the way i make it is twimii Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:30:53 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 the way i make it is 32 32 82094265 The Undeniable Beauty of the Beara Peninsula Sun, 01 Apr 2018 09:30:30 +0000
The Undeniable Beauty of the Beara Peninsula

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The Undeniable Beauty of the Beara Peninsula
Click to view slideshow.

There was actually an article posted this weekend about the Beara Peninsula in – worth reading, tells you all the places to go and what to see. All I can tell you is that it’s beautiful here – well worth the trip. No fooling ;~)

Hope everyone is having a lovely holiday – wherever.



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Will the #MeToo Movement Change Anything? Sat, 31 Mar 2018 14:24:38 +0000
Beara Peninsula Ireland

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Beara Peninsula Ireland

Victims feeling empowered to come forward is obviously important but have we the right systems and supports in place so that when people do this they know that their accusations will be heard and deliberated on in a way that is respectful both to the accuser and the accused?

I have had very mixed emotions and opinions on the #metoo movement since it began. It’s been so encouraging and heartening to see people who have been obviously mistreated come forward and unashamedly share their experiences. But among the serious allegations of rape, assault or harassment were stories of someone who is in the public eye behaving in ways that made another uncomfortable – and it wasn’t clear that anyone had actually done anything wrong. The media seemed, for no clear reason, to lump all these cases together. The resignation of Al Franken seemed completely unnecessary and the lack of due process was starting to really bother me.

I began writing something about the importance of the presumption of innocence but ultimately I shied away from the topic because I don’t have a #metoo experience and there were so many people that came forward who highlighted awful harassment (and worse) and every single one of them deserved to be heard and supported in their quest for justice.

Then a couple of months ago the rape trial in Belfast began. A young woman said she had been raped and sexually assaulted when after a night out she went back to the house of one of the accused. Four young men were on trial; one accused of rape and sexual assault (I may not be naming the correct charges – I don’t want to go into explicit detail), one accused of sexual assault, one accused of indecent exposure and one accused of attempting to cover up what had happened. The woman was 19 years old when this happened and the men were in their early 20s. Also, the men were all ruby players for Ulster and Ireland. (Correction: One plays for Ulster and Ireland, one plays for Ulster and the other two are their friends. Who they are isn’t the issue though.)

The trial changed my mind about the #metoo movement. I suddenly saw it as a very necessary movement. The movement had no part to play in this trial. The woman started the process of seeking justice two years ago, right after the incident occurred. But the reason why I saw the #metoo movement differently was because I suddenly had to face how wrong my own attitude to reporting sexual assault and rape was. I was amazed at the bravery of this young woman. And also at the wisdom of her friends who encouraged her to pursue justice.

With deep shame I realised that if in my early 20s a friend had told me of such an experience I would have been sympathetic, I would have gone with them to any clinic or anything like that, I would have strongly advised them to get counselling, but while I wouldn’t have advised them to not go to the police, I wouldn’t have advised them to do this either – and if they were wavering in anyway about doing so I would probably have been very supportive of just trying to let it go and move on. It’s terrible and regardless of last week’s verdict I know how completely and utterly wrong that attitude is. I knew it before. It’s just I didn’t really face that I had this attitude so deeply ingrained until the details of this case made me do so. The bravery and wisdom of this young woman and her friends really amazed me and has made me view the world and myself differently. Her readiness to go to the police and the way the police handled the case seemed like evidence of how much our world has progressed – and evidence that I needed to move forward a couple of steps myself to catch up with it.

The trial was awful though. The trial made it seem like nothing had moved on. The woman seemed to be more on trial than the accused. She handled it brilliantly and it seemed like the evidence weighed strongly in her favour. As I read the accounts from the trial, that seemed to be published almost daily, I wondered why the young men hadn’t admitted guilt and tried to plead diminished responsibility because of the amount of alcohol they had consumed – so strongly it seemed the evidence weighed against them. However, the jury clearly were of a very different mindset as they unanimously cleared the men of all charges, after less than four hours of deliberations.

