Books: Richard Grady “One Day Ahead: A Tour de France Misadventure”

February 26, 2015

This is a story (almost) about the 2012 Tour de France and (almost) about a pleasant trip around France.  But it is more about a slightly grumpy man having a terrible time in a motorhome.

bookRichard is asked to drive support for his friend taking on the route of one of the toughest cycle races in the world.  The plan is to ride each stage of the tour one day ahead of the race coming.  The roads are still open but the route markings are in place and each town is getting ready for the circus.

This plan soon grows to four cyclists with two motorhomes in support driving them to the start of each days ride, meeting the riders for food stops and getting camp ready for them at night.  A full time job – which the girlfriends in motorhome 2 aren’t  fully aware of.  The tension between the motorhomes, keeping everything on schedule and completing the daily millage keeps the book moving and entertaining.

There are enough background and history of the Tour to add interest without becoming a text book.  Each day also has a recap of what is happening in the real race just one day behind our group.  A nice little book, very easy to dip into and with lots of humour.

Books: Peter May “The Lewis Man”

January 8, 2015

This is the second in Peter May‘s Lewis Trilogy, following up shortly after the end of The Blackhouse. Finn MacLeod is divorced, leaving the Police force and moving his life back to his birthplace on the Isle of Lewis with plans restore his parents croft house.  Meanwhile the well preserved body of a murder victim is found in a peat bog and DNA test show him to be related to Tormond MacDonald the father of Finn’s childhood sweetheart Marsaili.  However, Tormond now an elderly man suffering from dementia – has always claimed to be an only child.

book The story unfolds in multiple ways through the inner thoughts of Tormond trapped in his dementia not knowing what is going on when he is in a nursing home but thinks he is a young man.  Memories and flashbacks to his childhood in a nightmare of orphanages and servitude, and his own childhood sweetheart.  Meanwhile Finn is trying to put the pieces together to discover who the body in the bog is and due to that who Tormond really is.

I did find the middle part of this book a little slow but towards the end the momentum really built up again to an ending that was both dramatic and thrilling.  This would make a great little TV mini series, and I look forward to reading the last in the trilogy.


Review of 2014

January 3, 2015

Previously: 200920102011, 2012, 2013.  Now for the summary of my blog posts for 2014 (there weren’t many)… as ever please note this is only to help me remember things I really don’t know why anyone else would be interested:

MOVIES (cinema)

Gigs, Events & Theater

  • May: Wicked
  • Nov: Glasgow City Council Civic Reception for St Silas 150 year anniversary.

BOOKS read this year….

  • June: Lee Child “Never Go Back”
  • that appears to be it!  In my defense I have started a few and decided they weren’t worth the effort and I currently have three on the go but still only one book completed and blogged about all year is shameful! Must do better next year!


  • March: Crieff Hydro
  • May: Seahouses, Northumberland
  • Aug: Isle of Lewis
  • Nov: Crieff Hydro

Other Highlights:

  • April: Son turned 1, walks, had chicken pox, is great fun!
  • July: Commonwealth Games were in Glasgow
  • July: 1 Year of Cycling to Work
  • Sept: Got a new bike through cycle to work scheme
  • Sept: Started working condensed 4 day week to have Monday’s with Lewis
  • Nov: Civic Reception and other celebrations for St Silas 150 year anniversary.

Running Totals:

  • 2009 – 23 books – 6 Movies – 4 gigs/events
  • 2010 – 33 books – 13 Movies – 10 gigs/events – 6 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2011 – 18 books – 2 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 1 meals – 3 holidays
  • 2012 – 16 books – 7 Movies – 3 gigs/events – 3 meals – 4 holidays
  • 2013 – 8 books – 2 Movies – 0 gigs/events – 1 meals – 2 holidays – 1 Son
  • 2014 – 1 books – 3 Movies – 2 gigs/events – 0 meals – 4 holidays – 1 Son

Movie: Paddington

December 3, 2014

moviesVery simple to review this movie – it’s great!

It doesn’t spoil anything you already know and love about Paddington and adds a great deal.  The animation with live action is excellent making the movie believable and all the acting just on the edge of being over the top but holding it together.

