‘Heaven Sent’ Review with Nevillegirl

This series 9 of Doctor Who, I’ve been part of the review team over at Nevillegirl’s blog. Last year, we did a similar system, and one of the episodes I’ve been reviewing this year has been episode 11, Heaven Sent.

doctor who heaven sent poster

Wow, that’s was one wild ride of an episode. I had a lot of thoughts and a lot to say about it with Nevillegirl:

Alex: I liked this episode a lot. Although it was Doctor-heavy, it didn’t feel that way. I love the visual setting, the CGI of the castle turning. The inside of it was skipped over, but I think this leaves more room for viewer imaginations to create more of this world… if you can call it a “world,” as such. The conflict/threat to the Doctor was tangible. Personally, I felt for him, and this made the episode all the scarier. Capaldi subtly showed the fear. Again, great acting!

Alex: However, I think there were a few predictable elements in the episode, particularly the Doctor loop. We’ve had episodes before – I don’t know if they were written by Moffat or not – where the Doctor has been setting himself up; and that’s something I like to imagine (and write) in temporal fiction.

Engie: I loved this episode. No, wait – I looooooooooooooooooooved it. PETER CAPALDI IS SUCH A GREAT ACTOR OH MY GOD. And I was so pleased to see that my prediction came true!

To read more of this review, find it at Nevillegirl’s blog, Musing From Neville’s Navel.

Guess what I’ve been reading about…

About discipleship…




……Discipleship with a capital D. I know I’m stating the obvious, but I’ve never really understood the real teaching in the above quotes until very recently. I am burning to make a difference. For and in Christ. My sights are moving further than the parameters of Church. Yes, I needto be fed at Mass at least once a week, but how am I going to share with others the beauty of Christianity? How am I going to encourage them into the fold of the Shepherd? I don’t know. I do know that God will use my unique gifts to reach out to others. Perhaps the gifts I’m yet to grow into.

I have to ‘be church’, be a Disciple of the Lord God in all that I am and do. I need to be the change that others will respond to when it is the time for them to hear the Message. The Call…

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7 Quick Takes about Swing, Costuming, and a Hectic Week

It’s Friday again! I’ve been doing a lot, so join me and the other Catholic bloggers at ConversionDiary as we detail our weeks in 7 quick points.

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about my first radio show, punk rock dads, and a desperate plea for birthday party ideas


I’m back at university! It’s great to see the people I lived and worked with last year and the people I will come to live and work with this year as I move into a new corridor. My ‘quarter’ or ‘segment’ or whatever is of four and me, three of which I’ve known well, if not lived with last year. The rest of upper B are people I lived with or socialised with, and a few spares. It’s a good lot, and I’ve been lucky to some respect.


I played A for Author yesterday: I made myself a giant pencil out of card and gave myself a bit of ‘geek chic’, as I believe it’s called. That was entertaining.

I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.
I apologise for feeding to the stereotype.


I got more of my costume for steampunk life, including a ‘jumperskirt’ dress I ordered a good couple of months ago – but it had to be sewn to fit my measurements, so I expected the wait. Luckily, although the zip is a stiff one, the dress is pretty much perfect. I’d worried it would be too short for day-wear because of the style, but it’s only just above kneelength and goes well with a new blouse of mine. *air punch*


The other main activity I’ve been doing this year has been promoting the Swing dancing I do at the university, which involved dressing up (yay!) and standing behind a stall for five-ish hours (boo!). Whilst we are trying to get more people into the activity (classified as a sport, apparently), I’m not used to being on my feet so much again, and it will take me the usual time to adapt.



I also did some walking (partly under duress and necessity) these last couple of days, and I intend to help out with the Quidditch demo that’s going on at the weekend. So, yeah: I’m finally getting back to being, well, healthy. Possibly photos to follow.


As such, though, my reading this week has been on the low. I brought a bunch of fiction to uni, but I’ve not had so much a quiet minute to read when I’ve not given it to blogging or research. I have a couple of CP crits still to write – I’m getting through them, slowly.


Writing has been alright. I got around to the first kiss scene in UTC, even though I still need to sort out the plan and the order. I don’t know how this works in terms of the entire plot, but it adds a new level of tension between Laurie and Jess when they have to stay away from each other. I also found out that, when angry/annoyed/stressed, Jess has quite a mouth on her. Sorry.

