When Life with Covid-19 was Still a Novelty

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

The last day of 2020. We began our year with Emily and Miquel, in Spain. Then – Covid-19 happened, and has dominated everyone’s lives ever since. Optimism and general feel-good is in short supply after all this time, so I choose instead to remember those three months of Lockdown in the spring and early summer. This was a desperate period of isolation, anxiety and money worries for many, so I feel almost ashamed to admit that for me, it was a time when I did little but get out into the fine spring weather and walk, walk, walk, discovering in a way I never had before, the delights of our own home patch.

I was also beginning to get stuck into Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge, and always took my camera with me to reflect on her latest demands. This review of a year of challenges is only partial: it leaves out all of the later tasks which as the year wore on, relied for me increasingly on archive material. But I’ve discovered a lot about getting the best from a shot – the benefits for instance, of a low viewpoint, or of framing the scene. I’ve had reinforced what I already knew: that fiddling around with dials and apertures ain’t for me, It’s my loss, but I’ll live with it. I’ve discovered too that black and white photos are anything but snaps with the colour removed.

And Su, I’m including this post in your The Changing Seasons theme, even though there are four seasons in every year, not just one. On this occasion, I wanted to remember the best of the year that’s on its way out.

Just click on any image if you want to see it full size. Thank you, Jude, for a mind-stretching challenge during a year when my brain usually seems to be filled with little more than bran. And Su, yours is a challenge I’ll join again too. Next time, I might even stick to the rules.

Live Theatre: the Handlebards are Here!

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

Kipling Hall. The audience enjoys a picnic ahead of the evening performance.

I’m a bit of a Handlebards groupie.  Handlebards?  Yes, the always effervescently inventive troupe (one male combo of four actors, one female combo of four actors) who cycle the country carrying all they need with them to one-night-only venues, in the grounds of stately homes, museums, city parks to present their season’s Shakespeare play in the open air, come rain, come shine.

I’ve been to five productions now, two male, two female, and one … well, we’ll come to that in a minute.

One night was so wet that players and audience alike took refuge in a castle keepOne evening was bright and sunny, as was another, if a little windy.  Last year was fine until after the  interval.  Then the heavens opened.  We were well-provided with rain gear but got utterly soaked anyway.  The players, their hair plastered to their scalps and water streaming down their faces, their clothes sodden, dripping and rendered translucent by the unremitting downpour played on.  What a team!  We admired their grit, and retired home to peel off every item of sodden clothing (and that included underclothes) and take a hot shower.  The actors camped out on a hard floor, got up the following morning and cycled to their next venue.

Covid 19 put a stop to this year’s plans. No male tour.  No female tour.  The actors didn’t sit around twiddling their thumbs though.  The London-based ones set about organising deliveries of essentials to the vulnerable and shielded. Which was wonderful, but not acting.

Three of the Handlebards share a house:  They’re their very own Social Bubble.  So during the days of Lockdown they hatched a plot to tour a play during August and September, just the three of them: two men, one woman.  They chose Romeo and Juliet.  No problem.  Aside from Romeo and Juliet themselves, they only have to play Mercutio, Benvolio, Capulet, Tybalt, Juliet’s nurse and her mother, Friar Laurence …

These kinds of difficulty never thwart the Handlebards.  Hats and wigs temporarily stand in for characters whose actor is currently multi-tasking.  Props are minimal.  Bicycle pumps for weapons; an aerosol; a hand-painted sun and moon; a repurposed squash-up play tunnel becomes Juliet’s balcony; a couple of military jackets; a length of hessian to stand in for monkish robes; gauzy stuff for Juliet; lengths of red ribbon for blood and guts and they’re pretty much sorted.

The actors change roles, sometimes almost mid sentence.  A Liverpudlian becomes a Scot who becomes someone who has twubble with his ‘r’s.  Romeo and Juliet themselves are played by a man and a woman respectively, but who knew that Juliet’s nurse sports a dapper beard, or her mother blue knee-socks?

