Saturday, 26 May 2012

Being late

I hate being late but when it is for airports I am particularly irritable and one of the few times that I am stressed. On the way to the airport we were cutting it fine as the oil light came on. After check the engine we then tried to find some oil which was not easy at 5 in the morning especially as Tesco was pay at the pump. When we arrived we were later than expected but the queue we ended up in was moving so slowly it barely felt like it was moving. They did not help my stress levels. When we went through security the people in front were trying to take a chemist shop through and were stopped and we had to wait further and then at which point my belt became a target for their investigation costing us more time.

On the way back we were at the pick up at plenty of time but we then had to sit around until the exact time even though we were the only people. We then went to get other people and it took us ages to get across town, every moment making us even later. The lateness made me even more annoyed being late and amusing A.

Things I have learnt about Budapest

1. Bolt means shop and is not the name of the Usain Bolt's less famous brother

2. There is a disappointing number of shops that can be found in the UK. Tesco Expressz was predictable but I wasn't expecting a Vision Express.

3. Pick up a basket in shops as otherwise the steely- eyed security card is not a happy bunny
4. There are a lot of homeless as the economic recession bits
5. There are a lot of posts to avoid people ending up in the road but there are just at wrist height
6. The abbreviation for florint is either HUF or FLT and there are 330 to the pound (ish)
7. Most of the architecture is lovely but there are a few communist building which leave a lot to be desired
8. Hungarians love spas and there are specific about temperature. The hotel had two pools one just above body temperature and one just below. There are pools with different levels of chlorine.
9. There are lots of different types of trams which run smoothly, the trolley buses look like they have not been modernised since the 1950s.
10. Ferencvaros means Francis' town and their have one of the most successful football clubs in Hungary.

Budapest - Picture of the Day - 14th April

This was the day that we had to leave. After a trip to a chemist (the Hungarian for Strepsil is Stepsil) we ended up in the city, had some lunch and then headed home via, the not as a bad as it sounds, Whizz Air. We sent time around St Stephen's Basilica but didn't take many pictures so the very exciting photo of the day is of a crane. I usually visit cities when they are being renovated and avoiding cranes in photos becomes an interesting challenge.

Budapest - Pictures of the Day - 13th April

We went to Budapest's green lungs. Margaret's Island is a green oasis in the middle of the river with a few hidden surprises. There is an animal park with giant rabbits, storks, horses who only come over when you have food and peacocks. There is a spa and pool complex, a water tower, there are ancient ruins, there is a communist style hotel in the brutalist style and there is a hotel in the Victorian style. After leaving the island we visited the Parliament and made it to Gresham's Palace in time to catch the moonlit river cruise with questionable string trio and lovely food. The end of the day had both of us sitting arm in arm as we saw the sights from the bow of boat in one of the most romantic cities on one of the most romantic rivers in the moonlight.   


Budapest - Picture of the Day - 12th April

We visited Buda on this day although unfortunately A was not very well and was half towed and half dragged around the sights. A kept telling that she did not want to miss out but really should have been n bed. At various points she had to have naps and hot chocolate to build her strength and cough sweets to provide medication. In Buda is the Royal Museum, President's Palace, Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion. It has a number of quaint streets and tree-lined streets that give it a restful air and the funicular railway means that you can let the train take the strain. One piece of advice is not to try to the use the toilets in the National Museum for free as they get a bit arsey. From the Fisherman's Bastion you get a great view across the whole of the city and if you go at dusk you can see it in daylight and at night.

Budapest Parliament from the Fisherman's Bastion

Budapest - Picture of the Day - 11th April

There is only one place to start when visiting Budapest and that is the River Danube. It cuts the city in half with Buda on one side and Pest on the other (we were staying in Pest). It was not until 1849 that the first bridge over the Danube was finished and the two parts of the city were properly joined. The vast majority of the buildings can be seen from the river bank and as with most cities that expanded through the Victorian era they liked to show off. As a capital in the Austro-Hungarian empire it has a parliament building and royal palace as well as a number of churches and cathedrals and an opera house. On the first whole day we had a very relaxing time down by the river in the bright sunshine admiring the architecture. 

Chain Bridge with the President's Palace (white building behind)

Budapest - Picture of the Day - 10th April

When you go to a hotel after you have just got married tell them you are married, now it is hard to raise face to face so email them in advance. The hotel decided that we would be the guests of the day and that meant that we could have a upgraded room with two bathrooms, a sitting room, a lovely big bed, chocolates and a free bottle of champagne. It made a beautiful hotel into an even more special experience and made the whole trip memorable.

The Corinthia Hotel, Budapest

Sunday, 6 May 2012

What I am watching

Game of Thrones: I have read the books, I know what is going to happen and it is still fab. Peter Dinklage acts everyone of the screen.

