2015: A round up!

So today marks an end to 2015. 2015 has not been the best year for me, but the last four months of it were dramatically improved. I started my blog on the 23rd August and since then I have writen  97 blog posts, had 6,249 visitors who have viewed a staggering 13,909 times! I’m astonished! Especially as my blog is only four months old. I am so overwhelmed by those figures, I am completely amazed by them and I am thankful to everyone who has visited and supported my blog since it started. I especially would like to thank Steve at Philofaxy for including me regularly in the Philofaxy web finds. Most of my visitors come from there. Steve, you do an amazing job and really help out people like me. Thank you for taking the time and effort to help us Newbie Bloggers out! My last attempts at blogs have been no where near as successful and I had quickly abandoned them. Whilst I was not really concerned about views and was just interested in writing my previous attempt of just focusing on one idea meant that I ran out of inspiration and interest, eventually giving up. Thanks to subscribers and people who comment – it really keeps a blogger motivated to carry on writing posts and I really enjoy doing it! I am truly honoured to have people not only view my blog but also to leave comments about posts and I even have  24 followers – thank you for thinking I am interesting enough to follow. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all for helping to support A random English life.

I have decided to do a bit of a round up of my posts and share with you some of the highlights.

This Year’s Movie Hit: Everest

This Year’s Movie Flop: American Ultra

My most viewed post: Filofax: Your Perfect Layout

So what is in store for the upcoming year for this blog? I’d like to add a couple new sections to my blog. I have a couple of posts I’ve been wanting to write for a while but sadly have not had time to them! So hopefully I’ll get those up too.

I have also joined the All Stars team, which is a team of Bloggers who will tour on each other’s blogs and write some posts. Although this is organised by Philofaxy, the blogs might not necessarily be planner related! So a big change is that I’ll have a guest blogger!

…and for me more generally? I have a couple of resolutions…seven to be precise that I would like to attempt this year. So far I have never completed a New Years Resolution for a full year, I never really get to the end of January, if I am honest. So I have decided to keep them a bit more simple in the hope that maybe I will achieve them.  They are:

  1. Drink water every day
  2. Cut down on Coca-cola
  3. Eat fruit and veg every day
  4. Write a journal
  5. Be more positive
  6. Keep writing my blog
  7. Monitor and keep a healthy weight

Numbers 1 and 3 are really simple to do because all I have to do is focus on eating a minimum of one piece of fruit, one piece or veg and drink one glass of water a day. Obviously I am going to try and do more than the minimum but if I don’t it’s ok. Likewise number 6, keep writing my blog is also going to be pretty easy, at least for the moment because I have a ton of ideas for posts and I need to keep bashing them out. So far I have no run out of inspiration and even if I do – I may drop down from 5 posts a week to say 2 or 3. Number 4, writing a journal is a little more complicated, but I am again going to try and keep it simple and not put pressure to write 3 pages a day or something, some days I may only manage a quote or a sentence – that’s ok. I think the hardest ones on there are 2, 5 and 7. These are because they are the most vague. What exactly is a healthy weight? Well I’m not sure, at the moment I am a healthy weight but I don’t feel happy the weight I am – so I am going to experiment with eating a bit healthier and finding a good balance and then maintain that weight. Cutting down on Coca-cola is also deliberately vague. Caffeine is a drug and I am very much aware I am addicted to the caffeine and the sugar. I need to whine myself off it – and whilst I’d like to say I could only have x amount a day, I don’t know whether I could cope. I have introduced a 31 day challenge to not drink a drop of Coca-cola. This I imagine is going to be extremely tricky, but we’ll see how it goes.

Do any of you have similar New Years Resolutions? Maybe you have some different ones you would like to share? I am thinking that maybe building a little support community for those with similar goals might be a way of helping everyone achieve them. I need to start investigating that possibility.

A Happy New Year to everyone and may 2016 be fantastic for you!

All the best,




Into the Woods (4 Stars)


The Brothers Grimm classics get a modern and unusual retelling in this film. The stories of Little Red Riding Hunt, Cinderella and Jack and the Bean Stalk are re-told…or should I say sung through this film?

