Friday, 31 March 2017

Walt Disney's Live Action Movies Matter!

Okay, so this is going to be a relatively short and (maybe, not so) sweet post. Anyone that knows anything about me knows of my love of Walt Disney's - the company not the person - movie productions. All of them. Well the vast majority. I've often been met with the comments that Disney 'live action' movies aren't any good and, as of late, I've seen more and more people say they apparently aren't 'proper Disney'. Whatever that is supposed to mean...
That leads me to think they either don't know much about Walt and his beginnings at all or aren't Walt Disney fans as they claim to be, but only animation fans.

When Walt originally moved California he admitted that -  “I was a little discouraged with the cartoon at that time. I felt at that time I thought I was getting into it too late. In other words, I thought the cartoon business was established in such a way that there was no chance to break into it. So, I tried to get a job in Hollywood, working in the picture business so I could learn it. I would have liked to have been a director.”
He loved film from the beginning. His first ever animated series, The Alice Comedies, contained live-action mixed with animation and after success with many, many other animated shorts, releasing the award-winning Snow White which was then followed by Pinocchio, he became well known as a cartoonist.
However, during production delays on Bambi his fellow staff and he looked into live-action again, coming up with the 'tour of the Walt Disney studios' film - The Reluctant Dragon (I know it also contains many animated sections but it is primarily live action) - which he also stars in.

If you know about the history of the studios, you'll know the effect the war had on them and it was during this time 'Song of the South' was made. Also a hybrid film, it is too primarily live-action, as is the beautiful 'So Dear to my Heart' which followed that. Treasure Island, then came out in 1950 technically becoming Walt Disney's first ever fully live-action movie.

My point here is not just waffle, I assure you, but to prove that though the films may not be animated, they are still PROPER DISNEY. I have compiled a quick list below of most (omitting shorts and tv episodes etc) live action movies and documentaries that Walt himself worked on right up until he passed away. If Mr Walter Elias Disney himself working on them and that doesn't make them 'Proper Disney', goodness knows what does!
Just because they are not hand drawn does not mean that hours upon hours of work and insane talent weren't put into them. Some of these movies are my favorite movies of all time and I am, personally, (as well as Walt and his team, I be, would be)  very offended when they are cast aside and not given the credit they deserve under the 'Disney' title.

The Reluctant Dragon
Song of the South *
So Dear to My Heart
Treasure Island
The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men
The Sword and the Rose
Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue
The Living Desert (Documentary)
Stormy, the Thoroughbred
The Vanishing Prairie (Documentary)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Great Locomotive Chase
Westward Ho, the Wagons!
Johnny Tremain
Old Yeller
The Light in the Forest
White Wilderness
The Sign of Zorro
Ten Who Dared
Swiss Family Robinson
The Horse with the Flying Tail (Documentary)
The Absent Minded Professor
The Parent Trap
Greyfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog
Babes in Toyland
Moon Pilot
Bon Voyage!
Big Red
Son of Flubber
The Flight of the White Stallions
Yellowstone Cubs
Savage Sam
Summer Magic
The Incredible Journey
The Three Lives of Thomasina
Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow
The Misadventures of Merlin Jones
The Moon-Spinners
Mary Poppins
Emil and the Detectives
The Monkey's Uncle
That Darn Cat!
The Ugly Dachshund
Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N.
Follow Me, Boys!
The Fighting Prince of Donegal
Monkeys, Go Home!
The Happiest Millionaire

You might not have heard of all of those movies above, but if you are a fan of Mr Disney, his studios, and his team, you should really check a lot of them out. They are all fantastic in their own ways as are those that continue to be produced after we sadly lost the legend himself. The company has always been the leader in some of the most amazing movie making technology and you can't say that they aren't still producing extremely high quality effects etc.
If you don't like live-action movies and prefer to watch animation only, that's cool, each to their own, but don't insult the legacy we were left by stating 'it isn't proper Disney'.

Thanks. :)

I just wanted to add a little 'PS' kind of thing to apologize for the ranty type of deal here and that I said it'd be 'short', when it is anything but haha! That isn't usually my style but I feel really strongly about this. The Walt Disney company and filmmaking, in general, mean a lot to me and many others, especially those who work/ed on them. Just be respectful.

If you aren't familiar with many of the above list here are a few I suggest you check out asap -
The Great Locomotive Chase
Bon Voyage!
Summer Magic
The Incredible Journey
Follow Me, Boys!
(And the first 4 too of course but that's a given.)

*Please no comments on what you think of this movie please. It was a different time back then and it is still an award winning, fantastic film.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Real Plants from the Potter Universe

This is a post I've wanted to write for years. It was a trip to Alnwick Gardens, and the poison garden in particular, that spurred the idea when Mam and I took the tour back in 2014(?) and spotted a Mandrake! Obviously, there are many trees, plants and the like sprinkled throughout the magical world of Harry Potter, ie. different wand woods such as Holly, Hawthorn & Walnut and things like Aloe Vera, Mistletoe & Nettle that we all recognize. However, there are also many that you may have mistaken as fictional that do indeed exist.
After Jake and I revisited Alnwick Gardens in late 2015 I jotted down notes as the start of a draft post...and as you can see it's been pushed back and pushed back until now! So now, finally, you can read on to find out about some magical plants that you may just find at the bottom of your garden!

Mandrake [genus Mandragora]
Mandrakes are probably one of the most well-known plants in the Potter Universe and are famously used in the production of Restorative Draught which revives those who have been petrified. The form of their roots resembles a baby and they can cause fatalities with just their 'cry' once fully grown.

Now in 'real life' they are real. They are still called Mandrakes and indeed, they are pretty darn toxic! This was the plant that is housed in the Poison Garden at Alnwick Gardens and if I remember rightly, it is one of those that is enclosed by a cage - eek! It has a vast history including mentions in the bible, uses in legendary witchcraft as well as ancient medicine as surgery anesthetic due to it making you unconscious. Mandrake roots also still kind of look like ugly babies haha.

