There’s a risk that for March it’ll seem that I spent the whole time in front of the TV or at the cinema , as there seems to be a long list of ‘we saws’ and ‘we began watchings’ I’d like to include. That said, there seems to be a lot else too, so perhaps it was just a super busy month all round. But perhaps I’ll start with a round up of my best-seens so that I can pretend to be a critic, and practise being pretentious:
Adam had been on at me for ages to watch what I have repeatedly been mis-calling Walking The Dead, or Waking The Dead, and finally I gave in (after getting up to date with Dexter and guiding Adam through another season of 24 which I was only too happy to re-watch) and we settled down to the first season of The Walking Dead. The wonderful Andrew Lincoln (much-loved still from Teachers, but more so for me as Egg from This Life) gave us a perfectly convincing south american drawl, and better still makes a fine Sheriff in his neat uniform and as he saves the day riding into town on his horse. Without wishing to give everything away in my eagerness to share, the zombie apocalypse (well you knew that was what it’s about right?) is brilliantly portrayed and produced, leaving us to ponder on the characters’ dilemmas and flaws….although of course we’re treated to more than a few helpings of gore and heart rate raising action. We skidded from episode to episode, compelled to see what happened next, only to run out of season one far too soon…..bring us more now please!
Then it was my turn to choose, and it just had to be Martin Scorsese’s prohibition gangster drama Boardwalk Empire. I was desperate to see how the show looked and wasn’t disappointed…..the setting is made to look like some high quality broadway set or a theme park where you get to experience the era. I love the huge vibrant billboards advertising shaving cream and toffee, and the lightbulb surrounded Supper Club venue entrance….inside of which is dripping glamour. The costumes are something else….the women are draped in lavish silks and in HD you can see every sequin, crystal bead and carefully selected feather. The action takes place mainly in Atlantic City, telling the story of one Nucky Thompson who it turns out is equal parts politician and crook….another example of how we end up falling for the criminal who they make our hero and we root for him even when we know what he’s doing is so wrong (I feel a post topic coming on, what with Dexter and Breaking Bad too). Adam was frustrated by the slow pace of the season, but I guess this was made up for me by the way it all looked….I felt totally transported to what they called ‘The World’s Playground’ but in honesty, neither of us have found ourselves begging for the second season to start (not that I won’t watch it)….if anything I’ll just re-watch the first or flick through some stills to sate my need.
To the cinema next (well two whole seasons of tv sat at home is plenty I feel) and we took a gamble courtesy of our unlimited cinema passes on The Adjustment Bureau. Bourne meets Inception they said, which of course we knew it was never going to be, but we were intrigued non the same as the storyline was based on another of the amazing Philip K. Dick stories (Blade Runner, Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck). And taking it for what it was, throwing aside any promises or preconceptions, we loved the film and got stacks out of it. Really there was everything you could want….lots of juicy action (fast paced and exciting)…..an ever so slightly complex plot (read ‘Emily had to think quite hard to get her head round it’)…..squishy romance of the non sickly kind (and I mean we TOTALLY UTTERLY believed these two were in love….supremely well acted)…..and, wait for it, a moral (got to love a good moral). I won’t tell you what it is because you should see it. Oh, and the score is beautiful, by Thomas Newman, one of my favourite composers easily.
Back home for the next film….and I’m glad it was at home that we saw Paranormal Activity not least because of my tendency to grip onto Adam in times of fear which in the case of this film were in their extreme. I’m sure you’d grant me every gasp, squeal, jump up out of my seat and hide behind my pillow for this one though. It’s a house-based ‘demonic presence’ horror/thriller, in which we are drawn into the lives of a couple of living with increasingly worrying ‘bumps in the night’. The worst of it is that there is no escape for them, and that sort of makes you think that there isn’t for you either (of course there is no logic in this but I never said I wasn’t a sucker for these things). It’s best you’re surprised to get the full impact so I won’t share/spoil the best bits but prepare yourself for dilemmas of leaving the bedroom door open (or not in my case….’Which is best, open or closed? Which will save us from the demons?’ The film does not really conclude I’m afraid) and if you have an attic I would reconsider watching unless you scare less easily than me (I don’t have one but I found myself afraid of the people in the flat upstairs for a long while after). Watch with someone you don’t mind behaving like a frightened div in front of, but definitely not alone (and in our case, after a whole load of stiff Ping Pong cocktails helps too!).
Back to the cinema (and this is it for the ‘reviews’, although I realise I’m telling you to see everything so far!) and Submarine, which did a very good job of reminding us of all those awkward teenage moments we’d rather forget. Alex Turner’s (Arctic Monkeys) soundtrack works perfectly, but as ever it’s the detail that impresses me and it’s love interest Jordana’s nail polish that mesmerised me….throughout the film her dark nail colour (which never started perfect) progresses perfectly from small chips, to peeling to barely there…..all consistently and with absolute continuity. Small things eh. The photo scene was one of the most beautiful for me too of several incredibly well shot pieces, perhaps because I was aching to be the one taking that stream of instant photos, and perhaps because there are so many shots in this film I was aching to take for myself. And I suppose that’s due to the over dramatic narration (and matching camera work and editing) of the self-proclaimed protagonist Oliver Tate who, (like myself at that age) would like to plan each moment and to control its every aspect…..only to be disappointed when he’s disillusioned by reality. Poor dear.
