Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

A Child's Christmas in Wales 1987

A Child's Christmas in Wales

"I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six."

I watched A Child's Christmas in Wales on television the first Christmas I spent with my husband in 1987, before we were even married.  I knew he was the guy for me, because he appreciated the sweetness and beauty of this holiday classic.  Not many people even know this DVD exists, which is a shame.  Our family had the pleasure of traveling to Wales five years ago (although in the summer) and parts of Wales are still almost as rustic as in this film.  In fact, this was filmed on location in Montgomery Wales, which is probably little changed from when Dylan Thomas was a boy in Swansea.

Old Geraint telling his grandson Thomas about Christmas past...

This sweet film is based on the poem by Dylan Thomas which was first published in 1954 after his death.  It is really more like a lyrical piece of prose as only Thomas could write.  In 1986, a collaborative effort between Global TV in Canada and HTV in Britain (now known as  ITV Wales & West Ltd) brought this to television, and it was shown on PBS in the USA as well.  It is rare to see this on television anymore, so you'll have to invest in the DVD if you want to see this (a wise investment for years to come...)

"One Christmas was so much like another, in those years..."
"December, in my memory, is white as Lapland, though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we waited to snowball the cats."

"It's loovely Grandad."

The Welsh scenery is gorgeous and lets you feel as if you are truly traveling back in time.  The film is a combination of present day (well, 28 years ago) and flashbacks to what looks like the time period just before WWI.  The children all have authentic Welsh accents, although I believe the adults are all Canadian actors except of course the wonderful Denholm Elliott (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Trading Places, Room with a View) who was English, but does a wonderful Welsh accent.

"...once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now, alas, no longer whinnying with us."

The music will also stay with you after watching this, particularly from the cozy scene at the end, where the family are all singing by the fire, quaint Welsh carols like "On To Bethlehem Town" and "All Through the Night".

"Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground..."

This post is a rerun from a few years ago but I have added the YouTube link below for those who don't have this on DVD. This gorgeous, funny and heartwarming production deserves a much wider audience. It has aged well. Enjoy an old fashioned Christmas with some mischievous boys in Wales!

Click for the full text of the Dylan Thomas Poem A Child's Christmas in Wales.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Specials-Sherlock and Call the Midwife

A Victorian Sherlock Holmes and John Watson!
Sherlock Holmes has gone Victorian for the holidays! Airing on PBS on January 1st at 9:00 pm we have Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman returning for a one off Sherlock special set in Victorian times with period settings. Yay! I love Sherlock but putting him back in his deer stalker hat and cape is inspired. And I love Mr. Watson's handlebar mustache.

Mr. Watson and Mr. Holmes look ready for adventure!
The Abominable Bride is a 90 minute special and I can't imagine a better way to usher in the new year! Here is a preview to whet your whistle:

Nurses Barbara Gilbert, Trixie Franklin and Patsy Mount are ready for Christmas!

But if you would like a great way to spend Christmas night, the ladies of Nonnatus House in Poplar East London are ready to celebrate 1960 style with a bus trip to Regent street to see the lights.

Are those nurse's caps or Christmas cracker hats?
Sister Evangelina is not in the Christmas spirit despite preparations for a televised carol sing but things go wrong when Sister Monica Joan goes missing. Hasn't she been missing before? At least she isn't barefoot this time!

A Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!


Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Grand Sophy film- A Georgette Heyer adaptation at last?

According to the BAFTA website, the writing/producing duo of Olivia Hetreed and Andy Paterson are planning a film adaptation of Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy for 2016. Apparently they are developing it in collaboration with BBC Films.

Now, developing a film and actually getting it to the screen are two different things, but this is certainly promising. If anyone reading this is in London next Wednesday, tickets to the writing forum with Hetreed and Paterson are free and they might answer questions related to this project. Or they might not, but I sure wish I was in London this week and not here in Canada!

The most successful film so far by this husband and wife team would have to be Girl with a Pearl Earring with Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth. So let's hope they have the clout to get this film made. The fact that they are in collaboration with BBC Films is a very good sign that the quality of the production would be top notch.

If you haven't yet signed the petition for a Georgette Heyer film, the link is here below. We have over 1400 signatures from all over the world, so I think we have proven an audience for a Heyer film. Join us!

Fingers crossed! Cheers!

