November has arrived and with it comes the dark nights, cold weather and general feeling that hibernation would be the right choice for any sensible person. Unfortunately, that’s not really an option, so instead, it’s time to come up with another 30 day challenge to get me through the month. This time? Guitar! Hooray!
This has been on the list since I first started thinking about doing many thirty day challenges, but there was a small problem - up until recently, I didn’t have access to a guitar.
I whizzed through this book, I wasn’t totally sure I was going to finish it but something kept me reading to the end. Ultimately there were three friends and we’re looking at when they first met as teenagers, to where they are now in middle-age and then, of course, everything that happened in between. They weren’t particularly sympathetic characters but enough to get to the end of hte book and find out what went down between them all.
I wasn’t sure how October’s 30 day challenge was going to go - learning sign language with this online course. The guidance suggests really taking your time so I didn’t want to rush through and set artificial deadlines when all I really wanted to do was explore the language. However, I was at a massive advantage being able to fingerspell already, so it became an achievable goal to get through the whole course in the month.
We’re not quite back to normal with Strictly yet, after last week’s slightly bizarre and trying-too-hard 100 year birthday theme, this time it’s the more traditional Halloween. The costume, hair and make up teams really pulled out all the stops for this, it was clear as soon as the couples started descending the stairs. And the judges! They all looked incredible too, even if Anton spent most of the show doing battle with his curly wig.
One of the innovations Apple Fitness+ feature is artist spotlight workouts, where all the music on the workout playlist are from one specific artist, giving you a chance to really celebrate with your favourite artists or get into the groove with a specific vibe.
If I’m honest, I’ve not been a big fan of these, but I don’t have a good reason for that. Some of the featured artists haven’t necessarily been my cup of tea, but there have been a couple I’ve liked and just not really been bothered about.
I thought I only new Last Nite off this album, a song that I really love. But as I listened through I also recognised Someday. I really enjoyed the album, it takes that rock vibe through from start to finish. The only downside is that some of it was less memorable than the standout song, Last Nite, so although I liked listening, I’m not sure any of it is going to stick with me. Still, a successful album overall.
I’m always keen to hear what direction Taylor has taken on her next album and this one is another change of form. The previous two albums were very gentle, folksy, and slow. Charming but kinda dull. I was worried an album called Midnights based on late night music musings might be the same, but it wasn’t. This was a turn back towards the pop stylings of 1989, although still retaining the more gentle feel. It was a good album, nice to listen to, a fun return from TayTay. The only downside was that there are no bangers on there at all, no massive huge potential hit. To me, anyway.
Last time I wrote about The Sims, I had just discovered my purchase of The Sims 4 and dived into the game, a little late to the party as always. I finished off that post saying ‘The trick now is to not let it take over my life while I see what it’s all about.’ I think I finally managed to get a good Sim balance in my life - it’s not an addiction that sucks up too many hours, but I do check in on the game regularly and get a quick fix of micro-managing those little idiots.
With Doctor Who in the news recently following the excellent farewell to Jodie Whittaker’s iteration of the character, it wasn’t a surprise when Disney+ announced they would be the home of the show in the US, rather than BBC America. It’s a big streaming platform and the connection makes some sense. I wasn’t expecting further details to emerge of this deal which turns out to be more than just a place to park the existing show.
It’s been a while since I purposely sat down and watched an episode of Doctor Who live as it aired on TV, but the combination of Jodie Whittaker’s last episode and the promise of centenary celebrations from the BBC made me think this was one to make the effort for. And it turns out, it really was. A ninety minute special, the show was packed full of great story and wonderful characters and did, ultimately, culminate in the cliffhanger to usher in the next DW era.
There’s been a growing feeling of dissent amongst Great British Bake Off viewers for a few years now - the challenges are getting too hard, we want to go back to basics, there’s nothing wrong with 12 different takes on a basic sponge cake. This year it seems to have hit harder than ever, wherever I look I see complaints about how hard the show is this year. So I thought I’d add my thoughts to them too.
I like some of Simon Brett’s radio work so I was interested in what his novel writing was going to be like. The cosy little murder mystery genre is huge at the moment so this fit the mood perfectly. A widow heads to an old people’s hotel and solves quite a few crimes along the way, but mostly a murder. The characters were well done, gradually revealing themselves as the story unfolded, and the backstory to Mrs Pargeter is really intriguing and I hope in the subsequent books we get to learn more.
In September, I wrote about the latest updates that iOS 16 brought to the Apple Books app, in particular a consternation about the stupid cross in the corner ruining the reading experience. Well, thank goodness, they’ve fixed it. This week saw a raft of updates to various devices, and as ever, I’m grateful to have a nerd in the house to make sure everything is up to date as and when it’s needed.
Throughout the Famous Five series, one of the features has been how much food they eat. Blyton really leans into it this time as they end up on holiday staying with a farmer’s wife who cooks literally everything in sight and wants to feed them up as much as possible. Meanwhile there’s an adventure to be had - they’re in Cornwall so naturally it includes caves and smugglers and all that jazz. Plus a new friend called Yan.
We’ve got a bonus theme week this time round with the BBC celebrating 100 years and Strictly jumping right into the fun. When the list of songs and dances were revealed, it was quite eye-opening. Our stars would be dancing to a variety of BBC theme tunes and related songs and some of them looked like they would be more successful than others. I couldn’t see how the Grange Hill theme tune was going to work, and I couldn’t remember that Line of Duty had a theme tune anyway - but as always, judgement had to be withheld until we’d seen the performances on the dancefloor.
Off on another adventure, this time the Five are camping in a field that also happens to have a travelling circus nearby. At first they’re not friends but the return of Jo who we met in a previous book softens them, and together they manage to rescue a scientist who has been kidnapped and is being held prisoner in the crumbling ruins of a castle. As you do. Fun, but pretty standard at this point for the group.
While dreaming up ideas for potential 30 day challenges, I pondered whether thirty days of Lego would be something that could work. I love the sets they do featuring elements from popular culture - a lot of fun and nostalgia all in a handful of plastic bricks. It didn’t take long to drop the idea because have you seen how expensive these sets are? Maybe one day in the future but for now, I had to settle for just browsing the online store.
If you’re looking to dip right back into the 70s, then this is the album for you. It’s stacked full of strong 70s beats, a couple of those old songs that you know and love and otherwise just fun times. I don’t think I’d really understood what Earth, Wind & Fire were or that they were behind these songs - Boogie Wonderland is such a long-standing classic, how did I not know who the artist was? But lesson learned and another album ticked off the list.
This is a really good album from Willow, packed full of that pop rock angst that she does so well. The titles are a bit weird, but otherwise, it’s great. The only problem with it is it’s not as good as the last one, Lately I Feel Everything, which was outstanding. If that one didn’t exist, this would be fantastic, but as it is, it’s just living in the shadow of its predecessor. A shame but still totally listenable and great.
I wrote about Welcome to Wrexham after the first few episodes, gushing with love and admiration at a great series - particularly one about football. That all stands up now that the series has completed, it only served to get better and better. The stakes got higher, the emotional rollercoaster more incredible, and we cheered and cried along with everyone involved. Fantastic. It’s coming back for a series two and I couldn’t be happier about it.