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 Those of you who know me on twitter may have seen that I had an unusual visitor to the garden on Monday.


I'm used to seeing a range of small birds - there are lots of sparrows, a couple of robins, a pair of blackbirds, and regular visits by jackdaws and crows.


 

However, Monday's visitor was a little more impressive! I didn't see it strike, just looked out through the kitchen window and saw it on the lawn.


It's a Sparrowhawk, and, true to its name, appeared to have caught a sparrow. At first we thought it might have got a young jackdaw, as there was a jackdaw on the shed paying a lot of attention, but on inspecting the left-over feathers afterwards I made a tentative sparrow-identification, so perhaps the jackdaw was just hoping for left-overs. (In which case, it will have been disappointed!) 

 


I shall be keeping a look out to see whether it visits again!


I have been doing a little more in the garden over the last few days, planting out some of my seedling tomato plants, and the Hydrangea and Fuchsia cuttings I took from my parents' garden last autumn, which I've been bringing on in pots. I'm hoping that they will in due course, become a smallish shrubbery inside my front fence, although that will take a few years! 



And my little baby apple tree is coming along nicely, it has quite a few leaves, and its blossom is starting to come out, on all three branches.

The Mikado

Apr. 21st, 2017 03:25 pm
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 As well as our trip to Muchelney, my parents and I also took a trip to the theatre, to see a production of Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado'.


I like Gilbert and Sullivan, and while I had some reservations about this production (it is an all-male version, and I was doubtful about whether that would really work)


Alan Richardson, Richard Russell Edwards,

James Jukes, Ben Vivian-Jones, Richard Munday

It was a lot of fun. The production is done as a dream sequence. One of the campers is seen being teased by others, then falling asleep, after which the opera itself begins...


This allows for the everything to be done with no additional scene changes and very limited costuming.


The singing was excellent; very impressive to have all the female roles sung in the correct key etc, despite being sung by men. Katisha ( Alex Weatherill) has a particularly fine voice, as did Yum Yum (Alan Richardson).


Ko Ko's 'As someday it may happen'  song (I've got a little list')  had been updated but other than that there was very little in the libretto which was changed.


It's very entertaining, although even having seen it, I'm still not convinced that a mixed production would not have been at least as good, or better, but still fun!


THe production is on tour until July. Details here.

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 My parents were visiting for a couple of days after Easter, so when it came a nice day, we decided to go out, and to visit Muchelney Abbey and Church.


Mulcheney was one of the villages which suffered particularly badly in the flooding in 2012 and 2014, so I became used to seeing it on the news, but I have not ever had reason to visit. However, having recently joined English Heritage, we looked around to see what sites there were locally we might be able to visit, and decided on Muchelney.


Muchelney Abbey and Abbot's House


Muchelney Abbey was originally an Anglo-Saxon Abbey, (There is, apparently, a record of a grant of land by Cynewulf, in 762,  then later (in the 10th C) it was re-founded as  a Benedictine Abbey, before being dissolved under Henry VIII in 1538. It was never as powerful or well known as Glastonbury, but was pretty wealthy, and was responsible for draining much of the surrounding moors for farmland.


The majority of the buildings, including the Abbey church, were demolished after the abbey was dissolved, and a lot of the stone reused for building elsewhere. However, the Abbot's House (built in the late 15th / early 16th Century) survived, as did a small portion of the cloisters and parts of the kitchens, and a separate 'reredorter' (the monk's lavatories) also survives.


The Abbot's 'Great Chamber' 

 I enjoyed seeing the Abbot's House. There is a set of 3 or 4 rooms; the 'Great Chamber', where important guests would have been entertained, and which has a wonderful carved mantelpiece, with two slightly improbable looking lions above it. 


The wooden settles are 19th C. but incorporate some medieval panelling.


Lion (from the carving above the fireplace in the Abbot's Great Chamber

There are also some smaller rooms, including one which still has traces of the original wall paintings, and a very nice barrel vaulted ceiling.


Painted room

After visiting the internal rooms we also wandered around the ruins a little, then visited the Parish Church, next door to the Abbey.


From the outside, the church seems fairly ordinary, however, inside, it is a different story! 



When the Abbey was dissolved, some of the medieval tiles from the Abbey church were removed and re-used in the parish church, where they remain. And were decked with coloured light from the sunlight shining though the stained glass windows, when we visited.


