Monday, 31 March 2014

"Pygmalion" in the Theatre Royal Bath

The facade of  the Theatre Royal, Bath

Just a quite "write up" as I've been busy and have failed to apply myself to blog writing!  I met my sister in law outside the theatre, where we saw a good production of George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion,"  with a cast of well known actors, including Alastaire McGowan as Professor Henry Higgins, a roll made for him!  The theatre is a little gem, tucked away, and off the beaten track in Bath.

Waiting for Jo in the foyer, with the glitzy handrails.

The stage viewed from the Dress Circle.

The central chandelier, hopefully well screwed to the ceiling.

Friday, 28 March 2014

A talk in Bath Guildhall about Braunschweig: Past, Present and Future Developments.

The Mayor of Bath and members of the Twinning Association, with Barbara in blue scarf.

The Bath Braunschweig Twinning Association's members and friends enjoyed a interesting talk with photographs given by Frau Heck from our partner city of Braunschweig.  Frau Heck talked about the city's history and its development into a modern 21st century city.

Brian reads a greetings letter to us from the DEG, (Deutsch English Gesellschaft)  in Braunschweig.

Watching some interesting photos of our sister city of Braunschweig in Germany.

Braunschweig is called the "City of Henry the Lion."  Henry, 1129 - 1195 was the Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, and as Henry lll, was married to Matilda, the daughter of English King Henry ll.  She became, of course,  the first member of the Bath Braunschweig Twinning Association in 1168.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Singing Mozart with Marlborough College Choral Society.

I´m sitting in the back row and looking a little pensive.

Even though the choir consists of maybe 200 singers, I always become nervous before a performance.  If I sing badly, it would not be noticed, although it is not a good idea to come in before everyone else starts singing!   The concert was lovely, and we all sang really well with the four professional soloists,  and Alex our wonderful new conductor.

The altos sit left, the basses in front of the altar, with the tenors and sopranos to the right.

The orchestra is sitting in the aisle, and wearing their black suits.  We sang Mozart´s requiem and Coronation Mass, both popular pieces which the audience enjoyed.

The audience wait expectantly for the concert to begin.  

We had a three hour rehearsal before the concert on Sunday afternoon, so by the time the concert had finished, we had spent approx 4.5 hours singing.   It was good to stop and go home for a nice cup of tea.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Friday Evening´s Rehearsal in Marlborough College Chapel.

Marlborough College Chapel

We are well into our rehearsals for our annual concert this Sunday, March 23rd.   I love singing, but the preparations for the concert can be somewhat tiring, and we do have to stand up much of the time.   Last night we were given a list of the "Sits and Stands," the places in both the Requiem and the Coronation Mass, were we can rest our legs for a few moments.

The two Mozart scores.

I have sung the Requiem many times before, and know it almost off by heart.  I last sang the Coronation Mass at Easter in 2000. 

The college chapel is decorated with many murals.

More news of the concert follows, probably on next Monday 24th.  I´m sure it will be a great success, as we have sung well in all the rehearsals.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A Foggy Afternoon on Caen Hill

Fog, fog and a little more fog!

Devizes stands on top of a hill, and when the sun shines,  it is easy to forget that it can still be foggy on in the villages at the bottom of the hill.  I set out for a long walk around the "Caen Hill" fight of locks, only to find that the bottom half of the consecutive 16 locks were enveloped in fog! I did the short walk instead, which ended in the cafe with me eating a "rum and raisin" ice cream, with a big stick of chocolate sticking out of the top!

Foggy teasels growing at Caen Hill.

Tranquil fogginess.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

On the Road Again on a Sunny Friday Morning in March.

On the road again!

Out in the sunshine walking from Bowood Park towards Chippenham and "Wetherspoons" the local, reasonably priced watering hole!

The distant group seen through the branches of a bush.  

The daffodils were blooming along the straight line of the old railway track.  The branch line between Chippenham and Lydway, east of Devizes closed in the early 1960's, when Mr Beeching was asked to prune all uneconomic railway lines.   Many of his decisions have proved to be a big mistake!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

A House for a Mouse in Hillworth Park.

The entrance to the new "Wild Life Area" in Hillworth Park.

In a quiet corner of the park, a small nature area has been built for children.   Here they can visit the bugs who will be staying  in the hotel and  Mr & Mrs Mouse, who have a nice new house in which to reside.  A hedgehog residence has been built, and stands beside a nice new feeding table for the dicky birds!  What a lovely idea to encourage children to take an interest in life around them.

The bug hotel to the left, the mouse house in the tree stump, a bird table and hedgehog corner.

In the foreground to the right, is a pond, a future home for all sorts of creepy crawlies.  Shrubs have been planted around the site, and they grow up to form a hedge, it will make this a nice little "hidy hole" for all the animals and insects.