Other uses include/d -
Relief of rheumatic pains when applied externally.
Taken orally for depression, convulsions and 'mania'.
Hallucinogenic and narcotic. Causes delirium when taken in large doses internally.

Devils Snare [Datura stramonium] 
Devils Snare, Devils's deadly fun...but will sulk in the sun! Devils Snare hates sunlight! However, the real thing, which goes by many names, is actually native to North America and grows in warm and moderate surely it can't hate sunlight? I dunno. Anyway, by that rhyme you should remember this plant as the vine 'net' that caught the 3 friends as they fell through the trapdoor in The Philosopher's stone. It has the ability to constrict you with its tentacle-like vines and will only kill you faster if you struggle!

In real life Datura stramonium / Devils Snare / Jimson Weed is not much like ithe magical counterpart, being a friend to those of us who have breathing difficulties and was used to treat asthma in the past (instead of squeezing the breath out of you)!  Just as the Mandrakes, Devils Snare has good and bad effects depending on dosage and is very toxic, though unlike mandrakes, it's apperance is nothing like that which exists in the Potter universe.

Other uses include/d -
Analgesic painkiller used for surgeries and setting bones.
Algonquin, Navajo, Cherokee, amoung other indigenous people, used it in ceremonys for the hallucinations it caused.
To create visions were the taker can 'communicate' with higher/supreme/devine beings.

Dittany [Origanum dictamnus] 
If you unluckily got splinched while apperating in the wizarding world, you'd want some Essence of Dittany for sure. Shown and/or mentioned a few times in the books/movies you may remember Hermione using it on Ron when he got spliched disapperating after the infiltration of the Ministry of Magic, on Harry when he was bit by the snake in Godricks Hollow and to heal the burns they recieved upon touching the tresure in Bellatrix's vault.

Muggles, specifically those from Greece, may also be quite familar with Dittany as it's a perrienial that wildly grows only on the mountainsides etc in Crete! Just like the magical plant it is also a therapeutic healing plant but sadly it is apparently a threatened plant species.

Other uses include/d -
Considered to symbolize love, people would risk their lives to climb mountainsides to procure the pink blossoms that grow on the dittany plant and give it to those they admired.
These days its exported for use in perfume, to flavor particular alcholic drinks and pharmaceutical drugs.
Ancient Greeks are said to have used it to heal wounds (like in HP!), help stomach pains and even inducing menstruation - which is a whole other thing to research haha.

Monkshood / Wolfsbane [Aconitum]  
Mainly known by the species Monkshood or Wolfsbane, Aconite is a magical potion ingredient that we hear mentioned by Proffesor Snape in the Philosiphers Stone in his first worlds to Harry.
It can help to limit, though not completely rid, werewolves of their symptoms.

''For your information, Potter, asphodel and wormwood make a sleeping potion so powerful it is known as the Draught of Living Death. A bezoar is a stone taken from the stomach of a goat and it will save you from most poisons. As for monkshood and wolfsbane, they are the same plant, which also goes by the name of aconite.''

 Native to the Northern Hemisphere, Aconite goes by the same names and is extremely toxic. It's blue/purple flower can look nice but with other names such as devil's helmet and queen of all poisons allude it's use as a deadly poison.

Other uses include/d -
Poisons for hunting such as arrow tips or lances to paralyze whales :(
Used for many years in traditional Chinese and Hindu medicines. As well as other homeopathic medicines for things such as anxiety and more.
Mentioned many times in literature/tv/movies from Greek mythology up until present day. Eg. Midsomer Murders, 1931's Dracula The Vampire Diaries & more.

Other mentions go to the following:

Knotgrass [Polygonum] 
Knotgrass appears in a few of the Harry Potter books/movies as it is an ingredient of the Polyjuice Potion.
Mugglewise, Polygonum is a genus of many plants in the buckwheat and knotweed family. It can be cooked and eaten and used to treat UTIs.

Fluxweed [Cuphea viscosissima] 
Another ingredient of the ever famous, human form altering, Polyjuice Potion.
In real life it is the Cuphea viscosissima plant, also called blue waxweed, clammy cuphea or tarweed. It has no real uses but with it's sticky stem and purple flower it is pretty and very common in North America.

Wormwood [Artemisia absinthium] 
Mentioned in the same paragraph shown above by Snape to Harry, Wormwood is used in the Draught of Living Death, Elixir to Induce Euphoria, and the Shrinking Solution.
You'll probably recongnize the non-magical version of Wormwood as being absinthe! Causing kidney failure and epileptic-like convulsions if too much is taken, it is an ingredient in the alcholhic drink Absinthe as well as a flavoring in other wines and spirits.

Woah, this ended up a lot lengthier than expected haha! It was a subject that I personally found pretty interesting and thought some other Potterheads might too. I hope you did and there wasn't too much waffling on ;) Have you ever taken/eaten/drank any of those mentioned in this post?? I have used Aconite before!
If you're interested in having a peek at the Poison Garden that originally inspired this, check it out here > Exploring Northumberland // Alnwick Gardens Part 2.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Free Downloadable Disney Prints

So any followers or friends that have known me for over a year or two, might remember I had an Etsy store selling Disney prints. It went pretty well, I enjoyed doing it, but my super expensive printer 'broke' and the customer service told us it wasn't a certain fault just a random technical thing that is common so we'd be better off buying another than getting it fixed. Urm no :) I don't have a money tree.

Anyways, obviously I just shut down my store and it was probably for the best because now there are like wayy more similar stores, therefore a heck load of competition. As I was sorting my external hard drive recently I came across the originals so thought I might post a couple of the less rubbish ones for people that might want to download and print them off themselves, before I delete them.

Here they are. See how to get the full resolution copies at the bottom of this post.

