Trip Six (of Twelve) Galashiels and Hawick

Trip Number Six of Twelve - Galashiels and HawickTrip Six (of Twelve) Galashiels and Hawick

As it’s the summer, I felt that it’s time to stay a bit closer to home. I just want to avoid the heat, the copious amounts of families and higher prices of travel. So trip six in my year of travel.

I was able to mix business with pleasure this trip. I headed down to Hawick on Sunday morning. My first stop was in Galashiels. I have no idea how I’ve never been there before. I took some time to wander around the town, to take it in and to take some pictures. It’s a quaint wee place. Wound up spending a bit of money in a charity shop buying some new shirts and a lovely sweater (all for under thirteen pounds!)

Hawick New Clothes

I do love a good charity shop haul. Anyone else out there like them too?

Onwards to Hawick

Like Galashiels I’d never been to Hawick so it was quite the adventure. I took the route through Jedburgh to Hawick and it was a stunning day for a drive. I arrived to my B&B, checked in, set my stuff down and headed out for a late lunch in the heart of Hawick. I got a lovely sandwich at the Black Horse and ate al fresco. I particularly liked the sound of the town’s clock, opposite it, with its horses racing in circle.

After lunch was a wander around the town and along the river. Then returned to North Bridge B&B for a rest before dinner.

After a rest, I met up with my friend and fellow trainer Lesley. We had a fantastic Italian meal and lots of laughs ahead of our full day of training

Canva Training in Hawick, Business Gateway

Blogging and Canva Training in Hawick

The next morning it was down to breakfast and out the door to the Heart of Hawick where Business Gateway is based. Lesley kindly allowed me to deliver a bit of blogging training and a mini Canva workshop too. It was a long and wonderful day. We had a blast. Once done Lesley and I took a long trip home.

I decided to go south west out of Hawick to get to the main motorway that is the artery between England and Scotland. It was a stunning drive back through the country to the M73.  At times it was fog so thick we had to slow down to about 30 just to make it through.

So down to Galashiels and Hawick – makes it my “trip 6” for the year – out of twelve.

Really it’s more than that, but we’re calling it number six.  Next up it’s Rhu, Edinburgh and a long day trip to Glencoe with my old school friend Kim. Can’t wait for this.

More soon. Thanks for reading if you read this far.


Here are a few more pictures from Galashiels and Hawick over on my personal Instagram (#caligaluk) if you’re interested…You can read the full text there too.


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Also you may be interested in checking out my Scottish Travel Journals on Amazon UK (they’re available on most Amazons) – I’m adding more on a regular basis…Watch this space.

Trip Number Five (Of Twelve): Belgium and Manchester too

Trip Number Five of Twelve - Manchester and Belgium

Trip Number Five (Of Twelve): Belgium and Manchester too

If you have been following my blog at all this year, then you will know that It is a year of travel for me…and as such it’s time to update you on the latest trips.
So here we are – six months in – and May was a double trip month for me. First was a short weekend getaway to Manchester  followed by Brussels birthday celebrations.

May’s Significance for Me

May has always been a special for me. It’s a month that I have almost always spent with my father in California. His birthday falls in May and so, more often than not, I wanted to be there with him to celebrate – ever year just about. I think his birthday mattered more to me than it ever did him but that’s ok. It was arguably what might be considered a tradition to spend it with him.

So this year, the first without him in California, I decided to celebrate him in Brussels. It also coincides with a friend Kimba’s birthday so am celebrated with her there too.

But First, Manchester

So mid May it was down to Manchester for a Merch UK Meetup. It was just about a dozen or so people who are print on demand side hustlers too. To be fair, they were all much more successful and experienced than I am but I enjoyed meeting some new people and reconnecting with people I’d already met in London and Seattle last year. I decided to stay at the hotel the event was at to make it easy on myself.
Then the next day it was a full day of sight-seeing with my friend Rachel who I’d not seen in about eight or nine years. When I knew I was going to the city, I do what I always do – and checked my social media connections to see who might be where I am going. Then I message and see if they’re interested in meeting up. Lucky for me, Rachel was and we had a blast walking, talking, eating and sight seeing. We did the double decker bus – which are always fun.
Then around seven that night I got the train back up to Scotland. It was a wonderful weekend in Manchester. I really do like that city.

