Monday, June 29, 2015

Let's talk about: Wimbledon

With the Wimbledon tennis tournament starting up today I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the event. 
Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, established in 1877. 
When it was first started the entry fee was just one shilling. Right now tickets range (based on day and event) from 375 pounds to just under 4,000 pounds.
It is named after the London suburb where it first started. 
Wimbledon takes place every summer in late June through early July for two weeks. 
It is held at the All-England Club. The All-England Club is an exclusive members only club.

To become a player in Wimbledon you are entered or "seeded" into Wimbledon based on your international ranking. They make sure that the highest ranking players do not play against each other until the last rounds of the tournament. The committee also selects a 'wild card' player that doesn't necessarily qualify by rank. In 2001, a wild card player actually won the Gentleman's Singles Championship.

I didn't know much about tennis so I read up a bit on the ranking and points for this well known competition. 
"Game, set, and match" refers to the scoring system in tennis.
The first point in a game of tennis is 15. Then it goes to 30. The following point is 40. 
To win a game, a player must score four points. (15-0, 30-0, 40-0, and then game)
To win a set, you must win six games. 
To win a match, you must win either two (sometimes three) sets. 
A score of zero is called love.
If both players win three points each (40-40) it is called deuce. The winner would then be the first player to win two points in a row at this point. 
The longest played match was in 2010.  It was played over three days. 
The shortest match was in 1881 and lasted just 37 minutes.

he longest match played at SW19 was in 2010 on Court 18. It was played over three days. - See more at:
In 1877, the winner's prize was 12 guineas (equal to 12 British pounds). This year the winners of the women and men singles events will take home 1.88 million pounds each.

 Because the month of June is so close to the English strawberry season, strawberries and cream have become a staple of Wimbledon. Every year around 28,000 kg of strawberries are eaten along with 7,000 liters of cream!

Wimbledon maintains a strict dress code. Players are required to dress almost entirely in white with the only exception being logos, trim and accessories such as headbands. 

Wimbledon has some interesting royal ties. King George the sixth (father of Queen Elizabeth the 2nd) was a competitor in the 1926 men's doubles tournament, the only Royal to ever compete. He and his partner lost.
The All-England Club also receives patronage from the Queen herself and her cousin, Prince Edward.
During World War 2, Wimbledon was cancelled and the grounds became a temporary farmyard stocked with rabbits, pigs, and chickens. On October 11, 1940, German bombs struck a corner of the Center Court and destroyed 1,200 seats. When Wimbledon resumed play in 1946, the seats remained out of commission and the grounds were not completely repaired until 1949. 

No tennis is played on Wimbledon's first Sunday. 
It is tradition to stop play on the first Sunday of the tournament, making Wimbledon the only one of the four Grand Slam tournaments to have a day off in the middle of the championships. 
But in 1991, 1997, and 2004 rain caused a backlog on the schedule so that they had to break tradition and play matches on the first Sunday.

he longest match played at SW19 was in 2010 on Court 18. It was played over three days. - See more at:

*Do you watch Wimbledon? 
*Do you have favorite players?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Let's talk about: As You Like It

 I just watched Kenneth Branagh's version of Shakespeare's As You Like It (2006) for the first time. 
This version showcases what he calls the play's "Deliciously frivolous quality.
It is set in 19th century Japan which I found odd at first but ended up liking. 

"I wanted to put it in a potentially violent place, but also a place that addressed the other themes within the play, which are the notion of romantic love- boy meets girl."

The movie starts with a stage.
The ruler, Duke Senior (Brian Blessed), his daughter Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard), her best friend and cousin Celia (Romola Garai), and many other people of court are attending a Japanese theater when they are attacked by Senior's brother Duke Frederick (also played by Brian Blessed). 

This scene establishes a brother against brother theme with the two Duke's as Duke Frederick banishes his brother to the forest of Arden while Orlando De Boys (David Oyelowo) and his brother Oliver (Adrian Lester)  fight over their inheritance. Orlando also leaves the city. 

Rosalind ends up being banished as well and Celia decides to go with her, along with the clown Touchstone (Alfred Molina). They need to disguise themselves. Rosalind does so as a boy and names herself Ganymede. 

This makes it interesting when she meets the boy she loves, Orlando, in the forest.  She notices Orlando's love poems on the trees all over the woods declaring his love for her. She goes to him in her disguise to teach him the finer points of courtship.

