First up was our annual trip to see the open air Shakespeare on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour. This is great fun if you like the theatre, or Shakespeare in particular. Your ticket includes the ferry over, a trip of approximately 20 minutes that loops round the side of this National Trust owned island giving you a good view and a great opportunity to get blown about a bit if you sit 'up top' on the ferry.
The Shakespeare has been performed by the Brownsea Open Air Theatre (BOAT) since 1964 and is highly acclaimed. [In this Wiki article apparently it was rated 2nd top place in the UK for open air arts and was mentioned in Debrett's list of top 5 things to do in England.] Done in the traditional style with period dress there's a different director each year.
We go over on the first boat at 5pm with our picnics - this is very definitely the 'done' thing. This is a 'posh picnic' occasion and we lounge on blankets on the grass, enjoying wine, cheese, smoked trout, olives etc at leisure (apart from the repelling of an occasional peacock foray) before the play commences at 7.30. This year I had a bit of an oven/gas disaster the night before so was unable to make my proposed mini homity pie/tartlets and so nipped to my local fishmongers early the next morning for some goodies from their deli counter. [Top fishmongers I've mentioned before.] Excuse the blurry photo - I got seafood salad/medly stuff, garlic stuffed queen olives, kiln smoked salmon and some proper anchovies - nothing like the preserved ultra salty ones that come in the tins. If you've never had them get some from your local deli, or when you're in Spain, and have on a bit of crusty bagutte or half a croissant, they're gorgeous and I even made a convert of my uncle whose face when I mentioned 'anchovies' had to be seen to be believed!
As an aside - the green stuff in the foreground is Samphire which is a very seasonal veg generally only found in proper fishmongers. Wash incredibly well before cooking as it's tres salty being an inhabitant of salt marshes; steam / boil very gently and serve with a little melted butter or a drizzle of olive oil on it's own or as a side dish to fish, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon juice. My fishmonger said on Friday that there's about 4 weeks of the season left so search it out now.
Well 'The Taming of the Shrew' was very good as I would expect from this Director; Denise Mallender. I've seen a couple of her contemporary set Shakespeare productions before (done by her own Blade Productions) and she's very good at really conveying the meaning and enabling you to relate to the storyline, which can sometimes be hard with Shakespeare due to the age and style of the language used. Although this production was done traditionally with period dress and set she still managed to make this play shine for me in a way it's not done before. (And I must have seen Shrew at least 4-5 times in my life now.) Done badly 'Shrew' can be a misogynistic piece with a (to a female) deeply unsatisfying ending of Katherina capitulating and falling simperingly into Petruchio's arms. Done well - as here - it is a brilliant piece commenting on the wiles each sex uses on the other in order to get what they want and think they deserve, showing a few of humanities less attractive traits along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
If you're in the area one summer I recommend this as a fab trip, you need to book the tickets well in advance though!
More tomorrow rather than one monster post. Enterers (is that a word?) of the Postcard Art Pay It Forward fret not - I have a cunning plan to pick the winner. All will be revealed...