Friday, 30 September 2011

The Boy in the Striped Pyjama's - Movie Review

The Blurb:-
Based on the best selling novel by John Boyne. Berlin, 1942 - Eight-year-old Bruno knows nothing of the Final Solution and the Holocaust. He is oblivious to the appalling cruelties being inflicted on the people of Europe by his country.
All he knows is that his father was promoted and he has been moved from a comfortable home in Berlin to a house in a desolate area where there is nothing to do and no-one to play with. Until he meets Shmuel, a boy who lives a strange parallel existence on the other side of the adjoining wire fence and who, like the other people there, wears a uniform of striped pajamas
Bruno's friendship with Shmuel will take him from innocence to revelation, as their secret meetings result in a friendship that has startling and devastating consequences.

I have seen this movie twice. And I am writing my review having just finished the second viewing. My eyes are still stinging, and my lashes are damp. And here is why.

It is not hard to cry at any film involving the vast and emotion grinding subject of the Holocaust. I have seen a few in my time, and each one gets to me, in it's own way. But there is something about this film in particular that upsets me more than, say, The Grey Zone. There is an palpable innocence that reaches out of the screen and into your psyche. 

Told through the eyes of an adventurous and inquisitive young Bruno (Jack Scanlon) it tells the story of a family partaking in and simultaneously caught up in the atrocities of Auschwitz. His father, a soldier seemingly serving his country, is promoted to Commandant and moves his family to be closer to his work. Work that engulfs his whole life and that of his wife and children.

There are things that we see on screen and understand straight away. But Bruno is forever questioning and, on not being given suitable answers, makes his own reasoning up. Like the "farm" he can see from his bedroom window, or why the house slave "used to be a Doctor, but gave it up to peel potatoes". It is beautifully written and his purity nips at you all the way through. Why are they all "wearing pyjama's". Why are they there at all?

The speed at which events unfold, from the breakdown of the Mother to the frightening change in the young and impressionable sister, Gretl, is swift and gathers momentum. It is a film that covers all emotions from anger, to helplessness, to fear, to friendship. Be prepared for the ride. 

If you have not seen this, or have only read the book, then it is worth your time. As all Holocaust films are in my eyes. Yes, there are facets of this story that just could not have happened. There are some false occurrences. But it is not about the nuts and bolts of Auschwitz.   

It is about the innocence of one child.
And, in turn, the innocence of a whole race.

An 8/10 

Monday, 26 September 2011

Happy Blogiversaire!

So, I was sitting, reading and trying to ignore the Malteaser Bunnies that were in the cupboard (no -  they have not lasted all this time from Easter. They are 3 for £1 in my local shop. And I did not ignore them for long, rest assured. They are now in tummy heaven) and my mind drifted off for a bit. Being me -  I was thinking about "this time yesterday / last week / last month /  last year".... and then it struck me.

I have been blogging for a whole year. I graced the blogosphere with my post about Aldwych Tube Station a year ago today. Where exactly the 365 days have gone hence, I am unsure. It seems to have gone by lickety split, that's for shiz. It feels like I am still so new to all this writing/picture sharing malark, and yet, I seem unable to shush. I now have FaceBook and Twitter accounts, sponsors and over 200 followers.

The fact that I have any followers at all flummoxes me daily. You are all as sparkly as the sparkliest of things.

There are many things that I have learnt along the way. Namely, the community that exists within the blogging world. I have made comment based friends that I chat to regularly, twitter chums who I have never met, but know I would hug & buy a drink for and actual, real life make-me-laugh-until-I-think-I-might-puke pals who I think I talk to in some form pretty much every day. None of the above I was expecting. But, I sure am pleased that I found it.

So  -  how to celebrate?

Well. What better than presents for a Blogversaire? I thought I would give a whole bunch of giveaways a shot. I did toy with the idea of doing 1 a day for a few days -  but -  to be frank -  I would like it to last a bit longer and not inundate everybodies dashboards with "Giveaway #1....#2....#3 etc". They shall be themed, some may be a 1 prize only, some may be 1st and 2nd. Oooh -  how 'citing! Stay tuned for more details in the next week or so!

Thank you for popping over to Land Girl 1980, tweeting me, FaceBooking, commenting, and generally being grand.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Chap Olympiad 2011 - Flippers Optional

Ah. The Chap Olympiad. Two thousand and eleven. On a lovely sunny day. Wait. What?

No. Only some of that sentence is truth.

The middle picture is The Beard's very own feet. In his very own shoes. Which were originally the tan colour you can *just* see.

