Sunday, 25 September 2016

Survival

Saturday 24 September 2016 I went to Anfield to watch Liverpool play Hull City. I should have gone with my husband but he was called out by his work so I went on my own.


Luckily it was a decent game (Liverpool won 5-1) but, more importantly for me, it gave me something to think about other than the continual negative thoughts I have.


I've blogged previously about my on/off battle with depression and I'm at a point where I haven't gone fully into a depressive state but the low moods are becoming more frequent and staying for longer. This could go one of two ways and it's a waiting game to see which wins.


I know some people will think well we all get low moods and it's true. Whenever I an in a "normal" state of mind I have low points. But these are short lived and there is normally a reason why. Now I can go from being ok to having this cloud hang over me which makes life feel meaningless. I don't want to talk to anyone unless I really have to. I don't want to do anything except find something to obliterate the negative thoughts. I have no wish to communicate in any way even to people who know me well and understand I have these spells. 


I hate feeling like this. I want to feel as if I have things to look forward to or to achieve. Instead I get out of bed every day, get dressed and go to work and pretend to be normal. I realise that there are people out there who don't manage that and I have been there but currently I can. So every day that I manage to do this is another day when depression hasn't fully struck. It could be the last day or it may not be. I won't know until the day my brain says I can't cope any longer and I stay in bed instead of getting out of it. Today wasn't that day.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Bridge of Spies

When I was 12 I remember hearing about an American called Gary Powell being killed in an air crash. The news reports mentioned that he had been shot down over the old USSR back in the 60s but I didn't take much more notice.

Earlier this year we saw a trailer for Bridge of Spies which is set during the Cold War in the 60s and thought it looked interesting. We decided to see it and discovered it was the story behind how Gary Powell got back to the States.

Tom Hanks plays a lawyer given the task of defending Rudolf Abel, brilliantly played by Mark Rylance, on charges of spying for the USSR. What I hadn't known was that Gary Powell was swapped for Abel Rudolf and this film is that story. 

I found it a fascinating and enjoyable film. Tom Hanks gives his usual reliable performance while Mark Rylance is wonderfully understated. The story is complex enough to keep your interest while not being too pro American. Definitely one I'd watch again.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Birdsong

A while ago now I bought "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulkes and added it to my pile of books to read. I picked it up and started to read the introduction written by the author but struggled and so put it back.

Other books were read and Birdsong made it's way to the top of the pile again. So, giving it another chance, I started it again but skipped the introduction. I'm glad I did. 

Like most people, I think, I know a bit about the First World War. I know it was a hard, attritional war fought in awful conditions that almost wiped out a generation of men. This book follows one soldier from his life before the war until the war ends.

At times the descriptions of warfare and how the men suffered are horrific. The detail is superb (I've just finished itching!) and the storyline compelling. Once I started I found it difficult to put down. 
It is very much a human story. I felt sympathy for not just the main character but those who helped fill out the story. The annoying characters are just that but are there for a reason and not just for the sake of it.

This book has gone into my "keep" pile and will be read again.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Reckless: 30th Anniversary Tour

Last year for my birthday and Christmas I got several Ticketmaster vouchers (I admit I'm hard to buy presents for). I thought I'd wait until someone toured who I really wanted to see. Then Bryan Adams announced his Reckless: 30th Anniversary Tour. 

First check - was he coming to Liverpool? Yes!

Second check - what day of the week was the concert? Now this is important as, due to my husband's job, weekday concerts can be difficult to attend. So keeping everything crossed I checked December 15th and it was a Saturday! 

The only problem with booking through Ticketmaster is you can't always pick your seats and my husband likes an aisle seat. So on the night we made our way to our seats and luckily we had the aisle seat.

The Echo Arena in Liverpool is a decent size. It's not as big as the Phones 4 U Arena in Manchester which means that even on the top tier you get a decent view. So this was our view of the stage


Just after 8pm Bryan Adams came on stage and launched into "Reckless". He then proceeded to play the whole album in running order. I didn't think I knew the album but was surprised at how many songs I did know. From the lesser known tracks to the hits he gave his all. 

This was the fifth time I'd seen Bryan and each time during "Summer of 69" he has played chicken with his guitarist while running from one side of the stage to the other. Every time it's worked - except this time. This time he was taken clean out and landed, luckily on stage, flat on his back! And yes it's on You Tube.

Once the "Reckless" album was finished Bryan launched into songs from the other eleven albums he's released starting with "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)" which happens to be my personal favourite song of his. And yes I do know it was Number One forever!!

