I had it all planned… today’s photo was going to be current and I was going to attempt a review of sorts, which I still may do. This afternoon we had tickets to see the family play ‘Merlin and the Woods of Time’ at the open air theatre in Chester’s Grosvenor park and I intended to take some pictures for this evening’s blog. However, on arrival we were told that camera’s were not permitted. I have no problem with this, but it sort of scuppered the plans somewhat. Therefore to illustrate the blog I have had to go back to a picture taken at Warkworth castle in Northumberland and one that doesn’t really fit with the performance we saw this afternoon.
At this time of year you can’t move for medieval knights. It seems that ever castle – be in National Trust or English Heritage – is awash with volunteers dressed in armour. Indeed, Beeston castle, which is about 8 miles from where I live was having a 2-day medieval festival this weekend titled ‘Clash of the Knights’. And it’s not just knights… as a family we have seen Romans, Cavaliers, Roundheads, Highwaymen, Vikings, Gladiators, etc, etc. It has to be said as well that the various groups that dress up for the public and re-enact these golden periods of history (such as this knight pictured at Warkworth) take it very, very seriously.
This was not the case with ‘Merlin and the Woods of Time’. It’s probably the most spectacularly non-sensical and silly play I have seen in a long time. And its all the better for it. In fact, I loved it and so did the rest of the family. I’m not sure I can explain the plot – it did involve all the usual Arthurian characters but with a few more thrown in for good measure. And kazoos. Lots of kazoos. And time travel. And jousting commentators. Think Monty Python and Holy Grail – right down to Black Knight (and star of the show) Mordred losing his head at one point – and you are close. The cast are perfect and their are lots of laughs for both kids and adults. It is subtly smutty and yet exciting enough to hold the attention of the smallest of attentions. One running joke has a character speaking Welsh all the way through whilst the rest of the cast dismiss it as gibberish. The Welsh family sitting near us though roared with laughter and the fact that the Welsh speaker emerges as the heroine of the play (and the only sensible character) is commendable. A good time (and picnic) was had by all.
‘Merlin and the Woods of Time’ is running in conjunction with Shakespeare’s ‘As You Like It’ with the same cast doing both plays on alternate days until the 21st August. Pictures from the actual productions can be found here. Highly recommended if you can avoid the rain…
I MUST go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way, where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
John Masefield (1878-1967)
Today, my daughter achieved something that I always wanted to but never managed – a Blue Peter Badge. For those not aware of Blue Peter, it is the UK’s longest running children’s programme; a magazine show for kids fronted by an ever-changing line-up of presenters. Blue Peter do not give out their badges to just anyone. You have to write in and show that you have earned the accolade. My daughter got hers for writing a poem about the seasons. She sent it in months ago and to be honest we had all forgotten that she had send it in at all. But this morning the badge arrived together with a nice letter explaining how much the Editor of the show – and the presenters Andy, Helen and Barney – enjoyed reading the poem. My daughter is of course glowing with pride whilst my son is glowering with jealousy. As a kid I always wanted a Blue Peter badge but was too lazy to actually do anything to earn it. I too am insanely jealous. What’s more is that Blue Peter badge holders get free entry to museums, galleries and stately homes the length and breadth of the country. So that is one less entry fee to pay. I have told her to look after it and keep the letter as it will be something to look back on and cherish; not to mention the fact that the Blue Peter badge never goes out of fashion or loses its caché. I am currently in negotiations to get her to write another poem. Is that so wrong?
Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan
Go on, admit it. I bet you didn’t know the full rhyme. I didn’t until I looked it up on t’internet 5 minutes ago. I certainly didn’t know about Anne hiding under the baking pan. I also didn’t know that ladybirds are commonly viewed as lucky. I could do with a bit of luck at the moment as routine bites hard and ambitions are low… Again, I have no idea what this plant is, which I suppose makes me a pretty rubbish flower photographer; maybe I should stick to buttercups and daisies? In the meantime, luck be a ladybird tonight. I going now before I run out of clichés to spout and Joy Division lyrics to purloin
Do flowers work in black and white? Probably not most of the time but in this case I think it does. The colour version is pretty much all one colour anyhow – green – and the monochrome helps add texture to the globe thistle, for that is what it is, apparently (although I stand to be corrected). I can’t work out whether this is in flower or pre/post flower but I think this is before the thistle has flowered, which is even more reason to go black and white. This is a last minute replacement for the picture that I was going to blog but which I am told is ‘too nice to waste on the blog’, which means my better half wants it on her wall. I may well post that particular picture a bit later… but I am considering entering it in a competition and rules mean I can’t post it just yet. I’m such a tease; however, in the meantime I don’t think this is a lesser image. Yet again it highlights the advantages of the 50mm prime lens – every photographer should have one, especially given the cheap price (approx £80) when compared to other lenses. Ultra fast and great depth of field
I promised flower pictures this week and here is the first. Not taken in my friend’s garden but in my own. I have no idea what it is but I am sure that someone will tell me – I’d ask the gardener in the family but she is out gallivanting. Here I was trying to focus on the small buds of pollen (?) on the ends of the stamens using the 50mm lens and the extension ring, which is why the flower itself is blurred in the background. Not sure if it works but I like it; could maybe benefit from being cropped but at least here you can tell its a flower…
It’s been one of those great weekends. Good company, good food, food wine. Lots of families enjoying themselves together and most importantly very relaxing. Spent most of Saturday at a good friend’s garden party/BBQ; she always maintains that it’s always sunny on her birthday and the law holds true for another year. My friends garden is her project and hobby, much like photography is for me, so there may well a few flower pictures this week for which I make no apologies – at least you will be getting something new.
Highlight of the day though was the flashmob. Word went out the day before that guests were to learn the dance moves to accompany a Lady GaGa song and surprise the birthday girl en masse. Needless to say it was the youth that led the way and I managed to get out of it by offering to film it.
What is a Go-Go? Well here are two of them. The latest craze to sweep through my children’s school, hot on the heels of Silly Bandz, Doctor Who Monster Invasion Cards, Match Atax, etc. Of course Go-Gos have been de rigeur before and faded from memory; but now there are furry Go-Gos (do you see what they did there) and the craze has started again. I think they must be Japanese (like Pokemon, another craze that baffles adults and obsesses children) and allegedly you can play a game with them although I have never seen my two actually do this. It seems to me that what they are actually for is to clutter up every work surface and provide moment’s of exquisite pain for adults, especially when trod on in the middle of the night. Not as painful as standing on a three-pin plug or a Lego brick but certainly up there. What was wrong with Panini sticker albums? Kids of today, etc, etc
Photography wise, another example of the wonderful bokeh produced by the 50mm prime lens, here attached to the macro ring to get very close up. They look sweet don’t they? Don’t be taken in.
No pretences about art today but at least its a new photograph. In fact it’s so new that I took it about 2 minutes ago in my hall at home. Photography is all about light and here we have the full spectrum. Very occasionally, when the sun is shining and the curtains are open, the light floods our front room in a certain, it hits the glass crystals of the chandelier (not a real one you understand – its from British Home Stores), splits and shines through onto the inside of the front door. It happens very rarely and usually lasts for a minute or so and so tonight I thought I’d take a picture of it. The kids get very excited about having a bit of rainbow in the house. A short lesser blog post but i wasn’t going to let that pun get away from me…