The Princess's Diaries

Sunday, August 28, 2005

My New Forest Experience

What a fab holiday I've had! Simply brill. Some highlights:

* Animals! Sheeps didn't feature so prominantly as they did in the Lakes but horses were to be found in abundance! I should have known; after all, New Forest= Wild Ponies. Everywhere you look there are free horses (of Narnia! i wish) roaming about in groups. On the first evening, as my family and i wandered down from our hotel to the local pub in the dark of night, a big herd came galloping up the road and brushed right past me - close enough to touch. They looked so wild and beautiful with their manes and tails streaming out.

* Wild ponies weren't quite enough so my bro Stef and i went on a hack yesterday with a riding stables in Brockenhurst. I'm a newbie to horse riding (Stef's been on a few rides) so we just walked and did a bit of trotting, but it was really exciting and loads of fun! Here's a pic of me on Scooby and Stef on Bella. Scooby was really gorgeous - he's brown and white with white irises and eyelashes and a funny fringe that kept getting in his ears. He was really greedy and kept trying to eat whenever we stopped. He was also quite vain (or wussy) because he'd avoid going through any mud or water whereas the others just plowed straight through! We rode over some stunning heather-and-gorse countryside. Going into ditches was my favourite, cos it's all wibbly.

* Water! Whenever i see a decent expanse of water i always wanna get in - and on this holiday i was in luck! On Friday we went to Swannage and i spent about an hour in the sea. It was so perfect: the floor was soft sand with no seaweed or stones or anything else slimy or sharp, the water was clear and warm, and the weather was hot and sunny with blue skies. It was quite different to swimming in Coniston Water. Being in the sea was fun and frolicky, whereas the lake felt utterly wild and exposed. Being in the lake was a more raw experience - and more awesome. It was freezing for a start but i felt connected with the mountains and the sky and the water. Anyhoo - on Saturday (after the horsies) we had lunch beside the River Lymington, which at Brockenhurst is a picturesque woodland stream type thing, and i paddled to my heart's content. Here we also saw many a cow as they crossed in herds to get to the other side.

* Boats! Today we spent the day in Portsmouth at the historic dockyard. All my favourite things happened this hols - i adore ships and we got to walk around inside the HMS Warrior and Victory. I almost burst with excitement! I prefer the smaller, wooden, wind-power-only ships like the Victory but the Warrior experience was better cos you could walk wherever you liked and touch everything whereas on the Victory they were really arsey about where you could go and you couldn't touch much. We then took a boat trip around the harbour to see the warships - those aircraft carriers are huge! Also, much respect to the Millennium Tower, which i consider to be a beautiful and appropriate piece of architecture.

* Lord of the Rings! My bro and i came across so many views that added an element of Middle-Earth to our holiday experience. We knew it was gonna be brilliant from the moment we drove up to the hotel and passed The Green Dragon public house next door. Our visit that night assured us it had the right kind of big-wooden-slab tables to feel like the local in Hobbiton. Aside from the fact that all of the New Forest looks like The Shire, we also found a forebodingly dark Mirkwood, a still and eerie Lothlorien forest, a boat called the Queen Galadriel, Gandalf's library and Minas Tirith's throneroom in Winchester Cathedral, and Edoras' Golden Hall. Here's a pic of me and Stef hiding from a Dark Rider under a tree root.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

My Hopes of an Animal-Filled Holiday

Heya! Trying to get back into the habit of blogging by just writing random stuffs...tomorrow my parents and my lil bro and i are going on a nice little family holiday to the New Forest area near Lyndhurst. My big bro is in Singapore revisting places we used to go when we lived there, lucky thing. But hopefully we'll get a chance to do some nice holiday things like go to the beach. I hope also to meet some nice sheep like i did in the Lakes, and maybe a horse. Some cows wouldn't go amiss either. When Phoebe and i went to the Lakes (we stayed by Coniston Water) we had to walk through this amazing, picturesque field every day. It used to have a railway line running through it but now it's just full of sheeps and big, shiny, black cows. I met a sheep called Lucy Lamb and i got really really close up to her before Phoebe said we didn't have enough time to play :( oh well! We also saw this funky little lizard on a rock which hid from us, an angry horse which Phoebe subdued by reminding her it was dinner time, and a dead seagull. And when i went swimming in the lake a family of ducks swam past and i had to fight the urge to chase them. I do like to say hello to animals.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My Favourite Films (just now)

Kinda in the mood for writing down my thoughts about things in the form of palaverous, never-ending lists. In a bit i will certainly get onto the topic of one of the best books i've ever read - Life of Pi, by Yann Martel - but i've just watched The Return of the King extended edition for the second this these hols so i'm gonna talk about that just now!

