Friday, 28 February 2014

Parties and plays

Now, I should have written a post after last weekend to say 'happy birthday' to Smelly (affectionate name for sister). I should have written about the pleasant weekend we spent with the fam at Celtic Manor in Cardiff and about Smelly's surprise birthday party organised by her rather spectacular husband. But unfortunately this week kinda got away with me there! It started with interviews for next year's students. It was super exciting to meet them all and to see such an array of talent and enthusiasm. Then there came a long day of European funding meetings (a very long day indeed! Although I now feel a little more confident with what on earth this 'Horizon 2020' thingy is all about). Next up, I was down to London for a jolly day at the British Library before heading over to Goldsmiths to give a talk about difficulty, obscurity and theatre. All much fun. And a delicious dinner in the bar next to the University of the Arts, behind King's Cross. Who knew that was there? I spent yesterday in London too, taking a wander around Bloomsbury and the British Museum (the hugest place in the world, right?) before hotfooting it to the Theatre Royal Stratford East to see if I could get a standby ticket for the new version of Oh What a Lovely War!

Now, before I go on it must be remembered that OWALW is one of my favourite plays. It is in many ways (although I know dear ol' Ewan MacColl would disagree with me!) the high point of Theatre Workshop, the company whose work has formed the basis for my research for the past seven years. To actually see this play at the home of Theatre Workshop was, for me, akin to watching Pink Floyd in the '70s or seeing Elvis play in Vegas. I was surrounded by a load (I mean a load!) of school kids from Newham borough who treated the whole thing like a pantomime. Joan Littlewood would have been utterly delighted! It was a spectacular triumph and I had a little cry at the end! It is as challenging and wonderful as it ever was, and the fact that can still make political ministers a bit cross is a sure sign of its quality and power!

Today has been a rather more restful sort of day. I have had so many little jobs to finish off that it has turned into a bit of an admin day. But I've rather enjoyed lounging around with my computer for company. And now a peaceful evening of yoga, reading, tidying and (perhaps) watching a film is coming up before an almost totally clear weekend. Off riding tomorrow but otherwise we just have some pleasant hours at home enjoying the snowdrops, the increasingly excitable bunnies and the returning ducks.

Hope you have a good one too...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Lambing 24

Last week was a really interesting one. First I travelled down to London for a rather exciting meeting which I can't talk about really but which hopefully will lead on to big things (cryptic!). Then we headed down to South Wales (through the floods - totally feel for all those having to cope with extreme weather right now) so I could enjoy my Christmas present. Three years ago I got really into BBC's Lambing Live, the programme that shows all the ins and outs of the lambing season on a farm. Since then I've really enjoyed each series, hosted by one of my favourite presenters (actually favourite people on TV): Kate Humble.

So imagine my delight when I received a voucher for my Christmas that entitled me to 24 hours in a lambing shed on Kate Humble's farm. She has set up an initiative called Humble by Nature which allows members of the public to learn more about farming. It is based on a beautiful farm in Monmouthshire. So, I got to spend 24 hours with Kate (who was as generous and down to earth in real life as she is on the telly) and her team learning all about lambing. It was an incredible experience. At 2am on Sat night/Sun morning I got up to check the lambing shed with one of my fellow lambers. Imagine our delight when we found a small lamb sitting in the corner and her mother giving birth to her wee sister as we watched. We took care of the lambs (which is a very gooey business that I won't go in to). It was an amazing, beautiful moment: yet another highlight of 2014 which, frankly, has already been filled with enough highlights!

You'll have to forgive the silly hat/mucky jacket/sleepy face but I thought you might enjoy seeing the picture of us with the girlie twins the morning after:

It was the most wonderful weekend.

Other than all that excitement it's been a steady round of teaching, writing and getting back into a more regular fitness regime with Ultimate Yogi (which I'm still enjoying) and Focus t25 which is like Insanity but shorter.

This weekend is a slightly quieter one - some riding, some resting, some reading and (yuck) some cleaning.

I'm off to bed to dream of the beautiful little twins.