Sunday is usually a day or rest and for once us showman were to enjoy a comparatively restful day.
Our Dolly was parked safely in the Underbank Rugby Club and we had been asked to wait until 11.30 am to collect her. Also we had already conquered the final hill of our Holmfirth adventure so as the saying goes it was all down hill from here and our final performance at The Bridge Hotel that evening would close the curtain on one the finest of vagabonding weeks.
Steve sorted us our with a Sunday fry up and a lift back up to the club and we agreed that we would all catch up with he and Lesley before we set off for home.
We arrived promptly and shunted us Dolly down hill for once into the bright lights of Holmfirth. The road was quite busy and we spent most of the journey in our own company void of many passers by other than fast cars. We spent our time talking about our next journey around lancashire and how we hope to vagabond together again next year.
We arrived and set up for the final performance.
A full house, hurrah!
Our show went very well and once more our applause lingered.
We are proud of our production and look forward to performing it for fresh audiences in Lancashire this August.
We were both tired at the end of the show and we packed away and listed the props, costumes and instruments. We slipped briefly into the last night party gig and mamboed a goodbye to our promotors and the organisers of Holmfirth festival.
Whilst thanking people I do have a list.
We are most grateful to Blaize who have produced this years vagabond show and look forward to plotting and planning next years shunts. Ellen Thorpe and Paula Horton work tirelesly backstage for Blaize researching and and applying for the money that makes the art happen and along with our own Janice Benson share every round of applause we receive out on the road.
We need to thank Shaun (Blez) Blezard for all his assistance with technology and for his amazing photos that have and will help us promote our show in the future.
Also to The Ashton Group in Barrow who very kindly gave us space to rehearse our show free of charge affording us more budget towards our design.
Jim Woodland who has both written some of the material and directed our show also shares our applause. Thanks Jim. I enjoyed it very much.
Holmfirth Festival and Arts Out West our promotors for the last few weeks of vagabonding along with Spot On Lancashire who we look forward to joining in August for more of the same.
Good old Dolly and of course our partner and friend the grand master showman Maxim.
A fine gig and joyous experience. Thank You!
Thank you all!
Dolly and me are about to embark on other adventures so please check my own website for the gig list.
We will see you all in August when we Ramble On some more.
Ta for now.
None Shall Pass
22nd June Holmfirth Festival
I received a tweet from Maxim that Lesley was cooking eggs.
I had quite a restless night and despite a few pints found it difficult to get off to kip. This was simply because I was still buzzing from our show in Hepworth. I lay awake assessing what had gone well and how we might tweak the show to make it better. We have settled into the show and can afford to play with it now that it fits us like comfortable slippers.
We had bacon and scrambles eggs with crunchy toast, butter and tea. I am a convert to good bread.
After breakfast we took a stroll into town to buy a bunch of daffs for Lesley and Steve our hosts, I also had a sudden lust for a Marathon bar.
Through a gap in the buildings and up a small rise to a park we could see brightly coloured flags and the tip of a big top. We took a turn and made our way up the steep steps to see what all the fuss was about.
There stood Tacko in his bright red ringmasters costume, proudly barking in front of his Imaginarium. Shortly we were lodged inside a full house as the overture played on his gramophone. Soon enough we were treated to the flea circus and watched in awe as his company of fleas gave their performance. Herkufleas pulling a giant chariot around the central ring, Madam Flea Flea swinging on her trapeze and the death defying Evil Ca Fleavel being shot from his cannon.
A fine show indeed.
I left with two bites of my very own. One small lump on my right arm and another on the side of my left wrist. Some of the cast were obviously playing truant from Tacko’s sharp moustache. I recognised the swelling as I have been bitten by Tacko’s Fleas many times before in countless tents, booths and dressing rooms.
I also bumped into an old friend Nadgam who is a fine tabla player from Bradford. He was dressed as a Mexican.
Funny old world.
After the show we picked up a bunch of flowers and left them in the sink as a thank you for Lesley and Steve.
Steve is also a fellow showman and was off to perform at another festival with his band The Northern Lights. As such we were a bit stuck for a lift to Hepworth to collect us Dolly. We decided the best thing would be to jump a taxi. We walked back into town and asked a bloke where we might find the rank?
Colin is the bloke who runs the Last Of The Summer Wine Charabanc, driving visitors and fans around the valley showing the famous locations from the program. He invited us aboard and agreed to drop us at Hepworth as it was a part of the tour. We were to jump off at the top of the very hill that we had sweated so much to climb the previous day. We learned many things about the show along the way and as we approached we were informed that this was indeed the hill where many of the stunt routines were filmed, Compo would often be found shooting down this hill in a tin bath or similar misguided mode of transport. The steep gradient lent itself very well to comedy as we well knew.
What could possibly go wrong?
I’ll tell you!
A bus was stuck at the top blocking the road ahead. Somehow the driver had managed to skew-whiff his double decker blocking the road to all traffic including Colin, us and his passengers.
You’ll best leap out ear lads. Can’t turn is thing around!
We left skirted the bus and managed to make it to the village hall to be reunited with Dolly just fifteen minuets late. Problem was we now had to push back down for a gig in Underbank.
The journey to Underbank was of course back the way we had came so we had another opportunity for a work out down and Upppppppp the roller-coaster to Scholes.
We also needed a bus pass.
We didn’t fit between the bus and the small stone wall to the left. It all got a bit Barnard Cribbins. Firstly off came the side pannier boxes that hold the tool kit and one of our roadside routines.
Off came the horns.
