Poldark Blu-ray Giveaway

Do you love Masterpiece: Poldark? How does a free Blu-ray disc set of your latest English obsession sound? Thanks to our friends over at PBS Distribution, I am honored to host a giveaway for 5 copies of Poldark on Blu-ray. Could it get any better? If you are new to Poldark, be sure to check out my review here.

© ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

© ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below (be sure to link contact information or include some way for me to reach you in case you win! It’s easier if you sign in with Twitter or Facebook.) By leaving a comment on this post, you are agreeing to the following rules:

OFFICIAL RULES

  • No purchase necessary
  • One entry per person. An entry is a comment on this post.
  • Entrants must be 18 years old or older and residents of the U.S.
  • Giveaway entries will be accepted from Friday, July 10 until 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 20, 2015
  • 5 randomly selected winners will win the Complete First Season of Masterpiece: Poldark on Blu-ray, including extra bonus features. The run time of this program is approximately 480 minutes on 3 discs. The Blu-ray SRP is $49.99.
  • 5 winners will be selected at random from the comment section on this post. Only comments received before 11:59 p.m. Monday, July 20, 2015 will be entered. Winners will be announced Tuesday, July 21, 2015. Winners will have one week to claim prize.
  • Prizes can only be shipped to addresses in the U.S.
  • The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning
  • By entering giveaway, you are submitting the right to access your name for the winning entries as well as for use in a post revealing winners
  • If potential winner forfeits or does not claim prize, prize will be re-awarded in Sponsor’s sole discretion
  • Neither Rose West nor PBS Distribution is liable for any negative impacts as a result of the prize or giveaway
  • Prize is provided by PBS Distribution
  • Giveaway is regulated in the state of Michigan
  • Void where prohibited by law

So comment away! And don’t forget to share this post with your other Anglophile friends. Even if you don’t win, Poldark is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution! So be sure to get in on the fun!

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The Man in a Three-Cornered Hat: A Review of Poldark

For over forty years, PBS Masterpiece has been good to us Anglophiles. As our main importer of many of BBC’s classic television series, Masterpiece has given us such memorable visual feasts as Jeeves and Wooster; Upstairs, Downstairs; Agatha Christie’s Poirot; and Sherlock. If you, like me, thought Downton Abbey was the peak of Masterpiece’s best programs, then think again. Poldark, the latest English drama to invade America, has been sending its fans indoors every Sunday night to enjoy the most recent episode. With the release of Poldark on DVD and Blu-ray this week, those of us who missed it on television can catch up. (Follow the link at the end of the post to enter my giveaway of 5 Blu-ray sets of Poldark!)

Poldark overlooking the cliffs of Cornwall  © ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Poldark overlooking the cliffs of Cornwall
© ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

The Plot

Episode One opens on unusual territory for BBC: the thick woods of Colonial Virginia, 1781. We are introduced to Captain Ross Poldark (how’s that for a hero’s name?), a British soldier who seems dissatisfied with the American Revolution and his own lot in life. After two years and an injury that leaves a scar down the side of his face, Poldark returns home to his family estate in Cornwall, England. Only, neither his family nor his estate is the same as when he left.

His father having died in his absence, Poldark’s only family left are his uncle and cousins who live on an adjacent property. They at first welcome home the man they thought had died in battle, but when Poldark learns that his former love interest, Elizabeth, is now engaged to his cousin, his family relations start to decay.

If coming home to a dead father and unrequited love isn’t enough, Poldark returns to his inherited estate which has been essentially abandoned to the decay of dust and rodents. Poldark, worn down by combat and the corrosion of his entire life, works to restore his home, a difficult task considering the poverty-stricken economy Cornwall has acquired since the war. His two current servants being next to useless, Poldark does much of the work of rebuilding walls and upkeep himself. His lack of funds and food eventually drive him to seek investors in order to reopen his abandoned copper mine, in the hopes that his luck will turn.