Of course the court’s verdict must be accepted. But nonetheless it was a shocking verdict.

But regardless of the verdict the fact that this young woman came forward should be applauded (and is being by many of us who followed the trial). The first step is standing up and demanding the respect that it due to you. And seeing someone else do this reminds everyone else that this is something they can do.

And so the #metoo movement has perhaps already started a change by encouraging people to take that first step. But we need to take further steps for real change to occur.

The next step is to ensure that our societies do respond respectfully to those who make their stand.

I’m not suggesting that whenever someone stands up and accuses someone of a sexual crime they should be instantly and without question believed. Being truly respectful means respecting the rights of all. The presumption of innocence is a cornerstone of our justice system – and the presumption of basic common decency and goodness of all (which is what the presumption of innocence implies) is essential for the creation of a truly civilised society. But that presumption must be afforded not only to those accused but to the accusers also. And, as this trial has shown, the whole reason why the #metoo movement is so necessary is because often in cases concerning sexual crimes the accused may seem to benefit from this presumption while the accusers in contrast can face a full on attack on their character and behaviour.

So what changes could be made to the justice system to ensure that accusers are treated respectfully?

  • Noeline Blackwell of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre wrote a very good article in the wake of the verdict asking for accusers in cases of this nature to have legal representation at trial. I would strongly support such a change and hope this is something we can implement.
  • Northern Ireland is actually a separate jurisdiction to our’s but they are both built on the same foundations and are very similar. One difference though is that members of the public aren’t allowed attend rape trials and details of the accused and the accusers are not published until after the verdict, sometimes not even then. I think this is right and protective of the rights of both the accused and accuser.
  • I strongly believe that from our teens we should all be aware of our rights and obligations regarding criminal matters. We should be taught how to report crimes, what to do if we are arrested, and what the are the essential points of the laws regarding any type of violent crime or theft. This should be taught in schools to 16 year olds. Part and parcel of this course should be lessons on what is consent and how to determine if it has occurred. And students should have to sign off on completing this part of the course (literally they should have to sign something that says they’ve completed a course on consent and the law).
  • Also, should we consider requiring explicit consent in cases concerning group acts? I don’t know – but maybe this should be debated?

I applaud the young woman in this case. She did everything one should do following rape/sexual assault. She serves as a shining example of how to best behave in such cases. And this case seems to have shone a spotlight on the inadequacies of the justice systems with regard to how accusers in these cases are treated. Let’s not ignore what it’s revealed.

I only added this photo to control the thumbnail of this post. – It shows off the beauty of our island. To me this trial showed its ugly side.


Encourage victims to come forward don’t force them

The bravery of this young woman is undeniable and very encouraging. However if there was a rule in place that had forced her to go through that horrible trial rather than her bravely choosing to do so – that wouldn’t be encouraging – it would be the very opposite. It would make victims less likely to come forward – so Scotland please do not enact any laws that would do this.

In making the system more accessible and more approachable for victims we must be careful not to weaken the protections for the accused

Survivors of sexual violence are let down by the criminal justice system – here’s what should happen by Dr Simon McCarthy-Jonesof Trinity College

This article is very interesting and outlines very well the issues many victims of sexual violence have with the criminal justice system. It’s very informative and well worth the read.

It also suggests using a more inquisitorial trial process as opposed to the adversarial one we use today. I don’t agree with that point and I’ll explain why below.

I strongly agree that victims of sexual crimes, and perhaps victims of all violent crimes, should have some sort of legal representation or advocate throughout the processing of their case through the system. It is one of the faults of our criminal justice system that victims (and/or the families of victims) of any type of violent crime can feel let down by the system. They can feel they weren’t really heard or represented properly – or at all – in court. And I do think if the system properly supported these people it would have a very positive effect both on the people involved and on their communities.

