A mid week break to Cambridge

Cambridge – I have been working there two days a week over this summer. Its a spectacular city with amazing old buildings lots of little streets and a lovely river.

Last week Kirsty came up for a overnight visit. On the Tuesday evening we went for a early evening walk and ended up at Varsity a really luxurious restaurant. The whole atmosphere was really special and the food was Excellent with our first courses being duck pate and the second course bringing swordfish and Roast Lamb both being absolutely delicious with the white wine. The deserts were the best part prehaps with the Passionfruit sorbet toping off a wonderful meal.

The Fitzwilliam Museum is perhaps the most understated Museum in the UK. The collection is an interesting mix of a range of renaissance and pre renaissance art with more modern works in a building that I can only describe as very fitting to such a excellent collection. Not everything was to my taste but it made me think about several things including the relationship between Christianity and the Virgin birth! (Could it be said that the story of divine conception is one that is meant to promote abstinence.)

Punting down the Cam is something that you must do when your in Cambridge and although it is about the most touristy thing to do there. We were joined in our boat by about 8 Chinese tourists but had a good chat with our guide who was a fun but very posh undergraduate who told us exactly where to go swimming to have the maximum amount of fun. We promptly went where he suggested to find that it was not quite what we had expected but walking a bit further we found ourselves at a beautiful swimming spot with some very interested looking cows and another couple sitting on the bank. We quickly got changed and slid into the deep squidgy mud at the bottom of the river. The water was a perfect temperature and as we swam down the river we were passed by several boats all of whom were a bit suprised to see us. As we got out with very muddy feet we were presented with another problem – the cows who had seemed interested before were definitely interested and we had an interesting changing session chasing cows around their field!

After lunch at the Chop House i brought three books in harpers books and we slowly wound our way back to the train staton to get the train back to london before I went for dinner with Mum as it was her birthday.

Great Queen street – Best roast lamb in london- Review

This is a great restaurant in the heart of Holborn. It is authentically english with great food. The chicken salad was fantastic as a starter with the dressing being absolutely fantastic. We had a main for three and it was far too much for two but it was absolutely fantastic slow coked roast shoulder of lamb with potato dauphinoise to go along side. The lamb was  fall of the bone, melt in the mouth tender and the slow way it had been cooked meant that it was full of flavour. I needed a doggy bag to being home the leftovers as it was so delicious. The orange cake was slightly disappointing after such a great main. a little dry and flavourless.

The atmosphere is pleasant with lots of very good waiters who are ready to do anything for you. If your looking for somewhere quiet and relaxed don’t go here but if you looking for somewhere with a bit of spark then this is a great option for a good hearty meal.

 

Mustang – Film Review

Set in rural Turkey this film is all about family dynamics with 5 orphaned Sisters being made to give up their freedom as a result of their one dimensional uncle who only sees them as good for one thing; to become good housewives.  As soon as the girls start playing with boys their freedom is taken away and they have to escape their own house which is made harder and harder to achieve by various means culminating in bars on the windows.

Rather than being about the actually inprisonment of the girls the film is about the sisters relationships to one another and their struggle to come to terms with the way they are being treated. Its a really quite depressing film with all the daughters going through a huge amount of torment both psychologically and  physically. It is lightened by the girls sense of humour and their relationships with people outside their household such as the guy who teaches the youngest daughter to drive and the love between the second daughter and her husband who she insists on marrying.  You really get a picture of a country going through rapid cultural change with the girls having their desire to choose winning out over the older generations much more traditional view of the world.  Very thought provoking film with lots to discuss afterwards.

 

Eye in the Sky – Review

This British military suspense film has not really got too many surprises in it. What the film is about is the decision making process about a drone attack in Nairobi where they are originally meant to capture but end up killing a terror cell with american and British members. Its not the most interesting film from a plot perspective becaues you know what going to happen from about ten minutes into the film but the interesting part is the political posturing in the Cabinet level security meeting where nothing can get done without political approval. The preferred military option goes out the window when the  intelligence proves to be bad about the main targets meeting up at a certain location at a certain time only for them to move to another location inside a terrorist held suburb where we find them inside a house with two suicide vests being prepared for their new recruits.  after some very slow political decision making the decision is made to go ahead when a small girl of about 10 selling bread puts herself right in harms way just before the weapon is deployed. The pilot of the drone who happens to be in Vegas stops the operation and says that he’s not willing to go ahead unless the Collateral Damage Extent from the hellfire missile is recalculated. This then goes back to the committee of MP’s who are in the room with a General. The whole picture now changes as they know they are about to kill a totally innocent child so there is a massive holdup in the political process as this is passed around the cabinet in the UK and to the US who have absolutely no problem with this attack.  The military characters are much more realistic than the Political ones who seem to have no guts at all. The film would have been better if there had been a better political representation but it is still worth a watch.