Next Up, It’s Off to Belgium

Then at the end of the month it was time for my next jump over to the continent. This time it was Belgium. I flew Ryanair for the first time in probably a decade. Landed in Brussels Charleroi Sud Airport and got a shuttle bus to Brussels Midi Station. Conveniently though, my friend met me off the boss and walked me around the corner to the Hotel Pullman which was attached to the Midi train station. (Good job Kimba!) 

That night we hopped the underground four stops and spent some time wandering around The Grand Place or Grote Markt – which is the central square of Brussels. It’s filled with amazing buildings, shops, restaurants, cafes and tourists. We had a nice meal in one of its galleries off the main square.

Day Two – Kimba’s Birthday, In Bruges

Day Two: It was Kim’s birthday so it was her pick with what she wanted to do. She chose a train trip to Bruges with a quick stop in Ghent en route. It was a long, fun-filled day of being tourists, walking, eating, talking, and taking a ridiculous amount of photographs. We didn’t see much in Gent and decided to get back on the train to go to Bruges.

The first thing we did in Bruges was take the boat tour. It was one of the things I was most excited about when heading to Bruges, and probably as such, ended up being a bit of a let down.

It wasn’t bad, not by any means, merely a bit anti-climactic. Plus a little tip for you, if you do the trip – sit in the single middle seat rather than on the sides. Two fat people got on our boat and I felt off kilter the whole time! Not only that it made it hard to take pictures hanging off the side of the boat a little like a contortionist.

When we got off the boat we finally found somewhere to eat. We were hangry by that point and wound up in, of all things, an Irish pub. The service was kind but it was slower than heck. They’d just been slammed by an Irish Fire Department influx of customers I guess. Whatever. The food was good. In fact all meals were good in Belgium.

After lunch it was off for another sight seeing bus – a small open top. Arguably my fave one of all the sight seeing trips we took. It weaved around Bruges, down roads, passed windmills, over canals and back again. (There are four remaining 18th and 19th century wind mills between the Dampoort and the Kruispoort.)

We did a bit more wandering around before getting the, 5:30, one-hour train back to Brussels.

Birthday Dinner

After resting our tired bodies for an hour it was back out again for the Birthday Dinner at NONA a pizza place, Rue Sainte-Catherine.

A place that prides itself on “Proper Neapolitan pizza” – it was a slightly ho-hum pizza, to be honest, but still not bad by any stretch.

After the meal we wandered back to our usual place, the Grand Place, for ice creams and I treated us to scarves. We got the same pale blue Belgium scarves. How cute are we?

That was a nice way to end a birthday in Brussels, I believe. Hopefully Kim did too…By the time we got back to the hotel room we’d done around 26,000 steps which is about 15,000 above my normal daily step count.
As Kim’s birthday ended my father’s began.

Celebrating Dad

I’ve been blogging a fair bit about dad this year already….and I truly believe I am handling his passing in exactly the way he’d want and expect from me. Namely, I am living, traveling, working, seeing movies, hanging with friends and celebrating him every opportunity I get.
His birthday was celebrated in Brussels and it was a good one from start to finish. Breakfast at the Chicago Cafe (right near the Pizza joint from the previous night). The highlight at breakfast was the main woman there (possibly the owner) who was, quite frankly a chirpy Belgian Hoot. I can still hear her cheery “Bonjour” echoing in my ears – weeks later.
Then it was off for a day on the double-decker buses. The Atomium was our first stop. Clearly a cool landmark from the outside, but the trip up it was an absolute waste of money, to my mind. It would have been better if it had some windows to take pictures from. We managed a few shots on the stairs down but that was it.
Thankfully we got a “free ticket” to the Design Museum which made it almost worth my while. Kim and I choose to spend that hour apart as I was more interested in Design than she was…
Engineer Chair, Design Museum Brussels
At one moment I came upon a chair that reminded me of my father’s and the inscription on the piece made me well up a bit….if I am being honest with you. But that wobble aside it was a good day with no real sadness or tears.

