I adapted the idea to make my own as I figured that £1000 would be a struggle over the year. I turned it into £750 over the year and instead of saving, I would use this to pay things off, paying off additional amounts each week.
I am pleased to say that I managed it and paid, in fact, more than £750 off over the year. This made a real difference to my finances. It is definitely worth thinking about if you want to save some money, or pay something off a bit faster over the year.
Here’s the record of my payments over the year – ignore the colours. I was originally going to keep a record on my computer, but decided having this in front of me in my office each week was better. I was going to highlight each week but decided to put dates instead of highlighting – this is better to look back and reflect on when good times are to pay.
Matthew Ashton has created a beautifully simple Lego set called ‘Everyone Is Awesome’.
“I wanted to create a model that is a symbol of inclusivity, that celebrates everyone, no matter how they identify or who they love. Everyone is unique, and with a little more love, acceptance and understanding in the world, we can all feel free to be our true AWESOME selves.”
The set really captures the message well. The pieces are not gender defined and this promotes the message of individuality. The range of colours celebrates the importance of acceptance and inclusion perfectly.
I’ll be honest, although I might take the set into school to display to celebrate the equality message, I bought the set for the monochrome minifigures. I have been collecting monochromes for about a year now, adding a new one to my collection every so often. This set adds four new ones to my collection – the light blue being my new favourite. The side effect of this set being released will be that the prices of these figures will now increase as more people get into the hobby.
The set itself was a nice relaxing build, requiring around half an hour to complete.
Recently Lego released one of their finest ever collectible minifigure sets. The Looney Tunes series features twelve excellent figures that look simply stunning on display.
Here are my thoughts on the figures:
12 Lola Bunny I have placed Lola Bunny as my least favourite. Whilst it is an excellent figure in theory, I really am not familiar with this character. Also, the accessory, a plain basketball, is not great.
11 Petunia Pig I can’t really recall this character whatsoever. I have bumped it up to 11 because the design of the figure is interesting and the cup and teapot which joins the character are pretty good accessories. I cannot understand how Petunia and Lola made the cut but iconic characters like Yosemite Sam and Elmer Fudd didn’t. Gutted.
10 Porky Pig A really nice figure, but not one of my favourite characters.
9 Tweety Pie Tweety is a lovely little figure… but it’s not litte enough. The figure needs to be smaller.
8 Daffy Duck I really love the figure and don’t like placing Daffy so low, but, I guess, the figure is a bit plain. There was probably little else they could do with it, to be fair.
7 Road Runner Another figure that appears so low on the list and yet, actually, I love him. It’s perfect, and is only so low because the other figures are sublime.
6 Marvin The Martian I remember the Marvin was so funny when I was a child. The minifigure is absolutely perfect!
5 Sylvester The Cat What a brilliant figure! Lego have captured his likeness perfectly!
4 Bugs Bunny I loved Bugs Bunny when I was little. The minifigure version is perfect in every way! Well done Lego!
3 Tazmanian Devil Taz is a fantastic figure! The beautifully moulded head is incredible and the accessories are superb, including the spinner! Lego have done a superb job here.
2 Wile E. Cote What a fabulous figure! Looking exactly like his cartoon likeness, poor Wile E. looks determined and bamboozled at the same time. Superb!
1 Speedy Gonzales Speedy is superb! Whereas Tweety’s dimensions don’t seem right, Speedy’s feel perfect. The way the head is moulded is perfect, and his little tail is very cute. The cheese slopes designed like actual cheese are a sweet inside Lego joke. Absolutely perfect!
One of the best collections ever, I have placed the figures in a frame to be displayed alongside my other collections. The frame I bought can be found here.
New Brighton is about an hour away from where we live. Today we enjoyed a day out at the seaside and New Brighton had all we needed.
The children were desperate to visit the seaside. By this point in the year we have usually visited at least once, but the weather has been so rubbish this year we’ve not even come close to considering. But half-term arrived and the glorious weather seemed to coincide. We had to visit the beach!
We decided to head up to New Brighton rather than sit in traffic on the way into Wales. New Brighton has flaws, but it is a lovely day out. Here’s a quick guide!
