Pass the cheese, please

Like many people, I love Nadiya of Bake Off and now her own TV show fame. I’ve been watching her British Food Adventure with a sort of vague interest – experimenting in the kitchen is not high on my agenda at the moment. But, then I saw the third episode and realised I should pay more attention to this lady – she talks sense.

Me too, Nadiya, me too.

Red Rock around the clock

I was planning on publishing another update to my Adventures in Netflix series, but was waiting until I’d watched one more series of something. Unfortunately, any Netflix watching I had planned has been delayed as I’ve become totally obsessed with Red Rock – an Irish police drama that airs on the BBC during the daytime, the iPlayer whenever you want, and I believe on Amazon Video as well.

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Dublin in our household, so the concept of a soap based in the Dublin area was quickly my favourite thing. At first, I was just enamoured by the scenery and the accents, but I soon became caught up in the story as well. A few inter-twining plots make up this soap, with your traditional Romeo and Juliet love story, alongside a particularly creepy grooming storyline as well as cops going bad, family loyalties and plenty more.

I missed the series when it was originally on the BBC last year, and discovered it when it was repeated ahead of the second. The second series is now halfway through, and as it airs every single day, I’ve been struggling to keep up. Weekends become Red Rock marathons, and there’s not much time for watching anything else. But it’s totally worth it.

I highly recommend the show for anyone that has a fondness for the Irish accent or is just interested in daytime police soap drama. And hey, watch this space for my next trip to Dublin wherein I accidentally go searching for filming locations.

Putting the Hart into the West End

When it was first announced that Miranda Hart would be taking the role of Miss Hannigan in the West End production of Annie, I knew I’d have to go and see it. Annie isn’t one of my favourite musicals – children and animals and all that jazz – but the chance to see Miranda in her first stage musical role was too good to pass up. Thus, I rocked up to the Picadilly Theatre one Saturday to see how it all went down.

Miranda was, naturally, the star of the show, and I loved her take on Miss Hannigan – not exactly evil but clearly an unpleasant person with no sensitive side, and a fondness for the bottle. She played it to perfection, a comical character but nowhere near the almost clown-like sitcom that I love so much. She can sing too, and dance, although the Easy Street number did perhaps show an unfair comparison between the musical actors and the comedic ones.

I was blown away by how good the voice was of the Annie I saw. There are three teams of kids, but I suspect they all have the same amount of talent. Funny, earnest, an incredible voice, and completely commanding the stage at that young age, it was an impressive feat. I particularly liked Mr Warbucks, though, Alex Bourne doing a great job as the stern businessman with a secret heart of gold.

All in all, it didn’t necessarily endear me to the musical any more than I was before, but it was a brilliant rendition of it with plenty of talented people. Miss Hannigan is being taken over by Craig Revel Horwood soon, and whilst I don’t think I’ll go back to see that, I can imagine that’s also going to be a sight to behold.

It does impress me much

As if I wasn’t obsessed with Haim enough at the moment, they’ve only gone and covered Shania Twain for a radio segment in Australia. Turns out they’re pretty fond of the country/pop sensation, and they do a fab job of covering That Don’t Impress Me Much.

Okay, so you’ve got a car!

As an aside, I can’t figure if the segment title ‘Like a Version’ is genius or not. It’s a good pun, but does it work in this context? Undecided.

Podcast of the Month – In Her Court

This podcast first came to my attention as one of the episodes featured the rather marvellous Simona de Silvestro – race car driver and generally all round good egg. Once I listened to that episode, I very quickly downloaded all the preceding shows and subscribed so I wouldn’t miss any future publications either.

In Her Court comes out of Australia and features sports journalist Sam Squiers interviewing a variety of sporting names regarding all things “women in sport”. Topics have included overcoming difficult events, changing sports mid-career, getting a leg up, fighting for equality with men, and sporting injuries. The focus of the most recent episode, which actually ended the first season of the show, was about whether women are more susceptible to injuries than their male counterparts, and delving deeper into that taboo topic of menstruation.

If you look at the research, much of it is very old, and some of it is quite amusing, clearly written by men. Wouldn’t be acceptable these days, let me put it that way.

