Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Spring-time Wood - flowers and frogs

 I haven't walked up to the Wood in the past couple of weeks, so going today it felt like Spring had suddenly arrived.

 Blackthorn and wild cherries are in flower

...there's frogspawn in the pond ..

 birds are building nests..

and flowers are appearing everywhere ...




...a bank of celandines

even the dandelions look Spring-like!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Olympus Has Fallen

Sunday morning isn't my favourite time to go to the cinema but when ShowFilmFirst are offering free tickets to see Gerard Butler it would be rather rude to refuse, wouldn't it?

When the White House is attacked by Korean terrorists, the only person left alive to save the President (Aaron Eckhart) is Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), former presidential guard now reduced to a desk job. While President Asher and his staff are held hostage in an impenetrable bunker beneath the now-ruinous White House, Banning must find the president's son before he too can be captured and used as leverage to make his father give in to the terrorists' demands, oh, and then shoot and punch his way to the bunker and save the President and the world. This is the main failing of the film - that it's so obvious all along that Gerard Butler will save the day. I know that this is the role of the all action hero but it would have been a better, more re-watchable, film if occasionally it had appeared that Butler might not pull it off.
It's all jolly fun in an action-packed, explosive way. The terrorists are appropriately ruthless, prepared to kill without hesitation just to make a point and rather topical being intent on influencing American naval and military deployment in Korea. Butler gets to flex his muscles and show off his unarmed defence moves - though at times I did wonder why he didn't just pull a gun and shoot the bad guys instead of insisting on battering them to death. There aren't as many laughs and one liners as in Die Hard - mainly because Banning kills first and asks questions later! - which is something I missed and there were moments when the action slowed and my attention drifted.
All in all though a good couple of hours worth of entertainment and definitely worth giving up my lazy Sunday morning for - I'm just not sure it's one I'd watch over and over again.

4/5 stars

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Two Days in Norfolk - Day 2, afternoon

Continuing to fill our second day in Norfolk with as much as possible, we headed to Wells-next-the-Sea for a picnic lunch - not out at the beach or even by the quay as the wind was still howling

but through more narrow streets

 to a village green. At last a place out of the wind where the day actually felt as warm as it looked!

We'd intended heading for Brancaster beach but the thought of the cold wind whistling over the expanse of sand rather put us off. Instead we headed inland to Oxburgh Hall, a National Trust property.

 We visited Oxburgh a few years ago but since discovering that it inspired the setting for Chris Priestley's ghost story The Dead of Winter I've wanted to return. It has everything that a 'proper' old house should have

 a gatehouse with turrets..

....staircases going up....

     ...staircases going down ...

views from the battlements over the surrounding countryside

..a moat..

...a walled garden with apples, pears and  fig trees..

...even a secret hiding place.

 Fortunately, we didn't encounter any ghosts.

 I would have liked to have spent longer exploring but the site was closing for the day and it was time to make our way home at last - feeling like we'd been on holiday for much longer than two days.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Two Days in Norfolk - Day 2, morning

After a busy first day we spent the night at a B+B in the village of Hindolveston, near Holt so started Day 2 with a visit to this delightful market town.

It's a place of quaint side streets and fascinating shops where I could have spent the whole day  - and a considerable amount of cash!

 Then off again to the coast at Blakeney.

We hadn't gone equipped for walking  - and the wind blowing off the North Sea was freezing- so contented ourselves with admiring the view form the harbour....

 ....then wandering through the village's picturesque streets

 along the aptly named Little Lane
with occasional glimpses of the coastal marches and distant sea

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Two Days in Norfolk - Day 1

Last week we managed to do something totally new for us - went away for a couple of days without having to plan it for months in advance! The sun came out and we decided to head for Norfolk and the sea!

Town Hall
For another 'first' we stopped at King's Lynn instead of whizzing by on the by-pass. Parking, by accident rather than design, between the 15th century Town Hall and the Minster we found ourselves in the older part of town - an area of  narrow streets leading down to the river.

Back in the 15th and 16th centuries this was a busy, bustling port trading with northern Germany and many of these buildings were warehouses. It's far quieter now!

West Lynn
looking out to sea

Then we headed northwards up the coast to Hunstanton with its funfairs and amusement arcades. Yet again, we came away out of pocket.....

...but finished off the day in traditional style with fish and chips eaten looking out to sea

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Belton House

Belton House is one of my favourite National Trust properties. I first visited a long long while ago when it was still privately owned. A caravan rally was being held there and we stayed on the lawn just in front of the house.

 I remember sitting at the caravan window drawing the house for art homework

 and early in the morning wandering round the empty gardens as if they were my own.

 Since then I've been back with my elder daughter when she wanted to visit the Moondial, made famous in Helen Cresswell's book and a TV series, and many times as a mid-way break on trips to Norfolk.

 This week we accidentally picked a day when the house itself wasn't open so we strolled round the grounds, tried to get lost in the maze and visited the orangery with its camellias and goldfish pond