Please proceed to this link to view the full folder of 25 images! & let me know if you do download any! They took me a lot of work and it'd be nice to know if people still like them. You can use them on your phone or print them off to frame etc, but pretty please DO NOT claim them to be your own and re-sell them as that, of course, is copy write infringement and I will not be chuffed about that :)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Weekly Wondering // Week 12

Hello! For the explanation of what is going on here, please do click here and have a quick read. Other than that, in short, I am answering 7 of these 365 thought provoking questions each week until I complete the year. I already did this in 2013 and am revisiting them to compare my answers.

Is it more important to do what you love or to love what you are doing?
Both? Neither? Either..? I feel they are pretty similar and there are things I love that I am not doing, however, I do love what I am doing if that makes sense. You can always adjust and learn to love the things you have to do and it's not always an option to be able to do what you love. As long as you are happy who gives a hoot, eh?

What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now?
Work wise I'd still like to just be cleaning. I have no want to work in retail or with the public again as it's too much stress and even less want to have any role with a lot of responsibility / be a career woman. Life is too short to be stressed about work or be rushing around doing things that take up time I could be spending on other stuff. I will never have a lot of money, but I'm hoping by then we will at least own a little house so that we don't throw another 70k of money down the landlord drain haha. Oh, and I would like to think the family will have expanded.

What small act of kindness were you once shown that you will never forget?
I forgot.

What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
Haven't we already had this question? (See week #9) I'll choose another, though. Or not a particular memory...more so my childhood in general. My happiest memory is having both my Mam and my Dad with me all the time. It seems quite rare these days to have both parents together and I appreciate that so much, right to this day.

Do you own your things or do your things own you?
I own my things? :/

Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones?
Never be able to make new ones. I never want to forget the times I've had with Baker, or never know who my Granda was or remember the hurt I've been through that made me who I am.

How do you deal with someone in a position of power who wants you to fail?
I don't. Ha. I just ignore anyone who isn't nice. If it's online I'll delete, block, report, anything I can do to be rid nasty people :)

 Make sure to look back on this same post from 2013 here,  and see the differences in my answers! (I completed writing this before  checking back to my old answers by the way). You can also see the series in whole from last time here and of course last week's Weekly Wondering here.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Disneyland Paris 2016 // Day 2, Part 2

Before reading on, check out the start of our day 2, in my part 1 post here.

As I mentioned in the previous post (linked above, did you read it? I hope you did!) we had an 'appointment' in the afternoon! This was one of the most exciting things we had planned for this trip and it was actually a tour of the Walt Disney Studios park. Yay!! We turned up early, like we always do, and our guide came out to meet us. It felt very special to be the only people in our 'group' so it was like a private tour just for us and she took the time to make it more tailored to us. I was crying before we even left the office and that continued for the majority of the tour lol.
I don't want to include any information, or much anyway, and limited photos so as not to ruin it in case anyone ever does the tour. However, we were told that it wasn't a popular choice and most people opt for the tour of the Disneyland Park instead, so it shouldn't ruin it much for too many.

The tour was everything I'd hoped and more! A lot of things I already knew, but other things - like Andy's footprint in Toy Story Playland and the amazing hidden Mickey on Les Tapis Volants that our guide was super excited about as she's only caught it on tours a couple times and so much more - were amazing to learn about. The whole point of the WDS park is that, just as DL park is about the movies themselves, it is all about the behind the scenes and production of the movies which is where my heart lies and meant I was so glad I chose this tour out of the two.
After a slight run over on time (I wasn't complaining!) we parted ways with the lovely Camilla and headed to meet up with Kerri and Kris again before heading to Cinemagique. Who knew then that this would end up being my very last viewing of the amazing experience ever, as it's closure was confirmed at the start of March 2017.
Our last move of the day was to park hop again and get a spot for the fireworks. It was extremely freezing and uncomfortable and so not worth it. I was pretty disappointed, after having hyped Dreams to Kerri and Kris, of how awful the Christmas Dreams was. Nevermind. We did it, headed to our hotel, ate at Hunters Grill together and then it was bed time!

See you soon for Day 3!! Check out the rest of my DLP 2016 posts below!
Disneyland Paris 2016 // Christmas Decor
Day 1, Part 1
Day 1, Part 2
What I Bought
Sequoia Lodge Hotel Review 
Day 2, Part 1

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What I Read This Quarter [January - March]

Well, this is a first! You did read that right, 'What I read this Quarter'...not year. If you caught my What I Read in 2016  post, you will have seen that 2016 was a bit of a slippery slope reading-wise for me. I proper struggled in 2015 to even get half way through a book so when a certain gem kick started it all for me mid-year last year I was chuffed. I completed 4 books and was obviously over the moon, then this year I decided I was gonna beat that! I made a Goodreads account to keep up with it all and set my goal at 10 books for the year.
On March 7th I completed my 10th book of 2017. I'm pretty happy with that and look forward to see what else I read throughout this year. Anyway, here is a quick recap of what I read this quarter!!


Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
So technically I started reading this back in December, though wasn't too far in, so, of course, this was the first book I finished. It took me a while and is a little harder to read than the norm (well for me) due to the language used - I'm sure you'll know what I mean if you've read it - but I really enjoyed it. It was nice to be reintroduced to the story in this form as the last time I 'heard' it was watching the 1950 movie again last year.

