Hey there, welcome back! I’m sorry I didn’t do a Favourites post for March, but I was unwell that month with dental problems, so I didn’t end up going to any events in the end. It’s all resolved now though, and despite that setback it was still a productive month at home. Then in April I was able to go out a lot more again, by myself and with other people.
So there’s quite a lot to bring you up to date with, particularly the many outings I’ve had for tours, walks, museum visits and social events in April. I took lots of photos along the way, some of which I’ve included below, while there are more on my Instagram too. And I’ve posted several video clips on my Youtube channel, which I’ve also included below. Plus there are updates on things I’ve been doing and watching at home. So I hope you enjoy it all!
- Settling In
- Walking Tours
- Other Walks
- East London Vision
- Thinking Bob
- Other Social Groups
My mother and I have been continuing to get things sorted out since our relocation to London at Christmas, and we’re feeling more and more like true residents of the city.
For instance, we’ve finally sold our old house in the Westcountry, we’ve got the Council Tax on the new house transferred into our names (as we’d inherited the property from my Nan), and we now have the washing machine that we looked at in February. We also had central heating installed and other little jobs done over the course of a week, though it was all nearly scuppered when our builder’s van apparently got stolen from outside the house! Thankfully it turned out that the Council had towed it away because the parking permit hadn’t quite been filled out correctly, but it took a day for us to find that out. Our builder also brought his dog Hazel with him too, who was very friendly!
I’m also happy to say that I now have my disabled person’s Freedom Pass, meaning I can use public transport in London (and local buses elsewhere in the UK) entirely free of charge. So that makes it even easier for me to get out and about. We’re also applying for a Freedom Pass and a Blue Badge for Mum (I’m not eligible for the latter). Neither of us can drive, but if anyone drives us anywhere in the future, they would be able to use the Blue Badge to get us into a disabled parking space, so it’s handy to have.
The only bad thing, as noted at the start, was the fact that I had dental problems, or a gum infection to be more precise. I’ve not had any problems for over a decade, yet within a few months of moving house, my gums decided to start playing up. Sod’s law I guess! The issue was simply that I wasn’t cleaning between my teeth properly, which is a common problem, so I needed a deep clean. Within a couple of weeks of that appointment it became apparent that flossing wasn’t working, because I was finding it difficult to do it properly, but I I’ve improved a lot since switching to the small TePe brushes, which I find much easier. So hopefully I won’t have further problems for a while!
And looking ahead, the next major task is to get the bathroom done, particularly so we can have a shower put in. We also need to get our electrics brought up to modern standards, particularly so we can have more wall sockets, as we’re currently relying on 4 multi-socket extension leads in various parts of the house, which is rather untidy.
Meanwhile I’ve also been keeping myself busy online, settling into social media and strengthening my connections bit by bit. In particular, apart from getting used to Instagram, I’ve been doing some video editing and/or captioning in my spare time for the Aniridia Network (because they support people with the condition like me) and Emily Davison at Fashioneyesta (because she produces great content about her life as a visually impaired person, and has been both an inspiration and supportive friend for my own blogging journey).
During the long Easter weekend I tried out a couple of iPhone apps that provide audio walking tours in different parts of London to see what they were like. There are many touring apps it would seem, of which some are completely free, some have free content with additional paid material, and some ask you to pay for everything from the outset. They’re not the same as tours led by real people you can talk to, sure, but they have their advantages in that you can do the audio tours at your own pace, whenever you like, and you can wander off to look at other things as and when you fancy.
So here are the tours I did, including some photos (with more available on my Instagram) and a few video clips from my Youtube channel.
Trail Tale: Bridges To London City Tour
The first app I tried was called Trail Tale, and I followed the Bridges to London City walk, which is completely free, and is basically a tour of the Southwark area. And it is an interesting tour, showing me quite a few locations that I had no idea existed, and revealing new facts about places I had already known about. As a result I ended up taking lots of photos and video clips, because there was so much to see.
The various sights included:
- St Olaf House
- London Bridge
- The Walkie Talkie building – Not mentioned in the tour, it’s simply visible on the other side of the Thames
- Hays Galleria – Including The Navigators Ship.
- HMS Belfast – I went on this as a kid, but don’t really remember it, so would love to explore it again.
- City Hall
- Tower Bridge – I must go inside this one day, to see the exhibition and to look through that glass floor!