Even more spectacular is the ceiling of the nave, in the church.



 

 

 

It is painted with wonderful, Jacobean angels and cherubim.


 

 


The ceiling was apparently painted in the early 17thC and is very unusual, both simply by having survived the Puritans, and based on the style - some of the angels are very feminine, which is unusual, and several are bare-breasted, it is believed that this is intended to symbolise  innocence and purity.


It is stunning, and such an unusual thing to find in an English church (and because this is the Parish Church, and not part of the Abbey, it isn't mentioned in the English Heritage information about the Abbey)


We were not able to visit the Priest's House, originally built for the priest of the Parish Church in 1308 and almost unchanged since the early 17th C; it is now owned b ythe National Trust but is only open 2 days a week, and this wasn't one of them. It looks very pretty from the outside, though! 


 

It was a grand day out!
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Friday was a bank holiday, and on impulse, I called the theatre to see whether they had any availability for The Mentor, a play by German novelist and playwright, Daniel Kehlmann. This is, I think, the first English production. It's directed by Laurence Boswell, who also directed Intimate Apparel and Trouble in Mind


The production stars Oscar winner  F. Murray Abraham, as Benjamin Rubin, an ageing playwright persuaded, by a cultural institute,  to spend a week as mentor to a young, up and coming writer, Martin Wegner (Daniel Weyman).


Daniel Weyman, Jonathan Cullen, Naomi Frederick and F Murray Abraham.

Photograph: Simon Annand

They are joined by Martin's wife, Gina (Naomi Frederick) and Erwin Rudicek (Jonathan Cullen), the Institutes's representative, an unsuccessful painter.


We first meet Rubin as he arrives at the villa, simultaneously complaining to Rudicek about the driver sent to meet him and the furnishings in his room, and snubbing him. 

 

 

I don't want to spoil the plot, but it it very funny, and mercilessly skews the egos of both writers, in different ways, in between discussing questions around the subjectivity of art appreciation, and success.


I suspect that Murray Abraham, in particular, was having  lot of fun with his role.


It's not a lengthy play - just under an hour and a half, and perhaps some of the themes, such as Gina's back story, but it is well worth seeing, and great to see such a strong cast, and the intimacy of the Ustinov studio works very well for this play.


The Mentor is at the Ustinov until 6th May. If you are in or near Bath, and get the chance, go!

Springtime

Apr. 10th, 2017 06:04 pm
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 This weekend, the weather has been lovely, warm sunshine, blue skies - what more could one ask?



I have primroses blooming in the garden, the tulips appear to be on the brink of bursting into flower, and further afield, trees are covered in blossom (and my baby apple tree is going to have blossom any minute now!) 


 

I cut the grass for the first time this year, on Sunday, and have planted out some of my tomato and pea seedlings, so shall have to hope that the nice weather continues and they all survive!



Oh, and I bought a new washing line and now need to make a deeper whole to put it in, because it turns out the new lie is bigger than the old one, and needs a deeper hole to put the stalk in..!

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 Having spent the past two weekends with trips to London, first to see Hamlet, and then for work and to see Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, I was ready for a more relaxed and low-key weekend, so was glad not to be going anywhere this weekend.


Two weekends ago I did a little gardening, planting an apple tree* which I ordered a few weeks back, and which had just arrived. Loki took a keen interest in the process, and in particular in the hole I dug in the back lawn.


(*I say tree. It came as a bare-root plant, and it isn't very big, so it's basically a stick. A very expensive stick.)



I was a little concerned about whether it would be OK, particularly as the weather turned very wet as soon as I got it into the ground, and I worried it would get waterlogged and rot before it could get established.


However, having checked on it yesterday, it appears (crossed fingers) that it is settling in, as it has produced some little baby leaves. It wouldn't do that if it were planning to die on me, would it? It is a family apple tree, with 3 grafts, so if it survives and produces fruit, it will produce 3 types of apple (and be able to self-pollinate). 


I think it'll be another 2 - 3 years before it starts to produce any apples,but hopefully it will settle in and look nice, even before then.



 

With a view to other (quicker) home grown stuff I planted some tomato seeds a couple of weeks ago, and have just transplanted the seedlings into individual pots, and have them on various windowsills around the house. 