Right then we will have to lift her over the wall. So Maxim myself and driver managed to 1.2.3 Liffft our theatre over the stone wall leaving just the faintest scrape down the side of the bus.
Dolly remains unscathed.
The remainder of journey was relatively simple. Even the push back up the mighty hill passed quickly. We rested at the top and enjoyed watching a few overs at the local cricket pitch. Scholes V Sheldon. We heard later Scholes lost badly.
We did however have the faintest pat of rain and sheltered under a tree watching the local rush hour. A local farmer herding his dairy flock.
We arrived a full hour before our expected time and rested up. Maxim had a nap under a tree as I kicked my heels up and down the local roads trying to find a cafe or pub. I also received a toot from Colin and his punters who was obviously finding alternative routes for his tour.
We set up for our show in the Underbank Rangers Rugby Club. An hour before the show Lesley arrives with Steve and a stunning curry for us tea.
Having scoffed our audience arrive and we show for the penultimate time. Once again our show is well received and at the end an audience member asks how long we have been doing the show. This is show number eight.
Eight? Looks like you have been doing it for years!
Later in Holmfirth we meet up with Tacko and his team fresh from their own day of showing. In another life I perform with a band of white face clowns Smiley Smacko our guitarist and Uke player has arrived so for the first time in ages half of the band are in the same room. Smacko, Tacko and Gacko.
Maxim and me have a malt raise a glass and slide home to rest up before the mornings descent.
Another perfect day
Upperthong Holmfirth Festival June 19th
Here we go.
Despite countless performances at festivals and events this is our very first ever tramp outside our home county of Cumbria and what a place to start.
Holmfirth is a glorious Yorkshire town which is of course the backdrop for the worlds longest running comedy program Last Of The Summer Wine.
Shortly after arriving we breakfasted in Sid’s Cafe famous the world over as the starting point for the calamitous adventures for Foggy, Compo and Clegg.
We took a press photo session to launch our week of performances and also made a short film with the town cryer to publicise this and future events for The Holmfirth Festival who are our promotors for this weeks adventures.
After coffee and a fat sausage bap it was time to move onwards ….. and upwards.
Holmfirth is beautiful and a grand example of how us humans can blend perfectly with nature. Yorkshire does this very well. Stone buildings jut and stick out at all angles along its many valleys and dales yet they all seem to fit perfectly together. Smoke curls from distant weavers cottages, dry stone walls bulge as trees and fields try to shunt their confines and reclaim the meandering roads and along the way curious folk stop and enquire “What’s in the box lads?”
After our photo call we pushed our Dolly up the sharp rise that leads to the foot of Upperthong Lane. Here we were introduced to the lovely people who are very kindly hosting us for the duration of the festival. Lesley and Steve Sykes are friends of the Holmfirth Festival and have a beautiful house with sweeping views of the valley. We enjoyed coffee with them in their garden before unloading our personals and looking up the mount towards Upperthong itself.
Our goal The Royal Oak a pub standing 1000ft above us and the venue for tonight’s performance.
Having already conquered the mighty Irton Pike a few weeks earlier we were confident in our ability to tramp to the top and so began another shunt.
The hill was long with steep angles flanked by pretty cottages and large ex mill owners houses. Also new estate designed sympathetically to merge into the landscape. Soon enough we were joined by various school kids also trudging slowly home after a day of lessons.
We have but one rule that ensures we will always make it to the top. Take your time. As long as we stop before we need to then surely we will alway prevail and eventually arrive.
We stopped many times. Once outside the local church where met two blokes visiting from New Zealand who had traveled from a family holiday in Wales to visit the locations featured in The television comedy. We didn’t know but we had just walked past the resting place of Bill Owen. A fellow showman and star of the show.
Later we paused for another breather and were offered cold drinks by a family arriving home from work. We drank, chatted and soon enough we were joined by neighbours all keen to know what was in our box.
We handed everybody in the growing group a festival brochure, thanked our pit crew and invited them to join us at the evenings show.
Arriving at The Royal Oak was a joy.
A vibrant pub well supported by the locals many of which were sat in the sunshine enjoying pre dinner drinks. Our landlady Lorraine welcomed us with icy chilled lemonade and showed us around. We set our Dolly out in front of the fire and as the Royal is a wet pub were driven off to another nearby pub for a meal.
Our audience gathered and before long the pub was packed. Eventually we had standing room only. We were overjoyed that most of the people we had met on the push uphill had arrived to see the show and our audience had a lovely mix of regulars, local families, festival goers and fellow professionals who live in Yorkshire who had traveled to view. Street theatre artists, puppeteers and musicians were all present and our show was very well received. Our applause at the end rang for an overwhelmingly long time and later as we packed down we spent a good few hours in fine company with a few pints of Landlord.
Two things stand out for me.
One was the moment I realised I was about to display my marionette manipulation in front of one of the country’s finest puppeteers. (Who later told me I had a done a fine job Phew!) But the winning moment was shortly into the second half. A group of drinkers arrived during our interval and as they had not been present during the first set were laughing and bantering at the far end of the bar. However Maxim swiftly wooed them with one of our more intermit routines and before long you could hear a pin drop and we held the audience until the end.
Three things actually. If you do find yourself in Upperthong at the Royal Oak ask the landlady to show you her trick with the maltezer.
Later still we were given a lift back down to our house courtesy of Smiley Smacko a local Pierrot clown and his fiancé Lounging Lynda, where I quickly fell into bed satisfied with a fine days vagabonding.
This was another practically perfect day in yet more glorious sunshine. Thank you to everybody who walked a 1000ft to see our show.