Thursday, 12 May 2022

Fabergé at the VandA

 Not so long ago, my friend E suggested, that it would be fun to go to the  Fabergé exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum, lunching beforehand at Mere.

It seemed like an excellent idea, so on 2nd April, I made my way to London, and the three of us (E, our mutual friend A, and me) met up at Mere, where we enjoyed some delicious cocktails and food.

photo shows glass with a deep pink/red drink, toppd with white foam and decoarated with a pansy, standing on a black marble counter
Cocktail

We lingered a little longer then planned so ended up getting a taxi to the museum, which was very entertaining.


I also found the exhibition itself interesting,although not necessarily one I would have picked for myself, without my friend having suggested it.

I had not appreciated, although of course I was aware of Faberge, that it involved a substantial business, I had always assumed he was a small craftsman. In fact, at it's peak, they had shops in 5 cities, and over 500 employees!

No photographs were allowed in the exhibit, so I can't share my favourites, but apart from the eggs there were lots of cigarette cases, model animals (including many made for the royal family here) and jewelry.

I particularly liked the enamelwork - there was a brilliant blue cigarette case, inlaid with silver and diamonds, (made, I think, for Mrs Keppel) 

There was a very economical multi-purpose tiara (you could apparently remove the head band and wear it as a necklace! ) and some items which looked startlingly modern.

The exhibition ended with the eggs, which are simply stunning - so intricate and delicate. I loved the peacock, and the very modern looking winter egg.

A lovely day. (And we may have gone back for another cocktail after leaving the exhibition, because why not!

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Meaning of Zong - Bristol Old Vic

 Back in 2018, I went to a workshop  performance / reading of a new play by Giles Terera, at Bristol Old Vic (I wrote about it here) It was a deeply moving event and I planned, then, to see it when it was produced as a full play. 

That was delayed, like so many other things, by Covid, but it's finally here and I went to see it on 8th April.

The play is about the 18th C court case of Gregson v Glbert . It concerned the slave ship Zong. It was an insurance claim - the ship's crew had murdered 132 enslaved people, by throwing them overboard, and made an insurance claim for the value of the dead, claiming that it had been necessary to throw them (cargo) overboard due to a shortage of water, in order to save the remaining people on board. 

The case was heavily publicised due to the efforts of Olaudah Equiano, (Played here by Giles Terera, who also wrote the play) himself a formerly enslaved man, and Granville Sharp, an abolitionist who was already well known for his activism and support of fleeing slaves. In the original trial, a jury found in favour of the ship owners, in the appeal, new evidence was produced which identified navigational errors by the captain or crew, and evidence that rain had fallen, sufficient to replenish the water supplies, before the final group of people was massacred. As a result, the Judge found that case should be re-heard. There are no records of a further trial, it's likely that the owners either reached a settlement with the insurer or chose not to pursue it, but the publicity helped to expose the inhumaity of the slave trade, and to increase support for abolition movement. 

photo shows grey programme (on left) and flyer (on right) for the play. The flyer shows the faces of 5 cast members including Giles Tereraon a blue-grey background


The play opens in a modern setting, with a young woman (Keira Lester) in a bookshop, raising the concern that a book about the slave trade is shelved under African history, rather than, where it more properly belongs, under British history, and being brushed off by the staff, before moving to the historical setting of the Zong court case, interspersed with the stories of three of the enslaved women on the ship.

It's a very powerful play, and not easy to watch. 

The set and production, as well as the cast, are excellent - there are allusions to the legacy of the slave trade - wooded cases marked with the names of slavers such as Colston, and a moment when the hammer beams of Westminster Hall, where the court is sitting, descend and for the ribs of the ship - very cleverly done,and a visual reminder of how inextricably linked the establishment was with the trade.


Music throughout was provided by Sidiki Demele.

The run was fairly short but I hope that there will be revivals - if there are, it is very well worth seeing.

Friday, 1 April 2022

Loki


 Those of you who know me on Facebook will have seen that sadly, Loki left us at the end of March.

Baby Loki, 2014


Loki in the snow


First ,meeting with Vashti

Loki relaxing with Vashti






I miss him. RIP, Loki.

