100 Cool Things #49: Movies made of stock footage

Dissolve, a stock film footage company, has put together this video using their clips to recreate Hollywood blockbusters. The fun is guessing the movies and working out the references. My favourite was probably Terminator 2 or Robot Protects a Boy from a Shinier Robot (1991).

 

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My ebook, available at Amazon. 

Marrying the Animal

 

100 Word Movie Review – Blackfish

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Blackfish is an incredible documentary that cements a long held opinion of mine that people are dicks. It also proves that the acts of dickish people will turn marine animals into straight-up psycho killers. I’ve never been to SeaWorld and, after viewing this film, never will.

It tells the story of Tilikum, an orca that, because of mistreatment, keeps killing people. The movie is full of interviews of former SeaWorld trainers who open up about some of the shadier elements of the waterpark.

Sometimes hard to watch, it is a shocking indictment of the people who mistreat animals for entertainment.

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My ebook, available at Amazon. 

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Raiders of the Lost Ark

===Orginally appeared on AudiencesEverywhere.net. Go there after you’ve been here and not a second before===

Overview: Archaeologist Indiana Jones races Nazis to discover the Ark of the Covenant. 1981; Lucasfilm/Paramount; Rated PG/PG-13; 115 Minutes

Is There Such a Thing as A Perfect Movie? The short answer is no. The slightly less short answer is yes, and that movie is Raiders of the Lost Ark. Raiders has been a staple in the Fallon household for as long as I can remember. In terms of building cinematic obsession, for me, it’s up there with the Star Wars Trilogy (the first movie I saw on the cinema was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which my parents took me to for my fourth birthday. Other kids in the cinema ran around like lunatics and I stared at the screen in abject adulation.)

Obtainer of Rare Antiquities: The thing that still appeals to me about Indiana Jones is that he acts like a real person. He gets dirty and sweaty, he has cuts and bruises. He gets his ass handed to him many times throughout the film but keeps fighting. And when he does fight, he often fights dirty. Look at the fight with the massive mechanic. He distracts his opponent then kicks him in the nuts, biting, scratching, throwing sand in the mechanic’s face. It is a world away from James Bond beating up a thug with choreographed precision before straightening his tie and dishing out a quip. It is only out of dumb luck (and a whirring propeller) that he survives that fight and escapes from the air field.

Indiana Jones comes across as a lived-in character. There is no need for an origin story. Everything required to understand him is offered in the epic opening scene. This man is an archaeologist/adventurer. He is capable, he is smart, he’s good with a whip, and he can outrun a boulder. And when the film cuts sharply to him teaching a class of enamoured students, the circle is complete. Teacher by day, adventurer by night. What more do you need to know?

The supporting characters are the same. We are offered some background on Marian but no concrete reason for her to be running a bar in Nepal. Sallah is introduced as the best digger in Egypt, and his friendship with Indy actually strengthens our knowledge of our hero by showing that he has friends all over the world, who we can only assume he’s met on adventures we haven’t seen.

And it continues with the villains. We learn nothing about Belloq and need nothing more than the vile sleaziness (and occasional flashes of likability) that Paul Freeman gives him with his outstanding performance. The Nazis are… Nazis. They’re unrepentant baddies so they’re going to get what’s coming to them.

Raiders of the Lost Ark 1

It’s Not the Years Honey, It’s the Mileage: This sense of a lived-in world extends to the romance between Marion and Indy. The relationship has happened years before and the chemistry between Ford and Karen Allen speaks volumes more than a clumsy meet-cute or a protracted courtship. They act like people who have been friends before lovers, and even though the love has cooled there is still genuine affection between the pair. However, this romance pales in intensity to that of Indiana Jones and the Ark of the Covenant. Indy’s character is established as a treasure hunter so it makes sense that his first love would be the prize and not the girl. In fact, there are two scenes in which Indy chooses the Ark over Marion (leaving her tied up in the enemy camp and refusing to blow up the Ark in the canyon) and as the film progresses, it quickly becomes apparent that we are actually watching a tragic love triangle between Indy, Belloq, and the Ark.