The Beast Within by Serena Valentino
Awful. This book was baaadd. Like every other Disney fan on the planet (or so it seems) I obviously have the Liz Braswell and Serena Valentino 'alternative' Disney stories and having read LB's 'A Whole New World' last year I thought I'd give a SV one a go this month. What a disappointment :( It didn't make sense, the pacing felt weird, it was OTT and just didn't feel like a proper stand alone story. A shame because the overall idea was really interesting.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
I love magic and goodness and all things fantastical, The Chronicles of Narnia being no exception. Sadly, at 26 years old, I had not read the series in its entirety but was very, very lucky to be given a stunning set of the books by Kerri and needed to dig into them asap. Before anyone says I started with the 6th book...I read them in chronological order, not publication order and found it wayyy better. After having finished them all I can say this book is in my top your bets now which is the other ;)

Rise of the Dragons by Morgan Rice
You guys know by now I'm a bargain hunter, books aren't an exception. I spotted this for free on the Google Books app so thought I'd give it a go seeing it was one of the only ones that wasn't 'adult' reading if you understand me...:/
Anyways, I used the 'read aloud' option on my phone and listened to it while at work every morning and got hooked! It did have many similarities to Game of Thrones, but also had a stand alone plot thankfully. The main criticisms I've read about this online is the editing and obvious mistakes that could have been rectified before publishing...however, I think I'm correct in saying they are self-edited/published books so that doesn't really bother me too much. The story is the main thing for me.


Rise of the Valliant by Morgan Rice
Turns out when you complete the afor mentioned book, there is a link to get the next in the series for free too! Yay! I flew through this one too, 'reading' it in the same fashion as the other and was sad when it came to home time at work and I couldn't listen to it anymore. Well, I could have but I was reading another physical book and for some reason like to keep them separate. I'm dying to read the next but as I have other commitments for my small amounts of hard earned cash, I can't really drop ££ on an ebook and the physical copies are crazy expensive. I'll just have to wait a while to read the other 4 in the series.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
The next in TCON series and probably the most famous, was one I had already read as a child so was interested to see how I found it this time around. Reading it as an adult, understanding that Lewis is a Christian author, the religious aspects really shone out to me and, despite not being Christian, I really enjoyed and appreciated it all.

The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
Did you guess it? This was my other top 2 fave of the whole series. It wasn't what I expected but I loved the adventure and felt fully immersed in it all. I haven't much more to say about it and think the 5 stars speak for themselves.

Prince Caspian by C.S Lewis
Have you noticed a trend here? I am actually also reading another book, however, there seems to be no end in sight (it has like 1800 pages) so my completed books are back to back Narina. Although I still loved Prince Caspian and it was nice to re-familiarize myself with the full story - as opposed to just via the movie - it was one of my least favorite of the series this far.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
As above :P


The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
The Silver Chair is the penultimate book in TCON series and one I was actually completely unfamiliar with. Like the majority of the rest of them, I got hooked and loved it too. Is this getting boring? I haven't really much to say because I don't know how to say things without spoiling anything to be honest.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
Ah, the finale of the series :(  It took me a little longer than normal to complete this but I'm sure I was subconsciously gutted to not have any more Narnia left. It also started out as my least favorite as I was so angry at Shift, I was frightened to see where it went. Of course, the end had me in many tears and (I felt) was very well written, so well, in fact, it could be used by Christians to draw people to their Church haha.
One thing I think it necessary to mention and something the majority of reviews I've seen have mentioned is what others have called 'blatant racism and disregard for opposing religions'. This book was written in 1956 and although it's not a century ago, human kind, political correctness and what is or isn't acceptable has changed a lot since then so consider that. I wasn't bothered about the religious connotation as I am open to everything myself but know how religion on a whole feel about each other. The thing I was a little taken aback at was a certain derogatory term for the people with darker skin. These factors were not taken into consideration when rating the story.

Tales from the Haunted Mansion: Volume I: The Fearsome Foursome by Amicus Arcane
After finishing the Narnia series I was lost and had no idea where to turn next. I decided to pick up something I hoped to be an easy and light read to help me transition, so grabbed this Tales from the Haunted Mansion which I bought a while back and was dying - pun intended - to read.
It was indeed an easy read though slightly confusing as to who it's target readership would be... It's hard to explain what I mean. Like, I enjoyed it because it was a little freaky but not overly gory or scary that I couldn't deal with it but it was weirdly humorous enough and intriguing to be a good page turner. I think you'd either enjoy this or not, not the most amazing work of literature or anything obviously but definitely interesting for fans of the Disney attraction.

So yeah! That is everything I've read over the past 3 months. As you can see, I peeked in February (as I had a week off work I suppose) at 5 books and my reading speed has unintentionally tapered a bit in March,  though I think its subconsciously because I hit my annual target. Sadly, now Narnia is over and it feels just like it did when I finished Harry Potter for the first time...I'm lost. Hopefully, it won't stunt my progress though and I can get onto all of my other books that I've bought and not read yet ;)
Tell me your favorite book that you've read recently and which of those mentioned in this post that you love!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Beauty and the Beast 2017 [MOVIE REVIEW]

 [May contain spoilers - I'll try my best not to, but to be on the safe side I'd better declare that haha] 
It's been a while eh? Since August last year in fact when I posted my last movie review! Now the time has finally come for one of the past few years most anticipated and widely discussed Disney movies to arrive on our screens - Beauty and the Beast.
As with all of my other Disney movie reviews, I am writing this introduction before I go to see the movie on the 18th of March so as to remain as unbiased as I possibly can haha. Anyway, not that anyone who doesn't live under a rock (or who has no access to the internet, tv or any form of advertising) doesn't already know, the recent release of Beauty and the Beast is a 're-telling' - not remake - of the 1991 animated classic, arriving in cinemas March 17th. I point out 're-telling' because many apparent die hard fans get extremely heated about the fact that Disney is re-doing so many of it's classics. If you have taken the time to not pre-judge and actually watch the movies, you will realize they are not remakes exactly, with plot points adjusted, missed out, new ones added etc. They are live action adaptations based on the same story, most of which have come from books to begin with ;)
BATB was never one of my all time, top of the list faves but of course, I still adore the story and animation, so have been really looking forward to seeing this. So much so my cinema ticket was booked for around 6 below to see what I thought.
(Have a peek at the trailer first if you haven't already!)