So! Things that i love about this film:
- "They actually made it!" My brother and i often exclaim this when we talk about Lord of the Rings. We're referring the conspicuous lack of CGI in a film this ambitious. Much of what you see on the screen are models, miniatures, actual sets, real locations and props and costumes accurate enough to be the real thing - all of this hard work gives the film such a genuine feel and look, and they didn't take the wimpy CGI option (*like Star Wars, cough cough*) After watching the DVD extras about Weta Workshop i'm seriously considering doing a masters in modelling/stage/prop making - i wanna be someone who actually makes it too!

- The hunt for christian symbolism in The Lord of The Rings can be overdone but there are definitely moments that stand out by bringing an extra ray of light to my imagination! For example: The idea of the True King taking up his Rightful throne is a theme i'm really inspired by. Saruman spits: "This exile, crept from the shadows, will never be crowned king!" Oh yes he will. I see Denethor as a bit of a Herod figure: he says "I will not bow to this ranger from the north" but Gandalf replies "Authrority is not given to you to deny the return of the King." Woo!

Moving/awe-inspiring moments:
- The hideousness of Gollum's treachery in the scenes where he turns Frodo against Sam, and Sam's awful fear and sadness in losing Frodo's trust.

- The gorgeous father-son moment in Arwen's vision of Aragorn and Eldarion.

- Touching goodbye scene between between Merry and Pippin where Merry's all angry at Pip but it's really because he's worried he won't be able to be there for him when Pippin gets into danger.

- The beacons lighting across the mountains to summon help from Edoras. I'm not sure why but it just stirs something inside me. Perhaps partly to do with the thought of those people sitting up by the beacons even at the top of a mountain, all alone, just waiting for the moment they'll be needed.

- Faramir's devotion to his father and his complete humility before him. Denethor tells him he'd rather faramir died than Boromir, and yet faramir replies "Since you are robbed of Boromir, i will do what i can in his stead." I wonder how many of us would show such humility?

- Pippin singing his haunting song over the juxtaposition of Gondor's beautiful horsemen riding to their doom in Osgiliath with Denethor's ugly eating, the red juice running down his chin reminding us that he has sent those men to their deaths.

- The despair on aragorn's face when he thinks the undead have refused to fight and he sees the Corsair ships approaching - he feels there is no hope left at all. It's almost a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments but it really gets to you when you see it for what it is.

- Although i was gutted that they couldnt extend the Houses of Healing sequence, i do feel that they distilled the essence of Eowyn's time in the HoH well, and the glances between Eowyn and Faramir are really lovely. You gotta read the book, though, for the full account of the relationship of Winnie and Faz, as i like to call them.

- Sam (my favourite character) on the side of Mount Doom: "Come Mr Frodo! I can't carry it for you, but i can carry you!"

Funny moments:
- Peter Jackson, the director, in make-up and costume, as a mercenary on a Corsair ship.
- Merry trying to get his horse to go as the Rohirrim set off from Edoras (his horse won't budge)
- Legolas climbing and dispatching the Mumakil (Oliphaunt)

Film-making excellence:
- Choosing Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn because his voice has the most perfect deep, gravelly quality.
- Shelob the spider. Looks and moves just like a ginormous spider. The stuff of nightmares.

Friday, August 19, 2005

My Books: Harry Potter

Wow, i really haven't blogged for a long time. No doubt at some point i'll put up a few details of my summery exploits. For the last couple of weeks i've done virtually nothing except read, so i thought it would be apt to do a bit of a write-up of the books i've been reading. I've adored these couple of weeks. During my two years at uni my biggest regret has been not making enough time to get stuck into books so it's been fab to finally indulge!

