I’m Going on my Hollibobs!

You’ll all know by now, that in a week I fly off to my second home, Orlando!

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I’m crazy excited, and I’ll be posting a lot of stuff on my instagram, so make sure you’re following me over there.

I’ve scheduled a bunch of posts ahead of time, so keep checking back here for new articles. Halloween season hasn’t passed me by so there’s quite a bit of horror film chat about to occur (if you hadn’t already noticed on twitter!)

So whilst I’m away, please still comment on my blog posts and stuff and send me the love. I’ll reply to you when I can 🙂

Ahead of my flying off, I have a post coming up about what’s in my hand luggage, which was asked for by my followers on twitter, so keep an eye out for that.

See you on the other side!

Creating My Home Cinema aka Making the Most of a Scary Movie!

SPONSORED FEATURE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH PANASONIC

If you read my blog regularly you’ll know I’m a massive film buff. You might have seen I’ve already started to share some of my old horror movie posts, ahead of some new ones coming up, all in the name of October and Halloween. So when I was asked if I’d like to talk about the new Panasonic 4k TV range, I of course said yes!

The first TV in my bedroom was about 4 inches square, had an aerial you had to move around. If you watched it at the wrong angle everyone looked like they were in negative. I then upgraded to a little tube tv which also had an aerial so when Channel 5 came in, I had to get up and re-tune it every time I wanted to watch Sunset Beach.

I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house to watch a show I’d watched many, many times, and they had a widescreen TV (which we didn’t have in our home), but they’d not tweaked the settings so everything was set to widescreen – even full screen shows – so my favourite characters were stretched and looked so odd. I supposed they’d gotten used to it, but I was baffled by the idea that people would happily watch things in a way that was, let’s face it, just plain wrong!

Times have changed immensely since then. Not only are televisions so much lighter to carry and sleeker in design, but they’re also incredibly intuitive and even customisable. Not to mention with the addition of apps, YouTube has simply become just another TV station to me.

But when it comes to my film viewing experience, I’m a bit of a geek. If I’m going to watch a scary movie, it needs to be perfect – how can you expect to get the required scares if there’s glare on the screen, the sound isn’t perfect or there’s actually ghosting on your ghosts?

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When me and G-Man decided to upgrade our old Panasonic TV from 42″ to 50″ a few years ago, we did our research, and ended up sticking with the same brand. I say we, but to be honest Gary’s such an AV geek that he did most of it, and then said to me “we’re getting this one”. Which I was fine with!

One of the things I love about our TV is that the blacks are REALLY black. Meaning, and especially for horror films, that you’re seeing things as dark as they were intended when they were filmed. So if films like Paranormal Activity are your thing, you’re going to see the dark shapes and changes exactly as you would in the cinema, with no additional shading or shadowing that could possibly spoil your experience.

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Another majorly geeky thing we did with our TV as soon as we got it, was to set up our own personal picture settings profile. There are loads of suggested setting changes on places like AV Forums and YouTube, specific to your make and model of TV. These people have done all the hard work for you, so you can simply make the settings changes to the darkness, red, green and blues etc (and make sure you take off the default IFC setting which alters the frame rate you view things at and smooths the movement) and then apply this custom profile to each HDMI slot you use (so Sky, DVD player, console etc…) I know, after doing this, that I’m watching everything the way it was intended to be watched! It’s so important to me.

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It might seem like a lot of effort (and it is a little effort) but you’ll be so much happier with your viewing experience.  And wow, this is all without even beginning to mention the clarity of a 4k display and how bright and beautiful the colours are. I can’t wait for the new BBC Blue Planet series to begin, because the trailer looked breathtaking on our TV.

When buying a new TV it can be so overwhelming. There are so many brands, all offering special things and so many different prices. But when it’s all said and done, and you’re in your living room it’s just you and the TV – and you want the best viewing experience possible.

We’re made up with our TV and the little cinema we’ve created in our set up. We just need to get around to getting some kind of surround sound system set, and my horror film binge sessions will be that much more enthralling!

 

DISCLAIMER: Though this post is sponsored by Panasonic, this TV was paid for by me and my opinions and choices are honest and my own.

