HOME TOURIST – Walking around Harewood House

As you might recall, the original Leeds Book Club Trio will be taking a little walking holiday next month. In order to get myself all prepared, I’ve been trying to get out for longer and more challenging walks.

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HOME TOURIST – Walking with the Elf

Today the Elf, The Silent Partner & myself (the original LeedsBookClub trio!) organised a walking holiday for July. Huzzah for future happiness!  
Naturally, I’m in no shape for a 13 mile trek (and that’s day 2!!) so the Elf and I headed out to Swinsty Reservoir – one of my favourite spots in Yorkshire – to get some prep walking in!

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VIDEO – Horny Robot

Apologies for poor light. 

The original video of a Balancing Robot…balancing on a lap

  
A ‘sexy’ edit by my friend Mark L (you’ll need sound) 

QUICK CHAT with Magda Apanowicz

Recently, the delightful Magda and I chatted about her upcoming SF project on Indiegogo – OmniWorld (have a listen here, if you wish!).


She’s nearly always smiling or laughing in person!

While I had her on the line, it seemed only right that we have a little catch up about her life, work and hobbies. We only had a few moments but still managed to fit in snippets about a ton of stuff including putting the final touches on Continuum’s final season and how hard it is to say goodbye to such awesome characters; learning accents (for roles mostly!); The Green Inferno – finally released after sitting in limbo for some time and cooking as a hobby.

Then we discover why people shouldn’t podcast while hungry as we sort of descend into food worship – PRO TIP there, lads!

[audio http://culturallyfixated.podbean.com/mf/play/4ghj8i/CultFix-Magda-catchup.mp3]

Also, Magda has agreed to be a CultFix Special Correspondent (like our very good friend Reed Diamond) – so hopefully we’ll be hearing more about her adventures soon!

magda

The Green Inferno Trailer

[youtube https://youtu.be/FcpYPu9M3bw]

CULTURALLY FIXATED

RE-WATCH – Buffy – A History of Viewing

Well, this has been the summer of the re-watch and no mistake. On top of our regular viewing…and one or two new shows, we’ve demolished Supernatural, Dollhouse, Game of Thrones, Cold Case, The Last Ship* (unwillingly on my behalf) and himself is currently introducing me to Northern Exposure – one of his favourites from the early 90’s (loving it, for the record).

It’s been a ton of fun. Last week however, I felt … weird. It’s probably a symptom of my on-going unintentional long-term rejection of sleep but I’ve found myself out of balance and out of touch with myself.

Clearly I needed a sort of psychic restorative. A pick me up for the soul if you will.

Enter from stage right – BUFFY.

Ever since 1992 when I piled into a cinema to profess my undying love for Luke Perry; I’ve loved Buffy. Now, I realise that the film isn’t…a natural Oscar contender. There are some seriously hokey scenes; totally daft dialogue; the clothes; some of the cheesiest vampires ever captured on celluloid and I can’t express my gratitude enough that they ditched the ‘I can sense vampires with my womb’ concept for the series – nevertheless; Buffy was a kick-ass heroine faced with the same crazy making world as me. What’s not to adore?

buffy film gif

It wasn’t until 1998 that I caught my first episode of the tv Buffy (‘The Pack’). Zimbabwean TV – the ZBC – had hit a relatively successful patch, but it was usually a few years (or decades) after something had aired in the US or UK before it reached our one-channel set. So those classmates with links to SABC (the South African broadcaster) or satellites were pretty much responsible for our cultural growth. A friend brought in a video recorded from the telly which was passed around my friend group.

buffy someone who cares

It was just so exciting for me to have SFF set for teens that wasn’t Star Trek. With a female lead, the same age as me. Who wore normal (if pretty stylish) outfits and had a mom and friends and classes and also MONSTERS! WITCHES! DEMONS! I must have watched that episode a dozen times, familiarizing myself with Willow, Xander and Giles. I didn’t head bang to the theme song though. That came later I recall!

