Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Woman in Black

Last night we went to Yvonne Arnaud Theatre to see a performance of The Woman in Black, Stephen Mallatratt’s adaptation of Susan Hill’s best selling novel. This performance starred Sean Baker and Ben Porter, who played many parts between them. The sound effects were ear splitting and the set appeared deceptively simple. With the clever lighting and a minimum of props we were transported from an empty stage to the train; the village inn; the graveyard; and several parts of Eel Marsh House where the unfortunate Alice Drablow lived and died. We rode with Arthur and Hedgewick on the pony and trap; we saw the dog, Spider, who nearly drowned; we heard the ghostly rocking chair; and of course, we saw - the woman in black. Its a brilliant play and more information can be found at the Woman in Black website

Thursday, September 11, 2008

RHS Floral Celebration at the Inner Temple

This year, the RHS September flower show was something completely different – a Floral Celebration at The Inner Temple. As part of the Inner Temple 400th Anniversary, RHS returned to the Inner Temple Gardens after over 90 years. The shows held here were the forerunners of the Chelsea Flower Show, so it was quite special to return in such a celebratory fashion. We entered at the top of the gardens and the whole show was laid out below with marquee and ‘Turkish’ style tents for some of the exhibitors. Several Plant Nurseries were present with beautiful displays, hoping to win a coveted RHS Medal. There were the usual collections of Gold, Silver-gilt, Silver and Bronze. We saw a display of Balcony gardens, which explored the world of mixed pots and even some vertical planting especially aimed at the modern flat dweller. Soon we felt the need for coffee, but sadly this is where RHS let us down with just one small refreshment outlet that was totally oversubscribed. Nevertheless, we did manage some alternative refreshments at Hannah’s Country Kitchen stand. We think that it was maybe Hannah’s father, offering a delightful glass of Prosecco with Violet liqueur, which we sipped along with a couple of delicious violet and chocolate fairy cakes. This was a wonderful treat!
More looking around and suddenly we were being entertained by the Bollywood Brass Band. They were great – playing Bollywood hits on saxaphones, trumpets, trombones, sousaphone and several drums including the dhol. Certainly a new departure for the RHS. We listened for a while, then made our way into the marquee where wonderful displays awaited the visitors. These included ‘apple towers’ created by the Wisley fruit team, as well as ‘noisy’ dahlias and tranquil cottage gardens. Perhaps one of the most unusual displays was Cookoo Box Nursery’s Chillies. This was a rainbow display of chilli plants from almost black through red and orange to pale yellow – all edible and of varying degrees of heat. Made my attempts at growing black chillies look very amateurish! We also loved the display of heuchera with impossible names such as Tiramasu, marmalade and Georgia Peach. Maybe next year we can try growing some on our new chalky soil.
There was also an exhibition of RHS history in the Temple Church – yes, the one mentioned in the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s novel. So we left the gardens and followed the path round to the church. This is a beautiful building, the round part being the original Templar’s church, which was added to by Wren. The exhibition was mainly in the round part, put together by the RHS Lindley Library and the Inner Temple and exploring the relationship of the Inner Temple and the RHS . Around the edge were some magnificent floral arrangements by members of the National Association of Flower Arranging Societies, with suitable themes such as Knight, 400 years and so on.
But we were, by now getting quite peckish, and decided to walk round the corner to Somerset House for a sandwich and that long awaited coffee. We sat in the courtyard and watched the fountain dance away in the centre, as some knowing folk wound their way through the spouts. Only a couple were caught unawares as the spouts shot into the air unexpectedly!