After The Visit to Atomium…Back on the Bus

After we had our few hours there at Atomium, we got back on the double decker bus and took it to an area Louise where we got off to take pictures. Trust my stomach to take that moment to throw an absolute fit. So we made our way to a cafe down the hill for a tea and pit stop (just in time). 
Once I felt better we walked back up the hill to take in the scenery – and could even see our hotel in the distance. We did a bit more walking around the area, hopped a tram for a few stops, walked some more before taking an elevator down the hill and heading back to the hotel room.
It was evening of Good Vibes in Brussels. Sun shining, people smiling.

Cheesecake Cafe

After another bit of rest in our hotel room we got our second wind and it was time to get back to Place De Brouckère to have a birthday celebration for dad. Opted for Fish & Chips – not something dad would have enjoyed but a worthy choice none-the-less, for me. Afterwards Kim got her waffles and I had a double scoop of ice cream on a cone. We celebrated him in style at Grote Markt.
Happy Birthday Ralph, Ice Cream at the Grand Place, Brussels
I swear I’d have gained a stone had we not been averaging about 22,000 steps a day!

The Last Day – Destination Unknown

Our last day was Friday. We got up with the intention of seeing where we could end up. We a priced trip EuroStar, fast train, trip to Amsterdam but when the guy said 337 Euros, we pretty much felt our jaws hit the floor. So Antwerp it was! It was an easy trip – helped largely because we accidentally ended up sitting in first class for the first half hour…
Arriving at the train station – it was a sight to behold. Clearly one of the most beautiful train stations in the world. Absolutely incredible architecture.
We hopped another sight-seeing bus immediately and got off at the Antwerp Ferris Wheel at Steenplein and headed to their Grote Markt, a main square, for some lunch. After a bit of a wander we split up for some free time and reconnected back at the Ferris Wheel to catch the bus back to the gorgeous train station and home.

The Last Supper

So here we are, we had one last night in Brussels and therefor after a rest we headed back to the Grand Place for dinner. We didn’t have a specific place in mind for this last supper, and thus it took as a while to find a place to stop to eat.
We eventually found a decent spot and had a lovely meal Arcadi Cafe – at the entrance to Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Again I opted for Fish and Chips. They had a fun pillar with currencies from around the world that was pretty impressive to look at. 

Then, naturally, we had to find ourselves a dessert. Nothing much was appealing to me. I fancied Cake but there were not a lot of “cake places” so I settled for another single scoop of ice cream. Kim wanted waffles from the famous Maison Dandoy but as in typical fashion – it was a Friday night at 9pm and they were closing. The line was 30 deep and as she joined it, was told they were doing no more. Ridiculous.

Oh well, here is a tip, right next door is probably just as good and much cheaper with no line…

Summary of the Trip to Belgium

Having been in Berlin the month prior, it was interesting to compare the two countries. Frankly I preferred Belgium I think.

Both were nice but Belgian people just had a warm friend attitude toward its visitors and Berlin, well, no so much. I will likely go back to Berlin again, to see my friend Neil, but I will definitely go back to Belgium again as soon as I can! I’d like to spend more time there, even though I think I spent more money there. 

I did actually notice that Younique is launching in Belgium soon…so perhaps a good excuse to go back over again!
Here’s to the next trip…a more local one to the Borders town of Hawick.

Trip Number Four (of Twelve): Berlin, Germany

My first trip to Berlin Germany

Trip Number Four (of Twelve): Berlin, Germany…

Can’t believe we are already four months into the year, and thus my fourth trip for the year to Berlin is now under my belt.

Thea's Trip number four (of twelve) Berlin, Germany

Traveling to Germany was one big adventure from start to finish. In this post, I will highlight some things I love (and hated) about Berlin….

I could probably write several posts about Berlin, if time permits, but here are a few thoughts I have after visiting Berlin. (One post I would like to write is how Berlin Compared to Glasgow).
trip four to berlin - sightseeing

Berlin: It’s Massive

At 891.8 km² – this city is huge and is very busy. With over 3.5 million people living there, and however many visiting at any given time, Berlin is pretty crowded everywhere.

So you need to work out how to navigate the city. Public transport is very effective, well once you get the hang of it. It may be about my favourite thing about Berlin.

There are buses, trams, Ubahn/Sbahn and trains. The best thing about Berlin was how all transport integrates with one ticket. Not only that, it’s the honour system. You walk on and off of all their transport without really having to use your ticket (except for maybe buses where I did tend to hold my ticket in my hand as I passed). But really once you validate your ticket in any machine on your first journey you’re pretty much “good to go”.

