Sunday, February 23, 2014

No Ordinary Bank Holiday

Grinning as if it were all an August Bank Holiday lark’ 

these words from Philip Larkin’s poem ‘MCMXIV’ were the inspiration behind the latest offering from one of our favourite theatre companies  Northern Broadsides at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme.  Written by Deborah McAndrew especially for the start of the 100 years commemorations of the beginning of WW1.  It has all the humour, pathos and energy of other Northern Broadsides productions. I’m always amazed at the talent of the performers, acting, singing, dancing and playing musical instruments as well as moving their own props when necessary – which in this productions included the building up and breaking down of a Rushcart.

It's Wakes Week August 1914, the cotton mills of East Lancashire are closed and the Greenmill Rushcart lads are rehearsing for the Bank Holiday Rushbearing Festival.  Changes are in the air, not many young men are left to perform in this tradtional ceremony as who wants to stay in Greenmill on a Bank Holiday when the delights of Blackpool are on offer?  The old stalwarts like the Squire and Bagman are getting too old and heaven forbid women should be allowed to participate.  Looming on the horizon though is an even greater challenge to tradition and three of the young Rushcart lads are eager to enlist to escape the mill,  to seek new horizons and to do their bit for their county and country in the coming conflict that surely will be over by Christmas.   Who goes and who will return to Greenmill?  Whatever the outcome life will never be the same again.

We cried with laughter in the first part – we applauded the performance of the Denshaw Morris Dance, the building up and the taking down (in the interval) of the Rushcart, we applauded the women musicians who played on whilst this took place, we tapped our feet at the wedding dance and cried again as we learned the fate of the lads.

At the end the audience rose to their feet to say thank you for such a wonderful performance.  If this play comes near you – do go and see it.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Link  to trailer on YouTube

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The First Drops of Snow........

........and the first Snowdrops

I'm taking a break from blogging for a while I will still visit your blogs when I can.  See you soon!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

A Sunny Sunday Walk

Sunday was the most glorious day to say it was only 2nd of February!  After all the gloomy, wet weather we'd had over the last week it was a real treat to get out and about.  We decided to visit Biddulph Grange Gardens, our nearest National Trust property and have a walk round. 

I know I've taken you here many times on this blog over the years and we've visited in all seasons but I'd never been at this time of year. 

There were quite a few changes to notice on this visit, not least the new entrance and reception area which I didn't photograph.  The cafe has been extended into the former reception area next to the shop.

What struck me was how tidy the gardens were.  All the hedges neatly cut and the beds dug and mulched ready for planting.

There were many gardeners hard at work whilst we were there.  I'm guessing that most are volunteers.

 The upturned root walks were still there

 As was the Chinese Garden

which always looks beautiful in any weather but somehow glints and glistens in the brightness of the sun.

 I always tap the little bells as I go along

 Inside the tunnel the path through to the ice house had been opened up but I didn't go round as there was quite a deep puddle and I didn't want to get my feet wet.  We'd left the wellies in the car!

 There is also a new area opened up across the little bridge

 The monkey puzzle trees looked wonderful in the sunlight with the blue sky behind them

I always like this little house and it was great to find out that the room upstairs was open with a photographic exhibition about the house as it was before the fire of 1896 destroyed quite a lot of it.

We walked for an hour or so, there weren't many other visitors with it being so early in the season.

It was just so nice to get out walking in the fresh air, to see the sun and to find some of these.......

Since our visit we've had vast amounts of rain and howling wind but nothing near as bad as those of you who live further south - it sometimes feels as if one day this island will become almost completely inundated and float away or most certainly change shape as it did many thousands of years ago or does that seem quite fanciful?  Anyway to the moving more and eating less - still operating portion control and we've managed three walks this week around the rain.  A walk at Consall Country Park, a walk around the lake at Trentham Gardens and this one around Biddulph Grange.  I keep saying as soon as the weather improves I'm sure we'll walk more  ........ eventually!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

The Year in Books - February

Joining in with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees for The Year in Books this month I will be reading Summer in February by Jonathan Smith.

I'm looking forward to reading this novel as it is set in Cornwall in February 1909 and it's about the community of artists known as the Lamorna Group.

According to the blurb  .....'Summer in February is a disturbing and moving re-creation of a celebrated Edwardian artistic community enjoying the last days of a golden age soon to be shattered by war.'

I'm still on the waiting list at the local library for the book I had hoped to read in February, the one I mentioned in my post about January's book,  so I've just started reading this one whilst I am waiting.