Meanwhile, Poldark, whose local reputation is slightly less than respected, takes an interest in others who have likewise nothing to lose. He meets Demelza, a red-headed girl dressed as a boy to escape her father’s abusive supervision. Despite his inadequate money for food, Poldark takes her in as a kitchen maid and even fights off a hoard of brutish relatives when they arrive to claim her. As Poldark struggles to survive, we see him grow into his circumstances, helping those around him in his community.

The Cast

Captain Ross Poldark, played by Aidan Turner (known for his role as Kili in The Hobbit trilogy), is our complicated hero. Known as the gambler that he was in his youth,, Poldark has been changed by his experiences in the war. His life has been darkened by tragedy, and he approaches life’s uncertainty with a calm, confident demeanor. He is not just a likeable hero; he is lovable. We love him because of his determination in the face of loss, his compassion on Demelza, and (of course) his sexy, brooding charm.

Captain Ross Poldark  © ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Captain Ross Poldark
© ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Elizabeth, the girl Poldark left behind, is played by Icelandic actress Heida Reed (from the film One Day). Although at first we find her attractive and pitiable (how could she know Poldark was still alive?), before long, we realize that she ties herself to her circumstances by obeying her culture’s rules of decorum and going through with the marriage to Poldark’s cousin Francis. She still feels something for Poldark, however, but this only makes matters worse when she risks reputation-damaging gossip by seeking his attention in public.

Ross Poldark with © ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Ross Poldark with © ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Demelza, the red-headed girl who transforms from being dirty, afraid, and dressed like a boy, into a clear-eyed, beautiful, and supportive companion to Poldark, is played by Eleanor Tomlinson, who is no stranger to English television drama, having played in The White Queen and Death Comes to Pemberley. Demelza provides a refreshing contrast to Elizabeth: she tackles life’s hardships head-on and stays by Poldark’s side no matter what. Over time Demelza comes into her own and we can quickly imagine her

Demelza  © ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Demelza
© ITV plc (ITV Global Entertainment Ltd)

Three-cornered hats off, if you please, to playwright-screenwriter Debbie Hosfield for her adaptation of Winston Graham’s novels. It’s been forty years since the first television adaptation of the series, and Hosfield, together with directors Edward Bazalgette and William McGregor, has refreshed modern television with a renewed old story.

I’d also like to note the gorgeous score by Oscar-winning composer Anne Dudley. The soaring violins run along with the dramatic views of cliffs and ocean swells, adding that extra dimension to film which deserves to be recognized in its own right. The scenery itself is absolutely breathtaking as the show was filmed on location in Cornwall. Overall, Poldark shouldn’t be missed as it captures all the elements that make a great Masterpiece!

Poldark is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from PBS Distribution. I’d like to thank PBS Distribution for providing me with the material I needed for this review.
If you would like a chance to win your very own  Blu-ray set of Poldark, enter our giveaway here. But hurry, the end date is midnight EST on Monday, July 20th!

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Discover Cornwall, England

At the southwestern tip of England lies a sea-surrounded county called Cornwall. Lined with coastal towns and cliffs, this small yet beautiful corner of the United Kingdom provides the setting for PBS Masterpiece’s latest hit, Poldark. As is often the case with my ritual (some might say addictive) viewing of BBC and Masterpiece, I have become a little bit obsessed with my newly discovered English countryside. Although I have yet to watch Poldark, I’m looking forward to it soon, so I’ve been doing my research. The result: Cornwall has been added to a very lengthy list of places I need to visit in the faraway land of England.

Gunwalloe Church Cove

Gunwalloe Church Cove, Cornwall ~ image by Tim Green via Flickr

This view of Church Cove in Gunwalloe, Cornwall has the romantic tangling of open ocean and vivid green cliffs that I associate with the English coastline. This beach on the Lizard Peninsula was used in filming Poldark.

The rolling hills of Boscastle, Cornwall image by JUweL via Wikimedia Commons

The harbour town of Boscastle was once a home for Thomas Hardy. Not only did the landscape inspire some of Hardy’s literary endeavors, but Hardy also met his first wife here, according to cornwall-online.co.uk.