I totally can’t imagine Glasgow (or even Britain) doing such a thing. I loved it.

The Brandenburg Gate is an 18th-century neoclassical monument in Berlin

Berlin Architecture is Amazing

For those like me who love looking at beautiful buildings this is a place for you. Do it on foot and consider taking one of the many boat trips along the rivers and or canals.

There are 170 museums and galleries, countless government buildings, churches, and monuments too – all of which, pretty much, were compelling. Seeing bits of buildings missing after having been bombed or shot at is pretty incredible. There is, and I guess pretty much always has been/will be, a lot of building and repairs going on after such an incredible amount of bombings.

So inevitably there is this interesting juxtaposition of old meeting new in Berlin. Or I guess in some cases new being built to look old. It’s fascinating. The downside of all this construction is that many of the most beautiful buildings had scaffolding around them or fences and so forth. Still it’s just one of those things.

The Fernsehturm is a television tower in central Berlin, aka TV Tower

Show me the Money – Cash is King in Berlin

One of the strangest things of note about Berlin, and the fact I loathed the most, was that card usage was less prevalent on smaller ticket items. So if you are going to Berlin make sure that you are always carrying a bit of cash. As someone who usually pays for everything with a card ans seldom has cash, I found that a bit disconcerting, even frustrating.

Even more challenging to me was the fact that there were not really that many ATM machines as readily available as I am used to in UK cities. Also a bit scarce for my liking, in such a big city, there were not tons of banks all over the place like they are here.

Again these are just my observations.

Thankfully I had Neil to pay when I needed cash and I eventually managed to find a bank to pull some out to pay him back! If I return to Berlin I will no doubt be more prepared, regardless.

River Spree Berlin, Boat Trip

Best Ways to See Berlin: Walk or Bike

I am a walker myself but Berlin is definitely a biking city with shops and apps to rent bikes all over the place. Neil kept trying to convince me to get a bike so we could ride around the city and see more but I wasn’t feeling it. I found Berlin to be overwhelming and bikes riding on pavements as well as the roads, cars coming at you from different directions and don’t get me started about pedestrians – it just felt too stressful on my first trip. Maybe next time I’ll feel more confident.

So walking it was. I covered around 25,000 steps each day on average (best was 28,000) and on foot was able to take photos everywhere. Ended up with over 500 photos between my camera and my phone. Will take a while to go through them all!

It was nice to see Berlin on foot and cover areas like the East Side Gallery, over the Oberbaum Bridge, passing the Molecule Man statue and so forth. In those five or so days I walked from one end of the city to the other and felt all the better for it. Well sort of. I think I managed to dehydrate myself, the effects I am still feeling in my body. Note to self: take more water next time.
Boat on the Spree Berlin

Or Take a Boat Along the River Spree

Another good way to see Berlin is by boat. It was one of the things I really really wanted to do and when it came to the opportunity it was the most stressful part of my own trip so please learn from my error in judgement…

I took the Sbahn over toward Alexanderplatz and got off early and took a walk. When I arrived there were several people selling the sightseeing tickets, and I hemmed and hawed of whether to do the bus or boat in the end as I only had a certain amount of time before meeting my friend Martin…So I bought a single boat ticket for fifteen euros from a guy Joshua, who was working for a new company that had just launched the day before (*first warning sign).

He told me to get on the bus and it would take me a few stops to the river where I would then be able to board the boat.

I got on the bus, (the only one on the bus – another warning sign) the new audio system was a bit glitchy. I finally asked the guy working with the driver where I should get off and I was effectively a stop passed it. He basically said go to the bridge and go down. He didn’t specify which side of the bridge, which way the boat would be going etc. It was supposed to simply be a hop-on-hop-off boat. Well could I find the place to get on? Could I F**K!

I saw a boat passing and figured I ought to be able to get on at the next stop since they were running frequently. Could I find the next stop? Could I find ANY stop? No…

Having a complete meltdown, unlike I’ve had in ages, I ended up walking all the way down the river to just opposite Berlin Hauptbahnhof. I was able to get on at the Reederei Riedel Anlegestelle boat place. The ticket they gave me was a one hour round trip so I had to go back there. By the time I got on the boat, I didn’t really even enjoy it. Next time, if I go back I will do better, for sure. The one I wanted to do was….The Bridge Tour of Berlin: The popular boat trip along the Spree river and the Landwehr canal shows numerous sights of Berlin – and more than 60 bridges.

