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Once More With Feeling

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.

Heading Holmfirth

Heading Holmfirth

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.

Shake a leg!

Shake a leg!

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.

http://www.blaize.uk.net

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.

http://shaunblezard.net

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.

http://www.ashtongroup.co.uk

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.

http://jimwoodlandsongs.wordpress.com

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.

http://www.spotonlancashire.co.uk
http://holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk
http://www.arts-out-west.co.uk

Good old Dolly and of course our partner and friend the grand master showman Maxim.

He's a good runner!

He’s a good runner!

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.

http://garybridgens.wordpress.com/diary/

We will see you all in August when we Ramble On some more.

Ta for now.

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None Shall Pass

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.

Thanks Lesley and Steve for having us. Amazing people.

Thanks Lesley and Steve for having us. Amazing people.

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.

Let me know when you have want your fleas back!!!

Let me know when you want your fleas back!!!

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!

Thanks Colin.

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.

Still no.

Off came the horns.

Nope.

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.

None shall pass. but we did.

None shall pass. but we did.

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.

Rush Hour in Scholes.

Rush Hour in Scholes.

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.

Maxim this is your three hour call. Stand by please.

Maxim this is your three hour call. Stand by please.

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!

Ta!

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

On Top Of The World

Us Against Irton Pike

We left our room and made our way to the foot of Irton Pike.

We paid the landlady who was hoovering the detritus from the previous evening’s party. I happened to leave my iPad on the bar as we were saying goodbye and she was kind enough to catch us up to return it even though she was weighed down with a full head of thick curlers.

We breakfasted in a pleasant cafe along the street, guests of the landlord who, with forward vision, had realised he was not going to be able to face cooking it himself.

A good call and we had a lovely fry up, thank you very much.

We were going to need it.

The pike itself is 230 meters high and we were to push our Dolly along the road that skirts the top.

As I mentioned previously this was always going to be the section of the journey where we would need to drive some of the way. That said it was rather peculiar looking up at the tip of the pike knowing that we were discarding a perfectly healthy van at the bottom of it.

The secret to pushing a heavy wheeled theatre up a long steep rise is pace. Always stop before you need to, have plenty of water, hope for a pub at the bottom and careful on those blind bends.

We managed to make the summit with just 17 stops. Not bad at all.

Nearly there. A cheeky glimpse of the summit through the trees.

Nearly there. A cheeky glimpse of the summit through the trees.

Along the way we were treated to stunning views of the pike itself but also the deep woodlands either side which were carpeted with bluebells and wild flowers. We also spotted something you won’t see from a passing car or probably even a whilst cycling.

A small monument dedicated to William Malkinson a local preacher who died suddenly on this very spot February 21st 1886. We doffed our hats to a fallen fellow traveller who wandered around telling his own stories.

A monument to fellow traveling story teller William Malkinson

A monument to fellow traveling story teller William Malkinson

A footnote to the stone carving said “Be Ye Also Ready”, we exercised extreme caution from there to the summit.

Once there we took a moment to enjoy the stunning views of long lush valleys leading to steeper distant mountains, pikes and peaks.

Then slowly down. Taking our time, proud of our achievements and in the hope of a pub and pot of tea. We were rewarded at the base with just that and having spent an hour sipping tea and blogging we pushed on to Eskdale Green and our next appointment. A ride on La’al Ratty.

Ratty is a steam locamotive built in 1876 to ferry iron ore from Boot to the coast at Ravenglass. It is now run as a passenger railway and ferries tourists and local travellers along the same line. We arrived a full hour before our 2.25 departure booking and were lucky enough to check in advance with another driver heading east that our Dolly would indeed fit into her carriage reserved for wheelchair users. We gave a small performance for some fellow travellers and met with Janice who manages Headzup with me and Blez who joined us to capture some photographs for future publicity shots and archiving.

On Our Way To Ravenglass Pic by Shaun Blezard

On Our Way To Ravenglass Pic by Shaun Blezard

Our journey aboard Ratty lasted just half an hour or so and every inch was a joy. The countryside unrolled before us through the steam. The weeks and weeks of rain recently endured has caused the grass to explode into the deepest green and created an abundance of wild flowers of every colour. I doubt the county could ever again look as fine.

What a treat!

We detrained at Ravenglass and thanked our driver and guards before pushing on to our venue, a pretty hall on the promenade of the estuary.

Idyllic.

The local committee presented us with a lovely picnic and we feasted on butties, home made scones and cakes with Janice and Blez.

Later our families arrived, Maxim’s wife Rosie, then George, Alfie, Ah Mam and our friend Boomdang T.

