My Take on The Woman in Black

Tuesday, 21 February 2012
On Saturday, Luke and I went to the cinema for a date night to see The Woman in Black (12A/PG-13). I knew three things about the film going in;
  1. It was starring Daniel Radcliffe in his first film role since the Harry Potter series concluded. Consequently, this was my first trip to the cinema since we went to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 last year.
  2. It was scary, which meant I was probably going to spend the film hiding behind my hands.
  3. It had been the UK Box Office number 1 on it's opening weekend. 

First things first, yes the lead role was being played by an actor who spent the last 10 years of his life playing the most famous of boy wizards - Harry Potter. But not once did I feel the need to shout at the screen "You're a wizard Harry, come on - Expecto patronum!" The first and last time I thought of Daniel Radcliffe as the kid who plays Harry Potter was when I saw his name in the opening credits. Daniel shed his wizard cloak and became Arthur Kipps, succeeding in what a lot of actors have struggled with, not being typecast. Don't get me wrong, Daniel Radcliffe will probably always be Harry Potter, but in The Woman in Black he proved he can be so much more.

I expected to leave The Woman in Black having to convince Luke that indeed the film had been scary as he rolled his eyes and called me a chicken; which let's face it when it comes to scary films I am. Quite the contrary, we both left the film feeling sufficiently scared.  Luke said it was one of the jumpiest films he has ever seen, this coming from a man who spent his teen years watching every scary film known to man.

In this day and age, the term horror film seems synonymous with blood and gore. (This is usually to deter people from noticing the abscence of plot/character development.) Not The Woman in Black, it was scary, without being explicity so. It didn't resort to cheap tricks or overdose on special effects.  It returned to the good old fashioned gothic horrors of the Victorian era, back when people's imaginations could create things far scarier than anything Hollywood could come up with.
  • A dilapidated manor house - check
  • Untrusting villagers - check
  • Creepy children - check
  • A man alone - check 
And you wonder why it's doing so well at the box office? Three days onwards and Luke still has fingernail marks in his right arm from where I was desperately clinging to him.

Erin x

The Trials and Tribulations of Apartment Hunting

Thursday, 9 February 2012
They say that moving house is one of the most stressful times of your life, and they were right! I thought the hard part would be finding the right property for us. We started seriously looking for a new place the end of December. Our criteria was simple and straightforward, we basically wanted somewhere that was the complete opposite of Worcester - clean, modern, and no DIY required! We sent a detailed email out to nearly twenty estate agents, most of which sent us back a load of rubbish. Finally we had one, who at the time I thought was our saviour. She sent us 6 properties, all of which were what we had been looking for and all of which were in our price range.

When it came time to see them, she became a little less helpful. We made an appointment with her to view them all (a week in advance mind you), which she then proceeded to push back a day. No big deal, we're flexible, however when it is an hour and a half before you are supposed to meet and you still don't know where you're going it starts to become a problem. I should have known then it was going to be difficult, but really we were in a Catch-22. We didn't want to work with her but she had the properties we wanted and if we didn't go through her, we wouldn't get them. That's the problem I've found with estate agents, they can treat you however they feel because at the end of the day they know that if they have the right property you're going to work with them.

In the end, we found our propety a lovely 1st floor (2nd floor my Americans) two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and lounge in the Oxley Park area of Milton Keynes. It was everything we wanted, with only one real downside, the carpets were filthy. We had it stipulated into our contract that the flat would be immaculate when we arrived, and for the carpets to be professionally cleaned. One wouldn't think when you're trying to throw money an estate agents way that they would mess you around, unfortuantely after we found our propety it didn't get any easier. We were constantly left out of the loop and messsed around, and although we'd been given a move in day of  Saturday 4 February, we weren't sure of that until Thursday evening when they finally sent the contract through for review.

It was Friday morning that we were informed that while the carpets had been professionally cleaned (I believe only the day before) they had not come up well and would now have to be replaced. I should have followed my gut instinct and pushed back our move then and there, unfortunately I don't always follow my gut instinct in England as I often question if my reactions are too American for certain English sensibilities.

On Saturday morning - the deposit was paid, the contract signed, and the keys handed over and off we were to begin our moving day. Not even dirty carpets could damper our spirits, that is until we arrived at the flat to discover in fact it wasn't just the carpets that were insufficiantly cleaned it was the entire flat! The walls were covered in hand prints and scuffs, and if that bathroom has seen any cleaning products since the previous tenant left then I'm a monkey's uncle. The American side of me screamed "Sue them!", even though I've never sued a person in my life and at the end of the day it wouldn't accomplish anything.

So instead of jumping right in to unpacking - we spent the first half-hour of our move miticulously photo documenting every unclean/unsatisfactory surface in the place, while trying to ring the agents to get it sorted. Three hours after arriving, we finally heard back from the agents to be assured that the carpets are being replaced and the walls repainted, as and when that will be I'm still none the wiser.

On the plus side of things, although a bit dirty at the moment, the issues of the flat are nothing that can't be fixed by a good contractor in a day. And when we finally are completely unpacked the place will look lovely!

Waking up to snow on our first morning in the new flat.

I dedicate this post to my poor colleagues, who over the past month have had to put up with my ranting and cursing of estate agents.

Erin x

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