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I hope your Christmas was as peaceful and as successful as ours. This time last year we were cruising in the Canaries, but this year we felt there's no place like home!
A group of us went to Swanage for a few days last week our annual 'December
house' outing. The weather was kind to us.
Then, almost as soon as we got back, it was onto the stage for the village Christmas Concert which Dil now organises.
Both went well.
1st December 2014
Peppa Pig was first broadcast in 2004, yet the animal seems to have taken on a new lease of life only recently with all the franchised merchandise. Anyway, Peppa was due to visit our Xmas Fair on Saturday and Dil's granddaughter Tallullah, a big fan of all things Peppa, wanted a picture of me with the eponymous pig so here it is. Enjoy!
Back from a few days in Bruges: the weather was mild and the rain stayed away. Here are some quirky shots.
They've landed a robot on a comet!!
The lecture season is upon me two talks done this week, and two more to come next week. We also took part in a chaotic quiz evening on Friday night, and went to the first of two 70th birthday parties on Saturday another coming up next Saturday; these youngsters!
I went for a second pacemaker check-up on Thursday, and all was well. They can read off on their computer your whole heart's history since your last visit apparently I had two occasions when my heart rate increased I'm trying to remember which bits of fun might have caused it!!
I spent Saturday plying my trade behind my bookstall at the annual West Surrey Family History Society's Fair & Open Day at Woking Leisure Centre. I was able to browse other stalls, and picked up a slim tract written around 1900 on the history of my home village Chalfont St Giles. In my youth I had no interest whatsoever in its history, and so I found it a fascinating read. In particular it described views from the hills which were never there by my time, due to the 'houses in-between'.
Panto rehearsals have started, though we haven't fully cast all parts yet, particularly in the junior sections. However, on Wednesday I met Sam Mendes at his mother's birthday party locally, so now during rehearsals I can say "as Sam told me". In fact all we actually discussed were the benefits of Pilates!
I organised the second Here's Headley evening on Friday, which went well, and I was able to donate £100 to the local surgery funds from proceeds.
Currently the Headley Mill pond is drained due to a broken sluice gate. It's an opportunity to see the contours of the bottom (see right) and, with advice from Richard Ellis the miller, see how its shape has changed through the centuries.
It was a week when several people seemed to be suffering from low-grade bugs of one sort or another, including me. But despite this, the Club wrapped upthe second weekend of The Darling Buds of May successfully and so now on to the pantomime, which we cast last night. As I write we still have to inform everyone of their parts, so more on that later.
Today was also a day when I had to give two different talks at two different locations, which I managed to do without muddling them up. The second talk took place when I was supposed to be in Headley auditioning the panto cast, but Dil manfully managed that job for me I arrived on the scene just as the process was ending and we had some drinks at home with an ad hoc casting committee to complete the process by midnight.
We were serving the food at the performances of The Darling Buds of May over the weekend. Once again the Club seems to have picked on a format which the punters like we had a full house on the Saturday, and another predicted for next Saturday.
Tonight we did the first read-through of this year's pantomime script, Ali Baba, and had a good turnout. We last performed this script in 2001 ../drama/2014-10-Darling Buds.htmand some of that cast were around for the reading. Auditions are next Monday.
We spent my birthday week visiting the area round the Forest of Dean, and the weather smiled on us. In fact it must be the warmest birthday I've spent in this country.
I spoke in the evening last week at Southbourne, and Dil and I stayed the night in a hotel near Christchurch. The photo I took of a sign in their car park pretty much sums up our feelings about the place. Actually the staff were OK, but the dire breakfast cold croissants like cardboard, cheap bread for toasting but I won't go on. Dil will make sure there's an apt review on their website!
This week, walking on Ludshott Common we saw this wee beastie (right), looking like a little black scorpion we looked it up when we got home and found it's the Devil's coach horse beetle.
And speaking of wee timerous beasties, there was of course the Scottish Referendum last week. Did you have a vote? Neither did I. Apparently it only concerns people living in Scotland as to whether or not the UK survives. My MP has received an e-mail with my thoughts about that.
Just back from a week in France: first to Brittany, then a day with friends in Cherbourg before heading home on the overnight ferry from Ouistreham last night.
At Gourin a replica of the Statue of Liberty in the town square.
1st September 2014
We held the annual Headley Theatre Club barbecue here on Sunday evening, and were blessed with good weather. Just in case of rain (and also to avoid pine needles falling in the food) we erected a double-size gazebo which covered the entire lawn. Job done! We managed to squeeze 41 people into our garden.
25th August 2014
August Bank Holiday today, and it's pouring with rain!
