Saturday, 26 March 2016

Don't stop me now - tonight, I'm gonna have myself a good time

I'm at The Playhouse in Weston-super-Mare, sitting in the stalls and waiting for a tribute band to appear on stage.

I must admit, I'm a tribute act virgin, and I'm a little bit sniffy about it, particularly as it's a pretend Queen - I really don't count myself as much of a fan. Still, the tickets are free and I have been taught by my neighbour Mrs Bancroft to never turn down an invitation.

"Oh, go on, you'll enjoy it," Randy Munchkin said, when I told her I wouldn't be at the pub's steak night that evening.

Even my good friend, Pelly Sheepwash, doesn't turn her nose up at the prospect of seeing a tribute band.

"We saw a Pink Floyd tribute once and they were better than the real band."

A lookalike Roger Taylor drummer takes to the stage and bashes out an introduction. Rocking up next is the bass player (who was Queen's bass player? I've just looked it up. Of course. John Deacon. Does the tribute one look like him? No, more like Marty McFly from Back to the Future) A Brian May figure with lots of long, black, curly hair, looking a little bit like Bill Murray in a wig, strolls on to loud applause. And then the fake Freddie struts in, doing his stuff.

The crowd is already going wild but I'm not so sure. It takes two numbers for the band to warm up and then, bang, they are Queen.  It's uncanny. And they are actually really good musicians.

The more I hear, the more I realise Queen is part of a soundtrack to my life, especially the early tracks from A Day at the Races and a Night at the Opera. I remember that Seven Seas of Rhye and Killer Queen as if they were released yesterday. Familiar songs, complex numbers that change tempo and melody partway through, and I am loving it.

Bohemian Rhapsody takes me back to when I was at comprehensive and listening to the pop chart on a Tuesday, dawdling back to school at the end of the lunch break in the winter of 1975. Week after week, that song was at number one.

And at The Playhouse, Weston-super-Mare, I find I am not the only one doing a Wayne's World headbanging thing when the explosive bit kicks in.

Mr Grigg gives me a bit of a glare (he hated Wayne's World, but I loved it) but then he starts high clapping for I Want to Break Free.

The fake Freddie takes to the piano, bouffant Brian does his tricks on the guitar (I'm still not one for all that guitar heroics) and the people are up on their feet.
The Bohemians do an encore featuring We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions and I go home a new-found Queen fan and a lifelong supporter of tribute acts.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Time for hot cross buns and chocolate eggs - happy Easter

Hot cross buns a plenty on A Dorset Year.

Have a lovely Easter.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

In memory of my sister

My sister (in the background) going round in circles with her great-nieces

When Cathie Sings

When Cathie sings – the stars lean down to listen;
The song-birds for a while subdue their lay.
If sad her theme, then eyes with tears will glisten,
But sparkle should her choice of song be gay.

Hers is the power to make our loads seem lighter,
Our sorrows fly away on silken wings;
Our dull, drab world grows happier far, and brighter,
When Cathie sings.

This poem was written by my late grandfather. It's dedicated to my lovely second sister, who died suddenly, three weeks ago. She was the most caring, adventurous and fair person I have ever known.

She is so sadly missed by all the family.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Monday, 14 March 2016

A word (and pictures) from my friend Nathalie

I've been a little bit preoccupied of late so, until I write another post, here's a word from a friend of mine about A Dorset Year, which tells seasonal tales about the countryside in this neck of the woods.

I'm really grateful to Nathalie for her lovely pictures. I look forward to the next nine months working with her in charting the story of this special part of England.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A sleigh ride in Madeira versus fresh fish and chips

High up in Funchal, we saw the sled drivers playing cards before the crowds arrived.

Their bags and straw boaters hung on the wall.

For thirty euros, a couple could slide two kilometers down the hill in old, wicker toboggans.
We'd got here by cable car, rising like something out of Where Eagles Dare from Madeira's capital.

Up the top, the cart drivers lined up and rubbed their hands together when a tour party arrived. 

 A van arrived and toboggans were unloaded for yet another trip down the long slope.

These rickety contraptions have been charging down the hill for years.

Ernest Hemingway (or Uncle Ernie, to those of you who read my last blog post) is reported in the Lonely Planet guidebook to have found the experience exhilarating.

However, further reading suggests he never went on a sled at all, leaving that joy to his wife and the captain of the ship on which the Hemingways were cruising.

Which makes me feel happier now, because I could think of better things on which to spend thirty euros, such as a meal of limpets, parrot fish, bream and chips in a fish restaurant after a long walk next to the Atlantic Ocean. 

And all of this washed down with perfectly chilled Portugese white wine.

Uncle Ernie would have been proud.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

A horror film for Halloween

On Halloween, I head out under the cover of darkness, a tub of sweets by the front door for young trick or treaters on the prowl with their ...