Given the uncertain weather and the rather disappointing crops I have had for the past 2 years, this year  I am planning to keep some indoors (probably on my office windowsill at work, which is spacious and well lit) as well as planting some out into the garden. It's the nearest thing I have to a greenhouse. So I shall need to find some large pots, suitable for an office environment!


On a less cheerful note, I managed through a combination of clumsiness and a gust of wind to bash my leg with the door of my car, leaving a *very* painful (but oddly unimpressive, visually) bruise. So yesterday afternoon involved a certain amount of sitting with my foot up, and a ice-pack on my leg.


Today was beautifully sunny, and I spent time [trying to] dig up docks and dandelions from my front garden, although I also resorted to some spot-on weedkiller for the more deeply rooted ones which I couldn't dig out by hand. I also planted out a Hydrangea which I have been growing from a cutting since last autumn, which may one day become part of a hedge at the front of the house.


And Loki remembered ( I assume) how warm the tile roof of the shed gets when it is sunny

 

 


And also demonstrated his walking-along-the-top-of-the-fence skills, which allow him to go all around the garden without ever setting food on the ground!



A pleasant, low-key weekend. 


Of course, I should have been energetic and done lots of housework and such, but I didn't. And I don't regret it, much. 


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 I've seen Hamlet 5 or 6 times (most recently a week before this show) but I've never seen Tom Stoppard's 'Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead', but a friend is a huge fan of the play, so when I saw that it was going to be performed at the Old Vic (50 years on from its premiere there) I suggested that she and I get tickets and I could see what all the fuss is about.

 


I'm glad I did.


We started by meeting up for lunch and cocktails, at 'The Cut', the restaurant at the Young Vic, which were awesome. good food, good booze, and good company!.


We then headed over to the Old Vic, for the play.




In this production, Daniel Radcliffe plays Rosencrantz, (well, probably) and Joshua McGuire, Guildenstern (most likely), with David Haig as the Player, who steals every scene he is in, with great skill and good humour.


The partnership of McGuire and Radcliffe works really well. McGuire's character is the more showy role, with Radcliffe as the quieter, more troubled half of the duo.

 

Its a lot of fun as they wander, confused, behind the scenes of 'Hamlet', unsure of who they are, what they are doing "were we sent for?"  and what is happening, riffing off philosophical ideas as they go. It reminded me a little of 'Waiting for Godot'.


Luke Mullins' Hamlet, seen only briefly, came across as supercilious and not even a little mad, and, frankly, not one to be missed upon his demise. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's puzzled distress when they learned of his betrayal of them was particularly poignant.



A very enjoyable production. See it if you can. 


The play is at the Old Vic until 6th May, and is also going to be broadcast via NTLive

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 When I saw that Andrew Scott (Moriarty from 'Sherlock') was going to be playing 'Hamlet' at the Almeida Theatre, this Spring, with Juliet Stevenson as Gertrude, I couldn't not try to get tickets. I didn't manage it directly, but my friend A did, which meant that last night he and I fortified ourselves with an excellent Turkish meal before heading to the Almeida.

 

 


This production of the play is almost uncut, and is directed by Robert Icke, who was also responsible for the horribly effective and chilling 1984.

 

It was very interesting, and very different from the last couple of versions I have seen. This iteration of the court of Denmark is modern, the stage divided by sliding glass doors allowing to see behind the arras at times, the opening scene sees Horatio and Marcellus spot the ghost on the bank of screens showing feeds from security cameras, and updates such as Fortinbras's invasion are shown as news reports (complete with Danish headlines running across the bottom of the screen).

 

Andrew Scott's Hamlet is not, for the most part, as maniacal as you might expect, from seeing his Moriarty - from the outset, he came across as anxious and uncertain, constantly fidgeting with his watch, and lacking in self-confidence. His soliloquies are often conversational, and this is definitely a Hamlet in which the madness seems genuine rather than feigned.

Production Photo: Claudius, Hamlet and Gertrude

Gertrude (Juliet Stevenson) and Claudius (Angus Wright) are passionate with one another, unable to keep their hands off each other, but I wasn't entirely convinced by Claudius-as-villain , except in the final poisoning scene.


I was left feeling a bit ambivalent about the production. I would quite like to see it a second time. But I found it interesting, and worth seeing. 


Hamlet is at the Almeida until 15th April.

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The season for Seville Oranges is over now (it is very short), although I have enough in the freezer for one more batch of marmalade, but it occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that it might be interesting to give it a go with blood oranges, as they're so pretty!