Monday, 28 February 2022

Cabaret at the Kit Kat Club, Playhouse Theatre

 Last summer,I  booked to see Cabaret, starring Eddie Redmayne as the Emmcee, Jessie Buckley as Sally Bowles,and Omari Douglas as Clifford Bradshaw.  That was a long time ago, when nothing seemed certain, and making any kind of booking felt light offering a hostage to fortune. It  crept up on me a little, and had I known ahead of time it was going to fall just as our government moved to an 'ignore it and  it will go away' policy on Covid, I might not have chosen this week, but such is life...  

The theatre has been completely reconfigured inside, there's now a central, circular stage, with seating behind as well as in front  of the stage, creating the feel of a club. In addition, the first few rows of the stalls have been replaced with cafe style tables. There are art-deco style, monocled masks on the walls (I can't remember from my previous visits, I think they are covering up the Roman style Ox skulls that used to be there) - it's very thorough.


The booking e-mail sending tickets also gives you an entry time, encouraging everyone to arrive early to allow time to visit the bars and pre-show entertainment. My entry point was the stage door (who knows how the actors get in!)  so one goes in to a rather utilitarian corridor, to the first of the bars,(and a complimentary shot of schnapps (or a bottle of lager or water) where a live pianist played,

On the main level, the second bar, in decadent white and gold, murals on the walls (destined, no doubt, were we truly in Wiemar Germany, to be condemned in the near future as degenerate art)  with dancers on a platform over the bar, live musicians, as well as a champagne bar.

And all this before you get to your seat!

Then - the show itself.

It's good. Very good. 

Eddie Redmayne is superb as The Emcee - almost clownish in the opening number, (sporting a fetching little party hat) and gradually becoming much darker, and colder, as the show continues, including an angel of war or death for 'Money Money Money', moving to a more conventional, if grimmer, appearance towards the end of the show.

Jessie Buckley didn't appear at the performance I saw, the Sally Bowles role was played by her understudy, Sally Firth (according to her mum, who I bumped into in the foyer during the interval, it was the first time she'd appeared in the role) 

The rest of the cast is very strong - Ellliot Levey and Lisa Sadovy, Her Shultz and Fraulein Schneider were particularly strong, and Omaro Douglas as Bradshaw was also excellent.

Booking information here, (the cast is changing from the end of March, Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley are leaving)  but I think that the production is good enough that it will be  well worth seeing even without them!

There are some photos of the show here, and of the redesign of the theatre here 


Wednesday, 23 February 2022

Storm Eunice - 18th February 2022

 We have been having a certain amount of weather. Which,of course, gives us something to talk about..

The Met Office issued an unusual 'Red' warning, and while I live just out of the red zone, even an amber warning is pretty serious.

Our local council recommended tht all the schools should close on Friday, the local bus company cancelled all services, and (true sign that it was serious) the council cancelled our rubbish and recycling collections, depriving us of the opportunity to spend the evening hunting our bins and recycling boxes throughout the village, to wherever the storm might take them.

It was due reach us mid-morning but was a little delayed. 

It seemed to be worst mid afternoon ,when we were enjoying hail and localised power cuts; little tiny one at work, and longer ones at the house - I was discouraged rather, when I checked the power company website and found that (at 4.30 on Friday) they were hoping that they would be able to get the power back on by 6 p.m. on Saturday...

Under the circumstances, I headed home (avoiding fallen trees)where I found that (a) the electricity was, indeed, off, although happily I have a gas hob so could at least heat things up, and (b) I had rather less than the recommended amount of garden fence. Well, I  suppose I had nearly the same amount of fence as I had first thing, it's just that rather less of it was attached to the fence posts and rather more of it was on the lawn, than is the norm in the best regulated gardens!


I also lost some felting from my garden she's roof, but that was unsurprising as it's been on it's last legs for a while.

Several of my neighbours lost roof tiles, and there are a lot of trees down. My next door neighbours lost the board thy'd put up to cover their shed's missing window..

We got our power back much sooner than expected,which was nice - I had dug out my stash of candles but was happy not to have to use them! 

So it felt as though we got off pretty lightly. The weekend was cold and wet and breezy - I didn't go for much of a walk at the weekend as it was not very pleasant,but I did take the long way round when I went for my paper, ad found a few more fallen trees and branches.


 Then on Monday Storm Franklin arrived, and took down part of my neighbour's fence. But, somewhat to my surprise, my temporary botched props, to stop the rest of my fence blowing  down seemed to work,and hardy any more of fence fell down,although some of it did end up all over the grass again. 

So, not the most enjoyable weekend I've ever had, but I'm very glad it wasn't worse.