I must admit I am not a fan of the musicals and although interested in seeing this film at the cinema put it off in favour of other things and sadly ran out of time to see it. I wished I had seen it now. The performances of Emily Blunt, James Corden, Meryl Streep and Anna Kendrick were brilliant and the witty and complex lyrics made this film superb. The thing I particularly liked most about this film though, was the returning to the original Gebruder Grimm. In this film, some of the more gory elements of the books are seen here and highlights the fact that not every story has a happy ending and not everyone gets to live happily ever after. Although I didn’t like his singing I thought Chris Pine was perfect as Prince Charming, and as he says in the film, he is charming…doesn’t mean he is sincere – which is always want I thought of Prince Charming. He just seemed too perfect to not have a flaw, it’s great that he has them in this film!

Midwinter of the Spirit (2 Stars)

Merrily Watkins (Anna Maxwell Martin) is a vicar who is also training to be an exorcist. Following the death of her husband she moves with her daughter Jane (Sally Messham) to a new Parish. The death of a particularly nasty individual in Merrily’s presence leads her open to attack from a supernatural force. Still reeling from the discovery that her husband was having an affair and the difficulty in coming to terms with that leaves Merrily vulnerable to a psychic attack.

This drama series sounded promising, it has the potential to be a really good series. However it just didn’t work. The first episode is slow and dull…which can be forgiven as it is setting the scene for the story and introducing the characters and getting you to understand their relationships. The trouble is, the episode just seems superficial and that the relationships are not fully explored, in fact the whole relationship between everyone in the drama just seems superficial. The next episode is equally dull and uninteresting and the tension and drama is not revealed until the last 2-3 minutes of the episode. This sets episode 3 to be good, however because there is only one hour left to cover everything it just seems skipped over in terms of detail and rushed. I am left feeling that in the attempt to build up to a dramatic third episode, the relationships and character development was lost in order to preserve a surprise. However this came at the expense of fully getting to understand the characters. I left like there is something I am missing throughout. I know this is the second book in the series and the started with that one. Maybe it would have been better for ITV to have started with book one and made it a two part drama.

A Beautiful Gift – Van der Spek A5 Writing Case

Before we begin I just want to apologise for the photos. I am not, nor will I ever be a photographer. Just imagine these pictures done properly…one day I may improve!


On the 7th of December, Philofaxy had an interview with Petra Van der Spek about their company which makes leather organisers similar to Filofax. I have heard of the name since during the planner community in August but did not know which about their products. It was a very interesting read, and led me to read another post about the making of a planner. At the end of the interview Petra announced a competition. I lusted after the beautiful A5 writing case and entered the competition; answering the questions as best as I could. I didn’t for a second think I would actually win the competition.

I got an email from Steve announcing that I had won a prize and to expect an email from Petra the next day. I felt like a kid at Christmas…I kept checking my email, but alas no email. I checked my junk folder on the night and found it. Petra was super lovely and told me she had picked something out and because I was in Europe I’d get it for Christmas day. Petra didn’t tell me what I’d won and I didn’t ask. I thought it would be a wonderful surprise for Christmas.

Well, it didn’t arrive in time for Christmas…or so I thought. Turns out it did and a crafty member of my family had sneaked my parcel and wrapped it up and hidden it under the tree. Although technically a crime, I do forgive them for opening my post.

When I opened it I am in awe. Any of the prizes would have been beautiful, but I actually won the one I lusted after! The beautiful A5 writing pad.The photo did not do it justice on the interview did not do it justice! Sure it looked beautiful…but it’s even more beautiful in real life.


The colour, I’m not sure what colour it is but it is so rich and beautiful. The leather is soft, smooth and smells like new shoes. The smell is overpowering and feels the room, but in a good way. The quality is divine.

I am a traditional letter writer and I have penpals in the Netherlands and Germany. I had looked for a writing case before but never found one I liked. I thought they were not vintage looking enough and looked quite cheap. Until the article I didn’t know Van der Spek did them. This is absolutely perfect. The writing pad is smooth and thick, substantial enough to take a fountain pen.


The pocket configuration is a secretial flap on the right, which fits the a5 pad. On the left is pockets. You have three pockets for cards. When I buy stamps for posting to Europe, they come loose so I recently made a stamp holder (tutorial to follow), which fits perfectly into these slots. Above that is two further pockets. I have filled these with two different sized envelopes. Behind that is a send pocket. I have put an outgoing letter in the first one (my penpal is a big Harry Potter fan). Finally there is one more secretarial flap that I have stored a letter I need to reply to in. There is a loop in the centre for a pen. I’m too scared to put a pen in at the moment because knowing my luck it’ll leak all over it. So pens are staying away for the moment.