 


It's not as easy as you might think to track down blood oranges, but I managed, it, and spent an afternoon juicing and chopping and boiling.



I ended up with 6 and a half jars.


It's pretty, although not quite as pink as I had hoped, based on the juice.It's also much sweeter than the ordinary Seville kind, so I shall probably use it for baking, or to offer to guests, as I like my marmalade  pretty tart.


 

For comparison - Blood Orange on the left, Seville Orange on the right.


I also bought some pin grapefruit and am planning to make a small batch using those, too, to see how that turns out.

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On Friday evening I saw 'Abigail's Party' at Bath Theatre Royal. It's one f those plays which I am aware of, but have never seen before, and I wanted to see it partly for that reason, and partly as I was interested to see Amanda Abbington (Mary Morstan from Sherlock) on stage. 


It was very good, although it is the kind of play which you watch with a degree of horrified fascination, as Beverley (Abbington) and her Estate Agent husband, Laurence (Ben Caplan) throw a cocktail party at their suburban home for their new neighbours Angela (Charlotte Mills) and Tony (Ciarán Owens), and older, divorced, neighbour, Susan (Rose Keegan) who is there to allow her 15 year old daughter to hold the titular party, free from parental interference.


Beverley is the awful, pushy, hostess, constantly overriding her guests' preferences and wishes, to score points off them and her husband, flirting increasingly desperately with Tony, all the while exposing her own insecurities and lack of taste. Her husband, Laurence, clearly prides himself on his more cultured tastes (he has a matching set of Dickens, and another of Shakespeare, but has read neither, and has prints of Van Gogh and Lowry on the walls,  but is put off when Susan appears to be more familiar with them than he is.


The whole thing is full of attempts to 'keep up with the Jones's', and is horribly true.  It's fun to watch as Angela starts subtly to assert herself, and of course for someone my age, brought up in the 70s, there is also the slightly worrying game of seeing how many pieces of furniture on set / props you can recognise from the homes you visited as a child... 


The play is in Bath until next weekend, then on tour until the end of April. The performance I saw was only the 3rd one, and this showed a little, Abbington stumbled on a couple of her lines, but over all, it was fun - funny and very watchable.

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 I have been intending to get my hair cut for a while, and finally got around to it last weekend. 


In fact, I'd left it so long that the hairdressers sent me a "We missed you. Come and get your hair cut and we'll give you money off" text message, so that was handy!


Although since it meant I had to go into Bath, I also (naturally) ended up going into the lovely Mr B's Emporium, and, (equally naturally) having gone in for one book, came out with 5! 


Also did a bit of clothes shopping - my favourite jeans have died, and happily I found a pair which fit (although they were only available in dark blue, which is a pity. I'd have preferred grey or pale blue, not least because pulled threads from cat-claws don't show as badly on light coloured jeans as dark ones! 


And also found a shirt I like, and bought gifts for my sisters, both of whom have their birthdays this month. So I felt that the morning was well-spent. And given that I don't like shopping* and don't enjoy getting my hair cut, it was also fairly stress free.


* Except for book-shopping, obviously. That I like.



And then obviously I spent most of the afternoon reading, because you need to relax after that of day.

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Last January, I saw Kenneth Branagh's production of 'A Winter's Tale', featuring Dame Judi Dench and Hadley Fraser, as well as Branagh himself. This week, I saw a very different production of the same play, by the 'Cheek by Jowl company'.


It was interesting - a very different production, with an understated set, and a lot of cuts. particularly in the second half of the play. 



In this production, Leontes (Orlando James) is clearly, from the beginning, unhinged - as his jealousy of his wife, Hermione (Natalie Redmall-Quirke) and friend, Polixenes (Sam Woolf) spill over, he poses them like mannequins, in the image of his fevered imaginings,  and swings between affection and violence in his treatment of his son, too. 


In the later parts of the play, once Perdita (Eleanor McLoughlin)  is grown up, the production seems to start to have a little more fun, and to approach the text more irreverently. The shearing celebration becomes a mini-festival, and when Mopsa and Dorcas fall out over which of them the Shepherd's son has promised gifts to, the scene was presented like a Jeremy Kyle show, with Autolycus (Ryan Donaldson) .