The reason why I don’t agree with a more inquisitorial trial process is because such a process does not start with the presumption of innoncence of the accused. It is about trying to discover what actually happened. I think when you have the weight of the state accusing someone of a crime then the presumption of innocence of the accused is vital to ensuring that the trial is fair. I suspect that it is much easier to convict an accused with only circumstantial evidence in such a system* and that worries me as I think it could increase the chance of an innocent person being convicted of a crime. The burden of proof must be on the state and it must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

* The reason why I think this is because I have watched a few programmes about miscarriages of justice in the French courts.  I enjoy watching documentarties and I enjoy watching stuff in French so that is how I came to watch these shows. There are miscarriages of justice in the courts of every country and I don’t mean to suggest in any way that our system is better than theirs  – I’m just more comfortable with the one we have. The French judicial system is more inquisitorial than adversarial and I fully admit to not knowing much about it and the knowledge I do have of it is obviously from a very skewed perspective – but one thing that does seem clear is that it is much easier in such a system to convict someone on circumstantial evidence and I would be highly apprehensive of adopting such a system – given the fact that it is so completely different to the one that we have.

I hope that there will be a change in the system that will allow victims more support and representation but the accused must always be afforded the presumption of innocence also.

Just to be clear I agree wth everything in the article – except for the point about changing the courts procedures in cases involving charges of sexual violence from an adversarial to inquisitorial style.

Part of what’s needed is a change in our society more so than a change in the justice system

The article mentions “rape myths”. I actually wasn’t sure what these were but I found this wikipedia page which lists the most common misconceptions people have about rape and consent. I think the majority of people in our society would not hold or agree with the majority of these myths. But some undoubtedly do and a few of the myths are more tenaciously held than others.

There has been a lot of talk in the press and media about teaching about consent in schools, with some calls for it to be taught in primary school. When I initially read this I balked at the idea but that was because I was thinking about informing them about the legalities of what is and is not consent, which would involve going into the details of some cases that led to those laws, and obviously that wouldn’t be appropriate information for primary school children. But nobody is talking about teaching legal principles to anybody (apart from me). So presumably it would be lessons in how to say yes and no and respecting that response when you get it. I think teaching children how to be assertive and respectful is a great idea.

I think the assertiveness of the young woman in the Belfast trial and the support that her friends showed for that assertiveness is to be commended. I was stunned by it – in a very positive way. I’m so sorry that she has had to go through what she did but I hope she knows that her actions have changed some minds and hopefully will lead to more lasting positive changes.

I do think that the basics of how the criminal justice system works, in particular with regard to crimes involving sexual violence, should be widely known and understood by people from their teens onwards. But perhaps it would be too costly to introduce such a course in schools and in this age of information maybe it could be available online instead. I genuinely believe that it would help if people knew what is and what is not consent in the eyes of the law.

We need somehow to create a society where people are assertive enough to demand the respect they are due and where we are respectful of such demands in others. How to create this ideal world? I don’t know exactly but teaching assertiveness and respect, making sure everyone is informed of their rights and responsibilities in respect of the law, refusing to engage in victim blaming and refusing to entertain in any way beliefs that deny the reality of sexual violence – well, it would be a very good start.


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8 Movies with Strong Women for March 8th Thu, 08 Mar 2018 19:00:29 +0000
take a break

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take a break

Another movie list for you to stumble on some little gems.

Take a break and watch a movie or two. Sorry was that not a helpful suggestion?

The Rise of Catherine the Great 1934

Elisabeth Bergner plays Princess Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst on the journey she took to become Catherine the Great. This may be made in the 1930s and it may not be the most historically accurate tale but the women in this film really rule, in all the ways that matter. That may not be the most accurate description. It’s some time since I’ve seen this but I enjoyed it a lot and Catherine is Great ;~) Douglas Fairbanks Jr plays Peter III of Russia.