So we did get out of the house other than to go to the cinema in March, and one such trip took us for a treat breakfast to the newly(ish) opened The Folly at Monument. I’d been once before for a ‘business’ breakfast, but Adam was delighted to see for the first time its gorgeous and imaginative décor….we sat on the upper most level on mis-matched seats topped in thick animal furs, underneath a canopy of lantern clad trees. The menus were just as exciting, and we began choosing from the promising smoothie list, only for our less-exciting-than-her-surroundings waitress to tell us that they don’t really exist and it’s only a dull couple of smoothies of the day to choose from (like strawberry and orange or something else boring). Still, we remained in good spirits as our coffees arrived with miniature brownies (who needs healthy smoothies anyway), but boy would it have been a nicer experience if they’d been delivered with a smile, or even within fifteen minutes. Our french toast with caremelised bananas (we both had the same) were served looking as though they were completely different dishes too, one minus the raspberry and the other with less banana (not to mention that they had been presented differently!) and both sans maple syrup. Of course we asked for this and simply had to wait a further five minutes, but all in all I think we’ll avoid the place at weekends, as they only seem to pay mind to service and detail during the week. Shame.
The rest of that day wasn’t such a disappointment though as we were treated to Morris Dancers on the walk back along the river! Outside the Tower of London were a whole merry band of them entertaining snap happy tourists. I was allowed to stop for a little while (Adam doesn’t have the same love for them as me!) and so I too snapped on my phone for a while with almost-as-British as the Morris Dancers themselves backdrop of Tower Bridge. And more treats were in store as we made our way to Waitrose for the weekend shop (fear ye not, I’m not going to bore you with our supermarket list….although maybe another post one day…) as we stopped off there for a hot chocolate (we’d given up on The Folly by second round hot drinks stage and decided to get one on the way home). And in Waitrose’s little cafe we were served *possibly* the *best* hot chocolate EVER! The lady made it from a kind of hot goo, which was then topped off by huge marshmallows which created a velvety blanket to our drink. We actually had to start them off with spoons because we couldn’t get through the marshmallows! Yum!
Now in an attempt for a seamless link…..said Waitrose shop was actually in preparation for our next house guests. Dear friends and new neighbors (well only a five or so minute walk away) Kate and Jason were our next dinner party guests and on the Sunday joined us for another cider inspired Roast. With spiced cider as they arrived (yes it was still that cold in March!), we cooked up a garlic and herb roasted lamb with cider gravy, before totally over indulging on an extremely large bowl of apple flapjack trifle!
The following weekend it was Hannah’s turn to play guest, and we opted for an afternoon of teas, finger sandwiches and cakes to chat over (and spent a fun afternoon prior baking and polishing the silver). Having scoffed more than was really necessary or polite (well that’s the only way to do Afternoon Tea right?) we managed to inspire Hannah to extend her new enthusiasm for cooking to try her hand at baking. We’re looking forward to tasting the results!
And then it was my turn to play guest as I headed to Claire’s for an afternoon of girly chat and (of course) yums, up in Primrose Hill. Much to my delight, the afternoon transpired into over eating of cruditees, gossiping (read bitching at will) and watching MTV (upon which we were only too pleased to comment with vicious honesty). Upon my return to our empty flat (Adam was now away in Germany for a few days with work) I found adorable love notes on the mirror and in my laptop. I couldn’t bear to take these down of course and so they remained until we next had guests and I was embarrassed as they caught sight of them, but then of course there are worse things people could find in one’s home. Such as a Tesco bag.
Work in March was an extremely bountiful month of treats, with a whole week of cupcake deliveries and team baking efforts to begin with. Charlie’s pink glitter sprinkled vanilla cupcakes were perhaps the prettiest, whilst Claire’s mini Victoria sponges with little MASK Events branded flags were the most traditional! I though, nearly poisoned Cassie with my Pecan and Maple cupcakes as she nearly took one despite her nut allergy and the big decorative pecan on top (got to get used to not offering her things with nuts!). Several deliveries were made too by lovely suppliers, but our favourite perk of the month had to be our exclusive backstage tour to the Royal Opera House which included a viewing of the Royal Ballet’s rehearsal. Charlie and I felt so incredibly privileged to be seeing such gifted performers in their pre-performance warm up, and positively shocked by how easy they make everything look even off stage. Charlie left still wanting to be a dancer when she grows up (she’s still only 21 after all), but I left quite happy to gaze at them without having to do any of the hard work!
A busy month finally came to an end though with our much delayed flat warming party. Having loved the TV show so much and with a nod to our Art Deco building, we decided on a Boardwalk Empire inspired style. We took cues from the prohibition era for the menu (with great difficulty though!) and served little bites of sardine escabeche, corn fritattas, sweet potato tarts with marshmallow topping and little ice cream cone cakes complete with icing made to look like a proper piped ice cream with a flake! Drinks were easier of course, although all were served in tea pots etc. and bottles hidden in brown paper bags….The Bronx and Planters Punch for arrival cocktails and plenty of Champagne to celebrate our moving in. In the spirit of prohibition too, we decorated with black balloons and guests were given a red carnation on arrival (without which there was no booze for them!). And with all the booze it wasn’t long before Adam’s guitar came out, and he and John were harmonizing (I use the work loosely) in renditions of Tenacious D. Far and away from our specially selected 1920s playlist, but fun non the less.
Boardwalk Empire inspired blog……
Apple Flapjack Trifle!…..