Tag Archives: circus

Small people, small pleasures.

I absolutely knew this was going to happen.

Possibly all that guff about spending more time with your small child means you have a better understanding of them is true. Although half the time I have no idea what Ida is saying. People look at me inquiringly for a translation and I have to pretend I’ve got something in my eye.

I’m inserting a picture here. It’s very dark – should have used a flash…

The darkness suits my mood… What we’re looking at people is a curtain rail that was already slightly fragile being affixed as it was by some inadequate screws, no-nails and hope, now barely holding up the curtains *cough* curtain linings.

I’d relaxed as a few days had passed since the show but it turns out she was biding her time and I caught her this morning swinging wildly from said curtain, near the rail, upside down like a fruit bat. “I fly! I fly!” Now the rail is hanging off.

Delighted as I am that they’ve embraced the circus dream the damage limitation is getting a little old.

 I scared the hell out of Steve last night by sharing the history of one of the little scars on my ribs – the bath Alice and I took just after I’d finished reading Moby Dick where Alice and I pretended to harpoon each other. With the sharp knives from the cooking drawer. We have nearly identical scars and my mum had an actual meltdown and a weekend in her darkened bedroom with us tiptoeing around and bringing her special soothing herbal teas.

It all lies ahead of us. Can’t wait.

On a more cheerful note I stopped off for some buttons on the way home today. My tin is getting low and a nearby shop has a brilliant stock of old button bought up in stock clearances. Every now and again I get a handful.

I love them. As I’ve said before it’s the small things that please me the most.

Gifford’s Circus

On saturday we went to the circus. Gifford’s Circus, with their War and Peace show at Gloucester Llanthony Priory. (I’m going to maybe talk about the show a bit so if you don’t want any spoilers skip this post)

We were all ludicrously excited. Ida had a new dress and I was wearing my curtain skirt in honour of the occasion. We know how to celebrate here I tell you.

Ah, my beautiful mum and dad – the patrons of the day!

They’re pretty excited too, they’re trying to be the grown ups but they can’t deny it. As we walked round to the entrance a car pulled up to ask if we were on the way to the circus and which way they should go. I catch the man eyeing up my skirt and Ida’s dress and I frown slightly. Turning round I see Zeph smirking. Before we left the house he’d mentioned his worries about people thinking Ida was with the clowns.

It’s the small things that please me! I love this sign. Ida and the armadillo are impatient to get into the tent. It’s not hugely busy as it’s 11 am on a Saturday morning – it has to be one of their quieter shows. We came to the same one last year and I’m pretty confident it doesn’t affect the magic. I think it’s because it’s all so beautifully intimate anyway. I’d like to come in the evening but this was the only show my parents could make.  Oh to live in a social whirl!

I didn’t take loads of pictures – because I was too busy sitting on the edge of my seat oooohing. I couldn’t resist a few of Ida – I’d like to assure everyone she’s loving it. The small frown is her concentrating-very-hard face. It’s tricky explaining to people when they give her presents that the sudden intent scowl means she loves it. It tickled me that when I looked down she was holding up armadillo so he could see too.

Here’s Tweedy bringing out the big book. Zeph is banging my shoulder insisting I put that he is the funniest man in the world.I have obliged.

War and Peace is a big concept for a small circus but I thought it worked really well.

The band in their sumptuous russian dress. The original score and live music is one of the things that makes Gifford’s so memorable.

THere is a lady, flying in the air, on a silver curtain. Ida is wide-eyed, she dropped armadillo at this point, forgotten in the excitement. The most alarming bit here is as she cuddled up to me just afterwards she murmured speculatively , “Ida has curtains…”

Tweedy – literally the funniest man in the world.

My dad bought Z a Gifford’s circus t-shirt which he insisted on changing into there in the field. He’s cross questioned me on my ability to wash it carefully enough.

(actually he’s right as I only ever use one programme. I kind of figure if the clothes don’t survive it they weren’t meant to be ours)

Ice cream was had and heartily enjoyed.  Ida carefully sampled all flavours. Just to make sure.

Goodbye, goodbye beautiful circus.

Afterward Zeph pressed me to declare my favourite show and I can’t pick. I just can’t. If I close my eyes there are moments seared into my heart that I know I’ll never forget. A women on a horse raising her hand for the falcon to alight on.  A women in a delicate rose petal costume picked out by a spotlight on a trapeze, her voice soaring into the dark wrapping us in its spell. Two be-ribboned, ruffled papier-mache pigs pointing their toes delicately. Horses, oh the horses, nostrils flared, manes tossing. The smooth glide of muscle under gleaming hide. The jingle of the harness, the muffled thud of their hooves on the sawdust.