- St. Saviour’s Dock
- Jacob’s Island
- Statues of Ernest Bevin and Samuel Bourne Bevington. These aren’t mentioned on the tour, I just happened to see them)
- Potters Fields
- The Shard – I’d love to go up and see the view from the top of this.
- Crossbones Graveyard – Redcross Way Cemetery.
- Clink Prison Museum – I either had no idea this existed or had forgotten about it, so I’d love to go in there one day and see what it’s like.
- Winchester Palace – The ruins that remain.
- The Golden Hinde – Not described on the tour.
- Southwark Cathedral
- Borough Market – I was tempted to buy stuff in here, but it was so busy – unsurprisingly for a Bank Holiday – that I didn’t bother in the end. It was nice to look around though, and I’d love to explore it more when it’s a bit quieter.
However, the actual experience of using the app is quite frustrating. Visually, the white text on a light green background isn’t great contrast, although when inverting the colours it’s not too bad. And the text can’t be enlarged either – i.e. it doesn’t obey any font size parameters you may have in your global iPhone settings – so I either have to look closely at the phone, or use the Zoom feature, or use the 2-finger swipe down technique to get it to speak it, which helps but is far from ideal.
The audio on the app isn’t put together very well either. There’s been no real effort to do a professional recording, as they’ve just taken a lady who clearly isn’t an experienced narrator or voiceover artist, and stuck her in a quiet room with a tape recorder and some text to read. The audio quality is also quite variable at times, and they haven’t even edited any mistakes out. There are a few occasions where she has to stop and go back to repeat herself, and they’ve left all of those outtakes in!
So it all feels very amateur. I’ve looked at a couple of reviews since and the app authors have asked the reviewers where the mistakes are – but really, all they have to do is listen to the recording, which somebody should have done in the first place before putting it on the app. The fact that they haven’t done any quality control is pretty bad. If they were to produce the audio properly and tweak the design of the interface so it’s easier to read, it has the potential to be really good.
Still, the walk itself was nice, and I enjoyed seeing so many different things, so it wasn’t a wasted trip!
Cities Talking: Power & Palaces Tour
The second app I tried was called Cities Talking. It asks you to register an account or sign in when you open it, but I used the Skip button to ignore that part. You probably need it for their paid tours, but I used one of their free ones called Power & Palaces. It takes you around Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens (pretty much around the entire perimeter of that space), then takes you through Green Park to finish at Buckingham Palace. So it looked like a great tour to try out, as it is a beautiful area.
I was very impressed as well, as it’s much better produced than Trail Tale. The map here was much easier to follow, as it provides a very route for you to take, and you can pinch and zoom in on the map as much as you need to. The text in the app’s interface doesn’t obey any accessibility font settings on the phone, which is a pity, but it’s still accessible using tools like zoom, speech, etc. And as with the Trail Tale app, you also get the transcript of the audio for each stop on the tour, so that’s one good thing about both of the apps.
The audio on the Cities Talking app is also first rate, as it’s good quality, professionally edited without any mistakes, has lots of really interesting facts and stories, and introduced me to various landmarks, statues and other important areas that I might otherwise never have fully understood or even found in the first place.
It also continues playing even when you lock the phone, so you don’t have to keep the screen on all the time. It will also play automatically as you reach each stop, as long as you’ve got your location services turned on. If it does get confused and plays the wrong part, however, you can zoom in on the map and click the right bit if you need to (assuming you can see it of course).
And to cap it all off, the tour is narrated by none other than the wonderful Christopher Biggins. If you’re outside the UK and don’t know who he is, don’t worry, but most UK readers will be aware of him for one reason or another, be it TV comedies like Porridge, theatre shows and pantomimes, or other appearances he’s made. And the app makers have made a wonderful choice here. He really helps to make the tour fun, engaging and interesting with his delivery. I don’t know if he does all the London tours you can get for this app, but I certainly hope he does based on this.
I didn’t do the whole tour though. It takes you around the perimeter of the park, and I also wanted to have a wander through the middle of this massive space at my leisure. So every so often I would pause the app, break from the path, and just have a stroll by myself, taking in the scenery around me. Then after a while I would find another path to take me back to the next part of the tour, using the map in the app to re-align myself.
So in the end I did just over half the tour, which took me from Marble Arch, along the side of the park, through Kensington Gardens and round to Kensington Palace, and then around the opposite site of the park to finish by the Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall. I had been in the park for about three and half hours by then, and my phone’s battery was starting to get quite low, so it felt like a good time to stop at that point.