As you can see from the above, the former parts were correct.  I had been looking forward to The Chap Olympiad for months. I cannot even remember how early I booked my tickets. But it was a long time before the event. I ummed and ahhhed over what to wear. There were many frocks all waiting to have an outing. Nice summer ones. Because, after all, it *was* Summer. Somewhere, I am sure. Alas, not in fine Bedford Square where the well heeled, coiffed, suited, booted and moustachioed gathered.

 In the pissing rain.

However. We, having firmly prepared our stiff upperlips on the journey, bloody jolly well got on with it! It became laughable. It was either that or weep, which I had no intention of doing, on account of there being enough water in the locality as it was. Check out Lake Placid next to me.

I spent a soggy and hilarious afternoon with  some of my good chums:- Cathy of Perdita's Pursuit's, Margaret of Penny Dreadful Vintage, Gemma a la Retro Chick, Mai from Darhling and Lisa from Snoodlebug.

The glorious ReeRee from Rockalilly was also in attendance, looking spectacular with more flowers upon her bonce than you could shake a stick at.

There was also the unveiling of a rainbow spectrum of matching, embossed (no less!) frocks for the beautiful Vintage Mafia gals courtesy of HeyDay.

Which I was dumb enough not to get a photo of. My favourite is upon Fleur's Diary of a Vintage Girl post here.

And so -  to my own outfit. I decided on a tried and tested dress that I donned for Yule last year, a little jacket (which I ended up wishing was made of bear for warmth) and my lovely new shoes, courtesy of eBay fever and £20.

Finally, after sitting on the damp floor for a fair old time, we decided to retreat to the dry, yet slightly sweaty local pub. After a brief chat with a random local, in which a bet was made as to whether or not I dress "like this every day" (I won) -  the sun decided to come out. Huzzahs! We sauntered back to the event to listen to some fab music and eat our soggy WW2 scones.

I based my whole outfit round a hat. And this was the only thing I could think to team it with. It is a 1930's headpiece from the lovely ladies at my local vintage shop, Shrewd.

All in all -  The Chap Olympiad is firmly on our calender for next year. I admit I saw none of the actual games, but, then again, it was the company I went for. And the pink cigarettes. Naturelement.

I shall certainly be back next year for another afternoon amoungst fine company, belly laughs and outstanding outfits.

I'll take a rain check on the rain. Pun shamelessly intended.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Charlotte Gray - Sebastian Faulks - Book Review

The blurb
From the bestselling author of Birdsong comes Charlotte Gray, the remarkable story of a young Scottish woman who becomes caught up in the effort to liberate Occupied France from the Nazis while pursuing a perilous mission of her own. In blacked-out, wartime London, Charlotte Gray develops a dangerous passion for a battle-weary RAF pilot, and when he fails to return from a daring flight into France she is determined to find him. In the service of the Resistance, she travels to the village of Lavaurette, dyeing her hair and changing her name to conceal her identity. Here she will come face-to-face with the harrowing truth of what took place during Europe's darkest years, and will confront a terrifying secret that threatens to cast its shadow over the remainder of her days. Vividly rendered, tremendously moving, and with a narrative sweep and power reminiscent of his novel Birdsong, Charlotte Gray confirms Sebastian Faulks as one of the finest novelists working today. 


I have to confess that I have not read Birdsong. I know, I know. I should be ashamed. And I am. But, when I first came to read it, I could just not get into the flow of the authors style. I have to say it was the same, in the beginning, for this novel.

However, I am beyond pleased that I persevered with this book, although it took me until page 200 something for it to click. After that I was besotted with it. Telling a story of love, loss and true grit within the confines of Occupied France, I followed the story of Miss Gray and the search for her missing lover.

That, alone, should have been enough to keep me enthralled, but it is the side characters that captured  my heart the most and became the most important to me. And lead me to openly weep on the train. Again.

The fine weaving of character plot and personality leads you to think not only on what was found during the Second World War, the likes of comraderie, strength and gumption but also what was lost.

This novel is technically the last installment of a triology that is preceeded by "Girl at the Lion d'Or" and "Birdsong" respectivly. But I did not notice anything connected to other books, so for me it is a stand alone. And well worth a butchers.

A 7/10 from me!    

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Red, white & a dash of black - outfit post

I am a little bit in love with this particular 80's does 40's dress. It was one of the first frocks I bought from Etsy and I was worried that it might not have fitted. But, I need not have done.

