Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Legally Blonde at The Gaiety Theatre

Irene didn't fancy listening to fake American accents all night but I had insisted that we go and watch 'Legally Blonde' because we hadn't done anything 'Different' for a while even though I hadn't a clue what it was about.

To be honest, when the opening number started, I wasn't sure if we would make it to the interval, as everything was pink, the accents were indeed a little grating and it looked like being a saccharine version of 'Grease.'

We stayed with it and were both extremely glad that we did because it was very funny (particularly after the interval) and uplifting, with great singing, dancing and athleticism (How anyone can skip at full tilt and still sing is mind boggling.) It even has a bit of a plot and though you'd basically guess the ending after a few minutes, there's murder and suspense along the way.

If anyone is familiar with the director and choreographer, Anthony Williams' and/or his work, you could see his personality shining through this musical, with its humour, big dance numbers, costumes and the slick professionalism with which it was performed and staged.

Anthony's sense of fun pervaded the cast and they all seemed to enjoy being there; as usual with these local productions, you have to constantly remind yourself that they are all amateurs, with the exception of the brilliant, Harry Lydon, who is hilarious as Kyle B O'Boyle.

The lead role is played by Ann-Marie Craine and there are other starring performances by Lisa Dancox and Liam Kaneen.

My mother also saw the show but was very near the front in the stalls and found it a little noisy for her taste, so a tip may be to be a little further back or sit in the dress circle where we had no issue.

This show deserves success, so make sure it's a sellout.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Irene & Mike Do Pilates 1020 Where It All Began

Today a and I had our ever first Pilates class and it was one with a difference!
Some 100 years after its creator Joseph of the same name developed what he at the time labelled 'Contrology,' while interned at Knockaloe, near Peel, 1020 of us gathered to exercise in the very same part of the field where it all began.

Born in Germany in 1883 to a German mother who was a naturopath and a Greek father, a gymnast, his early years were blighted by asthma, rickets and rheumatic fever, leading to a lifetime dedicated to improving his physical strength and fitness.
He formed a belief that modern living, bad posture and inefficient breathing were at the root of poor health.

His father had introduced him to gymnastics, body building, boxing and martial arts such as jiu jitsu and by 1912 he had emigrated to United Kingdom where he became a professional boxer, circus performer and trained the Police in self defence.

Despite having worked at Scotland Yard, he was first interned at Lancaster, then Isle Of Man, one of 30,000 to be held during that period.

Boredom was the main enemy of the men in the camp but Joseph used his time to study yoga and the movement of the Manx cats and other
animals and he had a captive audience to test his techniques and regime.
He moved back to Hamburg following his release but disillusioned with the political and sociological landscape at the time, set off for New York, meeting his future wife on the sea passage. They set up a studio, soon establishing a major following within the performing arts and dance community.

Knockaloe Mooar Beg farm became the biggest detention centre in the British Isles, becoming a small town, being three miles in circumference, guarded by 4,000 old soldiers and served by 250 locals with 695 miles of barbed wire surrounding the 23 compounds.
It even had its own railway line, the 1:20 gradient being the steepest on the Island, thus requiring a mighty engine, The Caledonia.

However, looking at the area now, there is virtually no clue of what was once there but a group of enthusiastic locals has banded together to rectify the situation by turning the former Patrick School into a visitor centre and setting up a brilliant website www.knockaloe.im
The concept for the event was a both to act as publicity for Pilates, the history of Knockaloe, as well as being a fundraiser because the condition of building isn't very good and will need lots of money.

The 1020 was the number of internees held in the one quarter of the field we were in.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Michael - Submariner

These days, I'm finding it much easier to take a few pictures and wang them straight up on Facebook, with a word or two of explanation, rather than write a full blog, so I only discovered the other day that I hadn't actually completed writing this one which is not far shy of two months old!
Six weeks ago, we had a visit from our daughter and son-in-law along with the 18 month old child, Jack.