Meet John Doe 1941

Barbara Stanwyck plays Ann Mitchell a writer for a newspaper that’s streamlining its costs. A new managing editor is hired and the lay-offs begin. Ann begs for her job as her family depend on her income. Her plea falls on deaf ears so she writes her final column saying she received a letter from a John Doe who was laid off four years ago, hasn’t been able to find work since and is so sick of the way the world works that he’s going to jump off City Hall roof. The piece gets a huge response, Ann keeps her job and a suitable John Doe (played by Gary Cooper) is picked to fill the role.

Ann carefully crafts her everyman John Doe character railing against the injustice, inhumanity and lack of community in the modern world. She does such a good job that the public believe and enthusiastically support John Doe – who begins to believe it all himself. Edward Arnold plays D.B. Norton a rich business man who sees in John Doe the potential to galvanise the masses to allow Norton push his political agenda and serve his own business interests.

My Sister Eileen 1942

Rosalind Russell leads this comedy about two sisters from a small town come to New York to start their careers. Eileen, played by Janet Blair, is an aspiring actor and Rosalind Russell is the older sister, Ruth Sherwood, who dreams of being a writer. Funny and refreshing.

Magnificent Doll 1946

I had never heard of Dolly Payne Madison before watching this. She was the first lady of President James Madison. She was a very interesting woman apparently and she is played here by Ginger Rogers. I think this film is brilliant. There are a lot of comments on IMDB about Ginger Rogers “missing something” in the role. I don’t see it. I see a great performance of a great woman.

The Andromeda Strain 1971

Dr. Ruth Leavitt played by Kate Reid. Honestly, when I first thought of making this list this is the only character that came to mind. I simply love the character of this doctor. There is no mention of any romantic interest. She doesn’t give a damn how she looks or if she’s attractive. The world is in peril and so – obviously – all she gives a damn about is the work she has to do and doing it well. This is such a real character to me. Yes it’s a character in a sci-fi film with the usual slightly ridiculous plot but this is a real woman. She is not defined by her relation to others. She is a person in her own right with a mission of her own that has nothing to do with her sex or sexuality. She’s the reason I love this film. Well she’s one of the reasons – it is also great old school sci-fi.

The Accused 1988

Jody Foster plays Sarah Tobias, a woman who was gang raped by three men in a bar while a crowd cheered them on. Kelly McGillis plays Kathryn Murphy a public prosecutor. Sarah was drinking and acting provocatively so the prosecutors are worried she won’t make a good witness and offer the perpetrators a deal of accepting a lesser charge that will ensure they do time. Sarah is very upset. One of the crowd sees her at a local store and starts harassing her. She ends up ramming her car into his truck to try and get away from him. Kathryn visits Sarah in hospital and decides to go after the men who incited the rapists.

It’s been interesting watching the number of public allegations of sexual harassment and rape. Interesting, sad, disgusting … but encouraging too. I don’t like the way accusations of mere bad or awkward behaviour have sometimes been lumped in with accusations of criminal acts. But part of me does see this as the pendulum swinging far to come to rest at a point of balance.

What The Accused highlights very well is how a victim of sexual crime faces, in a sense, being put on trial themselves. And because of the nature of sexual crime and the issue of determining what was consensual and what the different parties involved believed was consented to, it may not be possible to ever fully end that from happening – to stop someone who has suffered through a horrible crime having to then go through the further indignity of having to insist that no that was not something they agreed to or wanted to happen.

It’s so complicated – and I don’t have answers. The one thing I think could help is if basic criminal law was taught in schools to 15/16 year olds (Transition Year seems like a perfect time for it). I think that if the legislation underpinning assaults and serious crimes (sexual and non-sexual) were understood at a young age then people would be more aware of their rights and responsibilities.