There were other things going on at the time that probably helped my fixation develop. Around that time, my family decided to return to Ireland after a 7 years absence. I was just 16 and not a particularly mature one at that. Though I adored my family, I was leaving my home. It was a really disruptive period and though it was obviously a transitional one that resulted in many wonderful opportunities and relationships; it was tough on all of us.

buffy just a girl 2

We were barely back a week before I caught a re-run of the first season of Buffy on telly. To say that I clung to this one minimal link with the past reeeealllly understates my ability to over-think. Buffy in that moment became a constant for me. Something that was just mine and connected the two places I had called home at that point. After all, she had just moved and was starting over again too.

School in Ireland turned out to be like school anywhere. That first week though, was hilariously awful. Long practiced at walking around with one foot in my mouth; my ability to say the worst possible thing at the least opportune moment seemed to have magnified. It became clear that I would NEVER make any friends, that leaving Zimbabwe had been a HUGE mistake and my only chances at happiness were now GONE.**

buffy failure

Of course, this misery was short lived. I made a friend, then another until after a while, Ireland started to feel like a different sort of home. This process was greatly aided by my wonderful friend @Lainibop. She and I are very different people that just clicked. To this day, she is my heart and best self.

She also…had Sky. That meant that she got Buffy a half a million years before anyone else – and full episodes, not the butchered half hour/cancelled for snooker every second week as it seemed to be on terrestrial telly . The second that she learned how much the show meant to me, she recorded every episode of Buffy (and later Angel) for me to watch with her at weekends.

For four years.

What a friend, eh! She barely even knew me – it’s just who she is.

I really do Red

I really do Red

During that period, I settled in (good), cut my hair (not good), made some amazing life long friends (very good) and developed a crippling back condition (well, duh, does that sounds like a good?).

When I headed off to Leeds for uni, I carried with me my teddy George, a guitar and a rucksack, with my Buffy season 1 & 2 DVD box sets wrapped up in clothes (I actually bought the DVD’s in Ireland for uni – at this point I did not actually have access to a DVD player. Or a TV. At the time, that seemed quite normal – now I look back in awe and wonder at my little dork self!). For the most part, moving to the UK was terrific. There were ups and downs but at 19, I was more prepared for that. And at least I got away for uni – the poor old Buffster had to stick by the hellmouth…

And when things got rough, I just hid behind my Buffy…

Buffy continued to play a significant role in my life. During our ‘getting to know you’ wooing phase, himself and I watched the first 4 seasons in the course of a week (*eyes tear up with emotion*) – my first TV binge with a *boy*.

And then I grew up and left such silly obsessions behind me.

buffy grown up

Riiiight.

When Dollhouse aired, I finally cracked twitter and made some amazing friends from all over the world, with only one known common interest. Amazing! One of these friends convinced me to attend a convention (which I’ve blogged about before); thus opening a whole new aspect of fandom and friendship to me. Being a part of this world has been hugely positive for me – I’ve gained so much confidence in myself and in my passions.

Another twitter found friend – take a bow @FixatedOn – taught me about podcasting. He made me feel like what I had to say was interesting and funny, especially because it was niche, not despite that. Those two worlds collided beautifully when a Whedon guest at a convention gamely decided to record a podcast with me – you’re the best Reed.

buffy life lessons

Heck, Buffy is on my CV under interests and twice an interviewer has brought it up and we’ve ended up having a mini-geek-out, which is all sorts of cool.

No TV show can take the credit (or the blame) for me being the person that I am. The people in my life; the places that I’ve lived – these are what have shaped me. These are what I strive to emulate and live up to.

However, Buffy has been a uniquely placed marker for the different periods in my life. She has been a friend; a guide and sometimes a cautionary tale. We’ve laughed and cried and cringed together; sharing in successes and commiserating in our mistakes. And somehow found our respective places in the world***

buffy what would buffy do

*I’m pretty sure that I’ve forgotten a few here but in the interests of not outing myself as a utter tv addict; let’s ignore that right now.

**I can almost look back and laugh at the earnest drama queen tendencies of my teenage self…but it still stings just a little! Ooof, 16 was a HARD age!

***Which to be honest was tougher for me…I’m not fictional!

buffy i wear the cheese

HOME TOURIST – Altamont Gardens 

En route to the Kilkenny Arts Festibal, we stopped off in Co Carlow to visit another in the garden trail – Altamont Gardens. 

