Festive Cheer

Bye bye stress, hello joy and festive cheer.

Well that was the plan for Christmas anyway. Special needs stress had led to illness, had led to more stress. But during the Christmas break everything is on hold, offices will be closed and emails will go unanswered, so I put the ‘to do’ list away until 2017. I was hoping to put my over active brain on hold as well, but that didn’t go completely to plan. But the alarm clock got switched off for 9 days. Something I was looking forward to for weeks: it doesn’t necessarily mean a lie on, but it at least there is the chance of one, even if a lie on here usually means about 7.30 am. Good thing I’m both an Owl and a Lark, and I’ve banked some sleep already.

Also you do know these posts are mainly for me, don’t you? And maybe to encourage others to do the same, as I think I would drown under all the sh*t without this regular look at the good stuff. So here we go with the rest of it…

A neighbour telling me I have the loveliest tree on the road because the coloured lights, tinsel and handmade decorations remind her of her childhood. And two unexpected and absolutely wonderful presents to put under it: a hamper of delicious goodies from my student lodger and his family, and a homemade and iced Christmas Cake from a lovely woman who helps with my disabled daughter: chocolate cake of course, as it’s B’s favourite.

temmys-christmas-cake-2016-christmas-tree

Heading to a shopping centre with B to do some last minute Christmas shopping and entertain her for the afternoon and discovering that a lot of other people had the same idea. I nearly turned back due to the queues as they make me very uncomfortable and anxious. But I didn’t, and my daughter really enjoyed pottering around the shops and trying on clothes. There was more queuing to leave, but on the way home I was even more grateful that we hadn’t gone to the nearby Blanchardstown Shopping Centre which took people over an hour trying to leave according to radio reports.

B watching and enjoying Christmas Day telly with the family, instead of just YouTube. She even danced along to the carol service on the BBC.

The return of the children on Christmas Day and dinner with the three people I love most in the world.

My increased confidence in showering B. One day I may no longer need help in the mornings, especially when my son grows up, and then my 5.30 starts will hopefully end.

After three weeks of trying to coordinate diaries, I finally got to bring eldest and youngest to see Star Wars. Unless you’re a lone parent special needs mum you probably won’t appreciate how embarrassingly excited I was at the prospect of 2 hours and 13 minutes with no interruptions and no demands, and with entertainment provided too 😁

I’m reading a book for the first time in six months, and it’s all thanks to Netflix. A reader of my latest Netflix post suggested I try the books on which a series I raved about was based. And I have, and so far so good, I think I’m going to stick with it.

Hope you had a good Christmas too and for more cheerful posts, head over to Lakes Single Mum.

 

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Out of this world

Some have said that this year’s Christmas offerings on Netflix are as thin as grandma’s gravy. But that’s not true if you’re a fan of science fiction/fantasy. And for anyone who got the gift of Netflix for Christmas, I’ve a full listing of my favourites at the end of this post.

And since TV and radio is mainly about repeats at this time of year, I would be bored stupid without Netflix, and my daytime chores have often been accompanied by catching up with the final episodes of Once Upon A Time and the Vampire Diaries.

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These are the two shows that have given me something to look forward to once the chores are done, and my disabled daughter is in bed with her daily physio finished.

Netflix, #streamteam, The Expanse, 3, .png

3%

Clearly a hunger games spin off, but then I got to thinking – societies have always had rites of passage to mark the end of childhood and The Process in 3% is just another one. In this one the premis is that only 3% of the population have the merit to live in comfort and young people have to undergo this rite of passage to be chosen. There were some unexpected and uncomfortable moments that I really enjoyed. The only jarring thing for me was that despite growing up in poverty as children, all the process candidates had perfect teeth!

Expanse

Another science fiction space series based on the novels by James Corey and set in a future where there is an uneasy truce between Earth, Mars and Ceres, a  working space station where the labour force is controlled through rationing of air and water. Then an ice freighter gets a distress call and everything changes.

It’s a complex story that can be hard to follow with a large cast of characters, but despite that I grew to love it. It’s stuffed full of anti heroes. One in a hat. I’ve always liked men in hats. And lots of desperate misunderstood people, trying to do the right thing and often getting it wrong.