As well as the photos above and on my Instagram page, I took lots of video footage too, which I’ve split into 3 parts on my Youtube channel:
- Hyde Park Walk – Part 1 – A compilation of clips starting around Marble Arch and then moving on to some of the views in Hyde Park.
- Hyde Park Walk – Part 2 – A single, continuous 20-minute shot walking through the park. I saw a long path and thought I would film at least some of it, but then just decided to keep the camera rolling. I hadn’t been aiming for The Serpentine lake, but I was very happy that the path led there, as I had wanted to find it anyway. The focus occasionally goes a little bit, and there was no way I could have noticed that on the day, but it corrects itself after a few moments.
- Hyde Park Walk – Part 3 – A compilation of clips from Kensington Gardens, including the Italian Gardens and Kensington Palace, and finishing at the Albert Memorial.
It really is a lovely park to explore. I could happily walk around the place, or just sit somewhere within it and relax, for hours on end. Same goes for a lot of London’s green spaces really, of which there are many more than you might expect!
The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is very local to me, and I first visited with a friend last year, but we only covered a very tiny area in the short time we had. So I had a much more extensive and random stroll around on this occasion. And even then there are plenty of bits I missed, it’s so huge!
I did a very wide circuit around the stadium to begin with. finding a waterway with barges and other boats some way behind it, which was a very quiet area. Following things all the way round, past a lock and then down another side of the park, eventually brought me back around to the Orbit Tower. I’d love to have a go on that helter skelter slide one day. That and a stadium tour would both be cool I’m sure.
I then walked past the snaking line of randomly spurting fountains that the kids love playing in, and started to make my way to the other end of the park, which I’ve never been to. I knew I wanted to find things like the Olympic Rings, the Agitos Paralympics symbol and the Velodrome, for instance. And by bringing up the park map on my phone from their website, I managed to orientate myself and find those things. It made for a lovely long walk overall, and the weather stayed nice just as it had done pretty much all weekend – which, as anyone in the UK will tell you, is quite a feat for a bank holiday period!
The Olympic Park is such a huge mass of paths and lovely areas that I’ll have to go back to enjoy it again and find parts that I missed, as it is a bit of a maze when you’re trying to find certain places. But it’s still a wonderful location in any case. And again, just like the tours above, there are plenty of photos on my Instagram, and I’ve put together some video clips from the park too.
St George’s Festival
I also spent an afternoon in Vauxhall, because I was looking on the Time Out website and saw they had a St George’s Festival going on in the Pleasure Gardens. So I went along to check it out, where I watched some Punch and Judy, a couple of harris hawks and a falcon, and some knights doing battle in preparation for the World Championships coming up in Barcelona, and a medieval band called Princes In The Tower. So that was all good fun.
East London Vision
After not being able to meet people during March, it was lovely to finally get back into socialising in the latter half of April. And this time it was with a variety of different groups.
In particular, one of the things I’ve naturally been wanting to do in London is meet more visually impaired people like myself. And while I’ve already met or plan to meet a few individually, I’ve now also joined a local social group called East London Vision, or ELVis for short. They’re an organisation covering seven boroughs of East London, providing information, support, services, activities, etc for visually impaired members of the community, to improve their quality of life and independence. They come under the umbrella of the London Visual Impairment Forum and the Thomas Pocklington Trust, who support similar groups in other parts of London too.
Natural History Museum
I first met the ELVis group on a trip to the Natural History Museum, where we had an audio description and touch tour organised with the help of Jane Samuels, the museum’s Access & Equality Manager, and her colleagues Simon and Sarah who took us around. They were really friendly and helpful, and the tour was absolutely fascinating. It was the first time that they had done this tour, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’d done it before, as they did a great job.
We spent most of our time in the Investigate gallery, which had been reserved just for us, and we were able to feel and handle all sorts of things – fossils, a tortoise, a turtle, fox fur, zebra fur, brain coral, a long snakeskin, and a meteorite fragment that was over 4 billion years old! It was wonderful being able to see and hold so many objects close up, while learning the stories and history associated with them.
And then we spent some time looking at the large objects in the Lasting Impressions gallery, including some large goat horns, fast growing bamboo and objects formed by the movement of molten lava, which was also very interesting. Simon and Sarah were very knowledgeable and explained things very well throughout the whole visit.
