We closed 2010 with a film festival, some fine dining at The Wolseley, a wildlife photography exhibit and a week of gorging turkey and trimmings over Christmas.
In November Brighton had its very own film festival, which duly lead us to our favourite movie-place, the Duke of Yorks, for a number of fantastic movies. The festival opened with a packed out screening of The King’s Speech, with complimentary Jamesons’ ginger beer cocktail (oddly tasty) and homemade carrot cake. Colin Firth’s performance was astounding.
Next up, in another sold out screening, we saw Mark Romanek’s adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never let me go” with the brilliant Carey Mulligan. An emotional, slow moving and incredibly intense tale of friendship that starts at an idyllic English boarding school. We talked and talked about this movie for days.
“The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec” was a refreshing comedy with dinosaurs and Egyptians from Luc Besson, although its distinctive French humour grew tiring at times.
To round off our cinema extravaganza we caught Sofia Coppola’s latest effort, “Somewhere”. The atypical Air soundtrack was dropped in favour of a Phoenix offering, but the sentiments were all very similar. Sparse dialogue and a focus on the minutiae (the old trademarks) led to moments that sparkled, but as a whole it fell short of her previous masterpieces, namely Lost in Translation.
In between these screenings, our small screen viewings also stood out. “An Education”, again with Carey Mulligan, and the devastating Koyaanisqatsi with its all encompassing Philip Glass soundtrack.
As a birthday treat I took Sam to the luxurious Wolseley in London where we enjoyed the finest Champagne tea, our own small slice of decadence. Champagne tea? Crustless and exquisite finger sandwiches, perfect pastries, homemade scones and jam (specially made without fruit by request - there’s nothing Sam likes less than raisins in her scones!), two pots of tea (the Wolesely afternoon blend and Sam’s favourite, Assam), and a glass of Pommery Brut Royal NV each. That’s one of Timeout’s 1000 things to do in London crossed out.
Beforehand we paid a visit to the Natural History Museum to see this years Wildlife Photographer of the year exhibit. After a short queue we entered a dark room where 3ft by 2ft photos were mounted perfectly along the walls. Back-lit, the sharpness and delicate detail of the photos and nature itself shone through. Our world felt fleeting, fragile and perfect.
A downward shot of a seabird diving from a cliff gave us vertigo and a majestic portrait of a giant tortoise amazed us. Langurs cuddled, looking out across the city, like a romantic couple, and a baby antelope ran for its life, framed by the impending attack of two cheetah’s, dust thrown up around them.
As an aspiring photographer, I left wanting to travel, to build my own hide and to sit with patience, ready to capture that all too rare wildlife moment.
This Christmas we were in Banstead where Sam’s mum made us a delicious traditional turkey roast with all the trimmings. Petra, the dog, ran around with her new squeaky toy, (thankfully she’s now grown out of all the toe nipping and lace tugging) and ate up a couple of flying cracker toys.
After dinner we sat in front of the roaring wood fire and shamelessly sat back to endure a little Poirot, amongst the ad breaks and the cheese and crackers (all too full to really embrace the fine cheese). Amanda’s indoor helicopter toy was carefully manoeuvred from the table to the ceiling, making sure Petra was out of sight.
The recent snow hadn’t melted and it was the perfect white Christmas - crisp, white and snowy, but without the immediate travel chaos. With some Christmas cake wrapped in foil, and packed into an old Quality Streets tin, we drove to Bristol on boxing day, with some delicious smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast to keep us going.
In Yate, after enduring the obvious M25 traffic jam, my mum and sister treated us to dips, party food, and tasty nibbles. Then the board games came out; a gift from Sam, we played Acquire first (a cross between Monopoly and Carcassonne), then, a gift from me to Sam, we all played Thurn and Taxis (similar to Ticket to Ride). Of course, late in the evening we watched the football highlights and the exciting Ashes series down-under, which we have now won emphatically.
We rushed about Bristol seeing friends and family while we could, stopping at my aunts in Yatton for a bite to eat and a talk about the horses and cats, with ET on in the background, muted. At my Grandparents my Grandpa knocked up a delicious quick bubble n squeak from Xmas day leftovers, complete with the much needed pickled onions and homemade quiche, and trifle for dessert. And we went to my old friend Gary’s for an evening, to see how he’s settling into his new house with fiancee Rachel; Sam’s Xbox skills were pushed to her limit as she played a run, jump and explode teamwork game. Each day, and with each stop, we dropped off a box of our homemade truffles and Christmas biscotti, and sometimes a plant or a bottle of mulling syrup (the good stuff from Selsley) too.
Back in Brighton, in the downtime before New Year’s, we found the perfect oak bed from Warren Ellis, complete with 55% + 10% off. It’s gorgeous, and the smell of new wood continues to permeate the flat. And that’s not the best part, the bed is high enough for us to see out the window from our pillows, I can see the sea from my pillow. My bed is my new favourite place.
At New Year’s Jo, Amanda and Vince came over for some games and a meal. We made lamb puff pastry parcels with cranberry (and a special trick to keep the pastry crisp), with maple syrup and mustard roasted parsnips/carrots and brussels with walnuts. Served with red wine, and with one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute desserts - homemade mascarpone and raspberry cheesecake. Yummy!
Games filled up the rest of the evening; scattegories, a new backpacker card game, and then, late into the night, Articulate, the party favourite. At the strike of midnight we cracked open the champagne and watched hundreds of Chinese lanterns float towards the sky.
Jo stayed for a couple more days, and this was the perfect excuse to play yet more board games, in between the “Fly away home” movie on TV and a spot of Sushi making (Sam also tried her hand at making tempura). At last we managed to squeeze in a round of our favourite game, Settlers of Catan.
Before too long, the holidays were over and after rounding out the holiday season with Toy Story 3 and the last mug of mulled wine in our German market mugs from Cologne, it was back to work, or university in Sam’s case, for her final 10 weeks in Guildford as part of her masters.