More of this please!

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Other new programmes I still plan to watch this Christmas holiday include:

Sense8 Christmas Special – recommended by my 24 year old daughter who has watched it twice already.

Travelers.

OA – though I’m hearing mixed reports of this one..

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Other science fiction/fantasy series I have enjoyed over the past 2 1/2 years:

Stranger Things

Frequency

Falling Skies

Orphan Black

Continuum

Terra Nova

Luke Cage

Daredevil

Jessica Jones

Disclosure – I am a member of the Netflix stream team, which gives me free Netflix and other nice stuff. But all the opinions and recommendations in this post are my own, or written by my children.

 

An Early Christmas Present From Netflix For Everyone

Disclosure – I am a member of the Netflix stream team, which gives me free Netflix and other nice stuff. But all the opinions and recommendations in this post are my own, or written by my children.

As you must’ve worked out by now, I’m a huge fan of Netflix for the busy carer who may be on duty and interrupted at any time of the day or night. With Netflix, you can watch your favourite show when you want, and go back to it when you can. It’s almost perfect, except when the broadband goes down.

During the summer months our broadband is pretty reliable, but the closer we get to Christmas, the more downtime we experience. Very frustrating when you finally get the chance to relax for an hour.

So I was thrilled to read that Netflix has given everyone an early Christmas present with the ability to download content onto smart phones and tablets. This will be a game changer for me, and will bring joy to many parents who can now easily download favourite videos for their children. I can think of so many situations when that will reduce stress for everyone, particularly special needs kids who spend so much time waiting, whether in A&E, in bed, in meetings, on transport, when a bit of entertainment will make the time pass much more pleasantly for everyone!

And Netflix seems to have organised a Christmas present just for me too, with the science fiction series Travelers streaming on Netflix UK from December 23rd. The travelers in the series go back in time and inhabit people in the 21st century to try and save the world from a grim future. Can’t. Wait.

travellers-netflix-streamteam

As a family we’ve also been watching a few shows, and these are our current recommendations:

Shooter

(Words from my eldest daughter who loves anything service or spy related)

This series is about a sniper and it based on a movie of the same name. Following retirement Bob Lee Swagger is persuaded to return to service because of a threat to the US President from a notorious Russian operative, and Swagger is the one person who should be able to figure out what this guy will do. But nothing is as it seems and Swagger soon finds himself in more trouble than he has ever been before.

Frequency

This science fiction series is about Detective Raimy Sullivan who discovers she can talk to her dead detective father in 1996 via an old ham radio. By sharing information they try to change events and catch a notorious serial killer known as The Nightingale, who was involved in the deaths of numerous women including Sullivan’s Mum. There are unforeseen and tragic consequences and lots of twists and turns – sometimes so many that it is hard to keep track, but I think it’s worth trying..

Shetland

A departure for me: Shetland is an old style cop show, that’s like a sub-Arctic Bergerac with Goretex and granite. I’ve always been interested in the psychological effects on people of living in remote communities, social isolation surrounded by nature that’s beautiful but deadly too, the long dark nights, and the good and bad of tight knit communities. All are explored here, including what teenagers think of living on an island that’s miles from anywhere…

Dad: “We’ve got the sky and the sea and razorbills and kittiwakes, what more do you want?”

Daughter: “Top Shop.”

netflix-shetland-streamteam

 

Happy viewing!

 

Autumn 2016 style

I was still wearing summer T shirts just two weeks ago. Now the heating is back on, the second duvets are on the beds, new fingerless gloves have been bought and a perfect evening at home involves cosying up to a real fire with Netflix on the telly. This is Autumn 2016 style in this house.

And here’s our pick of current viewing:

Luke Cage

luke-cage

If you like Narcos, you may like Luke Cage, even though one is a drama documentary and the other is based on a Marvel Comic. There’s a nihilistic fatalism about both, living on the edge today, because you could be dead tomorrow.

I enjoy the desperation, the determination and the bravado of the different characters. Were the comics really like this? If so I clearly missed out.

