• Eddie the Eagle

    Quad-Van-AW_29880-Eddie-the-EagleLast night went to the first showing this week of the new film Eddie the Eagle at my favourite cinema Abbeygate :). If you are looking for an upbeat, feel good movie then go see this, if you are looking for something serious and factually correct then don’t bother.

    Sat down with a good glass or red, relaxed and waited for the start. Cinema was full of all sorts of ages and some clearly wondering what all the fuss was about. The film starts in the early days of Eddie and his attempts at getting to the Olympics and the unconventional approach he took to getting into the 1988 Winter Olympics. The British Olympic Association didn’t come of very well from the film, hardly surprising. In order to get a film that fit into an hour and a half they changed a lot of the facts, including the number of coaches he had and locations but you get the picture from the film of the struggle he had to get there.

    What I had forgotten about was that he continued to train and tried to get into future Olympics but failed each time. Love the scenery out there in the Alps and Canada and it has reminded me just how much I have missed not going out on skis for two seasons now, next year I will definitely be out there somewhere.

    Well worth a visit in all these times of bad news on TV good to watch something entertaining. 7/10 for this one.

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  • Big and not so big cats …

    jessops75_logoI’ve talked about Jessops before here and the excellent customer service they provide and how helpful they are at the stores, I put them in the same league as John Lewis. They not only sell hardware but also photography courses and it is clear they are looking to expand this area. Earlier this year I was looking through them and thought long and hard and then took the plunge and booked on the Big Cats Experience. So last Sunday the time came around to head over to Hertfordshire for the day and I am glad, turned out to be a fantastic day, even with a short thunder storm. Now I am no photography expert and I was using the day to enhance my skills and take photos of something very different.

    CSTLogoHT_h80The day is hosted at The Cat Survival Trust over in Hertfordshire. It is not open to the public just members and specially arranged trips such as the Jessops experience day. When you look at the website before you go you do start to wonder what sort of setup it is. The trust is on a twelve acre site with a small farm shop at the front and is run by Dr Terry Moore. Setup in 1976 (although he was doing work before this date) it is a place which houses various wild car species for education and conservation, they house unwanted or surplus wild cats from zoos and collections. Last week they received three leopards on a temporary basis from a zoo in the north while their enclosure is being rebuilt. As art of the cost of the experience you get a years free members to the trust and can go back whenever you like and I certainly will be doing that.

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    Snow Leopard

    The day consisted of about 15 of use, two people from Jessops (Phil Gould and Lizzie James) and Terry Moore and another college from the trust. A brief introduction is given of some of the key areas to focus on during the day and it became clear very early on that there is a very wide range of experience in the group. It is not a day to teach you photography, Jessops have other courses for that, it is about the experience and the team are there to help guide you and ensure you make the most of the day. There are two key areas of the site the small and big cats and we split into two groups to cover them. At first you may think that it is not very large but the time very quickly disappears. What makes this different from a zoo? Simple just how close you can get to the cats very very close and you certainly have to respect them, they may look cute but their teeth say something different.

    Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard

    Throughout the day I managed to take a massive amount of photos and after discarding the poor quality ones I was very pleased with a small group of them, just a few shown here and more on Facebook. There are many pictures which I like but probably my favourite on is this one, take just a couple of feet away from the lens.DSC_1392

    Overall the day was fantastic and 4.30pm came around far too quickly. The cat trust does a lot of great work with the cats and they are very dedicated to what they do and incredibly helpful when you are there. The same goes for both Phil and Lizzie who were both extremely knowledgeable, helpful and patient throughout the day. It is money well spent.

     

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  • Hail, Caesar! and Sicario

    MV5BMjQyODc3MTI2NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDMxMjU2NzE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Recent visits to the cinema, Abbeygate, have taken in a couple of very different films.

    The first was Hail, Caesar! which has quite a few stars in who clearly did it just for the fun of it and something easy to do. If you want something very simple and easy to watch, which will make you laugh at times, then this is worth a couple of hours of your time but don’t expect a classic. Set in the 1950s it is about the Hollywood studios and some of the stories around them and the way the key character played by James Brolin, keeps the actors in line. Also gives a little snippet how how much it was a production line of films at the time. Clooney was funny and you do wonder at times why he took the film on but glad he did. It is very easy to watch and ridiculous at times and jumps around a bit but it was very entertaining.

     

     

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    By contrast Sicario is a very different type of film and very dark about the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico. It paints a dark picture of the area and I can’t see this helping the Mexican tourist trade, not exactly a place you want to visit. Quite a few twists and you have to pay attention, the music score certainly adds to the atmosphere and you realise there is a very different world out there. I think nearly everyone left the cinema in silence at the end of this one. Overall it was good as it does challenge a serious subject and you do wonder how they will ever win the fight against drugs, if at all.

     

     

     

    Glad I went to see both films but I won’t be rushing back to see these ones again, put them on the shelf for when there is nothing else on.

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  • Manchester

    manchester-united.altimgManchester is famous for two things;

    1. I was born and raised there :)
    2. Manchester United, once the best club in the world but having a few challenges now.

    I moved to Suffolk many years ago but haven’t forgotten where I came from. Over the years though I have been back on many occasions mainly for family events but more recently it has been less frequently. In January I was back there for a day visiting the client for my current project. Took the train up to Piccadilly and spent the morning around there. Before my train back I have a couple of hours spare and took a wander around the place. Considering that Piccadilly station is the main one in the city you would think that the area around it would something special, but in fact you will be very disappointed.

