Film Review: The Eight Hundred (2020)

I have just had my film review published in the online magazine, Mythaxis.

‘The Eight Hundred’ is a Chinese war film, set during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.

Here is a link, if you are interested in reading it.

(I watched the film in the original Chinese and Japanese languages, with subtitles. The trailer on the link is dubbed)

Film Review: Songbird (2020)

As far as I know, this film is curently only available on Amazon Prime.
At least that is the only place to find it in the UK.
**No spoilers**

A film about the Covid-19 pandemic, set in the year 2024. When it is now known as ‘Covid-23’.

This is a ‘worst-case scenario’ film, where the virus is not contained, so the people are contained instead. Filmed in a near-future version of Los Angeles, the theme is dark, and so is much of the action. There is an authoritarian government that keeps the population locked down by force, and anyone who shows symptoms of the virus is removed to a ‘Q-Zone’, and left to their fate.

Rich people still manage to beat the system. Buying fake ‘Immunity’ passes, and doing more or less what they like. And there are those that have natural immunity, allowed to work outside delivering parcels, or supervising the military-style teams that enforce the rules. Every person must do a temperature check on their phones by a given time every morning. Show a high temperature, and the removal squads arrive. Fail to register your check in time, and the removal squads arrive.

There is also a new version of ‘track and trace’. Did you talk to your neighbour? Have you been inside their home? If so, we smash your door down and off you go to the Q-zone, like it or not.

But of course, there is romance, albeit a relationship carried out over a very smart smartphone. And there is some hope, in the regions beyond the Q-zone that offer a form of sanctuary.

The film borrows many ideas from those like it. We have seen films set in pandemics before, and films where terrified ordinary people are inside, living in fear of zombies, or repressive governments. The film-makers wisely stayed away from making things too smart or too sci-fi. This is a world we can all recognise, with similar technology that is just slightly beefed up from what we have at the moment.

Casting is very good when it comes to the villains. You will recognise Peter Stormaire as Emmett, the man in charge of the removal squads. Suitably creepy and ruthless. Then the rich crook, Griffin. He is played by Bradley Whitford, who was so good in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. There is a surprisingly mature turn from Demi Moore as Griffin’s wife, conflicted by her desire to protect her sick daughter. But the younger cast members were all new to me.

So, not a great film. Entertaining enough, and certainly as ‘current’ as it gets. It might be the first film about the Coronavirus pandemic, but we can be sure it won’t be the last.

I should mention that I had to watch this film on a 10-inch tablet. I’m sure it looks better on a big screen.

Here’s a trailer.

A Blogging Year

Only a couple of days to go before the end of 2020, a year that most of us will be pleased to see the back of. Let’s hope that vaccination programmes will lead to some major improvements in 2021, and life might start to feel normal again for many of us. Those who have lost loved ones will still find it hard to cope of course, and the businesses forced to close, and those who have lost careers or jobs, will face a complete readjustment of their lives.

In the world of blogging, lockdowns and lack of movement saw an explosion of new bloggers like never before. Many hoped to increase their income, or just start an online business. Whether by offering SEO and other blogging services, online courses, or just selling cosmetics. Thousands of entrepreneurial people took to blogging as a route to make some money. Most found out that it doesn’t work like that. Bloggers do not rush to buy such services, especially blog promotion services, fake reviews, and social media accounts that are built up to 5,000 followers before being offered for sale.

Do people actually buy Twitter Accounts, Instagram Accounts, or someone else’s blog? That was a new one for me, in a strange year.

Like some other bloggers, a little more time on my hands meant that I posted more. As well as fiction serials, I explored some more random stuff, and the popularity of those posts took me by surprise. I hardly posted photos during the past year. I lost the ‘muse’ for photography, along with any desire to read fiction. That surpised me, as I had been doing well with reading up to that point. But lack of concentration seemed to be one side effect of tthe pandemic that tended to overwhelm me at times.

2020 also saw an increase in followers, as new bloggers looked around for blogs to follow, and blogging communities to become part of. The other side of that coin was losing some regular followers that had been around for years. Maybe they stopped blogging, got fed up with following my particular blog, or just found a new hobby to pursue.

Some died during the past year, which was sad to hear. Others took extended breaks from blogging; whether through illness, lack of continued interest, or the pressures associated with dealing with familiy and work during a very difficult time. I hope some of them come back, I really do.

Once again, I would like to thank everyone who has stuck by my blog, during this unprecedented year in our lifetimes. All the followers and friends who have been around since the start, and those new followers who have thrown themselves into blogging, and become great members of our small community.

I thank each and every one of you for your comments, your likes, and your emails. Thanks for reading my very long serials, and my everyday stuff about walking a dog in all weathers.

In your own ways, you have got me through 2020. I doubt I could have done it without you.

2020: A Time Capsule

I found this BBC article online about 37 suggestions from all around the world that might tell the story of 2020 if placed in a Time Capsule.

It got me thinking about what I would add to that time capsule to mark this unusual year.

What about you? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Christmas!

(Please sing this very loudly, to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday To You’.)








Okay, I know it’s not great. Here’s a much better song instead.

This isn’t me. Honest!

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving to all my lovely blogging friends in America.

It will be very different for most of you this year, I’m sure.

So I hope you can celebrate as best as you can, given the social restrictions we all have to deal with in 2020.

We don’t have this holiday over here, so I usually give thanks for that fact.
One less thing to worry about. 🙂

My very best wishes to you all, Pete.

September Thoughts

Two days into the official autumn season, and I am feeling rather autumnal in mood. It has been a very strange year for everyone, almost as if it didn’t exist, and were living in some kind of limbo between last Christmas and the start of 2021.

