Sharing the love: Lessons in compliments from my cat

As anyone who’s met me in the past year-and-a-half is probably aware, I have a cat. She’s called Shanti and she’s very fluffy and cuddly.

On any given day, I’ll probably say most or all of these things to her:

“You’re lovely.” “You’re so pretty!” “You’re beeeautiful.” “You’re perfect.” “You’re my bestest friend!” and so on.

All normal things for a crazy cat lady to say to her feline friend.

But one day I got thinking – how come I, or indeed so many of us, don’t give these compliments to our real-life human friends with remotely the same regularity?

Continue reading

What I’ve been watching in January

La La Land

1Although I’ll happily acknowledge its faults, I was still taken in by La La Land, like so many others. I was almost put off in the first scene by some dizzying and relentless camerawork which actually made me feel a bit queasy. Thankfully, things calmed down and, although the whirling long shots returned on occasion, I was able to sit back and enjoy the songs.

I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for days – I love all the songs and the beautiful instrumental themes, made all the more impressive by the fact Ryan Gosling learnt jazz piano for the film. He and Emma Stone are wonderful together, yet again, and though the story can be rather bittersweet it is a totally joyful ride. I’d happily watch this again very soon.

Passengers

I went to see Passengers with the same high expectations as La La Land, but came away feeling very different.

I heard things like ‘it’s Titanic in space’. Sadly, I wasn’t bothered by the romance, parts of it were extremely slow, and it was just a bit ridiculous. Even Chris Pratt didn’t really save it for me. I loved Martin Sheen as a robot though.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

hunt_for_the_wilderpeople_posterThis is just charming. With a feel of Wes Anderson, plus Taiki Waititi’s unique charm which is now getting a wide audience (he’s about to release Thor: Ragnarok), it’s something totally special.

Following a troubled boy who is put into foster care on a remote New Zealand farm, it descends into anarchy as he and his new ‘uncle’ end up running from the cops and social services through a huge area of bushland. It’s clever, delightful, fun and thoughtful too.

The Crown

the-crown-season-1-posterDespite my reservations about it feeling a bit strange/bizarre/disrespectful to release this while the Queen and Prince Philip are still alive, there’s something very compelling about this peek behind-the-scenes at the royal household.

Not every episode is all that gripping – the coronation one felt pretty bland to me, simply following this big ceremony without as much of the human drama we see elsewhere. But any glimpse into the relationships of Elizabeth and Philip, both played with great nuance and fragility by Claire Foy and Matt Smith respectively, was totally gripping – as was the arc following the love life of Princess Margaret.

There’s more than enough here to hold the interest of anyone, not just royal enthusiasts. Although when I went on Google after episode 10 for more details on Princess Margaret’s story, I was disappointed to see how different from real life the plot actually appeared to be.

Flaked

flaked-posterI rewatched Flaked on Netflix recently; it’s a short series and I had fond memories of it, but I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much the second time round.

Possibly it’s because I read reviews after my first viewing and they were generally quite critical. It’s also perhaps down to the fact I already knew all the twists and secrets. Still, Will Arnett was a joy to watch, as ever.

My London bucket list

I’ve lived in London for three years now and I love being near so many places of interest and activities.

In reality though I work in Surrey so it’s not as simple as it might be to get out and about in London. But weekends and evenings certainly still have a sense of possibility (and I do get to a lot of concerts and shows).

I’ve decided to create a bucket list of everything in London I’d love to do that I never have so I can start work on it this year.

Continue reading

Everything I read in 2016 rated

Five stars

  • The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell
  • 11.22.63 by Stephen King
  • Spectacles by Sue Perkins
  • Jonathan Unleashed by Meg Rosoff
  • Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  • The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Four stars

  • The Shining by Stephen King
  • Slade House by David Mitchell
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  • After You by Jojo Moyes
  • Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley
  • Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig
  • The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams by Stephen King
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
  • Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane
  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon
  • House Rules by Jodi Picoult
  • Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  • Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran
  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

Three stars

  • A Study In Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Sign Of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
  • Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
  • Me & Earl & The Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  • Disclaimer by Renee Knight
  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
  • Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
  • Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis
  • Strangers On A Train by Patricia Highsmith
  • Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn
  • To Rise Again At A Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris
  • One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon
  • We Were On A Break by Lindsey Kelk
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Billy And Me by Giovanna Fletcher
  • Always With Love by Giovanna Fletcher
  • Philomena by Martin Sixsmith
  • The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern
  • Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Two stars

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It by Owen Jones

2017 goals

A short list of 2017 resolutions/goals but I thought it would add some extra obligation if it’s written on the internet.

  • Do a 10k
  • Read 52 books
  • Blog once a week
  • Learn a challenging new piece on the piano, clarinet AND saxophone
  • Write some short stories
  • Go away somewhere new

And this is all the fun stuff already scheduled in that I can look forward to.

  • Live music: Busted, Caro Emerald, Electric Six, Frankie Valli, London Symphony Orchestra, Take That, Electric Light Orchestra, Michael Ball and Alfie Boe
  • Other live events: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Greg Davies
  • Two weddings of schoolfriends
  • Frazer’s return from New Zealand

Things to be grateful for

In today’s fast-paced world, surrounded by news of Trump and Brexit and celebrities dying, it’s easy to get caught up and forget what’s really important in your own life.

Even if you manage to ignore the cyclic nature of the news as driven by social media, repeating the same fears and worries and bad news over and over, most of us are still racing around to and from work with barely a second thought about the important things which are quickly passing us by.

So, inspired by this post on The Pool (which is always on point) I have decided to spend a week listing three good things I’m grateful for each day – because it’s important to pause, remember, and let these positive thoughts rise to the forefront of our priorities.

Continue reading

Finding a book to get excited about