After our most recent re-telling of Pete's Dragon, along with The Jungle Book, Malificent and Alice in Wonderland who all deviated considerably from the 'original' plots, Beauty and the Beast is much more like Cinderella in the way it sticks quite well to the pretty much already perfect plot, only adding here and there to embellish additional information about our characters back stories. Like I'm sure I say most of the time when talking about movies of a similar nature, it does not, however, compare to the original in my mind. Animation and live action movie productions are completely different and both take such incredible artists to put together, though different kinds of artists of which this movie was rife with.
We had Bill Condon as director for Beauty and the Beast and I have to admit to being very unfamiliar with his work - he's known for the likes of Twilight: Breaking Dawn and Dreamgirls among many others - not exactly my taste, so it was quite the shock to see how the movie turned out and who had directed it. It was evident that this (although you need say nothing to me, because I know animations are for adults too) that this live action version was aimed at adults, us who were first introduced to the 1991 animation as young children in particular, rather than children now.
It included everything from the expected Disney morals - being different isn't a bad thing and usually those who make fun to begin with, will end up imitating you as well as the obvious 'you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover' - to a rollercoaster ride of emotions, more up close looks at our characters personalities and lives leading us to feel more toward each of them, as well as absolutely stunning effects, film locations/sets and general cinematography on a whole...for those of us who notice that sort of thing haha.

I will have it known henceforth, that from day one I was over the moon about the casting of Emma Watson. I never had and could now never envision a better Belle. Oh and can we talk about her magical voice too?! Urgghhh, everything gave me chills about her. From the moment we got our first look of her in that perfect, realistic yet pretty village dress, until the closing scene I was in tears. Seriously. Right through, for the duration of the movie I cried. Be it for the just completely spot on casting, amazing songs that I was hearing for the first time (I didn't listen to or watch anything before going to the cinema) or the stunning, unreal sets. I was blown away.
Luke Evans and Josh Gad as the laughable villains surpassed my expectations, Gaston being big boots to fill and I'm sure almost everyone who has seen the movie will agree that Le Fou (Josh Gad) almost stole the whole show, brilliant!
Now the Beast. Hmm. Dan Stevens? At first word of this I was dumbfounded as he was such a charming gentleman in Downton Abbey but after studying him for the duration right until his transformation back into the Prince I realized there was no better Beast either.
Moving on from the main actors, every member of the supporting cast shone too. Maurice continually broke my heart and I'm crying again writing this just thinking of the father daughter relationship between him and Belle that I really relate to. Not the locked up by a beast thing, though... There's no doubt all of our antiques-to-be were totally lovable also but I'd end up writing forever if I gushed about them all individually.

How could I not quickly mention the costumes?!! A very Disney, yet traditional and tasteful style, the famous outfits of our precious animated Princess were brought to life beautifully but so was everyone elses' clothing choices. I for one think that even the villagers' costumes were detailed, unique and just as memorable.

Usually, at this point in my Disney movie reviews, I address the critics opinions or more so critiques, but I am pleasantly surprised not to be able to find many flaws in their eyes at all. Rightly so! It is perfect from opening title to closing credits and those few members of the public who I have seen slating it either never gave it a chance and went in with a preconceived thought of hating it purely as they didn't want the animation compared or don't appreciate the art of movie making. Picking at little things like 'I don't like her yellow dress', shouldn't give you a reason to diss the whole film. I wouldn't wear a colonial wig either but it fits with the whole style of the movie, you know what I mean?

In Conclusion, Beauty and the Beast is all I had wanted and more. The cast were perfect, their acting was fabulous, the soundtrack was sensational (the Be Our Guest scene? Come on! Insanely hypnotizing!), the effects, sets, costumes and filming was all typical of Disney's intense attention to detail and most of all, although I already knew the ending, it caught my breath many times and had me emotionally invested throughout.

I would urge you to see it as soon as you can but not if you don't have an open mind. Also, please don't take children under a certain age. There are some pretty threatening and/or violent scenes, plus its over 2 hours long and if they are anything like the littlies in our cinema who literally ran around, they won't sit through it anyway. Let me know what you thought in the comments below! If you haven't seen it yet, let me know if you want to!

Other Disney Movies Reviews by Me:
'Pete's Dragon' 2016
'Alice Through The Looking Glass' 2016

Adding this at the very, very end because it has no relation to the film, but what even is that Arianna Grande version of Beauty and the Beast? Leave Emma Thompson to that song this time around please. Haha

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Weekly Wondering // Week 11

Hiya! Had a nice weekend so far guys? Welcome back to my Sunday series :)
For the explanation of what is going on here, please do click here and have a quick read.
Other than that, in short, I am answering 7 of these 365 thought provoking questions each week until I complete the year. I already did this in 2013 and am revisiting them to compare my answers.

What's the one thing you'd like others to remember about you at the end of your life?
Nothing. I don't care if I am remembered at all. I would rather people remembered to look after the bloomin' planet. :)

Is there such a thing as perfect?
It's all relative. For example, someone or something may be 'perfect for you' - exactly what your want/need - therefore technically there is such a thing as perfectness. However, just like how I don't think you can truly define 'normal', I don't think you can define 'perfect' in terms of people.

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
I haven't really because whatever was going to happen, happened. My story is written, I'm just playing it out.

What does it mean to be human?
To feel. To have compassion. We also walk upright and have opposable thumbs...though there are quite a few other creatures with opposable thumbs, so I dunno.

If you looked into the heart of your enemy, what do you think you would find that is different from what is in your own heart?
I don't have one specific enemy, more so a 'type' of person. In their heart would be a lack of compassion, understanding, tolerance, care and respect for any living thing on the planet and anyone who is different/has an opposing opinion to them.
Whereas I understand and appreciate that we all have different views on every subject you can imagine and I don't 'attack' people either in person or behind a computer screen just because we aren't all sheep who think, act, speak etc the same way :)

What do you love most about yourself?
Probably the above point. That I have the mental ability to process the fact that there is more than one way to live life. 

