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Top 10… films

Casablanca

This 1940s classic has it all – Bogart and Bergman, a script full of quotable quotes and As Time Goes By.

Seen it many times now both at home and in cinemas on Valentine’s Day at art house cinemas in both Glasgow and Bradford, but missed out on seeing it in Lisbon by four days back in 2015…

Cinema Paradiso

Sicily, film, love and the Catholic Church’s local censorship of feature films all play their part in this DVD and occasionally TV screened delight.

There’s fun, pathos and social commentary, all in the same movie. My DVD copy came free with a weekend newspaper. My iPad copy cost a bit more…

Con Air

Want an over the top action film to watch while you eat pizza and sink beers?

Well Con Air has it all once the initial few minutes are out of the way and Nicholas Cage’s character ends up in jail.

Is it loud? Certainly was when I saw it on the big screen on Saturday night in Middlesbrough a few years ago.

I’d gone to see Pulp Fiction, but the wrong film had been delivered – and that wrong film was Con Air.

A good night out, even though it took a couple of days before the hearing returned to normal. Someone had turned the volume up to eleven!

Die Hard

Yippee Kai Aye!

I’d passed up the chance to see this in Geilo, Norway when it was first released back in the 1980s, but finally caught up with it at the National Media Museum in Bradford on Christmas Eve a few years ago.

Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, more action than you could shake a stick at and some great one liners too.

It may have been Christmas Eve, but the cinema was packed!

High Fidelity

Chicago takes over from Islington as the setting for the film of Nick Hrnby’s book with John Cusack in the lead and a scene stealing Jack Black as one of the workers in Championship Vinyl record shop.

It’s pretty faithful to the book, has a great soundtrack and a cameo appearance from one Bruce Spingsteen.

Hot Fuzz

The second of the Cornetto Trilogy sees Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as police officers in the sleepy town of Sandford where strange things happen in the name of “The Greater Good“…

Nothing is quite what it seems in what appears to be the perfect example of Small Town England, and you’ve never heard a former James Bond swear so much, especially in the blooper reel!

Paul

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost play two comic book guys heading out on a road trip around alleged sites of close encounters.

A car accident sees them having their own close encounter with Paul (a Seth Rogen voiced CGI alien) and it isn’t long before they’re being chased by men in black suits, The Big Guy and a bible-toting father with a shotgun who wants his daughter back.

Pulp Fiction

I still haven’t seen this on the big screen, but there’s more than enough going on via the small screen to keep you glued to it.

Royale with cheese, Dusty Springfield on the soundtrack, Harvey Keitel in the role that he riffs on in the current batch of Direct Line adverts and Big Kahuna burgers too.

Shakespeare In Love

Yes, it’s that award winning film with a strong cast, witty script and Gwyneth Paltrow’s closing walk on Holkham Beach.

It’s a classic, and rightly so!

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

This is a film I can watch over and over again and one of the few that I will still watch if I happen to chance upon it once it’s already begun.

The strong cast and script deliver the goods and whilst I was surprised that there was a follow up, I’m pleased that they didn’t go the whole hog and make a second sequel.

Stop Press!

And one for a potential film list later in the year is Victoria And Abdul. Seen yesterday at Broadway Cinema in Douglas, Isle of Man, Stephen Frear’s film is sad, funny and engaging. Judy Dench plays Queen Victoria for the second time on the big screen.

A very good way to spend a very wet afternoon just off the Promenade in Douglas. Back home tonight!

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Top 10… books

DK Eyewitness

Colourful illustrated guidebooks that hit the spot to give the reader an excellent overview of towns, cities and the local attractions along with brief details of where to eat and where to stay.

Favourites are the guidebooks relating to Portugal and Spain.

Fifty People Who Buggered Up Britain – Quentin Letts

Journalist Quentin Letts aims carefully and highlights fifty targets. Some may surprise you whilst others may well be regarded as very suitable for inclusion in such a work!

Greece On My Wheels – Edward Enfield

Yes, that’s Harry Enfield’s dad.

Edward Enfield has written several books on his cycling exploits around Europe, but this was the first that I’d read by him and it’s on the list of books to read once more.

Hamish’s Mountain Walk – Hamish Brown

A classic book on hillwalking and backpacking around Scotland. One of those books that I read years ago and took lessons from, especially when it came to choosing and using lightweight camping and walking equipment.

An excellent read too!

Lonely Planet

Use paper versions when planning a trip, usually in conjunction with the equivalent Rough Guide (the latter’s city guides beat the LP versions hands down IMHO!).

There have been times when I’ve cursed their layouts (maps pages away from area info in two editions of the Portugal guide for example) and there have been one or three places that we won’t be returning to – allegedly!

