Archive for July, 2019

Stamford Shakespeare Company’s performance of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit

I was given a ticket to Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit, a birthday present from my son. I hadn’t been to Tolethorpe Hall or watched a performance of this play before. My wife and I joined my brother in law together with his wife, her sister and friend. Enjoying a picnic in the grounds before making our way into the theatre.

The theatre is in the beautiful grounds of Tolethorpe Hall with permanent tiered seating and covered auditorium, the stage itself is detached from the auditorium and doesn’t appear to be fully covered.

The set was impressively well made showing a high degree of professionalism in its appearance and construction. Quality often lacking in sets used in many other supposedly more prestigious venues.

It augured well.

A photo of the fantastically well-constructed set for Blithe Spirit.

A photo of the fantastically well-constructed set for Blithe Spirit.

I thoroughly enjoyed the play and laughed far more than I have done in a long time. The entire cast played their parts to perfection and brought for me a degree of magic I have rarely experienced at the theatre. I particularly enjoyed the total eccentricity of Madame Arcarti brilliantly played by Angela Harris but competition from the rest of the very outstanding professional cast was tremendous.

Madame Arcardi, Blithe Spirit Stamford Shakespeare Company 2019 production. (Scan from the programme)

Madame Arcardi, Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, Stamford Shakespeare Company 2019 production. (Scan from the programme)

 

The final scenes showed just how well the set had been designed a work of exceptional quality.

The thought crossed my mind after watching the play, whether the character of Charles Condomine had been inspired in any way by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, a novelist with an interest in spiritualism. I did a quick bit of research but could find nothing to support the theory.

This was my first visit to Tolethorpe Hall it will certainly not be my last “The Importance of Being Earnest” is on my to do list for next season.

Thank you, everyone, at the Stamford Shakespeare Company cast, production team and management for a truly wonderful evening.

Review of Halfords Chain Cleaning machine.

Chain Cleaner from Halfords

Chain Cleaner from Halfords

Like many men and boys, I have a fascination with machines; particularly ones with gears, cams, cranks and sprockets. My daughter knows me well, she has grown up watching me watching things whirr and rotate. She has seen me standing awestruck in front of traction engines and beam engines.

As a cyclist, it was with absolute delight that I opened my birthday present to find this wonderful looking machine, its gears and cogs clearly visible through its plastic casing. Then I read the label a Chain Cleaning Kit, as the late Professor Stanley Unwin would have said, “Deep joy”.

I had it out of its packaging there and then opening it up to inspect its works, being the man I am, reading the instructions came afterwards.

The cycle chain cleaning machine itself

The cycle chain cleaning machine itself

 

A few days later I put the machine to work, it is supplied with a small bottle of cleaning fluid to start you on your chain cleaning experience. The cycle was parked on the patio, a piece of wood placed under the stand to raise the rear wheel clear of the ground.

The machine is built in two halves to allow it to be fitted around the chain. The picture shows the two halves prior to assembly, the cleaning brushes and plastic cogs clearly visible.

The two halves of the cycle chain cleaning machine

The two halves of the cycle chain cleaning machine

The next picture is of the chain cleaner in place ready for action and waiting for the cleaning fluid. After pouring some fluid into the top reservoir I turned the crank backwards as instructed, the machine fell off hitting the ground. The second attempt produced the same result and the chain came off the back sprocket too.

Cycle Chain cleaning machine

Ready to go just need the cleaner adding

I refitted the chain and machine then tried turning the crank forward, we were in business the accumulated grime started to lift from the chain making its way into the bottom reservoir.

Cleaning in progress

Chain cleaning in progress

The difference in chain cleanliness was very apparent, the removal draining of the cleaning fluid and washing the machine was easy and straight forward. I put my new toy away oiled my chain and was ready for cycling action.

A really thoughtful present.

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