Now it seems that this new way of living will have to continue well into the new year, and will probably be the way we all have to live for the foreseeable future. Like it or not, life has changed for all of us, and will almost certainly never be the same again. And we have yet to face the inevitable economic backlash of the lost jobs, closed-down businesses, and repaying the astronomical government debts incurred.

Not wishing to sound too gloomy, I feel the worst is yet to come.

I haven’t been anywhere further than thirty miles away since the second week of March. Living in a small village like Beetley may have been instrumental in saving me from contracting the virus, but I have gone a little stir-crazy stuck in the village, with an occasional trip to the nearby town. A change of scene is required, and with that in mind, I will not be around next week.

Ollie goes to the groomer tomorrow. He will have his moulting fur dealt with, a nice bath, and his nails clipped. That should make him feel better after all he endured during the hot spell of weather.

The mornings are cold now, and I have put the duvet back on the bed to cope with chillier nights.

People are already talking about Christmas, and how different the usual celebrations will have to be.

I doubt there is anyone who will be sorry to say goodbye to 2020.

Thinking Aloud On A Sunday


You know me. I try to always be polite, reply to every comment, read all the blog posts of those I follow, and do my best to be part of our great community. I share stuff on Twitter when I can, host guest bloggers, and feature as many other bloggers as possible. I write fiction serials, photo-prompt stories, film reviews, and tell everyone about Ollie my dog.

At times, (frequently) I let out my frustrations by having a good moan or rant about blogging etiquette, followers who don’t follow, and other such pet peeves.

But most of the time, I am just ‘Me’.

We have all had a bad year in 2020. For some, the stresses and strains of the pandemic have been added to by becoming ill, bereavement, or employment issues.

I don’t have that much to complain about, I really don’t. I have survived eight months of a killer virus that primarily targets people in my age group. I have managed to remain financially stable, overcome a few domestic issues around the house, and even get work done by contractors.

I continued to enjoy blogging and writing, and the company of my online friends in this community. Despite serious medical problems for Ollie, he survived those, and remains my constant companion. He provides me with a sense of responsibility that I might otherwise have lacked. Having him makes me get up and get ready, leave the house on long walks in the countryside, and interact with local people. I doubt I would do a tenth of that, without Ollie.

So why have I suddenly become so moody, irritable, and losing focus?

I have no idea.

Film Review: The Droving (2020)

I am pleased to bring you this review of a film in which one of our fellow bloggers, Jon Risdon, has a significant role. It is a recent independently-made film, and is currently available on Amazon, free to watch for Prime members.

Martin is a serving soldier with a dark past in the military. He has returned to England to investigate the disappearance of his younger sister Megan, one year earlier. Obviously troubled, and set on revenge, he goes to the town of Penrith in the Lake District, determined to find out what happened to her. It is the time of the annual festival, The Droving. What had once been a large market for drovers to sell and trade sheep and cattle has now become a local celebration, with parades, fancy dress, fireworks, and the recreation of old legends.

He meets up with one of his sister’s friends, and she tells him about a group of men who have arrived to try to cause trouble at The Droving. Believing they might have some information, he goes to find them at some old ruins. After a violent encounter, one tells him about a hermit, a man living in a shelter hut in the hills. Martin goes to see that hermit, and after a tense interrogation of the man, is told a very ancient secret that might solve the mystery of what happened to Megan.

Wasting no time, he follows the lead given to him by the hermit, and events take an exciting turn as the film builds to its climax on the night of the festival.

This film belies its low budget, and offers excellent high-definition filming in amazingly scenic locations of the famous Lake District. I watched it on a PC monitor, and it was lovely to look at even on that. Sound is not something that usually concerns me, but it was remarkable for its quality this time. With a fast pace, and a lot packed into an 80- minute running time, there is no part that feels dull, or padded. Daniel Oldroyd gives a convincing peformance as Martin, and Jonathon Risdon stands out as a very credible hermit. The rest of the cast do their best with smaller roles too.

A British revenge thriller with a nod to films like ‘The Wicker man’, and ‘Kill List’, it mixes myths and legends from ancient times, and brings them up to date in a film that delivers some twists and turns along the way.

Highly recommended, and a sign of good things to come from the team involved.

(If you decide to watch this film, please leave a fair review on Amazon, to help Jon and the others to promote the film.)

Here’s a trailer.

Guest Posts for 2020

This is a reminder that you can always send a guest post for publication on this blog. Alternatively, if you already have a post that needs a wider audience, I will consider reblogging that if you send me a link.

If you are a follower, or follow someone else in the same community, I will be happy to feature you here.

I will also happily promote the book of any blogger who has published one, but will NOT advertise sales or services.

It works like this.

*Send the text of your guest post to me at
*Include a short personal bio, and your personal photo, if you wish.
*Include FULL LINKS to any sites such as your blog, website, or Amazon. (For books)
*Try to keep the post UNDER 2,000 words.

***No 18+ or NSFW material please, this is a general blog***

Send any photos (such as book covers) separately, and please reduce the file size to save on my space allowance.

*I will not edit the material (except for swearing or sexual references) and it can be on any subject you choose.
*It will potentially be seen by over 5,000 followers, as well as being shared on Twitter.
*It will not be deleted, so will remain here as long as this blog exists.

There is no time limit to this offer, which has absolutely no strings attached.
All I ask is that you reply to all comments on the post, and engage with any readers.

I just want to expand this great community of bloggers, and this is one of the best ways I know how to do that.

If you would like to see some previous guest posts, here’s a link.