A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Last night I went to an outdoor theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by Immersion Theatre.  I love the atmosphere of open air theatre so I was looking forward to it but was also very concerned that it would have to be moved indoors.  It had rained for most of the morning and although it brightened up in the afternoon it was raining again when I left work.  Luckily it had stopped by the time I got to the venue and they had decided to go ahead outside.  They had set up inside as well though – just in case!

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Outdoor theatre is not complete without a picnic!

We arrived nice and early which meant that we had excellent seats right at the front.  The cast roamed through the audience chatting with us before the play started which was a lovely way to make us feel involved.  Of course, me being me, I was worried about being called on for audience participation but it wasn’t a problem and I could relax and enjoy the show.

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I was right in the middle of the action – this was the sleeping Hermia at the end of the interval.

Enjoy it I did too.  It was an hilarious production and I haven’t laughed so much for quite some time.  The actors in small travelling companies never cease to amaze me with their ability to play several parts at once – and be convincingly different characters.  There were several impressively quick changes too!

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By far the most dramatic moment though had nothing to do with the acting.  Thisbe was in the middle of her death scene when, with absolutely no warning, the heavens opened and the rain just poured down.  It was so loud!  The poor actors were immediately drenched and we weren’t much better but dramatically speaking the timing just couldn’t have been better.

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Sadly it wasn’t really possible to continue so we missed out on Puck’s epilogue but it was actually quite fitting to end with Theseus’ words, ‘No epilogue, I pray you; your play needs no excuse.’

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This was us by the end – soaking wet but still reluctant to leave!

After that there was nothing to be done but go home, dry off and read the ending for myself.

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I had the most fantastic evening.  The play is almost at the end of its tour now but if Immersion Theatre are playing near you I would highly recommend going to see them.  I will certainly be doing so if they are in this area again.

Summer Fête Delights

On Saturday I took my book stall out for its first outing of the year. Previously I have always had it within a larger marquee or room full of other stands. This time I didn’t have that option so I had my own little gazebo to set up. I had tried a practice run at home and was quite excited about having a space to myself which I could make cosy and just how I wanted it.

We had to arrive early as we had some entries to set up in the craft classes and as it was a reasonable drive I decided to stay and start setting up. For one thing, I didn’t really know how long it would take me with the new gazebo.

That turned out to be a great decision. It was so much more relaxing to have a leisurely set up process instead of rushing and getting stressed. I have been known to get so wound up when short of time that I have actually been unable to remember the alphabet. That was not a fun experience and this was far more enjoyable.

Even better was that fact that my sister lives close to the fête and kept us constantly supplied with tea and cakes. Such a luxury!

Once I was all set up I had nothing to do but sit in the shade and read until the fête opened. It was a lovely, sunny day and even when the crowds started arriving it just meant that I could talk to more people about books – which is after all the point of having the stall in the first place. That and selling some of the books of course!

It was a delightful afternoon. There cannot be many better ways to spend time than sat on the grass with a book, good conversation and listening to music from a Dixieland band. Bliss!

Weekend Reading

My sister recently bought herself a hammock seat and having sat in it decided it was exactly what I needed. She is very kind so now I have one too!

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We had great fun getting it up – all the branches seem to go straight up in the air!

It is the most wonderful place to sit and read and I have spent a couple of entire days curled up in it with a book and a cup of tea. I’ve even eaten my lunch and had a nap in it (I would highly recommend it for naps)!

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Even the ponies like it!

I have also needed some blankets – it might be sunny at the moment but it is not really all that warm yet and sitting still you do get a bit chilly. It is totally worth it though.

It is amazing how much reading you can get through when you have no distractions. Over one weekend I spent two afternoons hanging and reading and I got through two children’s books (Malamander by Thomas Taylor and We Won an Island by Charlotte Lo) and a good sized chunk of Martin Chuzzlewit. It was bliss.

Seasonal Reading

This last week I have realised that my reading habits are changing with the season.  I spent the last few months doing as much of this as possible.

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I especially love sitting by the sea but reading outside anywhere  is something which gives me a huge amount of joy.

It has suddenly got much colder though and although I am still reading outside when I can – I hope to do so tomorrow as it is meant to be sunny – I am also tending to spend much more time curled up inside with a blanket and a book.  Cats are optional.

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I love autumn and this has to be one of the best bits!

The actual books I read are changing too – I have read many lighter books over the summer but I am now definitely craving some more serious books.  I am currently in the middle (almost exactly!) of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell which I have been meaning to read for simply ages.  After that I have three classics already lined up – Frankenstein, Sylvia’s Lovers and Framley Parsonage.  At least, that is my plan at the moment.  I will almost certainly feel a desperate need to read something different in between!

Summer Book Stall

As well as reading voraciously I also love to talk about books. One of the best ways to get to do that is to sell them so that is what I do – I have a stand of vintage books which I take to local shows.

Last weekend was my local village fête and my stall and I went along to take part.

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I am very particular about the books I sell. They are all either books I have read and loved; books I really want to read – which unfortunately makes me reluctant to sell them; or books I would describe as, ‘Nice.’

Nice is one of those words English teachers try to discourage. It is overused and there are so many better, more descriptive words which could take its place. However, in my family it has a very specific meaning and describes lovely things which can’t really be quantified any other way. They are just nice.

All this means that I can talk enthusiastically about any of the books on my stall with anybody at any time. There is nothing quite like the feeling you get when you recommend a book you think someone will love and they actually take your advice. It makes my day.

I had a lovely time at the fête and took the opportunity to wear my new dress. How could I not?

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Summer Reading

“One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by.”

Jeannette Walls – The Glass Castle

I absolutely agree with the sentiment in this quote. Even though we have artificial light there is nothing quite like a summer evening spent outside with a book.

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I generally read a lot of classics but I do like to intersperse them with lighter reads, especially in the summer. One August a few years ago I exclusively read Enid Blyton and it was wonderful.

Recently I have had a bit of a run of cosy crime books. I started with Agatha Christie’s The Man in the Brown Suit which I first read on an archaeology field trip when I was at college. There was a copy lying around the youth hostel which I naturally picked up and I loved it. I have always remembered it as one of my favourite of Christie’s books.

I was not disappointed on re-reading it either – I still loved it and just wish there were more books featuring Anne Beddingfeld.

What are you reading at the moment? Do you have any recommendations for good summer reads? I would love to hear them!