Monday, 28 December 2015

A Year in the Garden 2015

Frost patterns

Spring bulbs

Blue skies and pasque flowers

Mother's Day and magnolias

Spring pond 

shady corners

garden fauna

garden flora

full summer

Autumn butterflies and spiders

weeding and deadheading

... and finally a flourish of flower trumpets despite all the rain.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year 
and a peaceful and prosperous 2016.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens film review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3D (12A)

Directo: J.J. Abrams

Website: Star

Some family Christmas traditions remain, some change with age and slowly the Christmas panto trip has been replaced with the Christmas cinema trip. (Oh, no it hasn't... Oh, yes it has!) This year, the build up has been almost tectonic in expectation, the new Star Wars with a new director, new cast, new effects... could it possibly live up to the mountainous pressure of mass marketing, let alone our own expectations?
With tickets booked a long time ago we arrived at the cinema with our 3D glasses expecting the place to be packed to find ourselves in a curiously half-empty auditorium. Clearly the appeal of 3D has passed so if you like your movies without a food chomping, phone watching, chair kicking, arm-rest jostling crowd I recommend you give the glasses a go.
I was the generation who grew up with Episodes 4-6, my kids are the generation who grew up with 1-3 and now we all wait, popcorn at the ready for episode 7. One thing we have all agreed on, we are hoping it's more Jawa than Jar Jar Binks, more action, less politics.
My biggest concern was; knowing it's a young female lead in this new Disney film, it would be the fly-waisted heroine with her doubting male comedy side-kick, overcoming adversity with a rebellious streak and a neat range of coordinating dolls, duvets and dressing gowns... not because I don't want young women to be empowered by their film role models but because Star Wars always felt more nuanced, more about the internal struggle of the male psyche. Princess Leia always had her head screwed on straight about right and wrong, Luke, not so much. With yet another post/pre-war, terror-weary generation trying to find a way through to adulthood my fingers were firmly crossed for something more than gold bikinis and teddy bears.
J.J. Abrams skillfully navigates the movie through majestic scenery, finding a good blend of LOTR-style locations and Star Wars-franchise CGI planets to fully explore this new story. And it is a relief to find it is a story, weaving in old and new characters and leaving you wanting to find out more. I'm deliberately being vague and trying not to give away any spoilers, but the two new leads, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn in particular (John Boyega), are convincing. The story has echoes of Episode 4 which is not a bad thing and the battle scenes do not disappoint. Even the 3D is OK, though used more for depth than leap in your face action. Set after the fall of the Empire and with the rise of a new, more evil foe, this is a family movie that explores family relationships in it, particularly war-torn ones, whether people set adrift by conflict or families torn apart by opposing sides, it finds a resonance with the world today. As to whether there are any gold bikinis or teddy bears, I shall leave it up to you to find out.
Although rated a 12A I think it could have been a PG. The force is strong with this one, five out of five on the midi-chlorian count.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

My Poetry Available to buy in Paperback at

(click on images to go to shop)

Rain Tomorrow  
A selection of my recent poems, journeying through landscapes both imagined and real.

£2.99 (excl. VAT) + P&P
Ships in 3-5 business days.

Bird Moment Haiku
Sixty two haiku about birds observed in the garden and out and about in the South of England, UK.

£2.99 (excl. VAT) + P&P
Ships in 3-5 business days.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Autumn Walk (Mote Park)

Leaves whisper their secrets as you tread
Echoes of summer in a blue sky overhead

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Movie Review ~ Spectre

Spectre (12a)

Director ~ Sam Mendes

(Warning ~ contains spoilers!!)

Spectre, the latest Bond movie and second installment of the franchise for director Sam Mendes does indeed seem to be haunted by its past. With more than a passing nod to previous incarnations of evil arch-enemies and their pets, even the oily tentacles in the opening credits reminds the audience of Octopussy (perhaps Monica Bellucci's sad widow character in the next movie)?