So it was a great day out and I enjoyed meeting other members of the ELVis group at the same time, they made me feel very welcome. I’ll definitely be going back to the museum on my own as well, as I’ve always loved the place since I was a kid, and want to spend time exploring each of the exhibitions, bit by bit. Same goes for the Science Museum as well, that’s another of my favourites that I haven’t been to for far too long.
I went out with ELVis again just a few days after the museum tour, when I met up with Bhavini, Nicola and Ray from the group, along with Carol from Metro Blind Sport, to watch the London Marathon. We were supporting Louise Fairhurst from the Thomas Pocklington Trust, who was very generously raising money for ELVis.
I’ve never been to see the Marathon in person before, and it was a great day out. The atmosphere is incredible, and we had an excellent spot by the railings on Tower Bridge to see everyone go by right next to us. So we were cheering and shouting for everybody on the way, calling out names where we could see them displayed on people’s shirts (I was able to see the names using my monocular, which you can see me wearing in my museum picture above). How I hadn’t lost my voice by the end of the day, I don’t know! It was definitely a little bit strained by the end of it, but not too badly.
We didn’t manage to see Louise run past us in the huge crowd of athletes, as picking out one person in a sea of thousands is a needle in a haystack job for an event like this. But we were tracking her using the app on our phones, so when we knew for sure that she had gone past, we caught the Tube to Westminster (thankfully now safe again since the awful terror attack in March) and walked to the meeting area for finishers near Horse Guard’s Parade. Louise then met us there a short while later, having finished the race in 4 hours 11 minutes. That’s a fantastic time, and so far she’s raised over £2,400 as well! So huge congratulations and thank you to Louise, and to everyone else who took part! 🙂
I can’t imagine I’d ever run a marathon myself, I’m not very fit! But who knows I guess? It’s a bucket list item, but one of the hardest ones to reach. And I’m quite happy watching it and cheering everyone else on to be honest, I’d certainly do that again. It was great to meet a few new people and be part of the crowds cheering everyone along, it brings everyone together in such a wonderful way.
You can read more about the Marathon day on the ELVis blog, and watch a half-hour compilation of video footage I recorded, which will give you a sense of what it was like to be there. But if you ever get the chance to go down and watch it in person, you really should do so, even if you don’t know anyone who’s running. It’s well worth it!
Ultimate Pub Quiz
I’ve been to a couple more events with the social group Thinking Bob during April, as I’m still keeping active with them. And this quiz was the first one, which took place at a pub called The Sun near Clapham Common station on the Northern Line. That station has a very narrow island platform with the northbound and southbound tracks on either side, and it’s the most southbound station I’ve been to so far.
In my quiz team was Max (who I’d met once before at Friday Night Drinks in January), a girl called Sara I hadn’t met before, and a new member whose name I can’t recall unfortunately. We found it hard to think of a team name, but went with Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, purely to see if we could get the host to read it out! But he shortened it to Llanfair PG or said ‘that Welsh team’!
We struggled with some parts of the quiz as well, but ended up coming 4th out of the 7 teams in the end, which wasn’t as bad as we thought we’d done! The various rounds included:
- General knowledge with a bingo twist. You could write your answers to each question anywhere on the grid, and then after the marking was complete (and everyone knew what the answers should have been), the host read out the answers in a random order. The first team to have 3 in a row on their grid and shout out got a bonus point.
- A sudoku consisting of letters from a 9-letter word (chemistry) instead of numbers. Sara and I did most of this between us, but the other two guys chipped in as well. This was personally my best round, I could have done that on my own. But then it wasn’t a difficult puzzle, I assume all of the teams would have solved it.
- A round requiring you to identify 26 animals – one starting with each letter of the alphabet – whose photos were on small A4 posters stuck on the walls around the room. I was useless here, of course – I did take a photo of one and zoom in on it, but was still none the wiser, so I just had to leave my three team mates to it!
- A round requiring you to identify items from lists of the top 10 grossing films, the richest football teams on the Forbes list, the largest countries by GDP, and the tallest buildings in London. However, the most obvious answers (places 1, 2 and 3 on the list), would only get you 1 point, the next 4 would get you 2 points, and being able to pick something that was 8th, 9th or 10th on the list would get you 3 points. So it’s a little bit like the quiz show Pointless, in that you’re rewarded for getting the most obscure answers. It did get a bit confusing when the host tried to explain it though. For the first question we were initially told that all the films were in franchises, and we needed to give the full titles of the relevant films within them. But then he had to correct himself and explained that not all of the films were in franchises after all. So that confused people a bit, but we got the hang of it in the end.