Sunday, November 22, 2015


I finally got to see Suffragette this weekend and it is well worth seeing. Carey Mulligan plays Maud Watts, an East London laundry worker who gets caught up in the Suffragette movement of 1912. After 50 years of politely asking for the right to vote, Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst and her Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) decided that more militant tactics were required. Although they threw rocks and blew up mail boxes they were careful not to endanger any lives if possible. "Deeds Not Words" got many of them jailed and their treatment there was shocking to say the least.

Suffragette has a star filled cast including Anne-Marie Duff as a fellow laundry worker, Helena Bonham Carter as an educated activist, Romola Garai as the wife of a cabinet minister, Meryl Streep as Mrs. Pankhurst herself, it also has Brendan Gleeson as a police inspector and Ben Whishaw as Maud's husband.

I wish the film had been longer as we don't get quite attached enough to the characters and their stories as there is so much historical fact to cram into one feature length film. Still, it's a well done piece and absolutely worth seeing. Maybe a director's cut on the DVD would be an idea?

Here is the trailer. This is a story that needs to be told and a reason for all women to value and exercise their right to vote in every election no matter where or how small. Just think of the women who fought for our right.

Stay for the timeline of women's voting rights at the end of the film. Some countries still aren't there yet...

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Home Fires on ITV and PBS

Home Fires on ITV and PBS

If you haven't yet been taken under the spell of the WWII drama Home Fires, then here is my whole hearted recommendation to check it out.

Opening in the late summer of 1939 as England prepared itself for the second time in a generation for war, the WI (Women's Institute) considers shutting down for the duration of the war. After all, what use is jam making and tea parties during wartime?

Actually, as the women of the WI in the rural Cheshire community of Great Paxford dig in and get to work (picking blackberries for fundraising jam here) the WI gives the ladies purpose and support and gives us a ton of enjoyment watching them. And the female battle between two local spitfires Joyce Cameron (Francesca Annis) and Frances Barden (Samantha Bond) starts the series off with some fireworks.

Although the stories of women at the home front may sound rather dull, Home Fires is anything but! Young love with dashing fighter pilots, a handsome doctor whose wife thinks she can practice medicine too and a conscientious objector who gets ostracized for his beliefs are among the many absorbing story lines.

Just don't get too attached to the male characters because during war you never know who is coming home and who isn't. And it is that dark cloud over Great Paxford which keeps you on the edge of your seat.

You will see lots of familiar faces such as Francesca Annis (Cranford), Samantha Bond (Downton Abbey) and Ruth Gemmell (Fever Pitch) in this series as well as some very talented new ones. I am thrilled that ITV have picked it up for another season so we get catapulted into the Battle of Britain next year.

Running currently on Sunday nights at 8pm on PBS, you can catch up on episodes on the PBS website here.

Off I go to watch it all again!!!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Indian Summers with Julie Walters

I just had time to preview the first episode of Indian Summers before my trip and it is well worth watching. A wonderfully well done drama depicting the lives of British socialites in India in the 1930s who went to the cooler Himalayan hills for the hot summers to rule from afar and enjoy.

Julie Walters has a ball as Cynthia Coffin, the lively owner of the exclusively white Royal Simla Club, she sports a rather pronounced East End accent. This seems to be a reminder that all classes could be on equal footing in India in the time of the British Raj and she certainly seems to enjoy controlling more than the music, roast beef and Yorkshire pud at her club.

The first episode sets up a lot of stories from both clashing cultures and foreshadows the trouble ahead, as the Indian independence movement simmers and flares. Just as gorgeous as Downton Abbey (with a more exotic flavour) Indian Summers will draw you in and make you feel the heat!

I will leave you hanging there but do catch this one on PBS starting Sunday September 27 at 9 pm.

Cheers and follow me for the next 2 weeks at Jenny & Gillian Wandering England!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Vacation in London, Salisbury, Avebury, Wiltshire/Dorset Borders and Bath

Avebury Stone Circle, Wiltshire

The anticipation is building as my friend Gillian and I are now days away from our "geeky history girl" tour of the UK. I am hoping to be able to regularly post photos for our family and friends, but anyone who would like to follow along with us is very welcome at Jenny & Gillian Wandering England.

Pulteney Bridge Bath

Please feel free to leave any comments on the Jenny & Gillian blog. We have planned our accommodations in advance, as well as having our 4 day walking tour of the Wiltshire Dorset borders meticulously planned by Alison Howell of Foot Trails walking tours. The rest of the trip will develop on the fly, as we have lots of possible destinations and excursions researched, but a certain amount of chance and serendipity is going to determine our final route. We're sooooo excited!

