A to Z in April 2017

U is for Unstoppable (2010)

Unstoppable is one of my favourite films. It is a perfect example of a simple plot, done very well – and it’s based on a true story. The premise is, there’s a runaway train, it’s cargo is full of chemicals and people have to figure out how to stop it before it travels into and derails in a built up, residential area.

The two guys who are on the tracks and closest to the train are experienced driver Frank (Denzel Washington) and the rookie Will (Chris Pine) and they decide to go after the runaway train. They have brilliant chemistry and feel like two normal guys, who might have their problems but they’re still good guys.

The thing I love most about this film is Connie (Rosario Dawson). She works for the train company and she’s the only “suit” that talks sense, doesn’t care about profit margins and just cares about keeping people safe. She’s smart, capable and keeps her head in a crisis. She’s the one to trust Frank and Will and to keep them in the loop with what the police and everyone else are doing to try and stop the train. She’s one of my favourite characters in recent films – I hope to keep that cool if I’m ever presented with a crisis even half as huge as the one she has to deal with.

Unstoppable is one of those films where I get really excited and am almost bouncing in my seat as I watch even though I know what’s going to happen. It’s a great story about ordinary people trying to do the right thing, to help protect others even if it might not turn out so well for them. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend it.

T is for Travelling

I love travelling and seeing new places. For me, the holiday does indeed start in the airport – probably because I buy at least two books every time I’m in Duty Free! I like crossing off another country off my bucket list, or visiting a famous city. I’m not a fan of lying on the beach so I love holidays where I’m seeing new places, going to museums and getting the culture of a place.

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited a fair few countries over the years thanks to family holidays and school trips. I went to Moscow and Saint Petersburg when I was in college on a History trip, I went to Dubai over ten years ago as we had family friends living out there and the south of Spain is my home-from-home as my dad has lived there for fifteen years.

Recently I’ve come to love the idea of long weekends away, just three nights in a city and cram everything I want to see and do in that time. I’ve done that in Budapest and Prague with friends and the other weekend I was in Oxford for a friend’s wedding and then stayed a few days to see the city. My next few days away is going to be in May when I’m visiting a friend studying in the Netherlands. I think that’s where I’ve been lucky so far, I’ve had a lot of friends and family living around the world, or friends who also like travelling on a budget, so it’s not been too much of a hit on my bank balance any time I’ve been bitten by the travel bug.

I love to travel but it is always nice to come home to my own bed.

S is for the Spanish National Team

I am British (half English and half Welsh if you want to really get into it) but I’ve been supporting Spain’s national football team since 2007. That was when England failed to qualify for Euro 2008 so as my dad lived in Spain, I decided I’d support them for the tournament. I didn’t know I’d fall in love with the players and their style of play and ten years on would still be a huge fan. Supporting a national football team, especially one that’s not your actual nationality, can be a bit tough and stressful but it’s still a lot of fun.

I suppose I was quite lucky really. I started following their games and learning more about the team as it was on the rise. Spain won Euro 2008 in a 1-0 final against Germany, Fernando Torres scored the winning goal. He and David Villa were amazing throughout the tournament and it was the start of my love for Villa, a man who’s gone on to be Spain’s top scorer, and Iker Casillas, Spain’s goalkeeper and Captain – some of his saves were magnificent.

Spain went onto win the 2010 World Cup. I watched the final in my dad’s local bar and it was a tense experience – especially with how dirty the match was – but the reaction when Iniesta scored in the final minutes of extra time was worth it.

There was a tonne of expectation placed onto Spain at the start of Euro 2012, if they went on to win it they’d make history by being the first team to win three tournaments back to back. And win it they did.

There’s so many great things about Spain’s team during their golden era. The midfield was made up of Xavi, Iniesta and Xabi Alonso and they had complete control of the field. The defence of Puyol, Pique and Sergio Ramos was brilliant, Puyol would keep them in check and if anything did get past them Iker Casillas was in goal. Their style of play with the tika taka, keeping the ball on the ground and lots of short, quick passes had a big effect on the game of football and how other teams played against them. Some think it’s a boring way to play but I enjoy it because it shows how well connected the team is.

Spain crashed and burned at the 2014 World Cup but they did better at the Euros last year. Players are retiring and new ones are joining the squad, there’s a new coach and a new captain, but I will always continue supporting Spain.