The forest is soon full of interesting characters. 

This is the first Shakespearean film that Kenneth Branagh has directed that he hasn't appeared in. The cast is then led by Bryce Dallas Howard. I loved her performance as Rosalind. She was fantastic. Coming off just watching her in Jurassic World and then seeing how good she is in this, I have become quite a fan of her. 

The film as a whole was a lot of fun. 
Great performances all around, beautiful scenery and costumes, and as you expect with a Kenneth Branagh adaptation of Shakespeare- sassiness and an emphasis on the humor. It reminded me a lot of Much Ado About Nothing. 
 The picture seems to end without the play's Epilogue.The closing credits begin bu then they are  interrupted by Bryce Dallas Howard, still in character, speaking the Epilogue as she begins to walk through the crew to her trailer. Kenneth Branagh can be heard saying "Aaaand...cut!" After this, the closing credits resume.

The film received a Golden Glove nomination and a Screen Actors Guild nomination (in the "Made for TV" category even though it wasn't actually made for television).

If you like Shakespeare, adaptations of Shakespeare, and Kenneth Branagh's style of directing, I think you will really enjoy this film!

Here is the trailer. It is not very good quality but it was the best one I could find:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Let's talk about: Tom Hardy

Tom Hardy was born on September 15, 1977 in Hammersmith, London. 
His mother is an artist and painter and his father is a writer. 
Tom was brought up in East Sheen, London. 
He studied first at Reed's School and then continued his education at Tower House School. 
He then went on to Richmond Drama school and then the Drama Centre in London. 

"I'm from East Sheen, I went to public school where I learned Latin at the age of nine, and certain expectations were made of me to go to St Paul's, Oxbridge maybe, and all that kind of thing. And I failed systematically to meet the mark - who I am and what I should have been are two very different things."

Tom spent his teens and early twenties battling delinquency, alcoholism, and drug addiction. He admitted that his battles with addiction ended his 5-year first marriage. 
He sought treatment and has been sober ever since. 

"I went entirely off the rails and I'm lucky I didn't have some terrible accident or end up in prison or dead, because that's where I was going. Now I know my beast and I know how to manage it. It's like living with a 400 pound orangutan that wants to kill me. It's much more powerful than me, doesn't speak the same language and it runs around the darkness of my soul."

At age 21, he had a brief contract with the agency Models One after winning a modeling competition. 
In 2003 he was awarded the Evening Standard Most Promising Newcomer Award for his theatre performances in the productions of In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings and Blood

 "Whatever character you play, remember they are always doing something. They are not just talking. They are alive; going through a drama in which they will go through some sort of dramatic human experience. Keywords: Alive and Experience. It is your job to make them become so. Anything you do on stage or film has a direct relation to something you have experienced in one form or another in real life. Use your imagination to exaggerate or lessen that sensation. Then, disguise it in characterization and don't forget to make lots and lots of mistakes. You'll do fine."

During the next five years he worked consistently in film, television, and theater. His parts were varied and he became well known for his ability to completely transform his appearance. 

In 2006, Tom created "Shotgun", an underground theater company along with director Robert Delamere and directed a play written by his father, called Blue on Blue
In 2007 he received a best actor BAFTA nomination for his performance in the BBC adaptation Stuart: A Life Backwards.  He was hailed for his convincing portrayal of Stuart Shorter, a homeless and occasionally violent man suffering from addiction and muscular dystrophy. 

In the film Bronson in 2008, Tom played the notorious Charles Bronson, the "most violent prisoner in Britain". He was unrecognizable bald, bulked-up, and with Bronson's signature strongman mustache. 
It won Tom the British Independent Film Award for Best Actor. And in 2009 he was named one of Variety's "10 Actors to Watch". 

His big breakthrough performance was in Inception in 2010. It became one of the top 25 highest grossing films of all time. 
He began to be seen in more and more top films, including the role of Bane opposite Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises
His most recent role in Mad Max: Fury Road has been a huge hit. 

Tom is the patron for the charity "Flack" which is an organization to aid the recovery of the homeless in Cambridge. And in 2010, Tom was named an Ambassador for The Prince's Trust which helps disadvantaged youth. 

" I love people. People are lovely creatures. I'm one myself so I love to see people happy."