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

The Ocean At The End of the Lane - Duke of York's Theatre


Back in December 2019, I got to see the stage adaptation of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, at the Dorfman at the National Theatre, and it was extraordinarily good (I ended up seeing it 3 times), so when I heard that it was transferring for a longer London run I suggested to my cousin, A, that she and her boys might like it, and we arranged to go together. Then, of course, or tickets.

Since the tickets we originally had were for January 2021, ended up being a longer wait than anticipated, but we finally got to go, almost exactly a year to the day after our original date - and it was worth the wait.

The Duke of York's is larger than the Dorfman, but the play still manages to feel intimate, and immediate, and the Hunger Birds are still terrifying! 

And, even though I have seen it before, I was still almost in tears at the end.

It's beautifully staged, and the story is such a poignant , heartbreaking evocation of childhood loss and fears. 

It's on until 14th May, at the Duke of York's Theatre and I do recommend that you see it, if you can. Since it is a  National Theatre  production, and one which is getting excellent reviews, I hope that they may film it for NT Live. I know that there were plans or a touring production, too, although I am not sure whether, post Covid. that's still the plan. I hope so.

Saturday, 12 February 2022

Dr Semmelweiss - Bristol Old Vic

When I saw that Mark Rylance was going to be coming to Bristol and appearing in a brand new play, I naturally couldn't resist, and promptly booked myself a ticket, for one of the preview performances..

The play is Dr Semmelweiss which as you may expect, is about Dr. Ignaz Semmelweiss, (1818-1865), the Hungarian obstetrician who pioneered the use of hand-washing in hospitals, prior to Louis Pasteur and  Joseph Lister's research into bacteria. 

He noted that the incidence of puerperal fever / childbed fever (sepsis) was significantly lower in women who were treated in a ward run by midwives than one run by doctors, and, following the death of his friend and colleague Jakob Kolletschka, after accidentally butting his finger with a scalpel during an autopsy,realised the key difference was tht the doctors and medical students also attended and  performed autopsies, and posited that they were carrying 'cadaveric particles' or 'decaying organic matter' from cadavers, on their hands.  

He instituted hand-washing with chlorinated lime (which was used to clean and remove the smell, in the mortuary) , and reduced the mortality rate by around 90%.

Sadly, things did not end well for Ignaz - his conclusions were not accepted and, in a tragic irony, he died of septic shock after being  committed to  an insane asylum.

Photo of grey programme and a flyer for 'Dr Semmelweiss' showing Mark Rylance, a bearded, white man, wearing an apron and holding a scalpel


The play is told mostly in flashback, we start with Semmelweiss (Mark Rylance)  in Budapest with his wife Maria,  (Thalissa Teixeira) visited by his former colleagues seeking to persuade him to return to Vienna to speak, at a conference, about his discovery.

As we watch him , back in Vienna, learning that the death rate is higher in the Doctor's than the Midwives' ward, and facing the first death of a patient, then follow his story as he works out the connections and then struggles to cope with the difficulties of being unable to to convince others of his findings, and of being unable to navigate the politics needed to make people accept his theory.

Rylance's performance is, perhaps not unexpectedly, superb - passionate, and tragic - haunted by his failures, absolutely single-minded (and therefore intentionally cruel) in his determination to convince others of what he is certain is true, and his anger at those who cannot, or will not, accept his findings. He is ultimately overwhelmed by the failure to change things as much, or as quickly, as he wishes.

The play is very balletic - the Salomé quartet  provide music throughout, and there are dancers,(choreography by Antonia Franceschi)  as the various mothers, adding to the sense that Semmelweiss is always surrounded by, haunted by, the women he has failed to save.

Although Rylance's performance is the centre of this play, the supporting cast is also very strong, particularly Thalissa Teixeira as his wife, Jackie Clune as Nurse Muller (who also gets some of the best lines) and  Enyi Okoronkwo (Franz Arneth) 

It was planned and written before Covid hit, but inevitably  feels relevant and contemporary.

Very well worth seeing, and on at Bristol Old Vic until 19th February.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

The Mirror and The Light - In which heads are lost

 

I haven't seen the RSC's productions of the first two parts of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall trilogy,but I have read all three books, and watched Mark Rylance in the BBC series, so was interested in seeing this production, which is an adaptation of the final book, The Mirror and The Light, which covers the period from the execution of Anne Boleyn to the execution of Thomas Cromwell.

Henry VIII and Crowell (Production Image)

I enjoyed it  -  the set is pretty stark but the costumes are sumptuous - full on period styles,  with Henry VIII in particular looking magnificent. And given that we start with Cromwell's arrest, and if course we all know how this is going to  end, but despite this, the play manages to instil a surprising amount of tension into the events.  . 

And despite the outcome, (spoiler- things don't end well for Thomas Cromwell) there are many entertaining moments as well.


Sadly the extension to the run has bee cancelled so it is ending at the end of this month, but well worth seeing if you get the opportunity - it did make me  wish I'd seen the first two, and also to hope that the BBC makes a the last part of the trilogy with Mark Rylance!

Monday, 16 August 2021

In Which I Visit Mars, and the Moon

I have been aware of the work of artist Luke Jerram for a while - I've seen his Museum of the Moon before, in Lincoln Museum, and Gaia, in Salisbury Cathedral, so when I saw that he has now created a version of Mars, and that it was going to be on show in Bristol, I had to book to visit.

Mars was in the Wills Memorial Tower, which I spent a lot of time in as a student doing my post-graduate course, so it felt strange to be going there, not for an exam or lecture, but to see an art installation! 

Mars is 7m in diameter, which means that 1cm on the model represents 10km of the real planet. (Like his other astronomical works, this uses NASA images to  create the surface of the planet)

Photo of large red-brown sphere hanging in a large, hall, with tall windows covered by blinds on each side.
Mars: Bristol University

It's beautiful, and the Great Hall made a fantastic setting for it.  As well as the planet itself, there was a surround sound accompaniment, including music speech recordings and sounds suggestive of what it might be like on the surface.

I spent about 40 minutes just taking it all in.

It was only in Bristol for a week, and I saw it on the second to last day - it's a shame it wasn't there longer, I might have gone back to see it at a different time f day, if it had been there longer!

Then , (because I follow the artist on Facebook) I saw that the Museum of the Moon was also visiting Bristol, this time, the cathedral.

It's free to visit whenever the cathedral is normally open, but there are also various additional events - one of which was evening opening with restricted numbers, which was what I picked.



 The last time I visited Bristol Cathedral it was to see Antic Disposition's Richard III in 2017, and on that occasion there was not much opportunity to look round the cathedral itself, so I enjoyed doing that - The cathedral has a long history - for some reason, I'd thought of it as being fairly modern (perhaps assuming that, like so much of Bristol, it was built with the profits from slavery and tobacco) 

In fact, it was originally the abbey church for an Augustinian monastery, founded by the Berkley family, who are still around, and claim to be the only remaining family in England who can trace their lineage back directly, father to son so before the Norman Conquest. The one who founded the abbey was an Anglo-Saxon  who cannily supported Henry II back before it fashionable to do so, and married his son off to the previous lord Berkley's daughter, who chose poorly in that particular conflict.   Presumably they have always been either very lucky,  or very adept at changing allegiance as necessary, since they still have a stonking big castle where the family has been living for the last 850 years.   

The oldest parts of the church were built in the 12th Century, although I was right in part,  in so far as the original nave was demolished, (The monks were planning an upgrade, but due to Henry VIII never got to build the new one) and  the current one built  in the 1860s. 

There were some lovely tombs of early abbots - I do like the star-burst surroundings.  There are also some rather nice bits of early vaulted ceilings, in one of the side chapels.



The setting is a great one for the Moon.

I enjoyed playing with looking at it from different angles, and seeing the interaction between the ancient and traditional building, and the Moon.


Although I think I may need to go back to spend more time in the cathedral, in daylight, sometime soon. The Chapter House, which is apparently very good, was closed when I was there, and I should like to be able to spend some time looking at the various memorials, and sculptures (they have a fragment of an Anglo-Saxon carving showing the Harrowing of Hell, which it was too dark to see properly, by the time I got to it, for instance)

It was an interesting evening. 

I also learned that the Moon is coming to Wells cathedral, in October, so I may pop in to see it there, too.

If you're in or near Bristol, it's at the Cathedral until 30th August.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Hamlet - Sir Ian McKellen

When it was announced, last June, that Sir Ian McKellen was going to play Hamlet, I signed up for the theatre's  mailing list. Originally the production was planned for last Summer /  Autumn, but as we all know, many plans went awry.

 However, in March, the theatre mailed to say the show was back on, for this summer, so I contacted two of my best theatre-going friends, and we booked tickets, and on Saturday, met up in Windsor to see the show.

We met up early enough for drinks and catching up, which was wonderful, then we went for  a delicious Moroccan meal, at  Al Fassia  before heading to the theatre.

Our seats were in the stalls, which meant that we had a good view, but rather a crick in the neck when watching bits of the play as characters clambered up to the walkways which formed parts of the set!
The production has  age-blind, gender-blind and colour-blind casting, so as well as McKellen  playing the title role (with Jenny Seagrove, as his mother Gertrude) we had Frances Barber as Polonius and Francesca Annis as the ghost of Hamlet's father, and Ashley D Gayle as Laertes (He had taken over the role at short notice after the original Laertes, Emmanuella Cole, left the production, and he did it extremely well)

I was not enthused by the set - lots of metal ladders and walkways, which I didn't feel added much but which did squeak and rattle when used, which I found distracting, and also meant looking up at a very awkward angle when actors were up on the walkways!




I thoroughly enjoyed McKellen's performance - his first appearance was in deep mourning - formal black suit, silk top hap, dark glasses and astrakhan collar - a very Victorian / Mr Holmes vibe, however the costuming and setting generally were modern - later in the play he appeared in trainers and on an exercise bike, for example, which seems to me to be taking the whole too, too, solid flesh  speech a bit too literally.

I was also not enamoured with the decision to present Ophelia (Alis Wyn Davies) as an angry rock chick - we first met her singing doubt thou the stars are fire.. , accompanying herself on guitar, and then in the mad scenes, again she sang, and accompanied herself, and the control this needed  meant she seemed more angry than mad.  And Gertrude's odd accent as a disrtaction, never explained.

The director had also decided to use hair as way of indicating mental distress - Hamlet cuts his hair off, stripping down for revenge. Gertrude's wig is pulled off, leaving her exposed, as she is shown by Hamlet the causes of his grief, and Ophelia apparently finds time to cut off her own hair as she goes mad. I felt it was a mistake to use the  same metaphor repeatedly like this, it would perhaps have been effective if used for one of the three!

Over all, I felt the production was a bit patchy: There were excellent performances - Ian McKellen is always a joy to watch, and it was wonderful to see and hear him speaking the verse (perhaps a touch fast, in the To be, or not to be soliloquy, but that's a minor criticism) , I never quite forgot his age, but it didn't prevent his performance being convincing, and moving.I was impressed by the performances off Ashley Gayle (Laertes) and Ben Allen (Horatio).

I'm happy that I saw it, and that McKellen decided to give it another go. And I am looking forward to seeing The Cherry Orchard , with the same cast, in October. It's a play I am far less familiar with, so will go in with a much more open mind!

Thursday, 5 August 2021

In Which I Go OUT! And there is Theatre, and Meeting A Friend, And Food

 It's been a long time.

But a few months ago, after I had been able to book both my vaccination appointments and knew i would be fully vaxxed by now, and when it looked as though we were getting back to normal, I booked tickets to go to the theatre, with a friend.

The show we booked was Under Milk Wood  at the National Theatre, with Michael Sheen, and we went to the final matinee. It's the first time I've been to the theatre since March of last year, and the first time I've been anywhere except to work, and to spend time in my bubble.

photo of London skyline - looking over River Thames , with St Pauls cathedral in the distance


It felt very strange.. There were people, lots of them, and some of them not wearing masks. And then we went to  a restaurant and ate(delicious!) food cooked by someone else!. Fortunately I don't seem to have completely forgotten how to behave in pubic. 

Then we went for our socially distanced performance. we were sitting  with 3 empty seats between us, as when we booked, being from different households/bubbles, we couldn't sit together, and there were lots of empty seats to keep everyone distanced. Were it not for the knowledge of how difficult this makes it for the theatres, I could  get to quite like the extra space!


I've never seen Under Milk Wood before, although I have read it,and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There was, in this production, some additional material; the play began with a group of nursing home residents, and the (unexpected) visit from the son (Michael Sheen) trying to speak to his father (Karl Johnson), who appears unable to understand or respond to him, until he starts to show him old photos, and encourage his to remember his childhood, and all the characters of that little Welsh town, Llareggub...

It makes for a  fascinating take on the play, seeing the characters played by the elderly cast members, and Johnson's almost wordless performance was particularly impressive.

I'm very glad I got to see it. (We saw the final matinee, I'm not sure if it was filmed at ll and whether it may yet appear on NTLive) .