Parking We parked in the Morrisons car park. This was free and there was no time limit. Also, of course, it was handy for Morrisons!
Food Although there are lots of places to eat (check out the Perch Fish ‘n’ Chip Shop) we usually buy something at Morrisons and take it to the beach.
Toilets There were toilets at the arcades, Morrisons and in the local cafes.
The Beach The beach is gorgeous. I love sitting on the beach but looking over and seeing what is going on in Liverpool. We were on the beach near to the Fort Perch Rock and the lighthouse.
Ice Cream There are ice cream vans all over the police, but if you’re prepared to queue, the ice cream at Caffe Cream. Fantastic!
The Arcades These felt like a covid-breeding ground. There were no restrictions on entry, barely any sanitiser, no one noticeably cleaning anything, hardly anyone wore masks and that’s without the place feeling like it hasn’t been cleaned since the day it opened. I don’t recommend the arcades.
What else is there? Check out the marine lake, visit the Floral Pavillion Theatre, walk through the Tower Gardens, go bowling, play crazy golf and walk along the promenade.
At the other end of the promenade there seems to be lots of grass where thousands of people seem to spend the day. I don’t know what this is all about. I can’t recommend that.
After reading a couple of articles online recently (this and this), I thought I would list my favourite twenty Oasis songs.
(If I was including their covers on the list, I’d probably go for I Am The Walrus, Cum On Feel the Noize and Hide Your Love Away).
20 Half The World Away Such a great song. It would probably be higher up the list but it’s possibly overplayed due to The Royle Family and lost its edge due to John Lewis.
19 Live Forever Such a classic Oasis song. This was the second ever song that I heard by the band (after hearing Cigarettes & Alcohol). This is the sound that they are most famous for. Widely regard as a classic, I agree!
18 It’s Better People Ok, so I am going to include quite a few of Noel’s acoustic songs on this list. This is the first. Another classic Oasis B-side.
17 Round Are Way Say what you like about Oasis and they won’t care. They’ll take your grammar rules and do what they like. Luckily this is a great song as their bad grammar would make me hate it otherwise.
16 Sunday Morning Call Noel performing at his best here. Class.
15 All Around The World Yes, it is ridiculously long. But I have managed to find a radio edit of All Around The World. It strips out the five minutes of instrumental and focuses on the classic song. When this was released, this was the windows down, radio on full blast kind of song.
14 Rock ‘n’ Roll Star It’s hard to pick the best song from Definitely Maybe, but this one is a favourite. Best played loud.
13 (It’s Good) To Be Free The first ever Oasis single that I bought was Whatever. (It’s Good) To Be Free was on the B-side and I played it to death. It’s superb.
12 Talk Tonight One of my favourite acoustic songs, this time appearing on Some Might Say. The lyrics of Talk Tonight feel more meaningful than most.
11 Supersonic Just a classic, nonsensely-lyriced Oasis song. Classic. The lyrics make no sense and they don’t give a shit about it.
10 Let There Be Love Right towards the end, Oasis released this classic. Both versions of it are incredible, but Noel’s version is my favourite.
9 Cigarettes & Alcohol I remember feeling quite shocked when it was mentioned on Granada News or BBC North West or something that a band had released a song celebrating cigarettes and alcohol. It didn’t sound like a good idea. But then I heard the song and it was amazing. It somehow felt naughty playing this at home where my parents were not keen on cigarettes, alcohol or rock music. I think this was its early appeal. This was the first Oasis song I’d ever heard – I didn’t know it at the time but this was the start of my love for probably the best band ever.
8 Step Out B-side to Don’t Look Back In Anger, Step Out is a brilliantly uplifting song that is massively underrated.
7 Little By Little 2002’s Little By Little is a proper Noel-sang banger. Not acoustic, just a banger!
6 Champagne Supernova I could never understand who Champagne Supernova was not released as a single as it is absolutely class. Genius Oasis at their very best.
5 Slide Away The best song on Definitely Maybe, at least in my opinion. Right from the intro, Slide Away is captivating, uplifting, air guitar inducing, singalong creating and much more. Just the perfect rock song.