Before even the slight bob of dizziness reached her, Laurie stiffened, and withdrew. Jess quivered.

“It’s okay.”

“No, its not. This is a mistake. I’m sorry.”

He’d simultaneously turned pink and ghost pale. Jess resisted throwing a hand up to his glorious stubble, to the way his cheeks curved into the dark lines of his hair. She just wanted to play with it, if she were allowed that second opportunity.

But Laurie pulled away, frowned, and Jess’ heart sunk, volcano stone. All those moments she’d fantasised about her lips locking onto his with such strong, passionate attraction, she’d not thought of those moments post-snog, where he might simply reject her in oblivion, pure and hellish.

Laurie had managed to osmosis-drip to the other side of the room. With his big eyes, he bade her a goodbye more sad than it really ought to have been, and pushed through into the corridor.

F***. Not that reaction. Anything but that. She wasn’t that bad a kisser.


Making Petticoats Out of Hosepipe


As you may have seen, the blog has been rather quiet on its normally pro-active days. If you’ve been paying attention, you’d have seen my mentions of a 24-hour musical run by our Drama society, RUDS.

What is this? you may ask. Some misunderstand and presume a musical whose running time is 24 hours. In reality, we were given the musical’s reveal 38 (ish) hours before its night. Well, 9am on the Monday for curtains up Tuesday 7.15. That’s a block of 12, a rest of 6 hours, and a second block of 12 hours in which to work.

We had two days to learn lines, blocking, music, make set, props, costume, plan lighting, sound, and every other little thing that is theatre.

But, you know, it’s for charity – the Ollie Young Foundation for children with brain tumours – so any/all stress has been worth it.

The musical? Beauty and The Beast – again! This musical is following me, but at least I only had to deal with it for two days. If I’d been exposed to the songs and lines any longer, I might have lost my tiny mind!

Anyway! *ahem*

I’ll admit I’m very much a backseat driver when it comes to acting, so I stayed out of the way of the principles’ moments, and attempted to lay a hand with the props/setting. Well, on the first day. On the second day, although there were a couple of ‘lazy’ hours, I found myself on stage a lot more. And by that, I mean: we were working on the Be Our Guest number at 8 in the morning. Yes, indeed.

I found myself a couple of solo lines, too. That was cool. ‘Cause I totally knew what I was doing with the big numbers after doing them last year, yeah?

The answer to that question is a most definite no, especially considering that I was one of the only ensemble members to be the Gaston song, despite that being the only ensemble number I didn’t perform in last year. So I was learning those lyrics completely off-hat. Now I know how some of the others were feeling when given lyrics and dance-moves in Be Our Guest.

At least I was allowed to stand on my own barstool/chair!

As with any short-term rehearsal, we did run out of time for some things: some numbers were cut, be that by part or whole, and some bits of dialogue we, the ensemble, hadn’t been properly introduced to. I was just lucky for the aforementioned previous performance and the many, many times I listened to The Mob Song that I knew of the dialogue beforehand to ad lib (is it ad libitum when one knows the line but hasn’t been allocated it?) when Maurice and Belle required it.

With DIY musicals, we have that problem/uniqueness that we go back to wartime style and made do with literally everything. Lots and lots of cardboard! I leant most of my hands to the background stuff, such as cutting out and painting cardboard flatware. (As it must be, most of the less-fabric-like costumes have to be quickly whipped up out of the simplest of materials, such as cardboard.) A friend of mine made three costumes in half an hour at one point! As you can guess, the effort put in by those with the skills was incredible. And I guess I’m both envious of them and glad I’m not someone who can sew!

In addition, some of the costumes were not as straight-forward as sewing together scraps into shapes. The frame of Belle’s petticoats (you know, the springy bits of the yellow ball-gown) we made out of hosepipe cut into coils to fit the dress.

