Thursday, 31 March 2016

My favourite theatre: Theatre Clwyd in Mold

Last weekend I went with a friend to my favourite theatre, the Theatre Clwyd in North Wales, about half an hour's drive from here.  We saw a play called , 'Jumpy' by April de Angelis which had caught my eye when I last visited, It's a comedy about a 50 year woman, her mid-life crisis and her relationship with her rebellious teenage daughter. Neither my friend nor I would describe our teenage daughters as rebellious but nevertheless we could identify with some of the situations on stage and the dialogue was spot on.  A very entertaining play: funny and honest and brilliantly staged with minimal set, and really effective use of music and movement to show scene changes. We watched in the smaller Emlyn Williams theatre so were close to the action and paid less than £20 for our tickets. This is one of many excellent productions I've seen at this theatre, my favourite being 'Dancing at Lughnasa', Brian Friel's play about 5 sisters in 1950's Donegal.  It stages serious plays - I recently saw Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof  there - as well as those which appeal to a wider audience such a Rock and Roll Panto every Christmas.  And they do excellent cake: we shared a huge piece of coffee and walnut on Saturday afternoon.

Talking of cake, here's my Easter cake made for Sunday when my sister and her family visited.  It's a carrot cake rather than the traditional simnel.  I never have much success with cakes but this recipe never lets me down. I missed going to Northern Ireland this year for Easter as we have done for the past few years.  Catching up with one sister was good fun and we even had an Easter egg hunt for the kids though we had to do it indoors because of torrential rain.

Treated myself to posh Easter egg selection from M&S. Verdict:looks pretty but not really worth the money. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

A Morning Walk in Aldeburgh

The Easter holidays are here and we've just returned from a very welcome break in Aldeburgh, Suffolk where I caught up on sleep, read loads and wound down from a very busy term at school. We stayed in a little holiday cottage on the High Street and enjoyed taking it easy; exploring the town; walking on the beach; and catching up with old friends who live in Norfolk and Suffolk. The weather was wintry when we arrived - a biting north-east wind blowing in from the sea made walking the dog a fairly unpleasant experience on Saturday.  But it improved. On Tuesday morning I was awake and up early before others and so I took the dog and my camera and went for a walk.  I didn't take any glasses with me so some shots are a bit wonky but thanks to autofocus not so bad.

The beach in Aldeburgh is shingle rather than sand so it's not exactly bucket and spade territory.  We used to visit here on days out when we lived in Norfolk.

This building, some sort of look-out tower which is now an art gallery, is actually on the beach.

Many of the houses in the town are painted in pastel colours - it really is a very pretty place.  Kate, a big fan of Cbeebies, said it looks like Balamory, which, if you don't know it, is a programme for young children filmed in Tobermory, also full of coloured houses.

 Spring is well on its way here with lots of bulbs on display- these daffodils were even growing on the beach.

At the north end of the beach, there is a square with a statue of a little dog.  The inscription says it is a memorial to a doctor who cared for residents of Aldeburgh for many years.

Ronan the dog and I met a few other dogs and their owners out early and an occasional jogger, but it was very quiet on the beachfront.  We walked past the war memorial...

and the museum, which doesn't open until May.

..and past some of the many little shacks which sell fish on the beach.  Aldeburgh is a working fishing town and one the few people I saw on my walk was a fisherman degutting a very large fish.  We bought some smoked fish from this stall - I had mackerel and husband had some very smelly kippers.

There are many boats, nets and fishing gear on the beach.

We walked back to the cottage down the high street.  There are lots of attractive shops mostly aimed at visitors.  I think Aldeburgh attracts a lot of rich Londoners and so most of the clothes shops were out of my budget.  A top in one of the windows caught my eye so Kate and I went in and had a look:£179! 

Aldeburgh is famous for its fish and chips but a word of warning if you ever visit.  Make sure you go to the main Fish and Chip shop beside the White Hart pub - it usually has a queue outside when it's open.  We made the mistake of going to  the Golden Galleon, which has this rather well-endowed mermaid statue outside, as the main shop was closed on Monday evening.  The Golden Galleon's fish and chips were not that nice.

There are many art galleries and antique shops like the one above on the high street and branches of middle-aged/middle-class clothes shops such as Joules and Fatface.  Kate was not impressed.  We did like the bookshop though - it's a rare treat to find a proper well-stocked independent bookshop these days.

We came home with one purchase - a 8 pint barrel of Adnams Broadside beer, made locally in Southwold.  

I liked this painting of some fennel and garlic I spotted in one gallery on my walk - would be nice in my kitchen I thought until I looked at the price tag. 


I returned from my walk to join the rest of the family and get ready for lunch with friends we haven't seen for about 7 years at the Lighthouse Restaurant. Much lovely food, good conversation and more wine than was sensible at lunchtime.  This was my pudding: chocolate truffle cake with marzipan top. We also met some other friends we'd not seen in ten years in Diss on Saturday evening, near where we used to live.  Time has gone so fast but in both cases conversation was easy and we enjoyed sharing news.(None of us bother much with Facebook.)

At one time we'd talked about moving to Aldeburgh when we retired, something that's not so far off for us now.  But although I love visiting  I'm not sure I would want to live here.  Most of the properties on the High Street are holiday cottages and out of season I suspect it could be rather bleak at times. And it's a very long way from anywhere else,

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mothers' Day 2016

This is I the last photo I have of me with my mother,  at my sister's wedding in July 2003.  I think she is smiling as we are watching Kate aged 3 who was bridesmaid that day.

It's nearly 12 years since my mother Sadie died now and I still miss her terribly.  On Mothers' Day when friends are making a fuss of their mothers, I am jealous and so sad we lost her so young.  The first year after her death I recall crying in Morrison's when I saw the display of cards and it hit that for the first time I wouldn't be buying one.

I've just discovered that I had already written in June 2013 the post I'd planned about her while lying in bed this morning.  I'm finding that about the blog recently as I've written a few repeat posts - the snowdrops at Ness Gardens in my last post for instance.  And I notice that in my five year line-a-day diary, which is now on its second year, that this week's entries are almost identical to the same week last year.  These repetitions and routines are comforting and familiar but sometimes lull us into a false sense of security.  I feel the need to shake myself awake and remind myself that things do change and the loss of those we love is inevitable. This line from 'Stop all the Clocks' by W.H Auden comes to mind:

 'I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.'

I think it's the directness of the line which makes it so powerful.

On this Mothers' Day, I'm going to stop fussing about the usual stuff.  I won't fill my day with chores, as I often do, or get lost in lesson preparation and getting ahead for the week.  I'm going to spend the day giving my full attention to my husband and daughter who are now beginning to emerge this morning, so I'll finish here.

I love this photograph of us celebrating Mum's 70th birthday with Dad, Kate aged 2 and her cousin Alice