Apologies for the absence of blogging recently - life has been very manic, both at work and at home.
Last weekend, we had a number of university friends come to Bristol for a spot of festive shopping (where I got loads of ideas for presents, then, as today has been the first day I could go in to actually buy the items, I go into town and discover that everything I like has sold out... Panicing? Not yet...), carols and music at our orchestra Christmas concert, and then a very cold, but nonetheless enjoyable day out at Caerphilly, where they had a medieval festival (though sadly very much reduced as a result of the atrocious weather that they'd had the day before) and Christmas market. We had a fun lunch in a pub where the waiter was (without meaning to be rude!) obviously hired on a 'positive action' programme. The first couple of times he came up were ok (he came to check the food order that we'd placed - 9 people meant that there was a lot of food!), but the popping up every five minutes to check that the food was alright, and to give us "Mr Pepper"... started to get a little bit creepy! The castle itself was gorgeous, and I'd like to see it again, in warmer weather. All in all, a good, if exhausting, weekend.
This weekend we had a very lazy Saturday and Sunday day, but busy evenings - Saturday, we were over at Oldland for the orchestra Christmas Party - a very silly, fun evening. Then, Sunday evening, we went out to see the Golden Compass. This is one of those films which has been hyped a lot, right from the first moment that it was announced (and even before - the books have generated a lot of coverage, mainly from the rabid-Christian types who don't like the idea of anybody even thinking of querying their beliefs, let alone writing a book which might be read to impressionable young children... (NB - Disclaimer - I am not claiming that all Christians are like this. Just the complete nutters...)) The cast list is amazing; Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Ian McKellan, Christopher Lee, Derek Jacobi and Freddie Highmore (and yes, I know that Freddie is still only a kid, but his name on the credits is now enough to make me want to see a film!) all making an appearance (even if Mr McK and Mr H are only in voice rather than appearing on screen). The graphics are fantastic - the daemons are gorgeous, and the scenery is beautiful (both real and imaginary - the scenes of the Scandinavian country - it isn't clear whether they are going to Norway or Sweden - particularly the going up the fjords and the docks, brought back very vivid (and happy) memories of the honeymoon). Some of the concepts could have done with more work - the idea of the daemons being souls are really only mentioned in the introduction, and not really covered in the film - and there were a lot of ideas and people which could have done with going into in more depth - the film felt like it was skimming over the surface. However, the acting was fantastic, particularly from Dakota Blue-Richards, who plays the lead - at age 12, and not having done any screen acting (at least, nothing that has appeared on IMDB...) before, she was breathtaking. She had to do a lot of acting against bluescreen (particularly everything that was done with the bears), and that in itself is very impressive. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her! Overall, I wasn't as blown away by the film as I'd hoped to be, but it is still definitely worth watching, and I'm looking forward to the next film.
Also, since I last blogged, Heroes has finished... I've left this till last deliberately in order that anyone who hasn't watched it, and doesn't want spoilers, can stop reading now ;-)
A finale which answered most of the questions, but left enough hanging that I'll want to watch the next series (even though indications from the US are that the second series is rubbish). Sylar's meeting with his mother was brilliantly done - his final hope for redemption being rebuffed. There are queries hanging over Peter's need for his brother to fly him away from New York when he already had that power - my theory is that Peter, at this stage, is unable to control his powers enough to be able to use them more than one at a time (we know that in the future, he can, but that is a different Peter, one who has had more time to practice using his powers). I really enjoyed this - not as much as some of the episodes (particularly the mid-season break one, which had cliffhangers for all the characters), but the writing was great, the acting brilliant, and I am still of the opinion that this is, overall, the best TV series to grace our screens for a very long time (yes, even beating Dr Who - whilst DW had some great episodes, it was not consistently good, as Heroes has been)