- A cheese tasting round, where we got 4 small pieces of cheese, and had to work out which cheeses they were from a list of 10 provided.
- A music round, in which we had a list of 12 countries, and 12 pieces of folk music were played, so we had to match them up.
All in all, therefore, it was quite a hard quiz, but we still enjoyed it. It was good to be back with the Bobbers again, and it felt nice to be welcomed back.
V&A Museum: Saints & Sinners Tour
This was my first ever visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum, and it was very good. It wasn’t organised my the museum, it was simply hosted by a fellow Bobber called Ollie who enjoys history and sharing his knowledge with others. So he had picked a few objects from different exhibitions in the museum, and took us round them.
We were looking at Christian iconography relating to various saints e.g. statues, stained glass windows and carvings. We focused on about 6 objects in particular, so that Ollie could tell us the stories behind them in detail. It was great because it allowed us to observe and appreciate the objects much more thoroughly while taking in the information, instead of just walking past them and having a quick glance.
The most well-known of the saints we saw was Saint George of course, but there were others too like Saint Sebastian and Saint Roch. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate these things either – neither myself, the host nor various other members of the group have those kind of beliefs. The artworks are just lovely to look at, while the stories behind the saints are interesting and important to hear. And Ollie was really good at explaining things, so at some point it would be nice to go on another of his tours.
Other Social Groups
I also tried going to a couple of events with other social groups in April, to branch out and experiment a little bit.
Meetup: Comedyopoly Underground Games
Checking out groups on the Meetup site has been on my to-do list for a little while, and has been recommended to me by a few people in the last few months. The reason I avoided it initially was because it felt a bit overwhelming to start with, as there’s so much on there. Thinking Bob felt like an easier way into things, even though you have to pay a subscription, as they have a more concise, but still highly varied, selection of events, that are very well-organised and easy to get into. And if you attend events fairly regularly, there are other regular members and hosts who will quickly get to know you. So I’m glad I focused on them first.
However, Meetup is free, and is a great way to add even more variety to one’s social calendar, and many Thinking Bob members are also part of Meetup groups. So I’ve been looking into Meetup more closely, and finding a few groups that interest me. There really is something for everyone on there, that’s for sure!
So I recently went to a games night with the Comedyopoly group in the basement of The Shakespeare, a pub near Barbican station. And I had a very good time. The venue itself, and the room within it, was very easy to find. And the Meetup signs that the host stuck on the wall were very easy to spot – unlike Thinking Bob, who do have signs but I’ve never clearly seen them. I think it’s because the Meetup signs had a thick border top and bottom, and the word Meetup was in large, clear, bold text in the middle, so they stood out well.
The group wasn’t too large, so we were all able to sit around a table together, rather than being split into groups. And Duane was a great host. So we had a lot of laughs playing a variety of games, including:
- Show Or Tell – In this game you have to describe or act out the things on the cards, some of which are very adult in nature. This was my favourite game, as it was often hilarious because of some of the items on the cards.
- Taboo – In this game you have to describe something on the card without using the word itself or the other 5 words listed on the card. It does make you think twice before describing things.
- Funemployed – In this game you have to apply for normal-sounding jobs, using the ridiculous and random qualifications on the cards you’re given. So you have to be quite creative, and it’s fun seeing what people come up with.
- Off Your Rocker – In this game, one player in each round becomes the psychiatrist, and must guess the quirky condition that is being shared by all the other players (the patients). Sometimes it’s easy, but sometimes it can be quite tricky to guess. It’s a little bit like the medical complaints round on the radio show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue.
- Pit – In this game you have to get 9 cards of the same item, by blindly swapping 1 to 4 cards with other players, and everyone is playing at once to try and do this, so it goes very fast! Perhaps a bit too fast for me really, but it was still fun to play a few rounds of it.
All in all, the time flew by, and they were a lovely bunch of people, some of whom I might see again as I’ve been joining one or two other groups that they’re also members of. Not just gaming groups, but other things too. But I’ll definitely have to try and go to other games meetups like this as time goes on, with this group and others. It was a great way to spend a Friday night.
