Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 11-12

Hey there, hope you’re all continuing to keep safe and well! Here in the UK lockdown has been eased further, including the re-opening of non-essential shops, the compulsory use of face coverings on public transport, and the partial re-opening of schools. So some small sense of normality is returning, albeit with lots of distancing and hygiene measures in place.

I’m still happy staying at home though, because I have no compelling reason to go out and my priority is still protecting Mum by not bringing the virus home. Our shopping’s being delivered every week, and despite the new rules public transport is still a no-go, as it’s only for essential journeys and distancing is much harder on a Tube train or bus. So there’s little incentive to go anywhere. Mum and I will be leaving the house to attend my uncle’s funeral with my aunt in a couple of week’s time, and I’m starting to feel more open to having a socially distanced outdoor meeting or picnic with a friend or two, as that appears to be relatively safe having been aware of others who have done it. But that’s about it.

In any case, I’ve been keeping myself very busy lately. I’ve actually been using Zoom for the first time recently, to talk to workmates, some friends and other people I’ll mention a bit later in this post. It’s strange how I didn’t get asked to do any video calls for the first 2 months of lockdown, then had one last month, followed by loads in June, about half of which are on Zoom. It’ll probably go quiet again in July!

And I’m also busy on my blog too. Hopefully you’ve already seen my Def Leppard – London To Vegas Unboxing, which I produced after they very kindly set me a copy of the box set to review. But if you haven’t seen it yet, do go and check it out. It’s the first time I’ve ever been sent a product to review, and I had no hesitation in accepting the offer as it’s from one of my favourite bands! I also have some other blog posts I’m working on too, by which I mean a couple of big series that should guarantee me regular posts over the summer and beyond. So I’m in no danger of running out of content just yet!

And of course my Favourites posts will continue, now on a fortnightly basis for the time being, as that frees up my time much more. So here’s my latest recap, with plenty to cover, including disability events & discussions, theatre, Blu-rays, comedy, music and more. So let’s get on with it, and I hope you enjoy my latest post and video!

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Def Leppard – London To Vegas Unboxing | Gifted

This week I was very excited to receive my first ever product to review! I’ve had a few offers from other companies in the past, but this is the first that has really grabbed my interest. Because it came from the rock gods Def Leppard, no less! They’ve always been one of my favourite bands, so when they got in touch to ask if I wanted to check out their new London To Vegas box set, featuring 2 massive live shows, the answer was easy!

I was genuinely going to buy it anyway, so it was sheer good fortune that they got in touch before I made the purchase. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the lockdown drawing my attention to other matters for a while, I would have pre-ordered it much earlier.

There are many different versions of this set, depending on your budget and level of obsession with the band. I was sent the Deluxe 2 DVD & 4 CD Set, which costs £50 (the Blu-ray equivalent is £60). But there are cheaper options, including the Hysteria show on its own, a couple of vinyl discs, and the ability to stream the London and Vegas shows online. Or you can opt for more expensive bundles with goodies including a t-shirt, a printed set list, laminates, photo cards, guitar plectrums, etc. It’s great to have so much choice.

Front cover of the Def Leppard London To Vegas box set. The background is split into 2 vertical sections, containing half of the Union Jack and American flags respectively. A large triangle in the middle, with a double border of red and yellow, features a colourful photo of the band in concert, with singer Joe Elliot on a platform stretching out from the stage into the audience. Across the bottom of the triangle, large yellow text with a red border says Def Leppard, in a font made only of straight and diagonal lines. Below this, in a yellow box, yellow text says London To Vegas.

So today I want to share my unboxing video and give my review of the set. It’s important to stress that all opinions are my own here. I haven’t been asked to say anything in particular, and I accepted the product because I knew it was highly likely I was going to love it. So I hope you enjoy this post, and huge thanks to Def Leppard for their consideration and generosity!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 10

Hello again. I hope you’re all doing ok – especially my friends and followers in the USA, all our thoughts are with you right now. Black Lives Matter and there are many ways to get involved and show your support, while those taking advantage of peaceful protests to cause destruction and misery have no respect for peace and equality. I sincerely hope that stability and civility is restored very soon. We should all be pulling together at all times, but it’s more important than ever during this pandemic.

Here in England, our lockdown has been eased in recent days, even though many scientists, including some of the government’s own advisors, feel too much is being done too soon. And if the experts are wary, then so am I, because I trust their judgement the most. So I’m going to continue staying locked down while we wait to see what happens, and until doctors and scientists can reassure us that it really is safer out there. It’s important for me because I live with my mother, who is elderly and blind, so the last thing I want is to bring the virus home and infect her, so that she ends up in hospital where I can’t visit her. So I’m staying indoors to keep her safe, that’s my priority.