Tom has one son, Louis, and is married to English actress Charlotte Riley.

While I have seen Band of Brothers (and I am really due for a re-watch of that one!), Black Hawk Down, and Star Trek: Nemesis, it wasn't until I saw Tom in Wuthering Heights that he really got my attention. 

When I watched this adaptation, I had just come off of reading the book for the first time and he WAS Heathcliff. He was perfect in this role.
Fun fact: His wife, Charlotte Riley, played Cathy. 

I was a huge fan of him by the time he was in Inception and really enjoyed him in that movie as well. 

I wasn't a huge fan of This Means War, although I thought he was good in it and, as usual, very handsome. There were a few funny moments but overall I don't think it showed his range. I think part of it was that he didn't seem to enjoy the role himself. 

"I love to do things I hadn't done before. I didn't understand how you could do something that is so much fun and be so miserable doing it." He said about filming the movie. He said that he felt "other during filming and added, " I probably won't do a romantic comedy again."

*Have you seen any of Tom Hardy's movies? 
*If so, which one was your favorite?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Let's talk about: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

 A few days ago my little Bookworm Club finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 
I am so excited that we are moving through these books as quickly as I hoped we would to reach my goal of finishing this re-read by the end of summer ,or at least before Halloween. 
Re-reading with children is ideal if you can do it. Especially if it is their first time through the series. 
It is almost like reading it again for the first time. 
When Abi gasps or hides under a blanket I am reminded of how that same part made me feel the first time.
When she laughs it reminds me of how funny a certain scene is that I have read or seen so many times I don't necessarily laugh anymore. And I find myself laughing along. 
It is a really fun experience. 

Abi loved this book even more than the first. She gave it five stars and said it is her favorite so far. She loved everything about it. 
Madeline gave it only one star to begin with but has since changed it to two stars which she says she gives only because she liked the snake and spiders. (?)
She is a funny kid. 
I asked her if she wanted me to continue the books with just Abi and read something else with her and she said, "Yes." But then she has been sitting in and listening anyway. So I have a feeling she likes it more than she lets on. 

I also love all of the things throughout the books that give a great jumping off point for discussions with the kids. 
Choices. Friendship. Kindness. Honesty. Loyalty.

To celebrate the finishing of two books so far, we got out a game that has been sitting in my closet for years! I love board games but don't often play many of the ones I own because my husband is not much of a board game guy. 
The girls wanted to play my Harry Potter Scene It game but I told them that it had to wait until we were done with all of the books and movies because it covers all eight movies. 
But I do have a Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone game that I had kind of forgotten about.  

It plays just like Clue. 
Everyone uses a sorting hat playing piece and you move around the board to different classrooms to figure out clues. 
You have to discover a character that cast a spell, which spell it was, and which classroom they cast it in. 
There is also a little ghost that any player can move around to knock you back to the start and be able to see one of your cards or keep you from going into a room. 
It was a lot of fun and the kids really enjoyed it!
It is a very old game and so it is hard to find now. On Amazon it is $90! But there is a newer Harry Potter Clue that is more affordable if you are interested. However, since I haven't played that one I cannot tell you if it is good or not. 
If you see the original one at a garage sale or somewhere cheap and you and/or your kids love Harry Potter and Clue I would definitely recommend picking it up!

*Anyone reading along? 
*What is your favorite part of Sorcerer's Stone?
*Do you like board games?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Let's talk about: Poldark series premiere

 With the premiere of the BBC series Poldark on PBS this weekend, I knew I needed to watch it. 
I didn't know anything about Poldark going into this. 
I haven't read the books. I haven't seen the original series. 
I was able to watch it on PBS online for free. 

Poldark is a British drama adapted from Winston Graham's novels.
In the series premiere, Ross Poldark returns to Cornwall, England after fighting in the American Revolution. 
I found this really interesting because as the fourth of July approaches I have been wondering what it was like in England, especially for those who fought in the American Revolution, after we won. 
I have been researching it a bit and hopefully will have a post up about my findings/ thoughts on that in the next couple of weeks. 
Ross Poldark didn't seem to believe in England's reason for fighting. He more than once makes a comment about tyranny and that England chose the wrong side. 