I remember Zeph’s incredulous delighted face when he realised the act had children in it, tossed into the air by their parents feet.

This time I take away the tightly composed comet slipping through her hoop with practised ease. The burning torches tossed  nonchalantly into the air. Ida putting her hand up in wonder to the falling snow. Her snuggling into my side as the shot rings out, “it’s sad.” Seeing her wriggling and thrilled with the cracking whip of the cossack magnificently aside two horses.

The most enduring pleasure is watching the machinery of the circus, the moving of the people setting up and changing of the equipment. Like a beautifully balanced clock interior. The cogs and gears smoothly changing and switching, each piece a gleaming thing of buffed beauty. The pleasure to be had in the complicated dance. Appreciating the sweat and effort that has honed it to simplicity.  Emerging back to the world afterwards, glad of heart.

Bloody astounding and breathtaking. The most jewel-like, genuine, soul mending Beautiful Thing.

Thank you Universe, and Gifford’s (obviously!)

revelling in Ravelry

The beautiful geranium I’m considering moving. It would be great to get more plants as well. Is it okay to do that to perennials when they’re flowering?

I joined Ravelry today. My friend popped around for a cup of tea yesterday and revealed that the crochet I was quite chuffed about wasn’t what I thought. (Very kindly, she has a gift for coaching) I’ve been practising basic stitches from a book and was quite chuffed but sadly they weren’t actually doubles, half treble and trebles because I’d only been putting the hook through one loop of the chain.


I wondered why it had looked nothing like the picture.

It still looked pretty though with a line between each layer, was easily rectified and now I know double the amount of stitches. Ta da.

She wondered why I’m STILL not on ravelry what with all the tutorials and help, support and great ideas. She also reassured me AGAIN that there is no entry exam and that inspectors will not call round to check the standard of my stitches. (they’d better not…)

So – whoo hoo – I did it and whoosh, lost an afternoon. I didn’t notice that Ida had got into my seed tin and had joyfully strewn anything open around the garden. So much for my successional salad planting.

It was worth it though – I have itchy fingers to make something… just can’t quite decide what… Gah.

We went to N’s for (another tea – I didn’t drink it – I never do- I just waste their resources, let it go cold and gulp it down apologetically when they point it out) this morning and she was VERY RUDE about the yellow crochet (I hope you’re reading this lady) So I have resolved to use it to practise making an edging on and then give it to her as a wedding present. Ha double ha! (sorry now eh?)

She has the most lovely lollopy soppy dog, Orlagh, who Ida is very fond of in principle but when she surged into the front room to give us all a kiss and sit on our laps Ida retreated to the back of the sofa like an alarmed parrot. “Go way dog, I like dog, go way dog..” Nik points out the size difference – we’d probably feel a bit wary of a pony gambolling around in our space and trying to sit on us.

Best BT today is the amazing roast dinner (a gazillion Yorkshire’s) with Mum and Dad, we are all foot hoppingly excited about the circus on Saturday. Mum has brought a load of socks for Ida which are sorely needed and Dad arrives with a bag of food stuffs. Also sadly needed. I tell Mum how much we appreciate it and she recalls the food parcels her mum, my granny used to arrive with for us as kids. We talk a bit about memories and she says how connected it makes her feel to her mum to do the things for me that she appreciated from her (granny) Phew – did you follow that? sorry! It’s probably why the stuff she brings is always so spot on. As I write now I’m reflecting about how it’s important to receive gifts gracefully and with your heart open. That sometimes that’s as important as giving. Because they are a manifestation of love – and always saying, “no, no, no, you mustn’t..”  is like turning the love aside.

Also, after they’ve gone, I find my Mum has hidden ten pounds in the fridge.

I love her.

I end with a picture of Ida ‘helping’ with the crochet.