As many of our Facebook followers would have seen, this gave us the opportunity to play holidaymakers for a few days and for us to experience the visitor stay. Although I still had to cover a few breakfasts, it was very enjoyable and on our first morning, I cycled to Port Erin to join the rest of the family who'd taken the train. Incidentally, it costs just £3 to put you bicycle in the Guard's carriage should you not have the energy to retrace your tyre tracks.
On our second morning the Douglas weather was atrocious, so we were a little slow off the mark (nothing to do with the previous evening's beverage consumption. Honest!) What holidaymakers often fail to appreciate is that especially due to Snaefell Mountain (other slieaus ((Manx for mountain or fell)) can also be apportioned blame,) there can be different weather systems operating at the same time over such a small area. One of the most extreme examples of this was the huge snowstorm of March 2013 which devastated the West of the Island, leading to the loss of some 15,000 livestock despite the endeavours of the farmers and volunteers but hardly affected the East coast at all.
The forecast for that particular day was for sun in the North. Though I've encountered this phenomenon many times in the past, as the bus began the descent into Ramsey, though I had boldly informed everyone of impending blue skies, even I once again began to doubt the wisdom of my old chum Adrian Cowin, the Chief Meteorological Officer and his team at Ronaldsway!

And then! And then, although even most of Maughold was grey, we rounded the bend to see wonderful brightness over the Northern plains and up to the Point of Ayre.

After a lovely afternoon, mainly with Jack, nearly daring to splash around in the children's water feature in Mooragh Park, we took the Manx Electric Railway tram back to the gloom at Laxey before finishing the journey back to Douglas.
Another train trip, another cracking day at Ballasalla and Silverdale on the Sunday.
Our luck didn't quite run out with the weather but somehow, we had managed to mix up the date that the family was returning home, so on Tuesday, we had a spare day to ourselves. Time to re-introduce ourselves to the kayaks! It was the first time we'd been out from Peel on our own and we arrived at Fenella Beach looking forward to perhaps seeing some sharks and seals. The wind was blowing a little but it wasn't too choppy and nothing that we hadn't experienced before. I was quite annoyed at myself as I'd forgotten my spare spectacles but I like to be able to see what's going on, so I just thought I'd keep my vari-focals.
Unfortunately, we didn't see any of the cetaceous marine life or seals but there were guillemots, black backed gulls, cormorants or shags (I always forget which is which) and quite a few birds we couldn't identify.

Although we had to go through the waves and into the wind, it was quite good fun, though we didn't go quite so far as we'd intended and didn't find a beach to eat our packed lunch on. Typically as we turned back, the breeze seemed to ease off a little and we didn't quite have the push we had had been expecting.

I had my camera, which whilst it wasn't waterproof, I was pretty confident I wouldn't let it drop in the sea. Irene spotted a couple of puffins but frustratingly, every time I seemed to get in position, the boat would be pushed round and I wouldn't have quite the shot I was looking for. Although it wasn't as rough as when we paddled out, it wasn't pan flat and I just couldn't manoeuvre and hold the camera to find the picture I wanted. Therefore, I twisted right round in the kayak. Obviously, my shift in weight, combined with a bit of a wave hitting from behind meant that my balance wasn't quite what it should have been and the next thing I knew, I was upside down in the Irish Sea.

Needless to say, it was a bit of a shock, I was very wet, the first pair of expensive glasses I'd ever owned had floated off to the bottom of the briny and my non-watertight photographic apparatus was as soggy as me!

And then there was re-mounting the kayak!

I've done this many times on sit-on versions and even managed many times on the one occasion I was taken paddling on a surf-ski, so assumed this would be very easy.

After about twenty minutes trying, I discovered that I was wrong to assume this would be very easy and my arms were starting to tire somewhat from dragging myself up, only for the the thing to roll over at the last moment.

Admittedly, I was beginning to fear that I'd have to be rescued but instead opted to swim for a reasonably flat rock.

Once again, I became a little worried that I'd taken the wrong option as a few waves slammed the boat into be and the barnacles were cutting my legs but eventually, I succeeded in jumping in and sliding off my slab, though the water still in the kayak made the return journey to Fenella Beach a little wobbly to say the least!

