Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Almost bluebell time....

 It's another beautiful morning for dog-walking in the Wood. Spring is really sprung now, the grass looks greener, leaves are clothing the trees and the bluebells are on their way though not out in their true magnificence yet. Another week or so.....

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Breaking the journey

 Any lengthy car journey needs a break - for lunch, maybe, and a bit of a leg stretch - and I prefer to avoid the obvious choice of roadside services but stop off at interesting places en route, often a National Trust property with interesting grounds and gardens.

Belton House is a favourite spot for heading East, but this holiday we were heading West to Wales and with the promise of a glorious day, we chose to stop at Attingham Park  just outside Shrewsbury and wander round the grounds and deer park.

view back to the house from the deerpark

 It turned out to be quite a long stopover as the mile and half walk we chose took a couple of hours as we stopped frequently to gaze at reflections in the river, spot early bluebells under the trees and investigate the walled garden; not many vegetables to be found growing there at this time of year but the borders were decoratively filled with flowers.

walled garden
cottage adjoining the stable block

We then decided to make the most of the sunny day by taking a second break in the journey a few miles down the road but just into Wales - at Powis Castle.

 The gardens tumble down from the castle's hilltop site in a series of terraces, making the most of views out over the countryside.

From the formal gardens we headed back through a wilder area of trees and rhododendron bushes; having visited before when these are in flower, I know how wonderful they'll look in late May, but for now there were daffodils in bloom and glimpses of the castle to be had as we headed back up hill.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The Mist in the Mirror - Nottingham Playhouse

For a birthday treat, I'd asked for tickets to The Mist in the Mirror at Nottingham Playhouse. It's a stage adaptation of Susan Hill's book of the same name, and, as you might guess, it's a ghost story. This was why I wanted to see it - I've seen all sorts of theatre performances from panto to Greek tragedy, but never a ghost story. I rarely find scary books to be very frightening, films rely heavily on camera tricks, so I was curious how the spooky atmosphere would be captured on stage - and would it work for me...

 James Monmouth returns to England after a life-time spent abroad, intent on tracking down an adventurer who has proved an inspiration to him - and uncovers a ghastly family history.

 I'm not sure I'd so so far as to say it scared me but it held my attention - and, I think, most of the audience's - through out. The special effects certainly built up the right atmosphere for the telling of a ghost story - rain lashing at the windows, snow piling up on the moors or fog drifting across the scene. A lot of the time the stage was kept very dark, only lit by a tiny pinprick of light - all very atmospheric and with plenty of shadows for ghosts to hide in. For me, it all worked brilliantly, and I loved it from start to finish!