We’re obsessed with our weather; it’s either too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry. Great Britain has always had a variable climate due to our geographical position but there is no question it has become all the more confusing in the wake of global warming. So it was with a loud ‘hurrah’ that we all welcomed a warm, sunny and dry bank holiday weekend; I think we can count on one hand the number of times that’s happened.
Lyme Regis was bursting at the seams with happy holidaymakers and I felt all the more proud to be living in such a beautiful part of our country. On Monday the temperature reached 28° so what could be better than a cooling dip in the sea? How about sitting in the car with your family on your way up to Bedford stuck in a several mile tailback due to an accident on the A303 near Stonehenge? I know, right?
Anyway, we finally arrived at our destination at 7.30pm
The next day we visited Woburn Safari Park, the last time we were there our sons were knee high to a grasshopper, they are both now knee high to Godzilla; notwithstanding their limited pleasure in sitting in the car for over an hour, we decided overwhelmingly it would be our last visit. The £105 entry fee let us see some giraffes, the backside of a rhino and some monkeys. The lions were asleep, the wolves in hiding and the elephants were trying to keep cool as far away from the gawping crowds as possible. I know, I know, it’s not a circus, but the whole place was looking shabby, old and worn out. We thought we’d give the birds of prey display a chance but that consisted of a parrot who nodded and a very large white bird who, we were informed liked to do his own thing, did his own thing and flew off never to be seen again.
For those people who wanted a small bird of paradise sitting on their hands, you bought a £1 pot of sweet liquid before entering the enclosure. We were told DO NOT try and force the birds to sit on your hand, if you do, they will peck you, just coax them down with your little pot. Evidently the birds had had their fill as we watched several people doing exactly what they had been warned not to and there were a few pecked fingers. Also lots of full pots in the rubbish bin outside.
We headed back on the Wednesday and I was straight back into the slipstream of theatre life on Thursday with the arrival of Box Tale Soup and their puppet performance of Wind in the Willows http://www.boxtalesoup.co.uk/Willows.html
For those unfamiliar with this delightful tale, there’s Ratty, Mole and of course Mr Toad and it just so happens that one of our wonderful sponsors, Toad Hall Cottages, not only has a larger than life Mr Toad costume but they also offered a free supply of activity packs we could hand out to the children who came along to the show. What’s not to like?
There was only one small challenge, the usual occupant of the costume was unavailable that night and despite putting out a call to all our fantastic volunteers, no one stepped up to the plate, or should that be ‘pond’? But I am nothing if not adaptable and with no plans that evening, I donned the very large rotund tummy top-half, the enormous clown-like trousers, the mahoosive jacket and tie and finally the gigantic head that has bulging toad eyes.
I was led outside (you can’t see a thing, even through the mesh mouth) and very soon welcoming our younger audience.
There were waves, handshakes, high-fives and lots of hugs (who knew toads were so cuddly), also quite a few pictures taken (one mum assured her son it wouldn’t appear on Facebook). But one thing I can tell you about toads, the costume not the real thing, is they get very hot and definitely do not do this if you suffer from claustrophobia because your head is completely encased. So after half an hour as Mr Toad I felt ready to go for a swim in the cooling sea.
The end of the week saw the arrival of the Folk Festival https://www.lymefolk.com/ This annual event is enormously popular and Ralph McTell was a sell-out very soon after the tickets went on sale. There was not an exotic bird, amphibian or backside of a rhino to be seen but there were definitely plenty of very happy holidaymakers enjoying a great night out at the Marine Theatre and if anyone sees a very large white bird flying around, it’s either the Woburn escapee doing his own thing or one of our greedy gulls, either way, don’t encourage it to sit on your hand; you have been warned.