12 June 2016

Do Something New Each Day - May 2016

Day 122 - 1 May 2016 - Visited Leeds Castle

I ticked off another destination in my bucketlist! Not to be confused with the city of Leeds, Leeds Castle is near the village of Leeds, in Kent. A castle has been on this site since 1119 and, since then, it was used as the residence of no less than six kings. In the 16th century Henry VIII used it as a residence for his first wife. Today the castle dates mostly from the 19th century.

I was lucky to visit it on a great, warm, sunny day. The place is just amazing! For more info about it click here.

Day 123 - 2 May 2016 - Visited Canterbury

By visiting Canterbury I managed to 'kill' three 'birds' with one stone! You see, there are 3 places in my bucketlist that are in Canterbury, all three in the UNESCO World Heritage List:

St Augustine's Abbey, a monastery dated all the way back to 598. St Martin's Church, the first church founded in England and the oldest church in the entire English-speaking world! And finally, Canterbury Cathedral, the cathedral of the leader of the Church of England.

For more info on Canterbury click here.

Day 124 - 3 May 2016 - Tried Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Unser Aventinus

Time to try another German beer. Another easily drinkable one, but not as good as the Weihenstephaner I tried last month.

Day 125 - 4 May 2016 - Tried 'Le Trappe Dubbel'

Time for another Belgian beer. This is another Trappist beer that goes down really well. Mmmmmmmm, cheers!!

Day 126 - 5 May 2016 - Read the book 'The Canterville Ghost' by Oscar Wilde

This is the first of Oscar Wilde's stories to be published. It's a short, funny ghost story which has been widely adapted for the screen and stage.

Day 127 - 6 May 2016 - Visited the York House Watergate, in London

The enclosure of the Thames river in the second half of the 19th century is generally held to be a miracle of Victorian engineering. It gave London a state of the art water system, as well as created more land for building. But it also dramatically changed the city's relationship to the river. Nowhere is this more visible than the watergate in Embankment Gardens, tucked away beside Charing Cross station in London.

At first sight, the baroque archway looks like a gate to nowhere, marooned in a small park. In fact, it was once the river entrance to York House, one of a line of mansions that originally stood along the route from the city of London to the royal court at Westminster. The river now lies 150 metres from the bottom step of the watergate, giving an idea of how far into the city the Thames previously extended.

The watergate was created by Inigo Jones in 1626, as an extension to the palace built by the first Duke of Buckingham in 1620. The design still bears the Buckingham family coat of arms.

Day 128 - 7 May 2016 - Watched an event at the bombed out church, in Liverpool

The church of St Luke, or 'the bombed out church' as better called by the locals, is a focal point at the centre of Liverpool. It's a small, beautiful former Anglican church which was badly damaged during the Liverpool Blitz in 1941 and is now in ruin.

However, it is still well maintained to this day and during the spring and summer months many events take place in the church: regular exhibitions, film/dance/poetry/drama performances, as well as the odd beer festival.

Shame on me, but until today I had not yet attended an event in the church! But it was about time to tick that off my list. So on that day, to mark the 75th anniversary of the May Blitz, I attended a great light and sound display, in remembrance of the event.

Thousands of stained-glass lanterns, which were created by schools and community groups across Liverpool, were lit and illuminated the inside and outside of the church. A light projection showed dramatic archive footage and images from that time and a light & sound show recreated the noises of the three nights of bombing.

What will stay with me in memory is that on the third night of bombing, on 6 May 1941, 293 german bombers blitzed Liverpool for 6 hours!!!! So, there is no doubt in my mind!! Hitler was a Manchester Utd supporter!!!!! PS: During WWII Liverpool suffered the biggest destruction from German blitzes in the UK, after London.

Day 129 - 8 May 2016 - Tried 'Monkey Business' by Salopian Brewery

Last home game of the season for Liverpool and great company from Greece limited my chances of doing something new.

So I reverted to trying another ale, this time a seasonal one from Salopina Brewery. No, no, no. Way too many hops, too bitter aftertaste. Not one I'll order again!

Day 130 - 9 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'Dead Calm'

Can't remember why this movie was in my list. But apart from a very young and sexy Nicole Kidman it wasn't really my cup of tea. For more info about it click here.