We've since discovered how to re-enter a kayak, bought a bilge pump and soon will be booking a safety course but it is a cautionary tale and I'd certainly urge any other would be paddlers to respect the ocean a little more than I did.

Putting the boats back on the car roof was certainly tough with arms like jelly but we headed off to the Peveril for a much needed beer with only minor grazes, bruises and the pride a little dented, though still in tact.

However, life obviously had other ideas and felt my inflated ego still needed further pricking because a Dutch couple had been watching us from the Raad-ny-Foillan on the cliffs above and approached us to check that we were okay as they had been on the verge of ringing the emergency services.

You understand what I mean? The first thing you do when you fall over in the street is to look around and check if anyone has seen you and if the coast is clear, it doesn't seem to hurt half as much.

AND the picture of the puffin didn't even turn out after all that!


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Oliver at the Gaiety Theatre

Every August, Taylorian Productions, the company founded by Matt James and the late Patrick Taylor, put on a fantastic show and this year they are especially excited to have been given the opportunity to bring us the World's favourite musical, Lionel Bart's Oliver!

Professional director, John Cumberlidge is a regular guest at the Welbeck and the quality of his collaborations with local performers has led many people to compare them with their West End counterparts.

Last year's superb 'Phantom of the Opera' was a record breaker, so it's great to have secured permission to do another modern classic so soon.

The show opens 8th August and continues until 20th nightly from 7:30 with matinées on both Saturdays @ 14:30.

Tickets cost £22.50 for adults and £20 for concessions and you can book through https://villagaiety.ticketsolve.com/shows/873555194/events?TSLVq=accf5602-2450-4614-ba17-733aee698b7e&TSLVp=c199ba09-9291-458c-99bc-9296ba9726a5&TSLVts=1470221056&TSLVc=ticketsolve&TSLVe=villagaiety&TSLVrt=Safetynet&TSLVh=4d583ea825451e677fa2bbf511a9f1cc

The cast is headed by Joe Locke and William Shooter starring as Oliver, Benjamin Heath as Fagin and Georgia Maddocks playing Nancy and although I'm sure you won't need me to outline Charles Dickens' famous story, all the information and full details are on the website: http://taylorianproductions.net/oliver!-2016.html

As one of the show's sponsors, The Welbeck Restaurant also offers a 10% discount for pre-theatre dinners (bar meals start @ 5pm, Restaurant @ 5:45) , so please book by ringing 675663 or online @ http://www.welbeckhotel.com/restaurant/

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Tom Triumphs in Nobles Park

Tom Jones played in a huge marquee up at Nobles Park last night.

Photo by Murray Lambden

The big fear when you pay the price required to see an ageing megastar is that you will be presented with a faded version, not the one that shone so brightly.

Most of us have seen footage of Sinatra on his last couple of final comebacks, Paul McCartney is a more modern example and when The Who played in Peel, they cleverly used backing singers to hit the high notes.

The Voice however still possesses all his powers and spent the 90 minutes belting out his most famous songs of the last 50 years or so.

And yet, it isn't all about the singing! Such is his presence, you smile when he smiles, laugh when he laughs and cry when he cries as he appeared to when performing an old number that his wife had picked out as her favourite on his latest album. He may no longer quite have all the moves but most of us danced when he danced too.

His projected enjoyment was reflected by the crowd to produce a tremendous atmosphere.

There was a raft of musical genres from gospel songs that he used to sing in private company with Elvis, right through to his cover of the Prince hit.

The old ones were the best, though he and his musical director kept us guessing by tinkering with some of his most famous tunes, the reggae intro to 'Unusual' being a prime example.

Earlier we arrived to hear Joe Crookall (son of Peel MHK, Tim) who is now supporting other artists on their UK tours too and he certainly looks destined for future success.

Photo by Gary Weightman

The other acts were enjoyablewith out being spectacular and the whole experience was excellent, though I do concur with comments I've heard regarding the food being difficult to come by unless you fancied queueing for an hour.

