Happy New Year, I hope you had a lovely Christmas! I know that various things including finances, strikes and the weather all conspired to make things difficult, and the economic woes will continue during this coming year, but I hope you were able to enjoy the festivities in whatever way your circumstances allowed.
Fortunately, despite my recent redundancy, my mother and I are in a comfortable and stable position, so we were able to enjoy Christmas in the same way we do every year. I went out to see a musical and a variety of festive displays, and at home there were plenty of things for us to eat and watch.
It hasn’t been entirely without issues though. The railway strikes and the snow in December prevented me from going down to Devon to see my ex-colleagues for a Christmas meal. And now, in early January, my mother and I have finally caught Covid, after 3 years of successfully swerving it. I’ll write more about it in a later post, once I’m sure we’re clear of it, suffice to say being fully vaccinated has clearly helped, as we’re recovering pretty quickly. Plus I’ve still been able to put together the traditional video that accompanies this post.
So let’s get into it. This is an epic bumper post, as festive roundups tend to be, and none of it’s sponsored or gifted. I hope you enjoy!
Back in the first lockdown in 2020 I started doing an occasional series of reviews celebrating Queen‘s 50th anniversary by doing very in-depth reviews of some of their albums. The posts have been very sporadic due to all sorts of other things keeping me busy, as well as the level of detail they contain, but it’s always been my intention to continue the series when time permits.
And now I have the opportunity to do a Christmas special, as the band recently unveiled a new edition of their 1989 album The Miracle. When it was first announced I eagerly pre-ordered the full Super Deluxe Collector’s Edition & Press Pack as an early festive treat for myself, so I thought I’d do a detailed review now that I’ve had time to go through it and savour its contents.
The set was retailing at £169.99 (plus shipping), but I took advantage of a 10% discount code that I received from their store for my birthday a few months ago. So I was charged £127.99 for the 8-disc box set, £25 for the press pack and £6.26 shipping, making £159.25 in total. And that’s not bad at all, considering how much you get.
There are cheaper editions too though, depending on what you can afford, including the 8-disc set without the press kit, a 2-disc edition consisting of the album and the sessions, and a download version that covers all 4 music CDs, plus there are related items of merchandise. So there’s something for everyone.
I’ve made an unboxing video to go with this post, where you can see my initial reactions to the contents of the set, and there’s an unboxing video by Brian May as well. Queen have also posted a couple of short documentary features about The Miracle to coincide with its re-release, which you can see here and here.
So in this post I want to review the set in full, to give my thoughts on all the music tracks and videos, the memorabilia, the book and the radio interviews – which means there’s a lot to cover here, and I hope you enjoy it!
Apart from that though, and despite my redundancy, I’ve still been pretty busy this month. I’ve attended a Derren Brown show and a couple of tribute concerts, listened to an audiobook I got for my birthday, and enjoyed new episodes of my favourite comedies on TV once the schedules had returned to normal. So there are still plenty of nicer things to mention in this post and the short video I’ve made to go with it, none of which is sponsored or gifted, and I hope you enjoy my latest roundup!
Well, we made it through another odd year. We finished 2021 in a stronger position than 2020 in some important ways, and step by step we are getting back towards a sense of normality. But we still to be careful and patient, as opposed to carefree and complacent, and hopefully the situation will continue to improve during 2022.
This Christmas has also marked my 5th anniversary of living in London! Granted, much of the past couple of years has been a bit of a write-off, but that just makes it all the more amazing how much I’ve achieved and crammed in so far, with public speaking, TV and radio interviews, podcast appearances, student documentaries, theatre visits, museum tours, the charity abseil, so many new friendships and connections, the attention my blog’s had in general, and many other things that I would never have imagined happening or being successful at before moving here. So in that sense, the lockdowns have been strangely beneficial for giving me a chance to relax and reflect on all of that, as well as giving me all the more impetus and confidence to expand my horizons even further going forward. So if you’ve played any part in my London journey so far, whether it’s just reading these blog posts, or chatting with me, or getting together with me in person, thank you so much! It always means a great deal that people take such an interest in my adventures and my ramblings.