The sombre pallet from Skyfall persists through this film and the feel is of a present set in the past. There are exotic locations, wonderful set pieces with planes, trains and automobiles, a few laughs and lots of fighting to keep fans happy. ( Look out for Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx.) Ralph Fiennes finds his feet as M, Naomie Harris is still a great Moneypenny and Ben Whishaw steals scenes as the digital age Q. But it's hard to get too excited about a shadowy organisation hell bent on conglomerating the world's CCTV.

James Bond, played with lots of muscled menace by Daniel Craig, does his best to liven things up by blowing things up, knocking things down and driving through things and, of course, saves not only the day but the beautiful new Bond girl, Madeleine Swann played by Lea Seydoux. Christophe Waltz is Franz Oberhauser, the head of Spectre, a nicely understated, sock-free performance out for revenge and retribution on Bond and the 007 division, this movie follows on from where Skyfall left off and is a robust contribution to the James Bond franchise.  Four out of five stars.


Monday, 14 September 2015

DVD round up...

St Vincent (12)

Life affirming drama comedy. Bill Murray stars as Vincent, a grumpy old man with some bad habits who helps out new neighbour Maggie (Melissa McCarthy)as she and her son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher) try to build a new life.

Black Sails (15)

Seasons 1 & 2
Pirates, lots of them, everywhere you look, doing 'orrible, violent pirate things. Totally bonkers but brilliant back story to Treasure Island's Long John Silver interwoven into the lives of the 18th century pirates of Nassau. Five pieces of eight just for the mad, bad hair days.

Black Sea (15)

Being claustrophobic, my idea of hell could definitely feature a leaking submarine, that said, this tense heist thriller kept my attention all the way through. Jude Law is the captain of a dodgy crew looking for dodgy gold in the bottom of the Black Sea in very dodgy submarine. Take a deep breath...

The Call (15)

Halle Berry stars as an emergency services telephone operator trying to help the next victim of a serial killer she's encountered before in the line of duty.

The Maze Runner (12)

Another dystopian future for young adults in the same vein as The Hunger Games and Divergent series. An interesting idea with a big dollop of spidery scariness thrown in, though the ending is a bit of an anticlimax. Dylan O'Brien stars as teen boy trying to navigate a maze after his memory have been wiped. Not suitable for under 14's.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Finding Places for People

If European and world leaders haven't the stomach for regime change in Syria, however brutally flawed the regime, at least have the heart to provide a breathing space for refugees to rebuild shattered lives while contributing to the local economy and community. The strength of spirit these refugees will need to rebuild their country in future years will not be found in semi-permanent camps or behind barbed wire. It should not be leached away by political infighting, statistics and nights spent on the side of cold roads while the rest of the world weeps without consequence.

Across Europe and the world there are communities, many rural, needing skilled, literate families, from doctors to crop pickers to help revitalise their economy. If the political machinery of the world has become so hamstrung by its own bureaucracy it is unable to act, perhaps we need to look at other avenues to find places for people. Mayors, community groups, local employers, village councils who know the shortages and empty homes in their areas could help to provide economic support for these refugees before organised crime, profiteering, racketeering and people traffickers take over and before another nation's hearts and minds are lost.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Autumn arrives with spiders and newts



River Barle

After a week in Devon near lovely Exmoor, it seems I've returned to an autumnal garden with leaves falling, seedheads replacing flowers and plenty of spiders emerging, their webs picked out in the rain. There's a new spider I've not seen before, I think it's cave dweller living very contentedly in the compost bin and in the now very overgrown pond, are several larval newts, feathery gills emerging. The later dawn and earlier dusk makes spotting bats and foxes easier and the hollyhock and buddlja are still buzzing with bees, hover flies and wasps. 
After the moor, it's easy to overlook how much wildlife a garden supports, there may not be rolling heather hills with red deer and ponies, rushing rivers full of otters and trout but autumn brings an abundance of nature to our doorstep if we stop and take a closer look.

'compost bin spider'