Thursday, 23 August 2018

Capitals Of Culture - From London To Edinburgh (Via Yorkshire)

We've gone into culture overdrive for the end of summer and crammed our time with one event after another. Last Thursday we headed to London for another play at the National Theatre.

The cleverly titled Home I'm Darling is a fascinating tale of a young woman bringing her 50s obsession to life when redundancy forces her to spend more time at home.  But is the idyllic life of housewifely duties, slippers by the fireside and dinner on the table, the utopia her husband wants? Katherine Parkinson is wonderful in the lead role of a very thought provoking and entertaining two hours.

On Saturday we returned to Yorkshire to near where we enjoyed a fabulous week in April. This time we stayed in Pickering at the excellent White Swan and had a very enjoyable two night break. We were in Yorkshire to see our favourites UB40 perform at Castle Howard and, as we enjoyed our visit to the stately pile so much in April, we decided to go and spend another day there. Here are a few photos from the beautiful gardens.

The dry summer meant a dry fountain.

Castle Howard is brilliantly run. Everything is done so well be it the cafes (fast, friendly service and good food and drinks), the guides (polite and informed) or just the signage (clear and in good condition).

Little touches like the fresh floral displays in many of the rooms, add to the visit.

The house itself is fabulous.

This 17thc Dutch tulip stand is my favourite piece.

Owen Jones is in the news a lot at the moment. They've got a bust in the house 
I loved the work in this South American native hammock

It was dry when we sat down for the concert in the evening but sadly the rain set in and we watched much of it from under an umbrella. 

The queue for the bar was quite staggering. I was amazed that it stayed like this all the way through the concert with many of the audience preferring to stand in line for beer to watching the performances on stage.

UB40 were excellent as always with plenty of the old favourites mixed with a couple of new songs. Sadly a significant minority of the audience was  the worse for wear (see my comments on the bar above) which spoilt the occasion a little at times.

We left Pickering on Monday and drove up to the caravan in St Andrews to visit the family. 

Yesterday we went to the excellent Dundee Contemporary Arts to see an Indie film that's been very well received.

Hearts Beat Loud is a very sweet and inoffensive movie about a talented young woman who forms a band with her dad. It's a nice film with an upbeat message.

On Wednesday we caught the train from Leuchars to Edinburgh for a visit to the Edinburgh Fringe. We crammed in five shows in the day .

Edinburgh is simply buzzing during the festival and you could fill a day enjoying the outdoor shows being performed all over the place.

We caught five minutes of this Latino dancing.

And some Indian movers 

There's plenty of good street food on offer and we enjoyed a hearty lunch between shows.  

Our favourite show was this hilarious comedy sketch duo The Pin (Ben Ashenden and Alex Owen) performing their show Backstage. Such a clever, funny and likeable pair - I expect we'll be seeing alot of them in the future. 

Universoul Circus was another wonderful show. Funny, colourful, skilful and highly entertaining.

Evo Graham's show Motion Sickness was a slick hour of stand up comedy. Evo was very funny but I felt that an hour stretched his material a little.

I loved Shaken Not Stirred a daft improvisation James Bond spoof which, performers Alexander Fox and Dom O'Keefe assured us differs every day. It was a lot of fun from another very likeable duo. 

We also saw Will Hall's show Netflix And Will. This was extremely popular with the audience but nothing special for me. 

Perhaps we should have seen this instead.
In other news, the harvest is in and that means that the new detecting season has started. I've had a few hours on the stubble with a couple of interesting finds but nothing exciting yet.

Victorian shooting medal Hardy Collins Commandant

Medieval silver penny

Clothing fittings from medieval to post medieval

Saturday, 11 August 2018

A Month Of Visits And Visiting

It's been almost a month since I wrote about our trip to London to march against Donald Trump and we've had another packed schedule with little time to draw breath.

We drove up to Southport to collect my mum and bring her back to Suffolk for a few days break. It's a long return journey for one day but we got up very early on a Sunday morning and hit the road before the traffic was too heavy. It was the day of the world cup final so we were lucky and had few delays thank goodness as we didn't want Mum, at 92, to spend too long in the car.

She coped well with the drive despite the temperature being in the 30s and we had a very enjoyable ten days and hope that she did too. We'd planned all sort of outings but the heatwave put paid to that and we simply stayed around Framlingham.

Mum enjoyed joining us for our regular coffees at The Dancing Goat.

A few days after taking Mum back (fortunately another day of reasonable traffic on the notorious M6), it was time to head to Rochester to collect our grandchildren Catherine and Teddy for a three night break.

We converted the downstairs to a big play area and the kids had a great time. 

Despite the continuing heatwave we thought that the kids would cope with short drives and we had a great day out in Felixstowe where we enjoyed a typical seaside time of paddling, playing with sand, eating fish and chips and visiting the excellent amusement arcade on the pier.

We staggered the drive home to Rochester for them and spent a few hours in Christchurch Park in Ipswich. We've not been before but will certainly go back. It's a real oasis in the middle of a busy town.

Catherine took her books with her everywhere. Secret Seven books are as popular with her as they were with us when we were kids.

Catherine insisted on making a card for her mum and dad before she went home.

The combine harvester made its annual visit to the field behind the house.

And then the weather finally broke and we had our first rainfall in almost two months. Once the field was stubble we enjoyed watching the hares running around in it.

Until this irresponsible dog owner decided that her dog didn't need a lead. We were very saddened to see this needless waste of life.

On Sunday we had a very short sleep and got up at three in the morning to drive to Southend airport to catch a flight to Vienna.

And a few hours later we were enjoying a lunch of Wiener Schnitzel (what else?). We were in Vienna to see Ed Sheeran. We decided that we ought to see our local celebrity perform and didn't fancy a British venue. Having never been to Vienna it was an easy choice to select from his extensive European tour.

It's a city packed with incredible architecture and there are statues everywhere. 

We stayed in an Airbnb slightly off the beaten track and made this bar, which sells the local fizz for three euros a glass, our local.

We visited plenty of the tourist sites such as the butterfly house.

I was amazed by the number of huge sculptures there are in the city.

We had great seats for the concert.

The crowd was enormous and Ed performed for almost two hours in oppressive heat. We were really impressed by his incredible performance and also enjoyed his support acts which included the excellent Anne Marie.

In our day it was "wave your lighters in the air" now it's "mobiles".

This, at 9pm, was as cool as it got during our four days in the city.

Here are a few more city scenes

The Kiss

Belvedere Gardens

Klimt fresco in the wonderful National Museum

The biggest collection of Breugel paintings in the world - amazing.


The famous Cafe Landtmann

Where we enjoyed the most fabulous Apple Streudel

A wonderful city and a fabulous four day break.

There are more busy times ahead with a visit to The National Theatre on Thursday and then we're off to Yorkshire to see UB40 perform at Castle Howard before driving up to Scotland for a week in the caravan and, hopefully, a visit to the Edinburgh Fringe.