I think clarification of all these things: whether exercise is of benefit to help mitigate pre-menstrual symptoms, and if that’s the case, what sort of exercise? How many girls are really significantly affected? I wondered whether in fact it’s sport and menstrual dysfunction self-selects, and girls who do get a lot of period pain, joint pain and aching and bad pre-menstrual symptoms end up not being able to reach that high level because they’re perhaps affected badly.

Dr Diana Robinson

As a Formula One fan, the topic of women making their way in sport is never far from my mind, so it was refreshing to get opinions from so many different sports people – some I had heard of and some I hadn’t, but all with interesting and insightful things to add to the conversation.

Like I mentioned above, the show has finished its first season while Ms Squiers goes on maternity leave, but it is set to return. In the meantime, you can catch up with all the episodes that have aired so far – these aren’t particularly timely conversations so you can listen at any time, but they are important discussions that can only serve to further the cause.

Around the world in sixteen Extraordinary Homes

I’ve been catching up with BBC Two’s The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes – a programme hosted by Caroline Quentin and Piers Taylor that is kind of like Grand Designs, but the houses are already built and no one gets pregnant before the end of each episode.

My dad first highlighted the show to me, because there was an entire programme dedicated to underground houses. The dynamic duo visit four locations in each episode, sometimes staying overnight to get a really good feel of the dramatic, the exotic, the downright crazy of each domicile. Piers gives the insight of the architect, whilst Caroline gives a wonderfully optimistic more down-to-earth opinion.

And it’s in the relationship between these two that the show really shines. Yes, the houses are incredible and it’s always brilliant to look at grand designs and see what you like, what you’d have done differently, and of course, start planning your own incredible build for a very long time in the future.

But Piers and Caroline give the show its human edge: they get on together like a long-married couple, not quite bickering, but certainly knowing enough about each other’s flaws to make comfortable jokes at their own expense. And with Piers “banging on” about architecture in a knowledgeable fashion, whilst Caroline bounces around with less insightful but more useful notes (“so pretty”, “can’t open the door!”), it reminded me of something.

I realised what it reminded me of was Sidepodcast. Mr C’s carefully thought out opinions, research into topics and general stubbornness blend perfectly with my slightly air-headed but passionate three-part rages and driver crushes. The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes is like us but in a parallel universe.

Anyway, the show has been repeated and is on iPlayer at the moment, so watch if you can. The underground episode in particular was fascinating, and I’ve made lots of notes for our future bunker.

Playing favourites at Wimbledon

Usually when I watch sports, I am looking for a good game/match/race, and may have a favourite in the mix but as long as it’s a good battle or an impressive display, then I’m happy. Over the last six months or so, I’ve been investing myself into the WTA tournaments so that now I have a handful of favourites, for a variety of different reasons.

Somehow, I’ve escaped without any of them meeting each other when it really matters, but now, on the second Tuesday of Wimbledon, the inevitable has happened.

Halep vs Konta. What’s a girl to do?

I like Konta because she plays with a no-nonsense attitude, seems good at holding in the emotions until after the match is won or lost, and has been gradually improving her way to the top rather than leaping into the spotlight out of nowhere. The British coverage of her can be a bit trying, particularly when there are other stories to take note of, but her performance at Wimbledon this year is undeniably one of the big stories. First time she got past the second round, the third round, into the quarters. First British female since the 1980s. First time we had a male and female Brit in the quarters for since the 1970s. These are just interesting and feel good stories.

Plus I saw her play at Wimbledon last Monday, so.

Konta after winning her first round last Monday. Now into the quarter finals.

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On the other hand, I’ve been so intrigued by Halep lately. The relationship she has with her coach Darren Cahill (who I really would like to have coach me through just general day to day life), and the big fall out they had, the reconciliation, the way you can see she is improving and learning that tenacity and never-say-die attitude that is required to get to the finals and to take home the trophies. She’s never won a grand slam which is amazing because she’s been playing well for a long time. And now she has a chance, and there’s also the opportunity to take the number one spot in the world rankings. No pressure.

I want both of these women to win. I think they both play exceptionally well and have great stories to go with their games. What do you do? I’ve not been conflicted like this about a sporting endeavour for a long time. Still, at least the agony will be over in just a few short hours.

Unless Venus Williams also wins.

Because then she’ll play the winner of the Konta/Halep match.

And as we established on that Monday I was at Wimbledon, I think Williams is a goddess.

Venus Williams is incredible.

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Argh!