Raiders of the Lost Ark 2

Snakes, Why Did It Have to be Snakes? Three people make Raiders what it is. Lawrence Kasdan’s script is as good as it gets. It’s fast, funny, scary, self-deprecating, intense. There is probably an action beat every ten pages and the story drags you along frantically from scene to scene. It’s exhausting trying to keep up. As I discussed earlier, Kasdan gives us everything we need in the first couple of scenes. No time is wasted on anything superfluous. We get a character, a villain, a quest and we’re off to the races.

John Williams’ score is one of his best. The chilling piece that keeps threatening to start every time the Ark appears but only gets going at the very end of the movie is a great example of character/music synergy (another example being the high-pitched discordant sound that plays whenever the Joker is around in The Dark Knight). And, obviously, The Raider’s March is one of the best scores in cinema and instantly recognisable.

But the most important technical contributor to this movie’s success is sound designer, Ben Burtt. His sounds in the opening jungle scenes could lead audiences to think the action was happening in another world. The chirps and animal calls that fill the unseen jungle create an aural space in which danger and adventure lurk around every corner. I can also directly trace my intense fear of snakes to this movie, and it’s not just the sight of them that freaks me out, it is the noise. The snakes hiss and slither and writhe together and the noise (which I later found out was Burtt plunging his hand into a cheese casserole, which I am now also afraid of) is a nauseating mix of wet and alive that permeates the scene and that I half expect to start dripping out of my speakers.

Is Raiders really the perfect movie? No, not really. Its failure of the Bechdel Test is pretty intense and some of the special effects haven’t aged well, and, if we wanted to be Cinema Sins, (i.e. joyless dicks) we could nit-pick all manner of errors but where would the fun in that be? In the end, there probably is no perfect movie but, for me, Raiders is pretty damn close.

Grade: A+

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My ebook, available at Amazon. 

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100 Word Movie Review: The Expendables 3

The Expendables 3 is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good film. It is actually pretty awful. The plot makes no sense, the characters are paper-thin, the dialogue is risible and it’s lead actor is barely understandable.

Would I watch it again right now? Hell yeah. Crazy action, crazy dialogue, crazy characters, it’s like watching someone play with action figures. Get a few drinks in you and watch it for Antonio Banderas being awesome, Sly being incomprehensible and Harrison Ford fucking people up from a helicopter that Arnie keeps calling a choppah.

This movie is what it is.

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My ebook, available at Amazon. 

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REVIEW: RAT QUEENS BY KURTIS WIEBE

***This review first appeared on the awesome Bibliosmiles.com. Go there for more book reviews and other booky things***

rat-queens-vol-01-releasesIn my last review, for Ron Wimberly’s Prince of Cats, I talked about a comic that mashed up Shakespeare, 1980s Brooklyn, Kung Fu, and hip-hop. The comic I want to talk about today is similar in some respects but mashes up hipster culture, magic, feminism, The Lord of the Rings, World of Warcraft, HP Lovecraft, 1950s gang movies, comedy, horror, sex and extreme violence.

Today I want to talk to you about Rat Queens by Kurtis Wiebe, or, as it will soon be known, your new favorite comic book.

Rat Queens is set in the fantasy town of Palisade and its surrounding woods. The Rat Queens are a gang of four rambunctious adventurers and hard-partying revelers. The gang is made up of Betty, a hippy Halfling who enjoys drugs and petty theft; Violet, a hipster dwarf trying to escape her bearded roots; Hannah, a foul-mouthed Rockabilly elf; and Dee, an atheist escapee of a Lovecraft-esque creature worshiping cult.

The first book of the series, Sass and Sorcery, tells the story of how the Rat Queens, along with three of the other Palisadian street gangs, are sent on a mission to redeem themselves after causing too much drunken destruction in the town. The gangs take on their quest and hilarity and violence ensues.

rat-queens-1Wiebe infuses his characters with witty, crude dialogue. Each character has a distinct personality that allows them to transcend the usual fantasy clichés of elves being cold, or dwarves being gruff, and lets them be actual people (even if they are people who regularly murder trolls and have sex with orcs).

The artist, Roc Upchurch, does great work giving each character a distinct look, with each of the Queens having different facial features and varied body types. This is especially refreshing considering that most comic book women are usually all tiny waists and big breasts. Upchurch has also done his research when it comes to fashion and modern trends so each character has a distinct style of dress, hair, etc.