Until Next Time, Berlin

Well that’s it for this post and perhaps I’ll be inspired to write another. Part of me wants to return to Berlin soon and part of me is in no rush to go back. The next trip, next month, will be Rome, Copenhagen, Iceland or Belgium…This time it’s not my call, it’s Kimba’s for her birthday. So watch this space guys!

Berlin Buildings from the Spree

Abraham Says Hi – A Little Greeting From the Great Beyond

Abraham Says Hi - inspiration from the universe

Abraham Says Hi - Thea's Things

Abraham Says Hi

It’s Easter Monday, lunch time, and Abraham says hi.

Though I have several other blogs in various stages of completion, I thought I’d write a quick one today about this,..the dream I had this morning. In my dream Abraham said “hi” to me.

Who the F**K Is Abraham?

Well Abraham could refer to someone in the Bible, but in this instance, I am referring to a set of beings that we may refer to as a collective unconscious or infinite intelligence – that are channeled through Esther Hicks.

Relax. I don’t really want to go too much into the spiritual woo-woo-ness of it all, my beliefs are my own, but rather am here to tell the story about my dream this morning…


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Easter Sunday Sadness

Before I get to the dream, I need to back up and tell you about my head space yesterday. I’ll be honest, I had a bit of a low-ebb Easter Sunday.

If you (or I) look at it objectively, it was entirely GOOD…Nice breakfast, a walk to Aberdour’s Black Sands Beach, followed by a lovely tea and scone after. Then I helped my friend John design his first book for KDP using Canva. I left Aberdour and had a nice drive on part of the Fife’s Scenic Coastal Route.

See? All good…

But, I just wasn’t feeling all that good.

I was feeling heavy hearted to be more precise.

Perhaps sad thinking about my dad and how he always used to say “Happy Bunny Day”…This the first year he didn’t say it…(at least not with his voice but maybe what Ralph Says it came in a different way today).

It was just like a dull gray cloud was over me.

That’s rare. I am usually pretty upbeat and finding the good in joy in all but yesterday I was just off.

Went to bed around my usual midnight and woke up seven hours later.

My Dream of Abraham

So in my dream, I was walking into a subway station (looking rather like Buchanan Street Underground in Glasgow).

A man collapsed to the ground and was a bit of out it.

Another man said to me “can you sit with him?” (Both men were attractive, I vaguely remember thinking!)

The collapsed man said, “Do you know Abraham?” and I paused not knowing how to answer that, and if we were talking about the same Abraham…

“Abraham?” I queried.

“Esther Hicks’ Abraham”.

“Yes.” I replied.

“Abraham says ‘hi”. He stated, and as he said that, my whole body was tingling. Head to toe. (This happened recently when my father came to me in an intense dream…)

Then I said “Wait am I dreaming? Or am I awake? Is this real?” And I looked at him, and around, and I exclaimed, “Damn it I am dreaming.”

As if to say “no, this is not real, It’s just a dream”.

Is it?

I reckon that if Abraham is real that’s exactly how it would come to me in a dream state, as there is no resistance to such concepts.

Is Abraham real or not? Maybe aye, maybe naw…

All I know is that I enjoy listening to Esther and Abraham immensely, so even if it’s not real, who cares? It gives me pleasure and it resonates with me any way.

For other people it may be religion or the bible or something else. Whatever works for you is my motto.

I feel like now my father is i the mix with Abraham so it gives me comfort to think that Ralph Says Hi too.

Abraham Says Hi Sweatshirt

POD Inspiration Comes From Everywhere

So as I started to “come to” after my rather odd-but-cool-dream, I thought, “there’s a tshirt in that”. It felt like a sign.

Imagine wearing an “Abraham Says Hi” Tshirt or hoodie, and all the other Abraham Hicks fans smiling knowingly at each other as if it’s a “sigh”.

Naturally I made some designs as soon as I got up today. Perhaps I’ll even make a journal to accompany it. Notes from Abraham, and the great beyond. Ha!

In any case, I’m Abraham to my gut, the universe or anyone anywhere who’s giving me creative ideas like this. It’s fun!

