It's always fun looking back through photos from the year. This year I visited lots of cities starting with the letter 'B' (Brighton, Bristol, Berlin, Bruges, Brussels and Bergen!). I got a new bicycle for my 30th birthday, climbed a Norwegian mountain and a month ago started a new job in a cinema/art gallery. Here's to more fun and frolics in 2014!
Plot: Not a Christmas film today! Nebraska is a recent release by the same director who made The Descendents, and stars Bruce Dern as an aging alcoholic father who is convinced he has won a million dollars in a prize draw. His son reluctantly agrees to take him on a road trip to collect his winnings. Guest appearances: Better Call Saul (from Breaking Bad) plays the brother. The film also stars a grown-up Buzz from Home Alone (And he's meaner than ever!) Moral of the story: Sometimes it's better to humour someone and see where it takes you.. Rating: 8.5/10
What to do in 24 hours in London? There's so many options! Last weekend I took a trip to the capital, to visit my friend Laura who moved down there a few months ago. Having done most of my Christmas shopping already I really wanted to avoid the crowds in central London so we opted instead for a trip to Greenwich.
Greenwich is a lovely part of London, where there's lots to see and do. We wandered past the amazing Cutty Sark (above), then past Greenwich Market which looked very Christmassy and welcoming. We then visited the National Maritime Museum which was an amazing space I've not been to before. (It also has a great shop, perfect if you love maps and exploring!) There's also a giant ship in a bottle outside (which doesn't look that giant on my photo, oops..)
After that we wandered up the hill, where there's an amazing view of London below. We decided to visit the Royal Observatory, to see the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition. I'd definitely recommend a trip here if you're in London, it a was really interesting place which was free of crowds on an otherwise busy Saturday. I also bought a huge poster of the Moon from the shop which is now proudly on display in my living room.
After all our walking we went for a tea and cake in a little cafe then hopped on a bus home. It was a lovely weekend in the Big Smoke, and I was so glad we avoided the Christmas shopper madness in central London!
Christmas-factor: 10/10 References to It's a Wonderful Life? Yep, in both films. Guest appearances: Home Alone 1 has John Candy, Home Alone 2 has Ally Sheedy and the wonderful Tim Curry. Both also star Macaulay's brother Kieran as Fuller (he who wets the bed...) Moral of the story: If you suspect someone's going to break into your house, make sure you have Micro Machines at the ready. That and don't leave your ten year old behind, two Christmasses running... (let's just forget there was a third and fourth film made) Trivia: Not only did Macaulay Culkin's character Kevin in the film LOVE cheese pizzas, the actor recently formed a pizza-themed Lou Reed covers band called The Pizza Underground. YES.
After recently watching the Panorama documentary investigating Amazon's dodgy work practices I was reminded of how just important it is to try and shop local and handmade where possible. So I thought it would be good to highlight some brilliant gifts I've spotted, all made by Nottingham/East Midlands creatives..
Last weekend me, Tom and some friends took a trip to Bergen, Norway for a few days. Some facts about Bergen - it's Norway's second biggest city (and we were assured by our Norwegian host, Bernt, a more down-to- earth town than Oslo with less crime - although I can't imagine Oslo being very crime ridden either). Fact two - it's the rainiest city in Europe. This we grew to believe over the course of our stay! But despite the rainy skies, Bergen is an immensely beautiful town. We were staying in a lovely cosy house, halfway up a mountain which meant the views of the city below were quite something to behold. Our host, Bernt told us he inherited his house from his grandparents, and as it's situated in a very expensive part of Bergen, renting it to visitors on AirBnB was a perfect way for him to pay his bills.
During our trip, we climbed all the way up Mount Fløyen (and almost got stranded as we roamed a bit too far from the path), went troll-spotting in the Old Town, saw fireworks in the main square (hiding under umbrellas, naturally) and visited the largest gingerbread town in the world! It's an annual tradition for school children in Bergen to build gingerbread houses, which are then placed in a museum to form a pretty town, full of fairy lights and edible treats (picture below). Although Norway is very expensive, we saved money by cooking for ourselves when we could, and I'd definitely recommend a visit to Bergen around December. With it's coloured wooden houses and fairy lights in every window, it's one of the prettiest places to spend a pre-Christmas break.
We stayed in the blue house at the top in the picture above
It's now December which means it's totally okay to start watching Christmas films, right? So to kick things off I put on an 80s classic, Gremlins. I'm pretty glad I never watched this as a kid as I believe it would have terrified me a bit! However, Gizmo is pretty amazing and pulls some wonderful expressions throughout the film.
Christmas-factor: 7/10 References to It's a Wonderful Life? Yes. Guest appearances: Corey Feldman. That tough bloke from Breaking Bad, Jonathan Banks. Trivia: The set looked strangely familiar - hang on, it's the same one used in Back to the Future, filmed the year after. Moral of the story: Never ever feed a gremlin after midnight.