Wardour Castle Wiltshire
These photos are "borrowed" from some online snapshots, however from here on in, only our photos will be posted. Wish us luck!

Cheers and hopefully I will come back with renewed energy for The Jane Austen Film Club!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Shaun the Sheep Movie

Shaun the Sheep Movie is not period drama. However it is a very English film, which I figure qualifies it for this blog and besides, I found it very entertaining! I dragged my sister to this on a recent girl's weekend, reasoning that this was a true all ages film. What can I say? I don't have a young child or grandchild at this point but I love this kind of film which amuses all ages.

If you are a fan of Aardman Animations, who have done Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run, you may also already know Shaun, Bitzer the dog and Farmer from the Shaun the Sheep television series and you will likely eat this up. If not, but you love the sound of a bouncy fun film with no dialogue but a super soundtrack and lots of sight gags then you will still appreciate this little gem.

I didn't really like the trailer so I have given you the theme song video which gives you a much better idea of whether you will like the movie. And such a cute catchy song too!

Lots of visual gags like this homage to the Beatles Abbey Road photo and a nod to the fact that the music was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London.

That is all I am going to say about this adorable little film.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Mr. Holmes

Mr. Holmes is a lovely slow gem of a film. If you want the antidote to the summertime blockbuster, here it is! Based on the Mitch Cullin novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, Ian McKellen stars as an aging Sherlock Holmes who has given up the detective business and retired to the Sussex coast.

Wishing to set the record straight about his last case 30 some odd years previously (and struggling with early dementia) Mr. Holmes tries to recall and write down the details of this last case.

Mr. Holmes: I've decided to write the story down; as it was, not as John (Watson) made it. Get it right before I die.

Egged on by adorable Milo Parker as his housekeeper's son Roger the story proceeds in flashbacks to his last case, and more recently to Japan where Holmes goes to get some Prickly Ash plants which, when ingested as jelly, supposedly has restorative properties for the memory.

Ian McKellen, now 75 years of age, was a perfect choice to bounce back and forth from a spry 60 year old detective to a doddering, liver spotted 93 year old retiree tending to his bees and grumping at his doctor.

Hattie Morahan (Sense and Sensibility) is an ethereal "Woman in Dove Grey" who is at the center of the 30 year old mystery.

Laura Linney would have been perfect as the housekeeper Mrs. Munro if she could have nailed whichever accent she was going for. Still, I loved her in this! Unimpressed by the old man's credentials, she clashes with Holmes delightfully.

The chalk cliffs of East Sussex are a character in and of themselves. But Frances de la Tour, Hiroyuki Sanada, Roger Allam and Philip Davis give the supporting roles some real depth.

Roger: Have you ever been bitten?
Mr. Holmes: Stung! Bees don't have teeth!
[Mrs Munro appears]
Mrs. Munro: Have you ever been bitten?
Mr. Holmes: No. I have never been bit.

I can't wait to see this one again!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Suffragette Film October 2015!

I have been eagerly awaiting the trailer for the Suffragette film due out this October and wow was it ever worth the wait. I  have watched them three times now and I have cried each time. Give Carey Mulligan the Oscar now!

A who's who of British (and Irish and American) actors are in this. Carey Mulligan, Meryl Streep, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw, Brendan Gleeson and Samuel West to name just a few!

I have never printed quotes before a film was released but here they are!


Male voice over: Women should not exercise judgement in political affairs.

Male voice over: If we allow women to vote it will mean the loss of social structure.

Man: You work at the Glass House Laundry?
Maud (Carey Mulligan): I was born there. Part time washer from when I was 7, full time from when I was 12."

Mrs. Pankhurst (Meryl Streep): For 50 years we have laboured peacefully to secure the note for women. We've been ridiculed, battered and ignored.

Maud: All my life I've been respectful. Done what men told me. Well I can't have that anymore.

Maud: We break windows. We burn things. Cause war's the only language men listen to.

Maud: What are you going to do? Lock us all up? We're in every home. We're half the human race. You can't stop us all.

Judge: What would the vote mean to you?

Mrs. Pankhurst: Never underestimate the power we women have to define our own destiny. We have been left with no alternative. Defy this government!

Mrs. Pankhurst: We don't want to be law breakers. We want to be law makers!"

Edith New (Helena Bonham Carter): The only way is forward!

Violet Cambridge (Anne-Marie Duff): Votes for women!

Alice (Romola Garai): The power is in your hands!