The Begger’s Opera – Park theatre 2016 – Review

The Begger’s Opera is based upon a 18th century satire of the Opera culture and political class system of the period. This musical has brought that up to date with the action taking place around the 2012 Olympic games. The cast is really well made and there are loads of ;laughs throughout the action which happens in a really excellent tightly packed Park Theatre in Finsbury Park.

 

The idea of the play is that the poor are being unfairly treated by the capitalist system. There are some stella performances including from the mayor of london and a media mogul both of who’s daughters end up going out / getting pregnant with a likeable but less good  anti- capitalist Macheath. I really liked the chemistry between most of the actors and the music was quite good although very similar in rhythm and the whole performance was prehaps 20% too long. You had got the message by the interval and the second half was too long  to stay completely engaged with. Probably the star performers where the Mayor’s daughter Natasha Cottraill as Lucy Lockitt  and the media mogul, David Burt.

 

A very well executed Left Wing preformance which takes a stab at the heart of society in a very fun and thought provoking way.

 

Jungle Book (2016) review

Well this is a great feel good film with just about something for everyone in it. Yes it is designed for children but adults will certainly like it as it has a lot of undertones and a brilliant mindset. Mowgli the Man cub is a character that you quickly like but begin to adore more and more the longer the film goes on.  There are some brilliant characters surrounding him, Bagheera, the panther probably being the most creatively imagined and thought about.  I have completely forgotten the original film as i saw it when i was about 5 and really enjoyed the fact that it was Wolves that took care of Mowgli. The fact that he is so scared of going into human society is revealed on  his first journey with Bagheera being one of the best scenes in the film. Some of the action sequences are  a little rushed but the film has a great rhythm and a really good mix between slightly tense scary moments and very playful fun times. I really loved how animals called fire “red flower” such a beautiful and yet scary thing.  Its language like that which can make both adults and kids think alike and the wolf pack saying is one of the most powerful calls that i’ve heard in a film. A really uplifting fun and enjoyable film.

 

Revenant

The revenant was a film where I didn’t quite know whether it was telling a story or showing off. The cinematography is so spectacular that you could kind of ignore the plot which you were encouraged to do.  The plot is a pretty simple revenge story set in the 19th century where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character goes after Tom Hardy murders his son and leaves him for dead after a bear attack. DiCaprio is one of the best actors in my opinion and he does not disappoint here with one of his best performances. He, Hardy and the supporting cast produce some very intense scenes which highlight the harshness of the landscape.

The cinematography is  what makes the film memorable with each shot from beginning to end so carefully thought through that it overrides the plot. The landscape is just incredible throughout the film which takes place over autumn and winter in the rocky mountains. You are drawn into each scene by the background as much as the foreground and the shots where DiCaprio is travelling across country are truly beautiful. Great acting along with great cinematography goes along way towards making a great film. Its a shame that the plot does not quite match up.

Review: Opera Tavern, Covent Garden

This is a great little Spanish restaurant on Charlotte Street. I went there yesterday for the second time with my Dad and really enjoyed it. The food is a mix of Tapas and meats so t doesn’t really matter weather your in a hurry or want a more leisurely meal both are possible. It’s food is excellent and with their Spanish Carpaccio something to really look forward to. The three meats were all very different but delicious in their own right. The tapas is also very good with a wide range of choice.

The atmosphere was vey good in the evening and even at midday it was still a good atmosphere. The staff are vey attentive and extremely friendly I would go back there at any time and would recommend this to anyone wanting quality food around Covent Garden.

Film Review: Sherpa

Sherpa is about the 2014 season on Mt Everest. It is a excellent film covering the Sherpa uprsing after tragedy struck. It starts with a interesting passage about Sherpas beliefs about the mountain. You arrive at base camp with the Sherpas who are setting up camp while the Clients are on their way from Kathmandu. Preparations are as expected so that by the time the clients arrive their camp looks more like a hotel made of fabric than anything else. Sherpas are the mules of the mountain going up and down the most dangerous part, the Khumbu Icefal as many as 30 times while the clients will only have togo through it 2 or 4 times. When a 14000 tonne block of ice falls into the icefall, 16 people die including 13 Sherpa.

 

What happens next is very interesting but not out of all proportion to what’s occurred. It turns into a film about worker right and worker safety. the events are very carefully put together to give you a real sesnse of the unease around base camp in the week after the avalanche and the tentions going on between the Sherpas, the expeditions and the government when they come in 5 days after the disaster and try to quell the tentions. The lead Sherpa, Phurba Tashi, who the film follows throuhtout, is caught in the middle of this huge conflict between what his job is and what his family and the other Sherpas want to do. The scene recording the ministerial visit and the aftermath is incredibly good. The reaction of the clients in Russell Bryce’s expedition are very well portrayed and their lack of understanding of the Sherpas thinking is sometimes remarkable.

 

A really great documentary with a strong message about the way that people can change in ways that are completely unexpected while at the same time entirely within reason.