Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Festival festivities

Festival season is finally upon me and so far has been thoroughly enjoyable! This weekend marked the end of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and although I haven’t made it to as many events this year as I sometimes do, I’ve really enjoyed those I have made it to, and have loved the buzz about the city for the past two weeks!

On the first night I headed to the Cathedral Close for the opening performance of Réve D’Herbert by Compagnie des Quidams. Each year the opening night involves a walking performance of dramatics, art, light, and music. In the past I have walked the highstreet following gigantic, robotic, pyrotechnic wolves, and enormous dinosaurs flying above my head. I admit that this year was initially less spectacular, although it did culminate in something quite mesmerising indeed! At first we stood for a long time watching tall, white figures with scarily painted faces wandering around between the crowds. Suddenly however, they stopped, forcing a circle to form around each one, and gradually whirled around on the spot, inflating and finally lighting up. Their giant inflatable heads then stuck out far above the crowds, lighting the audience around each one like beacons around the close which by this point had become very dark and ever so slightly eerie. Off they wandered again, this time less carefully, and I found myself ducking and diving to avoid giant, inflatable behinds! Still ever so slightly bored, it wasn’t until the end of the performance, which was further into the close, that I was truly hypnotised by floating orbs which lit the night sky, as large white balloons floated around the audience. As always, it was pretty magical and certainly very surreal; quite the experience.

On the fourth night, I saw Woodkid at the Theatre Royal. Having been to uncountable musical performances of a vastly varying nature, I often find it very difficult to answer the dreaded question ‘what’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?’ Nevertheless, I emerged from Woodkid’s performance absolutely reeling, and spent the entire time inside on the edge of my seat with butterflies all over the place! It may be that as a weak and feeble female, I’m automatically won over by the melting dark chocolate sensation that is his voice, or it may have been the fact that the lighting and set-up of the stage and the attire of the many strong men standing over enormous percussion instruments was so perfectly coordinated and just my colours (or my black I suppose I should say), but whatever it was, it was beautiful and quite the experience and I would absolutely definitely see the show again and again recommend that anyone who even likes Yoann Lemoine’s work a little bit should absolutely definitely see the show for a first time! Certainly a contender and an easy answer for the dreaded question if nothing else!

On the ninth night (this is beginning to sound like some kind of traditional tale), I was whisked off to the Spiegeltent for a Swing Spectacular! I very much enjoy dressing up in vintage-style clothes and dancing around to music from the 40s and 50s. There’s something about being transported back in time to an era that didn’t even have me in it that really excites me! The Spiegeltent is my favourite NNF venue so I had to make the most of my night in there for the Bo Nanafana Swing Spectacular as sadly I haven’t attended any other events in there this year. On approach to the tent I always feel a bubble of excitement rising in a child-like sense as it’s just so inviting and colourful and pretty and has a real presence! The interior is even better, with the beautiful dance floor (which every dance floor should be like in every way!), the booths, the bar, the ceiling, the stage, the stained glass; it’s all very magnificent and unique. Graced with the presence of Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer and his banjolele, it was quite the spectacular as promised!

One of my favourite things about the NNF is that it takes me to new locations, and my favourite place that has been open for access this year is The Undercroft at the top of the market! It may well have been open for festival installations another year, but I’d never been in there until the tenth day! It’s All Up In The Air is an art installation by Rhona Byrne and consists of hanging black clouds assembled from modelling balloons. Yet another surreal experience, I have taken a few people to see the clouds since my first encounter where I stumbled upon some ‘ninja knitting’ as apparently other people are loving the secretive nature of the location too!

Another year over and already I’m intrigued by what next year may have to offer... 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Grabbing horns, bobbing along, childhood nostalgia, and a little history

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last wrote! I’ve been a crazy kind of busy, and by the time I ever have a moment to sit down and write, I feel like whatever has happened is suddenly rather irrelevant (it’s not just a case of nothing interesting happening, honestly)! I can’t deny I am a lover of being busy and I certainly feel as though I have an awful lot of purpose at the moment, which is never a bad thing! So I write to you with some of the ‘best bits’ of the last month I suppose; just to prove that I haven’t just disappeared into a deep, dark cave somewhere (although there’s still time).

Something that this year has taught me is that I need to grab opportunities and take risks. In a nutshell, there’s been a lot of bull-grabbing – or at least the horns of bulls. One pretty big ‘event’ over the past month has been my weekly swimming lessons! I’m still pretty ashamed to admit that I’m an adult taking swimming lessons, and apparently it’s quite unbelievable that someone who loves water as much as I do can’t actually swim in it? The decision was spurred on by my visit with a year 4 class to the public swimming pool where I had my own school swimming lessons. Memories of watching all of my classmates move up into the ‘big pool’ until I was the only one left in the ‘baby pool’ surrounded by many floats and with no clue how to actually move came flooding back, and the fear of slipping, falling in and just sinking slowly to the bottom made me think it was perhaps time to face my fear. I’m almost at the end of my 6 weeks of lessons now, and my confidence has certainly improved no end; so much so that I will definitely be booking in more lessons, and not just because I still can’t actually swim on my front but because I really enjoy bobbing about, and the exercise can’t be doing me any harm?

View of the Church from Cromer Pier
Talking of swimming, took a very lovely trip to Cromer a few weekends ago (not that I even paddled actually, it was FREEZING and very, very windy so I was a little too wrapped up). The last time I was there I’d been singing in the Church with the Festival Chorus and getting very chilly! It seems I’ve been experiencing a lot of nostalgia this month, because this time I was reminded of trips there with my family as a child when we would stay in West Runton and go off to Cromer for the day just for a change of scenery. I think it may have brought out my inner child slightly as I got all excited along the pier, and was a little over-enthusiastic about the Henry Blogg Museum where I made my very own medal with a fancy press. I have a bit of an affinity with the RNLI as my very own Grandad was on the lifeboats, and apparently in a picture or two at the Museum – which I thought I’d made up so sadly didn’t spot him this time – I’ll just have to go back.

My 'medal' from the Henry Blogg Museum
I’m not usually one for an interest in history, but personal history is always a little more appealing. My violin and bow have now been in my possession for (I think) about 10 years (how awful is it that I can’t actually remember how old I was when I got them even though I remember the whole experience so very vividly??) but I’d never actually looked into the history of my violin until very recently. There is an old concert programme that has sat in the case since the day I took it home, and I’d had a quick flick through it and kept it because it was quite cool having a programme from a concert that the previous owner had performed in.
Concert programme from June 1960, newspaper cutting of a
 photograph from the performance, and my beautiful violin
Little did I know that the owner was actually a pretty big deal in the violin and orchestral world, as concertmaster of the Hague Philharmonic for many years of his musical career! Theo Olof actually only died last year, and has left a huge legacy behind him – I can’t help but wonder if I’m even meant to have his violin or whether perhaps it was stolen many years ago and is still in the process of being recovered? For anyone who has got a bit lost/bored by this last tit-bit, MY VIOLIN IS ON GOOGLE IMAGES, it’s cool. He's also on Spotify performing a bit of Britten (quite apt for this post I'd say):

I’m deluding myself if I think that all of this would ever fit on a postcard. Hoping to have a little more time for ramblings so I won’t have to let a load out at once again in the near future!