Bulgaria – part 2

Last night there was a heavy thunderstorm and a short power cut. We took photographs of darkened skies that erupted into occasional brightness, and drank wine and cocktails until it was time for bed. This morning there is still a coolness in the air, but it is dry again now, and the sand on the beach is firm enough for walking on.

I am starting to see the patterns of weather now. The days are generally bright and sunny, with the storms only arriving once the sun has gone in and the warm and cool air meet over the Balkans. I suspect the power cut was unusual, although I doubt the storms are, which makes me envious for this climate where such beautiful and extreme weather is so commonplace. In the UK we curse the rain, but here I think it is possibly welcomed as a respite from the heat.

I am starting to feel disconnected from the lives of other people, but without the expected levels of anxiety that are usually associated with these feelings. Having this time away has given me a change to evaluate where I fit I the world and which interactions and connections are valuable to me. I am unsure as to whether this will change anything when I get home, but I thought the feeling was worth articulating.

Despite this feeling of disconnection, I have not missed being online anywhere near as much as I thought I would. I am sure there are things of interest that I have missed, but there are even more things of interest that I have been able to fully absorb myself in. I think there is probably a lesson there.

I also watched Factory Girl tonight. I need to write more about this soon.

Bulgaria – part 1

I am writing this from a table on a sunny balcony in Bulgaria. The journey here was about as good as economy flying gets, which is to say it was draining and tiring without anything in particular going wrong. We arrived at our hotel in the early hours of the morning, which was a lot better than the people flying from other UK airports who had still not arrived 24 hours later.

It wasn’t really possible to make a judgement on the hotel at that time of night, but after more than 24 hours I must say that I am very impressed. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, the food is excellent, and there is a wide array of drinks to choose from. The longer we spend here the more thankful I am that we ended up getting a very good deal on a good hotel rather than settling for the cheapest holiday we could find.

The weather yesterday was perfect, at least until the evening, and we spent most of the day lounging by the pool, walking on the beach, and doing the sort of things people do when they are on holiday. We have two trips booked (an evening out tonight, and a day trip to look at pretty buildings on Saturday), but will otherwise we staying fairly local, and exploring as much of this beautiful area as we can.

Last night there was the mother of all thunder storms which was really pretty to watch, and which took the heat out of the air nicely. We sheltered from the rain in the bar, and sampled the hotel entertainment (including a bingo game which we both came fairly close to winning). I’m not sure the entertainment was to everyone’s taste, but the bar itself was pleasant, and the bar staff were friendly enough. I think we may try and grab a small balcony table next time though, especially if the weather is as good as it is right now.

Also during the last two days I have been reading The Kills by Richard House. I had been meaning to start this for a while, but it is a fairly large time investment so I was saving it for this trip. So far I am enjoying it, although I think I have enjoyed each book a little less than the one before it. Here’s hoping that book 4 bucks that trend. I also have a variety of other things to read, as well as the usual array of music and films if I get bored. But so far I am not getting bored, which is a good sign that I might possibly be starting to relax.

Films, travel, and being offline

I watched a couple of films last weekend which I totally failed to blog about, and seeing as I’m flying out to Bulgaria this afternoon and won’t be online for a week or so, I thought I would write about them before I leave.

18th May – Stoker – The narrative of this film is fairly simple. A man dies, and his brother moves in with his widow and teenage daughter following the funeral. There is a lot more to it than that, but as a basic summary I think that is enough. What makes this film stand out for me is exemplary performances by Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman (who has surprised me in a good way for the second film running), and the fact that there is a genuine sense of darkness, suspense and mystery that runs throughout the film. I enjoyed it, I’d recommend it, and I don’t think I can say much more than that.

18th May (later) – Blue Jasmine – I’m still not sure about Woody Allen, even though I’ve quite enjoyed everything I’ve seen of his. Blue Jasmine is from 2013, and is another film that explores relationships between people in a world of changing circumstances. I didn’t hate it, and it certainly compares favourably to most other Woody Allen films I’ve seen, but there was nothing about it that was particularly spectacular, and as a result I don’t really have a lot more to say about it.

I do plan on taking things with me to watch, although probably nothing too challenging. I’ve also downloaded a few books to keep me entertained – I’m one book into The Kills by Richard House, and I may also finally get round to reading Neil Gaiman’s new book which a lot of other people have raved about.

I will of course be blogging and photographing my travels over the next week or so, but it may be a while before I get round to sharing anything with the wider world.

Recent watchings

25th April – Byzantium – I’ve been meaning to watch this for a while, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a British/Irish vampire film, that twists the myth slightly, but that largely works both on a narrative and thematic level. Gemma Arterton is a lot better than I thought she would be, and Saoirse Ronan puts in a really good performance as an eternal 16 year old who demonstrates a spellbinding mix of youth and maturity. If you like vampire films then you’ll probably like this, and it is certainly in a different league to the likes of Twilight. I should probably mention that there is a fair amount of blood and bleeding in this film, but I suppose that is what you would expect considering the subject matter.

4th May – Nymphomaniac part 1 – Reading about Nymphomaniac  a few months ago is what made me check out several of Lars von Trier’s other films, and I was very much looking forward to watching it at some point. The film is about Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is found in an alleyway by Seligman, a charming and well educated old bachelor. Over the course of the two films, she recounts the chronology of her sexual evolution to him, from childhood to the age of 50, and the two of them discuss the various episodes from her past. It explores a lot of the same themes as von Trier’s other films, and is well made, well acted, and very thought provoking, and I found Stacy Martin as the young Joe particularly spellbinding. This certainly isn’t for everyone, and it contains several very strong sexual scenes, but it is also incredibly thought provoking, and would probably appeal to anyone who thinks deep and complex thoughts about love, sexuality, gender roles and human relationships in general.

4th May (later) – Nymphomaniac part 2 – This concludes the story, and is in many ways a darker film (and certainly a much more violent film) than the first part. It also has a few plot twists, so I won’t say much more about how the story evolves for fear of spoiling it. All in all I mostly enjoyed both parts, and would certainly have been interested in seeing them as one continuous piece. It made me feel uncomfortable in several places, but it was the sort of discomfort that provokes valuable thought, which I see as largely a good thing.

17th May – Jubilee – I had no idea what to expect from this film. I’ve not seen any of Derek Jarman’s other films, and I only really stumbled on this one by accident in the library. It is quite pretentious in parts, but I actually found it an enjoyable Saturday morning distraction, and I certainly don’t regret watching it. If 70s punk crossed with Elizabethan mysticism is your thing then you may very well enjoy this, although it is interesting to see that the 70s scenes seem much more dated that those set further back in time or in a more mystical setting. I’m not quite sure I can summarise what this film is actually about, but I can certainly see why it received a fair amount of critical acclaim at the time.