Saturday, 31 March 2012

Poor Tadpoles

The weekend before last was wet and on Monday morning the pond in the wood was FULL of frogspawn, the slippery slimy stuff glinting in the sunshine.

Unfortunately for this year's tadpoles, that sunny morning marked the start of a fortnight of hot unseasonal sun.

After a few days, the pond showed signs of drying out...

now it's completely dry - the dog can walk across ad barely get his feet muddy.

I hope somehow the frogspawn can survive and tadpoles hatch in damper weather, but I don't think it likely.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Romeo and Juliet

I seem to be having a mini Shakespeare fest at the moment - following on from the RSC's excellent production of The Taming of the Shrew, it was Headlong Theatre's turn to amuse me for an evening at Nottingham Playhouse.
Romeo and Juliet is one of those really well known plays that even if, like me , you've never seen it performed live, you know the plot outline, how it all ends, the main speeches from school or somewhere, you might have seen Baz Luhrman's film adaptation with Leonardo Di Caprio and Clare Danes, or you might have seen it in rehearsal as Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter gradually changes shape into Romeo and Juliet in Shakespeare In Love. There have to be difficulties in putting on such a well known piece and trying to make it new and different, yet at the same time the old well-loved play. This is the only explanation I can think of for the strange 'what if'/Sliding Doors episodes when a scene would play out then a blinding light flash on the audience and the scene re-play differently. To be honest, I just found it confusing and unnecessary.

As for the rest of the production - well, it was ok. The star-crossed lovers were a bit wishy washy and lacking in sexual tension, though I thought Catrin Stewart's "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?" speech excellent. The most outstanding performances of the evening came from the two of the supporting cast playing Mercutio and Benvolio. Both were excellent particularly Mercutio's death scene.

I think I'd been a little spoiled by seeing the RSC the previous week and may have appreciated this more if I'd seen them the other way round. Still, the Teen took away some ideas for her Billy Liar GSCE performance, so not an entirely wasted evening.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Taming Of The Shrew - RSC at Theatre Royal Nottingham

Funniest Shakespeare EVER!

Shakespearean plays seem to be like buses - you don't see one for ages then three come along at once! Derby Theatre staged The Taming of the Shrew recently and this week Nottingham sees a double dose with Romeo and Juliet at the Playhouse and the RSC performing The Taming of the Shrew at the Theatre Royal. As I can't afford to watch as many as I would like, when I saw Nottingham Royal looking for a Twitter reviewer, I jumped at the chance.

The plot - Baptista has two daughters he wishes to find husbands for, but won't allow the younger, Bianca, to marry one of her many admirers before he can find a husband for the elder, Kate, the 'shrew'. Fortunately Petruchio, a stranger to
town, turns up and is prepared to take her on for her dowry - and straighten out her attitude later.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this production. I'd read reviews for it that seemed to suggest it was going to be gritty and possibly violent, so was totally unprepared for how much fun it was!
Yes, Shakespeare can be fun!

After a slightly slow start, the comedy picked up pace and had the audience in fits of laughter - the first time I've heard that at a performance. I can imagine academics tittering respectfully over Shakespearean wit but not laughing out loud in this manner. The RSC's performance is an energetic, fast- paced romp, full of sexual innuendo, that puts paid to the idea of Shakespeare being dull and fuddy-duddy.

Kate is a hard-drinking, hard smoking, ready for a fight woman. Petruchio, muscled and fit, the only attractive-looking guy on stage. They were made for each other. Kate's end speech, about women obeying their husbands, is a bit hard to stomach these days but having Petruchio abase himself to kiss her feet after it balanced things out somewhat, leaving me with the message that love and respect are two-way things.

My only regret is not taking my teenager along. I'd queried whether or not it would be suitable for a 14 yr old - and with innuendo and semi-nudity perhaps it's as well to err on the side of caution but I would have been happy for her to have seen it.

An excellent evening's entertainment that I'd urge everyone to see - especially if your only impression of Shakespearean comedy is of dull, dragging school-work.

Spring comes to the dog walk

The suns returned, the world is warming up and flowers are opening.

sloes, cowslips and primroses at the edge of the playing fields

anemones and a single bluebell in the wood

conker trees and masses of bluebells still in waiting.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Water, Water, Everywhere....

We've been having problems with the water recently. Severn Trent had decided that it was necessary to clean out water main - and while no doubt it was something that had to be done, the fact that it meant long hours without mains water was a real pain.
Firstly, we had 2 nights with no water from 9 in the evening till 4 next morning. Why so early? No one goes to bed as early as 9 - and surely not many need to be up at 4. Why wouldn't 10 till 5 work as well? Anyway ST don't offer 'preferred time options' so we filled buckets, the bath (which leaked!), the kettle, cola bottles, a huge pan for boiling gammon joints and - last but not least - a flask so we had warm water for washing. Fortunately it was warm enough to survive without the heating - as obviously, water is needed for it.
The following week we had 2 matching days - no water from 9 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon. Now most people would probably be out at work but neither husband nor I am. We decided to take the line of least resistance and go out for the majority of both days but it still left me realising how much we take instantly available water for granted.
It was quite easy to schedule baths/showers/hairwashing around the cut-off times. Even quite easy - after fixing the leaky bath plug - to cope with flushing toilets; a bath full of water and a bucket for ladling and you can manage - though how anyone with small children did, I don't know.
But the trickiest bit turned out to be having no hot water at the turn of a tap. I never realised how often I rinsed my hands under running water till it was cut off! To put in the plug and fill the sink with hot water from the flask and cold water from a bottle was so fiddly by comparison - and not easy if you've got filthy hands from gardening or cooking.
At the end of each of these drain cleaning sessions, because of the chemicals used, it was necessary to run the water before drinking any of it. So for four days over the last fortnight, every household round here has run water for 20 minutes and it flowed straight down the drains. And I thought there was a water shortage?