Having grown up with the 5min cartoons it was great to see this as a full length movie.  Will be fine on the small screen eventually, but worth watching on a big one.


Movie: What We Did on Our Holiday

October 8, 2014

We got to the cinema!!

Son away overnight so a lot of pressure to have a good time, in this case to choose a good film.  Without a great deal of research we choose to see What We Did on Our Holiday, based on the cast and team behind it..  Billy Connoly, David Tennant, Ben Millar, Andy Hamilton & Guy Jenkins.  All I knew about this was a soundbite from Andy Hamilton saying that the film is what they might do with Outnumbered given the pace of a movie.

movieThis is a lovely little film showing family life – how the grown ups talk in front of children and when they think they aren’t listening, how the children react and their understanding of what is going on.  For example, the ‘grown ups’ hide from the children that the grandfather (Connoly) is dying, but when he simply tells them they understand and accept what it means.

I have to admit I was expecting a fairly formulaic movie but with these stars it would still be worth watching.  However, it took an unexpected turn which threw things in a different direction and made it far from formulaic.  The cast are as you would expect fantastic.  The unscripted scenes with the children are fantastic not just because of what they say and do but also the adult actors reaction to what is happening.

This is a really nice film that covers some difficult topics it was nice to watch it on the big screen (Scotland always looks great on a big screen) but I don’t think you would be missing out if you waited to see it on a TV.

PS I can also recommend Empire Cinema in Clydebank for their “Saverday Tuesday” (£3.60 each) but also for the excellent staff who sorted out the row of 8 loudly chatting, phone using, over excited teens.  Have they not heard of the Code of Conduct!

Books: Lee Child “Never Go Back”

June 16, 2014

A long time fan of Lee Child I’ve read all the Jack Reacher stories, when on form there is no better thriller writer.  There have been a couple of books that were a bit dud (in my opinion) and I’m afraid that’s how this one ended up for me.

bookIt started really strong with all the features we look for in a Reacher story plus the twist of him going back to his old command.  In fact the story is really strong for at least half the book with the usual pace and cliffhanger or twist at each chapter change, but as the book draws in there really isn’t any substance to the plot.  He is on the run (or chasing down leads) but with no real reason to anything.  When the final reveal happens and we find out what has been going on all this time – who the bad guys are and what they are up to – it is fairly week and I just thought ‘oh is that all’

In the end it felt like a bit of a waste of time, which is a shame when the first part of the book was ok but the pay-off wasn’t very interesting or as clever as I’ve come to expect from Lee Child.  Still a great character and worth a read but not his best story.

Theater: Wicked

May 20, 2014

I love live shows!  From a school production to a KISS stadium show, I just love the act of humans coming together to create something at a specific time and place.  No matter how rehearsed and managed a live show is each time it is performed it is unique.  Last Wednesday I was reminded just how much I love live shows by going to see Wicked in the Kings Theater, Glasgow.

Wicked posterWe bought these tickets over a year ago, and to be honest I wasn’t that bothered about seeing this particular show.  I knew it was the back story of the Witches of Oz, but other than that I hadn’t paid much attention to Wicked in all the years it has existed on Broadway and around the world.  But I do like live shows!

The Kings is an excellent theater and when you take your seats the stage curtain is a map of Oz with a glowing Emerald City at its center, above the stage is a massive mechanical dragon since the whole story could be said to take place in flashback inside the “Clock of the Time Dragon”.

From the opening number it was obvious that a big part of the evening would be the sound.  I know a little bit about sound engineering (really not being modest – just a little bit) enough to be aware of how technically difficult theater sound can be.  The sound at Wicked was unbelievable!  The balance between orchestra and actors was perfect, not a single line or note was missed, the music was powerful when needed or simple, quiet and unobtrusive, the performances from everyone on stage, and behind the scenes was incredible.

Having ignored this musical never thinking I would see it I was intrigued by how exactly it would fit into the plot of the Wizard of Oz, I thought that it was very cleverly woven together with that story, so intertwined that now that we know the story of Wicked, the Wizard of Oz makes a lot more sense.  It is (sort of like) watching Fight Club once you know the big twist at the end – the same story but you can see it from a totally different point of view.

Wicked was fantastic.  Brilliantly performed, staged and produced.  A very good night out!



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