Thursday, 30 November 2017

Never Too Old

Last night I was out at a gig, bouncing, singing, and clapping, along with guys a third of my age.

In the night I woke up with agonising cramp in another weird and wonderful, previously undiscovered, muscle; this time in my foot.

This morning, I'm stiff, and full of aches and pains.

My first thought was "I'm too old for this".

But I'm not.
I may not be fit enough, but that's a different problem. Obviously, neither my half-hearted zumba or attempts to outrun zombies are keeping me supple enough to stand for three hours listening to music; so I should change my exercise.
What I'm talking about here is the automatic assumption that some activities belong only to the young, and that as we age, we should stop pursuing them and take up something more 'age approriate'.
I think we need to stop thinking like this.
I've had this argument out with myself before, but more from the angle of worrying what others would think, and yet here I am again blaming my age, when it's actually a fitness issue.

Just because I'm older I haven't fundamentally changed in myself. I still like the same music, TV and books. I've always liked walking in the countryside, or visiting stately homes, both of which might be considered suitable for an elderly person, but equally I like paddling whenever I get the chance, or eating ice cream on a freezing day, the way a child might.

Next year, I'll hit another 'big' birthday, one that would once have entitled me to a pension(!), but I'm not going to hang up my (low-heeled, comfy) dancing shoes, and spend every evening in front of the TV.
I don't want to change my habits and become some cartoon caricature of a middle-aged woman.
I'm still me, just with greyer hair.

If you want to go to a gig, climb a mountain, or play Pokemon Go, if you're fit enough, go for it!
And actually, once you retire you'll have time to do all these things.

Today I'm back to gentler pursuits - making passata, knitting a baby shawl - but I'm not going to accept that age means I have to give up things I enjoy.

From now on I have a new motto "Never Too Old" 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Christmas at Hardwick Hall

This weekend wasn't as nice as last, we had a slight covering of snow on Saturday, and Sunday was just damp and miserable for most of the day, so we were looking for somewhere indoors to visit, maybe with a christmassy feel to it. We've already been to see Chatsworth this year  and a lot of places don't display their Christmas finery till December, so we decided to head to Hardwick Hall. We were a bit cautious as last time we visited at Christmas we nearly got snowed in, and had a dreadful journey home!

The festive mood starts as you approach the house with icy skeletal trees lining the path, and festive garlands of evergreens and baubles decorating the windows.

Inside, the decorations were based around Christmas carols and songs. In the huge entrance hall  Herald Angels were singing on a table long enough for a banquet, over-looked by two enormous Christmas trees.

Walking round, we spotted ...

Three Ships Come Sailing In

Rudolph, an extremely old (3000 years) red-nosed reindeer

We Three Kings

 Santa getting stuck in a chimney.

Dreaming of a White Christmas

This was my favourite though - Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Snow-covered trees and an icy lake on the table,

snowflakes falling

and wild animals silhouetted against a wintry backdrop

The house tour finished in the kitchens which were laid out with festive food, but the decorations continued in the gardens, though with cold drizzle falling, we decided it was too unpleasant to wander round outside. Maybe I'll have chance to get back one fine day before Christmas ...

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Short Sunday walk at Carsington

 We decided to take advantage of Sunday's dry and more-or-less sunny weather to head out for a short walk at Carsington Reservoir.

You can walk or cycle all the way round (about 8 miles, I think) but we parked at Sheepwash car park, strolled down to the visitor centre and back again. It's favourite of ours which we've done many times. The views over the reservoir are blocked at times by trees but it's a pleasant amble, about a mile and a half each way, with separate paths for walkers and cyclists for much of the time so dogs can run around off-lead, and it's less windy than walking along the top of the dam, which makes it pleasanter at chilly times of year.

There are a couple of bird hides along the way and an old WW2 tower, once used for checking bombing practice but now a good place to look out over the water.

The low sun makes the photographs look rather eerie but actually it was a pleasant day for November with blue sky and high wispy cloud.

Not only did we spot a hot air balloon (the black dot,above) but just after I'd taken this photo two bi-planes flew past!

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Cherry Orchard at Nottingham Playhouse

We were out again at the theatre last week - not on the Twitter-trending #LoveTheatreDay, but near enough - to see Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. As a play about the end of an era it was especially fitting, as, after 18 years as artistic director, this was the last production to be directed by Giles Croft at Nottingham Playhouse.

It's a tale of landed gentry, who after years of squandering money are forced to sell their family home to cover debts. Local self-made millionaire Lopakhin believes there's a way to avoid this by developing the eponymous cherry orchard and building holiday homes there, but the family aren't interested; they moan about losing their home and precious orchard but won't do anything to save either. I thought John Elkington was brilliant as Lopakhin (but I'm a bit biased since my youngest was in a production of Kes with him), though if Chekhov's not your thing then you can see him in pantomime soon.
It's probably not the done thing to pick fault with a playwrite of Chekhov's standing, but I'm beginning to wonder if he quite knew how to end a play. When I saw The Seagull a while ago, I thought 'well, I'd have ended things a little earlier'. Same here. There's a moment when everyone has left the stage, and a key is heard 'off' turning in a lock. That's where I'd drop the curtain. Instead there's a 'tidying up' piece from old family servant Firs. Presumably Chekhov knew what he was doing though.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Christmas at Chatsworth 2017

 It still feels too early to tackle Christmas shopping but I have started on the fun side of the season with a trip to see Chatsworth House in its festive decorations. Their chosen theme this year is Dickens and his works. The author was a friend of the sixth Duke and several first editions are on display as you go round the house. As you enter, though, you're welcomed into a room where some less precious old books have been turned into decorations - garlands, paper 'baubles' and even a paper person.

As you follow the route through the house, every room has a Christmas tree decorated to tie in with the "Dickens",with letter-shaped baubles, haberdashery items for a Little Dorrit tree,

this one's made of books ...

With some I wondered if I could possibly adapt the idea for a smaller tree at home - maybe one of sticks, or a smaller version of this fretwork tree (below)

some though are just too big for an average house

This unusual 'tree' is made of the beds slept in by Fagin's young band of pickpockets

and for Miss Haversham sitting in her cobwebbed dining hall, the tree had decayed to twigs

Here's Mr Dickens himself, checking out the guide to the displays.

My favourite bits though were the Scrooge/Christmas Carol rooms - with a quite friendly ghost appearing in a mirror

and Scrooge being terrified by ghostly lights on his ceiling

Christmas continued with visits to Hardwick Hall