19 July 2015

Good morning on what I hope is the beginning (or end) of a glorious day for each of you. We’ve had a very pleasant week – a visit with good friends, a trip to the theatre and an outing to the Cotswolds – and we’re now (on Saturday as I write this) looking forward to the arrival of our favourite granddaughter for a sleep-over. What’s not to like?

Our very good friends Sue and Stuart joined us on Wednesday evening for an expedition to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. Stuart had booked us all tickets for the evening performance of The Merchant of Venice and we trotted off for an early dinner before the performance.

Visiting Stratford for a performance at the Royal Shakespeare is always a treat. The performances are generally excellent and often very innovative in staging or context. We’ve only had one disappointment in all the years we’ve been going and that was not a Shakespeare but one of the so-called Spanish plays they put on some years ago. Unfortunately, the one we saw was simply dire and, even worse, we had dragged sister Sallie and her husband Rod along to see it with us. The fact that the theatre (the Swan on that occasion) was about half-empty when we arrived should have given us a hint that perhaps the performance was going to be somewhat less than outstanding; the fact that nine-tenths of the audience left at the interval confirmed our perception – it was absolutely dreadful.

Wednesday’s performance of The Merchant of Venice wasn’t at that level of apallingness but it was, I have to confess, a bit of a disappointment. In short, it was just pretty ordinary. The actors gave it their best but none of them stood out particularly and it was, as the review in the Telegraph suggested, “sufficient.”

I’d account this revival by Polly Findlay, with the Israeli-Palestinian actor Makram J Khoury in the role of the reviled money-lender, “sufficient” – to borrow one of the character’s own phrases: it’s by turns absorbing, irritating, inventive and scrappy.

Dominic Cavendish – The Telegraph

The Guardian gave it three stars (out of five) and I think that’s perhaps just a bit generous. Still, it’s always fun to go to Stratford and especially so with Sue and Stuart. I suppose it’s no bad thing to be reminded that, occasionally, there is a bit of chaff in amongst the wheat.


A “nice” performance if somewhat ordinary. Fairly pedestrian direction and staging, sadly not up to the usual standard we expect from the RSC.

Befouled Weakly News

On Thursday morning we set off with Sue and Stuart for an outing in the Cotswolds, our destination on this occasion the lavender fields of the Cotswold Lavender company near Snowshill. Penny’s friend Mary had been the week before and said that it was stunning so, on her recommendation, we decided to visit.

And, stunning it was. Unfortunately, the day was overcast and grey so we didn’t get the full spectacle of the display but it was still very impressive. Rows and rows and rows of different types and colours of lavender with, not surprisingly, a delightful aroma. Naturally, the company make a gazillion different lavender-derived products from bath and shower products to lavender and wheat warmers (similar to my rice socks), to sprays to give a delightful lavender scent to a room, linen and drawers as well as candles and furniture polish. You name it, they’ll make it with lavender. Driving through the Cotswolds is always glorious – the scenery is just gorgeous; driving there and then having the opportunity to wander amongst the lavender fields was outstanding. Naturally, the sun started shining just about the moment we left.

If it’s July, it must be le Tour de France. I ran across the following on the GoPro site which will give you a feel for how hard and fast these guys pedal. And, remember, they do this every day (apart from two “rest” days on which they all go out and cycle some more) for three weeks!

If you enjoyed that, (or even if you didn’t) there is another one here.

As I mentioned, we have our favourite granddaughter arriving for a sleep-over this evening (Saturday). I’ll let you know next weekend how well (or otherwise) we survived.

Much love to you all,