National Trust: Literary Edition

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Days out with the National Trust are always good fun, especially when they help maintain lots of houses and estates where famous writers once lived! From my experience, they really maintain the authenticity and atmosphere of the times, which always makes it a really rewarding experience. Here is my list of National Trust places I want to visit.

1.

Bateman’s, Burwash

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I’ve actually already visited Bateman’s! This gorgeous Jacobean house was once home to Rudyard Kipling, the writer of The Jungle Books. At Bateman’s, Kipling wrote his first major work, Kim, and soon visitors will be able to see Park Mill after some extensive restoration. Also, Bateman’s has a collection of gardens which makes it a great place to visit in the summer. Bateman’s is open all year round from 11-5pm and costs £10.40 for a standard adult ticket.

2.

Monk’s House, Rodmell

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This 17th-century house was once home to Leonard and Virginia Woolf, before her death which occurred at River Ouse, not too far from the home. After her body was found, it was cremated and buried beneath an elm tree in the gardens of Monk’s House. I’ve just been to visit this house, recently, and it was amazing to see where Virginia lived and wrote. She even had a “room of her own”, her writing room, at the end of the garden. Monk’s House is open Wednesday through to Sunday, after lunch until 5 pm, until the last week of October. A standard adult ticket costs £5.75

3.

Greenway, Devon

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This grand estate was home to the famous crime writer Agatha Christie and was specifically the holiday home for her and her family. Like Bateman’s, there are lots of gardens that make it perfect for going on walks, and dogs are also welcome according to the website. Greenway is open from 10:30-5pm, every day until November when it only opens at weekends through to December. A standard adult ticket is £11.00

4.

Hill Top, Cumbria

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This 17th-century farmhouse was home to Beatrix Potter, and resides in the northern part of England, compared to the rest of my other picks. Ms Potter bought the Hill Top farmhouse with the proceeds from her first book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Those wanting to visit, be mindful that entry to the house is ticketed to prevent overcrowding. Tickets cannot be bought in advance and a sell-out of tickets is possible. Hill Top is open every day until November, from 10-4:30 pm and standard adult tickets are £10.40. Access to the gardens and shop is free during opening times.

5.

Hardy’s Cottage, Dorset

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Thomas Hardy, the writer of Far From the Madding Crowd and Tess of the D’Urbervilles, was born in this cottage in 1840. It was built by his grandfather and has been maintained ever since, and Hardy actually wrote Far From the Madding Crowd in this very house! Thorncombe Woods is nearby, providing a beautiful picturesque walk for all who visit. Hardy’s Cottage is open every day up until November, where it only opens Thursday-Sunday. Opening times are 11-5pm and a standard adult ticket is £6.30.

I’ve put all of these National Trust estates on my list of places to visit. Have I managed to sway you too? Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Films of 2015

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Going to the cinema is one of my favourite pastimes. So loved, in fact, that I have recently purchased a Cineworld card. I saw lots of films in 2015, some I had planned to see and some were spontaneous surprises, but which films made it to my short list? As usual, I will only list films that I’ve seen and can vouch for.

10

Far From the Madding Crowd

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I was excited for this film for two reasons. One, Carey Mulligan. Need I say more? Two, I thoroughly enjoyed the adaptation of the adaption of this book… I am, of course, talking about Tamara Drewe, which was based off of a graphic novel, based off of the original book Far From the Madding Crowd written by Thomas Hardy. I wouldn’t say this film was my brand new favourite period drama, but it was certainly entertaining to watch.

9

Paddington

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Ever since Paddington THE MOVIE was announced, I had been on the edge of my seat waiting for a release date. I got even more excited when Colin Firth was announced as the voice of Paddington, and deflated when I heard he had parted from the project. Having seen the movie, and being blessed with hindsight, I can see that his voice would have been a bit too mature for an endearingly naive bear like Paddington. This film was always going to be a win for me, and even now I still wish I had my very own Paddington. (Although as long as he stays out of my bathroom, we’re alright.)

8

Pitch Perfect 2

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I don’t think this has ever been said before, but, I enjoyed Pitch Perfect 2 more than the first Pitch Perfect movie. There. I said it. The first movie for me was good but the second installment, of what will now apparently be a trilogy, was much more entertaining. I’m not sure whether it was the growth of the characters, the depth of the dynamic between the girls, or the rags to riches… to rags again, and back to riches, story of the Barden Bellas, but something about this movie did more than just click.

