Thursday, 31 May 2012

Handbags and Gladrags Event tonight!

Today I am busily working to get all my stock ready for tonight's event in Hull. I have even received some new stock of cute little wooden cupcake styled key-rings, which I'm currently painting and decorating - I've painted a small painting on an easel for the raffle prize, painted a new notebook, some more photo frames and a couple of yo-yos. Hopefully, once I find my clip-board, I can update my list of items to sell (I always tick off items from the list when they've sold so that I can keep account of everything). If I get time later, I will try to upload a photo of one of the new cupcake key-rings.

This event can be viewed on Facebook here.

Monday, 28 May 2012

WIP - Kay

I've decided to upload an image of this work in progress that I've been working on for so long now that the intended recipients have probably forgotten about it. It is at the stage now where I just need a big motivational push to complete it, as I was getting frustrated with it at one point and just put it to one side - never a good idea, really!

I need to do a lot more work on the face then do the shading on the tee-shirt, define the hair and tidy the whole thing up a bit, but I thought that if I posted it "to the world"  (or at least, to the 3 people who regularly read this blog) it may spur me onto finishing it at long last.

Kay is a friend who I've known since she was 8 or 9 years old - she's now 23 and her parents commissioned the painting a while ago now. I hope they still want it when it's finished!

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Well done BADS

It's been a busy week for us this week, having the production at Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society on for 4 nights, preceded by two rehearsal nights. However, as I reflect on the whole process, it's been a great success and I am extremely pleased with the end result. Producing and directing a play at amateur level is much more hands on than a professional director I would imagine, since there are no allocated jobs  for things such as wardrobe, make-up/hair or props, and the director is also the producer, therefore responsible for the whole production, including (in my case, but not everyone is the same) organising cover for Front-of-house (even if it means doing so myself), and having a say in what costumes each person is going to wear. I'm quite fussy about that, as I really believe that what you wear in a play can add so much more to your character, that it's important to pay attention to this.

This play was set in the 1980s, so I was thrilled to re-live my youth by crimping Ellie's hair for her each night - with my own crimpers from the 1980s, I might add! Ellie was less thrilled by it, and couldn't understand why we all had such big hair then, but it just shows how much fashion changes. Every new generation find it hilarious to look at the clothes and hair of their parents or older friends - I remember thinking how weird the beehive hairdo was that my mum used to wear in the 1960s!

I was quite an intense director, I think - and I must have irritated the cast at times with my insistence on attention to detail, yet I was pleased to hear from the NODA representative who came on Thursday, that he appreciated the fact that everything was "real" as he put it - we try to make everything as credible as possible in our society, otherwise you may as well not bother, I think. He recognised also that a lot of work had gone into the production. General comments throughout the week were all complimentary - Ellie was, quite rightly, highly praised for her faultless American accent; Nikki on her superb characterisation; Mike on his fine acting skills; Charlotte on her gentle interpretation of the young wife and Andy on his sterling performance of his character. There were no "weak links" in the words of my step-daughter, and she is very critical of amateur productions, so that was praise indeed!

I was particularly pleased with the way everyone developed throughout the week - adapting their delivery of certain lines in order to get the most out of them, and for the best audience reaction. I even gave notes prior to the Thursday night performance, having been in the audience for the previous two nights, and I'm happy to say that the cast listened and acted on my notes, which I believe made for a perfect final performance on Friday.

Charlotte, our newest member, very kindly baked us a cake which was delicious, and I was presented with a gift of some beautiful flowers and a bottle of my favourite red wine, McGuigans Black Label - couldn't have been better!

Next on the horizon is the Junior and Youth production at the end of July - casting is changing week by week as members drop out, so we may have to have a recruitment drive in order to ensure we can put the plays on, but I'm sure it will all pan out in the end.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Latest Painting - "In Plane View"

I've just finished another painting, one that has been in my mind for a while now. "In Plane View" is based on the view you sometimes get when in an Aeroplane and the clouds are below the sky view, which I think is such a beautiful sight. I remember on one flight we took to Lanzarote once, and in the seat behind us was a boy aged about 4. When he looked out of the window and saw nothing but clouds, he said to his mum with such amazement in his voice "Oh, look, there's heaven out there". So cute.

I was rather pleased with the way this turned out, as it is just as I remember the view we had on our recent flight back from a holiday, so I decided to also paint a similar one on one of my mini canvases too!

Here's the end result of the large painting. It's for sale on the Rogue Gene Gallery Website here.

