Why I Love…

Why I Love… The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy

I finished my yearly rewatch of The Lord of the Rings this week. I watched The Fellowship of the Ring (my favourite in the trilogy) on Monday, The Two Towers on Tuesday, and The Return of the King on Wednesday. These were the theatrical editions because while I own and have watched the extended editions a couple of time, it’s the theatrical editions that I love the most – because it’s those versions I saw in the cinema and fell in love with.

The Lord of the Rings is inexplicably linked to Christmas to me. That’s because when each film was released, me, my mum and my gran would go together to see each one on Christmas Eve. It was a family tradition for three years and I loved it. Now I always rewatch The Lord of the Rings in December, as close to Christmas Eve as possible. When I was at university and had longer holidays and less to do in them, I even watched all three films on one Christmas Eve before. Now with work and having to travel home for Christmas, I can only do watching one per evening, three nights in a row.

I love every film in the trilogy, but my absolute favourite is The Fellowship of the Ring. I think I love that one so much because it is kind of the most light-hearted of the trilogy. It’s the one that introduces all the big characters, is more hopeful but it also has some scary moments and brilliant battles. The Mines of Moria sequence is one of my favourites in the whole trilogy, both the battle and the chase to the bridge. Also love the Skirmish at Amon Hen at the end of the film. That’s a brutal battle but one that’s so motivated by the characters you’ve grown attached to over the course of the film.

While the Battle of Helm’s Deep is fantastic, and I always get goosebumps when Haldir and the elves arrive to help, I think The Two Towers is my least favourite. That’s because I don’t love Frodo and Sam’s plot until they meet Faramir but I like the Merry and Pippin stuff with Treebeard and I adore seeing what Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are doing. That doesn’t mean to say The Two Towers is bad, it’s still immensely enjoyable and does a great job of reintroducing all the characters we’ve already met and setting up the importance of Rohan and its people in the first 20 minutes – that’s a great screenplay.

The Return of the King is the perfect end to a perfect trilogy. I love every character’s plot; the battles are phenomenal, and the story is so full of hope. Yes, it has a dozen endings, but I love every single one of them and they send me on an emotional rollercoaster.

I love The Lord of the Rings trilogy because of the way it makes me feel. It’s got nostalgia value for me as it was such a formative influence on my taste in films and stories, so every time I watch it it feels like a warm hug. I’m still constantly surprised that no matter how many times I watch the trilogy (this year was my 14th full trilogy rewatch) there’s still little things that I notice and that bring me joy.

The Lord of the Rings trilogy just makes me happy. It makes me smile, makes me cry, and I still get completely taken in by the battles and the whole world of Middle Earth. I love it so much and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words how much I love these films or how much they mean to me.

Why I Love… I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

To me, the end of November/beginning of December is I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! season. I love this show and to be honest it’s the only reality show I watch religiously every year.

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! is a reality show where a group of “celebrities” have to camp in the Australian jungle, without any home comforts or contact with the outside world, on basic rations and complete in trials full of creepy crawlies, crocodiles and snakes in order to win food for the camp. I put the word celebrities in quotation marks as they are usually soap stars, musicians, sportspeople and people who you would recognise if you’re under 40.

Saying that though, half the fun of I’m a Celebrity… is that it introduces you to celebrities you’ve never heard of and you fall in love them. A couple of years ago a series featured Superbike World Champion Carl “Foggy” Fogarty who I’d never heard of before, but he soon became my favourite campmate and I was so happy he won.

There’s been some unlikely friendships made in the jungle which are always wonderful. One of my favourites was Star Trek legend George Takei and Joe Swash, a former EastEnders actor when they were in the jungle together ten years ago. The two of them couldn’t have been more different but they bonded so much in the jungle and it was really sweet to see.

This year I actually had heard of nine out of the eleven celebrities which was a bit of a surprise as normally I don’t even know half of them. This series has been a lot of fun, and that’s in part because all of the campmates have gotten on so well and there’s been no arguments. It is kind of entertaining when there’s larger than life characters who clash, but as someone who cries as soon as someone raises their voice at me in real life, I prefer it when everyone gets along.