In relations to sexual crimes they would know that:

  • Engaging in legal sexual activity with another requires consent.
  • In order for consent to be valid
    • the person must be capable of giving or withdrawing their consent. So if they are asleep or unconscious or so intoxicated that they don’t know what they are doing and you engage them in some sexual act then that’s not consensual and is a criminal act.
    • the person must be aware of the material facts of what they are agreeing to. So if for instance person A was to go into a darkened room where person B is and A, knowing they had been mistaken for a lover/partner of B, engages in some sexual act with B which B would never have agreed to do with A had they known – A has committed a crime.
    • the person must be old enough to be capable of consent. In Ireland that means they must be at least 17 years old. The consent of someone younger than this is meaningless in the eyes of the law and if you engage in sexual activity with someone under 17 years old that’s a criminal act.
  • Consent can be withdrawn at any point during the act and if you continue to engage in the act after you know consent has been withdrawn then you have committed a crime.
  • Consent does not need to be explicitly stated to be valid – it can simply be understood as agreed upon through the actions of the parties involved.
  • If someone honestly believes that the sexual activity they engaged in was consensual then they are not guilty of a crime. In determining whether this is what they honestly believed consideration will be given to all the facts and circumstances of the case.

If you feel it’s inappropriate to add this information here – it might be. I’m sorry I’m not always great at knowing what is and is not appropriate. And yes I think a lot of people know that the above is the law in this area – but a surprising number don’t – or at least don’t seem to. I think this and the basics of all criminal law should be understood by everyone entering adulthood. It could help.

Kuroi ame (Black Rain) 1989

Yoshiko Tanaka plays Yasuko. (I’m just going to quickly grab the description from Mr and Mrs Shizuma, and their niece Yasuko, make their way through the ruins of Hiroshima, just after the atomic bomb has dropped. Five years later, Yasuko is living with her aunt and uncle, and her senile grandmother, in a village containing many of the bomb survivors. Yasuko does not appear to be affected by the bomb, but the Shizuma’s are worried about her marriage prospects, as she could succumb to radiation sickness at any time.

The consideration that Yasuko and all her family show towards each other is so selfless and beautiful – it’s utterly devastating.

Jackie Brown 1997

There is a brilliant poem by Rudyard Kipling, I’m sure you know it –  If, It’s about what it means to be a man as opposed to a child. It’s got everything good and true in it. Does it bother me that this is the definition of a man and not woman? It’s the definition of a real grown-up. Even a little girl I saw that instantly and loved it.

Pam Grier plays Jackie Brown who – in a very tricky world of mostly infants – is a real grown up.

And it’s a good old yarn well told.


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Some Romantic Movies Sat, 10 Feb 2018 17:28:56 +0000
Some Romantic Movies

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Some Romantic Movies

A movie list for Valentine’s Day.

My So Evil My Love movie list of films where people are unlucky (or worse) in love is a very unpopular post. I know, I’m as shocked as you. Turns out people looking for films about love would rather something romantic. So I decided to make a list of films that have romantic themes in them.

Hopefully any romantics out there who happen upon this list will find some lovely cinematic gem they haven’t discovered yet. Or maybe just something forgotten.

18 romantic films for Valentine’s Day 2018.

Some romantic movies for Valentine’s

1. One New York Night (1935)

I happened upon this a few months ago on Youtube (sadly it’s been taken down since). I love it. It’s so gosh-darned innocent. Franchot Tone plays Foxy Ridgeway who’s come to New York to find a wife. Una Merkel plays Phoebe a receptionist at the hotel where he’s staying who knows a good man when she bumps into one. Oh and there’s a murder for them to solve. Adorably clueless and fun whodunnit.

2. I Love You Again (1940)

This movie is so twee in parts I should be ashamed to admit I like it as much as I do. But I do. The charm and comedic timing of main players, William Powell, Myrna Loy and Frank McHugh, makes the whole thing light, bright and breezy fun. Also the cooing is so cute.