Where would you most like to go and why?
Narnia, because it seems people/creatures are more tolerant in general there and it's mostly peaceful. It's a natural haven without much industrialism (minus Calormen to the South which seems more 'built up') and has plenty animals to be my friends. 

 Make sure to look back on this same post from 2013 here, and see the differences in my answers! (I completed writing this before checking back to my old answers by the way). You can also see the series in whole from last time here and of course last week's Weekly Wondering here.

Friday, 17 March 2017

22 Disney Movies That Were Books First

Books are magic. Books are special and the pages house the stories that have inspired countless moving pictures from way back when up until tommorrow. That is no different for Disney movies - both animation and live action, and today I wanna tell you of some fabulous live action movies that started out as books. Many you'll be aware of, but others might not be as obvious!

Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers
The true story of a girl from Uganda who became a chess champion, was made into a beautiful movie in 2016 starring Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong'.

The BFG by Roald Dahl
This one is obvious surely? The BFG was Steven Spielberg's first film directing for Disney and came out in 2016 too.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland works by Lewis Carroll
Although obviously not a direct book-to-film production, Alice Through the Looking Glass [2016] was highly inspired by Lewis Carroll's stories.

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
Technically an adaptation of Disney's 1967 animation, 2016's The Jungle Book is of course also derrived from Rudyard Kiplin's book from 1894.

The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias
A historical drama, based on (as you can tell) true events was the basis for the 2016, very underrated, action movie.

Cendrillon by Charles Perrault
 If you don't know the origins of Cinderella, here it is.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
I actually had no idea that this one had beginings as a book!

Land of Oz works by Lyman Frank Baum
The classic obviously was basis for the classic starring Judy Garland that is not Disney, however, it of course also inspired one of my favorite releases from the past 10 years, 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful!

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The title isn't a big clue to which movie came from this book unless you were already a fan (which I am not unfortunately) but 'A Princess of Mars is actually what made John Carter happen!

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland works by Lewis Carroll
As above, Alice in Wonderland [2010]was of course derived from Lewis Carroll's wonderland.

Escape to Witch Mountain by Alexander Hill Key
Escape to Witch Mountain is a 1975 fantasy drama based on the 1968 sci-fi novel. And Race to Witch Mountain, starring The Rock released in 2009, is a remake of the 1975 version!

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis
Of course, the 2nd (and last as of yet) of Disney's adaptions of the famous Narnia series was 'Prince Caspian' in 2008. Sadly the third in that series - Voyage of the Dawn Treader - was not taken on by Disney after disputes with Walden Media.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The movie of the same name came out in 2007.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
As above, this was the 1st of Disney's adaptations of the Narnia franchise.

The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimet, and the Birth of Modern Golf by Mark Frost
The Greatest Game Ever Played accounted the true story of Francis Ouimet, a golf champion, and his early life. In 2005 the book was turned into a movie and featured Shia LaBeouf as Ouimet.

Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Is a classic adventure from 1873 and was turned into a 2004 action comedy starring Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan. It was a box office flop and I can see why...does not do it's book counterpart justice.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen by Dyan Sheldon
Another that I had no idea had originally been a book.

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers
Did you know that the 1976 and 2003 movies were based on a children's comedy novel for 1972?! Nope, me either.

Holes by Louis Sachar
I was late to the 'Holes' train, having only seen the 2003 movie in the past 5 years, so of course, I hadn't read the 1998 novel either.

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The absolutely stunning Tuck Everlasting starring Alexis Bledel from 2002, was also a completely gorgeous novel originally published in 1975. I adore this story if you couldn't tell :P

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulsen
Can you guess what movie this 1994 novel inspired? It was 2002's Snow Dogs!

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
If I need to tell you this, you have some watching and reading to do haha.

How many of these books turned movies did you know? Until researching for this post there were more than a few I hadn't a clue about where they had started. Which on the list is your favorite? Have you read the book and seen the movie or just one or the other? If both, which did you prefer?
There may well be a part two of keep an eye out!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Spring 2017 Q&A

Time for another Q&A! Check out my previous one back in December, by clicking here. Thanks to all who were kind enough to provide me with some questions, I have linked to you all below the questions.

What's Baker's favourite toy?
Asked by Fiona 
It changes pretty often, to be honest, every week or two he switches alliances. He has a heap load of toys though and is pretty good for playing with a vast majority of them. I guess right now (11th Feb) is the worst it's been with a toy obsession and it's not technically a dog toy, but a child's 'laughing' Dale Tsum thingy.

What would you do if you didn't blog?
Asked by Fiona
You know, I literally have no idea! It's been almost 9 years or something since I first started and this blog will turn 6 in November. It's such a big part of my life and I spend so much time on it that I'd be lost without it haha. Seriously, if I got paid minimum wage for the hours I work on it I'd be bringing in like over £300 a week. I should really get a new hobby! Good job I do it for me and not money :P

If you could only watch one movie for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Asked by Sarah 
o_0 Hardest question ever and the answer would probably change depending on when you ask me, but right now I'm gonna say Bedknobs and Broomsticks. 

Did you ever play any musical instruments? If not, is there one you would like to be able to play? 
Asked by Emma 
I did actually! I started out as a solo singer in first school (which is technically using my voice as an instrument...right?), played the recorder and keyboard as standard at the start of middle school and then took flute and drum lessons for a year or two later in middle school. As an adult, well at like 18 or something, I bought myself an acoustic guitar and I still have's in pretty amazing condition seeing as I barely used it haha.
Overall I'm not too bothered about instruments and music isn't what it used to be for me but being able to play the piano super well would be cool.

Are you superstitious? 
Asked by Emma 
Yes and no. Kind of? I won't walk under ladders, though I suppose that's more common sense/safety, I won't walk over drains, I believe bad things happen in threes and that it's bad luck to see only one Magpie at a time. Oh I also say 'touch wood' and wouldn't open an umbrella indoors. I suppose that means I am pretty superstitious haha.