Rat Queens is a great gateway comic for people who don’t want to just read about superheroes or zombies. It is also nice to read about female characters who are not put in peril just so a man can rescue them. These characters are a refreshing change from the usual femme fatales or damsels in distress found in comic books. They are loyal, brave, heroic, sexual on their own terms, sneaky, funny and also prone to quiet moments amidst the bloodshed and chaos (something that Wiebe does to great effect).

Not for young age readers but a definite for people looking for something a little new, a little different and a lot awesome.

ratqueens

100 Word Movie Review: Heathers

Heathers, starring Winona Ryder (looking gorgeous and exuding don’t fuck with me-ness) and Christian Slater (doing a Jack Nicholson impression with just a sprinkle of Heath Ledger’s Joker), is an 80’s high school movie steeped in dark humour and suicide.

It follows Veronica Sawyer, a former geek who has been raised up by the most popular clique in the school, The Heathers. After Veronica meets the dangerous-looking and too cool JD she decides that the lead Heather needs taking down a peg, with homicidal results.

Full of crazy one-liners, ridiculous cigarette lightings and massive shoulder pads, Heathers is essential watching.

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My Ebook, available now on Amazon

Marrying the Animal

 

 

 

Friday Fictioneers: Imagine a House

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Imagine a House

In order to will a house into existence one must first eat a hardy breakfast. The exertion of imagining walls that can hold up ceilings will drain you until you are staring at the reflection of a low-toner photocopy version of your face.

Windows are especially tricky. You can close your eyes, make fists and eat lots of fiber, but the idea of imagining into being a surface that can be seen through will cause nosebleeds and whiten your hair.

Stairs, floors are easy. And creating a house out of nothing is easier than assembling flat-pack furniture. So there’s that.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

My Ebook, available now on Amazon

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Marrying the Animal: On sale now

Marrying the Animal

 

The wait is over!

Marrying the Animal: One hundred 100 word stories is on sale now here for Australians and here for Americans and here for Brits or at your local Amazon site if you’re not from these three countries. Some of these stories have featured on this blog (usually from prompts supplied by two very awesome, very talented ladies) but there are a whole lotta others that have I’ve kept to myself until now. 

Buy it, tell your friends to buy it, tell your enemies to buy it, tell their friends to buy it and most of all enjoy it!

Friday Fictioneers: ReScentment

hokusai4rwf

Welcome to the scented candle factory.

On your left you’ll see where we make the candles that smell like pine needles and softly falling snow. They’re really good for creating a Christmas-y feel during the holidays.

Over here we have the candles that smell like my cheating husband, Clive. They smell like mouldy cigarettes and impotence. I guess if you wanted the smell of an ungrateful swine to waft around your house infecting your lungs with the sweet smell of betrayal then this is the product for you.

And behind those are some bullshit cinnamon stinking things.

Right, tour’s over.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

 

Friday Fictioneers: Ewes, Me and the Ram.

sheep-and-carWhen my brother was shearing his sheep, I would venture out to the farm to help out by making tea, sandwiches, sexist jokes etc.

When the work was over I would go and look at the sheep in their pen.

‘Bloody idiots,’ I muttered, watching the fluffy morons skittishly scurry away if I got too close to the fence.

Except for one. One of the big rams who stared at me and didn’t move.

We stared into each other’s eyes for a long time.

That was the beginning of a blood feud that would last for the next fifty years.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 7)

Earlier parts of The Dire-Man can be found here: One – Two – Three – Four – Five – Six

Copyright - Renee Heath

A servant of the Dire-Man met me at the door to his hall.

He beckoned me closer. ‘Your son?’ He said with a leer.

‘Where is he?’ I said, my fists tightened at my sides.

He tossed two fingers onto the path in front of me. ‘Here is part of him.’

I ran forward and grabbed his arms. Instead of feeling muscle or bone, my hands squeezed him and he began to melt in my grip. His face moved and ran down his ragged jacket like thick candle wax until he was nothing but a giggling puddle at my feet.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: Life After Wartime

Took a break from The Dire-Man for something new.

Copyright - Douglas M. MacIlroy

Dad was never the same after the Atlantis War.

He kept his helmet on at all times, just in case the water level rose again and we were submerged. He only ate fish, every bite being like a little chewy victory, he said.

