. Plus I have a chair. See?
On the way home, we passed Beckets Well (where Thomas a Becket was reputed to have taken a much-needed drink whilst fleeing for his life from Northampton Castle). The Victorians made a shrine of it, but it's been barred off for years. However, with the ingenious use of a picnic wine glass and shoestring, OH got round the defences like a downmarket Indiana Jones.
His face doesn't melt off, either proving he's not an evil Nazi, or it's just river water.
So, that was last weekend's frugal fun, and this weekend we had some not so frugal fun with parties and a convention, but that's for another blog post, maybe.

My July-June book challenge is going, wow, better than I'd expected. The number of full-length books I have completed so far this month is 8. Okay, some of those were begun in June. Or earlier. I'm not recording the names of any I am Beta reading or working on, but I'll update my widget for the commercially available/accessible ones.

Oh and a big hello to Thrift Deluxe - lovely to have you on board the TARDIS. Help yourself to Jelly Babies from the cupboard.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Wheel of Fortune

In the past couple of weeks it  feels as though my self has split in two. There on the one side, the side my mother often praised, is the sensible-with-money, superbly organised, prodigious daughter. She is currently standing looking aghast from behind a glass wall as the feckless and ditzy dream-headed oaf  that is the other me begins to open the box and let out the furies... each one waving a humongous bill in its fist. None of them are Nick Fury. Uh-oh.

When I initially realised I'd missed a huge bill, it was very hard not to be downhearted about it.But I'm trying to put it in perspective.

  • I'm not alone.
  • I'm not as bad off as a lot of people, not by a long way.
  • It's a setback, yes, but only in the short term.
  • I will soon put this behind me and wonder why I got so worked up about it.
  • I have avoided the bill getting even bigger by sorting it out now.
  • I do bloody owe the bloody money.

So... lots of grown-up conversations have taken place where OH and I have tried to work out what our life priorities will be over the next ten years. It's been a bit like Compare Your Life (a lifestyle programme that could be much improved by the introduction of meerkats). Do we want to live by the seaside or near family? Do we want the dream house? Does it matter where that is? Do I want to start up a new business, and when would be the best time to do that?

And in the short term, getting the most out of our lives while we face this fiscal blip. (Yep - still sounds like a euphemism.)

It's a damn shame, but I'm going to miss out on a fantastic weekend camping in Wales next weekend because I can't travel up with other people on Friday as I have to work, and trains are now out of the question.

Ah well... at least there's always something interesting happening for free round here. Take this pop up allotment display in the market square this weekend.
Pretty, but basically some pick and grow lettuce re-planted in a box.

There were army vehicles on show too.

This fella felt like a bit of a star, posing on bikes for the British Legion.

I have no idea if this man has anything to do with the British Legion or if he just liked sitting on their bikes.

If time weren't an issue this weekend, I'd half be tempted to hitch to Wales. I've been reading Kath Kelly's Thumbing Through:Hitch-Hiking Tales From my Diaries (£6.64: Amazon Kindle). She is the author of my all-time favourite frugal-living book, How I Lived for a Year on One Pound a Day.

Kath Kelly walked into some slight controversy earlier this year when she apparently agreed* with IDS about it being possible to live on £53 a week. (*Caveat - according to the Daily Mail). Well, of course it's possible. It's the grim and awful reality for a lot of people.
Nonetheless, Kath Kelly is an awesomely inspirational writer. Reading her hitch-hiking anecdotes has re-affirmed my desire to see more of the world and to bear in mind to 'pay it forward' when dealing with my fellow humans. You can tell Kath has developed a philosophical attitude to living her life to the fullest. She seems to have always picked up jobs that afford her great experiences and time over income, and so has had to thing creatively about getting from A to B when she hasn't got much cash to spare - hence hitching.
In becoming a devotee of travel by thumb, Kath has been able to meet a huge variety of people. It seems motorists pick up hitchers for a number of reasons: someone to talk to and help pass the time; people wanting to practice their language skills; people wanted their children distracted; people wanting someone to hear all their troubles. It's an honest and frank account, detailing some of her more risky journeys, but playing them down at the same time. One situation had me shaking my head at her book - why did you accept dinner from that guy? But on the whole, I felt admiration for her gutso, and envy of her experiences. She's a very good writer, too! Recommended.