My Dining Hell – Jay Rayner

The Observer’s restaurant critic’s collection of past reviews is a joy to read – unless you own one of the places visited!

Rough Guides

I don’t always agree with what’s written, but the appropriate Rough Guide is bought in paper format and used in conjunction with the same area’s Lonely Planet when planning a trip.

I regularly use paper area, city and country guides plus eBook only city or island guides.

The Descent Of Man – Grayson Perry

This is the newest book on the list and one of the few books in my collection that I have in both hardback and Kindle editions.

Not my usual type of reading by any means, but a book that has a lot to say about modern life and is engaging enough to read in one sitting.

The Moon’s A Ballon – David Niven

I first read this back in the late 1970s and thoroughly enjoyed reading it again a couple of years ago. A classic autobiography with loads of anecdotes about Niven himself and his life in Hollywood.

Another book from this list that’s going to get another reading soon.

These Foolish Things – Deborah Moggach

You may not recognise the title, but you may well have heard of the film that was largely based on this novel – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel..

A few changes were made along the way from the printed page to digital screens, but it still hits the spot…

Malaga and home…

When we left White Nest Hostel in Granada, we were already discussing where we would go to on our next Andalucian next road trip.

With flights more likely to be in and out of Malaga than Seville, the likelihood is that our destinations will include Ronda, Cadiz, Jerez and Seville.

We’d probably also top up on the places we visited in Malaga too.

Some were closed on our first full day there whilst the morning after was a complete wash out thanks to the rain storm that hit the city and lingered until after we’d got our bus to Seville.

When we reached Malaga, returned to the Ibis for another night, found our room, the bags hit the floor and we sat down, put the television on and started flicking.

As one might expect, the Spanish channels were first up on the menu, but the pictures onscreen were very familiar to us as we’d been in Westminster a month beforehand and had taken photographs around the Houses Of Parliament and that end of Westminster Bridge.

The news about the Westminster incident had obviously broken as it was on all of the Andalucia channels. We found CNN and heard what had happened from both the news anchor in the States and a reporter on the ground in London.

As repetition set in as it always does on rolling news channels, we flicked once more and were surprised to find one of the channels we’d viewed a few minutes beforehand broadcasting some very raw images of what had happened on Westminster Bridge.

Should that footage have been shown? Probably not (in the UK at least) unless some pixellation had been applied to protect the injured person’s identity (our suspicion though was that images being shown were of a body rather than and injured person).

So, there was a bit of a dampener put on the end of what had been a rather enjoyable road trip around Andalucia. We decided to do some pavement pounding in search of coffee and a handbag that Caroline had seen on that first day in Malaga.

Malaga was in festival mode as it was the Malaga Film Festival. We walked the red carpet laid along one of the main streets, dodged displays of an Audi SUV and tried to work out which of the films we’d actually seen.

We didn’t see the local boy made good who was picking up an award (clues to his identity – he’s played a Mariachi, an animated cat with hat, claws, swordplay and the ability to sing Living La Vida Loca alongside a walking, talking donkey plus a few other roles too).

After coffee etc, it was back to the hotel for a shower, change and out in search of food. One place that wasn’t trying to pull people off the street was Ciao, an Italian place that had its menu outside and quite a few people eating inside and outside.

Yes, it was full, but if w’ed care to wait for a while, we’d have the next available table was the gist of the conversation we had with a member of staff. We wandered off in search of somewhere else, but went back, had another chat, took a couple of seats and received as complimentary glass of wine to help ease our waiting time.

Eating at an Italian restaurant has become of a bit of a last night thing for us as we’ve ended up having pasta or pizza on several last nights now in Malaga, Lisbon, Oslo, London and Glasgow.

Ciao was definitely on a par with our favourite Italian eating place in LisbonRestaurante da Vinci. Fine pasta for Caroline, a larger than expected calzone for me plus wine, coffee and a dessert ensured that we needed to walk some of the meal off before heading back to the hotel. So we did.

And got temporarily misplaced (or lost if you prefer that term!). The street map was back at the hotel, but after twenty minutes of wandering, I spotted the cafe we’d had a meal in on that first day in Malaga.

We backtracked a bit, headed up one of the side streets and spotted other cafes or shops that we’d passed before. After about fifteen minutes, we spotted the sign on the Ibis hotel and headed in that direction for one last drink before bedtime.

The following morning ticked all the usual boxes – breakfast, pack, check out of the hotel and walk to the station to get a train to the airport. Getting through security didn’t take long and neither did finding an overpriced sandwich and drink for lunch.

The airport shopping bill was a small one – one bottle and a pack pocket size black bull. Caroline rolled her eyes once more, but the bull stayed in the basket, was paid for and has a new home on my desk… And why not?