Here's the mini painting I also completed this morning, not yet for sale on any of my web-sites, but will probably be coming along with me to my next Craft Fair.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Shop Local

On Friday last week, our microwave oven finally packed up. We've had it for just over 20 years and a few weeks ago the light stopped working, but we thought it would be OK to continue using it rather than call out an engineer to replace the bulb - you can't do it yourself with a microwave oven light fitting, apparently. I have always been a firm believer of only replacing things when absolutely necessary, as I think we live in a very disposable society these days. I've even known friends to replace large items (such as washing machines) in their house because the colour doesn't match everything else. Each to his own and all that, but there has to be a limit, doesn't there?

Anyway, the microwave oven stopped working altogether on Friday, so after a quick internet search for a replacement Panasonic model (our old one was Panasonic and we were very happy with it), we rang Comet to check if they had it in stock for collection. No - they could order one in for us but it would take 5 or 6 days to arrive. When you need a new microwave oven, it has to be there and then or not at all, doesn't it? How else can you cook Oatso Simple, or baked beans - two of life's everyday essentials (I actually cooked my Oatso Simple in a pan, and to be fair, it worked just as well, but I then had a pan to wash as well as the bowl my oats were in!).

Instead, we rang Hansons Electrical, a local company who we've used before on the odd occasion. A very helpful salesman advised us of the models they had in stock (the one we wanted wasn't in the Holderness Road branch, nearest us, but at the other side of town). Off we popped, managed to get parked right outside the place, we saw a different model which was more expensive than we'd wanted, but as it was the display model, we got £35 knocked off the price, and the salesman even carried it out to our car for us- which I was relieved about, as I try to stop Keith from carrying heavy items these days, and I sometimes struggle to carry heavy stuff due to my back problem. The whole shopping experience reminded us of what it used to be like when you visited shops, rather than how it tends to be in some of the larger stores these days. More often than not these days, you get unhelpful, unknowledgable or just downright rude sales assistants, and that is one of the reasons we tend to shop online for most products.

Straight after that, we visited another local shop to try and get some wallpaper border to finish off the set for the play this week. I'd already tried to source some from the B&M Home Stores, where we usually get our discounted wallpaper from - but the cheapest rolls of border they had were at £3.99 a roll (although the sales assistant had told me the cheapest was £5.99 so obviously didn't know her stock) , and as we'd need 3 rolls, I wasn't going to spend that much. Not expecting to find much in Home Decor, on Holderness Road, we chatted to the owner, Denise Noble, and she was extremely helpful in our search. They had a whole range of borders for £1.99 - and when I'd chosen the design, I was even more surprised to learn that we would only need two rolls, as they were 10mtr rolls instead of the usual 5mtrs! Fuelled by this run of good luck, we also bought some more border adhesive and masking tape!

We both felt that we had been dealt with in such a way that we were certain to go back - that is so rare these days, which is a real shame. I wonder if customer care will ever be great in the UK - certainly in the service industry it seems to be lacking - is it just the way the world is heading or have we always been so crap at serving customers in this country? Maybe I'm doing a lot of people a disservice, but I do know that if I was sure to get customer service as good as last Friday, we would spend less of our money online, and do much more shopping locally, which surely would be a great thing.

Home Decor are on the East Yorkshire Web site here, and Hanson Electrical have their own web-site as well as a FB Page. I can heartily recommend either to anyone in the Hull & East Yorkshire area.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Annie -the musical, by Beverley Musical Theatre

Last night Keith and I went to the New Theatre in Hull to see an amateur production of Annie - mainly because our 10 year old grand-daughter, Matheea, was playing one of the orphans. Bearing in mind the fact that Annie is one of our least favourite musicals, we were pleasantly surprised at how much we did enjoy the performances.

We were particularly impressed with all the children, who put so much effort into their parts when they were on stage and really held your attention. One young girl was outstandingly good. 10 year old Mia Stocks played the part of Annie with such an engaging style I almost forgot I was listening to one of the songs I cannot bear to listen to when she sang "Tomorrow".  Her singing was superb, she had very good stage-craft skills, her American accent was better than some of the adults in that it was faultless, and I could understand what she was saying. She also had range, which is unusual in one so young - her emotional scenes were just as credible as her joyous ones. I look forward to seeing her perform again. Her smile was infectious.

To be brutally honest (which I am, often) I did not like the choreography much - the adults in the chorus were not all putting in as much effort as they could have, which detracted from the ones that were, and overall spoiled the effect. 

