Wednesday, December 30, 2009


A Christmas Carol by Strange Face

It was a real Christmas treat to see the Strange Face production at Newdigate Village Hall yesterday evening.
A brilliant sort of pantomime really.
It is a small company with Arts Council funding who tour the country during the winter months with their show.
There are 4 actors and a musician - and many masks and puppets to play all the characters of the tale.
This year it was A Christmas Carol.
There are also back stage people who deal with the costumes and masks.

It all runs very smoothly and the set is gently adapted as scene flows from one episode to another.

The hall was very small. The set only just fitting between the side walls.
There is no stage.

The tickets had all sold out, so it was a happy audience who sat back to enjoy the show.

Bill took a few photos, without flash from our seats.
Here is Scrooge - maybe screeching "Humbug" at the time!

It was difficult without flash to get a sharp image - this is some of the Cratchett family.

This one is from the Strange Face web site.

There was an interval half way through.
Included in our ticket price was food and drink.
There was beautiful mulled wine and mince pies.
Normally just tea, coffee and squash is on offer - but this show had been specially arranged for many family and friends and was the first one after Christmas.
It was like a party.
I had two cups of mulled wine - I decided that satsumas soaked in mulled wine was the very best way to eat them!
Afterwards one of the cast commented that intervals don't usually last as long!

The show came to an end, but it wasn't the end of the evening.
The actors appeared without their masks and the masks and puppets appeared for us all to investigate.

Somehow, as soon as the mask is on, people begin to act and become somebody else.
This, of course, is Bill.

And this is Bill too.

I loved trying on the masks.

I think this one was worn by the ghost of Christmas Present

There were also puppets to play with - I couldn't allow the ugly crone to upstage me!

There was a small group of us from Pilgrims Antiques at the show.
This is Brenda.

And this is Monika.

Monika and puppet.

Monika again in a mask.

Brenda wanted to protect Tiny Tim!
Also present were Jenny and Mike from my family.

Here is Jenny in a mask.

Jenny and Mike were also very interested in the music.
Mark the musician had spent a while creating the instrument that Mike is playing.
He wanted something that would make the sound of eerie and scary ghosts.
Mark called it a gongatron.

Mark pops into Pilgrims quite often. His family are from Dorking - and three of them are Strange Faces.

In the back ground is Mark's wife and baby - Willow. Willow has been to the shop quite often too in her short life.

Masks - take your pick!

Two friendly puppets on the table.

Pig puppet.

This is Russell, who was Scrooge with the Tiny Tim puppet.
Now we can look forward to next year when the show will be The Rakes Progress, I think.
I love occasions which are so friendly and unique.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


The Family Christmas.

Yesterday was our Christmas Day.
This was masterfully arranged by Roger and Sue in Wiltshire.
There were 16 of us there during the day - 14 for dinner.
We had eaten turkey and trimmings on the 25th, but sharing a meal with family makes it more special.
We had roast beef and turkey and I, if I counted correctly, 8 different types of vegetables with roast potatoes, two sorts of stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry sauce, gravy etc.
This was followed by Christmas pudding with cream, custard or rum butter. There was also a big trifle.
Thank you Sue.

After our meal there was present exchanging - both sublime and ridiculous!
It was all a bit chaotic with paper everywhere!
Felix and Otto were tired and a bit overwhelmed.
In fact Felix was more than tired he was in pain. I will shortly have news of his condition. He has probably been seen by a doctor.
Jenny and Ruth took the boys home mid afternoon.

Matt and Suzie with Joel and Anna didn't stay for tea. But they were with us long enough to have a laugh and play.
Suzie and I studied a book that Roger had found for me (at a bazaar) which divides personality types into groups, according to points of the compass.
I decided I was a South person with yearnings to be more West.
Suzie is definitely West.
Joel was pleased with the air hockey game we had found at a car boot sale - its a good game. Everybody wanted a game.
Simon and Nicki were with us too.
Megan and Tom had already returned to London.
They are now planning for 2010 and the arrival of a new family member.
After The Cirencester Frosts had returned to their rabbits (don't ask!), Sue was assembling the tea table.
We were joined by Pete and Dabba.
Pete is an old school friend of Simon's and Bill and I have enjoyed Christmas celebrations with him for many years.
I wonder what they all did today. It has been tradition to go on a pub crawl walk across Salisbury Plain sometime in the week between Christmas and New Year.
The weather has been so foul here that I think I would have omitted the walking part and just concentrated on the pub part.
But the young ones might do it differently.

I have mentioned all the people we shared the day with - but the new arrival in the house was the star attraction.
The cat arrived only the day before.
Roger had chatted with a neighbour before Christmas who said that his daughter didn't really want the kitten she had been given.
Roger and Sue decided to offer it a home.
It has arrived with the name Willow - which may well remain its name (or not).
It might be female - but then again, it might be male.
Whichever - it is a kitten and beautiful. And so even tempered - having 14 people unwrapping presents didn't upset Willow at all.

Roger beams for the camera.

Roger and Jenny.

Roger receives a precious clock from Matt.
Well, who knows the value? Matt rescued it from somebody about to throw it out!
Come on! This is a Frost Christmas - the cheaper the present, whether fine or stupid, the better it is!

Suzie poses with Roger and Willow.

Simon and Nicki.

Nicki, looking every inch the elegant ballet dancer which she once was.

Joel can strum a few chords on the guitar.
He has grown up so much in the last year and I found him to be really good company. He is 10 years old now.
I think he quite liked having an aunt who dared to be a bit outrageous!

Joel's sister, Anna. Anna is 8. She loves music and dancing - goes to ballet classes.
She is a sweetie!

A snap shot which has managed to capture lots of people.

Joel plays air hockey with Nicki.

Rog and Matt play air hockey.

A snap shot which includes me. I failed to get Bill in any picture. Shame!

And outdoors the green woodpeckers feasted on grubs and worms.
Today has been quiet at home.
I have been to the doctor today and am now on a longer course of antibiotics.
This evening we are going to a show - actors in masks. We saw their production last year and it was brilliant.
Jenny and Mike are coming with us.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Lovely trip to Brighton marina.

One of my favourite places is Brighton Marina.
We look longingly at the waterfront apartments and wonder how much they cost.
The apartments may well cost less than some of the boats to be seen in the marina.

After a leisurely lie in with a cup of tea, the radio and our books we got ourselves ready for breakfast.
Not a bowl of cereal downstairs - we planned a trip to Brighton for breakfast.

We wandered past the Wetherspoons - and the Marina one is a good one - and instead went into Frankie and Benny's.
Good choice.
We were the first customers of the day.
That was good because, for a while, as we waited for our food, I could sing along with the 1950s records being played.
This chain do a very good offer on breakfasts - 2 meals, of any size, for £10 and unlimited drinks.
I had a standard big breakfast and Bill had the enormous plate full!
I had 2 pots of tea and Bill enjoyed 2 cappuccinos.
We were happy there - though my singing quietened down as other customers joined us!

After breakfast we went for a walk, first within the marina and then all along the breakwater.

We were pleased to see cormorants in the harbour, sheltering from the winds and rough sea.

I think my little camera did rather well!

But Bill's camera and lens did better!

Of course it wasn't until we got home that we could be sure we had seen cormorants.
We once learned how to tell the difference between cormorants and shags - but that has been long forgotten.

Amongst the leisure craft are fishing boats - not out to sea today.

From the breakwater there are good views to the east, towards Rottingdean and Newhaven.

Rottingdean windmill on the hill.
We have walked on the undercliff walk in the past to explore pretty Rottingdean.

There were patches of blue sky allowing sunlight through to create silver pools of light across the sea.

It was windy on the breakwater - I was glad of my gloves and pleased that my top had a hood.
It was exhilarating (bracing?) walking in the wind with sea spray shooting up over the breakwater.
It made me smile - and I got lots of smiles back!
Quite a lot of people were enjoying the morning.

Bill is further along - not clearly visible through the spray.
A set of three photographs follow which show why we both got a bit wet!

From the end of the breakwater we could see the beach towards the centre of Brighton and the pier.
People were having rides on some of the high scary rides on the end of the pier.
We were amused at a little plaque on the wall at the end of the breakwater.
It was good to know that the structure had pleased the engineers.
I am sure those engineers must be very proud as members of The Concrete Society!
This afternoon Bill was busy getting things ready for tomorrow.
A certain amount of wrapping needed doing!
I hope my funny family will appreciate the hotch potch of things that have been wrapped for them!
Over a small dinner this evening we caught up with the Christmas Day Dr Who episode.
Just one more with the lovely David Tenant.
I would imagine that there will be no blog posting tomorrow. I don't know what time we will get home from Wiltshire - I guess it might be quite close to bed time.

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