Idyllic seaside village of Mousehole, Cornwall ~ image via Wikimedia Commons

Dylan Thomas, the Welsh poet, called Mousehole “the loveliest village in England.” And one can see why: the small harbor filled to the brim with fishing boats, the village houses arcing the water and spreading up the hill. It looks like a lovely Saturday afternoon spot.

Cape Cornwall ~ image by Judithili via Wikimedia Commons

This piece of land looks almost like it is floating on the Atlantic. Cape Cornwall looks peaceful in this photo, but I imagine it could be a dangerous place in a wild sea storm.

Land’s End, Cornwall ~ image via Wikimedia Commons

Land’s End seems to be just that: as far as you can go southwest in England. I would love taking a rambling hike along this coastline.

Chun Quoit, Cornwall ~ image by Jim Champion via Wikimedia Commons

These ancient stones were built as a Neolithic tomb. The dolmen of Chun Quoit is evidence of the long and eventful history of England. It must be amazing to witness that connection across thousands of years.

Tintagel Castle, Cornwall ~ image by Maniple via Wikimedia Commons

Tintagel Castle looks like it has emerged straight from the mythical past. Indeed, legend has it that King Arthur of the Round Table was conceived at this location, prior to the construction of the castle.

Lands End Cliffs

Land’s End, Cornwall ~ image by Chris Combe via Flickr

Like other English places, Cornwallt has that magical mix of historical significance and natural beauty. You could spend days hiking the cliffs, swimming at the beaches, and exploring the quaint villages. Maybe someday I’ll do just that.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of Cornwall. Stay tuned for a review coming soon of Poldark!

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Samwise Gamgee Meets Gandalf in the Frozen Foods Section

Sam walked up and down the grocery store aisles, a plastic basket crooked over his arm. “Not like the good old days,” he said, scratching the top of his graying head with his empty pipe. “This country’s gone to rot. Where in the name of Gandalf is the bleeding pipe weed?” Sam stopped and stared with red eyes at a wall of freezers. Everything from frozen ready-to-roast meals to ale popsicles stocked the shelves.

“Did you call on me, Master Samwise?” said a very tall person who was stepping out of one the freezer doors. “So nice to cool off a bit. They call it climate change, but honestly I feel like we’re virtually melting nowadays.”

“Gandalf?! I haven’t seen you in what, fifty years!”

Gandalf stroked his newly trimmed goatee. “Has it really been only fifty years? Seems like an eternity. Yes, well, the Grey Havens were getting a little grey, if you know what I mean. Too many elves. They sing constantly – after a while, an old wizard like me would like to wake up naturally, not to a multitude of conceited angels shrieking to the sunrise.”

“But what are you doing here?” asked Sam. His empty basket had crashed several moments before on the tile next his sandaled feet.

“Just checking up on things. Looking around. Taking a vacation, of sorts.”

“Well, things have changed quite a bit. All these new aboveground boxes selling everything under the sun. Everything but pipe weed, apparently.”

“If you must know,” said Gandalf, looking behind him before continuing, “all the pipe weed has been either smoked or burned since the government ban several weeks ago. It looks as though it has finally taken effect in the Shire.”

“Just what we need – another ban! We’ve only had to wear these blasted shoes indoors for a couple weeks, and already I’ve had hundreds of blisters!”

“Really, Sam, you’ve always been so prone to exaggeration. But you are right, the Gondorians have become rather overprotective.”

“To say the least! I can’t even grow my own vegetables without registering with the bloody Minister of Fruitation!”

“Eh-hem…” A smallish person with big round glasses and bulging beer-belly-in-progress emerged from the next aisle carrying a very large pumpkin and a six-pack of butterbeer. “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help but overhear. I’m a bit ashamed really, but I’ve always wanted to meet you. You know, you were always my favorite character, Sam. May I call you Sam?”

“And who, might I ask, are you?” Sam asked, growing more agitated the longer he went without pipe weed.