The best part was about to come though. We’d booked priority boarding with Ryanair and were ushered through the boarding gate with several other priority bookers.

There did appear to be something missing as we waited to board the plane.

I’d spotted that you could see a fair bit of the airport through the windows by the ramp we were waiting on, so it wasn’t a total surprise when one of the check-in crew announced that we would have to come back up into the gate area because the plane had been told to park up by a totally different gate…

We eventually boarded, got to Manchester and then got the train and a cab home from what had been a very enjoyable trip…

We’ll be back, but where did we go to next – that will be revealed next week once we’d covered the wisepacking angles from this trip!

Coming soon…

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More from Spain

Five days in Northumberland

Five days in North Norfolk

More thoughts on packing

Trip inspirations

Bits of news

Some silly stuff

Books, films and television programmes

Music

Classic kit

And links such as the one below…

We’ve used and mentioned Osprey Farpoint packs a few times on wisepacking, so we’re pleased to see that there’s a new variation on the theme – the Osprey Fairview range.

They’re ladies packs and more info can be found here…

http://www.ospreyeurope.com

TTFN!

This story goes to 11…

There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment, so it’s good to see that some light relief going on in the media here in the U.K.

There’s some good comments on the story too that highlight how many have seen the source film and taken it in…

And the comments also show how many have spotted that the piece has been run next to one on Stonehenge!

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/08/spinal-tap-lawsuit-harry-shearer-rob-reiner-vivendi

The comments are a bit sweary in places – you have been warned!!!

TV or not TV II

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Wells, Somerset – or is it Sandford, Gloucestershire?

Well, I missed two films when I looked through Radio Times yesterday…

The first is on tonight on ITV2 at 9pm – Hot Fuzz.

Good cast, good lines and a mad shoot-out near the end as the good guys take on the opposition. Cornettos are optional!

The second is on ITV3 at 8.55 tomorrow morning.

The script has loads of quotable lines whilst the soundtrack includes a bone fide hit single too. Bogart, Bergman and Peter Lorre are all in there, as are the usual suspects…

The film?

The one and only Casablanca…

Here’s looking at you kid.

TV or not TV?

Yes, the holiday fortnight is upon us, as is the seasonal selection of programmes and films destined to be on our screens (or not)…

We gave Strictly, SPOTY and The Apprentice a miss and as Caroline was out on Saturday night, I caught up on an episode of Endeavour series 3 and the first couple of episodes of To Play The King (with Ian Richardson as Francis Urquhart).

Last night’s viewing was two episodes of a sixties classic – the first series of The Man From Uncle in glorious black and white. Sharp editing, sharp suits and a hint of what was to come gadget-wise too. Not much screen time yet though for Ilya Kuryakin (David McCallum gets more in his average appearance in NCIS fifty plus years after his role as Napoleon Solo‘s Russian sidekick).

There’s more of a travel feeling to a programme highlighted in the Radio Times at 6pm on BBC2 over the next three nights – The Real Marigold Hotel. Six personalities head to India and it’s interesting to see who they all cope with the experience.

Four are back for follow-ups on experiences in Miami and Tokyo soon and there’s a new set of names heading to India for the second series of The Real Marigold Hotel.

In the meantime though, there’s always the film that inspired the reality show – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which has been given an early evening Film 4 slot on Sunday 25th – albeit in an edited format (I somehow suspect that the DVD of the same title will hit the player around the same time as a way of avoiding edits and adverts).

The Beeb are showing a of their few home-grown films too – The Lady In The Van, Pride, What We Did On Our Holidays and Saving Mr Banks.

Anything else? Well there’s a bit of Yorkshire in the air at 9pm on Thursday 29th as The Brontes come to the fore on BBC1 whilst over on BBC Four there’s a bit of slow TV as The Flying Scotsman takes to the tracks of the Severn Valley Railway at the same time…

There should have been another programme to watch at 9pm on the same day, but that’s been pulled from the schedules. Truck mechanic, bike racer and adventurer Guy Martin started an attempt in early December to ride around Britain on a pedal cycle with the aim of covering around 4800 miles in twenty days.

After 800 miles in four days and eight hours, an achilles tendon injury brought the attempt to a close at John O’Groats. One suspects that Guy will try again once he’s recovered from the injury problem…

Will we be watching It’s A Wonderful Life again? Possibly…

And might I be watching the film that’s become my favourite one set on December 24th?More than likely, even though it will be at home rather than in a cinema this time. It’s Bruce Willis, that colour changing white vest and Alan Rickman

Yippie-ki-yay, it’s Die Hard!

Ho-Ho-Ho…