movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

November 28, 2010

Tonight we went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (commonly known as HP7a).  I’m not going to give anything away about the plot or interpretation of the book, just say I thought it was a great movie and really up to the standard of the rest of the series.  It isn’t particularly a stand alone movie though, you really have to have seen at least the previous two in order to have a clue what is going on and who people are.

So, really good to have another Harry Potter movie, shame we have to wait till July to get the final part!

However, since I’m not going to give anything away and I’m writing now anyway… might as well have a rant about multiplexes (in this case Cineworld Renfrew Street).  I hate multiplexes – they wind me up, yet I’m glad we have them!

Multiplex cinema’s seem to have an irresistible attraction to selfish, immature idiots who fail to understand that other human beings have paid to watch a movie. The multiplex has of course cashed in on this attraction to idiots by selling preposterous sized portions of the most unsuitable food and drink for actually watching a movie.

However, back to the idiots.  HP7a on a Saturday evening unsurprisingly attracts a large proportion of adolescent idiots.  This was obvious by the rolling giggling laugh that a line in the film where Ron said to Harry something about his “10 inch wand” !

Why does the Multiplex not have staff on duty actually in each screen to deal with people talking, shining mobile phone screens or messing around distracting their customers?  Of course ‘policing’ shouldn’t be required if people generally had any concern for those around them.

book: “Orchid Beach” by Stuart Woods

November 26, 2010

All the Stuart Woods novels I’ve read so far have been the ones involving the ‘Stone Barrington’ character.  In a couple of these stories he has been joined by the Chief of Police from the town of Orchid Beach, Florida – Holly Barker.  This is the first novel in which Holy Barker is the main character.

It opens with Holy Barker leaving the military after 20 years of service, mostly as an MP.  She takes up the offer of a job from a friend of her father who is Chief of Police, works out her notice then heads for Florida.  However, the night she arrives to take up the post the Chief of Police is murdered.  As she settles into the new job she has this murder to deal with and some information from the dead Chief that he didn’t trust someone in his own department – but Holy doesn’t know who.  As the story unfolds there is a private ‘gated community’ which Holy discovers wont even permit access to the Police force.

Another easy, page turner that keeps you intrigued about what is going on enough without having to actually think too hard.

food: No. Sixteen

November 25, 2010

Number 16 Byre’s Road was the long awaited number ‘N’ on our ongoing alphabet-restaurant-journey.  We managed to get there in time for their pre-theater menu which ends at 6:30pm during the week and looked forward to our two courses for £12.

Unfortunately I really didn’t find much to say about this place.  I had a starter of pan roast merguez sausage and a main course of Pan fried fillet of bream with olive crushed potatoes, red pepper essence and salsa verde.  Which was fine.

And that really sums up the food – it was fine, but nothing really blew me away or stood out as being extra special.  What did stand out was all the extras – how did 3 people eating a  fixed price menu of £12 end up at £53.

£3 for a fairly small, average tasting coffee
£2 for each small glass of soft drink
£2.50 for “seasonal vegetables” – which I thought could be really stunning but ended up to be a disappointingly small portion of steamed broccoli and courgette which was damp and tasteless.

I would have to say that No16 is, in my opinion, highly overpriced for their extras, drinks, etc. and the standard of food overall certainly wasn’t worth the £12 charge.  No photos I’m afraid because my phone has been playing up.

Books: Stuart Woods “Two Dollar Bill”

November 21, 2010

Another quick action thriller by Stuart Woods in his ‘Stone Barrington’ series.

These books are straight forward pulp page turning action with familiar characters, interesting settings, clever twists and turns and with incredibly well written pace.  Each short chapter leads you straight into the next, often with a surprise in the last line or two just to hook you on to the next page.

In this story Stone meets ‘Billy Bob Barnstormer’ (who becomes known as Two Dollar Bill due to his repeated tipping from a large roll of two dollar notes).  At first we think Billy Bob is a client of Stone – who is a lawyer some of the time – but it soon turns out that he goes by many aliases and is wanted by the FBI, CIA, NYPD and probably a few more agencies if they only knew who he is.  As far as Stone is concerned he is just a slight inconvenience until he leaves a murdered prostitute in Stone’s guest room.

As ever, a good little read!

movie: RED

November 20, 2010

Went to see ‘Red’ tonight with Gordon…

It’s been out for a while so the place wasn’t too crowded even being a Friday night (we did have to park miles away, but you can’t have everything).

Red is the everyday story of some retired people trying to adjust to life after work.  However as they are retired from CIA black-ops or ‘wet-work’ retired life is a little boring.  Apart from being bored suddenly people start trying to kill them off.

Following that the plot is good, with interesting twists and turns but I wont go too much into the plot.  The movie is much more about the characters and the comic action involved.  Much of the action is ‘comic book’ style i.e. impossible physics and improbably shooting (have a look at this clip – my favorite action scene from this film!!)