When Co-President Guppy came on the telly he would throw his hands up in despair, ‘We’re just giving the world away to the fin-backs!’ and my mum would shush him.

‘We’re at peace with them now, George, set a good example for the kids.’

‘You’re a goddamn fish-ist, woman!’ He would say around a mouthful of cod.    

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

 

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 6)

Earlier parts of The Dire-Man can be found here: OneTwoThreeFourFive

Copyright-John Nixon

To reach the house of the Dire-Man I climbed a hill, crossed a stream and eventually entered a forest.

The forest had waited for me. A path revealed itself as I approached.

Gnarled branches rose from the ground like ancient, grabbing fingers. Sound bled from the boughs of the trees. The weeping of my wife as she tried to find a photograph of our child to give to the police and the high-pitched squealing of my son, along with the sound of a knife cutting through flesh and bone.

And a voice reminding me that this was all my fault.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

 

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 5)

Copyright -Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

My son awoke in a cage. His hand roared with dull pain. His head felt clogged up like a blocked pipe. The air smelt like burnt hair and neglect. The floor he lay on was covered in stains and scratches where former occupants of the cage had tried, and failed, to burrow out of their prison.

My son cried for a while and then stood up. His head bumped the top of the cage when he stood up straight.

He put his fingers through the holes in the cage and realised he was missing two fingers on his right hand.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 4)

hay-bales-sandra-c

The hall of the Dire-Man was filled with boundless cries of woe.

Huge hay bales pregnant with adders and great, fat rats lined the walls and heaved and shuddered with the movement of the creatures within.

Sawdust and hay covered the floors where animals and small feral creatures that had once been children writhed and fought in the fetid muck.

On a throne in the center of the room the Dire-Man sat, picking his teeth with a long, yellow fingernail.

Light streamed through the broken walls but the master of the hall cast no shadow.

Because he is the shadow.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 3)

Part one is here, part two is here

Copyright - Björn Rudberg

‘The Dire-Man waits in his house on the hill,’ said the girl with no eyes and sharp teeth.

‘His house is on the beach,’ I said, shaking my head.

‘You’ve been away for a long time,’ said the boy with no eyes and a forked tongue. ‘Things change. People change. We changed because the Dire-Man changed us.’

‘Your boy will change too,’ said the girl, a tear of blood falling from her empty eye socket. ‘If you don’t find him soon.’

I looked up at the dilapidated buildings on the hill, and when I looked back the children were gone.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 2)

Part One is here.

Copyright - Erin Leary

When the police left, and my wife had put the other children back to bed, I set off for the beach. The sun was rising, and the light it cast felt incomplete as I crossed the Barkley Bridge towards the shore.

The stream on my right burbled and purred quietly, as though respecting the fact that it was still early and people were still sleeping.

I stepped off the bridge and saw a boy and a girl, holding hands, their eyes black holes in bloody faces.

They said, ‘When the Dire-Man is done with him, you can have him back.’

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: The Dire-Man (pt 1)

Thought I’d try something a bit different and use a couple of week’s worth of Friday Fictioneers to make a longer story.

The challenge will be molding each picture to the larger narrative, but everyone loves a challenge right?

Okay, disclaimer out of the way, please enjoy the first part of The Dire-Man.

Copyright-Dawn Q. Landau

The Dire-Man (pt 1)

When I was growing up, the house on the beach was where the Dire-Man lived. We never saw him, but our parents and older siblings would tell us that he stole children from their beds on full moons and took them to his red house. The house, three battered red walls and no roof, sat atop a rock on the edge of the surf.

When I returned to my family home years later, I told the stories to my children and soothed their fears and thought nothing of my parental cruelty.

Until my son vanished during the first full moon.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

The 100 Word Novel – Forty-Two: The Humiliation of Tim

Capture‘Let’s all calm down, now,’ said Tim, the gift shop manager, elbowing his way through the crowd until he stood at Butler’s side.

Butler didn’t look at him but said, ‘Citizen, get back into the crowd now.’

Tim puffed out his chest and said, ‘Now, Mr Butler, that is no way to address me, I am-‘

‘Nobody.’ Captain Butler turned to face him. ‘You are nobody and you will refer to me as captain or I will put a bullet in your knee cap and drag you to the brig myself. Am I understood?’