Join me watching this in October. And bring your mother, daughter, friend and spouse!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Poldark 2015 is a must see!

Aidan Turner as Ross Poldark
The new BBC miniseries Poldark finished in the UK this spring and begins in North America on PBS this Sunday June 21 2015. So...lucky me, PBS let me see this early in order to tell you what a fabulous series it is! I plowed my way through all 7 episodes and am very relieved to hear that it has been renewed for a second season!

Poldark and fiance Elizabeth in flashback
For those who don't yet know, the series opens with Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner from The Hobbit) as a redcoat at the end of the American Revolution who returns to Cornwall to find that his beloved fiance Elizabeth (the luminous Heida Reed) thinks he is dead and is about to marry his cousin Francis Poldark. Ross's father has died while Ross was in America fighting, but his inheritance consists only of a copper mine and a house which have both gone to ruin.

I have to add here that the coast of Cornwall is as large and as gorgeous a character as the hunky Ross Poldark. Full marks for cinematography here, especially when Ross is galloping along the cliff with Demelza perched on the saddle. Apparently tourism is up significantly in Cornwall already, but if you think fine weather is usual in this part of England you may be surprised. I once heard a West Country resident describe their weather as "roobish"!

Oh yes, Demelza (I love that name), the scrappy miner's daughter Ross brings back from Redruth Fair. She looks like a boy at first, but then when she returns with Ross (accompanied by her dog Garrick) to be a kitchen maid, she is gradually tamed into a fetching but still rather earthy love interest for our hottie Ross Poldark. Demelza is played by Eleanor Tomlinson (Georgiana Darcy from Death Comes to Pemberley) and is quite adorable, especially when learning how to dance!

And then we have Francis Poldark (played by American actor Kyle Soller), who does marry the lovely Elizabeth but alas, he is a poor substitute for his cousin Ross. He is constantly bossed around by his dismissive father and ends up being very unprepared to take over as head of the family. Oh, dear!

Verity Poldark is the sweet dutiful sister of Francis, who takes care of an awful lot in the big house, just as the spinster sister was expected to do in the 18th century. But will she find love later in the series? Let's hope so. I think Ruby Bentall (The Paradise, Lark Rise to Candleford) is just perfect as the long suffering Verity.

Speaking of great casting, Jack Farthing is a perfect baddie as George Warleggen, the new moneyed banker/industrialist and constant rival to Ross. So of course he slithers after the lovely Elizabeth. Ewwwwww! Comic relief is provided by the lazy tippling servants Jud and Prudie and the elderly Aunt Agatha who often fails to hold her tongue.

I think the best compliment that I can give to this miniseries is that I am now compelled to read the books, as I am invested in all of the characters, and I can't wait until next year to find out what happens. Thankfully there are 12 novels, written by Winston Graham starting in 1945 (Ross Poldark) and ending in 2002 (Bella Poldark), which he published just before his death. Apparently he based the character of Ross on a fighter pilot he met on a train during the war and Demelza has similarities to Graham's Cornish wife Jean Williamson.

So enjoy this wonderful BBC miniseries. I couldn't quite get into Outlander (I tried, really I did!) but this one captured my heart.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Far From The Madding Crowd- Proposal Scene Transcribed

  'Come,' said Gabriel, freshening again; 'think  a minute or two. I'll wait a while, Miss Everdene. Will you marry me? Do, Bathsheba. I love you far more than common!'
  'I'll try to think,' she observed, rather more timorously; 'if I can think out of doors; my mind spreads away so.'
  'But you can give a guess.'
  'Then give me time.' Bathsheba looked thoughtfully into the distance, away from the direction in which Gabriel stood.
  'I can make you happy,' said he to the back of her head, across the bush. 'You shall have a piano in a year or two - farmers' wives are getting to have pianos now - and I'll practise up the flute right well to play with you in the evenings.'
  'Yes; I should like that.'
  'And have one of those little ten-pound gigs for market - and nice flowers, and birds - cocks and hens I mean, because they be useful,' continued Gabriel, feeling balanced between poetry and practicality.
  'I should like it very much.'
  'And a frame for cucumbers - like a gentleman and a lady.'
  'And when the wedding was over, we'd have it put in the newspaper list of marriages.'
  'Dearly I should like that!'
  'And the babies in the births - every man jack of 'em!
  And at home by the fire, whenever you look up, there I shall be - and whenever I look up, there will be you.'