A mixture of both ballads and belt out songs continued, some sung with simply his guitar for accompaniment before ending with my second favourite song. "I Want To Be Your Underwear" isn't played often live so I was more than happy to hear this.

The encore consisted of four songs of which his band joined him for just the first. The stripped down versions were as enjoyable as anything that had full backing. The very last request from Bryan was to ask everyone to turn on the torch on their phones. He then finished with "All For Love". Approximately eleven thousand mobile phones made a wonderful twinkly sight.


Did I enjoy the night? Most definitely. Whilst Bryan does not put in a show in the way some bands/singers do he does put on a very good gig. From start to finish it's him and his band singing. No props. No gimmicks. And for me that's what a concert should be.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Trip to Skye - Day Seven

Another wet day on Skye meant another day exploring. This time we headed for Waternish on the west coast. We finally ended up in Slein which has a few houses a restaurant and a pub. As we passed the pub I noticed the date above the door - 1720. 

From Slein we headed for Broadford. This is one of the larger villages on the island and has a couple of walks clearly signposted. Not being in the mood for a long walk we wandered around the village for a bit before heading off again.

Our final call of the day was Armadale where the ferry to Mallaig can be caught. A quick check on the ferry times as an option on the journey home resulted in us realising that it wasn't due to it now being the winter timetable.

The final purchase of the holiday was Skye Red a ruby ale brewed near Uig. The Skye Brewery produces an impressive twenty one beers/ales from it's premises which can be purchased online. 
From "Diary Cloud"
http://app.diarycloud.cn

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

A Trip to Skye - Day Six

Thursday brought another fine day on Skye. First thing was a trip to Uig to visit the pottery. 



After a quick walk around we took the road via Staffin to Portree. When we travelled this road on Sunday the weather was bad but the scenery was lovely. However on a clearer day it was simply stunning.

The thing about this road is that there are several places to stop off and enjoy a short walk to a viewpoint. Most of these passed us by on Sunday!

One such place was Staffin beach where I was happily looking out to the islands in the distance when my husband asked if I was enjoying watching the wildlife. It turned out that on some rocks there were about four or five seals - none of which I had noticed!



Further along the road are the Kilt Rocks so named as they look like the pleats in a kilt.



After a few pleasant hours taking in these wonderful walks and views we returned to Portree and purchased a haggis as there is no way you can leave Scotland without one.

A Trip to Skye - Day Five

My husband's choice of trip on this holiday was the tasting tour at Talisker. We arrived in much kinder weather than we had on Monday and could appreciate the surroundings.

A few minutes after our arrival our tour guide collected us and one other couple for the tour. We're now approaching veteran stage of these tours having done several now but it is always interesting to hear about the slight differences. 

At the start of the tour Lesley, our guide, explained where the barley was grown and malted before arriving at Talisker for grinding. At that point the machine sprung into action making the floor vibrate. Considering the amount of barley that passes through at each time (about nine tons) it's not a huge machine.

The next room is the mash room which is the smelliest room in the place. It's a smell I quite like as the large tubs wash the barley in hot water to remove the sugar. 

Sadly we couldn't see the maturation tanks as the room they are kept in was having a new roof and was not accessible. Instead we went straight to the stills where the machine that splits the spirit was in full flow - the first time we'd seen one working.

Next was a look at some of the barrels sitting around while the whisky matures and picks up some of the notes of the barrel. Talisker use predominately bourbon casks with some sherry. The barrels on view had been there since 1979 and we were told that once the contents were bottled they would be the oldest Talisker to be sold.

Finally we headed for the tasting room. Not knowing what strength the whisky would be I had opted out of tasting but has happy to nose them. The options were the first cut, Talisker 10 yr, 18 yr, 25 yr, 57 North and Distillers Choice.

The first cut was the clear spirit that comes out of the stills before it goes into the barrel. It smelt very sweet but with hardly a hint of peat. Those who tasted it said it was surprisingly sweet. Next a few drops of water were added which brought the smokiness out.

These steps were repeated for the five whiskies which my husband enjoyed tasting. At the end I decided to smell the first cut again. It now smelt incredibly peaty but you wouldn't want to taste it!

Having finished the tour we headed back to Portree for a late lunch. In Portree harbour is a fab fish & chip shop. Well worth a visit as they do the best chips I've had in a long time.

The downside of visiting Skye at this time of year is that is gets dark early and so sightseeing finishes early.