From this picture, you can see that I stepped out on what must have been a sun shiney day. Which means it did not get a lot of wear this summer. But I am toying with the idea of teaming it with trusty brogues or some red mary janes for the cooler months ahead.

Or, I might just wash it and store it for next year, wherein I shall eeeep with excitement at finding it, having forgotten all about it. It makes me feel decidedly home-maker-ish. And, dare I say it, a little lady like.

For those of you who know me, when I open my mouth, all such illusions are instantly shattered, never to return. Ho hum.

Yay for Etsy and it's illusion creating dress -  for under £15 including postage.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Splendid Sponsors - The Leather Satchel Co.

You know, as well as I, that I love a good satchel. And that my search -  nay, HUNT -  for one was frivolous and fruitless.

The "Best Customer Service I Have Ever Had" Award still belongs to them. I have heard they keep it on their desk.

You may have noticed, to the right of the screen, that I have some sponsors of my humble wafflings. I have, as yet, not fully introduced you to this family run business. How rude of me! So, here it comes!

Consisting of a few of the last remaining leather smiths in the UK, they are registered as Master Craftmen. They make all their satchels here in Blighty, by hand. None of this robot-machine malarkey for you and your satchel. Oh no. Hand made, by people who know what they are doing.

Aside from the delicious ready made satchels you will find in their online store, they also off a plethora of customising options. These include:-

* Embossing / Monogramming  - Silver Leaf - Gold Leaf - Blind

* Briefcase Handle  - accompanied by a detachable shoulder strap too

* Deeper Gussets  - effectively allowing you to slide in more of your precious everyday items.

* Longer shoulder strap   fab if like to wear your bags low.
* Shoulder Strap Pad   - great if you are lugging books to and from school or Uni.
* Multi-colour options  -  cutting various parts of the satchel from different coloured leather to enable you to make your satchel even more individual.

* Magnetic Fasteners  - wonderful for a quick access satchel. Imperative for the commuter. Say goodbye to those fiddly moments at the ticket barrier.
* Custom size  -  need a satchel for your laptop? Worried it might not fit? Worry no more.

Sounds pretty smashing, dunnit? With some companies you may have to wait a while as your specifications come to fruition - but with the Leather Satchel Co - most custom satchels are at your address within 7 days for UK residents, and just a little longer for those overseas!

I also love the colour ranges that they have on offer. From charcoal black, pillar box red, dusky pink and highlighter fluorescent yellow, there are a lot to chose from.

For the 12.5 satchel I have been testing out for them, I toyed and toiled over what to have. I was offered all of the above customisations. The thought of the lovely chestnut brown of my original satchel, mixed with perhaps the front buckles and identity pocket in that glorious olive green, taunted me for a while. But I already have a chestnut one.

So - I decided on a satchel of purest tan. Not the most imaginative I could have been, granted. But I use a lot of tan in my accessories in the form of shoes & belts, and I wanted something that I knew would match. Co-ordinated as like to be!

Coupled with some of the magnetic fasteners...

And some luscious embossing. I had lengthily chats with Keith and Gail about my ideas. The idea of having the Land Girl emblem on the front was banded about. But in the end I decided to keep it simple. Loving history as I do, I felt no other saying would do.

And here it is! In all it's glory. Once I had decided, I had my new bag baby within 5 days. Just in time for me to take it off to France for my history holibobs! Being smaller than my original, I was worried about it dealing with all my holiday needs. You know; book, ipod, sunglasses, sunblock, camera, makeup, water, random bits of collected toot. And it handled them all like a dream.

In fact. I have to confess that I have permanently relegated my original satchel in favour of this beauty. I love the front pocket that holds the bits I need to grab hold of, like my train ticket, work pass and keys. And the size is also more than adequate for all the other stuff I haul about with me. Basically the above, minus the sunblock and sunglasses.

I love the comfort of the strap when it is just one one shoulder. It really stays in place. But there is enough length in the strap for it to be worn across me too, which is usually how I wear it as an ever wary commuter. The magnetic buckles are also adjustable for a tighter or looser fit as needed. Excellent if you have a novel that is taller than the average book about your person.

In short, you all know I fell in love with The Leather Satchel Co way back, and I am so pleased that they are now one of my blog sponsors.

Remember, you can catch them on Facebook -  where they often run competitions and also occasionally have seconds for sale  -   and you can also tweet them @leathersatchel.

Prices vary, depending on your specifications, but you will find them incredibly helpful, communicative and down right decent.

Toodle pip,

the Leather Satchel Lover.


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