26 September 2021

It’s been a pretty decent week – some sunny weather, an outing to the theatre with our eldest grandchild, a couple of decent bike rides (on the road as opposed to “virtually”) and a weekend away with friends. Yep, pretty decent.

Sunday we took Annabelle to her first proper Shakespeare, a performance of The Comedy of Errors by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford. The RSC has constructed an outdoor theatre to help them manage their way through the pandemic with a couple of hundred seats and completely open air. Thankfully, we had good weather.

We started the day at Carluccio’s for Sunday brunch which is always a good way to start the day, I think. Then, as it happened, Stratford was having a food and craft fair so once we’d finished brunch, we strolled along looking at all the stalls. We did pick up some fudge and nougat for refreshments during the performance and then wandered down to the river to watch the excitement. There were a number of Dragon Boats racing up and down the Avon just outside the theatre. (Indeed, the outdoor performance of The Comedy was punctuated by shouts of “1, 2, 1, 2 . . .” accompanied by the banging of drums as the various dragon boat crews propelled their crafts up the river to the finish line). Ironic as the play opened with three players holding microphones coming on to the stage and going through the routine of “Testing, 1, 2, 1, 2 . . .” before morphing into a musical chant as the play commenced.

The performance, as always with the RSC, was terrific. We had sent Annabelle a synopsis beforehand so she knew roughly what was going on but she followed it all brilliantly and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  

Interestingly, I had been chatting to some of my brothers and sisters the day before and I mentioned that we were taking Annabelle to her first Shakespeare. My sister asked if the play was in “old English?” I said that it wasn’t “old English” as in Chaucer but it was Shakespeare’s play so it uses the language that he used. But, I went on to say, one gets so much from seeing the play as opposed to just reading it – seeing the way in which the actors interact and their actions and expressions gives a lot of context to the sometimes unfamiliar words. And indeed it proved to be – Annabelle had no problems understanding what was going on even if some of the language was a bit wacky.

After the play we had a spare hour or so and Annabelle expressed the wish to visit the MAD Museum. So, we wandered up through the town and spent a happy hour meandering through the museum, pushing buttons and watching cogs and gears intermesh delivering marvellously fascinating outcomes.

A splendid day out!

Nick kindly sent across some photos of our outing to the Cromwell Cottage with the whole family last week. All our children, their marvellous and beautiful wives and all our delightfully handsome/gorgeous and highly intelligent grandchildren all together in one place at the same time. Priceless.

I had a couple of nice bike rides (on the road) this week during the lovely, mainly sunny days. It was a bit windy for my liking on both occasions (actually, any wind is not especially to my liking – why is it that the wind is always blowing into your face no matter which direction you are cycling?) No landmarks of any great significance but, after adding this week’s mileage to the accumulating total, I have passed the one-quarter distance on the Route 66 expedition. So far, I’ve cycled 598 miles on this adventure, just over a quarter of the 2282 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica Pier.

The Royal Academy summer exhibition has just opened, just as the calendar turns from summer to autumn. This is the annual show which the RA has held every year since 1769. It is open to anyone and everyone to enter and this year they received more than 15,000 entries from both well-established artists and relative unknowns. In the past we’ve often gone to see it but this year we’ll have to settle for the online version.

Penny and I have always enjoyed wandering around the exhibition to see if we can find works by our former neighbour in Radway, James Butler. This year he has six pieces – four sculptures and a couple of drawings. Girl and Puppy can be yours for a mere £35,000 but you will have to hurry – there are only two of the limited edition of four still available as I write.

Finally, I ran across this somewhere recently which made me chuckle. I feel much the same way from time to time.

Meanwhile, keep happy, keep smiling, keep isolating as much as you can, wear a f**king facemask when you go out and keep your distance. And keep safe.

Lots of love to you all,

Greg

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