On Friday evening we went to see Dunkirk at the local Vue, paying the extra for the IMAX which promises a better experience because of the bigger screen and superior sound quality as recommended by the reviews. It was worth it: I felt completely 'immersed' in the action as Mark Kermode described in his review, with the sound of the gunfire seeming to come from below us. This isn't my usual kind of film - I prefer more dialogue and usually dislike nonstop action - I despise Bond films for example. Kate had seen the with a friend just on a standard screen a couple of days before us and she said she felt she was there and didn't notice the time passing when she watched. The big draw for the younger female audience was Harry Styles, who plays one of the young soldiers, trying desperately to escape and behaving in a fairly ruthless and unpleasant manner while doing so. Kenneth Branagh, Mark Rylance also appeared, though there were no real star parts as there were three interlinked stories and the action shifts from one to the other. This was sometimes confusing but I didn't get so lost that it was frustrating. I also usually object to blood and gore and I suppose this is where the director Nolan made compromises in his attempt to capture the reality of the soldiers' experience. Although there were plenty of explosions, gunfire sinking ships and dead bodies, none of them were badly mutilated, so the film was awarded a 12A. Go and see it if you can before it finishes on the big screen.
A totally different outing this weekend was a trip to another garden. I've got the little yellow booklet provided by the NGS, the National Garden Scheme, which arranges for people to open their gardens to visitors for charity. Every Sunday this summer I have tried to visit one of these and this week it was Abbeywood, not a private garden this time but somewhere which is a wedding venue. But one of the best gardens I visited was actually walking distance from home, a small suburban gardens which backs onto the railway and was absolutely packed with plants. Abbeywood was full of dahlias which used to be popular when I was a child in NI, but fell out of fashion for a while. Now they are everywhere - B&Q had rows of colourful pots when I went there the other day. We also went to Eaton Hall, home of the new Duke of Westminster, who is 26 and apparently the 9th richest man in England. The garden is open for charity four times a year and is very impressive. I loved the rose gardens - there are four with different colour themes and the kitchen garden. I'd dragged Kate along that day, promising cake and she was less impressed, thinking it disgraceful that one family has so much wealth. Here are some not terribly good phone photos which will give you an impression of the gardens I have visited. The first four are from Abbeywood, the others Eaton Hall.