Garden roundup

We’ve got loads of flowers to look at right now. Our morning garden tour is getting longer, these are the buds causing the most excitement today at camp Ida;

These seem to have survived the lily beetle plague that have decimated the ones in the garden. I’ve become a little savage in the stamping of those scarlet harlots. This ladybird narrowly escaped an untimely death, tucked up as he is in a ragged remains;

I love the way the foxgloves give my garden a woodland grove vibe

This is my beautiful iris;

All the lovely flowers distract me from the bindweed and mares tail which are staring to romp away. I’ve got to plant out the courgette plants and the beans really need to go out, but I need to finish clearing the space for them. The potatoes in the bags need earthing up

I also keep forgetting to sow more pots of salad. I have hundreds of seeds but am rubbish at consistent sowing so we lurch from surfeit to bare larder. At least the peas in pots experiment seems to be going well;

How lush are snapdragons? Honestly I’ve regressed to eight, Zeph is all about the “lush” at the moment and I’ve caught the word virus. What with that and the circus fever in this house at the moment sometimes it’s hard to pick out the adult.

Top BT’s so far today, Ida waking me up by kissing my eyelids very gently. She seems firmly ensconced between Steve and I with all her pillows, cuddlies and banket. “When did she arrive?” I ask Steve. “About 5..” I didn’t even stir.

Because we got straight up we had time to take breakfast into the garden and have ten minutes practising circus tricks on the swing and frame. I promise Z a trapeze  – I wish we had a big strong tree to hang one in, he’ll have to make do with it on the swing frame. He doesn’t care as long as he gets one.

Ida has built a robot out of some stickle bricks, lego and a yoghurt pot. She is very proud of it and has carefully climbed up to put it on top of the piano to show Zeph when he comes home. It really looks like one too. I’m impressed.

Yesterday still buoys my mood, I move around the house being productive and patience comes easily for once.

Is it too late to run away with the circus?

I meant to write about this yesterday but got sidetracked by soap boxes and sticky notes and the like.

This came yesterday in the post:

 One of Giffords magical mailouts about this years show. They are always gorgeous intriguing gifts in their own right which are opened and stroked by the kids and I and ritually oohed over. My favourite was the year it was a packet of pansy seeds, but I love them all.

Giffords Circus. If you’ve got a sad picture in your head of miserable animals and terrifying gangs of Technicolor clowns cast it away and think again. Giffords literally is a piece of dreaming magic, brought to life and wheeled around the Cotswold yearly in tents.

I’ve always daydreamed about the circus – any books I got my paws on as a child were read and reread until truly battered but my one circus trip as a child courtesy of my Dad’s work was a shattering disappointment. One where I had to hold back my tears as my lovely parents had scrimped to afford the tickets so I had to nod and clap and laugh as though my beautiful spun circus sugar dreams weren’t crushed underfoot by the enormous soulless tent and the miserable shabby animals and the bad-tempered, distant clowns.

When I started at the bookshop Nell Stroud had just published Josser which I read a proof of and then recommended and hand sold as though my life depended on it. I flirted aloud with the idea of taking up bareback riding in a dress fashioned from rose petals, maybe a shirehorse could take my weight and my friends alternately teased and collected pictures of ladies on trapezes for me.

In 2001, I bullied persuaded Steve and everyone at work to buy tickets for a jolly to Cheltenham to see Giffords. I was pregnant, excited but prepared to be disappointed. We left after the show, running across the fields for the bus home with me in a daze. “Are you okay?” Steve asked, relatively anxiously as silence isn’t  a natural state for me. At which I burst into tears. Looking back I like to blame the hormones but I was just so excited and moved. It felt as though my circus dreams had been scooped gently from my head, mixed around with star-dust and whimsy then paraded in a whirl around me in a tiny, vividly embroidered and decorated tent. Horses, clowns, acrobats, a pair of lavishly costumed lions tap dancing to Putting on the Ritz had woven a spell of belief, beauty and wonder around me and I was earth shatteringly grateful.

We’ve tried not to miss a show since. Each time I’m sick to the stomach before each show in case the magic has gone but I’m never let down. One of the greatest pleasures of my parenting journey has been taking the kids and seeing their faces alight with joy at the spectacle of it. I’m torn between raving about it and spreading the word and not wanting it to get big and polished and priced completely beyond my reach. I think I have to trust it won’t.

If it’s near you or you ever get the chance – go. The tickets are not cheap but comparable to going to the theatre and that’s exactly what you’ve going to see, a fantastic, fabulous work of reality defying art that will satisfy all your senses and remind you about wonder.

I’d like to reassure you that no-one is paying me and I’m not linked to Gifford’s in any way. I bloody wish! In fact I always have an odd feeling sitting on the benches that the whole thing means SO much to me and they have no idea – why should they? I hope they know as performers how valued they are.

Hmm off to see if there’s anything hanging around I could sell before May… One of the kids maybe.