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WEEKLY BLOG EPISODE 94 | TWIXMAS

Ah a twixmas Weekly Blog episode. That weird yet wonderful period between Christmas and New Year when no-one knows what day it is, we’ve got cupboards full of leftovers, and we seem to want to do a lot of tidying up of both our homes and lives. Just me?

And yes, I have got leftovers even though I didn’t do any of the Christmas catering this year. We’ve just eaten a rather excellent plate of turkey and gammon pie (if I do say so myself – you can see my tried and tested recipe in this very old post), made by me but only possible thanks to leftovers kindly gifted by my mother-in-law.

Before I get into this weekly blog, I’d like to say thank you for the response to my Christmas Message post from Christmas Eve – What, No Christmas Tree? I’ve discovered, since posting that, I’m not the only one who isn’t bothered about having a Christmas tree up at home. I appreciate the comments on the blog post itself as well as on social media and in person; I’m happy to hear I’m not alone. And it’s always nice to know that you read what I write! Know that if you have time to jot a comment in the box below, or leave a note on twitter or Instagram, it really does make a blogger smile inside.

Anyway, back to my weekly blog series, and here in episode 94 it’s clearly going to be about Christmas.

A Very Lazy Christmas

This is a Weekly Blog episode without much talk of the outdoors, I’m afraid. I’ve not had much outside time in the last week or so.

We travelled up to Lincolnshire for a few days to spend Christmas with family, but that didn’t involve much walking, not this time. A combination of the weather and being there specifically to eat, play and chat together was to blame for that. We did have a wander to see some of the local Christmas lights on Christmas Day afternoon, and managed a walk around the block in the rain on Monday, but other than that it was a very sitting-down kind of Christmas.

It’s a shame in some ways as Lincolnshire boasts some beautiful places to walk and explore. I miss wandering around the city of Lincoln, wandering along the beaches of the East coast, and having the seals at Donna Nook close enough for an early morning visit before the crowds arrived. But it wasn’t to be this time. We were very well looked after for a few days, and spoilt too, it was lovely to feel like we had a proper catch up with both sides of the family.

I’ve done an awful lot of sitting down for the whole month of December when I think about it. I hope to get up onto the hill for a reasonable length boots-on walk tomorrow, and begin the process of regaining some fitness after a break while my body does what it needs to with the B12 and Iron it’s been pumped full of. I hope my body and mind reward me for finally listening and getting some real rest, and isn’t slow to fill back up with energy again.   

Wonderfully, my gifts this year had a flavour of both hiking and relaxing. My family and friends know me well. I received new hiking trousers and socks, some fabulous looking airtight snack pots for my day pack (these ones by Matador at Wildbounds, very light and much nicer than a zip lock bag), a kit to crochet my own scarf (I’ll be learning a new skill during a future rainy weekend), a pair of trainers that are definitely not made for hiking, and a new pot for my no-longer-pot-bound Christmas cactus plant.

How did you spend Christmas this year? I hope that whatever you have been doing for the last few days, even if the dreaded virus paid a visit and you ended up home alone, that you were able to find some of that time, love and inner joy I spoke about in my Christmas message post.

That’s Entertainment

I can’t watch Don’t Look Up, which is what everyone seems to be talking about this week, as we don’t subscribe to Netflix (Amazon and Disney+ is enough). But here are the things I have been watching over the last week or two.

Welcome to Earth, Disney+

This is exactly the kind of programme I love to watch – a mix between adventure and documentary. Made by National Geographic and found on Disney+, Welcome to Earth is a six part series following Will Smith as he goes on some absolutely amazing adventures whilst learning about the world’s nature, geography and human limits.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned this on here, but I once auditioned as a presenter for a new adventure focused television series (not this one!). Clearly I didn’t get that gig; I didn’t really get very far in the process, I suspect I didn’t look the part – I won’t tell you which programme it was as then you’ll know who actually got the gig! But I was asked to audition thanks to my blog, so I’ll take that as a complement. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is Welcome to Earth is exactly the kind of documentary series I would like to be involved in making, and so naturally, I enjoyed watching it.

I wondered if it would be a bit too macho, if Will Smith would be a bit, well, arrogant. But it isn’t like that at all. Will Smith came across very well, and Nat Geo gave the focus to the expedition leaders and scientists featured, which was nice to see.

I especially enjoyed the episode based in the Serengeti showcasing the Wildebeest migration, and I really fancy climbing down into that volcano in the first episode (please?!). The final episode was also a highlight – Will Smith went with fellow GetOutside Champion Dwayne Fields on an expedition in Iceland, it’s always good to see people I know (even a little bit) on the small screen.