Similar film techniques are used too: the crime boss is shown enjoying the entertainment in his club while the criminals who work for him kill and are killed out on the dark streets of Harlem.

Luke Cage goes from hero to zero as criminals and politicians combine to position him as the threat to community order, helped by YouTube and the power of those who upload to distort the full story by only showing part of what happened.

I’m loving it…

Death Note

My son recommends this anime series which is apparently one of the popular of all time even with people who don’t normally watch anime. This is his description of the series:

“It’s about a kid in secondary school, he’s not fond of life, he finds this book called the death note, if you write someone’s full name in it they will die.

“He begins with good intentions by killing criminals, but then he begins to kill others too and it affects his mental health and the serious charts the changes in his personality and decline in mental health.”

Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids

You’ve worked out by now that my daughter B loves music, of all kinds. But she and Justin go waaaay back. For a while it was a toss up between Britney and Justin as to who she liked best. She still loves to watch him dance, and I’m sure she’ll really enjoy watching this concert movie. It’s available on Netflix from October 12th 2016.

Designated Survivor

Recommended by my eldest daughter (and it’s on my must watch list too) this show stars actress Maggie Q (from Nikita, which we both adored) as a cool FBI agent, as well as Keifer Sutherland and Natascha McElhone.

America’s fate rests in the hand of a low-level official after an attack on Washington decimates the government in this gripping political thriller (from Netflix).

Happy viewing!

Disclosure – I was a member of the Netflix stream team on my previous blog. Membership gave me free Netflix and other nice stuff.

 

S€xy Narcos

sexy-narcos

The Columbian drug smuggling series, Narcos, is basically nostalgia porn for baby boomers (like me). It has all the ingredients that we think we remember from the far off 1970s. Beautiful people, brooding men and flirty women, stunning scenery, risk taking, drinking too much, wearing too little, ciggies everywhere, a deep languid voiced narrator, young people who were wild and loose and devil may care, ‘cos they didn’t. Many of us didn’t either.

The heroes are like the bad boys of my youth. The ones my friends and I all lusted after. Except they grew older and are now mostly respectable and middle aged, not lying in a cold grave in the hills of Columbia.

Like them, we thought we were smart. We worked hard, and played even harder. We made bad choices, maybe married unsuitable people.

In Narcos you see good guys doing bad things. Sometimes they don’t seem good at all, but ruthless and callous. You see the bad guys being good, giving money to the poor. As viewers, we know that’s a calculated act, but I’m sure those who got the money, swallowed any misgivings they had. We see Escobar himself playing with his kids, enjoying himself, while horrific acts are being carried out at his command. I also know that these are classic cinema tricks to play with your emotions.

But sometimes you’re left wondering which was the ‘right’ side in the dirty drug war? Perhaps there was none. No wonder the ordinary people of Columbia were confused…

So there’s darkness, desperation and determination in every scene, but also the enthusiasm and exuberance of young people whose lives shine brightly even when they are snuffed out far too soon.

Of course, it’s also a VERY BAD SHOW. It could put lots of very bad ideas into the heads of innocent young people…

It makes smoking look cool.

Casual s€x looks desirable, and no one ever gets STIs.

Killing people brutally is okay if you’re on the right side.

If something bad happens in your life you can get away with drinking yourself stupid and smashing in the face of someone who annoys you.

Or it looks that way.

Would I go back there now? No. There were consequences to that lifestyle, even if you weren’t shot dead on a street corner (unlikely to happen in a small town in rural Wales). And social norms have completely changed now. Smoking is almost verboten, and drinking is heading the same way. Violence is still accepted by many though, and I don’t understand the rules of s€xual relationships at all any more!

Perhaps it looks like a historical drama to today’s under 25s? Living that way must seem completely alien to them, especially all those moustaches…

But it’s part of the memories of my generation. So Narcos, don’t you go a-changing. Give those of us who were alive when the events of this series took place, the chance to wallow in the 1970s for a little longer. Please?

Disclosures

1. I was a member of the Netflix stream team on my previous blog. Membership gave me free Netflix and other nice stuff.
2. I really really love Narcos.