I found myself a little disappointed by the way that Paulina's (Joy Richardson)  character was portrayed - rather than her being a courageous,and tragic figure, she came over as more as a scold, which was a shame. (I am pretty sure this was a directorial decision, not down to the actor - she doubled as Mopsa and was excellent in that role).


Over all, I enjoyed the production, but I think it was uneven, and that the first scenes of Leontes' obsessive delusions, and the comedy in the second half, were the strongest parts.


The production is currently touring (dates and locations on Cheek by Jowl's site)

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 On Wodin's Day evening, after a lovely meal with a good friend, we made our way to the auditorium for the evening with Neil Gaiman, speaking about his new book, Norse Mythologya retelling of some of the Norse Myths.


 

Just before going in we were lucky enough to bump into Chris Riddell, so I got to tell him how much I had enjoyed his event, and he also kindly signed my '100 hugs' book. (And he asked whether we'd seen the Terry Pratchett docu-drama 'Back in Black')

 

Neil's event started with him reading 'Freya's Wedding' from his new book; very funny.

 

Then he was interviewed, about the book and other matters. He explained that he first met the Norse Gods through the original Marvel Comics version of Thor, then read the Roger Lancelyn Green version of the Norse Myths, before reading Kevin Crossley-Holland's versions, and the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda as an adult, and he loves the human-ness of the Norse gods, and the fact that they have stories - they are dodgy gods, much more human than divine!


We then got to see a trailer for the American Gods TV series, and after that, a not-quite-final trailer for How to Talk to Girls at Parties both of which look very interesting (although I am still just a little doubtful about Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday; I find it hard to get past thinking of him as Lovejoy!


Neil spoke a little about the Good Omens TV series,which is about to start casting. He explained that he and Terry Pratchett had always agreed that they would do any sequel or adaptation together, but later Terry asked him, as a last request, to write the TV series, so he has. And that he spent time being angry with life, because he couldn't phone Terry and tell him when he wrote a really good bit, and angry at Terry because he wasn't there to call to ask him for ideas when he got to a tricky bit. 


He explained that the show is being made by the BBC with Amazon. The interviewer (whose name, unfortunately, I didn't make a note of) expressed reservations about Amazon' involvement, so Neil explained that the BBC are making the show and Amazon is simply providing wheelbarrows of money.


He also said that he thinks that it is the best thing he has ever written. Which when you think about it is pretty exciting!


We then moved on to the Q&A section of the evening.


He was asked about current works, and confirmed that he is writing a Neverwhere sequel, and that he feels that when he wrote Neverwhere, he had things to say about how society behaves towards the homeless, and that now, with his work with UNHCR, and seeing  attitudes towards refugees and the dispossessed, he feels he has things he is angry about, and cares about, and is writing Seven Sisters.


Another question was about whether he would write stories about the Norse goddesses, and he explained that it was harder, as while we know the names and attributes of some of the goddesses, no stories have survived. He also explained, which I didn't know, that the stories we do have were written down only after  Christianity took hold, and a large part of why they were written down was out of fear that 'kennings' (metaphors etc.) in the Icelandic sagas and poetry would no longer be understood, not out of a wish to preserve the tales and beliefs themselves. 


He was asked about his favourite lines, or the lines of which he is proudest, in his own work. He said it's not any of the things which get quoted a lot, (such as " you get what anyone gets, you get a lifetime"), it's a line from American Gods - "Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine"


And perhaps the most entertaining answer to a question was in relation to a question about what he reads to Ash. He told us that he reads the Chu books (because his publisher gave him copies!!) and that Ash enjoys the books also he has to read them over and over, and thinks it's a pity there are only 3, but that he has not, despite that, sat down to write any more! He also re-tells the story of the Three Little Pigs, because Ash enjoys the Big Bad Wolf, but he pus lots of variety in so *he* doesn't get bored (he mentioned, for instance, conversations between the Pig and the Hay salesman, extolling the virtues of hay as an ecologically sound building material) and that Ash puts up with it because he knows that the Big ad Wolf is coming. 


Which made me want to ask him to tell us the story of the 3 little pigs, to see what happens this time!


The tickets which we had included a signed copy of the book, so after the evening was over, I got to take the book away and am going to try to ration myself and make it last...



Finally, for anyone who missed it when it was published in the Guardian, or when Neil retweeted it, have  look at the wonderful Tom Gauld's cartoon about the tour.  