However, yesterday we were thankfully blessed with a fine sunny day for Simon & Megi's wedding at Farnham Castle, where my Sarah played saxophone to the delight of all.
Drove to the Bath area and back over the weekend with no ill effects. I'm still supposed to resist making "explosive movements" with my left arm for a few more weeks, but other than that, the world's my oyster again.
OK, I'm driving again!
Steady progress on the pacemaker front. On Thursday I go for my first check-up. Let's hope they say I can start driving again I'm getting cabin fever!
On Friday we went for a short walk along the northern section of the Shipwrights Way in Alice Holt Forest, past the sculpture depicting the Roman Pottery works which were near there.
I noticed clover all along the edge of the path and, as Wikipedia insists that a four-leaf clover occurs one in 10,000 times, I started counting. And sure enough, after the 9,999th plant, we found it! Lucky?
Despite the impediment of one immobile arm, I took part in the show over the weekend and it went very well indeed. It was called Reflections, and took the audience through the First World War in songs and readings. Some said it was the best thing we'd done, which was gratifying after my fraught run-up to it.
I still have to take it easy for another three weeks until the ticker is checked again, but it feels OK to me. And it's difficult to stand by and watch everyone else do the heavy lifting, etc, without volunteering to help. To be honest, I'm getting a bit bored but that's totally better than the other thing!
So this is how it goes you go to the doctor complaining of sciatica in your left leg, and the next thing you know is you're in an ambulance being taken to hospital to be fitted with a heart pacemaker! I won't complain about sciatica again, honest!!
All seems well now, but I'm not supposed to drive for a month, so Dil will be my chauffeur if I need to get out and about. My apologies to those for whom I had to cancel visits and appointments. These things happen.
We went to the new Wanamaker Playhouse at the Shakespeare Globe over the weekend not to see a play but to listen to music. The place is lit by six chandeliers with real candles in them in a wooden theatre.
A week of sciatica and not driving. Dil drove me to Camberley to give an evening talk. We played in a skittles match on Friday (and were in the winning team!) and that seemed OK, so let's hope I'm on the mend.
Last week I gave my 200th talk to a WI and did these feet in modern times walk into many village halls!
Wonderful summer weather this last weekend, and spent in good company in a sunny garden in Kent. And for a bonus, as we were gazing up at the stars on Saturday night, the International Space Station made an appearance gliding in ghostly silence across the clear sky!
We're back from a week in Normandy just made it out before the world descended for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. There were Allied flags everywhere and old WW2 vehicles rolling in from all parts. We travelled over from Portsmouth to Le Havre, and stayed in an apartment in Dives-sur-Mer where another successful invasion began in the opposite direction in 1066. Quite appropriate really! Here are some images from our time there.
Up Pompeii went well over the last weekend see photo of the cast. I'm the one in the middle with the pigs heads on poles I never did discover their relevance to the plot! Dil made a Vesuvius cake for the cast to consume after the show, which was well appreciated.
So today it's a Bank Holiday, it's raining, and Dil is packing for our week in France. Let's hope we don't take the weather with us!
Too busy with Dress Rehearsals for Up Pompeii last week to post an item but it's up and running now; we did two shows over the weekend which went well (even though we missed more than a few lines on the Friday night!) and looking forward to doing another two shows this coming weekend. It's on at The Phoenix in Bordon in case you want to come.
Beautiful weather over the weekend. We took a picnic to Hinton Ampner on Sunday and found ourselves sharing a field with a rather noisy flock of ewes and lambs. Fortunately they kept well away and we didn't have to share our food! We also visited The Flower Pots at Cheriton for a swift drink it was doing very good trade.
In glorious sunshine, I led the annual 'bluebell walk' yesterday and not only was their colour phenomenal but they seemed to be growing in places we hadn't noticed before. We also heard a cuckoo, my first of the year. The walk took an hour longer than usual, because people were stopping to gaze around and take photos. The only down side was that we got back too late to visit the pub!
Another positive was that my sciatica didn't stop me walking, and seemed no worse for the experience when I got home.
So, just as the toe gets better I get a recurrence of sciatica, possibly caused by bad posture due to the toe. Life! Anyway, on the mend from both now. And due to the enforced inability to move either far or fast, I've spent time finishing off the new MacHamlet play. An example of advantage from adversity.
I'm on antibiotics, having developed an infection in a cyst on top of a toe. Glad to say I seem to be responding to treatment, but over the past week Dil has had to be my chauffeur. It all started after I'd worked backstage for a dress rehearsal of Blackadder. They had to do without me for the performances over the weekend, which I'm pleased to say for them went well.
Friday's Historic Headley
evening went very well 51 attendees and I'm planning another
for 24th October.
I'm rehearsing for the part of Lurcio in the stage version of Up Pompeii which goes up in May at The Phoenix in Bordon. Someone snapped this shot of me for their records. I don't have many photos of me, as I'm usually behind the camera, so thought I'd share it with you, dear reader.
Over the past 2 weeks, I've continued to learn my part as Lurcio in Up Pompeii (due on stage from 16th May), and started to write a third play in my MacHamlet series. It has the working title 1056 and All That, and brings in characters from The Tempest to mingle with our old friends from Macbeth and Hamlet. Why 1056? I'll tell you later. At the moment I've completed Act I and I'm struggling with Act II.
On Friday I'm organising my first Historic Headley weekend it will be interesting to see how it goes. Do come along. Only a fiver on the door, and profits to a good cause.
We ran an evening of performances by our Youth & Junior sections on Saturday called GR8 Xpectations ;) I was cast as Master of Ceremonies. They did well, and I hope we'll develop some GR8 talents from it! Meanwhile the senior members of the Club continue to rehearse for Blackadder II and the good news is that the two scheduled shows are already sold out, so we are adding another on the Thursday (17th April) which would otherwise have been a dress rehearsal.
I did one of my longer journeys to give a talk this week, over to Andover. It was in the afternoon and the day was sunny and warm, so quite a pleasant trip, and Dil came along to keep me company. I don't mind travelling so far in the warm and the daylight but I drew the line and politely declined when the other week I was offered a winter's evening talk at Eastbourne next year.
Over the weekend we visited Deb in Surbiton to help her clear stuff and reorganise stuff and walked along the Thames in hot sunshine to have a nice long lazy lunch at a Spanish restaurant in Kingston. I forgot to take my camera, so sadly no picture!
Yesterday the sun shone as we celebrated Herne Bay Sarah's birthday and for the first time this year we were able to use the garden to eat, drink and be merry. Here's the mob, except for me (behind the camera) and Dil busy in the kitchen. Pru and Erika turned up later.
The previous day, I had puzzled over how to extract a fat frog from between the sliding door of the conservatory and the fixed window. We discovered you can't remove our sliding doors (really?) and sadly the deceased remains of le grenouille had to be prised out using a plastic ruler. Ugh! But how did it get there in the first place?
Received a copy of Richard Mabey's new biography of Flora Thompson: Dreams of the Good Life in which I am well referenced. I think it's rather good.
Last week, Dil went in to a music shop to buy me a tube of cork grease and came out with a mandolin! She's also booked us both in for a week's music course at Marlborough College in July; she to do beginners guitar and me to play jazz. No pressure!
The weather has been foul with high winds and much rain, and an organised walk I had planned to do on Friday morning was called off.
On the Friday evening, while the wind howled outside the Village Hall, members of Headley Theatre Club held their first 'Green Room' event and it went very well. I played saxophone and sang to my bass, and accompanied Dil on bass while she sang 'Fever'. I think we did OK.
I've been cast in Frankie Howerd's part in the stage production of 'Up Pompeii' at The Phoenix in Bordon in May. Titter ye not! It's a lot of lines to learn, but I console myself with the fact that he never ever seemed to be word perfect himself.
We're just back from a visit to Blenheim Palace for a book signing (Valerie Mendes' latest offering Larkswood it's based on Grayshott Hall and I helped her with local research). Returning today, it seemed as if Oxford was ringed by flooded fields forming a moat of water no wonder there are flood warnings along the Thames downstream. Will it ever stop raining?
We've spent most of this week redecorating our hall and landing a symphony in black & white. You want to see what a zebra looks like when stretched out as a stair runner? See here==>
The wallpaper adds giraffe and leopard to the zebra well, a snow lepoard maybe, but I'm not sure about a black & white giraffe.
Back to business. I have no fewer than six books on the go at the moment: four to typeset for others, and two of my own to get done. Everything comes at once!
Also, I'm learning to play the saxophone. On 14th Feb we are running a 'Green Room' event in Headley Theatre Club in which any of the members are invited to do a turn of their choice. My view is that it should be something they've not done before: hence the saxophone (I'm learning 'Satin Doll'), and for my second turn I'm planning to accompany myself on the electric bass singing 'Autumn Leaves' in French. No pressure, then!
The panto's over and done - see pics.
Three down and three to go! Panto performances, that is. It's gone well so far let's hope for a good second weekend.
While we were away on our cruise, we missed some fairly foul weather back home. Our only damage appears to be one panel of fencing (which was past its best anyway) and a small leak in the flat roof of the office (ex-garage).
So now it's all hands to the panto, which goes up this Friday. I'm well miscast as a dwarf!