 

 

 

We Went To Disney World – the movie!

 

Okay, well it’s not a movie so much as the YouTube video I’ve been promising is now up!

It’s taken me a little while to get all the footage together, and in a way that got as much as I wanted in but without boring everyone!

And if you want to read about our trip, then you can read my blog ALL about it!

I hope you like it. If you do, don’t forget to give it a thumbs up and subscribe if you want to see more!

Busy Doing Nothing & Hot 8 Brass Band

It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and that’s partially because not a huge amount has happened, and partially because I’ve been busy not being busy.

G-Man and I both came down with a cold that didn’t want to go away, so we’ve spent a lot of time catching up on TV, watching movies and having some much-needed down time. After such a busy summer it’s been great therapy.

Autumn is in full swing, the clocks have changed, the weather is getting more crisp – though as I write this it’s glorious sun and warm outside. Halloween is notoriously warm, and it usually gets really cold between then and Guy Fawkes Night. This year, however, our local firework display is tonight (the day after Halloween) and so it’s going to be a lovely mild one. It’s going to be nice not having to wrap up too warm to go and watch the display.

Traditionally Halloween is a night that I either avoid being in the house, or buy loads of sweets for Trick or Treaters who never show up. Last year I broke this tradition by going to see Lena Dunham speak after the release of her book. This year Gary and I travelled to Brighton for a gig.

New Year’s Eve 2014  I took a trip with my Mum to my Grandma’s and on the journey we listened to Radio 2. Craig Charles was playing his show, and during this he played a cover of Sexual Healing by the Hot 8 Brass Band. Look them up if you don’t know them, they’re really good. We found out a few months ago that they were playing a tour to celebrate 20 years of the band, and we grabbed tickets right away.

If you have a spare 5 minutes have a watch – it’s worth it.

We arrived in Brighton just in time to watch the sunset and then had a wander through the zombie-filled streets (it was Halloween after all), grabbed a bite to eat and then headed to Coalition, the venue for the gig.

imageThe band was amazing, so tight. It was so much fun and we danced the night away.

The drive home was really foggy but that added to the Halloween atmosphere. We woke this morning achy, tired and my ears were still muffled and ringing….. But it felt worth it. If you get the chance to listen to Hot 8 then do. You’ll not be able to sit still!

Back to Life

It was a busy and odd week last week since it was my first week back after moving. I’m doing all the same things as part of my normal routine, but from a different house, and a house that isn’t the way I want it yet. So it’s just a bit weird! Work has been fine and it’s nice to get back and have a giggle whilst doing serious work, of course. I also received Katy Perry’s new album ‘Prism’. It’s really rather good. Not a huge departure from the last one, but different enough and enjoyable. I recommend a listen! (Dark Horse is rather good!)

This weekend has been a busy and tiring but a lot of fun. The weekend started with a brisk run in the windy weather with Gary and Jen. This windy weather is being given weather warnings by the Met Office. It was a little hard to get my breath and my chest was burning. I’m only really used to running in humid and warm temperatures. Yes, it was still warm but how do you breathe when the wind is so dry? Tips please?

The run went well and we treated ourselves to fish and chips for dinner. At this point in time we don’t have a cooker (hopefully Monday!) So for about 3 weeks we’ve been living on ready meals and microwave dinners. Not ideal and I’m gagging for something crunchy! Chip shop chips are a little luxury at the moment.

Saturday morning we woke up late and put on our moving clothes – we had to go back to the old house and clean it. We’re handing the keys back on Friday so this was our last chance. Once in the house I felt totally overwhelmed by the amount we had to do. Yes, I do clean my house but after the moving of furniture and emptying of the house the job was huge. Things like cleaning the fridge and oven that you wouldn’t do too often, and also the garden which had started to over grow since we moved out, looked like a massive challenge. So I called in the cavalry. My friend Jen is a bit of a Monica – she adores cleaning. When she found out I had to clean the old house she offered to help and on Friday night after our run reminded me that she was free. So I called her and along she came with her box of tricks. And boy were we grateful!