3. Call Northside 777 (1948)

This doesn’t really fall into the romance category but I saw a clip of it on youtube that was titled something like – the most romantic clip on film … or something along those lines. Can’t find the clip now – but the second clip on this video was the clip in question. The film is actually based on a true story of a fight for justice for a man convicted of killing a cop. It features the maker of the lie detector machine (which personally I have zero faith in) but it’s great (makes me wish I did believe the machines were accurate). The movie is excellent. I’ll have to do a James Stewart movie list…

4. It Should Happen To You (1954)

One of the many movies I would never have seen if it wasn’t for stumbling over it online. I think this is really cute. And the part where they are going round the roundabout cracked me up. Judy Holliday plays Gladys Glover a woman who wants to make a name for herself and is tired of paying her dues. So when through a strange set of circumstances, she gets a chance to use several prominent billboards throughout the city she plasters her name over them. Jack Lemon is a documentary film maker who doesn’t care so much about fame, but his interest in Gladys grows and grows.

5. Ascenseur pour l’échafaud (1958)

Jeanne Moreau and Maurice Ronet play a couple who have come with the perfect plan to kill her husband who is also her lover’s employer. And all goes perfectly … except for one small detail… And correcting it seems to cause the perfect plan to unravel hopelessly. While you couldn’t categorize this as a romance, there’s no denying the great sense of tension and desire evoked in the characters – and regardless of what they’ve done you hope beyond hope that they will get away with it and be together. Also this movie is sublimely cool. It’s brilliantly shot and acted and has a score by Miles Davis.

6. The Apartment (1960)

Jack Lemon plays Baxter a lowly but ambitious employee in an insurance company who lets some of his higher-ups use his apartment for their romantic affairs. Fred MacMurray plays one of the execs using the apartment to conduct an affair with Fran, played by Shirley McLaine, who is a pretty elevator operator that Baxter is fond of. This is a great mix of comedy and drama, filled with emotion and believable characters. And it’s definitely romantic.

7. They Might Be Giants (1971)

This is a film from the 1970s and it’s nutty and sweet. George C Scott plays a man who believes he is Sherlock Holmes. Joanne Woodward plays a psychiatrist who is supposed to sign his committal papers. Her name is Mildred Watson. And Moriarty … who is Moriarty? Is he an evil genius out to destroy Holmes? Is he everything wrong in the world? Is he the way we structure society so that we become distant from one another? Or is he what spurs us on to chase after mysteries and adventure? – It’s a nutty film. I like it a lot.

8. What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

This is a screwball comedy from the 1970s starring Barbara Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. It’s not really that romantic but it is very funny.

9. The Sure Thing (1985)

John Cusack plays a college student who isn’t really fitting in and is longing for the good times he had before college. His friends invite him to join them on one the breaks and they’ve a sure thing set up for him. He gets a lift from a couple travelling that way and so does another very straight laced student played by Daphne Zuniga, who is going to meet her steady (in every sense of the word) boyfriend. The two students have met before and haven’t really hit it off and so… This is fun and sweet.

10. Der Himmel über Berlin (1987)

This is a beautiful film starring Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin and Otto Sander. In the skies over Berlin invisible beings watch over humankind, documenting our experiences, the everything and nothing of it all. Perhaps also they intervene when they can, offering comfort when they can or trying to direct a person’s thoughts another way. One of these beings longs to experience this life he watches in all its glorious sweetness and bitterness, beauty and dirt. And he feels a connection to and desire for a woman he watches.

Removed the crazy connection I make between this and a certain horror movie – it occurred to me it might ruin the film for people before they’d even watched it. Sorry.

11. Flirting (1991)

This is a coming-of-age movie that is so charming and relatable that anyone of any age can enjoy it. Stars Noah Taylor, Thandie Newton and Nicole Kidman.

12. Reality Bites (1994)

I loved this when I first saw it. I rewatched it a bunch of times. It’s a great romantic-learning-to-live type of movie. Great for teenagers or early 20s. I think if I watched it now though I’d just feel old. Stars Winona Ryder and Ethan Hawke.

13. Brokeback Mountain (2005)

In the 1960s two cowboys, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger, end up working together and one drunken night they are unable to deny their attraction for each other. They enjoy the summer but when the job is finished they go back to their respective lives. They continue to meet up each year and the movie charts the course of their lives. The film is beautiful to watch and filled with longing and romance. This is definitely a romantic one.