As for me – barmaid, spoon, wolf, lady with baby/babies (the number is inconsistent in the libretto) – I was scraping together my props from reused objects of past productions. I almost lost one of my shirts to the costume bag after the performance because I’d used it as part of my fake baby and then simply cast it aside to change my characters. We, ensemble and principles, got specific 24 Hour Musical t-shirts to wear, with which to be in consistent attire when most of us lacked a detailed type of costume. As I said, accessories were everything.

Belle and Maurice singing No Matter What

Of course, our plan generated a lot of (unexpected, I suspect) attention. BBC Radio Berkshire were good enough to our producer, ITV Meridian came and videoed, as well as Get Reading doing an online article. I have nothing but thanks to everyone who took part and came to see our performance. You know I love charity events; and, regardless, I loved more than the challenge, but the sheer act of being on a stage again after the absence of acting for longer than a year. It’s been too long.

I was lucky in any case. Blessed to be a part of this event.

Death, Derangement and Film Projects

I’m not sure when I’ll next be able to post, due to the craziness of one event following another (in quick succession in terms of working the Open Days in departments and Swing demonstration), so I’ll leave you with one of the other sides of me: some acting. As part of a second-year Film and Theatre student’s project, I played the role of ‘hag’ in this Grimm tale of the Robber Bridegroom.

*creepy noises* What is reality…?

Many thanks to the rest of the cast and crew. Their acting is superb.

In Which I Appear in Doctor-Who-Related Vlogs

Hey, you remember that party I went to for the Day of the Doctor 50th where I dressed up as River Song? Well, one of my friends has a YouTube channel – BethSaysxx – and she got around to posting her vlog of the event. Obviously, she’s the one leading the vlog and asking the questions, but I do feature. 😉 (She addresses me by my middle name ‘Poppy’, by the way.) You get to see my costume in more of its awesome glory, and I briefly discuss Moffat’s writing, plot and Zygon memories. When I don’t plan what I’m saying, yes, I wave my hands about and say “uhmm,” a lot. Yes, my earrings are TARDISs. Leaky Con merch. 😉

And, especially for my American followers – you get to hear two of my English accents*.

“Was there anything you didn’t like about it?”

*Pulls face* Seriously, I liked the episode, I liked the writing, I liked the acting. I loved the Bad Wolf reference. I didn’t like how rushed the ending seemed, but, after the hour-plus ride we’d just had, adding more might have just complicated the plot further. As a writer, I understand that not everything can be resolved concisely. On the other hand, I’m not so keen on the whole ‘let’s find Gallifrey’ idea. I grew up without Doctor Who Time Lords, and I feel this grounds The Doctor and his motives to Earth – he has no other home, which means he finds himself like a responsible protector of our planet. And he finds friends amongst the humans.

However, I don’t object to non-human companions. Bring back Romana, as BethSaysxx did in her video. 😀
In the same vein, I loved Tom Baker’s cameo! *Classic Who fanning*

In short, there were a lot of things I didn’t like – as a writer – about it, but those didn’t detract from my viewing it as a Doctor Who fan. Bear in mind that, as I review, I pedantically search for the picky. Too, I’ll only question what I love. And we know I love Doctor Who. Come on – I reference it in my novel query!

Oh, and uni’s going okay, but I’ve had so many Christmas events to attend to – next weekend, for instance, I’m playing a Christmas-themed friendly Quidditch match against the London collective. The Reading Rocs are playing Santas, and The London Unspeakables are the elves. I have my hat at the ready! Also my camera. I’ll try and do a Quidditch-themed post sometime. I actually have some footage of me playing a match, so y’all can find out firsthand how it works.

River Song signing off 😉


*Yes, I have many accents. I pick up intonation and phrasing so easily/without realising, and it depends the context, too. Here, I’m just chilling – “make up yer mind!” is definitely the roughest – but you can almost tangibly hear the changes. I guess that’s one-up for the acting.

Photo of the Week: Goodbyes

I’m still trying to work out what is actually going on in my life at the moment, but I do have time for some photography. I was given these flowers as a going-away present by one of my old friends; as well as being wonderfully fragrant, they lit my room with a beautiful colour. I love the purpley with the white. A good combination, definitely.

Flowers_AlexBI’ll try and get back to schedule soon.

By the way, were you wondering what I was doing on Monday not to post? I was getting paid to watch Benedict Cumberbatch act. Be jealous.