Seriously, I was so impressed with her little tips and tricks on how to get stainless steel to a shine and glass without a smear. She should have her own tv show! She buzzed around the house singing to herself and seemingly getting a lot of satisfaction out of getting rid of the grime.

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Jen in my old shower

Jen, Gary and I whipped the house into shape, and whilst we finished it off, Gary went off and bought us some lunch. Eating lunch on our empty old living room floor, Jen got to hear a small taster of the noise from the neighbours who made our time in that house so miserable for the last few years. With Jen’s help we were done way faster than we should have been – epicness!

Once we’d finished at the house Gary and I headed home for a sit down. I had about an hour relax before I had to hop it out of the house and over to Jen’s. We had some partying to do! Our friend Sarah had a birthday a few weeks ago and since she lives in London, we hadn’t had the chance to celebrate yet. Sarah travelled home for the weekend so we could party!

Jen cooked us a lovely dinner (I was gagging for an oven cooked meal!) of chicken pasta bake with loads of crunchy melted cheese on top. It was amazing!

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After dinner we had cocktails and watched The X-Factor and chatted, and had more cocktails. Then we headed to Pink Punters. I’d never been before, but Pinks is a very popular Gay, Lesbian, Transgender club very local to me. It’s an amazing place. It’s got an outside bar area with massive open fires and food. Inside the club there’s a couple of rooms and bars with strobes and lasers and the music ranges from current to older. There’s a professional photographer going around taking photos of people too, and last night there were an awful lot of zombies and corpse brides going around for Halloween. We had a great time dancing, but I’m old and boring so I only stayed about an hour and a half before I got Gary to collect me. I’d had a great time with Jen and Sarah though, they’s ma girlies 😀

Sarah & Jen with me at Pinks
Sarah & Jen with me at Pinks

I realised why I was feeling so tired this morning when I woke with a full-blown cold. Yay for me! Last night the clocks went back too so we got an extra hour in bed. After peeling myself off the mattress I managed to write the shopping list and head to the supermarket. Another week of eating ready meals? I hope not. I’m looking forward to cooking a roast dinner next week and there’s a chilli in one of Nigella’s cookery books I’m eager to make. Let me cook! The rest of the day I’ve been melted on the sofa. I actually fell back asleep as soon as I had finished eating my lunch. I must have needed it because now I’m feeling a little rested, but ache all over because of mowing the lawn and cleaning yesterday. I’m a delicate flower!

Next week it’s back to training and hopefully working on the house some more. Getting back into a routine in the new house, and clearing down the rubbish we’ve accumulated during the unpacking. I’m super excited about next Friday night – Halloween party with the Book Club, and yes I have my outfit sorted! Can’t wait!

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Seasons Change

My past week hasn’t been all that eventful. I’ve been working and getting used once more to customer’s ‘colourful’ statements. For example; “I have to return this coat because there’s not enough time in my day to do up the zip” or “The colour name of this sweater is really funny, because apples are green!” (red sweater which was called spiced apple) to which I said “Some are red though aren’t they” and got a really blank look.

Other than this I have been spending a lot of time trying to think up good healthy meals that are hearty and warming, whilst thinking about G Man and my dietary needs. I have made a couple of successful concoctions of late, but what I really have my eye on is a slow cooker. I love the idea of starting something off in the morning and having a lovely meal ready for me when I get in at night. A lot of the recipes I have seen are American and have odd ingredients that I have no idea what they are, but I’m sure I can muddle through! So I’ve done some research and found one I like – I’m really surprised by how cheaply priced they are! I’m hoping to get one next month and start using it for those long shifts at work! If anyone has any really good and healthy tried and tested recipes to recommend then shoot me a comment!

Last week was Halloween and usually we open our doors to the droves of mini beggars pinching our sweets, but this year was cold and wet and we decided to go out for dinner instead. We went to our favourite Chinese restaurant, The Tai Pan in Milton Keynes, and had a lovely meal followed by a trip out afterwards to get desert to eat at home. It was a really good evening and the food was great as usual.