Since I was going to brave the trip to London, I decided that I might as well make the most of it and see a second show, so I had booked to see Constellations as well.


It's a short, two character play, about love and  quantum physics - this production has four different casts, and I saw the second, Zoe Wanamaker as Physicist Marianne, and Peter Capaldi as beekeeper Roland.


The play is a serious of short scenes - a party, where Roland and Marianne make a connection, or don't , spend a night together, or don't.. And we watch as the same scene plays out in slightly different ways, as different choices are made, or not made, or news is good or bad.


It was interesting and unusual, and I enjoyed it, and seeing these two actors on stage (I have see Zoe Wanamaker in other productions but this was the first tie I'd seen Peter Capaldi on stage)

The performance I saw was the last they did, but there are two other cases still continuing!

As the last train home is currently very early, I stayed overnight, and then had a pleasant walk back through Kensington Gardens, and some quiet back-streets, to get back to the station.

It was all quite tiring - I did find being out around so many strangers quite stressful, and I had forgotten, over the past 16 months how much difference the poorer air quality makes to me, personally,  but it was wonderful to see a friend I've not seen for so long, and I did enjoy both shows, despite feeling a bit nervous.

Monday, 29 March 2021

One Year On

 The first National Lockdown here in England  was announced on 23rd March, 2020 and became mandatory on 26th, so we're now a year on, and we're still locked down, although there have been periods when it's been eased.

In the Before Times, this blog was mostly about the exhibitions and plays I was seeing, so material has been rather thin on the ground in the past twelve months.

I have seen some productions - via the wonders of the internet and TV: I've enjoyed the 'Culture in Quarantine' on the BBC, which included releases of several RSC productions such as the Christopher Eccleston / Niamh Cusack Macbeth, and the various NTLive shows which were streamed free (I particularly enjoyed being able to re-watch the Tom Hiddleston Coriolanus and the Mark Gatiss Madness of George III)  and have also seen a number of new, online productions - Michael Sheen in the Old Vic In Camera Faith Healer, and What A Carve Up  and, more recently Romeo & Juliet  (Which uses green screen filming to make it appear that actors are on stage together when they aren't) and the RSC's Dream  which uses motion capture and CGI, coupled with extracts 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' to present a vison of how the fairies might appear. 

There have, too, been lots of other events - online lectures and interviews with writers, actors and academics which to some extent replace the events I might otherwise have attended in person. And some of which I wouldn't have been able to see in person, as they were too far away. 

But I do miss live events. 

There are, of course , some advantages.  I was able to watch 'Faith Healer' in my pyjamas, with a large glass of wine in one hand and a kitten on my lap, which isn't normally practical in the theatre, and there's none of the irritation caused by people who won't stop talking, or who let their pones ring during performances, but on the whole,I'd rather live with those things, and be able to see performances live. I do hope, however, that as things return to normal we we keep some of these positives - so productions can be seen time and again, and are available to people who can't, for whatever reason, get to the theatre. 


I've missed eating out,too. Particularly the social element. I've tried various options - one of the pubs in the village, which normally offers fine dining, has reinvented itself to offer a fruit & veg shop (expanding to include fresh meat and fish, fresh bread, essentials such a loo roll and, in the early days of empty supermarket shelves, flour (decanted into brown paper bags from their huge 25kg sacks and to offer take away food such as fish and chips, pizzas and excellent burgers and fried chicken. I've also tried food from national delivery options - Lebanese street food from Borough Market, and a glorious (if expensive) meal from Mere to heat and plate at home


I have also been, on the whole, enjoying taking my #Permitted Exercise. I had, about a year before all this started, made a decision to try to get fitter and perhaps to lose some weight, so I had already been working (mainly successfully) on getting in at least 10,000 steps a day, but this was mostly through taking (repetitive) walks around the town during my lunch hour in the week, and aiming to do more on foot and make less use of public transport when out and about at weekends, while I had done some walks from home, most had been a bit further afield. 

One positive of being locked down has been getting to know that area immediately around my house much  better,  from watching the gradual seasonal changes, to learning where and when to see wildlife, from foxes, to deer, to badgers.




I see myself as being very lucky to live here, in the country, where I have this, literally on my doorstep, rather than being in a town 


I have been very fortunate that my close family have all stayed well. although I have friends who have not been so lucky, and of course there is the constant anxiety, for myself and others.