The thing I like about I’m a Celebrity… is that it’s so funny. I spend every evening for almost three weeks laughing. The campmates antics are hilarious and then the hosts, usually Ant & Dec but this year it’s Holly Willoughby and Dec, are also funny with their quips about what’s been happening in camp and their skits.

Tomorrow it’s the final of this year’s series and the final three are Harry Redknapp, Emily Atack, and John Barrowman. I’m happy they are the final three. I’ve loved John Barrowman since I first saw him in Doctor Who as Captain Jack Harkness so he’s kind of always been my favourite. I’d heard of both Harry Redknapp and Emily Atack before but didn’t know that much about either of them, and they’ve both entertained me over the past few weeks and made me smile. I do love John and Emily’s friendship though, them two together are so sweet and they look like they’re having the best time when they’re goofing around together. Tomorrow night is the final and I would be more than happy with whoever was crowned King or Queen of the Jungle out of those three.

Below is a video compilation of some of the trial’s campmates have faced over the years so you can see what this brilliant show is all about. It’s bonkers but I love it.

Why I love… Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

I love Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal. They are two of the greatest tennis players who have ever lived and they are my favourite players. I am one of those people who likes and supports both of them, no matter who they are playing. When they end up playing each other I’m often torn because I love them both and never really know who I want to win, but I do know their matches will be incredible.

Theirs has been a rivalry that’s been going for thirteen years now. They’ve played each other 37 times so far, with Nadal leading with 23 wins to Federer’s 14 wins. Probably their most famous match is the Wimbledon 2008 final. It was pure magic and one of the first tennis matches I remember being riveted by, it was an example of phenomenal tennis. They’ve made each other improve their game and have set so many records individually and together. They’ve each had their problems and injuries and for them to come back in 2017, with Federer 36 years old and Nadal 31, and win the four major Grand Slams between them is incredible. This year Federer won Wimbledon for a record eighth time, and met Nadal in the Australian Open where he won in five sets. While Nadal won the US Open and he won his tenth French Open title (another record) and firmly cemented himself as the King of Clay.

Last month was the inaugural Laver Cup, a tournament organised by Roger Federer in the style of golf’s Ryder Cup, with Team Europe playing against Team World. It was an event that had its critics before it started as it doesn’t affects any players standings and was seen as more of an exhibition tournament more than something players want to win. Doubters were proved wrong as everyone involved was desperate to play their best and to win.

One of the highlights of the tournament was that Federer and Nadal, both playing for Team Europe, played a doubles match on the same time – the first time they’ve ever played together like that. It was a thrilling match and their opponents from Team World, Sam Querrey and Jack Sock, put up a fight, especially in the second set but Nadal and Federer went on to win the match, even if there were some slight mishaps where they were unused to playing together. Team Europe went on to win the tournament after Roger Federer defeated Nick Kyrgios, when in his excitement Rafa went and jumped into Roger’s arms!

The Laver Cup really highlighted how these two sportsmen not only respect each other, but how well they get along off the court. They are some of the fiercest rivals in sport ever but they have also become almost friends. It was wonderful seeing them on the same side, supporting each other and the younger players on the team. To be honest I don’t think I’d ever seen Rafa smile and laugh as much as he did that weakened, especially whenever he was with Roger. It was such a great tournament – and being able to watch their doubles match live was the best £6.99 I’ve ever spent (I got a Sky Sports 24 Hours Pass on Now TV).

They are both getting older, and they will have to retire at some point, but until then I’ll enjoy watching them play – both against one another, and against anyone else. I could write even more about Rafa and Roger and why I like them so much, but really it can be narrowed down to two things that applies to them both. 1. They are very talented tennis players and 2. They seem like generally nice, charismatic people. I could say so much about them, using their own quotes to describe each other, but I don’t want this post to be even longer than it already is.