What is your dream job?
Asked by Emma 
Two things I guess. Either an assistant on set of Disney movie (a proper movie, not an animation obviously), literally doing anything like being a runner or something. Or the thing I say alll the time and that is to have my own animal sanctuary and use it as an education centre to teach people about wildlife, animals, our environment, climate change etc etc :) 

Do you want another tattoo? If so, what are you thinking of?
Asked by Emma 
Oh so many. I haven't been tattooed since 2012 because it costs a lot of money and I'm poor, but I've had about 5 other pieces planned for a long time. I don't often share much about my ideas though as I've had ones copied before and I think that is terrible. It's a personal thing and not something to just replicate from someone else's ideas and experiences. 

If you could change the ending to any film, what would it be and why?
Asked by Anna 
I've literally watched so many movies over the past year or two, it's really difficult to narrow it down and single something out haha. I dunno if I'd change any. Is that a cop out of this question? There are probably ones I didn't fully enjoy but I respect that that is how the writers envisioned it lol. ;)

If you could travel back in time to any era, which would you choose and why?
Asked by Natasha
The late 1800s. Out in a rural area or as a servant in a big country house. I work as a cleaner as it is something I'd enjoy that, there were some pretty awesome books out then and the more simplistic way of life back then is just appealing. People took time to do more meaningful things. I know there were obviously a lot of bad things then too but there are now too so...

What did you want to be when you were a little 'un?
Asked by Michelle
There were few things but the main ones were all pretty diverse.  As far as I can remember, A vet was the first thing I was deadset on, as I was super into Animal Hospital and Puppy in my Pocket's but once I learnt what it entailed I knew that would never happen. Marine Biologist was next mainly due to my obsession with dolphins and then it was an Interior Designer for a long time. I did my work placement (and got a job out of it at the end) in an Interiors business. :) Safe to say I am none of those things now...

What's Bakers' best trick (and can we see it!?)
Asked by Michelle
Oh, I dunno. Obviously, I think all of them are amazing but to some people they might not be very impressive. I have a couple little videos of some of his tricks on my YouTube, however, there are many others and also some we are still working on as, like me, he will never stop learning new things for the whole of his life!

What's your shoe size?
Asked by Mona
A UK6. The most common, which means my size is always sold out first lol.

Describe your sunniest, smiliest way to spend a day?
Asked by Nin
I am definitely someone whose mood is affected by weather so it would have to be a nice dry, bright, moderately warm day with somewhere quiet and free from other people/dogs for Baker and I to go explore and relax :) Even just a garden, but we don't have a proper one here.

Thanks again to all who asked me such interesting things. I wanna know what instruments you play and what your shoes size is haha! I have a separate Disney Q&A coming in a month or so as I received a few Disney ones and thought it'd be better to keep the apart. See my previous Disney Q&A here, oh and leave me Disney questions below!

Monday, 13 March 2017

I Fear Technology

[Edit - This is one of those super random, brain spew type of posts. I apologize in advance for anything that may not make 100% sense or is rambly but I wrote as it came to me and wanted it to be organic.]

True. I am sat on a laptop, connected to the internet, with a smart phone to my right and an Xbox to my left but yes, I fear technology.
How long do you go, without subconsciously picking up your phone and aimlessly scrolling through Instagram, then Twitter, then Facebook, then repeating the cycle until an hour has disappeared? How often do you spend a day cleaning or doing other chores/jobs around the house without having a YouTube video or Netflix playing mindlessly in the background? How many days in this past month have you gone without accessing the internet in any way, shape or form?
We can't help it, but it is everywhere and it's taking over the world.

These days you can do, find, buy, use pretty much anything online. Need to know how to change your tire? Search for a tutorial! Want to know what that new lipstick is like before you commit to it? Look up a review! Having an argument with your partner over whether fish have eyelids or not? Google it! Of course, it's all very convenient and beneficial to save time in our 'busy lives' but what impact is it having overall?

Laziness & Isolation
Probably the most obvious effect of technology is laziness. There are now ways to shop for absolutely everything from your sofa and get it delivered to your door. From clothes, media, and even food, for many, it eliminates many reasons to leave the house. Indeed it is a good thing for those who cannot just walk or drive to the shop, but for many who can, it is a way out.
I for one struggle with social interaction and even when I do go to the shop I am very rarely alone or if I am I opt for the technology route - aka the least human interaction as possible, route - ie. self-serve checkouts. Partnering laziness with minimal contact with other people, communities (especially smaller ones like my town once was) are no longer the same. Our social skills are affected and despite talking to people via social media, we are still lonely.
Laziness isn't only applicable to shopping either, as even driving cars takes less effort these days, there are robot hoovers that clean for you. I'm sure you can think of other things.

Privacy & Safety
This one is the biggest concern for many, myself included. Linking to the above point, the risk of buying things online is there, 'identity theft' no matter how minor or serious is easy to do and scary, spam, scams, and email trickery, fraud, hacking, viruses and more. Technology is powerful yet also never know when or how safe you are.
However, for parents, safety online is extra concerning. As children younger and younger are allowed access to the online world, people have no self-control or censoring and websites only have a 'click this button if you are an adult' method between those and what is unsafe for them, everyone is at risk from coming head to head with bad people, horrible content and possibly dangerous situations.
Bullying is a big effect aswell, of course, and I'm so lucky I only had MSN to contend with when I went through an extremely terrible time in my younger days. But kids these days have multiple social media websites to target and be targeted, meaning they can no longer escape any school ground torment...very scary and saddening.

As I'm sure you'll agree those things mentioned above are but the tip of the iceberg. There are also such effects as physical pain, decline in intellect, messed up sleeping habits, mental debilitation, and everything in-between. All of these effects can be seen in those who over-use the 'convenient and beneficial' resources we are blessed and or cursed with in 2017.
I fear technology because I have been personally affected.
I fear technology because I know people who have had serious issues online.
I fear technology because it doesn't stop will only grow.

