Pre covid, my friend at the Wassail for a local apple tree.
Wassail? An ancient celebration to encourage apple trees to be fruitful again this year. In Penkhull, Stoke-on-Trent it is celebrated by our local Morris Dancing team.
Morris Dancing? In ancient times Local groups of men (now anyone can join) used to get together and dress up, wearing boots or heavy clogs on their feet. Dancing to ancient tunes. Sometimes there is a person dressed as a hobby horse (with a large skirt and a carved horse head worn as a mask?) I don’t know enough about Morris history. I’m sure there is a lot of information out there.
So why this photo? It’s blurry, but it was taken at a Wassail. The Morris men were dancing, and the apple tree was beaten with sticks to get it to grow. And amidst it was my friend in his plague doctors mask, Cape and tricorn hat. And today I found it again and thought… Why not?
This time of year is custard pie or cream pie time….. Oh yes it is? Oh no it isn’t!
What I mean is that usually it would be time for Pantomimes (pantos) in theatres across the land. Last year we were rehearsing Aladdin in our local village hall. We went on to perform it in February of this year. 180 people in a small room for for performances! Impossible now.
Sadly so many theatres are closed and shuttered. There is great concern that they will never open again. Instead of fun there is tragedy.
We’d been out all day on holiday one summer in Devon, we came back to the caravan we were staying in. A crowd of people were on the beach and some people were in wetsuits about thirty yards out in the sea. I saw a dolphin so decided to swim. Didn’t know how long it would be around so I just took my glasses and shoes off and got in fully clothed! I swam between the crowd at the shore and the ones further out. He, the dolphin (oh dear clearly male) kept swimming backwards and forwards and as I was in the middle he kept swimming next to me! After an hour I swam back in shore. Why do I know it was a male? Er, a long appendage! There was a notice on the campsite the next day. You can catch illnesses from dolphin breath out of their blowhole. They say swimming with dolphins is relaxing, but I didn’t expect that! The dolphin it turned out was an adolescent male called Georges x
I briefly went to an art city presentation tonight. It was good to see some old friends. I couldn’t stay for the whole thing but the number of people there was impressive.
I had my sketch book with me, so decided to do some urban sketching. The first drawing was hard because I started drawing the front view of a man’s face. The trouble was he made eye contact! I couldn’t tell him what I was doing, so it was a case of dodging around and quickly glancing over at him. The other figures were easier, I round it hard to indicate it was crowded so drew partially obscured figures in the background to try and make it more realistic.
The second drawing was done in a large area where there were tables and chairs set up and a screen for video to run. I looked around and spotted this paper lantern, full sized, bull at the back of the room. I liked the way the structure contrasted with the regular bricks and metal grills. What an amazing lantern!