Here are my other favourite things in terms of a drink, Christmas presents, technology and films, including some old festive favourites, of this quarter.
Ribena Winter Spice
I was once shopping in my local Co-Op when I saw this limited edition of the classic blackcurrant drink. The concept caught my eye, so I decided to purchase it and try it. This drink had a lovely aroma and taste of winter spices. I enjoyed it both hot and cold, it has no added sugar and it is low in calories.
I have received lots of amazing gifts for Christmas, including a blue and white Simply Be jumper that my mum found in a charity shop (see Part 1 for more information), but here are the two that stood out to me the most due to their sentimental nostalgic value.
Retro box from my sister Penny
This is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. It is a gift box that originally contained the following:
- A mini Lego-type Pikachu toy
- A Tamagotchi
- A Disney Emoji Alice in Wonderland Charm
- Yellow heart-shaped sunglasses
- 2 Barratt Flumps
- 1 Barratt Refreshers (fizzy tablet sweets)
- 1 Barratt Dip Dab (I call it a Sherbet Dip Dab)
- 1 Barratt Sherbet Fountain (because it contains a liquorice stick I don’t like, I gave it to my brother)
- 1 Chupa Chups Cola lollipop
- 1 KP Choc Dips Original
Most things in the box are reminiscent of my 90s childhood and youth. After having already eaten the Flumps and the KP Choc Dips, I went out to buy some more so I could take another photograph of the box. While I could successfully purchase another KP Choc Dips pot in a local newsagent, I couldn’t find any Flumps, so when I went to my nearest Fenwick department store, I found some Mallow Tree Rainbow Twist Marshmallows, which were the the closest things to Flumps to replace them.
The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales from my parents
Like my blue and white jumper, this is another Christmas present my mum found in a charity shop. It’s a treasury of these six fairy tales: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Story of Rumpelstiltskin and Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Each tale is adapted by Heather Amery and illustrated by the late Stephen Cartwright, whose illustrations I loved growing up with. One thing I like about this book is that there is a duck to find on every page. I have also noticed that the stories in the book are the exact same ones on a video tape entitled First Stories (some prints were known as Six First Stories) that I loved as a child, even though the order and the wording of the stories on the tape differ from the order and the wording of the stories in the book.
To see everything I received for Christmas (except two gifts due to personal reasons and a bunch of presents from one of my friends due to not receiving them until January 2019), please watch my What I Got for Christmas 2018 video below.
Upon receiving some excellent financial news in December, I decided to buy some new technology because my existing MacBook Pro was six years old; I was getting fed up with the, “Storage almost full,” message popping up on my iPhone SE (it had a meagre 16 GB memory) and I was eligible for an early upgrade; and I wanted to buy a new iPod touch with more storage for more songs. I also wanted to purchase a new iPad mini 4 that had the same amount of memory space as my new iPhone XR and iPod touch. While I bought my new MacBook Pro, iPad mini and iPod touch from the Apple U.K. online shop, I upgraded to my iPhone XR in a nearby EE high street shop. My particular favourite pieces of technology this quarter are my new MacBook Pro and my new iPhone XR because they stand out the most.
Apple MacBook Pro (13 inch with Touch Bar)
After having owned my existing MacBook Pro since 2012, I decided it was about time I bought a new one because I thought it would be beneficial for future career prospects as well as my new volunteering role for Exceptional Individuals. My new one varies significantly from my old one. While my old MacBook Pro was a bit thicker and had a CD/DVD drive as well as standard USB ports and physical function keys, my new one is thinner, has no CD/DVD drive, has Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports (I needed to buy some special USB-C to standard USB adapters to connect my mouse and Samsung external hard drive to my new MacBook Pro) and has a Touch Bar in place of physical function keys. The Touch Bar changes with each application I use (For example, it becomes a series of play, pause, shuffle and volume buttons on Spotify, it becomes a search bar on Google Chrome, etc). Despite the missing CD/DVD drive and the normal USB ports being replaced with the Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, this is still a very good incarnation of the MacBook Pro that is great for editing my YouTube videos in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and publishing my blog posts in Chrome. The Touch Bar is very cool too.
Apple iPhone XR (128 GB in Yellow)
I first heard about the Apple iPhone XR (pronounced, “10 R,” since X is 10 in Roman numerals) upon watching the Apple Keynote that took place on 12th September 2018. It was announced along with the new Apple Watch Series 4 and two other new iPhones – the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max. Out of all the new Apple products, the iPhone XR appealed to me the most because it comes in a variety of colours and it is the only new iPhone model that I could get with 128 GB of storage just like my new iPad mini 4 and iPod touch. Yellow is my favourite colour, so I’m glad the iPhone XR is available in this colour (I once had an iPhone 5C in yellow – remember that iPhone model?) besides (PRODUCT) Red, blue, coral, black and white.
Three months after the iPhone XR was announced, I got a free early upgrade to one from my iPhone SE. My new iPhone XR is quite different from any other iPhone I’ve owned because almost the entire front is covered by a screen; there is no home button on the front, thus leading me to get used to certain functions such as Face ID rather than Touch ID, pressing the volume up button and the power/sleep/wake/side button simultaneously to take a screenshot and holding one of the volume buttons and the power/sleep/wake/side button simultaneously to turn it off; and there is no standard 3.5 mm headphone port, meaning I have to use Lightning EarPods for it (the Lightning EarPods also work with my iPod touch and iPad mini 4 even though they both have 3.5 mm headphone ports as well as Lightning ports). Despite the missing home button and 3.5 mm headphone port, the camera is of superior quality, the sound is the best it has ever been on any iPhone I’ve had, there is plenty of storage space for my photos, videos and apps and its battery lasts longer than the batteries on my previous iPhones ever did. I also have a new mustard yellow case for my phone and I can fold the case to make the phone stand up if I want to watch YouTube videos or Netflix shows. The inside of the case also has an inspirational quote written on it.