Day 131 - 10 May 2016 - Tried 'Redrun'

Another beer by the local brewery, but not much to write about. Tasted like an IPA, so maybe that's the reason I didn't like it.

Day 132 - 11 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'Now Is Good'

A surprisingly good film with a fantastic soundtrack, about a girl who's dying of leukemia and compiles a list of things she'd like to do before passing away. (NOTE: This is NOT the reason I have compiled my list!!).

Day 133 - 12 May 2016 - Tried 'Menabrea Birra Ambrata'

Dinner with a very good friend today, so the only opportunity to try something new was to try this Italian 'Vienna style' lager. Quite refreshing.

Day 134 - 13 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'All About Eve'

Another Oscar winning film I've never seen before, starring Bette Davis, Anne Baxter, George Sanders and with an early appearance of the yet unknown Marilyn Monroe. This 1950 film won 6 of the 12 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best film, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director.

To be honest, I think the acting was fantastic but the film lacked a strong screenplay to keep me interested. Click here for more info.

Day 135 - 14 May 2016 - Read the book 'The Castle Of Otranto' by Horace Walpole

This 1764 novel is generally regarded as the first gothic novel and initiated a literary genre that became extremely popular, with authors such as Bram Stoker, Ann Radcliffe and Edgar Allan Poe. A very good book, fast paced and keeping you turning page after page. Click here for more info.

Day 136 - 15 May 2016 - Made 'White Sandwich Bread'

It has been some time since I made a new bread - mainly because I have been sticking to some of the tried and loved ones. But with a trip coming up, it was time to make a new loaf.

This is a simple but tasty white loaf, that can easily be eaten straight out of the machine when ready - it's that good!

To make it:
400gr strong white bread flour
15gr butter
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
half tsp dried yeast
290 ml water

If your machine has it, used the 'white sandwich' setting

Day 137 - 16 May 2016 - Read the book 'The Wreck Of The Golden Mary' by Charles Dickens

This is another one of Dickens' stories he wrote as part of his Christmas short stories. Published in 1856 and co-written by Dickens and other authors, it tells the story of the victims of a shipwreck who, in a desperate attempt to raise morale, they each take turns to tell their stories.

Day 138 - 17 May 2016 - Tried a Melton Mowbray pork pie

Well, they say that pork pies from Melton Mowbray are THE pork pies to try. And apparently Dickinson & Morris is one of the most famous bakeries in Melton Mowbray to make them!

So, with only a few hours to go and while waiting for my flight to Basel, I got the opportunity to try one. Well, I am certain that such a pie served in a Wetherspoon's would not exactly match the taste of a proper one from the bakery's premises. So, given my disappointment at this one, I'll reserve judgment until I try it from the manufacturer's own premises one day!

Day 139 - 18 May 2016 - Attended the Europa League Final

It was the first time ever I attended a Europa League Final. And I was hoping that, since Liverpool was playing, it would be a memorable occasion.

Unfortunately Liverpool did not win. Luckily, Switzerland was so expensive that the shock of the prices for a drink counteracted the misery of the loss in the final. Oh well. We'll be back again!!!

Day 140 - 19 May 2016 - Visited Liechtenstein

This year I wanted to visit some of the smallest European countries. So, as I was in Basel for a few days, it was a great opportunity to tick off Liechtenstein from that list, since it was only a couple of hours away by train.

The country is only 62 square miles big, with a population of just 37,000. We only got to see the capital, Vaduz. It was as we expected. Naturally beautiful location, as it is virtually at the feet of the Alps, but also very expensive too. Not much to do either. For more info click here.

Day 141 - 20 May 2016 - Visited Basel

May 20th was the day I actually had an opportunity to walk around and see a bit of Basel. To be honest, it's an OK city: not ugly but nothing special either.

However, there are two issues which made it unattractive in my book. The first one, I guess, is common in the whole of Switzerland: VERY EXPENSIVE!! The minute you pay around £22 for two coffees and two beers (not even pints) you know this is not a place for fine dining!