Smudged Lipstick: Dirty Scrabble Speed Dating
Smudged Lipstick are a relatively new group, less than a year old I believe, but their unique activities are already proving to be popular, judging by the good reviews they’ve been getting. I found out about them because some Thinking Bob members were going to attend one of their events, so I decided to check them out as well.
Dirty Scrabble Speed Dating has therefore been my introduction to them. It’s like regular speed dating, in that you spend about 5 minutes with each person before moving on to the next. But the twist is that you have a Scrabble board between you as well, so you can have a very quick game together, and you’re only allowed to put down dirty and rude words. That’s more difficult than it sounds, even when you’re allowed to pick up 10 letters and be really flexible with spelling. So you have to be a bit creative, and that does produce some funny results!
I’ve never been to any kind of dating events, and have never used dating apps or websites. But I do like word games, and I do want to meet new people, so it sounded interesting and worth a go. I wasn’t going there looking for or expecting to find ‘the one’ by any means – for me this was just another social event, a chance to say hello to some new people and have some fun. If it resulted in any friendships beyond the event, unlikely as that may be, that would be a bonus.
So naturally I was a bit nervous, but it did help a great deal that I’ve already been to quite a few social events already this year, so I’m feeling quite relaxed about meeting new people these days. And I had no problems on this night either, I didn’t have any shyness getting the better of me.
It was easy to chat to people, because everyone was very friendly and talkative, including Jordi Sinclair the organiser. So much so, in fact, that I didn’t end up playing much Scrabble. What we did play was fun, and if we’d had more time to play with each person, it would have been quite a good laugh. But the amount of Scrabble playing got less and less as I moved from girl to girl, as we just ended up talking quite happily, and that used the time up very quickly. And thus the evening served its primary purpose, getting people to engage with each other. The Scrabble just helped to break the ice and take the pressure off, and I know I wasn’t the only one who didn’t end up playing much of it.
The only thing that let it down a bit was the acoustics in the room. Drink, Shop & Do is a lovely place, and the room we were in had a very impressive large domed ceiling. However, when you’ve got 20 people chattering away all at once, that domed ceiling causes everyone’s voices to reverberate all around the room, so it’s very loud, and consequently you have to speak loudly and listen very intently to hear what the other person is saying. So it’s not particularly conducive to good conversation. But we all managed, it just meant that my voice sounded a bit strained afterwards!
You also have to watch out when going into the Gents toilets on the lower floor in there, because it has a couple of steps downwards into it which are easily missed in the dark. Luckily I was being careful and didn’t fall down them, but if you’ve had a few drinks and aren’t concentrating or expecting them, I can imagine people slipping down them.
That didn’t spoil the evening though. Nor did the fact that the names I wrote down afterwards didn’t result in any friendship matches. It’s a shame, but it was my first time doing anything like this, so I didn’t have huge expectations. Just going to one of these things was a big step for me. And I enjoyed myself, so it was well worth doing. There was a broad range of people, with different interests, personalities, nationalities, etc, and every single one was really nice and friendly and very interesting to talk to.
Finally, here’s a round-up of shows that I’ve been watching and listening to recently.
- Doctor Who – Series 10, the final one for Peter Capaldi, got underway in April. He’s been a great Doctor, and this series has got off to a fun start as usual so far. I also bought the Blu-ray steelbook edition of Series 1 that came out in March, so hopefully they’ll continue to release all the others in that format, as the packaging is nice and compact with very cool artwork.
- 24: Legacy – I loved the original seasons of 24, and have them all on DVD. It’s an incredible show, with great storylines and action sequences, and there’s a cracking cliffhanger at the end of pretty much every episode. So the return of the show sounded like a promising idea. But as a spin-off, with almost none of the original characters, especially Jack himself, and with what felt like a weak storyline, it just didn’t have the same vibe. It was obvious that something was missing, as I didn’t feel the same connection to the new characters, and it didn’t feel as shocking or exciting as the original series, so it just fell flat for me. It was worth a watch once out of curiosity, but I won’t miss it if it doesn’t return. Bring back the original 24 though, and I would be a lot more interested!