R is for Rag’n’Bone Man

This guy is my new favourite artist when it comes to music. His voice is amazing and he’s breaking records, achieving number ones and winning awards left, right and centre. His music is soulful and heartfelt and kind of beautiful in my opinion.

The single Human went to number 2 in the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 1 in eleven countries while his debut album, also titled Human, was the fastest-selling debut album by a male act during the 2010s! He even beat the likes of Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith! Now that is some achievement. This year at the BRIT Awards he won both British Breakthrough Act and the Critics’ Choice Award, tying with David Bowie for the most wins of the night.

Human was the first song of his I heard and I instantly sat up and took notice. It’s such a different sort of song to what I’d heard before and I love the bass beat. Skin is the latest single to be released and it’s just as wonderful. His debut album is brilliant and I’m currently recommending to everyone. I think if you like acts like Bastille and like soulful voices then you should definitely give Rag’n’Bone Man a listen.

I love his entire album so much it was so hard to choose which song to include in this post. Bitter End and Arrow are two of my favourites from his album but I had to choose Human – it the first song of his I heard and it still gives me shivers.

Q is for Queen

No, not her majesty of Great Britain but Queen the band. Even though Freddie Mercury dies just a couple of months after I was born, I’ve grown up listening to his music. This is thanks to my mum, she’s a huge Queen fan so she’d have the cassette tapes (then the CD’s) playing in the car when I was little. We would sing along and it cemented my love for the band.

I think it’s brilliant that so many Queen songs have become an everyday part of our lives. We Are the Champions is sung at spot events, and so many of their songs have been featured in films. Bohemian Rhapsody in Wayne’s World, Somebody to Love in Ella Enchanted, We Will Rock You in A Knight’s Tale and so many more. It always puts a smile on my face when I hear a Queen song in a film or TV show.

It’s pretty impossible to choose a favourite Queen song, there’s so many of them that I even forget a few of them. I love the headbangers, the proper sing-along songs and the ballads, I love them all. So, I had to go with a medley of songs and what better than Queen’s performance at Live Aid in 1985. I love watching their performance, Freddie Mercury has the audience in the palm of his hand and I love when they all clap along in perfect time to Radio Ga Ga – both in the audience at Wembley and all the way in Philadelphia. The Audience Improve part gives me shivers every time I see it.

P is for Red Panda

I love red pandas. They are my favourite wild animal (my favourite animal in general are dogs) and just seeing a picture of them puts a smile on my face.

I think the first (and only) time I’ve seen a red panda in real life was at Central Park Zoo in New York. They looked so cute snoozing in the trees and I instantly fell in love. They are such weird creatures when you think about it. They are very distantly related to the giant panda and while it’s stiped tail is a bit like a racoon it’s not really related to them either. I love it when animals, or nature in general, doesn’t really fit in the boxes we humans try and put it in.

I think red pandas are some of the most chill animals around yet they still get over excited or super surprised by little things – there’s the video of a red panda in Japan seemingly showing off to a rock which is adorable. I think that’s one of the things I like about them so much, they are a very gif-able animal – in fact there’s a Buzzfeed article of “The 27 Best Red Panda GIFs Of All Time” if you ever need something to make you smile.

Fun Fact: I had to get a cuddly red panda from the shop at Central Park Zoo because I’m a big kid and I named it Boris after the nice taxi driver we had that day.

O is for On a Mission by Gabriella Climi

So this song is one of my favourite feel-good, motivational songs. I’m not sure how I discovered it but it was during my University days. It became part of the soundtrack to my final year of Uni, especially when I was writing my dissertation.

I’d play it as I was getting all my stuff ready to leave my flat to head to the library for the day. It would get me all pumped and motivated, feeling like I was going to achieve something that day.

On a Mission will always bring back strangely fond memories of studying in the library for hours with my friends. While no doubt I was stressed and worried about my dissertations and the various essays I was writing, I still had a lot of fun writing in the library with my best friend sat next to me, bouncing ideas off each other. The song was (and still is) a part of my Kick-Ass Inspirational Playlist and even today if I need a boost I’ll listen to that playlist and it helps me throw my shoulders back, stand tall and get on with whatever I was putting off in my life.