But the most striking thing is the people. I've never seen such obnoxious, miserable and cold bunch in my life!! It was as if you took all the people in a London tube at rush hour and created a city out of them!!! Even the children don't smile! They look at you as if you are nothing, never say a 'thank you' even when you make way for them and don't even say sorry if they barge into you!

Day 142 - 21 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'Paths Of Glory'

This 1957 film, starring Kirk Douglas and directed by Stanley Kubrick, features in the Top 250 best movies of all time in IMDB's website. It's good but not one of Kubrick's best, in my opinion. Click here for more info.

Day 143 - 22 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'Aftershock'

Not to be confused with the 2013 movie, this is a 2010 Chinese movie which tells the epic story of a family separated as a result of the Great Tangshan Earthquake of 1976. This is a great film and I have to say that the trailer does it no justice whatsoever! I highly recommend it! Click here for more info.

Day 144 - 23 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'Ajami'

Third movie in a row and another great one. This time an Israeli production, that has won many international awards and was nominated in 2010 for an Oscar (Best Foreign Language).

In a similar way to 'Crash', it tells five different stories which are interconnected and show the everyday life and death and religious differences between Palestinians and Israelis. Considering that all the people taking part are not professional actors, to give the film a feel of a documentary, there were some great performances in there!

Day 145 - 24 May 2016 - Listened to the album 'Forever Changes' by Love

The album features at number 40 of Rolling Stone magazine's best 100 albums of all time. Never heard it before but it turned out to be an easily likable album. 

Day 146 - 25 May 2016 - Saw Bruce Springsteen live in concert

As a child of the 80s, the Boss's hits were a regular on any party playlist. And finally I got the chance to see him live!

What can I say! The man is 67 years old but his performance was that of a 30 year old! We're talking about a three and a half hour concert, with no breaks, each song following another without any stops and Bruce running around, dancing with the crowd and not getting tired. He felt every single note of every single song that night!

Day 147 - 26 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'After The Wedding'

I'm a big fan of Scandinavian cinema and TV. And this Danish film did not disappoint at all. A great film, with some fantastic performances (including Mads Mikkelsen, who I rate highly as an actor).

Nominated for an Oscar for best movie in a foreign language (but did not win), it will keep you interested until the end. Click here for more info.

Day 148 - 27 May 2016 - Visited Regent's Park, in London

Regent's Park is a beautiful park that lies within northwest London. It is one of the Royal Parks of London, with an area of 1.6 square kilometres. Click here for more info.

Day 149 - 28 May 2016 - Visited Stratford-upon-Avon

Another place ticked off my bucketlist, this time the beautiful town where William Shakespear was born and lived. I loved the town and would definitely visit it again. You can read about my visit here.

Day 150 - 29 May 2016 - Visited Ann Hathaway's Cottage

A few minutes' walk just outside Stratford-upon-Avon is the cottage where Shakespear's wife lived. It's a well preserved cottage with amazing gardens surrounding it.

Day 151 - 30 May 2016 - Visited Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068. It was used as a stronghold until the early 17th century, when it was granted to Sir Fulke Greville by James I in 1604. Greville converted it to a country house and it was owned by the Greville family,until 1978 when it was bought by the Tussauds Group.

It's a beautiful castle but given its ownership by the Tussauds group it is mainly targeted to family entertainment, rather than history. Because of this, children are more likely to enjoy a day out in the castle. Click here for more info.

Day 152 - 31 May 2016 - Watched the movie 'My House In Umbria'

This is a film produced specifically for TV in 2003. It's a lovely movie, with an exceptional performance by Maggie Smith. I just loved the language used throughout the movie.

Smith won an Emmy Award for her role. Click here for more info.

May Review

What a month! By far the busiest and most exciting so far! I took advantage of two bank holidays and a cup final to tick of no less than 6 items in my bucketlist!! (I usually tikc off 7 in a year!

In the space of 31 days I tried 5 new beers, 1 food, made 1 bread, read 3 books, listened to one classic album for the first time and watched 8 movies. But above all, I attended a Europa League Cup final, saw Bruce Springsteen live and traveled to 9 new places.

Now the summer has arrived, so my suitcase will be on the ready even more!

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