Homeland: Which side is Brody on? Top acting from Damian Lewis and Clare Danes' bi-polar scenes were so convincing.

Law and Order SUV: Always a twist somewhere that you don't see coming (unless you have seen it before on one of the 6 million channels that it is on.)

Criminal Minds: Another week, another serial killer that is tracked down and sorted out.

Pointless: As quiz shows go it asks you to find the most obscure, most difficult answers rather than wasting time with easy questions.

Britain's got Talent: Now we have got away from the cringe-worthy auditions it might be worth watching.

Casualty: Loving Doctor Keogh in a "House-lite" role

On the box: Smash, Once upon a Time and Planet Earth Live.
Recommended Grimm and Awake (I wasn't so I can't comment)

Cinema rules from Mark and Simon

The Cinema Code of Conduct states:
  • No Eating... ...of anything harder than a soft roll with no filling. No one wants to hear you crunch, chew or masticate in any way. Nachos cause special offence and are of the devil.
  • No Slurping... ...of drinks. You've already drunk a 5 litre flagon of pop, you really don't need the melting ice too. You are not six years old.
  • No Rustling... ...of super high density, rustle-o-matic, extra rustle bags. No foraging of any kind, if you're going to need it during the film, get it out before hand.
  • No Irresponsible Parenting' Your five-year-old does not want to come to see the latest 12A certificate: you are using the cinema as a babysitter. Your child's moaning, whinging and crying is your fault and a profound annoyance to everyone else. Your interrupted sleep caused by your child's nightmares is also your fault and serves you right.
  • No Hobbies This includes knitting, drug dealing, model aeroplane assembly, fighting, having sex and updating Facebook.
  • No Talking You’re in a cinema – you have come here to watch, not to discuss. Or ‘engage’, or ‘participate’, or ‘explain’ or whatever. More importantly, no-one in the cinema has paid £8.50 to hear your director’s commentary on the movie. Just sit down and shut up.
  • No Mobile Phone Usage At all. Not even on ‘flight mode’. This isn’t an aeroplane, it’s a cinema. Even if you’re not yapping, you’re still creating light pollution. Put your thumbs away. NB: includes BlackBerries, PalmPilots, iPads – whatever.
  • No Kicking of Seats The area of floor directly in front of your seat is yours, and is there to put your legs in. The back of the seat in front of you belongs to someone else; do not touch, interfere with, or otherwise invade their space with your feet, knees, or other bodily appendages.
  • No Arriving Late Like Woody Allen in Annie Hall, you’re supposed to watch movies from the very beginning to the very end. If you turn up late, tough: go see something else – The Sorrow and the Pity, perhaps.
  • No Shoe Removal You are not in your own front room. Nor are you in Japan (unless you are, in which case, carry on). A cinema is a public space: keep your bodily odours to yourself.

The Hunger Game

An interesting post-apocalyptic future where the interestingly attired minority keep the twelve districts that revolted sometime in the past under their thumb. Each child can get food from the state but that means they have a greater chance of being chosen for the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a killing zone where one child from the 24 "wins" when all the others are dead (think Lord of the Flies).
As a set-up goes it is an interesting idea and quite a good film but it copped out at nearly every key moment and instead of providing us with a few dilemmas (will she/won't she moments) they find a convenient way to get her out of the situation. It also ends strangely and whilst this is supposed to allow the franchise to continue it makes the film a bit odd.

The performances are good, the cinematography good, the dialogue good and the idea of killing as Saturday night entertainment is good but the painfully obvious script and lack of suspense means it never gets above good. The best bit was the view of the future with the battle to win Saturday night's rating battle with the over the top razzmatazz and the focus on celebrity (even if they are about to kill others) and sugary interviews.

PS In a film about people going hungry everyone seemed very well fed.

Headhunters (Hodejegerne)

Scandinavian crime drama is on vogue for the last couple of years and this film is based on a book by Jo Nesbø. The Millennium trilogy were interesting although not brilliantly written (there is a introductory chapter on Swedish fraud) and the Wallander series in both English and Swedish were very good and this stacks up well against them. In an interview with the director he speculated that the reason for this rise in crime is due to Hollywood films make their heroes whiter than white whilst the bad guys are foolish and dim. In the Scandinavian crimes the heroes are far from perfect, the bad guys intelligent and brutal and the narrative complex.

The film is very good, the plot moves swiftly, the action is good, if brutal, the characters are well drawn and the conclusion is clever and the loose ends are tidied up without being too tidy. The level of comedy was good and produced some smirks and laughs without being slap-stick. I only had to suspense my powers on belief a couple of occasions which was good. It was also interesting to see Ser Jaime Lannister getting his come-uppance that he so richly deserved.