Tom Gauld's wonderful cartoon / tweet

(I didn't spot Odin in the Festival Hall, but I wouldn't like to say, with any confidence, that he was not there!)

 


Oh, and check out Chris Riddell's Tumblr. He was sitting a few rows behind us and drawing his way through Neil's event, and the pictures are wonderful!
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Thanks to my friend A, I had a ticket for Neil Gaiman's London event for his newest book, 'Norse Mythology' on Wednesday evening, so I decided to make a day of it and also to attend Chris Riddell's event, earlier that same day.


I love Chris Riddell's art, and I've had the good luck to go to his events in the past and to see him drawing live, so was hoping for more of the same.


Chris had invited along some friends, Cressida Cowell (Author and illustrator of the 'How to Tame Your Dragon' series), Liz Pichon, creator of Tom Gates, and Posy Simmonds, who I know best for her creation of 'Gemma Bovery', (a graphic novel, modern take on 'Madame Bovery)


Chris's drawings of Cressida Cowell,

Liz Pinchon and Posy Simmonds
 

 

As we all filed into the auditorium to take our seats, Chris was making sketches of audience members. Sadly I wasn't one of those who was illustrated! (he also reassured everyone that they were not late, he just started early!) He then sketched his guests, from memory, before bringing them on stage.

 

Chris also introduced another, special, mystery guest - 'the Wise Wizard Gaiman'.



 

Once the guests arrived, he introduced each of them and invited them to speak and to show us their sketchbooks.


Liz Pichon explained that she had started out as a graphic designer before moving into picture books, and the writing the first 'Tom Gates' book, while Chris drew our attention to her beautifully painted fingernails and customised shoes. I'm not familiar with the Tom Gates books but they are clearly very popular, and it was interesting to hear about her creative process. She mentioned that Tom's dad is based on her own dad, who used to embarrass her, as a child, by turning up to collect her from school in his old gardening clothes (and showed us a card she made for him when she was young)


The next guest was Posy Simmonds, who showed us some of her sketch books, a recent one with beautifully detailed sketches of people in the street, and also selection of things she created when she was at school, including a comic strip murder mystery, drawn when she was 8, a spoof 'Observers book of Gurls' including a section on 'How to make yourself look excessively common' and a women's magazine she created while at boarding school, including careful illustrations of girls in bikinis, advertisements for imaginary products, and a short story which, she explained, got her into trouble, as it contained bad words, and a married woman with a lover!


She finished by showing us a sketch book which was the basis of her picture books, 'Fred', which involves cats and funerals..


Chris then introduced Cressida Cowell, explaining that he first met her when he was 'on a hot date with the Duchess of Cornwall', on a bus, and that Cressida was there to, and was not only managing to keep her balance on the bus, but also looking very glamorous and drawing things at the same time!


She told us that the 'How to Train Your Dragon' books were autobiographical... that as a child, her parents took them to a remote, uninhabited Scottish island every year, where there were ruins of Viking era houses, and she learned that the Vikings believed that Dragons were (or had been) real, and it started from there.

She also explained that she was inspired by Roald Dahl, and his willingness to have terrible things happen to people (for instance, James's parents (James and the Giant Peach) are eaten by a rhinoceros),and that her drawings are the kind which show readers they are "in the hands of a lunatic, who might do anything".She also explained that the books are about growing up, and that as they go through the serious, the style of the illustrations changes, they become less funny, and more difficult to draw!

 

She told us that she is working on something new, coming out in the autumn and set in the Iron Age.


Chris's final guest was Neil Gaiman.

 

Chris explained that he sees Neil as 'the Wise Wizard Gaiman', and pictures him arriving in robes to invite Chris (hairy feet and circular front door) on an adventure, which may involve Asgard, or London Underground, or Volcanoes and Time Travelling Dinosaurs. Neil claimed that he asked Chris to illustrate FTM "A very silly book" and that Chris got his revenge by drawing the Dad in the book as Neil.


 

Neil then read an extract from 'Fortunately, the Milk',while Chris sketched, and also read a poem, 'Witchwork' (which Chris had pre-prepared sketches for)


Neil had brought along 'Odd and Frost Giants' to show how gorgeous Chris's illustrations are, and claimed that Chris 'sneaks around' and illustrated things he's written, and he only finds out when they pop up on his facebook or other social media.


It was a lot of fun, and did feel, as the title said, like a conversation between friends, rather than a scripted event.