We went along to Thursday evening’s performance. It was all tremendously rip-roaring fun, played against the backdrop of the lovely Jacobean Kiplin Hall.  We took chairs, a picnic, and lots of warm clothes, because it was chilly.   As ever, laughter and sheer delight kept us entirely in the moment, so we barely noticed that it started to drizzle, not long before the end.  Thank you Handlebards.  Live theatre is back.

The end of a great evening.

Six Word Saturday

 

Top Spot on a Tip-top Pot

North Yorkshire

We were due to walk part of the coastal section of the Cleveland Way this week.  We looked forward to taking over from where we’d left off last year, and to having a windswept, scenic and invigorating walk along the cliffs edging the North Sea.  Covid-19 put a stop to that. So – you can either read here about last year’s walk, or – as we did – admire these herring gulls on their lofty look-out posts in Staithes.  Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to read about the postponed walk later this year.

# Squaretops 25

Six Word Saturday


Saving the World from the Sofa.

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An extra post today. Those of you who’ve followed me for a while know about my daughter Ellie: about her husband Phil who died from cancer, four years ago tomorrow, and about her twin boys, then aged 10. About her own cancer diagnosis and treatment more or less immediately after. I re-blogged several of her posts, and you followed her story through her own treatment, surgery and recovery. Now she has something to say about living in this strange new world where coronavirus and the fear of it dominates our lives. Please read it.

Fanny the Champion of the World

When my husband was dying, one of the things that bothered him the most was that people stopped bothering him. We were always the last to find out about our friends’ separations, pain in the arse teenagers, or warring families. And when we did find out, we’d always get the same response:

“But our problems are nothing compared to yours.”

To which my husband would reply:

“And my problems don’t suddenly make yours go away.”

He was right. Yes, perspective is a wonderful thing, but it usually grows from trauma. I’m a better person now than I’ve ever been before, simply because I value all the things I used to take for granted. Like being alive. Or having a cuddle with the man I love. Or owning a full set of tits. So, it felt completely wrong to find myself struggling with the impending fourth anniversary of my husband’s…

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Top Square

Blogging challenges, North Yorkshire

I picked up a copy of  our little-read community newspaper today ….

‘Because of the almost world-wide lockdown caused by Covid-19, Concours Top Squares, due to open in Topcliffe Village Hall between 1st and 30th April, will now be held in camera.

This now internationally acclaimed exhibition has for the last three years brought together arts practitioners from a range of backgrounds working in less conventional materials.  The only requirement is that entries must be entitled ‘Top Square’.

Locally, hopes for a top prize are pinned on a promising new Arts Collective working from Middle Park Farm, near North Stainley, and who call themselves ‘Windewe’. The prevailing wind and local sheep have worked in constructive partnership, winding and weaving wool round the wire fencing surrounding the sheep’s pastureland.  They’ve made dozens of such works, mainly confining themselves to using the sheep’s own wool, though some examples incorporate dried grasses, leaves and small twigs. Apart from those chosen for the exhibition, all other works by Windewe can be viewed from the Ripon Rowel path, and are on permanent display.’

Top Square 8

Sleningford Gazette, 8th April 2020.

For technical reasons beyond the Editor’s control, this article was omitted from the edition of 1st April.

 

# Square Tops 8

A Distant Tree

Blogging challenges, Walking

There across the field is a solitary tree.  It’s definitely maintaining its Social Distance.  Just as I am on my solitary – but not at all unhappy – walk.

Just like me though, the tree is not really alone.  There are trees to the right of it, trees to the left of it, and – zoom –  a forest of trees behind it.  Perhaps, like me, it’s happy enough with its lot.

And even though it’s distant, I can still get a shot of its topmost branches to send Becky a shot of this Top Tree.

For Lens-Artists Challenge #90: Distance

and Becky’s April Squares: Top