We also took a pass on Guy Fawkes Night this year. We live very close to Bletchley Park and they have an annual Blitz Night with fireworks and a fair. Normally we skip down the path and watch the fireworks for free from the bottom of our estate, but again this year was way too cold and wet to try that. The previous night we’d seen a really good display from the window in our living room, and we didn’t even need to move from our sofa to watch!

One season that we’re not going to rain check this year, however, is Christmas! We’re ready to dive in feet first and at the moment I’m just finding it hard not to go in too fast with the movies, music and food. This year we’ve decided to buy new decorations for our tree and I can’t wait to get choosing! I’ve already bought a few Christmas gifts and speaking to customers about Christmas I’m learning that I’m a bit late on the start – some of my customers have done all their shopping already! I’m not that eager, but I still can’t wait to get going 🙂

 

Do you like scary movies, Sydney?

So it’s that time of year again, when little kids dress up and go begging for sugar. Also known as Halloween! In the UK Halloween isn’t, or wasn’t, a big deal. When I was a kid it was just going around your street for sweets before the sun went down. But the influence of America has altered the season somewhat, and now people dress up properly and put out lanterns, and host parties.

My experience of Halloween, coming from a strong Christian family, was having to put up a sign by our front door explaining that we didn’t welcome Trick or Treaters because we were Christian. I attended a few church gatherings called White Knight parties on Halloween evening, which consisted of party games and a disco until about 8pm. I would then have to explain to all my friends at school as to why we had the sign up on our door, the next day. Huge fun for me.

So now I’m an adult I don’t really revel in the spirit of the season (spirit…. geddit!) However I am partial to a scary movie or two and we do buy in sweets for the kids if they come knocking (none did last year, however). So last year we Halloween’d it up by watching Let The Right One In and The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and tonight we went to see Paranormal Activity 2.

Now I’m going to talk about both the first movie and the second, so if you don’t want to be very mildly spoiled, then don’t read any more.

I really enjoyed the 2nd film, pretty much as much as the first. I saw the first one at home on dvd and it scared me shitless. It was an amazing movie, and I know when they start to show it on  SKY I’ll watch it again. It had the right amount of scariness and psychological elements to it, that stayed with you for weeks (if not longer!) The second was a prologue to the first. Let me start with saying that as with the trailer for the first movie, the majority of the scares in the trailer NEVER emerge in the actual film. In the trailer you see a baby in the street – never happened – a tall shadow standing behind the sofa – never happened – a figure in the bathroom staring into the babies’ room – not there – and the baby being stood up against the crib – didn’t happen the same way. I know it’s not important to the movie, but false advertising pisses me off!

So as I said the movie is a prologue, and by that I mean it starts 2 months before the first movie, and overlaps by about 2 weeks at the end. You need to have seen the first one to understand the second. The premise is the same, but because they’ve linked the two movies, the fact that similar things happen mean you don’t feel like it’s a copycat or a cop-out. There were a few moments where I actually had my hand over my face and there were a few jumps.

The family install cameras in the house after a suspected break in where the house is trashed, and the only thing taken in a necklace given to Kristi by her sister (Katie who was the main female character in the first movie). This is never explained or mentioned again. But you kinda make up your own reasons for this by using the background information you’ve learned from the first movie. Your concerns and anxieties are mostly created by the addition to the story of a baby and a dog. That’s really the only way they could have added a new element to what is basically the same story as the first. The interest then added by the fact that the stories are linked by the two sisters.

The movie is left on what could be a cliff-hanger tiny little chance for a third movie – though the writers are saying that if they do make another, it will be planned very carefully, which is good to hear. It shows they care about the integrity of the story.

All in all I really enjoyed the film, and if they do make a third I’ll definitely watch it. The next movies I want to see are Let Me In (a remake of Let The Right One In, which promises to be as good as the original) and Catfish (which I really don’t have any clue what it’s about and I really don’t want to until I see it!), oh and there’s a little film about a young wizard which is meant to be rather good (hehe). In the mean time, I’ll be kicking it old school watching some oldie horrors…. I’m partial to a John Carpenter film when I can 🙂

Happy Halloween!