Walk this way…  

Just a little further…  

Altamont Estate ‘the jewel in Irelands gardening crown‘ is believed to have been both a convent and a monestry in its time, as well as a private residence. Though it’s history is a little muddied, as a dwelling the site dates back to at least the 16th century. 

Visitors are encouraged to explore the many trails and walks, whether through the formal or informal gardens or down by the riverside or through the woodlands. 

  
There’s an artificial (but beautifully embedded) lake just COVERED in lily pads too.   

As you would imagine, the gardens were lush and colourful, especially at this time of year!      

Colour and beauty everywhere…  
The keen observer of this blog will have no doubt noticed that I’m partial to running water. This was a particularly soothing spot and I found myself humming the opening lines of a song from our graduation mass (The River by Garth Brooks). 

You know a dream is like a river, 

Ever changing as if flows…

And a dreamers just a vessel

That must follow where it goes…

  
There is alao an old (and bit battered) house that will be gorgeous when restored, but in the meantime provides ideal strutting ground for the site peacocks (which sadly wouldn’t oblige me with a photo).    
The 100 steps walk leads back from the river to the grounds, via the Temple (which I didn’t trek up to – gotta leave something for next time!).

I can confirm that there are indeed 100. Yes, I counted. Did you doubt me for a second? 😉  

After all that climbing; there’s a lovely cafe nestled in the garden centre to stop for a break.    

With Pekin Bantams (that’s fancy chickens to the uninitiated)     

And a garden centre where you can pick up some of the lovlies to bring home…  

We spent a wonderful few hours exploring and didn’t see everything. I know that I’ll be back to visit again in the future to find the place transformed by the seasons!

   
 Open daily from February to November – 9am to 5:00pm

Also open weekdays in December. Telephone (059) 9159444 to check.

Entrance is Free

Guided Tours are available, with adults tickets – €2.75

FRIENDS – Aye Robots

Enjoy story-driven platform adventure games?

Ever wanted to play one about robots?

Set in Yorkshire?

Never thought about it before …but suddenly wanna?

Then check out

AYE ROBOT

[youtube https://youtu.be/uGrxhc8RsjM]

Release date: 2016!

BLURB

Yorkshire Robots are not an exciting brand. In fact, the company has been in a bit of a rut for some time.

They promise their Robots are “Safe, Clean and Normal”.

However, it’s possible that not everything is quite as it seems…

You know how I periodically have to brag about my amazing and talented friends? This is one of *those* posts!

My friend and soul sista  @CharlotteGore has created this awesome little game quite unlike anything I’ve ever heard of before!

CG is one of those annoying talented people, who excel in a variety of different fields (damn their eyes); it seems that whatever she turns her hand to; she masters! On top of that she’s funny, plays a wicked guitar and knows Buffy backwards – she’s good people!

So, if Aye Robot this sounds like your thing, check out the trailer and site and I’ll keep you posted about release dates!

FUN FACTS

The music used throughout was composed by @gillhespy, who also provided the voice work. On top of that, the multi-talented chap also animated the pixel art.

charlotte goreVisit Stair Fall Games for regular game updates!

Say hi to @CharlotteGore on twitter!

Visit Charlotte Gore’s YouTube channel!

HOME TOURIST – Walking in Emley

The Elf and I headed out last weekend for another walk.

The walk itself was challenging but manageable. Due to overgrowth, it wasn’t always as clear a path as I’d have preferred but we made it and – more importantly – we had great fun.

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By the end, we clocked up 12km (7.4miles). The extra was due in part to popping into a lovely local park for a look…

IMG_3301IMG_3302…and because we walked straight past the paths turn off.

It’s behind you!

More than once actually…

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Which meant we had to take a break…

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We’d a natural Gladiator moment…

We found a lovely stream – one side of it runs clear, the other is red with (what we presumed) was iron

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And walked through some incredibly dense fields. The path was about half a foot wide and the wheat was at least waist high.

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It was a beautiful day…
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My only criticism of the walk was that it could have been better signposted.

GARDEN – Hanging Baskets

With the beautiful weather the last few weeks, my garden is particularly lush – especially my hanging baskets. Though you might like to have a peek!

This is only my third time/year to get stuck into gardening properly, so I’m feeling pretty proud!

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The recent downpour has left these a bit squished, but worth including anyway I though! So pleased with the snapdragon, phlox and lobelia!

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Think these are ox-eye daisies. They flower the second year, so seeing these bloom has been a long time coming for me!

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Pansy and primrose and lobelia and weird trailing things…

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Lobelia and..begonia? and…other plants…that flower Fine, I lost the labels.

HOME TOURIST – The Railway Children Walk

the railway children leafletToday my friend Jess (@BookElfLeeds) took me on a walk in Haworth, Yorkshire.

She is climbing Ben Nevis for charity next month (it’s for a good cause – feel free to sponsor and also inspire her HERE) and wants to get in as much practice as possible. As I’ve long been fascinated by the village of Haworth – the home of the Bronte sisters; really enjoy a good meaty walk and have been actively been seeking out spots of beauty across Yorkshire – I readily (and perhaps somewhat rashly) agreed to keep her company.

We couldn’t have picked a better day to head out for a stroll. The weather which has been *whispers* almost unbearably close recently has finally broken away into glorious sunshine with the essential refreshing breeze dutifully in tow.

Parking up by the railway station, we headed up (unnecessarily as it transpired, but it turned out for the best!) to the tourist office to begin. We had already decided that we would be doing the full circular walk of 6 miles/10 km and picked up a very useful little map. Grasping our water bottles and adventurous spirit, we headed out.

Describing the initial stages of the walk as overgrown would be an understatement. While the path is signposted in the main and has clearly been maintained as a path for the most part – the fantastic spring and summer had resulted in person sized lupins and foxgloves battling it out for space with buttercups and nettles. Gardens and window boxes have exploded into colour and the fields and those spaces allowed to run wild looked almost magical.

It was beautiful but not ideal for two women wearing shorts/short trousers. Still it was passable and truly breath taking views throughout.

We had barely begun though when Jess discovered a mis-communication that made her blood run cold, despite the baking sun. When she had suggested the walk, I was in Ireland. I agreed without asking any pertanent questions about what exactly the walk entailed. As I hadn’t asked, I just assumed that the walk had been inspired by the wonderful children’s book. So while she was pointing out that the tourist office had been the butchers, I hadn’t really known what she meant.

I had, in fact, never seen the 1970’s version of the film. The Absolute Best version. The Definitive version. The whole bloomin’ reason for the whole bloomin’ walk!!!

She genuinely looked stricken so I quickly suggested that we remedy the situation by watching the film once we returned to Leeds. Whew, crisis reverted. The whole thing did make us reflect on our shared experiences growing up and where they diverge. All the while, Jess was pointing out bits and pieces that I would have to look out for later. Goody. Homework.

It’s difficult to describe the effects that nature and peace and tranquility can have on a person. Have a peek at the video to get a sense of how beautiful and lush the countryside was.

 

By the end of the walk, we were pooped, but very cheerfully so. We had taken the route anti-clockwise – backwards – and seemed to spend more time going down than climbing up. Yippee!! There were two hilly parts in the latter sections that nearly knocked the wind out of us – perhaps we should have brought snacks to keep our energy levels up! However, I was very proud of us. A wonderful day had been had and still the film to go!

As we returned to the car park, the train – which had been elusively hiding from me all day* sent a stream of steam into the sky and suddenly, the clouds drew in and large fat drops of rain began to fall. Even our timing was perfect today!

 

Also, Edith Nesbit was a renowned socialist. I’d no idea – read a bit more about her HERE

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Because we are children…

 

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Outside *the* house

 

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Sadly the station was closed 😦

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Find my quick review of The Railway Children film HERE

the railway children book cover

TRAILER TO THE 1970’s FILM JESS WAS RAVING ABOUT

[youtube https://youtu.be/dIks0QVzWLk]

PROJECT GUTENBERG – THE RAILWAY CHILDREN – Get your free copy here!
KINDLE – THE RAILWAY CHILDREN – Get your free copy here!
ITUNES – THE RAILWAY CHILDREN – Get your free copy here!

TRAILER TO THE ‘WRONG’ THE RAILWAY CHILDREN

[youtube https://youtu.be/3FsOZyguxqU]

*Ok, there was this moment when I absolutely could have taken a photo but my hands were full of ice-lolly at the time. Thems the breaks.