I love them both and I’ll finish this post with a video from the Laver Cup someone highlighting Federer and Nadal’s friendship. Though I also have to mention this video, where Roger and Rafa are supposed to be filming an advert for a charity match and they cannot stop laughing – if I’m ever feeling down I watch this video and it always makes me feel better.

Why I love… the Autumn

Autumn is my favourite season. It’s not so warm, in fact it can get pretty cold, and that means I can wear multiple layers, jumpers and big hoodies and I like that a lot.

I’m not one that’s into fashion but I generally like the colours of clothes that are “autumn fashion.” The browns, yellows and reds are some of my favourite to wear and it’s not seen as so weird when you’re wearing darker colours in autumn.

Autumn TV is also the best TV. There is currently so many different shows I want to watch, that more often than not end up on the same day and time and I have to figure out how to record them all. Then I have to make time to catch up on them an if there’s one thing I’m not good at is catching up with TV shows. Last month, Victoria was on at the same time as Strike, the adaptation of the novels by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling, so I had to always record one of them. The Great British Bake Off is back but that often clashes with shows I need to record too. It’s kind of typical really, you can go for weeks or months without much being on TV you want to watch, and then as soon as autumn comes around there is almost too much to keep up with!

I’m not a fan of summer – I can’t deal with the heat, though admittedly in England we don’t tend to get ridiculously hot summers that often, we get three days close to 30°c then goes back to around 20°c but even that can be too hot for me. When autumn comes around it’s like a sigh of relief, we still generally get dry, sunny days but they are so much cooler.

I feel like autumn is a lot of people’s favourite season. Maybe because it’s a season where you can kind of get away with not going out as much – because who wants to leave the house when it’s already getting dark at 6pm? You can stay home in your pyjamas, curled up with a book or in front of the TV and it’s just the best.

Is autumn your favourite season too? If so why? And if not, which season is your favourite? I sometimes think what type of weather people like says a lot about them, what it says I’m not sure but it’s like a snapshot of someone’s personality.

Why I Love… the Ninja Book Swap

It’s autumn so not only does that mean it’s getting a bit colder and the leaves are starting to turn brown but it also means that signups for Ninja Book Swap are open!

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The Ninja Book Swap is a lovely thing where you can send and receive bookish goodies to people. This Autumn there’s the regular swap where you send one book (or more if you wish) and some goodies to someone and get the same in return from someone completely different, and there’s the Trick or Treat Swap where you can send someone a book from a genre they’d like to read more of. For more info on both swaps, check out the Ninja Book Swap blog.

I’ve signed up for the Ninja Book Swap about three times now, this Autumn Swap will be my fourth, and I’ve loved putting together gifts for people and then the surprise of getting something in the post in return is wonderful. It’s really interesting looking through someone’s book wish-list, as well as spending ages picking out some books to send to them, I nearly always discover new books and genres that sound great and then I add them to my own wish-list.

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My first ever Ninja Book Swap package I received from an awesome buddy in Germany

Probably the hardest thing about the Ninja Book Swap is finding the goodies to send to who you’ve been given. It does depend from person to person, but it really does help if when you sign up for the swap you give a good list of the things you like and don’t like. Even if it’s broad thing like saying you love Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, it gives the person who’s got you more scope to find some cool things to send you. I know in previous swaps I’ve only listed like four things I like and this time when I signed up for the swap I tried to list as many things as possible, just to (I hope) give the person who ends up partnered with me an easier time in finding goodies. Also you can totally get crafty and make some goodies to send – I have little to no crafting skills so that’s something I’ve yet to do but I’d definitely love to receive something that someone has spent some time and effort on, it makes it all just a little bit more special.

I personally often kinda suck at the community aspect of blogging (I am so sorry about how it usually takes me days to respond to a comment) and sometimes find it hard to find, follow and interact with new blogs so Ninja Book Swap is definitely a great way to meet new people and find some great new blogs or Twitter accounts to follow. It’s always nice to have people who you can gush about books to and the Ninja Book Swap is all about spreading the love and joy of books.