4 Some Might Say Oasis’s first Number One, Some Might Say is the only song I know of that mentions dirty dishes and for that reason alone it should be celebrated. The lyrics are total nonsense, yet brilliant. You simply have to play this loudly and proudly and it demands that you sing along.
3 Don’t Look Back In Anger An absolute classic monster of a song. It’s a song that everyone knows. Always popular, the song found new meaning after the 2017 Manchester Arena bomb incident and it helped to bring people in the city together after the atrocity. One of the best songs ever written. It probably should be top of this list, but I’ve tried to go a bit niche…
2 The Masterplan Oasis’ most beautiful song. It was a B-side to Wonderwall. I missed Wonderwall off the list as I don’t feel it’s held up as well over the years. Wonderwall is probably a bit of a gimmicky song. The Masterplan, however, has endured. Noel’s vocals are phenomenal and the orchestral backing lifts the song to another level. Quite simply brilliant. On reflection, Oasis also felt it was a classic and they named their collection of B-sides after it!
1 Whatever Whenever I feel down, Whatever is my go to song. It brings me back. Whatever is empowering and fulfilling. One of the reasons Whatever is so memorable is that the single included some of the best B-sides ever: Half The Wold Away, (It’s Good) To Be Free and Slide Away. What a collection. Some of Oasis’s instrumental sections go on too long, but Whatever’s just feels right. Whatever has stayed with me, so for for 26 years and I just love it.
In conclusion, there is not a band like Oasis. The strength of their B-sides, the audacity of their cover songs, the way their albums contain no filler songs whatsoever, the sheer power and don’t-give-a-shit-ness of their songs make them the complete package. I never want them to get back together because I know that they can never live up to the unreachable standard they met back in their hey day. Noel Gallagher is a genius.
I don’t watch enough TV. I have, however, loved some TV shows this year.
The Mandalorian So, the quality of The Mandalorian is incredible. Each season is like an 8-hour film. I love how The Mandalorian is connected to the Star Wars universe but has a completely different story. If only the sequel trilogy had attempted the same thing then it would have been so much better. Apart from the cuteness of Baby Yoda, the action is the best thing to watch. The episode where Baby Yoda is kidnapped by Dark Troopers is ace!
The best thing about The Mandalorian is probably its legacy – so many quality programmes are now being made in the Star Wars and Marvel cinematic universes now that Mando has convinced everyone that it’s possible.
The Great British Bake Off It’s cheesy but I almost cried when the Bake Off was announced as returning. There is something so comforting about this programme. It is perfect escapism TV – for an hour or so each week COVID didn’t matter. All that matters was if Peter could bake a cake. A brilliant series!
The Fall Ok, so The Fall wasn’t released this year, but this was the year that we binge-watched it. It was totally captivating. Incredible programme.
Neighbours I don’t watch any other soap so Neighbours is a totally guilty pleasure. Each day it is reassuring and entertaining. There have been some brilliant plot lines this year. The only problem has been that we have not been able to watch as many episodes this year because of COVID!
This Country This year we fell in love with This Country. The show has flown straight in as one of my favourite comedies ever. It is hysterically funny!
The Last Leg The Last Leg is the programme that has summed up the year. In January/February it laughed at the idea of COVID. Then by the end of the series there was no audience. It returned with Adam Hills in lock down in Australia and Josh and Alex presenting from their homes via Zoom. It returned again in a socially distanced form at the end of the year. That they awarded Dominic Cummings the Dick Of The Year Award over COVID tells you how much we all hate Dominic Cummings.
Gogglebox Quite possibly the best programme ever. Entertaining, uplifting, comforting and awkard every single week, the stars have really cheered me up this year.
The Stranger I’ve already written about how much we enjoyed The Stranger. It was awesome.
2020 hasn’t been a vintage year for music but were are a few gems.
The Weeknd – Blinding Lights Ok, so this was technically released in 2019 but it enjoyed most of its success this year. The song is, excuse the pub, an absolute blinder! It sounds fresh every time you hear it, yet also sounds it was released years ago. I’ve not really enjoyed much of The Weeknd’s music before – part of this was stubbornness not to engage because I hate the way he is too lazy to spell his name properly. But between Blinding Lights and In Your Eyes, 2020 has been a vintage year for him. Both tunes are amazing, but Blinding Lights is phenomenal!