As is the norm, the ladies weren't catered for well enough in the toilet department but the weather held long enough not to make the event a washout, so overall I thought it was a brilliant night and I hope the numbers add up for the promoters because I would certainly support more concerts such as this one.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Take the High Road - Glen Mona to Laxey

After quite a while without walking together, Irene & I drove to Glen Mona in Maughold on Sunday, going where we'd never been before me in my 50 years coming to and living here. It always makes me laugh when I hear people saying that they've 'Done' the Isle of Man in an afternoon.

Just by the pub, which by the way is being renovated, though I am unsure as to whether as a hostelry or a private dwelling, there is a green lane which pronounces that it leads to Snaefell Mines.

The early stages have quite a steep ascent and probably my least favourite thing about this particular route is that much of it is very rocky (though I believe that this sort of terrain is good for strengthening the muscles of the foot and ankle, providing of course you don't break it.)

Quite soon, you have views of Maughold, Cornaa and the Dhoon, as you skirt Slieau Ouyr. It bears a resemblance to Laxey Valley which you see from the Snaefell Mountain Railway and indeed eventually, there is a view of the our highest peak and as you round Slieau Ruy. Eventually, you are actually at the top of the ridge that is visible from the train.

It was here that we elected to turn back towards the sea, rather than visit the mines, mentioned earlier.

The weather wasn't the best in all honesty which added bleakness to the beauty and the only other beings that we saw on this entire path were on motorbikes, though we had quite a few sheep with their lambs as company.

The walking surface improved somewhat on this section and the vista was stunning as you could see the hills to the South with Glen Ruy, Axnfell, Agneash, Baldhoon and the village itself with Clay Head and Baldrine further along.

As usual, anything that we do doesn't quite go according to plan, which had originally been to drop down to Ballaragh and catch the bus back to whence we'd came at Bulghan Farm.

A chum of mine had made me aware of a new 'App' called 'Bus-Man' which theoretically is brilliant as a journey planner. However, it basically told me that there wasn't a bus for over an hour and that it was 4.9* miles to Glen Mona (though the trip it said would take only 2 minutes!! Must be Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes engine in it ;) ), so we decided to walk back to Laxey , take refreshment and pick up public transport from there.

It was a good job that I decided to check www.iombusandrail.info because the time shown on Bus-Man would have led to us missing the bus as it was showing as 5 minutes later than it actually was!

It has to be said that the App is only in development at the moment so hopefully any glitches will be sorted soon because it should be really handy..

To add insult to injury, there was a bus scheduled at Ballaragh when we had wanted it! Not to worry, the extra few kilometres did us no harm and we enjoyed our pint in the Mines Tavern.

The 12k (7.5 miles) total took us about 2 hours & 10 minutes.

* I think it should have read 4.9k as it was approximately 3 miles on my car odometer and although the bus was doing a fair lick, I still doubt it would take only two minutes even if it's kilometres rather than miles!

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Do I Buy a Lottery Ticket or Put My House on Red Number 7?

My apologies for having been a little quiet on the blog front recently but things have been a quite hectic and I haven't had a great deal of time to experience things to write about.

Things are still pretty busy and tomorrow we say farewell to our Discovery Travel group but look forward to welcoming the School Journey Association at the weekend.

Johann, who was promoted to Head Chef after TT Week is doing a fine job and here he is pictured with Irene & me.

Unfortunately, the fantastic weather we have had since May, seems to be having a (hopefully) temporary break, so due to the bucketing rain, I brought my car to work for a change this morning.

Being a lazy so and so, I parked as close as I could to the Welbeck. Usually when I choose what looks like the easy way, things tend to backfire on me and everything goes suitably wrong to punish me for being idle but this morning, it would seem that my luck was in:

At around 7:50 this morning, one of the Ravenswood trees came down - that's my car on the right!

So I've yet to decide whether to buy a lottery ticket, contact our in house bookmaker, 'Honest Dave' and put all Irene's money on Dodgy Nag in the 5:30 at Haydock or stick our house on NO. 3 Red at the Casino.

Any advice?