Monday, 29 October 2012

By The Sea, Mr. Todd

Hectic but entertaining couple of days. Managed to garner a new client for the day job. You remember that? Involves a lot of flipchart paper, pritt stick and post-its.

Also involved a second pootle down to Eastbourne, which is a town on the south coast. Got to stay in a nice seafront hotel.

Though I'm a little baffled as to why they gave me two TVs. Perhaps it's to help couples avoid marital arguments over which channel to watch?

Good thing I only had myself to argue with!

We went to a lovely little French restaurant to wine and dine. Got back and took a wander down the promenade. I love seaside towns at night, they're all lit up, and Eastbourne has a pier.

By day:

By night:

Very enjoyable, and a productive strategy session the next day, then into my car and back home. Three and a half hours on a good day, four with slow traffic on the M25. Driving rain and fog. Was absolutely shattered by the time I got back, but coincided with Marilyn returning from a weekend in Leicester on a murder mystery train ride with friends. She cooked, I went and got the wine. We finished a bottle watching Downton, then I passed out.

Nice to have a big project to get my teeth into again. I enjoy what I do, but I also enjoy a challenge.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Market Drayton

Before popping over for brunch, we took a wander around Market Drayton.

It's a really pretty place, with more than a little Tudor influence.


Reminds me of the opening to my short story The Fairy of the Birch:

He lived on a farm just outside Weobley, near Hereford. The saying goes: ‘Woe betide those who call it Woe-bley,’ because you’re supposed to pronounce it Web-ley. Most people didn’t call it anything, though. They were simply left speechless when they saw it. It’s a tumbledown village of Tudor cottages. Black timber contrasting starkly against white daub; houses toppling between the streets like old women craning to hear the latest gossip.

They also have a wonderful scheme where empty and derelict buildings are given a makeover by local artists.

Very nice idea. There's even one wall leading to the church which has been painted in poppies. People use it to leave pictures and words for people who have passed on, both national figures such as the two Manchester police women, and local people. It's called the Remembrance Wall. Maybe every town should have one?

The church itself is rather impressive.

And, y'know me, had to get the camera out for the gravestones. How thoroughly Beatrix Potter.

This one was particularly unusual.

Sad, too. It reads: Sacred to the Memory of Sarah, wife of Thomas James, who departed this life June 14th 1865 aged 25 years. Also Thomas Arthur their son who died December 29th 1858; aged 3 weeks. Also John Filkin their son who died September 14th 1859; aged 3 days. Also George their son who died June 20th 1864 aged 3 years. Also Sarah Ann their daughter who died July 7th 1864 aged 1 year and was interred in St. Mary's Cemetery, Liverpool.

Three weeks, three hours, three days... things come in threes.

How very strange.

This was also an unusual arrangement, like a spinal column.

Another rather sad and lonely case found half buried in the compost pile (a good advert for cremation):

"Sacred to the memory of Frances, wife of John Mullinex of Little Drayton, who departed this life April 16th 1816, aged 35 years."

Slightly more grandeur for the lady over the other side of the cemetery.

With a rather nice view of the power station.

Seems that also caught Sue's eye, as she's drawn it.

Stopped to peruse local art in a window.

Folk Art: This year's cross curricular project was to look at Eastern Europe. My pupils studied the art of a wonderful Folk Artist called Sanna Annukka. Her claim to fame is designing album covers for the band "Keane". Each pupil designed their "Folk Art Hat," taking different patterns and animals from her work, to create their own.
And learned a new word: Salopian. It means something from, or relating to, Shropshire.

Then meandered down to the canal.

Very interesting place. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend the Hermitage B&B.


Been enjoying Cheltenham Literature Festival the past few days. After seeing Philip Pullman yesterday, we jumped in the car and headed two hours North to the little town of Market Drayton, where my dad's uni buddies were celebrating a joint sixtieth birthday, and forty years together.

John (top left) is a talented musician, as is his wife Sue, who is also an artist. Their band is called Guilty Pleasures. Their two sons are also musicians, and John plays regular gigs with Jane, the lady on the drums above. It was a lovely night, showcasing many of their musical friends.

The guy on the euphonium is their eldest son. Recognise the second song? Not While I'm Around from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. What incredibly good taste! (not the pies). Gone a little teary-eyed. Tim Burton didn't do a bad job, but the best theatre production I ever saw was that at Yvonne Arnaud.

Also teary-eyed on the last song, as they met at a folk club at uni. Apparently John was looking for someone who knew the words to a song, and Sue stepped forward. The rest, as they say, is history.

Anyway, there was food, drink (although I was the designated driver! 'You know you're an adult when...'), and psychedelic chocolate cake (best sort)...

And a guy with the coolest guitar I have ever seen: a 1970s Steinberger bass. Look - no headstock!

A good night was had by all. 

We stayed in a gorgeous B&B called The Hermitage on Stafford Street. Plush furnishings, friendly welcome, and full English breakfast. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend.