Thursday, 22 February 2018

Culture, More Culture And Coco

I used to work for Barclays many years ago. I still rely on them for some of my pension so it's in my interest for them to be run competently. They didn't exactly inspire a great deal of confidence when they unveiled their new sign outside our local branch here in Framlingham a week or two back.  

Okay, Framlington/Framlingham what's a few letters between friends? 

When I worked there nearly everything had to be double checked.

It took a while to get back into our usual routine after three weeks in the Caribbean but we're just about getting there now and this month has included a bit of culture with three visits to The National Theatre planned.

The first was to the incredible Amadeus on St Valentine's DayOur seats were almost on the stage so we were completely involved in this emotionally charged and spectacular production. We both loved it. After the matinee performance we drove to the Premier Inn in Rochester in readiness to pick up our Kent grandchildren the following day. Valentine's dinner in Thyme in Premier Inn? I really know how to give Marion a treat. To be honest it's not bad at all. The food is well cooked and presented and the service is friendly which is all you need when your'e paying less than £25 and getting breakfast and a glass of wine thrown in.  

Catherine and Teddy were great in the long car journey back from Kent and we had a lovely three and a half days with them.

On Thursday we took them to the local playground. Perfect for two and five year olds.

Friday saw us at a packed Easton Farm Park. Half term, a gloriously sunny day and a special offer on tickets resulted in half of Suffolk turning up at the gate. I am very pleased for the venue. It must have been a very profitable day for them. Despite the crowds, Teddy and Catherine got to see everything they wanted to see and spent time playing on the playground and in the sand pit too.

After all the excitement of Thursday and Friday, Catherine drew up an ambitious list of what we were to fit into Saturday. We didn't manage to do it all but had a very busy day.

After driving them back to Kent on Sunday it took a day to recover, tidy up and remove the boxes of toys that we keep in the garage for visits and then we were back off to London on Tuesday where we had a meeting with a famous antiques expert who kindly gave us a private view of some exceptional antiques. This resulted indirectly from a completely unexpected response to my sending a copy of Mr Prendergast's Fantastic Find to the expert. I'm still very pleased with the response to the book. The reviews are great. Lots of people are reading it on Kindle Plus. I'm currently working on my next novel which I hope to complete before the end of the summer and publish by Christmas.

After leaving the expert we went back to The National. The play this time was Network. It's a remake of the famous film starring Peter Finch with the lead role taken by Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame. It's a real experience. The set includes a restaurant (right above) where some of the action takes place and, in a real innovation, the majority of the tables are taken up by audience members whose booking included the play and a three course meal. Cranston is brilliant in the role although the play as a whole didn't quite work for me. It needs audience participation and a National Theatre matinee audience are perhaps not the most likely people to applaud to order and shout "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore" at the tops of their voices, although I was pleased to hear the loud applause (one boo) when Obama's inauguration was screened at the end and the very loud boos (one cheer) when Trump's followed it.

Next week it's Macbeth with Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff - can't wait.

After a very good meal at Mattarello near Liverpool St Station we wandered back to the station and came across this marvellous sculpture of King Edgar. It's a very modernist piece and absolutely beautiful.

My car was due a service in Ipswich yesterday so we spent the waiting time at Cineworld. 
Our choice was Pixar's Coco. I'm going to have to stop going to Pixar movies soon - they have a tendency to leave one an emotional mess. After blubbing through UP and the final Toy Story I thought we'd got away with the pulling on the heartstrings this time. But I should have known better and they went and did it again in the final scenes. It really is a beautiful movie about life and death, love and family. I watched through the credits at the end to see if Pixar have a "Head Of Tear Jerking" in the crew.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

A Postcard From Bequia

Like most postcards, this one is arriving after we've got back. We've just returned after twenty-two days away in beautiful Bequia (pronounced Beck-way). Never heard of it? Good; because it's the most beautiful and unspoilt place we've visited in the Caribbean. It's unlikely to stay that way as the people have to make a living and there's not much apart from fishing and tourism so we expect the inexorable rise in villa building to continue until it's no longer unspoilt. But, for the time being, I reckon there's another year or two before that happens so maybe we'll be back in 2019 to make the most of it. 

Here are my favourite photos from the trip.

Waiting at Gatwick

All aboard and ready to go to Barbados

The flight from Barbados to Bequia is a little different

Our view for two weeks

Tropical Hideaway's wonderful infinity pool

Only 220 steps up and down from our cottage

Humming birds

Not for every day but cooked breakfasts are a real treat from Tropical Hideway

Outside the cottage
Tropical Hideaway's gardens are delightful

Industry Bay landscape

View from one of our many walks - we averaged about 3 miles each day

Typical unspoilt Beqiua beach

We found a bar to watch the Liverpool Man City game

View from the excellent Jack's bar

View from one of our longer walks into the hills

Walking up here in 28 degrees is not easy

The island is full of wildlife

View from a walk

Crescent Beach where we spent week three

Marion at Bullet Point one of the highest points accessible on foot

The lovely Sugar Reef hotel dining room

An old guy who plays in local bars for a few dollars met up with a classical guitarist who was performing at the music festival. The result was magical.

Marion in Sugar Reef

Marion was stopped several times by women commenting on her outfits

Harbourside dinner at Laura's

Unspoilt beach

Jack's Bar - Tropical Hideaway is above just below the treeline

Another admired dress from Ruby Tyger in Fram

I said at the start of this postcard that Bequia remains unspoilt. It's a beautiful place. But once every ten days or so a cruise liner berths in the harbour. I suppose it's great for the bars and restaurants but if it were like this every day would the villas and hotels be full?

So that's our postcard. It's probably nearlly identical to the one I posted last year. We had a wonderful break. Glorious weather, beautiful scenery, great accommodation, friendly people, early mornings and early nights, lots and lots of reading, loads of walks, swimming, snorkelling and total relaxation - perfect.

Here's what I read while away.All were enjoyable but  the best by far for me was A Man Called Ove.  

I mentioned that magical evening. Before I go, I'll leave you with a taste of what happened.