So what makes me not a giant hypocrite for saying all this when I spend hours upon hours a week working on this blog? I am acknowledging it. I'm being in control of my usage and I refuse to let it consume my life. I'm not saying I will never buy a book online again or not use my dishwasher anymore but I will spend my time more wisely than checking if anyone liked my photo 5 times an hour.
For a while now I have had all apps deleted (not that I ever had many) from my phone, meaning I only access Twitter, Facebook, and Blogger via my laptop, taking away the problem of bedtime phone checks.
I've actually deleted Instagram altogether because it just didn't seem to serve any purpose at all. Twitter is something I moderately enjoy when I'm on it limited amounts and don't take part in chats where people have treated me like absolute filth in the past, but I have also completely sliced my Twitter time too. As for Facebook, predominantly the chat option, keeps me in contact with friends that I don't see often as well as Jake and my parents to save on call costs so I only really use that when I need to.
I aim to use my life more wisely now. I've been reading more (10 full and 2 half books so far this year compared to 4 overall last year), spending more dedicated play time with Baker and in general just doing everything more purposely. If I had the chance I would 100% go back to the 1800s to live and be unaffected by any of this but as I can't I will stay grounded, stay safe and treat the incline of the technological world carefully...

...because I fear technology. Do you?

I'll end this with a quote from one of the greatest minds of all time, Albert Einstein -
'''I fear the day technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.''

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Weekly Wondering // Week 10

Sunday again?! How has your weekend been going??
For the explanation of what is going on here, please do click here and have a quick read.
Other than that, in short, I am answering 7 of these 365 thought provoking questions each week until I complete the year. I already did this in 2013 and am revisiting them to compare my answers.

If a doctor gave you five years to live, what would you try to accomplish?
There are only two things that really come to mind. One is taking the week long boat trip over to America to visit Marceline, the Walt Disney family museum in San Fransisco, Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls and maybe Disneyland...though probably only to take the 'Walk in Walt's Footsteps' tour. I'll probably never ever do any of it but I can dream. And the other is to do the 3 peaks challenge here in the UK.
Other than that I would obviously want to spend as much time as possible with family and pets and make sure things were in place for them to be comfortable once I was gone.

What is the difference between falling in love and being in love?
Not a clue! I'm not into all these lovey dovey questions. 

Who do you think stands between you and happiness?
My neighbours. They are the only real cause of stress, anxiety and everything in between, in my life right now.

What is the difference between innocence and ignorance?
Innocence is purity. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge.  Just because someone is free from corruption and has integrity, doesn't mean they are ignorant to anything. I see innocence as being something you cannot make yourself, whereas you can be very much aware of your ignorance. In a way, many are making a choice to not accept the information available hence rendering themselves ignorant.

What is the simplest truth you can express in words?
It's simply true that this is one of the most difficult questions I've come across thus far.

What gives your life meaning?
I get up in the morning to go to work. I go to work to get money to pay the bills. I pay the bills so that I have a roof over my head and the things I need to survive physically as a human. 
Surviving means I get to breathe the fresh air we are lucky to have in my beautiful country and marvel at all of its jaw-dropping wildlife. It means I get to kiss the most fantastic friend of a dog on the nose every day and have him do it back. Right now I might not have a specific purpose, nor am I contributing much to the universe...but one day I will.

Can there be happiness without sadness? Pleasure without pain? Peace without war?
'Everybody wants happiness, nobody wants pain, but you can't have a rainbow without a little rain.'

Make sure to look back on this same post from 2013 here, and see the differences in my answers! (I completed writing this before checking back to my old answers by the way). You can also see the series in whole from last time here and of course last week's Weekly Wondering here.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Disneyland Paris 2016 // Day 2, Part 1

Looking back, I think day 2 of our trip was my favorite day. There was so much good despite two very, very bad things...that you will find out futher on in this post haha. To me the best days at Disneyland are jam packed with as much as you can fit in as possible, an early start, a variety of activites and being there until the end!
Today was our first full day and we got up, had breakfast in Beaver Creek then headed out to meet Kerri and Kris to head over to the Disneyland Park for EMH. As we got in I spotted Donald! Seeing as our first day had no character meets at all I was itching to say Hi to some of my buddies so we queued, taking photos of the square as the stunning sun rose and got some nice snaps with The Duck in his snazzy Xmas outfit.
After that we had a quick peek in a couple stores at this end of Main Street before heading over to the Walt Disney Studios Park as it opened.

The Les L├ęgendes d'Hollywood draws me in whenever I pass and so we spent a little time shopping in there before heading over to queue for Crush's Coaster. This, for me (I know I'm in the minority here), is the worst ride ever. I hated it. Mam and I also wasted our time queueing for it in 2014 too but left when we saw the warnings about back problems. However, we'd decided 'what the hey' this year and oh how we regreted that lol.
With considerably sore throats and wobbly legs, it was off to some better rides lol - Les Tapis Volants (Flying Carpets Over Agrabah) and Cars Quatre Roues Rallye (Cars Race Rally) which always makes me laugh sooo much. We timed it so that as we got off Cars it would be time to wait for Mickey and the Magician and while in the 'holding pen' ate our bread dinner. This was obviously my first time seeing the show and as much as I'll always miss Animagique, it really was beautiful. I was blown away at the Lion King bit after having seen the stage show the year before and shed plenty tears at that.
As we had something booked for the afternoon there was time for one more ride. Something I'd planned to try since my visit in 2010, the Tower of Terror, and as you'll probably guess from my face in the photo, it was the other worst moment of the day haha. I detested it and have no idea how people find that fun...but I guess I can at least say we did it eh?

I'm gonna leave this part here as we then walked through Studio 1 to our appointment, stopping only to enjoy the band as I always do!

Check out previous posts from this trip here -
Disneyland Paris 2016 // Christmas Decor
Day 1, Part 1
Day 1, Part 2
What I Bought
Sequoia Lodge Hotel Review