    I wandered around for a while but everywhere I went it looked very run down and neglected. The whole area just needs a lot TLC, loads of rubbish around. It was a great shame to see the place like that. I am sure there are areas which are much better looked after but what I saw didn’t inspire me to return very soon.

    Hopefully I just saw it on an off day.

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  • Star Men

    smWent to see Star Men today at the Abbeygate cinema, it was a very late booking and was the only time they are showing this at the cinema. Glad I did go along as it was excellent and something very different from the recent films that I have seen. It is four retired English astronomers who are all in their 70’s now who decided to celebrate the 50 years since they studied at the California Institute of Technology and where they often went on various roadtrips out into the middle of nowhere. It is documentary style and they interview each of the astronomers as they go through the film. It is amazing how much they did in their lifetime and how they contributed to the field quite humbling really. They were joined by Alison Rose who produced the documentary and encouraged them to talk more about what they achieved and life today.

    They reproduced the road trip to Rainbow Bridge in Utah with two of them and Alison walking for a couple of days. It was clearly a lot tougher for the guys than they remembered event the fit one Roger Griffin who runs the London marathon each year and last time was in 3hrs 57 mins! It was funny listening to them chat about things and one of them still wearing his shirt and tie walking through the hot Utah desert. They made it in the end and the bridge was incredibly impressive. It was incredibly listening to them talk about the universe and just how vast it is and their findings. Does make you think just how little we explore places in our own lives!

    It was a very pleasant hour and a half and well worth watching if you get the chance. Will give this one 8/10.

    sm1

     

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  • Bury Christmas Doors

    This morning thought I would do something a little different before the rain arrived for the day here in Bury St Edmunds (map). Lots of houses hang some sort of wreath out on the door over the Christmas period and being the last weekend before most will come down it was now or never to record some of those which have been used this year. Many traditional but at the same time a lot which are quite individual in taste. Anyway below are a selection of those I managed to get pictures of before the heavens opened. Original photos can be found here.

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  • Bury St Edmunds

    DSC_1812If you like visiting towns that have a lot of history and some very good architecture then it can do you no harm to visit Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. The place has a wonderful cathedral and always puts in a lot of effort to ensure people come and visit. The Abbey Gardens being a major attraction.

    Yesterday morning I decided to crawl out of bed early as it was going to be a clear morning and headed into town with the camera and tripod to get a few shots of the sun rising. The actual sunrise itself was not that impressive this time but I managed to get a few shots form the gardens. Before the gardens were open I spent a bit of time on Angel Hill playing around with the settings taking a few pictures of the cathedral tower and gardens entrance.

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  • Star Wars – The Force Awakens

    Star Wars The Force AwakensAfter all the hype of the past year Star Wars The Force Awakens was finally released on the 17th December. So there I was sat comfortably in the cinema at Abbeygate (which is an excellent place to go) at 00.01 on the 17th waiting with anticipation. At midnight the last thing you want to see are the normal cinema trailers but I suppose they are still obliged to show them but once they were out of the way the film started.

    The usual start you would expect from a Star Wards film and straight into the action. It is not long before we are introduced to the main characters. The new main characters were excellent and very fresh, Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Finn (John Boyega), both slotted into their roles incredibly well. With some of the older characters coming back it made for an excellent film.

    The original Star Wars (Episodes IV, V, VI) were excellent mainly because they had new cast members and the films felt ‘lived in’ and not the polished finished you got with many science fiction films of the time. However the next trilogy (episodes I, II, III) were a disaster not just for the poor casting but everything was just too polished and cleaned. The Force Awakens returns to the original theme and certainly feels ‘lived in’. The one surprise was the killing of Han Solo, didn’t see that one coming! Will they find a way to bring him back or not…

    I’ve seen it in both 2D and 3D and it was good in both forms. It was surprisingly good in 3D but I still prefer the 2D offering. So will I see it again, probably soon but can’t wait for episode VIII in May 2017.

    score: 9/10 (always room for improvement)

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  • The Martian

    maxresdefaultIf you haven’t seen The Martian with Matt Damon go and see it excellent film and well worth a visit. I ended up seeing it twice and I found it just as entertaining the second time around. As with most films nowadays I headed to Abbeygate and sat back and relaxed.
    Matt Damon was excellent in the role and perfectly cast (looking forward to the new Bourne film when it is released). Ridley Scott again creating a master piece, serious in many places it was also very funny. I know there will be people out there saying the science is not right and such and such a scene would not be possible but to be honest it was so well cast and filmed you could believe that this could happen. What also made the film stand out was the sound track, very different to many films and a lot of excellent music most of which the kids have probably never heard before.
    Definitely a 9/10 for me.
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  • Back to the Future II

    back-futureThere was a lot of press coverage about the 21st October 2015 and Back to the Future II and how accurate it was. The local cinema, Abbeygate, had a special showing on that night so I headed over there into the comfy seats with a glass of red in hand. Whilst most of the press was focused on what technology had come to fruition I was really just interested in watching an entertaining film which I had not seen in many years and certainly not seen in the cinema since its release in 1989.
    1989 wow was it that long ago since the release and seeing it the first time at the flea pit in Colchester? 2015 must have seemed an eternity away at that point. So I settled down for a good couple of hours and I was not disappointed. Even after all this time I found it good, easy and enjoyable to watch. I love the way the story is intertwined with the first film and I think it works very well. I didn’t find the third film quite as good but it was still entertaining. I came out of the cinema relaxed after having a good couple of hours watching the film in a very relaxing environment. For me if you leave the cinema feeling good about what you have seen then the film has achieved something what it should to entertain people.
    Do love going to Abbeygate they have some very good films on throughout the year from the past and always good to see them again.
    Think I will give this 8/10.
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