Tim nodded quickly and scurried away.

Previously on the 100 Word Novel: Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL. Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Interlude Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine Chapter Thirty Chapter Thirty-One Chapter Thirty-Two Chapter Thirty-Three Chapter Thirty-Four Chapter Thirty-Five Chapter Thirty-Six Chapter Thirty-Seven Chapter Thirty-Eight Chapter Thirty-Nine Chapter Forty Chapter Forty-One

The 100 Word Novel – Forty-One: Stand Off

Capture2Peg marched the two privates back towards the fort. In one hand she held a pistol and in the other she held Bea’s hand.

The big gates opened and Captain Butler strode out. A few of the other citizens of the fort crowded around him, while at the same time they gave him reverant space.

‘What?’ He said.

Flames rose high behind Peg and the heat stopped her shivering in the cold. She said nothing and kept her gun pointed forward.

‘She isn’t sick,’ said Peg.

‘But you are, doctor,’ said Butler. He drew his own gun from its holster.

Previously on the 100 Word Novel: Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL. Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Interlude Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine Chapter Thirty Chapter Thirty-One Chapter Thirty-Two Chapter Thirty-Three Chapter Thirty-Four Chapter Thirty-Five Chapter Thirty-Six Chapter Thirty-Seven Chapter Thirty-Eight Chapter Thirty-Nine Chapter Forty

Friday Fictioneers: Camp

adamickes-childsbootsAnd on the last night of summer camp we kissed. My heart tumbled like rocks down a hill. I felt like I was twenty stories tall and strong like a herd of elephants.

My hair stood on end and my blood fizzed like it was coca-cola.

I worried that if we stopped I would float away, leaving nothing but the love of my life and a pair of boots waiting for me on the ground.

When camp was over we never saw each other again but now, years later, I still have those boots.

And I still have that kiss.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: The Riddle of the Doorway

al_forbes

My quest nearly over, I came to a doorway with the head of a statue mounted above it.

‘Halt,’ called the statue.

I drew my sword, ready for whatever trap awaited me.

‘You have done well, traveler, but now you face the Riddle of the Doorway.’

‘Do your worst. I have tamed the Hellbeast of Hoglen, slain the Serpent of Sparta, made love to a woman who looked like a fish. I am not afraid.’

The statue smiled, it’s marble teeth shining, ‘Then answer me this, traveler…Do you think I’m pretty?’

I shrugged, ‘Yes.’

The statue blushed, ‘You may enter.’

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Friday Fictioneers: A Major Escape

dismantled-keyboardIf you ever find yourself trapped in a music shop atop a high tower, break the nearest piano.
Grab the keys and see if one of them works in the lock.
If not, grab a guitar and strum a few chords. Tie these together and climb out of the window.
If there are no windows, find a drum kit and see if you can interpret the secret meaning of the cymbals.
Or, if all else fails, maybe you can play a note on the keyboard and hope someone reads it and learns where you are and comes to rescue you.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

And congrats Rochelle on one year of Friday Fictioneers.

Here is a picture of some kind of furry critter eating nutella just for you. 🙂 tumblr_mfd5f5G2Tb1r32936o1_400

England Trip

Hello,

We just got back from a trip back to the Motherland (England) where we acquired some reading material, both fun and research based:

Research

Research

Awesome

Awesome

Insane

Insane

We shoved a crazy amount of delicious food into our cavernous maws:

The cake stand that awaited us upon arrival to my parent's house.

The cake stand that awaited us upon arrival to my parent’s house.

Sunday lunch, heavy on the Yorkshire puddings.

Sunday lunch, heavy on the Yorkshire puddings.

Tea shop in Stratford Upon Avon

Tea shop in Stratford Upon Avon

Shakespeare Cookies

Shakespeare Cookies

Mixed grill.

Mixed grill.

Steak and ale pie.

Steak and ale pie.

Mega Scone!

Mega Scone!

Cheese on toast for breakfast

Cheese on toast for breakfast

Ahh, ale

Ahh, ale

And when not eating or buying books we also bought a huge scarf for me:

WP_20131018_001And went to the Everton game (Fiona’s first and she saw the Mighty Blues win as well):

WP_20131019_002

 

All in all a fantastic trip that was over too soon.