Frankly I’d love to be able to do what Esther Hicks seemingly can, tapping into that infinite source of wisdom, sign me up!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a sign, this is it, Abraham Says Hi.

Fighting With My Family (And Other Flicks Seen This Week)

Fighting with My Family Movie Cinema Header

Fighting With My Family

Fighting With My Family (And Other Flicks Seen This Week)

This is just a quick post, mostly because I’ve seen a number of films this week, like Fighting With My Family, which I saw this evening and wanted to briefly talk about.

Last weekend, when I was looking on Cineworld’s website for what films were released, I saw the title and it caught my eye. I had no idea what it was about, so when I watched the trailer. As soon as I did, I burst into tears. Why? Because I knew it was a film Ralph would want to see. So of course I had to take him to see it, which I did tonight.

Ralph transitioned 3 months ago today. (Yes I am still marking time…)

Anyway if you haven’t heard of Fighting With My Family here is a trailer…

Seeing As Many Films As I Can in a Month

For quite a while I wasn’t getting much use out of my Cineworld Unlimited Card. I pay around 17.99 (GBP) each month, and for that can see as many films as I want.

Some months in 2018, I don’t think I saw any, but this month, March 2019, I seem to be getting my money’s worth (and then some). This week alone I’ve seen four films. Oh my!

Last weekend – a double header was What Men Want followed by Ben’s Back.

Then during the week was a film that my friend Stefan had mentioned to be back in January, Wild Rose (more on that in a minute), and that brings us to tonight – Fighting with My Family.

Learning about Wrestling

Ralph loved wrestling so much because it was something he used to watch with his own father. It’s not something we really watched together. (Or if we did, I had headphones on and would be streaming something else entirely!) It’s hard to imagine my dad watching wrestling with his dad. Honestly I had no idea that the sport was that old, or that the theatrics dated back as far as the 1930s.

Right up until the week before he transitioned, Ralph loved and watched wrestling religiously. My sister had even bought him a WWE TV subscription so he could watch all his pay per view wrestling matches.

Boy how he loved the theatrics of it all…and especially loved his wee Kindle App so he could stream it from his bed!

As for the film, Fighting With My Family.…As I said, I am not into wrestling at all, but guess what, I actually loved it.

It was arguably the best of the week’s worth of flicks…but it may be just because I felt my dad really enjoyed it, right there next to me.

“Cutesy” I think I hear him describe it as.

And it was. Plus, cooler still, it was a true story!

Wild Rose

The other film I went to see this week that’s worth a mention is Wild Rose. As I mentioned, my friend Stefan told me to look out for many weeks ago, so I was delighted when, earlier this week, Cineworld’s email came with a special preview of it. Why was I so excited to see the film? For one, it’s set in Glasgow (some of it filmed not even a mile from my flat). Secondly the city she’s trying to get to, in the film, is Nashville (one of my other favourite cities in the world). And if I can throw in one more reason to like it, it has to be the glimpses of Jamie Sives (even if he was a total pr**k in it).

Anyway Wild Rose was a fairly enjoyable little film, (in spite of Jessie Buckley’s foul mouth). Her accent was a bit strange at parts of the film but then I guess that makes sense she’s actually Irish. (Sort of amazing the talent that is home grown they had to go over the pond to Ireland to cast this one). But alas Jessie did a good job, so we’ll let her off on that one.

The Other Films I Saw

Not sure it’s worth spending any time talking about What Men Want and Ben is Back. The one thought I had after I left the cinema was I saw them the wrong way ’round. I should have seen What Men Want after as it was pretty upbeat and fun, two things that Ben is Back was not.

I am not sure what I was expecting about Ben is Back, but whatever it was, it wasn’t it. The acting was good, the storyline (addiction) was grim. I guess I am blessed to never been an addict or around any addicts. I would imagine that film would be damn hard to watch if you had a partner or a kid or a parent who was one…

Not sure what else is on the horizon but I tell you what I will do this week, is create a film journal so I can be writing some notes down about all these films I am seeing with my Unlimited card. Perhaps any of you movie lovers may like it too. Watch this space.

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PS: By the way, the worse film I’ve seen this year was Vice. Great cast, interesting story told in what I feel was a pretty terrible way. What did you think of it?