The Miser

Feb. 18th, 2017 11:21 am
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Last Friday I went to see The Miser in Bath. It's a new, very free translation of Molière's play, and is in Bath prior to transferring to the West End. Which means that it is, in effect, in previews and the cast are still finding their feet. I did feel that perhaps a couple more dress rehearsals wouldn't have gone amiss.


That said, it was an entertaining evening, albeit more than a touch of pantomime and farce, which isn't my favourite thing. 


The production is based on a (very) free translation of the original play, and a lot of topical gags have been added, some of which (inevitably) worked better than others.


It works pretty well, but it is not subtle - CléanteHarpagon's son (Ryan Gage) appears as a cross between a 17thC dandy and a pantomime Dame, complete with gags about underwear.


Lee Mack, as Maitre Jacques, Harpagon's servant (forced by Harpagon's miserliness to combine the roles of chef, sommeliere, groom, and others) is very funny, with lots of ad-libs, and physical comedy.


All in all, it was entertaining, but not in any way subtle! 


It's showing at the Garrick Theatre in London from 1st March to 10th June

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Well, I suppose technically Winter is here, and Spring is coming, but the other makes a better headline.
It was bitterly cold last night, and I was expecting frost, but woke up this morning to find we had actually had a sprinkling of snow. 

 

After which he apparently decided that the others would have watched, and learned their lesson, and that he didn't need to catch and kill all of them, so he came back indoors to try out his new cat bed.


 


I *think* it meets with his approval.


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It's that time of year again.


Last weekend I was able to buy plenty of Seville oranges, and last Suday I made my first batch of marmalade, yielding around 7lbs.


 



I have another 5lbs or so of oranges in the freezer so will be making another couple of batches over the next week or so, and I am planning to see whether I can find some blood oranges and make a batch with those, too.

Moving on

Jan. 27th, 2017 08:55 pm
marjorie73: (Default)
I've decided tomove over to Dreamwidth.

my main blog is still on Blogger   but I will be crossposting it to Dreamwidth rather than here, from now on.New blog posted today.

See you there? 
marjorie73: (Default)

Hi. Sorry, it's been a while. Mostly because 2017 so far has not been great, personally or in the wider world. 


I came down with the Cold-From-Hell-with-added-Sinus-and-Chest-Infection  to coincide with returning to work at the start of January, and have been coughing, wheezing, sneezing and mainlining on Lemsip and honey ever since.


I am, at long last, starting to feel a little more human, but still not 100%, and it is soooo very frustrating,not least because it is so exhausting. Fortunately I haven't had anything much planned outside work so the fact that I've been too exhausted to do anything outside work hadn't been a major issue, although I had planned to see the RSC 'Tempest' at the cinema and wasn't able to go, which was annoying (and expensive, as I had pre-booked!)


Work is somewhat stressful - one of my Partners is in hospital and I've taken on some of his  tasks, which is tricky, and involves some fairly steep learning curves, and of course as he is a friend as well as a colleague I'm also  worried about him.


So January is not winning any friends in this household.


I'm hoping next month will be better.


My colleague is, we are told, starting to improve, I can almost breathe normally again and live in hope of being able to sleep lying down soon, and I do have some things to look forward to.


On 15th February I'm going to see Chris Riddell at the Southbank centre, then meeting up with a friend before going to Neil Gaiman's event (for his new Norse Mythology book) that evening.


The previous weekend I am seeing The Miserwhich is going to be presented locally before going to the West End, so with any luck, there should be some high points to the month! 


Meanwhile, it is marmalade season - I have about 7lbs of Seville oranges so plan to make a start on my marmalade this weekend.


Oh, and I did manage to get tickets for 'Hamilton' in London, so next June I'll be seeing that, with a friend.Which should be fun. (although the ticket prices are insane. More than seeing Cumberbatch's Hamlet, even though I didn't go for the top price tickets!. Top price are £200 a pop, which is just nuts. )

marjorie73: (Default)
I had a lovely, low-key  Christmas Day with my  sister, her partner and our parents , and got some lovely gifts, including the new, illustrated versions of 'American Gods' and 'Anansi Boys'.
Also aquired some fancy fruity gin, and LOTS of chocolates!
More relatives today and tomorrow, and then some time with some old friends.
I hope your holiday season is full of love and happiness.

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