  'Wait, wait, and don't be improper!'
  Her countenance fell, and she was silent awhile. He regarded the red berries between them over and over again, to such an extent, that holly seemed in his after life to be a cypher signifying a proposal of marriage. Bathsheba decisively turned to him.
  'No; 'tis no use,' she said. 'I don't want to marry you.'
  I have tried hard all the time I've been thinking; for a marriage would be very nice in one sense. People would talk about me, and think I had won my battle, and I should feel triumphant, and all that. But a husband...'
  'Why, he'd always be there, as you say; whenever I looked up, there he'd be.'
  'Of course he would - I, that is.'
  'Well, what I mean is that I shouldn't mind being a bride at a wedding, if I could be one without having a husband. But since a woman can't show off in that way by herself, I shan't marry - at least yet.'
  'That's a terrible wooden story.'
  At this criticism of her statement Bathsheba made an addition to her dignity by a slight sweep away from him.
  'Upon my heart and soul, I don't know what a maid can say stupider than that,' said Oak. 'But dearest,' he continued in a palliative voice, 'don't be like it?' Oak sighed a deep honest sigh - none the less so in that, being like the sigh of a pine plantation, it was rather noticeable as a disturbance of the atmosphere. 'Why won't you have me?' he appealed, creeping round the holly to reach her side.
  'I cannot,' she said, retreating.
  'But why?' he persisted; standing still at last in despair of ever reaching her, and facing over the bush.

  'Because I don't love you.'
  'Yes, but...'
  She contracted a yawn to an inoffensive smallness, so that it was hardly ill-mannered at all. 'I don't love you,' she said.
  'But I love you - and, as for myself, I am content to be liked.'
  'O Mr. Oak - that's very fine! You'd get to despise me.'
  'Never,' said Mr. Oak, so earnestly that he seemed to be coming, by the force of his words, straight through the bush and into her arms. 'I shall do one thing in this life - one thing certain - that is, love you, and long for you and keep wanting you till I die.' His voice had a genuine pathos now, and his large brown hands perceptibly trembled.
  'It seems dreadfully wrong not to have you when you feel so much!' she said with a little distress, and looking hopelessly around for some means of escape from her moral dilemma. 'How I wish I hadn't run after you!' However, she seemed to have a short cut for getting back to cheerfulness, and set her face to signify archness. 'It wouldn't do, Mr. Oak. I want somebody to tame me; I am too independent; and you would never be able to, I know.'
Oak cast his eyes down the field in a way implying that it was useless to attempt an argument.

  'Mr Oak,' she said with luminous distinctness and common sense, 'you are better off than I. I have hardly a penny in the world - I am staying with my aunt for my bare sustenance. I am better educated than you - and I don't love you a bit: that's my side of the case. Now yours: you are a farmer just beginning, and you ought in common prudence, if you marry at all (which you should certainly not think of doing at present) to marry a woman with money, who would stock a larger farm for you than you have now.'
  Gabriel looked at her with a little surprise and much admiration.
  'That's the very thing I had been thinking myself!' he naively said.
  Farmer Oak had one-and-a-half Christian characteristics too many to succeed with Bathsheba: his humility, and a superfluous moiety of honesty. Bathsheba was decidedly disconcerted.
  'Well, then, why did you come and disturb me?' she said almost angrily, if not quite, an enlarging red spot rising in each cheek.
  'I can't do what I think would be - would be...'
  'No, wise.'
  'You have made an admission now Mr. Oak,'  she exclaimed, with even more hauteur, and rocking her head disdainfully. 'After that, do you think I could marry you? Not if I know it.'

  He broke in passionately: 'But don't mistake me like that! Because I am open enough to own what every man in my shoes would have thought of, you make your colours come up your face, and get crabbed with me. That about your not being good enough for me is nonsense. You speak like a lady - all the parish notice it, and your uncle at Weatherbury is, I have heerd, a large farmer - much larger than ever I shall be. May I call in the evening, or will you walk along with me o' Sundays? I don't want you to make up your mind at once, if you'd rather not.'
  'No - no - I cannot. Don't press me any more - don't. I don't love you - so 'twould be ridiculous,' she said, with a laugh.
  No man likes to see his emotions the sport of a merry-go-round of skittishness. 'Very well,' said Oak, firmly, with the bearing of one who was going to give his days and nights to Ecclesiates for ever.
  'Then I'll ask you no more.'

Thomas Hardy's original proposal scene (because they couldn't put all these wonderful words into the film!)



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