Bruce Willis is in his element, Morgan Freeman also looks the part of an older action hero and John Malkovich is fantastic as a psychotic, conspiracy obsessed, lunatic who’s mind was experimented on.  However the genius casting was of Helen Mirren as a retired assassin who still carries out the odd contract just to keep her hand in – she just about steals every scene.

While it isn’t ground breaking, or Oscar winning, but it is a very funny movie, great action and good plot – love it.

Photo on BBC News site

November 19, 2010


I sent  this photo into the BBC news web site under ‘Your Pictures’ which is always worth checking.  This photo was taken in Inveraray on Sunday morning (Rememberance Sunday) on our way back from our Campbeltown trip.

Trip to Campbeltown

November 15, 2010

Why did D and I go all the way to Campbeltown this weekend?

Because it was totally beautiful, we had a great place to stay and wanted to meet a very important man.  Neither of us have been to Campbeltown or anywhere down the Kintyre Peninsula, probably because there really isn’t much there and it doesn’t lead anywhere.  However, it was a beautiful drive around Loch Lomond, Loch Long, Inveraray, Loch Fyne, Machrihanish… with the sun slowly going down as we got closer.

The great place we stayed was Oatfield House which may be the best B&B I’ve ever stayed in.  The rooms were spacious, well decorated and outfitted.  The owners very friendly and looked after us well.  We were spoiled by having the place to ourselves so also had a large comfortable living room with an open fire for the evening.

Sunday was bright, sunny and clear (it is November so fairly cold) and before heading back we went for a bit of little explore, and found St Columba’s Footprints, and nearby St Columba’s Well, and had a great view of the ‘wrong’ side of Ailsa Craig (wrong because I’ve seen it many times from the other side so wasn’t sure this side existed!)

The road back was just fantastic scenery – far too good to come out in photos.  The loch’s were flat calm, mirror surfaces reflecting everything, with big skies, low winter sun, autumn colours everywhere it really was breathtaking!

Today was also Remembrance Sunday, so it was nice to take a moment at this war memorial in Inverary on the way back.

Back in Campbeltown itself, there wasn’t much happening – I was a little excited about the possibility of visiting the Picture House (community owned and run and is the oldest continuously run, purpose-built cinema in Scotland still showing films) – but the film that was on was rubbish so I had to give that a miss.  We asked a few people to recommend somewhere to eat and they couldn’t, and both pointed us out to the excellent ‘Old Club House‘ in Machrihanish which is totally worth the 10min drive out of town!!

Anyway, we didn’t go all that way for no reason, we went to meet with Grant Logan, the jewelery designer I found online and bought D’s engagement ring from.  So we arranged to visit to try some wedding rings for both of us.  It was great to meet him and hear some of the ideas behind the designs, and how he makes this stuff, not to mention try on some rings and decide on what we wanted to spend the rest of our lives wearing!  Here then, are a couple of photos of us trying on the rings…

… no, we aren’t going to show you the designs till they are on our fingers, also, I can’t find the pair that we chose on his web site so no guessing :-0

D – outside Oatfield House

movie: The Social Network

November 11, 2010

It has been out for a while so I’ll keep it brief.  The Social Network is the story two friends Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin who meet at University and when Mark gets the idea for a social network Eduardo helps him fund the project.  There is a slight complication that some other people may have given Mark the idea, and there is some disagreement with which direction to take the project which eventually leads to Eduardo being locked out of the company which by then is worth multi-millions of dollars.

It all ends in court battles and the story unfolds in flashback sequences from two litigation depositions (I think that is the right terminology).  So we see at the same time the friendships and relationships as they are formed, while at the same time know that they are broken to the point of friends taking each other to court.

That the social network in question is now familiar to everyone in the audience doesn’t matter as there are only passing references to it throughout the film.  This is a story of relationships – real life social networking or the lack thereof.

To keep a story which is all about the characters moving along at a good pace takes some outstanding writing which this movie gets from Aaron Sorkin writer of the West Wing and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip – by the way if I’ve lent my DVDs of Studio 60 to anyone who is reading can I get it back?

Books: Stuart Woods “Kisser”

November 8, 2010

I’ve read most, but not all, of the Stuart Woods books with the Stone Barrington character and “Kisser” is the latest paperback to feature him.  I find these books extremely easy to read, quick page-turners that throw you into a plot and keep running at pace with no slack.  They aren’t too complicated, everything is presented to you, not too much mystery or suspense – just a plot and characters interesting enough to keep you engaged and a writing style that ends each short chapter pulling the reader into the next sentence, therefore paragraph and why not just one more chapter…

In this story Stone deals with two cases – firstly a new actress in town asks for some advice which leads to an affair with Stone and requiring protection against a stalking ex-husband.  Meanwhile, Stone is given a case involving an heiress who is involved with  an artist who may be a conman.

These two cases never really overlap other than in Stone’s personal life. The usual surrounding characters all appear which adds interest for the reader who is familiar with the previous novels, and any female character that appears has to jump into bed with Stone – so really a fairly standard Stuart Woods novel.  I enjoyed it.