I decided that I would look into collecting commemorative stamp releases.

There’s something about the idea of these stamps that appeals to me. It’s a bit nerdish; a bit quirky. It’s probably not something I’d own up to in the pub. But having bought some Star Wars, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones in the last few years and displayed them in frames, I quite like the idea of adding to my collection.

I always figured that the stamps might actually be worth something one day. Maybe they will one day, but not for many years.

So, I am purely doing this because I like the look of them. I’m not intending to collect every set released, but only the ones I think look cool.

The 2020 Royal Mail release schedule has been announced.

The 2020 Royal Mail Commemorative Stamp Collection

Without having seen most of the stamps (in fact, only the Video Games collection have been announced), here are my thoughts:

Video Games – these look REALLY good. The games featured include some of my childhood favourites including Dizzy, Sensible Soccer, Worms, Lemmings and Micro Machines. These have already been ordered!

Visions of the Universe – not sure what this will be. I probably won’t be buying these.

James Bond – definitely on my wish list! I love James Bond films, so these will be a great collector’s item.

The Romantic Poets – I hate poetry. No chance.

End of the Second World War – these sound interesting. I might buy these depending how they look.

Coronation Street – I don’t watch Corrie, so I will give these a miss. If Neighbours stamps are released though…

Roman Britain – I’m not a big lover of history. I doubt that I will buy these.

Queen – These sound great!

The Palace of Westminster – I hate politics right now. I don’t want to have stamps reminding be of Boris.

Sherlock – These sound intriguing. Again, it might depend how it looks. I’m not a massive Sherlock fan, but I did enjoy the BBC series. One to think about, maybe.

Rupert Bear – I didn’t even know this guy was still around. If stamps have been announced, does this mean he is due a comeback? Will yellow scarves be back in fashion. I might consider the stamps for nostalgia.

Brilliant Bugs – I don’t think bugs are brilliant. Not for me.

Christmas – Can I shock you? I like Christmas. These always make a nice set.

Star Trek – Not for me – Star Wars all the way. I liked the JJ Abrams films, but that’s about it.

So I’ll definitely buy four and maybe two or three more of the fourteen sets that will be released this year. Which ones do you have your eyes on?

Gavin & Stacey

Back in 2010 one of my favourite comedies ever ended with the perfect ending. The news that it would be back for a 2019 Christmas special made me nervous – could it ever be as good as it was?

Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special 2019

I was a bit late getting into Gavin & Stacey. Season Two was in full swing by the time we decided to take the plunge. As soon as we watched it we were hooked. It was such a natural comedy with such likeable and relatable characters.

Every episode was of the highest quality and there wasn’t a weak episode. It ended on New Year’s Day 2010 with what I thought was the perfect ending – just enough insight to satisfy your imagination and just enough lingering questions to make you wonder what if.

Earlier this year it was announced that the show would return for a Christmas special in 2019. Could it ever be as good as it was? Would it undo all of the memories and nostalgia if the episode was a let down. Would the humour work ten years later?

Well, the show was brilliant! Absolutely fantastic in fact. The show managed to give you a glimpse into the lives of the characters. It managed to be nostalgic whilst bringing something new to the show.

Despite being named after Gavin and Stacey the best characters of the show are all of the others – particularly Smithy and Nessa. Pam and Mick are favourites too, along with Uncle Bryn. And the special didn’t disappoint, giving them all more classic moments.

The one complaint was the unsatisfying ending – not because it was bad, but purely because we want to know what happens next!

You can also buy the characters in Lego form here!

Love Actually Best Bits

So, one of our Christmas traditions is that we watch Love Actually together. It’s the film that I love and hate at the same time, but Christmas wouldn’t be the same without watching it. Here are the best bits.

The wedding

Perhaps the best wedding scene ever. Until the creepy stalker undermines the whole thing later on. And also, when you realise that Keira Knightley is just five years older than Sam The Boy…

When you watch this, bear this in mind.

When Hugh Grant stands to to the president

Could you imagine Boris ever doing this to Trump? No chance. Best press conference ever.

The stalker fastens up his turtle neck in dramatic fashion

Have you ever seen a zip fastened up in sync with the dramatic music so perfectly before? Of course you haven’t. It’s not a self-preservation thing – you’re a big perv.

Dancing Prime Minister

Total cheese. But it’s good cheese – Tesco’s Finest Cheddar.

