My journal and my life

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Post #32 Downton Abbey

I love period dramas & fondly remember Upstairs Downstairs (the original), but more recently I’ve been avidly watching the award winning Downton Abbey.  There’s lots of programmes & series made for UK terrestrial TV, but rarely is there something of pure quality.

Downton Abbey DVD

The storyline is similar to Upstairs Downstairs, following an upper-class family & their servants.  Both groups have their life problems & family disputes which draw in the viewer, but there’s also the interaction between the classes.  Living so closely together, especially as the servants tended to stay in post for years, they would have been involved in each others’ lives.  The loyal servants would have been privy to sensitive information or witness to scandalous events. However, I’m sure the servants’ lives would have been much harder than that portrayed in Downton Abbey, as they do seem to have a fair amount of spare time.

I love the ladies’ fashions of course & the gradual changes from the structured corseted outfits of the Edwardian era, to the softer flapper dresses after the first world war. The change in attitudes is also featured – the beginning of the end of the upstairs downstairs lifestyle.

Although Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire, it’s filmed at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. It’s fascinating to watch behind the scenes documentary, to learn of the fine attention to historical detail & see interviews of the cast & their stories of filming in such a grand location.  The present Countess of Carnarvon has also written a book about Lady Almina, the 5th Countess who lived at Highclere at the same time Downton Abbey is set.

Highclere Castle

Post #31 Good News Stories

I haven’t taken the photos today as I’ve had a busy day working, end of month invoicing for a client.  But there’s two news stories that made me smile over the last couple of days.  People randomly having good luck & possibly coming into large amounts of cash – how absolutely wonderful for them 🙂

A retired couple in Northumberland had been planting pansies in a 2,000 year old Roman coffin for 30 years!  An ornate marble sarcophagus was sat in the garden of the house they bought in 1982 & not listed in the deeds – I wonder if the vendors have watched the news?  It’s apparently almost identical to another Roman sarcophagus in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican & may be worth as much as £100,000 – brilliant!


Then today, the news reported a man & his dog had found whale vomit on Morcambe beach, also possibly worth £100k!  The hard lump of ambergris is used in the perfume industry, especially in very high-end scents.  How on earth did anyone discover that fact?

Sperm Whale Vomit - Ambergris

The foul smelling substance is secreted by sperm whales, possibly to protect their intestines from he irritation caused by the beaks of their prey, squid & cuttlefish.  Once vomited, the ambergris can float around in the sea for years, gradually hardening & developing a sweet smell.

Well, I’ve learned two pieces of trivia – what ambergris is used for, & rather morbidly, that sarcophagus means “flesh-eater” in Greek.

Post #21 12 Lessons

Social Media is wonderful.  It certainly opens up a whole wide new world that would otherwise remain undiscovered.  Through a friends post on Facebook, I came across a book from a new writer, immediately downloaded it to my Kindle & began reading.  I knew from the blurb that the plot was about a woman who reluctantly attended a psychic reading which revealed much more about her life than she anticipated.  The readings – 12 lessons – help Stephanie learn more about herself, help her cope with the changes in her life to then rebuild it & evolve through to a much richer existence.

12 Lessons

Bought on impulse, I hadn’t realised that it was a story woven around the Law of Attraction.  Not that I minded at all, as it was an easy read & actually helped me understand the principles much better.  I was also prompted to download & watch The Secret for the first time.

Since I’ve been in business for myself, I’ve accessed coaching & training which has encouraged my curiosity & opened up a whole wealth of knowledge & information.  I’m aware of visualisation & affirmations, but haven’t really put any energy into the exercises.  This blog is the first goal I began at the beginning of 2013 & I have others written down, both for this year & long-term.  As I’m open to new opportunities & experiences, it’s not surprising that I found this book at this time in my life & that my life is good 🙂

12 Lessons is written by Kate Spencer, the Life and Soul Coach, who began writing from her kitchen table hoping to create inspiring, empowering & entertaining material for women all over the world.

Post #15 Three Favourite Films

My DVDs have arrived 🙂  I spent some of my birthday present money on some favourite films, but don’t you just hate the cellophane wrapping that’s impossible to remove with a sharp implement?

Three Favourite DVDs

These are all British comedies, well yes there are some very funny scenes, but they are dramas & tear jerkers too, or perhaps that’s just me.  They are like comfort blankets, to be watched when I really need to chill & relax with something non-threatening & familiar.  All three films have a similar subject, all based in Northern England towards the end of the last century (& I’m talking about 2000) when industry was in decline & unemployment high.

Speaking of unemployment, it’s a sad day today as music retailer HMV have called in the receivers after trading for nearly 92 years placing more than 4,000 jobs at risk.  Everyone is shocked by this, especially people of my age or older as we all went to HMV for our vinyll records, casette tapes & then videos.  However price wins out & consumers have turned to the internet for better prices & convenience – I’m guilty, as these three DVDs were all bought from Amazon.

Brassed Off is set in a small mining town nearly 10 years after the miners strike when more & more collieries were closing.  Due to miners losing their jobs with little chance of finding other employment, the lack of disposable income forced other shops & businesses in the town to close.  The colliery brass band continued, but for how long?  This film was actually released before The Full Monty, but wasn’t any where near as successful, but it’s incredibly well made with some outstanding performances & you don’t need to like brass band music to enjoy it.

The Full Monty is based in Sheffield, city of steel, when the steel works were closing down.  Again, there’s high unemployment & no jobs.  Inspired by the male Chippendale Dancers, a desperate unemployed steel-worker tries to persuade some of his butch pals to form their own striptease act.  This film is funny & has a great soundtrack – no-one who’s seen it can listen to Hot Chocolate’s ‘You Sexy Thing’ without dancing ever again!

For Billy Elliot, we return to a mining community in County Durham, this time during the miners strike of 1984.  Billy’s mum is dead & he lives with his senile grandmother, father & elder brother who are both tough miners.  One day during his boxing class, Billy is fascinated by the girls ballet class next door…. With an excellent soundtrack, this film is unforgettable.

%d bloggers like this: