World Teachers Day!

The West Wing – Thank you Teachers!


MUSIC – Current TV Theme Songs 

As a bit of TV nerd, I’ve written before about my love of soundtracks – in particular theme songs (see various Playlist pages if you don’t believe me!) – previously. Personally, I find the un-theme of Supernatural – Carry On Wayward Sons by Kansas – to be one of the most effective defacto TV theme songs EVER. I’ve even blogged on some seriously dodgy soundtracks just because they thematically tickled me – Stalker – take a bow!  Recently,  I’ve been blown away by the brilliance of the music utilised in Fargo (especially season 2), Justified and Sense8.

So naturally, I’ve purchased some of those ‘music from TV’ cd’s and found myself disappointed at how dated they all are. No Orphan Black, Game of Thrones or Utopia (not a huge fan of electronic/house/dance/whatever that was but it was a REALLY effective soundtrack!) – in fact the most recent additions are usually Dawson’s Creek and Ally McBeal; which – no offence to the respective artists involved – hark back to my school days and are therefore more antique than cassettes*

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Day 11 Mass for 5 voices – Gloria – William Byrd

Mass for 5 Voices – Gloria
William Byrd

I included this purely to have an English composition representative of the Early Renaissance period. It was a choice made purely on (incredibly feeble) academic grounds, based entirely on internet research. I had *no idea* the fascinating history ahead of me. I mean, intellectually, I knew that the time period was rife with religious persecution, but had never really considered how that would impact musically.

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Day 10 Spring – The Four Seasons – Antonio Vivaldi

Spring – The Four Seasons
Antonio Vivaldi

The Four Seasons are Vivaldi’s best known body of work and were written in 1723 and published in Amsterdam two years later. Spring was the first of four violin concerti and a firm favourite of King Louis XV.

Each of the movements provide a musical expression for a particular season of the year.

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SMINKY SHORT – Reindeer 

This is SO brilliant and SO Irish! 

VIDEO – The best sex ed video you’ll ever see

Thanks Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 

This is GENUIS! 

MUSIC – Twibal Playlist

This weekend, Stronger (by Kelly Clarkson) appeared on  my playlist. Immediately, my thoughts flew to my twitter family @CindyMealer (sadly no longer with us #RememberCindy) and our best bud @Not_JohnStamos. They LOVE this song. Really really REALLY love it. And might have mentioned it a few thousand times online.

calvin and hobbes 2

Which got me to thinking – I have song associations for people that I have never met but absolutely adore. Which is just so cool.

For me, twitter is an extension of that ancient idea of making meaningful connections with people that you would almost certainly never meet with in real life – putting a letter in a bottle or balloon mail or having a pen pal in another country. (Though flights abroad are more reasonable now, even today, I chat weekly with people I might still never meet in the flesh and only a few decades ago – the idea would have been laughable.)

Here’s a few that jumped to mind (if you don’t like your pick – let me know, I’ll swap it out!) earlier today!


  1. Stronger – Kelly Clarkson@CindyMealer and @Not_JohnStamos
  2. For Good – Wicked Cast@_JustJens_
  3. Runaways – Killers@Cidergirli
  4. The You and Me Son – The Wannadies @DiTippingWoods
  5. Don’t Stop Believing – Glee Cast – @FaithGentlemen
  6. Get this party started – Shirley Bassey@Tess_hs
  7. Man, I feel like a woman – Shania Twain @Theefefe
  8. Girl from Mars – Ash @SteveCult
  9. In Dreams – Roy Orbison @GrrArgh
  10. Magic Dance – David Bowie@Gazpachodragon
  11. A Man’s Gotta Do – Doctor Horrible @Crazyimii
  12. LeviOsa not LeviosAHarry Potter@WatcherMark
  13. You Really Got Me – The Kinks@ChrisNickson2
  14. Petals – Hole@EllieJayden
  15. Somewhere over the rainbow/What a wonderful World – @WoodsieGirl
  16. Landslide – Fleetwood Mac@CharlotteGore
  17. Pavlov’s Bell – Aimee Mann @Charlotte Gore
  18. Anyone else but you – The Mouldy Peaches – @BookElfLeeds
  19. Goodbye to You – Michelle Branch @Shevolution
  20. Buffy Theme – @Lainibop
  21. Tapestry – Carole King @shdbwriting

(Just to clarify, this is a mixture of people I know IRL; know IRL but communicate with online and those I only know online)


  • The first recorded messages in bottles occurred in Ancient Greece in roughly 310 BC.
    • The Philosopher Theophrastus used the bottles as part of an experiment designed to show that the Mediterranean Sea was formed by the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The inhabitants of the Scottish island of St Kilda – a remote place – have been using messages in bottles/containers for communicate since 1876.
  • NASA has also bought into the shout into the void idea and has launched several interstellar ‘messages in bottles’
    • The Pioneer Plaque – a gold-anodized aluminium plaque attached to the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 (1972 and 1973 respectively)
    •  The Voyager Golden Record – two spacecraft carry a gold-plated copper disk with recorded sounds and images representing life of Earth.
  • The Yevpatoria RT-70 radio telescope transmitted messages to potential ET civilisations in 1999, 2001/3/8
  • My personal favourite – in the 16th century, the English navy used bottle messages to send information relating to enemy positions.
    • Queen Elizabeth the first created the position of ‘Uncorker of Ocean Bottles’.
    • Anyone else found opening the bottles could face the death penalty.

MUSIC VIDEO – Malvina Reynolds – Little Boxes

This was used as the theme song for the TV series Weeds, which was how I first came by it. 

It’s a fantastic song and a wonderfully evocative protest one – the lyrics are at once catchy, cheerful and cautionary. Reynolds was inspired to write the song while driving through Daly City, California in 1962.

Nancy Reynolds Schimmel – Melvina Reynold’s explained:

“My mother and father were driving South from San Francisco through Daly City when my mom got the idea for the song. She asked my dad to take the wheel, and she wrote it on the way to the gathering in La Honda where she was going to sing for the Friends Committee on Legislation. When Time Magazine (I think, maybe Newsweek) wanted a photo of her pointing to the very place, she couldn’t find those houses because so many more had been built around them that the hillsides were totally covered.”

Reynolds has a distinct voice and here she uses it to maximum effect, rasping out the chorus, pinching the words ‘ticky tacky’ (popularised in the 60’s by this track) all the time maintaining the song-song lullaby like melody. 

The version of the song destined to become famous was sung by her good friend and fellow political activist Pete Seeger in 1963. 

Since then, the track has been covered by a multitude of artists, from a multitude of different musical genera – surely a testament to the song’s integrity and lasting impact. 


  • According to Christopher Hitchens, satirist Tom Lehrer described “Little Boxes” as “the most sanctimonious song ever written”.
  • Weeds used nearly 30 different versions of the song (including this one) during its 8 season run. 
  • In 1952, a similarly tuned song called Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was released by Bob Merrill.

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


Because we are children…



Outside *the* house



Sadly the station was closed 😦






Find my quick review of The Railway Children film HERE

the railway children book cover



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



*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.

REVIEW – The Railway Children – 1970’s Film

Today I went for a walk in Haworth Yorkshire, tracing the path of the Railway Children film shot in 1970. Here is my 2 line review!




When Father goes away with two strangers one evening, the lives of Roberta, Peter and Phyllis are shattered. They and their mother have to move from their comfortable London home to go and live in a simple country cottage, where Mother writes books to make ends meet.
However, they soon come to love the railway that runs near their cottage, and they make a habit of waving to the Old Gentleman who rides on it. They befriend the porter, Perks, and through him learn railway lore and much else.
They have many adventures, and when they save a train from disaster, they are helped by the Old Gentleman to solve the mystery of their father’s disappearance, and the family is happily reunited.



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


THE RAILWAY CHILDREN BOOKSo as promised, as soon as we got back to mine, I found the Railway Children for us to watch. The film was every bit as heartwarming, gentle and wonderful as I had been promised.

The cast is perfectly realised and I instantly fell in love with the caring Bobbie, wise cracking Peter and impetuous Phil – portrayed delightfully by Jenny Agata, Gary Warren and Sally Thomsett.


However, the heart of the film was the children’s mother. Had she not met my approval, the whole set up would have been ruined. Thankfully, the film avoided making the mother a mope or victim and she was brought to life with humour and elegance by Dinah Sheridan.  Her dealings with the ‘mean’ maid at the beginning were just brilliant!

Albert Perks was another triumph – it took me a second to place Doctor Who’s friend Bernard Cribbons in the role. He brought light to his every scene – particularly when interacting with ‘ the Russian’ and his bloomin’ missus. His character also brought the railway to life – making every scene with the trains fun and emotive.

the railway children

The only slight quibble was that I watched the film with two such reprobates. Almost as soon as the film started, himself started to question the portrayal of Bobbie’s relationship with the Doctor! Naturally my easily led mind instantly jumped to several unsavory situations!!

Of course, we were also watching it with an eye to the breathtaking landscape that we had wandered today. It was fascinating to see places that we had just visited – how different it all looked…and how the same. Truly gorgeous countryside – I feel all the honoured.

An utterly lovely film that sticks closely to the source material.