Sunday 28 February 2016

Stones in his Pockets - The Dukes, Lancaster

On Friday evening we we were invited to the press night of Stones In His Pockets at The Dukes, Lancaster. Here is our review of the evening.

The Dukes is a lovely theatre in Lancaster city centre and we always enjoy visiting as all the staff are very friendly and we are always sure of a warm welcome. It is easy to find, situated close to the centre of Lancaster with plenty of parking nearby. The car park we used had an evening rate of  £1.40 and was very close to the theatre with some on street parking nearby.

The play is performed in The Round theatre which is an intimate performance area with seating around a central stage and works well with the simple set.

Written 20 years ago by Marie Jones and directed by John Terry, this is a joint production between the Dukes and Chipping Norton Theatre. The production starts a two week run in Lancaster followed by a national tour, visiting Chipping Norton at the beginning of April and 30 more locations finishing in Ramsden on the 28th May.

Set in County Kerry, the story follows two locals, Charlie (played by Conan Sweeny) and Jake (Charlie De Bromhead), as they work as extras during the filming of a Hollywood movie set in their village. The story explores how the feelings of the locals, who are all playing extras in the film, change from the initial excitement about the Hollywood glitz to resentment when it becomes clear that the visiting Americans care much more about finishing the film on time than the feelings of the locals, who want to pay their respects after a local lad commits suicide.

With 15 characters, including the glamorous American female lead Caroline Giovanni who takes a shine to Jake, the play asks a lot of the two actors; they switch almost instantly from one role to another and at whilst at first this was a little confusing, we soon caught up and managed to keep track of the story. Using slight changes in body language and different voices rather than costume changes to reflect these changes in character works very well but it must have been difficult to remember which voice was for each role!
The play, despite featuring the suicide of a local lad, is very definitely a comedy with the two actors working very well together and making the most of the comic dialogue.
Making use of a very simple set and with virtually no props the actors use mime convincingly to illustrate the story, whether that is drinking in the local pub or genuflecting in church. Excellent sound design also helped set the scene with background noises reflecting the different locations.

We really enjoyed the play and would recommend that you visit it in one of the many locations on the tour.

Friday 26 February 2016

Bakewell Tart

Considering my blog is supposed to be about baking I haven't posted any pictures of cakes recently! To rectify that here is the bakewell tart that I made for tea on Sunday. I used a Marry Berry recipe and it came out absolutely perfect. Mary advised to use plenty of jam, so as you can see by the fact that it oozing out, I did and it really was delicious. 

Friday 19 February 2016

Trip to the auction

Today Luke and Mark went with Dad to the auction. Dad hasn't been for a while so as we are off work this week he spied his chance for a day out and asked Mark to drive. Luke was looking forward to his day out and really enjoyed looking at the cows. It was a very chilly day so they stopped for chips on the way home to warm themselves up!

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Sea Life Blackpool

Today was very cold and wet so we decided to visit the Sea Life Centre in Blackpool. Luke is a stingray ambassador and he enjoys visiting the stingrays. I usually struggle to get a good photo but today they were all coming up to the glass and saying hello.

Monday 15 February 2016

Mountain Biking

Luke has been desperate to do some proper mountain biking so we set off this morning to Chipping to do a route that Mark did with the Scouts a couple of years ago.

We had quite a climb on the road to begin with but we were soon up on the tops in the sunshine. It was very cold again but when you were in the sun it was surprisingly warm. There was a lot of ice on the tracks which Luke enjoyed riding through and he was way out in front for most of the ride. William was at a friend's so missed out on this ride. I'm not the most confident mountain biker so Mark stayed at the back to keep an eye on me and tell me where I was going wrong! Apparently I was using my brakes too much and need to stand up more on my pedals. Luke thinks I just need more practice!

Sunday 14 February 2016

The Guild Wheel

Today was a lovely sunny day, although very cold. We decided to ride The Guild Wheel which is a local cycle ride that is mainly on tracks and paths with very little riding on the road. Luke decided to go on his own bike rather than the tandem so Mark dusted off his bike and we were ready to go. We cycled 23.5 miles which was the longest ride Luke has done on his own bike for a good while. He is looking forward to doing some mountain biking this week so was getting a bit of practice in on his bike!

Friday 12 February 2016


At Cubs this week we had a pancake themed night. We talked about the history of pancakes and what other countries do on Pancake day. We also let the Cubs make pancakes which they enjoyed. 

Sunday 7 February 2016


At Cubs this week we made pottery animals. A lady from the village came to show the Cubs what to do and brought everything we needed. Considering we had 22 Cubs they all managed to make an animal and there were some really good ones. They have been taken to be fired and we will get them back in a few weeks. Luke decided to make a pig and I was really impressed how he got on and made it with very little help.

Friday 5 February 2016

I Was a Wife - Dukes Theatre Lancaster

A What's Good to Do Review

Last weekend we were invited to the press night of I Was a Wife at the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster. The Dukes are always looking at new ways to bring the arts to Lancaster and the plays they produce are always that little bit different. I Was A Wife has been developed by Polly Lister and Joe Sumsion, The Duke's Artistic Director, as part of the theatre's Kick Start programme to develop new talent and works. Polly originally planned to write a self-help pamphlet to help others going through similar heartache however, after talking with Joe was encouraged to turn her ideas into a play. A preview of the work was performed 12 months ago and feedback from the audience used to fine tune the show. 

The play is set in a backstage dressing room with Polly retelling the story of the biggest role of her life. Changing costume many times she revisits the characters she was playing throughout this autobiographical play. She talks to herself, and sometimes the audience, about the breakup, questioning what went wrong, was she at fault?  A number of songs were performed, brilliantly reflecting the emotions she was feeling at the time. 
Throughout the night she had many conversations between herself and other characters which was especially effective during the court scene where she cross examined herself in search of a reason for the break-up. 

The first half of the play was quite light-hearted as we learnt of Polly’s engagement and watched the wedding preparations but the second became much more emotional and heart-breaking as Polly struggled to come to terms with the breakup and subsequent divorce.
Polly has played many roles but this surely must be one of the most difficult she has ever played with the subject matter being so personal. We have seen her in a couple of plays at The Dukes before and always thought she was a good actress but having seen her bare her soul to complete strangers shows what an incredibly talented actress she really is. The audience obviously felt this too as an emotional Polly received a standing ovation at the end. 

This subject could easily have made for a quite depressing night but the show manages to be entertaining, without making light of such a sensitive subject matter.

We really enjoyed the play and would recommend that you go and see it. I Was A Wife is playing until Saturday 6th February.