So before I find out what 2022 has to offer, it’s time to wrap up 2021 with a traditional bumper post and video looking back at what I’ve been doing and enjoying during December and the Christmas period. As usual, nothing here is sponsored and all opinions are my own. I hope you enjoy!
Earlier this month I had a lovely time exploring Rochester, a historic town much loved by Charles Dickens, with friend and fellow blogger Emily from Fashioneyesta. It was great to see each other again, having not had the chance to meet up for quite a while, and it was wonderful to meet her new guide dog Rosie too. So we had fun looking around together.
Over the past few years, The Beatles have released 4 big box sets celebrating the 50th anniversary of some of their classic albums – Sgt. Pepper, The White Album, Abbey Road, Let It Be – each containing a lot of fascinating extra material. Smaller and cheaper box sets were also available with fewer tracks, but I decided to buy the biggest super deluxe sets with everything in.
I had mentioned the first few sets in previous posts to some degree or another. But as they’re all broadly similar in various respects, and now they’ve just released the box set for their final album Let It Be, I thought I would take the opportunity to do a combined summary review for all of them. That way, it keeps everything together, enables some comparisons to be made between the sets, and has allowed me to take clearer photos with my new iPhone (you can click the images to see larger versions). You can also still watch the unboxing videos I posted for the Sgt Pepper & White Album box sets.
Hello again, hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and healthy. Welcome to another of my regular recaps, for a month that marks 5 years since I started blogging! Quite how I’ve managed to sustain a blog for that length of time, attracting and retaining a considerable number of regular followers along the way, I don’t know. But it’s led to so many exciting opportunities and enabled me to meet so many wonderful people already, and who knows what the next 5 years will bring? So many thanks to everyone who has followed, liked, shared, commented, etc, it means a lot and persuades me to keep doing it! 🙂
February was relatively quiet compared to the madness of the months preceding it, so this is going to be a relatively short post and video. But there are still various bits and bobs to mention, including some great vaccine news, and the entertainment I’ve been enjoying. And nothing here is sponsored or gifted as usual (apart from the audiobook I mention, which was a Christmas gift from my friend Claire). So I hope you enjoy!
Happy New Year! Well, as happy as it can be in the circumstances. Let’s face it, 2020 is the year that nobody wants to look back at. Referring to perfect vision as 20/20 will forever carry a certain irony with it now. And if you were to try and sum up the year with a word or phrase, there isn’t much that’s family-friendly that truly does it justice – other than dumpster fire perhaps, which I’ve seen a lot of people use very accurately.
Granted, 2021 hasn’t started off any better, but that’s because we’re still experiencing the fallout from the damage caused by its unruly predecessor. 2021 has its work cut out trying to repair that, and it will undoubtedly require the assistance of 2022 and beyond to achieve it. However, 2021 is giving us a lot of reason to be hopeful, so there is definitely light at the end of this long, dark tunnel we’ve all been stuck in.
But I need to wrap up 2020 nevertheless. It was a strange and difficult Christmas without a doubt, not the sort any of us wanted, and it’s going to be a hard winter for many, especially now we’re in lockdown again. There’s a big ray of hope with the rollout of the vaccines though, so the future’s looking good, and many thanks to all the health workers who are doing their utmost to dish them out as quickly as possible.
My thoughts also go to everyone in America after the recent terror attack amid the fallout from Trump’s defeat. Biden’s inauguration on January 20th can’t come soon enough. Best wishes from across the pond, stay safe!
Those challenges aside, however, I hope you were able to find some enjoyment and comfort during the festive period, insofar as the rules allowed in your part of the world.
Mum and I are doing fine, I’m pleased to say. We’ve enjoyed lots of nice treats, and have had plenty of fun things to watch and listen to, all of which has been a welcome distraction from the news. I continued to have a few long walks around my local area during December as well, as that was the only way I could get out and about, so it was important to make the most of it. Mum’s had a bit of fresh air too of course, but doesn’t go on the long hikes like I do, and we’ve made sure she stays well away from other people apart from her sister (and even then they keep their distance at the front door, she hasn’t been in the house).