I really would recommend signing up for Ninja Book Swap. If you like books, have a presence on any social media whether that’s a blog, Twitter or Instagram, and say hi to the creator Bex (just so she knows you’re a real person) then you can sign up and share the love of books and meet new likeminded people. It’s a fun thing to do and it’s always great wrapping up presents, and receiving a parcel that you have no idea what’s in it is always a nice surprise.

Sign-ups close at midnight on Sunday 2nd October so you’ve got to get in there quick! For all the info you need, check out the FAQ and if you think it sounds as awesome as it is, then do sign up – you never know, I could be the one sending you a parcel and if I am then I apologise in advance for my love of sellotape!

Why I Love… Star Trek Beyond

star trek beyond movie posterI went to the cinema to see Star Trek Beyond for the fifth time this week. It’s now my most watched film at the cinema and I just love it a lot. It’s hard to try and put in words why I love it so much, I do think it might be something to do with the passing of Anton Yelchin which affected me more than any other “celebrity death” ever has, but there’s definitely more to it than that.

Star Trek Beyond is full of hope and characters who trust each other and work together. Pretty much every other summer blockbuster this year has had characters being involved in a conflict against someone they were once friends with, like Captain America: Civil War, or just generally being quite “dark and gritty” like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and X-Men: Apocalypse. Star Trek Beyond is like the opposite of that, the crew of the Enterprise are split up and each face different challenges but they all work together. The line that really encapsulates Star Trek Beyond and its character is when Uhura says “There is strength in unity.” It’s the perfect message for the film and also for our real world where you’ve got Brexit and Trump dividing people and countries. (more…)

Why I Love… Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Brooklyn-Nine-NineOK so I’m impatiently waiting for season three of Brooklyn Nine-Nine to arrive on Netflix after I binged watched the entirety of the first and second season in a matter of weeks. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is now one of my favourite shows and it has even become like a “comfort show” – if I feel a bit down I watch a couple of random episodes and I’m soon smiling and feeling better about life.

So why do I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine so much? There’s a lot of reasons. First there’s the humour. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is funny, it may not always be laugh out loud funny but it’s very quick-witted and has some smart humour. I wasn’t sure what I’d make of Brooklyn Nine-Nine when I first started to watch it, American humour isn’t always my cup of tea but I love how smart and quick the humour is.

With the humour comes the opportunity to not make cheap, possibly offensive, jokes. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is so great because it calls out all the sexist, racist, homophobic humour you might get in other shows and in real life. Jake could easily be the arrogant womaniser but he really does care about his female friends and never belittles them, and he calls out other peoples’ bad behaviour. This gifset shows how Brooklyn Nine-Nine calls out multiple characters and situations and it’s wonderful.

Then there’s the stories. While each episode is kind of like a crime-of-the-week type deal and they are all pretty fun and even exciting, there’s the overriding story-arcs and relationships. Characters date different people and then break-up or there’s stuff like Terry’s family or Jake and his dad. It’s small stuff that develops over the episodes and you can see how these characters grow or what’s happened in their past to make them into who they are.

And that’s the main reason I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine so much – the characters. Jake is a great detective but is also a big kid, Amy is competitive and competent, Boyle loves food and loves his job, Rosa is a total badass, Terry loves his kids – both his twin daughters and the detectives under his charge, Captain Holt is serious and hard-working but he can still have fun with his team and then there’s Gina, Holt’s assistant when she isn’t attached to her mobile phone. Oh and I can’t forget Scully and Hitchcock, they’re the older detectives and many people think they’re kind of useless but that’s not always the case.

I love all of the characters and together they become a family, which is my favourite trope in fiction. Found families, that are a little dysfunctional and sometimes a little broken but they all care about each other are the best thing in my mind. The detectives of the Nine-Nine are all friends who trust and care about each other and it’s so nice to see a show where there’s no real conflict between the main characters.

In short, I love Brooklyn Nine-Nine so much because it’s fun, smart and I love the characters and their relationships. I cannot wait to see season three and see how this brilliant show continues to be amazing.