The multi storey Bug Hotel and Mouse House, complete with a ladder for short legged mice. 

The Hedgehog House,

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Geology Group visits Bradford on Avon Museum.

Glued to the screen in the lecture room.

We were in Bradford on Avon on Tuesday morning,  listening to an interesting talk about the old stone quarries in the local area.  Last year we made a geology field trip to two of the old quarries, and this talk gave us interesting history about those mines, as well as of the others in the area, from which the stone for the buildings in Bath was quarried.  

Our excellent presenter told us about the quarries during the last war, when they were used to store precious artifacts from London museums from the threat of bombing.   Important government records and documents were also stored in the mines.

Two old stone cutting saws.

Each saw has a name, (I have forgotten the names of these) and was used for a particular cutting process.  What terribly hard and dangerous work it must have been, well before "Health and Safety" stepped in the make life for the workers much safer.  The museum displayed a good collection of fossils gathered from the local limestone, with some really lovely examples I would like to own and hold.   

The museum contains a complete pre WWll chemist shop, with coloured bottles containing the basic ingredients of everyday drugs, lined up on the shelves.    The old bottles in he above photo contained beer, I think and hope!

Mushroom compost being loaded onto a lorry.

The constant damp temperature of ca. 14c in the  quarries made it ideal for mushroom growing, and for many years large quantities of mushrooms grew in the damp darkness, tended by lady growers.  The above photo shows a photo from the 1930`s, with men loading used mushroom compost onto a lorry.   Quite what they would do with it after that, I do not know!

The medieval bridge crossing the River Avon.

This old bridge takes the Trowbridge to Bath road over the river.  During the recent terrible flooding, the river overflowed its banks, and flooded the surrounding low  lying roads and shops. On the bridge to the left of the photo, it is possible to make out the old town "lock up" on the bridge.  It was not a nice place to be held awaiting trail, as there was not toilet!

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Georgian Dresses in Bath Fashion Museum

The Fashion Museum, housed in the Assembly Rooms in Bath.  

This interesting museum houses a permanent exhibition of historical clothing, together with special visiting exhibitions.  The current exhibition shows Georgian ladies dresses, and exquisitely embroidered jackets for gentlemen.  The detail on this clothing, hand stitched birds , flowers and fruits is beautiful.  Each dress was made in a rich damask, with detailed embroidery stitched on top of the raised pattern, a process that must have taken many, many hours of concentrated work.  No wonder the embroiderers lost their eyesight.

Damask dresses, and centre, a gentleman's green jacket.

It was not possible to clean these dresses, so each dress was made in several pieces that could be worn over an easier to wash bodice and petticoat.  The two dress above show the under petticoats, and with a heavily embroidered,  detachable stomacher attached to the front of the dress.  I particularly liked the mustard coloured damask.

A mustard coloured damask, embroidered dress and a richly decorated gentleman's jacket.

Each dress must have cost a fortune and taken a long time to make.  Depending on ones wealth, each lady must have owned several dresses for special occasions, and easy to wear day dresses when at home.  With little else to do each day, changing clothes for lunch, dinner, theatre and dancing, and every other occasion must have been a popular activity.

Mantua, a court dress for palaces with very wide doors.

The mantua featured elbow length sleeves and an overskirt drawn back over the hips with a petticoat beneath.  By the mid 18th century, the mantua had evolved into a formal court dress.  They must have been very "swish" but somewhat uncomfortable to wear. 

Monday, 3 March 2014

In the Pitch Black of Kents Cavern in Torquay

The cavern guide and the stalagmite.

Scientists and geologists found the oldest jaw bone of any human being found in Europe in this cavern .  Early humans lived just inside the entrance, alongside bears, lions and wolves all sharing the same home, but further down inside in the pitch black cavern.   Imagine trying to sleep at night with the sound of wild animals roaring and fighting.  The guide switched off the lights on one occasion, and we all stood in complete darkness, a very strange experience for us all, while our lightless eyes searched out a glimmer in the darkness.   I was very glad when the lights came on again! 

In the above photo the guide is talking about the formation of stalactites (they hang on tight on the roof) and the stalagmites that build up from the dripping limestone below.   Eventually the two meet and form a column, but not in my lifetime, as the grow at a fraction of an inch per year. 

Interesting limestone formations inside the cavern.

One of the many water formed tunnels throughout the cavern.

Over the millennia the cavern has been formed by water rushing through tiny fissures in the rock, which gradually expanded as the water wore away the rock to form smooth sided tunnels.  Many man made artifacts have been unearthed in the cavern including stone axes, flint arrow heads and tools.  Evidence of the food the people ate can be ascertained from the leftover bones of ox, wolf and bear.   The mean temperature of the cavern is around the 14c mark, so comfortable warm in winter and cool in a hot summer.  

It was such an interesting place, and well worth the visit, even in the dark!