When he arrives home, he finds that his family and friends thought he was dead. 
His father has died and his estate is in ruin. The woman he was in love with is now engaged to his cousin. 
Poldark has to face the challenges this new life holds for him. 
Poldark is played by Aidan Turner. I really loved watching him in this role. I think he is going to be great in this show and it is really fun to watch my favorite dwarf (he was Kili in The Hobbit!) again. 

 I can't say that it pulled me in the same way some other BBC dramas have, but it did pique my interest and I will continue to watch it to see what happens and how the characters develop. 

*Did you watch the premiere?
*What did you think?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Let's talk about: London's free museums

The majority of London's museums are completely free.
If you plan on exploring many of the most popular museums you can just walk in and have a great time! Let's have a look at just a few of them!

The British Museum

The British Museum is probably London's most famous museum. 
It is one of the world's oldest museums dedicated to human history and culture. 
It has 8 million objects from all continents!
Some of the most famous attractions here are the Rosetta Stone and the Parthenon sculptures. 

The National Gallery

The National Gallery has an extensive art collection spanning from the 13th century to the 1900's. 
Some of the more well known paintings housed here include: "Venus and Mars" by Botticelli, "The Entombment" by Michelangelo, "Sunflowers" by Van Gogh, and "The Water Lily Pond" by Monet. 

The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is just behind the National Gallery and houses a collection made up entirely of portraits. It is the world's largest collection of personalities and faces, from the late Middle Ages to the present day. The portraits range from Kings and Queens to musicians and film stars. 
Free artist-led drawing sessions are held every Friday at 6pm.
There is also a rooftop restaurant with views across the London skyline.

Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is said to be the most visited modern art gallery in the world. 
It is along the Thames River, housed in the former Bankside Power Station. 
The Turbine Hall runs the length of the entire building and you can see works by Cezanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Picasso, Dali, Warhol, and Bourgeois among many others. 
Kids 12 and under eat for free at either the Tate cafe or restaurant. 
Every weekend, families are encouraged to drop in and play with different tools and media.

Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is part of the same collection as the Tate Modern. This is the more historical art museum with the largest collection of British art in the world, from 1500 to the present day. 
Their collection of JMW Turner and other classic British artists is unrivaled. 

Natural History Museum

It is hard not to be impressed by this museum. It is so beautiful inside and out. 
There is so much history here that many say you need several visits. 
In the main hall you are greeted by the giant skeleton of Diplodocus. 

There is something for everyone and all ages here. It is dedicated to Earth's natural and wildlife history. There are 70 million plant, animal, fossil, rock, and mineral specimens held by the museum. 
They encourage you to touch, smell, and press buttons for the most entertaining experience possible. 
If you visit with your kids you can visit the information desk to get a free Explorer backpack that is full of themed activity guides, binoculars, and a safari hat.

The Science Museum

 This interactive museum has a gallery that covers 200 years of information and communication technology, offers a complete look at 3D printing, the Apollo 10 command capsule, Stephenson's Rocket, and hundreds of hands-on exhibits and daily free shows and demonstrations. 
It celebrates humankind's advancements in all fields of science. 
It changes it exhibits regularly. It is all about learning. 
The Science Museum is the most visited science and technology museum in Europe. 
Blast off into space on an Apollo space mission in the 3D and 4D simulators or watch a film on the large IMAX 3D Cinema.

Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria & Albert has a large collection of decorative arts. It represents more than 3,000 years of human creativity with collections unrivalled in their scope and diversity. 
Highlights include the Medieval Renaissance galleries containing some of the greatest surviving treasures from the period, the Jewellery gallery, and the British Galleries, illustrating the history of Britain through the nation's art and design. 
The permanent collection is free however the temporary exhibitions are not always free. 
Themed backpacks are available to be borrowed. They include jigsaws, puzzles, and construction games. 

The Museum of London

The Museum of London spans time and showcases the history of London. 
It documents the city's social history from prehistoric to modern times. 
Discover prehistoric London, see how the city changed under Romans and Saxons, Medieval London, civil wars, plague, and fire. 
Then go into the Galleries of Modern London where you can walk the streets of Victorian London, take a stroll in the pleasure gardens, and see the magnificent Lord Mayor's coach.

The British Library

The British Library, while not technically a museum, is one of the world's greatest research institutions and offers a great experience. 
With a reader pass you can access the collections which span all cultures and exceed 150 million items including books, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers, and sound recordings including Magna Carta, Shakespeare's First Folio and Codex Sinaiticus,  Lewis Carroll's manuscripts of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, Beatles lyrics handwritten by John Lennon, and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci.