And while I’m doing that, I’m still keeping myself entertained, which is taking my mind off the news very effectively as usual. So I hope this week’s post and video, which as always doesn’t contain anything sponsored or gifted, is a nice distraction for you too!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 9

Hello again, I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. It was a strange Bank Holiday weekend for me. It started with the loss of my uncle, although fortunately he didn’t have the virus, and my mother and I are hoping to go to the funeral to support my aunt if the rules allow. And then of course we’ve had the Dominic Cummings scandal, which I’m not going to rant about, suffice to say there’s been a major misjudgement of the public mood by him and the government, they’ve lost a lot of trust and goodwill.

But apart from that, my week’s been fine and I’ve been quite productive, and I’ve also found many more pleasant distractions as always. So I’ll get straight on with this week’s post and video about what I’ve been enjoying over the past week. As ever, there’s nothing sponsored or gifted here, these are all my own opinions. So I hope you find it interesting!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 8

Welcome to my latest lockdown roundup. If I wasn’t numbering the weeks in the titles of these posts, I would probably lose track of where we’re up to! But whatever week it feels like to you, I hope you’re all continuing to do well and getting any support you need.

It’s been another relatively normal week for me really, as I haven’t had to go out anywhere, we had our groceries successfully delivered again, and work has been fairly busy. I also worked to clear out a bit more junk in the back garden and the shed this weekend, which has given me some fresh air and exercise, as it’s one of those jobs that we’ve been very gradually doing bit by bit. Once that’s all done, then we’ll have a go at tidying up the garden itself during the summer, while the weather hopefully stays nice. Plus I’ve also been keeping myself occupied with blogging, and enjoying other entertainment that I’m about to mention. So I’m making productive use of my time.

So as there isn’t anything major of note to mention in my introduction, let’s just get straight on with this week’s post and video. The usual disclaimers apply, in that no sponsorship or gifting is involved and all opinions are my own, and I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 7

Hello again! I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well – and also staying alert, as is the new watchword here in England.

As I see it, the current small changes to our lockdown, as part of the government’s long term recovery plan, are basically urging people to use their common sense, as the virus is still circulating. We must continue to stay at home and work from home if at all possible, avoid other people’s homes, wash our hands and disinfect surfaces often, and stay 2 metres away from everyone. But provided those rules are adhered to, we have a bit more freedom – people in selected industries can go back to work, we can use outdoor spaces like parks more freely, we can walk or cycle or drive further to exercise, and face coverings are advised if social distancing isn’t possible (to protect others in case you’re asymptomatic).

So I hope people will continue to be careful and sensible, as we’re nowhere near out of the woods yet. And obviously for disabled people things are more complicated – it’s impossible to socially distance if you can’t see, for example, so you have to rely on others around you to stay away. Lucy Edwards has chatted with a couple of her fellow blind activists in a recent video about the new rules, if you want to hear their reactions to the new rules.

As for me though, my mother and I are still doing fine, touch wood. Last week I went out for the first time in over 5 weeks, as a couple of essential items were missing from our online shopping delivery. So I was very pleased to find that there were hardly any people and very few cars about, and that I was able to use the priority hour for disabled people at the supermarket, which was fully stocked and had social distancing measures very well enforced. So my risk of exposure was hopefully minimal.

But otherwise I’m still staying at home for the safety of my mother as well as myself, and I’ve continued to keep myself entertained in various ways. So let’s crack on with this week’s post and video to update you on my latest discoveries. As usual nothing is sponsored and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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Kerry Ellis Review – Feels Like Home

In my last 2 posts, I’ve been giving my thoughts on the previous releases by Kerry Ellis, beginning with Anthems and The Candlelight Concerts, followed by her self-titled album and Golden Days. And now here, to complete the trilogy, I want to review her brand new album, which I’ve never heard before.

Recently I was very excited to receive a signed copy of Feels Like Home, which I purchased via her website (so this isn’t an advert, there’s no sponsorship involved with this post). Kerry was going to give away the CDs while on tour, but as her concerts had to be cancelled, she’s been selling them online instead. And as you can imagine, it feels really special to have a signed copy from her! I love all the photos of Kerry on the album sleeve and in the enclosed booklet, as she always looks stunning, especially with that beautiful smile on her face.