14. Pride & Prejudice (2005)

I love Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Persuasion and I love all the adaptations I’ve seen of these. I’m personally of the opinion if a story is worth telling it’s worth retelling – there’s always some fresh perspective to add.

That said I haven’t watched the zombie version of Pride & Prejudice (although it’s supposed to be quite good) and I haven’t watched Murder at Pemberley either. I love lasagne. I love pineapple mousse. I have no desire to eat a mashed up lasagne-pineapple mousse. Even if it’s the food of the gods. I just – I just … No.

This is a brilliant version of Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

15. The Painted Veil (2006)

Naomi Watts and Edward Norton play a mismatched couple. She married him to get away from her family but he’s dull and she doesn’t love him. When someone more exciting, more dashing shows an interest she goes for it. When the husband finds out he’s devastated and angry. He accepts a post working in a remote part of China to help cure a Cholera outbreak, taking his wife with him. – And I’m going to copy and paste a couple of lines from IMDB because they sum it up perfectly – This is a cold, indifferent and loveless partnership in a vast unknown and deadly environment that will test both these flightless lovebirds and with the hardships and tolerances more than any had ever anticipated. A visual delight amid the pain and suffering of a dying people and failing marriage. – It unfolds beautifully.

16. Se, jie (2007)

Lust, Caution. Set in China, during the Japanese occupation during WWII, this is a complex and very human tale of the awful reality of how inhumane we are when defending our country/freedom or the repressive regime we are part of. Caught up in all this are a female spy, played by Wei Tang, and a high up official of the Japanese regime played by Tony Chiu-Wai Leung. He’s all too aware that he can trust no one and he’s very wary of this woman who is receptive to his advances. But his world is so lacking the comfort and sweetness she can offer. And she knows that he is the enemy and ultimately he must be removed to further their cause, but her world is so false and their encounters are the only real human contact she has. It’s excellent.

Warning: This movie contains scenes of sexual violence.

17. Take Me Home (2011)

This is a straightforward romantic comedy. It’s cute and sweet. I came across it online – and normally I wouldn’t choose to watch romantic movies but I just wanted to have something on in the background while I working away on something – and I ended up just watching the movie instead because … it’s funny and sweet.

18. Upstream Colour (2013)

I think this film is a brilliant I don’t understand why it’s only got a rating of 6.7 on IMDB. Is it really a romantic film? Um … well, um … it could be? If you like? It’s great. It’s very different. Just watch it. There is romance, longing, the feeling of being connected to someone else, in it but in a way that is all sort of incidental to the story rather than what it’s really about. That’s my take on it anyways.


Happy Valentine’s Everyone!

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Orange and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Gravy Thu, 25 Jan 2018 10:45:22 +0000
Orange and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Gravy

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Orange and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Gravy

This is a simple recipe for roasting chicken delicately flavoured with orange and thyme, and how to make a simple but delicious gravy with onions that have been roasted alongside the bird.

Although this recipe is called Orange and Thyme Roasted Chicken it doesn’t really taste that much of either. They add a subtle flavour that enhances the taste of the chicken. It might sound funny but some how it works. When you taste this chicken you just think “oh yeah, that’s what real chicken is supposed to taste like…”

When it’s cooked, take out and leave to rest for 15 minutes, this will ensure the meat stays moist.

For the gravy you blend together onions that have roasted in the same pan as the chicken, with the roasting juices and fat, with a little orange juice, wholegrain mustard, salt and some hot water. You don’t need any flour to thicken the sauce because whizzing up the mix causes the fat to emulsify it all. I’m not sure if this is the healthiest gravy but it is certainly the easiest. You don’t have to skim off any fat (which to be honest I’ve always found impossible to do right), you don’t have to make a roux or add any sort of flour, you don’t need to reduce anything… It’s so simple – and honestly it tastes great.