7

Cinderella

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After the success of Maleficent, Disney’s announcement of more live-action-remakes made me feel a bit on edge. Disney had it so right with original animated classics, that a lot of them felt untouchable, but when Cinderella became first on the list, I felt warmed to the idea. Cinderella is the quintessential Princess story, but on review the original story seemed to lack depth, something which the new live-action-remake totally makes up for. We see more of a back story to Cinderella’s past and are blessed with a new moral-of-the-story mantra, “have courage and be kind.” 

6

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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One of my most anticipated films of the year falls outside the top five? Yes, unfortunately it does. I wasn’t totally disappointed by the last film in the Hunger Games quartet, but I did have some problems with it. Another thing that I never thought I would say: it was too closely adapted from the book. Yes, I know that sounds ludicrous, and that’s what book-to-movie-adaptation fans yearn for, but the Mockingjay book was a complete let down for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books and the three films that were conceived as a result. I actually thought, dare I say it, the films were better, so my expectations for Mockingjay Part 2 were high, and unfortunately weren’t met. Having said that, I did really enjoy watching the film and it was really sad to have the series come to the end. I’m still in denial that there’s not going to be another Hunger Games film. Don’t touch me. I’m grieving.

5

Insurgent

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Another one of my most anticipated films of 2015 was the second installment to the Divergent series. This set of books really got me well and truly into the dystopian funk and Divergent the movie was an absolute cracker. Insurgent, in my eyes, was a very strong but complicated book and I didn’t envy the screenwriters when the time came to adapt it. Trying to repack a book into a film is like getting a leopard to change it’s spots, and when the negative reviews for Insurgent came flooding in, I wasn’t totally surprised. However, I do feel as though all of the changes made in the translation were for the good of the story. They weren’t changing things just because they could, the writers tried to make a complicated book into a streamlined visual narrative. I admire their effort, but this film wasn’t up to the standard of it’s predecessor.

4

Inside Out

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I didn’t know about this film until my great friend GracieActually told me how amazing it was, and we took my Mum along to revel in the joy (literally) of this film. What stood out most for me was Joy and Sadness’ relationship, and how closely it mirrored my own relationship with my Mum. As many of you know I’m currently battling depression, so to see a character like Sadness be sad, and yet completely lovable and charming, was so amazing for me and my self esteem.

3

Paper Towns

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Picture the scene. I have just recovered from the emotional roller-coaster that was The Fault in Our Stars, and almost immediately afterwards it is announced that Paper Towns, another of John Green’s books, it due to be adapted to the big screen. Well, it took me a long time to stop screaming with excitement. Once again, this was one of my most anticipated films of the year and I was lucky enough to attend the Paper Towns Movie event in London ahead of it’s release and see twenty minutes of the finished movie before anyone else. I knew from those twenty minutes that I was going to love the movie, and when I finally got to see it in it’s fullest form, I was not disappointed. Many people said the film was “anticlimactic” which to me was kind of the point. Q had made Margo up in his head to be this wild and precious being, when really she was, in fact, a girl. The fact that the producers chose to end the film in that way, rather than have Q and Margo drive off to New York City as the sun sets, and keep the original themes of the book shows a massive step forward for future adaptations.

2

The D.U.F.F

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Is it surprising that this is another YA book-to-movie adaptation? Probably not, but I actually didn’t like the novel The D.U.F.F written by Kody Keplinger. I gave it one whole extra star on Goodreads.com because I was SO HAPPY that someone had coined the term. I have spent my whole life feeling like I was The D.U.F.F and to potentially have some strong YA female bad-ass characters to commiserate with made excited. The book was a let down, but luckily the film was everything the book was not. Mae Whitman was the perfect choice for Bianca and Robbie Amell’s charisma oozed from the screen. He was the Wes I’d been waiting for, and his and Whitman’s double act type chemistry made this an amazing film.

This leaves the top spot, the number one film I watched this year, which was…

1

Into the Woods

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Disney. Musical. Fairy Tale Retelling. James Corden. Meryl Streep. Emily Blunt. Anna Kendrick. The list titled “Why I Love This Film” is endless. When I heard that Sondheim’s classic Into The Woods was going to be made into a film, not just a film, but a film with an all-star cast, I was ecstatic. I had seen a version of the stage show that did not paint the story in a very flattering light, so I had high hopes for the film, and I was no disappointed. This film was so well crafted, with talented all-around performers and was nothing short of perfect in my eyes. It was everything I wanted it to be and more!

And that concludes my top ten list. Did you get a chance to see any of these this year? And did any of them make it to your top ten? Let me know in the comments down below what you think.