- The Flash – I focused on mentioning comedies in my previous couple of Favourites posts, but I’ve been really enjoying this show as well, since I stumbled upon it a couple of years ago and caught up with it all. It’s a great sci-fi action drama about Barry Allen, who has a superpower of lightning-fast speed as a result of a freak accident. He uses it to be a superhero, by saving lives and solving crime in the city with his team, and there are naturally all sorts of weird and wonderful enemies he has to deal with as well. There’s lots of action and special effects and humour, and it’s really fun. So I’ve continued to watch this since it resumed its third season at the tail end of January. It does throw me slightly when they do crossover episodes with other shows from the same universe that I haven’t seen yet (like Arrow), and I should watch them at some point. And it’s fair to say the musical episode was a rather silly story that I could have lived without. But on the whole it’s a pretty cool show.
- Taskmaster – Series 4 of this amazing show has just got underway. It’s such a simple concept – get a bunch of comedians together and set them ridiculous challenges – and it sounds like it’d be too silly and dull when you word it like that. But it’s hilarious, believe me. There are always multiple ways of interpreting a given task, and it’s great to see how creative the contestants get. And these aren’t unknown comedians either, these are very well known names. The selection every series has worked really well, and this will be no exception, with Hugh Dennis, Joe Lycett, Lolly Adefope, Mel Giedroyc & Noel Fielding as the contestants. Greg Davies is also the perfect host – the show wouldn’t work so well without him in charge. His reactions and judgements on the various tasks, are always a joy to observe, he’s hilarious. His assistant Alex Horne (who devised the show in the first place) is also great as well, a perfect counterpoint to Greg.
- Have I Got News For You – This is another show I’ve been watching for many years, and it’s returned for its 53rd series now! The switch to guest presenters was an inspired decision after Angus Deayton’s departure (great host though he was), and has helped to keep the show interesting every week.
- Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule – Comedian Harry Hill has been struggling to find a TV show for himself since TV Burp ended, and this isn’t it. It’s mad and it’s fun, and has been an enjoyable novelty of a show, but I don’t think it’s hugely deserving of a long term commission.
- The Last Leg, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled & Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway have all finished their most recent series, and The Big Bang Theory is about to finish its 10th season. I’ve mentioned them in my previous Favourites posts already, but they’ve all been good.
- The Unbelievable Truth – Now that Just A Minute has wrapped up its latest series, this show has stepped into its place, as part of the usual Monday night comedy cycle. This is a fun and interesting show presented by David Mitchell, where each guest has to give a lecture on a topic, all of which is false, apart from 5 truths they have to smuggle in amongst the lies. The other contestants get points for spotting the truths, and lose points if they mistake lies for facts, while the person giving the lecture gets a point for each truth that goes unnoticed. It’s very funny and you learn surprising things at the same time, so I really enjoy it.
- In terms of other BBC Radio 4 shows I don’t listen to very much, some of the Chain Reaction interview shows have been enjoyable recently, thanks to interviews with Harry Hill, Tim Vine & Ken Dodd, plus I enjoyed the episode of Desert Island Discs with Jimmy Carr as the guest, that was very interesting.
- Absolute Radio – One of the perks of homeworking is being able to have music on, and these guys have provided the soundtrack to my working hours most of the time, courtesy of their Classic Rock, 70s and 80s stations. However, in recent weeks I’ve been particularly enjoying the banter on Christian O’Connell’s Breakfast Show. I don’t get to hear most of the show live, as it’s nearly over by the time I start work, but I’ve been listening to the podcasts instead, and not just the current ones either. I’ve found myself playing catch-up by going through the older podcasts from last October onwards as well. It’s enjoyable banter with lots of laughs, so they’re a great accompaniment to the day.
- Sounds Of The 80s Red Nose Danceathon – This was a special charity event where radio presenter Sara Cox danced to 80s tunes for 24 hours in aid of Comic Relief. It was shown live on the BBC’s red button channel, so I recorded it all and went through it bit by bit. Which sounds mad, I know, but I love 80s music, and you got to see the music videos for the songs they were playing, many of which I’d never seen before. And Sara met all sorts of guests as well, which kept things interesting. So it was a great day’s telly in aid of a very good cause.
And that’s it, I hope that epic post makes up for me not writing one last month! I’ve got plenty planned for the weeks ahead too, including more games, walks, museums, meetups with friends and other stuff. I’m trying to ensure I do a fair variety of things, which is pretty easy when there’s so much on offer! So I won’t be bored anytime soon, and there should again be quite a lot to report in next month’s Favourites post. See you then!
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