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In her message in the booklet, she states that she wanted to make “something special that is only available at my shows, something you can hold in your hands, take home, listen to and enjoy”. So it’s exclusively available via her website for £15, for as long as her stock lasts, which means it does indeed feel as special as she claims. I don’t know if it’s going to get a wider release in the future but, even if it does, you wouldn’t then get a signed copy.

In any case, it means the album isn’t on streaming services, and there are no official videos. But there are a few live performances you can watch, a few of which I’ll share as examples, and one of which is mentioned by Kerry in her introductory notes. She also points out that she’s performed all of these songs during her career, all over the world, so she’s very familiar with them.

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Brian May isn’t involved this time, but Kerry does thank him in the booklet for “giving me confidence to go it alone for this one”. Her self-titled album 6 years ago was her first true solo release, but Brian was still involved in one of the tracks. But here he’s absent completely. He has got a copy though, of course.

She’s also been promoting the album heavily on her Instagram, and has been singing some of the songs (and others from her repertoire) in her live videos, which can be viewed on Youtube. I haven’t watched them yet, because I didn’t want to spoil any surprises, but after I’ve heard the album I intend to take a look through them in the coming days.

So even before I hear any of the music, it’s clear that Kerry has really enjoyed putting this together, it’s been a labour of love for her. And for me, this is a first-listen review, as I’ve held off hearing the album until writing this post. So I hope you enjoy seeing my initial reactions to each of the tracks as I go through them!

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Kerry Ellis Reviews – Kerry Ellis & Golden Days

This is the second part in my trilogy of posts reviewing the albums released to date by the wonderful Kerry Ellis. In my previous post I looked at the first 2 albums and a live concert on Blu-ray that she made with Brian May from Queen. This post includes another album that she produced with him, but also one that she created independently as well. I bought all these albums myself and all opinions are my own – I’m just very positive about her work overall because I’m a big fan. So I hope you enjoy this post.

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Kerry Ellis Reviews – Anthems & Candlelight Concerts

Kerry Ellis is a renowned musical theatre star, who I first became aware of through her work with Queen guitarist Brian May. She collaborated with him after starring in the We Will Rock You musical (which I still haven’t seen yet, amazingly). Since then she has appeared in many major productions, as well as releasing a number of albums, with and without Brian’s involvement. Most recently she’s been doing live streams on her Instagram, some of which are available on Youtube, as well as launching her own podcast – Keep Calm And Kerry On – where she talks to stars of stage, song and screen about their careers and their experiences of lockdown. So she’s keeping herself busy!

I haven’t had the good fortune to see her live in person, but I have been an admirer of her music for some years now, because she has a stunning voice and is very versatile, and I love musicals just like she does. I was therefore very excited to receive a signed copy of her brand new album recently (which, like all her albums, I bought myself – none of this is sponsored or gifted).

But before I tell you about that, I thought I would also give my opinions on her previous releases, because I have the time to do so right now, and it’s a good excuse (if one were needed) to go through them all again. So there will be 3 posts in all over this Bank Holiday weekend, and in this first one I’m going to focus on her initial couple of albums and a live concert on Blu-ray, all of which involve Brian May as well. So I hope you enjoy!

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Lockdown Favourites – Week 6

Well, April flew by didn’t it? It seemed to for me anyway. Everyone’s perception of time is rather weird at the moment, but it can be explained by science at least. Of course, for those going through a particularly rough time at the moment, time will be dragging much more slowly, so we must be mindful of that too. So, as always, I hope you’re all keeping safe and well, and getting any support you need, and you have my sympathies if things have been particularly difficult for any reason.

My mother and I are continuing to do fine, and it’s now been just over a month since I last left the house. I could go out for a bit of a walk if I wanted, but I feel happier staying at home to protect my mother. Given that she’s elderly and blind, and that we as a country have been going through the peak of the virus in recent weeks, I don’t want her to end up on her own in hospital where I can’t visit her, nor would I want to get myself into the much less likely (but not impossible) position where I’m in hospital and she’s left at home on her own. So it’s worth the sacrifice to keep her safe. If I put on a little bit of weight, or my hair ends up like Brian May’s, so be it, it’s worth it.

And I’m still passing the time in various ways. Work is continuing to keep me busy, as is blogging, and I’ve continued to find plenty of entertainment to enjoy as well. So here’s my latest post and video recap of what I’ve got into or discovered this past week. As always, there has been no sponsorship or gifting here, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you enjoy!

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