Mr Bean does his best to stop Snape having an affair

Don’t do it, Bad Harry!

Carol Singing

Please, sir, please

All I Want For Christmas

Wow, this scene is amazing! What a shame she didn’t grow up to do well on Celebrity X Factor

Airport Chase

Is there anything Sam can’t do. He learns to play the drums in a week and becomes so good that he’s better than all the other people who could play drums and he gets picked to play in the band – he’s that good. He also gets the girl!

What’s your favourite moment?

The Santa Clause?

I’m not planning on letting my children read this – so don’t let yours.

I’m having a lot of doubt this year about the great lie that is Father Christmas. I think it’s because we are maybe at the last year that we will be able to convince our eldest that Father Christmas is real. She’s at the age where she’s becoming a bit savvy and asking a few questions about how the guy in the red suite actually manages to do his job. You know the sort – why does Father Christmas sometimes wear glasses? How does he get in to our house? How does he make it round the world in one night?

It’s got me thinking about the lies we are telling our children and made me wonder whether we should continue with it? Here are my worries:

  • We aren’t exactly well off and we can’t afford to spend loads of money (and, we don’t want to overindulge the children anyway). But some children get LOADS of money spent on them and get enormous presents. There’s a message to children that Santa brings some children bigger gifts than others and that’s not fair. We tell the children that the main gift is from us and the others are from Santa.
  • Don’t talk to strangers – but Father Christmas is ok.
  • Personal space is important – but you can cuddle up to Santa.
  • Lock the doors so that no one can get in – but Father Christmas can break in if he wants.
  • Watch what you eat – but everyone can leave out food for Santa.

And then there are the ever evolving and ever more extreme explanations for how St Nick manages to do his job.

It’s all lies – and we want our children to be honest!

This year our youngest told Santa what he wanted for Christmas but wants to keep it a secret from us!

The whole thing makes me uneasy and yet every year we do it all again.

8 Underrated Christmas Songs

Everyone likes the big ones – you know, the same ones we play every year. But here are the eight most underrated seasonal songs!

Gwen Stefani & Blake Shelton – You Make It Feel Like Christmas -An absolute belter – why don’t more people know this?

Bryan Adams – Christmas Time – a big sing along Christmas song that you never get to sing along to because no one ever plays it!

Kelly Clarkson – Underneath The Tree – surely this would get you up and dancing – if it was ever played!

Coldplay – Christmas Lights – Another Coldplay anthem. Well, it would be if it was played more.

Sheena Easton – Christmas All Over The World – A Christmas song from one of the best ever Christmas movies – Santa Clause: The Movie

Leona Lewis – One More Sleep – Ok, so this is finally picking up traction (peaking at Number 8 in 2018). But this deserves to be a classic and one of the most played on your Christmas playlist. Check out the awesome Cahill Remix!

Cliff Richard – Mistletoe And Wine – So it’s perhaps a bit odd that a Christmas Number 1 is on this list. But M&W gets tarred with the same ‘Cliff Richard is not cool’ brush. And it’s not fair as this is a classic.

The Waterbabies – Under The Tree – Originally used in a Vodafone advert, this will make you feel Christmassy – if you ever get to hear it!

Nativity Rocks!

The poster for the movie doesn’t include most of the key actors. I wonder why?

Yes, it is January. And I’m reviewing a Christmas movie. I know, it is weird.

It was our little boy’s fourth birthday today. Our children are obsessed with all of the Nativity movies every Christmas. Lisa and I adore the first Nativity and the songs at the end – especially Sparkle and Shine! We went to see the musical in 2017. The children love Nativity 2 and Nativity 3. I thought both were pretty poor, but after watching them about twenty times each this Christmas they have grown on me to the point where I, dare I say it, like them…

We missed Nativity Rocks in the cinema but we decided that going to the Kids Club at the Odeon cinema near us (£2.50 a ticket) would be quite good fun. It wasn’t just us – the screen was pretty busy, to be fair.

The trailer

Starring Simon Lipkin, who played Mr Poppy in the musical in 2017, Nativity Rocks was actually brilliant and we didn’t miss the ‘original’ Mr Poppy at all.

It was a real return to form for the film series. The last couple of movies became really silly and, whilst this is totally crackers, it manages to feel just about believable.

We were close to tears a few times thanks to some touching plots and we laughed lots and lots thanks to laughs that appealed to adults as well as jokes that suited the children too!

We will look forward to watching it probably twenty times next Christmas!