Later still other people joined us for the show. Local folk but also a few people who had received messages from friends who had seen our show previously.

Our performance went well. The begging of the second half stood out for me. In this segment we invite audience members to join us for a Mummers play. We had a particularly spirited group that evening featuring actual Mummers, a story teller and percussionist.

Our show ended as the sun began to set over the estuary through the hall windows and all to soon we were saying goodbye and packing the van at the end of the Cumbrian leg of our journey.

This is not the first time I have Vagabonded Cumbria and I already know it won’t be my last.

A picture from our photo shoot in Ravenglass caaptured by Shaun (Blez) Blezard.

A picture from our photo shoot in Ravenglass caaptured by Shaun (Blez) Blezard.

Thank you to our venues, our promoters and of course audiences. Thank you to everybody who tooted, waved and slowed down for us as we wandered West Cumbria. Finally a massive thank you to Bob and Caroline from Arts Out West.

Maxim and myself will next travel Yorkshire as performing for Holnfirth Festival.

Heres the news.

http://holmfirthartsfestival.co.uk

Come and join us at a gig if you can or please pass news onto your friends if they live local.

From Maxim, Dolly and me Thank You Cumbria

It’s All About The People

Rambling On 1st June.

Story tellers need people and thankfully Cumbria has plenty of people, and grand folk they are too.

Alongside the continuing beauty of the landscape our second day rambling on featured a fine collection of afore mentioned grand Cumbrian folk.

Peter the manager of Florence Mine collected us from our accommodation in St Bees and whisked us back to the theatre where Dolly had spent the night. Once inside we passed a pleasant hour packing up and getting ready for the road. Turns out that Peter has another job working on the popular television series Doctor Who. A program I am very fond off.

Peter is one of the blokes who takes the film and is largely responsible for lighting and filming the models used to animate the stories. He showed us some backstage movies from a past episode where he and his colleagues were shooting. The Doctor was aboard a Russian submarine facing up to the fearsome Ice Warrior. We learned a great deal about the special effects used. How they filmed the submarine upside down and lit the models from below. Diced chicken feathers are then sprinkled to give the illusion of floating plankton.

Clever yet simple effects to create a wonderful story.

Curiously I remember watching that very episode of Doctor Who with Rimsky the artist who designed one of our own special effects for Rambling On our Viking long ship. I happened to be collecting the model from him round at his house as that particular episode started so we watched it together before I left with the ship.

Artist and boat builder Rimsky.

Artist and boat builder Rimsky.

Peter also worked on the forthcoming 50th anniversary episode to be shown later in the year. He wouldn’t give away any details and we would rather wait to watch the story unfold live at broadcast anyway.

You should never spoil a good story.

Thanks Peter. Fine venue and lovely people.

We pushed on through Egremont and selected the back lanes for our journey to Beckermet. A number of people advise us that the road ahead was closed, but also that we would have no trouble squeezing our Dolly through the concrete barriers.

Along the way we passed a small row of houses where families were sitting in their gardens enjoying the glorious sunshine. We stopped and gave a short performance in return for a cup of tea and a couple of delicious home made sausage rolls.

Pushing on we passed a ruined sandstone folly that a local farmer told us once belonged to William and Dorothy Wordsworth. We passed the roadblock with ease and having lunched on a bench with views of the Isle Of Man we pushed down into Beckermet for the evening show.

We were met by Simon the village halls next door neighbour, promotor and licensee. Having massaged Dolly through the small doors he took us to meet his wife Janice and their three daughters for a meal. Simon is a fine cook and we enjoyed seafood and a selection of salads from his allotment. We discussed our past adventures and were advised caution when we meet Irton Pike. A large hill that Simon has struggled with when our riding his bike. This will prove to be our biggest challenge.

On Sunday we will face the fearsome Irton Pike. Here it is on the graph. Hardknott gives it some scale.

On Sunday we will face the fearsome Irton Pike. Here it is on the graph. Hardknott gives it some scale.

We meet with Irton Pike on Sunday as we journey to Eskdale Green to rendezvous with Larl Ratty.

Our audience gathered and promptly at 7.30 we were showing.

Our performance built well and by the end of the show our final applause lingered. Many from our audience lingered longer and after the show we shared more stories, anecdotes and pints of real ale beyond midnight.

Later we were taken to our accommodation and spent another hour in the company of Jenny and Malcombe who very kindly gave us each a room for the night. They also gave us fine cheeses and a welcome glass of Grouse.

A fine days vagabonding and despite the continuing beauty of Cumbria a day I shall remember for the people we shared it with.

Thanks Bekermet and goodnight!

Thanks Bekermet and goodnight!