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Ralph Breaks the Internet is the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph. In this film, a new wi-fi router is installed in the arcade where the games Fix-It Felix (Wreck-It Ralph’s game) and Sugar Rush (Vanellope Von Schweetz’s game) plus many more are based. When a player accidentally breaks off the steering wheel whilst playing Sugar Rush, another player finds a replacement steering wheel on eBay. Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) and Vanellope (voiced by Sarah Silverman) enter the world of the Internet through the new router in order see if they can bid for the replacement steering wheel. Although I slightly preferred the original Wreck-It Ralph, I loved how the world of the Internet was constructed, the return of the multiple video game characters from the original plus the addition of some new ones and Vanellope hanging out with the Disney Princesses. There are also some fun post-credit scenes to look out for.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Besides Mickey’s Christmas Carol and the motion capture version starring Jim Carrey, The Muppet Christmas Carol is one of my favourite film adaptations of the classic Charles Dickens novel. I remember watching this version besides Mickey’s Christmas Carol when I was a child and I revisited it a few times as an adult. I watched this film in a special cinema room at the Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel with my parents. While the song at the beginning was the most memorable and one of Scrooge’s scenes isn’t as dark as it is in other film adaptations, a lot of the film is faithful to the original novel, I loved Gonzo as Dickens and Rizzo narrating the film, there are some funny lines and I liked Kermit’s role as Bob Cratchit, Miss Piggy’s role as Emily Cratchit, Michael Caine’s role as Scrooge plus Statler and Waldorf as the Marley brothers.
I first saw Love Actually in the cinema with my mum when I was 16 in early 2004 and we both enjoyed it. Later that year I received the DVD for my 17th birthday. I also watched the film in the cinema room at Holme Lacy House Hotel. The film is a Christmas-themed romantic comedy that features ten intertwining storylines that document the ups and downs of love. My particular favourite storylines are those revolving around Harry (the late Alan Rickman), Karen (Emma Thompson) and their children Bernard (William Wadham) and Daisy (Lulu Popplewell); Daniel (Liam Neeson), his stepson Sam (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, credited as Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson); Prime Minister David (Hugh Grant) and his household assistant Natalie (Martine McCutcheon); Juliet (Keira Knightley) and Peter (Chiwetel Ejiofor); Colin (Kris Marshall) and the American girls; and John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page). Even though the film is rude in parts (despite the scenes with John and Judy being censored in a certain way), the dialogue has some witty lines, there is a stellar cast and the soundtrack is fantastic with songs from the likes of Sugababes (Too Lost in You), Eva Cassidy (Songbird), Santana and Rob Thomas (Smooth), Kelly Clarkson (The Trouble With Love Is) and both versions of Jump by the Pointer Sisters and Girls Aloud.
The Snowman is one of my childhood favourites. It is based on the book by Raymond Briggs where a boy builds a snowman that comes to life and this is the third film I watched in the cinema room at Holme Lacy House Hotel. The art style is distinctive, the animation is smooth for the most part, I love the flying sequence with Walking In the Air, the Northern Lights effect is pretty and the music playing during the snowman party is memorable. There is even a version with an introduction by the late David Bowie that I could not remember seeing in my childhood, but as an adult I like how he portrayed the boy as a grown man. Sorry about the poor picture and sound quality, but this trailer was taken from an old Betamax tape.
Peter Rabbit is a film that combines live action with CGI animation and hand-drawn animation. It is based on the books by Beatrix Potter. In the film, Peter (voiced by James Corden) and his rabbit relatives harass Mr McGregor (Sam Neill) by stealing vegetables from his garden. When McGregor dies, his great-nephew Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) inherits his house, but faces battle with the rabbits. Thomas also falls for Bea (Rose Byrne), an artist who is local to the rabbits and the other animals, and his feelings towards the animals begin to change, or do they? I watched this with my parents when I stayed with them over Christmas and we all enjoyed watching it. What I liked best about the film are Corden’s voice of Peter, other voice cast members such as Sia as Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, the realistic CGI designs of the animals, the hand-drawn animation segments that resemble Potter’s illustrations, the beautiful scenery of McGregor’s house and garden, some funny moments and the soundtrack.
October, November and December 2018 Favourites Part 1: https://stompgal87blog.wordpress.com/2019/01/25/october-november-and-december-2018-favourites-part-1/
Barratt Sweets: https://barrattsweets.co.uk
KP Snacks: http://www.kpsnacks.com
The Usborne Book of Fairy Tales: https://usborne.com/browse-books/catalogue/product/1/1545/book-of-fairy-tales/
Apple MacBook Pro: https://www.apple.com/uk/macbook-pro/
Apple iPhone XR: https://www.apple.com/uk/iphone/
Exceptional Individuals: https://www.exceptionalindividuals.com/
Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel: https://www.warnerleisurehotels.co.uk/hotels/holme-lacy-house-hotel