“Oh, sorry. Thought you would know me. My name’s Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived and all that rot. Me and the Sorceror’s Stone, Me and the Chamber of Secrets – oh, and my personal favorite, Me and the Goblet-”

“Right-o! Of course I know you!” said Sam, a smile breaking out on his wrinkled face. “I’ve read your books to my grand-hobbits. Maybe you could sign a copy for me-”

“Oh, I don’t really do that anymore. Publicity isn’t good for my health, you see. But I’m very glad to meet a fan.”

Gandalf eyed the pumpkin suspiciously. “What do you have there, boy? Not delving into Black Magic, are you?”

“Of course not – why does everyone keep asking that? Actually it’s more like Purple Magic – very freeing and individualistic. I’ve never felt more accepted than when I hang out with Purple Magicians.”

Gandalf cleared his throat and arched a crooked eyebrow. “I see,” he sneered. “I really must be going; so very nice to chat, Master Samwise. You should consider retirement – Gray Havens has quite a vacancy!”

Sam watched as Gandalf skipped down the aisle and disappeared.

“Damn it all to Sauron, I meant to ask him about Frodo!” Sam said, quickly recovering his agitation as he remembered that he was no nearer to getting more pipe weed.

“Oh, haven’t you heard?’ whispered Harry, as if covering up a juicy secret. “Frodo’s left the Grey Havens. Joined the Sith, so they say.”

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Yardley Advertisements from the 1960s

Looking over Yardley ads from the past century, I find it interesting that the British toiletry company has kept up with modern times while retaining its elegant and even sophisticated reputation. Some of my favorite Yardley ads are from the 1960s when Mod culture was high in Swinging London. The fashion trend that Yardley helped promote seems to have been full of hopefulness and a sense of security, which I find refreshing living in a time when emaciation and extremism seem predominant in fashion.

Twiggy was one of the most popular models of the time, and she started modeling for Yardley in 1967, advertising Twiggy eyelashes and paint.

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

But Twiggy wasn’t the only face of Yardley. With the release of Romeo and Juliet in 1968, Olivia Hussey became the image of romance.

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

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photo courtesy ~ Musings from Marilyn

Twiggy and Olivia Hussey are my favorite models from the ’60s… do you have any?

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photo courtesy ~ pictify.com

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photo courtesy ~ Carnabetian Army

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photo courtesy ~ John Bull & Uncle Sam

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photo courtesy ~ Hair and Makeup

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English Lavender

Even though I haven’t been updating this blog very recently, I’ve still been dreaming about faraway England. As I was researching this hub about Yardley of London’s English Lavender, I came across these photos of lavender growing in the English countryside. Fields of gorgeous purple, set against the open blue sky…. seems so peaceful, so picturesque. And as the Michigan winter is inching upon us, I look out the soon-frosted window thinking about rippling rows of fragrant lavender that will be blooming next June, and I feel a little warmer inside.  

Gloucester

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photo courtesty ~ Cameraman

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photo courtesy ~ W. Lloyd MacKenzie, via Flickr

Hampshire

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photo courtesy ~ Peter Trimming

Hertfordshire

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photo courtesy ~ OLU

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photo courtesy ~ OLU

Kent

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photo courtesy ~  Trevor Harris

Kent

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photo courtesy ~ Andy Peacock

 

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English Accent for Hire!

Just can’t get enough of listening to the Brits speak? Do you watch the BBC just to hear that impossibly posh accent? Now for a mere fifteen American dollars, you can actually hire someone to read a passage or poem with an English accent. Robert Charleston of oneloneenglishman.com puportedly offers his born-and-bred British voice to read whatever you want (of about 200 words), record it, and email you an mp3 file. If you prefer the female British voice, Robert’s sister Elspeth also offers her services for your listening pleasure.

Someone on Twitter recently pointed this website out to me. I have not tried this myself, so I can’t in all honesty recommend sending money in exchange for an English accent in your inbox. But it just goes to show you, Americans do love England! We are willing to pay money just for their accent! It seems a little ridiculous, but then again, they do have pretty great accents.

image courtesy alancleaver via Wikimedia Commons

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