Harry Potter series

Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (HBP), was unleashed upon us just as i was beginning a week of prayer, community and mission in Luton with some excellent people from Cambridge so i decided it wouldn't be appropriate to start reading it just then cos, as we know, once you go in, you never come out. That really was the case, because when i finished HBP i was compelled to read books 4 and 5 again, and then i bought book 2 in a sale and read that. I'd be reading in bed until 2am, waking up late and reading for a few more hours until my brother got home from work, when we'd hang out togther until he went to bed again! So what did i think of the books?
Some points
- JK Rowling's fictitious world is so vividly described that i find it really easy to slip into with my imagination. I find she does tend to describe things visually more than evoking the other senses. This works for me because, although i am very aware of my different senses in my own experiences of the world, my imagination is best stirred visually. The first two films heped to give faces to my blank-featured but otherwise well-developed ideas of the characters, but i don't think i'll be watching any more films thanks to their ability to squeeze out my original visions.
There are a couple of things i find interesting in connection with this though. JKR describes her characters' appearances far more often than their voices (although in my mind each character does have a particular type of voice, presumably because of some description somewhere or other). In fact i think this is an area where her writing is lacking. I get particularly fed up with the trio constantly 'snapping' at each other. It makes me feel they are always in the same slightly annoyed mood with each other, whereas according to the narrative there are all sorts of different emotions and circumstances going on. I wish JKR would use a wider range of verbs to better evoke the subtleties of each situation.
Not a criticism but an interesting point (to me!) is JKR's use of food. I find JKR to be quite a contrast to Enid Blyton, who will tend to describe every mealtime in great detail. She will list every type of food available to the children and describe the flavours and whether or not the children enjoyed their meal. The imagery that sticks best in my head includes juicy tomatoes, warm bread and refreshing ginger beer. It makes my mouth water! JKR, on the other hand, rarely tells us how they feel about what they're eating (except to say that they're really hungry) and instead decribes the view: tables laden with all kinds of dishes. When she lists them, it is the colour that evokes the atmosphere: the food tends to be in the red-orange-brown range, which evokes the cosiness and warmth of the Great hall where they eat. Furthermore as 'Susanna' points out in her essay in the Harry Potter Lexicon, The Philosopher's Stone is filled with descriptions of food (heightening the contrast between the bleak life Harry has hitherto known with the Dursley, and Hogwarts where he now feels at home) while the Prisoner of Azkaban contains hardly any references to food and is the 'coldest' book of the series.

- Staying on the theme of descriptions, i find it well funny to compare 'official' maps of the Hogwarts grounds with the way i picture it in my head. It's a game that my bro and i play now and then, e.g. 'what does hagrid's cabin look like to you?' Sometimes ou imaginations are completely rediculous, for example my lake (which officially ought to be huge and surrounded by cliffs)is more like a large flat round pond in the lawn surrounded by bullrushes.

- HBP has the fanworld clamouring to give their theories on all new information that the book has churned up: is Snape really good or bad; who is R.A.B; what are the Horcruxes etc etc etc. Maybe in this blog there'll be an opportunity for that somewhere way down the line, but i can't be bothered right now.

- Sometimes i get annoyed with Harry being a bit of a brat. He expects his friends to get everything right all the time and snaps at them when they don't, he's often angry or grouchy or sullen, he's often rude (that's what i dislike most!), and he often doesn't try to understand others' points of view. I think reading the books a few more times will help me to sympathise with him more. I definitely like him much more in The Chamber of Secrets before his hormones have kicked in and he stills tries to get the Dursleys to understand him rather than just being fully bitter towards them. That's the thing with Harry: he's not very good at forgiveness. Yes, he's been dealt a raw hand in life but he hasn't seen very far beyond his self-pity yet...which is probably why he gets annoyed when Ron envies his fame and riches rather than understanding Ron's position. Grr.

- On a happier note, some characters i love: Ginny, for rising above her situation as the oft-teased youngest Weasley and Voldemort's vessel to become a girl who is bold, compassionate and straightforward. Draco, the guy you love to hate, who has now shown us his weaker, more honest side. Snape, who has suddenly become even more interesting and multi-dimensional. Dumbledore, because he has such love: he's never, ever rude and he always seeks to understand the other - but he always acts with justice and faithfulness.