So we did pretty well this Christmas despite the limitations, and here’s my festive post and video to round things up. I’m not going to mention absolutely everything we filled our stomachs with, or every little bit of entertainment we watched or listened to. I’m just going mention my favourite things, as is the purpose of these posts. Nothing here is sponsored as usual, and any gifts are just from friends, not the people behind the products. So I hope you enjoy!
Hello there. I hope you’re all keepinng safe and well, and that you had a nice break over Easter, with plenty of chocolate goodies or whatever you like to indulge on.
I think we’ve all earned a few treats at the moment, given that things have felt very strange since we went into lockdown on 23 March. Like everybody else, I was very anxious about the situation at first, and it’s still going to be a concern for a while, because all of the changes to our lives are a lot to get used to. But I know that we’re doing it for the right reasons, to save lives.
I do also feel that my mother and I have been adjusting as well as can be expected, we feel relatively relaxed at the moment. It also helps that I’m not checking news and social media updates as often as I was initially, and I’ve muted certain phrases and blocked various accounts to make browsing social media a calmer experience. Things like that certainly make a big difference to one’s mindset.
I’m already a homeworker too, so that’s made things easier. Although, as it happened, I didn’t fully go back to work straightaway, because by chance I had already booked the first 2 weeks of lockdown off to use up my annual leave quota (after an illness last year meant I couldn’t use as much holiday as I’d hoped). Granted, I couldn’t use that holiday time to go anywhere nice, except the local park, but the time was very useful to ensure that Mum and I were stocked up and could start settling into this temporary new way of living. So it’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’ve started getting into a proper routine again (and even then Easter ensured that I had 2 four-day weeks).
But of course, many people have far more important, difficult and stressful jobs than I do. So if you’re a key worker – including employees and volunteers in the health service, social care, retail sectors and local authorities, among many others – then thank you!
It’s a very uncertain time, and we don’t know how long this will last, but I want to keep myself occupied as best I can. There are certainly lots of options for things to do – and if you need any ideas, check out my special Lockdown Resources page – so I’ll try my best not to get bored. Indeed, it feels like time is moving more quickly again, after the month of March felt like a year. Maybe it’s because I was already used to homeworking and spending a lot of time at home, and because I’m finding plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained.
So with that in mind, here’s my first lockdown post about the things that have been keeping me occupied. There are 3 videos to go with this – for weeks 1-2, week 3 & week 4 – because with more free time I’ve been able to produce videos a bit more frequently, at least for a little while. So I hope you enjoy looking through this selection.
Well, what a year this has turned out to be, huh? Perhaps we should just rename it 2019B or 2019.5 and start 2020 again next January. It’s like we’ve had a faulty software update in the calendar that needs serious debugging and virus-checking before it’s rolled out again.
Obviously I’m not dismissing the tragic side of things by saying that. My heart goes out to everybody who has lost loved ones or been severely affected in some other way, and I sincerely hope you all stay safe and well as best you can. Please follow the guidelines on hygiene, distancing, isolation, etc, because it really will save many lives. It will take a few weeks at least before we start seeing the impact of such measures, but they will help, and we will get through this. Huge thanks to all our incredible health and care staff, as well as the many other people providing essential products and services.
Beyond this introduction, I have no desire or intent to write posts about the situation, as it’s not nice and there’s enough about it online already. However, I have created a Covid Resources page, where you’ll find many links for information, advice and support, plus many ways to stay connected and entertained at home, which I hope you find useful.
Clearly this is going to change what I’m able to do and post about for a while. So in this post and video I want to wrap up my recent museum and theatre visits, as well as disability related updates and TV favourites, for both February and March. That way, I can move forward with a clean slate as I settle into a temporary new routine.
All of which means there’s a fair amount to cover here, making it a good distraction from everything that’s going on. I haven’t been sponsored or gifted by anyone to mention them, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!
You must be logged in to post a comment.