As you can see, London has some very impressive places to visit for free!
And there are many more. 
*Have you been to any of these museums?
*Which one(s) would you be the most interested in visiting.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Let's talk about: How I live Now

I had this film and the book it is based on recommended to me quite a few times so when I saw it was on Netflix, I decided to check it out. 
Honestly, I didn't really like it.

How I live Now tells the story of an American teenager named Elizabeth, although she goes by Daisy (played by Saoirse Ronan), who is sent to the countryside of England to stay with her Aunt Penn and her cousins. 
Upon arrival she meets her three cousins and their close friend who is usually at their house with them. She is a very resentful girl and quite rude. She doesn't really want to be there and doesn't care about getting to know them.
As the story unfolds you find out that she believes she is cursed and bad things happen to her wherever she goes because her mother died giving birth to her. 
Her Aunt Penn is very busy and involved somehow in the government, I think. I was never quite sure what her job was. They might have said and I missed it. But she is studying war scenarios in England because they are on high alert due to an imminent terrorist attack. 
She flies to Geneva, leaving the kids all home alone. 

While she is gone, Daisy starts to let her guard down and become friends with her cousins and the neighbor. And she falls in love with Eddie, the eldest of her cousins. 
Then a nuclear bomb explodes in London. 
This was actually the best part of the film, in my opinion. The way they filmed it was quite cool and frightening. 
The country breaks out in Marshall law, the kids are separated, and the rest of the film is Daisy trying to find a way back to Eddie. 

There are quite a few heartbreaking moments in the film and it really does make you think about what it would be like if a war like this broke out. 
But it just wasn't my favorite. If you are really interested, watch the trailer.
 And if you think it is something you would like you can watch it on Netflix. 
But I can't say I would recommend it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Let's talk about: Kelly Macdonald

Kelly Macdonald was born February 23, 1976 in Glasgow, Scotland. 
Her parents divorced when she was young and she was raised by her mother. 
As a hobby, she acted in an amateur theatrical club. 
She was working as a barmaid in Glasgow when she saw a leaflet for an open casting call for the film Trainspotting. She decided to audition and got the role.
For her breakout role in the film she was nominated for a BAFTA Scotland Award. 

 "I was uncomfortable with the nudity. I was in denial, head in the sand about that day's work. I just nodded my head and agreed and got along with it. But nudity's out now. You won't even get me in a bikini on set, frankly."

This launched her career which led to many movie and television roles. 
For her performance in The Girl in the Cafe, she was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2006, and won the Primetime Emmy Award. 
For her role in the television show Boardwalk Empire, she was named one of the "8 actors who turn Television into Art" in the cover story of 'The New York Times' Magazine.

In 2003 she married Dougie Payne, the bassist in the band Travis. 
They have two children. 

"We don't have a nanny and Dougie is completely hands-on; I'm actually a tiny bit jealous of their relationship. Freddie is such a daddy's boy.
Dougie is the most supportive husband. He's amazing. The best thing I ever did was bump into him. "

"I love that thing on Amazon that you can go on and order a book, and you click on it and it says, 'You might also like,' or 'Other people who bought this have bought that.'"

(I like this quote because I love that too!)
Kelly is my husband's favorite actress (and celebrity crush) and I really enjoy her flawless, natural acting as well. 
My favorite Kelly roles have been:

#1. Finding Neverland

Her role in the movie is extremely small. 
She plays Peter Pan in the stage play during the film. 
But since I love the film, I have to mention it!

#2. Nanny McPhee

She is great as Evangeline. Loved her character in this movie. 

#3. The Decoy Bride

(of course! I mentioned this one before!)

 This show is really what made me a fan of her. 
She was so good in it. Her performance seemed so natural. 

#4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2

She plays the Grey Lady, the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw. 

And for #5 I have to mention Brave

She voices Princess Merida. 
Kelly was the perfect choice for this because, in my opinion, she has the perfect Scottish accent!
I have a few more films to watch with her in them. Some I have seen before but it has been so long I don't remember them very well. I think she is a very talented actress that seems very down to earth. And I am excited to see more from her.
"I'm no celebrity."