Sunday, 23 September 2012

Stairway to ...


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Stratford 2 - the way back

A pleasant surprise on the train from Stratford to Brum - a pleasant route in itself through leafy Warwickshire - came when a student from Worcester University, sitting opposite us, asked if we'd just been to see the "Tempest" as she just had. We had a good chat about Shakespeare plays, what we'd seen and not seen, travelling between Worcester and Stratford via Brum, recommended reads such as Memoirs of a Geisha, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and nightmares, loud passengers on buses (I hope we weren't too loud on the train!) especially children ignored by their mothers...
Great when these things just happen. Rounded off a pleasant afternoon despite the boring Shakespeare.
Thanks to the student concerned!
Back in Brum had a tasty Thai curry takeaway sitting in the Wellington pub on
Bennett's Hill. Noisy but friendly, Baggies fans (West Bromwich Albion) after their match.


Shakespeare can be boring sometimes

Yes, I spent the second half of the "Tempest", for which we had tickets at the refurbished main theatre at Stratford upon Avon, walking round Stratford itself, a lovely walkway past the butterfly farm, back along the river and across with the little chain ferry boat - the last of its kind in England according to the plaque at the riverside - and then to meet my other half again as she emerged from the theatre.
I had a much more enjoyable time than in the first half, when I was cramped on a high chair behind a pillar and with my head almost in the roof, with even less space thanks to the inevitable bloke with long legs leaning them over into my space, watching actors shout lines from the Great Man's mysterious last play, dressed in dull grey suits and seeming rather jaded after a long run.
Those early speeches, explaining who the shipwrecked new arrivals are to Miranda and the audience - well, they are boring if you know that bit already.

We'd browsed round a lovely market on the way, bought a few things, had time for a tasty snack at the Duck Inn along the same road as the theatre, before heading for our seats. Stratford is a lovely town, hence the visitors - they don't just come for the plays - and on a sunny late Summer or early Autumn day like this it seemed too much of a shame being stuck inside a dark, uncomfortable theatre watching a play that sent me into a doze for about 20 minutes in the first half.

If you're thinking of going to a play here, avoid the main theatre, refurbished or rebuilt at great expense. Head for the smaller, pleasanter Courtyard Theatre instead, more intimate, more comfortable, and where the actors don't feel the urge to shout everything at you.

Or just go for a walk instead. See the butterflies at the farm. Go to one of the Shakespeare houses, such as Anne Hathaway's with the lovely gardens.
Sometimes, just sometimes, Shakespeare can be really boring, especially when you're not in the mood. So give him a miss. Do something else. Enjoy the place where he was born instead.

Location:Stratford upon Avon

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Sitting in the cosy Canalside Café in central Birmingham, enjoying tea and cake with my other half :)

Feeling like the cat below? ;)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Arts Fest 2012

Great range of events again: this year stayed around Birmingham Conservatoire for -
Tess (?) : guitar duo with singer-songwriter material
The Drum : young gifted Brummies, sketch about Jamaicans' experiences between Caribbean and Britain from 1960s and independence.
Greyish - super young jazz quartet.
Tess - guitar duo excellent.
Yao Yi - really exquisite playing of the classical accordion, with piano accompaniment.
See Arts Fest website for details.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Cafés in Liège

Café Coin, the café opposite the hotel with the breakfast offer nice furnishings but not great coffee, the first evening café the brasserie next to the hotel, the second evening café with the great salads, the third evening café with the emptiness and the later evening with the dark Leffe (brun), fourth evening watching TV in the room as we'd been out all day up stairs to the hill-view, in the museum of Wallonian folk life (super and friendly staff), the gloomy but stately town house with the tapestries, the art gallery four floors truncated to two but enjoyable all the same landscapes histories Magritte (x 2).
Parks on the Sunday and spoke to Amnesty people on the stand in a community festival, not sure if we were in the Modern Art gallery or not.
Monday was Eupen a corner of Germany very near Germany east of Liège, cafés look German sell the same cakes and bread, one-language signposts, smartly restored buildings, café staff friendly again in two languages easily fluent.


Monday, 3 September 2012

The bravery of others - Ales Bialiatski, Belarus

Belarus in the former Soviet Union is a hard place to be if you believe in freedom of speech and the rights of individuals. Ales Bialiatski is a brave man who has spoken up against the Soviet régime and now the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko.
For information on Ales Bialiatski and details of where to send messages of support, go to the website of the Freedom for Ales Bialiatski movement, which is where the photo of Ales, below, comes from too.