Ella Henderson & Roger Sanchez – Dream On Me (Roger Sanchez Remix) Ella is such an amazing singer. She has released so much good music but has never really followed up on her initial success with Ghost. However, in 2020 she released some crackers and it was hard to choose my favourite. I have gone with Dream On Me as it samples one of my favourite songs, Another Chance. However, I could have chosen Take Care Of You as that is fantastic too!
Purple Disco Machine & Sophie and the Giants – Hypnotized Before streaming became the thing, the hype around Purple Disco Machine would have been huge. His Nineties-revival remixes are amazing and this remix of what I assume is a Sophie and the Giants song deserved to be massive, like the Robin Schulz remix of Prayer in C was in 2014. Hyponotized is brilliant and is well worth a listen!
McFly – Tonight Is The Night I love McFly. I really enjoyed the documentary All About Us in November. Tonight Is The Night is such a good tune, I listened to it on repeat after watching it!
BTS – Dynamite All I know about BTS is that they are Korean, they usually don’t sing in English and that girls love them apparently. Yet, somehow this year they released Dynamite – one of the best pop songs of the year by a mile. I don’t know how they managed it, but fair play.
During my annual festive re-watch of Die Hard, it occurred to me that it was about time that someone spoke up in favour of Hans Gruber. He has a bad reputation but I’m not sure it’s fully deserved.
Well planned It was clear that he had planned his operation well. When things deviated, he was clear: “Keep to the plan.”
Enjoyed small talk As he walked into the building he and his team were enjoying a good chit chat about this and that.
Knew his staff well He knew for every impulsive irrational muppet like Karl, he needed someone to balance this out (Karl’s brother in this case). He knew the strengths and weaknesses of his team.
Equality and diversity For a clearly Germany-based outfit, he had a diverse workforce and this should be celebrated. This is clearly one of the most diverse terrorist teams in movie history.
Hands on He was happy to get stuck in. Shooting a guy in the head here, holding up a microphone to share the sound of screaming there, Hans was always keen to be involved at the ground level (or 30th floor as the case may be).
Good communicator He recognises that it often helps to give orders in a second language when his comrades don’t understand the message in their first language – see the case of “Shoot the glass”.
Over half-term I invested probably too much of my time in completing a Jigraphy Cityscape Map jigsaw. But I have to say, it is one of the best jigsaws I’ve ever completed.
The Cityscape Mapmake brilliant jigsaws – the maps are interesting and full of character. They somehow capture the personality of each town or city whilst also being accurate and clear. They are available in three versions – the 100-pieces, the 500-piece or the 1000-piece. I went for the 1000-piece puzzle of Whitby. You can buy them from the Happy Puzzle Company.
I treated myself to a jigsaw featuring the map of my favourite place in the world – Whitby. I felt this would be something I’d love, but also a challenge. As Whitby is separated by the mouth of a river, the jigsaw would have a significant amount of ocean to include as well.
The built up area of Whitby took me a while to put together, but the ocean part took me hours! The pieces were all quite different, so there was no pattern so I really appreciated the challenge.
I would love to get more Jigraphy jigsaws – there are almost 100 available. Here are the places on my list: Bakewell, Chester, Keswick, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Scarborough, Southport, Wells and York. These are all places I love that would make great jigsaws too!
2020 has been shit. But to prove that it is possible to make money out of a crisis, here is a tongue in cheek list of people who have done well out of this year.
Perspex screen makers – they must be doing a roaring trade! Metal barrier makers – people needed barriers to queue along People who make that yellow tape – this was everywhere this year! Cleaning companies – extra cleaning is required. They must be doing well. People who make face coverings – Etsy and eBay are full of them. Well done! Amazon deliverers – We have kept them busy enough at our house. Supermarket security guards – It needs someone to man those queues. Arrow sticker makers – One way direction arrows were everywhere this year. People who make hand sanitiser