I used a free-range chicken from one of the supermarkets for this – it tasted great. To be honest, this recipe will make any chicken taste great. But I didn’t go on to boil up the carcass afterwards to make some stock because I if I’m going to be doing that I want to get one of those organic chickens. They are twice the size of the chicken here and four times the price – but it’s worth it. The taste of an organic chicken is just … can’t be beat.

Also making stock in this apartment feels like you’re in an oddly-chicken-smelling sauna.

Oh, just one last thing to say – don’t wash your chicken. I personally never washed a chicken. I wasn’t even aware that people do that – wash their meat and fish? Then I heard a bit about it on the radio one day. Some people do that. Don’t do that with your chicken. Washing raw chicken before cooking can increase your risk of food poisoning from campylobacter bacteria.

Didn’t I used to have issues with cooking chicken though? And it’s not like I ever washed a chicken. Um … yeah. That’s true. But I was a pretty terrible cook prior to years of seriously “trying” with twimii. The rather obvious – and for most people unnecessary – advice I could give is – if it’s hovering in or around the use-by-date and it already smells slightly wrong … throw the damn thing out. Come on it costs less than a fiver. It’s not worth it.

I know that last piece of priceless advice has probably scared you off but honestly forget all that and just try this recipe you’ll be surprised how good this chicken – and gravy – tastes.

Chicken, orange, onions, garlic, celery, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil.

Orange and Thyme Roasted Chicken with Gravy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Serves 4


    Roasted Chicken
  • ~1.5kg chicken
  • 1 or 2 leafy sticks of celery
  • 1/2 medium-sized onion, chopped in half
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and squashed with flat side of knife
  • 1/2 orange, gently squeezed
  • bunch of thyme
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Gravy
  • 1/2 medium-sized onion & 1 large onion (or 3 medium-sized onions), peeled & chopped
  • some thyme leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • juice of half orange
  • 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
  • 2 - 3 dessertspoons of boiling hot water


  1. Turn on the oven to 200 C.
  2. Rub some olive oil all over the chicken. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Into the cavity place the onion, celery, orange, garlic and thyme. Place on an oiled and suitably sized roasting dish in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes.
  3. Take the chicken out. Whatever juices have been released by the chicken, tip the dish, collect them in a spoon and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle the onion with a little salt, pepper and thyme leaves, Surround the chicken with the chopped onion. Turn the oven down to 180 C and put the dish back in the oven. During this time take the chicken out once or twice and again spoon the roasting juices over the bird. Also move the onions around at these times so they roast evenly.
  4. When the chicken is done take it out and leave it, in the pan, to rest for 15 minutes. This is very important as it will keep the meat moist. Then remove it to a serving dish. Now scrape all the onions, juices, fat - basically anything left in the pan into a large microwaveable bowl. Add in the orange, mustard and a sprinkle of salt. With a hand blender blend to as smooth a consistency as you like. Taste and add a little more salt if necessary. If it's too thick add a little more hot water. If it's not as piping hot as you'd like microwave it for 30 sec to 1 minute depending.
  5. Enjoy!


If there is twine on the bird, leave it on while it cooks and then cut if off before serving. If you have leftovers on the bird, remove the stuff you've put in the cavity and discard before putting the chicken it in the fridge. The leftover meat on this makes for great sandwiches or salad.

Bird’s been seasoned, oiled and stuffed with orange, thyme, celery, onion and garlic. Ready for roasting.


After about 30 minutes take out from the onion, spoon over and juices and scatter the seasoned chopped onion before returning it to the oven


When it’s cooked, take out and leave to rest for 15 minutes, this will ensure the meat stays moist.


Move the chicken on to a serving dish and add all the onion and juices from the roasting pan into a deep bowl.


Add some freshly squeezed orange juice, mustard and some hot water to the bowl, before using a hand blender to blend.


Roast chicken with the gravy.


Orange and Thyme Roasted Chicken with some gravy, a very well done baked potato and some peas.


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