Miss Hannigan's character was suitably evil and the audience seemed to enjoy the portrayal given by Jackie Cox.

Several members of Hull Musical Society, of which I am a member, were also in the show last night, and I was impressed with the performance from Jane Bradley as Lily St Regis - the woman who pretends to claim Annie as her own daughter in order to get the reward money, along with Daniel (Rooster) Hannigan. Jane is very good at playing ditsy characters with great aplomb, and last night was no exception. Equally impressive were Ian Start as President F D Roosevelt, Russell Fallon as both the Policeman and a member of Rossevelt's Cabinet, along with the other cabinet members Steve Aylmer and Peter Martin.

There were a few occasions when the action did not flow as smoothly as I would have expected, and I got the impression that it was under-rehearsed with the adult section - certainly, compared to their production of South Pacific last year, there was a marked difference in the whole production.

The scenery was excellent, courtesy of Scenic Projects Ltd, and really helped to create the atmosphere. All the costumes were well done - I would never have guessed that the orphans all did their own costumes, they certainly co-ordinated well. Costume changes were slick wherever required, scene changes were all well done and the musical accompaniment was just right.

The dog, Pepper on the night we went (called Sandy in  the show) was adorable.

One or two members of the chorus really stood out for me - Debbie Lee who was one of the Boylan sisters singing on the Bert Healey show and I found myself drawn to watching her as she was so animated and obviously enjoying the whole show. In the Children's Chorus, apart from the obvious and biased opinion that our grand-daughter Matheea Ellerby shone, I believe the girl playing the part of Molly (Millie Morris) really did stand out.

I don't think I will ever love the show itself, as the music tends to grate on me rather than grow on me, but due to the casting of Mia Stocks as Annie, this production certainly helped to "lessen my dislike" shall we say!

Matheea was going to watch the show this afternoon, and it will be the final performance for her and the rest of the cast this evening. After that, Matheea will be performing with the Junior Section at Bilton in the summer, in a production of The Emperor's New Clothes.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Don't Misunderstand Me - Bilton Theatre

The next production from Bilton Amateur Dramatic Society, "Don't Misunderstand Me" by Patrick Cargill, takes place next week, from Tuesday 22nd May to Friday 25th May inclusive. The play is a comedy based on the complications and misunderstandings that arise when Charles and Margery prepare to entertain Charles's younger brother, Robert, and his new wife, Jane - whom they have never met. Robert arrives whilst Margery is out, without his new wife, and it transpires that Charles has had a brief fling with a young girl, Jaynie, in America during a short working vacation.  Much to Charles's surprise, Jaynie turns up at the house unexpectedly - Charles panics and tries to pass her off as Robert's new wife to Margery, whilst pretending to Jaynie that Robert is married to Margery. Matters get even more complicated when Robert's real wife, Jane, arrives and everyone is desperately trying to cover up for someone or pretend they are someone else!

At times fast and furious, the play is character-driven and, as director of this particular production, I am very pleased with the way in which the cast have all taken on their relative roles. We have a very competent team on stage and off - with Steve Haughey doing Sound & Lighting, and Keith Davison (my husband) doing Stage Management. We had our final "normal" rehearsal last night, which went remarkably well - only a couple of errors here and there. I hope Ellie has recovered from walking into the door that Nikki was using to go off-stage!

I will be proud to watch the play every night next week, as we will be having a couple of dress/technical rehearsals before the opening night - I will probably still take notes and ask the cast to slightly alter the way in which they do odd things, but that is my way - I always believe you can improve the whole production, even during the run.

If you are in the area, please book your seats now - or you could try turning up on the night if you are not sure which night you would like to go. The play commences at 7.45pm, doors open at 7. There is a car park right outside the theatre. Seats are £6, with all concessionary seats at £5. To book your seat, please ring Steve Dale on 01482 812750.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

WIP - Little Bit of Red

Here's an image of my latest Work-in-progress, a small canvas which will come complete with an easel, slightly larger than my "mini" paintings, but still not as large as the other paintings in this series that I've done ("A Bit of Orange/Blue/Purple/Brown"). The canvas itself measures 16cm x 12cm. Painted using varying hues of red acrylic paint, this is the second stage of the painting. I am currently trying to get back into painting the rest of it after having a bad week of suffering with two migraine attacks. My blog has been neglected for a while, but I plan to carry on as normal from now on, and hopefully post more frequently!

Once finished, you will be able to purchase this painting from my personal website at or on the Rogue Gene Gallery website.