This short series is great binge watch for anyone who likes a combination of nature documentary and adventure story. And how about the second Welcome to Earth series is “with Zoe the blogger” rather than Will Smith?! That would certainly make my 2022. Maybe it wouldn’t make yours!

The Book of Boba Fett, Disney+

The first episode of the latest Star Wars spin-off series The Book of Boba Fett aired on Disney+ this week. I have been looking forward to this starting, Disney have been trailing it very hard indeed, and I am rather hoping it will be as enjoyable as The Mandalorian. I mean, a second spin off series featuring a bounty hunter, I hope they’ve come up with a storyline that is equally as gripping as the one featuring Baby Yoda!

Episode one was very much a scene setting tale, jumping between dream scenes showing us the past, and the present day on Tatooine. There was no dialogue for the first 15 minutes or so, Disney really are taking the exposition of this tale very seriously. With that, it’s too soon to say whether this will be something I look forward to each Wednesday, but I will certainly be watching episode two next week and will see how it goes.  

Are you a Star Wars spin-off fan? Or do you avoid them?

Anything Goes, BBC  

Okay, so if I can’t be an adventure documentary film presenter or maker, how about I become Sutton Foster when I grow up instead? Isn’t she just the most amazing performer?!

Broadcast on the BBC over Christmas, Anything Goes the Musical was filmed live at The Barbican in London. And it is a fabulous watch, perfect for anyone who likes a musical, or anyone who you want to introduce musical theatre to. Just so joyful, I’ve been tap dancing my way around my house ever since I watched it!

If you’ve not seen the musical before, the story follows junior broker Billy Crocker’s attempt to pry debutante Hope from her aristocratic fiancé, on a cruise ship from London to New York. The SS American is the setting for plenty of comedic shenanigans involving Hope’s mother, Billy’s boss, and gangster Moonface Martin. Holding the plot together (story-wise and star-wise) is Reno Sweeney, played by Sutton Foster. It’s a comedic musical romp in every way – there’s romance, silliness, lies, naughtiness, misadventure, and (of course) tap dancing.

This 1934 Cole Porter stage show includes some very well-known Broadway songs including I Get a Kick Out of You and You’re the Top. And, of course, it has that song and dance routine – the title track, Anything Goes. Is just the most spectacular big number in musical theatre? Honestly, how do they sing and dance that without a break in the middle?!

I’m not likely to get to see this on stage any time soon, so having the live production broadcast on television is fabulous. More of these, please BBC.

John Williams Live – Music from the Movies, BBC

Another most excellent watch from the BBC this last week was John Williams Live – Music from the Movies, which just filled me with so much joy. Oh how I love film scores; music makes a film for me. This 80-minute watch is one for those of you with a good sound system attached to your television (or a good pair of headphones)!

While any film score fan might be able to tell a John Williams composition from a mile off thanks to his unmistakeable style, there is no denying that his works are some of the best film scores of all time… expressive, animated, memorable.

This is a live recording of John Williams conducting the Berlin Philharmonic playing his own music. All the classics you might expect – Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Harry Potter, and many more. Williams offers some small spoken introductions to the music, but this isn’t a documentary, it is a concert, and one that can be enjoyed at home with a cup of tea and the volume on high.

What have you been watching over the last week or so? Anything I should check out? I noticed there is a Sondheim compilation programme available on BBC Four, too, so I might put that on later. And there’s also a stage production of La Boheme, which I might also give a go.

Happy New Year

This is my last Weekly Blog of 2021, so I’ll end by wishing you a very Happy New Year. Whether you are working, relaxing, or adventuring, whether you will bring in 2022 on your own or with friends and family, I hope you mark it in a way that feels right to you.

I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about the switch over to 2022 this week. Over the years I’ve offered up end-of-year roundup posts (I enjoyed writing my list of 20 Things That Made 2020 More Bearable this time last year), trying to find meaning and philosophy in this strange switch from one year to the next.

In preparation, I scanned through all my Weekly Blog episodes from 2021 to see what I might include. I was left with a combined feeling of “oh yea, I did quite a lot actually” and “you could have done so much better”. End of year reflection like this is weird. It helps us remember some of the little (and big) adventures from the last 12 months. But it also makes me wonder what I did with the rest of the time – and made me remember the things I started with all good intentions and eventually just gave up (remember when I said I was going to stretch every day, or got a 50 day streak on Duolingo?!).

But in the same way that 2020 was something of a write-off thanks to obvious worldwide issues, 2021 was also a stressful and difficult non-year in many ways. Maybe I’ll write something about my thoughts on that in the next day or two, trying to make sense of the weird time we are currently living in. Or maybe I’ll just yet 2021 turn into 2022 without pomp or fanfare, enjoy the Dr Who special, and eat a homemade curry with more of those turkey leftovers. I guess you’ll know what I decided between now and next year!

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