The Vaccines, Cafe Thirty8

We had a fabulous time last week at Cafe Thirty8 when we went to see The Vaccines who were promoting their latest album ‘Combat Sports’  – which is available from today.  There were probably 250 people packed in and around this tiny venue.  The band played a few numbers from the new album and several old favourites – great stuff.

Live music at Cafe Thirty8 is organised in conjunction with Sound Knowledge – in my opinion, the best record store in Marlborough.

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Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre

Friends, Romans, countrymen…lend me your ear defenders.  This version of Julius Caesar was the loudest experience I’ve ever had in a theatre and I’ve seen some of the loudest punk, metal and rock bands that have ever existed.

Indeed, this modern staging of the play starts with a live rock band playing to a small crowd of city dwellers. The band play rock cover versions of a seven or eight songs – they haven’t quite set the amps to 11 but it’s definitely louder than most of the audience were anticipating.

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There is a visible sigh of relief as the play gets properly underway but that is not the end of the noise.  In the scenes leading up to the assassination, Shakespeare provides stormy weather to denote the civil unrest created by Caesar’s ambition.  Here, the storm is all thunder and lightning – loud rolling crashes of thunder and unbelievably bright flashes of lightning.

Once the assassination has taken place, Brutus and Mark Anthony address the crowd and there is a fight for power.  “Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” ….literally.  At least twenty minutes of modern warfare with multiple explosions and rapid volleys of machine gun fire take the volume up to new heights.

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In the midst of all this furore there are some fantastic performances by the cast – particularly David Morrissey as Mark Anthony and Ben Whishaw as Brutus. It was also great to see some of the leading parts traditionally played by men, played by women – Michelle Fairley, for example, made an interesting Cassius.  Overall though it was the colossus of noise that bestrode the theatre world today!

Outside the theatre, London was covered in snow….and strangely quiet.

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Twelfth Night@the RSC

The other night we went to see the RSC production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Stratford-upon-Avon and really enjoyed ourselves.  It is one of Shakey’s lighter plays and it really delivered on humour.  The sets and costumes were excellent and the whole cast were superb.  There was one star that shone brighter than the rest – Ade Edmondson as Malvolio.  He was grumpy and brusque in the first half, then colourful and absolutely  hilarious in the second.

There are some musical numbers and I was disappointed that we did not get the opportunity to hear Kara Tointon sing solo.  Dinita Gohil as Viola is a rising star to look out for!

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park

We had a fabulous time at the beautiful Yorkshire Sculpture Park earlier this year.  Here are a few of the extraordinary things that you can see there.  Pics include: Sitting by Sophie Ryder; Wilsis by Jaume Plensa; a collection by Zak Ové; and many more from the outstanding outdoor art gallery.  We love the way the amazing pieces are displayed in the equally glorious Yorkshire countryside.

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Westonbirt Fungi

I know very little about fungi but – I am fascinated when I see some interesting examples.  These are all from my latest walk around the National Arboretum at Westonbirt.  They include: an inkcap, possibly a Magpie Inkcap; a Southern Bracket or similar; and other species that I have no clue about.

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Any help with identification will be greatly appreciated…

World Athletics Championships (Wk 2)

We loved attending these championships and we were lucky enough to have tickets for the final night.  Our highlights include: the GB 4 x 100m women receiving their silver medals; the GB 4 x 100m men receiving their gold medals; the 5000m women’s final; the 1500m men’s final; a streaker being removed by officials; the silver medal winning GB 4 x 400m women’s team; and the GB team captain, Eilidh Doyle.

World Athletics Championships (Week 1)

It has not been a great week for British athletics…apart from Mo.  But the spectacle of the best in the world competing in London has been fantastic.  We were there for two sessions and here are a few of our highlights from day 2:  KJT after a decent hurdles; roving camera; Sophie qualifies with first throw; and Bolt fans.

And from day 3: Jess receives a retrospective gold; Usain receives his bronze from Seb Coe; Holly clears 4.55m; decathletes collapse after 800m; KJT fights to the end; and the ArcelorMittal Orbit at night.

Looking forward to week 2.