The stitching is also so beautiful. I love the little angle and makes it subtle but beautiful touch to the writing pad, it makes a delicate statement.


The two sides come together and are not secured in anyway, which was oddly what I was looking for before but couldn’t find that style.

I am stunned by how beautiful this is. I am completely in love with it. It was a wonderful gesture from Petra and her family and I cannot begin to thank them enough for it. Thank you so much Van der Spek!


My Filofaxes: Mini Black Baroque

I’ve seen in a couple of places people going crazy about the Baroque, particularly the personal sized Baroque in the blue/aqua hue. It goes for stupid money on some sites. I did bid on one the other week and missed out on it. I did however find a mini Baroque for sale on ebay. Mini’s are not the most popular size out there so I was able to get it for a good price. I brought it mostly to see what all the fuss about them once. According to Steve Morton from Philofaxy, no one was particularly bothered with them until Filofax discontinued them, then all of a sudden everyone wanted them.

I really like the pocket configuration in this planner, much more so than the Malden. It has four pocket slots which allow the card to slot into the top, compared to the Malden’s two pockets which slide the card in from the side. In addition is also has the two pockets that the Malden has. Secondly – the thing I really love is that it has a massive in comparison to the malden zip pocket which allows you to put more coins in. In the back it has a full length secretarial pocket like the pocket Malden, but the mini Malden has the two slide pockets like in the front.

The thing that this Filofax is missing is the back full length slot on the Malden which is great for storing notes in.

I really like the Baroque feel on it. But I think this Filofax has too much leather in it. It doesn’t seem to lie as flat as the leather on my other Filofaxes and whilst I really like the inside. I really don’t like inside. Another feature I don’t like is the pen loop which sits outside of the planner, which means that when the Filofax is closed it has wrinkled.

I do really like the Baroque nature of the Filofax, but I think if I was to make this planner I would have removed some of the leather to give it that more taunt experience of the Malden , added in the note pocket and put the Baroque pattern on the front as well as the inside.

On the whole. I really like the zipped compartment and wish that the Malden had one as big. I am keeping my eyes out for a pocket version of it.

I got this ‘second hand’ off Ebay. It had been owned by someone else who had just kept it in the box. When I got it I was interested to see what a ‘second hand’ Filofax would be like. I was a bit nervous about ordering it. I opened it and my heart sank as it look like the rings had in-bedded in the leather and caused it to tear. I got out some polish and a cloth and gave it a clean to my relief I found it was just dust. So it arrived undamaged which was great. I would consider buying used again.










Batman Returns (3 Stars)


The legendary film where Michelle Pfeiffer wears the famous cat suit, apparently 40 cat suits were made for this film because they were so scarred of it ripping (with the cat claws and trying to get Pfeiffer out of the costume) but apparently it didn’t rip.

The film is like any other superhero movie – it has a formula and the formula works. It begins with the story of The Penguin (Danny Devito) whose been abandoned as a baby and raised by Penguins (yet somehow managed to learn English as well…we’ll suspend are disbelieve for this film). I loved the Burton feel to these scenes and the music by Danny Elfmann, it reminds me very much of other Burton films and I just like his style.

33 years later at Christmas he along with his the Red Triangle Circus Gang cause a riot at Christmas (so naturally it’s up there as a good Christmas film!). Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) a prominate business man is kidnapped and threatened into helping The Penguin. In the process, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) stumbles along some of Shreck’s plans and he attempts to kill her. She survives but suffers a mental breakdown, and takes on a new alter-ego of cat woman. Enter Batman (Michael Keaton) and ensuring plotline to stop The Penguin an Max Shreck’s evil doings.

The film is ok, it’s like most batman films. I particularly liked the Batman costume in this one – it looked more vigilante that the more modern Batmans (although Bruce Wayne has enough money to make an awesome Batman costume as we see from the later films).The script is nothing special, I didn’t find the acting that inspiring either. Danny Devito did look amazing in this film, I loved his makeup and costume and thought he looked particularly creepy as a villain. I did get a little bored towards the end of the film, it just wasn’t fast flowing and punchy enough. Keaton wouldn’t be my best Batman and despite a good attempt by Devito he is also not my favourite Batman baddie.

It’s ok as a film, but it’s brilliant as a Christmas film, saves you having to watch some other Christmasy films. I’m not a Christmasy person so unless there is violence in it I don’t want to watch it (the notable exception to this is Muppet’s Christmas Carol).